Guilt, Need and Call

Note from Joan:  I will be “off the grid” for a short time while Jerry and I take a much needed trip to soak up some sun.  In my absence I’ll be reposting some of my favorite posts from the past.  Look for a return of new material in mid February and with it an exciting announcement about what God has led us to in this next phase of our journey!  Bon Voyage!

Recently I’ve been struggling with guilt.  Not over something I have done, but more about what I have not.  It comes from posts on social media, stories on the news, headlines in the paper and songs that say, “if not you, then who?”  I am admonished by these reports to pray more, step up and act, sign a petition or tell others and together we can combat sex trafficking, ISIS, bring imprisoned and persecuted Christians home, feed those who are starving, and provide a fair wage and working conditions for the many women and children forced in slave labor, among other horrendous needs both in this country and around the world.

There is no doubt that we live in a fallen world that seems to fall more every day.  There is also no doubt that God wants His people to “act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:8)  I care about the people caught in these issues and want to see justice prevail in each of these situations.  But sometimes I feel guilty that I am not doing enough.

Then I think about my work and life; maybe not daily but at least several times each week I hear stories of someone’s accident or illness that left them or a loved one disabled, the challenges of living with disability in a world that doesn’t always get it, or even worse the hurt and pain that comes from someone in the local church responding to someone with a disability in a way that doesn’t represent God’s heart, or the trauma in a family when  disability takes time way from others.  I could go on and on with examples.  Sometimes these stories come from our neighborhood, sometimes from our region, and even from around the world (yes, the photo here came to our attention at the office this week when someone sent it asking us to pray and help as able).

But I, and those I have the privilege of working with, don’t just listen to those stories.  We pray with the person, share a word of hope that is found in Jesus.  We strategize and work toward moving people affected by disability from the margins of our society to the mainstream of Church and community life.

Then I come home and read the headlines and stories referenced earlier and feel overwhelmed.  “Lord, what I read/see is horrendous; how it must grieve Your heart.”   I wonder how I can do anything more and God gently reminds me that a need is not a call.  There are many needs that exist out there (even some in the world of disability) that I am not called to meet or respond to.  I need to be open and listen to God’s direction for me, but when He doesn’t call me to meet a need I can continue to pray for those He does.

As I release my false guilt, I’ll lift you up in prayer for the needs God calls you to meet; will you do the same for me?

I Like Mary’s Style

Virgin Mary

I am one of those who believes, and tries to live, the truth of the Christmas season throughout the year. Though we are now in 2016 and past the traditional “season” I am still working through insights I gained during the Christmas season.

In  a previous post I shared thoughts about the Shepherds.  I mentioned that I would be posting some thoughts on Mary, so here goes. As I read the story in small sections, I saw Mary’s response to the seemingly impossible message the angel shared with her summed up in three words:  Process, Ponder and Pray.

Luke 1:29 (NLT)  tells us that when Gabriel greeted Mary she was “confused and disturbed” trying to think of the meaning of what the angel spoke.  I think that’s a fair response on Mary’s part.  If an angel appeared to me and greeted me with “Favored woman, the Lord is with you.”  I think my first response would be “Say that again – who are you and what do you want from me?”

This is where I see Mary responding with the first P = PROCESS.  She had to wrap her brain around both the information that was coming to her and the source.

Gabriel went on to tell Mary not to fear and told her about the pregnancy she was about to experience and God’s purpose in it.  As I read the message I kept putting myself in Mary’s sandals wondering how she could take it all in:

  • An angel spoke to me personally
  • He said I am favored and do not need to be afraid
  • I am just a young girl, newly engaged; are you sure you have the right person?
  • Notice that newly engaged.  And now you want me to carry a pregnancy . . .
  • And not just any pregnancy , but one of a son who will reign FOREVER!

Just a few verses later though we see that Mary responded to Gabriel with “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  Somehow, in a relatively short amount of time, and largely I am sure because of Mary’s trust in God, she PONDERed all that she heard and accepted it.

A few days later (during which I believe Mary did A LOT more processing and pondering) Mary took a trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who, though much older than Mary, was also in the midst of her own unbelievable pregnancy.  As the two moms-to-be spend some time talking together about what happened, Mary responds with what is commonly called “The Magnificat” or Mary’s PRAYerful response of praise to God for who He is and the way He works.

I would encourage you to read this passage for yourself.  Click here to read Luke 1:26-56.

