Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fear Not the Disabled

Christianity Today released an online article this morning on their website, entitled, "Fear Not the Disabled."

The article concludes:

Just as important as physical accommodation is an attitude that welcomes the physically and mentally challenged with open arms. A church that welcomes the disabled is great, but a bolder step forward is for churches to be inclusive. When people with disabilities are recognized as participants, not as "the needy," we all benefit. Paul reminded the Corinthians that "the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable." The disabled need the church—almost as much as the church needs the disabled.

Hat Tip: JT


Monday, October 24, 2005

Vicki's Story, Part Three

Click here to read Part One.
Click here to read Part Two.

Part Three

The date was set. What a way to ruin a summer. My surgery was set for the month of July, right after my 11th birthday. I was scheduled to have a bone graph taken from one of my hips to sculpt bones for the roof of my mouth to correct the partial cleft palate. In addition, the surgeon wanted to work on reconstructing my face. His first project was to work on narrowing the very wide bridge of my nose. In order for the new nose to hold it’s shape, “buttons” would have to be wired through my nose to hold the narrowed bridge tightly in place. This would not only mean a liquid diet for many months, but starting my very first day of junior high school – at a brand new school – with these buttons wired to my nose.

The day arrived and my parents and I drove down to Children’s Hospital at the crack of dawn. I had my dreaded blood test and was then brought to the waiting room. Hospitals did not cater to childhood fears twenty years ago and so when the time came for me to go into the operating room, I had to say good-bye to my parents. I walked, alone, on my own two feet all the way into the operating room. I looked around at all the busy doctors in stiffly starched lab coats – all of their identities hidden behind blue face masks. I saw silver trays full of various knives and scalpels and needles. I wondered for a moment if this is how Stephen the martyr felt standing around with a bunch of men in a field of stones.

“Hop up here, honey!” The anesthesiologist almost sang, as if he were helping me into the seat of an amusement park ride.

I hopped up on the operating table. “I won’t cry…I won’t cry…I won’t cry…” ran like a broken record through my head as I laid down, squinting into the large overhead light to the symphony of clanking instruments.

A thick rubber mask was put over my face and I was told to breathe in the gas. Sometimes, when I walk into a newly painted house or catch a whiff of a glass of wine, I am thrown back to this moment when my nostrils filled with the stench of sleeping gas. My heart did summersaults as the room began to spin and I listened to myself talking to the doctor, wondering how I was able to answer questions that I never even heard him ask – hearing myself from outside of my head – and then waking up hours later, as if nothing had even happened.

I laid in my bed. I couldn’t move. My hip was burning from the graph incision, I couldn’t even roll over. The roof of my mouth was sore and when I tried to talk, uncut sutures hung down and tickled my tongue. I couldn’t open my eyes because they were swollen shut. I could hear my mom’s voice next to me.

I never detected her voice cracking or any emotion. She was always so kind and loving, but it wouldn’t be until I was much older that I would realize this was all very hard and scary for my mom too – not just me.

“What do I look like?” I moaned.

It was always the first thing I asked. What did I expect her to say? You look great?!

My parents and brother stayed for a while but then visiting hours were over. Jeff had been in the corner of the room most of the time listening to his headphones. His walkman was his prized possession. I wasn’t even allowed to touch it. He was 13 and pretty disinterested in me at that time in life. Mom leaned over my bed and kissed me and said she’d be back. Dad kissed me and said he loved me. Jeff called, “Bye, Vic!” from the door and then all was quiet.

A couple seconds later, I heard footsteps and assumed the nurse had come in to ask if I needed anything.

“Hey Vic.”

It was my brother. He had snuck back into the room.

“I love you” he said and put something into my hand. I didn’t know what it was through the I.V.

“I love you too” I stuttered, overwhelmed with emotion – never having heard my brother ever say this to me.

“Well, bye” he said – the moment passed – and he ran out of the room.

