Blog

For those of you who are married with children, if you could do something that would not only improve your marriage, but also help your children become more empathetic, wouldn’t you do it?

March 21, 2017 1 0 comments
Resource

Live in Ontario? The Partners for Planning Network is designed to help relatives or caregivers of persons with a disability connect with other families, provide practical information, lessen isolation, and find solutions.  

June 28, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Type Not Listed

Ministry is primarily about relationships, but programs can provide the space for relationships to develop and flourish. This information sheet was distributed to people at Orland Park CRC by their Disability Concerns Team.

May 27, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Type Not Listed

If your child seems to be missing developmental milestones, he or she may just need a little more time. Other times, active intervention is needed. The Help Me Grow program is a great tool to check out! 

April 26, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

What does love look like when someone follows through on their marriage vow "in sickness and in health"?

April 11, 2016 1 4 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

Eric Groot-Nibbelink describes the hopes and fears that came with his young adult daughter Jenica's sudden brain injury. 

April 1, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

September 9 is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. Help alert your congregation to the risks of birth defects if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.

August 31, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Volunteers at Family Retreat, also called Short-Term Missionaries (STMs), often go believing that they will serve and bless a family, which they do. However, STMs come away immensely blessed also. 

July 7, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

A pastor friend told me that the topic of vaccinations was ripping at the unity of his church. Parents have wrangled intensely with each other on Facebook and in the church parking lot.

June 23, 2015 2 16 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

As a parent or caregiver, you may have questions about certain behaviors your children or dependents exhibit and how to ensure they get help. But do you need help starting a conversation?

May 29, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

Disability is hard on marriages, but telling couples (falsely) that 80 percent of marriages end in divorce if the couple has a child with a disability could lead them to give up hope. Couples in crisis need love and support and encouragement, not statistics.

December 2, 2014 1 2 comments
Resource, Article

Walk through this season of celebration and change with these tips for supporting persons with disabilities from Barbara J. Newman.

November 21, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

This author's third (and first biological) son was born in December 1967. He was a lovable child like his two older brothers. In 1985, the year in which he turned eighteen, the Lord permitted this devastating brain illness (schizophrenia) to affect him almost all year in some way or other. In fact, the illness left none of them untouched.

November 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

Do you ever wonder what it is life is like for parents in your church who have children with autism; developmental disabilities; and physical, visual, hearing, and intellectual impairments? Your ministry will be enhanced if you ask them, and also if you check out this video.

October 13, 2014 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Kathy Boldoc, who has a son with autism and a mother with dementia, writes a blog on parenting. In her most recent entry "The Sacrament of Letting Go," she writes...

October 9, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Here's a “wish list”, created by mothers of what they would find helpful for local churches to offer families who have children with special needs.

June 30, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Devotional

Attached are the Disability Emphasis Week devotionals (volume 2) by special education teacher Barbara Newman. These devotionals are available for download in MS Word format. Also, at no charge we will print and send as many paper copies as needed to any Christian Reformed Church wishing to use...

June 12, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Devotional

Attached are the Disability Emphasis Week devotionals (volume 1) by special education teacher Barbara Newman. These devotionals are available for download in MS Word format. Also, at no charge we will print and send as many paper copies as needed to any Christian Reformed Church wishing to use...

June 12, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

We would never say “It’s your kid, do the appendectomy at home.” Or “Your parents will have to deal with that gunshot wound.” But this is the system of care we have in place for people with severe disabilities. Why?

May 7, 2014 0 0 comments
Q&A

My wife Bev and I have had 25 years of experience in walking with our daughter Nicole, who lives with severe, multiple disabilities. Thanks to Bev's forward thinking, we've prayed, and sought advice, and read books and magazines so that we could keep looking ahead to do what's best for Nicole....

December 20, 2012 0 4 comments
Blog

A simple, short guide won't make all the challenges go away, but it can help everyone enjoy the holidays a bit more. This guide, written by Barbara Newman, gives practical advice that can be of help to those who care about people who have a difficult time with all the changes that come with the holidays.

November 22, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Often when a child with a disability comes into a family, whether by birth or by adoption, the parents are not ready for the emotional, spiritual, and practical changes they must make to care for their new child well.

October 17, 2011 0 10 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

This issue of Breaking Barriers is devoted to parenting a child with a disability.

October 7, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I’m a part of a group of 9 women (all of whom have children with disabilities) who are meeting weekly for Bible study and support.  On Thursday the question came up, “Do you ever wonder if your child’s disability is punishment from God for some past sin?”

