Maybe you, like I, have wondered if it’s time to sit life out. Permanently or temporarily. Possibly you feel like you’ve lost your spark? Or your sparkle? Aging can do it. Loss can do it. Exhaustion can do it.
At age seventy-seven plus, I’d begun thinking, “I’m nearing journey’s end. I’ve lost my spark. And sparkle. Despite more than six decades of public speaking, could it be time to hand over the beloved microphone to the next generation?”
Thankful am I for a fun book reading/signing this weekend! The Shepherd showed up!
Writing a book is hard, hard work (even when you're the Shepherd's scribe). But the fun comes when family and friends gather to to hear the behind the scenes details.
I so enjoyed telling about what sparked The Shepherd Showed Up and about His escort service through the valley of the shadow of David's death. It's an ongoing story that I will never stop telling. David's safe in heaven and our loving God is sufficient for each day's challenges!
May we all be bettered by suffering. When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brethren, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. (James 1:2 Phillips)
Just home from another Broken and Beautiful Retreat. The venue was the Women’s South Coast Christian Conference held at Brookings, Oregon’s Church of the Nazarene.
I prayed each time I was wheeled up the steep ramp to the stage: Lord, use me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners. Isaiah 61:1
Yes, the Lord has set this prisoner free and what a privilege to share my exit-from-captivity story. His story.
My artificial limbs still recall the sensation of cold feet as I gave my first speech at age thirteen. Dad scheduled it, knowing his daughter Judy would earn no trophies in sports. “But wait a minute,” he reasoned, “she has a mouth that works just fine.”
Being a public speaker has served me well as a published author. As I speak my stories, audiences want to hear more. “Read my books,” I say. And again and again I am told, “Judy, I hear you talking in your books!”
It all began with this prayer journal entry two months ago:
“Lord, would You please add some new venues to my speaking calendar for 2015?”
The Good Lord answered my prayer through my longtime friend, Jannai, who at the onset told me her gifting was to promote speakers. She began by promoting me to her pastor at Yosemite Lakes Community Church in Coarsegold, California. He said, “Let’s have Judy do two Sunday morning services sometime this summer.” That’s how my July 12th speech in Central California landed on the calendar.
A week later, I had this note from Jannai: “Judy, I’m going to promote your visit in the area and see if we can arrange more speaking engagements.”
Full speed ahead, Jannai began contacting friends and organizations within an hour drive from her home in Ahwahnee. Here’s the result of this promoter extraordinaire’s hard work.
Needless to say each venue required writing a speech to fit its unique audience. Here’s the plan:
To God be the GLORY is my prayer! And I welcome your prayers as I take on five blessed speaking opportunities packed into the upcoming weekend. Obviously God and Jannai are confident this seventy year old is not a candidate for Couch-Potato-hood YET!
“Life is made up of ordinary days, when there’s no one there to praise you and no one to pat you on the back. But throw your very best into today and one day all those ordinary days will make a BIG MOMENT in your life…” – Ann Kiemel Anderson
A BIG MOMENT in our lives! Graduation day. The day we get our driver’s license. Our wedding day. The birth of a child. The job we’ve dreamed of… But what about those BIG MOMENTS that we pray for year after year after year? Those are the ones that seem to grow bigger the longer we wait.
When I was in my thirties and forties and fifties, I prayed for something in particular. Every year for thirty years I prayed it would happen. Listening to Dr. Dobson’s fatherly voice five days a week on the Focus on the Family broadcast, I whispered my prayer. Mothering three little girls, wishing I was a mama octopus with eight legs instead of a mama without legs, I prayed. I hung on to Dr. Dobson’s counsel for dear life clinging to each word of encouragement and his tried and true advice. Secretly, year after year, broadcast after broadcast I prayed: “Lord, someday, somehow, make me the person he’s interviewing. Pretty please, Lord.”
Then came Valentines week, 2013. The Squiers were honored to be invited to the Family Talk Gathering with Dr. James Dobson and his staff in Palm Springs, California. For four days we were present in the same room with him, but never actually talked. I contributed a loud wolf whistle one night when he tried to quiet the audience before the program began and one afternoon I spontaneously prayed after someone’s heartfelt speech. Upon returning home to Oregon, I posted my Where’s Dr Dobson? blog, which made it’s way to him thanks to Sydna Masse and LuAnne Crane.
