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.
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.
Aging isn’t the friend of anyone’s body. Our hair turns gray, and our skin wrinkles. As grandparents watch their grandchildren run and jump, they wish they had half the energy and agility. These physical issues are compounded when you are affected by a disability.
When a was a child, I could receive therapy at the schools I attended. Unfortunately, once I started to go to public school treatment wasn’t available. Several months ago a friend, who also has a disability, and I were talking about the fact the once we became adults, it was practically impossible to find places we could get therapy.
One day as I visited with another friend about my concerns, she told me George Fox University had a physical therapy school. She called them and made arrangements for me to receive therapy. At my appointment last week my therapist said, “next week, the students will be taking medical histories and vital signs in their clinical lab. Usually they just practice their skills on each other, next week we’re trying to give them the opportunity to work with other people. It would be very helpful if they could interview you.”
I thought it sounded like fun, “I’ll invite a couple of my friends to come too.”
It felt good good to help the students and give back to a program that has really helped me.
When we’re open, we can see ways to repay others who have made an impact on us. Please share some of your experiences.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
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.
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.
Is there anything better than chocolates and roses? As wonderful as Valentine’s Day is for some people, it can be a pretty painful day of reflection for others. People can be caught in the trap of thinking about what could be, what isn’t, or what was.
I recently started taking a class called “Beyond Suffering,” with some of my friends in the Joni and Friends Portland Area ministry. This week, in one of our readings, I read that people with disabilities can be prone to self-pity. People who’ve had unfulfilled expectations and desires can also be prone to self-pity.
Several years ago, as I was helping to lead a grief recovery group, there were two other participants who had a disability. As they were talking about all of the things that they had once done before their injuries, I began thinking about all of the things I’d NEVER done. I discovered a bunch of unresolved grief in my own life. For instance, every spring when people started to ride their bikes, I’d gotten a very sad heart. Could unresolved grief be the cause of this hidden pain that only popped up every now and then?
I usually have a pretty positive outlook on life, but there were definitely signs pointing me toward the need to work through this grief. It wasn’t just being unable to ride a bike, obviously, but being born with cerebral palsy has affected every area of my life.
Being in that group was the start of my healing. I was able to share with them that for many years I tried to prove that my disability would not limit me, and it was crushing to realize that it was just part of the bargaining process. Eventually, I got to the point of accepting the fact that God had a better plan then I did. That doesn’t mean that I never get sad, because I do. Each time I see someone carrying my grand daughter, there is a sting when I think, “I can’t do that.” But as I give that pain to my Father in heaven, I receive His comfort and grace, and I look forward to many times of playing with my Hannah Mae!
This year has already brought on a lot of surprises! Caregivers coming and going, Joni and Friends being planned, and trips happening one after the other!
The other day I was looking in my closet and I saw a favorite shirt of mine that I thought was only a few years old, but I saw a number on the back of the tag that reminded me that I’d gotten it before I fell and fractured my ribs and went into rehab. Which was back when Rachael was in graduate school!
The shirt didn’t seem that old, but boy, have there been a lot of changes since that time 4 or 5 years ago! Sometimes things change slowly and other times they change quickly! When they change slowly, we don’t even see them, but when changes come at the drop of a hat, it seems harder to go with the flow.
For instance, the day I fell, I was as happy as a clam; busy working on an article I was writing on the computer. The next thing I knew, I fell on my way to the bathroom and was in excruciating pain; and then headed to 6 weeks of rehab! The hardest part about going through those 6 weeks of rehab was having people hover over me and wondering if my life would ever get back to normal again.
Each time that I notice the number on the tag of my shirt, rather than reflect on the pain of that time, I’m continually grateful for all the changes that have taken place since then! Rachael has not only graduated with her master’s but she is happily married, and I am a proud grandma!
Changes can bring struggles and disappointment, but in the end, they can lead to contentment and a deeper awareness of the faithfulness of God.
Fifteen days ago, I got a call from my son-in-law, Vince, that my daughter Rachael was in labor! It was unexpected because Hannah was not supposed to arrive for another three weeks. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep all night. The whole next day I carried my phone everywhere and there wasn’t any news for hours and hours. I tried to pass the time watching the last U.S. World Cup game with friends, but that was no match for what was really on my mind that whole time! Then I got a text that labor had slowed down and that Rachael and Vince had actually taken a nap while I had sat on pins and needles waiting! Later that night, as I was getting ready for bed, I got a text saying, ‘Hannah Mae is here!’ So instead of going to bed, I went to see my precious granddaughter.
Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to go through the hard times that we have in life if we knew what happiness it would bring us in the future? I had no idea how delightful it would be to hold Hannah when I was chasing my own little two year old so many years ago. At the time, it was exasperating, especially because I have Cerebral Palsy, and there was no way I could catch Rachael! But right now, holding my granddaughter brings me nothing but joy.
My little granddaughter, Hannah Mae, was in such a hurry to join this world, that she was born three weeks early. Although her parents could hardly wait to get her home, her little lungs were not quite ready, so she spent the first 10 days of her life in the NICU. I was quite proud of them as they patiently waited for her lungs to get stronger and three days ago their wait was over and she came home!
Just like my daughter Rachael had to go through a long and hard labor to bring Hannah into this world, and then wait to bring her daughter home we all have to go through many difficult experiences, but often without the understanding that it is these very struggles that produce the beautiful gifts and skills that God wants to give to us that will lead us to future joy! What gives you the strength to hold onto God’s promise of future joy during your hard times? Have you developed a way to hang onto the hope that God offers us in every difficult circumstance? Please share these in the comments below and spread His joy!