“iPad church”

shutterstock_417210865In February of this year, the church I attend (Bay Presbyterian Church) launched an online church ministry. Our church streams the 11:00 AM Sunday service live, with an interactive online experience, including a chat room, private live prayer, editable sermon notes and more.

This past Sunday, Kevin Rush (the team leader of our online ministry) shared the following vignette in our church bulletin…

Praise God that people who may not have been willing or able to set foot here on campus can hear the truth of God’s love for them.

BPCRecently, a staff member shared how a family with a special needs child had to change their care plan for a few weeks. Due to the change, they had to stay at home on Sunday morning for the time being. Through baypres.tv, the child and the parents have felt connected to the church in their absence. Every Sunday, their child reminds them about what he calls “iPad church.” I think he should trademark that.

Our ministry team is available to help any churches with both a disability ministry and an online campus to use their online campus as a tool for disability ministry. Interested? Contact us.

***********************************************************************************************************

KM_ForFamilies_Logo_Color_RGBKey for Families has launched our first seven Facebook communities for families of kids with disabilities. We have communities for…

  • Adoption and Foster Care
  • Autism and Asperger’s Disorder
  • Homeschooling parents
  • Mental health
  • Ministry families
  • Parents of adult children
  • PTSD and trauma

Key for Families Facebook communities are free, but registration is required. Sign up for one or more communities today, and share the invitation with friends who might want to join.

Posted in Key Ministry, online church | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five thoughts regarding marriage and depression…Gillian Marchenko

us3My depression greatly affects my marriage. There have been months where my husband Sergei and I have morphed into caregiver and caregivee, undesirable and painful roles we never expected to assume. And then once or if my depressive episode lifts, we begin the hard work of figuring out how to be husband and wife once again. How do we get back to loving each other? How do we love in our present circumstances regardless of mental illness? It is exhausting and painful. Sergei wrote a poem about our experience and although it cuts me until I bleed to read it, I am  thankful he was able to express himself and our relationship with such poetic, truthful, and vivid terms.

Depression is a thief. A pickpocket. Swiping a memory here and there. An emotion, a plan for the afternoon, part of a conversation. It is a burglar. Leaving behind empty surfaces and containers that used to be filled with childhood and marriage and friendship. It is a mugger. Stepping out of the dark. Threatening and taking the carelessness of the night away. A kidnapper. Talking, silencing, tying up, holding captive. Until days later, or weeks later, she wanders back home, staggering, unsure of what happened or how she escaped. It is sort of like that. Sometimes.

-Sergei Marchenko, Still Life, Page 115

Still LifeCouples fighting mental illness often ask us what they can/should do when one spouse is depressed. Honestly, we wish we knew. We are muddling along in our marriage, at times hopeful that things are getting better and at other times feeling like the union God gave us and the life we’ve built is falling apart. So I offer these suggestions cautiously because we are no experts. We have not come out of the other side of darkness with concrete tips. But here are some things we do. And again, let me be clear, sometimes they help and sometimes they don’t.

  1. Don’t attempt to solve big issues or plan to ‘work on your marriage’ during a depressive episode. The spouse struggling probably won’t be in their right mind to contribute to the conversation. In fact, they may not even remember it later, and it could cause their depression to delve deeper into the darkens and create frustration and a feeling of helplessness for her husband.
  1. Outside of depressive episodes, make plans to attempt communication. If you don’t know how to do that, make an appointment to see a therapist who may have some suggestions. We’ve found that letting each person take a turn to speak without the other interjecting is helpful. Just getting things off our chests without interruption validates struggles and emotion. Plus, it gives the other person time to think before responding instead of instantly accusing the other or disagreeing.
  1. The husband or wife who isn’t depressed needs support. Whether it is a specific support group for mental illness, a friend, a pastor, or a counselor, your battle is just as serious as your spouse’s. Sergei has a few trusted friends with whom he can open up. He also keeps a journal where he is free to vent and also look to the Lord for encouragement and strength.
  1. If a dark season halts any communication, find a way for the spouse to understand the seriousness of the situation. We use a color system in our marriage adapted from one of our children’s behavior charts at school when I am unable to explain my thoughts and emotions: Green=good day, yellow=struggling but trying, and red=unable to function. The colors provide my husband the needed information to proceed; to know when he can help me fight my depression and also when he needs to let me rest and attempt wellness while he picks up the slack in our family.
  1. Grab on to the good days. God provides good days for us and instead of tentatively accepting them with the undercurrent fear that they won’t last, we try to make the most of it. Communication is still hard. Our roles are still blurry. I still have depression. But we grab on to the happiness and connection we feel and attempt to enjoy it and build on it, confident that God has a purpose in the good and bad of life, and that he brought us together as husband and wife in sickness and in health.

