|Posted on 18 January, 2017 at 16:35||comments (0)|
Through the sharing of our struggles may you feel hope surging through you.
This letter comes with tears upon Karen’s and my heart. Yet, through our darkest times there is light, love and laughter.
My extremely rare autoimmune disease of negative serum tryptase mastocytosis is worsening. Essentially, this means more mast (immune and systemic) cell attacks are occurring at low levels building to moderate to severe ones over a period of several days to weeks.
Last October I had to be intubated. Karen and I were enjoying a long-delayed date day because of my ill health. A man passing through our town came into the restaurant we were having lunch at. He had cologne on him. I had to be intubated. This was my tenth intubation. Marks were put on my neck to do a tracheotomy, which thankfully wasn’t necessary. The doctors could barely get the breathing tube down me because there was so much swelling in my throat.
I’m recovering from my fifth bout with pneumonia.
I’m requiring stronger antihistamines whenever I go out to minimize the risk of anaphylactic and asthma attacks. I’m having to stay inside much more because of triggers such as scented products causing hyper-reactivity. I’ve had to go to the ER several times with anaphylactic and asthma attacks.
Thankfully, we can still have our counselling practice because clients either come to our attached office of our home where we have a no scent policy, or speak to us by phone. Many people prefer speaking to us via phone because they have anonymity.
We would be so thankful if you made others aware of our counselling practice. Having more clients would help pay for the medications and treatments the government doesn’t provide, and cover the costs of further professional education such as tuition, books and school fees. Here is the link for our counselling practice you can share.with your family, friends, colleagues and on social media.
My mastocytosis specialist doesn’t do video appointments. I have to get another one who does. The pollution in downtown Toronto where my specialist is, has triggered anaphylactic attacks.
We believe there is realistic hope my disease can be controlled and improved. Yours and my circumstances of today don’t have to be those of our tomorrow. We pray for all who have this terrible disease to have better health, improved quality of life, and that one day there is a cure found without risk of death. If we stopped believing in a brighter tomorrow we would give up, to say God is asking too much of us. There are times Karen and I feel that way, but we don’t stay there.
We don’t know what trial you are going through, but God knows. As we pray for you we know many prayers are being lifted up for us.
Live each day bringing hope into the lives of others. When you see anyone in need be there for them. Remember you are a gift to others. Even if you are poor caring costs nothing. It’s the present we give that has a lasting value.
We can have a more beautiful world by shining Christ’s light of hope in us.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love“ (Romans 5:5, New Living Translation).
Carry that hope in your hearts now and always.
Kevin and Karen
Kevin and Karen Osborne are Christian pastoral counsellors and psychotherapists. Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. We have started You Can Hope Again Counselling. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.
|Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 0:50||comments (0)|
Karen and I are elated to tell you the prayers being lifted up for us all around the world are working! God is healing me in His way and in His time. Since my stoke of almost two weeks ago I'm getting better. I can use my right hand much better. I'm so thankful for that because I'm right-handed. I can stand a little longer. We praise God I can sing again! I have to concentrate more on getting the words out, but they are there.There is a greater depth and richness to God's singing voice. I'm working on a song about these miracles that gives the glory to God. The title is Ad Glorium Dei, which means glory be to God.
We thank so many people for their prayers. If I leave anyone out know you too are an important part of my healing journey. Thank you, Patriarch Paul, who is also known as Dr. Heyward Bruce Ewart, my beloved friend, mentor, Academic Advisor and President of St. James the Elder Seminary and University. God is hearing your prayers. He will bless you beyond what you ever could think would be, for your faithfulness in assailing the gates of Heaven. Cardinal William Malloy, my spiritual director, thanks for uplifting me through the spirit of Christ's agape love shining out of you. You are a prayer warrior. May our Lord bless every area of your life with His richest blessings. Thank you, Rev, Keith Neal, our pastor at Evangel Temple in Matheson, northern Ontario, Canada, for believing God would bring His healing. May the Lord bless you, Dan, elders, church board members and congregation for your supportive prayers. Beloved family, friends and colleagues, we pray God showers You with bountiful blessings for your prayers. We extend our deepest thanks to all the members of the Prayer Team of The Word Guild, a Christian writer's group in Canada, and all Word Guild members, for their prayers.
