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Saturday, August 10, 2013


God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor. (1 Corinthians 12:18-23)

Sitting with my son through an entire church service is no easy task. As a matter of statistical fact, most parents of special needs children choose to not attend church (or they attend sparingly) because of the stress that accompanies potential, attention-grabbing disturbances caused by their child’s disability.

It’s easier to stay home and stay out of the congregational eye—the eye that seemingly stares and judges and blinks and winks. 

“Yet the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”

Indispensable: Not subject to being set aside or neglected; absolutely necessary; essential. (Merriam Webster)

My son is a 20-year-old autistic man with the cognitive mentality of a 2-year-old child, yet he is indispensable to the congregation of Redemption Church. He cannot speak (although he can make plenty of noise) yet he is indispensable to the worship service. He constantly kicks the chair of the person in front of him, he claps during the quiet times and cannot sit still for five minutes, much less the length of a sermon. Yet he is indispensable to the church—indispensable to the Body of Christ.

How can the least become essential and the weaker become indispensable in God’s seemingly backwards, upside down and inside out church body? With Jesus as the head, let me show you a picture of God’s great grace in the Body of Christ—His Church.

It’s Sunday morning and Jake is sitting in the very back row of the sanctuary. We are not placed in the back because we are unimportant; we choose the back mostly for strategic reasons. A hasty exit is sometimes required. Four seats are reserved for our family. This is just one of the ways our church ministers to us.

My wife sits on one side of Jake and I sit on the other. We take turns stroking his arms and his back to keep him calm enough to sit through an entire worship service. His mother runs her fingers through his thinning auburn hair. It has always been Jake’s sedative.

But this service is different. The pastor has just preached one of his final messages from an entire sermon series in the book of Romans and has come to a key verse that obviously catches Jake’s attention. The verse is Romans 16:16 “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”

Jake perks up and listens as the pastor begins to apply the text, asking the congregation, “Why don’t we do that anymore? Why don’t we show affection in the church? Why don’t we greet each other with hugs and kisses? Why are we afraid of touch?”

Jake nods in approval of the pastor’s plea and gives an affirming grunt—his unmistakable, “Amen!”

I give my wife that silent look. She knows what it means. We have learned to speak clearly without words over the years—across rooms, through crowds, over noise, and in church. It’s a head slightly tilted forward, wide-eyed, pursed lip look.  A nervous mix of, “Isn’t that cute” and “Batten down the hatches, something is about to happen!”

The pastor continues as he concludes his sermon. “We’re going to try something new today. (Just what every good church member wants to hear) After The Lord’s Supper, turn to the person next to you and give him or her a hug. And show some affection!”

You could feel the uncomfortable anticipation creep across the room as people began to think, “Is he serious? We have to touch each other, beyond a casual handshake?” I imagined what the visitors were thinking that morning; some after sneaking quietly into the room, now were exposed to their worst fear—being ousted from their anonymity and physically embraced by complete strangers.

People were looking around the room, checking out their neighbors, their prospective huggers, and the nearest exits.

I honestly remember thinking to myself, “If some guy tries to kiss me, I’m going to put him on the ground.” My heart began to drift—like hearts do, when they are afraid.

But the man-child moved to the edge of his seat and leaned in to the pastor’s words.

As the final prayer was prayed, the “amen” was sounded and the congregation dismissed, people began to mill uncomfortably towards each other. Some even tried to head for the door and avoid the offending invasion of their personal comfort zones.

The pastor gently prodded, “Come on now, find someone to hug before you leave!”

Two or three married couples at the front of the church, closest to the pastor, did a lean in shoulder bump with a patronizing pat on the back. Then a few more followed suite, as most of the congregation simply did not know how to respond to the awkward invitation and were content to go through the motions to please the pastor.

And that’s when it happened.

That’s when the broken little toe led the foot, and the foot led the leg, and the leg led the body, and the weaker member became indispensable.

