Western Region

Rachel Chapman Honored

Rachel Chapman was honored as Activist Volunteer of the Year for 2011 by the Pacific South Coast Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at its annual meeting on January 28, 2012. Honors for 2011 were also given for legislator, medical partner, highest fundraiser, community partner and more.

Rachel is chairperson of the chapter's Government Relations Committee, which works with local, state and federal representatives on community issues as well as to pass meaningful health related legislation impacting people with MS and other chronic illnesses. She also works on disability rights and awareness. The Pacific South Coast Chapter covers Imperial, Orange and San Diego counties.

Mrs. Chapman, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004, is a member of Christian Fellowship Congregational Church of San Diego, UCC. She is also the UCC Women's Ministry Partner for the Western Region. She lives with her husband Kevin in Chula Vista, CA

Differently Abled Blog

January 2012

I got this…
By Rachel Chapman

As the new year arrived, I couldn't help but reflect on the past. I don't believe in making resolutions so I couldn't look back to see if I kept them. But I could contemplate my blessings, accomplishments, disappointments and challenges. Looking at what worked and what didn't, I can see what I may need to do differently, especially about things I have no control over. World peace, the economy, the direction of the chronic illness I live with, my grown children's happiness, etc., etc…. It was while contemplating one of these topics and what I should/could do about it that a clear voice inside said, "I got this, let go."

We do not know what tomorrow may bring, but God doesn't want us to worry about anything. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"… "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt. 6: 27, 34).

Don't get me wrong, it's good to have goals but we are not to focus so much on what we want or plan to do that we forget to put God first. We may not know what tomorrow will bring but we do know that we have no future outside of what God has planned for us. James 4: 13-17 reminds us that we are "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" and how we ought to say "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that".

My grandmother used to constantly say "If the good Lord's willing…" I thought it was just a cliché or a passing phrase.  As I continue on my Christian walk, I now know better. It is through God's grace and mercy that we are able to go, do, be and have the future He wants for us. We have to do our part. In 2012 chose to grow my faith, praise more and worry less because He's got this.

"We plan, God laughs" (author unknown).


December 2011

Stumbling blocks
By Rachel Chapman

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died" Romans 14:13-15.
When I first read this passage, my mind automatically went to physical obstacles and stumbling blocks that get in the way of a differently abled person being successful in an act. As the holidays approach we see places such as malls and individual stores becoming more crowded. Along with more people, there are strategically placed displays to grab the attention of those people. Unfortunately, those displays and additional people can cause those who use mobility devices or have visual impairments, balance or spatial challenges, a lot of distress. That can also apply to parents pushing strollers. Being distracted, rushed or frustrated can make even the nicest person inconsiderate and rude to those who may not be able to move or step aside as quickly as preferred.
As the verses continue, there's talk of food and drink. I realized they too can be obstacles, especially at this time of year. Food and drink play such a large role in our holiday season and celebrations. Over eating and over indulging has become a norm. We look at this time of year as our "right" to eat well and even expect to put on a few pounds. For some, that attitude can be devastating. If someone you know has as issue, rather its diet restrictions or food or alcohol addictions, let’s try to be sensitive and not put obstacles in their way. Just as I may hesitate to attend a holiday gathering because of stairs, another may hesitate because of temptation. This is an especially difficult time for anyone to feel alienated, even if it is self-imposed.
We can't do much about the stores, displays and crowds, but we can "act in love" and prevent as many obstacles as possible that would hinder our brothers and sisters.  Let's all practice kindness, allowing us to be a blessing during this Christmas season and always.
What obstacles can you remove from someone's path today?

Southwest Conference received three Blue Globe Awards
At a recent board meeting of the UCC Wider Church Ministries, the Southwest Conference UCC received three Blue Globe awards for One Great Hour of Sharing (recognizing giving to the OGHS special offering). Our representative, Tyler Connoley, reported that not every conference received an award, but our conference received three - the most for any conference!
The SWC received awards for the following categories:


  • Top Per Capita Giving
  • Second Highest Percentage of Participating Churches
  • Most-Improved Per Capita Giving

Northern California/Nevada Conference

November 2011


Differently Abled Blog                                                                             
By Rachel Chapman, Western Regional Women’s Ministry Partner

The Right Protection

My cousin has an email ministry in which he sends out a ridiculous amount of emails weekly to hundreds of recipients. Some of the emails are to encourage and build your faith, some are informational and some are meant to make you smile and brighten your day. The following submission falls into the latter.

The Traffic Stop*
          I made a traffic stop on an elderly lady the other day for speeding on U.S.
         166 Eastbound at Mile Marker 73 just East of Sedan, KS.
         I asked for her driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
         The lady took out the required information and handed it to me.
         In with the cards I was somewhat surprised (due to her advanced age) to
         see she had a conceal carry permit.
         I looked at her and asked if she had a weapon in her possession at this time.
         She responded that she indeed had a .45 automatic in her glove box.
         Something, body language, or the way she said it made me ask if
         she had any other firearms.
         She did admit to also having a 9mm Glock in her center console.
         Now I had to ask one more time if that was all, she responded once again
         she did have just one more, a .38 special in her purse.
         I then asked her what was she so afraid of?
         She looked me right in the eye and said, "Not a #@!* thing!"

On one hand it made me laugh to envision a gun-wielding “granny” protecting herself and scaring off evil-doers. But on the other hand it made me a little sad that she/we should have to. In a conversation with a Judo instructor, I asked what self-defense advice he would give to someone like me with mobility issues. He said “buy a gun”. He went on to explain that since I would not be able to run away and lack of balance would keep me from making a strong stance, I need protection in this world.

In many places in the Bible we read about God’s love and desire to protect us, from: Proverbs 2:8 “for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” to “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” Psalm 32:7. There is Joshua 1:9 “…Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And of course, God’s promise:  “I will never leave you nor forsake you” Joshua 1:5, just to name a few.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely crime and evil-doers out there and we all need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves. Pay attention to your surroundings; do not put yourself in an unsafe situation like walking alone or in dark, unfamiliar places, especially with the upcoming holiday seasons. I am merely pointing out that we need all sorts of protection, most of which only prayer and our faith in the Good Lord can give us. Be sure to put your trust in the right protection.

* Taken from the Internet, author unknown

March 2011
Differently Abled - March "blog"




February 2011
February 2011 "Blog"

November 2009
Weekly Devotional


The Blessing of Sisterfriends

Week of November 1, 2009
As we enter the holiday season we will often be reminded to count our blessings and be thankful for what we have. I contend that one of our greatest blessings that we may often overlook is our relationships with other women, our sisterhood. Different from friendship, sisterhood is an undeniable bond between women that goes beyond age, ethnicity or background. Whether she's a blood relative, a stranger or fictive kin, we can almost always find a shared or similar life experience with a sisterfriend.
As you know, women have always played instrumental roles in society – often without proper recognition. In the workplace, at home, at church or in the community, women tend to do so much to meet the needs of others yet we often do not take care of ourselves physically, mentally or spiritually. Research shows that as we get caught up in doing for others we often do not eat healthy, exercise, make time for prayer and meditation or talk with someone when we have a problem. We are to "honor God with our bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:20). Society tells us that we must be strong so we tend to push on, often keeping things bottled up inside. In Proverbs 3:5 we are reminded to "Trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding" especially during times of despair. As humans we sometimes forget and bow to the many expectations – often self-imposed – to be superwoman. The pressures of meeting those expectations can periodically cause feelings of frustration, loneliness, depression and worry, sometimes affecting our health. God does not intend for us to worry but to have faith that He knows what we need (Matthew 6). On occasion that need is filled by an unlikely or unexpected connection with another woman. Research shows that strong, nurturing relationships between women offer safe places to be heard, validated and affirmed through shared experiences. A Penn State Study and the Harvard Medical School's Nurses Health Study indicate that women who turn to other women for friendship may live longer by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and experiencing more joy in their lives.
When God places a sisterfriend in our lives to share our experiences with, it enables us to be healthier, happier and more self-confident. In turn when we feel good about ourselves, we are more willing and capable of meeting the needs of others.

Prayer:   Dear Heavenly Father,
Please open my eyes and my heart to truly see the women you have placed in my life. Please allow me to embrace the similarities and differences and to appreciate the strength, beauty and resiliency of all women.    Amen.

Reflection:  God wants us to be in companionship with others. Think of a woman you enjoy talking to. Make a list of her attributes.

