The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Archive for chronic pain

Lisa’s Calendar of Events

9/13-17 -National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, San Diego, Virtual Conference – HOST
9/24-26 21st Century Book Marketing Conference, San Diego Hilton By the Bay – ATTENDEE
1/14-17 Joni and Friends Affiliate Conference, Agoura Hills, CA – ATTENDEE

Beyond Casseroles: How to Start a Chronic Illness/Pain Ministry

Does your church know how to reach out to people who live with chronic illness?

How should you react when God doesn’t choose to heal?

When are casseroles and get-well cards not appropriate? If you’ve ever wondered about the do’s and don’t’s of witnessing to someone with a chronic illness, you won’t want to miss this!

  • Lisa will lead you through how your church can more effectively outreach to people who live daily with illness and pain through her own experiences and stories of others.
  • You will be given an opportunity to see “church” through the eyes of someone in pain, and recognize the small changes that your church can make to have a more effective illness/pain ministry to hurting individuals.

Appropriate for churches, church leadership or conferences. 50 minutes, but can be adapted.

How to Help a Hurting Friend

Have you ever had a friend who was hurting and you didn’t know what to say? How do you know when to quote the Scriptures and when to just listen? If someone you care about lives with chronic illness, grief, or emotional pain, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to learn how to be a good friend. If you live with illness or disability, you will smile in understanding as Lisa shares her experiences and the stories of others who live with chronic illness. The time spent will give you a sense of relief and comfort, as you learn how to express your sincerity to hurting friends.

Appropriate for Christian and secular audiences. 45 minutes, but can be adapted.

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Communicating with Your Spouse About Your Chronic Pain

This article is free to reprint. Keep everything “as is” and include the resource “box” at the end that refers back to Rest Ministries. Thank you! ~Lisa

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Communicating with Your Spouse About Your Chronic Pain

couple-cuddle“I feel like there are thumb tacks in my bed!” I say to my husband as he crawls into the other side of our bed. “I know there is nothing there, but I just feel bruised all over.”

“I’m sorry,” he offers with a sympathetic voice, but there is little else he can do.

“Actually, I sort of feel nauseous too,” I share. “It’s probably just the drugs. I wonder if I should eat something or if that would make it worse. I’m sure it will pass if I can just get to sleep.” I look over and he is already starting to snore.

For many of us, our spouse is our best friend. If our relationship is good, we want to share our feelings with them. Even if our relationship is hurting, we feel that by explaining our pain, our spouse may sympathize and be more loving toward us.

Although we don’t want to burden them by constantly sharing about our aches and pains, when we are hurting there is a desire to be heard and have our feelings validated. By talking out loud about what we are feeling, it somehow makes the pain real. It’s no longer “all in our head.”

Galatians 6:2 tells us “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” At some point we must carry these burdens to the Lord, as well as a close friend, rather than just count on our spouse to carry the burden of listening about each ache.

Although your spouse may not be suffering from a physical ailment, there are still many losses that he is grieving. For example, it is an emotional thing to watch someone you love be in pain and not be able to fix it. He may be suffering as he watches you lose the ability to do things you love. He likely misses the couple outings you once took together when you could do physically active events, whether it was skiing, or just taking long walks together on the beach. He may be frustrated that even his hugs can cause you to wince. Counselors have found that there are three major areas where marriages suffer: money, time and physical intimacy.

Your marriage may be having difficulties in all three, specifically because of the role chronic illness has taken on within your marriage. Is it possible to “share our burdens” with our spouse without overburdening him and making him want to run the other way every time we open our mouth to share another symptom of our ailments?

Be a team with your spouse

It’s you and your spouse “up against” the illness. Although you may feel like your spouse is merely a spectator, intentionally make him a part of your team fighting the battle of pain, in whatever way he is most comfortable.

Ask your spouse if you can share some information about your illness so he has a better idea of what you are going through, but don’t overwhelm him. If he is willing to attend a few doctors appointments with you, let him, and give him time to ask the doctor his own questions. For example, giving him a brochure may be better than handing him a 250-page book. If he listens to podcasts, find some that would be beneficial for him to listen to. Acknowledge that there may be role or responsibility shifts in the marriage due to the illness. Be open about what you are struggling with and where you need help. For example, if you can no longer scrub that bathroom but, let him know before the grime gets out of hand.

Connie Kennemer lives with multiple sclerosis and she candidly shares that struggle that it can be to find the right balance and word. “I am not as mobile as I used to be and I often ask more of my husband such as ‘Can you work at home this afternoon?’ or ‘Why do you have to go to another meeting?’ How much should he accommodate me because my body is changing? He doesn’t always know when to stop and encourage me to try things myself. This is a constant challenge.”

Be reasonable in your expectations

We often marry someone who has our opposite personality style. If you need to read every article about your illness, but your spouse doesn’t, it may simply be because your spouse has a more laissez faire attitude, not because he doesn’t care. His response to a crisis may appear to be nonchalant on the outside, but it doesn’t mean he is not worried and concerned about you.

On the flip side, maybe you are emotionally overwhelmed the diagnosis and you need to just sit back and take it all in before you start doing research, while your spouse is spending hours at the computer finding out everything he can on the latest treatments, medications, and signing you up for the healing service at church. He may accuse you of being in denial about it all, since you aren’t showing as much passion as he is in finding out more about your illness. An excellent book recommend in helping you understand your communication styles better is “Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti” by Bill and Pam Farrell.

Have information about your illness available for when he is ready

If you are having a conversation and you want to explain more about how you are feeling, or details about the illness itself, you may want to have books with sticky notes on the pages you think he’s find most helpful. Or bookmark pages you can read together and then discuss. Connie says, “After ten years of living with MS, I am past the whiney stage, but Rex sometimes holds back; that’s when I need to ask him more questions about his feelings.”

Creatively keep him informed about the embarrassing parts of the illness

If your illness is going to cause you to be in the bathroom during eighty percent of the events you attend together, you need to let your spouse know that this is part of the disease. Health organizations have brochures on symptoms. You can say, “I’m dealing with some personal matters of this illness right now; I don’t really want to talk about them yet, but they’re in this brochure if you’re wondering.” Avoid sharing every detail if you can.

Look for other ways to vent besides always dumping on your spouse

“I realized that I held onto all of my frustrations of pain during the day and then ‘threw’ them at my husband as he came in the door,” shares Cheryl, who lives with chronic fatigue syndrome. “My actions set the tone for our entire evening and even though I felt better, he felt worse, and it lasted all night. He was beginning to dread coming home at night.”

Cheryl began to put aside the last two hours of her day to spend time writing in her journal, praying and doing something she enjoyed that calmed her. “Writing in my journal gave me the chance to express my frustrations, and then prayer really began to minimize the negativity too. My husband quickly noticed a difference and it’s made our relationship so much stronger.”

Find some ways to get involved in your community or a special hobby

What else do you have going on in your life, other than your illness? It’s easy to be overwhelmed with doctor’s appointments and just maintaining our illness, but it can result in a pretty dull life. Even if you have limited energy, do something you’ve always wanted to do that doesn’t have a deadline. Put together memory albums for your grandchildren, clean out just one drawer, find a new craft or hobby, volunteer to be on a prayer chain. Soon you will find that your illness actually is the last thing you want to talk about when you have had such more interesting events in your day.

Conclusion

So. . . How much is too much? It’s different for each person and each marriage relationship. Learn to look at your situation objectively. How many times are you bringing up your illness? How are you benefiting from talking about it more than necessary? Do you need understanding? Validation? Perhaps you need actual physical help with tasks. Ask yourself if talking about your illness could be a way of getting your spouse’s attention, and this seems to be the only thing he responds to? Regardless of whether it is attention, acknowledgment or understanding, how can you get this from God instead? How is it negatively affecting your life or those around you?

And then take a moment to really ask yourself “Is there a better, more creative way that I can create intimacy with my spouse, other than just complaining about each ache and pain? What activities can I still share that could help us grow closer together?”

And then when you want to share more about your pain or illness say a prayer first: “Lord, You know I don’t want to burden anyone else, especially when they cannot fix it. I really need a hug from you right now. I know that my spouse cares about me and wants to encourage me, even when he doesn’t always show it the way I want; please give me the wisdom to know when to ask for help and comfort from him/her and when to come only to You and ask you to fulfill all of my emotional needs.”

For more articles and important support while living with chronic illness or pain visit Rest Ministries so you don’t miss our fresh content and be entered for our monthly giveaway. Lisa Copen is the director of Rest Ministries, author of “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend” and founder of National Invisible chronic illness Awareness Week.

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Look More Awake for 12 Bucks? Sure!

eyerollerSo, I turned 41 last week… during Friday of Invisible Illness Week!  I remember being one of  the youngest gals everywhere I went… now I am looking at “age defying” make up.

Here is one item I am adding to my arsenal though, and regardless of your age (or gender) if you are in chronic pain and up many nights, you may be interested too.

It’s the new Garnie Nutrioniste Skin Renewal Anti-Puff Eye Roller. You just roll this “massage roller” that has a caffeine gel in it, under your eyes. It helps stimulate “microcirculation around the delicate eye area.” All for about 12 dollars.

I purchased this in August. The coolness of the metal tip of the applicator feels good, regardless of how well the product worked. But I wonder… could it be making a difference? The puffiness and creases seem a bit smaller. So whether it’s helping or having a placebo effect, I’m satisfied.

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Invisible Illness Week Thoughts – Day 1

woman-pjsI am up and at the computer about to start day 2 of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness WeeK. Your prayers have been so appreciated and I am thrilled that day 1 worked out so well with no technical glitches, no computer errors, etc.

This year I really wanted Georgia Shaffer to speak and Monday morning was the only slot she had available since she had a full week. (Thanks, Georgia for squeezing us in!) So we kicked things off and jumped right into talking about how we deal with our difficulties in life in different ways. We had over 200 listeners for our first show so we were off to a great start.

I have a pumpkin candle to create some atmosphere in my office, but am too scared to light it, so instead am just spritzing pumpkin room spray around. It smells like fall. I keep trying to turn and prop my feet up on a chair. My feet are swelling again and I don’t know if it’s the weather, or due to sitting so long here, or the angle of the chair. I keep moving everything to try to rotate positions.

Next was the 12 pm show. Jennifer Jaff shared some wonderful insight into insurance issues and also what to do when we have a pre-existing condition. This seminar is one you will want to listen to and have a piece of paper ready to take notes. She gave a lot of web sites that are helpful as well, all of which are available at her web site. And just a reminder that her services with her organization Advocacy for Patients are free (yep, you read that right.)

After the second show the phone rang and it was my parents. My mom said, “If it’s okay, I have a plane ticket I can get.” Okay? Yes! My parents had just returned from a trip to TN the day before (after being stuck overnight at SF due to plane issues). I hadn’t asked her to come for II Week because I didn’t think she should be returning from a long trip and then fly down here. She has her own chronic illness issues. But she said, “If you can do this, I can get on a plane. This is why I retired. ” Thanks to Dad who encouraged her to go and gave her 20,000 of her airline miles so the ticket was affordable.

My son gets out of school each day at 2:20 and I have shows at 3 and 5:30. Let’s just say I was desperate enough for childcare, after asking everyone I knew, to post it on Facebook. I figured maybe someone from Rest Ministries would know someone in San Diego and they could watch Josh in my home while I was just in the other room. But my mom is a’comin and should be here by noon today.

I explained to Josh’s teacher that this week was chaotic, and not normal, and that my mom would be picking him up the rest of the week.

If I sounded a bit frazzled when I first came on the line with Joanna Faillace for the 3 o’clock show it was because I picked my son up from school at 2:20. We ran home, I handed him milk and a snack, threw his karate uniform on. Packed him a snack to take. He said he’d wait in the driveway for his ride. I told him he could wait in the house, but he was feeling like a big boy and when I called “I love you!” he hollered back “I love you too.” Ahhh….

Just as we went live he appeared in my office and said, “They aren’t here yet. I’m thirsty.” I hit the mute button and said, “Go back outside. She’s coming. Milk is int he cooler.” I started the show and mouthed to him “I can’t talk” and waved. He went back outside and stood out there to wait for one of my dear friends to pick him up and take him to karate. I left her a bag of mail to drop into a mailbox even. Thank you, Shelley!

Once Joanne started talking I muted myself, took off the headset and ran out there to see if he was still there (Sorry, Joanne!). I had told him to come tell me when Shelley got there. He was gone. So was the mail. Okay…a kidnapper wouldn’t take the mail, right?

I ran back in and was back on the show. Joanne had a wonderful presentation about eating right, foods that are super-naturally healthy, and as always when I talk to her, I came away with some simple things I could easily do to improve my health- and dare I say – even metabolism. Now there is some motivation! I was glad I was keeping my food diary yesterday because I was stressed out enough I would have been eating more than I should.

I got off the phone and called Shelley to make sure she had Josh. They were finishing up karate learning cart wheels and then she was taking him to another a friend’s house to play. I called and left messages for my husband to pick up Josh (“I don’t have the address. He’s playing outside. It’s 2 or 3 houses down from Shelley’s house. Call me if you can’t find him.”) I reminded him to pick up drugs for me at the pharmacy too after work.  And then left 1 more message to pick up eggs.

We had our last Invisible Illness Week show of the day with Maureen Pratt who was calming and talked about having joy and gratitude despite illness. We had some wonderful encouraging calls (I love it when you call in!)

We finished at 6:30. I called my mom to make sure she had her ticket. I called Joel to make sure he found Joshua. They were looking for a clean restroom somewhere near the pharmacy (2 stores didn’t work) and they got home after 8.

I worked on blogs and answered emails until then they arrived home. Gave my kid a big hug and told him how proud of him I was. I grabbed a Nutrisystem lasagna and we ate at 8:15. I had Joel show me how to get the video game out of of the Playstation and then I went to Blockbuster at 8:45 to drop off movies and games that–if were not returned by midnight 9/14–we’d be charged for.

My husband volunteered, but actually I just wanted 15 minutes in the dark car alone and I blasted the “Our Hope Endures” song by Natalie Grant. I just picked up the CD last week as my “gift to myself” for this week and love her song “Our Hope Endures” that came out around the time I started Hope Endures podcasts last year. I will post a link to it later. Amazing song, and lyrics about a friend of hers that has cancer.

Got to bed by 10. Got back up at 10:30 and worked till 11:30. And -praise the Lord, slept!

I woke up at 5 a.m. and prayed for my mom who was just arriving at the airport to fly out. She should be in Seattle now (Eugene to Seattle, to San Diego is how it works.)

Got up at 7:15. I haven’t showered yet but I did throw on some clothes. I had a quick breakfast, watched 10 minutes about remembering Patrick Swayze on the Today show (sad), spent a few minutes in prayer and am going to be answering emails until the show starts with Pam Farrel (so excited to have her!). Then I hope to prepare a bit for the shows today, especially the one I am supposed to be doing on starting a business, since our second scheduled speaker had to cancel due to a family emergency. I have orders to send to our warehouse, and then need to grab a bite to eat.

Please keep us in prayer today. The shows, guests, listeners. Our guests that had to cancel have unspoken prayer requests. My mom’s best friend is 80 years old and having open heart surgery today too. She went into surgery at 7 a.m. and it should last 4-6 hours. So many people are hurting, including many of our speakers who are all coping with their own illnesses, and still doing the shows for all of us.

I hope that together we can reach out to everyone who needs reminded with the Lord’s love and hope.

God bless you, friends. Thanks so much for your support.

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Who is Talking About What for Invisible Illness Week Conference?

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We hope you will join us during some of the seminars for
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week starting tomorrow (Monday, Sept 14)

All times are pacific time, USA
Listen here http://www.invisibleillnessconference.com

Find out all information , speakers and more at http://www.invisibleillnessweek.com

Feel free to pass this along! (In fact, we’d LOVE you to do so!)

SEPT 14

MONDAY – 9 AM
Understanding How we Uniquely Deal with Difficulties in Life
Georgia Shaffer

MONDAY – 12 PM
Finding Health Insurance Coverage with a Pre-existing Condition
Jennifer Jaff

MONDAY – 3 PM
Super Foods for Super-Natural Health
Joanna Faillace

MONDAY – 5:30 PM
Hearts of Gratitude and Joy
Maureen Pratt

SEPT 15

TUESDAY 9 AM
Coping with Chronic Illness in Your Marriage
Bill & Pam Farrell

TUESDAY 12 PM
Coping with Crises on Top of Chronic
Jennifer Saake & Lisa Copen

TUESDAY 3 PM
How to Start a Business When You are Chronically Ill
Kirsten Borrink

