A New Chapter In My Life

11 Aug

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Next week, on August 18, a new chapter in my life will begin. For almost 10 years I have homeschooled my children. I absolutely love having my children around me every day. They are the joy of my life! There are days that we can get grouchy with one another, but overall we have a great time together. Laughter is a key ingredient in our house and I enjoy my kids so much!

During the year of my paralysis, the “academic” part of school got behind. We did the very best we could, but there were so many doctor and hospital visits, then therapy that took 3 days a week, and so many days that I was very ill and could not do school that it has been very hard to catch back up. We decided that year that our focus just could not be academic. We did school, but we focused on character, our faith in God and house skills. Our world had been turned upside down and we were all trying to learn where to land! The children flourished that year in those areas. I am so proud of my children and the skills they possess that many adults cannot even do! Ever since that year, in school work though, I have felt like I was chasing a moving train and I never quite had caught it. I felt that some of my children were catching up but others were not and it was very hard trying to get all of them caught up together!

This year, my oldest daughter Briley starts high school. My youngest son, Elisha, starts K5. Then, there are those precious 4 in the middle.I don’t know if it has been because of two major moves in the last year or what, but starting school with those dynamics this year seemed completely and absolutely overwhelming and not at all possible. My Jimmy and I sat on our deck for an entire afternoon as I told him that I just could not do it. I like to be a strong woman and I feel I have faced many challenges but this one had me licked. I felt that my kids were not catching up. I felt that high school is so very important for their college days. I felt that all would get some of what they needed, but they would all not get what they needed. I poured my heart out and told Jimmy that I just did not know what else to do and that I was sorry, but I could not do it! I think I sort of resigned. We talked that day about the possibility of him doing high school with Briley and me handling the rest but even that thought alone churned my stomach in fear! We concluded that we would pray about it.

The next morning, I was taking my shower and praying. That is my favorite spot to talk to the Lord about my heartaches! I was a mess!!! I was crying my head off (which is not like me at all!) and telling The Lord that I could not handle it this year and could He please help me. I told Him that I did not want to add to Jimmy’s workload as he is a full-time pastor and I did not want my kids to be mad at me when they tried to get in to college and I needed something because I was a mess…..and on and on I rambled to my Heavenly Father. I love, love, love that I can do that and that He can handle me just fine! I felt better after dumping it all on Him and decided to just pray. I tried pricing local Christian schools that I knew about and they were all so expensive it wasn’t even a close option.

The next morning, something popped up on my newsfeed from a school called The Ridge Christian School. It was right in our town! Actually, it was 4 miles from our house! I had not heard of it so I went to their Facebook page and called them. My first question was how much? All the other schools I had called were expensive so I was not getting my hopes up!

To make a long story short, this school believes in being a ministry first to help families. They are an Abeka video school. They are a small school with about 20 students last year. We met with them to see if we liked them (and them us) and to discuss options to make this happen. They were so precious to work with us and already had wonderful prices! I will be volunteering there 3 days a week WITH my children (who I dearly love being with) to make tuition even more affordable. It will give me 2 days off to do what I need to do to keep up my home since everything takes me twice as long and I wear out pretty quick. We already love the couple that runs the school and the kids are so excited.

God heard my cry!! I know without a doubt that God has helped me! The night we decided that we were going to make this change I struggled with “buyers remorse”. I have always homeschooled my kids and was worrying that this was going to ruin them for life. Then, I felt guilty that I think it is all about me anyway. I know that God has brought a way for us and my pride was rearing its head telling me that if my kids aren’t homeschooled by me, then they may not turn out right. I have to let go and trust The Lord…and others…to help me. I have trouble accepting help and this is just another avenue in my life where God is showing me that I just can’t do everything I want to. I have to accept help. Can I trust The Lord to help my kids like He has me? Can I trust other good Christian people to influence my children? Yes, I can.

This is an exciting chapter for me!! My husband is excited, I am excited and the kids can’t wait! Now, you have my permission to say the word “school” around me without me going into a full blown cardiac arrest! I am so thankful to The Lord for guiding us in our lives and His love and care for me and my family. Please pray for us in this new chapter!

The Risk of Practical Love

4 Aug

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Many people talk of love. “Love one another”, “Husbands, love your wives”, “Wives, love your husbands”, “Love your children”, “Love God”, “Love those less fortunate” and on and on. They are good words because many of them come straight from God’s Word!! I love talking about the love of God and His love for me. It IS the love of God that brings me peace, joy, comfort, guidance, and secured my eternal destiny. Oh how I am thankful for God’s love!

But talk is cheap. We could talk all day about loving everybody, but if I never showed them that love would it mean anything to them? For example, my hubby could tell me every day that he loves me (and he does), but if he never did one thing to help me or never asked me what could he do for me that day would I believe his words? No. I could tell my kids that I love them all the time, but if I never take anytime with them or listen to their hearts or help plan my schedule around what they would like to do will they ever feel my love? No. God told me that He loved me, but that was not enough. He did something about it. He had a plan of redemption that was put into action for me! That is love!

