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Archive for October, 2012

I was just checking the news. Then my blood started to boil.

I was looking over The New York Times on Friday morning. They recommended an article based on my reading interests: British Conservatives Play the Abortion Card.

And there it was:

The combination of Mr. Hunt’s critical role as health secretary and his preference for a dramatic reduction in the time frame (for when abortions would be legally allowed) made his comments particularly sensitive — not least because a 12-week limit would prevent testing for many fetal anomalies like Down syndrome, which cannot be detected during early pregnancy.

Implied: we need more time to kill the ones we don’t want. And we don’t want the ones with Down syndrome.

Here’s my reply, much edited because in my anger I wasn’t very careful when I first began writing:

I’m grateful to God for the boys and girls and men and women with Down syndrome I have met and gotten to know. They have made my life better, my church stronger, and God’s world more beautiful. When God gave them that extra chromosome he knew exactly what he was doing for his glory and for our good.

That does not make it easy – the physical and cognitive and emotional and financial issues are significant and change the trajectory of any family that experiences Down syndrome. God is stronger.

For Collin and Mia and William and Jonathan and Eli and Levi and Kyle, and all the people with Down syndrome I’ll remember later, you are valuable to me and I am grateful to God for you. I know your parents love you and long for you to know the God who made you. Because of you, ministries have been birthed, churches have changed for the better, and God has shown his strength and kindness and goodness in magnificent ways.

We will not let The New York Times or anybody else imply horrible things about you that are not true. You mattered before you were born, and you matter now.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. The National Down Syndrome Society has created some great resources to help us see real people who happen to live with Down syndrome. If this secular organization can speak so well to this issue, may God give his church even greater enthusiasm, creativity, care and excitement about welcoming and including the gifts of his creation with Down syndrome!

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Dianne is in South Dakota today for the funeral of her grandmother, Alice Anderson.

At 97, she had seen more than most people.  A lot of life – she is survived by 54 great-grandchildren!  And a lot of death – parents, siblings, children, sons-in-law, grandchildren.

A few days ago she told her family she was ready to go see Jesus.

And now she does!  I wonder if living in the light and presence of Jesus, even at the beginning of her eternity, makes 97 years seem short to her right now?

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:13-14 NASB

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This is a wonderful story – please follow the link and read the entire article, along with the pictures at the end.

They say God gave Pearl her bright red hair and wide blue eyes, as well as the genetic disorder that created a cleft in her upper lip and caused her brain’s development to stall in the first weeks in the womb.

“Things didn’t go wrong,” Eric Brown said. “God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good.”

. . . The Browns never considered abortion. They believe that Pearl is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139 puts it, and God alone should decide when she lives and when she dies.

Seeing Pearl’s beating heart on the ultrasound also persuaded them to continue the pregnancy, even if the odds were stacked against her.

“If there is a chance, you say yes to that chance,” Eric Brown said. “The only thing I know about parenting is that you say yes.”

Eric and Ruth Brown Accept Daughter Pearl Joy’s Illness Holoprosencephaly As ‘God’s Will’

Thank you to Cindy Eaton for sending this article.

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Disability usually doesn’t make much sense.  We can’t see God’s purposes in the moment.

Which is why I especially appreciated this word from my friend and president of Desiring God, Jon Bloom, as he explored Jesus’ words to Peter: What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand (John 13:7 ESV).

Our understanding his purposes in a particular providence tends to be not as important to God as our trust in his character. So together let’s continue to “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and…not lean on [our] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Because one day we will understand. And we will, with great joy, proclaim, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:17).

Jon Bloom, What I Am Doing You Do Not Understand Nowposted October 26, 2012.

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God in His grace and wisdom saw it fitting to take away my arm strength and ability. If God means this disability for my good then I can trust him even though it hurts. My arms physically hurt and it hurts me when I can’t dance around with my daughters or playfully wrestle with my son. At times I am tempted to discouragement about the long-term impact that my disability has on my children. This is all the more reason that I must trust that God did not design my disability to harm me or my children.

My disability instead highlights God’s superior ability. God is our Provider and Father. I may not be able to physically tend to my children’s needs or defend them against physical threats. But God can and he does.

Dave Furman, The Struggles and Hopes of a Disabled Dad, posted October 26, 2012.

Please, do yourself a favor and read the entire article.  And then be amazed at what God has done.

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We’ve seen a lot of news this past year about companies developing ways to identify genetic anomalies in the womb, mostly for the reason of preventing those little ones from being born.