We also extend our heart-felt thanks to Rev. Dr. David Neelands, Dean of Divinity at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, for your faithful prayer support. We are so deeply blessed God brought you into our lives 11 years ago. May He bless you, your family, church and the faculty and students of Trinity College abundantly.
Dr. Reuben Van Rensburg, President of South African Theological Seminary, Dr. Kevin Smith, Head of Academics, Dr. Johannes Malherbe, Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr. Zoltan Erdey, Senior Academic Advisor and staff, thank you for believing in me and guiding me in my calling..
We pray out of this experience we will continue being faithful servants to God, wherever He calls us to go, and whatever He calls us to do for Him.
“Sometimes God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” -Joni Eareckson Tada, The God I Love. It’s an extremely difficult truth to hear. It must have been hard for Joni to hear she would be permanently disabled. She would require 24/7 care. She would have to be turned in her sleep to avoid bed sores. She would need to be fed for the rest of her life. Here’s Joni’s story.
Four days ago I experienced what doctors believe is a stroke. It started with an angina attack (spasm of arteries without blockage), which led to a mast (immune and systemic) cell attack, which culminated in my stroke. I have pronounced weakness along the right side of my body. I can only stand for a few seconds. Before, even with my advancing peripheral neuropathy, I could stand for a few minutes. There are delays in understanding what people are saying. I’m having great difficulty making logical leaps in a conversation. It’s hard for me to speak in continuous complete sentences. I’m having more trouble getting words out. That’s when I really get frustrated. I’m having to rely more on support care to help me with bathing and getting my meals set up. I tire easily.
We thank God that I’m recovering. I couldn’t move my right hand. Now, I can use it to pick up light objects.
God has an amazing plan for Karen’s and my life He’s working out through all that’s happening to us.
I have an extremely rare auto immune condition called mastocytosis. Many of my readers know what this is from reading my blog pieces. For the benefit of those who haven’t, it simply means I have an auto immune condition, which causes me to have too many immune and systemic cells. I take a series of mast cell stabilizers, antihistamines and immune system boosters to stay alive. My gorgeous wife, Karen, says it’s like having allergy on steroids. I tell people it’s like a neighbourhood block party out of control. My former doctor says my form of it may only be seen in 1 in 20,000,000 people. I have been intubated nine times for mast cell attacks that have become anaphylactic. Through it all Karen has been there. Through many lonely nights sitting on hard ER chairs, praying through her tears I would be alive in the morning, she has been there. I’m so wonderfully blessed that God loves me so much, He gave Karen to me!
Yes, we have asked those why questions Joni has, and still are. I will never forget hearing Joni’s story on a cassette tape over 20 years ago (Yes, I am dating myself) with the title Why me?. Joni yelled at God it was so unfair of Him to take away the use of her arms and legs. That’s a tough blow to an athlete, who puts so much of their identity of strength in their athleticism. God taught Joni He didn’t need her legs or arms. What He desired was her complete commitment to her Lord.
There have been so many times I have screamed at God saying, “This is so unfair! I can’t endure this journey any longer! Please, Father, take me home to be with You. I’m so worn down by the judgment of others that I’m weak, lazy and stupid. I hate this life! I don’t want the humiliation any longer of trying to exchange the remaining amount on my phone card for a bus ticket home. No one should have to decide between eating or paying their rent. No one should ever have to decide between paying for their medications and eating. I want out! I can’t endure family,friends and colleagues labeling me as one who doesn’t try hard enough. Those devastating words of my physically and emotionally abusive schizophrenic father played over and over again in my mind. “You’re clumsy. You’re stupid. Your brother’s smarter than you’ll ever be. You disappoint me. You’re a mamma’s boy.” It was like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My father was gentle and kind one moment. Then, suddenly, he would become vicious, using cutting words to make me feel like such a loser.
