When Will We Get It?

It happened again.  My heart is broken as I heard the latest news report on another child with disabilities who was abandoned by his Mom in some woods.  There is absolutely nothing about this tragedy that is right.  Even so, it’s an indication of how hard life with disability can be.

Two years ago there was a similar situation in Philadelphia.  The reflections I wrote then still apply and reposted below.  Church – these stories beg for us to act  – what is your response?

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I am sure that by now most of you have heard or read the story of the 21 year old non verbal young man with cerebral palsy who was abandoned by his mother for more than a week along Cobbs Creek Parkway in Philadelphia while she went to her visit her boyfriend.  This young man laid in the park for multiple days with only a blanket and a Bible.

hospice-1797305_1920The mother, who has been arrested and is currently hospitalized (reason unknown), has been berated by all who hear the story.  I have to agree that this is a horrendous situation.  I am grateful that this young man lived and is now being cared for by CHOP and other family members.  There really is no excuse for what the Mom did.  It is wrong to endanger her son’s life in this way.

Now don’t flog me; while I completely disagree with the actions of the Mom and cannot condone them on any level, I have some compassion for the woman and some understanding of what she may have been up against.

Caregiving is hard!  It’s constant and continual.  I know, I’ve been doing it full time about a year less than this Mom.  And gratefully the person I care for is verbal and independent with all but his personal care.  He also has attendant care that spells me off a few days a week.  Even so, caregiving is exhausting and relentless.

While some may say she should have sought services to help, we are all aware of how difficult it is to get services through the social service agencies and governmental avenues.  If there is funding available the wait can very long, and often appropriate caregiving support is difficult to locate.  Again, this does not excuse what this Mom did.  Honestly what this story tells me is that I am in the right line of work!

The answer to the challenges of life with disability and caregiving is NOT more money or better services (though they may help).  The answer is Jesus Christ and His family.  The only hope we have is the hope that is greater than anything in this world, and carries us into eternity because life on this earth is not all there is .  While we are still in this world though, the answer includes those of us who call ourselves the Church (not any individual location, building or gathering but rather those who claim Jesus as Lord of life and want to live for Him) taking seriously the call Christ gives us to care for one another, to love one another and bear one another’s burdens.

These stories reminds me that it’s time for the Church to step it up.  I wonder if these stories would have had a different ending if some people in the community who are Christians would have come along side these Moms and been there to encourage her, help care for her son and let her know there is a better way than abandonment? 

I don’t know that for sure – there are so many factors involved in every family and life.  But this story gives me a renewed sense of passion to go to work tomorrow and build the passion, capacity and burden within the Christian community to come alongside families affected by disability so this type of thing never ever happens again!

Who do you know in your community who cares for a family member with a disability?  

What can you do this week to share hope and joy to let them know they are not alone?

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Happy 90th in Heaven!

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Dad and I on a college visit in 1976

Today my Dad would have turned 90.  Sadly for me, I never even got to know him as an 80 year old.  God called him home at the age of 74.  I’ve written about Dad before.  Rereading that brings tears of joy and sweet remembrances.

A lot has changed in the last sixteen years Dad.  The family has grown so much.  You have a granddaughter-in-law you never got to meet, but you two would have had a great time together Dad.  She’s not afraid to ask questions, and you were never afraid to answer questions, or ask other ones.  I would have LOVED to hear the conversations you and Courtney would have had.  You would have also appreciated what a great wife she is to Nathan.

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Nathan and his oldest, who is now 9!

All your grands have graduated college.  Two are wrapping up their Doctorates (one MD, one PHD).  You have 7 adorable and amazing great grandchildren who would have worn you out playing Yankee Doodle and combing your hair.  Ok dad, there is one thing I wish I could forget – the smell of Vitalis in your hair.  As a little girl, I loved when you sat and the floor and let me “do” your hair, but really – Vitalis?  I don’t even think it is manufactured any more, but the memory of that smell lingers on . . .

There are so many things I wish I would have asked you.  I didn’t know then all the things I would like to know now.  Sometimes Dad I think I need you more now in my late 50’s than I did in my teens and 20’s.  By the time we get to this age people think we know stuff, but I am not so sure.  How did you pull it off so confidently Dad?

When I stop and think about it, I know how you did it Dad.  Three of these well worn Biblesmom-and-dad-biblesjpg were yours.  The fourth is Moms.  The most consistent memory I have of each of you is the time you spent in the Word of God.  I am so happy to have these well used Bibles in my writing nook.  How precious to read the comments you each made as you worked through a passage.

On this 90th birthday Dad let me once again say I love you, and thank God for giving me the privilege of being your daughter.  You taught me well, and most importantly pointed me to the One who does have all the answers.  I look forward to the day Dad, when after I meet Jesus face to face, I get to hear you sing in the choir – Oh what a day that will be!

Legacy

I am grateful for the faith my parents instilled in me. Today I reaped another blessing from that legacy.

Jerry and I were invited to share the “Mission Moment” at the church where Mom first belonged and worshipped when she moved up to live with us in PA.  That church was a wonderful source of friendship and service for Mom.

When I greeted Irene, she shared that when she sees Joni and Friends on their church prayer list she doesn’t pray for the ministry, she prays for me and Jerry!  I have probably only seen Irene three or four times in the last 15 years, but she knew me from Mom.  Mom was a great ambassador for Joni and Friends everywhere she went and to everyone she met.  What an encouragement to know her investment in us is still reaping benefits two and a half years after her passing.

Later in the morning I chatted with Cynthia, who shared how much she still misses my Mom (I assured her I do too).  She counted Mom as a dear friend.  Cynthia shared that she has never taken Mom’s name off her prayer list.  Knowing that Mom no longer needs prayer she instead uses that as a prompt to pray for Jerry and me.

I was humbled.  Thank you Mom for paving the way for others to lift us up in prayer when you were no longer here to do so.

Makes me wonder who will stand in the gap to pray for us when God calls these ladies home?  Makes me also want to go deeper in my own prayer life to stand in the gap for others.

Thanks Mom, and Dad too.70bd8-fullsizerender