Love is not just words. Love is action. Love says something, and then does something to prove it. Jesus said, “If you love me (that is our words), then keep my commandments (that is action). God says He loves us, but then He acts in our lives to prove it. So, when we are “actively” loving God, our husbands, our wives, our children, our neighbors, our friends, our church, and our community we will have action that follows those words.

This past week, I was honored to be the guest speaker at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat. I have attended and helped before and I have never been a part of something more practical in love. The term “we are the hands and feet of Jesus this week” is used many times. I like that definition. Practical love = being the hands and feet of Jesus in someone else’s life. Would you like a glimpse of what love looked like last week?

~ Circles of moms crying, laughing, hugging and talking together because they all have special needs kids and they get it.

~ A little child that cannot control their body is being taken care of by a buddy. They are swinging and playing with them and drool starts flying everywhere because that child cannot control it. The buddy wipes it off and acts like it never even happened and continues to play.

~ A beautiful brother and sister who communicate through interpreters were surrounded by people all week long who stopped to just sit and talk with them.

~ Young adults in wheelchairs who could not get enough people willing to push them to wherever they wanted to go!

~ Blind friends who were amazingly gifted in poetry and singing and passion were handed microphones and an outlet to share their vision with us.

~ Teens would clear the tables for families so that they could just rest.

~ Services would stop so the one young man who absolutely loved to come and talk in a microphone could just come up and say “Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention – have a good day!” and then the service would continue.

~ A lady who was not with us very much in her mind, was drawn to the worship leader as he sang. She moved around a lot in her wheelchair with never any real place to go, but every morning she would roll over to him. I watched him just take her hand and hold it while he led and she would just sit and listen.

~ Autistic children screamed during service times and others would turn and smile…not scowl.

~ A young girl with Down Syndrome who wanted to show her talent of sword fighting with foam swords suddenly screamed out , “NO!!!! I can’t!!! I can’t!!!” and everyone just patiently waited while her buddy encouraged her that she didn’t have to but if she wanted to try we were here for her. She charged on the stage and they started! She squealed out, “I did it!!! I did it!!!” and our crowd roared with cheers with her!

~ A young man with Down Syndrome who wanted to sing and and while we waited, he stopped and just started praying. You have never witnessed a more real conversation with God. All stopped. We joined him prayer humbled by the fact that we knew we were missing what he had with God. Then he sang. Oh that I would depend on my God like that before I do anything!

There are so many more and I cannot take the space to speak them all. Such practical love shown by all and to all. The allowing of all of God’s children to use their gifts and talents for The Lord!

There are risks and hurts with this kind of love though. Just ask these families, who for many, get only rejection from their churches. The kids are too loud, they make us nervous, they are messy, they gross me out, they are not normal and make my children nervous, and on and on. This is why they look forward to Family Retreat so much. They get practical love!!!!!

Practical love does get messy. Just ask Jesus when He touched the bodies of the lepers. Practical love does make people nervous. Just ask those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery and Jesus asked them to list their sins. Practical love is gross. Just ask the man possessed with demons who was constantly naked and cutting himself. Practical love will leave wheelchair tire marks on newly polished floors. Practical love will stain carpets. Practical love will require new paint jobs. Practical love will focus on individual needs – not just a one size fits all approach. Jesus did not yell out across all the lands, “Everyone be healed!!!!” He could have. It would have been a lot neater, took less time and He could have gotten back to the program. Oh wait. That WAS the program! Practical love was the program. How else would those of us know He loved us if He did not act and move in our lives personally?

People will get mad, they will misquote and misinterpret, they will falsely accuse, they will manipulate and twist your words. Those are the risks. How many times have we said that if we had been the only person in the world, Jesus would have still come to rescue my soul? So if our only reward is that through our practical love….being the hands and feet of Jesus in our homes, our churches and our communities….help just one person, then the rewards far outweighs all the risks!

Christ’s love for me was messy. It was a cruel and bloody mess on the cross of Calvary. Because of that, I don’t mind getting messy for Him. Christ actively shows me His love. Because of that, I don’t mind showing others His love. Christ’s love was personal. Because of that, I want my love to be personal to others. It is the love of Christ that constrains (which means controls) me. It drives me to action!!

I cannot worry about those who like to extinguish the practical love of Christ being demonstrated. They use a lot of oxygen but accomplish very little. I will go on not worrying about those whose lives they never touch. Instead, I will go forward thankful that I have been touched by Jesus and will follow His example!

