This is my interview with Tracie Miles which was featured on her blog February 25, 2015.
Maxine Y. lives in Queens, New York and has discovered that her purpose based on her past experiences, which are also still her present circumstances, is to connect with women who feel their lives are over due to devastating illness diagnoses, or because of the unexpected twists and turns that life sometimes takes, and to give them hope for the future while reminding them they are not forgotten. Maxine published her Ebook titled The Wait: Seeking God When Your Health Hits Life’s Pause Button.
My Interview with Maxine:
What made you want to contribute your story to Your Life Still Counts?
Maxine: At first, I didn’t believe I had a story to contribute, because I have Multiple Sclerosis. My sister assured me that I did, and that was the reason she told me about Your Life Still Counts. After reading about the project, I was still not convinced, but I told her that I would pray about it, and be open to whatever God said. Within about a week, I stumbled upon something I wrote in my journal – a story that I’d forgotten about. When I read it, I felt encouraged by that memory in my faith walk, and Your Life Still Counts flashed in my mind. I began to wonder, What if there was a woman who received a devastating diagnosis, and thought her life no longer counted, just as I had come to believe? What if the story of how God let me know that my life did still count, could be an encouragement to her? It was these questions that nudged me to contribute my story.
So many of us feel that way Maxine. We think our lives don’t matter and that we can’t make a contribution in this world because of our circumstances or past experiences. What an inspiration you are to so many now, especially those struggling with illness or limitations, as you live as proof that God can use every person to impact the lives of others.
So how has God opened doors for you to do ministry or touch other’s hearts since you stepped out in obedience to share your story with me?
Maxine: When I first received the interview questions a few months ago, my heart sank upon reading this particular question above. Nothing had really happened except my MS giving me more trouble. In November, I had to undergo another round of therapy in order to help my legs get moving again. I wasn’t feeling very well, the holidays were on their way, and everything seemed bleak, but God is always on time. In December, the administrator of a website I wrote for previously invited me to write for them again. I am now part of the Ruby for Women Blogger team. I had not written for them since the beginning of 2012. Keeping a daily or even weekly blog just became too difficult, and I hadn’t kept a regular blog since 2006, but when you’re a part of a team, it’s more manageable. I’ve also been able to update my encouragement booklet for people with illness or disease titled, The Wait: Seeking God When Your Health Hits Life’s Pause Button.
Thank you for being so honest Maxine. Sometimes we all go through seasons of feeling like God is doing nothing in us or through us, and that problems are all we have, and it can be very discouraging. But what an awesome example of how God knew the longings of your heart, and was just waiting for the perfect time to open up a new door for you to bless and reach out to others. Aside from these new opportunities you just mentioned, do you feel He’s blessed you in a special way as a result of walking in obedience through the sharing of your story in YLSC, and your other writings?
Maxine: I would say that my faith has definitely been strengthened, and that is a blessing in itself. But when I share my personal story with someone and the story of it being chosen to be published in your book – it’s a wonderful blessing for both me and the person I’m speaking with.
I want to share part of your story today, so people know where your heart was at one time, because I know there are people reading this post who feel the same way right this minute.
Several years ago I was given a devastating diagnosis – Multiple Sclerosis. I quickly realized that having an illness that causes disability is brutal. I often felt worthless, and felt that society thought I was as well. So it didn’t take long for me to begin believing that lie, doubting that God could ever have a purpose for my life or use me in a unique way. I prayed words like “Lord, what could my life possibly be at this point? I feel cheated. I finally have a relationship with You, and I can’t do anything.” I then heard a still small voice which said “Who told you that you can’t do anything?”, then the verse Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind.
Gratefully, I understood what God was saying in that moment – I simply needed to trust Him. Within a year of that prayer, I felt called to write a publication of encouragement for people with chronic illness, but I was terribly uncertain. I became overwhelmed with fear, doubts, and self-defeating thoughts which hindered my progress. I wondered what advice or encouragement I could have to offer anyone, and assumed that nobody would want to listen to me. Yet eventually, I grew tired of being a coward and asked God to help me move forward with confidence. I asked God to help me with my fears and to reassure me of His plans. I said Amen, and opened up my daily devotional – which was a story about a woman who had been called to write a book but lacked confidence. She described all the emotions I had been juggling and how she had overcome them through Christ and I knew God was speaking to me!
Despite a few obstacles that my illness caused, I completed my encouragement booklet eight months later. I realized that God didn’t need to cure me to use me. He called me exactly where I was and how I was, and my illness is what qualified me to serve a unique purpose.
So inspiring, no matter how many times I read it Maxine! God is so good when we give Him a chance. What an incredible example you are of pushing past self doubt and really trusting that you are valuable and loved in God’s eyes, but also that you have a divine purpose and can positively impact the lives of others, despite the limitations your illness has caused.
Have you felt called to do anything new lately, like a new project or ministry endeavor?
Maxine: Well, it’s really more of an unexpected endeavor. In October there was a writing challenge that encourages writing (on any topic) for each of the 31 days in October. I was hesitant to start, but was actually able to complete that challenge and increase traffic to my own devotional blog since I linked it up to the winning blog entries. I believe that being able to complete that challenge gave me courage and hope, and as a result, God opened the door for me to become a blogger again. What started as just a fun and challenging project for me, was a stepping stone for God. I had never done the challenge before – I didn’t know it would be possible for me.
My topic focused on the importance of writing down important things that we often forget, or become too busy to note.
I hope that anyone who reads the blog will take the time to remember what has been and appreciate what currently is. Life as it is right now will not always be. Your great grand-children might want to read about your take on things one day. Maybe you need to share with them and someone else what God has done/is doing for you!
That’s awesome! I’m assume that was out of our comfort zone?
Maxine: This entire experience has been out of my comfort zone. As close as I feel to God when I write, I would feel perfectly fine keeping everything I write down private and between us. That was not God’s plan for me. Although it is not new, this is out of my comfort zone for sure.
Do you have anything else you are involved with right now?
Maxine: Lately, I have focused on sending uplifting cards and notes to people in my circle of family and friends and sometimes just people that I have seen or have been mentioned to me. I’ve seen how sometimes a short encouraging word can go a very long way. I do hope it helps someone else see Christ.
If you had to name one thing that you are most thankful to God for, what would it be?
Maxine: His patience and my family. I’m sorry, I know that’s two, but I can’t name just one!
What are you most excited about regarding how God has turned your past into your purpose?
Maxine: The idea that someone could see themselves in the story that I wrote down is exciting. The idea that someone who felt that they were inconsequential in life might begin to understand just how important they are to God, simply because my story spoke to them, is thrilling. And the idea that after they have understood God’s love for them, they might reach out to someone else, sharing the good news of the hope that a life in Christ provides – is electrifying.
That answer almost makes me want to cry. Thank you for being a vessel of hope for others. So how can people pray for you today?
Maxine: I would be grateful for prayers for my health and prayers for transformation, guidance and obedience.
If you struggle with the discouragement and frustration due to the limitations or challenges of an illness or health issue, and could use some encouragement from someone who truly understands, I want to encourage you to check out Maxine’s blog at His Work In Progress and/or her 31 Days of Meaning Blog.
You can also purchase her E-book of inspiration on Amazon for only $1.99.
If you struggle with the frustrations of a debilitating illness, how does Maxine’s story encourage you today?