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Independence, like freedom and happiness, are complex subjects which seem to confuse many people. The Declaration Of Independence, for example: under which economic or political system can't a person chase after happiness? When some people complain, "We are losing our freedom," I respond, "If you had more freedom then what would you do differently?" The response usually is something about taxes, guns, or smoking pot.

Reformed Protestant Christianity is the only system that guarantees catching happiness with the only proviso being that one is "elect" before he is born. How can this be? Because Freedom and happiness are mental states. I think therefore I am free and happy. <G>

Hi Michele, yes, independence for nations is much different than independence for individuals. I was playing off the U.S. celebration of Independence Day to make a point about how much each of us needs each other and God. 

 True.  But when people talk about independence, I don't think that's what they mean.  What the founders of your country meant by independence was that as a country the U.S.A. could make its own decisions without needing permission from the King of England, nor would it have to pay taxes to another country for its goods.  Of course, we are all interdependent, and that is good and healthy, but the independence of nations from colonial regimes is another story.

Yes, it's another taste of the Kingdom. For people who live or are vacationing near Holland Michigan, I encourage you to visit. Worship happens every Sunday at 6 PM at 15468 Riley St, Holland, MI 49424. Worship is outdoors under a big tent all summer, or inside in case of inclement weather. AND . . . first Sunday of each summer month includes a hot dog roast starting at 5:30. 

Thanks for sharing this Mark! I love the idea of a "no-shush" church; what a great picture of being the body of Christ together in worship. 

I haven't seen the movie yet. Or maybe I have, I can't remember. Yep, my partner says we have seen it. But he has Alzheimer's, so........

I haven't seen it yet, nor have I seen Me Before You, but Finding Dori looks like a MUCH better film.

I try not to be a one-issue voter, but an issue like justice for people with disabilities makes it really tempting to do so. The statistics are startling.

I am grateful for the leadership of IDAC (among others) on this. Thank you for taking the time to post this so it can be shared.

This is also true for children. My church makes few concessions for the children, arguing that if they attend for long enough they'll turn into real people, ie adults. We miss so much when we marginalise or ignore the little, weak, or elderly.

 When our congregation decided to build an elevator--ramps would have been even more costly because we would have needed one for outside, which was the easy part, and one for inside--we already had people in our congregation who were suffering from arthritis for whom climbing stairs was painful.  It has proved to be a long-lasting investment even though we got the cheapest model available, or almost, and many men from the congregation did as much of the work as possible that did not require technical expertise.  That is one way churches can cut down on expenses.

Michele, yes. When I was in Canada last week, I heard as much about the US presidential elections from people as I do hear - and recommendations who NOT to vote for! 

 It's difficult for Canadians NOT to be aware of Presidential election campaigns south of the border.  When you're a mouse in bed with an elephant, as PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the late father of our present prime minister, used to say; you have to always be aware of what the elephant is going to do next.  But since I can't vote in that election there isn't much point in sending that letter.

Del, Thanks for offering these reflections. We had some discussion about this on the Network a few years ago, and the discussion was even more extensive on Think Christian. I encourage you to check out the comments on both pages. 

This has been an illuminating read in understanding some of the dynamics of anxiety and suggestions for how anxiety can be addressed and accommodated. Thank you Jarett, Josh, and Annika for sharing this and for your commitment to one another.

Thank you Josh and Jarett for bravely sharing your story. It really highlights the need for all of us to become more educated and more sympathetic to those with mental health issues. I think as a church we have a long way to go to removing the stigma we place on others. I pray your story is another step forward. 

Yes! Yes! Yes! Beautifully said, Michele. 

 Mental illness is less stigmatized than it used to be, but in some areas they are still the lepers of our age.  And yet, mental illnesses are NOT contagious.  You can't catch one by touching someone who suffers from a mental illness, regardless of which illness it happens to be.


Did you include me in the list of speakers?

Hats off to Jarrett, Josh, Annika, and the whole group for making this work for Jarrett! I wonder how this experience will linger with everyone in the days, weeks, and years to come. I have a guess about one thing: Jarrett's openness about the challenges he was facing may have helped everyone to become a bit more open and vulnerable about their own struggles. 

Patricia, thanks so much for sharing this part of your story!

For those eagerly waiting, part 2 is now live

Looking forward to part 2!


With the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, some people I have known for a long time, and others I had not ever heard of before, have connected with me because of this exposure and we have been enabled to make some soft sweet music together.  I am so blessed to have a tiny part in proclaiming God's wondrous love and care for people in whatever life situations surround them right now.  I challenge all of you readers to ask God for someone to join with you today in showing His love, whether it be in a quiet soft way or in a jubilant lively way!  You might be surprised by His choice for your


Patricia Ann Siebersma Haveman

Eagerly awaiting part two!

Annika, thanks for posting this. Looking forward to part 2!

Michele, I don't know of equivalent programs in Canada. That's why I listed as a resource.

If you are Canadian and reading this, do you have an answer to Michele's question? 

 Mark, Do you know if there is any equivalent program in Canada?  I can't say for Québec because the provincial government has been cutting services beyond the fat, and many parents and teachers complain that they are overwhelmed because they have too many kids with learning disabilities in their classes and not enough help to manage them.