I am going to leave you with this video of a song sung by my friends, Megan Ritchey (who has cerebral palsey and uses a power chair) and Zach Holler (who has a very rare condition that affects his mobility, his hearing and his sight). They are singing more than a song. They are singing their testimony. They live the truths of this song. It is called “Blessings” and is one of my very favorite songs now that I am paralyzed. The beauty and simplicity of my friends singing this and the emotion felt through the interpreter in sign language is the cry of our hearts. Thank you Megan and Zach for choosing this song for us!

http://youtu.be/OSSO5HctoSA

“Oh Lord, thank you for your love. Help me to follow You and do my part in building Your Kingdom!”

For more information about Joni and Friends Family Retreats, please visit www.joniandfriends.org

My Thoughts On Being “An Inspiration”

20 Jul

I watched them. They had been married for over 50 years and they still snuggled up next to each other. I could tell they actually liked each other…after 50 years of marriage! I want that marriage after 50 years. I was inspired.

I know a Mom with many children…12 to be exact. I was around her a lot! She is one of my very favorite people in the world. She is not a saint…but probably pretty close! I loved being at her house as a kid and I still love it now. She was always so loving and calm. She didn’t endure her kids. She liked them. She enjoyed them. They all still adore her to this day. She inspired me to want my own large brood!

In Disability Land, this idea of being an inspiration is tossed about with different opinions. Some don’t mind, but others are very offended! If I run to the store to grab some milk for my family, and someone looks at me with sad eyes and tells me how wonderful it is (or how brave I am) that I get out in public, well, that doesn’t always hit me so well.

Once I went with one of my besties to a concert where her girls were performing. The auditorium really only had one little space for a wheelchair to sit and then it cascaded up a set of really wide steps. Our family came to be with our friends and support their girls, so the idea of sitting all alone in my designated spot wasn’t going over so well. I just told me hubby to pop me up those steps (they were good and wide and my chair easily set on each step) and I would transfer into a seat and sit near my friend! On my way up the steps, one dear lady looked at me and said, “You are SOOOO brave!” Uhm, thank you. I am not trying to be brave. I am just trying to do a normal thing and sit with my friend!

I have had some look at me and say, “I don’t know how you do it. If I was paralyzed, I would kill myself. You really inspire me.” Well, I just don’t know how to really answer that. Part of me thinks, “How bad do you think my life is?!!”. The other part of me says, “I can’t believe that a paralyzed life would have no value to you!!” Another part of me thinks they are extremely selfish people. There are people in my life that are so happy I am alive…paralyzed or not. I happen to be happy about being alive too! So that statement is pretty offensive to me.

Do I like being inspirational for buying milk, enjoying a personal outing or just breathing? No, not really.

Allow me to flip the coin now.

I have met many who have stereotypes about wheelchair users. They have never been around an active wheelchair user, or they are stuck in a bit of a cultural time-warp. They mean no harm and most are the older population. They are shocked to find out I can shower myself, drive a car, transfer without help, mother children, take care of my home, cook, workout and on and on. Do I like changing this perception? Yes, I do! I like to inspire new thoughts! I like to inspire new mentalities! I like to inspire new perceptions!

I have also met many disabled people who do not push themselves at all. They don’t have much of a life. They are content to live with family and be taken care of. They are discouraged, lonely and not seeing a very happy future for themselves. I am not talking about those who must have caretakers because they do not have the functions to do it themselves (like a high level quadriplegic). I know several high level quadriplegics who need personal care but they live a very full and active life! I am talking about those who are held back by their own fears and insecurities. Do I like to inspire them that they are more capable than they think? Yes I do!

Some of my most rewarding times, are when someone learns a new skill and I have been the one to teach it to them. I have a close family member that was born with a disability who was inspired that he was capable of living alone. I have a dear friend who never thought she would be able to drive. I will NEVER forget the day she came and picked me up for lunch! I have another friend who was able to learn how to put her own chair in the car with her. Those are precious times and I am so thankful that I was able to help inspire them to move ahead farther in life!

Then there are those who love to live as a martyr. It doesn’t matter if they are disabled or not, they are the ultimate victim. They have all the quick answers as to why their marriage just won’t make it, their kids don’t like them, they can’t keep a job, they won’t work on their health, how life has treated them unfairly and…..well, pretty much everyone and everything is against them. I don’t know if I ever could inspire them or not, but I would love to try. I would love for them to know that life is life. We are all faced with challenges and things that can knock the breath out of us. But….excuses and being a victim just hold you down. Only when you decide that you are not going to be held captive by your circumstances, and decide to be a victor instead of a victim, can you shed your circumstance and rise above it! I have a very hard time not going into “pep talk” mode when I am around these kind of people.

If I can inspire people to quit looking at their problems, and instead look at their possibilities, then I am all in!

I love to see those frowns turn into smiles!

Do I mind being an inspiration? No, I do not.

I love being inspired by others to go forward in my life, and I absolutely love it if I can help others go forward in theirs!

(I though you might enjoy this pic I saw on Facebook. It is pretty funny, although I really don’t mind some of these things.)

