Category Archives: Faith Lived Dangerously

A is for Amazing

Hi everyone. I’m Rachael and welcome to my YouTube channel. I decided to start a new series called the ABC’s of Contentment. I will be posting one video a week. One video for each letter of the alphabet. I’m doing it because over the years when I go out in public in my wheelchair, I’ve noticed many times that people want to pray for a miracle of physical healing. While that’s not a bad thing, I believe there’s more than one type of healing that people are missing. My goals in doing this are to talk to people about that deeper kind of spiritual healing that can only be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ and also to show them the many lessons I’ve learned about God by living daily with cerebral palsy. Another goal in doing this is to keep myself focused on God’s promises as I remember how good He’s been to me for 36 years. I plan to do this by sharing my life experiences and then tying them in with verses from the Bible. Please join me on the journey.

Today’s letter is A for Amazing.

Psalm 40:5

“O Lord, my God, you have accomplished many things;
you have done amazing things and carried out your purposes for us.
No one can thwart you!
I want to declare them and talk about them,
but they are too numerous to recount!” (NET)

I’ve seen how God is amazing in many ways throughout my life. Take, for instance, my birth. My due date was not until April, but I was born two months premature. My mom had been very sick while she was pregnant with me, but she couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until she called my grandma that she knew what was happening. “You’re in labor,” grandma replied, “We need to get you to the hospital right away!” Once they got to the hospital, doctors performed emergency surgery and I was delivered by C-Section. However, when I came out, my skin was blue. I didn’t even cry. Something was wrong. Within 15 minutes, doctors were able to get no more than five breaths into me. Would I survive? Doctor’s weren’t sure. They tried everything medically possible including putting me on antibiotics. Within 24 hours, my body started responding to the antibiotics and doctors knew I would live!

While many people pray for a miracle of physical healing, I say, I am a miracle. My birth was so traumatic, I shouldn’t have even survived. I’m here today because of God’s Amazing Grace!

(Sing “Amazing Grace”.)

Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Agree/Disagree; Memories of Ron Thompson

This blog is written in loving memory of Mr. Ron Thompson who was born on July 12, 1951 and went to heaven on November 1, 2018. He lived out the Awana acronym: Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed. Look up 2 Timothy 2:15.  Mr. Thompson, I miss you already. See you in heaven.

I was a part of Varsity Awana at my church my junior and senior year of high school. Mr. Thompson was the guy who oversaw doing the lessons for counsel time. On the board, he would write what he called an agree/disagree statement. The statement would say something like this: “If a person isn’t growing in the Lord, it’s because they aren’t really saved.” He would read the statement, and then he would open the floor for discussion. We would have to make a case for whether we thought the statement was true or false. It was like we were in a court room and Mr. Thompson was the prosecutor. God was on trial.

As teenagers, he wanted us to think and be able to defend our faith. Conversations were lively. Moments of laughter with teenagers filled the room as we all went back and forth. It was less of a sermon and more open dialogue. In the end, he always agreed with us, but he wanted to see what we would say to an unbeliever. That made sense because Mr. Thompson grew up skeptical of religion, was a political science major and didn’t come to the Lord until later in life at age 21.

With an agree/disagree statement like the one above, we would debate things like: What if the person is a brand-new believer? How long should it take for faith to show?  How should we approach someone who is struggling with their faith in love?  He really made us think about the scriptures, and how we were living our lives. He wanted to make sure we were becoming true Christ followers who lived out the Awana prayer which states: “That all children and youth throughout the world come to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One of the greatest things I remember about Mr. Thompson is that when I was around him, I felt like he understood that it’s the little things in life that really matter.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who I was trying to bring to the Lord. I remember being in school one day and my friend had been thinking about God. She had some questions, and she asked an aide. We went to public school where people were not allowed to mention God on company time. The aide knew I was a Christian, so she turned to me and asked, “Rachael, you want to answer that?” The next time I saw Mr. Thompson at Awana, I told him what had happened and how I thought it was an accident that she asked me. He said, “The Holy Spirit is knocking on her heart. It was not an accident. He meant for you to be involved in it.”

He was very reassuring and such a great encourager. If I had questions or needed to talk, he was always there to listen. This was great because when something is really on my heart, I can talk for quite a while! Mr. Thompson always had time to listen to me. If I raised my hand in counsel time, he let me share my thoughts. He treated me like everyone else.

