Engraved Upon the Heart cover
Resource, Book or eBook

Engraved Upon the Heart by Hwarang Moon makes a good case for something dear to my own heart as an ordained pastor in the Reformed tradition and as the father of a daughter who has severe intellectual disability. 

January 5, 2017 0 0 comments

Kathy Nimmer’s visual decline brought grief, depression, anorexia, hopelessness, and over time a deep assurance that she has innate value as a child of God.

December 28, 2016 0 7 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

Esta edición presenta historias que reflejan prácticas espirituales de personas con discapacidad.

December 14, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

장애와 영적 연습. 장애와 함께 사는 것은 우리 자신의 영적 실천을 어떻게 형성합니까? 예수 그리스도께 -몸과 마음, 삶과 죽음에 속한 사람들은 장애의 리듬과 경건한 삶의 어떤 부분이 교차합니까? 이 문제는 장애와 함께사는 사람들의 영적 연습을 반영하는 이야기를 특징으로 합니다. 

December 14, 2016 0 0 comments
Worship at the Church At Benjamin's Hope

I looked across the noisy tent and boldly used the word “disability” in my mind. I tried “developmental difference” and while it felt less offending a term to describe my daughter, it still fell woefully short. 

December 13, 2016 0 2 comments
Resource, Checklist

On January 1, 2017, new accessibility requirements come into effect from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Is your church ready?

December 7, 2016 0 0 comments
Box of Smarties candy, with handmade label attached that says, "With a Smile."

Until the last few years when his pain level grew especially intense, Ralph always signed his email messages, “With a smile, Ralph.”

November 29, 2016 0 0 comments

Living with disability throughout her life, Andrea Godwin-Stremler has discovered God’s faithfulness indeed is great, and so is the mystery of God.

November 17, 2016 0 5 comments
Turning Barriers into Bridges cover
Resource, Book or eBook

Turning Barriers into Bridges presents Biblical, legal, and cultural reasons for making church communications accessible, and it provides specific guidelines to do so. 

November 15, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

How does living with a disability shape our own spiritual practice? Where do the rhythms of disability and devotional life intersect? This issue features stories reflecting the spiritual practices of people with disabilities.

November 14, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

This brief introduction would work well as a bulletin insert to introduce your congregation to members who have autism. 

October 27, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

La discapacidad y el empleo. Aunque el índice de desempleo de personas con discapacidad es casi el doble de personas sin discapacidad, tanto empleadores que han contratado personas con discapacidad y personas con discapacidad que han encontrado empleo tienen historias que contar.

October 4, 2016 0 0 comments
Peter Gordon sits with Grand Rapids Community College Students in the GRCC cafe.

God used Peter Gordon's winding career path to lead him to found a ministry with college students who have disabilities.

September 25, 2016 0 1 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

장애와 일자리. 장애를 가진 사람들의 실업률은 장애가 없는 사람의 약 두 배가 되지만, 장애를 가진 자들을 고용한 고용주와 장애를 가진 자들이 일자리을 찾은 이야기들을 나눌것 입니다.

September 21, 2016 0 0 comments

Lori writes, "Okay, time to 'fess up! Perhaps the greatest fear of my life came to fruition on September 7, 2016. The fear of being institutionalized!"

September 21, 2016 0 0 comments

Do you have a story to share about how living with a disability shaped your own spiritual practice? Or do you have experience with paid caregivers? If so, share your story in an upcoming issue of Breaking Barriers.  

September 20, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

The theme of the Fall 2016 issue of Breaking Barriers features stories of people with mild, moderate and severe disabilities who have found meaningful work. 

September 19, 2016 0 2 comments
Resource, Sermon or Message

Even when people who have disabilities get to church, we sometimes struggle to minister to them. If Mephibosheth were here today, we’d have to carry him to the platform as we often can't accommodate wheelchairs.

September 7, 2016 0 1 comments

The outside community—extended family, church, school, and friends—all had difficulty believing what I said as a parent to a child has partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome with a severe degree of disability. 

August 31, 2016 0 0 comments

Chronic pain makes it difficult for her to sit, stand, and walk. It challenges her ability to concentrate and limits her ability to serve others. It has disrupted her marriage, social life, and work. So why is her life marked with joy?

August 29, 2016 0 2 comments

You’re pleased the Carters have joined your congregation, and you want things to go well for Matthew, who has autism, but you’re feeling intimidated because you don’t know how to make things work for him.