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Paralyzed….Or Medically Fragile?

17 Jul

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I have a pet peeve. Just ask my husband. It used to be, that every morning, being the sweet man that he is, my husband would say, “So, how are you feeling?” And I would get mad. I don’t know why we went through that almost every morning but we did. I would say, “Do you have to ask me that?” And he would say, “Yes because I care about you!” And, I would know that he did so I would feel bad for getting mad….and do it all again the next morning.

Why am I sensitive about that question? It took me awhile to figure it out but once I did, I shared it with my husband and now I don’t get mad every morning…because he doesn’t ask.

The reason I would get so upset every morning, when he would ask about my health, is because it made me feel sickly. It made me feel medically fragile. Here I fight and struggle and work hard to have good health and be independent and some of the first words I heard every morning made me feel sick. When I shared my heart with my man, he listened. I know his motive was right, but it was offensive to me. He loves me and doesn’t want to hurt me, so he stopped asking that question.

Many people are not my hubby though. There is a strong stereotype in “Disabilityland” that treats those of us with disabilities like we are medically fragile. Let me clarify, that there are some with disabilities who truly are medically fragile and there is no shame in that at all. But there are many others of us, who are not.

More than once, I have:

~ Been leaned down over and talked to very loudly. (I can hear you now)

~ Been grabbed and pushed without my permission. (I wonder what you would do if I just up and grabbed you as you were walking down the sidewalk)

~ Watched my husband get handed my paperwork to be signed. (Do I really look like I can’t write?)

~ Been told to be careful if I get near a set of steps. (How did you manage to get near them without my caution?)

~ Been looked at as crazy when I say I have kids. (YOU can have children?!!)

~ Watched my hubby get tons of sympathy that his sex life is over. (Really?!!! TMI – sorry, but did someone miss the parenting statement?!)

~ Been surrounded with many helping hands when I am about to make a transfer. (I promise I can do this all by myself.)

~ Been asked if I am okay, do you need anything, are you comfortable, is there something we can get you, can you breath, does your pulse still work….okay, so I am exaggerating a little on the last two, but I think you get the idea.

Here is the deal. I am not trying to be ugly, but I am NOT medically fragile!! Yes, there are things that go with paralysis that can happen unplanned.

I have been known to:

~ Miss an appointment because I could not leave the bathroom because something I ate didn’t settle well. (pretty self explanatory)

~ Have a bathroom accident in a public setting (gasp!)

~ Be hit with a tidal wave of fatigue and have to go lay down for awhile…or sleep in.(too many days in a row going full blast)

~ Get the start of a pressure sore that puts me out of commission so it can heal.(don’t mess with these things!)

~ Need to get out of my chair and stretch my legs out for pain. (which could compare to you standing all day and wanting to sit down!)

~ Get a UTI that makes me feel like I have the flu. (common problem!)

These are things that go with the territory, but I am not medically fragile. I am strong and I feel great. Honestly, most of the time I do. These are things that may seem big to you, but to us, we are used to these things and how to deal with them. I don’t feel angry at anyone about any of these things. I just think it is a stereotype that needs education. And, I am here to educate.

Recently, I joined a Crossfit gym. I was just waiting to be handed a pair of dumbbells and showed how to strengthen my arms (again). I was pleasantly surprised when my trainer came to me and said,

“Here is the deal. I don’t really see that chair and you will be out of it as much as you are in it. If you ask me for help, I will say no…unless I have slap worn you out and exhausted you. Then, I will help just because I don’t want you to get hurt here.”

I could have hugged him!! Thank you! Thank you for not seeing me as medically fragile! Thank you for helping me improve myself, get stronger and not hold me back because I am paralyzed.

We disabled can be just as guilty of this stereotype as the able-bodied world. We can give ourselves excuse after excuse as to why “I can’t do this because….” I don’t buy it and neither should you.

About once a week, on this blog, I will be writing about my experiences with adapted Crossfit. You will see pictures, hear what we are doing, and my opinion about it all (it is my blog right?). I want to do my part in helping to change the face of disability. It is a new world of opportunities that our past generations did not have. We can drive, we can love, we can parent, we can play, and we can do it in a country that thinks positively of us. There are so many countries where this is not true! So, let’s quit whining and get in gear!

And to those we know and love….let us. We can do are doing it!

Flip or Flop

4 Jul

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Yep, another show that I like. A young couple buys houses at auctions and has to take a gamble on whether they will be able to invest money in these houses and make money flipping it, or will they invest money and lose it so that it becomes a flop. I like to watch the creative and remodeling processes that go into each home. My kind of thing. I love it when at the end of the show, after all their hard work, they sell the house and make a huge profit.

