“Prolife causes no one marches for”

This phrase is not original with me, but I (Joan) sure do resonate with it! And before January has ended, I feel compelled to share my heart. I prayed long and hard before sending out this message, because I know for some, these are “unfriendly” words.

A few days ago, our country reached the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade ruling that abortions were legal at a federal level. Of course, as you know, that was overturned last summer and now abortions are legal (or illegal) at a state level.

Lots of loud voices since are complaining that we have gone backwards. “It is a women’s right to control her own body”, “The state has no right to interfere” – we hear it all!

What we rarely hear about are the rights of the baby struggling to survive in a hostile environment. And so, thousands over the past 50 years (including myself) have marched to protect the innocent, the unborn that cannot speak for themselves, who are hidden and unseen, but made in the image of his or her Creator! And of course, a secular worldview does not see it this way. What it sees is an inconvenience, a hardship, not even life.

But a Biblical worldview is diametrically opposed to that. Our eyes see these scriptures: Gen 1:27, Exo 4:11, Ps 127: 3-4, Ps 139: 13-16, I Cor 6:19, Rom 12: 1-2. And if you don’t automatically recognize these verses, look them up and commit them to your life. It is by “faith” that we walk this path of ‘pro-life” in the tough cases. Imago Dei means I see and celebrate God’s image in every person, in every season, stage and struggle. And that image has profound value.

It was easy for me to march in Washington for innocent babies (cute, helpless, and adorable) before I had children. My “march” for prolife has become more difficult, more hostile and taking more gumption to walk beside those who are disabled, disfigured, destroyed by disease, and unproductive – when it meant I would give up even more of myself to become an advocate, caregiver, and lover to those who receive very little love. Some days I want to say, “God, it is too much to love the unlovable in our world!”

What about those around us destroyed by disease, deluded, darkness, downright evil, depressed, dementia, a different culture, (how many ‘D’ words can you come up with?).  But each affected person is stamped with the image of God whether we can ‘see’ it or not.  No one is outside the reach and compassion of God.

Be amazed today that God reached down and grabbed your heart and thank Him for stamping His image on you, and then look around and see who you can reach out to (even if they seem very unlovable) and give grace, mercy and share the truth of God’s word with them today.

“He is broken”

It is tough living with a man who is logical, loving, godly and devoted! Hmmm, let me look at that again! Well at least it is tough when you are a mom who is frustrated, emotional, ungodly and tired! Most days I am incredibly grateful for Ron who brings so much love, healing and stability to this family. But yesterday – I just wanted to be mad. Another thing broken in our home by the hands of our dear sweet traumatic brain injury child. It appears it is a regular occurrence around here. But this time, it was an expensive Christmas present. I won’t say what it was because I am not playing on your heartstrings. I know many of you would ship me Amazon boxes of the item. 😊 But I did try that angle on Ron, “We won’t have any money left till he is 18 to recover all that we have lost around here at his hands!” Thinking certainly Ron would be as angry as I was if I brought up finances!

No, he was unphased. “I do not know why Matthew does what he does, but I do know that his body is broken and maybe sometimes he gets very tired of living with a broken body and wants other things around him to be broken. Let’s just keep focusing on how far he has come and be patient with the rest.” Ugh, I crumbled, felt horrible, guilty, and so defeated.

It was just earlier in the day that I was sobbing during a scene that Kari and I watched from “The Chosen” (Season 3 episode 2). In case you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to be the spoiler, but here is the clip if you want to see it. The subject is healing.

Regarding complete healing- Kari and Matthew haven’t experienced that this side of heaven- but the Word speaks to that issue, and I was reminded again of the many ways that I don’t always have my thinking lining up with Christ’s! (Case you missed it- that was the major understatement of day).I, too, am a broken person. We all are! We all need a Healer, a Repairer of our broken souls, a Rescuer to save us from our sin, a Savior who carries us on his shoulders during our incredible weakness – Jesus. Look to Him, trust Him. Peace has been restored in my heart and home. Matthew is no longer living with his mom’s wrath. Humbly submitting to the ways of Christ really is the way to live- abundant living!!