Then came a BIG MOMENT e-mail from Family Talk (I call it the e-mail of the millennium) on April 5, 2013: “We are so pleased to confirm your upcoming interview with Dr. James Dobson on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at our Family Talk offices in Colorado Springs.”
Driving our rental car to the interview that day, I asked David, my dear husband, “Are you nervous?” Yes, he was, and imagine his surprise to hear me report that I had not an ounce of fear. Nervous? Why would I be? Wasn’t I on the brink of a BIG MOMENT in my life? Hadn’t I just that morning written A.P. Answered Prayer by Psalm 37:4 in my Bible? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
First came a tour of the Family Talk site, then a visit with Dr. Dobson in his office, then we headed to the recording studio for THE INTERVIEW. I sat across from Dr Dobson with only our microphones and a table between us. 188.8.131.52.1. He introduced me as the author of His Majesty in Brokenness and Living in the Names of God. Next came a question about my childhood, then another and another – lots of questions about my birth, then early childhood, then teen years.
With a PhD in child psychology plus a heart of compassion, Dr. Dobson was greatly disturbed by the delivery room doc’s statement to my father, “Your daughter is going to live I am sorry to say.” He visibly grieved for my father when the church elders came calling to tell him surely his sin had brought on such a calamity.
“How did you feel as that little girl, Judy?”
“No one ever asked me back then how I felt,” I admitted. That surprised and troubled him. By the end of the interview, I felt Dr. Dobson assumed the protective Papa Bear role for my family and me, as we tried to cope and make sense of one of life’s difficult situations, a child with a disability.
Stopped by the clock, Dr. Dobson changed focus of the questions and a second broadcast will be aired regarding the sanctity of human life. We talked about unborn babies with Down syndrome being aborted, we talked about my story being a sanctity of life story. I’m told both interviews will air during sanctity of life month sometime in January, 2014.
Looking back, I realize that this interview differed from the three others I’ve done in the past year. Other interviewers have jumped to the happy ending – the orthopedic shoe that God turned to gold, the deformed left hand that now preaches a three-point sermon. But Dr. Dobson’s wisdom chose to highlight the trenches, the boot camp where faith and character grow. He wasn’t afraid to face the beast – we all have one or more – that drives us to the end of ourselves creating in us a need for God.
THANK YOU, Dr. Dobson for escorting and accompanying me back to those early years of pain and shame, for defending me at a time when my family was in too much shock to do so. Thank you for voicing your distress. In so doing you helped me to see our Heavenly Father’s heart. Indeed He, too, was aghast at the obstetrician’s insensitivity; yes, His heart ached when the church elders condemned my father rather than pointing him to Christ’s response about the man blind from birth in John 9:3 It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God may be displayed in him.
And thank You, Lord, for scheduling this BIG MOMENT in my life and for giving me the patience to keep the squeaky prayer wheel turning. And one more thing, Lord. Dr Dobson and I ask You to use our broadcast to remind others that
No matter what, they are of great value to You;
That in Christ, no suffering is ever wasted;
And that all human brokenness is a potential display case for Your glory, God!
Note: My two interviews are scheduled to air during sanctity of life month sometime in January, 2014. Please check back on Family Talk’s website for more detailed information.
My 2012 highlight just occurred at a Joni Camp on the Oregon Coast. I was scheduled to do my usual – lead the Woman-to-Woman support groups – but God promoted me to the role of main speaker when the camp pastor took ill the last minute.
What a privilege to give the three morning talks to 30 battle-weary families slammed by disability. I couldn’t help but think, where, oh where was a Joni and Friends family retreat in the 50’s when my family desperately needed relief?
As I spoke, I looked heavenward longing to tell my parents that:
– Our suffering was not wasted
– God kept His promise in Jeremiah 29:11
– His plan for my life – disability and all – was for good and not for disaster
– Low & behold, my life has become living proof to others of God’s future and hope
My deformed left hand stole the show preaching its now-revered, three-point sermon. Further proof that God transforms our broken places into Holy Ground.
Indeed Jesus showed up at Rockaway Beach, Oregon – in broken bodies, broken families, broken hearts and broken dreams. Why wouldn’t He? Wasn’t He broken so that He could make the dastardly holes in our lives, HOLY?