August 22, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Presentation

Nearly 1 in 4 pastors have struggled with mental illness. This Guide for a Clergy Leave of Absence for Mental Health Reasons provides guidelines and suggestions for pastors and for church councils or consistories.  

August 22, 2016 0 8 comments
CRC and RCA Logos with the words "Disability Concerns"
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

Disability Week (Oct. 9-15, 2017) encourages congregations to grow in becoming places of belonging for everyone and places to engage their gifts in ministry—with a particular focus on people with disabilities. 

August 18, 2016 0 3 comments

Knowing the correct way to act or speak in unique situations will be a great help in your ministry. Here are tips for coming alongside someone who is "differently-abled", uses a wheelchair, is blind, or is deaf. 

August 17, 2016 0 0 comments
RCA and CRC logos with the words "Disability Concerns"

Disability Awareness Sunday encourages congregations to grow in becoming places of belonging for everyone and to discover ways to engage their gifts in ministry.

August 17, 2016 0 0 comments



 Yes, I get that, and I'm sorry for the guy, especially because he had nothing to do with Donald Trump, and this attack was totally gratuitous.  I suspect those four young people to have been high on some drugs to think of doing something so mean.  Either that or the devil finds work for idle hands.  If it was a hate crime it was probably because the victim has a disability and he was a convenient prey.  Some fools think it's big fun to beat up on defenseless people or animals.

Michele, I noticed the same discrepancy in news reports. He had "mental illness", "mental disability", "intellectual disability". It's not just the media. The original police statement said that he had mental illness, but later reports suggested something different. I decided not to focus on the type of disability he had, because that really doesn't matter. He was a human being who went through a horror most of us will never have to endure.  

 I had heard of this attack in the news, and at this point I'm still in shock at the stupidity of those four black young people that they virtually handed the evidence against themselves on a silver platter to the authorities.  Also I heard conflicting reports about whether the victim was mentally or intellectually deficient.  Not that it changes anything to the ordeal he went through or excuses his attackers in any way whatever the diagnosis turns out to be. I would just like the media to be able to make the difference between mental illness and intellectual deficiency once and for all.  Maybe to emphasize the difference more we should talk about psychiatric illnesses instead of mental ones.  Clearer terminology would help avoid confusion.  I'm very sorry for the poor guy because this was SO unnecessary.  What were they trying to accomplish by abusing a poor, defenceless guy?  He had nothing to do with Trump.  If anything Trump would have made fun of him as he did with the journalist.  Right now, I'm still too upset to pray. 

I am familiar with Ushers as it is related to my disease, but mine does not carry the hearing loss. I pray your son finds a mentor too, but if you ever want to talk, I am always willing. One of the biggest joys of my walk on this earth is helping young people with disabilities find their way forward.

Dogs are great. I'm working with my fourth guide dog right now. All have blessed me richly.

Clearly Kathy has stuck a chord. I really appreciate her comment, "That pastor planted a seed: my value was not in “doing” at all. He showed me that each of us has innate value in being a child of God." Amen!

Thank you for sharing your testimony.

Thank you very much.

Thank you for this. My son has Usher Syndrome, so in addition to already being hard of hearing and possibly going deaf, he will continue to lose functional vision until he is also blind due to retinitis pigmentosa.

There is so much hope out there for DeafBlindness in the form of "success stories" that showcase what a person can DO with their disability. There is not enough out there that reminds us, all of us, that our primary identity shouldn't be in what we DO but instead in whose we are.

A parent is one thing, and I'll try to lead as God allows, but I so hope that when he's in middle school my son has someone else, someone like you did, to guide him as the darker days come (or the days grow darker sooner, as is the case with RP). I hope he has someone to point him like a beacon to the One on whom all our identities should rest -- so that he can do as we all should do and NOT discern what he "can do" but RATHER what God would have him do.

Thank you for sharing.

 Glad to hear that this pastor helped you "see the light."  I was half expecting to read another story of abuse, but no.  This pastor encouraged the author.  I just read about the five ways in which pets bless us.  Ever considered getting a seeing-eye dog?

