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Recent News

Radio Intervew: AMC with Shawn Balint

WSMI Radio

WSMI Radio’s “Around Montgomery County with Shawn Balint” featured an interview with representatives from Cross Over Ministries on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The fifty-minute long discussion included an overview of the faith-based organization, current issues and challenges for individuals and community in 2021, breaking the stigma, mental health opportunities for whole person wellness in the local area, and spreading the word and hope about Mental Health Awareness Month.

Pastor Cassie Sexton-Riggs Joins Advisory Council

Cross Over Ministries is delighted to share that Pastor Cassie Sexton-Riggs has joined our Advisory Council. She will be joining Pastor Randy Sands of the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church, Pastor Jeff Hemken of Calvary Baptist Church in Hillsboro and Matt Houser, Principal of Faith Bible Christian Academy in Rosamond.

Pastor Cassie has been the Pastor of the Union Avenue Christian Church in Litchfield since November, 2017. She is also the Secretary of the Litchfield Ministerial Alliance. Her husband, Michael, pastors the Union Avenue Christian Church in St. Louis.

“I believe that being healthy involves spiritual, mental and physical,” Pastor Cassie explained when asked her reasons for becoming a part of Cross Over Ministries. “You can’t truly be healthy without taking care of all three. Mental health is the one we never talk about though because we have been taught it isn’t ‘polite’ and that has contributed to the mental health crisis in our country.”

She went on to share, “The lack of mental health care has a direct correlation between drug and alcohol addiction and suicide. All of these are major issues here in Montgomery County.”

“It will be a privilege to be able to have the Board of COM seek advice and get input from Pastor Cassie,” Linda Liebscher, President of Cross Over Ministries, said. “I have gotten to know her through the Litchfield Ministerial Alliance and I and the rest of the Board along with the other members of the Advisory Council are looking forward to building a strong relationship with her.”

Cross Over Ministries is a Christ-centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities in Montgomery County and beyond. For further information about COM, please visit their website at www.crossovernfp.com or their Facebook page.

Lynette Weiss Cross Over Ministries Newest Board Member

Lynette Weiss joined the team of Cross Over Ministries (COM) as a Board Member at the last meeting on February 16, 2021. Lynette brings a wide variety of experience to the team as a Licensed Professional Counselor, retired Air Force veteran, ministry leader for DivorceCare/DC4K, wife to an amazingly supportive man named Jake, and mother of two through remarriage.

Lynette’s own divorce in 2008 led her to seek a program of care and healing called, Broken Promises, for her and her son, Gary.

“The Program helped my son and me grow closer to God and better understand how to recover from divorce,” Lynette shared. “That is why I am so passionate about the Divorce Care and Divorce Care for Kids Program.”

In 2010, Lynette was deployed to Afghanistan. Amid a blackout base and being the only female from her unit, she remembers a New Year’s Eve that changed her purpose in life.

“I was laying in my bunk silently crying as I listened to bombs detonating nearby and shaking the ground. I prayed that God would send someone for me to talk with, to share my fears and emotions. Unfortunately, there was no one.”

Lynette decided at that moment to pursue a career as a therapist. Upon her return, Jake and Lynette began dating and marriage was discussed. Lynette suggested to Jake and his daughter, Sami, that they attend the Broken Promises program, also. This helped the couple build a firm foundation with God as well as have a more informed understanding of the challenges of divorce and remarriage.

“I am so grateful for my knowledge as a therapist, but I am even more grateful that I can connect with others on a professional level to aid in their healing, Cross Over Ministries will allow me the opportunity to use my passion, my knowledge, and my lived experience to give others hope and encouragement,” Lynette said.

“Lynette has volunteered with COM for almost 2 years. It is a privilege to have her as a Board Member,” said Dawn Young, Secretary of Cross Over Ministries.

“I agree,” Kate Wedekind added. “Lynette will be an integral resource with COM in the supervisory role of the Living Room that will be coming very soon.”

The Living Room will be a non-clinical, recovery-focused resource for anyone struggling with mental health conditions, substance use disorders or life issues.

“All of us are pleased to welcome Lynette to the team. She is so relational and compassionate,” Andrea Ruppert said. “It is a blessing to work alongside of her.”

Cross Over Ministries Remembers Survivors

Hillsboro Journal-News

Twelve people dressed in warm clothes kneel outdoors behind white lunch bags lit from within with electric candles, all the bags arranged in the shape of a ribbon twist for a cause.

Pictured above, from the left are Recovery Support Peers Tanya Maria, Tudy Hill, Amber Kith and Kyle Smith, along with Cross Over Ministries board members Linda Liebscher, Wayne Wedekind, Jodi Reynolds, Kate Niemeier, Lynette Weiss, Andrea Ruppert, Diane Singler and Becky Wedekind. [PHOTO COURTESY OF BROOKS MORELAND]

Around the world, people pause to remember the survivors of suicide loss at the end of November each year. It’s a day set aside for survivors to come together to find connection, understanding and hope through their shared experiences.

Cross Over Ministries in Montgomery County hosted a special ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Shane Cole Park in Nokomis.

Prior to the ceremony, participants were asked to select a bead necklace in a variety of colors. The colors signified their relationship to someone who has been a victim of suicide. Orange signifies the loss of a sibling, purple is the loss of a relative or friend, white is the loss of a child, gold is the loss of a parent, red is the loss of a partner or spouse, silver is the loss of a first responder or military member. Teal beads signify that someone’s loved one struggles, blue beads support the cause and green beads support a personal struggle.

The group created luminaries in memory of those who have been lost to suicide and read their names in a special ceremony.

