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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Angel Grove Church member writes book, tells story of struggles with cerebral palsycomment (0)

September 10, 2009

By Jeremy Henderson


Penny Williams, a member of Angel Grove Baptist Church, Jacksonville, in Calhoun Baptist Association, talks slowly.

It’s OK. She knows she talks slowly.

She knows she moves slowly. She knows she’s not physically strong. She knows she has cerebral palsy.

Williams’ hope is after you read her autobiography, “A Message From Heaven: My Challenges and Triumphs,” you’ll know cerebral palsy doesn’t have her.

“There are five different types (of cerebral palsy),” said Williams, 38, who was born with the disorder. “[Doctors] told me I have a little bit of all of them.”

Written on her computer over the course of one year and published in February by a local press, Williams’ book chronicles the challenges and triumphs of growing up with cerebral palsy in the 1970s — things like surviving one more operation, wearing one more leg brace, standing up to one more instance of open discrimination from the school system.

“Just getting through school [was hard enough],” she said. “They didn’t want me to go to their school because they weren’t equipped for me to go there. … They wouldn’t give me aids to help me. I had to go to school outside of my area just so I could attend school, and there were a lot of lawyers, a lot of fighting just to get me in school.”

Despite knowing her for six years and watching her make the climb to the choir loft each Sunday, Pastor Stan Broom said the book gave him new insight into Williams’ struggles.

“It’s real personal and it gives a lot of information on personal things in her life … about decisions that were made, good and bad, that affected her,” he said. “It’s just a very honest and open account.”

The book begins with a description of what Williams calls “close to the best day of my life.”

It was the day she graduated, after nearly 10 years of classes, with a degree in social work from Jacksonville State University (JSU). She was 36.

Williams credits her former Sunday School teacher Janette Johnson with encouraging her to attend college.

“We were talking about it, and she just kept telling me I could do it,” Williams said.

“We went up one day to talk to them, and I decided I wanted to try it and I loved it.”

She graduated with honors.

“It’s just a really inspiring story,” Johnson said. “She said, ‘I’d like to go to college.’ And I said, ‘Well why not?’ I think the Lord wanted her to go. She’s accomplished a lot.”

Williams’ mother, Sarah, whom she lives with, agreed.

“She has a great determination,” Sarah Williams said. “When she really wants something, she goes for it and she’ll accomplish it sooner or later.”

“A Message From Heaven” is simply the latest example, she said.

Penny Williams said she wrote the book “because I had been through so much and I believe the grace of Jesus Christ helped me through it all.”

Since publishing it, she has spoken to area churches about her experiences and is eager for more opportunities to share.

“That’s part of my testimony,” she said. “I realized what He pulled me through and got me through, and I don’t believe I could have done it without Him.”

“A Message From Heaven” can be purchased at the JSU bookstore, Joy Christian Supplies in Jacksonville and www.amazon.com.

For more information, contact Penny Williams at Wpenster32@cableone.net.

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