What about you?  Have you ever...

October 3, 2011 0 6 comments

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  Good article.  I especially appreciated the fact that mental illness was mentioned as an important factor in suicide attempts, particularly when it is under-treated or untreated altogether.  Having had suicidal thoughts myself when my illness was not diagnosed, let alone treated, I think it is very important that this issue be addressed by the church with compassion BOTH for those who are contemplating it and those who live with survivor guilt, "Why didn't I see the signs?"  Neither would benefit from a condemning attitude.

Angie, thanks for sharing. Yes, we too are so thankful for the health insurance provided for Dylan; otherwise the horror of that time would have been multiplied.  I'm thankful we could focus on Dylan, not on how to pay the bills. Still, it was shattering to make the decision that the most loving thing we could do for our child was to allow him to die. One of the nurses in neo-natal helped us with this by saying, bluntly but accurately, "There are things that are worse than death." I thank God for his sustaining grace through that terrible time and for the support of many loving people. 

Life is precious. Thank you for sharing your story of Dylan, Mark, and for your honesty that there are no easy answers in this life. I'm thankful that as Christians we know that God holds all things in his hands - all the complications of health care - and even life and death are in his strong and loving hands.

Mark, thank you for sharing these very personal reflections about Dylan and the agonizing decisions you and Bev made. I've heard you describe the circumstances before, but reading it now brings a fresh dimension of impact and makes it all so current, even 23 years later.

Thank you, too, for making the connection to Charlie Gard's circumstances, the contrasting approaches to healthcare, and the larger point about what generosity looks like in the context of limited resources. Particularly in light of the political drama still unfolding in the U.S., your prayerful reflections are so helpful in humanizing the challenges, the costs, and the ethics of healthcare.

Thanks for posting this, Mark. Ten months ago, my husband and I had to make the soul-crushing decision to tell the doctors to stop trying to revive our daughter. To this day, I don't know how we had the strength to do that. However, we do take comfort in the fact that just about every medical resource and effort available was used to give our daughter the best chance at life. We always felt that the hospital and its staff valued her life and was committed to helping her thrive. We are also blessed to live in a state that covers the medical expenses of severely premature babies like my daughter. Without that blessing, we would have faced an astronomical hospital bill for her month of life. It breaks my heart that other parents in similar situations aren't blessed with this same level of support and are forced to fight systems that don't value the life of their child in the way they should. 

Steve - yes! We will be recording the webinar and will post it on our Worship Ministries website several days after the webinar takes place. That way many more can take advantage of the learning.

Hi Steve, I know Worship Ministries is planning to post this webinar recording on The Network. Stay tuned later this week! 

Will this webinar be available for listening to at a later time?

Hi Justin, 

I have two copies of Someone Cares, which were given to me from John. Has he run out of copies? If so, I can certainly give you a copy when I'm in the area next.

Blessings, 

Victor

Michele, yes, getting help is so important. It's a huge step, and I would guess for many people it feels like failure. Of course, as you well know, getting help is a step back toward health. I hope that our society, and people in churches especially, will start to view getting help for a mental illness as the same wise decision as getting help for heart trouble or knee pain or vision problems. 

 Guilt is a bad motivation to do things.  I know.  as someone in recovery from schizophrenia, depression was my main negative symptom and guilt the main one of that.  Before I was treated for this illness I felt guilty for breathing, let alone failing to do stuff.  It nearly drove me to suicide, and even after I'd decided not to throw myself into a river I still had suicidal thoughts.  GET HELP.   It's the only way.

Gary, yes, not just triangles within our families, but within the communities of our churches. In answer to your question, I hope and pray that this will be the case, not only for pastors but for everyone else in the church too. 

I agree, thank you, Mark, for raising the subject and giving another nudge to the discussion. Response to mental health crisis is vital, as well as mental health maintenance and prevention of crisis. A quote from Ed Friedman's "Generation to Generation" has stuck with me, that "Stress is less the result of some quantitative notion such as 'overwork' and more the effect of our position in the triangle of our families." I know I've found this helpful when I begin to feel the burdens of ministry, that maybe those burdens are not necessary. Could we create a denominational context where it's normal for pastors to consult with mental health care providers, where pastors continue to explore our own areas of risk? 

 

Kelly, thanks so much for sharing about your own journey. Blessings in your resumption of ministry work!

