The Ups and Downs of Life

Life is full of change.  There are wonderful events like weddings and the birth of a child but all too often we’re confronted with devastating circumstances; news that your spouse has lost their job or our loved one has died can turn our lives upside down.

For instance, one minute a week ago I was closing my drapes, and the next minute I was on my bedroom floor. I wasn’t hurt but I couldn’t get up so I pushed my Lifeline necklace.  When the operator answered my call, I told her I had fallen and needed help to get up.  While I waited, I scooted myself over to the sliding glass door so I could lean against it.  After the paramedics came and checked me out they asked me to walk into my dining room.  To my surprise I walked about half my normal speed.  Over the next few days, while I recovered from my newly acquired aches and pains, I continued move at a snail’s pace.

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My little granddaughter was crawling all over my house the other day. When she toppled over she gave a cute little grin and got going again. I used to be like her. My falls usually haven’t hurt me like this one did so I just get up and go about my day. This one however affected my confidence.

Life is full of ups and downs, physical and mental. The accumulation of pain we go through in our lives can diminish our resilience. Yet God promises in Isaiah 40:31.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

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“Be the Hands and Feet “

Early in January, I watched my mailbox very closely.  “Be the Hands and Feet, “ by Nick Vujicic finally arrived, and I was part of his launch team.  Which meant that after reading his book I was supposed to post my review on several different sites and tell people about his book that is coming out February 13th..

 As I read,  Be the Hands and Feet, I thought of many of the people I know who are impacting others as they share their lives with those around them. I want to make sure you’re aware of the book, so  I’ve decided to share my review.

   “Be the Hands and Feet” by Nick Vujicic is probably the most important book you’ll read all year.  As Nick shares Jesus with others, their lives are transformed.  Most of us aren’t evangelists but many people with a disability or any type of weakness would like to hide it because society often disqualifies them.

Nick’s disability is obvious to everyone because he was born without arms and legs.  As a  woman with cerebral palsy, I know how nervous people can feel about being around us.  I was blessed when Nick said that people who talk to him feel safe to tell him about their struggles because they see his.

This book is full of stories of people who display the love of God as they go about their daily activities.  One of the many examples Nick gave was of couple who either became foster parents to children who had been abused or abandoned. The cycle abuse is often broken when they are  placed in Christian homes and experience the love of Jesus.

  “Be the Hands and Feet, ” has given me a hunger to let God use my daily interactions to display his love.   It will definitely encourage you to do the same.

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I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.  Lyla Swafford Author

Bit by Bit

Did you make any resolutions on “ New Years”? Many people don’t because they’ve made them in the past but forgot about them a short time later. Maybe it’s because their reason for making them lost their importance.
Last year as my birthday rolled around, (which isn’t till April) I spent a week or so in freak out mode. I’m getting closer to starting another decade, and I can tell, the combination of cerebral palsy and old age, may not be a good mix.
One day a friend who was also born with a physical problem and I were discussing the woes of aging. I told her I hadn’t had any therapy since I was 13 and started public school. I said, “I really need to do something because some days I can feel myself getting stiffer.” Peggy smiled as she said, “Since I live close to George Fox, I’m going to see if someone in their physical therapy department will see you.” In a couple weeks my friend called and let me know my first appointment was all set up. At my first appointment my therapist asked me what my goals were. I told her I wanted to be able to lift my arm high enough to be able to put a tee shirt on. She told me, “I can help you with that.” While she taught me some exercises she said, “When you do this, I want you to move your arm as far as you can, and have the person helping you push is a little farther. You’ll see change over time.”
Each of us may have wanted to make different changes at one particular time or another our lives. One of mine is to try and regain some of the flexibility I’ve lost, so I can stay as independent as possible. This requires me to be committed to exercising. Many people buy memberships, the first part of January, intending to get in shape but find yourself going less and less. Maybe you want to do more reading or meet more people but you haven’t made any headway or have forgotten all about the changes you thanking about making. In that case maybe asking yourselves these questions might help you:
1. Why did I set these as goals?
2. Do I have a plan to help me be successful.
3. What will happen if I don’t work toward them.
4. Do I have a plan to help me be successful
5. Imagine different my life will be when I follow through.
Did you make New Year’s resolutions?

Please share about how are you doing with them. If you’ve forgotten about them just begin again!

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Crossing My Chicken Line

My friend, Karla, called the other day and said, “I want to come see you next week.  Let’s go get manicures together.”  Without any hesitation I said OK.

Seconds after saying good-bye, I remembered why I hadn’t had my nails professionally done before.  My cerebral palsy has caused three fingers on my right hand to curl under.  No matter what anyone does they can’t be straighten out.

I debated long and hard with myself about whether or not to go ahead with it.  When I told my friend she suggested we do pedicures instead.  I told her I decided I to do it because I didn’t want to be controlled by the fear of being embarrassed. She understood and she called  a nail salon and told them about my hands.  They said “No problem.” 

But there was.  Karla and I sat next to each other.  Although the man doing my nails seemed pretty comfortable with my situation, the  the woman doing Karla’s was clearly out of her comfort zone. When my manicurist realized I was unable to put my hands in the right position, he moved his stool from behind the counter and sat down beside me.  When he got ready to work on my nails he looked puzzled,  I held up my right hand first said let’s do this one first as I used my left hand to straighten  the fingers on my right hand a little bit.  

The Vietnamese woman who did Karla’s kept bossing the guy who did mine around.  She wanted him to use clear polish stating colored would be a mess.

I’m glad I went even though my outing with Karla wasn’t as pleasant as we hoped it would be.  I left with a smile feeling stronger because I’d survived going over my chicken line.

What does your chicken line consist of?    Take a risk. Step over it.  There’s freedom on the other side!    

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 Many Blessings,

Lyla

“I am a pencil in God’s hand.  God writes through us, and however imperfect instruments we may be, God writes beautifully.”  ~Mother Teresa

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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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.  

Be Still To Be Filled

I got a new hummingbird feeder a few weeks ago. For a few days after I hung it up I felt a bit disappointed because I didn’t see any birds. Finally I got a colorful plant that they’re attracted to and that made all the difference. Soon after I got the new plant, I was thrilled when a pair of them visited for a few seconds. I have noticed now, that the longer I have a feeder hanging on my patio, the more birds come. Some stay longer than others, delighting my heart as they take in nutrition. They never seem to stop moving. Even when they are at the feeder their tiny wings are fluttering at a rate of 80 times per second.

We are a lot like hummingbirds, flitting from here to there. We may want to hear from our Heavenly Father, yet quieting our minds feels impossible. Like the hummers sipping at the feeder, our busy minds prevent us from hearing what our Heavenly Father wants to whisper in our ear.

I’m glad that He invites us to “be still and know” that He is God. As beautiful as my little friends are, I want to be more than a flash of busy color. I want to be quiet long enough to absorb His message of love so I can share it with others.

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