Today, you can also pray for me as I celebrate six months since my back surgery. Visit to surgeon will hopefully relieve me from all my post-surgical restrictions and I can get started with that construction work, beginning with my own heart! Happy New Year!  Joan

The Gap theory

The title may have you thinking one thing, but I am pretty sure you are not thinking what I am. Ten years ago when I was in foster care training, I was taught how children of trauma have many “gaps” in their thinking, education, social skills, etc. Which basically means that development can be very sporadic and confusing because, although there may be great advancement in one area, other areas may be virtually non-existent. And this was something that we were to keep in mind as we patiently work with our child. In other words, encountering large gaps in learning is typical.

So, in the past 10 years, I have watched and sometimes worked very patiently (and more times than not, very impatiently) as we train Matthew.  Today I kept him home from school because of a bad cough – sick but not sick enough to send him off to bed. So, I patiently labored through schoolwork, physical therapy exercises, and even a little recess. After 3 ½ hours his batteries still had a charge, but I was exhausted – mostly because he cannot stop talking through everything and most of the chatter is repetitive exciting chatter of upcoming Christmas events, halted only briefly by episodes of coughing.

I desperately needed a break. So, I plopped Kari beside the piano and asked Matthew to sit down and play her a song. Thinking that his just banging some keys here and there would at least give me a respite from chatter and allow me to make some lunch. What happened over the next 20 minutes was nothing short of a miracle. He sat at that piano and almost perfectly (with the left hand, the only one that works) played the four songs he will be singing on Sunday in the children’s choir. He never did that before. It was totally amazing! Within the realm of music, this kid runs circles around me. He wanted me to sing while he played. Mind you, I have been with him at every practice and still don’t know the words, nor even the tune for sure. That would be a “gap” for me but a mountain top for him!

Then there is the girl sitting beside him listening. She may not be a child of trauma, but she has been affected by this world of sin just the same.  Last night I read a quote from Joni Tada, “Contentment is that quietness of heart growing out of supernatural grace that gladly submits to God in all circumstances—but you must go through a strenuous learning process” and I would add, “…because we got lots of ‘gaps.’” Kari has mastered contentment. I know of no one who is more content than she.

As I take a few moments to sit between my two amazing children, realizing how far above me on mountain tops they are, I feel very small in my valley and I am grateful to God to show me this joy on this wearying day, knowing I too have major gaps and major learning before me.

Managing Leftovers

“Managing leftovers – it’s not as easy as you think,” Joan expressed, probably more to herself than to me.

After a big meal, many kinds of food, requiring different ways of saving the savory dishes – not an easy task, but worth it. We love leftovers – turkey sandwiches are great for example.

At the end of the day, we reflect, we process. This is a different type of managing the leftovers of the day. Some things we’ll try to replicate next year. Some we’ll throw away. And some we’ll just spend a few more minutes savoring.

Here are some of our “leftovers” – some worth savoring and some we’ll try not to repeat.

Kicking a football in the house. Good kick Matthew – you got the thing airborne. Bad news is that you smacked mom with it in the face (who was busy reading something I was thinking of sharing at the Thanksgiving service). Let’s remind ourselves of the ancient wisdom of “not playing ball in the house.”

Attending the service and sharing one of our big praises since last thanksgiving. (view if you like, start at 15:35 – my testimony lasts for one minute, ten seconds) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5J3yXShb9E

Flying Jeremy’s drone – a gift from several Christmas’ past. Kudos for Jeremy for realizing this would be something Matthew would really enjoy. On the flip side, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to allow Matthew full control with the result of the drone getting stuck in the neighbor’s tree. Then again, the challenge of getting it down was a memorable activity of its own.

And then there was the “let’s solve some of the world’s problems” – the more in-depth conversation about pain around the holidays and the empty seats from 600 plus mass shootings so far this year. “If you were “king,” what one thing would you do to move the needle?”  Some good thoughts about root causes and a few practical ideas for what each of us can do that could make a difference over time.

