May is an exciting time in our house! First, it’s Mother’s Day, then my wife and I’s anniversary, then my wife’s birthday! It’s a month of celebration! May is also Cystic Fibrosis (CF) awareness month. Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients. CF only effects roughly 30,000 people in the United States and mainly effects the Caucasian population. In order to be born with CF, each parent has a to be a carrier of the gene and pass both genes to their child. In this case there is a 1 in 4 chance that the child will have CF. The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with CF back in the 1980’s was in the 20’s. As of 2017 it is in the late 30’s. Babies born today are expected to live even longer due to new drug developments!

My wife found out she has CF when she was eight years old. CF effects everyone differently due to the mutation every patient has and also the bacteria that grows in their lungs. My wife works diligently to keep herself healthy by spending a lot of time every day doing treatments. Of course, there have been many ups and downs over the years but we are very thankful for God’s protection on her life.

Despite the fact that CF can cause difficulty breathing and frequent coughing, my wife has enjoyed singing since she was young and music has had a powerful impact on her life. She often wonders why God placed this desire in her heart, as singing can be quite difficult when you’re not breathing well. She has come to realize that God is using this for His glory. In her weakness he is made strong. A verse that gives her great encouragement is from Psalm 62:8 that says: “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” There are plenty of difficult moments living with CF and when she is at her lowest, knowing she can trust in God and hide in Him gives her great comfort.

When my wife and I were dating, of course I thought about the challenges of marrying someone with a chronic illness, including the possibility of not having children. I spoke with my mom and she encouraged me to do what God would want me to do. If that meant marrying someone with a chronic illness then she would support me in that. Through this time God revealed a verse to me from the book of John where it talks about the story of Lazareth. John 11:4 says: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” From that moment I knew she was the woman for me and that CF would not take my wife’s life but rather it would be utilized for the glory of God. Even though the doctor’s prognosis was not positive, we both knew God would bless us with kids. Today we are amazed and blessed to have three beautiful children. For more than fifteen years, it has been an honor and pleasure to care for my wife by providing emotional and spiritual support to her especially in the times she needs it the most.

To learn more about CF and how you can get involved please visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation online at cff.org. God bless!

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Erick Kalenga is pastor of His Village Church in Culpeper

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