Following the reading of names, the ceremony included a Native American rock and feather ceremony, which is an ancient ritual of healing and hope. The rock and feather are used to represent both the pains of the past and the hope of the future.

Before concluding the ceremony, Cross Over Ministries announced two new board members, including Andrea Ruppert of Witt and Jodi Reynolds of Nokomis.

They also announced they will soon open The Living Room, which provides a mental health crisis alternative for adults, on the second level of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau building in downtown Hillsboro.

It will offer free crisis intervention, an alternative to hospital emergency rooms and a safe, comfortable and confidential place for those who need it.

Montgomery County’s New RSPs

Hillsboro Journal-News

Representatives of Crossover Ministries attended the September meeting of the Montgomery County Board for a proclamation in honor of Suicide Awareness Month in September.

Pictured above, Sitting left to right, Mikka Lipe, Amber Kite, Becky Brasfield (Facilitator); Standing left to right, Jeff Weaver. Kyle Smith, Regina Crider (facilitator), AJ French( facilitator and Gift of Voice President), Tudy Hill. Gloria Centeno (facilitator) Tanya Maria and Linda Liebscher.

Recovery Support Peers began their six-month training program sponsored by Cross Over Ministries by attending the two-day Competency Training held in Hillsboro at Calvary Baptist Church on September 28th and 29th. Facilitators from Edwardsville, Rantoul and Chicago introduced the RSPs to the four domains that they will actively participate in for the duration of their training. The domains are advocacy, professional responsibility, mentoring and recovery support. Emphasis will be placed on mentoring and recovery support since the RSPs will eventually be hired by COM to be the essential staff at The Living Room, a crisis intervention program that is a long-term goal of the ministry.

“This diverse group was wonderful to work with and very receptive to new concepts regarding mental health recovery and wellness,” said AJ French, Founder and President of Gift of Voice, whom Cross Over Ministries contracted with to facilitate the training. “All of the facilitators were delighted to hear how the RSPs have put into practice some of the things they learned. This team really impressed us.”

The RSPs will continue their training with on-line programs, bi-weekly team meetings, helping to facilitate mental health educational programs, sharing their own stories, learning about recovery resources and meeting with people who work in mental health, and working directly with COM to develop The Living Room. They will also be learning about how a Board operates so that eventually they will become their own Board under the leadership of Cross Over Ministries.

“Most people think that because a person has a mental health condition or a substance use disorder that they will be limited to working in this field. Some may choose to do so. We want their training to include opportunities to become leaders in whatever field they decide to go into and for them as well as our community to realize their value and the gifts they have to offer, whatever they decide to do,” Linda Liebscher, President of Cross Over Ministries, stated. “I have already learned so much from them in a short time. COM believes that the Lord will fulfill His Word to them; He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that they ask or think.”

For more information about Cross Over Ministries or about the Recovery Support Peer training, please contact Liebscher at leendachambers@yahoo.com or 618-210-0313.

County Raises Awareness For Suicide

By Mary (Galer) Herschelman Hillsboro Journal-News

Representatives of Crossover Ministries attended the September meeting of the Montgomery County Board for a proclamation in honor of Suicide Awareness Month in September.

Pictured above, from the left are Dawn Young, Linda Liebscher, Montgomery County Board Chairman Evan Young, Randy and Diane Singler, Kyle Reynolds and Jodi Reynolds. Not pictured is Chad Ruppert.

“Every citizen in our county can help to end the silence and the stigma that creates a barrier to individuals seeking help when they are depressed or having suicidal thoughts,” read County Coordinator Chris Daniels, as part of a proclamation marking September as Suicide Awareness Prevention Month.

“We, the citizens of Montgomery County affirm the intrinsic value of every person in our county and desire for each individual to know their true worth and potential, thereby encouraging them to become contributing members of our communities.”

Members of Crossover Ministries joined the regular monthly meeting of the Montgomery County Board on Tuesday evening, Sept. 8, at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro to help bring awareness to the importance of mental health.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, second leading cause of death for people ten to 34 and fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35 to 54.

Board Chairman Evan Young signed the proclamation, which was approved unanimously.

Diane Singler of Irving and Jodi Reynolds of Nokomis, both who have lost children to suicide, spoke to the board the need to decrease the stigma of suicide and that the youth as well as adults need to know where they can go for help.

“It’s an invisible disease that can happen to anyone,” Singler said.

Applicants Wanted for Mental Health Training Program

Hillsboro Journal-News

Cross Over Ministries is now taking applications through September 15th for a new mental health training program that will eventually lead to employment. “This six-month training program is specifically designed for people in recovery from a mental health condition or substance use disorder who have a desire to support others in their wellness journey,” Board Member, Kate Niemeier, said. “Recovery Support Peers use their personal recovery experiences and the unique insight they have gained to also help shape systems of care. They will be an asset to many as they participate fully in the life of our community. They will have an integral role in the development and establishment of an alternative crisis intervention in Montgomery County called, ‘The Living Room’ and will be essential team members of it.”

The training program will kick off with a two full-day training on Monday, September, 28th and Tuesday, September 29th. This Competency Training is the same training that Illinois Certified Recovery Support Specialists attend in Springfield. “With COVID 19, the training in Springfield is now done virtually over a three-month period. We wanted future Recovery Support Peers to be able to do an in-person training so we have contracted with Gift of Voice to do the training locally,” Niemeier stated.

There will be a maximum of 6 people who will go through the Competency Training since there will be 4 facilitators doing the training. After the two-day training, RSPs will spend approximately 20 hours per month for the next 6 months enhancing competency skills in the domains of mentoring, advocacy, professional responsibility and support.