Clergy mental illness is widespread across the denominational spectrum. My first bout with depression came through a complete awareness of unrealized expectations for  ministry, aka burnout, as a young ordained Pentecostal church planter. Through a prolonged leave of absence, I was able to come to a complete understanding of the cause and finally cures for situational depression (dysthymia). Self-care is of primary importance for long-haul success in ministry. As I result of my mental illness, I lost years of potentially productive pastoral ministry. I am thankful to God and to those who provided the loving care I received for restoration back to health and eventually productive ministry after a 14-year absence due to depression.

The best piece of advice and take-away from that awful dark period was, " why work 55-70 hours per week for 10 years when you can work with health and effectiveness 35-40 hours per week for 40 years.

Self-care is what makes me currently effective in ministry for the long run. Talk to your leadership about the need for self-care. Form a covenant with them to preserve your mental health, so you can run the race with the endurance needed for a full, rewarding career in ministry.

Guilt, what, really? CRC people?!

Thanks very much, Mark. This is one of those issues that church councils need to be aware of at least as much as pastors. Our efforts as pastors to try to be all things to all people is not what St. Paul meant, though we and councils out-guilt ourselves with that mis-interpreted verse selected out of context by adapting it to our idolatrous service to overwork disguised as work ethic. 

Beautiful prayer. Thanks for sharing. 

Here is a prayer I will use this week for our Friendship Sunday

When our daughter Nicole, who has multiple disabilities, still lived with my wife and me, I would sing this blessing to her each evening using Michael Card's Barocha. After I finished, since she cannot use words, she would usually touch my face gently. So thinking about what your wrote about the Lord's name being put on you and Edward, Nicole's touch was her way to put the blessing (and the Lord's name) back on me. Thanks for making these blessed memories even better!

Beautiful! Thanks John for this message which is especially appropriate for this holy week. 

This is a great resource! I'm sharing in a Facebook group our ministry launched for mental health ministry leaders.

Hi Dirk

I am praying that God will give you the help that you need.
In my healing journey I have been helped by friends, family, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and pastors.
God has used a combination of listening prayer, talk therapy, deliverance ministry, food, books,  music and some meds.
Ask Him for the help you need.
Blessings to you.

posted in: Deliverance

Hi Dirk, I too pray that God will give you grace, strength, and peace, and that he will send people into your life who can help you move toward healing and increasing levels of mental health. Like you, I firmly believe that the Deceiver and his hosts are active in this world, and that they can wreak havoc in our world and in individual's lives. There are times that people need the kind of deliverance you write about. I also firmly believe that mental illnesses have a variety of causes including brain chemistry imbalances, prior trauma, stress and trial in life, and more. God uses many instruments to help people move toward recovery including professional counselors, social workers, and medical doctors including psychiatrists, as well as medication, support groups, hospital psychiatric units, spiritual direction and the encouragement and support of people who love and care for the person dealing with mental illness. Although some people have had to hide their mental illness from fellow church members, others have found their church to be a supportive and encouraging community that helps them move toward healing.  I pray that God will help you find the help you are looking for, and that God will give you hope and healing. 

posted in: Deliverance

 Fine, but you should also seek the help of a psychiatrist.  There is no guarantee that prayers alone will make the mental illness go away.  To be sure, God CAN work miracles, but He doesn't cure all cases of mental illness.  He NEVER took mine away.  So don't put ALL your eggs in the same basket and seek treatment.  God may have other ideas about your illness.

posted in: Deliverance

Praying here too!

Paula Wigboldy

posted in: Deliverance

Hi Dirk, 

I just lifted you up in prayer after reading this.

Blessings, 
Staci

posted in: Deliverance

Doug, Disability Concerns bought 50 hard copies of an expanded version of this book as soon as it came out, and they are sitting in my office. We send a thank you gift to all CRCs that take an offering for DC, and this will be next in line for the churches in the US. I've lobbied a couple Canadian friends to create a Canadian version of the booklet, but that hasn't happened yet. The Putting Faith to Work model is excellent, and its principles are applicable across North America though the stats and resources are US-centric. 

Thanks for the link to the booklet, Mark.  I think its content is excellent.

I don't think it would hurt at all to send a copy, in paper form and perhaps also by email, to the clerk of every local CRC council, and the clerk of every CRC classis.

If all CRC members transformed 90% of their angst about government related politics, and the CRCNA 100% of its, into efforts toward serving directly in their own local areas, whether the disabled or others, much, much more would get done with infinitely more satisfaction.

