Sprinkling Hope

Blue skies and sunshine unexpectedly showed up after days of rain in Portland.  I find that words of encouragement perk up people’s spirits the same way.     

A few weeks ago, I ventured into a new large church for the first time.  I only knew a handful of people, so I was quite surprised when a woman rushed up to me during the church service.  She said, “I know you and I really need to talk to you.”  I didn’t have the foggiest idea who she was and I wondered if my memory lapse was given away by the blank expression that washed over my face.

 When she started describing our brief encounter, relief swept over me as I recalled a beautiful summer day about twenty years ago. Some friends invited my little girl and I to a blue grass concert. Since I can’t drive, this was quite a treat! 

I took a wheelchair with me since I have cerebral palsy and can’t walk well.  Surveying the crowd from my wheelchair, I spotted a woman with a small boy in a wheelchair too.  When I talked to her, all those years later , she said I was still  grieving over his condition.  But why  gave me courage when you  told me  “God has a plan and purpose for his life, he’ll  be able to do anything he wanted too.”  She laughed and said, “And he is!”

Talking to her again, reminded me that, despite the fact that we must face our own challenges, God can still use each one of us to give others courage.

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How’s Your Focus

A few years ago, my close friend JoAnne, had a concussion as a result of an accident with a horse.  At the same time, my daughter was collecting references for college, so she asked me to find out if JoAnne would write one.

One day, while JoAnne was still recovering, I asked her how her focus was.  I was puzzled when she told me her double vision was improving every day.  We both started to laugh when I said, “I was wondering if you felt good enough to write the letter Rachael needs.”

Even though I have cerebral palsy I’ve been able to live on my own with the help of caregivers.  Last week my caregiver who helps me get ready for the day, wasn’t scheduled to work. Getting myself presentable to go out that night was very time consuming.  Fortunately, a friend came over and helped me finish getting ready.  I felt agitated because I couldn’t do more.  But she kept saying she was amazed because of how well I had done.

2017 is here and has plenty of possibilities.  With it will come plenty of challenges and choices.  They’ll either make me feel sorry for myself or lead me to my Heavenly Father so He can help me refocus on the things that are truly important.

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Finding Balance

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On Facebook I read a post about how many children with special needs go through the addition heartbreak of isolation.  They are seldom invited to go to parties and other events with their peers.

Days before my High School Senior prom, I couldn’t stand the thought of missing out on the fun so I asked a boy to take me.  I’m sure I surprised the guy, and I threw my mom into a spin because she only had a few days to get me ready.

Even though there are attempts to include kids with special needs, all too often efforts fail. Last year, I read an article about a student who used a wheelchair.  She practiced for the Christmas program along with her classmates.  She learned all the songs and was excited the night of their performance.  As her friends climbed on to the stage, her wheelchair was parked in down below the stage.  Her smiles turned to tears when she realized she was all alone.

During a discussion group centered on grief and loss I had some life changing revelations.    Two women in the group were amputees.  As they talked, I recognized I had similar feelings.   I haven’t let my disability control me but a there are times I’ve felt sad about what I haven’t been able to do.  For instance, in springtime many are out either riding bikes or doing other activities.  Feelings of loss often spring up when everyone else is having fun.  After I identified my loss and acknowledged my pain I was able to let Jesus heal it.

Another symptom of feeling like you’re always missing out on the fun others are having is not feeling satisfied with what you’re doing.  This has often caused me wear myself out, because of feeling compelled to look for the next fun thing or group of people who would give me a sense of belonging.

In 2 Cor.2:10 Paul tells us to take every thought captive.

When we let God heal our hearts by transforming our minds we are no longer captives to the pain in our past. 

My Alaskan Adventure

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 pathsThe beautiful scenery of the mountain range and the fall colors were breathtaking.  As I soaked in the beauty from the 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 was accessible 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 that happened for a third time I asked myself what 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.  

More Than What Meets The Eye

This week the Canadian Parliament is finalizing their assisted-death law. Unlike the five states in the US that have legalized assisted-suicide for terminally ill people, the Canadian law extends doctor-assisted death to people with disabilities who find their condition unbearable.  My first thought was, “WHO THE HECK DOESN’T!!!!!!!”  

