Is Our Dwarfism Really That Funny?

Why does my short stature and that of my children make you laugh?
Is it really that funny?

“As a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings . . . ”  This verse reverberated in my head today as I and my children dealt with not one, but three separate incidents with people who mocked, laughed, shouted out, and video taped us.

I remember my mom telling the story of the Little Red Hen during our German youth meetings.  The story is about a red hen who gives birth to a brood of chicks.  Sadly, a fire sweeps through the country side and the farm upon which they live is engulfed in the fire.  Later, while surveying the fire damage the farmer notices this thick black ball of something that’s totally unrecognizable.  He takes his foot and kicks over the black charred ball and out comes the Little Red Hen’s brood of chicks.  The mother hen had gathered her chicks as the fire approached and she took the pain of the flames thus sacrificing her life for her chicks.

The story is a depiction of what Jesus Christ did for us.  He spread out His hands and took the punishment for our sin so that our lives would be spared from eternal separation from Him and we could have life . . . eternal life with Him.

I wasn’t laying down my life today, nor was I ever in danger of losing it.  However, something within me did die . . . a little.  All my life I have dealt with the stares, name calling, and—at times—mean, derogatory slurs.  Today was different because I was with my “chicks”—my babies.  I can’t wrap my head around why it’s so important to name call, video tape and mock us because of our dwarfism.  What is so important about taking our picture and texting it to your friend?  What is it about my short stature that makes people yell, “Hey, Mom, look at the midget!” and why does that mom just laugh along with her son and walk away.  Why would a girl stand beside me and my kids snapping pictures, then cover her mouth because she’s laughing so hard at the fact that she’d accomplished to take our picture as she walked away briskly.  Why had the parents of the two young girls not educated them that snapping our picture as we walked into the lobby of a store, all the while laughing, isn’t respectful.  Why does my short stature and that of my children make you laugh?  Is it really that funny?

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The world screams about tolerance and yet, as a dwarf, I and my children aren’t afforded this tolerance.  If I were African-American the NAACP would be calling their lawyers, if I were in a wheel chair the NDRN would be calling a press conference, and if I were in the LGBT community the American Civil Liberties Union would have me booked on every major network to report it.  However, I am a dwarf, little person, a mom, wife, sister and I am not afford the right of privacy, tolerance, or just plain good manners.

I held back tears today wishing I had wings of steel that I could have spread across my kids just to shield them from this lack of tolerance and ignorance.  I couldn’t shield them, or close their ears to those ugly words or even answer their questions of, “Why Mom?” How do you explain it?

Basically, there is no explanation for their actions.  However, I tell my children we can’t control others, but we can control our response and our attitude.  I do my best to educate through my blog, the spoken word, or just smile and walk away.  I pray that one day those of us who have been chosen by God to live out our days on this earth with dwarfism will be able to enjoy the kindness, courtesy, and respect that all of who’ve been given the breath of life deserve.

If you know a principle, teacher, or church youth leader that would welcome us to come speak, take questions, and educate about dwarfism please pass on my contact information.  We can’t change the whole world’s preconceived ideas or actions towards those with dwarfism, but we can certainly try to change those around us.

 

A Big Lesson from My Little Brother

My little (6’4″) brother Michael and I have recently been able to worship together after a long season of worshiping in our own churches.  It has been a joy watching my children learn from their Uncle Michael as he’s been leading worship to see what true worship looks like.

Ironically, I too was watching Michael and, as his older sister, was blessed to see him with joy playing, singing, worshiping, and encouraging the congregation to worship along with him.  I found myself thinking about and considering my own way of worshiping God.

