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.  

What season is your life in?

The passing of winter into spring is wonderful.  Springtime is a season of expectancy.   I love smelling the freshly cut grass and seeing the blooming flowers life.  The blue skies and sunshine makes me want to be outside all that I can.

It feels as if springtime in my life with the publication of It Takes More Than Legs To Stand has brought a flurry of new activity.  Joy filled my heart when I   received my first shipment of my book.   Being able to go over to Vancouver to see my friend Marion Duckworth and give her a copy of the book she spent many years helping me write felt like the culmination of our journey together. My friends at Rock Creek community have been waiting for my book to come out for a long.  So Sunday, I had the opportunity to share about It Takes More Than Legs to Stand followed by a book signing.  In the afternoon a good friend had a booksigning at her house.

I was reminded at a Faith and Culture writers meeting,  by Author Mesu Andrews  that no one’s life is constantly surrounded by blues skies.  She had been a busy mother who also enjoyed traveling and ministering to women, until an illness left her bedridden.      During that time, God began to show her ways she could continue to draw women closer to God through writing.  She began her writing career by writing Bible Studies but shortly discovered the joy of writing Biblical fiction.  Although she no longer travelers as much as she once did, she reaches more people through her writing.

Besides all that good friends took me out for a birthday lunch, which was followed a bit too closely with dinner with my family.

It was a wonderful week.  I couldn’t get into the groove the next week though.    Nothing was wrong, but  nothing seemed quite right.  I wanted to write about all my blessings of the previous week but I couldn’t.  Finally I realized I was just tired.  I was fine after I caught up on my rest. have written for every high in life, there

What season is your life in?    If it’s winter and you’re struggling faithfully work toward your goal.    If you feel a little off kilter remember the words of Larry Crabb and Karl Townsend, “For every high and low in life, a corresponding emotion will follow.”

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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. 

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Hidden Gifts

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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.

 

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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!

You can be a catalyst of change

I recently attended a smorgasbord and I may have overeaten.  No, I didn’t go to the Old Country Kitchen, one of the buffets in the area.  I attended the Faith and Culture Writers conference.  I found there was plenty of food for thought for everyone who was there.  I discovered that my appetite for writing was still alive and well. The track I followed was for non-fiction writers and all the workshops were excellent. Each of the speakers shared their story of pain and triumph. The stories of the speakers helped me remember that all of us have had struggles. But God can turn our difficult roads into pathways of hope when we share what he’s done in our lives.

One of the speakers I appreciated the most was Romal Tune. He was raised in poverty and violence.   As a teenager he kept the destructive patterns he learned from his mother, but he has totally turned his life around.  After serving in the Army he went to Howard University and graduated Magna Cum Laude. From there he went to Duke University School of Divinity to become an ordained minister.

By sharing the life lessons He’s learned throughout his journey, Roma Tune is instrumental in leading people out of despair and into hope.  He is the author of an Award-Winning Book entitled, “God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens”

In Matthew 9: Some men brought Jesus a paralytic man. When Jesus saw their faith he said to them“Your sins are forgiven. Get up, take your mat and go home”. The man got up and went home.

Our physical disabilities and life experiences often make us feel paralyzed, yet when Jesus forgives and heals our hearts. Then we can be catalysts of change in people’s lives by sharing our good news with them.