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

Riding the waves of change

This is a season of change and there’s alot of excitement in the air. Graduations, weddings, babies!

Sometimes changes can make you feel like you’re in a boat being tossed around by the waves.

The ocean waves are more fun to watch when you’re sitting on the shore than in the boat. These past few months it seems like my life has been filled with change. When my daughter went to college several years ago, people asked what I would do. Since they were concerned that I couldn’t take care of myself. After several years of living alone, and having the assistance of caregivers, God brought me a roommate. For several months things were pretty stable and then all of a sudden the tide changed. There’s been one change after another. Not only did the caregivers that I had during the day change, but my roommate moved out. There was too much stuff to process all at once! I knew she was moving for a month or two but I couldn’t figure out what to do, so I just didn’t do anything. It’s taken a couple weeks but I’ve finally turned a corner and walking toward whatever comes next.

Part of the reason this has been hard is realizing that I need more help might seem like it puts limitations on what I can do, because of scheduling between myself and caregivers. It’s hard because this is the first time I’ve had to find caregivers that I don’t already have a relationship with and it makes me nervous. But that’s all part of the process and I guess that’s ok.

It will help me get the help I need and allow me to have support and freedom.

It’s much easier to sit in the sand and put your feet in the water!

 

 

The long and winding road

Bright and early last Friday, my friends dropped me off at the airport so that I could surprise my daughter on her Birthday. As a mother with a disability, life has been full of twists and turns, and ups and downs. This trip was full of surprises in and of itself. I was on my way to Atlanta, and my connecting flight was in Phoenix. When I got off the plane I misunderstood the directions, there was an agent willing to walk me to my next gate. But independent Lyla asked them what the gate number was and said “Oh I can get there”. It seemed like a piece of cake but it turned into somewhat of a nightmare. Because after I waited several hours, I knew something was wrong. When I asked an attendant what was going on, she said “You were supposed to be at gate 28, not gate 8, you missed your flight and the next one leaves at midnight”. I thought Oh that’s gonna cost me a lot of money, but they waived it for me.I went directly to negative self-talk after realizing what happened but after I calmed down I began to see some positive aspects of my ordeal.

Then she took me to the clubhouse, a place I didn’t even know existed, it’s a place where the frequent flyers go to rest and relax between flights. The people were extremely helpful and friendly. This was a blessed surprise since many times as a person with Cerebral Palsy it’s often difficult for people to understand me and they assume I can’t understand them either. But they didn’t talk down to me. At the end of my long wait they escorted me to the plane and told me I was upgraded to first class.

It reminded me that we might think we know how to get where we’re going, and then we get ourselves in a big mess, but God is rich in mercy. Even if we wind up in a big mess he uses it to show us his faithfulness.

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.