030 – A conversation with special father Paul Miller, author of “Love Walked Among Us.”
In This Special Fathers Network podcast, David Hirsch talks to special father Paul Miller, an author of many books including, “Love Walked Among Us.” He’s also Executive Director of SEE JESUS, a global discipling mission that supports spiritual growth in more than 30 countries. Paul and his wife Jill are parents of 6 children, Courtney, Ashley, John, Andrew, Emily and Kim who has significant disabilities.
We’ll hear the Miller family story including how Paul discovered that putting extra effort into loving your family pays off with huge dividends.
He’s another amazing father, Paul Miller. And he’s David’s guest today on this Special Fathers Network Podcast.
Dad To Dad 30 – A conversation with special father Paul Miller, author of “Love Walked Among Us.”
Tom Couch: This is the Special Fathers Network podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers.
Sometimes the mentor father is just there to answer a few questions. Sometimes they become good friends. It’s a proven support system for new fathers with special needs kids. If you’re a father looking for support, or if you’re a dad who’d like to offer support, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: Hi, I’m David Hirsch. This is the Special |Fathers Network podcast. Stories of fathers helping fathers.
Tom Couch: And I’m Tom Couch. Today David talks to special father Paul Miller and author of many books, “Love Walked Among Us”
Paul Miller: In praying God’s invited me into the dance, but it’s always his name.
Tom Couch: He’s also executive director of see Jesus, a global discipling mission that. spiritual growth in more than 30 countries. He’s the one writing the score.
Paul Miller: And I’m kind of discovering it as I go along.
Tom Couch: Paul and his wife, Jill are parents of six children, Courtney, Ashley, John, Andrew, Emily, and Kim, who has significant disabilities.
Paul Miller: Kim was born. You know, we thought this was the worst thing that could possibly happen. And it was God’s really best gift for our family.
Tom Couch: We’ll hear the Miller family story, including how Paul found that putting extra effort into loving your family pays off with huge dividends.
Paul Miller: How do I love someone who’s completely different than the person I married?
Tom Couch: He’s another amazing father, Paul Miller and he’s David’s guest today. On this Special Father’s Network podcast.
Paul Miller: The days are long and the years are short. So make sure you take time to enjoy them each day. And don’t just see the child as a problem.
Tom Couch: Here’s David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Being a father is very important to me.
I’ve started a number of charitable organizations designed to increase the role of fathers. One of them, the Special Fathers Network. As a dad, to dad mentoring program for fathers, raising children with special needs, we’ve been interviewing some exceptional fathers of special needs kids, and we want to share their stories with you.
Tom Couch: So let’s get to it. Here’s David Hirsch’s interview with special father Paul Miller.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with my friend, Paul Miller of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a father of six author of numerous books, including. Low walked among us and a praying life. Connecting with God in a distracting world.
He is also executive director of see Jesus, a nonprofit global discipleship mission that develops interactive Bible studies, which he founded in 1999. Paul, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview with the special fathers network,
Paul Miller: David I’m. I’m glad to be with you.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Jill have been married for 45 years and the proud grandparents of 12 grandchildren as well as six children, Courtney 44, Ashley 42, John 40, Andrew, 33, Emily 31 and 36 year old Kim who is born with significant disabilities, which has been diagnosed as microdeletion known as one P 36.
Paul Miller: That’s correct.
David Hirsch: Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family, including growing up with four
Paul Miller: sisters. I grew up in Northern California as born in San Francisco. We live for some time in the San Joaquin Valley of California. So I grew up at a doors, you know, we can’t put the redwoods every summer.
My dad was from Southwest Oregon, which is a pretty rural area. And I spent about five or six summers up there as a kid. So just. Had adores, uh, loving life, you know, constantly doing things was my childhood. So I had a lot of fun and child, you know, just as a kid growing up,
David Hirsch: you have four sisters.
Paul Miller: Yeah. Yeah.
Well, I, I like to think, I think I was probably a little bit of a whiner. Cause I, I do recall my, uh, my sister Ruth one year ahead of me telling me once when I was whining about something, quoting Thumper to Bambi, what does the young Prince blond we’ve? We grew up in a tight community and I think it’s given me a love for community and relationships growing up.
My dad was a pastor. Uh, we moved some, he got his PhD in English literature. Uh, so we, we were, you know, not much of a sports family, but we were intellectual museum. You know, we, we talked ideas a lot, so I love that combination. Of fun and adventure and ideas.
