Friday Feature, Week One: Connie Helland
Congratulations, Connie! We loved hearing your story and were so encouraged by your strength, peace, joy and service to your community. Thank you for being an inspiration to us!
OK, to tell you about Connie. Connie is a mom to 3 amazing children and a wife to a pretty cool guy. When I first met Connie 3 years ago what struck me was the sense of joy that radiates from her – all the time! She smiles and the room lights up. I’d see her from time to time at Church and she sang in the choir sometimes – grinning away as if she was totally in love with life!
About 2 years ago Connie noticed a lump in her breast and in her humble way hesitated to even mention it to her closest friends. Horror of horrors the lump turned out to be a very serious situation requiring a double mastectomy within a week or two of the first doctor visit. We all were stunned. How could this happen to such a young women (early 30’s) with three tiny children to homeschool and care for? The medical processes took over their lives and everyone jumped into high gear to provide meals, household help, and childcare. The downside of homeschooling is that when mom gets really sick the kids need to be cared for all day long! It was a long, hard winter.
By late Spring Connie was back and church and sharing that she actually had been dealing with extreme depression before her diagnosis and that the illness had thrown everything into clear focus for her, especially her faith. Her glow and joy returned, despite such a hard time. Laughter never really left the Helland household despite cancer’s attack on them. Cancer tried to sneak back in this past spring but we all think it’s a little bit afraid of all the joy in that woman!
Now I see Connie weekly because this special woman has added distributing free food we receive from the gleaners organization to her long list of things to do each week. She picks up the leftover food, calls all the recipients, comes to our church to sort and hand out the food – and she listens to each person as they tell their story.
She shows great care and love for each and every person, in her humble and joyful way. Her kids are engaged in this effort; making signs and helping to carry produce and dairy products. Their day stops when the gleaners call comes and they work together to help others less fortunate than they are. What a marvelous thing to teach your children! Connie cares deeply about women and because her life requires frugality she shops at yard sales and is teaching her children the value of thriftiness…and I know that though she would love to support Sseko Designs with her dollars, there are few to share.
I think Connie embodies Sseko…laughter, caring for a world beyond yourself and teaching the next generation what it means to shoulder the burdens and lighten the load together. Her beautiful strength has been an inspiration to many.
Thanks so much to Karen Sesnon for this submission.