Archive for the 'inspiration' Category

The Worthwhile Lives of Persons with a Disability (disabilities)

The website:

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Live On!

This is a disability website celebrating life. Even with all the challenges people with disabilities face. A happy, fulfilling, . . . . incredible life. 

No matter what some narrow-minded people in our society think.

The creators of this web page, who are disabled themselves, are up front about the more difficult challenges: the bullying of young people, the institutionalization of adults. Their goal is to reach those who are discouraged, despondent, even despairing, and those with suicidal thoughts through a series of short, powerful videos in which persons with a disabilities overcome their obstacles and establish a meaningful life. Valuable resources are also provided toward this goal.

My contribution to the cause:

River Bend Galleries

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Pertinent posts from the Not Dead Yet website: 
Disabililty Rights Organizations Issue Statement Opposing Assisted Suicide Laws and Supporting Health Care
Statement of Solidarity in Observance of Suicide Prevention Month
Disability Rights Toolkit for Advocacy Against the Legalization of Assisted Suicide
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Other great Orthodox Christian blogs that address disability issues

I’ve been surveying Orthodox Christian disability resources for 10 years, and now I will be taking a break.   Many others, mostly mothers, have taken up blogging, sharing their experiences and discoveries. As I have worked in a group home for many years, this is personal for me as well, but not in the same way as a mother of a child with disabilities. Mothers are mothers 24 hours a day, for their entire lives. There is great depth to what they write, not necessarily in terms of new information,  but the kind of depth which comes from the heart, which is the important kind of depth. This is true, of course, of the blog and websites written by persons with disabilities themselves.

You will find much, ongoing information, personal and otherwise, on the blogs listed on the webpage below. Give them a look:

Online Orthodox Christian persons with disabilites & their family members

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disability Resources: The personal blogs and offerings of Orthodox Christians with disabilities

(Also included: The online offerings of family members)

The author of this blog is a group home advisor who lives and works with adults with developmental disabilities. (Me – W.G.) I’ve done this for 26 years. It has had its many moments of frustration. And it has had its wonderful moments as well. I thank God for this opportunity, this life, these relationships.

But the truth is that I have been paid for my service as an advisor. And the organization with which I am employed gives me time off. And in a number of years, not so far away, I will retire from this role.

This is not the case with the people with disabilities themselves, and their family members. These relationships- mother, father grandmother, son, daughter – are lifelong;  for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week one lives with a disability with no time off, unless, of course, there is healing or successful medical intervention.

The webpages below are those of such people- Orthodox Christian persons with disability and their family members. For ten years I have compiled these resources and commented on them. But the insights shared on the websites below come from a place deeper within those that share them than my thoughts on the subject. I invite you to learn from them.

Online Orthodox Christian persons with disabilities & their family members


Orthodoxadultautists: A blog by an orthodox autist, for orthodox autists   by Monica. See especially A letter to the Church

Stephen Yates and son Axel: Yates and Son

Morning Coffee by Alana; see especially Sitting on the Front Pew 

Beth Hopkin’s In Case of Fire, Use Stairs

Bethany Sheldahl’s weblogNot of this World

 Catherine’s Pascha: Wheelchairs and Sidewalks by Charlotte Riggle (See also Home Page & Trailer for the book “Catherine’s Pascha” )

The Oprisko familyThe Least of These: Raising autism in the church, with dignity

Pasha, Russian orphan, has been adopted by David and Dawn Heatwole, members of Saint Catherine Mission, Hagerstown, MD

What Do You Do DEAR? Telling the honest truth about our beautiful new normal by Mary Evelyn

And Baby Makes 12 A conversation between Khorea Frederica Mathewes-Green and Mary Klopcic; from Ancient Faith Radio also Mair’s Momilies see especially How do you do it?

Girada Marius’ “I want to fight! I write using the nose, but I write … “

Loving a Child with Autism by Khorea Frederica Mathewes-Green; from Frederica.com

The Story: Steve and Tony Sakak  + (Website Homepage)

The Tcaci family Mental Health Advocates in Moldova Use Film to Tell Stories of Children with Disabilities

Facebook: Deaf Orthodox Christians

Facebook: Kathyrn Kessler, an Orthodox Christian with Crohn’s Disease: Fighting the Good Fight With Faith And Love 

Facebook: Koinonia for Exceptional Orthodox Families 

The Turner Family, Randolph, New Jersey 

Greek American Girl 

Living with the Woof (a service dog)

Disability Resources: Ministries

The ministries that have been found (surely there are many more) are listed on two pages, international and U.S. (my location).  The ministries in traditional Orthodox Christian countries are considerably more developed, and these ministries serve as a goal for the developing Orthodox Church in the U.S. to aim for.

