Miracle by the Sea Press Release

Local man Larry Patton contributed to a chapter in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers (Chicken Soup for the SoulPublishing, LLC, October 18, 2011, 978-1935096764, $14.95) as one of the authors who share true stories of answered prayers that will encourage readers in their faith and demonstrate the power of prayer. Patton, who lives in Troy, wrote of his experience on a trip to Israel when he cried out to God to heal him of cerebral palsy.

As he walked on the ground where Jesus’ miracles took place, Patton asked God to heal him, too. Patton wrote, “I was sure He was going to heal me while inIsrael, all I had to do was ask.” But after he cried out to God with Josh McDowell, the leader of the tour, Patton said, “The realization struck me that my physical disability was my weakness, and that the Lord would use it to His glory. The Lord poured His love into me. I nearly wept. ‘I get it Lord! For the first time in my life, I love myself despite my disability!’”

As a result, Patton began a speaking ministry called Hurdling Handicaps, which teaches how people can overcome physical, emotional, and spiritual handicaps with God’s help. In Patton’s words, “In the last twenty years, God has opened doors for me to speak that I never dreamed possible. He sent me, in this twisted body, to share the gospel, to inspire and bring hope to so many that need encouragement.”

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers (Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and LeAnn Thieman) was released on October 18, 2011 and contains 101 stories. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, publishes all the latest titles in the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, which are distributed through Simon & Schuster, Inc. Since 1993, books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have sold over 112 million copies, with titles translated into over 40 languages.

You can order a copy today of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers by sending $14.95 plus $2.50 for shipping to the Hurdling Handicaps office.

Hurdling Handicaps ~PO Box725023~Berkley, MI 48072

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by Daniel J. Vance

His name was Larry Patton, a nationally known speaker on disabilities, and we met at a Joni and Friends (JAF) Family Retreat in northernIndianathis summer. (JAF is a Christian disabilities outreach to families affected by disabilities.)

Larry was born with cerebral palsy. In my mind’s eye, I can see him now walking that retreat hallway towards me: elbows akimbo, one hand punching air, feet never planted squarely, and a perpetually grinning mouth trying to form words.

I can get away with kidding him about his awkward walking and talking because we became friends at the family retreat. His family’s room was right across the hallway from ours.

Don’t doubt that life has been hard for him. At birth a twisted umbilical cord choked off his oxygen supply for 25 minutes. Like many people with cerebral palsy, his muscles are stiff and taut. And to many people he talks “funny.” So is he bitter toward life?

“I now realize that with cerebral palsy God can use me more effectively,” he said to me over the telephone last week. “Besides, when I get to heaven I will have a healthy body anyway. Our years on earth are just a fraction of eternity.”

One Bible passage Larry clings to is John 9:1, 3b: “And as He went by He saw a man blind from birth…said Jesus, ‘…but this [blindness] happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life'” (NIV).

It took years for him to accept that his disability was indeed a higher calling. When Larry was 8 and vacationing inWashingtonD.C., he remembers walking alongside his mom when a woman from behind suddenly passed them on the sidewalk. Eyeballing Larry’s jerky movements as she passed, the woman turned around ahead of them and began pacing backwards, glaring at Larry while she backpedaled.

That stare and hundreds of others cut Larry. “But now I try to use [the stares] as a teaching tool,” he says. “If it’s a child, I try breaking the ice by saying hello or asking for her name.”

To increase understanding of disabilities in churches, Larry’s ministry Hurdling Handicaps (www.hurdlinghandicaps.org) sponsors a national church symposium to equip church staffs in reaching out to families affected by disabilities. “Often people don’t know how to react when a person with a disability walks into church,” he says.

[Visit www.danieljvance.com. Copyright 2002 by Daniel J. Vance.]

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Why Me, Lord?

How many times in a day, in a week, or in your life have you asked “Why Me, Lord?” Three times, ten times, fifty times? Do you ask “Why Me, Lord?” after a bad performance on the field, after having a fight with your girl or boy friend, after a very difficult loss or defeat, or after doing poorly on an exam?

