Thursday, January 31, 2008

Brighten Your Day

I love how God has everything woven together so the pieces fit not only in my world, but the entire universe. For the past 3 months, my cottage has been gradually dimming as one light bulb went out, then another, then the third went out Monday. The bulbs were all in tight fixtures, making it hard for me to change with my proprioception and fine motor issues. After feeling like I lived in Laura Ingalls’ era, I finally changed one of them. It took me an hour and sunset was looming, but I did it. I kept repeating, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me… even change a light bulb!” and I did it!
The other two were much more challenging. I had two options: continue to read in the dim lamp light or get out of my comfort-“my space” to ask a friend to help. **Let me explain- I live in an upper middle class neighborhood… very safe. My landlord is a saint, my neighbors greet me every morning, it is wonderful. The rent is affordable, and I am exactly 5 miles from church and my office. Perfect location. The downfall is I have no space. Truly, my entire cottage is the area of some living rooms, and between my books, journals, and clothes, it is impossible to comfortably ‘stretch out’, much less organize. Therefore, I don’t invite people over. But when the lights are dimming… I caved (no pun) and emailed Amanda to see if she’d change the bulbs this weekend. Amanda is incredibly busy (she’s my ‘celebrity’ friend) and I just felt weird asking AMANDA to do maintenance work. Yet even though she is a celebrity, she is also one of my closest friends. As she doesn’t see my cerebral palsy, I forget who she is until we go out in public and everyone is star-struck by her.
Anyway, long story short, Amanda didn’t want me to have to wait until Saturday… she came over a few hours after I asked. (Get ready for the intended puns…). Not only did seeing her brighten my day, it was a ‘light bulb’ experience how one small act of kindness can illuminate the heart. Seeing Amanda in her work clothes (i.e. perfectly pressed, manicured, every hair in place) standing on my cat scratching ‘thing’ to change my bulb reminded me of what Jesus did… he became a servant for me! The Son of God washed others feet… he did the things that were beneath Him to glorify the Father above him! That amazes me in so many ways…
This morning, as I turned the light on to get my coffee, I thought of Amanda… and the other wonderful people God has placed in my life to help me open the walls of my heart and let some light in. I am so thankful that my hands can’t do the things they use to, that I no longer have the stamina I once did… Yes, I am so very blessed by my afflictions- for through my weakness, I see His strength.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Faith & Depression Awareness

Kudos to Think Christian for posting about Faith and Depression. I know how tough it is counseling clients when in a major depression... I never considered how preaching in a funk would be. Thank goodness there are pastors like the author of Dark My Road who have the courage to admit their struggles with depression.

Preparing for the Election

If you haven't already, start researching what the presidential candidates say/do in the disability arena. For instance, Hillary has been actively supporting disability issues throughout her career. Here is a comment from her blog:

Something that stuck with me after our time together was when Chelsea remarked in a roundtable discussion how humbled she was by the fact that when her mother was 27 (Chelsea's current age) she was advocating on behalf of children with disabilities. Her research later led to passage of legislation ensuring access to public education for all children with mental and physical disabilities.
I realize one comment is not enough to determine who to vote for, but having this on her blog at least she knows disabilities is a pertinent issue.

Although this is from 2004, this site provides links to candidates and disability issues.

Do your research!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Disability Link comments

Found interesting website listing ministers with various disabilities, including Crohns and clinical depression. I've dreamed of joining a convent, except I am not Catholic.

Also, stumbled upon The Nth Degree which is a professionally developed source of information. I intend to read more of it as someone who is interested in what it is like to acquire a disability. The web owner was in a car accident which caused his spinal cord injury. He has some cool art pieces. There is one that says, "Disabled and Proud" which is a bit polyanna for me. Yet if I consider it was God who created me the way I am, I suppose I could possibly be proud to be disabled... it would be a stretch though.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Short But Deep

Found the following quote on Independent Living website.