David Hirsch: Well, all I can think of is growing up with four sisters.
First of all, the benefit is you didn’t have to share a bedroom while the girls might’ve had to share bedrooms. And then you probably were not able to get into the bathroom very often.
Paul Miller: Well, we had one bathroom, so that in itself is a wonderful training life growing experience
David Hirsch: can only imagine. So how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Paul Miller: Uh, I would say good. Uh, dad was a teacher, you know, pastor, you know, he was very much the, uh, what would the Romans call up the Patras familias by Latins? Not very good. Uh, but, but, you know, he was very much, you know, father knows best. He was not harsh. You know, we, we had very little money as a family, but we could turn almost anything into an adventure.
I learned to respect him. I learned respect from him. I mean, just, he was always, mentoring is largely Irish. You know, there, his family was pioneers. They came over and wagon trains. And so it was just a hodgepodge of Irish and scotch or so we were big families storytellers. So I grew up with stories all the time, uh, which really helps them by writing now.
David Hirsch: Excellent. So your grandfathers, did they play a role in your life?
Paul Miller: Probably just both of them had that same sort of spirit of adventure. My grandfather and Oregon, I never knew. And nor did my father really know him. He died. He was a professional Hunter. And it was actually written up in field and stream when he died, but he died in a hunting accident where a guy who was taken out, hunting shot him.
Oh my God. Yeah. When, when he went to pull his dogs off the Bayer that they’d cornered. Uh, so he was written up in field and stream magazine when he, when he passed away. And I think it was about. 1929. I think it was 1930 when, when he died. Uh, but that the family was like that outdoors hunting. They were outdoors people on my mother’s side, they were a seafaring family from Southern Denmark that had become part of Germany.
And he left with his parents’ blessing to be a cabin boy when he was 14 or 15. And so he, he was at sea for about 10 years or so. So I grew up with see stories of. Shit’s caught on fire and mutinies. And so I grew up with a world of adventure and you can do anything.
David Hirsch: That’s awesome. It sounds like you had an influence on your life then.
Paul Miller: Yeah, he did.
David Hirsch: Yeah. So, um, I understand that you took a degree from temple university and then, um, you worked, uh, you taught in the inner city schools in Philadelphia for a decade. You also went back to get your master’s in divinity from Bible theological seminary in 1999. When you were graduating from temple, working on the inner cities, going back to get your divinity degree.
What were you thinking as far as what your career was going to be?
Paul Miller: Well, I didn’t get the divinity degree till later, you know, I think when I started temp, I wanted to be an archeologist, but that died when I got married in my sophomore year and we had kids and I had to put food in the table. So w when I graduated from the temple and I was a history major, so I couldn’t get a.
A job in a regular public school, I just painted houses. So I really didn’t know who my career was going to be. And then I started working in this inner city Christian school. And then. I discovered I had a talent for administration and organization and a group of parents. And another part of the inner city asked me to come and start a, to, to be there, their founding principal of a Christian school.
They were starting. So for seven years, then I was a teaching principal. So it just kind of grew, you know, during my time in the inner city, I came into it with very little teaching experience. I had not been in an African American world at all, and I was just completely immersed in that world. And it was just a delight to enter into a new culture and learn to love that culture.
David Hirsch: Was that what was originally the spruce Hill Christian school now known as the city school?
Paul Miller: Right. And we started with about 60 kids. And, uh, when I left, after seven years, we were up to about 130 kids. And I think they’re up around, I think they have like four campuses now and they’re up around 400 kids or something like that.
David Hirsch: Well, that’s fabulous. What a legacy. Yeah,
Paul Miller: it really is a joy.
David Hirsch: So let’s take a step back. How did you meet
Paul Miller: my, my sister Barb switched to the public school. She was kind of rebelling against Christianity and she met Jill who was a fellow rebel. And, uh, I think the very first time I met Jill had just had been up on our third floor.
And my sister Barb was trying to teach Jill math and she’ll got frustrated and threw the math book out the window. She came down to retrieve the math book and met me. So, and that should’ve been a warning to me of what I was in for at least
David Hirsch: I love the story. So you were quite young at the time. I think you met, you mentioned you met when you were 17 and 18 got married when you’re 18, 19 and became parents shortly thereafter.
Paul Miller: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right.
