Repair Work

I’ve felt a little bit pressed for time lately, with lots of projects that are due really soon. Today when I woke up I realized I wasn’t as far behind as I thought I was. I’ve been taking a class called Beyond Suffering through Joni and Friends and have some projects that are due soon. Late in June I’m going to be teaching at a seminar called, “Riding the Tiger” and I haven’t even started working on my presentation. I remember feeling that way a lot at college at George Fox, always behind and in a panic. Because of these few things, I’ve felt rushed and I guess I haven’t really been paying attention to details. Last Saturday I invited my daughter to brunch, when we got there, we knew something was off, because nobody was there. It was scheduled for the next Saturday! Fortunately I wasn’t stranded.

Apparently I’m not the only person that rushes around because last week someone was here to inspect my house. I thought he would zip right through it and be on his merry way. NO! I was wrong, he found several repairs that needed to happen. The funny thing is that the things that he was concerned about have been in the same condition for about 3 years. He explained that when he was here before he was in too much of a hurry to notice them. One of the repairs needed is a hole in my closet that has been there for 4 years. It was leftover from when the repair man was fixing a leak in the upstairs apartment, but they forgot to fix my closet!

Sometimes it seems like our walk with God is a lot like that. God frequently uses today’s circumstances to pinpoint areas where we need a little bit of repair work in the areas that are battered and bruised through life experiences. Would you like to share areas in your life that God is restoring?

“Search me O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”-Psalm 139: 23-24

I used to read this verse for years and read the word wicked and think bad, but now I realize that God doesn’t just mean “wicked” or “bad” but he wants to take stuff out that will keep us from flourishing.

Happy Mother’s Day!

There are many moms that have had their dreams interrupted by having children who need special care. I am one of them. Born in the 50’s, moms and dads didn’t have the support systems that are available today both online and in-person. Julie Keon was totally surprised after the birth of her baby girl to find out that her daughter was severely disabled and that she required almost 24 hour care. Despite the difficulty, the mother-daughter relationship taught Julie lessons that she needed to learn. Though the road is difficult, she has been able to encourage other parents and has written a book called “What I Would Tell You”.

When I was growing up, I had fun playing with dolls, but I think I remember asking my mom how I would diaper a baby. I think she said “we’ll figure it out” but I don’t think she thought I ever would.

Many people think people with disabilities cannot have children, so I surprised a lot of them, including myself! At this stage in my life I look back and think, “how did this happen?” How did my daughter actually get to be 28? How did my mom survive motherhood and how did I?

There were a lot of things that I couldn’t do as a mom, but my mom was one of my cheerleaders. She put Velcro on Rachael’s baby clothes and helped me ride the waves of new motherhood. Friends from Good Samaritan Ministries and my friend Colleen were instrumental in helping us survive. Colleen drove us places, planned birthday parties, everything I wanted to do as a mother but couldn’t. Rather than having my disability limit me, my world was expanded because I formed a network of people that were willing to join me on this journey.

One of the most amazing events happened 10 months ago, when I became a Grandma. My granddaughter is truly a reward for persevering the challenges of motherhood.

So on this Mother’s Day I want to thank my Mother for all she’s done for me and encourage other Mothers of children with special needs because I know that the road can be hard but there are rewards ahead. I would encourage any families that are going through this process to find good support systems through family, friends or community organizations such as Joni and Friends.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mother and Daughter!

The fragrance of joy

For the past few months, I’ve belonged to a group on facebook for people with disabilities. I know that it’s a place where people can air their problems but sometimes I wonder if there’s anything good that come out of living a life with CP.

YES! I’m here to tell you it ain’t all bad! In fact if I didn’t have this, everything in my life would be different. Sure it would be great to drive a car or put a cake in the oven using both hands, but there are some things I just couldn’t imagine living without. I probably wouldn’t have ever come to Oregon to go to college. I may have been able to get a job and had a marriage but on the other hand, I wouldn’t have had to go through the struggles that have given me the insights into other people’s struggles. I may have avoided an unhealthy marriage but without it, I wouldn’t have the wonderful daughter that I do today. Sure she was a rascal and it was difficult to catch up with her when she was growing up. But I survived with the help of faithful friends who could run faster than she could. Now I get to watch her take care of her little one. I could not imagine life without either one of them.