***********************************************************************************************************

Gillian2014-26-Edit-1For Gillian Marchenko, “dealing with depression” means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In Still Life she describes her journey through various therapies and medications to find a way to live with depression. She faces down the guilt of a wife and mother of four, two with special needs. How can she care for her family when she can’t even get out of bed? Her story is real and raw, not one of quick fixes. But hope remains as she discovers that living with depression is still life.

Still Life is available here in paperback and e-book from IVP Press. The Kindle edition is available at Amazon.

Posted in Depression, Families, Gillian Marchenko, Key Ministry, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our first seven Facebook communities for families impacted by disability

KM_ForFamilies_Logo_Color_RGB

Editor’s note: This post was updated to reflect that SEVEN Facebook communities are now up and running for families of kids with disabilities, including a group led by Sandra Peoples for ministry families impacted by disability.

Key for Families seeks to provide encouragement and support for families of kids with disabilities through several types of online gatherings; large group communities (housed on Facebook and organized around a specific condition, disability, or area of interest), special interest study groups organized around a topical study (Bible study, book study or shared media, housed on Facebook but including opportunities for real time interaction via videoconferencing) and more intimate small groups.

In anticipation of the launch of Key for Families during the first week of June, we’re pleased to open registration for our first six seven Facebook communities.

Facebook communities are:

  • Broadly organized around common interests
  • Are directed by a team of hosts responsible for overseeing the content and membership
  • Are “closed” groups. Any member can invite a new member, but members need to be registered with Key for Families and approved by a community host.
  • Typically feature links to articles or content of interest to the group shared to promote awareness or discussion.
  • Open-ended.

12484624_10206018072066527_4310130273029782802_o-768x768Adoption and Foster Care Community – hosted by Stephanie McKeever. Stephanie and her husband are parents of boys, one a young adult with both physical and intellectual disabilities. God is teaching her big things through her family’s trials that she probably would have never learned without them. You can find more from her through her blog, where she shares what Christ is teaching her through her son and disability, intellectual and physical.

12472351_10156717070905052_8408458385436528081_n

Autism and Asperger’s Disorder Community – hosted by Sarah Broady. Sarah is married to her college sweetheart, Kyle, who is a worship pastor where they live in Somerset, KY. The second of their three sons was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

Sarah advocates for children with autism within her state to boards making decisions impacting insurance benefits for children with autism. She has testified before House and Senate and committees when she lived in Maryland to secure more openings on the autism waiver. She has also lobbied on Capitol Hill for meaningful policies and laws that benefit families living with autism.

Her greatest desire is to reach the hearts of special needs parents and give them the hope that is found in Christ. Sarah blogs about raising a son with autism at Hope in Autism.

2015-Headshot-200x200Homeschooling Parents of Kids With Disabilities – hosted by Jennifer Janes. Jennifer is a writer, speaker, and work-at-home mom to two daughters, ages 10 and 12 years old. She is a former public school teacher and spent a year as an artist-in-residence for the regional arts and humanities council. She is also an advocate/case manager for her younger daughter, who has multiple special needs.

