Facing Lupus, This Hen House Hero Will Not Be Defeated

My first Hen House Hero is Jen.  She is a courageous and compassionate woman who embodies the characteristics of a Chickening IN champion.  Diagnosed with Systemic Lupus in the summer of 2013, Jen has faced physical pain that would defeat most. The devastating effects of the disease caused her to lose her job, her marriage and her home…even becoming homeless for a short period of time. However, Jen has inner strength and a belief in God that has sustained her throughout this journey.

Bedridden with Lupus, but Not Defeated

When I first met Jen 3 years ago she could not get out of bed.  Lupus had confined her to her bedroom.  With very little energy, she struggled to make it to a doctor’s appointment or spend time with her daughter.  It was during this time that Jen co-founded a non-profit organization called Mentor Moms.  Pre-Lupus Jen had worked for the county helping women get their lives back on track after drug addiction.  Her heart ached for these women.  She saw a need to have a mentor come alongside these discouraged ladies and help them re-establish their lives.  After being diagnosed with Lupus, Jen continued to carrier a burden in heart to help these women.

In the Midst of Her Own Tragedy….This Hen House Hero…Created Mentor Moms

In the height of her illness rather than feeling sorry for herself, Jen took the opportunity to follow her dream. She co-founded Mentor Mom’s, a non-profit organization seeking to restore lives.  Their mission: to partner with local agencies to provide mentoring services to women striving to re-establish life after drug addiction, abuse and homelessness.  Mentor Moms offers personal 1:1 mentoring services between a stable mentor and a qualified mentee.  It is a 6-12 month commitment that literally changes lives for the better.  To date, Mentor Mom’s has mentored 61 women of which 21 have completed and graduated from the mentoring program.

Her Faith Has Kept Her Strong

Since Jen’s diagnosis, her life hasn’t been easy.  She has faced physical ailment, loss and difficult decisions.  When I asked Jen about her journey she said, “God had a different plan for my life. He cleared my slate.  Prior to Lupus I was career focused and had a comfy life.  I’ve watched my life fall apart and then, be rebuilt again.”  By fall apart, Jen means she lost her physical health, energy and strength.  Also, she lost her job, her financial status, her home and even her marriage.  By rebuilt, Jen means that she now has a meaningful relationship with God that inspired her to start Mentor Moms.  She has a heart for others and depends daily on God to provide for her needs.  Miracles…Jen has seen many…in the generosity of others with their time/resources and in the creation of Mentor Moms.

Three Years with Lupus and Not Giving Up

Today Jen is a single, homeschooling mom and co-founder of Mentor Moms.  Daily she battles her disease and the ups and downs that come with Lupus.  Money…well there’s not much.  She is disabled and cannot work. Yet, spiritually she has grown closer to God and she depends on him moment by moment.  I quote her exact words, “I seemingly have nothing, yet I have everything with God.”
This woman is Chickening IN every day.  She faces her illness head-on and makes no excuses.  She respects her limitations and refuses to let Lupus get the best of her.  Jen is hopeful for a cure and her sweet daughter dreams of starting a non-profit to end Lupus once and for all.  For putting others first, being a great mom and never giving up…Jen is a true Hen House Hero!

For more information on Lupus see below and visit http://lupus.org . To learn about Mentor Moms visit http://mentormoms.org.

What Exactly is Lupus?

The case of Lupus is still unclear.  It affects mostly women in their child bearing ages (15-45).  Many answers can be found on lupus.org but to sum it up:
  1. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, similar to an allergic reaction of the body where the immune system sees the body’s healthy tissue and cells as foreign.
  2. It is chronic.  Meaning there is no cure and the person has it for the rest of his/her life.  Medication can help manage it but each lupus victim reacts differently.
  3. Lupus presents many different symptoms and affects each person differently.  It can cause a mild skin rash and achy joints.  More severe symptoms affect the organs like the kidneys, heart, lungs and brain.  It requires a lot of effort for persons affected to cope with the extreme fatigue, chronic pain, memory loss and medication side effects.
  4. Lupus is unpredictable.  It can flare up without warning and symptoms worsen.  And then there are times of remission when symptoms improve.