After I graduated high school, the college group met on Sunday mornings. I remember one Sunday morning when I arrived for the first service and I sat next to Mr. Thompson. At the end of the service we talked for a while, and he said, “Thanks for sharing in worship with me. I miss you in Awana.” When he said that it made me feel special. It let me know that he noticed my presence. He was glad to hear I was now serving in Awana. “That’s the purpose of Awana,” he replied. That was 18 years ago. Now that he’s in heaven, every Wednesday I picture him smiling as he sees me teaching at Awana. I can hear him cheering me on, “Go Rachael!”

It may seem insignificant, but people don’t realize that someone sitting at the end of the row next to me is a big deal. We live in a fast-paced, moving society. Since I can’t walk or run from one spot to another, or take the stairs in a building, while other people move around quickly, I’m often alone. Mr. Thompson was never in a hurry. Whenever he was around someone, he always enjoyed their company and made them feel valuable.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson, for the little things you did that impacted my life. I will never forget you.

 

 

 

 

The Fast Food Jesus

The last time I put up a new post on my blog, my friend Jessica pointed out to me that on blogs, paragraphs aren’t indented. That’s why most people who write blogs are able to get their material out so quickly. People don’t even notice paragraphs aren’t indented. I was shocked when I saw it! I was going by the rules I’d learned  in school, and never realized it! Jessica told me, “Think of it this way. When you go to a fast food restaurant, are you thinking, ‘What looks the prettiest?’ No, you’re thinking, ‘I just want to eat. I’m in a hurry. Just give me a burger and fries.’ A book  is like a fine restaurant where you sit down to eat.” She was trying to help me break my perfectionism a little bit and get more writing material out there. It made me laugh.

At the same time, it made me think. Many times, even as Christians, we are often quick to pray for a miracle such as the healing of a loved one who is sick. Don’t get me wrong; praying for healing isn’t a bad thing. The Bible talks about praying for healing in James 5:14. “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” However, it shouldn’t be the  focus of our Christian walk. The Bible says, “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15.

My type of cerebral palsy is called Spastic Quadriplegia. Spasticity means muscle tightness and all four of my limbs are affected in some way, but the cerebral palsy is mostly in the legs. When I was six years old, my doctor told my parents about a surgery called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy. The doctor said, “There’s a good chance that this will help Rachael walk independently but there’s no guarantee.”The doctors did the surgery. I had started working in physical therapy when I was three years old. After the surgery, I continued working with the physical therapist to do everything I could to be able to walk independently, but it never happened.  If the surgery went the way doctors thought it would, I would be walking independently. However, God knew how the surgery was going to turn out, and He had a different plan for my life. If it was God’s will for me to walk without my walker, I’d be doing it by now.

Just like the Lord said to Moses in Exodus 4:11, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”

I’ll admit it’s hard sometimes, but even though I can’t walk like I’d like to, I have a lot to be thankful for. Even with my disability, I’m still able to serve Him by helping others.

One of my favorite spiritual mentors who I listen to on a daily basis is Joni Eareckson Tada. She was paralyzed from the waist down in a diving accident at the age of 17. She wrote a  pamphlet called “Where’s My Miracle?” In it she says,  “On a scale of one to ten, how often do you ask God to remove a painful situation from your life? On the same scale, how quick are you to tell people about the gospel, the real focus of Jesus’ coming? Remember, God saved you to tell others his good news—and your painful situation may be his best platform to showcase that.”

Amen!  I do believe God can heal someone physically if He believes that’s how they’re going to serve Him best. However, He is in control of all things. When Jesus was on earth, physical healing wasn’t His primary goal. His goal was to heal people spiritually and save them from themselves. In Mark 1:38, Jesus  replied,  “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Think about it; of those He healed, how many people came back to thank Him? Did those people want to learn about who He really was?  No. They just wanted a miracle worker. To this day, I still believe that’s true. When everything is fine, we tend not to lean on God. We don’t go to church, we don’t read our Bibles, and we don’t pray. However, when we have a hardship, suddenly we’re looking for answers and crying out to God. I believe the reason He allows people like me to have a hardship on a daily basis, is because He knows it will bring honor to His name.  Now more than ever, our world needs a deep spiritual healing the ability to walk won’t fix!

Another Quote from “Where’s My Miracle?”