She co-authored Homeschooling: What to Do When You Want to Quit, The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas, iBlog, iBlog Pro, Well Planned Homeschool, Focus on Special Needs, and 31 Days of Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom. 

1609918_10203605602038925_6432357414593978705_nMental Health Community – co-hosted by Dr. Steve Grcevich and Julie Brooks. Julie is a nurse and tireless advocate for families impacted by mental illness. She and her husband (Todd) live in Lewisville, TX and lead a Grace Group at Fellowship Church. Their middle son (Carson) lived with chronic bipolar illness much of his life. He took his own life in July of 2010. He was 18.

Julie’s family believes and trusts in Jesus Christ for direction in this journey. With their eyes wide open, they intend to live each day with no regrets; as such, Julie transparently shares through her blog her family’s thoughts, research…and pain.

SandraMinistry Families Impacted By Disability – hosted by Sandra Peoples. Prior to joining Key Ministry, Sandra served as editor of Not Alone, a collaborative website featuring authors who are raising children with special needs in the Christian faith. Her family resides outside of Houston, Texas where her husband (Lee) is planting a new church. They have two sons, one with autism.

Sandra has a degree in English from Hardin-Simmons University and a Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. A year after her son’s autism diagnosis, Sandra wrote a book about her family’s experiences – Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism. Together, Lee and Sandra wrote Held: Learning to Live in God’s Grip: A Bible study for special-needs parents.

Karen CrumParents of Adult Children With Special Needs – hosted by Dr. Karen Crum. Karen has a doctoral degree in Public Health and Preventive Care. She promotes the health and well-being of children with autism and mental illness. She has developed and presented programs to support special-needs children, and currently focuses on educating and supporting parents as they care for their children with social, emotional or behavior challenges.

Karen’s newest mission includes her work with a Christian focus. She is the author of Persevering Parent: Finding Strength to Raise Your Child with Social, Emotional or Behavior Challenges. Her book points to God’s truths and to practical and spiritual principles that enhance hope, joy and effective special-needs parenting.

head-shot-1-1-300x300PTSD and Trauma Community -hosted by Jolene Philo. Jolene Philo is the daughter of a disabled father and the mother of a child with special needs. After 25 years as an elementary teacher, she left education in 2003 to pursue writing and speaking. She’s the author of several books about special needs parenting, caregiving, special needs ministry and her most recent book, Does My Child Have PTSD?  Jolene speaks throughout the United States about parenting children and adults with special needs and post-traumatic stress in children. Her blog provides resources and encouragement for parents of kids with special needs.

To join any or all of these Facebook communities, register here today! Feel free to share the link with any interested friends or family members.

***********************************************************************************************************

shutterstock_24510829Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE disability ministry consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Groups, Key Ministry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our first seven Facebook communities for families impacted by disability

KM_ForFamilies_Logo_Color_RGB

Editor’s note: This post was updated to reflect that SEVEN Facebook communities are now  up and running for families of kids with disabilities, including a group led by Sandra Peoples for ministry families impacted by disability. Click here for the updated post.

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Groups, Key Ministry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcoming our new teammate…Beth Golik

13063028_1034356123278935_8904754831141315337_oWe’re delighted to announce that Beth Golik is joining our team as our new ministry coordinator.

Many of our followers will be familiar with Beth from her service in the disability ministry community as Director of Special Needs Ministry at Bay Presbyterian Church, where she will continue to serve on staff in her present role, from her occasional blog posts featured here, or from her presentation for our last Inclusion Fusion web summit on curriculum alignment in special needs ministry.

Beth will be responsible for advancing the overall work of Key Ministry through overseeing the processes and functions necessary for maintaining the day-to-day operation of the ministry and supporting ministry staff, consultants and the Board of Directors. She has an undergraduate degree from Smith College and her M.A. in higher education administration from George Washington University. She has a passion for connecting people to resources through networking, relationship building and social media. Beth and her husband, Rich, can often be found sitting in the bleachers of various sporting events cheering on their three teenage boys.

