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Robertson, Dementia, and Divorce

Robertson’s cavalier approach to the marriage commitment reflects our culture’s cavalier attitude toward commitment. But true Christians understand that love is not based on convenience but on commitment.

Disability Concerns
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Stories from Experience with Schizophrenia

Mental illness can isolate people living with it and distance them from people who care, but empathy can help bridge that gap. Empathy is a powerful tool for ministry and for simple lovingkindness.

Disability Concerns
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"I Feel Right at Home at My Church"

Lucas, who has cerebral palsy, cannot walk, nor can he articulate words so that others can understand. His involvement in a small Pentecostal African American Church in the Mississippi Delta has been chronicled in a photographic essay.

Disability Concerns
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Cultural Perspectives of Foreign-born Persons in the U.S. Regarding Disability

CIRRIE has developed a thirteen-volume monograph series, The Rehabilitation Provider's Guide to Cultures of the Foreign-Born, which provides specific information on cultural perspectives of foreign-born persons in the U.S., especially recent immigrants.

Disability Concerns
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Through a Glass Darkly: Ministry to Peole with Mental Illnesses

This is an outstanding article on ministry with people with mental illnesses written by a woman whose mother has schizophrenia with solid facts on mental illness and churches.

Disability Concerns
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Listening to a Fellow Christian with Schizophrenia

Last month’s Christianity Today featured a testimony by David Weiss called “God of the Schizophrenic: Rediscovering My Faith Amid the Ravages of Mental Illness.” David puts a face on a disorder that many fear and most misunderstand.

Disability Concerns
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Helping People with Disabilities Find Jobs

With the unemployment rate of people with disabilities between 50 and 85 percent, deacons can serve people with disabilities in their congregations well by helping them find jobs. Here are some ideas from an employment specialist.

Disability Concerns
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Glamorizing Disability?

I had an odd thought today. At least, it seems like an odd thought for a guy who views life from a wheelchair. Is it possible that I’m too dismissive about the issue of following Jesus as a person with a disability?

Disability Concerns
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Setting Boundaries

ADNet has collected a number of articles into one page on this very important topic for ministry. The introduction to the page says, "Setting healthy boundaries enables us to persist in sharing Christ's love through difficult circumstances.

Disability Concerns
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Bring It On, Satan

Tim Bosch and several of his family members headed to Montreal for a routine checkup for Tim, that is, as routine as a checkup can get for a 15-year-old with brittle bone disease.

Disability Concerns
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Recommended Film: Like Stars on Earth

Last night my wife and I watched a gentle film called Like Stars on Earth which tells the story of an 8-year-old boy who suffers the abuse of classmates, teachers, and even his own parents for his inability to do what most other children learn easily.

Disability Concerns
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God Cares that We Care

A few years ago a friend and former co-worker became a caretaker for her elderly neighbor who lived in what we would call debilitating circumstances. No one asked my friend. She just thought it was her responsibility.

Disability Concerns
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A Virtual Misfits Club for Parents of Children with Disabilities?

Would you like to connect with parents of children with disabilities who share a similar faith story? Sara Pot began a discussion on our forum page. I hope you'll post a comment on the forum too, especially if you are raising a child who has a disability.

Disability Concerns
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Siblings of People with Disabilities

Heather DeBoer reflects on life with her sister Jess, who lives with severe multiple disabilities.

Disability Concerns
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It's a Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel sorry for people who don’t have the privilege of raising a child who has a disability

Disability Concerns
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Better Communication with a Person with Dementia

Parade Magazine's article, "Unlocking the Silent Prison" describes research that has shown that people with dementia find written communication much more useful/memorable than spoken communication.

Disability Concerns
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A Life Beyond Reason

In this touching and warm story, Chris Gabbard, an English professor at the University of North Florida, reflects on life with his son, August, who lives with multiple impairments.

Disability Concerns
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Mom's Dementia

Of all the things I imagine doing with mom, feeding her is not on the list. Taking her out for lunch, having coffee with her, giving her a birthday gift, sharing a laugh together, it’s easy to imagine these activities, but not feeding her.

Disability Concerns
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Special Needs and Marriage

In these articles from Focus on the Family, Joe and Cindi Ferrini, who are parents of a child with disabilities.

Disability Concerns
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Parenting a Special Needs Child

This Focus on the Family article series describes itself like this: "Amid these stories from other parents, you'll find tips and tools in the areas of schooling, church, balancing the needs of your disabled child and the needs of your other children, coping when your circumstances have become too hard and encouragement in developing friendships."

