Hope can be Like Water

yes

Have you ever watered a drooping plant and then seen it perk up?  When we give people hope through our actions or a word of an encouragement, we can have the same effect.  Hope gives people the resilience to make them stronger. Here are a few ways some have done that.

Mary Carver is a regular blogger on the (in)courage website.  This morning she wrote about traveling to Kenya with Mercy Corp. International.  As she toured the schools, Mary was moved to tears by the empty bookshelves.  When she returned to the US her first impulse was to gather books to ship overseas.  Then she realized books would be wonderful, but what the people needed even more was hope.

My church has a large food ministry.  Along with nutrition, they give hundreds of people hope that they can make it through tough times.

One Christmas, my mom’s quilt guild made pajamas for children in domestic violent shelters.  I think the mothers might have felt a glimmer of hope when they saw kids in new, warm pjs.

One of Joni and Friends’ ministries is Wheels for the World. They refurbish wheelchairs and walkers for other countries.  I got excited when I spotted a cane at a rummage sale.  I bought it, knowing that, coupled with the    Good News of the Gospel, it would change someone’s life!

August is a busy month for me because I go the Oregon Christian Writers conference and also Joni and Friends. Both of them inspire me to reflect the love and power of Jesus.  Sometimes it’s difficult to hold onto the hope that God gives. That’s why I need to be in fellowship with people who inspire me.  Both conferences give me a lot of hope.  By attending the Oregon Christian Writers conference, I hone my craft and am encouraged to keep writing. All my friends from OCW celebrated with me when my book, It Takes More Than Legs to Stand, was published this April. At the Joni and Friends Family Retreats, people affected by disabilities receive hope as they hear and experience God’s love. Giving hope away can be as simple as acknowledging someone when you’re out and about and smiling at them. It’s as easy as watering a plant.

Won’t you share some of the ways you like to give and receive hope?

not

Advertisements

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.

653380f8d571de2bd5a391561880fc79

The Rest of The Story

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. 

lylabook

Hidden Gifts

12309481_10208012601340937_5212381562760602874_o

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.

 

11037764_872085152830192_6335534179641281529_n

The Choice to Belong

friends at Judy Turley's

Teachers have been working to get their classrooms ready for school and while some kids come into the classroom excited about the new year and seeing their friends, others have lingering memories of previous disappointments and struggles in school, and they are uncertain about where they fit in.

They might be in the top of the bunch of students or the bottom of the bunch or just right in the middle, but no matter where they are, they feel like they have stigma that follows them. Kids who have a disability will likely feel the same way and they may not necessarily act out, but you can be sure they are wrestling with the same feelings of insecurity as the other kids.

Last week, I went to a function where we were packing backpacks to give away to kids who were in need. I thought it was an assembly line where I could do my part and send it along. Instead, everyone was running around like beavers and I felt like a bump on a log, watching the dam being built. I was excited about working on this project with my friends, but when they all started working around me, it would have been easy to feel like I should have just stayed home and skipped the event. Instead of sitting there with a bad attitude, I looked more closely at what everyone was doing, I could see something that wasn’t being done. I saw that the new backpacks were in plastic wrap and they needed to be unwrapped, so I started on those. I had found my niche. I also saw someone else who was sitting on the sidelines and I got her involved.

At that critical moment, I made choice to stay and get engaged; the next minute, I saw my niche. It felt really good to find that job that I could help with; and even better to find another person who may have felt the way I did and ask her to help me too. I am so happy I didn’t just sit there and watch everybody else help with the project.

A good teacher will see kids who are feeling dejected and will help them find a role that they can play. The kids who act out are also feeling left out, they just have a different way of showing it. In the same way, a good friend looks for others who are on the outside of the busyness and brings them in by showing them ways that they can join in.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) That sounds like a good friend to me!

Sips of living water

“Friendship is like sips of living water”

Have you wondered where I’ve been? Everywhere but here! Joni and Friends Global Access Summit was totally unbelievable. It was a blessing to meet people from all over the world with the passion of helping people with disabilities meet Jesus.

A couple days after the conference I took an unexpected trip to the hospital. Just like the conference there were unexpected treasures. Many times people with special needs have a difficult time when they’re in hospital getting some of their basic needs met. However, my experience last week was pretty remarkable. From the minute I entered the ER room until I left, just like at Joni and Friends there were unexpected treasures to be picked up.

One of my problems was that my water bottle was just beyond my reach. Most of the attendants were baffled and couldn’t figure out how to get it any closer. Finally I told my nurse and to my surprise she easily figured out how to get my tray maneuvered so that I could reach my water. There can be water all around us, but unless we can reach it, it doesn’t do us any good. It reminded me that God figures out ways to give us each sips of the living water. As we watch people and listen to them, God will often show us their needs. It’s his way of bringing them living water.

Better than Chocolates and Roses

image

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!