Yesterday, I wrote a post entitled “You’ve Been Chopped.” It dealt with the idea of those who judge us and how easily they chop us off in their lives. I drew an analogy of becoming paralyzed and some of the cruel things people can say to you. If you look at my Facebook page where I shared this post, you will read the comments of several of my friends who are also paralyzed and you will see that I was not alone.

But today….today I want to flip this thing around! After hearing some of my bad stories yesterday, let me tell you a few good ones to balance it out.

After I was paralyzed, my house was not accessible at all!! I had steps into my house, my bathroom was horrible to get in and out of, I had to brush my teeth sideways trying to lean my unbalanced body over a sink and spit (oh how many toothpaste messes did I clean off my lap!), and it was a nightmare just trying to get ready for the day or go somewhere. A friend in our church brought in loads of dirt and completely filled in our front yard and built the yard up to my porch. Then, he and another friend poured a sidewalk right up to my porch. Another friend of ours who was a pastor took it upon himself to call churches and raise money to remodel our bedroom and give me an accessible bathroom. I will never, ever forget those acts of true love.

Our small country church family at that time brought meals to my house every single day for over 3 months while I recovered.

I have friends that have been more than willing to load and unload my wheelchair for me…over and over again so that we could shop together. They weren’t the least embarrassed to be out with me…at least if they were, they never let me know.

I have friends that have loved my children as their own.

I have friends that I know cried in private over me. But when they were with me, they held it together and were the coolest people in the world. No drama. No fuss. Just moving on with normal life and including me in it.

I have friends that let me know how they notice when people take the handicap spaces and don’t need them. I love that they notice!

I have people that come up to me and tell me how my story has changed their lives and inspired them to not give up.

I have friends who put up ramps when they know I am coming, who have given me their own bedrooms to sleep in because it is easier to get around in, and who have built ramps to the platforms in their churches when I come to speak. Do you know what that says to me?!!

Just yesterday, I had almost 10 people share an amazing electric bike apparatus for wheelchairs with me on Facebook. They were thinking of me! That humbles me so much.

I have some that have shunned me and hurt me, but God has filled those empty places over and over an over again. When Satan may use others to try to hurt and discourage, you just hang on. God WILL restore and fill those empty places over and over and over.

I believe the difference in whether we flip or flop is our perspective. If I only focus on those who have hurt me (and I truly do have hurts) it can consume my mind and depress me very quickly.

Thoughtless and cold people are out there, but, in my life, they are FAR outweighed by the loving and caring ones.


I can focus on the lack of handicap spaces, or I can focus on the fact that I am able to be out and enjoy shopping!

I can focus on the lack of accessibility at a venue (and I am a HUGE advocate for initiating change for others), or I can push my mind over that and just enjoy being with others.

I can focus on the heartless things others have said about me, or I can focus on those who are so kind and loving to me.

I can focus on what I can’t do, or I can focus on what I can do.

Do you see the difference? It makes all the difference in the world if you are going to become that “bitter cripple” we can so easily be stereotyped as, or we can become a testimony and living example of the goodness of God through our lives.

The lessons I have learned?

1. BE that kind of friend to others.
Don’t be the discourager. Be the encourager. Don’t be the critic. Be the compassionate one. Don’t be mean. Be a minister to others. Don’t close your eyes to those who make you uncomfortable. Open your heart to love them just as they are.

2. Don’t flop.
Flip this thing around and focus on all the wonderful people in your life. You WILL profit from that. I promise.

I hope you all have a wonderful day! Love you all!

You Have Been Chopped

3 Jul

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The kids and I love to watch Chopped – the Food Network show where amateur chefs are competing in a cooking competition. They go through rounds of cooking an appetizer, then the main dish and then the dessert. One cook is “chopped” each round. At the end, it is down to two cooks only and the judges then decide who did the best through the whole competition and they are declared the winner. The kids and I have so much fun watching this show! We love to see how the cooks will handle the mystery baskets, and as we watch them cook we are critiquing their technique, their presentation, and their attitudes! By the end of the show, we definitely have our favorites.

What is amazing in this show is how little it takes for a judge to chop a contestant. It may be because his food was good but the presentation was sloppy, it could be because he just forgot to use one ingredient in the basket, or that he did not infuse that ingredient in the food the right way. It does not matter to the judges. One tiny mistake is all it takes for them to look at you and say, “I’m sorry. You have been chopped.”

Do you ever feel like life does that to you at times? Do you ever feel that you are under the scrutiny of many who, without being asked, are analyzing your every move just waiting for you to make that one error that will allow them to chop away at you? Has this happened in your marriage? In your church? In your family? In your work?

For me, I feel that pressure at times in many areas. Just last night, I had a dream about being in a store and shopping. I looked across the parking lot and there was a van loaded with all my closest friends and they were going into a restaurant together. I rolled over to them and said “hi” and they all looked real uncomfortable seeing me and said that they were sorry that they didn’t invite me but there really wasn’t very good handicap seating in that restaurant. CRAZY dream! But, I think I feel pressure sometimes that I may be a burden to some of my friends and I don’t ever want to be! For the record, my friends have never, and would never, do that. But, I think the dream brought out a fear that lives inside of me at times. This worry that if I am ever a burden, that they will chop me out of their lives.

