March 30, 2019

Recalculating ... Recalculating by Kate Gerke

Find Comfort Here

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was twenty-four years old and my path was already gouged out to the extent that I could not possibly plan to take a road less traveled.

As of this year, I have been wandering in and out of the desert for thirty years with an insidious undercurrent of feeling sad, because of the many losses I have incurred. I have lost the use of both arms and both legs and am confined to an electric wheelchair, loss of a job, income, beloved home, identity, choices, hope, freedom, and loss of control over the environment that I am now living – that of long-term care.

I always have this feeling of being left behind as I see other people’s lives moving forward out of sight. I liken my days to that of my “May Long Weekend Syndrome” where: Everybody Is Doing Everything But Me. I am tired of feeling like a sack of cement has fallen onto my heart every time somebody mentions worldly trips, marriages, new babies, spontaneous day excursions to the mountains, camping, and hiking. This list is as long as my imagination will allow.

Throughout the first half of 2018, Ruth, who is a psychiatric nurse that works at the facility where I live was unable to entertain any solutions to my declining despair. It was this anniversary of sorts, that sent me reeling off my path, into hollowness and becoming entangled in a thicket of thistles and thorns of extreme consternation.

We started to look into existing programs throughout the city where I could find specialized bereavement counseling for my unique losses. It was during one such call where I was told, “A human being had to have been lost.”

I said, “I have been lost for 30 years. Does that count?”


In the summer of 2018, family and friends were startled to notice that I wasn’t coping well. I was unable to reflect and find strength in my past victories and blessings and was distracted by fretting about my own desires, not God’s. How do I reconcile my feelings that I’m not mad at God or the disease, but how inaccessible my world is and what I miss? Is this a form of envy? It’s this type of thinking that makes me falter.

God may know me intimately, but I do not.

It wasn’t until Ruth was able to find me a therapist, that specialized in grief counseling and would be willing to help me move through the uncharted territory called Kate Gerke.

Oswald Chambers eloquently wrote:
"Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him." 
I came to the realization that I’m keeping my soul’s losses in purgatory, and denying it rest. I needed to hand over these losses in Christ to unburden myself for the journey ahead.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
On January 1, 2019, I took my first step and started a daily journal that would best articulate daily trends in my emotional and spiritual growth or lack thereof. Additionally, I would include prayers and relevant Scripture that would hearten me while I dictated some of my most painful reflections. To start, I read the book of Proverbs – for the first time – and prayed for wisdom and understanding on how to recalibrate my moral compass and how to represent Christ in my relationships.

I am now reading the book of Psalms – for the first time ever in my 15 years as a Christian! With renewed hope and comfort moving forward, I have realized that I need to reflect on my inner-self and regain a more healthy and steadfast perspective on the permanency of my realities.

Anywhere You Want It To Be

The word of God will afford me direction, but it’s His grace that enables me to follow it, and it’s that grace that can only be obtained by my devoted prayers.
“even though he had always been with us in the desert. During the daytime, the LORD was in the cloud, leading us in the right direction and showing us where to camp. And at night, he was there in the fire.” Deuteronomy 1:33
This new journey that I’m on is going to be just as unsettled and grueling as the last, but at least I will be able to enjoy the scenery.

Katie Gerke was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1988, but has soldiered on despite her losses. Katie started mouth painting in 2008 and has been writing since 2010. She now runs her own business and is still walking with Jesus Christ.


  1. Kate, your statement, "I have been lost for 30 years. Does that count?" is powerful, as is your writing. Are you on the InScribe Facebook group? During my time with InScribe I've met many of our members who can relate to your story in unique ways. They need to hear your perspective, and I think you'll appreciate their's as well. Thank you for sharing with such vulnerability a truth that many feel, but can't articulate. That, I think, will be one of the blessings our Lord will create from your work.

  2. Thank you for this deeply moving account of your life, Katie. I'm so glad you are finding a new way through these hard things and that you can face your future with that burden of so many lost dreams now placed in the Savior's tender care.

    I loved this phrase in your post: "... came to the realization that I’m keeping my soul’s losses in purgatory, and denying it rest. I needed to hand over these losses in Christ to unburden myself for the journey ahead."

    That's a word for so many of us -- how many don't know they can have true rest for their souls!

    You have a clear way with words. We hope you will share more often on the InScribe blog. You've given the reader a peek into your most difficult life and yet presenting it with such a sense of hope. I do pray it will be a great encouragement for others who may face similar kinds of challenges or perhaps completely different ones.

    I love your leaf painting in the post -- quite lovely.

  3. Kate, thanks for what you have shared. You took us inside a world that few of us will ever know. I've always admired mouth painters and their tenacity at making something beautiful in spite of their many limitations. You are the first mouth painter I have "met." Your writing is beautiful as well--you have much to share with your readers from a different perspective. May God give you courage to live your life to the fullest.

  4. Thanks for your courage for sharing your heartbreak and your path to "recalibrating." God gave you such a promise to guide you as He did to the people in the desert--by a cloud and firelight.

    As I read your story, I thought of the Gaither song:

    Something beautiful, something good
    All my confusion He understood
    All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
    But he made something beautiful of my life.

    That is my prayer for you.

  5. Such honest words. Thank you for sharing your struggles and despair, Katie, and also for showing how Jesus is giving you freedom to live the life ahead. I have a close relative with MS and I hope to share this with her, along with your beautiful paintings. She used to garden and have the most beautiful yard but will not be able to do that this summer. I think she will relate to you well. Thank you I take hope and truth from your courage to follow Jesus into this new journey.
    Pam M

  6. How amazing, how miraculous, that your nurse friend and mentor recognized your need for the right counsellor and persisted in finding this person for you. Although my own difficulties with depression seem small in comparison to your having to deal with MS and mobility challenges, I see similarities in our healing process. About 20 years ago when I was dealing with own wilderness of "Becoming Overwhelmed," I also was lead to an amazing psychologist, who understood who Sharon was and taught me to accept her and treat her better.

    I had handled my difficulties mostly in secret, so that, except for a very few people close to me, I appeared to be doing well. My teenage son, who had helped in my challenging Grade 5 classroom, gave me a poster of a duck swimming. The caption said, "Calm on the surface, but paddling like H_ _ _ below the surface." I could go on to say how I also appreciate Oswald Chamber's writing and Jesus words, "Come to me all you who are weary . . ." I was weary.

    But this is about you, Katie Gerke, and your self-discovery. I have also found healing through journal writing, which often turns into prayer and favourite Bible passages.

    I love how you are letting the artist in you develop and come out for the world to see and get to know. How wonderful that your growth allows you to see and to show others that, "With renewed hope and comfort moving forward, I have realized that I need to reflect on my inner-self and regain a more healthy and steadfast perspective on the permanency of my realities." May God continue you to bless you and let you know when you are walking on the right path.

  7. Katie, thank you for sharing. You write Truth, both pain and joy, beautifully. I, too, identify with your despair and journey to recalculate. For all that you have lost, I believe God has filled your spirit to overflowing with creative talent. Please keep letting that creativity out in whatever ways you are able.


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