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

walk n roll

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

fog

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.

Summer treasures

book cover 1 book cover

Where did the summer go? The kids are back in school, and the souvenirs that the kids just HAD to have when they were on vacations may already be forgotten. They could be strewn across the playroom floor or tossed underneath the bed, never to be treasured again.

My mom never bought herself anything when we went away on vacation, so we were surprised when we went to Waterton in Alberta Canada and she bought herself a mole-hair blanket. I’ve kept it for many years but recently I felt the blanket and realized how scratchy it was and I thought, ‘I wouldn’t want to cover myself with this!’ It got me thinking, it’s not the quality of the blanket that made me keep it, but it’s my memories of that day.

Some of the treasures from my summer were two wonderful books by women that I connected with at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference a few weeks ago. I’ve read their work recently to get some inspiration. These two stories resonated with something other than just my head. Both of these books encouraged me by showing me that each of us have a story that can impact the people around us and help each of us to be overcomers.

The Iron Heart by Delilah Moore Leach is a memoir about her contracting polio as a child, and her efforts not to be restrained by her outward appearance. It reminded me a lot of my own story. Both of us went to college despite others’ expectations. We also both realized that we had to change our own self-image rather than expecting other people to change their perceptions of us.

Where Eagles Soar by Bonnie Leon is a riveting account of a woman whose courage and determination to survive helped her to overcome life-altering abuse at the hands of her dad. Her story will impact other people who feel stuck in their circumstances.

The treasures that I have from this summer won’t be tossed under the bed or slip away from my memory because they are stories that impacted me and will remain dear to my heart.

 

Get on that bus!

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For year I’d yearned to go to Joni and Friends Camp.  I’d see it advertised on the website and feel a tug on my heart.  The problem was, five years ago, the closest one was in Northern California.  Then I discovered that there was one to be held in Rockaway, Oregon at Twin Rocks Friends Camp and this new location was only an hour and a half from my house! 

It might as well have been 5,000 miles, because I couldn’t drive and I had a great, big scooter, which is difficult to transport.  But this time, I was determined not to let that stop me!  Two friends of mine, one of which was also in a scooter, and I decided to take the bus from Downtown to Tillamook, then transferred to another bus that would take us right to camp.  When we arrived I was overcome by the joy and excitement that greeted us!

Joni and Friends Family Camp is held across the U.S. and in several other nations.  Often neglected and ignored, people with disabilities are impacted by the thousands from this camp experience.  At Joni and Friends Camp each person is celebrated!  New friendships are formed, there are fun and games for everyone, as well as the opportunity to hear a message of hope that Christ offers.

A few years ago, one of my newer friends came to camp for the first time.  She heard of God’s love and the next year, when she returned, she accepted Him as her Lord and Savior.  She is now a powerful witness for Him, as well as a significant part of the Portland Chapter of Joni and Friends.

Getting to camp that first year was a challenge, but I’m sure glad I took it!  A whole new world opened up for me when I decided to get on that bus.  Don’t let life’s challenges stop you, but instead let them lead you to new opportunities. 

A Fresh Breeze

For some reason I’ve been thinking about dryer sheets and the fresh fragrance of the air after a rain shower in the middle of the hot summer day. These seem to be very random thoughts, especially after my wonderful week at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. So I thought, what do these two things have to do with anything? Then I realized the fresh scent is the encouragement from friends that are on the same journey as I am. It is the smiles, the victories, and the struggles we’ve shared together that bring encouragement to everyone along the path.

One of my dearest friends, April McGowan, was presented the Cascade Awards Writer of Promise Award. Besides enjoying her writing, she inspires me, because each day she struggles with an immunity disorder that could keep her from living life to the fullest. Instead, she lets her struggles bring a richness and depth to her writing, as well as her relationship with others. Receiving her encouragement, and the encouragement of others, seems like a breath of fresh air.

Before the conference I was excited, because this year I didn’t have an agenda other than to see friends and learn. The input I received from others gave me new hope and I appreciated how they looked at my writing with new eyes.

As I get ready to go to the Joni and Friend’s Family Camp it is my hope that I can encourage others the same way that I have been encouraged this past week.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15.