Dawn Young, Secretary of Cross Over Ministries, sees the training program and eventual hiring of Recovery Support Peers as a way to fulfill the mission and vision of COM. “As a Christ Centered community committed to cultivating mental health recovery and wellness through hope, opportunity, mercy and encouragement, the Board is fully invested in the Recovery Support Peer Program and the people who will become a part of our team. This is very exciting for us and our community.”

For more information or to get an application please contact Linda Liebscher at 618-210-0313 or leendachambers@yahoo.com

A Basketful of Gratitude

Hillsboro Journal-News

female charity volunteer and female hospital employee stand on either side of a plastic laundry basket full of edible gifts, ribbons and greeting cards of encouragement

Lynette Weiss of Cross Over Ministries presented a basket of goodies on August 4, 2020 to Katie Duncan, Director of Human Resources, Hillsboro Area Hospital. “We realize the commitment our hospital employees have made to our community,” Weiss said. “Cross Over Ministries wanted them to know how much we appreciate all they are doing to keep us safe. We also realize the additional stress they may be experiencing and we thought that some good eats and treats might brighten their day.”

Weiss is a volunteer with Cross Over Ministries, a Christ-Centered Community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities. She created the basket herself and jammed it full of a variety of treats that would satisfy even those who are on a gluten free diet. “I was very excited to present this gift to HAH,” Weiss commented. “There was so much to put into it that I had to use a laundry basket. But I don’t think they minded at all!”

For more information about Cross Over Ministries, please visit their website at www.crossovernfp.com or their Facebook page. “If you see something that interests you don’t hesitate to connect with us. We welcome volunteers and are looking for additional Board Members,” stated Weiss. “You will enjoy being a part of our team.”

Cross Over Ministries Releases List of Short-, Mid-, and Long-Term Goals

Cross Over Ministries fiscal year began June 30, 2020. The Board of COM recently established short-term, medium-term and long-term goals for the upcoming fiscal year. Our goals represent what we see as current mental health opportunities in our community. We are always open to changing and adapting our goals to coincide with specific needs that might arise and the direction that Jesus Christ leads us.

In order to fully engage in and implement goals for “The Living Room”, Cross Over Ministries felt it necessary to establish specific short-term, medium-term and long-terms goals for Recovery Support Peers separate from our other goals. RSPs will be the most vital and essential members of “The Living Room”. Without them and the emphasis on their continued recovery, training, education and establishment of relationships within Cross Over Ministries and the community, “The Living Room” will not exist. As with our other goals, Cross Over Ministries is open to adapting and changing these goals based on the needs of our RSPs and our community that might arise and the direction that Jesus Christ leads us.

Short-term Goals (1-6 months)

Training and Events

  • Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training to be offered in the high schools and junior high schools of Montgomery County beginning in the fall of 2020
  • QPR training to be offered in October/November 2020 to the communities of Nokomis and Raymond
  • Fundraiser (TBD) to be held prior to end of 2020
  • Presentations to Community introducing Cross Over Ministries with a focus on “The Living Room”, a crisis intervention program that promotes whole person wellness
  • Meet with medical and pharmaceutical teams to re-evaluate the co-pay programs

Growing the Ministry

  • Adding two Board Members
  • Acquiring more volunteers
  • Adding one more person to Advisory Council

Mid-term Goals (6 months-1 year)

Training and Events

  • Farmers’ Event in conjunction with Montgomery County Farm Bureau specific to mental health wellness to be held in February, 2021
  • Trauma Informed Care Training throughout Montgomery County to be held in the first quarter of 2021
  • Train the Trainer “Sanctuary Course” and Overview of Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) will be offered to all area churches to begin in April 2021
  • Divorce Care and DC4K will be offered in Nokomis beginning in February 2021
  • Presentations to Community introducing Cross Over Ministries with a focus on “The Living Room”
  • Meet with MC Mental Health to assess needs and establish guidelines for the Transportation Program
  • Fundraiser (TBD) to be held by June, 2021
  • Ongoing opportunities to partner with High Schools/Jr. High Schools (i.e. guest speaker, introduction to Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Trauma Informed Care, etc.
  • GROWING THE MINISTRY
  • Renting, buying or being gifted a HOME
  • Establish a committee of diverse community representatives to assess the establishment of “The Living Room” in Montgomery County by using “Guide to Establishing a Respite Home”
  • Development of training, recovery and wellness programs to be offered at the HOME

Long-term Goals (1-3 years)

  • Established “Living Room” operating in Montgomery County by 2022
  • Begin planning process for a residential long-term recovery and wellness HOME and/or farm in Montgomery County

Recovery Support Peer Goals

In order to fully engage in and implement goals for “The Living Room”, Cross Over Ministries felt it necessary to establish specific short-term, medium-term and long-terms goals for Recovery Support Peers separate from our other goals. RSPs will be the most vital and essential members of “The Living Room”. Without them and the emphasis on their continued recovery, training, education and establishment of relationships within Cross Over Ministries and the community, “The Living Room” will not exist. As with our other goals, Cross Over Ministries is open to adapting and changing these goals based on the needs of our RSPs and our community that might arise and the direction that Jesus Christ leads us.