Finally, this morning I asked Matthew what Thanksgiving is about. “It’s about giving thanks to one another.” Wrong answer, I say to myself. But to him I say, “give me examples.” And he did, which gave me the source of his thinking. “I’ll tell you what. Let’s watch that YouTube kids’ program together and see what’s missing,” which we did, and was able to explain that, while being grateful to one another is important, Thanksgiving was established to remind us to give thanks to God.

So yes, while the adults were fixing the world, my son was being fed a worldview (a nice, moral one) that excluded the one who most deserves our thanks.

Managing leftovers. Joan is right. It isn’t easy. But it is worth doing.

Credit: I must express appreciation to David and Karen Mains and a film series from long ago entitled: “What Makes a Christian Family Christian?” Their fourth episode was all about “living the evaluative lifestyle.” One main point: Don’t just watch TV – after you do so, process it together and examine what aligns with a Christian Worldview and what does not.

Reminder to be Thankful

Thanksgiving Eve doesn’t get the hype as Christmas Eve, but just the same I (Joan) want to take a moment to remind all to count our many blessings. Yesterday I had the incredible honor of keeping my granddaughter Elia for the day. She hangs out here a couple days a week, but yesterday was extra special because she was 11 months old, so we sang and did the happy dance and had so much fun that napping was not on the agenda. And since she will be with her other Grandma in MO over her 1st birthday (yes, I do have to share), we lived it up yesterday!

Last year at this time we were barely breathing as we awaited her very high-risk birth. “Pins and needles” I believe we called it! Didn’t seem fair after having 3 special needs children ourselves that we were again in this precarious position of awaiting our first grandchild under such duress. But last Christmas we celebrated a miraculous birth and with each of her following check-ups we breathed a little easier. Elia is a charmer at 11 months, and we will never forget God’s grace on this family.

Of course, we have much to be thankful for this year. My back surgery and surrounding recovery going terrific, my brother Joe falling 12 ft face first on concrete and miraculous recovery, we are still a seizure- free home after 35 years of daily bombardment of those terrible “lightning strikes of brain,” and we have amazing tranquility in our home despite daily challenges of caring for 2 special needs children and their grandfather. Compared to the rest of the world we have an abundance.

Before Moses sent his Israelite crew into the promise land, he had some words of reminder: “There (in the promise land) in the presence of the Lord, your family will eat and rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you!” (Deut 12: 7) I love this encouragement he gives them to keep looking forward and see what is coming! So tomorrow, you can bet I will be eating and rejoicing with my family – celebrating the blessings in my own little “promised land.”

But I can’t stop here. Moses went on to contrast what the Jewish nation was experiencing at that very moment, “Do not do as we have here today, everyone doing as they see right in their own eyes!” (Deut 12:8) Ugh! So, our reality! Surrounded by evil, pain, and everyone interpreting life the way they want it and not seeking the face of Jesus for His truth and purpose.

I Peter 1:3 reminds us, “though we can not see Him, you believe in Him and are filled with inexpressible joy.” Yes, Peter, I am! And not because all is “right” around me but because God is still on His throne, His presence is nearer than if He was walking beside me. As we enter Advent season, I believe His coming is near. Like wise men of 2,000 years ago eagerly awaiting the Messiah, I want to encourage us all to be among the few who do not forget Who is about to come back – to be ready – to let my light so shine to attract others to Jesus and to be thank-full for this promised blessing! Happy Thanksgiving!

Rising Above

We recently had the honor of being guests on a podcast with Rising Above Ministries. Based in Tennessee, their goal is “lifting up the special-needs community.”

You can listen here: https://www.risingaboveministries.org/podcast/denlingers

For those getting to know our family because of the Rising Above podcast, you can continue receiving updates on our family story by subscribing. You’ll receive an e-mail notification with each new post.

Update on my brother

I’ll start with a firsthand report from my sister-in-law…

“He is really doing quite well! We did dressing changes today, and everything is hemostatic, so I have been able to loosen the pressure on the wrap which definitively eases some discomfort. Swelling in his eyes is down, too. He is sleeping a good bit, but that is to be expected as his brain heals.”

He still has no memory of his actual fall, but we can’t stress enough what a miracle this is that he did not fracture his skull, neck or spine! I guess as a little sister, I always knew he had a hard head – but I had no idea I was related to superman! Praising and praying!


