One night in July I was talking on the phone to my friend JoAnne who lives in Alaska. We talked for months about me going to visit her, I was a bit hesitant. My balance isn’t very good because of my cerebral palsy. This would be a long flight, and I was nervous about needing to get up. I also thought it would be too expensive. I asked her to look for tickets. Then she looked online she found a ticket I couldn’t pass up.
It was a perfect day to fly. The sky was blue with white fluffy clouds. My window seat on the plane gave me a clear view of the glaciers.
The sites of Anchorage are very accessible because there are miles and miles of walking paths. The beautiful scenery of the mountain range and the fall colors werebreathtaking. As I soaked in the beautyfromthe car window, JoAnne, took a short walk as she tried to figure out how you could get closer to a glacier. After I heard the route wasaccessible to hikers I said “How hard can it be for me to use it? Let’s go check it out!”
As I started, I thought my ride on my scooter was going to be relatively easy and beautiful. The path consisted of packed dirt with large trees on both sides. As I drove along, my scooter veered to the left. I stopped and backed up, then continued. When thathappened for athird time I asked myselfwhat in the world was going on. Then, as I looked at the ground in front of me I saw roots from trees that were barely covered by dirt. Whenever I hit them I lost control of my scooter. While JoAnne went ahead to see If the trail was any smoother, I stayed behind. After sitting there for a while I inched my way forward a little more down the path. Each time I hit a root I thought, “I better stop.” But I didn’t stop until the idea crossed my mind a third time. I thanked God as I glanced over my shoulder and saw a place I where I could turn around!
This adventure seems like a theme in my life. Whenever I see something important in front of me, I reach for it. While I do feel overwhelmed at times, I would miss out on many wonderful opportunities if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone.
My book, It Takes More Than Legs to Stand, just came out on Amazon. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see this day. I am going to tell you about some of the high lights of my journey.
Several years ago I saw an article about the Oregon Christian Writers Summer conference in Christian News Northwest. The description of Marion Duckworth’s class interested me because she was teaching a class on memoirs. My friend, JoAnne and I decided to go to the conference for one day. I met Marion five minutes before I had to go home. A few days after the conference was over, I called and asked she would help me write my memoir. She told me to send her some of my material. Before I sent her anything I looked her name up on Google. Seeing the list of her accomplishments, I thought she’d surely laugh at me. But I was wrong. Over the past several years, she taught me the craft of writing. She’s encouraged me when she heard me fighting the temptation to give up, by asking me, point blank, “Has God called you to write?” Of course the answer has always been “Yes.”
Creative juices often flow the best when I can bounce Ideas off friends. One of my favorite memories of my journey was of a sunny afternoon when JoAnne and I sat at her dining room table looking over a river, as we developed an outline for my book. When we were down we decided to go to another OCW summer conference because they are always a great time to learn our craft and network with other writers. The only problem was it was an extremely hot summer and I had run completely out of energy. Several of my friends were going down to the river to cool off and I rode my scooter down to watch them play in the water. One of my friends got a chair for me so I could put my feet in the water.
People who attend writer’s conferences can submit articles and book proposal so they can get feedback from editors. In the past year I decided to self-publish my book, so I didn’t submit my manuscript. David Sanford, one of the presenters, introduced himself to me when I was waiting for my ride home from the conference. As we began to visit I knew that this was a very significant conversation. A short time later he joined Marion in helping me publish It Takes More Than Legs to Stand.
On the first weekend In December, for several years, I have had the opportunity to go to the Tryad retreat at the beach. It was started by my friend David O’Brian who had cerebral palsy. After graduating from Echola Bible School, he made his home in Cannon Beach Oregon. He was passionate about sharing the love of God with everyone especially those who also had disabilities.
Since he knew that many of his handicapped friends didn’t get to go to the beach, he decided to invite them to Cannon Beach Oregon for fun and fellowship. In fact throughout the many years, as friendships developed the conference felt like a family reunion. Several of the people had very fragile physical conditions and needed specialized care, so just arranging transportation was pretty complicated. The students, from Ecola helped at conference. Many of them didn’t have any previous experience with people with disabilities until they met us. It felt a bit awkward for each of us for a while but it didn’t take long before friendships were formed.
David took great care in choosing people to lead worship and speakers who share the Word of God.
Planning for such an event must have felt like a daunting task, especially since he needed assistance with own basic needs. But, as David prayed God always answered and people stepped forward to help his plan take shape. No matter what was thrown in front of him, he never gave up. He example will always give me courage to continue doing the things God has put in my heart.
Sometimes gifts come from unlikely sources. David usually met us at the door when we arrived for the retreat, but this year he watched us from his heavenly home. When I got home from the retreat I reflected on his life. Besides giving me a great time at the retreat he gave me tenacity. And I am grateful for David’s gift to me which was the reminder that God can do great things when we offer him what we have. He showed me what can happen when we push through our problems.
Be on the lookout for hidden gifts that God wants to give you this season. Please share then with me.
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