On July 4th, the family got together to celebrate our nation’s birthday with the traditional grilling and family fun.  As the evening progressed, I became more and more sick. I had no idea what was going on with me.  It actually reminded me a lot of what had put me in the ER in China.  The week went on and I was unable to take in much nourishment.  I felt like I was slowly dying of something.  In a short amount of time I lost a good bit of weight.  Fortunately, one of my physicians is a good friend.  I reached out to her and she ordered blood work.  There were several abnormalities and the tests revealed that my gallbladder was only functioning at forty-five percent.  Although forty-five percent isn’t great, it’s also not super bad.  So, before she referred me to a surgeon, she gave me an antibiotic to make sure that I hadn’t picked up a parasite, and she wanted to wait a month to repeat my labs to see if my liver enzymes would return to normal.

During all of this I have been unable to take in much food without getting nauseated or having extreme abdominal pain.  As a mom, it’s been difficult because I’ve had no energy and had to lay down a little while after eating.  At times, the nausea reminded me of a “first-trimester pregnancy” nausea.  I could eat something one day, and then the next day the very thought of that food was disgusting.

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While all this was going on, Michael and I had various discussions about prayer, and what true worship is all about.  Michael shared with me how his role as worship pastor isn’t to stand up and preform a mini concert, but instead it’s all about shepherding the flock, as a pastor, to come and worship at the feet of Jesus.  He said it’s not about how good a worship pastor can sing, or how many instruments he can play.  It’s all about encouraging the church to empty their hands of whatever problems, trials, or circumstances that they’re walking through at the feet of Jesus and lift them to say, “God, You are worthy.  You know my pain and heartache.  You know what I’m walking through, and I’m dropping all of it at Your feet and lifting my hands to worship You—the One who is worthy of all my praise.”

One day, after our many talks, I was standing in my pantry trying to figure out what I could eat.  I felt so sick I really didn’t want to eat, but I knew I needed to eat something.  A verse from the song “Jesus” came to my mind and I put down what was in my hands, lifted them to the sky, and tearfully sang and worshiped.  The words I sang were:

Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me

He roars like a lion
He bled as the Lamb
He carries my healing in His hands, Jesus

I was overwhelmed thinking about how Jesus doesn’t just stand off distantly in Heaven watching me suffer . . .  but rather, He stands in the fire beside me.  Not only does He stand beside me, He’s carrying the healing my body needs in His hands.  Maybe it’s not the healing I want, but He knows what is best for me.

I am so thankful Michael had shared with me his heart about what true worship looks like and how it is so much more than a “feeling.”  It’s about your heart!  (Michael shared this quote by Matt Redman with me:  “The heart of God loves a persevering worshipper who, though overwhelmed by many troubles, is overwhelmed even more by the beauty of God.”)

It wasn’t long after our discussion that I ran across this quote by A.W. Tozer regarding worship:  “A church that can’t worship must be entertained; and people who can’t lead a church to worship must provide entertainment.” – A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer’s quote reminded me of a quote from one of my professors in Switzerland (1997):  “Are you here to entertain the goats or to teach the lambs?”

How relevant both of these quotes are in today’s church.  The church is looking for someone to entertain them, give them goose bumps, or bring an emotional tear to their eye.  There are those who say, “I’m just not into the whole ‘praising, worshiping, lifting my hands as I worship’-style music,” and yet, if they read their Bible, they’ll see that that’s exactly what we will be doing for all eternity.  The Bible says:  “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.”  If you can’t worship God here on earth, how will you worship Him in heaven?

William Borden said, “No Reserves, No Retreats, and No Regrets.”  This is how I want to worship my King—not only here on earth, but throughout eternity!

When I die, I want to be able to say:  “No Reserves, No Retreats, and No Regrets!”