Short-term Goals (1-6 months)

  • Attend Recovery Support Peer (RSP) training along with one RSP Program Facilitator by September, 2020—this training is defined by Illinois DHS, division of Mental Health, as Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Competency Training
  • Active Participation in Board Meetings
  • Attend Trauma Informed Care Training for RSPs
  • Engage in assisting with QPR Training
  • Engage in establishing a Recovery and Wellness Journey to be used to identify the programs and services currently offered in Montgomery County and the gaps that exist
  • COM to hire at least two part-time (40 hours per month total) RSPs

Mid-term Goals (6 months-1 year)

  • Continued Education and Training through one-on-one peer support in the community and at AA Meetings, Celebrate Recovery Meetings, etc., attend WRAP Classes, presentations to our community on the role of an RSP especially to Police, Drug Court, MCMH, churches and organizations, engage in CRSS state-wide calls, promote “The Living Room”
  • Attend all Illinois DHS courses offered through the Mental Health Division that provide continued education and efficacy of the RSP position as well as provide opportunities for advancement
  • Active Involvement on the committee that will review “Guide to Establishing a Respite Home” by being the voice of the guests who will stay at “The Living Room”
  • Continued participation in all Cross Over Ministries’ events (Refer to COM Medium-Term Goals for Fiscal Year June 30, 2020-June 30, 2021
  • Facilitate a WRAP training program for peers
  • COM to hire at least 2 full-time RSPs

Long-term Goals (1-3 years)

  • COM to hire a full-time Manager of “The Living Room” who would lead and direct and support RSPs
  • Development of a Board of Directors for “The Living Room” which will be under the umbrella of Cross Over Ministries
  • Active participation in the design and development of “The Living Room” including any and all programs of recovery and wellness as defined by the guests
  • Active participation on the planning committee to begin the process of assessing the development of a long-term residential wellness and recovery HOME and/or farm

Virtual Walk Benefits Cross Over Ministries

Hillsboro Journal-News

Kris and Jodi Reynolds coordinate a Destroy The Darkness Walk in memory of their son, Kaden.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Cross Over Ministries is hosting a virtual walk this week. Pictured above, Kris and Jodi Reynolds invited friends and family to join them on Saturday, May 23, walking from the Witt Lions Building to the Witt Cemetery, in memory of their son, Kaden.

Local residents are still invited to join the virtual walk through May 28, choosing their own date and course. Those who donate $20 will be eligible to win prizes and all participants will receive a “Be Well, Live Well” sticker. Participants are encouraged to share photos to social media using the hashtag #destroythedarkness. On the final night, May 28, participants are invited to light a candle or turn their porch lights on in honor of or in memory of those who struggle with mental illness.

Registration forms are available online at www.crossovernfp.com and donations may be sent to Cross Over Ministries, PO Box 238, Hillsboro, IL 62049.

GUEST COLUMN: Let’s Talk—Really, Really Talk

By Linda Liebscher, president and one of the founders of Cross Over Ministries
Hillsboro Journal-News

Phone or Facetime a friend and really talk

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Some people assume they are well mentally because they do not have a diagnosed mental illness, they do not use illicit drugs and they don’t take medication for depression or anxiety. And, this may be true for many people.

Recently however, life as we have known it has changed. COVID-19 has infiltrated almost every area of our lives—jobs, school, activities, caring for our loved ones, being able to grieve well, even our ideas on what our future holds. It is a different time, one that can make us fearful, lonely, anxious and mad.

For me, it is a time to retreat. If I can just read a good book, delve into my Bible, watch some mind-numbing television, pretend that my life is just fine and take seven naps a day, then I do not have to think about what is really happening in the world and inside of me. I am not one of those who assumes I am mentally well because I do have a mental illness and I do take medication for my depression. But I am certainly one of those who pretends to be mentally well.

One of the healthiest things we can all be doing right now is... talk. Not the, “how are you—I am fine” talking, not even the “we are going to get through this together” talking, but the “down in my innermost being I really don’t want to talk about it” talking. It may not even have to do with COVID and the changes in your circumstances this pandemic has brought. It just may be something that you have hidden for a long time that needs to come out so you can start healing.

Some of us have great friends and family that allow us to share ourselves, who pray with us and encourage us. Many have built a support system within their church or organization. Others of us have found a great counselor who asks some tough questions and make us think about what needs to change.

What about those of us who have no one? Well, in Montgomery County, there is always someone. There are national and state organizations. We have a mental health department that is willing to talk with you anytime, day or night. We have many pastors who are not only great listeners and pray-ers, but also know of resources and can help you connect. There are counselors in our area that truly care. And there are people who are in their own recovery process who will listen to you, not judge you and will respect you.

So, do you want to talk—really? Do you want to really talk? Let someone know. Let family or friends or the mental health department or your doctor or a pastor or a national organization or Cross Over Ministries know. They won’t have all the answers. They definitely won’t be your answer, but letting someone know is your first step in getting help. And getting help is your first step in gaining hope. And hope allows us to see life from a different perspective even if our circumstances don’t change.

I think I am going to really talk to someone this week. How about you?

GUEST COLUMN: Diane’s “Open Hearts” Walnut Walk

By Linda Liebscher, president and one of the founders of Cross Over Ministries
Hillsboro Journal-News

A walnut split open to reveal two heart shapes

Nature has a way of speaking volumes—if we will only listen. And nature also has a way of opening our eyes to some truths that we might not have been able to express on our own. That is exactly what happened when Diane heard nature speaking as she was walking her dog, Dolly.

It was a walnut—not something that most of us would consider a gift of nature. Except, this walnut had been cut in two, right down the middle, exposing its most inward parts. Your guess is as good as mine as to what could have split the walnut into two equal halves. There it was, though, ready for whomever came across it to notice it.

I am grateful for friends like Diane. She not only sees beauty in nature, she shares it. So, when she forwarded the picture of this walnut to me, I was immediately drawn to the two complete hearts inside of it. Even though the walnut was no longer “whole,” it seemed to have more to offer after it had been cracked open. Its exposed inward parts had a message.

I asked Diane what she thought of the wonderful image she sent to me. Diane had this to share:

God’s love appears in unexpected ways. I really feel that these shapes are more than the shapes of hearts, but also represent openness, since they are split open. A blog by “Anxious Cucumber” put it this way: “Open hearts, free minds.” This is a good message for now with all the anxiety people are feeling. It is time for people to open up. It is also a time for those of us who know people who are having a difficult time to connect with them and share our hearts.