I sometimes shudder to think of where I would be today if I had not broken my neck. I could not see at first why God would possibly allow it― how it could be His will―but I sure understand now. God has gotten so much more glory through my paralysis than through my health. And believe me, you’ll never know how rich that makes me feel. If God chooses to heal you in answer to your prayers, that’s great–I join you in praising the Lord for his mercy! But if he chooses not to heal you, thank him anyway. You can be sure he has his reasons.”

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me about you through my disability. As I approach the New Year, may I grow deeper in my understanding of who you are.  Help me pay more attention to the details about my relationship with you, and less attention to the details of other things. Help me to treat my relationship with you like a fine restaurant and not a fast food place.

Amen



I do not own rights to the video. I picked it because I like the quote about miracles. Watch it and you’ll see. It also has some good scriptures.

Works Cited

Costi Hinn. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://old.joniandfriends.org/radio/4-minute/costi-hinn/

Joni interviews Costi Hinn, Benny Hinn’s nephew. Hear why he left the faith healing industry.

“Unanswered Prayer: Where’s My Miracle?” Joni and Friends, store.joniandfriends.org/product/unanswered-prayer-wheres-my-miracle/?fbclid=IwAR3qyhSZly22lKlHWWpzcM8N_bcJpQiOnVE0ssW45cBHasOJCnVqGENIvqw.

Phantom306. (2011, July 19). Blessings by Laura Story. Retrieved December 30, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgKyGIWtxuU&feature=youtu.be

Refiner’s Fire: Getting Ready for Mom’s Birthday

December is my mom’s birthday month. The other day, Jessica and I worked on making her a birthday card. Whenever the day comes that it’s time to really put something together, it always takes a few practice runs for my brain to warm up. This allows the letters to come out looking good, and my brain to get the spacing of the words just right. Even though I have been practicing my handwriting, my brain is never ready to write a message on the first try. For the most part, my letters came out looking good. The one letter that gave me the most trouble was the letter “s”.

When Jessica was teaching me to write for the first time, we were trying to keep everything simple. With the letter “s” she would say, “Think of going curve to curve. That worked when I was first learning to write, but I’ve had many occasions to work on my handwriting since then. Now that we could pay more attention to detail, we were trying to work on making my letters more refined.

In order to help me perfect the letter “s”,  Jessica put coins on my paper, and told me to go in a circle to the left, and don’t stop until I get to the bottom. I did just that. Sometimes my “s”’s would come out looking like fives, sometimes “g”’s,  sometimes “j”’s; I came up with some interesting shapes.

Jessica got to my house very early in the morning, and it took me until after lunch to be ready to write the message. Even though I write my name at least twice a week at the hospital on a clipboard, and I also practice throughout the week at home, sometimes, when I sign a card my hand needs guidance to make sure letters are small enough to fit the whole message. When I really want to accomplish something like writing my name or a longer message, I really have to work at it. I’m always working on refining my writing; I was so excited when I did Mom’s birthday card. I wrote the entire message all by myself. The only thing Jessica did was give me some verbal cueing reminding me to space out my letters.

It reminded me of how in my Christian walk, the Lord is always working to refine my character, and make me more like Him in His image. Just when I think I know all the Bible verses on suffering, and I know how to have a good attitude with my disability, something happens that makes me realize the Lord still needs to work on that part of my character.

I looked up a few Bible verses on refinement and here’s what I found. My favorite one was 1 Peter 1 6-7, where it says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Any piece of art takes great work and effort. Having a relationship with God is the same way. Especially here in America where we have all the modern conveniences and technology, it’s easy to trust God when everything is going well and life is comfortable. However, what happens when He throws a curve ball in our lives such as a loved one getting sick? Can you still say, “God is good?” or will you shake a fist at Him and curse Him?

We live in a society where many times people only want to hear certain parts of the Gospel. I believe God uses hard times in our lives to see who the true followers of Christ are. The Lord is testing us to see if we really have treasures stored in heaven, or earthly things that will fade away. As Malachi 3:2-5 says,” But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

Another good scripture that talks about the refiner’s fire is found in in Zechariah 13:9 where the Lord describes about what will happen to the inhabitants of Jersalum when a fountain is opened to the house of David on the day of His coming: “In the whole land,” declares the Lord,“two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Will you be part of the one-third of land that makes it through the fire? Right now, can you say,  “The Lord is my God?’ If it came time to give an account for how you lived your life, would He call you part of His people? Look at the story of Job. Satan tried to get him to curse God and he still praised Him.  In Job 1:21-22, He said, ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

If I wanted to, I could curse God because I have cerebral palsy, but then I’d be really miserable and hard to be around.  Instead, like Job, I choose to praise Him because He pulled me through my birth. I praise God because I’m high functioning and am able to help others. My disability allows me to share the gospel in a very different way. I’ve been teaching the Awana program at my church for 18 years. Many times, people have come to me and said, ‘Thank you for being my leader.” When I did my faith healing lesson last year, the fact that I shared life experiences from my wheelchair meant a lot to one girl at my table. I could share the gospel without my disability, but would it have the same impact on people? Would I focus and be able to memorize Bible verses so well? Probably not.

