Preparing to Grow

We often hear about people making resolutions on New Year’s Eve.  So you’re probably wondering why I’m thinking about it in October.  My balance and other motors skill are affected by my cerebral palsy.  A few years ago a friend suggested I make an appointment with her acupuncturist.  I was thrilled how much my improved after my first treatment and decided to see her on a consistent basis.  

Although Anna immigrated from the Ukraine thirty years ago, she still speaks English with a heavy accent. At a recent appointment she surprised me when she said, “I think I’m going to take some speech classes, so I can learn to speak  better English.”  Curious about her decision to try to improve her communication skills, I asked her why.  “Maybe I could get more clients and friends if I was easier to understand.”

But with her next breath she started to talk herself out of her new goal.  After telling me she didn’t have time to take classes she finally admitted she didn’t like school when she was a kid. She said “I can get better by myself.”

 “If that were true” I argued, “you would have done it already.  We don’t hear ourselves the way others do. For instance, my speech is affected by my cerebral palsy.  Unless I hear a recording of myself talking, I forget how I sound to other people. I hear myself the way I hear others. 

She was surprised when I asked her, “ Do you hear yourself roll your R’s?

Puzzled, she asked, “So what do.”  “I think either taking a class or having A mentor would be helpful.  They can point out speech patterns you need to change and give you moral support when you get discouraged.     
 Instead of increasing the number of people she can talk to by learning to speak clearer,she told me she really didn’t need to talk to strangers. She communicated just fine with her clients.  I didn’t tell her but I cringed when I thought about how restrictive that would be.  

As my treatment continued, she explained the pain I have in my arm when I straighten it.  Last year, when I started to have trouble with it, I stopped doing things that involved stretching.  For example; brushing the back of my hair and putting on my tee shirts . Unfortunately, my decisions about how to avoid pain caused my muscles to get shorter.  

There aren’t any painless answers. If I want to regain some mobility and keep my independence I need to follow her instructions.

Personal growth takes a lot of  work and dedication.  In order to achieve your goal it’s helpful to:

  • 1. Know your reason for working for it,
  • 2. What happens if you don’t try to improve your situation?
  • 3. Who are to be your cheerleaders?  

Please share your why and what keeps you going during the long haul.

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Why Celebrations Strengthens Us

FB_IMG_1503282301563 (1)We seem to be surrounded by overwhelming tragedy.  There’s flooding in Texas, hurricanes looming, and wild fires causing havoc all across the US.  The news I have about the wonderful things that have happened last month seem to be of little importance.  But during difficult times we can gain courage by remembering previous times when God helped us.

My third grandchild Alexandra Joy was born last month.  Holding her for the first time filled my heart with overwhelming joy.  A family friend gave her three year old sister a pink cape that had “Super Big Sis” embroidered on it.  Immediately after Hannah put it on her whole demeanor changed.  She began to strut and dance all around my living room and we all broke out laughing.  A few days later, when I saw Hannah’s cape laying with her other toys I thought about how much I’m like my granddaughter.  As a follower of Christ, His power and love is accessible anytime.  The problem is, I often forget to go to Him in prayer and ask for help.  When I do pray, God lifts me above the clouds of circumstances and He tells me what is on His heart.

Many of you know, my memoir came out last year.  It’s a short a book that took forever to write.  Marion Duckworth and other people encouraged me when I was tempted to give up.

A few weeks ago, my daughter held onto my arm and walked me across the stage as I received a certificate for being a finalist in the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Awards.

The wonderful evening reminds me of what is written in Philippians 4:13. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

God helped me finish the assignment He gave me in writing my book.  Now I’m experiencing the joy of celebrating with my friends and family.

Memories of when God helped us through difficult times strengthens our faith.  Please share a time God helped you do more than you thought you could.

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Crossing My Chicken Line

My friend, Karla, called the other day and said, “I want to come see you next week.  Let’s go get manicures together.”  Without any hesitation I said OK.

Seconds after saying good-bye, I remembered why I hadn’t had my nails professionally done before.  My cerebral palsy has caused three fingers on my right hand to curl under.  No matter what anyone does they can’t be straighten out.

I debated long and hard with myself about whether or not to go ahead with it.  When I told my friend she suggested we do pedicures instead.  I told her I decided I to do it because I didn’t want to be controlled by the fear of being embarrassed. She understood and she called  a nail salon and told them about my hands.  They said “No problem.” 

But there was.  Karla and I sat next to each other.  Although the man doing my nails seemed pretty comfortable with my situation, the  the woman doing Karla’s was clearly out of her comfort zone. When my manicurist realized I was unable to put my hands in the right position, he moved his stool from behind the counter and sat down beside me.  When he got ready to work on my nails he looked puzzled,  I held up my right hand first said let’s do this one first as I used my left hand to straighten  the fingers on my right hand a little bit.  

The Vietnamese woman who did Karla’s kept bossing the guy who did mine around.  She wanted him to use clear polish stating colored would be a mess.

I’m glad I went even though my outing with Karla wasn’t as pleasant as we hoped it would be.  I left with a smile feeling stronger because I’d survived going over my chicken line.

What does your chicken line consist of?    Take a risk. Step over it.  There’s freedom on the other side!    

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 Many Blessings,

Lyla

“I am a pencil in God’s hand.  God writes through us, and however imperfect instruments we may be, God writes beautifully.”  ~Mother Teresa

Making A Difference

 

My memoir, It Takes More Than Legs To Stand,  is one of the finalists in the OCW Cascade Awards! Writing the book was a long process and sometimes I wondered if it would ever be published.  But,  with the encouragement of friends and mentors it was released last year.   Its been exciting to see that, It Takes More Than Legs To Stand, is encouraging so many people!

