Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
No matter what the fearless defenders of freedom of speech say, there is a huge difference between a word to describe something that slows fire and someone who learns differently. There's a huge difference between a thing and a person - but, no, maybe not. After reading their diatribes regarding their freedom to spit out hurtful words, they may, really, not see people with disabilities as fully human with a human heart capable human hurt.
People mock the concept of respectful language regarding disability. People make odd arguments about the latest gaffe by ... no, I won't say her name here ... they say 'she was saying that of herself not anyone else' - um, so? The word she used was one referring, not to a commercial product, but to an oppressed minority. Yet the debate rages on and the fierceness of the attack by those who are proponents of the use of hate language are both hysterical and who often purposely miss the point. One wonders what's at stake - their personal liberty to hurt others?
It's time to recognize that the 'R' word is an attack against who people with with intellectual disabilities 'are', it is an attack against the group that they belong to. It is like other words that exist to slur an entire people, unacceptable. The fact that people do not see the seriousness of the word and the attack it represents is simply a result of the fact that they do not take the 'people' who wear that label seriously. The concerns of those with intellectual disabilities have always been diminished and trivialized. There is a sneaking suspicion that they 'don't understand, poor dears', that they 'miss the point, little lambs' so therefore their anger need not be feared as justified.
The people who 'ARE' what the 'R' word refers to have a long history.
They have been torn from families and cast into institutions.
They have been beaten, hosed down, over medicated, under nourished, sterilized, brutalized, victimized.
They have been held captive, have been enslaved, have had their being given over to the state.
They are the group in society most likely to be physically, sexually and financially abused.
They are the group least likely to see justice, experience fair play, receive accommodation or support within the justice system.
They are the group most likely to be bullied, most likely to be tyrannized, most likely to be the target of taunts.
They are the least likely to have their hurt taken seriously, physical hurt, emotional hurt, spiritual hurt.
They are most likely to be ignored when they speak of pain, have their words diminished by an assumption of diminished capacity.
They are the least likely to ever be seen as equal, as equivalent and entirely whole.
They are the victim of some of the most widespread and pervasive prejudices imaginable.
They are those that the Nazi's thought unworthy of life, they are those targeted by geneticists for non-existence, they need fear those who wear black hats and those who wear white coats.
They are educated only under protest, they are included as a concession rather than a right, they are neighbours only because petitions failed to keep them out.
They are kept from the leadership of their own movement, they are ignored by the media, their stories are told to glorify Gods that they do not worship.
That they are a 'people' is questioned even though they have a unique history, a unique voice, a unique perception of the world.
That they are a 'community' is questioned even though they have commonality, they have mutual goals, they have a collective vision of the future.
That they are have a legitimate place at the table is questioned simply because no one's ever offered a seat.
They are a people.
They ask for respect and receive pity.
They ask for fair play and are offered charity.
They ask for justice and wipe spittle off their face.
They ask to silence words that brutalize them and their concerns are trivialized.
They ask to walk safely through their communities and yet bullies go unpunished.
They ask to participate fully and they are denied access and accommodation and acceptance.
And this is NOW.
This is the people who have walked the land of the long corridor, who have waited at the frontier of our bias to finally be here, now. They have survived. They have come home. They have continued, silently and without fanfare, to take hold of freedom and live with dignity. They have given everything they have for what others take for granted. Their civil liberties are perceived as 'gifts' as 'tokens' and as 'charity'. Their rights are seen as privileges. Their movement is, as of yet, unacknowledged. They are a people recently emancipated, new citizens, who are tentatively discovering their voice.
It is a voice not yet heard.
It is a voice not yet respected.
It is a voice not yet understood.
But it is speaking.
And when it is finally heard. The world will change.
The 'R' word is an attack on a people who know discrimination. Tremble when you say it. Because those who should know better will be held accountable to those who know best.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I love to tell our adoption story when I preach. During the sermon, I show pictures taken within the first few hours of James meeting us. One shows me and James laughing heartily together. Another shows him taking a nap with his new mom. One shows him and his new brother wrestling on the bed, while another has him walking hand-in-hand with his new older brother and sister. We had much the same experience with our daughter Xiaoli’s adoption.
However, what the pictures do not show is the hurt, confusion, and emotional stress our adopted children endured. James was four years old when we adopted him, and Xiaoli was six. They were both old enough to understand that something major was happening but, since they are deaf, they had no way to understand adoption.
Even for the children who do have language, how do you describe adoption? How do you fight the rumors that circulate in the orphanages about what happens to adopted children? How do you prepare them for a family who might not look like them, smell like them, act like them, or use the same language? Every adoption story is accompanied by a story of grief and loss.