David Hirsch: So you got into fatherhood much earlier than the average person might have.
Paul Miller: Yeah. Yeah. So we, by the time I graduated from college, we, we had, uh, two children. So I, I would do my classes three days a week, and then I would, uh, paint or, uh, do tax preparation the other three days a week.
So, you know, God provided at work.
David Hirsch: I think you mentioned that your father-in-law had a tax business and that’s how you got involved. With tax preparation, is that correct?
Paul Miller: Right. He was a state farm agent in Philadelphia and had a tax business that I worked in for about four years. And then he, he gifted it to my wife and I, and we actually still have it.
Uh, we, we we’ve had it for well, uh, 40 years now.
David Hirsch: Well, I can appreciate that as a former tax accountant with Pricewaterhouse. So let’s switch gears. Uh, I’d like to talk about the special needs community. Uh, on a personal level and then beyond, and I’m wondering before Kim was born, did you or Jill have any connections to the special needs community?
Paul Miller: No. Uh, virtually none. You know what we, a little bit, cause I, I had an aunt who was disabled. Mmm. And that there was no connection within the community itself.
David Hirsch: Okay. So what was your first reaction upon learning of Kim’s diagnosis then? At what age was that? That this micro deletion known as one P 36 was identified,
Paul Miller: you know, my wife was 27 and I was 28 when Kim was born.
And because her diagnosis didn’t come till she was 19, it was a. Oh, golly. It was, uh, you know, I thought something was wrong right away. Just her, her facial features looked a little different. Um, in one P three six, there, there, the, the center of the face is slightly, uh, uh, concave, uh, just a little underdeveloped and it just, it just, she just looked a little different.
It wasn’t really tell maybe. Six months that our pediatrician said, I think something’s wrong with her, but I would say coming to grips with that was a process of over the next three years. Particularly for Jill, because, you know, you want to hope and you look at these benchmarks and you’re always comparing your kid.
And I know a lot of parents have been through that because a lot of, I mean, some people get a clear diagnosis right away, but the majority of people do not get a clear diagnosis right away. I just want to one of those things that, I mean, for instance, almost all kids with autism, you know, it’s just sort of one of those things that you slowly discover.
David Hirsch: I am following the situation, Kim is born. She’s the fourth child. You’re 28. Jill’s 27. You don’t realize until about six months into it that, you know, there’s something that’s a little bit off, but it’s not until she’s age 19 that it’s actually diagnosed for what it is. Right. So that period of time from six months, the next few years were.
It must’ve been a rollercoaster for you,
Paul Miller: right? Yeah. And I would say it was pinched and it’s hard on both of us. It was particularly hard on Jill as the mom. And I just think that’s partly the way my wife is hardwired. Her father complimented her once and said, Jill, you’re good. J Jill’s good with life.
And my wife is really good. She just. Hardwired to create and cultivate life. And so to have a child that is, is weak, and Kim was very weak in the beginning. We were down at chop in Philadelphia, which is children’s hospital a lot. And just a lot of different issues kind of emerged autism aphasia, or her delay and, and all of that kind of stuff.
For me personally, that when Kim was born and from then on, I, it, the world began to have a grayish tinge to it. I, as I said, I just grew up absolutely loving life. It just, the colors lost their vibrancy. You know, it’s regain that some, uh, but it’s been good through other suffering that, you know, the life will begin to take on a sort of a Dole feel.
David Hirsch: Okay. So what type of advice did you get early on that helped you or Jill, both of you for that matter to embrace or accept the situation?
Paul Miller: I don’t think we got a lot. And, and I, I would say it was actually a weakness of our church. Our church had a very strong, uh, it was very vibrant church growing. We’re kind of a, for want of a better word, a hippie church.
And it was a very big part of our lives and still is, but I would actually say it was a weakness of the church that it was not as good to handling problems that didn’t go away, you know, after two to three weeks, Our, our church could be very caring, but with on, especially with ongoing problems that left Jill just kind of totally drained with life, but she even lost friends because to be around someone who’s grieving.
And fighting for sort of emotional survival is, is difficult. It’s like, you know, the, the biblical book of job, job’s friends make it three days before they know, seven days before they start giving job advice. And then the advice is mainly, you know, what was wrong with him. So, uh, we, we felt at times like we had job’s three friends.