As long as we regard our disabilities as tragedies, we will be pitied.
As long as we feel ashamed of who we are, our lives will be regarded as useless.
As long as we remain silent, we will be told by others what to do.
By: Adolf Ratzka

Friday, January 18, 2008

Discerning God's Will

I have a big decision to make. As I referenced yesterday, I thought I was going the right path, but input from ‘the world’ (including fellow Christians) has my mind reeling. My desire is to simply do the will of God, even if it is the hard way, because I BELIEVE the Lord will give me everything needed to do His will. The dilemma is discerning His will.

The question is should I speak up on an issue or keep quiet. While I can justify (with individual verses) why I should go either path, it is dangerous to make decisions based on single verses. (Andy Stanley gives example of Judas hanging himself, and the reader thinking he should hang himself.)

Here are key verses I’ve ‘felt’ through this process:

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? -1 Cor. 6:7

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
*** Convinced to not cause waves, just trust in God’s ultimate justice.
Then the ‘wave’ came from elsewhere… I went back to Scripture:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Prov. 31:8,9
***This with knowing Christians should promote justice, I was convinced I needed to speak up (since the issue was not put to rest as I thought).

***Then counsel from men I admire presented me with a different perspective, convincing me I needed to wait until my situation changes… deal with immediate needs first.

***This morning, the Spirit led me to Esther, who had to speak up to promote justice, even if it would kill her.
Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16

which led to Isaiah 50:4; 51:16-
The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. 16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' "

*** Okay, so I need to speak up… as my Bible commentary says:
We should have the same commitment to do what is right despite the possible consequences. Do you try to save yourself by remaining silent rather than standing up for what is right? Decide to do what God wants, and trust him for the outcome.

Speak up it is… wait a minute, what about Jesus remaining silent when asked to defend Himself?
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

Oh, brother! Speaking of ‘brother’, I will be discussing this with my spiritual brother today to get his perspective… to be continued.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Real Depression

Have you ever believed the storm was over only to find yourself in the eye of a hurricane? Yesterday I hit the eye wall. My storm is far from over. While I thought I was doing the right thing, now I am not so sure. “Childlike trust” keeps popping into my mind. My devotions this morning included these words by Blackaby:
God’s ways and thoughts are often so different from yours and mine they will often sound wrong or impossible. You need a readiness to believe God and trust Him completely. You must believe that what He is doing is best for you. Don’t try to second-guess Him. Let Him be God.

The issue is related to my recent need to take medical leave for clinical depression. Without giving details, even the ‘good guys’ (i.e. my friends in the psychology field) are telling me I should use my cerebral palsy instead of admitting to having clinical depression. “They will turn the depression around to hurt you. Just say you were having problems related to C.P.. They can’t dispute that.”

But the cerebral palsy wasn’t/isn’t the issue; it is clinical depression.

Yes, it would be easier using C.P.. Yes, I could even get a medical note stating how C.P. is slowing me down as I approach 40 (which is true). But what about all the people who suffer from clinical depression who do not have a visible disability to fall back on (no pun intended)?

I am amazed at the ignorance and stigmas I am facing by professionals who went to grad school to study psychology. I am appalled at the statements made by professionals who devoted their career to helping people with disabilities.


As Deanna (who is not in the mental health field) said yesterday, “This is unreal… it’s unbelievable!” when I vented in her office regarding a discussion I had with the higher ups.

I need to divert this passionate anger into productive means. Let me just say to those who experience deep clinical depression: you are not crazy. It is very real as you feel in your bones and experience the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Take it from a licensed mental health counselor AND certified rehabilitation counselor who has been on antidepressants since 1993, depression hurts… it cripples more than some physical disabilities.

Maybe my platform is to bring awareness to clinical depression. I don’t know why I am experiencing this, but I DO know my Father is using the experience for my good and the good of His Kingdom. (Eph. 3:20-21)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Disability Links

Some links of interest:
For legal issues related to disabilities - DREDF
Let me save a lot of time... Here is a comprehensive list of links.

Also, I am really loving BBC's Ouch site. Many would find it offensive, but I love it. There's interesting information like this:
Here's a side-by-side comparison of how the top ten Worst Words differed between disabled and non-disabled people who took part in the poll.

