Sunday, April 29, 2007

Billy Ray and "Grandma Lowery"

We went back to our prior church (Soul's Harbor in Woodburn, OR) last Sunday. We moved 2-1/2 years ago and hadn't been home for 2 years. It was wonderful to be back for a visit.

My friend, Carol, had put on a wonderful buffet for after church which made it possible to visit because Billy Ray had something to focus on. Thanks Carol!!

I asked Bob Brown to take pictures of Billy Ray and "Grandma Lowery" for an article I am writing on her ministry to special needs children. Thanks Bob!! Here is my favorite.

Eldora Lowery, now 90 years old, is an inspiration to us all. When I started a Lighthouse Parents support group in that church she came to me before the first session and said "I want to be involved" and she was there every session. Though the group never really got families to come, Eldora has continued her ministry in special ways.

It seemed just when Billy Ray needed the fiber for medical issues a package would show up with oatmeal cookies from Eldora. She writes him cards and letters often. Since Eldora talks about how good the Lord is, caregivers and family members who are not believers have had to read about the Lord because Billy Ray loves to have them read to him repeatedly.

For years Billy Ray was the only child with special needs in that church. I will never forget one day a father visited the church by himself. They had just moved to the area. He said that they didn't bring their son to church because he could be disruptive. He said that he and his wife would trade services to attend alone while the other one would stay home with their son. We encouraged him to come and bring his WHOLE family and he did. As the church learned to accept Billy Ray they took this boy into the services and their hearts.

It's my understanding that "Grandma Lowery" ministers to him just as she does to Billy Ray. Truly ministry is ageless.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
Blogs: Amazon Author Connect, Parenting a Complex Special Needs Child and Parenting a Complex Special Needs Adult
Websites: Parenting Your Complex Child, Lighthouse Parents and Peggy Lou
Club Mom Articles
Parenting Your Complex Child Yahoo Group

Monday, April 09, 2007

Purpose Driven Child or Adult With Special Needs

For years I struggled with the question of why God would allow disabilities of all kinds or injuries. We know the general answers: he sometimes uses adversity to get our attention or to deal with sin. I was unsatisfied that there was a connection to disabilities with those answers. Eventually, I found John 9:

"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. "Teacher" his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?"

"It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus answered. "He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is so little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. John 9:1-4 NLT

At first, I interpreted the story that the man was born blind so that Jesus could heal him. That being the case why wasn' the Lord healing Billy Ray and other disabled persons I know?

While reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, I began to think AGAIN about why the Lord would allow our children to suffer so. Is there any purpose for Billy Ray's life that is so full of struggling for him and for us?

I reread the quoted verses in John 9. I asked the Lord if the man was blind so that God could be glorified not because of his sin what was the reason for the long-term suffering of our complex children.

The many books written on the topic of how we are changed by knowing disabled children came to mind. To be honest, I have not always been positive about those type of books because I felt they missed the point of what the children need. In an early draft of the Introduction to my book I wrote as the first line "There are many books about how disabled children impact their world and change those around them for the better." I went on to make it clear this book was not about that. I rebelled at the idea that changing others was important when these children suffered so. Searching these questions has changed my thinking.

Our children do have major impacts on the lives of those who take the time know them. That is a nice thing but the question of why would God allows these precious ones to suffer remained. If God uses adversity or affliction to get the attention and to deal with sin but these children have not sinned what is the purpose?
As I watch Billy Ray suffer I sometimes wonder how God could stand watching his son, Jesus suffer such torture for us. He did that to bring us to Him. Our children change people for the better and draw others to the Lord in ways no one else can accomplish. That is a powerful purpose.

Over the past couple of years I have had multiple discussions with theologians I respect. Not one agreed that John 9:3 would apply to children with special needs. Most felt it was more a Romans 8:28 thing that all things work together for good and that God uses it. Eventually I came to accept that it really didn’t matter which scripture applied these children are used to bring glory to the Heavenly Father.

Len Bynum, a man in the church we attended when we adopted Billy Ray helped with Billy Ray so I could continue teaching my Sunday School class or be in worship service. He wrote a poem for Billy Ray one day. I typed it out and have kept it in the corner of one of Billy Ray=s pictures all these years. Here it is:

"It gives my heart special joy,
To know God loves this little boy.
Billy Ray B God works through you,
I see your smile and it makes me know
That God will help us both to grow!"

Billy Ray and I were sitting near the Henrys at a recent church potluck. Lori Henry and I were talking about these scriptures to explain disabilities and suffering. I shared that I believed John 9:3 pertained and others disagreed. She said they should read Josh's Testimony, their blog about her son Josh's recent struggle with a brain tumor. As a result of sharing with others many have been brought to the Lord. I have written about the witness this has to folks who have never thought about going inside a church in Being Loved by the Real Church. I know that not all Christians are as supportive as our church has been but when they are the world sees Christ in action.

The Lord has not failed to give our kids a mighty purpose no matter what their disability might be.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan

Blogs: Amazon Author Connect, Parenting a Complex Special Needs Child and Parenting A Complex Special Needs Adult

Websites: Parenting Your Complex Child and Lighthouse Parents

Club Mom Articles
Parenting Your Complex Child Yahoo Group