Michele, thanks for your comment. I do not live with a disability yet, though I assume I will someday. Our daughter taught my wife and me about living joyfully with disability, and in fact God used her to lead both my wife and me to the callings we have today. I serve the CRC as Director of Disability Concerns after 17 years as a pastor in parish ministry, and my wife once taught German and now teaches special education. I would have opted out of our daughter living with disability, but she has had a profound impact on many people because of and through her disability. 

 No, no one would ask for a disability.  The most you can hope for is to come to terms with it.  If I'd had to opportunity to chose, I would have opted out of schizophrenia but in so doing I would have missed what I learned from having it, and I might still harbor prejudice towards those who suffer from mental illnesses, whereas now I strive to help them and their families with information and resources.

This link should bring you right to Prof. Gibson's article. 

Mark,  Thanks for your kind words.  It is my prayer that this is a first step toward some honest dialog on this subject between more than just you and I.  You see I am nearing the end of my career and doing my best to maintain my balance.  My concern is for those who have many years to come and as you cite Gibson's article, which I need to find by the way, the idealized pastor is part our collective history and is not likely to change to quickly, unless we as active clergy find ways to support and encourage that kind of self-differentiation which is not generally rewarded. 

I would also like to offer my help to be part of the solution rather than someone complaining.  I have some theories and ideas I am pondering and hoping to put into practice in the near future.  Once again thanks for the willingness to at least raise the issue.

Rodney, thanks for your comment. Your suggestion that pastors have periodic mental health checkups is intriguing and strikes me as wise. However, you are suggesting something much bigger and even more anxiety-producing than a guide for what congregations and pastors can do once the pastor is dealing with an acute mental illness. In Danjuma Gibson's insightful article, "Trauma: Suffering in Silence" in the Fall 2016 Calvin Seminary Forum, he argues that congregations have a need for their pastor always to be emotionally and spiritually strong, which would get in the way both of pastors getting treatment and of looking for signs of mental illness among pastors before symptoms become acute. Gibson writes,

Th­e congregation’s need for their idealized pastor to “be well” will in many cases compromise the pastor’s actual ability to recover from trauma or loss. ­The reality of their pastor falling victim to a trauma and possibly displaying human weakness and spiritual ambivalence may be too disruptive to the collective psyche of the church.

I would guess that unless a pastor has good self-differentiation, he or she will succumb to that need of the congregation and do his/her very best to pretend everything is fine. I hope that this clergy guide, and especially the accompanying materials, will help move the dial just a little for church leaders to acknowledge that pastors, along with everyone else, have struggles, and the whole system is healthier when we acknowledge that and even take preventative steps (as you suggest) to prevent challenges from becoming train wrecks. 

I would second Larry's commendation, it is time we recognize that something is wrong and take steps to address it.  However, like many other things I encounter in both the RCA/CRC and churches in general, we are incredibly slow to recognize a problem.  Over 10 years ago I was tasked with investigating malfeasance by a fellow pastor.  During that investigation I had several conversations with police detectives, and at one point I was asked how often clergy are expected to have a psychological evaluation.  I had to admit, that once we are are ordained that kind of check up is no longer called for.  The detective told me every time he was promoted, a psychological evaluation was required.  Given that one in four clergy suffer from mental illness, maybe it is time we took a look at getting ahead of the problem rather than providing resources at the end.  I also wonder that since 1 in 4 clergy will admit to some sexual indiscretion with someone other than their spouse, if there is a connection? 

My perspective is that of a long term, "old guy" clergy and a licensed therapist.  I hope, that this is just the beginning of the process of looking at clergy health.  A few years ago we decided that most of us were overweight and a physical fitness regimen was encouraged, maybe it is time we looked at mental health the same way, and looked closely at what is negatively impacting a group of men and women who in previous generations would have been some of the healthiest people in the population.

  There is an assumption in this post that I want to address because I find it pernicious.  It is the assumption that people develop severe mental illnesses because of a traumatic childhood, and while that can and does happen occasionally, it is NOT a sine qua non requirement to trigger the onset of the illness.  Actually, the current hypothesis is that a genetic mutation occurs at conception setting in motion a series of factors that will cause the illness to develop either in the teenage years or young adulthood.  My father was abusive verbally while I was growing up, but my schizophrenia did not start then.  I only began to experience auditory hallucinations while living on my own after a summer of working night shift at a mail sorting plant.  It was the odd hours that screwed me up and made me vulnerable to something that was already in my system.  