Heaven orchestrates an audible and inaudible chorus at Joni Camps throughout the world.
Holy, Holy, Holy reverberates as one beholds:
Heroes are ubiquitous at Joni Camp. Stockpiling their courage supplies the strength we all need to survive until next year’s family retreat. I’m savoring the memory of:
Angel –a gutsy, fear-filled tween (not quite a teenager) who announced that she came to camp to make fear walk the plank.
Three of us who formed an Amputee Club to celebrate the fact that Jesus grows those without limbs – spiritual limbs.
Ben, a 1st time STM, who was challenged by a teen camper who was in constant motion. After the families left, I asked Ben, “Are you relieved to be off duty?” Ben’s duo-reply summarized the wonder of Joni Camp: “I miss my camper and I’m going to ask to be his STM again next year.”
And then there’s Joni, the woman God used to redeem disability’s landscape around the world. July 30, 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of her dive into Chesapeake Bay, resulting in forty-five years of quadriplegia to date. Anniversary, one might ask, does such a crisis deserve the blessed word anniversary?
You have to come to a Joni Camp to see for yourself. To see with your own eyes why Joni and the thousands of families impacted by her life would say YES.
By the way, it’s not too early to consider attending a Joni Camp as a family or volunteering as an in 2013. Check into it: (www.joniandfriends.org)
A final word of advice from this veteran camper, who attended my first Joni camp in the early nineties with our three daughters
DON’T FORGET YOUR SUNGLASSES,
or do I mean SONGLASSES?
Be forewarned: you are going to have to wear them 24/7 even on our overcast Oregon Coast. WHY? Because Jesus shines blindingly bright in the broken of body, mind and spirit – who the world overlooks – but who are His Stars at Joni Camps around the world.
More and more the theology of God’s astonishing wonders has become autobiography for me. No longer am I the little crippled girl excluded from life. God moved me from the lonely sidelines to center stage for life experiences I never believed possible.
On April 25th David and I flew to San Antonio, Texas where I spoke at a fundraiser for Becky’s Hope ministry (www.beckyshope.org). Max Lucado did the keynote speech and I followed him with the heart of the ministry talk.
I wove my talk around Max Lucado’s children’s book The Crippled Lamb, the story of a lamb who was always left out because of a deformed leg.
Don’t be sad little lamb, God has a special place for those who feel left out.
This refrain encouraged him when the other sheep journeyed to far away places and he was left him out.
But God’s wonders never cease: Thanks to his deformed leg the crippled lamb was center stage in the stable the night Jesus, the Lamb of God was born.
The crippled lamb’s story is my story!
That’s what I told the audience at the fundraiser. Being left out was the bane of my growing up years. Not just my bane but also the Becky of Becky’s Hope bane, due to her spina bifida. Yes, we both sat and watched our siblings have all the fun, BUT GOD.
But God has a special place and big plans for those who feel left out. Thanks to our being left out , both Becky and I we were ushered in to a forever relationship with the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
And in Becky’s life, thanks to her disability, Becky and her Romanian-born parents are God’s instrument to spread the hope of Christ throughout Romania to moms with disabled children and adults. In Romania a heavy spirit of oppression keeps crippled lambs behind closed doors –a condition which the Opreans are changing through nearly a decade of Christian retreats.
I was privileged to teach and minister with Becky’s Hope in Romanian towns in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Now I am privileged to share my life-changing, cliff-hanger experiences at their fundraisers here in America.
This 2012 fundraiser was over the top! Experiencing Max Lucado up close was a thrill of a lifetime. His story-telling teaching style makes me want to be a wordsmith like Max when I grow up.
Enjoying San Antonio’s annual fiesta and strolls/rolls along the River Walk, David and I were joined by my sister, Tina, and my niece, Christie. Like her Aunt Judy, Christie is a crippled lamb. Christie’s disability is blindness and she knows first hand how it feels to be left out. But now an adult, she’s a lamb you don’t want to leave behind, because even without vision she’s turned into the family’s GPS. She’s living proof of God’s power made perfect in human weakness.
What about You? In what arena do you find yourself repeatedly left out? Maybe you are like me – you feel you were born to lead life’s parade, but you find yourself velcroed to a seat on the sidelines.
