Transformed News

Mental Illness, No Excuse for Jarod

Last summer, Jarod Poertner was actively waiting, pursuing jobs and filling out applications.  Having battled mental illness for years, he had made it to a place he felt well enough to work and he wanted to use his life to make a difference.

Interviews went without call-backs.  In the waiting, listening to lies like - "you're not good enough; you aren't well-qualified; someone else will be a better applicant" - gets harder and harder to silence.  But Jarod had learned in counseling at Ministries of Jesus (MOJ) that he does have a future, value to add, and worth.  That truth is how he countered the lies and endured the waiting.

Having previously worked with Jarod to help him get scholarships at Francis Tuttle, Rita from MOJ Social Services later contacted him about Work Ready Oklahoma.  This is a free program for people that provides job training, educational opportunities, job placement assistance, and employment.  Jarod wasted no time signing up.  He said, "It helped prepare me for the interview process.  We did mock interviews, and they helped with resume preparation.  It was all well worth the time!"  

Six months after Jarod started searching, he found a job opening near his home that sounded interesting in the medical field - which is what he wanted.  Not long after the application was submitted, he got a call for an interview.  "Going in, this one felt different.  I was confident and prepared thanks to the Work Ready program."  The result?  He got the job!
With pride of hard work and great accomplishment, Jarod says, "I'm a physical therapy technician.  I help with the day-to-day needs of the clinic and assist patients through treatment that has been prescribed for them."  

Admittedly, he was nervous at first.  The anxiety and negative self-talk he had battled easily crept up and he would have to make a conscious effort to stop and change his thinking throughout the workday, just as he learned in counseling.  

Jarod feels blessed God has put him in a place where he can help others.  He is also grateful for an understanding boss and good coworkers that have helped him learn a lot about working as a team.
When asked how long he had been on the job, Jarod quickly gave the exact date.  It was a monumental day for him, after all!  But he said he wouldn't have gotten this far without asking for help several years ago.  

Jarod says, "I have a lot of hope that what God has done in my life, through my story, that others would have hope and opportunity they may not see right now.  Be willing to ask for help, get counseling, ask for prayer, take a step and you will find many at Ministries of Jesus to help you.  I certainly see more possibility for my future, but it started with getting help."  

Jarod isn't finished making his way.  He has goals to save enough money to buy a car so he can take more classes along with next steps to growing his career.  He recalls, "with God all things are possible," and smiles.
Pictured: (Top) Jarod stands in front of his new workplace.  It has been a long road overcoming mental illness to get to this point!  Jarod is beyond grateful for his job and loves where God has given him opportunity. (Bottom) Jarod with a few of his work team members whom he has already learned from and enjoys working with.

Family Restored Thru CR

"How did we become "that family," - the one all our neighbors were whispering about and keeping a distance from?"

Things unraveled so quickly.  The Peterson* family had moved from Tulsa to Edmond.  With two teenage kids, they all looked forward to life in a new place.  And, they assumed their seemingly normal life would continue just as it had in Tulsa.

Within months, however, their home was filled with chaos.  The son, Jack, had started using drugs and the effects were swift and drastic.  It became common for police cars to be parked out front, lights flashing.  The neighbors kept their distance, understandably.  Judgment and shame were ever present.

Although Paul and Margie brought their kids up in church, taught children's church, were Scouts leaders, joined the PTA, and all the good things parents do, the regular presence of police a their home was giving the family a reputation that was hard to shake.  
Things went from bad to worse between school and court for several years.  Margie decided to reach out to Celebrate Recovery, desperately looking for help for Jack. The director at the time pointed them to an out-of-state facility for in-patient treatment and an intervention was planned.  Skeptical it would work, Margie did not get her hopes up.  Time would tell - and many prayers would be prayed for God to break through.

Jack flew to Arizona to begin an intense 90-day treatment plan.  While he was away, Margie started attending Celebrate Recovery herself in an effort to know how to better support Jack when he returned.  She says, I was just trying to be a good mom and keep my son from more trouble.  But what I learned was, I needed to be there, too."

Jack left the in-treatment program on day 59.  Though he did not finish treatment, he had heard enough to start making some changes.  Margie's love for Jack never wavered.  She went through step studies three times with CR and was intent on working the steps of recovery with her family, which she did.

Years later, Margie is still active in CR and encourages others to go.  Jack has been sober for three years now.  He is married and started his own business and has a life he wouldn't have had if it weren't for God using recovery in his life.  Margie says, "the relationship with my son was transformed from 'I hate you' to weekly phone calls with him saying he loves us.  And, he still says thank you to us, for sticking with him during those difficult times."

*All names changed to protect identities in this story.
Pictured:  Cop cars were unfortunately a common scene at Jack Peterson's home due to drugs.  With the help of Celebrate Recovery, his mom, and prayers, his life has turned around.

God's Amazing Grace Shines Through Ramona

Knowing a little of her recent history, everything coming out of Ramona’s* mouth caused me to be in awe!  How could someone who had been betrayed and then put through the fire speak such words of love and grace – already?!  Shouldn’t healing like that take years?  You know, at least wait until life works itself out again??

On Thursday morning I met my intake patient, not knowing it would be Ramona whom I had been introduced to last summer, hearing how her life was falling apart – and by no fault of her own.  Now, she recalled with clarity, “it was one year ago today that I got a call telling me I could no longer practice real estate.”  Due to a change in the law, what she had obtained legally was no longer legal.  Her dream job as a realtor helping Hispanics that don’t speak English find homes was squashed instantly.  What had brought her joy and provided a steady stream of income for four years for her and her sweet four-year-old daughter was suddenly gone.

To add to the pain, Ramona discovered later that it was someone “close” to her that reported her, causing her to lose her livelihood.  That alone would be enough for anyone to struggle with anger.  Pile on top of that a tumultuous upbringing and plethora of other hurts and anyone would give grace and space for some anger to be evident in Ramona’s life as she continues to work things out.  Not so.
Through medical, social services, and counseling at MOJ, Ramona has had a strong support system to help her with physical, mental, and emotional needs.  She emphasizes, “Oh, it has made a difference.  I was never good at asking for help, but if I hadn’t learned that this year, I would still be in a world of hurt.  When I learned to ask, I also got to see God’s goodness and provision in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Today, Ramona is talking so fast with words like “joy” and “forgiveness” rolling off her tongue.  Her eyes have a bright spark in them and her trust in the Lord is genuine.  She says, “I thought last year it was the end.  But God is opening doors and there is hope.  I have no anger or resentment (at my situation or those that contributed).”
Recently, a temp job Ramona has been working with at an insurance company invited her to come on full time.  She will need to pay for some classes and get up to speed but she says, “I’ll do anything I have to in order to get a good job and provide for my daughter.  I’ll clean houses, I’ll save up, and I will pray God helps me get where I need to be.”

Romona’s life is a beautiful testimony of trusting God.  She understands more than most, that when you have God, you truly have everything you need.  And her grip on Him is firm – even though all the pieces haven’t fallen into place!  What beautiful faith she has in a God who continues to guide and direct her path one step at a time.

Pictured:  Rita Hernandez, MOJ Social Services Director, meeting with Ramona* to encourage and pray for her in the midst of life challenges.

A Package via Heavenly UPS

Susa* walked in one day, her daughter with her, desperate for help.  Since MOJ cannot take walk-in patients she was provided information as to the process and paperwork needed to qualify as a patient.  At an unusually fast pace, all the paperwork was received and approved.  Seeing how sick Susa was, Sam at the front desk had great compassion on her.  He worked with the schedulers and medical team to see if it would be possible to do her first intake and her first medical exam on the same day.  Though it was a squeeze with an already full patient load, everyone agreed to make it work and go the extra mile.

Susa came in last week and saw Dr. Tucker.  The patient had lost nearly 10 pounds in the last two weeks with digestive issues, unable to keep any food down. Dr. Tucker asked if she had tried Ensure?  The response was a heartbreaking one.  "We can't afford it."  Unfortunately, this nutrition drink is not something kept on hand or received for the sample room.  Nonetheless, there were some medications that could help.  With the exam complete, Susa was sent for her intake and instructed to return for medications before leaving.
Susa ended up leaving.  The medical team realized she had not picked up the meds she really needed, so a nurse called and requested she come back the next morning.  Shortly after, the nurses found a box that had arrived the day before which had gone unnoticed.  Opening the box, the nurses were shocked. It contained a 24-pack of Ensure!!  No one had ordered it.  No one knew where it came from.  This is something never on hand at MOJ. But now when Susa came the next day, not only could she get her meds, she would receive a glorious package of Ensure; a gift that will certainly help her gain her nourishment and strength back.  It seems the mystery box came via Heavenly UPS with God's fingerprints all over it!

Pictured:  Sam Manzanares, Bilingual Receptionist, holds a box of Ensure that was delivered just in time for a new patient that needed it, and no one knows where the box came from!