Jake sprung from his seat and bolted into the isle before we could catch him. He ran straight over to an older gentleman (who was trying to exit the building unnoticed and presumably untouched) and nearly knocked him off his feet with a bear hug. It wasn’t gentle and it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t short lived. Jake held onto the man until I could get through the crowd of people to pull him off. The stern look on the man’s face told me this was an uninvited intrusion into his wide, impermeable bubble.

But just as I began to unwrap Jake’s grip from the victim’s shoulders and apologize for the inconvenience, I noticed wetness in the older man’s eyes. Jake held tight and the man resigned his objection; his body went somewhat limp as sternness melted to a smile and unsure hands reciprocated the embrace.

My son finally released the man and I thought all was well and complete, but before I could redirect Jake back to his seat or to an exit door, he broke loose again. This time instead of restraining him, I let him go—because sometimes you have to set people free to experience the greatest freedom yourself.

He ran to hug another, and another, and yet another. He was laughing and jumping and hugging and loving. It was sloppy and loud and rough and painful. And the entire body was watching and learning and discovering what “indispensable” really meant.

Soon others joined in and the hugs spread like sparks jumping from a small, intense fire. As the wind of the Spirit blew where it pleased, the sparks turned to flames and raged through the church. But the only thing that burned up that day was the long-standing boundaries around comfort zones of personal pride and inward self-esteem.

People were laughing and talking and whooping and hugging—real hugs—feet off the ground, cheek to cheek, steal your breath hugs. And unbeknownst to most of the congregation, Jake was in the middle of it all, like an imprisoned apostle set free; like a preacher without a voice, called by God to “go and make disciples”.

That Sunday started something new for Jake, and something new for the local body of Christ at Redemption Church—a sort of mini revival set afire by the unsuspecting, silent ember of one indispensable blazing heart.

Now every Sunday he sits, waiting for the end of the service. Waiting for the Lord’s Supper, the closing benediction and the final “Amen”. Not so he can get home and watch Sunday afternoon football or fix Sunday dinner or take a Sunday nap.  Those things are the farthest from his simple mind.

He lives to apply the meaning of the message with complete lack of inhibition for his unbridled, bubble busting, in your face, knock you to the ground, God honoring, Jesus exalting, Spirit saturated —joy!

Sometimes it’s loud and painful. Sometimes he pokes an eye, or lands a knee, or leaves a slobbered wet spot on someone’s clean Sunday best. Sometimes we have to restrain his ambition just a bit for the protection of the elderly and the petite. Sometimes we wince when a visitor gets picked for the embrace. It's usually awkward and it’s almost always uncomfortable.

But every Sunday after church, the real worship begins in the heart of obscurity.  And an autistic, non-verbal, disabled, man-child shines like a white hot spotlight of God’s grace for the motley, multifaceted church body to see and understand—

“God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor.”

Monday, February 25, 2013

No More Tears

Last Sunday, as I was changing Jake’s clothes, (after a gallant but failed attempt to get him to the bathroom on time) I slid his leg braces off his crooked feet and stared for a while at the devices that are supposed to help him walk.

“AFO’s”: ankle-foot-orthotic. I hate them. He hates them. But like his thick glasses and his Springboard communication device, they have become so much a part of his life and body, he cannot do without them.

I glanced up in time to watch Jake wrestle his coat off and then his shirt. He grunted and fought with his sleeves in a noble battle, nearly toppling over from unbalanced determination. As he struggled to free himself from his outer garment, I sensed his irritation, which only amplified my own desperation to care for this broken boy.

My face seems to be scarred these days with the dried and salty tear tracks of weary frustration.  I cry more than people know—more than a man likes to admit. Still I fight to keep composure, “No more tears. Someday, no more tears.” I quietly remind myself.

In the midst of the wreckage, like so many times before, my mind is carried to a sheltering place of wonderful assurance and future grace. I have it memorized:

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

What does this promise mean to a desperate dad and his disabled son? In my most vivid, imaginative and reoccurring dreams—it looks something like this:

I’m walking with Jesus through a wheat field (I’m not sure why I always envision a wheat field, it just seems right…and biblical). The sun is shining brighter than I have ever seen it shine—at least it looks like the sun, only more brilliant, loving and personal. It penetrates everything with a powerful presence. The sky is electric blue decorated with sparse, white-cotton clouds. The temperature is mild and the wind is gently blowing a hint of honeysuckle into my nose, reminding me of childhood summers when life was new and worries few.