I fumbled with my I.V. tube and put the item into my open hand and felt to see what he had left for me. It was his prized walkman. I tried to hold back the tears because with my eyes swollen shut it hurt even to wipe a Kleenex across them.

Feeling that I was now safely alone, I struggled to sit up in my bed. I had to sway back and forth very slowly to move without inciting my hip to burn in pain. After much effort, I was sitting up. I reached my arms out to the side of the bed, fumbling through the air, looking for the bed table on wheels that should be parked next to the bed. My knuckles hit wood and I rolled the table over my lap. I slid the table top away from me revealing the little storage unit under the table. I flipped up the little makeup mirror and leaned as close to it as I could.

I reached my hands up to my eyelids and using all ten fingers, I pried my swollen eyelids open and looked into the mirror…


Beauty in the Beast

Beauty in the Beast is a book written by Sally Klein O'Connor. The subtitle of the book is, Breaking the Spell of the Mirror and her tagline is, "For those who look into mirrors and see only what they are not."

You can read the first chapter of the book on her website. Sally also has a music ministry and her website includes concert information, songs, photos, as well as a place to sign up for her newsletter.

Here is the write up about the book:
When she was eight years old, Sally was bitten by a dog on her face. It was not the mark that caused the most damage, but the cruelty of her peers calling her "Scarface." The name nurtured the teeth and claws of the beast in Sally's soul. As she grew up, she bought into the lies that she could never be really accepted by those around her -- and especially by herself.

But the One who made her in His image began to speak the truth into her heart. As God continues to restore her, Sally is learning to see the beauty of the One who calls her His own and that His beauty lives inside her.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I Saw Joni Dance

The following article was written by Sam Storm of Enjoying God Ministries. Sam was at the Desiring God national conference with us a couple of weekend ago. Sam, like myself, and hundreds others, no doubt, saw Joni "dancing" in her wheelchair as the choir sang, "We Are Marching in the Light of God." It was truly a very moving sight to behold.

I Saw Joni Dance
Sam Storms
October 10, 2005

One of the highlights of the Desiring God National Conference this past weekend was the appearance of Joni Eareckson Tada on Saturday night. As most of you know, Joni, a quadriplegic, was paralyzed 38 years ago in a diving accident. She is going to turn 56 years of age next week.

Joni, together with her husband Ken, and a team from Joni and Friends Ministries, were on their way to England and then to Africa, but arranged to stop over in Minneapolis at John Piper's request and address the conference on the theme of Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Needless to say, it is doubtful that anyone present, whether those of us in the audience or any of the speakers, has suffered the way Joni has. And few understand its relation to the sovereignty of God with the biblical clarity and wisdom that she does.

She delivered a stunningly great message. That in itself isn't news, for Joni has been speaking on this theme for many years and the clarity of her convictions remains strong and articulate. I first met Joni in 1991 when we were speakers at a Ligonier Conference hosted by R. C. Sproul in Orlando, Florida. I felt so honored to meet her and even more so when she agreed to write the Foreword to my book, "To Love Mercy: Becoming a Person of Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness" (NavPress; now out of print).

But this past Saturday night I saw something that was as impressive, if not more so, than anything I heard. The worship that night began with the rousing song, "We are Marching in the Light of God" (at least, I think that's the title). It was great to hear so many Reformed folk singing and, yes, actually moving (ever so slightly!) while they sang! But nothing could compare with what was happening on the right hand side of the stage.

Joni handles her wheelchair as deftly as any Nascar driver on a racetrack. No sooner had the music begun than Joni began to "dance". As much as a quadriplegic can dance, she danced. Joni has just enough movement and strength in her hands and shoulders to grip the controls on her chair and maneuver herself without the aid of others. Suddenly the chair began to move with the music. She thrust forward, then backwards, then forwards again, then backwards. Smoothly, and yet with obvious passion, she turned to the right, then the left, then the right again.

