Making A Difference

 

My memoir, It Takes More Than Legs To Stand,  is one of the finalists in the OCW Cascade Awards! Writing the book was a long process and sometimes I wondered if it would ever be published.  But,  with the encouragement of friends and mentors it was released last year.   Its been exciting to see that, It Takes More Than Legs To Stand, is encouraging so many people!

I haven’t posted a blog for several months.  I took time off to prepare a story to submit to the Chicken Soup books and to enjoy my grandchildren.   It’s been fun to ride my scooter alongside my  granddaughter Hannah while she learns to ride her trike.  For a while I had to remind her to keep her feet on the pedals.  She didn’t use enough oomph to get over the speed bumps so her mom pushed her.  The second time out she learned to master speed bumps by taking her feet off the pedals and pushing her bike over the incline.

 

A few minutes later, I decided to see what Hannah would do if I stopped my scooter when I got to a speed bump.  She hopped off her bike, ran over to the back of the scooter and gave it a shove. When it started to move, she got a cute little grin on her face. She might have been thinking. “I moved Grandma’s big scooter!”

Children like Hannah and the little boy in John 6:9 who gave his lunch to Jesus, were confident their contribution   would make a difference.  Hannah will soon learn that her efforts to  help won’t   always be successful, but I hope she never quits trying

About the time I thought this blog was ready to publish, I was reminded that trying to make A difference can have terrible consequences.  The tragedy that occurred in Portland, when two brave men were murdered because they came to the defense of two Muslim women is a very sad reminder that our efforts to do something good can come at an extremely high price.

 

As I tried to show Hannah, she could make a difference. Although I have cerebral palsy I haven’t let it prevent me from contributing to people around me.Even when I  hesitated to follow God’s lead, I discovered He took two steps toward me when I took one toward Him.

Is fear, intimidation or something else preventing you  from serving God?  Let Him help you.

 

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.

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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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Surprises from Heaven

godcalls“When are you going to get busy and do what God has called you to do?” the speaker asked my friend.  God had called him into the ministry, but he had done some things that made him feel disqualified and stopped him from pursuing it.

Many of us have been impressed that God wants us to do a particular task.  When we hear the call, it is easy to fix our eyes on our inadequacies rather than God. Regardless of the problems we deal with we are all uniquely created to serve Him.

Sometimes we feel like our physical disabilities hold us back from being useful in society or used by God.   Several years ago, Bettie Mitchell, founder of Good Samaritan Ministries was with a group of pastors in Africa. When she found a neglected, crippled woman lying on the ground in a dark tent, Bettie taught the men how to take care of her.  Bettie also taught them that God has a purpose for everyone. She taught Lucy how to pray a blessing over the people.  Then she explained to the pastors with her that every pastor in the area was to have Lucy lay her hands on them and pray for them.

At times, I not only feel short in stature, but in a multitude of ways.  When my daughter was little, I used to have her climb on the cupboards to help me get things I needed. Many of my accomplishments first began as unattainable dreams that led me into times of frustration and doubts. In the end, my spirit celebrates, when I see the way His strength is made perfect through my weakness.

For the last few years I’ve been Director of the Portland Area chapter of Joni and Friends.  The ministry has developed at a much slower process than I anticipated. Recently, I was telling the Lord if I had more help and could drive, I could meet more people. He stopped me.  “I knew all your strengths and weaknesses before I put you in this position.”

Last week for example, God reminded me that He has many ways to let people know about His work.  I received an e-mail letting me know Joni will be one of the key note speakers at Mission ConneXion in Portland this January. It felt like God was saying, “See? I’ve got this!”

Please share the ways God has surprised you lately.

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Finding Balance

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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. 

Hope can be Like Water

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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?

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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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