When I’m at the hospital, it’s not uncommon for me to be in a room for awhile. One time I talked to a patient in rehab who was new to being paralyzed and now he was going to be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. We talked for two hours. People talk to me because they can see I can relate to their hardship. The fact that I’m in my wheelchair often opens the door for deep and meaningful conversations that might not happen otherwise. When I feel the Lord nudging me, I’ve even prayed for some patients right there in the room when they’ve said it’s okay. They’ve really appreciated it. People often say, “Thanks for coming by.”

Next time you’re going through a trial, instead of trying to get rid of the pain, disappointment, etc, ask yourself, “How can I use this to glorify God, my Creator?“ How could this help advance Christ’s kingdom?”

Just like the Lord says in Isaiah 48:9-11: “For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely.  See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

Dear Lord,

When I go through trials, help me to remember that it’s only to make me pure and holy, and bring honor to your name. You’re refining my character so I come out shining pure as gold. I look forward to the day when I’m as golden as I can be. The day when I get to heaven and you say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You are one of my people. Welcome home.” In the meantime, help me be like Job and say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Amen

I do not own any rights to the video. I love how it shows the process of making gold. Please watch until the very end.

Works Cited

Diaz, K. (2011, December 26). Refiners Fire, Brian Doerksen. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZtijkqQtz8

 

 

 

 

 

The Inside Story of the Jackrabbit and The Tortoise Book Dedication

My second children’s book came out.  My  friend Sarah March drew this for me. She wrote one scripture for the hare and one for the tortoise. The verse for the hare is:  “Point out the way I must travel. I’m all ears before you. “Psalm 143:10.  The verse for the tortoise is : “It is God who arms me with strength. He makes my way perfect.” Psalm 18:32.

I dedicate this book to my friend and former caregiver Sarah March who inspired the idea for this story. Her words to me were, “Remember, the very same God who created the Jackrabbit is the very same God who created the Tortoise.” Thank you, Sarah. I have never forgotten those words. They have been very meaningful to me, as I’ve lived my life with cerebral palsy. Thank you for a fun and wonderful six years. Those six years were some of the best years of my life!
Also, I’d like to thank Jessica Frausto and Christina Danford for helping me edit the story and get it ready for the competition. Jessica, we sure had many laughs. It was fun listening to “Bob” on the computer. Christina, thank you for being an extra pair of eyes and catching the details.
Mom, thanks for teaching me to focus on what I can do rather than on what I can’t. You’ve been a great encourager for me in my dreams and in my writing. When I think of you, I think of Proverbs 31:18, where it says, “She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night” Thanks for taking care of me. I love our many adventures! You’re a special mother!

You can buy my book at one of these three places online:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Penit! Publications

 

Training in Godliness: An Update about Osteoporosis

1 Timothy 4:8
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Well, I went to the doctor, and the results of my osteoporosis tests have been confirmed: my numbers are -2.3. Even though that’s technically considered osteoporosis, the doctor is still calling it osteopenia because I’m only 35 years old. My bones still have a few years to grow and reach their peak bone mass. The doctor doesn’t want to put me on medications for osteoporosis yet because she’s afraid of the long-term long side effects on my body.  Also, by the time I reach 40, she doesn’t want to run out of options if she feels I really need it in the future.

Besides trying to walk in my walker as much as I can, the doctor also emphasized that lifting weights and wearing weights on my hands is another good form of weight bearing exercise. This is me trying to lift weights and put my arms up over my head. I even started wearing weights when I work at the computer. I’ve often heard it said that the best way to get exercise in, is to do it throughout the day.