I think this assumption is related to the mistaken notion that psychosis leads to a Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon and that psychotic people will stab you in the back if they get the opportunity to do so.  That is not the case.  There is a possibility that someone with psychosis might do that, but in reality the break occurs between reality and the patient's perception of it through hallucinations which can affect all five senses, or delusional thinking or a combination.  It is not rare for someone with schizophrenia to have both hallucinations AND delusions.  In my case, those delusions often took the form of religious delirium causing me to think I should engage in risky behavior.  For example, I would fast for days on end, which is a BAD idea when one is taking anti-psychotics, or any medication actually.  Or I would think that because someone felt they had to stop taking sleeping pills I should stop taking my anti-psychotic medications.  And that led to an even riskier notion that moved my mom to call my doctor because she could not talk sense into me.  At the time I felt that I should go off my disability income and depend solely on God's providence, and my voices were literally screaming in my head that I should do so.  This or other variants is what psychosis is about.  So people who fear that their mentally ill relative might pull cheap tricks on them should probably look elsewhere to find a deliberate intent to betray them.

posted in: My Silent Enemy

 This woman is fortunate in that she received excellent care both in and out of prison, which in the States is exceptional.  And she acknowledges that.  I'm glad for her.  And this man whom she quotes is right.  In his case it may not have been a mental illness, but in the author's case and mine it was.  And it is true that the aftermath of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is the "new normal."  I studied to become a professional writer, but because of my illness I can only use my skills in non-paying environments.  It isn't necessarily the potential employer's fault either.  I was offered freelance positions in the past and had to turn them down after consideration because anxiety paralyzed me.  Freelance work is extremely stressful work when you're frail mentally.  The kind of job I would need is a 9-5 position in a closed office, and at my age it's unlikely to happen.

posted in: My Silent Enemy

 Hi Mark,

Yes, it's estimated that schizophrenia afflicts about 1% of  the population world wide with about equal distribution between men and women.  In men the average age of onset is between 15 and 25, and in women, it's between 25 and 35, so at 28 I was right in there.

But men with untreated schizophrenia tend to be more violent than women in  the same situation.  I read a very good article in the March 1987 issue of Saturday Night Magazine about the different ways the illness manifested itself depending on gender.  It's title was, "Of Two Minds" I believe.

Hi Michele, thanks for sharing about your own journey. Your last comment prompted me to look up the stats. About 1 percent of people in the U.S. and in Canada have Schizophrenia and nearly all are diagnosed in their teens and early 20's. That's over 3.6 million people in our two countries; sadly, youth's greatest disabler indeed. 

 Yes Andrea, it is right.  In the beginning it may be only coping, or coming to terms with the "new normal."  In fact I believe that when we're afflicted with anything that changes the way we have to deal with life, we have to go through the various stages of grief.  And to be sure God WILL bring healing if we ask though not necessarily cure.  And I did find healing and peace with His help over time.  And learned the difference between healing and cure.  In the early stages after the diagnosis I didn't want to be healed because I had so many other problems that to me were unconnected to my illness but were actually related, and those problems made it very hard for me to find paying work.  And I was afraid that if I were cured I'd have to hit the pavement AND look for a job despite those problems.  Then I learned that schizophrenia has NO known cure, and that all those problems were part of the illness.  At 58 I still can't work because I never know from one day to the next at what time I'll wake up because of the sedatives that pharmaceuticals put in antipsychotics, and by now I've pretty much given up on it.  I would have liked a career in Professional Writing in English.  That's what I trained for.  But it's unlikely now.

 I have to tell you that although I had prodromal symptoms all my life that made me behave oddly, the actual symptoms of the illness only started around the age of 28, so in my case that was in the second year of my first B.A., and I was diagnosed with schizophrenia ten years later.  In the meantime I had a primary diagnosis of psychotic depression that didn't fully account for what I was experiencing.  Back then, depression was considered as the common cold of mental illnesses and expected to last about a year.  But I kept getting depressive episodes because of the voices I was hearing in my head that told me mean things. I would also suffer from insomnia, which is why pharmaceuticals put sedatives in psychiatric medications : to allow people to sleep at night.  Otherwise, you can't function the next day.  So I'd get depressed and be treated with antidepressants for about a year; then the treatment would be phased out--because you have to be weaned off those meds, you can't go off all of a sudden because of the withdrawal symptoms, which can be quite nasty.  And some months later I'd start being depressed again, and depending on the doctor I might or might not be put back on antidepressants.  One doctor I saw on campus during my second B.A. would not put me back on the medication despite my insistence that I was depressed because he thought I was just being anxious.  Then again, he was not a real psychiatrist, just a GP with some training in psychiatry.  He had never completed his residency because he would have had to move to another city to do so, and he was too lazy to do that.  I had to go and see the pastor of the church I was attending for help in finding another doctor who would be willing to put me back on the medication that I needed badly. At that time I would start crying for no obvious reason on city buses. It was this same doctor who later diagnosed the schizophrenia six months after I graduated with my second B.A., the one in which I majored in P.W.E.  Have you ever met people with schizophrenia before?  It's referred to as youth's greatest disabler.

