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Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day exists to remember those who died in military service.  It is good and right to remember the sacrifices made, and their impact on society as well as individual families.

I think it is also appropriate to recognize all those who are disabled because of their service, a number many times greater than those who die in combat.

The Department of Defense has reported slightly more than 4,400 military deaths in Iraq as of May 28.  Numbers of those disabled in this war are harder to come by.  But as of 2008, about 181,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were receiving disability benefits from the Federal government.

When disability comes, often suddenly and violently, on mostly healthy young men, the response can be one of intense questioning of the goodness and sovereignty of God.

Yet, God’s word demonstrates both his sovereign intentionality in our lives and the opportunity for hope, no matter the situation:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:11-13

Nothing ever has or ever will catch God by surprise in our individual lives and circumstances:

In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:16

And no situation that results in disability, whether from a genetic anomaly, a sickness or disease, an accident or an act of war, has the final word on the glorious reality that awaits those who are trusting in Jesus:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So, thank you to all veterans and those currently in active military service.  May Christ’s church welcome you gladly, helping you see the glorious goodness of God in all circumstances.  Especially those of you living with disability because of your service.

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We are working our way through Proverbs at work and came to this verse in Proverbs 31:8:

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.

None of you will be surprised that I immediately thought of this:

Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11)

And because I had just spoken to some young people on this topic, this verse also came to mind:

You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:14)

I marveled at what God was reminding me of on Thursday morning:

1.  I create, intentionally, some who will live with a disability (Exodus 4:11).

2. I appoint some to protect those who are vulnerable because of their disability (Proverbs 31:8).

3. I remind you that what a blind person cannot see or a deaf person cannot hear, I will both see and hear.  If you are tempted to abuse someone with a disability, fear the one who will repay all wrongs done to them (Leviticus 19:14, Deuteronomy 32:35, Hebrews 10:30-31).

God’s word is amazing.  It is relevant in its entirety and frequently specifically helpful for those of us dealing with disability.

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Jan’s post from yesterday has been rattling around in my head along with this video that Noel Piper posted on her blog a few days ago:

At about the 1:05 point of the video comes this quote: “I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness.”  What a great reminder for those of us dealing with disability!

I need all kinds of reminders.  I could feel some grumbling rising in my spirit yesterday morning as I began to calculate the thousands of times we have already needed to dress Paul.  Everyone else in the family can do that without assistance.

The Lord brought this to mind in that moment:

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. . . (1 Corinthians 12:22)

“On the contrary,” I could hear the Lord saying to me in my grumbling, “this boy is indispensable to your knowing who I am – and I have done a great deal more for you already than you will ever do for him.”

Then that final phrase in the video came to mind as well, altered a little:  I need Paul more than Paul needs me.

Blind, autistic, small, unable to feed or dress himself, completely dependent on other people for almost everything in his life.  Or put another way, an example of my helplessness before an awesome, holy and just God.  Yet God never gets tired of my dependence on him.  Quite the opposite – I glorify him when I point to how great he is and how much I need him for everything.

Yes, I need Paul more than he needs me.  And I need to trust the Father like my son trusts me.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me this boy!

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Many thanks to my friend, Jan Lacher, for writing this post today – JPK

This past Monday night, I cried some lukewarm tears.

My three older children played piano pieces for their yearly piano recitals.  Christina played Firefly Fandango by Bober.  David performed Beethoven’s Sonata, c#minor,Op.27#2, Adagio.  My senior, Jonathon, performed Chopin’s famous Nocturne Eb Major.  It was bitter-sweet listening to Jonathon, realizing that it would probably be his last performance that I would be privileged  to hear. Eleven years of practice and recitals will be done.  Sigh…  Warm tears dripped onto my starched, white blouse even as I was biting my thumb nails and holding my breathe until it was over.  Such is the torture of a parent.

At one point in the evening though, I had tears for another reason.

One of our good friend’s daughters, the youngest of six children, performed a phenomenal piece.  Eight-year old Julia played A Touch of a Dream by Cuellar with beauty and grace.  She is gifted musically, as her other siblings are.

While she performed it, I realized that she was only six weeks older than Michael. Michael seems so much younger.  Of course, mentally, he is.   I could not help noticing the contrast between her and Michael as she gracefully approached the grand piano and displayed her musical gifts even as Michael bounced away in his wheelchair in the church foyer.

I was not at all  jealous of her ability.  I was not envious.  But, a deep sorrow set in at that realization, and lukewarm tears dripped, dripped, and dripped.  I loved listening to the music and rejoiced with her parents at her beautiful performance.  But, it was shadowed with the loss of all the possibilities that could have been for Michael.

How do I think about this without becoming overwhelmed with grief?

Events like piano recitals seem to punctuate disability with an exclamation point. I need to have a way to think about his life without becoming overwhelmed with grief.    So in my mind, I am learning to shift my attention  and fast-forward  it to a time when some day, Michael will be made whole.  There will be a time when he will have full functionality and will have the ability to learn “the masters” and so much more.

I  look forward to that reality.  But in the meantime, I am learning to be content and patient with the truth and hope that the Gospel brings.  Maybe some day both Michael and I will have the opportunity, with perfection and zeal, to perform on a keyboard a duet called the Hungarian Rhapsody.  I envision how with high drama we will smoke the keys together.   Instead of lukewarm tears, there will be tears of joy and gladness.

What a glorious time that will be.

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Just the Way I Am has officially gone to its second printing!  The next supply of books should arrive by the end of June.  There are still some you can order now through Desiring God and through Christianbook.com.

Please join me in praising God for his distributing the first printing and making a second printing necessary!

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Some close friends of ours recently returned from where they are translating God’s word to spend several months in the United States.  It is best not to be specific about the country or the people groups with which they are working.

As I expected, they had some great stories. This one particularly delighted me.

Some people fluent in American Sign Language were called to our friends’ country to work with deaf people who communicate in an entirely different signed language.  I neglected to ask if these missionaries were also deaf.

In less than two months they had enough skill in this new language for them to begin evangelizing the deaf community in that country!

I know it is not wise to generalize from one specific example; these missionaries might have been given unusual linguistic giftings by God.

But how great is it that a people group, in this case the deaf community of that country, didn’t have to wait years for the gospel to be presented in their own language?  How many people will enjoy Jesus forever BECAUSE they were deaf in this life?

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Gus wut this is

Translated:  Guess what this is.

Several of you prayed for me last week before I spoke to the children at North Heights Christian Academy on what God has to say about disability.  I’m grateful for your prayers.  My continuing prayer is that God used something in it  to reveal more of himself to the children, who ranged from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Below is my own kindergartner’s version of that chapel talk.  I’m not sure why I have purple hair, but I like it a great deal!

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