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.

In Season and Out of Season

Bright and early one morning, it might not have been early but it was way earlier than when I usually get up. There were men digging in the dirt and laying pipes right outside my bedroom window. I wondered what are they doing out there that early? Throughout the rest of the week they’ve been busy planting new trees and shrubs. It’s the end of July and some people I’ve talked to say that it’s not the right time of the year to plant plants. To which I replied, “I don’t know anything about it but I bet they know what they’re doing”.

I’ve got some of my own plants around my place too. They were doing pretty well until one of my friends left me in charge of the plants for a couple weeks. I watered them but I forgot about the pesky little aphids that wreak havoc on my flowers unless I spray them with a concoction we made up of water and a drop of dish-washing soap. So I lost a plant.

This morning as I was out and about in my scooter I stopped to chat with one of my neighbors. From the sidewalk in front of her patio I could see a sign and I asked her what it said. It said “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers or you can grow weeds, take every thought captive”-2 Corinthians 10:5.

For the past few days I’ve been thinking how much life seems to be full of struggles. Life seems out of control sometimes and we don’t even know what to do next. That is when thoughts like “I can’t do this and I can’t do that”, or “a catastrophe is about to occur!”, are like aphids that eat the plants. You don’t see them effects right away, but left unattended they can certainly have a negative impact. Theses thoughts strip away your joy and peace. Sometimes when this happens it’s hard to stay connected with the truth. When we take every thought captive God will help us through the difficult times of life.

Earlier in the week some of my online friends were saying how much they like African Violets when they are in bloom. Some were saying that theirs were not blooming and they didn’t know what to do. So they read online how to take care of them. Sometimes I feel like that plant and I want to bloom but there’s something stopping the process. The African Violets are alot like us and when we need to figure out what we need to bloom. Sometimes God uses the hard times in our lives to get rid of the weeds from our heart so that his character can grow in us. I’m excited to see what is going to be blooming in your life and in mine.

Summer Adventure!

Next week begins one of the busiest times in the summer! I’ve been preparing all along but I’m not thinking now, “oh no I’m not ready!” So my brain is all a flurry. Summertime is often a great time for new experiences and special opportunities to go on trips for extra fun. I’ve been getting ready for a couple events I go to each year. For the past couple weeks I’ve been focusing my attention on getting ready for the Oregon Christian Writers Conference and the Joni and Friends Camp. By getting volunteers for the pamper day at Joni and Friends camp as well as submitting two short stories to editors at the OCW Conference.

The scorching heat last week reminded me about a Oregon Christian Writer’s retreat I went to a few years ago. It was so hot and there was no air conditioning. One afternoon I hit the wall and I was so pooped. Some of the women were going to go swimming in the river, but I knew I couldn’t do that. So I rode my scooter down to the water and I decided to sit there and watch them. Pretty soon some of them took me by the arms and sat me in a lawn chair, so I could put my feet in the water. So I’m not really sure what will happen at the conference this week, but I’m looking forward to learning some new tools and seeing old friends.

Right after the writing conference I get to go to another event, the Joni and Friends Family Retreat. I’ve been thinking about the first time I went. I didn’t know anyone who was driving, so a couple of my other friends who have CP and I boarded a bus down to Tillamook, OR. We then got on a commuter bus that rode up and down the coastal highway. It was no small feat, to load two scooters onto two small buses, but we did it! When we got there I was so overwhelmed by the volunteers who greeted us. So much so, that I forgot to get my suitcase off the bus and somebody had to track down the bus later and retrieve my suitcase.

This year, the Portland chapter of Joni and Friends have been preparing to host two events at camp filling me with a sense of nervous anticipation,  a little bit like getting on the Greyhound Bus.  We’ve planned it as well as we can, but if something goes wrong, if something wrong, I get to see how faithful God is.

Helen Keller says “Life is an adventure or it’s nothing at all.”  What are you learning on your summer adventure?


Let Freedom Ring

My precious granddaughter Hannah just turned one.  Her parents have lived in the vicinity so I’ve been able to see her quite often.  But they’ve been traveling so I haven’t seen Hannah for about  six weeks.  Oh my goodness she’s changed so much during that time.  She’s become quite a little jabber box and she crawls like a little trooper.  I have a feeling  she’ll be running any day now!  When she was born three weeks early, her little lungs weren’t ready for the world, so she spent a bit of time in the NICU.  Fortunately,  she fine was ready to leave the hospital.

Since this week we are celebrating the fourth of July, I’ve been pondering what does it mean to be free?  A few weeks ago, students graduated from High School and many of them are feeling FREE! Freedom is a great thing and everyone interprets the word differently.

Some of those kids will make good choices, but they’ll also make choices that will make their lives differently.  My friend Rebekah, and  I met at a Joni and Friends, and both deal with Cerebral Palsy. Like many people we both have  wondered what life would be like without physical limitations . She has a great attitude and spends hours and hours in painful therapy because of a dream she has to walk or even have a little bit more mobility.

My definition of independence has changed throughout my life. As a child my therapists and mom worked hard to teach me many tasks of daily living, that other kids quickly learn and take for granted. I was determined to be as independent as I could be.  In many ways, my  determination has payed off. Although there have been disappointments, I’ve been able to raise a daughter and live alone.

As I’m get older and I’m figuring out what I need, I have an internal battle that makes me uptight. This part of my journey seems as rough as a country road, because I didn’t want to give up freedom that I used to have.  This journey is just as important as physical therapy. It’s produced a different kind of freedom. I’m learning (once again) the freedom of acceptance is much more powerful than denial. It’s given me strength  and  freedom to choose what to do next.  I have several options but if I couldn’t see them until I accepted my current situation. If I didn’t accept my current situation it would have would prevented me from living freely.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”- Galatians 5:1

When I was I younger I used to get really frustrated with what I couldn’t do. I thought “My life wouldn’t be like this, if I didn’t have C.P.” I cringe when i think of missing out on everything God’s blessed me with, including being Rachael’s mom and Hannah’s grandma.

What does Freedom mean to you and do you consider it worth fighting for?

Pressing in and Pressing on.

As I was praying last week I heard the words press in and press on. The timing of those words were really fitting because as your probably read in my last blog there were several changes going on in my life that puzzled me. I just did not know quite what to do. When I heard “press in” I knew the Father was calling me to trust him at a deeper level. Within the next week of two, my caregivers and I talked about the situation and a solution was reached.

It seems like life is full of opportunities to get upset. Last week, my cell phone was on the fritz and I spent the last week trying to get it straightened out. It was pretty annoying. Especially because I couldn’t get any of my calls from either my landline or my cell phone and I lost all my contacts. This whole thing could have been avoided if I had bought insurance or taken it to the shop when it first started giving me trouble. I still don’t have a cell phone but at least I can receive calls on both numbers.

As Colleen and I were leaving my house last week, I was delighted to spot a hummingbird on my porch! They’re so little and move so fast and this was my first one.

This morning, since I cannot open windows, I opened the door to let the crisp air in. A bird flew in and flew behind the blinds. It took me several minutes to figure out what to do. Since he was banging his body against the window, I wanted to raise up the blinds but, being 5 ft tall I couldn’t reach the cord and didn’t want to fall on my fanny. After several minutes I picked up a long stick and was able to move the cord toward me. I raised the blinds but the bird didn’t move away from the window. He just stood there and fluttered his wings until my homecare worker came and took him outside.

Life is full of challenges and choices. I have the choice of how to respond to it. The good news is that we can always change it. As we press into God, he can help us change our response and take another step.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”- Matthew 6:25-27