I am not one to make New Years Resolutions, but I do have a plan this year to calendar “3P” time regularly:  Process, Ponder and Pray.  I am so grateful for Mary’s example and life to model the way.

Hope and a Pink Moose Sock

A few years ago Jerry took me on an Alaskan cruise.  I think he hoped it would satisfy my desire to see Alaska and we could move on.  I certainly did enjoy the trip and the amazing beauty we saw. The trip actually whet my appetite to go back inland to see more of this gorgeous creation.

The one animal I really wanted to see was a moose.  I saw a number of
other animals, but no moose.  So instead I bought a pair of pink and moose sockbrown socks that had moose on them.  Yes, a purchase that had absolutely nothing to do with the “real” Alaska, but they were a fun memory for me.

Once I got home I wore them a couple times.  The last time I wore them (in 2013) only one sock came out of the laundry.  I was disappointed, but certain that the errant sock would show up soon attached via static cling to a sheet, towel or one of Jerry’s t shirts.

But it never did.  So I tucked the one sock away in a basket of socks, still believing that one day it’s mate would return.  When our dryer needed to be replaced in 2014 I asked the delivery guy to please check carefully to make sure no socks were stuck in it before he carried it away . . .he did and there weren’t any.

Fast forward to early December 2015 when I had foot surgery.  Finally I was able to wear my one pink moose sock since my other foot was adorned in bandages and a surgical shoe.  Such a fun perk.

Valerie

Over Christmas I shared that story with some of my family.  One of my niece’s (Valerie to be exact, who said if I shared this I had to credit her – so this one’s for you kid!) said, “Wow, that’s hope!”My family snickered, especially when I said I was going to blog about that. But she’s right!

Recently one our pastors spoke about hope and pointed out that Hope is never about the past or the present.  Hope is ALWAYS about the future – I think now I’ll really hang on to that pink moose sock.  It is a great example of hope and a reminder that “Hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.  So you better get busy living or get busy dying.”  (Credit to Andy D in The Shawshank Redemption)

Time to get back to being busy living –  who knows, maybe when the washer needs replacing I’ll find the other pink moose there!

 

Dressed to Impress or Hide?

This morning I was reading a devotional Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd.  He was commenting on fighting impression management.

As I thought about his writing, I was again reminded that though I do often fall into the trap of wanting to impress others, the even greater challenge I face is wanting to impress God.  Perhaps it is in the form of taking on more than I know I can or am called to do.  How ridiculous is that?  I can do nothing apart from God and if I am trying to impress Him by doing more that’s a huge failure (aka sin)!

On the other hand I am also prone to try to hide a decision I may make from God.  Maybe He won’t notice (He is busy after all!) that I said yes to something that had I asked Him about I am pretty certain He would have said no (and given me the power to act on that no).   Yes God is the Creator/Sustainer of all that exists in the world, but He also dwells within me through the Holy Spirit.  How on earth do I think I can hide from the One who knows me intimately and honestly better than I know myself!

Once again I find myself falling into His grace, with such gratitude that He knows, loves, and forgives!  Here’s to a new start of walking in the way He has called me to; no more and no less.

 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  I John 2:16 NLT

 

 

The Story of Jerry, Joan and Joni Part 1

Three of the questions I am most frequently asked:

  • How did you meet Jerry?
  • Have you ever met Joni?
  • When did you start working for Joni and Friends?

Questions 1 and 2 are relatively easy to answer (in the opposite order), and number three takes a little more explanation. So perhaps it is time to put the story of Jerry, Joan and Joni in writing. Though really it is the story of “J to the fourth power” – Jesus, Joni, Jerry & Joan.

In fact, that is the order in which I met them.  Clearly Jesus is the common thread between each of the other relationships.

It was in the late 80’s when I was working in northern CA (Sonoma County) in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities that I was invited to a meeting in Wisconsin. Joni Eareckson Tada was the driving force of this gathering of about 40 people who worked in disability ministries around the country. The goal was to develop a consortium of ministries to support each other and expand disability ministry.

Joni and jOan singing
Joni and I both enjoy praising God in song. It is a joy and pleasure when she invites me to harmonize with her as we did at this conference.

The first evening we had a meet and greet prior to dinner. That was the first time I met Joni face to face. I happened to be standing next to her when for reasons I cannot remember, the person facilitating the evening announced that the first ones to identify all 5 points of Calvinism would lead the way through the dinner line. Joni and I pulled our church history and theology knowledge together and lead the way to dinner! Periodically when we are together we giggle at the memory.

