The End of the Scooter Saga

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(Picture of me and Jerry Pattee, the President of UCP Oregon and Southern Washington)

Just in the nick of time, I got my new scooter. It’s a beauty. It does everything I need it to and it is light enough for one person to load into the back of a car! Our first adventure with the scooter was to a UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) Family Conference last weekend.

There were all kinds of speakers and vendors there. While talking to one of the mobility vendors, I told him about the sad saga of my scooter and said, “At least I got two blogs out of the experience!” I gave him my blog site and in a couple of hours, he came back to me and said, “You didn’t finish the story of your scooter!” So there you go, the end of the story is that I am happy and on the road again!

The keynote speaker at this conference was Julie Keon, whose experience raising a daughter with medical fragility has led her to become a writer and blogger. Her talk, entitled ‘Ten Pearls of Wisdom I Gained in Ten Years’ was filled with touching and inspiring stories of struggle and hope. I looked around the room and saw tired mothers and dads with faces full of worry and concern. Some were in the middle of a struggle where it is hard to grasp that there is hope. Julie talked about how she had to put away the expectations that she’d had while she was pregnant with her baby in order to go forward. She learned to be thankful each day that her daughter lived and breathed. Just a few years ago, Julie had trouble breathing too. After several tests, there were still no answers. Eventually, she talked with a vocal coach who had her take a deep breath, and she told Julie that the reason she was having trouble is because she was holding her breath. She’d didn’t even realize that ever since her daughter was born, she’d been afraid to breathe deeply.

There have been a lot of times that I haven’t been aware of the stress I was carrying, for instance, when I was in junior high, I had a mouth full of canker sores and a chronic upset stomach, which was later diagnosed as a ‘nervous stomach’ due to moving to a public school.

I thought about my own mom raising a child with Cerebral Palsy, without the internet or very much support. There must have been times when she found it hard to breathe too! Do you know the areas in your life that scare you, or knock the wind out of you?

On the Road Again…

Lyla lounging on her scooter

A few weeks ago, I posted about the untimely death of my scooter. So, here is the next installment of the scooter saga. Actually, it began several months ago when I was stranded in the airport. Thankfully, I was able to make it to my destination; Montana. I was there to visit my mom who suggested that I buy a new scooter. I said, “No mom, I can get this fixed!” It seemed frivolous at the time to buy a whole new scooter. She replied, “If my car kept breaking down, would you think it was frivolous to replace it?” I thought about it and felt like the scooter worked well enough; until a few weeks ago.

Since then, I’ve been shopping around for a new one. I called a friend and he recommended a guy that sold him his scooter. So I called him up and he brought one out to show me. I took it for a short spin and told him it would work. After he left, I took it out for a longer jaunt and got stuck on a speed bump in the parking lot of my apartment complex. I hated to call him back, but I knew I needed to.

So he came out a second time and brought a different scooter that sailed over the speed bumps at lightening speed, and left my friends who were walking with me in the dust. I was sold! The next day, I took it to a writing conference and had some trouble maneuvering it, but I thought that eventually it would loosen up and be all right. So the following day, I gave it one last big test. My friend picked me up for an event and she and my son-in-law loaded it into her car before we took off. It was much heavier than my last scooter and almost impossible for her to load by herself.

When the guy dropped it off, he said, drive it and test it, but that night, I weighed the pros and cons. Power versus practicality. Were the inconveniences of the scooter worth calling him again and saying, “Now this one isn’t going to work either!” I decided to call this morning and let him know that this scooter flunked the test too. He was pretty understanding when I told him why and then I explained what I needed.

There are a lot of things in our lives that we just put up with because we don’t want to inconvenience anyone or seem like a pest. But when we don’t make our needs known, we wind up in a bigger bind than we started with! We can wind up resentful. But when we speak up about what we need, it lends itself to more freedom in our own lives and our relationships. Is there something in your own life that is eating little holes in your heart? Do you need to speak up about it?

Doors of Opportunity

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This weekend at the rockin’ Rock Creek women’s retreat, the theme was ‘keys and gates.’ Saturday afternoon, we were asked to look at pictures of gates and doors and pick one that inspired us. I did, but quickly forgot about it. Abundant morning when everyone was sharing about their experience, I could not remember which one I had chosen. Finally I remembered, but by that time, my eyes had been drawn to a different picture.

It was a picture of a double doors with stained glass on them; one part of the door was shut, but the other part was opened just a little ways. Through the crack in the door, I saw an inviting light. It just drew me in!

As I thought about that picture, I remembered how frustrating it’s been to have so many doors closed to me  my life. I could have let the disappointment of not getting a job right out of college stop me cold, but l I saw that the light of the Lord was inviting me into a deeper fellowship then I could have imagined. What a great honor it is to be in communion with Him. The more I’m drawn to Him, the less I bang my head against the doors that are shut. It is easier to relax and trust that God has greater plans than I do. Step by step, God has shown me that my plan to support myself by working in the field of disability is just a fraction of His plans.

The glass on the door represented the times when my perception has been distorted by my own desires. Even if they were great desires, they stopped me from seeing other options. Remarkable opportunities that were more than I could have dreamed. My plans seem boring in comparison to the joy He’s given me. Now it is my greatest desire to allow His light to shine through me and draw others into fellowship with Him.