We’re especially blessed to have Beth join our team as we prepare to launch Key for Families during the first week of June. She is very skillful in promoting organizational development and we very much look forward to her wisdom and direction in building a ministry that will be sustainable for the long run if Jesus delays in his return.

For those who missed it, here’s Beth’s presentation from Inclusion Fusion describing how her church writes curriculum for their special needs ministry to align with the messages parents and siblings are hearing each Sunday morning…

Welcome aboard, Beth!

***********************************************************************************************************

shutterstock_24510829Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE disability ministry consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!

Posted in Announcements, Key Ministry | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A fabulous resource for adoptive and foster families from iDisciple

adoption-foster-careThis past January, we received a very intriguing request in the message box through which we usually receive requests for assistance from churches.

iDisciple is the world’s leading provider of Christian content, focused on “connecting you with the life-changing Word of God.” iDisciple has more than 500,000 users and features more than 240 authors offering articles, video, and audio to nurture their users’ walk with God.

Since iDisciple launched in the fall of 2013, their founders have been committed to giving all of their profits to help fight social injustice on a global scale for the cause of Christ. Among the causes they’re most passionate about are adoption and foster care, and supporting Christian families who become involved with adoption and foster care ministry.

Our team at Key Ministry is very honored, along with five outstanding ministries…Back2Back MinistriesBethany Christian ServicesChristian Alliance for OrphansFocus on the Family and Tapestry…to have been invited to contribute to a comprehensive array of online resources available through iDisciple – a “life theme” for adoptive and foster families. These resources are available through iDisciple’s free service, available online and in apps for smartphones and tablets.

There’s an unbelievable amount of content available on the website and through the app. Over 18,000 audio messages, over 6,000 video messages and over 32,000 articles from authors including Francis Chan, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley, 12 music and nine talk radio stations, and dedicated ministry channels, including channels from Third Day and Focus on the Family.

By answering a few questions about your interests and lifestyle, iDisciple creates and delivers a menu of personalized content to you each day. You’ll have access to your favorite Christian authors, pastors, and ministries wherever you go. And there’s now a dedicated life theme for adoptive and foster families with lots of useful resources for families of kids with every imaginable challenge or disability.

How can families access iDisciple and find the resources developed by our ministry and the other like-minded ministries involved with the development of the adoptive and foster care life theme?

Go to iDisciple.org (or download the app from your favorite online source) and click here to open your free account. Once you register for the first time, you may be asked a series of questions that allows the site/app to personalize the content you’ll receive on a daily basis. When you sign back in for the first time, you’ll see your daily feed…the personalized content based upon your preferences. If you click on “life themes” on the left hand toolbar, you’ll then be directed to this page.

iDisciple Life Themes

Within adoption and foster care, you may then click on any of the topics of interest… advocating, connecting, correcting, empowering, health, identity and preparation. Our followers will also find lots of great resources in the Children and Teens, Life Challenges and Parenting life themes. Any resource you find may be easily shared via social media

Key Ministry iDiscipleYou can search our content specifically, any Key Ministry contributor individually, or any other topic or author through the search box on the upper left hand side of the screen.

Our friends at iDisciple have additional blessings they’re preparing to share with adoptive and foster families. We’ll keep our readers in the loop as new resources become available.

Please check out this fabulous FREE resource that our friends at iDisciple have assembled and share freely with pastors, friends and family who might benefit.

***********************************************************************************************************

Dingles SpringCheck out Shannon Dingle’s blog series on adoption, disability and the church. In the series, Shannon looked at the four different kinds of special needs in adoptive and foster families and shared five ways churches can love their adoptive and foster families. Shannon’s series is a must-read for any church considering adoption or foster care initiatives. Shannon’s series is available here.