Jesus is silent as He walks, and He's smiling. He is setting the pace and occasionally turning his head to look at me. His hands are held out just below waist level as he lets them glide gently over the heads of wheat. It’s as if he has a certain purpose in mind, a surprise of some sort. His smile grows wider and warmer as we get closer to our destination.

I want to look around and take in the scenery—I’m certain it’s breathtaking, but His face is all I can focus on at the moment. I cannot take my eyes off Him. He is inviting, comforting, safe and filled with so much joy! I am completely satisfied and without fear in His presence.

I have a strong desire to take His hand like a little child and never let go, but all my faculties are so captivated by His presence that none of my voluntary senses will respond. I can only look on Him and enjoy—and yet that is enough.

The beauty of the azure-blue sky outlines His face and the brilliance of the Great Light behind Him nearly blinds my peripheral vision as it breaks through His thick, dark hair.

Suddenly He stops, closes His eyes and slightly nods His head as if answering a silent whisper. Turning towards me, He places one hand on my shoulder and with the other He touches His finger to my chin and physically, but gently, turns the gaze of my face forward to a lone figure walking from the edge of the wheat field.

The unfocused silhouette begins to move towards us. His shoulders are broad and his gate is smooth, like a warrior running into battle. For just a moment I wonder if we are in danger, but then I remember I am with Jesus.
As the figure gets closer, the first facial feature I can make out is a smile, warm and inviting—beaming with joy. He slows to a gallop just short of reaching us; then walks, and then stops. There is a familiarity in his presence.

The wind blows through the wheat field as Jesus softly laughs and affectionately nudges my shoulder.

“Go see!”

I walk towards the lone figure, and the mysterious character places his hands on his hips, throws back his head, and laughs. The closer I get, the more I begin to understand.

“Dad, it’s me!” The man proclaims with a strong baritone voice.


I begin to move with urgency towards him, running hard and then falling like a child into his arms. A long embrace is mixed with rejoicing, then weeping, then astonishment and joy. Gripping him with a father’s love, I kiss his chiseled cheek and bury my face into his neck. He smells like the field—earthy, strong, clean and sweet.

“ Jacob! My son!”

Grasping his shoulders, I gaze on his face. “Look at you son! Look at you!”

We stare at each other for a second and I step back, scanning him from head to toe and taking in his sharp demeanor. His hair is thick and glowing auburn like the peak foliage of a sugar maple in fall. His eyes are glistening hazel, clear and focused.  With no thick, smudgy glasses to hinder his view, he returns a sharp and steady gaze.

“Look…at…you!”  I repeat in complete wonder.

He smiles with uncontainable elation and raises his arms, turning 360 degrees for a full inspection. “You should see how fast I can run! You want to race me?”

“I…I don’t think I can run right now, son.” I respond, stunned with complete awe.

“Come on dad! Let’s go, on three!” He playfully challenges as he runs in circles around Jesus and me, darting straight and cutting on a dime from side to side.

Jesus laughs.

“You always did like to run.” I reply, my mind blinking back to crooked legs, plastic braces and clumsy feet. Oh how I hated those braces. “Yeah, but now I don’t fall—ever!” He smiles as he leaps through the air. “I can run like the wind!”

He finally comes to an abrupt stop and faces me, placing both hands on my shoulders, forcing my full attention. His smiling demeanor turns dead serious, “And wait till you hear me sing!”

The volume of his voice decreases as he closes his eyes, “I have all these songs in my head.”

His elation returns as the volume increases with the speed of his excited tone, “Remember that song you used to sing to me when you brushed my teeth? By the way, LOOK at my TEETH!” He smiles his familiar, contagious smile and opens his mouth wide for inspection. “And that song mom used to sing when she put me to bed. And that song you sang when you woke me up and every time you washed my hair? That really helped me get through my bath time, by the way. I always wanted to tell you that, but…well you know.” 