Just as it’s important for our  physical bodies to be fit, as Christians, it’s also important for our hearts and minds to be spiritually fit, and do a little weight bearing. If we want to grow in the Lord, and get to know Him intimately, it’s important to read God’s word daily, spend time in prayer, and be around other Christians on a regular basis. This will strengthen our spiritual muscles and give us a deeper understanding of who God is.

I understand how easy it is to get distracted in this fast-paced culture. Sometimes I really have to force myself to focus on the sermon in church and not think about the next article I’m going to write or what I’m going to do later. I often say that while my body can’t do nine things at a time, my brain can.

If I’m not careful, my spiritual muscles can easily weaken. When that happens, I start to worry more instead of trusting God for the outcome. Sometimes I get bitter about my disability, and that’s exactly what Satan wants. Some days I really have to quote Bible verses to myself, sing church songs I’ve learned, etc. When I give it to God, all my earthly concerns fade away and I can better focus on God’s goodness. It’s a constant battle, but one worth fighting. I want to get home to heaven and hear my savior say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You ran the race and finished strong.”

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the people you’ve put in my life  to help strengthen my physical muscles as well as my spiritual muscles. Help me to remember to strengthen my spiritual muscles, and have a thankful heart so I can be a strong witness, and serve you to the best of my ability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewels in a Heavenly Crown; What Will Yours Look Like?

 

Zechariah 9:16-17a “The LORD their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be!”

Recently, when I did some health screenings at my gym, I just found out that I might have osteoporosis. Normally, doctors wouldn’t worry about that at my age, but I have cerebral palsy. This means I have limited mobility and I’m on seizure medication that steals calcium from my bones. I may have to go on medication for osteoporosis. I have to have some tests done to have it confirmed. My aide, Jessica, and I are working on weight bearing exercises in my walker to help me stay strong. Some of the challenges for me when I walk are to keep my head up and chest out.

In order to help me to remember to have good posture, Jessica put a necklace on me and told me that as I was moving, she wanted to be able to see the necklace. My head was burying the necklace every few seconds! I know what to do in my head, but getting the right message to the right part of my brain is not easy. Everything takes time.

As I worked so hard, it reminded me of how I want to walk into heaven. The Bible often talks about how those who are true Christ followers will get a crown of rewards. Have you ever thought about what your crown might look like? How have you served the Lord and honored Him with your life? If it was time for Judgement Day right now, would Christ embrace you into His arms and say you sparkled like a jewel for Him? Often, our trials in life make us grow and become more like Jesus. It’s our trials that help us learn more about God’s goodness and appreciate Him more. Instead of grumbling through our trials, we should ask, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me through this? How can I sparkle for you?” That’s when the world really becomes curious about the hope of Christ.

Dear Lord,

Even in tough times, help me not to grumble, but instead help me to sparkle like a jewel, so that I may reach others for you,  bring a smile to your face, and earn my reward in heaven.

Amen

  • Author’a Note: I write this blog and share this experience out of love for my other friends who have physical disabilities. I was 27 when I discovered I had osteopenia, which is the start of osteoporosis. I’m now 35. I find out if it has progressed on Wednesday August 1st at 3. The only reason the doctor did the test is because my mom asked for it. However, I’m not going to let it get me down! “Danger” is going to stand up and fight! If you have a physical disability such as cerebral palsy and are on medications, talk to your doctor. Early intervention is the key in making sure it doesn’t get worse! You have to be your own advocate!

“Won’t You Be my Neighbor?” What I Learned From Mister Rogers About Life

I wrote this when I first started writing. Mister Rogers, (the creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood),was born on March 20 1928, and died ion February 27, 2003. I decided to put this on my blog in light of the new movie that’s out in theaters titled, “Won’t You  Be my Neighbor?” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s very well done. However, it’s not meant for young children. It’s rated PG-13. This year would’ve been his 90th birthday. I’m sending a thank you note to heaven.

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” Mister Rogers

Dear Mister Rogers,

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood ….” My name is Rachael Benson. You and I have been television neighbors since the day I was born on February 8, 1983. I am now twenty-four years old and I still watch your show whenever I can. I never get tired of the songs, or of seeing how people make things such as bicycles, crayons, backpacks, etc. I also never get tired of knowing that I’m “special.” It’s neat to hear you call me your “friend” through the television and know that you mean it. I am now 24 years old, and I still watch your show whenever I can. I never get tired of the songs, or of seeing how people make things such as bicycles, crayons, backpacks, etc. I also never get tired of knowing that I’m “special.” It’s neat to hear you call me your “friend” through the television and know that you mean it.