Posted in Adoption, Advocacy, Families, Foster Care, Key Ministry, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gillian Marchenko…Re-engaging into life after a depressive episode

ID-10071979Depression is what I call “an active illness.’ When a person with mental illness is able, she has to participate in her recovery – kind of like alcoholics need to go through the program so as not to fall off the wagon again. I’ve been on the path to healing for a few years with the help of a therapist, medication, community, attempts at healthy choices habits, and relying on the strength and closeness of Jesus.

Still LifeBut if I can be honest, re-engaging into my life after a particularly difficult episode proves more difficult then the actual depression. In my newly released book Still Life; A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression with InterVarsity Press, I call re-engagement ‘Freddy Krueger frightening.” In my times of non-functioning I become a shell of a woman. I don’t feel. Sometimes I don’t remember whole days. But when the darkness ceases, and I climb out of the pit of an episode and back onto solid ground beneath my feet, the grueling labor of the effort of acclimation to return to life deep depression is actually easier. I know these thoughts are untrue. I know my family needs me. I know it is far better to live than to fantasize about death. But there it is. Re-engaging into life requires so much exhausting work that it is easy to decide that my mental illness episodes are easier than life. I’m confused and tired in re-entry. I don’t know how to participate in my family, friendships, and in basic human interaction. Once again… re-engaging into life after a depressive episode is ‘Freddy Krueger frightening.”

Here’s an excerpt from Still Life where I use the metaphor of frozen emotions and the agony of thawing in an attempt to feel and live again.

It stings to thaw. The tingling and burning sensation that started in the clinical trial office (when I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder) means anxiety, a flourish of low self-esteem and buckets of guilt. Allowing myself to thaw, I find, takes way more guts than staying frozen. Frozen means no emotion. Frozen means lost days and weeks. Frozen means standing still, not thinking about others or myself. But now, the more I know, the more I work the program, the more I heal, the more I thaw. I drip emotion. I realize the toll my problems take on people around me that I love. And it hurts.

Still Life, Page 127

I explain some of this earlier in the book:

As I work the program, my ingrained behaviors shock me. So many days were spent in bed. Now I stand, walk around, hug my kids, interact with Sergei and attempt to open myself back up to feeling. I find myself checking in with, well, myself. Do I need to go to bed? Should I go to bed? I’ve been up and standing for a long time—I should be in bed, right? It’s what I know. Things used to get difficult and I’d slither away. It became as natural as brushing my teeth. But standing? living? That’s foreign.

Still Life, Page 113

This is why understanding that depression is an ‘active illness’ is important. One who suffers  must be brave enough to continue to re-engage in her life. She must pay attention to and utilize the tools she’s acquired to make attempts to re-learn how to interact with others, to pay attention to emotions whether good or bad, and to believe that healing, even if it is just for a day, is more important than an illness.

Life is meant to be lived. It is not meant to be a black hole that causes a person to forget chunks of her life and to continue to force loved ones to suffer from the affects of the person who is depressed.

Re-engagement, although painful, is essential to the healing process. That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. It just means a person has to be honest with herself and choose life over the pit of depression, even if the pit has become easier and comfortable.

I have not experienced freedom in re-engagement. Sometimes I attempt it and do well. Sometimes I go back to bed. But the point for me, and for all of us, is to keep trying.

***********************************************************************************************************

Gillian2014-26-Edit-1For Gillian Marchenko, “dealing with depression” means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In Still Life she describes her journey through various therapies and medications to find a way to live with depression. She faces down the guilt of a wife and mother of four, two with special needs. How can she care for her family when she can’t even get out of bed? Her story is real and raw, not one of quick fixes. But hope remains as she discovers that living with depression is still life.

Still Life is available here in paperback and e-book from IVP Press. The Kindle edition is available at Amazon.

Posted in Advocacy, Depression, Gillian Marchenko, Hidden Disabilities, Key Ministry, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment