The following is an excerpt from a sermon that my mother gave during Lent as a lay speaker in March of 1974. She gave this soul searching speech at Centerville United Methodist Church in Centerville, Ohio where I grew up. I would have been 16 years old at that time and wore hearing aids. Mom spoke about what her faith meant to her and how it made a difference in her life. During her college years, she was a William Danforth fellowship delegate and spent some time with other young Christian people at a non-denominational retreat during the summer between her junior and senior year. She talked about meeting and talking with William Danforth at this leadership conference, who was the founder of the American Youth Foundation and how he inspired her and influenced her faith. He spent much of his life challenging young people to make the most of their lives, to give nothing less than their best. She talked about several low points in her faith and how God carried her through those difficult times. I won't copy the whole sermon but read on. . .
"The next few years included many high points--marriage, teaching, the arrival of our first child. Then life again presented a challenge; we learned that this first daughter, so dear to us, was deaf--not totally so, but to such a degree that she would never learn to speak normally or understand spoken language without a great deal of special training.
It isn't easy to face the fact that you have brought into the world a child with a built-in problem, and it isn't much easier when it happens again, six years later, with our youngest child. Our sense of helplessness eleven years ago was tempered, however, by the knowledge that even then this two-year old child had a great amount of determination and was a bright, healthy, outgoing child.
The years since then have far exceeded our expectations--with four children to make life interesting, there seems to be almost no limit to the wonderful and rewarding experiences. And if you know Laurie today, you know that it is almost impossible to think of her as handicapped. She is always coming up with something. For instance, just a few nights ago we went upstairs for a bedtime check and found her sound asleep, her arm dangling over the side of the bed, and a heavy alarm clock tied to her wrist. She doesn't like to be dependent on someone else to wake her up, and had come up with this idea: since she cannot hear the alarm ring, she had the clock fastened on her arm so tightly that when the alarm went off the vibration would wake her up. Incidently, it worked--though we discouraged her from going to bed every night with a clock tied onto her arm! With a child like that leading you, pushing you, and lighting the path, how could you help but realize God knows what he is doing!
There are times when she comes home after a hard day and asks, "Why did God make me like this? Why am I different? Why can't I hear like other people?" But I seldom need to answer, as she invariably comes up with a smile and a hug and says, "I don't really care, because I'm so lucky!"
Although we know she faces some trying times, it is encouraging to know that she accepts herself, and has an awareness of and trust in God. With that kind of support, surely she will have strength to carry her through many difficulties. I think she and William Danforth would have gotten along well, for it seems that all she needs is a good challenge and she is off and running. So many times it has been she giving me courage and inspiration, rather than the other way around.
No parent would wish this kind of stumbling block for their child, and there have been many times when I wished it were not so. But I know that her presence has given our lives an added dimension, and that out of this situation have come moments of joy we might not have known otherwise; for me, perhaps, it has resulted in a greater measure of patience." ~Betty Royer/March 1974
Thinking of you, Mom, today and always. I love and miss you. Laurie 10/10/11