Lots of people my age would think I’m crazy for watching a children’s program. Because of the puppets and simple lyrics, they only see it as child’s play. If they would look beneath the surface, they would see a whole lot more. The truth is, no matter how old you are, everyone needs to hear, “You make each day such a special day for me. You know how. By just your being you. There’s only one person in the whole world like you. People can like you exactly as you are.”

Everyone needs to come to a point where they accept themselves the way they are before others will like them. You said it yourself, “Deep within us- no matter who we are- lives a feeling of wanting to be loveable; of wanting to be the kind of person others like to be with. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.” I couldn’t agree more.

A lot of people won’t watch your show because it’s slow. I have cerebral palsy. Maybe it’s because of my disability and the fact that I can’t move so easily that I don’t mind the slow pace. But then again, the truth is that no matter what age you are, we all need to learn to slow down and take our time, so we don’t make mistakes. We ALL need to learn how to be patient and wait for things; not just little kids.

These “get rich quick” schemes aren’t real. Anything of good quality is worth the wait. I can think of nine things to do at one time even if I can’t do them physically. My mom is always telling me, “Slow down you’re putting energy into planning something that is months from now.”

“Someday you’ll be a grown-up too and you’ll have children grow up too.” The key word in that song is someday. Nothing happens fast in our culture the way we would like it to because it isn’t natural. The slow and steady process is what is natural. You’re right Mister Rogers when you say, “That’s not just a song for children. No. Someday you’ll be a grown-up too and you’ll have children grow up too. Then you can love them in and out and tell them stories all about the times when you were their size… that’s a little hint for you know who.”

If more people could look beneath the surface and really listen to what you are saying, they would realize that your songs are simple on purpose so that all people can understand your messages. Unfortunately, too many people my age tease me about the fact that I watch your program to understand that. Too many people my age think they’re too old for your program and I think that’s really sad. When I try to explain to people that your show and songs are for everybody, the response I get is often something like this: “His songs are for children. Mister Rogers is for kids.” People just don’t get it.

Even in my family the only one who seems to understand and who will watch your program with me is my mother. Her name is Rosemary. No matter how old I get, my mother has never minded your television visits. To her, it’s better that I watch your show than a lot of the other stuff that is on television for people my age. In the Pittsburgh magazine somebody said, “It was reality television at its best.” Again, I agree. Instead of throwing furniture and calling people names, you dealt with things like anger in a constructive manner. Even though the characters in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe might disagree sometimes, they always came to a solution and said “sorry.”

My mother also likes the program because of the principles behind it. She knew that you were a Christian by your character. You hid it so well because you wanted to reach more than just Christians. I didn’t even recognize it until I got older and more people (including Amy Hollingsworth and the people at Family Communications) started to put out some information about you in 2003.

I remember the first time I realized that you were a Christian. I was about nine or 10. You wrote the word “agape” in Greek and you told viewers that it meant love. I realized that it was the same kind of love the Apostle Paul talks about in the Bible. The same kind of unconditional love that Christ had when he died on the cross. It was then that my mother told me that you had a degree in ministry; you just didn’t have a church. I remember another time when you were talking about day/and night care. Daniel Stripped Tiger wanted to know who made things and Lady Aberlin’s response to everything was “God.” You were careful because you wanted to live it out more than anything and you didn’t want to offend people who weren’t Christians, but if people look and listen carefully (as one of your songs says) they might be able to figure it out.

The Song “The Truth Shall Make Me Free” comes right out of the Bible. In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings you are really my disciples. Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

The song “Then Your Heart Is Full of Love” is full of Christian principles from beginning to end. “When your heart can sing another’s gladness, then your heart is full of love. When your heart can cry another’s sadness, then your heart is full of love.” In Romans 12:15 Jesus said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). You sang, “When your heart has room for everybody, then your heart is full of love.”

Everything you did was full of Christian principles. Here I was going to church memorizing Bible verses and I didn’t even know it! You slid it right underneath my feet.

Another reason that explains why my mother has never minded that I watch your show even when I’ve gotten past the age that most people would typically watch it is that it is always clean. She likes the show because with you she has “never had to worry about what was on.” Those are her exact words. Unlike most shows that start out okay for children and then change, your show has never changed. It has always been the same.

