My Dirty Little Heart And Grace

Originally published November 27, 2015, but slightly revised for clarity.

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Today, January 20, 2023, marks 52 years since the Lord graciously saved me. Let me share my testimony — not as the Gospel, but as a small demonstration of His wonderful grace.


He had thick golden hair that sunlight would dance in. 52 years later, I can’t recall anything else about him, but at the time the slightest bit of attention from him produced exciting (and frightening) sensations that my 17-year-old body had never experienced. Thankfully, the severity of my disability held me back from making myself sexually available to him in the weeks before his deployment to Vietnam.

I fantasized that he’d get me pregnant so that he’d have to marry me when he returned from the war. As you might guess, however, he made no advances toward me. But 17-year-olds rarely live in reality, and so I clung to hope that I could have the sexual encounter when he came back to San Rafael, California (where I lived at the time). Once he wrote that first letter, providing me with his address, I could surely write letters that would make me irresistible! Couldn’t I?

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The Wheelchair Square Dance And Listening To God’s Word

The church I attended in California often had square dances — mostly to give singles something to do on Valentine’s Day. Singles, married couples and children all joined the fun, and I enjoyed watching and chatting with other spectators. Over the years, I learned that square dancing isn’t really that difficult if dancers simply listen to the caller. Callers always explain the calls before each set so that everyone understands how to respond to each call. Thus, even though I didn’t dance myself, I knew that the trick to square dancing comes from paying attention to the caller.

About that time (I’m guessing over 30 years ago) a friend of mine from another church had started a ministry to disabled children using equestrian therapy (she was herself a wheelchair user who had benefited from horseback riding). She always invited me to her fundraising events. When she called to invite me to a wheelchair square dance, I couldn’t resist!

Like every other square dance I’d attended, this one began with the caller carefully teaching us how to respond to each call. Because we all used wheelchairs, he also taught us how to adapt the calls to dancing in chairs. It really wasn’t rocket science, even with the added condition of wheelchairs, and everyone caught on pretty quickly.

Everyone except the partner they gave me.

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The Tragic Demise Of Poindexter And The Consequent Arrival Of Providence

For many months, John had been suggesting that I consider getting a new computer, gently reminding me that mechanical things eventually do wear out. But surely, I kept telling myself, Poindexter didn’t really need to retire!

Poindexter had been my computer for almost ten years, and (although he had begun to get a little cranky in his old age) had never given me any serious trouble. I superficially agreed with John that I should probably upgrade , but I hated the idea of setting up a new computer when Poindexter had everything just as I liked. Additionally, I’d watched a couple YouTube videos on Windows 11 that made the new operating system seem decidedly undesirable. So I ignored John’s pleas and convinced myself that Poindexter would defy aging for a few more years.

Sunday evening, November 20, John tried to turn on Poindexter. My beloved computer had died of a corrupted hard drive.

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A Landmark Anniversary And Thoughts About Marriage For People With Disabilities

Okay, so for most of you, August 24, 2002 was just an average summer Saturday. You probably can’t remember what you did that day, nor do you really care. I understand. Saturdays come and go usually without much fanfare, and 2002 was, after all, 20 years ago.

But on that Saturday, my life changed dramatically. I entered the church as a single woman, and left it as Mrs. John A. Kespert. Your average summer Saturday turned almost everything in my life upside down and inside out as I started living with a man for the first time since my father died 39 years earlier. These past 20 years have taken me in directions I couldn’t have imagined, sometimes exposing my sin and sometimes showing me the grace of the Lord in the midst of trials. I’ve seen John’s feet of clay, and I’ve seen his Christlike character.

Landmark occasions all but demand some sort of retrospective commentary. But how does a blogger sift through 20 years of memories to come up with a post that will minister to her readers?

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Shut-Ins Mustn’t Be Shut Out

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. ~~Romans 12:4-5 (NASB95)

Before I say anything else, let me be perfectly clear. If you are able to get in a car and go anywhere, you have no excuse for missing church. Attending a local church and actively serving as a member of that church is absolutely essential, and I’m by no means writing this article to suggest that you should stay home on Sunday mornings and “do” church by watching a live streamed service. For most Christians, physically being with the Body is a no-brainer.

That said, John and I have been unable to attend our wonderful church for almost three years because of various circumstances — most notably my back problems. I’m improving, and we hope the Sunday will come when we once again enter that building to worship the Lord with our cherished church family.

For now however, the Lord has graciously provided live streams of the Sunday morning service and the Wednesday night Bible Study. Additionally, one of the elders comes to our apartment on Friday mornings to teach Bible Study and occasionally give us the Lord’s Supper. The church administrator emails us the Sunday bulletin and the weekly Prayer Guide. In return, we stay faithful in our giving, praying daily for the church. As far as I can, I use this blog to represent our church, asking the elders to oversee it. Despite being shut-ins, therefore, John and I feel connected to our church.