So it is encouraging to see people thinking of ways to improve the lives of those who live with disabilities!  For example:

  1. Smart Gloves Turn Sign Language Gestures into Vocalized Speech: The title says it all! Some Ukrainian students developed a glove that pairs with a smartphone to enable those who know sign language to communicate with those of us who don’t.
  2. Adaptive Snowboard Reinvented: Raising the Bar: A group of guys decided they wanted their friend, who became paralyzed after a snowboard accident, to experience snowboarding again. They created a whole new way to do it.  Everyone wins!  (Caution: there is some mild bad language in the video attached to the article).
  3. New Breed of Robotics Aims to Help People Walk Again: “Patients learn to walk in the robotic suits surprisingly quickly, said Eythor Bender, chief executive of Ekso Bionics, who previously worked at Ossur, a company that made artificial limbs. ‘People who come in haven’t walked for years and years,’ he said in an interview. ‘They are walking on their own in two days.’”
  4. Danes develop eye-control software for phones, tablets: Thank you to @matttone for sending this one to me.  A Danish company believes they’ve found a way to have people control their devices simply through their eyes.  As Matt pointed out, this could have great benefits for many people with disabilities, even though the company threw that in as an afterthought!

From what I can tell from these articles, none of the above were started from a Christian perspective.  Now that these smart people have shown what perseverance, creativity and ingenuity can accomplish, let’s ask God to help our churches be just as creative and excited about serving and being served by their members with disabilities!

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I am so encouraged to see several hundred people registered for The Works of God: God’s Good Design in Disability that happens in just two weeks!  People are coming from 28 states and four countries!

And I’m still praying for more, including more pastors and leaders.  The impact of my pastors caring about this issue of disability, talking about it in various areas of the church, and helping me see God’s power and goodness has been huge in my life.  I want more people to love their churches like I love my church because of how my pastors have pointed me to God on this issue.

Desiring God let me make a couple of videos specifically encouraging pastors to attend.  If you find this video helpful, would you send it on to your leaders, and let me them know they can still register, watch it online that day, or watch it later at Desiring God?

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To help us prepare for the Question and Answer session at the Disability Conference in two weeks, I asked for questions on this blog. Registered participants were emailed asking for their questions.

We received more than 100 responses!

Not one of them is ‘simple’ in terms of how to respond.  Some were heart-breaking – sometimes because I have struggled with exactly the same thing about culture, or church, or my own feelings, or finances, or how other people talk about disability, or not clearly understanding God’s word.

And some were hopeful – how to help a church that is awakening to this issue of disability and God’s word, how to encourage other families experiencing similar things, how a pastor can be more proactive for his people with disabilities.

Every question made me pause to ask God for help.  Frankly, it was overwhelming to see them all in one place, this range of hurt and disappointment and desire and expectation and pain. Is it even possible to do this in ways that will help people?  God brought this scripture to me:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV)

Yes, let us boast in the Lord!  He will help.

Please pray for us as we prepare, particularly for Pastor Kempton in his facilitation role.  May God make it an unusually fruitful time for discussion about God, disability and the church.

Reminder:  This event will be live-streamed at http://www.desiringGod.org/live on November 8, including the questions and answer session.  The times on the conference schedule are all central standard time.  There is also still time to register to attend in person!

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1) You can save a little life.

I heard this story last week.  Because of a pregnant couple’s circumstances, the father of the child was considering abortion.  Their life story is complicated, like most stories of this type are.  Another couple (the ones telling me the story) stepped in and helped them see the simple reality of a baby and a family.  A baby was born a few months ago.  Nobody is regretting that ‘decision.’  On the contrary, joy would be an appropriate descriptor!  I thought them courageous; they thought it was a happy responsibility to love the baby and the mom and the dad this way.

2) You can prepare a couple to stand firm.

A young couple we know learned recently they are having a child.  They live outside the United States, in a place where abortion is even more common than it is here.

Women who refuse to do certain tests, or who hold the position that they will not abort even if the baby has a problem, often receive harsh criticism and pressure from doctors and nurses.

These young people don’t fear the results of the tests or the pressure from medical professionals because they know who their God is.  As the Lord wills and only as the Lord wills, their baby will join us in a few months.

Yes, laws need to change.  Yes, medical professionals should be oriented toward serving the most vulnerable rather than destroying them.

But right now any one of us could be called to save a little life, either by saying true things about God and children to a pregnant couple, or by preparing the next generation to stand firm.  Let’s do it.

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 78:5-8

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We’ve been out of town a few days for work and to visit family.  This was first posted on August 6, 2011:

Dianne and I have been enjoying Nancy Guthrie’s Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.  At the end of each chapter she imagines Jesus talking to us, using scripture as the basis for the narrative she creates.

I particularly appreciated this picture of sweet dependence on Jesus:

When you pray, pray like this: “Give us today the food we need for today.” And then come to me asking again tomorrow. You see, I want you to learn to depend on me on a daily basis. While the world celebrates independence, I bless dependence. . .

You will never find me lacking when you come to me. As you learn to depend on me more and more, and as you discover over and over again that I can be enough for you, you will begin to rest in my provision for you. You’ll have less fear about whether or not I will show up tomorrow with what you need. You’ll discover how blessed it is to hunger and thirst for me, and find me fully satisfying.

Adapted from Matthew 6:11; 2 Corinthians 1:9; Exodus 16:4; John 6:32-35; Matthew 4:4; 5:6; 6:32-33.

Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, p. 121.

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