We don't really have much power at all to overhaul the government, especially at the federal level, in whatever direction.  And we'll forever disagree about what that overhaul should be.  But our power as a church of Jesus Christ to directly impact the lives of many  immediately around us, each in our own communities, is great indeed.  And as to that, I really don't see any disagreement at all.

  No, I DON'T think we should wait and see.  That would be wasting precious time.  We KNOW Trump's character and his values, and he's NOT going to change.  Why would he?  All his life he's been led to believe he could get away with his behavior.  Even the fact that he was elected would confirm him in the belief that he was right to believe he could get away with his behavior.  So it would be foolish to wait and see at this time.  No new data are going to come in about the Trump Administration.  Americans with disabilities and their advocates need to put pressure on that government to respect the laws put in place by previous administrations to protect those who are vulnerable.  It's too bad he was elected, but since he's there until some people decide to impeach him, American citizens need to deal with him.

Doug, You wrote, "I think there is much more promise for increased employment of the disabled in the private sector, profit and non-profit." I agree. And from where I sit, it looks to me like churches are uniquely situated to assist people with disabilities to get employed. A couple basics to get a job are skills and a network. Churches can provide opportunities for people with disabilities to gain both soft and hard skills by encouraging them to be involved in various aspects of ministry, and providing mentoring and guidance along the way. And churches are a network of people who are employees, supervisors, and business owners who can assist fellow members with disabilities make the connections they need to get work. But this kind of thinking requires a shift that's starting to happen, but still is a long ways in coming: a shift from seeing first what people with disabilities can't do, to see and celebrate and encourage what they can do. This booklet produced in 2014, The Call and Opportunity for Faith Communities to Transform the Lives of People with Disabilities and their Communities, provides helpful guidance for faith communities. If every faith community helped one unemployed person with a disability get a job, that would be another 300,000 people in the workforce, who would have less dependence on government benefits, and possibly a greater sense of self esteem and a better sense of how to fulfill their calling while here on earth. 

While I certainly don't oppose the kind of action that was taken by Obama's EO, Mark, I always wonder about the ratio of "show to go" with federal action. In my neck of the nation's woods, the biggest employers of the disabled (including a neighbor of mine that I've know for his entire life), are private non-profits.  My guess is that next to no one in my geographical area is benefited by Obama's EO (or Clinton's before that).

I think there is much more promise for increased employment of the disabled in the private sector, profit and non-profit, perhaps with some tax credit assistance from government, federal, state, and/or local even.

One thing everyone is likely to agree on is that is it better for the disabled to work, at whatever level that might match their abilities, than that they not work.  Even if they worked for no compensation, their lives are made better by working.  And frankly, I think that sentiment is quite bipartisan, and shared by those who like big or small government.

Thanks for this information and important discussion, Mark. Please keep challenging us and pointing us to those who are being marginalized. 

One other thought: the federal government influences behaviors not only by where money gets spent but also by setting priorities. My Exhibit A is Executive Order 13548. Although employment (and unemployment) of people with disabilities has (sadly) remained relatively constant ever since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the emphasis by the Obama Administration on hiring people with disabilities for jobs with the federal government has actually increased the percentage of people with disabilities working for the federal government. 

Doug, I agree that Trump is quick to lash out at anyone who makes him look bad in some way. Still, my sense is that there is an undertone to his rhetoric that diminishes anyone whom he deems as "weak." As you write, we'll need to wait and see. We're barely into his presidency yet.

I would like to be for smaller government. Yes, people closest to the ones receiving assistance are more likely to care and provide appropriate solutions, and less likely to allow waste. However, the kind of money that's required to provide supports for people like my daughter and many, many others with disabilities is not going to come out of people's pockets unless local, state, and federal government collects it in taxes. Don't get me wrong. People are generous. My daughter lives in a wonderful place that was fully paid for the day she moved in thanks to generous contributions, but providing day in day out support for her and others in group homes is not going to come solely from charitable contributions. She lives in a home that is a public/private partnership, and I truly wish it were possible for it to be funded fully privately, but I can't imagine it, not only for the place our daughter lives, but also for many other people needing supports for daily living. And that's just one example of group homes. There are people living in their own places who need some assistance. There are people in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. There are people in supported employment. There are people receiving health care through Medicaid. There are disabled vets. There are a lot of kids in special education programs. I believe that one of the ways that Americans show their heart is through providing supports (through our taxes and through charitable contributions) for people with disabilities, but I fear we would not provide this level of support to this many people if we all were simply asked to pitch in with voluntary contributions. 