Ministries (International) 

This list contains Orthodox Christian ministries which serve and enable persons with disabilities in Russia, Lebanon, Belarus, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine, the Ukraine, Australia, Georgia, India, Canada, Moldova, Ethiopia, Romania, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Serbia-Montenegro, Syria, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Greece. Quite a few are associated with monasteries. Here are seven outstanding efforts:

Al-Kafaàt (Abilities) (Lebanon); Monastery of St. Martyr Grand Princess Elizabeth (Belarus); The Village of Panfilovo (Russia); The Four Homes of Mercy (Palestine); Tikhvin Icon of Our Lady Temple, (Moscow, Russia); Saint Paraskeva Orthodox Charity (Romania):  Theotokos Foundation, (Greece).

Ministries (U.S.) 

As the Orthodox Church is spread out across the U.S., most of the ministries listed are individual Parish ministries, and one Parish Church can do just so much; most of the ministries are once a month or once a year one day or weekend events which are held once a month or once a year.  The Special Olympics Multi-Sport Training Camp at Antiochian Village, Ligonier, Pennsylvania   sponsored by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, is an annual (once a year) week-long event.

But there are some ministries that operate on a continual basis; The Hellenos House (see also Christopher), on Long Island, New York, which is affiliated with The Challenge Liturgy Ministry (see also Ministry Profile), providing a permanent home for seven persons with developmental disabilities.

There is also the Sheltering Tree in Omaha, Nebraska, which also provides housing, day programs, and frequent, periodic activities, both at their Activity Center and out in the community. Their motto is “Serving and empowering people with developmental disabilities.”

 

 

Disability Resources: Articles and Books

There are lots of articles but not so many books. Many of the books listed address people with disabilities as a side topic, and I’ve included some non-Orthodox Christian books that contain Orthodox Christian elements. But the ones that spring from family johnlahutskyrelationships and friendships are inspiring and instructive.

In To Read – Books: 

The Boy from Baby House 10 & Catherine’s Pascha In God’s Hands: A mother’s journey through her infant’s critical illness & Getting My First Hug

The articles are on two different pages, one for individual articles and the other for webpages that contain numerous articles concerning persons with disability:

To read (online articles) & To read (online article collections)

From the article collections, I would recommend beginning with The Orthodox Church of America’s Parish Ministry Resources, especially Parish Development

The individual online articles cover a wide variety of situations and perspectives in regard to disability and the Orthodox Church, as well as the situations and issues Orthodox Christians with disabilities face in this world: their opportunities, dilemmas, and struggles. Look over the list and read a couple of articles which catch your eye. And then feel free to read some more!

 

Ian and the Family of Believers

An excellent article by an anonymous parent of a son named Ian with autism; they have had good experiences in their Orthodox Christian Parish, in terms of receiving support and encouragement.

The multi-sensory (chants, incense, icons, etc.) and repetitious, unchanging nature of Orthodox Christian Liturgical Worship has proved to be effective means of gaining and holding young Ian’s interest. And the fellowship after Divine Liturgy has also been helpful toward Ian’s socialization.

Life in a family with a member who is disabled is a struggle- typically, significantly more so than for the rest of us who count ourselves fully “abled.” A compassionate Orthodox Christian Parish community will serve as a spiritual hospital for such. And indeed for all.

The article can be accessed here: Ian and the Family of Believers 

Also: St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church . . .

and a video of welcome from their Parish community:

St. Viviana †361

the martyrdom of St. Viviana

St. Viviana is commemorated on December 2.

 She is also considered to be as an intercessor for persons with mental illness. She, too, lived before the tragic schism of 1054.  She was martyred under Emperor Julian the Apostate.

“With her eyes raised to heaven, she stood motionless during her martyrdom, until her whole body was one mass of bloody wounds, and she gave her unspotted soul to the keeping of her heavenly Bridegroom. According to the tyrant’s command, her holy body was left on the public road, to serve as a prey to the dogs but it remained untouched, until a pious priest carried it secretly away, and buried it beside the grave of her mother and sister.”

Her life is profiled on the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

http://www.antiochian.org/node/17083 

See also

http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-bibiana/ 

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Quotation and Image from Di Meliora: St. Viviana, Virgin and Martyr

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