God-walkers

IMG_7187Today, we received a box that, for me, was filled with the mixed emotions of hope and sadness.  The boys have been experiencing more numbness (we call it the “fuzzies”) with day-to-day activities.  If you’ve seen us out and about, you’ve probably noticed them squatting, sitting on bottom shelves or chairs, or hanging onto the buggy as we navigate stores.  The frequency of their fuzzies had become significant enough that I went on a hunt to find something they could use to assist them when those crazy fuzzies hit them.  Whenever we took a family walk, we’d been bringing Teagan’s balance bike, because it was perfect for the boys to sit on while waiting for the feeling to return to their legs. The only problem is that stores, airplanes, airports, and malls don’t allow them.  The boys, Teagan, and I are headed to New York later this month for them to participate in a measurement clinic for a drug manufacturing company.  Billy and Heidi will be in Panama on a mission trip.  Thankfully, my sister Rachel will be accompanying me to help out.  However, I still had no idea how in the world we were going to navigate the streets of New York, especially if the boys’ legs went numb and they needed to squat down in the middle of a busy New York sidewalk.  Both boys can walk and sometimes we’re amazed at how far they go without needing to squat and take a break.  Then there are those days when every twenty steps they need to squat and take a break.  Well, I quickly got busy trying to figure out what in the world we could use to help make not only our NY trip more comfortable, but even our trips to the local supermarket or hardware store.  I remembered seeing someone at our church on a knee walker, and the thought hit me that it could be used as a sit-down scooter. I started googling knee walkers, and I was excited to find out that they make pediatric ones that are much shorter, which would be perfect for the boys’ short legs.  I contacted the company that manufactures them and asked about all the specifications.  When I told them how I was planning to use it, they said they’d never heard of anyone using it as I described, but just maybe it would work.

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1st time on their new ride

As you can see from the picture, it’s perfect! It’s on its lowest setting and it’s exactly what the boys need.  You know that was no accident . . . God is good!  What I love about this picture is the fact that Noah and Micah aren’t ashamed of their need, but are thrilled to have something so perfectly suited for their need.

When I was in the first grade, my parents got me a stool to set under my desk so that I could rest my feet on it. Sadly, I was embarrassed and ashamed of it. I’d wear a sweater to school and drape it over it thinking no one would notice. As I’ve grown and matured, I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help and that stools are just a part of a dwarf’s life, as are many other apparatuses.

I’ve striven every day to help our children accept their dwarfism and its challenges with grace and dignity.  Mostly, I’ve wanted them to see their journey in life as a testimony to a world that’s not always accepting of God’s grace and love.  I would have no greater joy as a mom than to know that when my children’s names were read in God’s story of humanity that the word “God-walker” would describe them.

 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8

Micah and Noah aren’t perfect.  However, they certainly reflect God with their kind words to those who are hurting, their pep talks to those who need encouragement, their tender hugs that are shared generously with everyone, their caring actions towards the elderly, children, and strangers they meet out in public, their tender hearts that give generously to missions or those in need, and their righteous anger towards those who mock God or belittle His Word.  Micah and Noah are an inspiration to me and all who are privileged to meet them.

When I began this post I’d forgotten that tomorrow my brave warriors will be fifteen. I’ve learned so much from them and anticipate learning more as they mature and grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

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Micah and Noah

I pray this “new addition” to our family will help the boys continue to avoid spinal surgery.  We know that whatever path the Lord chooses for their lives will be His perfect will and we will accept it.  No matter what detours may come in the boys’ lives, I pray that the boys will continue to be God-walkers.

Knee Rover Jr:

https://smile.amazon.com/KneeRover-Scooter-Pediatric-Crutches-Alternative/dp/B00IKN5D2Y/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=kneerover+jr&qid=1565823153&s=gateway&sr=8-5

Knee Walker Jr Pediatric and Smaller Adult Knee Scooter

 

 

First Forever Family Day

It’s hard to believe that one year ago today, Teagan was “birthed” into our family.  She arrived at the civil affairs office with her caretakers, all wrapped snug in a faux fur coat and a smile that would melt any heart.  When she stepped through the door and saw us, she wasn’t sure if she wanted us there.  You could see hesitancy on her face as we locked eyes for the first time.  I took out a little bag of mini Strawberry Shortcake figures and she immediately came to us, and that was the first time . . . we were able to embrace our precious little girl.  We were amazed at how quickly she warmed up to us and seemed to somehow understand that we were her forever mommy and daddy.