I have asked “Why Me, Lord?” and many other questions. Why God, was I born with the handicap of cerebral palsy? Why would God allow this to happen to me? Is the Lord listening to my prayers? When difficult times occur in our lives we automatically put the blame on God.

For years I wanted the Lord to heal me of my cerebral palsy. I was very upset and I was placing the blame on God. Then I came across a book entitled What Color is Your Parachute? that really changed my perspective.

“Let’s try this: imagine that you have, in your dining room, a fine wooden chair, which one day has its back broken off completely – I mean, into smithereens—by someone in the house. You run down the street, to call a carpenter who lives nearby. He comes and examines the chair. He pronounces the chair unrepairable. But, he says, I think I could make a fine wooden stool out of it as a remainder of the chair. And so he spends much time, shaping, polishing and sanding it, and fashioning out of the former chair a fine stool, more resplendent than anything you have ever dreamed. He inlays it with gold, and soon it is the treasure in your home.”

Let me underline a couple of key points in this parable. First of all, the carpenter didn’t break the chair. Someone else did that. But the carpenter came quickly, and with all his art and powers, to see if he could not only repair it, but made of it something even finer than it had been before. And he labored mightily, to that end.”

Throughout my life I had a longing desire to be put back together like the chair in the parable but God, our Carpenter, was beginning to transform my brokenness into a beautiful new creation created in the image of God.

After many years of prayer and study I began to realize more than ever that I needed to trust and rely on the Lord to answer life’s toughest questions. Life is not always fair. Should we ask “Why Me, Lord?” All we need to do is look at the life of Jesus. He walked this earth healing the sick, feeding the hungry, resisting the evil one, delivering a message of love and forgiveness, and then was whipped, scarred and hung on a cross. I ask you, is God unfair?

The Lord has a plan for each of our lives. When I stopped asking “Why Me, Lord?” and allowed the Lord to begin to work in my life. He started to do some amazing things. Intellectually it is hard to understand Paul’s words about “my power is made perfect in weakness” but I can tell you first hand it is very true.

I began to realize that we all have some kind of handicap to overcome.  The only difference is that you can see mine.  I have found the answer to hurdling handicaps . . . Jesus Christ.  He helped me hurdle my handicaps, and He can help you do the same with yours.

Quoted from my book, More Than An Average Guy by Janet Kastner, I say, “Lord, if you can use me more being handicapped than not, if I can win more people for You, so be it.”     

When I allow the Lord to fill me with His grace and allow Him to use me, His power and light shines bright through my weakness or handicap. In 1985, I felt God leading me to begin Hurdling Handicaps Speaking Ministries.  The ministry has taken me across theUnited States sharing and encouraging others to hurdle life’s handicaps.  By being open to the Lord’s calling, He is now impacting His kingdom and other’s lives through me. 

“Larry and Hurdling Handicaps Speaking Ministry played a key role in the success of our new FCA golf camps in Missouri and Illinois this summer. His “hurdling of handicaps” in order to physically play golf, along with his powerful testimony of his faith in Christ, helped impact many campers and staff. Particularly 3 campers in Missouri shared during open MIC how watching Larry attempt to play golf made them realize how insignificant some of their minor problems were and how important it was to be a person of faith. Mike Connell of Naperville, IL said ‘…speakers like Larry really hit me in a way you wouldn’t believe … (he) really touched me’!” 

      Dean Bouzeus, Director of the FCA Golf Ministry

“Larry’s message is communicated with passion, clarity, and boldness – straight from the heart and he holds nothing back.  His sincerity to see young people walk with the Lord is vibrantly apparent and received.  God uses Larry to help young people to understand that God loves them.”

       Dan Britton, FCAState Director ofVirginia

 The Lord is using my brokenness for a greater glory and good.  It is okay to ask the Lord the difficult questions “Why Me, Lord?” but we need to be prepared and open to hear His answers.  His answers are not always the answers we want to hear.   The Lord that I know is bigger than the any problem we might have.  “Man is born broken.  He lives by mending.  The grace of God is glue” — Engene O’Neil.

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