I can't prove it, but my guess is that 2,500 pairs of eyes in that auditorium were fixed on the dancing quadriplegic! Suddenly, the forward and backward and side to side movements gave way to spinning. Well, as much as a paralyzed person can spin. Joni began to turn her chair in circles, first clockwise, then back again. If she ceased her movements, it was only so that she could lift her contorted hands as high as her paralysis would allow. It wasn't very high, but who's measuring!

How Joni moved and "danced" is secondary. What's amazing is THAT she did. What struck me, as I trust it struck others, was that a woman who has suffered so horribly and painfully and persistently for 38 years so loves her God and finds him so utterly worthy of her trust and hope that she WANTED to dance.

Joni shared in her message how she struggled spiritually in the early days and months after her accident. She wrestled with bitterness and self-pity and anger at God and longed to die rather than live in that condition. But here she was, 38 years later, celebrating God, enjoying God, honoring and glorifying God. Not simply in her mind or her spirit but with her body as best that body could worship.

I was standing, as were most of the others. All of us could choose when to sit down, were we to tire of being on our feet. We could easily clap or shove our hands into our pockets. Throughout the conference, up till that night, I had taken for granted that I could walk out of the auditorium under my own power and feed myself and tie my shoes and bathe and run and go to the bathroom without anyone's help. Joni, and others like her, don't take that for granted, because they can't do any of those things. Yet, there she was, "dancing" in joy and delight and singing, "We are Marching in the Light of God"! Marching indeed.

I thought to myself, "What she wouldn't give to do what you and I can but won't." I'm talking about worshiping God with her body. She longs to praise and celebrate her God, not simply in spirit and mind and soul, but with her arms and legs and hands as well. That comes easily for the rest of us, at least it does in the physical sense. Yet, many Christians are terrified of raising their hands or kneeling or clapping or, dare I say it, dancing?

I'm not saying that everyone has to worship in the same way. I'm not saying that you and I are obligated to any particular physical expression when we praise our glorious God. But perhaps we need to think a bit more than we do about how to worship as holistic beings, men and women whose bodies have been bought with a price and are now the temple of the Holy Spirit.

I don't want to put thoughts in Joni's mind or words in her mouth. But I can't help but wonder if every once in a while she looks out on an audience, and says: "Do they have any idea what a glorious gift and privilege it is to be able to celebrate and thank God and honor him with their bodies? I don't understand why they stand there like vertical cadavers." Actually, I don't think Joni would ever say anything like that. I think she's far too humble, too mature and obsessed with her God than to use precious energy to criticize the rest of us for how we do or don't worship the Lord.

So, let me put those words in my mouth and speak them to myself (and to you, if you think they apply). Sam, do you have any idea what a glorious gift and privilege it is to be able to celebrate and thank God and honor him with your body? There are many others who would give almost anything to be able to do what you can, but often won't. Yes, of course, worship is first and fundamentally an issue of the heart. It is the attitude of our minds and the passion of our souls and the commitment of our wills that we bring to God as we declare his majesty and proclaim his mighty works. But as I said, we are more than minds. We are bodies. We will always be bodies. So let us honor God with them, however that may seem fitting to you as you consider the magnitude of divine grace and mercy and love and beauty.

I know how self-conscious people can be in a crowd, especially a Christian crowd. What will others think? What will they say? Will I look like a fool? A weakling? An overly emotional, theological lightweight? I don't think Joni cared what any of us thought. Perhaps if the time comes when she is supposed to worship us, she'll give it some consideration. Until then (which is never, of course), she's only concerned with what God thinks.

Finally, the greatest thing in all this is what it tells us, not about Joni, but about her God. What kind of God is this who can inspire such freedom and joy in one who, from a human point of view, would appear to have every reason to hate him? What kind of God is this who can evoke such confidence and trust in a person who is so horribly disabled? What kind of God is this who has the qualities and characteristics and attributes and beauty and glory that he can be found worthy of the praise and gratitude and "dancing" of a woman who's spent the last 38 years in a wheelchair? Wow! Now that's some God!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Disabilities and Abortion

A friend sent me a link this morning to an article entitled, The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have. The writer of the article has a grown daughter with Down's Syndrome and is tackling the tough issue of prenatal testing used to weed out children with Disabilities from the general populous.

I could say a hundred different things right now. There are so many downsides to a world without disabled children! Even now, with all of its flaws, America has a lot of facades -- even our freeways and trash dumpsters have to be situated in the midst of planted flower beds. In a world of poverty and suffering and war and terror, America is the Disneyland of the planet. We look around at the pretty flower boxes and children laughing and perfectly manicured lawns and smiling caricatures and sno cone machines and think, "This is reality."

But it is not reality. Disabilities are, among many other things, mercy to a dying world. When we look at quarter of a million dollar houses and bright red Corvettes, we think, "What a wonderful world!" When we see children with disabilities, we are reminded, if even for a moment, that life doesn't always run according to our plans. For a brief moment, our false sense of reality is shaken - we are forced to realize we live in a fallen world where people get sick, people suffer, and where all of us will eventually die.

In America, those thought are all buried beneath layer upon layer of funny T.V. shows, restaurants, Krispy Kreme donuts, new cars, vacations, paychecks, and shoe shopping. Name your distraction - we all have a million of them.

It is not wise, nor healthy, nor beneficial to go through life never realizing that we are sailing on a sinking ship. Reality is a good thing to taste now and then. Never thinking about death or growing old will only make those inevitable fates all the harder to deal with when they happen to you, and they both will.

I believe that God has a thousand good purposes behind Disabilities. The one I am highlighting here is only one of them. But let me tell you, from a personal standpoint -- anytime I think life is designed around my having fun or being comfortable - or that God is designed around making me happy -- all I have to do is look in a mirror and see a face full of scars to be reminded that life is much deeper and more difficult than the American media would have me believe.

Interacting with children and families with Disabilities is difficult. By that, I mean, that it takes more thought and care to meet their needs. It can be intimidating. There is always risk of offense or saying something foolish or something wrong. There is the temptation to rudely stare or ask probing questions that are too personal. And there is the gut-wrenching empathy that we must wrestle with for days after the encounter as we wonder why some people are called to suffer so much in this world.

But these are all good things, despite being difficult or uncomfortable. Learning how to deal with people compassionately, learning how to judge a person on the inside rather that the outside, learning how to weep with those who weep -- these are all good, character-building, Christ-like attributes, and Disabilities is one place in the world where we can find a place to nurture those characteristics and behaviors.

Scripture says that God chooses the weak and despised things of the world to shame the wise. We would do best to follow God's lead. And by His grace, we will learn to value the things that He values.

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 17, 2005

Vicki's Story, Part Two

To read part one, click here.

Part Two:

The dentist told my mom I needed braces. As far as I was concerned, this was great news. I was at that age where girls talked about braces and broken legs and crutches and glasses like they were Grammy Awards.

So, I left the office that afternoon with my pink toothbrush, container of floss, and daydreams of showing up for the first day of Sixth Grade, at my new school, with a sparkling metal smile. Life was good.

Soon after that we went to the orthodontist that my dentist had recommended. He took some x-rays and concluded that I did indeed need braces but he discovered a partial cleft palate (no bones in the roof of my mouth) and was concerned to put the braces on until it was decided whether or not I needed surgery in my mouth to correct the palate.

And so, soon after that appointment, we went to a surgeon’s office to have my cleft palate checked out. Mom and I drove downtown to the office buildings across the street from Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. I had never been downtown before. We walked into the doctor’s office. The waiting room was empty, save a room full of handmade wooden chairs and benches. I sat down on one of the hard chairs and looked around while mom filled out the paperwork on the clipboard.

Eventually, we were called into the office – a small room with a small sink, an examination table, desk, and more of those wooden, slatted chairs. I took the chair next to the desk and awaited the doctor’s arrival.

Mom and I had been guessing for weeks what the doctor would look like. We had made a game of it. We had a complete profile in our head – white lab coat, perfectly coiffed short dark brown hair, big brown eyes, a stethoscope around his neck with the end tucked into his lab coat pocket, a big grin upon his face, and a pocketfull of lollipops.

The door cracked and mom and I looked at each other with wide eyes. Mom dramatically raised an eyebrow, Sherlock Holmes-style. I suppressed a giggle. The door shut and the doctor crossed the room and sat down without a word, not even looking to check whether his patients were even in the room. He immediately set to scribbling notes in my newly- christened medical file.

I looked at mom with a look of horror only to see the same look on her face staring back at me. The doctor was nothing like we imagined him to look like. He was tall and gangly, deathly serious, with Abraham Lincoln-like facial features, and an unruly spray of bangs protruding away from his forehead in dark locks (mind you, this was long before Conan made such a look famous).

Without a word, the doctor turned to me and firmly planted his hand on my forehead. With his other hand he started squishing and pushing at my nose like it was a wad of Play-Doh. From under his grip, my eyes strayed over to where my mom was sitting. My eyes said to her, “What’s going on?” Her expression said, “I haven’t the faintest!”

After a minute or two, my mom interjected.

“We were sent here by her orthodontist.”

“Mmm” he grunted, continuing to pulverize my nose.

“…you know, to check out the roof of her mouth. To see if she needed surgery before
getting braces.”

This seemed to get through. He dropped his hands from my face and faced my mom for the first time since entering the room. I rubbed my nose back into shape. He didn’t say a word.

“She has a partial cleft palate,” my mom continued.

Without a command, he simply took his hand, put it on my jaw and jerked my mouth open. He took a quick peek, grunted and said, “Yeah, she’ll need surgery,” closed my mouth back up and continued to squeeze at my nose.

He then dropped his right hand from my forehead and simultaneously began to squeeze at my nose with his left hand while drawing detailed pencil drawings of my face with his right. I was beginning to wonder if they were going to cement those braces to my nose.

At last he dropped his pencil to the desk. “Mrs. Anderson, I am a reconstructive surgeon. Is Vicki seeing a doctor for her face?”

“No,” my mom replied, “Her surgeons at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia said there was
nothing more they could do.”

“Well, there’s plenty more I can do,” he retorted.

And with that simple phrase, my entire world collapsed.


Self-Evident Truth

A friend of mine has just launched the website for her ministry: Self-Evident Truth. She is still adding the finishing touches to the site, but it is up and running. Please go and take a look!

From the website:

Abortion hurts. Education empowers.

SET’s motto is: “The humanity of the unborn is evident.” It is our goal to help others understand the horror of abortion, and to equip pro-lifers to help others understand that as well. The reason that abortion is so horrible is because the unborn are fully human. Abortion kills that human life.

SET focuses on:

Education. People aren’t able to make a wise decision about anything without first learning the facts about the decision facing them. Our goal is to open the eyes and minds of young and old alike to the facts surrounding abortion. How can we possibly do that?

We’ve developed an educational display focusing on little known, yet vitally important, facts about abortion. We believe that if people are open-minded enough to accept the facts, then they will choose what is best for them and their baby, namely, not aborting.

Labels: ,

Perfect Timing

A very strange thing happened last night that I feel compelled to share because I think the story is a lesson in God's sovereignty and His goodness.

I was leaving my parent's house around 8:30 PM. I was anxious to get home because I didn't want to stay up too late. As I was driving down the main street to get to the freeway, I realized I would be driving by Mr. Movies. About five weeks ago, my dad and I were in there renting movies and struck up a conversation with the night manager. He was a young guy who said he had been an athiest for 18 years until he was hospitalized and miraculously saved from this accident. So, he made the leap from athiest to diest, but still struggled finding proof that Jesus is the Son of God. But his search seemed sincere. A couple days later I bought him some C.S. Lewis books.

Those books have been sitting in the back seat of my car for over a month. So, when I realized last night that I would be driving right by the movie place and the books were still in my car, it would be a good time to go and see if he was there. I hesitated briefly, "What if he isn't there?" or "What if he doesn't want the books?" But after a brief mental tug-o-war, I pulled into Mr. Movies.

He was there and he very warmly received the books. We talked for about ten minutes about spiritual things and then I left.

When I got home, I was a bit curious over why there were about half a dozen people standing in my driveway. I pulled into my garage and went out to ask them what was up. Turns out, about ten minutes before I pulled in, a drunk driver had come careening around the bend, swerved off the road, plowed into my driveway, hit my tree, and tore through the neighbor's yard, back onto the road, and went screaming down the street. The tire tread marks from the car were clearly visible in both of our yards.

It didn't dawn on my right away, and perhaps I am just being overly dramatic, but the neighbor said I missed the drunk driver by about ten minutes -- which was about the time I spent in Mr. Movies talking to the night manager. And so, it is hard not to wonder, had I not stopped to give him the books, would I have turned into my neighborhood ten minutes earlier only to be met with a head-on collision? God only knows.

At any rate, it's interesting to think that a couple of books in the back seat of my car -- something meant to save someone else's life - perhaps saved my own.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kazakhstan Photos

I put up a tiny sampling of our photos. You can view them here.

Unfortunately, you have to put in your e-mail address and a password, but it only takes a second and you are not put on any mailing lists or bound to any obligations.

The photos are mostly of my team: Sonja, Bethann, Liliya, and myself. Nataliya was our main contact. She is a Kazak woman who works with the orphanages in Uralsk. There are pictures of kids. Shine Camp was a one-day "camp" that we held for about a dozen children with disabilities who are not orphans. They are at the camp with their parents.

The other kids in the photos are orphans. The one shot of a building is Cushum -- the disability orphanage about an hour out of Uralsk.

Enjoy! I hope to have more photos posted in the future.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 10, 2005

Vicki's Story, Part One

I procrastinated long enough (roughly twenty years or so to be exact), but I think it’s finally time for me to write out my story. I’ve always laid that burden on my mom, thinking it was more her story than my own. Her blog story took you from the day I was born until I was in high school, but I guess the rest of the story is mine to tell. I will do this much the same way I did for my mom's installments -- a small segment for a series of weeks, posted some time on Monday of each week.

Part One

I was seven years old when we moved away from Philadelphia and back to Minnesota where I had been born. We relocated because both of my parents families lived in Minneapolis and dad was able to get his sales territory relocated to the Midwest. At that point, the surgeons at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia informed my parents that there was nothing more that they could do for me.

About three months after moving back to Minnesota, I turned 8 years old. I would be entering Third Grade the following Spring. I was happy, well-adjusted, and making friends. I loved school – especially reading and spelling. I see now, looking back, that after seven years of rigorous surgeries and doctor’s appointments that the Lord was giving me a much-needed reprieve. I was more than thrilled with the diagnosis that there were to be no more surgeries. Granted, I didn’t understand at eight years old the extent of my deformities, or the extent of cruelty in the world.

For three glorious years, all was as it should be in my perfect little world. That was, all until an ordinary visit to the dentist. It intrigues me how life-changing events turn on the most ordinary of moments. Moses tended sheep for forty years in the wilderness and one day, not unlike any of the others, he spies the burning bush. And so here I was, minding my own business as it were, and a simple trip to get my teeth cleaned ushered in a whole new phase of life – the most difficult phase I would ever encounter.

Psalm 23 talks about “the valley of the shadow of death.” As my mom opened the heavy glass door going into the dentist’s office, how was I ever to know it would usher me onto the path that ran straight through that valley? And how was I to know I would walk on it for the next ten years of my life?


Tim Challies' Blog

Tim Challies was at the Desiring God conference this weekend live blogging the sessions. Here is a link to his session on Joni's message.

Here is an excerpt:

It is little wonder that Joni has served to inspire so many. She is filled with joy despite, and perhaps even because of, her affliction. She sees her disability not as a hindrance but as an opportunity to minister and to bring glory to the one who ordained it from before time. And she looks forward, with great anticipation, to the day that suffering will be no more, and she will spring from that chair.

He also included his two favorite quotes from Joni's message:

I did not want to let go of the strange and sick comfort of my own misery.

When we finally are able to stop laughing and crying, God will wipe away our tears. And it is ironic that when I finally will be able to use my hands to wipe my tears, I won't have to.

To read Tim's blogs pertaining to the other conference sessions, click here.

To read Doug McHone's live blog of the conference, click here.

Labels: , ,

Joni Eareckson Tada

I had the overwhelming honor of meeting Joni Eareckson Tada this weekend at our Suffering and the Supremacy of Christ conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Joni was one of our speakers. Very special thanks to Scott for arranging it so that I could be Joni's host for the weekend.

I was able to get some photos at the JAF Luncheon held at the hotel on Saturday afternoon. If you would like to see them, you can view them here.

The highlight of the weekend, for me, was being invited up to Ken and Joni's hotel room on Saturday night to join them and a few of their assistants for nightly prayer and devotions. Ken led the devotions and we all prayed and sang hymns together. It was one of those surreal moments.

You know the Sesame Street jingle, "One of these things is not like the other? One of these things just doesn't belong?" That's kind of how I felt underneath all of the joy of the moment!

Joni gave a tremendous talk Saturday night. If you keep your eyes on the Desiring God website, her message will be available to order some time in the near future.

The thing she said that struck me the most was when she was talking about how hard it is to muster up the joy and energy each morning to get out of bed and face her rigerous routine. She talked about how she had to pray each morning and beg God for strength - that he would send her a "smile from heaven" to give her the energy to get up and face another day. What a posture of dependence and humility! And yet, right on the heels of that confession she said, "But do you know who the real disabled people are? They are the people that wake up every morning, throw back their covers, jump out of bed, throw down a bowl of cereal, and dash out the door. Do you know what God thinks of those people? Do you know what [the book of] James says of them? It says that God opposes them!"

James 4:6-7a
But he gives more grace. That is why Scripture says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, therefore, to God.

Joni is now on her way to England, and then on to Africa for a Wheels for the World mission. Please be in prayer for her strength and joy as well as protection and traveling mercies. May many see Christ in and through her life and ministry.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Desiring God Conference on Suffering

I am swiping a large portion of this blog entry verbatim from JT's blog. Desiring God is hosting a conference this weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center (Minnesota). The speakers will be: John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Carl Ellis, David Powlison, Steve Saint, and Mark Talbot. You can view there bios here.

The Desiring God National Conference--Suffering and the Sovereignty of God--will begin tomorrow night. Tim Challies and Doug McHone will be live-blogging the conference. So check their sites this weekend if you're interested.

I know that everyone at DG and all of the speakers would deeply appreciate your prayers. Many of us have the sense that this will be a very significant conference. A number of the speakers not only have a profound theology of suffering, but are currently dealing with various kinds of pain and suffering in their own lives.

Keep your eyes on the Desiring God website as audio and conference CDs will be available sometime after the conference.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

After Eve Women's Conference Info

You can now see some information on the After Eve website on my workshop seminar that I will be presenting on Saturday, November 5,2005 at MacLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia (close to the Washington D.C. area). The title of my workshop is "Biblical Jewelry." If you click on that link, you will see a brief outline of my message, photo, and bio.

    A study of 1 Peter 3 - Beauty from God's perspective. The book of 1 Peter is all about various kinds of trials, suffering, and persecution. So why then, in chapter three, does Peter address the topic of women and how they should dress? Come to Biblical Jewelry and discover why this passage is not as out-of-place as you might think! Taught from the perspective of a young woman born with a severe birth defect that disfigured her face, come and see what the Bible has to say about beauty and how all of us, no matter what our reflection tells us, can do all things for the glory of God – including shoe shopping and applying mascara!

    Speaker - Vicki Anderson
    Vicki was born in 1972 with Orbital Hypertelorism, a rare birth defect that deformed her face. Twenty-five reconstructive surgeries later, she now lives in Minneapolis, MN and works for Desiring God Ministries. Vicki has found true contentment and joy in Christ and would like to share the secrets of how to live with victory and hope in a culture obsessed with beauty and physical perfection.

Labels: ,

Kyle Maynard

Last night, Larry King Live featured a 20-year old congenital amputee named Kyle Maynard. I was really encouraged by his testimony, faith, and chutzpah, as they say. He just wrote a book entitled, No Excuses.

Here is a brief review:
Born a congenital amputee -- missing his limbs below the elbows and knees -- 19-year-old college student Kyle Maynard has excelled at nearly everything he has attempted in life: from playing middle school football, to becoming a high school wrestling champion, to breaking world records in weightlifting. Now, in No Excuses: The Inspiring True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life, he tells how a devoted family, a strong religious faith, and a "No Excuses" attitude toward his handicaps helped him accomplish so much so early in his young life.

It was amazing to see footage of Kyle driving his car, getting dressed, wrestling, playing football, and numerous other things that would be difficult even with all four of your limbs! I hate to use the cliché word "inspiring" but he truly is.

Clcik here to view Kyle's official website.

I am always drawn to people who beat impossible odds and after having done so, their demeanor is one of genuine joy and humility. Kyle is definitely one of those people. He seems to exude so much confidence and kindness. No hint of self-pity over what he has suffered, nor an ounce of pride over what he has since achieved.

I am intrigued that Larry King continues to have people like Kyle and Joni Eareckson Tada and Scott Burrows (Murderball) on his show (among others). It seems thatpeople in wheelchairs who are extremely high-achieving, happy people seems to stymie him. I am glad that they get the airtime though. These are the kinds of stories that need to be told.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Back in the U.S. of A

I got back from Kazakhstan on Saturday night. What an exhausting trip - both emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But worth every second. After church yesterday, I got home, ate a bowl of cereal, laid down on my couch and didn't wake up until 6:00 AM this morning!

I am having a hard time wrapping my little, jet-lagged brain around everything that happened, but suffice it to say it was awesome. I went with three other women and we brought three wheelchairs, two walkers, a prosthetic leg, and nine suitcases full of supplies for the orphanages in Uralsk.

Uralsk has a high concentration of deformed and disabled children because it is the city where the former Soviet Union did their bomb testing. We went to three different orphanages, one of which housed disabled children exclusively. We also did a day camp for about a dozen disabled kids and their parents.

We had a very close call. In Amsterdam, they told us we didn't have reservations to get on the plane to Uralsk. For about an hour, two of the gals bantered with the ticket agents and made desperate phone calls to our travel agent in the U.S. while I guarded the luggage and took turns praying with the other gals. Not only were they not going to let us on the plane, but they told us the next flight to Uralsk was an entire week away! We prayed and at the eleventh hour, a flight attendant was sent running on board the plane to instruct the pilot to terminate take off. We made it.

We got to Uralsk at 2:00 AM and were there another two or three hours getting through customs and passport control. Two of the three wheelchairs we brought were completely mangled and destroyed by the time we got them. A couple of days later, the team was praying and reading Scripture together and Bethann and I went over to the wheelchairs and starting trying to bend them back into shape and somehow, miraculously, the two of us, with bare hands, somehow put these broken wheelchairs back together and in "good as new" shape. Praise the Lord. It blew us away.

I have so much more to say but I am going to have to blog in spurts as my head still cannot contain all that happened. Thanks to all of you who supported me financially and who prayed for me while I was gone. Your prayers were answered beyond what any of us could have imagined.

Labels: ,