Stuck in the Muck

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I went to a gathering on Saturday and I was looking forward to seeing and talking with a lot of people that would be there. Due to my Cerebral Palsy, I knew I would need my scooter because it is hard for me to get around, and I wanted to be as independent as possible. I didn’t know which scooter to take because they both have different features.  I ended up taking my lighter scooter with the thought that if anyone wanted to give me a ride home, it could be taken apart and put in their car.

As soon as I got off of the van at the event, my scooter stopped working. I couldn’t believe it! People were really nice about helping me get around, but I felt stuck. I had taken my scooter so that I could be independent and here I was, more dependent because I needed a push everywhere I went! I had to be pushed over to the bathroom and to the next person to talk with, and it brought up a lot of old feelings.  And you know how people meander, so there would be times that I was pushed over to a group of people and then soon, they would all move on and unintentionally leave me sitting alone.

As people helped me, however, it brought up opportunities for rewarding conversations. I had a great conversation with a mother who shared that she had two kids with special needs who had passed away several years before, and that conversation probably never would have taken place if I could have gone wherever I wanted with my scooter. I had to really take my thoughts captive that day because I was tempted to feel sorry for myself and think, “If my scooter would be working, I could be doing all of the things I had planned to do!” Throughout the day, I continuously practiced putting those thoughts aside.

At the end of the day, one guy push me over to my friend, Mary Ann. Later she said, “You didn’t see the smile on his face when he was pushing you.” I thought about that and realized that when I try to be so independent, I may be robbing other people of the joy of connecting through helping me.

That night, I read Psalm 84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
As I read it, I thought, “Yes, I would rather be exactly where God wants me to be than anywhere else!”

The Wheels are Turning

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This past week, I got emails from three different people telling me that they have wheelchairs to donate to Joni and Friends! This was wonderful news, however, it was the furthest thing from my mind since we are such a small group here in Portland, and we’re just starting out. I couldn’t think of any place to store the wheelchairs. So I called a friend from another chapter and he told me what I needed to do.

It got me thinking, there are a lot of things like that when I think, “No, I can’t do it!” It is my first response to new projects, but then after awhile, I think, “How can it be done?” Then I take one step, and then two steps, and before I know it the path is opening up! Fear is usually the first response, a knee-jerk reaction to anything outside of my comfort zone. But then the wheels within my brain start turning and one thing leads to another.

Sometimes, when I can’t do something, I find out who can! I have done that all of my life, and am known as the #1 networker among my friends! When I was first blogging, I was doing it by myself and I said, “God, look at me typing with two fingers!” It wasn’t because I didn’t know the keys, I just can’t do it any other way because of my withered hand due to Cerebral Palsy. It was so tedious and I said, “God, you have to be kidding!” But He wasn’t, and after two years of persistence, God provided a helper. This reminded me of the story of Moses and Aaron in Exodus 4:10-15

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” 11 The Lord said to him, “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? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” 13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” 14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.

So it is natural at first to think, “No, I can’t do this!” But when we are open to saying “yes”, God will surprise us by providing us with the means to stand up when we’d rather sit down. It is so humbling to watch how God provides us with everything we need to do what He’s called us to do.

He Can Lift the Fog

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This afternoon, my friend looked at my desk and asked me, “Do you want me to help you clean up your desk?” My first thought was, “No!” I thought it was hopeless. But I groaned and said, “Ok.” And sure enough, in a few minutes, she helped me to make order out of chaos!  There were things on my desk from just a few days ago to papers from a conference that I’d been to months before.

When we’re talking about discouragement, it’s not something that just shows up one day. It’s the little things that we gradually accumulate. Discouragement can seem like a foggy day that slowly, slowly clouds your vision, preventing you from seeing your next steps. I think we don’t pay attention to the little things that bug us, and then we wake up one day so bummed that it’s impossible to ignore any longer. Sometimes I don’t meet my own expectations and I don’t see any solutions to the problems that are eating away at me. However, each time I invite God into my messy circumstances, amazing things happen.

It stinks that we wait so long and let things pile up when we could so easily turn it over to the Lord. But sometimes, we don’t even see the need until life starts going sideways and we don’t know how to stop it. When we remember that, (Psalm 46:1) “The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” life goes much smoother.

Sharper Vision

 

Lyla's new glasses

(These are my new glasses that won the vote)

I was surprised to find out last week yet another thing that has improved with age…my vision! After examining my eyes, my eye doctor said, “Your prescription is too strong!” I said, “Really?!” He said, “Yes, sometimes that happens when we get older.” I thought the exact opposite happened!

I hadn’t been to the eye doctor for five years, and I was quite satisfied with how I was seeing, except my old glasses bit the dust, so I had to go in to see the doctor. I had no idea that my prescription was too strong because I had grown accustomed to the way that I saw over the last few years.  I think there are a lot of things in life that shock us when we first experience them, but then over time, they just become part of the norm.

Just like my vision had improved over time, sometimes we don’t notice when our perception changes because we are so stuck in our current way of seeing things. When we have secrets they limit our freedom and our growth. When we continue to minimize them, we might feel ok for awhile but we still know they are there. We don’t want to address the problem until it becomes so painful that we can’t stand it anymore.

God knows our hearts and he also knows the perfect time to reach down and address the issues that we may have become oblivious to overtime. This story in Mark 8 shows how God uses the natural, and sometimes mundane things to help us to see clearly.

Mark 8:22-25

22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.