Jerry was at the same conference. Both our names are on the attendee list. I recall him as someone who was funny and wore polyester (he’ll say because it made his transfers easier!). I even played piano for some of the group sessions, yet he does not remember me at all.

The following year this consortium joined Joni and Friends in an International Congress on the Church and Disability, drawing about 900 people from around the world to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Late each evening about 10 of us would gather and play UNO as we debriefed our days. Jerry and I were each a part of that little gathering. Again, I recall how funny he was; and somehow I made enough of an impression on him that he could now recall me

For the next six or eight years Jerry and I continued to attend the same conference, he coming from Indiana and me from California. As conference buddies we spent some time chatting together each gathering. Throughout the years we had some occasional ministry related communication.

It was the spring of 1994 when Joni and Friends invited both of us to a weeklong Institute they were hosting in Knoxville, Tennessee. If memory serves me correctly, about 30 of us attended that training. At the end of the week, everyone went home – except Jerry and me. Neither of us knew the other planned to stay over. Jerry stayed because he had some work to do with a college in town. I stayed as my parents came over from North Carolina to visit with me before I headed home to the west coast.

Jerry joined my parents and I for a meal or two that weekend. I remember him calling our hotel room early Saturday morning saying his attendant called out sick, did I think my Dad would go help him get up that morning. Of course, my Dad went and helped. The only thing I remember my dad saying when he came back was, “that boy needs new socks – his have holes!” (What dad didn’t understand was that those holes came from Jerry’s dressing stick that he used to pull his socks up independently).

As far as I knew, we parted at the conclusion of that weekend as we had after any other conference – conference buddies who would see each other the next year. Only later did I learn that Jerry left saying, “God, I wish there was someone like Joan in Indiana.”

Check back here on Sunday for part 2!

A Flashback to our September Vacation

On our last full day by the ocean we took another walk.  This was one of three days the winds and rains allowed us to spend a significant time outside.  Several “locals” stopped us to comment on the nice weather now; when they learned we’d been there all week they apologized for the poor weather.  First of all, they had no control of that –so why apologize?  Secondly as we told them it’s all about attitude, the weather did not affect our enjoyment of the time away and together!

Earlier in the week we took a walk to top all walks (at least for us).  Somehow it went from a nice walk, to a challenge to prove myself!

 We started out from our hotel on the northernmost end of the “Boardwalk”  (I find it humorous that it is called a boardwalk when the entire thing is poured concrete!).  The day before we had walked about 10 blocks.  As we walked a little further this day I saw the fishing pier come in to view.  Jerry had been there the day before without me.  I asked him which block the Pier was.  He told me, and then said, “but I don’t think we’ll make it that far.”  Now to be fair – he meant nothing negative by that – he was simply expressing a thought.  However, being the High D that I am (if you know the DISC profile a high D is very directive), I quietly took that statement to be a challenge.

 On we walked to the Pier.

 From there it was only another seven blocks to the sand structures being built, so we had to go there.  Well, once we saw those, it was a mere 7 more blocks to the end of the Boardwalk which is also the location of the accessible playground people had been telling IMG_5688us about.

 So that was the easy part – walking the 40 blocks down with the wind at our back.  But then it came time to turn around . . . and head into the 15 mph (+/-) winds that were now blowing straight at us.  Those winds were accompanied by an unsolicited version of microdermabrasion as the blowing sand buffeted our bodies!

Throughout the return walk Jerry offered that we could catch the bus anytime to go back.  But oh no, I had made it that far and I wasn’t stopping now!

After we got back to our room and collapsed and soaked some sore muscles in the hot tub I let Jerry in on the personal competition in my head that fueled me for the 6+ mile walk.

Nothing like a little grown up marital peer pressure to make for a good memory, not to mention great exercise!

What or How?

Earlier this week we began the process of planning for next year at our ministry office.We had some excellent discussion on the back side of planning.By that I mean, not the specifics of what we want to do, but the underlying foundation of what and why we do.The philosophical underpinnings if you will.Our next step this week was to flesh those out a little more by adding the specific “whats” of our ministry (e.g. continuing to grow the base of churches that effectively minister with people with disabilities) and then discern if the programs and services we currently do still fit and/or are there new opportunities God has yet to show us. Read More