Most births take place in a birthing room.  Ours took place in a very small bureaucratic office on an obscure, busy street in China.  There was no umbilical cord to cut, first gasp of air to hear, or afterbirth to be cleaned off.  There were no balloons, cards, family, or friends present.  None of the typical “she has your eyes”, “Billy’s coloring”, or “she’s definitely got the Johnson nose”.

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Our birthing room was quiet, except of the interpreter speaking with the local authorities and caretakers from the orphanage.  We signed paper work, put our finger prints on documents, and took our first family photo.  I remember feeling as if I were dreaming and trying to convince myself that our dream and prayers were coming true.  Teagan was ours!

I’ve learned a lot about God through our adoption.  Through it, I’ve gained a better understanding about my own adoption into the family of God.  It’s an amazing thought that as we were pursuing Teagan, she had absolutely no idea that we were doing everything in our power to make her our own.  In exactly the same way, God pursued my heart because He loved me even before I ever knew Him.  Adoption is a story of pursuit for those who otherwise would never know the love of a father, mother, sister, or brother.  The adoption into God’s family is no different . . our Heavenly Father pursues, adopts, and gives us brothers and sisters more numerable than the sands of the sea.  Why?  It’s all about His love for you and me.

Happy Forever Family Day Teagan Joy Worley!!

Click here to hear Teagan

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I’m Gonna Make It

There are seasons in our lives when God will do whatever necessary to get our attention and refocus our hearts.  Many friends, family members, and myself seem to find ourselves in that very season. It’s as if we were all tossed off the Titanic together and we’re desperately trying to keep our heads above water.  Interestingly enough we individually seem to catch a deep breath at different times and have been able to encourage the other who seems to be at that same moment on the way under.

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Encouraging one of my friends this morning the Lord brought to remembrance a verse: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

It’s amazing to think that when we can’t seem to find the strength to pray or even the words to say . .  the Holy Spirit is there before the throne of God speaking on our behalf.  Seriously, the Holy Spirit understands our heart so intimately that He goes before the throne of God and pleads for us when we’re unable. Wow! That thought alone is so humbling and gives the encouragement needed to say like this song so beautifully says, “I’m Gonna Make It”.

If you’re out in the water, feeling like you’re drowning, believing you can’t keep going, desiring to pray and yet unable to utter a word, or just tired of fighting to “stay alive,”  take a deep breath, and remember: your Heavenly Father says: “You’re Gonna Make It!”

I’m Gonna Make It

Through so many dangers and toils of this life
I have already come, but He keeps on giving the
Grace and the strength, to just keep pressing on.
He’s given a promise and I’m gonna stand, on
Every word His holy word has said, and holding
His hand I’ll never fear whatever lies ahead.
I’m gonna make it, He’s already said that I would.
I’ll keep on trusting that He’s working everything for my good.
He walks beside me and heaven is in my view, I’m gonna make it through.
In spite of the good intentions I’ve had
Sometimes my strength can fail, though I have tried
The very best that I could, my weaknesses prevailed
But then I remember the promise he made, that in my weakness
He is strong and that’s when I know whatever may come
His steady hand will lead me on, and on and on,
He walks beside me and Heaven is in my view.
I’m gonna make it, He said I’ll make it.
I’m gonna make it through.
Below is a link to the Sisters preforming: “I’m Gonna Make It”

Enjoying the Book Daddy Wrote

Have you ever read a book that you didn’t want to put down?  You found yourself hanging on every word, each chapter more exciting or interesting than the one before.  And there were those books that would keep you awake late into the night reading just to find out how the story ended.

Teagan asked Billy the other day about our story.  In particular, she wanted to know how Billy had asked me to marry him.  Billy smiled and told her he’d made a book that had our story in it.  Teagan was like, “R-E-A-L-L-Y Daddy?”  Billy went over to the book case and pulled off the shelf the book he’d literally made for me.  He’d gutted a book, recovered it with fabric, neatly glued, and bound the pages of our story within it’s covers. Teagan’s eyes were big with curiosity and wonder at the beautiful book Billy laid out in front of her.  He then began to read our story to Teagan, Heidi, Micah, and Noah.