At the age of five I prayed this prayer under a willow tree by our home, as the cool wind on a hot and humid summer day caressed my face. “Lord, if you save me from my abuse, I’ll grow up to help others heal from theirs.” Six years later this prayer was answered when God provided an opportunity for my mother, brother and me to escape. My two sisters had already left, and got married.
In my mid thirties, I sent out so many resumes I could have wallpapered my room with them. There were so many times it would be between me and another candidate.The other person would be chosen.
In 2001 I was diagnosed with pernicious anemia, which is also known as B12 deficiency. The pieces of my medical puzzle were starting to come together. The constant fatigue and all the bugs I had to fight off began to make sense. The struggle in high school to graduate with honours now was understood.
I have lived through four bouts of pneumonia, one of them in both lungs.
in 2014 I was diagnosed with mastocytosis through a skin lesion.
Throughout my life there has been the reoccurring theme of forgiveness. It has taken me over 48 years to finally forgive my father for all of the terrible abuse I experienced. God has required me to do this, so that the calling He has upon my life will be fully realized. Where God is taking me there can be no unforgiveness. I’m still in a process of healing from my abuse. I have been in counselling for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for six years.
Many doctors and specialists are befuddled. How is it that with all my challenges I did graduate from high school and in my undergraduate theology studies with honors? Why is it that I’m now doing doctoral studies in counselling and theology? I believe it’s so others see I don’t do these things in my strength. They can’t put it down to sheer determination. God is showing His strength in me through my weaknesses.
I share Joni’s, Karen’s and some of my life with you to illustrate an important point. You may be angry at God for all the suffering you’re experiencing. You think He’s allowing you to be harmed. You would like to tell God where He can stick Jeremiah 29:11, that He has plans not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future. Please let Joni’s, Karen’s and my life speak to your heart. In all the pain you’re experiencing a loving God is there. He will show you the way out of your dark tunnel of hopelessness if you let Him. If He did it for Joni, Karen and me, He can do it for you too.
Let all of us, disabled and able-bodied alike, be uplifted by Joni singing Spirit Wings. Let us thank God when life gets rough we can go to a place in our heart where there is no wheelchair, where disability both visible and hidden never exists in His eyes.
When our work for our Lord is done He’ll take us home to be with Him in Heaven, where there is no more sorrow or pain. It will be an eternal Kingdom party of joy. I hope to see you there. More importantly, I believe God wants to see you there.
Kevin and Karen Osborne are Christian pastoral counsellors and psychotherapists. Kevin is studying to become a psychologist and professor of Psychology. He feels called to also be a chaplain. We have started You Can Hope Again Counselling. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. Please visit our counselling website, where you will also find our blogs. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.
Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog
|Posted on 21 August, 2016 at 0:50||comments (0)|
When I am a child I have a dream of God’s plan for me
A prayer I make to God at five under the comforting shade of a willow tree
If He will save me from my schizophrenic father’s physical and emotional abuse
I will grow up for others to be of great use
I will commit my life to heal others of their secret inner pain
I will love them remembering Christ who was slain
that we would be freed from sin’s oppression
if we would make to God this confession:
“Father, I am not who I should be
Make me into the person You want of me
Take all my sin, scars and sorrow
Show me my brighter tomorrow
Help me all those who have hurt me to forgive
Let Your love for them in my spirit live
Please cast out the darkness and bring in Your Son’s Light
Give me the strength and courage for others rights to fight.”
I found when I prayed for all that I was rescued from my abuse
The prayer under the willow tree became a growing dream,
a seed God planted inside of me
many times close to death
through allowing joy into my life.