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An Unexpected Perk Of Disability

When the phone rang before 6:30 a.m. Monday, I knew my PCA was calling out. She had a serious family emergency that required her presence. I’d been without a regular PCA all weekend, and spent Sunday in bed to accommodate my girlfriend’s Mother’s Day schedule (I deeply appreciate her for filling in on Mother’s Day to keep me clean), so I felt a little disappointed Monday. It took until 10:30 to locate a backup PCA.

Usually, situations like this make me grumble. Since I can’t use my hands, being in bed means I can’t type or read. John has to call around for backup help because I can’t operate a phone. I just lie in bed, aware that I’m physically as helpless as a newborn baby.

Times when PCAs call out or just plain don’t show up remind me of my total dependence on other women. Instead of congratulating myself on my writing and artistic abilities, my days stuck in bed confront me with the actual extent of my disability.

Those confrontations are an answer to prayer.

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Exceptions Don’t Invalidate General Rules

Someone on social media kind of complained a few days ago that people too quickly point out their mitigating circumstances whenever they see posts laying down Scriptural principles. I am one of the people she meant, though I doubt she had me in mind when she wrote the post. As I’ve mulled over her remark, I’ve had to agree that people these days are far too sensitive, especially when circumstances beyond their control force them to be exceptions to the rule.

One topic in particular seems to compel me to voice my status as someone with exceptional circumstances. Whenever I hear admonishments against staying home from church, I immediately experience defensive feelings, certain that others judge me as a hypocrite who has no business writing a Christian blog. And if I stayed home from church simply out of personal preference as a matter of convenience, they’d be absolutely right!

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What Cerebral Palsy Teaches Me About God’s Grace

Until recently, having Cerebral Palsy was little more than a nuisance to me. It always rather shocked me to hear people refer to me as having a severe case. Although I obviously knew that I can’t walk, use my hands or speak clearly, I focused on all my abilities and accomplishments to such a degree that I saw little distinction between myself and others. School and church friends pretty much included me in all their activities, allowing me to feel as if I had a sizeable amount of control in my life. Looking back, I’m forced to acknowledge that I developed quite a sense of pride in my apparent normalcy.

Lately, circumstances have changed my perception of my control. Possibly due to the current health and economic mayhem overtaking the world right now, I’m having trouble getting a weekend Personal Care Attendant, and my weekday PCA often has legitimate reasons for having to call out. The Lord always provides help at least once a day, but sometimes it means I can only get up to use the bathroom. Snowstorms especially confine me to bed, leaving me feeling helpless and vulnerable,

That vulnerability makes me wonder why I struggle so much with the sin of pride.

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Abortion To Save The Life Of The Mother

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~~James 3:13-18 (NASB95)

Who could, in good conscience, insist on bringing a pregnancy to term if doing so would cause the mother to die? Wouldn’t the mother’s death also result in the death of the unborn baby? Perhaps not always. But probably in most cases. Truly pro-life people would want to save one rather than let both mother and baby die.

Truly pro-life people also know that abortions for this reason occur very rarely. According to Table 2 in an article on why women have abortions in ScienceDirect, 3.8 women in the United States during 2004 cited “the health of the mother” as the reason for ending their pregnancies. At first glance, that statistic may surprise you, perhaps even challenging your stand against Roe v. Wade. Should we endanger 3.8 American lives simply to overturn a 1973 court decision? Do we really consider unborn lives as more valuable than the lives of women? That sort of attitude doesn’t sound very pro-life. Critics of the pro-life movement, in fact, raise the question of abortion to spare the mother’s life precisely because it indicates hypocrisy on the part of those who oppose abortion.

I want to refute this line of argumentation on two fronts: from logic and from the experience of a personal friend.

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Understandable Assumptions Don’t Mean Correct Understanding

My friend pointed to the girl across the room, acting as if I’d never noticed the severity of the girl’s Cerebral Palsy. My friend balked at the announcement that the girl would be baptized that evening, but not because she suspected the girl hadn’t really placed her faith in Christ. On the contrary, my friend knew that baptism signifies repentance from sin, and consequently wondered why we wanted to baptize her. She whispered critically, “Why does someone like her need to be baptized? How could someone that disabled possibly sin?”

I sort of understood my friend’s perspective. Like me, the girl was a quadriplegic, but she didn’t have the ability to type with a mouthstick or headstick. Like me, she had an extreme speech impediment, but I was really the only one who could decipher her grunts and facial expressions well enough to translate for her (thankfully my speech was clear enough for me to do so). Outwardly, the girl appeared to have few desires beyond skipping her peanut butter sandwiches in favor of dessert. How could someone that disabled possibly be considered a sinner?

I knew better. Having grown up with her at the school for disabled children, I knew quite well of her strong will and intense desire to have the social advantages that I enjoyed. Sadly, her learning disability prevented her from being mainstreamed part-time into regular school, and her unintelligible speech kept her from meaningful friendships — even with other disabled kids. Yet she definitely knew what she wanted, and she had no problem expressing her frustration in violent outbursts.

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