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Archive for November, 2009

Trig Palin has been in the news a lot lately because of his famous mother’s book tour.  That little boy has generated quite a bit of response in his young life.

Lon Jacobs is general counsel for News Corporation and a father of a child with intellectual disabilities.  He describes himself as a pro-choice Democrat in this Wall Street Journal opinion article from last Friday.  He makes some interesting observations about abortion in the United States:

I don’t presume to tell others what to do when they are faced with these difficult decisions. But I worry that women who find themselves pregnant with a child who has a physical or mental disability get only one message, which is all about the burden about to be dumped in their laps. Today, nine out of 10 American women who are told they have a child with Down syndrome choose to abort. I think it’s fair to say that if some of these potential parents had a glimpse of the other side they might have made a different decision.

Americans are said to be starkly divided on the issue of abortion. However, most people I know are somewhere in the middle. There are people who call themselves pro-life but will stand by a daughter who obtains an abortion. Others call themselves pro-choice but applaud the message of the movie “Juno,” where a teenager brings her pregnancy to term so she can give the child to a loving couple.

Unfortunately, there is a another category of people who say they are pro-choice but ought to be characterized as aggressively pro-abortion. These are the people who heap venom and ridicule on Mrs. Palin for bringing Trig into the world. Their views should be troubling to all, especially people who want respect for a woman’s right to choose.

I must admit to being perplexed – how a man who experiences his daughter as a joy and who is afraid of the excesses of the abortion movement can still advocate for abortion, even if he wants it to be rare.  But I do take this encouragement from it: he is not afraid to call out those from his own political party who hate our unborn children with disabilities.

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May Advent Be Joyfully Serious!

The first Sunday of Advent also renews the traditional Bethlehem practice of having children light the advent candle.

It is a tradition I love as fourth-grade boys and girls very seriously carry out this duty.  It is good for children to be given serious duties.

Three years ago the Family Discipleship Department invited a multiply-disabled boy (who happens to be my boy) to participate in this event.  The evening of the lighting, a series of events led to his sister unexpectedly walking with him down the aisle.

It remains one of the precious memories of my life – my boy and my girl walking together down the aisle at my church for Advent.

I know I was not alone in having tears in my eyes!

May God give you a precious, beautiful, memorable Advent memory this year that makes much of God and brings you great joy!

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Within weeks of each other in 2006, John Piper and David Powlison were diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Pastor John wrote a helpful article, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer,” that outlines 10 ways people can waste their cancer.  David Powlison added his thoughts to each of the ten shortly thereafter.  Here is an excerpt:

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.

David Powlison: Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith. If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin. Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life? Will you pretend it’s business as usual? Will you come to terms with death, on your terms? But if you are God’s, then suffering in Christ’s hands will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly. You come to terms with life and death on his terms. He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities. He will make you need him and love him. He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often. He will walk with you. Of course you’ll fail at times, perhaps seized by irritability or brooding, escapism or fears. But he will always pick you up when you stumble. Your inner enemy – a moral cancer 10,000 times more deadly than your physical cancer – will be dying as you continue seeking and finding your Savior: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is very great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25).

 

 

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Disability is not the end of the story.  Our labors are not in vain.  We achieve victory – through Jesus Christ!

From 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

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R.C. Ryle on True Happiness

Taken from Happiness, by R.C. Ryle (1816-1900):

The true Christian is the only happy man, because he can “sit down quietly and think about his soul. . .” He can think calmly about things to come, and yet not be afraid.

Sickness is painful; death is solemn; the judgment day is an awful thing: but having Christ for him, he has nothing to fear. He can think calmly about the Holy God, whose eyes are on all his ways, and feel, “He is my Father, my reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. I am weak; I am unprofitable: yet in Christ He regards me as His dear child, and is well-pleased.” Oh, what a blessed privilege it is to be able to “think,” and not be afraid!

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Motherlode, a blog on parenting in the New York Times Magazine, reported on a study from The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that studied mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder.