What about marriage? You ever feel you get the raw end sometimes? Ever feel like you try to do everything right but somehow you still aggravate your man? Or maybe he tries to do everything right and you have NO patience for him? The slightest offences in our marriages can turn into huge chopping episodes where you just hack away at one another. In the end, you both are hurt and nothing has been accomplished. I have been so guilty of this!

Maybe you feel the pressure at work to have to keep your performance perfect. Our work is the ministry and sometimes the most wearying of all is dealing with critical people. Those who have made it their job to analyze everything you do and then let you know how you are doing it all wrong. Sometimes your criticizers are in your church, but many times, it is from others in ministry who don’t like what you are doing. You will be labeled and gossiped about. I know that the workplace can be a dog eat dog world and job security is a big pressure.

Maybe it is friends and family. Maybe you have made decisions for your family and others don’t like it. Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom and you have family that criticize because they want you to work. Maybe you have to work and you get criticized because you aren’t home. Maybe you home school and you get criticized for not putting your kids in the public school. Maybe your kids are in the public school and you get criticized for not homeschooling. Maybe you get criticized for not feeding your family healthy enough, not exercising, not keeping your house the way others think you should, and on and on and on. It is amazing to me what criticism I have heard from others since becoming disabled. Things like, “Your poor husband – 6 kids and wife in a wheelchair”, or “Oh, I bet your oldest daughter has so much on her!!” or “I hate your wheelchair. It is become your excuse to live in sin.” or “Your daughter is more of a mother to the kids than you are now.” or “Your kids will resent you when they grow up because of your disability.” Yes, these things have been said to me. In reality, these people are chopping away at any kind of security you may have left after a major disability. It is very, very hard to block out these voices in your head sometimes….no matter how many times you sing, “Let It Go!”

Why? Why do people take it upon themselves to either chop away at your life or to chop you out of their lives? Since I have been guilty of doing this to others, I will give the reasons that I believe make it so easy to do this and hurt others.

  • I think I am the judge.

On the show Chopped, the judges are there for a reason. It is their job to analyze and make the final declaration. The contestants know who the judges are and they are prepared to stand before the judge. Many times, when I get overly critical and analytical of other’s lives, it is because I have set myself up as a judge.

We have one Judge in this life, my friend, and that is God. No matter how we want to spiritualize our “discerning spirits”, Romans 14:10-12 should not be argued with.

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

God said that there will be no other gods set before Him. That includes me. If I engage myself in the activities of analyzing and judging another person’s life – for right or wrong – I am putting myself in the place of God. He is the only Judge and so I had better be careful trying to rise above His territory. This sobers me greatly!

  • I am insecure.

I have noticed that when I start to criticize someone, it is because I feel threatened somehow. If you have more liberty in your preferences than me, maybe I am critical because I feel trapped or am jealous. If criticism is in church, maybe it is because I am feeling guilty because I don’t do as much in the church and feel jealous that you are doing something. Maybe if another church is growing and ours isn’t, I am critical because I am trying to find a reason to tear them down so I don’t feel as bad about my own. I could go on and on with examples, but for me, I find that much of what I criticize stems from more of a problem within myself than a problem with that person. Hurting people hurt people. Plain and simple.

  •  I am just plain old mean.

Seriously, don’t you ever feel this way? I do sometimes. I think it is in all of us to be plain old mean. We think things, and then many times say things, that should never be said. I have had dreams where I completely tell somebody off. I wake up and it felt so good! That works in a dream, but it doesn’t work so well in real life. It accomplishes very little except to let others know how you lack control of your temper and disposition. When you have anger in your heart, it will come boiling out. So, it is not just a controlling of the tongue we need. We need control of our spirit.

You don’t have to tell people off. Blessed are the peace makers…not the peace keepers.You should reach out and try to work things out, but some people don’t want to work anything out.  Many times, when people say such mean and hurtful things, they are revealing more about themselves than about you. I have learned after being hurt many times and trying to reach out to make things right, that many people do not want things to be right. They want things to be wrong. I have done this myself! What is it about holding out on someone that makes us feel so superior? It is a feeling of power (that is fed by pride) that makes us feel we have the upper hand. Here, someone is wanting to restore a relationship, and we have the power to say no….or at least, until I say that it is time. That is really sad and I am ashamed at the times I have done it to others.

I think we can fall into both of these places. At times, we feel like a contestant in life surrounded by a myriad of others who are criticizing and analyzing our every move. . On the other side, we have placed ourselves in the judges booth peaking over the edge of our superior glasses condemning the motives and heart of others. We need not engage in either one!

Jesus is the most beautiful example of how to be. Isn’t that surprising? He was condemned, criticized and judged harshly. He was told that He did the works of Satan, He was told that He was breaking God’s laws, He was told that He was not Who He said He was, and even His own family turned on Him and times. What did He do? I never see Him arguing and screaming His business. He just did it. He knew that He answered only to His Father and He did His Father’s will. This is what we must do.

On the other hand, Jesus was the Son of God and could have come to earth zapping the life right out of all us sinners. But He didn’t. He said that He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world could be saved through Him! How is our “saving” business? No, we do not save others, Jesus does. But others should see the love of Christ in us so that they can see Jesus in me! I love the old quote, “You can’t make a horse drink water, but you can salt his oats and make him thirsty.” We are to be the salt of the earth. If I am so busy criticizing and analyzing how other’s live, they will NOT see Jesus in that. On a side note, the harshest words Jesus ever said on this earth were to the religious crowd. That should be a lesson to us in itself.

As I look at my own life, I want to chop away at myself. I want to chop out pride, selfishness, jealousy, spiritual superiority (which isn’t spiritual at all), negativity, hatefulness, bitterness, meanness, a bad attitude, a grumbling heart, anger, and on and on. I want a Jesus heart. A heart that defended the helpless, was compassionate towards those who were entrapped by sin, a heart that forged ahead in spite of the accusations hurled against Him, and a heart that was so full of love for us, that He gave His own life for mine. The evidence of our salvation (“by this shall men know that you are my disciples”) and our love for God, according to the Bible, is our love for others. That is pretty serious stuff. Others only truly know of my love for God by my love for them. Want a sobering question? How would those who know you, based on the way you show love to them, describe your love for God?

Whether you are a chopper, have been chopped, or maybe a combination of both at times (like me), let’s quit. Every contestant that leaves the show Chopped is either sad or mad. No one has ever been “chopped” and was happy about it. I would say that is pretty accurate in life also. I am not going to be a contestant and play the game. I don’t answer to my “judges”. I answer to God. I am not going to play the game and be a judge. It is not my role in life. God can handle this world just fine all by Himself. 

I’m going to my kitchen and cook my own food. :)

 

“Blogging, Facebook, Youtube….Why Do You Do It?”

1 Jul

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“Why do you blog?”

“How do you think of what to write about?”

“Why do you share so much on Facebook?”

“Do you ever worry that if people know your business they will judge you….or steal your children?”

“Well, I couldn’t care less if people ever know I am alive. I am good if they just leave me alone.”

These are real questions and statements that have been said to me since my entrance into the world of social media. I will say it right here and now – I love social media! Like all good things, there is a balance and it is easy to get out of balance, but in its rightful place and priority, I love it.

Since I have been asked these questions (and many more like them) and since I do blog and share my life on Facebook and YouTube, then I guess they are fair questions. So, I will answer why I do it.

  • Blogging

1. I do it for me.

Really, if no one ever reads my blog, I write for me. It is therapeutic. I have learned enough about myself to know that when things puzzle or plague my mind, it feels like a bunch of bees just swarming around. My mind shoots out a question, then my mind answers it in 15 different ways. I play devil’s advocate with myself and the longer I dwell on it, the more jumbled it gets…and I am already feeling buzzed just trying to describe it!

When I start typing my thoughts, something wonderful happens. It all comes out on paper making sense to me! It is settled and cohesive. It has a point and it helps me. I am a thinker. I like to know and understand. I will dwell on a topic for days before I ever start to write. When I write, it is concluded. My blog posts are just the punctuation at the end of my thoughts. It helps me make sense of things.

2. I do it for others.

I love reading blogs. God has written so many beautiful life stories out there. I love to read and to learn from them. I am encouraged and challenged. I am strengthened and I grow. I find it interesting that God gave us the gift of His written Word – the Bible. There is much power in the written word – for good and bad. If God can use my life story through writing and sharing my journey, and if it can encourage only one other soul, then I am happy. I want to give as I have received. I would love to be able to change the world! I’m not sure that will happen, but if others are strengthened in their journey as I also have been strengthened then I will write as long as I am able!

  • Facebook

1. It helped me.

When I was so sick and stuck in bed, the world can feel like a very tiny place. I could not go out, and I could not be entertained by others all the time. My world was online. I loved Facebook. I could not travel to see my friends, but Facebook allowed me little peaks into their daily life. It helped me to see my friends. If I couldn’t be with them in person, at least I could be with them virtually.

I also started meeting other amazing people who were pros in this strange new world I had been thrown into. It was wonderful. The things they posted and shared made me feel like eventually….just maybe…life could feel normal again for me. I enjoy the friendships I have made and the wisdom I could glean from others.