When we are adopted into God’s family, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. This is where the one-to-one relationship breaks down. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to know the mind of Christ through our salvation (1 Cor. 2:10-16). We are made into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). When children are adopted, they receive a new family and the prospect for a new life, but they are not a new creation.
Adoption does not heal a child’s past. People often say that my adopted children are “lucky” to have been adopted. I know what they are trying to communicate, but they are not grasping the totality of what my children have lived through.
Recently I read an article by Catherine Olian, writer and former producer of 60 Minutes. This is part of what she wrote about her daughter who was adopted from Ukraine:
Outside our home, she behaved herself and charmed most everyone. She did take exception when adults told her she was “lucky”. In her blossoming English she would unhesitatingly respond, “Did you lose your first brother and sister? Did you grow up cold and hungry? Did you live two lives, in two different countries? No? Then you must be the lucky one.” I’ve yet to see anyone disagree with her.
As this incredible wave of orphan care and adoption ministry continues to gain momentum in churches, we must make sure that we have a good theological understanding of adoption and a good practical understanding of adoption.
While I will continue to show the sweet pictures of our adoption journeys during my sermons, I will also take the time to educate families about the grief and loss that is always part of adoption. Healing can take place, and for many children, it starts with adoption…but it doesn’t end there—it never does.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Adult, child ratio was 2:1. let me tell you, that is the way to go! Because sometimes 3 little girls really do need 6 adults to help them have fun!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
And The signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to
Cause I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire
If You want me to
It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone
ya oh oh no
So When the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the valley
If You want me to
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
This blog could be a series of posts about how wonderful our family life is, or of how well I can handle having three little girls under the age of five. It could be full of wonderful moments and great photos that show you how put together our little family is. I could paint you a word picture of us as the poster family in a Pastor's magazine.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Period 5, 11/30/09
My Best Friend… My Hero
Staring up at the huge hill of stairs flooded with people slowly making there way to the top, I was frozen still. It was the first day of my freshmen year of high school, and I spent all morning making sure my outfit was pretty enough, my make up was blended enough and my hair was straight enough. I walked into school with my head held high, but my mind scattered in a million different directions. I had no idea who I was. All that I cared about was trying to fit in and look stylish. Looking back at freshmen year I am very ashamed of the person I was, but proud of the person I have become. My life has changed so much since freshmen year, and it is all thanks to one special person… my best friend.
Our friendship started at the beginning of sophomore year in gym class. When the teacher paired me up to work with her all year, I was excited because it was an opportunity for me to get to know her better. It didn’t take long before we became incredible friends. We sit together at lunch everyday, call each other on the phone, make each other cards, go to the movies, go shopping and spend every spare second we can with each other. Although this seems like a relationship that any teenage girl has with her best friend, it’s truly different. My best friend has changed my life.
Right from the moment I met her, I knew my best friend was a blessing. I needed someone in my life that was going to change my perspective and give me a different outlook. She did just that. Walking down the hallway with her one afternoon on our way to lunch, we passed a group of people that looked at her and laughed. My best friend looked right at them, kept a smile on her face and ignored it. After time and time again this same scenario played out exactly like the first, I finally understood. She doesn’t care what people think of her. After seeing how happy she is just being herself, I realized something that changed my life. I don’t need stylish outfits and perfect hair; I can be myself and be perfectly happy, just like my best friend. When I wake up in the morning, I no longer have to stress about the battle of finding a perfect outfit. I know that no matter what I wear my best friend will treat me just the same.
After my best friend made me recognize that who I am is acceptable, I stopped worrying about what people thought of me. I’ve heard repeatedly from several different people, “you’re definitely not the normal teenager,” but what is normal? Getting drunk every weekend, having every other word out of my mouth be a cuss word, dating ten guys a month, and experimenting with drugs? Well than I am completely fine with being different, and my best friend taught me that.
After being able to put all the pointless high school drama aside, I have been able to have so much fun! Instead of worrying about getting a date to homecoming, I went with my best friend. We got ready together with a big group of friends, and then all went to the dance. We danced all night together and had such an amazing time. For once I could enjoy homecoming without worrying about what my date was thinking, and if my hair was staying in place.
My best friend has changed my life more than words can explain. She is my hero. I have gained a new perspective on life, and have learned that you just have to be yourself. Some people look at my best friend and think that she’s different, but she’s not… she’s just like you and me. The only difference between my best friend, Kathleen and me is that she has Down Syndrome, but that is what makes her my hero. As Steve Guttenburg once said “If you’re an underdog, mentally disabled, physically disabled, if you don’t fit in, if you’re not as pretty as the others, you can still be a hero” and Kathleen is mine.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010