“And all those songs we sang in church…I know them ALL!”

He is talking so fast, so eager and so clear, like he has been waiting to talk all his life. I could barely keep up with all he was saying and found myself joyfully adrift with the simple tone of his voice and the beautiful inflection of his words.

Suddenly and spontaneously he stops talking, looks skyward, and begins to sing,

“Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love, who ever lives and pleads for me.”

His voice is smooth and beautiful, deep and articulate. It grows bolder with anticipation and excitement as his eyes move from the sky, back to me, and then to Jesus. He points to the Savior as his focus grows intent.

“My name is graven on His hands, my name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.
No tongue can bid me thence depart.”

Jesus smiles in reply to the satisfaction of his worship.

“Show him your hands Jesus! Show him your hands!” Jake excitedly concludes his hymn of praise just as abruptly as it began.

“I learned a new song too! Wait till you hear it, dad.”

“I cannot wait to hear it, son.”

We talk and sing throughout the day—a day that never ends—as we stroll and run without tiring under the brilliant blue sky. We talk about the years of his disability, the suffering, confusion and pain.  We talk about the things he missed, and the things I missed—the hurt and the frustration, the laughter and the joy. There is forgiveness in his tone and grace in his words—so much grace. He is so excited to tell me everything, and I am so ready to listen.

Jesus is between us, in our midst. He puts His arm around Jake and reaches over and wipes my cheek with the sleeve of his garment. “No more tears", He gently commands. “Today, no more tears”.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Monday, February 11, 2013

"I Will Not Let You Go"

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:24-26)

I got into a fistfight last week.

Well, I suppose you could call it a fistfight. I got hit about 10-12 times without landing a single punch myself. It’s been a while since I have been in a fight. As a police officer, I probably get into more fights than the average middle-aged man. But at 46, my reflexes are not what they used to be—so I got a little beat up.

It all started when I attempted to make a man do something I thought he should do. I grabbed his shirtsleeve and directed him in the direction I wanted him to go. I’m usually pretty good at directing people. Apparently he was not having the best day and this was not the direction he wanted to go, so he responded by taking a swing at me.

I managed to duck the first blow and easily redirect his momentum; moving him through the open door of my pickup truck where he landed square on his back in the front seat. With his back to the seat, he reached for anything he could throw in my direction to keep me away from him, which happened to be a set of car keys, a water bottle and an ESV Bible.

The keys missed my head by a couple of inches and I managed to dodge the water bottle, but the bible hit me right in the chest—resulting in an out of context (yet unforgettable) illustration of Hebrews 4:12.

As he searched the cab of my truck for something else to launch at me, I took advantage of the distraction and rushed forward through the doorway. He caught me with an up-kick to my midsection but I managed to grab both his legs and pin them to the dash.

My tunnel-vision-focus on his legs left his hands unsecure and I was met with five or six quick strikes to the back of my head with his fist, followed by several scratches to my scalp and face from his fingernails.  

Believe it or not, my mind instinctively went back to a basic rule from my initial police training, “Watch the hands! Hands kill. If you control the hands, you control the fight.”

I abandoned his legs and latched on to his wrists, pushing his fists into his chest while simultaneously wrapping my leg around his ankles to control his feet. His explosive strength and speed humbled my aging muscles and slower reflexes, but at least I was now in control of the situation—or so I thought.

About the time I was catching my breath and making a new game plan, I felt a sharp, vice-like lock on my forearm and looked up to see the man clenching his teeth down on my jacket sleeve. My jacket was thick enough to keep the bite from penetrating skin, but the initial shock of the pain made me instinctively react.

Still holding his wrists, I broke away from the bite and lodged my elbow and forearm under his chin forcing his head back, his mouth closed, and averting any possible head butting or biting retaliation. The only offense he had left was to spit in my direction, which he did several times between primal screams of violent anger. I took the spit. It was better than the alternative.

Turning my face to avoid most of the projectile spray, I just happened to glance to the back seat of the truck where I saw my wife, daughter and teenage son.  The look on their faces made me realize how serious this incident had become.  I needed to end this fight.

