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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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