David Hirsch: Yeah. When all along, um, you got three older kids and then you went on to have two more kids after Kim was born as well. So, you know, you’re. The zest for life hasn’t changed. Right? You’re still growing your family. Yes. Which is remarkable from this situation.
Paul Miller: Yeah. And we were, we were number five was planned, you know, of course my wife was fearful, but number six was.
Significantly unplanned, but we were so thankful ensued that God did it because it kept us from one. One of the things that happens with disability is, is you become myopic on the problem and, and the child can, can kind of take over. And having two other kids after Kim helped us have a much more normal family.
David Hirsch: So in addition to having more children, what were some of the more important decisions you and Jill made raising six children, including a child with special
Paul Miller: needs? How did the most important thing that we did was we worked to make faith the center of our home. But it wasn’t just going through the motions.
We wanted our kids to know about that. That was really important to us. And it gave them a anchor for the storms of life. And we, you know, as they’re all grown now and everybody, but Kim has kids, you know, we’re, we’re seeing that they have lives with anchor. The other thing is we were just committed to lots of fun.
You know, so we didn’t have a lot of money, so we’d go camping and, and the problems that emerge when you go places like camping, become the stories that you orbit and remember around, you know, it’s just, we all remember the funny things that happen during hard times. Uh, and I think as Joe and I, we, we really, um, worked at not spoiling the kids, so jobs and.
Responsibility. And I think that we all had about working summers when they were 13 and this just helped. So, so I would say those three things were really important. Parts of our family.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, at the very least, it sounds like you wanted to make sure your kids are well-grounded. Yeah, I don’t mean by camping well grounded, but I’m just saying though, developing a work ethic and understanding, you know, what’s important in life, right.
As opposed to some of the frivolous things that, uh, You know, distract families. Um, we’ve talked about this in the past, but some of your biggest challenges are, and you had mentioned to me while learning to love Jill, whose life has collapsed. I thought that was a very profound, um, acknowledgement. And I’m wondering if you.
Share a little bit more,
Paul Miller: you know, initially say kin was born in 81. It was learning to love, you know, it was like a bomb going off in the middle of our family because now you have someone who’s there, they’re like this vortex kind of sucking all your resources and your time in, I mean, within two years we had gone through all our savings and we lived for.
And I don’t recommend this, but it’s what we did to survive. We lived for 20, 25 years without any savings while we live paycheck to paycheck and God provided, you know, I would make extra money from the tax business. And then, then we would live off that during the rest of the year. But our, you know, our money was tight.
We had, you know, like in 91, I can still remember the numbers we had maybe. Uh, our income was 43,000 with six kids, and we were really wicked tight, but those are the stories, you know, Joe went to, you know, she buy their clothes at thrift stores and get like a box from a department store. So the kids would start sniffing their clothes to smell.
See if they smell new, which is now I, you know, it’s one of those happy memories. But as time went on back to Jill, I would say at, was around the 10, nine and 10 year Mark. When things got really hard, longterm suffering has this grinding effect on you because it just doesn’t go away. It’s there all the time.
And Kim, at some, she continued to grow and improve, but, uh, there, there was, you know, no light at the end of the tunnel and she’ll lost friends. Uh, we, we had one Catholic neighbor across the street that was so caring with Jill. Just, just funny. Uh, when she saw Jill up on our second floor roof, I don’t know what Joel was doing, cleaning the gutters and she yelled at her.
Joe John. Oh my God. And when our neighbor Bard moved because Barb had a kid with disabilities too, and that was Jill’s kind of her lifeline. And when she moved to set and I was going through a hard time or a really hard time at work, chill just kind of descended into a kind of a depression, not a true kind of clinical depression, but just.
So, how do I love someone? Mmm. How do I love someone who’s completely different than the person I married and struggling with life and incapable of giving love in my direction? So what, what, what do I do? How I no longer knew how to love to. I really came to the end of myself.
David Hirsch: What was it that helped you get through that?
Paul Miller: Well, um, The the, the key is this is going to sound odd. It was got a unique to me because I worked at that time. My dad and I had started a foreign mission together. We’ve been doing that now for seven years and they gave me a sabbatical and I went into that sabbatical. I actually went to a, uh, a Catholic, uh, like a retreat center and they gave me a little cottage there and I would go there for three months.
I came to that sabbatical with this question on my mind. What is love? How do I love there were things about love that I didn’t understand. Fact Jill had challenged me one night as we were going to bed early January of 91. If I loved her and she asked me that question three times is I as going to bed.
She didn’t argue with me or. Anything. Uh, my response was not particularly good as soon as I, I first thought she wanted, you know, just me to reassure her when I realized that she was challenging me. I got irritated at her, but God used that question. Just kinda not. So. I took this sabbatical with that question.
I am, I have one other place to learn how to love than to study Jesus. So I studied the four gospels in the new Testament, which are the four stories of Jesus. And I, I just burrowed into them was how does Jesus love people? What are the structures of his love? And I learned so much, like one little thing that I learned.
Was there’s this pattern that the gospel of Luke picks up in particular, but it’s all through the gospels that Jesus looks at people it’s really striking and, you know, and scene after seeing how much. And sometimes that’s the only thing you’ll do. And he often begins by looking and Luke has this particular pattern.
He picks up that Jesus looks, feels compassion, and then acts. And I just dawned on me that that was the basic structure of law. I mean, I really did love my wife, you know, obviously at one level. So when she comes to me with a problem, I can, and so I’m not just talking physical looking, but just the whole idea of awareness.
I knew that was, was going on. Taking time to simply have be aware of that person as they are without trying to fix them. And growing up as a Presbyterian, that’s really hard, you know, cause we know how to solve everybody’s problems. So to be silent, to listen, to absorb their world, to actually learn the word to incarnate, which is to enflesh yourself, that it could go into someone else’s world.
So I could go on and on David, but I, let me stop there.
David Hirsch: Well, thank you for sharing and being as candid as you have been. It’s real, right. And the fact that you’re able to talk about it and reflect on it is very powerful. And I know that many of our listeners. No doubt have been down a similar path where, you know, you’re not in sync, right?
You and your spouse are not in sync on a lot of different things. And you know, there’s a lot of questions that go to the very core of your relationship. And sadly, too many, I think push the eject button or to say, you know, life’s gotta be better, you know, apart than together. And. You know, that’s not necessarily the answer either.
So, um, thank you so much for sharing. I want to go back a step before we dive into see Jesus and the creation of the organization and the focus of your work. I’m curious to know what impact has Kim situation had on the other five children, as well as the rest of your family.
Paul Miller: You know, the simplest description of Kim’s impact on our family is she saved our family.
When Kim was born, you know, we thought this was the worst thing that could possibly happen. And it was God’s really best gift for our family. What did he save us from was two parents who were confident and at times proud, and he can just weakened us. And she can, we can does. And even now she continues to keep us weak.
And, and as, uh, our Lord Jesus told the, uh, the great apostle Paul, when he was complaining about his thorn in the flesh is my strength is made perfect in weakness. So the key, so it transformed the core of our family. It just made us less critical, more patient. It helped us to be better parents in time.
There was a birth of compassion in our family. All our kids know what it’s like to be weak and down low, and God’s blessed them. They’re all successful. I’m earning more money than I am, which doesn’t take a whole lot, but, but still they know that God works and that he can help helpless people. I mean, there is no better gift than that.
I mean, one, our one daughter, Ashley went on to become a special ed teacher. She, she’s probably our most compassionate child. It has deeply affected all of them. It’s made them better people.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Well, thank you for sharing. So let’s talk about Jesus. It’s a global discipleship mission that offers a variety of products and services to support spiritual growth and discipleship efforts in more than 30 countries with materials translated into more than a dozen languages.
What was it that went from this personal experience that you were describing a moment ago? These revelations that you had about love, how Jesus must have loved to starting this organization.
Paul Miller: Hmm, uh, that was in 91. Uh, when I had that sabbatical on Jesus, it was this Jewish scholar, Alfred Etter shine, his book, life and times of Jesus.
The Messiah that just kind of blew me open. And then I did a, I was working in this other mission and I did a course that just focused. It was an audio course that we have online. It’s still there on just called the love course. That is an immersion in Jesus and love. I want to begin by looking at Christ’s compassion and we’re going to look at Christ’s compassion by looking at a.
Then I thought this would really be good as an interactive Bible study, you know, especially for people who have no background in Christianity, but a great way to understand the heart of Christianity by looking at the person of Jesus. And there there’s very little study, oddly enough, even among Christians of Jesus as what he’s like as a person.
It like, what’s his sadness? Like how does he handle grief? What’s his anger life? What makes him angry? You know, what’s his compassion? Like how does he handle other’s demands? All of that stuff is virtually unstudied. And I think Christians are so aware of his divinity that they actually miss his humanity.
I did it as an interactive Bible study. And the first time I actually did it, I did it in our youth group at our church for my son, John, who was a senior. Cause I just wanted him to fall in love with Jesus and. That happened. It just imprinted him. I did this for about four months. I weekly, I did an inductive Bible study on the little pieces of Jesus.
So I, out of that, I started a mixed group with people who were Christians and didn’t have any Christian background. Then I wrote that in interactive study so that it all kind of happened quietly. Then I went to seminary in 97 to 99 and then in 99, I. I started see Jesus, this work focused on helping people everywhere.
Christians, not Christian, everybody to see Jesus in general. The problem of prayerlessness is that functionally 90% of Christians are not praying in any kind of systematic fashion with a seminar. Does. It disciples you in concrete specific take level, concrete ways that you can put into action in your life.
David Hirsch: So who’s involved in see Jesus. Uh,
Paul Miller: we have about 25 staff and probably another 25 trainers. Uh, we’re just beginning to get, uh, international trainers now and international staff. We, we, we have, um, uh, several trainers in, in South America and central America. And now we have a full time staff in the Arab
David Hirsch: world.
What’s your vision. If you were to look 10 or 20 years into the future for the organization?
Paul Miller: Where would we be in 20 years? I would love to see, you know, 5,000 trainers around the world that are actively working in a variety of churches, helping the people, you know, discipling people, helping them to see Jesus.
David Hirsch: Okay. That’s quite ambitious or audacious. Yeah. I’ve heard that described as a, Beehag a big, hairy, audacious goal.
Paul Miller: Right. Yes. Yes.
David Hirsch: We’ll have to circle back years down the road and check in with you to see where you are on that journey. Right. So I’d like to dive into one of the books of yours that I’ve had a chance to read a praying life.
When did this come out?
Paul Miller: Uh, 2009.
David Hirsch: And, um, what was it that you were thinking when you finished this book?
Paul Miller: Uh, what was I thinking? I was just very satisfied. I thought, Oh, you know, I prayed that it would be a helpful book. And I thought, I think this is a helpful book. And I, you know, if I w I love to go on Amazon and read the reviews, and one of my favorite comments people will make was I stopped reading and started praying,
David Hirsch: you know, mission accomplished
Paul Miller: mission accomplished.
David Hirsch: Sadly, I remember in the entrance to the book, uh, you made reference to a grandchild. Yes. Um, this would have been Benjamin Edward Miller. Yes. March 10th, 2009. Around the same time the book came out. Yes. What was that situation?
Paul Miller: Oh, it was very, uh, you know, it was just very sad poignant, you know, with my eldest son’s first child and, uh, his wife, Pam had a preeclampsia followed by the HELLP syndrome at eight months pregnant and she lost the baby instantly.
David Hirsch: Oh my God.
Paul Miller: You know, my, my, I just remember my, my, my son calling from a business trip in San Francisco, just, you know, Ben’s died and, um, just, you know, weeping with him on the phone. And, you know, you have a little casket and a funeral and you know, it just it’s these wounds, uh, you know what Francis called and had the stigmata, uh, that, that, that, that draws us into Christ.
I wish there was another way, but they’re there just ain’t is this, you don’t get to know Christ outside of a fellowship of his sufferings. And this happened on the very, very day that the book was going the next day it was going into print and I called the publisher and they were able to have someone type, set it in and, and we were able to dedicate it to Ben
David Hirsch: know, that’s touching a parent’s worst nightmare losing a child or in your case, a grandchild.
Paul Miller: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
David Hirsch: So I’m going to read a couple of passages from the book, and I’d like you to just give me your insights or follow through on that. So you write one of the subtlest Hinden to prayer is probably the most pervasive in the broader culture in our churches. We prize Intel intellect, competency, and wealth.
Because we can do life without God praying seems nice, but unnecessary money can do what prayer does and it’s quicker and less time consuming our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God as a result. Expectations to pray. Don’t stick.
Paul Miller: Yeah. I mean, that’s why I think America because of our wealth that God’s blessed us with is the hardest place in the world to pray.
It’s much easier to learn, learn to pray in Africa or India. Because if you face any kind of poverty, whether it’s financial relational career, it weakens you. And that’s when you realize that the structure of the universe is God shaped that, that you can’t do life without God and wealth strengthens you and, and you are in control.
And that control is an illusion though. And suffering strips away that illusion. Does that make sense?
David Hirsch: Complete sense. So you write in a different passage. Our best times together as a family are at dinner at home. After a meal, we push our dishes aside and linger together over coffee or hot chocolate. We have no particular agenda.
We simply enjoy one another listening, talking and laughing. If you experience the same thing with good friends or with family, you know, it’s a little touch of
Paul Miller: heaven. Well, what I’m driving at there is that good prayer feels that way. And for most Christians, good prayer does not, it feels like a chore.
And I just want them to have the vision of what it could be like. And that if you’re simply like a little child and you’re simply yourself with God, you know, you’re, you’re bringing your worries. And you know, you, you don’t try to make this thing official, but you let the real, you. They simply honest with God about where you’re at you, you, you know, you’ll begin to feel some of that peace.
David Hirsch: Yeah. And what I also interpreted was that if you make it a habit know, getting together for meals, which is hard to do, you know, with a larger family and different schedules and just the pull and tug of life these days, and then taking the time being deliberate or intentional about taking a little time afterwards, as opposed to just racing off to, you know, The next activity or, you know, getting the dishes done and getting your work done.
So that’s, that’s what I took away from that. Yeah. So separately you wrote people often talk about prayer as if it’s disconnected from what God is doing in their lives, but we are actors in his drama, listening for our lines, quieting our hearts so that we hear the voice of the playwright. I thought that was beautiful.
Paul Miller: Yeah. You know, I, I’m not sure. I mean, a lot of people have used that analogy. Probably one of my, my favorite ones is in 1929, Einstein was interviewed by the Saturday evening post. And, and he said, I think we are all dancing to the tune of an unseen player. I was just, I just love that, you know, and, and w the delight of being a Christian is, is I know the tune and I know the dance, and, and it’s so wonderful to realize that in praying and praying, God’s invited me into the dance, but it’s always his dance.
He’s the one writing the score, and I’m kind of discovering as I go along. Does that make sense?
David Hirsch: Absolutely. Something else really struck me in reference to Kim. And it was about helping her start praying. And you were unaware of the impact that that was going to have not on her life, but your own life.
Could you delve into that?
Paul Miller: Yeah, it was really remarkable. I think Kim had been pacing upstairs. She would start pacing like at four 30 or four o’clock and w and one day we just yell at her to get back in bed. And I just had a nudge from the Lord just to go up and pray with her. I didn’t hear a voice. It was just this idea that came into my head.
It was, I had underestimated Kim’s ability to grow spiritually and to control her behavior. And that led for me over the course, the next year to start in a morning, prayer time with her. And it’s just a delight to see her pray. Now, every morning after breakfast, she has a little prayer time with her speech computer.
One of the little mini miracles God did, was getting Kim to speak on our speech computer. And it’s just a delight to see her heart come out. She prays for people. She, she, because she struggles with anger. She loves to pray for angry people. And, uh, she loves to pray for a dog. We have now who’s bad. So she’ll be giggling away while she’s praying.
And it’s just, it’s really neat to see her come alive spiritually.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s remarkable. I don’t know if you stumbled across that or if it was something that you were being intentional about and it took a while to, you know, have her embrace, but, uh, it’s really remarkable. Yeah. So I’m thinking about advice.
What are the most important takeaways that come to mind when you think about raising a child with
Paul Miller: differences? Well, you have to forgive me. You pray, pray, pray, you know, uh, Oh, golly. Cause it depends on so much the child, but they’re like what, what, you know, what your support is. My heart really goes out to single parents who have a child with disabilities because it’s hard enough for two of us with a tag team.
And imagine doing that by yourself. So we, we just, you know, we really making prayer the center because your, your resources are, uh, there’s only so much you can do, you know, with Kim, we, God would just lead us from one little discovery to the next, like her getting her speech computer. It just sounded, it gave Jill advice early on.
I, and I think it was with all our kids and it certainly applies to Kim, which is the days are long and the years are short. So make sure you take time to enjoy them each day and don’t just see the child as a problem. Does that help David?
David Hirsch: Yeah, very much so. In fact, um, I just want to drill down a little bit on this each computer that you made reference to.
At what age did you get that? You mentioned that there was a three year delay before it was utilized.
