Hope can be Like Water

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Have you ever watered a drooping plant and then seen it perk up?  When we give people hope through our actions or a word of an encouragement, we can have the same effect.  Hope gives people the resilience to make them stronger. Here are a few ways some have done that.

Mary Carver is a regular blogger on the (in)courage website.  This morning she wrote about traveling to Kenya with Mercy Corp. International.  As she toured the schools, Mary was moved to tears by the empty bookshelves.  When she returned to the US her first impulse was to gather books to ship overseas.  Then she realized books would be wonderful, but what the people needed even more was hope.

My church has a large food ministry.  Along with nutrition, they give hundreds of people hope that they can make it through tough times.

One Christmas, my mom’s quilt guild made pajamas for children in domestic violent shelters.  I think the mothers might have felt a glimmer of hope when they saw kids in new, warm pjs.

One of Joni and Friends’ ministries is Wheels for the World. They refurbish wheelchairs and walkers for other countries.  I got excited when I spotted a cane at a rummage sale.  I bought it, knowing that, coupled with the    Good News of the Gospel, it would change someone’s life!

August is a busy month for me because I go the Oregon Christian Writers conference and also Joni and Friends. Both of them inspire me to reflect the love and power of Jesus.  Sometimes it’s difficult to hold onto the hope that God gives. That’s why I need to be in fellowship with people who inspire me.  Both conferences give me a lot of hope.  By attending the Oregon Christian Writers conference, I hone my craft and am encouraged to keep writing. All my friends from OCW celebrated with me when my book, It Takes More Than Legs to Stand, was published this April. At the Joni and Friends Family Retreats, people affected by disabilities receive hope as they hear and experience God’s love. Giving hope away can be as simple as acknowledging someone when you’re out and about and smiling at them. It’s as easy as watering a plant.

Won’t you share some of the ways you like to give and receive hope?

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Be Still To Be Filled

I got a new hummingbird feeder a few weeks ago. For a few days after I hung it up I felt a bit disappointed because I didn’t see any birds. Finally I got a colorful plant that they’re attracted to and that made all the difference. Soon after I got the new plant, I was thrilled when a pair of them visited for a few seconds. I have noticed now, that the longer I have a feeder hanging on my patio, the more birds come. Some stay longer than others, delighting my heart as they take in nutrition. They never seem to stop moving. Even when they are at the feeder their tiny wings are fluttering at a rate of 80 times per second.

We are a lot like hummingbirds, flitting from here to there. We may want to hear from our Heavenly Father, yet quieting our minds feels impossible. Like the hummers sipping at the feeder, our busy minds prevent us from hearing what our Heavenly Father wants to whisper in our ear.

I’m glad that He invites us to “be still and know” that He is God. As beautiful as my little friends are, I want to be more than a flash of busy color. I want to be quiet long enough to absorb His message of love so I can share it with others.

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More Than What Meets The Eye

This week the Canadian Parliament is finalizing their assisted-death law. Unlike the five states in the US that have legalized assisted-suicide for terminally ill people, the Canadian law extends doctor-assisted death to people with disabilities who find their condition unbearable.  My first thought was, “WHO THE HECK DOESN’T!!!!!!!”  

What makes a person’s life unbearable? It doesn’t take a disability to make a life miserable, but it does make it challenging.  I think that many people with disabilities struggle when their limitations keep them from achieving dreams.   I just got a call about a young handicapped woman who is very discouraged.  I can remember when I felt like a victim of my limitations.  However I learned how to surrender my dreams to God and now I understand what God’s purpose is for my life regardless of my condition.  

My friend Mark, was a healthy teenager until he had a skiing accident when he was 16.  He’s been paralyzed ever since and survives with the help of a ventilator.  In January he developed a sore on his leg that has forced him to be bedridden for several months.

Knowing he represents others who will be affected by the legislation, I asked him why he has wanted to keep living.   His answer was clear, “His passion for encouraging others makes his life worth fighting for.”

God values people so much differently than people often do.  When we understand how much God loves us we can gain hope and courage from His promises.  

 Zech. 9:12 Come to the place of safety, all you prisoners, for there is yet hope! I promise right now, I will repay you two mercies for each of your woes.

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Splat!

 

A friend and I went down to Eugene on Friday afternoon so we could attend the Oregon Christian Writers Conference the next day.  Before we settled in for the night we decided to go and eat.  Since we didn’t know the area well, it took us quite a while to find a restaurant.  Our frustration grew as we kept seeing “One Way” sign after “One Way” sign.  Of course it seemed like the signs were always in the opposite direction of where we were hoping to go.  

We finally found a restaurant and parked the car.  The spot we found was quite far for me to walk and I had a feeling walking to the restaurant on my crippled legs would leave me winded.   I should have voiced my concern, but I ignored it, thinking if I walked slowly I would be OK.   Unfortunately, just a few feet from the car, I went splat.

Thankfully it wasn’t raining and my friend Karla was holding onto my arm so I didn’t hit the gro
und too hard.  Just as she was trying to figure out how to get me up a woman stopped and offered to help us.  As she reached for me, she said in a kind voice, “My grandma had trouble walking and you remind me of her.”   

There are all kinds of reasons why we stumble and fall.  Each day we are faced with the choice to give in to our own pride or listen and act on what the Spirit is saying.  For example, many times we purchase things we don’t need or that aren’t in our budget.  We may feel good for a brief time, but it usually leads to tension in our hearts.  I could have avoided my fall, but instead I ignored my concern about walking that far and went splat.  Whatever our circumstances, when we give these moments to God He can bring insight and healing.  What are some things God has shown you when you’ve gone splat in an area of your life?