The sense of belonging is one of our basic needs in life. People with disabilities are often not involved in many of the activities that people do, this can lead to feelings of isolation. It can be tempting to fall into the pit of self-pity. But as I celebrated my birthday last week, I reflected on how blessed I am. I took a trip to the lilac farm with one of my closest friends. We had talked about it for about a gazillion years and finally did it!!!

I loved every minute of it. There were so many shades of lavender. The air was filled with a heavenly scent. I’ve loved lilacs since I was a small girl. There was a large lilac bush outside the window of my parent’s house and when it was in bloom, the scent filled the air. I really wish the lilac bushes stayed in bloom longer.

I think the birds have been singing louder than ever before and have been waking me up each morning. The way they used to, when I lived on my parents farm. The sounds of the meadowlarks woke me up each morning, as the  sun streamed through my bedroom windows. And pretty soon as the day got underway I forgot about the birds singing. But now the birds bring me back to that place.

The night of my birthday dinner Rachel gave me a book filled with pictures of her and my precious granddaughter Hannah. It filled me with joy and seemed as refreshing as the scent of lilacs. The gifts in my life are more pronounced than the struggles I have experienced from living with CP. I wouldn’t trade anything for what I have today.

You can be a catalyst of change

I recently attended a smorgasbord and I may have overeaten.  No, I didn’t go to the Old Country Kitchen, one of the buffets in the area.  I attended the Faith and Culture Writers conference.  I found there was plenty of food for thought for everyone who was there.  I discovered that my appetite for writing was still alive and well. The track I followed was for non-fiction writers and all the workshops were excellent. Each of the speakers shared their story of pain and triumph. The stories of the speakers helped me remember that all of us have had struggles. But God can turn our difficult roads into pathways of hope when we share what he’s done in our lives.

One of the speakers I appreciated the most was Romal Tune. He was raised in poverty and violence.   As a teenager he kept the destructive patterns he learned from his mother, but he has totally turned his life around.  After serving in the Army he went to Howard University and graduated Magna Cum Laude. From there he went to Duke University School of Divinity to become an ordained minister.

By sharing the life lessons He’s learned throughout his journey, Roma Tune is instrumental in leading people out of despair and into hope.  He is the author of an Award-Winning Book entitled, “God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens”

In Matthew 9: Some men brought Jesus a paralytic man. When Jesus saw their faith he said to them“Your sins are forgiven. Get up, take your mat and go home”. The man got up and went home.

Our physical disabilities and life experiences often make us feel paralyzed, yet when Jesus forgives and heals our hearts. Then we can be catalysts of change in people’s lives by sharing our good news with them.

The power of surrender

 

In the last few months, I’ve been realizing that my body is a lot less resilient than it used to be. For instance, I used to live alone and get ready for the day by myself, but over just over a year ago, I’ve had the benefit of my friend living with me and helping me get ready for the day.

The few times that I’ve been alone lately, I’ve noticed what a struggle it is. I’ve realized that like or not, old age is creeping up to me and there is no stopping it. So I’ve been wondering how to deal with these changes.

On Good Friday, I went to a Good Samaritan Ministries Luncheon. My ears perked up as Bettie, the founder shared a message entitled “The Ministry of suffering”. In a nut shell she encouraged us to step into the difficult times in our lives. When we step into the difficulties in our lives with the Lord, instead of running and trying to avoid them, we can receive His power and grace to walk through our battle.

Bettie just recently lost her husband after a long battle with Dementia. Since she was his main care provider, it wore her out.

As she continued to talk, I looked over at my friend and her mother who I had just chatted with during lunch. Her brother had recently passed away and the sorrow was all over her mother’s face. Sometimes people will say “just grin and bare it” or “time will heal everything”, but it’s far more effective when we realize that grief can only be totally healed by God when we go through the stages of grief.

There are several stages in the grief process, sometimes people might be angry about what’s happening to them or want to figure out how to get out of it by bargaining. I realized that what I’ve been doing is going through parts of the grief cycle. I haven’t looked at what the process of getting older will look like in my life, but like it or not I will. So I’ve moved on into acceptance and I’m learning what I can do to be as feisty and independent for as long as possible.

For the last few months a group of us from Joni and Friends have been studying a book called “Beyond Suffering”. One of the things that stuck me was a statement Joni made about her disability. When people see her sitting in her wheelchair, they assume her paraplegia is the cross God has asked her to carry, but she believes it is actually her attitude that is her cross to carry. I so identify with that. It’s our attitudes that we need to surrender to God.

Typical most of us avoid asking the difficult questions surrounding suffering.  It may be we’re afraid to admit we feel our circumstances are unfair.

Each time I read about Jesus in the Garden of  Gethsemane, I’m reminded how God didn’t turn a way from Jesus while He was asking His Father to let this cup pass from Him.

At the  end of His time of prayer Jesus agreed to carry out God’s plan. In this we see that it’s alright to ask the hard questions because Jesus did. When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He spent the night agonizing over what God was asking Him to do.  He didn’t want to be crucified but yet He prayed “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), but when we embrace it we can discover that God remains faithful.

Wait, Don’t Stop

As a child growing up with cerebral palsy, I had the opportunity to have physical and occupational therapy regularly at a school for handicapped school for children, Sunshine School in Riverside, California. Therapy wasn’t available when I started attending a small public school in Montana. A couple of years ago after a serious fall I did get a few visits with a therapist but I neglected to follow through with their instructions.

Since a recent stay in the hospital I’ve been visited by therapists again. To my surprise the exercises I have been given haven’t even hurt. Thinking about my track record I said, “It’s really hard to believe these will do any good.” The response of the therapist switched my paradigm. “I want you to think about what you’ll lose if you don’t do the exercises.” I’ve fought hard all of my life to be independent. Slacking off now seems like it comes with a price that is too big to pay.

In January a lot of people join a gym determined to get healthy. Although you are there at the gym lifting weights you know there will be a payoff from the daily grind. It often whittles away your resolve and so many times people give up.

A friend of mine who needed a specialized wheelchair was denied his request because of how the way it was worded.

After a year and a half of fighting the system he finally received his power wheelchair. His battle raised his awareness that others weren’t receiving the equipment they need so he’s been tirelessly trying to get the laws changed.

Last week I went to Salem to testify in support of Oregon House Bill 2937.  If past it promises to help people get life enhancing equipment.  You can read more about Joseph Lowe’s tireless efforts in the Lund Report, https://www.thelundreport.org/

Unlike my friend we might want things to change but we sit back and complain Complain about things rather than being a catalyst for change.

On a note that is closer to home, we don’t see the benefit of exercise right away.   It’s similar to out walk with God. Christians are encouraged to have daily devotions often times they skip them. If we keep at it, and stay committed, the Lord will bless our desire to know him.

Sips of living water

“Friendship is like sips of living water”

Have you wondered where I’ve been? Everywhere but here! Joni and Friends Global Access Summit was totally unbelievable. It was a blessing to meet people from all over the world with the passion of helping people with disabilities meet Jesus.

A couple days after the conference I took an unexpected trip to the hospital. Just like the conference there were unexpected treasures. Many times people with special needs have a difficult time when they’re in hospital getting some of their basic needs met. However, my experience last week was pretty remarkable. From the minute I entered the ER room until I left, just like at Joni and Friends there were unexpected treasures to be picked up.

One of my problems was that my water bottle was just beyond my reach. Most of the attendants were baffled and couldn’t figure out how to get it any closer. Finally I told my nurse and to my surprise she easily figured out how to get my tray maneuvered so that I could reach my water. There can be water all around us, but unless we can reach it, it doesn’t do us any good. It reminded me that God figures out ways to give us each sips of the living water. As we watch people and listen to them, God will often show us their needs. It’s his way of bringing them living water.