Dear Michele,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I will definitely be thinking about the concept your put forward, "healing vs. cure."  There are so many, many, layers of healing.  We read in the Gospels of Jesus distinguishing between healing and forgiveness.  Much to think about.  It reminds me of a favorite professor at Seminary, Dr. Fuller. He said, "Lengthening a leg. Easy!  Cure me of covetousness!" 

      When you say, "heal", I think I hear you saying, peace and/or acceptance with Sovereign God.  Is that right? Being able to truly own and celebrate all the words of Psalm 139, "I am beautifully and wonderfully made", disabilities and all.





Michele, I pray for God's grace and help for you, and for complete healing for your sister.

posted in: Bring It On, Satan

I hope not either. If it does, I know that God will be with us.

  No doubt, but I still hope it won't come to that for you guys.

Michèle, the thing about disability, as you know well, is that it can come into anyone's life at any time. Life is so uncertain. that's why I'm thankful I can trust Bev's promises to me and Gods.

 Well, for my part I sure hope not.  I can't wait to be rid of my schizophrenia.  It's been hell for me, and I don't refer to myself as being schizophrenic.  If some people identify with their disability to such an extent that they can't visualize life in the New Jerusalem without it, that's their problem, but I WANT OUT.  

 I think Pat Robertson is a poor excuse for a Christian.  He and others like Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald J. Trump during the past campaign because he had promised to reverse Roe v. Wade and other decisions on gay marriage.  As if Christianity were ONLY about abortion or homosexuals.  Actually, those issues are often the hobby horses of some preachers with a limited understanding of the Gospel, but a disproportionate salary.  In one of his programs the comedian John Oliver discussed the obscene salaries and lifestyles of some of those preachers who pressure people in their congregations and online to give them money and God would bless the people with wealth and health, and often the people who give money to those preachers have a hard time making ends meet.  

I'm glad you can trust your wife's character if you should ever need her care, Mark, though I hope it won't be necessary.  I think you have enough of a burden taking care of your daughter without adding dementia as well.

 Hi Mark, 

 It must have been very hard to have to make a decision like that on your mom's behalf, and I think you took a load of guilt on yourselves that was unnecessary.  I'm glad that your aunt could comfort you about the decision you made, so you could lay the guilt aside.  Is your mom still alive?

  Hmmmmmmm.  I'm NOT ready to say that.  Maybe he is a goner but he's caused enough trauma in my life that I'm VERY reticent to challenge him to do more.  If you think you can handle it, more power to you, but I don't.  I'm fighting off a bronchitis right now that developed following the conference in Niagara Falls, and although I'm not coughing too much so far today I did a lot earlier this week, especially on Monday when I went to a walk-in clinic and waited for six hours on a little chair while coughing my lungs off, and the doctor didn't even prescribe antibiotics.  He prescribed pumps and stuff to clear my sinuses and told me to go back if things didn't improve.  

But last night at my mom's place my sister said that when she went to that clinic with a broken wrist the doctor did not prescribe X-Rays, and when they did the radiologist did not see the fracture, so they had her do physiotherapy on a broken wrist, and she could not sleep at night because of the pain.  She thought she was a wimp because they kept saying there was no fracture.  When the fracture was finally diagnosed at a teaching hospital they had to operate her and put screws and metal plates in, and now her movement with that wrist is restricted because of the incompetence at that clinic.