I am healing physically
I am seeking to trust God through our struggles
I thank God with all my heart for not giving up on me
For seeing, as I followed His dreams, who I could be
I am not nor will I ever be the lies I have been told
I am not a failure
I am becoming who my Father wants me to be
This would be for you my prayer
You would see God in your circumstances there
You would cast on Him your every care
The dreams He places in you that you would see
You would ask God for the willingness to forgive
that His dreams in you would fully live
|Posted on 20 August, 2016 at 13:15||comments (0)|
If I could just have five minutes of your valuable time, I would like to tell you the story of a boy with dreams as wide as the sea of Galilee. He was going to grow up to serve his Lord, in spite of his challenges. Even though he had a spastic gait from a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, he is determined to make a difference in every life he would touch. As he battles one flu or respiratory bug after the other, he believes that all he is experiencing is for a purpose larger than himself.
The flame of hope for a kinder and more just society burns within him even as a five year-old. His mother realizes that there is a challenging call upon his life. She approaches his teachers to ask that they encourage the development of his beautiful mind. She wants him to know that along with poor eyesight and poor physical coordination, he possesses a fine mind. She arranges for him to read about the lives of others with challenges, like Braille and Keller. He reads about how they helped many people. He reads stories about scientists like Pasteur, who discovered a technique to pasteurize milk. He sees that one person with a determined will can make a difference.
The Lord has his mother see in him what he could not see. His schizo affective father would belittle him. “You’re clumsy. You’re stupid. You’re brother’s smarter than you’ll ever be. You’re a mamma’s boy. You disappoint me. Do you work at being stupid? Why are you so awkward that you can’t tie your own shoes?”
The boy couldn’t understand how his dad could be Dr. Jekyll one moment and Mr. Hyde the next. The wonderful image of his father carrying him piggy back while ice-cream dripped down the boy’s face on to his dad, stands in sharp contrast to the many spankings for no reason. Those haunting hate-filled words from his father’s mouth burn in his memory: “The hand or the book. The hand or the book.”
Tears flow down his face as his father’s destructive, cold and cruel thoughts play over and over in his mind.
As he cries himself to sleep so many lonely nights, something larger than himself says, “Hold on. Don’t give in. Fight. Believe that life can be beautiful. There is a purpose for all you’re going through.”
The abuse remains hidden, controlled and exacting. He uses his vivid imagination to paint a different world, one where he is in control, where he is powerful.
In the cool and refreshing breeze under the willow tree by their home, he closes his eyes and dreams that he is a World War II flying ace. He attacks his father and kills him with a machine gun. Rat a tat tat. Rat a tat tat. Mission successful. That mean and vicious man is dead.
Then, he awakes to know in his sorrowful heart that this is only a dream. This terrifying reality looms over even the joy of splashing in mud puddles.
One day he sees his mother hanging by a belt. She attempts to commit suicide, because the mental and physical torture from his father is too much to endure. The five year-old boy screams out, “Mom, please don’t die! Please don’t die!” His father cuts the belt in a lucid moment. The boy’s mother is choking and gasping for her life. But she lives, live more years with the horror and the burning certainty that her husband will beat her again and again. The boy sees how his mother’s feeling of helplessness that she could not escape her abuse, causes her to be blind for several months.
One day he is finding it difficult to have faith to believe. He prays to God to rescue him. God answers, but it takes six long agonizing years before the answer becomes reality. An opportunity comes when the father is busy driving taxi. The boy, his brother and his mother escape their perpetual hell.
As a man of 51, the boy who was abused and ridiculed, goes on to be a missionary in South Korea, social advocate, loving husband, graduate counselling student, writer, journalist, singer, songwriter, professor, counsellor and a healer of wounded hearts and broken lives. He forgives his father for those seemingly never-ending years of abuse. He takes back the vow he made that he would find a way to kill him. Forgiveness is born in tears of healing as the boy’s stepfather challenges him to forgive and not have his life ruined by the cancer of the abuse. Why did this abused boy go on to serve his Lord?
It was his way of saying thank you to his Lord for answering the prayer of a despairing, helpless five year-old to rescue him from the pain and hopelessness of abuse. He would grow up using this knowledge being a victorious healer of others, because of the hope Christ put in his soul.
Did you guess that boy is me?
Thank you, Lord, for my calling to be a missionary of the heart.