Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'll be on blog radio next week!


Press Release:

Christian Organization Unites the Millions Who Live with Invisible Illness

Contact: Lisa Copen, Rest Ministries, 858-486-4685, rest@restministries.org

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 3 /Christian Newswire/ -- Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA live with a chronic illness and about 96% of the illnesses are invisible.* Rest Ministries, Inc., the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill, an affiliate of Joni Eareckson Tada's International Disability Ministry, is encouraging those with illness, as well and family, caregivers, and churches through their annual outreach event, National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, September 8-14, 2008.

This year the week features 20 workshops with well-known guest speakers who will be presenting and answering questions via Blog Talk Radio, September 8-12.

Speakers include:
• Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship (Harvest House, 2007)
• Julie-Allyson Ieron, author of The Overwhelmed Woman's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents (Moody, 2008)
• Lisa Copen, author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Rest Publishers, 2008)
• Jennifer Saake, author of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss (NavPress, 2005) Tune in to the archived program at www.blogtalkradio.com/invisibleillnessconf/2008/09/09/Medications-Illness-Fertility-and-the-Desire-for-Motherhood.


Lisa Copen, 39, founder of Rest Ministries says, "Since we began in 1997 we've found that despite the strong foundation Christians may have, illness can rock it. Feeling like no one understands how much your life has changed since a diagnosis can be more spiritually detrimental than the illness itself. It can make one feel isolated, misunderstood and even bitter."

Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since the age of twenty-four explains why Invisible Illness week matters. "Those with illness do have to accept that other people aren't going to 'get it.' Only God understands. But it's nice to encourage peers and find strength in validating the mixed emotions. You don't have to explain why walking twenty feet may be impossible some days."

Rest Ministries extends their outreach about illness awareness to churches, providing materials to start up HopeKeepers groups, books, cards, tracts, etc. About 96% of those with illness may appear perfectly healthy on Sunday mornings, but may struggle to get out of bed the remainder of the week.

Ken Chambers, Director of Church Relations at Joni and Friends International Disability Center, says, "It is vital that Christians understand the emotional and spiritual trials of those with invisible disabilities, as well as those with visible disabilities. Rest Ministries is dedicated to educating churches to not only serve the chronically ill, but to involve them in the church body. I encourage church leaders to take advantage of the wealth of resources at Rest Ministries and to participate in the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week."

Get involved by joining the hundreds of people who will blog about invisible illness on September 8th, attend a seminar, or tell someone who has an illness about the event. Typically, people with illness are unable to attend a traditional conference, so a "virtual conference" is widely anticipated. All seminars will also be recorded and archived.

See www.invisibleillness.com. Rest Ministries is at www.restministries.org.

*Source: Chronic Care in America, U.S. Census Bureau


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Press Release written by:
Lisa Copen
Rest Ministries, Director
HopeKeepers Magazine, Editor

National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week
Founder & Coordinator



“HOPE CAN GROW FROM THE SOIL OF ILLNESS!”
This is the theme of 2008’s National Invisible
Chronic Illness Awareness Week in September.
Drop by and find out ways to encourage a
friend, be encouraged yourself, and spread the word.
http://www.InvisibleIllness.com and our blog
http://www.InvisibleIllness.Wordpress.com

Monday, September 01, 2008

Anything for a Child? (part 2)

On the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums I am posting monthly devotionals based on various chapters of Hannah's Hope. Here is “part two” on thoughts from chapter ten, tackling the specific question of manipulating God. Part one, focusing on grace in supporting one another as God uniquely leads each of us through the plans He has for our lives, is posted here.

I wrote the bulk of this chapter addressing 10 “filter questions” and their accompanying Scriptural support. The questions are designed to help you in making decisions concerning treatment options, adoption plans or other choices related to the infertility journey. Today we will look at just one of these questions, realizing that we are pulling it out of context from the rest of the chapter so it won’t be quite as clear on its own as it would be in the big picture. To get a better feel for my heart, I would encourage you to read chapter 10 entirely for more background.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Anything for a Child?" chapter ten of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission. You may read a portion of this book here.


And she made a vow saying, “Oh LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, the I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
- 1 Samuel 1:11 (NIV)


What Hannah might have prayed:
“King of Kings, who am I that I should even dare to approach your throne? But I am beyond desperate. Great Physician, I need your healing hand upon both my defective body and my splintered heart. I would give anything to hear the name ‘Mommy’ called to my ears. I’ll be a godly mother and see that this child puts You first in everything...”
Almost before she realized what she was saying, she had committed her future child to the life of a Nazirite (see Numbers 6). What had she done, letting her emotions carry her to such a vow? This burden was voluntarily taken by only a few, and typically for just a short season, not for life.
But there was no going back now. If the Lord’s grace ever brought her the joy of labor pains, her son would live set apart, much like Samson, who had delivered her people from the Philistines after God placed him in the womb of his sterile mother (see Judges 13)…


When children don’t come along as planned, we face emotionally taxing, financially draining, and ethically complex choices. “Lord, I’ll do anything for a baby!” can be the soul’s gripping cry. But the moral and spiritual questions quickly arise: Is anything really okay? How far is “too far”? Do ends always justify means? Can I bargain with God or manipulate my way to motherhood?

Am I trying to force God’s hand?
Sometimes God gives us less than the best He desires for us because we beg Him to do so, just as He conceded to the demands of Israel (see 1 Samuel 8:6-22). Am I trying to manipulate my way to a baby? Am I trying to bargain with God? Am I willing to accept God’s best for my life, or do I want to be in the driver’s seat and demand what I perceive to be best?
One of our adoption losses was especially painful. I had invested my heart in the life of a young birth mother and watched in awe as “our son” performed on the stage of his first ultrasound. I fell head-over-heals in love, only to be asked to support this woman as she chose a different family.
I ask, “Lord, how could you ask such a thing of me? Might a few well-spoken words swing the pendulum of parenthood back in our favor?” He answered clearly through the pages of His Word that morning in the hospital. Genesis 16 reminded me that while Sarah’s plan did bring about the birth of Ishmael, everyone suffered as a result of her manipulation. I was strongly convicted that, as much as I craved this child, I had to let go.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)


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Dear Lord,
Sometimes this path can be so confusing! You say children are a blessing, so how could fulfilling my longing for a baby be anything less than Your best for me? Sometimes it seems like I need to "help" You along, to push open door and blaze trails when You seem to be forgetting to act on my behalf. Please help me to remember that Your plan is truly best. Thank You that Your thoughts are so much higher than my limited understanding! Help me not to shove ahead of Your best plan, pushing for Your "second best" for my life rather than waiting for You to fulfill what You most want for me. Please teach me to trust that You really do have me on the straightest path to my heart's desires, to be fulfilled in Your perfect timing, as I learn what it means to fully acknowledge You in everything.