As a mom, you never get tired of seeing the look of wonder and awe in your children’s eyes every time something captures their imaginations.  As I watched Billy read, my heart couldn’t help but fill with joy watching the facial expressions of our children as they listened, peering over Billy’s shoulder to peak at the picture illustrations.

It took me back to days when my own daddy would read aloud stories like Pilgrim’s Progress and one book in particular called “Character Sketches.”  I remember sitting at the supper table anxiously waiting for Daddy to begin reading.

Over the next few days, I couldn’t get away from seeing the look on Teagan’s face as Billy put our printed story in front of her.  I wondered if that feeling of deep joy that I experienced is how our Heavenly Father feels when we read His story.  Although he knows past, present, and future. . . does He ever just take a deep breath and smile watching us read the Greatest Story ever written?

Then the thought occurred to me:  How would I have felt if Billy had set our book in front of Teagan and she’d looked at it with disdain, pushed it aside, or even shoved it on a shelf to never look at it again?  Although Teagan is only six years old, I know my feelings would have been hurt.  That’s when my heart sank thinking of all the times I’d done the same thing to my Heavenly Father.  I’m good about talking with Him daily in prayer, but I’ve not been wise in treasuring His Word.

“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Proverbs 8:12)

This verse was recently part of a passage read at our church.  I told Billy I’d like to put this verse on our wall—not only to remind me, but also our children, that wisdom is something to be treasured and that it comes from reading God’s Word.  The Bible says to get wisdom, and with all your getting, to get understanding.

My prayer is that I will treasure God’s book, the Bible.  I pray that every time I open its pages that I, too, will seek wisdom, understanding, and most of all just to hear my heavenly Father speak to me.  And just perhaps, I’ll hear him smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Christmas Miracle

Storytelling isn’t my gift, but I’m so thankful that I began this blog about our family.  I was looking back to last year’s notes and it’s humbling to see how God has answered so many prayers- both those spoken and those whispered.

Teagan’s story is about to be highlighted by the “Global Sisters’ Report, and an interview with Billy and me will be podcast by NCR on “In Conversation.”  Both will be released on or around Christmas Eve. We feel our Christmas gift came early this year when we were able to connect with the orphanage where Teagan’s story began. Please pray with us that our story will be a blessing to all who hear and that God will be glorified through every spoken and written word.

When the angel appeared to the virgin Mary and told her she’d found favor with God and would conceive a Child by the Holy Ghost Who’d one day save the world,  I can’t even imagine her thoughts, questions, insecurities, and fears. Imagine being told you’d found favor with God: so much so that He was going to use you as a vessel to bring about the salvation of the world. Although Mary was so young and really had no way of knowing where this path would take her, her response was amazing, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” I am so thankful she was willing to open her arms and heart to welcome a Child she knew God had called her to carry in her womb, nurse, cuddle, teach, train in the ways of God, and then watch Him be crucified for not only her sins, but ours.

Although our story is much different, I’m thankful that Billy and I responded to the call to go get Teagan. We weren’t considering adoption, nor even pondering it, but the day He showed us her picture, He called our hearts. I don’t know why we were chosen, but I’m thankful God has entrusted us with her care.

I pray that you, too will open your heart to whatever it is that God is calling you to do.  The road may be filled with detours, hairpin curves, or anxious cliff-hanger moments like ours, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of doubt we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

So this Christmas, take time to remember why we are celebrating.  It’s not about the beautiful decorations, the gift exchanging, or the bountiful food.  It’s all about our Father sending His Son to be born so that one day He could die and make the full payment for our sins.  God loved us then and He loves us now.  Just as David Jeremiah’s book title says, God Loves You: He Always Has — He Always Will.

 

 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!!!!!