It’s amazing that a walnut could speak so profoundly. And just think, had it not been for the brokenness of the walnut, Diane may not have even noticed it. She would have missed out on nature speaking to her. I would have missed out too.

Could it be that your brokenness and my brokenness need to be shared? Would we become bigger-hearted people by allowing others to know our inward parts? If we open up to others and allow them to open up to us, is there a possibility we would experience a freedom of our minds that would help us to value and accept people who are different from us?

Jesus answered all of these questions with a resounding “yes” by sharing His very life with us. His brokenness became our wholeness. His Spirit living in us makes us able to share our hearts with others. His great love and how He values every life leave no room for the deception of stigma and harsh judgement.

I will never forget the image of the walnut Diane sent me. It’s etched in my mind and it has opened my eyes to some truths that Diane shared and some truths that it revealed to me. Yes, it really did speak. I bet some of you looking at the image right now are hearing it speak too.

Many of us are taking more walks nowadays because some of our other forms of entertainment are not available right now. Taking walks is a good thing, at least that’s what my Nurse Practitioner tells me. Next time you are on a walk, open yourself up to the adventure of nature speaking to you. You just might hear a truth that allows you to realize that life is still good, opening up to others can free your mind from anxiety, God is still in control and walnuts can bring messages of sharing, caring and hope.

Cross Over Ministries To Host Virtual Walk

Hillsboro Journal-News

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, Cross Over Ministries is hosting a virtual walk throughout Montgomery County. Mental Health Awareness Week is May 18-24, and organizers with Cross Over Ministries will be hosting daily events and activities on the group’s Facebook page throughout the week.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, they will also sponsor a virtual walk/run the week of May 23 through May 28. “You choose your days, time, distance and favorite route to join us from your community to raise awareness about mental health,” said volunteer Andrea Ruppert.

Donations to the organization will be accepted for the virtual walk, and donations of all size will be accepted, but those who donate $20 or more will be eligible for participation prizes. All participants will also receive a “Be Well, Stay Well, Live Well” sticker after the event is complete.

Participants are encouraged to share photos from their walk on social media using the hashtag #destroythedarkness and #crossoverministries. “Also share with us how may days you participated that week, your distance, your most unique route and any other highlights so we can connect with you,” Ruppert said.

On the very last night, May 28, organizers ask participants to light a candle or turn on their porch light in honor or in memory of those who struggle with mental illness.

Pre-registration for the walk is available online at https://www.crossovernfp.com, or checks may be sent to Cross Over Ministries, PO Box 238, Hillsboro, IL 62049.

For more information, contact Andrea Ruppert, Kate Niemeier or Dawn Young.

All proceeds will be used in Montgomery County to promote mental health needs through Cross Over Ministries, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Newsletter Inaugural Edition

Cross Over Ministries has published our first issue of our new Monthly Newsletter! Thank you all for keeping Montgomery County moving forward during this different, COVID-19, time in all of our lives. Now we invite you to catch up on the “news” with our mission, vision, goals, and activities.

Plus! May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Get some tips on how you can help despite social distancing restrictions.

Issue   Read  
May 2020 Newsletter (.docx)   Download DOCX
May 2020 Newsletter (.pdf)   Download PDF
   

Niemeier Joins Cross Over Board

Kate Niemeier selfie

Kate Niemeier of Butler has become a Board Member of Cross Over Ministries. She has been volunteering with the organization for several months and was voted in as a Board Member at the meeting on Tuesday, April 21.

“We are so excited to have Kate working with us,” said Dawn Young, Secretary of COM. “She brings such energy and innovative ideas to the table and she is willing to do what she can to help fulfill our mission. We are very blessed to have her join us.”

Niemeier is a 2006 graduate of Hillsboro High School and a 2010 graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in Ag education. She has been a strong advocate of agriculture and loves to do crafts, show livestock and garden in her free time. She is married to Steve and they have two beautiful boys, Bode who is 4 and Bryce who is 3.

“My advocacy for mental health was not something I chose. It chose me when I lost my brother Andrew to suicide in 2014, Niemeier shared. “My parents, Becky and Wayne Wedekind, and I were at a complete loss as to why Andrew would take his own life. Since that time, we have been learning about the signs of suicide, mental health conditions, and how to support those who need help. Our grief will never go away, but we see the opportunity to be involved with Cross Over Ministries as one way to share Andrew’s story. We know he would want us to do just that.” Niemeier has a Facebook page called “Hope in the Hollow” which is dedicated to mental health advocacy. You can also follow her on Twitter @hopeinthehollow.

“It has been a difficult journey for my family and without God we would never be able to do what we are doing. But, as my dad always says, if we can help one person and be a part of saving just one life, then the pain of sharing our story is worth it. Perhaps we can give hope to others,” Niemeier stated.

For more information about Cross Over Ministries and to find out ways you can be involved, visit their website at www.crossovernfp.com or call Dawn Young at 217-710-5332 or Linda Liebscher at 618-210-0313.

Illinois Remote Patient Monitoring Program & Montgomery County Support Lines

Counselors & 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Hotline

a lone female in front of a fence wearing a face mask - Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

Illinois has set up a Remote Patient Monitoring Program for mental health services. This telehealth and mental health support line is for underserved communities and those at risk during the COVID 19 pandemic. To access this program, text TALK to 552020. Please do not wait to get the mental health treatment you deserve.

Also remember that Montgomery County Mental Health is open and has available counselors for you. You can call them Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at 217-532-2001 (Hillsboro) and 217-324-3430 (Litchfield).