With one last burst of adrenalin-fueled energy, I lifted the man to his feet and out of the seat. Still holding his wrists I swept his legs with my left foot and took him to the ground in the soft snow beside the door of the truck.  The powder absorbed most of the impact allowing me to move to a superior position.

As I pinned his arms to the ground with my hands, I knew by the look on his face the fight was almost over. He continued to struggle and spit, but he was quickly running out of gas. I held him there in the snow till the ice absorbed his energy and cooled his rage.

“Are you finished?” I muttered, nearly out of breath. “I’m not letting you go.”

He struggled one last time and then nodded his head in surrender. I slowly, but cautiously, helped him to his feet and dusted the snow from his back.  This fight was over. I loaded him into the truck and continued on to our destination.

The man I was fighting is not some deranged criminal; he is my son.  Autistic and non-verbal, he is a two-year-old in a twenty-year-old body. Like most two-year-olds, he throws fits from time to time. Unlike most two-year-olds, he can do a lot of damage.  He can hurt my wife and seriously hurt my daughter, and he can almost whip me. Almost.

It all began as we were headed out the door going to a Super Bowl party. He wanted to take his IPad. I said, “No” and he transformed into the Incredible Hulk.

Sitting in the truck with a protective arm around my son, I began to think how the Lord could possibly be in this. I thought of big words like “sanctification” and “sovereignty”, even “Imago Dei” and “Fearfully and wonderfully made”. These are bold and profound words I admittedly preach louder when the times are less painful.

Then, as the adrenaline dump sapped all of my remaining strength, a glaring image flashed through my head of a man struggling to get away. He cursed his family and His Lord. He fought against love and kicked against the goads. He spit in the face of the One who loved him most. But despite the rebellion and violence, even through the worst of sin and insurrection, his Father would not let him go—holding Him tightly till all the defiant energy was spent.

I am that man.

“I will not let you go.” I remember those words of tough love and bloody redemption very well, spoken by the Father of my salvation and echoed by the wife of my youth. I am eternally grateful for their tenacious gospel grip.

Jake finally settled down and apologized with tears, hugs and kisses. I wonder how he can vacillate so quickly between innocent bliss and animalistic violence. I wonder how much longer my strength will hold out. But no matter how he acts, he will always be my son. I will fight his rebellion with all my strength and all my love, and I will never let go—because I was never let go.

Child bitter with rage, blind and broken under this weight.
Seek Me first and you will find,
righteousness for your heart and peace for your mind.
I came to find you; in Me you will be found.

No matter what, no matter what may come.
No matter what may come, I will not let you go.”

Joel Pakan (Tangled Blue)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

7 Lessons From The Community of Disability

The tragedy of disability is not disability itself, but the isolation it often creates. This was one of the most important lessons our family had to learn. Sadly, we learned it the hard way. But hard lessons often lead to great insights and over the past few years we have had the wonderful opportunity to gain great wisdom from several families in many different communities.

While there are still many discoveries to be made along this journey, here are at least 7 helpful insights gleaned from the community of disability that have made a powerful difference in our family.

1. God is both sovereign and good.

When you are given a child with a severe disability, it is essential that you see God’s sovereign hand at work in your family. Scripture declares that your child was not an accident or a tragedy, but wonderfully and purposefully knit together from a blueprint of God’s plan that was designed before the foundation of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-17; Ephesians 1:3-12). Disability is not a curse; it is the goodness and grace of God magnified in ways that many typical families never get to experience.

2. You have been brought into this community for a purpose.

I was very slow to realized the purpose and potential of our family’s suffering and hardship until I began sharing our experiences. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 came alive during that time. Suffering brings us into the intimate presence of God where the sweetest comfort occurs. But we are not comforted to become comfortable; we are comforted to become comforters. Every single episode in our family’s experience with disability was an equipping of God’s grace to be shared with those in desperate need of His comfort.

