A Call To Action

Action (n.) - the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.

I've been thinking of my life lately. Maybe it's because I'm 36, maybe it's a "mid life" crisis. Or maybe it's a prodding by the One who made me to decide what my legacy will be.

I was recently reading a book of memoirs, in which a family member has a story. All the authors have a short bio- some list themselves as professors, teachers, chemists - all things that seem prestigious, have value. I distinctly remember putting the book down, talking to my husband, and telling him that I felt like a "nothing." If I were to write a memoir bio, what would I write? I work a part-time job that makes minimum wage and it isn't a job that has a prestigious moniker. When people ask you, "What do you do?," the answer doesn't sound all that impressive.

Our church is reading a book called "The Circle Maker," a book about praying consistently and dreaming big dreams. For quite a while, I've been asking God to somehow provide income from my endeavors in promoting Celiac Awareness, to turn it into a job so that I can devote more time to it. So far, there have been glimpses of possibilities, but nothing major that has materialized.

After reading through the first part of the study, I realized that I haven't been putting prayer behind the things that I am doing with our support group. As some of you may or may not know, I'm the chairperson/president of our local Celiac Support Group, a position that I took over about a year and a half ago. They've been around for a while, helping people via word of mouth, a little at a time. In my heart I have bigger dreams for this group, wanting our group to truly make a difference in education of medical personnel and diagnosis for those who have been suffering needlessly. I just seem to not be gaining much traction.

During our study group time, the Lord reminded me of a scripture that touched my heart 5-6 years ago. I felt that in some way Isiah 61:1-3 was meant for me, that God was trying to stir something in me.

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
One of the ideas in The Circle Maker in regards to prayer is claiming the promises and scripture of God. We were encouraged to use scripture to fervently and consistently pray to God, the one who has great and wonderful plans for our lives. And my thought was this- what if I started using the thoughts of this scripture to pray for Celiac Awareness, to pray for direction and success for my support group and our work? 
I'm sure that some of you right now think I'm nuts. But I will tell you, there are times that I believe that my Celiac Disease diagnosis is not by chance. My birthday is the same day as Samuel Gee, the doctor who is credited for giving the first modern-day understanding of Celiac Disease, the same date as Celiac Awareness Day - September 13th. Some may call it coincidence, but I tend to feel it is more of a calling. 
Lately there has been a steady stream of celebrities and crack pot news that has been making living with this lifelong disease even harder. With people like Jimmy Fallon, Hoda Kotb, and Joy Behar making us a butt of their jokes, the call of Celiac Awareness and true support is obviously greatly needed.
Gluten Dude brought to attention the most recent person making us the punching bag. Actually, it's an organization of people- NASCAR. There will be an ad at the end of the Super Bowl stating that people who eat gluten are weak. Gluten Dude made a great point about why we make a big deal about these things. 
"I think about all of the gluten-free children getting bullied for being “different”, when all they want to do is feel better and fit in. I think about all of the people who have gotten sick at restaurants because the kitchen and/or the staff do not take us seriously. I think about all of those walking around undiagnosed and suffering because they only listen to what is in the media. I think about all of the people in the past who have died prematurely when going gluten-free MAY have been their saving grace.
The fact is…I’m tired of being the butt of jokes from ignorant people. Yeah…I can handle it just fine. I’m a big boy. But it’s not just about me. It’s for all of those people I just mentioned in the above paragraph. It’s for those who don’t have a voice. Who are sick. And tired. And sick and tired of the lack of empathy for those silently suffering."

He said is pretty well. This is why I belong to and chair a support group. Because it's NOT about me. It's about making a difference in the lives of others and drastically bringing awareness for those who are lost.

So, here's my first step. I'm going to quit relying on my own strength to make a drastic change in the area of Celiac Disease. I'm going to acknowledge the One who made me who I am, how I am, and who has a heart for all those who are suffering. He has dreams for eradicating disease that are far greater than my own.
So I think this is going to be the prayer of my heart, my AIM from which my action gets its goal.

Lord, you have placed me in this position for a reason. Help me to be successfully vocal about Celiac Disease, to provide hope that are suffering silently, who are bully and maligned. Help me to increase doctor awareness so a proper diagnosis won't be missed, to open the eyes of the populous to the options of how they can reclaim their health and lives. Bind myself and my fellow advocates together, and may we provide comfort and hope to those who feel that a Celiac diagnosis is the end of their life. May God move in the hearts of the ignorant, the bullies, and those in greater positions than I who can truly make a difference. 
And may the glory go to God, our true Healer.

So that's my call to action. If you feel moved to act, you can take a initial step by signing Gluten Dude's Change.Org petition to remove the NASCAR ad from the Super Bowl line-up. Want to do a little more? Give to organizations that work hard to bring about awareness like CSA, NFCA, and GIG.

I'd encourage you to take one step further- join a local support group. Encourage their leaders to have activities and events that promote Celiac awareness- encourage them to get and participate in public health events, meet with local doctors, and/or apply for grants to do Celiac screenings. Sometimes the biggest national changes start at the local level.

And just as importantly, encourage those involved in advocacy. Give them a hug, a high five, send them a thank you note, call them simply to ask "how are you doing today? Trying to enact change is hard work!

"Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe