Finding Balance

balancing

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.  

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

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.

hummingbird

Summer treasures

book cover 1 book cover

Where did the summer go? The kids are back in school, and the souvenirs that the kids just HAD to have when they were on vacations may already be forgotten. They could be strewn across the playroom floor or tossed underneath the bed, never to be treasured again.

My mom never bought herself anything when we went away on vacation, so we were surprised when we went to Waterton in Alberta Canada and she bought herself a mole-hair blanket. I’ve kept it for many years but recently I felt the blanket and realized how scratchy it was and I thought, ‘I wouldn’t want to cover myself with this!’ It got me thinking, it’s not the quality of the blanket that made me keep it, but it’s my memories of that day.

Some of the treasures from my summer were two wonderful books by women that I connected with at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference a few weeks ago. I’ve read their work recently to get some inspiration. These two stories resonated with something other than just my head. Both of these books encouraged me by showing me that each of us have a story that can impact the people around us and help each of us to be overcomers.

The Iron Heart by Delilah Moore Leach is a memoir about her contracting polio as a child, and her efforts not to be restrained by her outward appearance. It reminded me a lot of my own story. Both of us went to college despite others’ expectations. We also both realized that we had to change our own self-image rather than expecting other people to change their perceptions of us.

Where Eagles Soar by Bonnie Leon is a riveting account of a woman whose courage and determination to survive helped her to overcome life-altering abuse at the hands of her dad. Her story will impact other people who feel stuck in their circumstances.

The treasures that I have from this summer won’t be tossed under the bed or slip away from my memory because they are stories that impacted me and will remain dear to my heart.

 

The wait is on…

lady looking at clock

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately. Sometimes waiting can be torture, and sometimes it can be exciting! Farmers like my father and my brothers have planted seeds in the ground and then waited for months and months to see how the crop would turn out.  On one hand it is exciting to think of what may come up and on the other hand, it is nerve-wracking because they are dependent upon this crop for their livelihood.

Several months ago my daughter and my son-in-law announced that they were having a baby in July! They told me in December, and at that time, it seemed like so far away. But here we are today, about 5 weeks away from the birth of their precious daughter. This wait has been exciting more than anything else.

Another thing that many of my friends in the Northwest are waiting for is the Joni and Friends camp at Twin Rocks. Some of the people returning to camp have had such a good time that they start counting down the days months in advance! But in order to make the week a success, there is another group working to put the events together. I am in charge of recruiting volunteers for Pampering Day and a Couples Dinner. This wait has been similar to the farmer’s wait in that all I can do is tell people about it, and try to plant those seeds, and then see what happens from there. Some people may be too busy, and others won’t be interested at all, and that can be discouraging. But on the other hand, some people jump on board right away. The more people I ask, the more likely it is that people will say yes.

With all the waiting that’s been going on, I’ve been thinking a lot about Moses in Exodus 32. The Israelites waited for years and years to be led out of bondage and into the Promised Land. They were RIGHT THERE, but God told Moses to go up to the mountain to hear from Him. While he was gone, they waited and got afraid; eventually taking matters into their own hands. The results were disastrous on many levels. The Israelites missed out on hearing about the plans that God had for them because they chose not to wait on God’s timing.

Waiting isn’t optional, but our attitude is. We can either grumble and complain which usually leads to bitterness, or we can enjoy the process of developing the skills we need as we move forward. Sometimes we don’t know why we are waiting, it’s only when we look back that we see how God was shaping us for the tasks at hand.

What are you waiting on right now? Are you digging in your heels and taking matters into your own hands, or going with the flow?