The Cherub and The Visitor

On a lovely day a few years ago four women and their children came to visit us. Collectively we had some 25-30 children, and it was beautiful to see how well they all got along. Because the weather was lovely, most of the children played outside while the moms visited.

Three of the women were already good friends. One of them I had only met briefly once or twice before. We will call her Mrs. Lynd. She had not ever spent any time with The Cherub until that visit. Within moments of her arrival, my face froze into a permanent rictus, a shabby imitation of a social smile. I was treated to a very long lecture about how The Cherub is not really retarded, I was just probably not aware of her potential and so failed to bring her up to her full capabilities, and she could be ‘normal’ tomorrow.

I agreed, she could. It would be a miracle, and I am _not_ charismatic, but I
have no objection to miracles, and I will not deny that God could work one with The Cherub tomorrow if he so desired. Why delay? He could work one this second if that was part of His plan.

“Mrs. Lynd” explained why I was wrong- it wouldn’t be a true miracle, because, as she was explaining to me, The Cherub really wasn’t disabled. So I guess she meant that if we were lucky, I might wake up tomorrow and not be too stupid to realize my daughter, who can’t speak, can’t read, can’t avoid toilet accidents, and can’t cut her own meat isn’t actually disabled.

I stumbled rapidly through the corridors of my mind, trying to come up with something civil and helpful to say. I hit upon it. I asked if she would like a glass of tea.

The Cherub’s lack of any true disability (other than my parenting, apparently) was a recurring theme of her conversation. Fortunately, the other three ladies are good friends, two of them especially close, so they all worked together at changing the subject, but it was tiresome for all of us.

This was not the first time it happened. Only a week or two after we adopted The Cherub guests in our home told us that they believed she could read. The pointed to the fact that she always had a book in her hand as proof. Well, yes, she likes to imitate, and we all always have a book in hand. But, we wondered, did it matter that the book in her hand was always upside down? This caused them to pause for a moment, but then they were even more excited. Why, this mean that she could read upside down! Perhaps, we said cautiously, but had they noticed that she never even looked at the books in her hands? In fact, she was holding the book, but peering over the top at the people in the room, always watching, so she could imitate what was happening around her even if she could not understand it. They were surprised. “REally? She doesn’t look at the pages?”
“No,” I said gently. “But perhaps she reads print through her fingertips?”

A surprising number of people are so very sure that _they_ can spend five minutes with my child and then become experts about her condition, but I, who live with her 24 and 7, and am only her mother, am an ignoramus. Well, they may be right about me being an idiot, but I am still an idiot who knows more about my daughter than perfect strangers.

People are impertinent, too. “Mrs. Lynd” asked me a lot of questions and revealed many false assumptions about how The Cherub’s babyhood must have been, how we probably didn’t pay her enough attention as an infant or perhaps paid too much attention, hindering her development either way. I finally told her that Cherub was adopted and hadn’t joined our family until she was almost 6, so we had nothing to do with her infancy. Then she wanted to know if anybody else was adopted, and if so, which ones- which was _not_ her business. I hedged. I said that yes, we had adopted more than just Cherub, but that Cherub was the only one who didn’t care who knew she was adopted. “Mrs. Lynd” was distinctly annoyed, visibly put out, and barely kept herself from being huffy about it. Not embarrassed, the reaction I would have considered more appropriate, but huffy. I asked if she would like a glass of tea. (Incidentally, a few weeks later when she met my children at a party, she cornered one of them to ask “Are you the other one who is adopted?)

“Mrs. Lynd” let The Cherub play with her car keys. “Mrs. Lynd” pointed out to The Cherub which key was the key to her car. It was a distinctive key, with a different color tab on it. So The Cherub then consistantly picked out the car key and tried to hand it to the lady. This is not amazing; though retarded, The Cherub sorts shapes and colors and matches pictures. She does not speak, but is able to communicate some messages to us.

The Cherub was, in fact, sending a message I recognized, but wasn’t going to explain. But this lady thought that she had just discovered something about The Cherub that nobody knew, and kept getting excited about it. She would gleefully announce, “look, she keeps showing me the car key! She knows which one it is!.” I agreed that yes, my Cherub certainly knew which one was the car key. I paused, and asked if “Mrs. Lynd” was thirsty. Might she, perhaps, want some tea?

She did not want tea. Neither did she want to be distracted by the efforts of all the other women in the room to redirect the conversation. She wanted me to understand that The Cherub’s understanding of which key was the key to the car was proof that my fifteen year old was not retarded (she doesn’t look her age, and is quite small for her age. But Mrs. Lynd didn’t even know how hold she was, yet thought she knew more than I about my daughter’s capability). Meanwhile, The Cherub continued to hand her the car keys, getting more and more insistant and in her face, shoving the car key practically up her nose.

“Mrs. Lynd” got excited and insisted that the Cherub was showing the car key to her with such persistance because she wanted “Mrs. Lynd” to tell me that she could do this, that she wasn’t retarded.

Of the three other women in the room (all of whom had been making valiant, though unsuccessful efforts to redirect conversation), one of them is the friend I have known longer than any other human being not a relative. She was unable to endure any longer and spilled the beans.

Knowing Our Cherub very well, she also had recognized the true message the Cherub was communicating. Ordinarily the soul of tact, my friend was feeling a bit defensive on my behalf, and frustrated that her other, more tactful efforts to change to subject were ignored, so she kindly explained to the “Mrs. Lynd”, “She’s telling you to go home. That’s what she does when she decides a guest has been here long enough. The Cherub is trying to give you the key to the van because she wants you to leave.”

There was no pretending this wasn’t exactly what Young Cherub meant, because when she heard the explanation The Cherub got excited that somebody finally ‘got it’ and started jumping up and down and squealing, nodding her head, and trying vigorously to stick the keys in the woman’s hand. She all but dragged her to the door. Mrs. Lynd sat quietly (I hadn’t known she could be quiet), stunned.

The rest of sipped our tea and quietly changed the subject. For the first time in a gruelingly long morning, we were able to do so successfully. I may be an idiot, but I am the Cherub’s mother, and I think I know her better than strangers. AS for the Cherub, she may be retarded, but she’s not stupid- and not being able to speak does not mean she has nothing to say.

(If you’ve not previously met our Cherub, you may read about her here, here, and probably elsewhere.)

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James Watt, The Enviornment, and the Press

Click on this link for the article.

” A liberal theologian and active participant in the National Council of Churches, Barbara R. Rossing of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, published a book titled “The Rapture Exposed.” In it she attacks a large segment of the Christian community after attributing to me erroneous motives and beliefs on the basis of a fragment of a sentence taken out of context. Rossing contends that Christians who believe in the Rapture presume that there is no need for stewardship of natural resources because of the expected return of the Lord. She writes: “Watt told U.S. senators that we are living at the brink of the end-times and implied that this justifies clear-cutting the nation’s forest and other unsustainable environmental policies. When he was asked about preserving the environment for future generations, Watt told his Senate confirmation hearing, ‘I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.’ Watt’s ‘use it or lose it’ view of the world’s resources is a perspective shared by the Rapture proponents.”

Rossing fictionalizes this whole scenario and neglects to finish the sentence, which was as follows: “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns; whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations.”

Moyers, to his credit, has made a personal apology to me. But there has been no apology for the affront to major segments of the Christian community. Rather, the charges have escalated. On Feb. 14, the National Council of Churches issued a statement “in an effort to refute” what NCC theologians “call a ‘false gospel’ . . . and to reject teachings that suggest humans are ‘called’ to exploit the Earth without care for how our behavior impacts the rest of God’s creation. . . . This false gospel still finds its proud preachers and continues to capture its adherents among emboldened political leaders and policymakers.”

If such a body of belief exists, I would totally reject it, as would all of my friends. When asked who believed such error, where adherents to this “false gospel” might be found, the NCC turned to its theological sources, Moyers and a magazine called Grist, which had also apologized to me. I then contacted the chairman of the NCC task force and asked him about the “some people” who believe this false gospel and the “proud preachers” advancing this false gospel. He could not name such persons.

Be alert. I learned this lesson two decades ago — the hard way. Never underestimate the political impact of the twisted charges by extreme environmentalists now advanced by the religious left to divide the people of faith.”

Please read it all, and consider the source the next time you hear an accusation about Christians not caring about the environment. It ought to shock us that the NCC would make such a specific accusation against an entire group of people, but then be unable to name a single guilty person within that group.

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Remarkable People

Years ago I attended a Christian College. There were several remarkable people there, people with backstories worth knowing and living admirable lives.

There was the Old Testament professor who made the prophets come alive for me. Even now, 24 years later, I open my Bible to the minor prophets and am transported.

There was an English teacher who taught us more about good writing in one semester than we’d learned in all 12 years of schooling before. He was a gentle man, a father of twelve, a man living a life consistant with his convictions in a fashion I had never seen before.

And once we had an unforgettable guest speaker. He was inspiring. It wasn’t that he performed antics or had a Billy Sunday type of delivery. It was not that the meaning of what he read was any different than the meaning of the version in my hands- it was the way the Word apparently lived and breathed for him. That life came through in his speaking, and he made the Word live and breathe for me. It still does.

As the Headmaster and I have traveled around during his Air Force years, we’ve continued to meet remarkable people, inspiring souls who spur us on to do better in one area or another.

Since discovering the blogosphere, I have discovered a entirly new source of interesting people, people from I can learn and grow.

Wittingshire is written by one of the most remarkable blogging couples I have ever seen. Amanda and Jonathan Witt write with consistant intelligence and insight. I’ve yet to see a post of theirs that I thought was a dud. They are just brilliant. I would love to meet their children, they sound like such personalities.

I don’t remember how I first came across the Witts, but I do remember the first post of theirs that I read. It was this one, The Vulnerable Among Us.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, but I’ll summarize it for my purposes here. They knew a man with a terribly rough past who had been converted thanks to the influence of a terribly persistant preacher. They write compellingly, and really drew me into the story. The new convert had been involved with some dangerous people in his pre-Christian days, and he had to flee. He made a new life for himself and for his family, and he is now a preacher. But what about that other preacher, the one who first shared the gospel with him?

That’s in the conclusion of Amanda’s post, and I know it’s a redundant use of this word, but quite fittingly, it electrified me. Says Amanda:

“The other preacher still lives in Northern Ireland. His name is Jim McGuiggan. I’ve never met Mr. McGuiggan, but his protege influenced me greatly, and I’ve always wondered what sort of man would risk angering R.

The sort of man, apparently, who can also minister to those on the other side of the spectrum, those who, far from terrorizing others, are easily terrorized themselves–people McGuiggan calls The Vulnerable Among Us:

They are so built that the faintest breath of unjust or searing criticism opens deep wounds in their hearts. We can dismiss them as people who simply won’t grow up but that completely misunderstands them and it would grieve them all the more. It isn’t that they’re hypersensitive in that spoiled and self-centred way—they came into our world with a greater capacity for feeling than the vast majority of us possess.

…. If someone like that comes to you and he opens his or her heart to you, don’t go in if you don’t mean to stay because people like these are ill-equipped for a harsh world.

The tough and the timid live side by side, sharing this world, sometimes sharing a single home. We are a various people.”

I have met Jim McGuiggan. He would never remember me, but 23 or 24 years ago he was a guest speaker in our chapel service at college. I listened from the pews as he made God’s Word live and breathe.

You can listen to him, too. At his website he has audio messages. He’s worth bookmarking and returning to often.

I think God for the remarkable people He’s brought into my life.

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The Equuschick and The Boy

Last night the Equuschick spent an hour writing a post, and another hour trying to retrieve it. She was unsucessful and retired to bed in a morbid depression.

The Equuschick has just been informed that The Boy, as he lay on the couch and watched a movie, he suddenly observed- “Hmm. The Equuschick didn’t bring me any water to wet my lips.” So he toddled off to wet his very own lips. The Equuschick was rather bewildered, as she had not been requested to wet the six year old’s lips.

She is reminded of the time in DC when The Boy placed his bare little foot upon the Equuschick’s lap and said- “Here, massage me. It’s this toe.” And then there was the fly that was bothering The Boy as he played his computer game and the Equuschick swept the floor. “Equuschick”, he said very politely, “would you please shoo this fly away? It’s bothering me.”

The family in general claims that the Equuschick is all too prone to encouraging The Boy’s very good opinion of himself, but the Equuschick would like to point out that on all three of these occasions the Equuschick stood firm. She neither wetted his lips, massaged his toe, or shooed the fly. But she does like little boys.

Welcome, IMAO viewers. You can read more about these two yahooligans here (we have a tea party), and here (the First Year Boy and Girl are introduced to the Common Room blog audience), and probably elsewhere on our blog. Like here. The Equuschick is always funny, so you might just want to do a search of our blog for anything she has written.- Deputy Headmistress

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Imagine the headlines

Yahoo! News has this AP Story – Poll: Most Want Assertive Senate on Judges.
The first sentence says: “More than three-quarters of Americans say the Senate should aggressively examine federal judicial nominees and not just approve them because they are the president’s choices.” One wonders if these polled actually were cognizant of the fact that this was the Judicial Committee’s responsibility, and that no one is questioning the committee’s right to examine judges. What is being questioned is the refusal by Senate Democrats to actually allow a vote on those who have been deemed qualified by the committee members responsible for the Judicial nominees. What is the point of a committee if no one will accept their word? Might as well disband…

Continuing on, this article provides other enlightening statements that somehow are never alluded to in the subject. For want of amusement, I’ve come up with appropriate headlines that the AP/Yahoo! could have used if they were predisposed to be anything but antagonistic to the Republican majority.

Headline: Poll: Most Want Conservative Judges
Sentence in the article: Respondents favored conservative over liberal judges in general, 47 percent to 39 percent.

Headline: Poll: Most Trust Bush on Judges
Sentence in the article: “As for a possible Supreme Court nominee, 52% said they felt comfortable that President Bush would pick the right kind of justice; 46% said they did not feel comfortable he would.”



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