 

Mark: I do appreciate concerns about non-policy aspects of Trump (his mocking a reporter), but one should really consider him an equal opportunity offender, if you will.  Trump will rant against and offend anyone and everyone -- and has.  So anyone who is looking for Trump to be always be "nice to them" or "nice to the group they are part of" is just going to be badly disappointed -- sooner or later.  Russian's Putin, and everyone else, will get the same treatment, sooner or later. :-)

In terms of the broader picture, but perhaps expanding the conversation a bit, I have always been an advocate of smaller government, and for people to look first to their local resources (first private and only after that local and state government) for solutions to problems -- all before looking to the federal government.  Why?  Because one-size-fits all solutions (solutions "from the top") are clumsy at best, and because things "at the top" can change in the blink of an eye, in which case ... well, here we maybe are, aren't we, at least for some things?

We have been looking increasingly to the "top" for solutions over the past years, decades even.  OK, but then we maybe set ourselves up for these kinds of possibilities?

Doug, thanks for your comment. I hope you are right, though this author's concern is not only with federal disability benefits, but also with the way Trump so far has used his bully pulpit with regard to people with disabilities. My sense is that she fears that the incident involving Serge Kovaleski and the removal of the disability section of whitehouse.gov bespeak at least a lack of intentionality about engaging Americans with disabilities respectfully, or worse, a degrading of these fellow Americans which could lead to even greater discrimination in employment, housing, and so on. 

My answer is part "wait and see," part "these concerns are overblown."

If Trump did everything he might have alluded to verbally at one point or another, all Hispanics unable to produce documentation of their right to be in the US would not be here anymore, but of course that hasn't happened.

Trump's communication style drives me beyond nuts,  but it is only style.  One cannot simply find an off the cuff point in an off the cuff speech he may have made and conclude that is what he'll do.  

The best approach to Trump is to take almost everything he says with a lot of salt, especially when he talks to his hard core supporters or the public in general (and most of us are not privy to Trump's private conversations so this is very difficult), try to decipher major themes amid all his verbal noise, and then, ultimately, wait and see what he actually does.

I think the chances of federal government disability benefits being curtailed because Trump is President, at least across the board, are slim.  And it isn't at all impossible that those benefits would increase because Trump is President.  In all the things he's said, support for that possibility is more easily found than what some in the disabled community may fear.

Thanks for your words, Michele.  It was just over 6 years ago that I had to stop working at a job that I loved because of my disabilities.  I was advised to apply for CPP Disability, which I did.  I dipped into my personal RRSP to supplement my income to meet my needs, and purchased additional Blue Cross benefits.  My mistake is that I did not explore other avenues of income for persons with disabilities, specifically Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) in Alberta.  It would have paid the health care expenses, enabled me to attend therapeutic pool exercises for free, and provided me with an income that would have taken into account the mortgage I am still paying on, plus saved my RRSP funds for my retirement years. 

Late last fall I turned the page into "seniorhood", and things have changed again.  Between CPP and provincial seniors' income, I take in several hundred more a month, have many more health and lifestyle benefits are available to me at no or minimal cost, and I am now in a position to decrease the rate at which I use up my RRSP funds.

The point is, there is financial discrimination against persons with disabilities, even in Canada.  If you are facing job loss due to disability, take the time to research income strategies that will best meet your needs.  An informed social worker can be a huge help.  Research charitable organizations (e.g. Heart & Stroke, Parkinson's Society, Mental Health Society, Arthritis Society) that can assist you by providing items or services that would be helpful to you for free at significantly reduced cost.  They can also provide a wealth of information on how to go about meeting your needs at minimal or no cost, as well as plan effectively for the future.  If you are unable to do all this for yourself, seek out a trusted family member or friend to assist you.

Great question! You sure can. Simply click on the Facebook share button on the left side of the page and Facebook will open up :) 

Thanks for sharing! 

Can you post this story on Facebook?

Ken, while personally I have many concerns about Donald Trump as president, even supporters acknowledge that he's made lots of claims and promises that do not include specifics, or that he's changed his mind about later.

I respect Paul Ryan and, like you, believe him to be grounded in the Christian faith. I wasn't attacking Ryan as much as summarizing what I have heard him say repeatedly — promises and claims lacking specifics. Whether he's a Christian or not, it remains troubling that details of an ACA replacement have been so long in coming. Along with many others, I'm still waiting for the evidence that Trump or the Republican Congress will come up with a plan that maintains the positives of the ACA and "leaves no one behind."