 Very well said.

Doug, Yes, and though it's not said in this paraphrase, Mark's and Betty's love for each other springs from the love both of them know in Jesus Christ. 

Thanks for posting Mark.  Were all marriages reflective of this perspective, divorce wouldn't happen.

What a beautiful picture of love! Thanks for sharing. 

 I have shared it with the elders of my church.

Ban citizen ownership and the US can have the safe streets, schools, and neighborhoods that Mexico does. 

  That's nice, but for my part I look forward to not hearing voices anymore, and the problem with them is that you can hear them whether your hearing is good or not since they are a product of the brain and not something that comes from the outslde.  I have a hearing impairment also but the only reason my voices no longer plague me as they used to is because I take medications to control them.  For me heaven will mean being rid of schizophrenia for good.  If you identify with your handicap to the point that you can't imagine being freed of it at the resurrection fine and dandy, but personally I can't wait to leave that in the grave.  Or better yet, on my deathbed.

 This is one of the reasons I have decided to become a Regional Advocate.  Fortunately, the classis I work for is receptive to this issue.  Not the gun violence part so much because the right to bear arms is not part of the Canadian Constitution, and as a whole our country counts fewer gun-related massacres in ten years than the U.S.A. in one year.  To give you an idea, here in Québec we still commemorate the Polytechnique massacre that happened in 1989.  There have been a couple more since then, but that's all.  

A great resource is the Friendship Ministries website ( I would also recommend that you not be afraid to direct part of the message directly to the friends and to use some sort of visual or tacticle lesson if possible. 

 It appeared in May of last year, either the 19th or the 26th as a guest post. 

Here's the article on the network that Michele is talking about: On Chronically Normal People

Thanks for the information. Michele, where on the Network can we find that one article?

 Oh, and by the way there will be two articles in the Spring issue of SZMAGAZINE due to appear on April 4th that I wrote. They only publish online now, but you can get a subscription for $50.00 that will allow you to print as many copies as you want.  These subscriptions are mostly for organizations since they usually have the funds to afford that. One of them was already published on the CRC Network. 

I am very encouraged to hear about this cross training teaching at Neerlandia. When I am there in June, I would love to hear more about how it went.

Hello again Ron: I am commenting from home tonight as I am thrilled to see the "conversation going". If I were in my church office I could add to the list of resources.  At Neerlandia CRC, during the month of March, Pastor Ron Klok and I put together a CrossTraining series on Mental Illness Toward Understanding and Responding. That prompts me to say that for now I would add that our church family can be a valuable resource once we open up the topic for discussion. Blessings to all as we continue the conversation. Liz Nanninga, RN and parish nurse NCRC

Thanks for the recommendation Mark. I plan to add this to my reading list

Ron, thanks for this. Another book I highly recommend is Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families. Mark

Thank you for this Michele. 

 Among periodicals for people who are not specialists in the field of mental health are Anchor Magazine for people who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. SZMAGAZINE targets those who suffer from schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. I believe there is also one for those afflicted with bipolar disorders, but you can check out the site for more information.  These magazines are published by an evangelical Christian, named Bill McPhee.

Michele, that's very good news that you have congregations wanting you to make presentations in your area. Disability Concerns has a number of people who are part of a mental health speaker's bureau who will do the same. We have speakers in Toronto and Hamilton areas in Ontario; Edmonton Alberta; Northwest Iowa; Central California; and west and northern Michigan. I'll send you a note in case you would like to be added to the list. 

 In the CRC it depends on the individual classes( regional groups of congregations).  Some, like the one where I serve as Regional Advocate, are fairly open and receptive, and others are still at the stage where they tell people to confess their sins and the symptoms will dissipate.  At the spring meeting of Classis Eastern Canada one minister made a presentation on a pilot project to provide leave of absence for pastors suffering from a mental illness that was well received, and the next day I made a presentation about my experience with schizophrenia, and the only question I was asked when I asked if there were any questions was to know if I were willing to go make presentations to individual congregations.  And as long as my expenses are paid I have no problem doing that, but I live on Disability Income, and can't afford to travel much.  So you see, it's very uneven.  The elder who drove me to Ottawa (ON) for the meeting said that there had been several Art.17 separations between congregations and their pastors based on mental health issues, so I guess they decided to address the problem.


 Mark, as long as some people in the CRC will continue to consider mental illnesses as spiritual problems rather than brain diseases we'll be dealing with the health and wealth gospel.  Those people claim that people are more than chemical reactions.  Granted, but the brain is a very complex organ, where a lot what happens is caused by chemical processes, and because it also happens to be the seat of our mind and personality, when faulty connections happen they manifest themselves as mental illnesses.  In fact, I think I'll add this to my power point presentation.  To dismiss mental illnesses merely as spiritual problems is to dismiss the possibility that the brain as an organ can become sick, which is absurd. 

Christine, thanks for reminding us of your talk: "From Cure to Community." I listened to it shortly after you gave this talk and was blessed by your honest sharing. As people like you, Michele, and many others share with others your journeys with mental illness, you open the way for others to share too, even if not so publicly. I can only imagine the feelings of vulnerability at this risk you are taking, so thank you . . . to both of you!