When Silence Isn’t Golden

Taken from  Esperanza  which is located   HERE.

My Grandma always seemed so strong and spunky, it never dawned on me that she lived with depression. There were brief hints of crisis now and then—whispered conversations between my parents, hurried visits to check on Grandma’s welfare—but no one ever discussed the details openly.

If there were other signs, I didn’t know enough then to recognize them—and I probably was too consumed with life as a teenager to pay much attention.

Now I would give anything for the opportunity to talk with Grandma about the depression and anxiety that made me feel for so long that I was the odd person out, the black sheep of the family.

If Grandma had shared the truth about her depression, maybe I would have understood my own symptoms more quickly. Maybe I would have accepted treatment earlier and developed a stronger support system, instead of spending so much time and energy hiding my true feelings.

I was fortunate to grow up in a happy, loving, middle-class family, one of the few in our neighborhood that actually shared daily breakfast and supper together at the table. My sister and I were as close as twins, my optimistic mother posted a list of positive thoughts on our bedroom door, and my quiet father conveyed his caring without words. My strong foundation also included Grandma and my wonderful, witty aunts.

All in all, there seemed to be no justification for the depression that hit me when I entered college.

That’s when I began living a lie. At celebrations, graduations, weddings, baby showers, I felt guilty that I wasn’t as happy as everyone else seemed to be. So I kept my feelings to myself.

Ironically, I was a theater major in college, and a good actress. I made sure no one knew how isolated and different I felt.

It wasn’t until Grandma passed away at 92 that I began to see and understand I wasn’t so different after all. As a family, we began sharing stories about this special person in our lives as we sorted through her belongings and our memories.

I was surprised to learn my Grandma made weekly trips to a psychiatrist until she was physically unable to leave home. I was even more surprised to learn she felt the two people who knew her best were my Granddaddy and her psychiatrist.

The more I heard, the more I saw clues to the depression I grew up knowing nothing about. I learned that Grandma grieved for my grandfather as deeply as she had loved him, and that her grief lasted many years into her widowhood.

I remembered how she believed I didn’t want to talk to her when my new phone blocked her calls before I’d programmed her number into my caller ID list. I wasn’t calling her because I was in a dark place and couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to talk with me. In retrospect, I can see we were each dealing with depression, with similar feelings of worthlessness.

I discovered she saved inspirational poems and newspaper clippings, just as I do. I imagine her reading words of encouragement to remind herself, as I do, that negative thoughts and attitudes are just the depression talking.

In a stack of letters she wrote to me, I found a little book about overcoming depression and the power of prayer and love. It was as if she were still supporting and encouraging me.

With that love and strength—my Grandma’s ultimate gift—I find the courage to open up to family and friends with the truth about my past 20 years of depression. Over the coming months, I began telling my story, although I still felt somehow “wrong” for having depression and I was uncertain what reactions I would get.

The positive response was overwhelming. And once the secret was out, other relatives began sharing instead of hiding their emotions. The shuttered silence in our family is now an open door of communication, admitting others among us who had been living silently with depression.

Now that the stigma is removed, I no longer feel so alone, so apart. I can enjoy events with my family more freely without the burden of covering up who I really am. They support me with a deeper understanding, knowing I need them even when I can’t say so.

It turns out I was never alone after all.

Shannon Woodward: Mother’s Day From An Infertile Mother’s Perspective

This article is being repeated for the sixth year in a row.  Shannon Woodward addresses a topic that I believe we should all try and be sensitive to.  If you are a pastor or have input to your pastor this article can be very beneficial.  Shannon’s bio is found at the end of the article.  Allan

Editor’s Note: Pastor, as you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day with your congregation very soon, it’s important that you remember several groups within your church family who will have a particularly difficult time during this special holiday: people who have lost their mothers, those who have lost a child, or those who can never have children. This article focuses on what it’s like when an infertile woman experiences Mother’s Day at church for the first time with her adopted child.

Mother’s Day from an infertile woman’s perspective

Shannon Woodward

“I’d like to have all the mothers stand for prayer,” the pastor said.

The sanctuary rustled with movement. On my right and my left, in front of me and behind, a sea of women stood to their feet. For the first time ever, I was allowed to join them.

Rising, I clutched Zachary close. He was 4 days old.

From his seat next to me, Dave reached up and laid his hand against my back. At his touch, I turned my head and we caught each other’s eyes. No one else but he understood exactly what this moment meant to me.

One year I had fought tears all the way to church – dreading what I knew was to come – and cried all the way back home again, reliving the long, awful moments when I’d stayed glued to my seat while seemingly every other woman in the church rose to the honored position.

Another Mother’s Day, though I’d tried hard to keep my eyes locked on the hymnal in the pew rack before me, compulsion made me look. Scanning the crowd, peeping between the rows of standing women, I’d spotted only girls sitting down, only girls too young to bear children. When I realized I was the only adult woman not standing, I had to drop my head to hide my tears.

One year I almost couldn’t sit through the prayer. I almost left.

I wanted to be happy for the other women, and I’d try to agree with the words the pastor prayed, but all the while I’d be missing my mother – and all the children I couldn’t have. During those unbearable prayers, sitting in a seat of shame, I’d pray too. I’d pray it would all end quickly, and we’d be equalized again in the pews.

Dave knew every part of that. He knew how long I had waited for this invitation.

The pastor began. “Lord, we ask that you equip these women for the task you’ve laid before them. Fill them with your wisdom.”

I need your wisdom, Father.

“Bless the children you’ve entrusted to their care.”

Yes, Lord – guard him and bless him.

“And bless these mothers for the sacrifices they’ve made.”

I hadn’t sacrificed a thing. All the sacrifices had been made for me, by a mother who was undoubtedly, at that moment, grieving deeply.

While the pastor continued praying, I snuck a peek at the people on risers at the back of the stage – who were all sneaking peeks at me. Those members of the choir, those friends, returned my look with congratulatory smiles. They’d prayed Zachary into my arms.

The pastor began to wind down. Zachary made a small noise and popped one arm out of his blanket. When I turned to my left and tilted my head to tuck his covering closer, my gaze landed eye-level with a woman in a pew across the aisle, a woman I knew, a woman who was sitting.

It was Lynn, a woman I had met only a few months back at our church’s worship retreat. When Dave had told the crowd clustered around the bonfire that I was infertile and we needed their prayers, Lynn had put her arms around me and shared that she, too, was infertile.

She felt my gaze, looked up, and tried to smile with the same forced movement my own lips had attempted in years past, every time my own eyes had caught the glance of a mother proudly standing.

My heart leapt across the aisle. I’m you, I wanted to shout. I’m still you.

She turned away.

I took my place next to Dave and together we stared at our blue-blanketed gift. Zachary yawned, his lips a perfect oval, his tongue a curled sliver. When he closed his mouth again, his chin quivered and he pursed his tiny lips.

Though my heart was full, grief lingered in a corner. There was room enough still for the pain of those past Mother’s Days. I remembered. I would always remember.

I knew the hollow ache inside Lynn. I wanted to tell her that little had changed. I’d thought that the coming of an eight-pound gift would erase the ache, but it didn’t. Instead, the love that sprang inside me forged a new place. It didn’t fill the emptiness. I was an infertile woman entrusted with a child, allowed to mother that child and love him and watch him grow. But I knew already – just four days into my new life – that the pain of the old life had followed me.

I was Lynn. I’d just been allowed to stand for a brief prayer.

I thought I might tell her all that as soon as the service ended. I looked across the aisle for courage.

But she was gone.

Shannon Woodward is the wife of a Calvary Chapel pastor and the mother of two adopted children. She’s currently an editor with The Word For Today and the author of Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility (Cook Communications, August 2006) and A Whisper in Winter: Stories of Hearing God’s Voice in Every Season of Life. She is also a regular columnist for Christian Women Online

.

You can keep up with Shannon on her blog and web site.

http://www.windscraps.blogspot.com http://www.shannonwoodward.com/

Shannon Woodward: Mother’s Day From An Infertile Mother’s Perspective

 

 

This article is being repeated for the fifth year in a row.  Shannon Woodward addresses a topic that I believe we should all try and be sensitive to.  If you are a pastor or have input to your pastor this article can be very beneficial.  Shannon’s bio is found at the end of the article.  Allan

 

Editor’s Note: Pastor, as you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day with your congregation very soon, it’s important that you remember several groups within your church family who will have a particularly difficult time during this special holiday: people who have lost their mothers, those who have lost a child, or those who can never have children. This article focuses on what it’s like when an infertile woman experiences Mother’s Day at church for the first time with her adopted child.

Mother’s Day from an infertile woman’s perspective

Shannon Woodward

“I’d like to have all the mothers stand for prayer,” the pastor said.

The sanctuary rustled with movement. On my right and my left, in front of me and behind, a sea of women stood to their feet. For the first time ever, I was allowed to join them.

Rising, I clutched Zachary close. He was 4 days old.

From his seat next to me, Dave reached up and laid his hand against my back. At his touch, I turned my head and we caught each other’s eyes. No one else but he understood exactly what this moment meant to me.

One year I had fought tears all the way to church – dreading what I knew was to come – and cried all the way back home again, reliving the long, awful moments when I’d stayed glued to my seat while seemingly every other woman in the church rose to the honored position.

Another Mother’s Day, though I’d tried hard to keep my eyes locked on the hymnal in the pew rack before me, compulsion made me look. Scanning the crowd, peeping between the rows of standing women, I’d spotted only girls sitting down, only girls too young to bear children. When I realized I was the only adult woman not standing, I had to drop my head to hide my tears.

One year I almost couldn’t sit through the prayer. I almost left.

I wanted to be happy for the other women, and I’d try to agree with the words the pastor prayed, but all the while I’d be missing my mother – and all the children I couldn’t have. During those unbearable prayers, sitting in a seat of shame, I’d pray too. I’d pray it would all end quickly, and we’d be equalized again in the pews.

Dave knew every part of that. He knew how long I had waited for this invitation.

The pastor began. “Lord, we ask that you equip these women for the task you’ve laid before them. Fill them with your wisdom.”

I need your wisdom, Father.

“Bless the children you’ve entrusted to their care.”

Yes, Lord – guard him and bless him.

“And bless these mothers for the sacrifices they’ve made.”

I hadn’t sacrificed a thing. All the sacrifices had been made for me, by a mother who was undoubtedly, at that moment, grieving deeply.

While the pastor continued praying, I snuck a peek at the people on risers at the back of the stage – who were all sneaking peeks at me. Those members of the choir, those friends, returned my look with congratulatory smiles. They’d prayed Zachary into my arms.

The pastor began to wind down. Zachary made a small noise and popped one arm out of his blanket. When I turned to my left and tilted my head to tuck his covering closer, my gaze landed eye-level with a woman in a pew across the aisle, a woman I knew, a woman who was sitting.

It was Lynn, a woman I had met only a few months back at our church’s worship retreat. When Dave had told the crowd clustered around the bonfire that I was infertile and we needed their prayers, Lynn had put her arms around me and shared that she, too, was infertile.

She felt my gaze, looked up, and tried to smile with the same forced movement my own lips had attempted in years past, every time my own eyes had caught the glance of a mother proudly standing.

My heart leapt across the aisle. I’m you, I wanted to shout. I’m still you.

She turned away.

I took my place next to Dave and together we stared at our blue-blanketed gift. Zachary yawned, his lips a perfect oval, his tongue a curled sliver. When he closed his mouth again, his chin quivered and he pursed his tiny lips.

Though my heart was full, grief lingered in a corner. There was room enough still for the pain of those past Mother’s Days. I remembered. I would always remember.

I knew the hollow ache inside Lynn. I wanted to tell her that little had changed. I’d thought that the coming of an eight-pound gift would erase the ache, but it didn’t. Instead, the love that sprang inside me forged a new place. It didn’t fill the emptiness. I was an infertile woman entrusted with a child, allowed to mother that child and love him and watch him grow. But I knew already – just four days into my new life – that the pain of the old life had followed me.

I was Lynn. I’d just been allowed to stand for a brief prayer.

I thought I might tell her all that as soon as the service ended. I looked across the aisle for courage.

But she was gone.

Shannon Woodward is the wife of a Calvary Chapel pastor and the mother of two adopted children. She’s currently an editor with The Word For Today and the author of Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility (Cook Communications, August 2006) and A Whisper in Winter: Stories of Hearing God’s Voice in Every Season of Life. She is also a regular columnist for Christian Women Online

.

You can keep up with Shannon on her blog and web site.

http://www.windscraps.blogspot.com http://www.shannonwoodward.com/

Shannon Woodward: Mother’s Day From An Infertile Woman’s Perspective

This article is being repeated for the fourth year in a row.  Shannon Woodward addresses a topic that I believe we should all try and be sensitive to.  If you are a pastor or have input to your pastor this article can be very beneficial.  Shannon’s bio is found at the end of the article.  Allan

Editor’s Note: Pastor, as you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day with your congregation very soon, it’s important that you remember several groups within your church family who will have a particularly difficult time during this special holiday: people who have lost their mothers, those who have lost a child, or those who can never have children. This article focuses on what it’s like when an infertile woman experiences Mother’s Day at church for the first time with her adopted child.

Mother’s Day from an infertile woman’s perspective

Shannon Woodward

“I’d like to have all the mothers stand for prayer,” the pastor said.

The sanctuary rustled with movement. On my right and my left, in front of me and behind, a sea of women stood to their feet. For the first time ever, I was allowed to join them.

Rising, I clutched Zachary close. He was 4 days old.

From his seat next to me, Dave reached up and laid his hand against my back. At his touch, I turned my head and we caught each other’s eyes. No one else but he understood exactly what this moment meant to me.

One year I had fought tears all the way to church – dreading what I knew was to come – and cried all the way back home again, reliving the long, awful moments when I’d stayed glued to my seat while seemingly every other woman in the church rose to the honored position.

Another Mother’s Day, though I’d tried hard to keep my eyes locked on the hymnal in the pew rack before me, compulsion made me look. Scanning the crowd, peeping between the rows of standing women, I’d spotted only girls sitting down, only girls too young to bear children. When I realized I was the only adult woman not standing, I had to drop my head to hide my tears.

One year I almost couldn’t sit through the prayer. I almost left.

I wanted to be happy for the other women, and I’d try to agree with the words the pastor prayed, but all the while I’d be missing my mother – and all the children I couldn’t have. During those unbearable prayers, sitting in a seat of shame, I’d pray too. I’d pray it would all end quickly, and we’d be equalized again in the pews.

Dave knew every part of that. He knew how long I had waited for this invitation.

The pastor began. “Lord, we ask that you equip these women for the task you’ve laid before them. Fill them with your wisdom.”

I need your wisdom, Father.

“Bless the children you’ve entrusted to their care.”

Yes, Lord – guard him and bless him.

“And bless these mothers for the sacrifices they’ve made.”

I hadn’t sacrificed a thing. All the sacrifices had been made for me, by a mother who was undoubtedly, at that moment, grieving deeply.

While the pastor continued praying, I snuck a peek at the people on risers at the back of the stage – who were all sneaking peeks at me. Those members of the choir, those friends, returned my look with congratulatory smiles. They’d prayed Zachary into my arms.

The pastor began to wind down. Zachary made a small noise and popped one arm out of his blanket. When I turned to my left and tilted my head to tuck his covering closer, my gaze landed eye-level with a woman in a pew across the aisle, a woman I knew, a woman who was sitting.

It was Lynn, a woman I had met only a few months back at our church’s worship retreat. When Dave had told the crowd clustered around the bonfire that I was infertile and we needed their prayers, Lynn had put her arms around me and shared that she, too, was infertile.

She felt my gaze, looked up, and tried to smile with the same forced movement my own lips had attempted in years past, every time my own eyes had caught the glance of a mother proudly standing.

My heart leapt across the aisle. I’m you, I wanted to shout. I’m still you.

She turned away.

I took my place next to Dave and together we stared at our blue-blanketed gift. Zachary yawned, his lips a perfect oval, his tongue a curled sliver. When he closed his mouth again, his chin quivered and he pursed his tiny lips.

Though my heart was full, grief lingered in a corner. There was room enough still for the pain of those past Mother’s Days. I remembered. I would always remember.

I knew the hollow ache inside Lynn. I wanted to tell her that little had changed. I’d thought that the coming of an eight-pound gift would erase the ache, but it didn’t. Instead, the love that sprang inside me forged a new place. It didn’t fill the emptiness. I was an infertile woman entrusted with a child, allowed to mother that child and love him and watch him grow. But I knew already – just four days into my new life – that the pain of the old life had followed me.

I was Lynn. I’d just been allowed to stand for a brief prayer.

I thought I might tell her all that as soon as the service ended. I looked across the aisle for courage.

But she was gone.

Shannon Woodward is the wife of a Calvary Chapel pastor and the mother of two adopted children. She’s currently an editor with The Word For Today and the author of Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility (Cook Communications, August 2006) and A Whisper in Winter: Stories of Hearing God’s Voice in Every Season of Life. She is also a regular columnist for Christian Women Online

.

You can keep up with Shannon on her blog and web site.

http://www.windscraps.blogspot.com http://www.shannonwoodward.com/

What Celebrity Miscarriages Teach Us

Taken from Her. menutics which is located    HERE.

If famous folk can open up to the world about their pregnancy loss, why can’t we in the church?

Elise Erikson Barrett, guest blogger

Suddenly, it seems as if miscarriage is everywhere. Famous folks from Barbara Bush to Mariah Carey have recently disclosed previous pregnancy losses. Lily Allen suffered her second miscarriage in November, and Lisa Ling shared her own grief following a miscarriage on a recent episode of The View. Kelsey Grammer and his fiancée, Kayte Walsh, released a statement in October confirming the loss of their unborn child six weeks earlier. Giuliana Rancic and husband Bill opened up about their miscarriage this fall. A topic that historically has seemed taboo has somehow become hot tabloid fodder. OMG.

Lack of privacy is a given for the celebs among us, for we live in a culture that is breathlessly absorbed by the minutiae of famous lives. And whether you’re a hard-core subscriber to US Weekly and People or someone like me, slyly dawdling in the grocery checkout line so I can catch the tabloid headlines out of the corner of my eye, you can’t miss the obsession with celebrity baby-bump-watching. As gossip mag Life & Style‘s editor in chief Dan Wakeford has observed, “They’ve always been popular with readers, stories on babies . . . It used to be celebrity weddings, but not anymore. It’s all about babies.” Celebrity pregnancies are confirmed on Twitter and talk shows, and reporters try to outdo one another in cutesy cleverness, using tired witticisms about “buns in the oven” and coyly talking about “baby daddies.” Celebs are inevitably “thrilled” and “so happy” to announce that they are “preggo.” And really, what else are they going to say?

What’s been interesting is to see the ways in which these bereft celebrities and their suddenly, awkwardly serious biographers narrate their experiences of pregnancy loss. The language in which they are expected to be fluent, the perky, provocative vocabulary of fashion and premieres and love affairs, is not weighty enough to carry their grief. So they use quiet words. They release carefully worded statements using short, plain sentences. In the event that they are able to protect their loss as a secret, many of them wait, sometimes years, sometimes until they are securely pregnant again, to mention the miscarriage. They wait, as so many do, until what Ling so accurately described as the sense of “failure” can be overshadowed by news of a more recent “triumph.”

One dubious benefit of the celebrity fishbowl: You are always assured an audience. We Christians, however, have typically failed to make space in our worshiping communities for women and men to give voice to their anguish at losing wanted pregnancies. Our liturgies offer patterning for many kinds of losses funeral services (and their attendant traditions of providing food or wakes or visitations) lead us through the mystery of death; illnesses are lifted up during prayer-concern time or listed in the bulletin or passed along an informal but highly effective prayer line. But there are few well-worn paths to follow as we walk through the complicated pain of losing pregnancies. And mercy, but the words we often have to use to describe our loss are ugly. I was abruptly reminded of this while giving a short talk at our own church, describing the experience of my first miscarriage. I could feel the blush creeping up my neck as I said words like spotting, cramping, and clots to my audience of familiar and friendly church folk. I almost ran from the lectern like a miserable, terrified rabbit when I caught the eye of a gentleman in his 70s as I described going into a bathroom and seeing blood on my underwear.

How ironic. We claim to be saved by Christ’s blood, but are embarrassed to talk about our own blood, at least when connected to female reproductive parts. We claim, especially in this season, that God miraculously impregnated a teenaged girl, yet are ashamed to reflect on the terrifying, precarious, messy realities of pregnancy. We claim that our redemption entered history through the waters of a womb, but are unable to find words to talk about the mysterious losses that take place in those same waters. For a bunch of people who are perfectly happy to carol about wallowing in fountains of blood, we are remarkably squeamish.

body%20of%20christ.jpg

Celebs like Ling and Rancic have said that they are choosing to publicize their experiences of pregnancy loss for a purpose: to help combat the secrecy and shame surrounding miscarriage. They are not the first to do so (think Courteney Cox or Tori Amos), but they are the most recent in a movement toward open acknowledgment of both the widespread nature (as many as one in four pregnancies miscarries) and the intensity of the loss. Ling has started her own website called the Secret Society of Women, hoping to create a community online where women can find both support and an avenue for sharing painful or difficult experiences, miscarriage among them. Perhaps the courage of these women who are living through loss in the limelight can remind us Christians that we, too, can be courageous. Perhaps it can remind us that we, of all people, should be able to share loss with one another even loss that presents as a bloody, shameful failure. Perhaps our communities of faith can remember that it is our privilege to become, not secret societies of women, but places where women and men alike become part of a Body the Body of Christ, out of whose bloody shame was born redemption for this world.

Elise Erikson Barrett, a United Methodist pastor, is the author of What Was Lost: A Christian Journey through Miscarriage, which Her.meneutics reviewed last year. Shauna Niequist wrote about her miscarriage in an excerpted Her.meneutics post last year.


Stress, Genetics Can Cause Depression

 

 

Taken from Mayo Clinic which is located     HERE.

It seems to be common sense that hard times are associated with developing depressive symptoms. When a personal crisis occurs, many people who had been coping pretty well become clinically depressed.

Need more help?
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    http://www.nami.org
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

The two classic examples are losing a relationship or losing a job. However, if a company terminates 100 employees, most of them don’t develop a depressive illness. An important question is why one employee manages to cope while another develops a mood disorder.

Seven years ago, an important paper published in one of our most respected scientific journals reported that people with a genetic variant of the serotonin transporter gene were more likely to become depressed when they had experienced stressful situations.

If a person had this genetic variant and wasn’t exposed to very stressful situations, they weren’t any more vulnerable to depression than if they had the more protective form of the gene. It was only when they had experienced severe personal distress that their depressive symptoms occurred. People without this genetic variant were often able to tolerate quite severe stress and not develop symptoms.

There has been much discussion of this finding. Many studies were done that measured stressful experiences in a variety of different ways. About a year ago, a paper reviewed only 14 of these studies and concluded that people with this genetic variant weren’t very much more vulnerable to stress. There were problems with this analysis, but it was published in a good journal and it made some doctors a bit skeptical about the finding.

This week, a new analysis of 56 studies concluded that there was a strong relationship. They demonstrated that people with the less active form of the serotonin transporter gene were more vulnerable to developing depression when they experienced severe stress.

The analysis found:

  • The strongest relationship was between severe stresses during childhood that then seemed to haunt the person for the rest of their life. This finding supports the view that young children are particularly vulnerable and that early abusive experiences can have a long lasting impact.
  • The next most difficult type of stress was serious medical problems. This also makes sense as we have known for many years that some people become very depressed when faced with the prospect of having to deal with a serious medical illness.
  • The least dangerous kind of stress was the hassles of everyday living that we’re all familiar with and that sometimes get out of hand. However, even this kind of stress was associated with an increased risk of depression if a person had this genetic variant.

The bottom line is that this new analysis provides strong evidence that stress can trigger depression and that the onset of depression is far more likely in people who are genetically vulnerable to developing a mood disorder.

Does this mean that if you have the variant, you are doomed to become depressed? Absolutely not. It just means that you’re more vulnerable to developing symptoms.

Does the study prove that if you don’t have the variant, you won’t develop a depression if you’re exposed to intense stress? Again, absolutely not. It just means that the risk is lower.

Perhaps the most important point that this analysis makes is that there is a biological vulnerability to depression just like there is a biological vulnerability to diabetes, asthma, or cancer.

Rocky Lockridge: The Tragic Fall Of A Professional Boxer Or A Reason To Laugh?

Last week I came across a year end story that listed the videos on youtube that had become famous for one reason or another.  One of those videos was a very small portion of an episode of Intervention.

From aetv.com…..

“Twice nominated and in 2009 awarded the Emmy® for Outstanding Reality Series, the five-time PRISM Award-winning series “Intervention” profiles people whose dependence on drugs and alcohol or other compulsive behavior has brought them to a point of personal crisis or estranged them from their friends and loved ones. Each episode ends with a surprise intervention that is staged by the family and friends of the addict, and which is conducted by one of four specialists: Jeff Van Vonderen, Candy Finnigan, Rod Espudo and John Southworth. Exclusive updated interviews with past subjects from the series first nine seasons are available on AETV.com/intervention.

The series has conducted 172 interventions since its premiere in March of 2005, 134 individuals are currently sober.”

The episode I’m referring to is the story of former professional boxer Rocky Lockridge.  For the past twenty years Rocky was a drug addict which led to him becoming homeless.  Rocky’s sons set up an intervention for their father in an effort to save his life.

The format of Intervention introduces the person in crisis and those seeking to help them get treatment.  The majority of the show then follows the subject and gives the viewer a real life picture of what their life has become.  Along the way we meet the friends and family of the person who is the focus of the intervention which takes place at the end of the episode.

A professional counselor works with the friends and family to set up the intervention which is the climax of the episode.  The subject is unaware of what is about to take place.  During the intervention the professional counselor lets the subject know what is happening and then each person in the room reads a letter they have written to the subject, in this case, Rocky Lockridge.

The very short video I will close with is very short and shows a son sharing his heart with Rocky and then Rocky’s reaction.

When you view the video you may be inclined to laugh.  Knowing the nature of this video you probably will not.

What struck me more than anything about this video is the reactions by the vast majority of people who found it totally humorous and could not see the absolute pain and seriousness of what was taking place.  Maybe if they had seen the complete episode their reactions may have been different.

Through the years I have noticed how people can be so indifferent or insensitive to the suffering of others.  Instead of feelings of sympathy I see people looking at the suffering of others to make jokes, racial and homophobic comments, as well as outright indifference.  With the advent of the internet and cable television we are bombarded 24/7 with all sorts of pea brained video alongside serious news.

It saddens me that on one hand we are a nation that is trying to come to grip with real life issues.  Mental illness is one of them.  While we strive to help one another and alert others to their plight the sad fact is a lot of people just don’t care.

When you view Rocky crying in the video clip you are going to see emotional pain from the depths of his soul being expressed.  So many find humor in Rocky’s pain yet I believe with all of my heart that a cry like that ascends to the very throne of God.

It appears Rocky is beating his addictions.  His sons very well may have saved his life.  That is nothing to laugh at.

You can read about Rocky Lockridge in a 2009 article   HERE.  Below is the video from 2010.

Katrina Still Has Emotional Grip On Thousands Of Children

Katrina seems so long ago for some of us.  Yet for so many whose lives were directly impacted by this tragedy their lives are still not what they once were.  This brief article lets us know how complicated and far reaching the effects of mental illness can be.  Thank God for those who work so hard to make a difference to these “unknown” victims.  Allan
Taken from USA Today which is located   HERE.
Five years later, Hurricane Katrina continues to wreak havoc in the lives of thousands of children who suffer from serious emotional disturbances, often compounded by a lack of stable housing, a study reports today.

Children displaced by the storm are nearly five times more likely than other kids to have severe emotional disturbances, and fewer than half of the children believed to need psychological help got it, the study says. It’s published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.

“A significant number of children are still living under dangerous and traumatic conditions of persistent displacement,” says study co-author Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University‘s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

The BP oil spill has added to their trauma, says the report, also sponsored by the Children’s Health Fund. More than a third of parents living within a mile of the Gulf Coast say their children suffered physical or mental distress since the oil rig blew up April 20.