John 15:13  Ecclesiastes 4:9

Week of November 8
A Blessing, huh?
 Female relationships are not always easy. Just as trust, loyalty and commitment are important components of any relationship, jealousy, miscommunication and insecurity can derail it. Sadly, we can all remember a time when we felt betrayed by someone we trusted. Look at the two women who entered into the pact to eat their sons in II Kings 6: 24-30. The mother of the dead son complained to the king not that her son had been eaten but that the other woman did not keep her agreement. She felt betrayed (her lack of remorse is for a different discussion). Of course our first instinct is to say " How disgusting-I would never do anything like that!" Let us thank God that our daily situations and cultures do not put us in this position. However, if we were to replace the idea of eating the children with the concept of entering a deal to help each other with: dating a mutual acquaintance, finding a job or borrowing money…would you feel betrayed? Do you put your trust in the wrong people? Have you been the one to not keep the agreement? Betrayal looks different to different people. Another example may be the frustration Martha felt when she complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was not helping her with the work (Luke 10: 38-42). What may have been Martha's motivation? Would she have felt vindicated if Jesus had rebuked Mary? Do we try to make other women look bad to make ourselves look good?

 Believe it or not, these circumstances can be a blessing. Perhaps the untrustworthy person is not meant to be a part of your life and you learn that before more damage is done. You can move on to get past the hurt. In most cases surviving the feelings of perfidy may make you stronger and help you to grow. Maybe the lesson to be learned is not really about you. Maybe God is using you to be the example of trust and loyalty. Try to put yourself in the other woman's shoes and attempt to understand why she acted the way she did, what she may need. Feelings of low self-esteem and frustration can contribute to a woman's unhappiness with herself and her situation. The key is to objectively look at the sources of those feelings and not allow them to keep us from being open to the possibilities God has for us. This could be your opportunity to lead someone to Christ. What a blessing that would be!

Prayer:  Dear God,
We know that people come into our lives for a reason and a season. Please give me a discerning heart that I may clearly see an opportunity to be a friend. In your precious name.      Amen

Reflection:  Distractions of life such as busyness, judgments and expectations keep us from developing our relationships with other women and with God.

  Luke 6: 37-38                        Ephesians 4:29

Week of November 15
Nurturing Bonds

By definition, Nurture means to feed and protect; to support and encourage; to bring up; train; educate.

 I believe that beside the definition should be a picture of a woman. For the most part, isn't that what women do? In order to protect, support, encourage, etc., you must be in relationship. From the ancient days when women were gatherers and harvesters they recognized the importance of being with other women for protection, support, companionship and survival.
 An excellent example of a nurturing relationship is the story of Ruth and Naomi. After the death of her husband and sons, Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Her daughter-in-law Ruth not only made the long journey with Naomi but vowed "Your people will be my people and your God, my God" (Ruth 1:16). Ruth left her family, her culture and her religion of worshipping many gods for the unknown with Naomi. She then willingly went to glean in the barley fields in order to support Naomi and herself. Ruth's acts of loyalty, commitment and compassion did not go unnoticed by Boaz, the landowner and close relative of Naomi's husband's family. In an effort to make certain that Ruth was provided for, Naomi encouraged and educated Ruth in the Jewish traditions which led to her marriage to Boaz.
 These two women had a bond of support and dedication built from their shared experiences. They both demonstrated great strength, commitment and faith. Aren't those wonderful qualities to share with someone?

Prayer:  Dear Lord,
Thank you for the many nurturing women who teach, influence and encourage others. Please give me the insight to seek opportunities that I may be a blessing to someone today.   Amen.

Reflection:  Do you see yourself as Ruth or Naomi? Do you have a nurturing relationship with another woman?

Proverbs 2: 20 Proverbs 12:16

Week of November 22
Passing It On

 Each and every one of us has something important to offer as a friend. We all have gifts to share (Romans 12: 4-8). Fostering positive, nurturing relationships allows us to use our gifts in ways we may never have thought possible. The key is to not limit our selves by only approaching those we feel comfortable with but to challenge ourselves. The saying "God is more interested in our character than our comfort" comes to mind. Listen, talk, laugh and cry. Being able to share in the safety of a nurturing environment with one or a group of women builds feelings of confidence and affirmation. When we extend ourselves to others, we invite them to be a part of a sisterhood.

Prayer:   Open my eyes Lord
               And let me see
               All of the beautiful women
               Especially those who do not look like me. Amen.

Reflection:  Take time to review the list of attributes you wrote for the first week then
 celebrate how many of them you recognize in yourself. Next, reflect on the
 frustrations that came to mind during week 2 and acknowledge any that apply to
 you. Focus on ways to use these self-realizations to enhance your relationships
 with other women.

Psalm 34: 3    Romans 1: 11-12


Ms. Dámaris Vélez
Secretary, Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115