Disability Concerns
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Getting Mental Illnesses out of the Shadows and into the Light of Christ's Love

Disability Concerns has partnered with Faith and Hope Ministries to produce a free, downloadable study series on mental illness. Let’s Talk! Breaking the Silence around Mental Illness in Our Communities of Faith will open conversations about this often hidden subject.

Disability Concerns
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Churches Need to Address Allergies and Sensitivities

Many people have to stay away from church fellowship because their allergies or chemical sensitivities prevent them from interaction with the people there. Churches can take steps to bring at least some people back into community again.

Disability Concerns

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 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.

 Mark, 

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 connection.today.

Sincerely,

Patricia Ann Siebersma Haveman

pathave32@gmail.com

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 211.ca 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 (www.friendship.org). 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 mentalwellnesstoday.com 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! 

Hi Michele. I live with a mental illness myself and appreciate the considerable theological and social challenges that this can contribute when participating in a faith community. I can't speak for CRC churches since I am from a different denomination (though I follow this blog regularly) but I suspect our denominations are not that different as regards creating welcoming and safe spaces people who live with mental illnesses. An important part of my work is dismantling the stigma of mental illnesses in faith communities and in this regard we have a long journey ahead of us. You might be interested in a video talk on our website in which I talk about the stigma I've experienced and the ways we can interpret the Bible to reinforce or challenge stigma. Here's the link: http://www.adnetonline.org/Blog/Pages/From-Cure-to-Community.aspx 

Michele, yes, a lot of people still need the basics explained to them. That's why I love the continuum, the 5 Stages of Disability Attitudes, because it assumes that people are all over the map, encourages people to identify where they are on the continuum, and suggests what they need to do to move forward toward more biblical attitudes toward people with physical disabilities. I'm afraid there never will be a "once and for all" debunking of any false gospel. But you are right, the health and wealth gospel is still alive and well. One time, someone (not a CRC person, though I'm sure you are right that that attitude is among us as well) told me that our daughter lives with multiple disabilities because my wife and I don't have enough faith. She went on, "If you had faith in God, your daughter would be cured of her disabilities." Not only is this not the gospel, it's hurtful. That's why the work we do as advocates is so important - to speak the truth in love. Appreciatively, Mark

 Once again I got the impression that this classis is still at the breast milk stage when they should be eating meat.  In other words, they still need to have basic concepts explained to them, and the author only talks about physical disabilities.  What would it be if he were to discuss mental illnesses?  One of these days some preacher in that classis, or in the whole denomination for that matter, should undertake to debunk the Health and Wealth Gospel for good and show it up as the bullcrap it is.  It's a shame that people in this denomination that prides itself on being more knowledgeable than other churches still believe that nonsense.  I can think of at least two passages off the top of my head that contradict its assumptions: Job 42 :7,8 ; and John 9 :1-5.  And there are probably other ones that could be found if someone did a thorough study on that subject.  How about it? Anyone up to the challenge?

 I did watch this webinar, and it reminded me that even though anxiety is not a major problem of mine, I do tend to get anxious when responsibilities pile up and I have to be careful that I don't take more than I can handle.  Having schizophrenia even if I'm functioning at a high level still leaves me more fragile than people who are healthy.

Caryn, you're welcome. That's why we keep posting stuff here! So glad to hear it will be helpful. Be sure to check out the video by Barbara Newman too that I reference in the note. I think you'll find her advice right on the mark for your needs. Mark

Thanks for posting this! This speaks perfectly to some things our Sunday School program has been dealing with! 

Not only toy makers but also clothing makers are expanding their line to include kids with disabilities. Here's a story about Tommy Hilfiger's work.

Thanks for posting this. Very powerful. 

 That's the issue in which my story appeared.  I still have copies of it. 

 People who say that mental illness is a sin don't know what they're talking about, so I'm glad you didn't cry about it.  I won't tell you not to let it affect you, because that sort of nonsense does affect us whether we want it to or not.  In a documentary I watched on YouTube titled "Schizophrenia : Stolen Minds, Stolen Lives" we can see two identical twin brothers, one who has schizophrenia, and the other not, and at one point both brothers undergo an MRI, and you can see the difference in their brains.  So, therefore, if mental illnesses manifest themselves at the neurological level where most people have no control over their brain's morphology, how can mental illness be a sin?  God doesn't hold us to account for things we can't control.  Only stupid people do.  So try not to take it too personally when you hear that sort of comment.  They're WAY out in left field.

Michele, thanks so much for sharing a bit of your journey. I appreciate your vulnerability, letting us get a glimpse of some very painful experiences. I hope your sharing will help me and others who read this to be a little more understanding and compassionate.

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