Some of the findings:

  • The levels of chronic stress experienced by the mothers were similar to those of combat soldiers. The greater the child’s behavior problems, the worse the mothers’ stress.
  • Mothers of those with autism reportedly spend at least two hours more each day caring for those children than a comparative group of mothers whose children were not autistic.
  • The autism mothers were three times as likely to report a stressful event on any given day, and twice as likely to be tired.

My response: they needed a study to learn this?

I must admit that the comparison to soldiers in combat was a nice touch.

Many commenters at disabilityScoop have already noted that, once again, fathers were not part of a study.  So I’ll leave that one alone.

And, regardless of stress levels, parents being included or not, amount of time involved or anything else associated with disability, we know God’s response:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

 

 

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Endure to the End

We were weak, fallible, proud and full of sin even before disability entered our family.  How can anyone hope to endure for a day, let alone ‘to the end’?

We trust in the New Covenant promises of sustaining, enabling grace that were obtained for us infallibly and irrevocably by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. Therefore our fight and our race and endurance is a radically God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-dependent, promise-supported life. It is not a “just do it” ethic. It is not a moral self-improvement program. It is not a “Judeo-Christian ethic” shared by a vaguely spiritual culture with a fading biblical memory. It is a deeply cross-embracing life that knows the Christ of the Bible as the Son of God who was crucified first as our substitute and then as our model of endurance.

From The Roots of Endurance by John Piper, p. 29

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Because some children will meet Jesus before they become adults.

My daughter met the young girl in this video last year. That girl knew and loved Jesus.

She died two weeks ago.

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That headline is inflammatory (and a direct quote from the press release I was reading) because the survey question pointed to very severe disabilities rather than all disabilities:

Which would you choose: Living with a severe disability that forever alters your ability to live an independent life, or death?

An interesting question, but it is clearly guiding people toward an answer.  Theoretically, death doesn’t sound so bad when compared to being severely disabled ‘forever’!

So, a few thoughts:

  1. Most people who experience disability will not ‘forever’ lose their ability to lead an ‘independent’ life, whatever that means.  We tend to take notice when that happens, of course, like in the cases of Joni Eareckson Tada or Christopher Reed.  Many, many more people will experience short-term disability: broken limbs, sicknesses that keep them from work for weeks or months, etc.
  2. My son and a few other children and adults at Bethlehem have severe disabilities that permanently limit their ability for what Americans generally understand as an ‘independent’ life.  But as I’ve written before, my boy probably “suffers” less than any person I know – so who has the better ‘quality of life,’ independent or not?
  3. Non-disabled Americans have no idea what life is really like for Americans with disabilities.  Certainly there are hardships which any person living with a disability or a disabled family member can document.  But that isn’t the whole story. Disability should not be the definition for whether that person has a meaningful life.
  4. Abortion statistics that exceed 70-90% for various kinds of disabling conditions aren’t a surprise when half of Americans don’t even want to consider disability for themselves, even in a theoretical sense. Killing elderly people or people with severe disabilities (meaning, the strong deciding what is best for the weak solely from the perspective of the strong) is already showing up around the world, and this statistic demonstrates why it is showing up in America.
  5. We are so arrogant, prideful, short-sighted and man-centered that we cannot even conceive of anything OTHER than an independent life as having worth.

Yet we know we are slaves to sin and only free if we cast every hope we have on a righteous, just, serving, holy, resurrected King:

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16

That figure quoted above came from a research survey commissioned by Disaboom.com and conducted by Kelton Research in 2008.  You can read the press release here.

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While he was at the prison, David Mathis shared this via Twitter from @pipertravel:

Piper to inmates: Your being in prison is the very way Jesus is loving you—& the curse on many outside is freedom & wealth

Or, in our context, your having a disability or cancer or leukemia or dementia or chronic pain or a child with a disability is the very way Jesus is loving you – & the curse on many is a healthy, disease-free, stress-free, easy, normal life.

How can this be?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18

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