My advice to you: Don’t be sad, Little Lamb, look Who’s sitting beside you. It’s the God Who companions with us on the sidelines and in His time He gives us the spot we always longed for in life’s parade.
Prepare yourself to be: Astonished! Astounded! For He is going to do something in your days— You would not believe if you were told.
What a JOY to lead a workshop at the BASS Church Workers Convention in northern California on March 3.
My class description read:
Preparing for the workshop helped me remember that I’m not alone in seeing God in human brokenness – OTHERS have seen Him.
Dale Evans and Roy Rogers recognized their daughter, Robin, as an Angel Unaware, as she taught her family about a loving Heavenly Father through what was labeled in the ‘50’s – mongolism.
Henri Nouwen, an accomplished theologian, met Jesus incarnate, not as a professor at Notre Dame, Yale or Harvard, but as a caregiver to a profoundly-retarded adult named Adam. Henri called the daily acts of bathing, shaving and feeding Adam – holy ground.
Chuck Colson, saw God like never before thanks to a GRANDson named Max. An autism diagnosis rocked the family but the Lord of the Dance triumphed as evidenced in Emily Colson’s Dancing with Max.
Dale and Roy Rogers, Henri Nouwen, Chuck and Emily Colson have beheld His Majesty in the unlikely place called brokenness. They GET IT! Together we can join Job: I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear but now my eye sees You. (Job 42:5)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning got it too, thanks to her years as an invalid. Her following four-liner about holiness provided the perfect opening for my workshop.
Do you get it? Can you yet see God in your own wounds or the wounds of others? Be forewarned: You may not see Him right away. For some of us it takes half a century. But thanks to journaling, then writing and publishing my book His Majesty in Brokenness I finally saw what I missed the first time around.
The good news is that my 20/800 acuity for God sightings is sharpening to 20/20. How do I know? Because this past weekend, as I celebrated my 67th birthday, I was able to testify to a roomful of church workers that Creator God makes no mistakes. They (and I) heard me say: His Majesty has woo-ed and won not just my spirit but my once self conscious flesh – so that I can whole-heartedly thank Him for beautifully-imperfect ME.
What about you? Can you, too, thank Him for your’s or another’s beautiful imperfections. If so, I invite you to read the following passage (which assures us of God’s presence and perfect design) and replace the pronouns with your’s or a loved one’s name?
More than ever before, there were elements we wanted to forget. Would the show even go on? The audio system was in severe disarray so amplification was intermittent or at times deafening. The janitor had locked the huge white screen so it blocked the stage where three dance numbers were to be performed. I spoke in the dark so my power point would be vivid… Bravely we waited. Thankfully our precious audience did not lose heart. Finally the show went on!
And all were inspired: the young adults with developmental disabilities danced like prima ballerinas with watching parents bursting their buttons. We watched the dedicated staff at Employment & Community Options shower their clients with love & devotion. I told my amazing story – one that resonated with the families. I saw my parents and yes, I saw myself in the families served by this organization whose goal is to educate and employer adults with developmental disabilities to achieve optimum potential in life (Learn more at: www.communityoptions.org).
I’d been told and reminded that the evening’s event was secular so I tailored my words carefully. Imagine my surprise upon meeting Nancy Batterman, the CEO of Employment and Community Options and discovering she too was a woman of faith. In fact she had read His Majesty in Brokenness and reread it with her book club.
Yes it was a secular event – a secular event where Jesus showed up. Who didn’t silently thank God when one by one the glaring glitches evaporated. I heard Him speak in the words of a single mom who said, “My son is angel. I wouldn’t want him any other way.” We watched Him aglow in the participant’s JOY – Alleluia! this is our night to shine! And no one could miss Him in the dance as the poised prima ballerinas, led by my daughter Emily, twirled across the thankfully visible stage to the song – You Raise Me Up – the words in the background put Him in the foreground:
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.
Photos from the Evening
JUDY SQUIER has authored His Majesty in Brokenness, Living in the Names of God and the Living in the Names Bible Study. Husband David and she have three adult daughters, three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren. Never did Mr. and Mrs. Squier dream that their long-awaited golden wedding anniversary would coincide with David’s memorial service. Judy resides in southern Oregon, alone, yet not alone. Thanks to the Good Shepherd!