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 health

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

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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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Hopes and Dreams When Living with Chronic Illness


Chronic Illness & Our Hope and Dreams: Keep ‘Em or Wean ‘Em?

When we live with illness, we often feel frustrated with our ability to make plans and goals. Dreams fall aside as we just try to get through life. How do we continue to pursue dreams?

  • Which ones does God want us to keep?
  • Which ones should we give up?
  • How do we decide?

This upbeat, realistic look at dreams will hit home for anyone who has experienced life that comes after chronic illness.

And even when Lisa discusses the difficulties of these choices, her sense of humor will keep you smiling.

Appropriate for Christian audiences. 45 minutes.

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Invisible Disabilities: Effective Tools Every Church Should Have


As presented at the Joni and Friends Disability Ministry Summit, 2007

With nearly one in two people having a chronic illness, it impacts most families; the invisibility of it, however, often inhibits the church from realizing its prevalence and how many people are suffering silently. It’s easy for hurt feelings to abound and for ill people to feel like a burden, not a blessing. Awareness and simple tools to increase your outreach to both members and non-members will make your church a shelter from life’s storms.

YOU WILL LEARN…

  • Why the church needs to know that half their audience on Sunday may look a lot better than how they feel. For example, 75% of marriages that include an illness end in divorce. Learn why illness ministry needs to be understood by all church staff and how to get their attention when they already have too much to do.
  • How to uncover the needs people with illness have if they don’t speak up until they’ve decided to leave the church. How to avoid hurt feelings and increase communication.
  • Practical ways to get your church body more enthusiastic about meeting the needs of church members who live with illness, how to approach your church about it, and set ministry priorities. How to teach them about the blessings the chronically ill will bring, not burdens.
  • How to respond when the church leadership says, “But he’s not a member… so we can’t help him.” Reaching beyond our church walls is vital because New Age religions do it very well and people in pain follow whoever shows them love.
  • How to create a welcoming environment for the chronically ill members and visitors in ten inexpensive, fast ways.

Appropriate for Christian audiences. 60 minutes, but can be adapted.

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Preparing for Hand Surgery Next Week

ashridge snow #3 - oak tree
Image by slimmer_jimmer via Flickr

Hello,

Thank you, friends, for your support in the last few weeks as I have been recovering from Invisible Illness Week, then trying to get organized with “life”. We’ve got a “chore sheet” for our son on the back of the bathroom door and he is getting a weekly allowance. I’ve attended parent/teacher meetings, and have been flaring badly through it all. I bought a big thick daily planner, and then I copy all the stuff for the week over to the dry erase board. I am just about organized, and now it wil all soon be going haywire!

Yesterday as I limped through the house I had my own little sports commentary going on in my head, “And she’s coming around the corner, folks! She’s building speed! Oops, look out, she’s losing her balance. . . oh, she’s back in the race!”

Ever feel like you are barely moving and yet in your head you are running? (Like when people wait in their car for you to cross the street and then they look at you like,  “Could you maybe pick up the pace?”)

And through it all I’ve been visiting many doctors. January or February I will have cataract surgery, as I have a big one on each eye “bulls eye” over my retina (glad I can do something so precise!)

I am scheduled to have hand surgery November 4–next Wednesday. If all goes as planned, (no infections!) surgery will just be out-patient and I will be home that day, with a cast– for six weeks! They are rebuilding my left hand, likely doing some joint replacements and trying to put a few fingers and tendons back into place.

As much as I would love to have some of the use of my hand back, I am not looking forward to any kind of cast on my arm, as my shoulder bones are “bone on bone” and need replaced themselves; and the cast will go above the bent elbow. A couple of years ago a simple hand surgery sent me into the deepest flare I’ve had for weeks, so please pray that it will be more smooth this time.

My parents arrive soon. Dad will be here just a few days and mom will help me around the house and. . . (please pray) with driving. (Sorry, mom, but you know you hate the freeways here is San Diego.) I don’t know how good of passenger I will be as she drives me to hand therapy 20 miles away (the closest hand therapist.)

I have newsletters ready to go out to you in coming weeks and the web site will have new content every day. I’ve been doing lots to prepare for this time I will be off the computer more than on.

Answering emails will be difficult, but I will do my best. I have a voice program, but it doesn’t work when I am on pain medications because my voice slows down too much!

Any way, that is the scoop!

I read this scripture the other day from The Message:

Matthew 5:14-26 says, “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives.
By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (The Message)

I am going to try to “be a light.” I think that means a “lattern” kind of soft glow, or a bright light, but not the red adn blue spinning lights that we see behind our car. I anticipate not feeling terrific, but I still have the ability to influence everyone I come into contact with – and I get to choose if that influence is positive or negative. I get to decide if I let people walk away from me encouraged or discouraged.

As you prepare for winter and pull out your heating pad and comfort items, remember that God doesn’t want to hide you under a bucket (or in your home.) And sometimes that even means ASKING for help from others. I am going to try to take my own advice and do this (unlike last year when it seemed like everyone assumed someone else was helping-including my own church where I fell through the cracks when I most needed them.)

Know you are not alone in your struggles – with people, spiritually, even with yourself! I am walking that rough road right beside you and learning some things the hard way.

I pray that you are blessed in coming weeks and that the Lord pleasantly surprises you with His light this season.

I think I can manage 140 characters picking out the letters with one hand so you keep up with me at www.lisaontwitter.com or www.lisaonfacebook.com
in coming weeks.

God bless,

Lisa Copen, Rest Ministries Founder
Rest Ministries Chronic Illness Pain Support

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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

___________________________________________________

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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October is Sensory Awareness Month

Vaughan: I love leaves!

October is National Sensory Awareness Month with the theme “Come to Your Senses.”

This is the fifth year that SIFocus.com will lead and sponsor this national campaign to raise awareness regarding sensory integration/sensory processing disorders. I am posting this because I am VERY familiar with SID or SPD as a mom of a child with sensory issues.

Read more about sensory processing disorder at SIFocus.com – In fact, if you know a child who cannot sit still, you may start reading about it for the child, only to discover that you have it and that is why you may do some of the things you do.

SI Focus encouragers people that October is the month for working within your own community raising awareness in your schools, among neighbors and within your family.

You can join their volunteers throughout the US and in Canada and England. Contact them at awareness@SIfocus.com and request one of their free Volunteer Packets. They will send you an electronic packet filled with ideas to raise awareness in your community, press release ideas, a fact sheet and more information.

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