Katrina, which made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, flooded 80% of New Orleans and almost all of nearby St. Bernard Parish. An estimated 1,600 people died. Property damage was valued at roughly $80 billion. A month later, Hurricane Rita struck.

About 1.5 million people in Mississippi and Louisiana — 163,000 of them children — were displaced by the storms, the report says. Many were forced to leave the state, and some bounced from one temporary residence to another.

Nearly 60% of the children forced into group housing, such as trailer parks and hotels, now have emotional and behavioral problems. That number represents at least 20,000 children, the report says.

Among other findings:

• After 4½ years, half of families displaced for at least a year after the hurricane were still living in unstable housing with no promise they’d be able to stay more than a year.

• More than a third of children in middle school or high school were one or more years older than their classmates, suggesting that, because of their transient lives, they have fallen behind academically. That’s compared with 19% of children elsewhere in the South.

“As a government and as a people, we’ve let those kids down who were traumatized by Katrina,” says Mark Shriver of Save the Children and chairman of the National Commission on Children and Disasters. “Five years later, we’re still letting them down. We still don’t have a recovery system in place that meets children’s needs.”

The national commission, an independent, bipartisan group, is scheduled to vote today on recommendations to the president and Congress to close gaps in disaster preparedness, response and long-term recovery for children. The commission and its backers hope their recommendations will be incorporated into legislation or form the basis of new regulations to protect children, Shriver says.

Shannon Woodward:Mother’s Day From An Infertile Woman’s Perspective

This article is being repeated for the third year in a row.  Shannon Woodward addresses a topic that I believe we should all try and be sensitive to.  If you are a pastor or have input to your pastor this article can be very beneficial.  Shannon’s bio is found at the end of the article.  Allan

Editor’s Note: Pastor, as you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day with your congregation very soon, it’s important that you remember several groups within your church family who will have a particularly difficult time during this special holiday: people who have lost their mothers, those who have lost a child, or those who can never have children. This article focuses on what it’s like when an infertile woman experiences Mother’s Day at church for the first time with her adopted child.

Mother’s Day from an infertile woman’s perspective

Shannon Woodward

“I’d like to have all the mothers stand for prayer,” the pastor said.

The sanctuary rustled with movement. On my right and my left, in front of me and behind, a sea of women stood to their feet. For the first time ever, I was allowed to join them.

Rising, I clutched Zachary close. He was 4 days old.

From his seat next to me, Dave reached up and laid his hand against my back. At his touch, I turned my head and we caught each other’s eyes. No one else but he understood exactly what this moment meant to me.

One year I had fought tears all the way to church – dreading what I knew was to come – and cried all the way back home again, reliving the long, awful moments when I’d stayed glued to my seat while seemingly every other woman in the church rose to the honored position.

Another Mother’s Day, though I’d tried hard to keep my eyes locked on the hymnal in the pew rack before me, compulsion made me look. Scanning the crowd, peeping between the rows of standing women, I’d spotted only girls sitting down, only girls too young to bear children. When I realized I was the only adult woman not standing, I had to drop my head to hide my tears.

One year I almost couldn’t sit through the prayer. I almost left.

I wanted to be happy for the other women, and I’d try to agree with the words the pastor prayed, but all the while I’d be missing my mother – and all the children I couldn’t have. During those unbearable prayers, sitting in a seat of shame, I’d pray too. I’d pray it would all end quickly, and we’d be equalized again in the pews.

Dave knew every part of that. He knew how long I had waited for this invitation.

The pastor began. “Lord, we ask that you equip these women for the task you’ve laid before them. Fill them with your wisdom.”

I need your wisdom, Father.

“Bless the children you’ve entrusted to their care.”

Yes, Lord – guard him and bless him.

“And bless these mothers for the sacrifices they’ve made.”

I hadn’t sacrificed a thing. All the sacrifices had been made for me, by a mother who was undoubtedly, at that moment, grieving deeply.

While the pastor continued praying, I snuck a peek at the people on risers at the back of the stage – who were all sneaking peeks at me. Those members of the choir, those friends, returned my look with congratulatory smiles. They’d prayed Zachary into my arms.

The pastor began to wind down. Zachary made a small noise and popped one arm out of his blanket. When I turned to my left and tilted my head to tuck his covering closer, my gaze landed eye-level with a woman in a pew across the aisle, a woman I knew, a woman who was sitting.

It was Lynn, a woman I had met only a few months back at our church’s worship retreat. When Dave had told the crowd clustered around the bonfire that I was infertile and we needed their prayers, Lynn had put her arms around me and shared that she, too, was infertile.

She felt my gaze, looked up, and tried to smile with the same forced movement my own lips had attempted in years past, every time my own eyes had caught the glance of a mother proudly standing.