DISABLED NOT DISABLED
Spastic Retard
15.1% (57 votes) 21.5% (328 votes)
Retard Window-licker
14.3% (54 votes) 19.6% (298 votes)
Brave Spastic
14% (53 votes) 19.2% (292 votes)
Special Mong
13.5% (51 votes) 15.7% (240 votes)
Cripple Special
10.8% (41 votes) 8.8% (135 votes)
Handicapped Brave
7.9% (30 votes) 6.2% (95 votes)
Wheelchair-bound Cripple
6.3% (24 votes) 4.3% (65 votes)
Mong Psycho
5.8% (22 votes) 2% (31 votes)
Psycho Handicapped
5.5% (21 votes) 1.1% (17 votes)
Window-licker Wheelchair-bound
5.3% (20 votes) 0.9% (14 votes)

Personally, I hate these words - special and brave. Otherwise, 'politically-correct' language is not something I stress over.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thoughts on Assisted Suicide

Read this article regarding assisted suicide added my thoughts in red.

Blogburst Acceptance

**Blog was added to invitation-only site –Blogburst.
Thirty-something year old rehab counselor/writer/poet/Christian who is passionate about changing society's misconceptions about disabilities.

(Mis)Perceptions (written 1/10/8)

Scenario #1 – Walking out of a local restaurant with Michele and her daughter, the hostess tells Michele, “Thank you for taking her out” as if she checked me out of a group home. Michele told her “Oh, no… she’s one of my best friends.”
Scenario #2- Deanna works in a professional, non-social services office in the same building as me. Her staff has nothing to do with disability issues. They see me talking to her daily. I asked her if they asked why I talk funny. She defensively said, “They’re not 8!!”
What makes us see people as we do? How are some people prejudice while others seem oblivious to appearances? Just something to ponder.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

HOUSEKEEPING

Updated main website including CP page.

CP Press Release

Found this informative factoid on Cerebral Palsy:
Press Release January 06, 2008
Press Release Contact Information:
Patricia Woloch
ePR Source
submission staff
17301 W Colfax Ave. Suite 275
Golden, CO
United States 80401
Voice: 3033849710
E-Mail: info@e-prsource.com
Website: Visit Our Website

Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits
Most of the brain injuries which cause cerebral palsy can be prevented when doctors and other health care professionals properly monitor the mother and fetus during pregnancy and delivery.

/24-7PressRelease/ - GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NJ, January 06, 2008 - Cerebral palsy is a birth injury which is almost always preventable. It is caused by brain injury to a baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth, which affects muscle control and can cause learning disabilities. With proper medical care and therapy, some children with cerebral palsy can lead fairly normal lives, but most children require life-long care.

Causes
Most of the brain injuries which cause cerebral palsy can be prevented when doctors and other health care professionals properly monitor the mother and fetus during pregnancy and delivery. Doctors should always be on the lookout for the conditions and circumstances which can cause birth brain injury. Causes of birth brain injury include:
· Infection in mother or baby during pregnancy
· Toxicity from inappropriate medications during pregnancy
· Kidney and urinary tract infections in the mother
· Rh incompatibility
· Lack of oxygen
· Bleeding in the brain
· Severe jaundice
· Stroke
· Failure to respond to fetal distress
· Umbilical cord strangulation
· Unreasonable delay in performing a c-section
· Inappropriate use of forceps
· Failure to treat infant seizures

Symptoms and effects of cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy will affect each child differently, but there are some common problems which it is known to cause. These include:
· Impaired speech
· Learning disabilities
· Visual impairment
· Hearing impairment
· Difficulty walking
· Incontinence
· Difficulty eating
· Drooling
· Limited motor skills
· Paralysis
· Seizures

Types of cerebral palsy
Different types of cerebral palsy have different physical effects on a child.

Spastic. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form. It makes the muscles too tight causing stiff jerky movements. This can affect different parts of the body:
· Monoplegia affects only one arm or one leg
· Diplegia affects both arms or both legs
· Hemiplegia affects the arm and leg on one side of the body
· Triplegia affects both arms and one leg or both legs and one arm
· Quadriplegia affects both arms and both legs

Ataxic. Having the opposite effect of spastic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy causes the muscles to be weak and can cause difficulty walking and maintaining balance.