3. Disability magnifies our vision for joy in the smallest things.

Most families living with disability will testify that some of their greatest victories have been those moments typical families often take for granted. I remember the first time our son used the bathroom in a public restroom (at the age of 17). We had just walked into Walmart and Jake took me by the hand and led me to the men’s room. He pulled his pants down and tried to pee in the toilet. He missed the toilet completely, peeing all over the seat, the floor, the wall and the stall. But he didn’t pee in his pants! We were laughing, clapping, cheering and praising God in a urine covered stall of a Walmart restroom. Most people cannot comprehend the enormous victory of that day, but disability often gives us 20/20 vision to see the things that others seem to miss. This is a wonderful gift.

4. Community brings much needed perspective

As said before, the danger of disability is isolation. The danger of isolation is idolatry (yes, our disabled children can become idols). The blessing of community is perspective. We all need perspective to wake us from the potential of self-pity and self-centeredness.

Just when you think no one on earth could possibly have it more difficult than your family, you meet a single mother with severely autistic twin boys. And just when the single mother thinks she can’t go on, she meets a grandmother trying to raise a 10 year old girl with fetal alcohol syndrome. The grandmother watches as a young couple attempt to nourish their unresponsive child through a feeding tube between seizure episodes. These families are learning something extremely valuable from each other--perspective turns our inward focus to outward community. And within community, disability become ministry.

5. Outspoken men are often minorities.

While this is not always the case, oftentimes when it comes to family leadership, women seem to be the most outspoken advocates for their disabled children. A mother’s tenacity may seem like the most natural response to a child’s disability ("Mama Bear" is not one to be messed with), but when this tenacity stems from a father’s detachment or disillusionment, it can create a lopsided weakness in the family structure. A family living with disability needs a father of certain dependability. This dependability is often best cultivated and strengthened through other masculine men in the community of disability.

6. When marriage takes second place to disability, it ends up in last place.

It has often been said, “The best way to love your children is to love your spouse.” While very few couples would admit to neglecting this truth in principle, many neglect it in practice. Good intention, without deliberate application, leads to marital deterioration. The relentless care of a disabled child, added to the care of other typically developing children in the home, added to working overtime to pay medical and therapy bills, added to stress and depression and weariness, leaves little time for marriage maintenance. A marriage that is not properly maintained is like a car leaking motor oil. Sooner or later the cylinders will seize, the engine will blow, and the damage will be beyond repair.

Do whatever it takes to make space in your busy schedule for quality time alone with your spouse. Men, don’t wait for your wife to seek this; lead the way. It could be as detailed as planning respite care and adding a date night every other week, or as simple as ending every evening sitting on the couch laughing (or crying) about the day's events. Aside from daily intimate time with the Lord and His word, this will be the single most important thing you can do to protect your family from becoming the alternative sad statistic.

7. A child with a disabled sibling is anything but typical.

I have borrowed (and adopted) the term “typically developing child” from my good friend John Knight. It is clear and accurate language in the proper context. But the more time I spend with siblings in families touched by disability, the more I realize these kids are anything but typical (per se).

I have watched in awe as siblings have stepped into difficult situations rivaling the heroic status of soldiers, firefighters and police officers. I have seen awkward, backward teenagers discover their extraordinary gift and calling as compassionate caregivers. And many times when I began to feel pity towards one of these typical siblings I have felt the faint nudge of the Lord scold me with, “Pay attention, I’m doing something incredible in the life of this child as I conform them into the image of my Son.”

No school, public or private, can teach the deep lessons of life like the school of disability. I can say without hesitation that my sons will be better men because of their relationship with their disabled brother. Living with Jake has not only prepared them for the worst of trials, it has equipped them with a profound sensitivity to recognize the intentional hand of God in the smallest, most unsuspecting, details of life.

What an extraordinary gift their brother has been!

These lessons are not even close to being exhaustive. They are ongoing and ever developing all around us. The desperate search and refreshing discovery of each nugget of wisdom brings strength to our family and equips us to be poured out into the lives of others.

If you are reading this and happen to be new to the community of disability, welcome to the family! It is a wonderful, glorious, breathtaking journey that will open your eyes to the most precious things in life as it draws you closer and closer to the most precious truth for eternity.