Even I don’t like a lot of what is on television today. I can’t handle the news for very long because it’s all about who killed who and the war in Iraq and people hating one another. I’m more of a comedy show type person, but even those are getting dirtier and dirtier. It’s getting to the point where I like to watch some of my old videos or read instead of watching television.

Most of television today (in the year 2007) has no value. If you were on Earth today, I’m sure you would have a lot to say about it given your “Fame is a four-letter word” speech. Americans would get an ear full! You encourage people to be themselves and assure children and adults alike that it is okay to still enjoy younger toys. You bring back memories of what life was like for me before I had to think so much and start making some hard decisions in my young adult years. Your voice has a soothing effect.

I love the second and third stanza in “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny” when you say, “It’s great to know you’re growing up bigger every day, but somehow things you like to remember are often put away. And sometimes you wonder over and over if you should stay inside, when you enjoy a younger toy… You never need to hide. In the long, long trip of growing There are stops along the way, for thoughts of all the soft things and the look of yesterday. For a chance to fill our feelings, With comfort and with ease, and then tell the new tomorrow,”You can come now when you please.”

That is encouraging because one day when I was in high school I tried to watch something else because I got tired of being teased; but I couldn’t help it; I went right to your program. My mother told me I was probably destined to work with children and that rather than try to get away from it, I should take all the notes I can. I knew she was right and from then on, I didn’t worry about it. At least when she was in the room. If other people came in, I did change the channel because I didn’t want to hear any negative comments.

You know what righteous anger is. You said, “Usually when I get angry it’s because somebody has demeaned somebody else.” That’s why you wrote, “What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?” Ephesians 4:26 says, “Let not the sun go down on your anger.” You also knew that Jesus is the only one who is perfect. That is the point behind the song, “Sometimes People are Good.”

Mister Rogers, thank you for bringing joy to my childhood and for giving my mother peace of mind when I watch the television. You referred to the television as “Holy Ground” and said, “Why in the world couldn’t we use this thing called television for the broadcasting of grace throughout the land?” Good question Mister Rogers. Even if they never mentioned God, I wish more people in television could see it the way you see it – as a ministry. Thank you for taking it so seriously. Because of that, you’ve had such an impact on my life. Even from way up there in heaven. I can’t wait to meet and talk to you face to face. “When your heart beats for a special someone, then your heart is full of love.” Mister Rogers, you truly are a special someone. My heart will always beat for you. You are always welcome in my home. I will always have a special place in my heart for you because “You are special.”

Love,
Rachael Benson

 

 

How Becoming A Christian Is Like Becoming A Vase A Gospel Message

Here’s a condensed version of the vase lesson I did with my Awana kids back in October. Originally, I talked about inner beauty, and them seeing themselves as God sees them. Many of the kids go to my church, so I taught the lesson as if everyone was a mature follower of Christ who just needed help growing in the Lord. If someone wants to share the gospel with a friend, here’s how to use the same lesson as a gospel tract.   I shared this when I did an interview to become a member of my church. Enjoy!

  • All Adam and Eve had to do was obey one rule. They couldn’t do it. In Genesis 2:16-17, God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
  • Because of sin, we are like broken vases. Romans 3: 23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
  • God has to repair the vase; He did that by sending His son to die on the cross. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • There’s hope! The vase can be repaired!
  • ”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31.
  • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  • After we believe in Jesus and accept Him as our savior, He washes away our sins and makes us new. We begin to be transformed into that beautiful vase He means for us to be. Psalm 51:7”Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
  • From the day we accept Christ as our Savior, until the day we go home to be with him in heaven, He’s always working on us. God will always be faithful to complete the work He started in us. The next step is to stand back and watch the work He does in our lives. God always does great things! Philippians 1:4-6 “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  • Just because you accept Jesus as your savior, doesn’t mean you won’t have problems,  Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be perfect. No one is perfect until they get to heaven. We all have our weaknesses. Even though God does forgive us, it’s not easy for us as humans to forget the past. You may still have blemishes from things you did in the past. At one time or another, we could all look back on something and say, “I wish I hadn’t done that.” When you have Jesus in your life, God uses those blemishes to make you stronger and build your character. Those blemishes are often used to help you minister to others and see the work God does in other people’s lives through you. The more you get to know the Lord, the more you’ll say, “Lord, thank you for leaving the blemishes in my life to remind me of what you brought me through. You are so good to me. Please help me use the blemishes in my life to bring glory to you.” In 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10, the apostle Paul says, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”