I haven’t posted a blog for several months.  I took time off to prepare a story to submit to the Chicken Soup books and to enjoy my grandchildren.   It’s been fun to ride my scooter alongside my  granddaughter Hannah while she learns to ride her trike.  For a while I had to remind her to keep her feet on the pedals.  She didn’t use enough oomph to get over the speed bumps so her mom pushed her.  The second time out she learned to master speed bumps by taking her feet off the pedals and pushing her bike over the incline.

 

A few minutes later, I decided to see what Hannah would do if I stopped my scooter when I got to a speed bump.  She hopped off her bike, ran over to the back of the scooter and gave it a shove. When it started to move, she got a cute little grin on her face. She might have been thinking. “I moved Grandma’s big scooter!”

Children like Hannah and the little boy in John 6:9 who gave his lunch to Jesus, were confident their contribution   would make a difference.  Hannah will soon learn that her efforts to  help won’t   always be successful, but I hope she never quits trying

About the time I thought this blog was ready to publish, I was reminded that trying to make A difference can have terrible consequences.  The tragedy that occurred in Portland, when two brave men were murdered because they came to the defense of two Muslim women is a very sad reminder that our efforts to do something good can come at an extremely high price.

 

As I tried to show Hannah, she could make a difference. Although I have cerebral palsy I haven’t let it prevent me from contributing to people around me.Even when I  hesitated to follow God’s lead, I discovered He took two steps toward me when I took one toward Him.

Is fear, intimidation or something else preventing you  from serving God?  Let Him help you.

 

Sprinkling Hope

Blue skies and sunshine unexpectedly showed up after days of rain in Portland.  I find that words of encouragement perk up people’s spirits the same way.     

A few weeks ago, I ventured into a new large church for the first time.  I only knew a handful of people, so I was quite surprised when a woman rushed up to me during the church service.  She said, “I know you and I really need to talk to you.”  I didn’t have the foggiest idea who she was and I wondered if my memory lapse was given away by the blank expression that washed over my face.

 When she started describing our brief encounter, relief swept over me as I recalled a beautiful summer day about twenty years ago. Some friends invited my little girl and I to a blue grass concert. Since I can’t drive, this was quite a treat! 

I took a wheelchair with me since I have cerebral palsy and can’t walk well.  Surveying the crowd from my wheelchair, I spotted a woman with a small boy in a wheelchair too.  When I talked to her, all those years later , she said I was still  grieving over his condition.  But why  gave me courage when you  told me  “God has a plan and purpose for his life, he’ll  be able to do anything he wanted too.”  She laughed and said, “And he is!”

Talking to her again, reminded me that, despite the fact that we must face our own challenges, God can still use each one of us to give others courage.

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How’s Your Focus

A few years ago, my close friend JoAnne, had a concussion as a result of an accident with a horse.  At the same time, my daughter was collecting references for college, so she asked me to find out if JoAnne would write one.

One day, while JoAnne was still recovering, I asked her how her focus was.  I was puzzled when she told me her double vision was improving every day.  We both started to laugh when I said, “I was wondering if you felt good enough to write the letter Rachael needs.”

Even though I have cerebral palsy I’ve been able to live on my own with the help of caregivers.  Last week my caregiver who helps me get ready for the day, wasn’t scheduled to work. Getting myself presentable to go out that night was very time consuming.  Fortunately, a friend came over and helped me finish getting ready.  I felt agitated because I couldn’t do more.  But she kept saying she was amazed because of how well I had done.

2017 is here and has plenty of possibilities.  With it will come plenty of challenges and choices.  They’ll either make me feel sorry for myself or lead me to my Heavenly Father so He can help me refocus on the things that are truly important.

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Surprises from Heaven

godcalls“When are you going to get busy and do what God has called you to do?” the speaker asked my friend.  God had called him into the ministry, but he had done some things that made him feel disqualified and stopped him from pursuing it.

Many of us have been impressed that God wants us to do a particular task.  When we hear the call, it is easy to fix our eyes on our inadequacies rather than God. Regardless of the problems we deal with we are all uniquely created to serve Him.

Sometimes we feel like our physical disabilities hold us back from being useful in society or used by God.   Several years ago, Bettie Mitchell, founder of Good Samaritan Ministries was with a group of pastors in Africa. When she found a neglected, crippled woman lying on the ground in a dark tent, Bettie taught the men how to take care of her.  Bettie also taught them that God has a purpose for everyone. She taught Lucy how to pray a blessing over the people.  Then she explained to the pastors with her that every pastor in the area was to have Lucy lay her hands on them and pray for them.

At times, I not only feel short in stature, but in a multitude of ways.  When my daughter was little, I used to have her climb on the cupboards to help me get things I needed. Many of my accomplishments first began as unattainable dreams that led me into times of frustration and doubts. In the end, my spirit celebrates, when I see the way His strength is made perfect through my weakness.

For the last few years I’ve been Director of the Portland Area chapter of Joni and Friends.  The ministry has developed at a much slower process than I anticipated. Recently, I was telling the Lord if I had more help and could drive, I could meet more people. He stopped me.  “I knew all your strengths and weaknesses before I put you in this position.”

Last week for example, God reminded me that He has many ways to let people know about His work.  I received an e-mail letting me know Joni will be one of the key note speakers at Mission ConneXion in Portland this January. It felt like God was saying, “See? I’ve got this!”

Please share the ways God has surprised you lately.

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