Paul Miller: Uh, she’d had one. Um, that was a very early version of speech computers in like 85 when she was about four or five years old. And she had that for about four or five years. Uh, but the language at that point was kind of primitive in them, but it wasn’t until 96.
I want to write this book on Jesus, which was a book on love. And I went to pray about it and I got this. I don’t know what to call it other than a nudge from the spirit. And, and I didn’t hear this voice. It was just as clear thought from God. How can you speak about love when Kim doesn’t speak? And it was just, it was, I was just convicted immediately that I wanted to talk.
And Kim wasn’t talking. And so I wait, I prayed Lord help me to do this. And, and a flyer came in the mail a couple of weeks later, and there was a speech computer camp. And Kim and I went to this speech computer camp for a week in New Jersey. And, uh, it was a great camp we learned. So she, she, over a period of seven years, she would have an aid under the w which would help her.
Cause her speech of you see has got like 120 keys on it. Really complex and slowly by slowly, Ken learned it. And now she’s fluent on it. What did the product, what’s the product we’ll send you Kimberly, what did he ask for money? Money from who? Who did he go up to hotter? He went up to his father. That’s right.
And she can pretty much say anything she wants. And she’s actually very funny too. I mean, we, we didn’t realize what a great sense of humor she had until she was blue and on her speech, computer.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, what a gift that is to be able to understand your daughter and have her be able to express herself.
Yeah. I mean, it’s liberating, right? It must be liberating for her to be able to communicate. And previously you’re only sort of guessing at her assuming no. What she must be asking for
Paul Miller: and that, that computer that she learned on, let’s call it the, liberator’s try some words.
David Hirsch: So, um, one last question in the area of advice, um, what advice can you share with a dad or parents for that matter about helping a child with disabilities reach their full potential.
Paul Miller: Wow, you know, it’s prayer. And then, you know, it’s also work and to, to receive the, the lowness of the work, you know, it’s kinda like with, with a child with disabilities, you’re constantly reenacting Jesus foot washing it. You know, it’s one thing to choose foot washing. It’s another thing to have it thrust upon you.
And, uh, you know, that’s the lowest of the jobs, you know, so, you know, to receive these low tasks, Allows it to ask from God allows me to enjoy them. And to know that God’s actually doing this to, to keep my soul from, from the dangers of pride. I don’t know if that helps. It’s kind of an odd piece of advice.
David Hirsch: I love it. Thank you. So why is it that you have agreed to be a mentor father as part of the special fathers network?
Paul Miller: Oh, I just have a real heart for dads, uh, who are in situations like this. And I’ve been doing this work informally for years. And so I, I know the road that, that is ahead of them. I know the road they’re on.
I know the pressures of it. And so I, you know, I, I feel like a Harbor pilot who, you know, who knows where the, the, uh, the center is. And, uh, you know, where the deep channels are. I think it’s a wonderful work.
David Hirsch: You we’ll thank you for being part of the organization. Uh, let’s give a special shout out to our friends at Johnny and friends who put us in contact with one another and for being such an inspiration to us.
And so many others.
Paul Miller: Yes. Yes. Johnny is quite a lady.
David Hirsch: Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Paul Miller: No, I I’ve just really enjoyed talking with you, David, and, and I hope this is a blessing to others.
David Hirsch: Thank you. If someone wants information on, see Jesus or wants to make a donation, where would they go or how would they contact you?
Paul Miller: Probably the best thing to do is our website, uh, cgcs.net. There’s lots of information there there’s um, on books and materials and our disciple materials and videos on, on how to do it. There’s a lot of free stuffs to
David Hirsch: excellent.
Paul Miller: The whole love course that I mentioned is up on our website for free. And it’s 32 audio lessons that immerse you in Jesus.
David Hirsch: Paul, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, Paul is just one of the dads who has agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers. Raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own. Please go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Thanks again, Paul.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation.
It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers. Sometimes the mentor father is just there to answer a few questions. Sometimes they become good friends. It’s a proven support system for new fathers with special needs kids. If you’re a father looking for support, or if you’re a dad who’d like to offer support, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And thank you for listening to this Special Father’s Network podcast. Stories of fathers helping fathers.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network podcast was produced for 21st Century Dads by Couch Audio, and again, to find out more about the Special Fathers Network, go to 21stcenturydads.org, 21stcenturydads.org.