Friday, October 26, 2012


 “Oh God!  I don’t want to be tired again today!”  

This has become my lament as I stumble out of bed some mornings, my body still carrying the fatigue I went to bed with, seemingly un-phased by eight hours of rest.  How is this possible?  I drag myself into the bathroom stiff from lying still overnight.  Starring into the mirror, the face that looks back at me is exhausted and frazzled.  My hair is twisted in new directions, my eczema is flaring up on both elbows, and the bags under my eyes are epic.  

What’s happening to me?  Where has the stamina gone that I enjoyed ten years ago? Why do I find myself squirming when I sit down, trying to find “just the right spot” to alleviate the dull ache that is lingering in my back?   I’m 28!  This shouldn’t be happening!  

My body is not the tent I was hoping to be living in as a young adult….

 ….Sometimes this disappointment has brought me to tears.

The reality of our senescence can be cruel.

Do you ever look in the mirror and find yourself discouraged by what you see:

Thinning hair
Flabby tummy
Wrinkling skin
Excess weight
Something else?  

When you look in the mirror are you motivated to start your day, or do you wonder if you would be doing the world a favor if you ran back and hid under the covers for an extra hour or two?

In wrestling with these thoughts, I have been comforted by what Paul has to say in 2 Corinthians 4.  I thought about trying to paraphrase his words, but they are beautiful on their own, and have become my prayer:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart!
 Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Image Source:
NIV Scripture from

Stumbo Family Story

Saturday, October 20, 2012

After We've Dried Our Tears...

“What have you learned in your seminary courses that you think will help you as you minister to people with disabilities?”  The professor scanned the room, pointing when a hand was raised.

“Sometimes one of the best things you can do is shut up and cry.”

The professor bit his lip and nodded in acknowledgement.  “Well said.”

How do we minister to people with disabilities?  What do we do when we are confronted with the reality that there are over 40 million Americans living in the United States with a disability who are not institutionalized?  They are the people we see in schools, grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and churches.  While many of us default to thinking about children and their pediatric conditions, the reality is that for most Americans, disability occurs after the age of 18.  

While reading through the gospels, the thing that has been jumping off the pages at me lately is the fact that Jesus saw the people with disabilities who were around him and intentionally reached out in ministry.  

How do we follow this model in 2012?

I think it starts small, often times just by showing up.  I can tell you from personal experience that one of the most gripping challenges of living with a disability is loneliness; not just in the sense of not being around people, but being alone in your experience.  So many people care, but they just cannot relate to your life and this can be very isolating.  

So, show up.  Share a meal together, watch a movie, or volunteer your time.  Grab a friend and babysit children with special needs so their parents can spend time dating.  Be willing to have courageous conversations, ones that may take you to places where the most compassionate reaction is to patiently listen and quietly weep.  

But what do we do after we’ve dried our tears?

I’ve been pondering this lately.  Ministering to people with disabilities can be very individualized, complex, and draining. Here are a few resources I’ve stumbled upon that have been helpful.

1.        Consider attending the Disability Conference in Minneapolis on November 8th.  This conference is the first of its kind sponsored by John Piper’s ministry, Desiring God.  

2.       Turn on your iPad!  I did a search within iTunes and found a whole seminary course called A Theology of Suffering, Disability, and the Church.  There are over 100 video segments of lectures facilitated by doctors, therapists, people with disabilities, missionaries, and theologians discussing topics from grief, family counseling, and bioethics, to pastoral ministry, biblical views of suffering, and personal testimonies.  It’s packed full of information and absolutely free!  

3.       Realize that disability ministry is a global issue.  I tolerate travel, but I know some of you relish it.  The availability of specialized health care is so much more accessible in the United States than it is in third world countries.  This reality compels so many people to go!  Beyond Our Door Global and Wheels for the World are two organizations I know of that minister in this capacity, but I’m sure a quick Google search will reveal more. 

Want a closer look?  The video I’ve embedded below presents some challenging thoughts from Joni Eareckson Tada on suffering and disability ministry that were shared at Dallas Theological seminary last year.  At 17:18, Joni shares about what her ministry is doing to alleviate the pain of suffering of people with disabilities in Haiti.  Good stuff!