 So this morning I called my doctor's office for an appointment and got one for Monday morning.  If you would pray that I could make it without having to go to a walk-in clinic again, I'd appreciate it.  I didn't enjoy the experience.

posted in: Bring It On, Satan


  Dear Sister in the Lord,  Like you I suffer from a disease for which there is no known cure.  In my case it's schizophrenia, an invisible disorder since it afflicts the brain but that can be detected by the odd behaviour of those who suffer from it.   Some people have prayed for my healing, but if healing there was, it was only emotional and spiritual.  Otherwise, I still have to take medications every day to control the symptoms, and the side effects of those medications include significant weight gain that in turn leads to diabetes Type 2.  

As I said in a meeting of the Advisory Committee to the CRC branch of Disability Concerns, we should distinguish between healing and cure.  People can experience healing without being cured of their illness, and you have, obviously, NOT been cured since you still talk about walking with pain.  As to whether you have experienced healing according to this terminological distinction is for you to determine. Nobody can tell that on your behalf.  


Michèle Gyselinck 

Hi Francine, thanks for planning to use one or more of the slides. Also for your Sunday School program, you may want to check out the one to three minute videos we produced. For downloading the slides, clicking (Preview) will only allow you to preview but not download the slides. To download, you need to click on the filename (like Disability_Week_Community.jpg) and that should prompt your computer to open it up in the picture viewer software you have. Once you have it open in that program, use the "save" function to save it to your computer. 

We would like to use these slides for our church disability Sunday program. Having trouble downloading them. Any suggestions? You can email me at fhbell78@gmail.com

 You should not feel bad that it took you longer to reach your goals than it did for people who are in good health and have no known disability to slow them down.  I live with schizophrenia and it took me longer to reach them than healthy people too. I graduated with my second B.A. a couple of weeks before I turned 37.  The main thing is that you can actually work for pay in your line of training, something I've had to give up on, because now that I'm well enough to function in a job I'm too old to find an employer who would take me.  

I'm 57 and will turn 58 in November.  Some of my cousins have actually retired from their jobs by now.  The fact is that just as people with disabilities compete in Paralympic Games rather than the regular Olympic Games, people with disabilities training for professions are not in the same race as people without disabilities.  About the time of my graduation with my second B.A. I was having another episode of depression, so the night before the graduation ceremony I asked my mother for money to buy a frame for my diploma, which she was reluctant to give me at first but still gave me, and I was able to frame it and place the diploma where I could see it and think, "Oh yes, I actually did this," every time I passed by and saw the diploma.  This may not seem important to people who don't doubt their own self-worth, but to people who either get through college on probation or can't get a reference from a professor because her marks are too average, it can be capital.  You should rejoice that you made it in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome rather than feel diminished by those obstacles.  You have more merit than people who had no hurdles in their paths.  BRAVO.  And keep up the good work.

  That's nice, but in the wrong country, and at my age (57 and six weeks away from 58) who's going to hire me when I can't even commit to getting up at the same hour every day?

In a post about living with Cerebral Palsy, Chantal Huinink says, "The prospect of an eternity where everyone is fully known and understood by God and one another is more meaningful to me than that of  a perfectly functioning body."

 Nice, although saying that David's adultery puts his disability on the same level as someone who uses a wheelchair to get around trivializes genuine disabilities.  I'm not aware that David's adultery prevented him from using a sword or walking, or even caused him to experience hallucinations for that matter.  if this congregation needed to be told about David's adultery, either they aren't even at Disability 101 yet, or the pastor needs to read my blog about chronically normal people.

posted in: Differently Abled

As someone diagnosed with MS and unable to continue working, I too have had to find joy and contentment in the midst of suffering. For me it was Eph 2:10, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.". I realized that God knew I would need hours of rest, that I would be unable to work and that he still had a plan for me to serve him. I learned and still am learning the joy of being rather than doing, the joy of being in God's presence and the joy of prayer. God has brought healing that has primarily been emotional and spiritual. I have found new purpose in life and a new way of living that I never would have found had I been healthy and working full time. As much as I wish I didn't have MS, I don't know that I would trade where I am now with God and with myself either. God is good and he is faithful.

  Dear Sister in the Lord, you MAY experience healing without being cured, and I imagine that it's a cure you're looking for.  I pray that God will cure you, but even more that He will heal you.

Thanks Larry. I hope that our work is a step toward addressing the concerns you raised in your insightful blog posted last year: Why Denominational Leaders Need to Address Clergy Mental Health Issues

Kudos to Mark Stephenson and the entire team who assembled the guidelines for requesting a leave of absence for pastors with mental health issues.