There is also a 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Hotline which can be reached at 888-324-5052 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and after hours or weekends at 217-313-4730.

Let your community support you!

Stressed Farmers: “Don’t Wait For A Crisis”

Hillsboro Journal-News

Featured speaker Adrienne DeSutter shares with a room rull of farm families at an event hosted by Cross Over Ministries and the Montgomery County Farm Bureau.

“Don’t wait for a crisis before you start taking care of yourself,” featured speaker Adrienne DeSutter said to a room full of farm families at the “Faith, Family, Friends, Farmers & Future” event hosted by Cross Over Ministries and the Montgomery County Farm Bureau on Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Butler Community Center.

The event focused on sharing ways that farm families can handle the stress in their occupation. DeSutter, a Knox County farm wife with a masters degree in counseling who now advocates for farmers’ mental health, told those present that farmers suffer higher-than-average levels of stress, depression, substance use and suicide.

“I’m not happy we have to have these conversations, but I’m happy we’re ready to,” the speaker said before teaching her audience how to recognize signs of a possible crisis, specifically in agriculture.

The event also featured a farm-themed parody video, Annette Blankenship led a dance before she and Dawn Young shared farm humor, and Pastor Stefan Munker of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsboro led a devotion based on the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

“My friends, Jesus knows that we have worries, but Jesus does not want these worries to overwhelm us,” the pastor said.

Dinner was provided by Milanos Catering, and Montgomery County Farm Bureau Manager Katie Wilson was master of ceremonies. The program ended with Linda Liebscher describing the mission of Cross Over Ministries and members of the ministries sharing their connections.

Cross Over and Montgomery CFB Partner to Celebrate our Farmers

Hillsboro Journal-News

Cross Over Ministries and Montgomery County Farm Bureau will be celebrating our hardworking farmers on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The free event will be held at the MCFB, 102 N. Main Street, Hillsboro. The theme of the event is “High Five to our Farmers”—Faith, Family, Friends, Farmers and Future, and will include a dinner at 6:00 p.m., a devotional by Pastor Stefan Munker, entertainment and a discussion on managing stress by Adrienne DeSutter. Adrienne is a Knox County farm wife and advocate for farmer’s mental health. With a Master’s degree and certification in Counseling, Adrienne works off the farm as a Behavioral Health Consultant, partnering with agriculture organizations to combat farmer suicide and provide education on ag wellness.

“It is vitally important that our farmers and their families are recognized for their contribution to Montgomery County, to our State and to our Country,” Katie Wilson, Director of Montgomery CFB said. “By providing an evening that honors them, we hope they will see what we seldom say, ‘Thank you’. We are excited to partner with Cross Over Ministries for this event.”

Reservations are requested by February 7, 2020, and can be made by calling the Montgomery County CFB Office at 217-532-6171.

Lucania “Didn’t Want To Die, I Didn’t Know How To Live”

Hillsboro Journal-News

New Jersey native Sam Anthony Lucania shared his story of hope and recovery with Lincolnwood students in Raymond on Tuesday afternoon. He also visited schools in Hillsboro, Litchfield, and Nokomis and spoke at a public event Wednesday night at The Event Center in Taylor Springs.

“Your life is full of ‘not yets,’” Sam Anthony Lucania shared with high school and junior high students at Lincolnwood in Raymond on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 28.

Sponsored by Cross Over Ministries, Lucania shared a message of wellness along with his personal experiences with drugs, alcohol, anxiety, depression and suicidal behavior to help motivate students in all four school districts in Montgomery County–Hillsboro and Lincolnwood on Tuesday, then Litchfield and Nokomis on Wednesday.

His visit concluded with a free public event at The Event Center in Taylor Springs on Wednesday evening.

Lucania began his hour-long presentation to students by graphically demonstrating how he was found by his wife in 2013 on the verge of death after an overdose on prescription drugs.

“I am the face of addiction,” the fit, energetic and charismatic speaker said.

He emphasized to students that their lives are full of “not yets,” and encouraged them to focus on the positive things they will accomplish but haven’t yet, and not give in to negative experiences they have yet to try.

He told students how his unwillingness to share his anxiety problems led to substance abuse, arrests, and his near-death overdose.

“I didn’t want to die,” Lucania said. “I just didn’t know how to live.”

He encouraged students to share moments of anxiety and depression, and to be willing to seek help.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the person that other people think you should be,” the speaker said. ”Be the person you know you are.”

Cross Over Ministries, sponsor of the two-day events, specifically sought out Lucania, a New Jersey native, as someone who could connect with youth in Montgomery County, where the suicide rate is higher than the state average, and both hospitals report increased rates of patients with depression.

Through hope, opportunity, mercy, and encouragement, Cross Over Ministries is a grass roots not-for-profit working to cultivate mental health opportunities and promote individual recovery and wellness through resources for mental health, recovery, and suicide prevention; assistance with co-pays and transportation; training opportunities; support and recovery groups; community awareness and advocacy; and story-sharing in the form of memorials and testimonials.

Divorce Care Program To Be Offered At Litchfield Church

Hillsboro Journal-News

Logo DivorceCare 4 Kids

Cross Over Ministries and the Christian Church of Litchfield are collaborating to bring DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K) to Litchfield. The 13-week program will be held each Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Monday, Feb 3.

DC4K provides a safe, fun place where children can learn to understand and express their emotions appropriately. The outreach program aims to bring much needed healing to area children and families affected by divorce.

While titled divorce care, the program is for children going through any kind of family fragmentation whether the upheaval is due to divorce, incarceration, addiction or other factors. The mission of DC4K is to provide children with a safe, neutral place to gain an age-appropriate understanding of separation.

