The Joy of Giving

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.
2 Corinthians 8:12

“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.


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!


Preparing to Grow

We often hear about people making resolutions on New Year’s Eve.  So you’re probably wondering why I’m thinking about it in October.  My balance and other motors skill are affected by my cerebral palsy.  A few years ago a friend suggested I make an appointment with her acupuncturist.  I was thrilled how much my improved after my first treatment and decided to see her on a consistent basis.  

Although Anna immigrated from the Ukraine thirty years ago, she still speaks English with a heavy accent. At a recent appointment she surprised me when she said, “I think I’m going to take some speech classes, so I can learn to speak  better English.”  Curious about her decision to try to improve her communication skills, I asked her why.  “Maybe I could get more clients and friends if I was easier to understand.”

But with her next breath she started to talk herself out of her new goal.  After telling me she didn’t have time to take classes she finally admitted she didn’t like school when she was a kid. She said “I can get better by myself.”

 “If that were true” I argued, “you would have done it already.  We don’t hear ourselves the way others do. For instance, my speech is affected by my cerebral palsy.  Unless I hear a recording of myself talking, I forget how I sound to other people. I hear myself the way I hear others. 

She was surprised when I asked her, “ Do you hear yourself roll your R’s?

Puzzled, she asked, “So what do.”  “I think either taking a class or having A mentor would be helpful.  They can point out speech patterns you need to change and give you moral support when you get discouraged.     
 Instead of increasing the number of people she can talk to by learning to speak clearer,she told me she really didn’t need to talk to strangers. She communicated just fine with her clients.  I didn’t tell her but I cringed when I thought about how restrictive that would be.  

As my treatment continued, she explained the pain I have in my arm when I straighten it.  Last year, when I started to have trouble with it, I stopped doing things that involved stretching.  For example; brushing the back of my hair and putting on my tee shirts . Unfortunately, my decisions about how to avoid pain caused my muscles to get shorter.  

There aren’t any painless answers. If I want to regain some mobility and keep my independence I need to follow her instructions.

Personal growth takes a lot of  work and dedication.  In order to achieve your goal it’s helpful to:

  • 1. Know your reason for working for it,
  • 2. What happens if you don’t try to improve your situation?
  • 3. Who are to be your cheerleaders?  

Please share your why and what keeps you going during the long haul.


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!    



 Many Blessings,


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

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.



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.