Please pray

I would just like to ask for prayer for my brother, Joe Weaver. Twenty-four hours ago he fell 12 feet onto concrete apparently face first. He was found unconscious and barely breathing. But praise God had no internal injury- broken neck or other spinal cord injury. He does have a severe concussion and lacerations to his face and bleeding and swelling into his eyes that he is unable to open them at the moment. With time and rest, all of these injuries should heal. All we can say is, “Thank-you Jesus for sparing his life!”
He and his wife, Sima are physicians in Pittsburgh who both work at a clinic for the underserved. The clinic recently has had terrific challenges and are down staff. So this is another staff who is out of commission for awhile. They have 4 children, 3 in college and 1 at home, all of whom have been traumatized by their dad’s fall. Thanks for prayers!

Happy Day

Whooooo- hoooo! The x-ray of my spinal bone looks great! I can lift 25 lbs, I can crawl if I keep my back arched (look out Elia, the race is now on), I can bend and twist with moderation- mostly using my knees! I can walk as much as tolerated. My therapy starts Friday. My only disappointment: I have to wean the brace over next 7 days. I can only have it off 1 hour today, 2 tomorrow, etc. And my weakness may remain as much as a year yet😝. He said he made me better but not new🤔. Ron is delighted because he can go back to work.

I Spy a… Pie

So, this is week 10 in my rehab from back surgery and the pie in my oven is significant because it is part of my own therapy plan. I am allowed to do very little, and my back and legs are very weak which does not allow me to do much work in my kitchen. So, I have a test to see if strength is coming – trying to make my family a pie every now and then. The week 3 pie was a complete disaster. I think the week 10 pie may be the best yet.  Now the pie is sitting in the oven waiting on Ron to rescue it. Still can’t bend at all so Ron rescues everything around here. Lots of kid care, lots of spills that I do, lots of housework! He is an amazing energizer bunny and despite the pies (or perhaps because of my pies) he has just achieved 25 lbs weight loss! Way to go Ron!!!

I have 3 weeks to go till my x-ray, which hopefully WILL reveal that bone has now stabilized my spine. If so, I may be freed of some tough restrictions that have put me in this “sabbatical situation.”  I continue to have no pain, just incredible weakness in my back and legs when I am upright for too long. When muscles and nerves are cut and then not allowed to be used, weakness is definitely a thing! I reminded Ron last night that till I am finished with this – it will be a ¼ of a year of my life that has transpired! Putting it that way, he too thought it is a long time!

I am so humbled by many of you who stay tuned to my {Joan’s} ramblings. When I send a blog out, I sometimes even get hits internationally which always amazes me. Not sure who is tuning in, but I always want to make sure God gets glory for what He continuous to do around here. I spy him at work in many ways.

  1. How he keeps giving us strength to carry on. Matthew is challenging us a bit these days with a nighttime routine of getting up a few times each night and being done with sleep altogether by 5 in morning. So, sleep in this rehab is a bit lacking. But we try to focus on the accomplishments and not the regression!
  2. Our sweetest granddaughter keeps delighting us with her smiles and love and we just can’t stop praising God for this miracle child. She heads to CHOP tomorrow for another evaluation. Pray for her parents!
  3. The only chair in the house that I can comfortably sit in, dubbed the “Queen’s chair” by Ron (no disrespect to an incredible true queen being buried today). I call it my prayer chair. During this sabbatical I have made prayer a high priority – almost to the point that I am afraid for how life will change for me once I need to get back to hands-on life again. But I cannot overstate enough the “I spy God at work things” I have witnessed in the last 10 weeks. My heart continues to leap for Joy with how the Holy Spirit led me in an encounter with a very needy young woman this weekend – a story I don’t feel free to share yet. I may never know why God allowed our lives to intersect but the whole thing was way beyond me. I just got to be the one who was Jesus’ hands.
  4. Finally, my dad turns 90 very soon and I get to help organize a party for him. I spy God at work in my father, sustaining him in his single years after 66 with my mom. And I draw strength from that as I heal.
  5. I spy all of you praying for our family, and I thank you!!!