TUESDAY 5:30 PM
To to Be Announced
Kelly Rouba

SEPT 16

WEDNESDAY 9 AM

It’s OK to say NO: Building Healthy Boundaries
Jenni Prokopy

WEDNESDAY 12 PM
Parenting When You are Chronically Ill – Chaos and Confessions
Dena Dyer, talking with Lisa Copen

WEDNESDAY 3 PM
Simplifying Your Home and Housework
Marcia Ramsland

WEDNESDAY 5:30 PM
Real Talk About Men and Chronic Illness
Jeff Kenyon

SEPT 17

THURSDAY 9 AM
Find the Job You Desire and Can Do
Rosalind Joffe

THURSDAY 12 PM
When Your Child is Chronically Ill
Jolene Philo

THURSDAY 3 PM
Managing College with a Chronic Illness
Lynn Royster

THURSDAY 5:30 PM
Helping Others Understand Your Pain
Karen Richards

SEPT 18

FRIDAY 9 AM
Applying and Winning Disability Assistance When You Are Chronically Ill
Scott Davis

FRIDAY 12 PM
Being a Teenager with a Chronic Illness
Naomi Kingery

FRIDAY 3 PM
Surgery Preparation
Curtis Dean Hall

FRIDAY 5:30 PM
Closing workshop
Lisa Copen and guests

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Christian Illness Ministry Sponsors 5-Day Virtual Conference Online

09_logo-for-blogSBWIRE – SEPT 14, 2009 / Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA live with a chronic illness and about 96% of these illnesses are invisible.* Rest Ministries, Inc., the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill, and an affiliate of Joni Eareckson Tada’s International Disability Ministry, is encouraging those with illness, friends, family, caregivers, and churches to get involved in their annual outreach, National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, September 14-20, 2009.

In addition to churches having outreach events for those with chronic conditions, Rest Ministries organizes a 5-day free virtual conference with 20 seminars that can be attended via one’s computer and computer speakers. Seminars are on a variety of topics including marriage, parenting, starting a business, how to apply for disability and more—all when you live with a chronic illness. The seminars are held via Blog Talk Radio and listeners can call in through their phone line with questions.

Well known Christian authors who will be presenting include:

  • Bill and Pam Farrel, best-selling authors; The Marriage Code (Harvest House, 2009)
  • Naomi Kingery, author of Sugar Free Me (Xulon Press, 2008)
  • Dena Dyer, author of Mothers of the Bible (Barbour Publishing, 2009)
  • Georgia Shaffer, author of How Not to Date a Loser (Harvest House, 2008)
  • Joanna Faillace, Certified Biblical Health Coach an author of Super-Naturally Healthy Families Cookbook Devotional
  • Lisa Copen, author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Rest Publishers, 2008)
  • Maureen Pratt, author of Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness (Galilee Trade, 2005)
  • Jennifer Saake, author of Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss (NavPress, 2005)
  • Marcia Ramsland, author of Simplify Your Life (Thomas Nelson, 2004)
  • Jolene Philo, author of A Different Dream for My Child (Discovery House Publishers 2009)

Lisa Copen, 40, founder of Rest Ministries says, “Many Christians may have a solid walk with the Lord, but the emotional roller coaster of a chronic illness and its constant progression can leave them feeling alone and misunderstood. They are hanging on by a thread and being told they look fine and should just make themselves get up and go to church only adds to the isolation and bitterness of others ‘not getting it.’ The emotional scars can be harder to cope with than the actual illness.”

Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since the age of twenty-four, ended up in the hospital for a week last fall fighting off the flesh eating bacteria in an ankle wound. We never know what the next day will hold,” she explains. “It is so important that there is good communication between those who are ill and their loved ones, as well as the church body.”

Did Copen’s circle of friends and church come through for her? “It was an enlightening experience,” she says. “Although I teach others to ask for help, I found out how difficult it is. And then when I did ask for help, I experienced what it is like when you fall through the cracks and everyone thinks someone else is providing both the practical support as well as emotional encouragement.”

Rest Ministries extends their outreach about invisible 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. 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, which they sponsor annually.”

One can get involved by joining the hundreds of bloggers who are writing about illness in the next few days, by joining the cause on Facebook, and most especially, by tuning in for the conference. All seminars will also be recorded and archived.

See http://www.invisibleillness.com for more information or http://www.restministries.org for the sponsor of this event, Rest Ministries.

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

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