My heart leapt across the aisle. I’m you, I wanted to shout. I’m still you.

She turned away.

I took my place next to Dave and together we stared at our blue-blanketed gift. Zachary yawned, his lips a perfect oval, his tongue a curled sliver. When he closed his mouth again, his chin quivered and he pursed his tiny lips.

Though my heart was full, grief lingered in a corner. There was room enough still for the pain of those past Mother’s Days. I remembered. I would always remember.

I knew the hollow ache inside Lynn. I wanted to tell her that little had changed. I’d thought that the coming of an eight-pound gift would erase the ache, but it didn’t. Instead, the love that sprang inside me forged a new place. It didn’t fill the emptiness. I was an infertile woman entrusted with a child, allowed to mother that child and love him and watch him grow. But I knew already – just four days into my new life – that the pain of the old life had followed me.

I was Lynn. I’d just been allowed to stand for a brief prayer.

I thought I might tell her all that as soon as the service ended. I looked across the aisle for courage.

But she was gone.

Shannon Woodward is the wife of a Calvary Chapel pastor and the mother of two adopted children. She’s currently an editor with The Word For Today and the author of Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility (Cook Communications, August 2006) and A Whisper in Winter: Stories of Hearing God’s Voice in Every Season of Life. She is also a regular columnist for Christian Women Online

.

You can keep up with Shannon on her blog and web site.

http://www.windscraps.blogspot.com http://www.shannonwoodward.com/

Filed under: Christian Counseling, Christianity, Depression, Grief, Infertility, Mental Illness, Prayer

Amish Grace: A Story Of Grace, Forgiveness, and Doubt? March 28th On Lifetime Movie Network

I was surprised that this story took place four years ago as I still recall it so vividly.  Lifetime has made a movie that will look at a tragedy, the Amish, and the topics of grace, doubt, and forgiveness.  Hopefully this will be a redemptive movie.  Allan

A new Lifetime movie based on the Nickel Mines shooting lacks the power of the real-life story.  by Laura Leonard   Taken from the Christianity Today Entertainment blog which is located   HERE.

When the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania extended their forgiveness to the widow and family of the man who just hours earlier had shot and killed five of their own young daughters in October 2006, the world marveled in disbelief. Where was the anger, the bitterness, or the doubt that plague most people who experience such senseless tragedy? As the hours stretched into days and days piled into weeks, people struggled to wrap their minds around what made these people so different—beyond the bonnets and buggies, there was an unfamiliar certainty that guided them through the pain. Their willingness to forgive stemmed from a firm conviction in God’s sovereignty over all things, both good and tragically, incomprehensibly bad.

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Amish Grace, a made-for-TV movie airing on the Lifetime Movie Network this Sunday, March 28, at 8/7c, loses some of the story’s power by focusing on the fictional Ida Graber (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), an Amish wife and mother who struggles to accept her daughter’s death and balks at the idea of forgiving the family of a man who caused her so much pain. She is supposed to be relatable, but that is the opposite of what made this story so powerful in the first place. She looks and sounds like any other suburban mom in a similar situation. She questions God and lashes out at her friends who so easily accept their religion’s answers. But it is the lack of this kind of response that made the story so compelling in the first place.

The movie is based on the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Redeemed a Tragedy by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher, but the authors have distanced themselves from the project “out of respect to our friends in the Amish community and especially those related to the Nickel Mines tragedy,” according to a joint statement. The Amish shy from media attention and do not allow themselves to be photographed or identified in the press. Some from within the community anonymously expressed discomfort with the project: “We’re not happy. It’s not something we want to be a part of. We were too close to it,” says one Amish woman.

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About a month after the shooting, a friend arranged for me and others to join a group of “Englishers” (the Amish word for non-Amish people) for dinner with an Amish family just outside of Nickel Mines. We spent most of the evening discussing the events of the past few weeks—the media attention, the public fascination with their way of life, and, most of all, their response to it. They told us stories of children who had dreams of their friends playing in heaven—they had never been exposed to violent images that might now fill their minds. They expressed their sorrow for the families affected, including the shooter’s wife and children. They expressed thankfulness for the strong community that could offer comfort and support in such difficult times. But they never expressed anything less that complete solidarity and faith in God’s sovereignty over it all. This is what makes their story of grace and forgiveness so powerful—it is not earned. It is not something they resigned themselves to when everything else had failed.

The power of this story is still too strong to get lost in the film. Anyone who watches it will feel its impact, particularly through the character of Amy Roberts (Kerry Blanchard), the killer’s widow who is overwhelmed by the grace of the Amish community. Through her grief and struggle to accept the forgiveness extended to her and her family in their darkest hour, we see the power of a community whose faith points back to a God who first forgives us.

Do you plan to watch the movie? If you’ve seen it, what did you think of its portrayal of faith and forgiveness?

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