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What season is your life in?

The passing of winter into spring is wonderful.  Springtime is a season of expectancy.   I love smelling the freshly cut grass and seeing the blooming flowers life.  The blue skies and sunshine makes me want to be outside all that I can.

It feels as if springtime in my life with the publication of It Takes More Than Legs To Stand has brought a flurry of new activity.  Joy filled my heart when I   received my first shipment of my book.   Being able to go over to Vancouver to see my friend Marion Duckworth and give her a copy of the book she spent many years helping me write felt like the culmination of our journey together. My friends at Rock Creek community have been waiting for my book to come out for a long.  So Sunday, I had the opportunity to share about It Takes More Than Legs to Stand followed by a book signing.  In the afternoon a good friend had a booksigning at her house.

I was reminded at a Faith and Culture writers meeting,  by Author Mesu Andrews  that no one’s life is constantly surrounded by blues skies.  She had been a busy mother who also enjoyed traveling and ministering to women, until an illness left her bedridden.      During that time, God began to show her ways she could continue to draw women closer to God through writing.  She began her writing career by writing Bible Studies but shortly discovered the joy of writing Biblical fiction.  Although she no longer travelers as much as she once did, she reaches more people through her writing.

Besides all that good friends took me out for a birthday lunch, which was followed a bit too closely with dinner with my family.

It was a wonderful week.  I couldn’t get into the groove the next week though.    Nothing was wrong, but  nothing seemed quite right.  I wanted to write about all my blessings of the previous week but I couldn’t.  Finally I realized I was just tired.  I was fine after I caught up on my rest. have written for every high in life, there

What season is your life in?    If it’s winter and you’re struggling faithfully work toward your goal.    If you feel a little off kilter remember the words of Larry Crabb and Karl Townsend, “For every high and low in life, a corresponding emotion will follow.”

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The Rest of The Story

My book, It Takes More Than Legs to Stand, just came out on Amazon.  Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see this day.    I am going to tell you about some of the high lights of my journey.

Several years ago I saw an article about the Oregon Christian Writers Summer conference in Christian News Northwest.  The description of Marion Duckworth’s class interested me because she was teaching a class on memoirs. My friend, JoAnne and I decided to go to the conference for one day.  I met Marion five minutes before I had to go home.   A few days after the conference was over, I called and asked she would help me write my memoir.  She told me to send her some of my material.  Before I sent her anything I looked her name up on Google.  Seeing the list of her accomplishments, I thought she’d surely laugh at me.  But I was wrong.  Over the past several years, she taught me the craft of writing. She’s encouraged me when she heard me fighting the temptation to give up, by asking me, point blank, “Has God called you to write?” Of course the answer has always been “Yes.”

Creative juices often flow the best when I can bounce Ideas off friends.  One of my favorite memories of my journey was of a sunny afternoon when JoAnne and I sat at her dining room table looking over a river, as we developed an outline for my book.  When we were down we decided to go to another OCW summer conference because they are always a great time to learn our craft and network with other writers.  The only problem was it was an extremely hot summer and I had run completely out of energy.    Several of my friends were going down to the river to cool off and   I rode my scooter down to watch them play in the water.  One of my friends got a chair for me so I could put my feet in the water.

People who attend writer’s conferences can submit articles and book proposal so they can get feedback from editors.  In the past year I decided to self-publish my book, so I didn’t submit my manuscript. David Sanford, one of the presenters,  introduced himself to me when I was waiting for my ride home from the conference.  As we began to visit I knew that this was a very significant conversation.  A short time later he joined Marion in helping me publish It Takes More Than Legs to Stand. 

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Journey to Surrender

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Surrender your entire self to Him and have absolute confidence in His wisdom, power   and goodness” – 2 Timothy 3:15

Journey to Surrender

As Good Friday draws near I would like to invite you to think about the word surrender.

We are being transformed into the image of God.  Surrendering to God goes against our human nature. So it doesn’t matter how many years you walk with the Lord or how many challenges you face, it is still ­­a struggle.  It is only by God’s grace that we let can let go of the things we so tightly grasp.

Before the fall Adam and Eve had perfect communication with the Father.  As believers in Christ, we often struggle to grasp the freedom that our Father provides for us through His Son Jesus.  Many times this is caused by our own sin or the result of living in a fallen world.  Although we believers have access to the Father through Christ, our ability to grasp everything He offers us is limited.

I was two when I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.   As a result, I struggle each day to do the activities most people take for granted.

As a young person, I thought I knew what God wanted me to do in my life.   As a graduate from college and later a bride, I struggled to understand why the things I thought would make me feel “normal” failed to do that.  I’ve learned God has prevented some of the good things I’ve wanted, because He wanted to produce something greater in my life.  When discouragement rears its ugly head it has the potential to crush our vision.   Each struggle eventually led to surrender.  Comparing ourselves to others can be disastrous because it separates us from God.   It takes our eyes off God and clogs our ears with voices that leads us away from Him.

Our struggle to surrender often brings shame but it is an opportunity for God to reveal parts of our heart He wants to heal.  When we get discouraged we need to remember, the night before Jesus was betrayed He struggled in the Garden until He could surrender to the Father.agony-in-the-garden(pp_w1200_h900)