This document/toolkit will serve Pastors, councils, and churches well.

Thank you immensely,

Larry Van Essen


 I forward to Council members everything I get from DC that I feel they ought to know about.

Jack, I hope so too. We're using multiple ways to get the word out, but it can be challenging to be heard above the roar of communications to churches. I'll attach to this post a communication we are sending this week to CRC deacons. Feel free to share these materials with anyone you wish. Thanks for your work in ministry with people with disabilities!

Thanks so much for these resources and information about this year's Disability Week. Hopefully, pastors, worship planning teams, church educational leaders and others will use and share this so that our churches and ministries will become more accessible and inclusive . . . as we should be. 

Just heard about this webinar that may be of interest too: Autism in Our Youth Group. Janeen Bertsche Johnson, campus pastor at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and parent to a young adult daughter who is on the autism spectrum, names common characteristics of autism, addresses how these factors might affect a youth group, and suggests ways leaders can try to address them.

 Thank you, but my mom doesn't consider herself unhappy.  She often tells me that she thanks the Lord for her good fortune several times a day.  Compensating for a loss of taste is relatively easy to do, and at 89, she still drives her own car and does pretty much anything she wants without depending on others for help.  Of course, because of her medications's side effects there are days when she feels more dizzy, but even that depends on the days.  Some days it's worse than others, and if I'm with her she lends me her credit card, and I do the grocery shopping for her.  There is a joke going around that with advanced old age, if you wake up and nothing hurts or is missing it's because you're dead.  But thank you for your prayers on behalf of my mom's friend.  She really needs it.  My mom suspects that the poor woman wouldn't mind dying to get a relief from everything's that's wrong in her life.

posted in: I Cannot See

I'm so sorry about your mom's losses, but also about her friend's difficult situation. Praying for them.

posted in: I Cannot See

 At 89, my mom says she's pretty much lost the senses or smell and taste, so I have to make food more spicy for her to notice.  Not a big problem since we're used to eating our food spicier than average.  But on the whole she doesn't complain because a friend of hers since university is blind, has Diabetes type 2, Parkinson's Disease and almost constant pain.  Unfortunately for my mom's friend her daughter and granddaughters who live with her constantly move stuff around without telling her, so she can't find what she needs, and it has happened that the poor woman ACTUALLY brushed her teeth with Preparation H! They don't mean to but I have seldom met more thoughtless people in my 57 years of life.  Now the eldest son of this lady has told his sister that she needs to find herself a place to live, and she's panicking because she and her daughters have lived in her mother's house for 20-odd years without contributing a penny to pay the Hydro bills, the phone, or other utilities except a bit of groceries once in a while.  In short they've been freeloading on her, and now they're upset because the eldest man in the family called a halt to the free lunches.  The husband oof my mom's friend could see, and so could she before she developed macular degeneration, but he passed away in 2005, and she was already too blind to live alone, so her daughter moved in with her daughters who were little kids at the time, and who are now young women, the youngest at 21 is studying Pharmacology at the University of Montreal. This woman is well off financially, but my mom often says that despite their difference in material wealth she would not trade places with her friend for all the gold in the world.  Can you imagine being so handicapped and having two of your kids PLUS THEIR kids mooching off you for that long? They're not even helpful! The daughter does cooking on the weekend but she puts it in containers without identifying the contents in any way, so when my mom's friend opened the fridge door all she could see--if we can call that seeing--were lids, so she'd give up, close the refrigerator and eat a banana.  So this man is fortunate that at least his family isn't being a nuisance on top of having to live with restrictions caused by his blindness.  My mom's friend is a practicing Catholic, but not the rest of her family.  Not that there are any guarantees of finding consideration or thoughtfulness in all Christian families, but that's another story.

posted in: I Cannot See

  I watch a service by the People's Church in Toronto when I can't make it to church, and when I see this service on TV, the congregation is NEVER SINGING but only members of the praise team.  If we use the approach that worship is only what's going on up front, then that is borrowed from another tradition, which I hate, by the way, because those singers put on a performance with tremolos in their voices as if they were giving a paying concert or something.  It turns me off no end.  The sermons are good, but the rest must make ordinary congregation members or even people with more limitations so inadequate.  I would not feel welcome in such a church that doesn't consider its people's input good enough to be broadcast on the air.