Image Source:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Disability Awareness Month

October is Disability Awareness Month.  Developing an understanding of people who have disabilities and the multifaceted impact a disability can have on a person’s life is….hard!  There is no easy way to grapple with disability, but I think that sometimes listening to people’s stories can provide insight into this unique experience.  The one I embedded below is no exception!

Want to learn more?  John has a blog about disability called:

Below are 10 additional videos that address disabilities from different angles. 

1.        Alicia Arenas: Recognizing Glass Children.  Alicia talks about glass children, siblings who have a brother or sister with a disability.  This is a TEDx San Antonio talk. 
2.       Amy Mullins-How My Legs Gave Me Super Powers.  Amy is a double-amputee who is redefining beauty.  She also talks about the Opportunity of Diversity.  
3.       Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs—his message and life are inspiring.
4.       This is a radio interview with Mathew Sanford, a Minnesotan living with paralysis whose approach to Yoga is helping many people with disabilities. 
5.       Weird Glasses People  I watched this video as part of a training that I attended this summer.  It gives a spin on awkward conversations people with disabilities sometimes find themselves engaged in.  
6.       Maureen and Paul Pranghofer This couple attends my church and were interviewed last year by WCCO news.  They have a wonderful story!
7.       John Piper  preached a sermon last year on John 9: 1-23.  His words are thought-provoking.  One of my favorite was the challenge to start “Seeing disability!”  
8.       Perhaps  you’ve heard the song If You Want Me To on the radio.  Did you know that the artist, Ginny Owens, is blind?  
9.       I can only imagine  features the racing pair Rick and Dick Hoyt.
10.   Do basketball & Autism mix?  This is an inspiring incident that made national news!

Do you have a favorite video or story you would like to share?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Krista Horning

Turning the Tapestry continues this month with some words from my beautiful friend, Krista Horning.

I am 25 years old and was born with a disability called Apert Syndrome. It makes the bones in my body fused - my skull, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers and feet. There are also many other problems including hearing loss and learning challenges.  

I’ve had over 50 surgeries to correct some of the problems, but none of them can be totally fixed. When I was four months old, a doctor cut my head from ear to ear, took my skull apart, and put it back together in a different way. 

Even though I’ve had all these surgeries, I still look different. When I’m out in public, I get stared at a lot. Sometimes people even point or laugh or say “Look at her,” or “What’s wrong with your face?” People judge me because I look different. It makes them think that I’m stupid or I won’t make a good friend.

After I was born, my parents began teaching me Bible verses. The promises of God helped me when I was afraid or sad or wondered why I was disabled. They didn’t make the hurts or the questions go away, but God’s word filled my mind and heart with amazing truths.  Like… God is always with me.  He is faithful. He is in control of the whole world and He has a special plan for my life.

I was a teenager when I began to really wonder why God made me this way. I asked my pastor some hard questions and he reminded me that the answers are in God’s word. I will never forget when he looked me in the eyes and told me I was beautiful.
It’s easy to think God made me this way because he doesn’t care. Suffering is hard. I don’t like to suffer; I don’t want to suffer.  Sometimes I’m ashamed of my suffering. But God’s word says, “If we suffer we should not be ashamed or surprised, but glorify God.” (1 Peter 4:16)

He made me to glorify Him. I have to trust him more than I would if I was a typical person. I have to trust him every time I have surgery or every time I go to Target.  When I trust him, I glorify Him.  When I am weak, he is strong.

Every day I’m reminded of how weak I am. I can’t take my own shower or make quick decisions. I don’t like weakness. But I love what God has done in my life because of it. God has used my weakness to teach me to depend on him more. If I didn’t have any weakness I wouldn’t have any need for God. God uses all our weakness to show us how much we need Him.

I trust Him with how He made me. I love Him and He loves me just the way I am.

Note:  Krista has written a book called Just The Way I Am: God’s Good Design In Disability.  She recently gave an interview for the Homeschool Heartbeat Radio Program that I highly recommend. 

Next month, Turning the Tapestry will feature thoughts from Caryn Turner.