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)

 

 

 

 

Walking through the fog

Proverbs 3:5-6   Don’t rely on our own  understanding rather draw near to God and  He will direct our path.lylasblog

 There are times when we ask God for direction and see His plans pretty quickly, other times it seems like it takes forever.  2015 was one of those kinds of years.   

     On a stormy January morning my daughter helped me board a flight to go see my family.  The grey clouds of the day before were there to meet us and snowflakes began to fall.  I was surprised to see blue skies after plane climbed to a higher altitude.  But after a while we were enveloped in grey again. In a way I felt like that during the past year I struggled with a lot of indecision that made think the greyness surrounding the plane.  

     As a woman with cerebral palsy, I was able to raise my daughter Racheal, with the help of my caregiver.  A couple years later a friend of mine needed a place to live so she became my live in caregiver.   In many ways she made my life easier so about a year later when she told me she was going to move and I needed to make plans.

     For no reason in particular I felt stuck.  I couldn’t figure out what to do. Many of my friends thought I should find another caregiver because they were concerned about my safety and in many ways it was easier to have someone there.  I didn’t realize that I was at a stale-mate with myself. I know at some point I’ll probably need more help than I need now but friends were telling me I needed it NOW. I really didn’t think I was that point yet but I didn’t want to be irresponsible.  I had a friend who was praying about moving in and as I waited to see what she was going to do, I carefully moved ahead. I asked another caregiver to spend the night a few nights a week to see how she would work out.  I decided not to continue having her stay because that didn’t seem very helpful.

 At the same time Colleen, who has been my caregiver for many years, wanted to work fewer hours.  After I hired a second woman, life started to stabilize.  I felt the cloud of indecision lift, and I knew what to do.  I decided to continue living alone.  

 When I need more help I’m sure the Lord will give me direction.  I value feedback from others and I do ponder it, but it’s critical that I listen to what God is telling me through my heart. His way is always the best way for me!

Hidden Gifts

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On the first weekend In December, for several years, I have had the opportunity to go to the Tryad retreat at the beach.  It was started by my friend David O’Brian who had cerebral palsy.  After graduating from Echola Bible School, he made his home in Cannon Beach Oregon.  He was passionate about sharing the love of God with everyone especially those who also had disabilities.

Since he knew that many of his handicapped friends didn’t get to go to the beach, he decided to invite them to Cannon Beach Oregon for fun and fellowship.  In fact throughout the many years, as friendships developed the conference felt like a family reunion.   Several of the people had very fragile physical conditions and needed specialized care, so just arranging transportation was pretty complicated.   The students, from Ecola helped at conference.  Many of them didn’t have any previous experience with people with disabilities until they met us.  It felt a bit awkward for each of us for a while but it didn’t take long before friendships were formed.

David took great care in choosing people to lead worship and speakers who share the Word of God.

Planning for such an event must have felt like a daunting task, especially since he needed assistance with own basic needs.  But, as David prayed God always answered and people stepped forward to help his plan take shape.  No matter what was thrown in front of him, he never gave up.  He example will always give me courage to continue doing the things God has put in my heart.

Sometimes gifts come from unlikely sources. David usually met us at the door when we arrived for the retreat, but this year he watched us from his heavenly home.  When I got home from the retreat I reflected on his life. Besides giving me a great time at the retreat he gave me tenacity.  And I am grateful for   David’s gift to me which was the reminder that God can do great things when we offer him what we have.  He showed me what can happen when we push through our problems.

Be on the lookout for hidden gifts that God wants to give you this season.  Please share then with me.

 

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A Key to Freedom

coffee-cup-laptop-notebookI type very slowly because of cerebral palsy.  Years ago when I heard about voice recognition software I thought it was the answer to my problem.  Unfortunately, when I tried it,  I was very disappointed.  No matter how hard I workedit did not type what I wanted  The only thing it accomplished was to  cause a big pity  party.