What makes a person’s life unbearable? It doesn’t take a disability to make a life miserable, but it does make it challenging.  I think that many people with disabilities struggle when their limitations keep them from achieving dreams.   I just got a call about a young handicapped woman who is very discouraged.  I can remember when I felt like a victim of my limitations.  However I learned how to surrender my dreams to God and now I understand what God’s purpose is for my life regardless of my condition.  

My friend Mark, was a healthy teenager until he had a skiing accident when he was 16.  He’s been paralyzed ever since and survives with the help of a ventilator.  In January he developed a sore on his leg that has forced him to be bedridden for several months.

Knowing he represents others who will be affected by the legislation, I asked him why he has wanted to keep living.   His answer was clear, “His passion for encouraging others makes his life worth fighting for.”

God values people so much differently than people often do.  When we understand how much God loves us we can gain hope and courage from His promises.  

 Zech. 9:12 Come to the place of safety, all you prisoners, for there is yet hope! I promise right now, I will repay you two mercies for each of your woes.

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Splat!

 

A friend and I went down to Eugene on Friday afternoon so we could attend the Oregon Christian Writers Conference the next day.  Before we settled in for the night we decided to go and eat.  Since we didn’t know the area well, it took us quite a while to find a restaurant.  Our frustration grew as we kept seeing “One Way” sign after “One Way” sign.  Of course it seemed like the signs were always in the opposite direction of where we were hoping to go.  

We finally found a restaurant and parked the car.  The spot we found was quite far for me to walk and I had a feeling walking to the restaurant on my crippled legs would leave me winded.   I should have voiced my concern, but I ignored it, thinking if I walked slowly I would be OK.   Unfortunately, just a few feet from the car, I went splat.

Thankfully it wasn’t raining and my friend Karla was holding onto my arm so I didn’t hit the gro
und too hard.  Just as she was trying to figure out how to get me up a woman stopped and offered to help us.  As she reached for me, she said in a kind voice, “My grandma had trouble walking and you remind me of her.”   

There are all kinds of reasons why we stumble and fall.  Each day we are faced with the choice to give in to our own pride or listen and act on what the Spirit is saying.  For example, many times we purchase things we don’t need or that aren’t in our budget.  We may feel good for a brief time, but it usually leads to tension in our hearts.  I could have avoided my fall, but instead I ignored my concern about walking that far and went splat.  Whatever our circumstances, when we give these moments to God He can bring insight and healing.  What are some things God has shown you when you’ve gone splat in an area of your life?

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What season is your life in?

The passing of winter into spring is wonderful.  Springtime is a season of expectancy.   I love smelling the freshly cut grass and seeing the blooming flowers life.  The blue skies and sunshine makes me want to be outside all that I can.

It feels as if springtime in my life with the publication of It Takes More Than Legs To Stand has brought a flurry of new activity.  Joy filled my heart when I   received my first shipment of my book.   Being able to go over to Vancouver to see my friend Marion Duckworth and give her a copy of the book she spent many years helping me write felt like the culmination of our journey together. My friends at Rock Creek community have been waiting for my book to come out for a long.  So Sunday, I had the opportunity to share about It Takes More Than Legs to Stand followed by a book signing.  In the afternoon a good friend had a booksigning at her house.

I was reminded at a Faith and Culture writers meeting,  by Author Mesu Andrews  that no one’s life is constantly surrounded by blues skies.  She had been a busy mother who also enjoyed traveling and ministering to women, until an illness left her bedridden.      During that time, God began to show her ways she could continue to draw women closer to God through writing.  She began her writing career by writing Bible Studies but shortly discovered the joy of writing Biblical fiction.  Although she no longer travelers as much as she once did, she reaches more people through her writing.

Besides all that good friends took me out for a birthday lunch, which was followed a bit too closely with dinner with my family.

It was a wonderful week.  I couldn’t get into the groove the next week though.    Nothing was wrong, but  nothing seemed quite right.  I wanted to write about all my blessings of the previous week but I couldn’t.  Finally I realized I was just tired.  I was fine after I caught up on my rest. have written for every high in life, there

What season is your life in?    If it’s winter and you’re struggling faithfully work toward your goal.    If you feel a little off kilter remember the words of Larry Crabb and Karl Townsend, “For every high and low in life, a corresponding emotion will follow.”

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