Athetoid. In athetoid cerebral palsy the muscles alternate between being too weak and too tight. This can cause involuntary movements and make it difficult to stay upright.

Caring for a child with cerebral palsy
Children with cerebral palsy require extensive medical treatment, therapy and long-term care. Physical, emotional, and cognitive impairment can range from mild to extreme, requiring a variety of treatment methods and approaches. Children with cerebral palsy often require:
· Physical therapy
· Speech therapy
· Occupational therapy
· Psychological treatment
· Surgery
· Medications to prevent seizures
· Full time in-home care or institutionalization

New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer Michael L. Weiss, Esq. has handled over a dozen of these types of claims and recently achieved identical 1.5 million dollar jury verdicts in two separate cases involving two different children. If your child has suffered a birth injury or birth trauma, please contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C., today.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Not So Bad

It amazes me how the people I think should ‘get’ disabilities are ignorant while those who have had little interaction with the disabled see cerebral palsy and/or depression as just another character trait. Where do people get their perspective? In grad school, a classmate was asked to leave the counseling program because she lacked the ‘social skills’ (empathy, compassion) needed to be a therapist. Getting A’s & B’s on exams weren’t enough.

Thanks to my recent depressive season, my clients have noticed a change in my technique in the two weeks since I’ve returned from leave. They’re more appreciative and disclose much more as I am able to focus more on their needs since my own depression has been stabilized. Seeing the hope in their eyes makes the most recent ‘crash’ worth it as I was reminded how painful depression can be. Here I thought God was ignoring my prayers to take away my desperation and hopelessness when He was looking at the big picture.

How can something so debilitating be such a blessing? How can the very thing that keeps me from effectively doing my job (clinical depression) be the thing that (when stabilized) makes me a great therapist? God uses what was intended to harm me for good. It did harm me, but in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad as I see the good that has come out of it.

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Cor. 4:14-18

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

'NO" New Year's Resolutions

My cats pretty much have free reign over our humble abode except for a few restrictions – stay off my laptop, do not interrupt me during my morning quiet time, etc. Every morning, they insist on breaking each restriction.

Like Eve in the garden of Eden, the tendency is to focus on the few ‘no’s’ rather than enjoying the abundance of ‘yes’s’.

New Year’s Resolutions backfire as we focus so much on what we must not do that the ‘no’ becomes all we think about.

For over 20 years, I had a dominating, shameful stronghold that I could not seem to shake. It tarnished my daily life and was very incongruent with everything I believed and professed. An endless cycle would transpire as I’d manipulate and sabatoge relationships, hurting people to feed my sin. Thank God not only have I broken the patterns of destruction, I don’t even struggle with the temptation since I have laid it at the Cross.

Through this process, I’ve discovered some crucial steps to breaking bad behaviors:
1.Give it to God, telling Him I can’t do this alone and need His power to take away my desire for (fill in sin).
2.Trust He will take care of it, and do not worry. Get my mind on positive things (Phillipians 4:8)
3.Tell a fellow believer who will hold me accountable. Someone who does not struggle with the particular sin (Romans 14:13) so I can avoid being vague – thus, removing temptations to be dishonest by omitting pertinent details.
4.Have close friends pray for me in this area, confessing the area of sin without providing details (James 5:16). The purpose of sharing here is not to glorify or brag about sinful behavior, rather to give generalities so God can be glorified with my progress in breaking the stronghold.
5.Use the experience to show mercy and love to others. By admitting my struggles with sin, I am able to resist judging and condemning others, remembering not one of us is without sin (Romans 3:22-24).
6.Rather than focusing on what I cannot do, I strive to enjoy the freedom to experience the infinite ways He has blessed me. (Example: Instead of resolving not to stay in a destructive job longer than absolutely necessary, resolve to use all of my resources to finding a job that more consistently aligns with God’s will.)

May you draw on His strength to meet all of your ‘yes’ resolutions!