The interactive course focuses on teaching young children how to process and share their feelings. Each week of the program will focus on breaking down a different aspect associated with parental separation. The sessions feature games, crafts, role playing, discussion times, journaling and activity books to help children process parental separation and move forward in their lives.

While DC4K is geared towards children, an adult program will run concurrently at the church. While it is not mandatory for parents to attend the adult program, it is encouraged. Similar to DC4K the adult course aims to provide a space for single parents to come together to discuss the emotional aspects of divorce and how to raise thriving children in a fragmented family. Like the children’s course, each week will cover a different topic and the group will share inspirational articles and real life experiences from fellow single parents.

The program has a $15 fee per person. These fees cover the cost of the workbook used in the program. There are scholarship opportunities available to help cover registration costs. Those interested may find more information or register for the program by calling or texting 217-820-2143 or online at DC4K.org.

The Christian Church of Litchfield is located at 131 Yaeger Lake Trail. While held in Litchfield, the program is open to any child age five through 12 years old, and their parents, who are in need of the ministry-based service.

Cross Over Hosting Mental Health/Wellness Speaker

Hillsboro Journal-News

Sam Anthony Lucania headshot

Sam Anthony Lucania will be sharing his story of hope and recovery with students at four local high schools on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 28-29, and at a free public event on Wednesday evening at The Event Center in Taylor Springs.

Lucania shares a message of wellness along with his personal experiences with drugs, alcohol, anxiety, depression and suicidal behavior to motivate others to seek help. He will be speaking at the morning session on Tuesday at Hillsboro High School and in the afternoon to students at Lincolnwood High School. On Wednesday, Sam will be visiting Nokomis High School in the morning and Litchfield High School in the afternoon.

The free public event on Wednesday, Jan. 29, will begin at 6:30 p.m. at The Event Center.

“If you want to hear the whole story, join us for the evening session,” Lucania said.

“We hope to pack the place with students, parents, teachers, counselors, law enforcement, church members, business owners, organization members and political and civic leaders,” according to Dawn Young, secretary of Cross Over Ministries. “With the increase in substance use disorders and mental health conditions in Montgomery County, it is time we all became more aware of how to reduce stigma and promote recovery and wellness.”

Statistics from the Hillsboro Area Hospital 2019 Health Needs Assessment indicate that Montgomery County’s suicide rate is higher than the state of Illinois’ rate (2010-2014) as well as the rate of Medicare beneficiaries with depression (2015). HSHS St. Francis Hospital reports that there has a been a 36 percent increase in the number of patients seen in the emergency department with behavioral health challenges from 2017 to 2019. Both hospitals are taking an active role in implementing new ways to effectively diagnose and treat these patients.

“These statistics are not just numbers,” Linda Liebscher, president of Cross Over Ministries said. “They are our friends and neighbors, our children and our parents. Cross Over Ministries is a Christ-centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities. It is our desire that by bringing Sam to Montgomery County, we will be influencing positive changes to the way we view people with mental health conditions and living the mission of our ministry.”

For more information about Lucania, visit his website www.samanthonyspeaks.com, and to learn more about Cross Over Ministries visit their website at www.crossovernfp.com.

Annual Walk Brings Light To Suicide Prevention

by Christy Mollet, Hillsboro Journal-News

Participants gathered together on a chilly Saturday morning, Nov. 2,for Out of the Darkness and Into His Light walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental health.

Although it was a chilly Saturday Nov. 2 morning, 50 people, including walkers, kitchen staff and Cross Over Ministries members and board, gathered together at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for the second annual Out of the Darkness and Into His Light walk. This event helps to bring awareness of suicide prevention and mental health.

Cross Over Ministries Secretary Dawn Young said, “This is our biggest fundraiser for the year. All money and donations go to the programs for mental health in Montgomery County.”

Young went on to say that some of the programs offered include prescription-assistance and medical co-pays for doctor’s office visits. “We are planning on having an event at the county schools,” Young said. “We are wanting to bring a speaker to the schools this year. We also have a program in the works to help farmers with stress management.”

After walkers returned to the church, everyone enjoyed a breakfast feast. “We thank St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for hosting the walk and breakfast,” said Young.

Linda Liebscher, president of Cross Over Ministries said, “God is leading us. He is laying the needs on our hearts. Montgomery County is in dire need of a crisis intervention center.” Cross Over members and volunteers are following the way the Lord is leading them in this journey.

Many of Cross Over members and volunteers were recognized for their hard work. In fact, David Imler, who has contributed greatly to Cross Over Ministries with prayer, support and encouragement, was given a plaque.

Although Imler was unable to attend the event, Pastor Stefan Munker received the plaque in his honor. and presented it to him on Sunday. Before everyone dismissed, participants, board members and volunteers, gathered in a circle for a closing word of prayer.

Pastor Stefan Munker accepts a plaque for David Imler, in honor of his service and support to Cross Over Ministries.

Pictured above Pastor Stefan Munker accepts a plaque for David Imler, in honor of his service and support to Cross Over Ministries. From the left are Deb Roemhildt, Kim Noyes, Becky Wedekind, Vice President Wayne Wedekind, Diane Singler, Pastor Stefan Munker, President Linda Liebscher, Secretary Dawn Young and Annette Blankenship. Not present for photo was David Imler.

Second Annual Cross Over Ministries Walk Set for November 2nd

Hillsboro Journal-News

Scene from Inaugural Walk in 2018

Cross Over Ministries is planning its second annual “Out of the Darkness into His Light” suicide prevention and mental health walk for Saturday, Nov. 2nd in Hillsboro.

“The theme is the same as last year,” Dawn Young, Cross Over secretary and chair person of the walk said, “because the mission is still the same: we are a Christ-centered community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities so that the people of Montgomery County can live in recovery and wellness.”