“I’ll Be Praying For You”

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Have you ever wondered if those who say “I’m praying for you” are really sincere?  Have you ever told someone “I’ll be praying for you” –only to get busy and totally forget?  The Bible says that one of the reasons we haven’t received God’s best for us is because we haven’t asked! (James 4:2). Let’s stop promising to pray, and start doing it immediately, whether it’s writing a prayer out in the comment section of a Facebook post, typing it out via a text, or putting a card in the mail with your prayers and thoughts enclosed.

Our circle of friends, family, and acquaintances would be so different if we stopped what we were doing and prayed immediately instead of waiting to do it later.  Prayers do make a difference.  Our Father yearns to hear from us and it is He who has the power to change circumstances, heal the sick, save the lost, and comfort the broken-hearted.

The picture above is my prayer journal.  I love to look back and see the many ways God has answered my petitions.  My journal is my “memorial” to remember all the many ways God has heard, answered, rebuked, and encouraged my heart.  I encourage you to begin your own journal.  It’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Thank you to everyone who’s called, texted, or e-mailed me during my surgery and recovery.  The surgery was much more intense than I’d anticipated.  They weren’t able to do my surgery laparoscopically, due to my small, tight abdominal cavity. My bladder had fallen into my pelvic floor, and my left ovary had managed to move all the way up under my rib cage and had attached itself to something.  My surgeon said it took her 20 minutes to locate that left ovary, and she said she understood why I’d had so much pain from it.  Thankfully, she was able to fix my fallen bladder and remove the ovary.  Billy, the kids, and my family have been awesome helpers! I am a very blessed woman!!

 

The Surprise that BLEW My Socks Off!

Sometimes God says yes, and sometimes He says no.  Sometimes He says wait… and sometimes He blows your socks off with something you never thought of!  YES!  He totally blew my socks off this week with an amazing surprise.

Throughout our adoption process my heart has always whispered a prayer for Teagan’s birth mother.  Although I’ll probably never know the circumstances that caused Teagan’s birth mother to abandon her, I will forever be grateful that she chose life, not abortion, and that she was willing to give her to those whom she thought could give Teagan the best of care.

Billy and I had been Googling Teagan’s “finding place.”  This is the place where she was abandoned and later found.  We actually found an article that was dated only a day prior to the day we departed for China to get Teagan.  We’d searched many times prior to this day, but to no avail.  Excitedly we contacted the reporter who’d written the article, telling her our story, listing out our contact information, and asking if she’d be willing to speak with us.  It was only a week or two later while speaking to my mom I noticed a call on my phone from Israel.  I didn’t click over to answer, supposing it to be a “spam” call, only to receive an e-mail from the reporter saying she’d tried to call and would try again later.  Oops!  Well, several days later she phoned again.  And this time, seeing the call was from Israel, I excitedly answered the phone.

The reporter, whose name is Melanie, was delighted to assist us.  She collected all the information and pictures we had in order to verify this was indeed Teagan’s “finding place” and her home for the first three years of her life.  She told us the nuns were very tech savvy, and spoke English quite well.  It was the following day when she told us this indeed was the  place we’d been searching for and that Sister Ma would love to connect with us.  Melanie introduced us through an e-mail and the information from both sides began to flow.

Sister Ma was happy Teagan was thriving and had found her forever family.  Billy and I told Sister Ma that we’d  hoped she had pictures of Teagan from infancy, since we’d only been given pictures after she’d turned three.  She said she’d have her staff look and we were delighted to receive wonderful pictures that captured Teagan’s baby days.  She also said she’d get us an American translation of all their records regarding Teagan.  Wow!  There really are no words for this other than, “Wow!”

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God’s love and attention to detail throughout this adoption process has really been overwhelming.  I know God loves me and I’ve often chided myself for not having the faith that He has my best interests at heart.  Even though I’ve failed Him so many times, He just keeps proving over and over that He does have my best interest at heart.

What I find so unique is when I look back through the Bible at all those awesome miracles, the unbelievable victories, the enemies that were conquered or destroyed . . . that same God, He’s not changed.  He’s still working those miracles today.  I’m just so thankful I’m His!

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