2. I feel indebted.

So very many people, many of whom I dearly loved, and some I did not even know, reached out to me on Facebook. The prayers, the encouragement, the practical and tangible ways they gave and helped to make our lives a little easier during a very rough time, touched me to the very core. I feel like I want to pay it forward. I Facebook about my life because I want to tell others that we are okay. Life is beautiful and we enjoy it. If others are stuck at home, and the life of my family can put a smile on their face, then I will do it. I don’t have to hide or crop my life away. We are who we are. We love Jesus and love each other. I am happy to share this life. I try to remember that everything I post should be honest. I don’t share all my bad days, because as a Christian, we are not to be grumblers. If I ask for prayer, it is because I really need it and I appreciate every single prayer that goes up on my behalf. I don’t share intimate things because that is only for my hubby and me. I don’t share the things that my husband or kids do that get on my nerves, because I wouldn’t appreciate it if they did that to me. I try to be the kind of person on Facebook that I try to be in real life and that I like to be around – settled, kind, encouraging and fun. 

3. I want to break stereotypes!

Some of what I post on Facebook is simply just to change some people’s perception of disability. I get so tickled at what some people “think” I do. I had one man say to me, “Since you are in a wheelchair, you should have someone build you a Marten birdhouse. That way, as you sit and look out the window, you can be entertained.” I almost roared in laughter!! (I didn’t. I kept it together…until I got alone. Then I lost it!) I constantly have people staring at me, trying to push me, grab me, and quite often yell out if I get within 3 feet of a set of steps. Yes, I know they are there. Thank you. 

I know that maybe when I post things it seems like I am bragging on what “I” can do. That is true to a point. If you mean, brag because “Alicia” is doing it then that is wrong. If you mean, the “girl that uses a wheelchair is doing it”, then yes, you are right. I want to send forth an image that says we are able. We just do things differently and we are going to help you see how we do it. Education and understanding go so very far!

I just learned recently of a little girl in my town. She is 8 and uses a wheelchair. Sometimes she gets depressed because she cannot do what her siblings can do. I am trying to get a play date with this cutie! I want her to see how I drive, how my kitchen works for me, how my bathroom is designed, how I sweep and mop and take care of my family. I want her to ride my bike and play basketball with me. Why? Because I want her to be encouraged! I want her to know that she has an amazing future and she can do whatever she puts her mind to…she just will do it her way. 

  • YouTube

I have had so much fun with videos! YouTube has been the equivalent of Disability College for me! “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. My physical therapist (who I loved) would show me how to do something. He would demonstrate it (as he tried to make half his body muscles not work) and then have me copy it. I would get SO frustrated! He made it look easy and I couldn’t even get my rear to lift a quarter of an inch!

When I was so frustrated trying to learn how to do things, I would search it on YouTube. I would watch all these different people do the same thing…but, they would do it different ways. Instead of just one way to do something, there were options! It depends on your strength, your level of paralysis, your height, your agility, spasms or not, and on and on. I would try one way, and then another, until I found which one I could do! It was amazing! I knew that if someone who were a higher level of injury than me could do something, then I knew that I could! So I would try…and try…and try.

What I found was that most of the videos on YouTube were of guys. It was the guys demonstrating how to do many things. Take a muscular guy who is 6 ft. and compare that to a 5’4 chubby housewife. Well, that got kind of depressing because I would always give myself a cop-out that he could do it because he was a guy and I couldn’t because I was a girl. Hogwash.

I would search for videos of skills from those that were higher injured than I was. I figured, for example, that if a guy whose hands didn’t work all the way could do something, then surely a girl whose hands did work could figure it out. So, the challenge began. I learned to load my chair behind me because of this one guy! Watch this video. I practiced for two whole summers before I could do it, but I got it! As I learned to do more, I decided the girls needed represented! If this gal could do it, then other gals could to! That was the birth of my YouTube channel. It includes family singing and fun and some of my hubbies wonderful Bible teaching, but primarily it is videos about disability…from a girl! I love making these videos! There is nothing more helpful than to be shown how to do something by someone who gets it.

For example, here are all different videos of how to get back in your wheelchair from the floor:

1. Guy with spasms (which can throw you like crazy right in the middle of what you are trying to do!)
2. My friend Mike (low-level para, light weight, and strong)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   3. The one I learned to do (this guy is a low-level quad)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           4. Mine! (although I am STILL trying to learn to do it like #2)

As you can see, there are many ways to do the same task. My way is kind of combination of a couple of ways, but it works for me for now! I have been trying for 5 years to be able to do it another way, but I haven’t got it yet. I assure you though. When I get it, it will be videoed! :)

Videoing how I live my life and figuring out how to do things, is just one more way that I feel I can give back. Much has been given to me through the knowledge on YouTube, so I want to do my part in helping others like I have been helped.

So, my dear reader, if you have ever wondered why I blog, why I Facebook and why I video…..I hope you will wonder no longer. And…thanks for reading, engaging and watching!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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