The 1k walk will begin at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in downtown Hillsboro at 7:00am with registration from 6:30am until 6:55am. Participants are encouraged to register ahead of time by going to www.eventbrite.com or by filling out a registration form and emailing it to dpyoung5332@gmail.com, or sending it to Cross Over Ministries c/o Dawn Young, 13130 N. Hillsboro, IL 62049. The forms are available on COM’S website, www.crossovernfp.com . A $20 donation per walker will support and promote the Cross Over vision. Walkers 10 and under are free, and all walkers will receive a colorful LED flashlight.

“We are also very grateful for our host this year, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsboro,” Young said. “They will be providing a delicious breakfast after the walk.”

You don’t have to walk the walk if you are unable, but you are still invited for breakfast and to “hear the talk,” Young said. “Our board and volunteers want to share about our future plans and how you can be involved. We would also appreciate any input about what the needs are in our communities to prevent suicides and to promote mental health. The exchange of ideas will help us to set our goals for 2020. We are a ministry that believes in whole person wellness — spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, relational, creative and educational. It is exactly what Jesus Christ wants for all of us!”

DC4K Bringing Comfort To Hurting Families

By Tori O’Dell, Hillsboro Journal-News

Logo DivorceCare 4 Kids

Cross Over Ministries and the Hillsboro Presbyterian Church are collaborating to bring DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K) to Hillsboro. The 13-week program will be held each Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 9, through Monday, Dec. 2. While held in Hillsboro, the program is open to any child age five through 12 years old, and their parents, who are in need of the ministry-based service.

Spearheaded by Cross Over Ministries volunteer Lynette Weiss, the program organizers hope to bring much needed healing to area children and parents affected by divorce. Weiss, a child of divorce herself, had gone through a similar program alongside her son, following her own divorce. The closest DC4K program was in Springfield and Weiss made the weekly commutes to attend knowing the benefits it would have for her family. While titled divorce care, the program is for children going through any kind of family fragmentation whether the upheaval is due to divorce, incarceration, addiction or other factors. The mission of DC4K is to provide children with a safe, neutral place to gain an age-appropriate understanding of separation.

“Bringing divorce care to Montgomery County is something that has been on my heart for over a decade. It was incredibly beneficial to my son and myself when we went through a divorce care program,” Weiss explained. “I was not even thinking about finally being able to start a local divorce care program when I started volunteering with Cross Over Ministries, but I couldn’t stop myself from bringing it up when we were discussing local needs. DC4K fits perfectly into the work that we do at Cross Over: catch kids young and teach them the skills they need to be better at coping with the obstacles of life.”

The interactive course focuses on teaching young children how to process and share their feelings. Each week of the program will focus on breaking down a different aspect associated with parental separation. The weekly topics include: What’s Happening to My Family, God Loves Children in All Kinds of Families, Facing My Anger, Journey from Anger to Sadness, I Am Not Alone, God’s Plan for Me, Developing New Relationships, Developing Money Smarts, It’s Not My Fault, Telling My Parents How I Feel, Forgiveness, Loving My Parents and Moving On: Growing Up and Closer to God. The goal of the sessions is to help children realize that life goes on after divorce.

While centered around healing, the topics are presented in a fun, interactive format. The sessions feature games, crafts, role playing, discussion times, journaling and activity books to help children process parental separation and move forward in their lives. The biblically-based support course places a heavy emphasis on teaching children to relax and rest securely in God’s love. The hope is that each child completes the course with the knowledge that despite the trials of separation they have the ability to create healthy and happy futures and relationships.

“In many ways a divorce is like a death. There is a profound sense of loss and pain, and our children are not spared from these feelings because they are small — they just don’t have the emotional intelligence or vocabulary to express what they are feeling yet. Because they cannot communicate these complex emotions they internalize their hurt and guilt,” said Weiss. “One of the things that shocked me when my family went through the program was how much my son really believed that our divorce was his fault.

“The divorce care program taught him that it is okay to express seemingly negative emotions like anger or sadness far better than I could as his mother, at that time, and I am a professional counselor. More importantly it allowed him to connect with other children, going through a similar hardship, and realize that he was not alone.”

While DC4K is geared towards children, an adult program will run concurrently at the church. While it is not mandatory for parents to attend the adult program, it is encouraged. Similar to DC4K the adult course aims to provide a space for single parents to come together to discuss the emotional aspects of divorce and how to raise thriving children in a fragmented family. Like the children’s course, each week will cover a different topic and the group will share inspirational articles and real life experiences from fellow single parents.

“I can only speak for my own family, but enrolling my son in a divorce care program, and going through it myself, was one of the best decisions I made following my divorce. The real beauty of the program (for me) was that taking the adult program, alongside my son, gave us things to talk about and connect on an intimate level, at a time when we were both deeply hurt. It allowed us to go through the grief of losing our family, as we had known it, together. I really believe that this program helped both of us come out of this period of our lives stronger and better adjusted to tackle hardships.”

While Hillsboro Presbyterian Church, along with the Hillsboro Ministerial Alliance, will be the first host of the DivorceCare 4 Kids program, Cross Over Ministries hopes to expand the program into Litchfield in 2020. The outreach would like the program to eventually run on a rotational basis throughout all of Montgomery County. The goal is to reach as many families as possible to help further them on the healing process, while spreading Cross Over Ministries’ message that no one is ever alone in their pain.

The program has a $15 fee per person. These fees cover the cost of the workbook used in the program. There are scholarship opportunities available to help cover registration costs. Those interested may find more information or register for the program by calling or texting Weiss at 217-820-2143 or online at DC4K.org.