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.