Several years have gone by.  I was delighted when I discovered that my new cell phone responded to my voice.  Last week a friend of mine suggested I try the word recognition program that came with my computer.  I’ve been practicing it for a of couple days.  Sometimes I think it is taking too long and maybe I would be better off not to spend time trying to use it.  On the other hand when I focus on the progress I’ve made and the benefits it could bring,  I don’t want to give up.   

My life is full of opportunities to keep doing what I have always done or try something new.  Although learning a new skill is difficult, we will become stronger if we persevere. 

Do you have situations that frustrate you?  If the way to change them is difficult, will you keep trying or will you give up?

The Choice to Belong

friends at Judy Turley's

Teachers have been working to get their classrooms ready for school and while some kids come into the classroom excited about the new year and seeing their friends, others have lingering memories of previous disappointments and struggles in school, and they are uncertain about where they fit in.

They might be in the top of the bunch of students or the bottom of the bunch or just right in the middle, but no matter where they are, they feel like they have stigma that follows them. Kids who have a disability will likely feel the same way and they may not necessarily act out, but you can be sure they are wrestling with the same feelings of insecurity as the other kids.

Last week, I went to a function where we were packing backpacks to give away to kids who were in need. I thought it was an assembly line where I could do my part and send it along. Instead, everyone was running around like beavers and I felt like a bump on a log, watching the dam being built. I was excited about working on this project with my friends, but when they all started working around me, it would have been easy to feel like I should have just stayed home and skipped the event. Instead of sitting there with a bad attitude, I looked more closely at what everyone was doing, I could see something that wasn’t being done. I saw that the new backpacks were in plastic wrap and they needed to be unwrapped, so I started on those. I had found my niche. I also saw someone else who was sitting on the sidelines and I got her involved.

At that critical moment, I made choice to stay and get engaged; the next minute, I saw my niche. It felt really good to find that job that I could help with; and even better to find another person who may have felt the way I did and ask her to help me too. I am so happy I didn’t just sit there and watch everybody else help with the project.

A good teacher will see kids who are feeling dejected and will help them find a role that they can play. The kids who act out are also feeling left out, they just have a different way of showing it. In the same way, a good friend looks for others who are on the outside of the busyness and brings them in by showing them ways that they can join in.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) That sounds like a good friend to me!

Summer Fun

Smoke is in the air and memories are in my heart. The smoke will clear, but my memories of the Oregon Christian Writers Conference and the families I met at the Joni camp will be tucked away forever. Besides going to several classes at the OCW conference it was a great time of fellowship and networking. We celebrated each others accomplishments and encouraged each other to keep going. My faithful friend Eva Foster made my week a lot easier by assisting me. It was a time of rekindling my desire to use my writing to encourage others that they can overcome obstacles in their life because God is faithful and has a plan for each of us.

With a few days to rest up I was headed out to the Oregon Coast for the Joni and Friends Family camp. This was the third year that the Portland chapter has hosted the pamper day and a special evening for the adults. Each year when we’ve planned these events, I started with a question, “Who will help us?” It’s exciting to see who God brings to volunteer. Some people have volunteered each year and some were brand new and everyone had a great time. Throughout the last few years of doing this, I’ve learned that telling individuals about Joni and Friends Camp and Pamper Day is a much more effective way of getting volunteers than announcing it in big groups. This reminds me that even when Jesus spoke to the masses, he called individuals to follow him.

For many of us Joni and Friends retreat is like a family reunion. It was a special week of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Right after the retreat ends, people like my friend Brice start counting the days to the next one. For some of us there were special surprises, for instance, for several years I’ve asked a special friend to come to camp and this year she came! Even my daughter Rachael showed up on Pamper Day, surprising the heck out of me because I thought she was in Denver! She’s been involved with Joni and Friends for the past five years and I guess she just couldn’t stay away!

Towards the end of camp, I was filled with joy as I watched my friend Jessica, who has CP and is in her 20’s play with one of the babies at camp. Because it reminded me of myself at her age, and how faithful God has been throughout my journey. Going home from camp is always a low point in everyone’s week. Besides missing our friends, we are all faced with challenges and are given new opportunities to trust God. Remember nothing is impossible with God.