Here is a post by Ed Stetzer who writes a blog for Christianity Today on some of the implications of a "repeal without a replacement" approach.

And, just yesterday I received an email from another denominational disability organization — the Anabaptist Disabilities Network — noting that one of their field associates, Rebekah Flores, will be impacted if the ACA is repealed without a comprehensive replacement plan. Rebekah wrote, “I can only afford to see my doctor and pay for my medications to treat my Multiple Sclerosis because of the Affordable Care Act.”

I don't feel it's unreasonable to ask for a replacement plan before repealing.

My heart goes out to Mr. DeYoung. Some of those near and dear to me have disabilities so I can sympathize. Nevertheless, I would like to respectfully point out why I think this post is an excellent example of "good" and "not-good" in a church publication. It might have been useful to edit this item just a little before posting it. I think it's "good" to submit a list of features one might hope for in legislation; I think it's "not good" to attach that list to rumors, baseless accusations, and other such statements such as those in the first three paragraphs of this post, in a denominational magazine or website such as this.

This post begins with a vague "Multiple reports suggest..." and goes on to a derogatory comment about the President-elect well before the inauguration and follows that with an attack on Rep. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House. (Ryan was depicted in political ads a few years ago pushing grandma over a cliff in her wheelchair, but some view him as one who lives his Christian beliefs, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.) This introduction concludes by questioning the morality of legislators in the early weeks of a new term for not providing evidence that legislation still being written will be completely satisfactory. This makes one wonder if it isn't just a tad politically oriented.

If we are going to have political statements here, perhaps we should seek some balance. Would the monitors consider a post that reported that, for the first time in history, a U.S. president spoke at the annual meeting of Planned Parenthood, leading abortion provider in the U.S. and dealer in body parts of aborted babies? This would be the same president who, as a state legislator stated that he trusted doctors performing abortions to provide necessary care for viable infants surviving abortions. These are doctors who believe a dead baby is the best solution to an unplanned pregnancy. As the adoptive father of two grown daughters, now the mothers of five terrific grandchildren, I beg to differ.

No, Michele, I don't either.

 Why do people blame that attack on Obama, even indirectly?  He has never done or said anything to encourage that kind of behavior.  Because he himself is "black"?  I don't get that sort of reasoning. 

Thank you so much for sharing your experience here, too, Jill. I really like Paul's example of praying for his "thorn" to be removed; tho God told him no, yet Paul could share with the rest of us that in his weakness, Christ made him strong... and be an example for the rest of us. I've also leaned on that message during struggles. Thank you for your own encouraging words. Blessings to you too!

We were talking about this struggle at the ministry where I volunteer.
Our clients are often chronically ill, disabled and/or struggling with addictions.
When preparing for a study using Philippians, I understood that these chronic illnesses etc are like prisons for us, similar to Paul being in prison. (My own PTSD &chronic illness included.) So how do we act in our prisons? Can we find a way to be like Paul? Rejoicing in the hard circumstances, still being thankful, finding good things we can do to help people. . . Since I shared these thoughts with our group we have come back to them often. We ask Holy Spirit to enable us to apply our lessons in our own individual prisons.
A few weeks after this we had  a teacher come who taught and prayed for us about healing. Some people did receive a measure of physical healing. Some of us had questions about why not us.
The following week  the devotional was about Paul's thorn in the flesh. Which he asked God to remove 3 times and the answer was no.
This was encouraging and comforting because Paul -the amazing evangelist, teacher, leader- also questioned why he was not healed. He came to acceptance of it.
As you wrote here and as Michele responded God uses our 'struggles' to enable us to have compassion for others with similar struggles. And yes, raising awareness and encouraging sensitivity with those who are 'healthy'.

Thank-you Linda for sharing here and for being transparent.
Peace to you and your husband.
 

  Unfortunately, since I live in Canada, I can't do much about this.  However, I have shared it on Facebook for my American friends.

Linda, thanks for this. Your article wrestles with something that nearly all Christians have to confront at some point. I certainly have! I appreciate the way you have addressed this difficult topic so biblically and transparently. 

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Steve Nyenhuis
Linda Roorda
Kelly Vander Pol
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Michael Sheriff
Sue Edison-Swift
Michele Gyselinck