25/52 She chose not to let the diagnosis of MS define her but to create a beautiful example to her children that love, strength, faith and prayer define her… and always will.

Disabling, chronic, disease…words used to define multiple sclerosis.  As with all words, they hold power.  When heard they can instill fear or pity, they can change a life, or even encourage defeat.  But if you look carefully enough, they can also beautifully inspire.  Not in the words themselves but in the people who defy them.  The people who battle MS every day and chose victory.  The people who do not declare the fight easy, but rather find strength to overcome it.  The people who chose love, who focus on others, and who put family and children first.  The people who show the world that they will not be defined by the struggles they face, and who make the world a better place through their example of service in spite of hardship.  The people who prove to us that love, strength, faith, prayer…these are powerful words indeed.

This is the way Brewer Hicklen’s mom, Connie has chosen to live her life. This is the reason he contacted me to design a painting to honor her. Brewer grew up an incredible athlete. He was a Division 1 college football player and baseball player. He then went on to play professional baseball and currently is living his dream doing so. He’s an All-American kid. The kind that you hope your son grows up to be. Not because he’s good at sports, but because he’s about the right things…one of those things being the way he loves his mama. Below in his own words he shares about his mother’s fight with MS and how she never allowed the disease to stop her from being the best mother she could be.

“I think everyone can agree that your love for the Lord is what radiates the most and everything else follows. From a young age you have taught me what love is. You taught me to first love the Lord with all your heart. I can honestly say, that is the reason I am here today. Second, you taught me to love our family. You told me that when life gets a little shaky, look to your family to encourage and support you. You also taught me to love others. You always told me you never know what is going on in someone’s life and to look for the positives and leave an impact on their life. Lastly, you taught me to love myself. To be proud of what God has made. To be humble and confident in everything that I do. To embrace myself and to accept not just who I am, but whose I am.

Throughout your life you have inspired, encouraged, and motivated all to push past what life throws at you. And I am not talking about all the good; I am talking the hills that you have had to climb. Most people don’t know but my mom was diagnosed with MS 16 years ago. What most people see is a beautiful, motivational, God loving woman; what they don’t see is her battle with her health everyday. Because of her MS, she is easily fatigued, forgetful, and struggles with her strength.

With MS being more than most can handle, you have also struggled with skin cancer, a breast cancer scare, eye surgery, and gum surgery. You truly are a warrior!

The most amazing part is I have not once heard you complain about the cards you have been dealt in life. You choose to accept what has been given, make the most of it, and impact others along the way. One of my favorite moments is during an MS Society meeting a few years ago when you where sharing your testimony, without a dry eye in the room, about how you have conquered your life with MS. So many people left encouraged, fulfilled, and confident that they can continue their life without slowing down.”

So many mothers, including myself, hope that we can set positive examples for our children. That they will see something good in us. There is no question Brewer sees strength in his mother. Strength that has made him the man he is today. She chose not to let the diagnosis of MS define her but to create a beautiful example to her children that love, strength, faith and prayer define her… and always will.

If you would like to learn more about ways you can donate your time or give to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Click https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Get-Involved. To learn more ways to give follow my Instagram page @52thingsofbeauty.

Thank you for reading and learning the stories behind my paintings. These stories turn my artwork into 52 Things of Beauty.

Lauren and Emily Woods

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