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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q & A Video 2 – “How Do You Work Out If You Are Disabled?”

4 Jun

I have been contacted by many different people who want to know how to workout from a wheelchair. I have tried a combination of many things to keep my upper body strong. I have a ways to go, but it is not a matter of “if” we can do it. It is a matter of “when”. So, join me and get with it! Here are some of my favorite workouts and a little philosophy to keep your head in the right place! (This link is my all time favorite inspirational video for working out!)

 

 

Q & A Video 1 – “How Do You Sit Up In Bed”

 

 

 

Dear Inaccessible Church…..

3 Jun

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Dear Inaccessible Church,

I believe in separation of church and state. I assume most of my readers believe in separation of church and state. As conservatives, we are big promotors against big government and how we do not want them to infringe on our individual rights as citizens.

The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) was established by the government to provide equal opportunities for those with disabilities. I, for one, am SO thankful!! I am thankful when a door is wide enough that I can get into a building with my family. I am thankful that parking spaces are designated for me so that I can drive myself to a store, get in and out with enough space to get my chair in and out, and not have to have help! I am thankful that I can get in a restroom stall so I won’t have an accident and have to go home to clean up. Have you ever had an accident because you could not physically get into a restroom? I have and it is horrible! I am thankful for ramps. Oh how I am thankful for ramps!!! Do you know how discouraging just a step or two can be?!! I am thankful that apartments, hotels and vacation rentals have options for me should I desire one.

I am thankful for churches where I can go and worship with my family. Oh wait. That is very limited. You see, because of separation of church and state, churches are not required to follow the ADA laws.

I am okay with the government not telling churches what to do. I am NOT okay with churches even needing this post!

Why should churches be inaccessible? I agree that churches should not be forced. I think churches should be leading the way! We are not! We are way behind and it is a crying shame that the government is carrying out the work of Christ more than we are.

I recently was a special guest at a church that is building a whole new wing and remodel of their facilities. The Pastor was giving me the tour and he was showing me where the elevator was going to be. It has cost his church a lot of money and hassle because of fire codes, but he was beaming with joy telling me how he wanted that elevator so that “whosoever will may come”! Do you know what self-control it took to not grab that man and hug him over and over? I will not attend that church. It is in another state, but you better believe he is a poster child to what other churches should follow.

I know of churches who have added ramps to their platforms, remodeled bathrooms, built ramps into the building, and even torn out the side of a basement wall to make a new entrance. May God bless them! I know of other churches, who even have members who are disabled, who have not made their church accessible because they had the scapegoat of not having to follow ADA. Shame on them! You may say, “But we don’t have any members who are disabled.” That is a point worth considering then isn’t it? Maybe they cannot attend your church. That is sad.

We often quote in our churches Luke 14:23, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” We are all about the house being filled! I challenge you to back up and read the context. Read verse 21 which says, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” 75% of those the master said to bring in and fill the house had disabilities! Why do we shout the one verse and ignore the other? Does your church membership have 75% disabled?

I love the story in Mark 2 where the four friends wanted to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. It was announced that Jesus was in the house! They wanted their friend to meet Jesus!! One problem though. Their friend could not get in the house! So,

    they took out the roof!

What awesome friends desperate to help their disabled friend to Jesus.

Pastor, imagine becoming paralyzed tomorrow. Could you attend all of your church functions? Could you use your restrooms? Could you even get in your building? Could you preach your sermon from the platform? I assure you that is takes a LOT of courage to be carried around by others and it is not fun. Every now in then it is fine, but on a regular basis you would not do it. Do you think a visitor who knows no one in your congregation wants to be carried or lifted by them? This doesn’t even address power chairs or high level injuries that cannot be lifted.

Choir member, deacon, worship leader, teacher….what about you? Could you fulfill the ministries God has laid on your heart if your legs were taken away tomorrow? One pastors wife I know was in a chair for 3 months because of a bad broken leg. She recently sent me the blue prints to the new platform design which includes a ramp. She and her husband understood what it felt like to not be able to be involved like she had been before and they took action that no one else ever had to feel that way. Good for them! If you are not in church leadership, then be a roof mover! Be a future friend to all who come later because you led the way in your church to make it accessible for all.

I believe Jesus reached out to the disabled because a disability itself is humbling. It knocks out a lot of pride that the able-bodied world still carries around. That is their disability because it hinders their relationship with Christ. Many times, an individual with a disability have the biggest servants hearts. They know what it is like to have to be served and they want to give back. Is your church an outlet for them, or one more obstacle they have to overcome?

Personal responsibility says that I can do right without having to be made to do it by someone else. Show the world what Jesus showed them. He showed society that the disabled were humans first and He reached their hearts and touched their lives. Follow His example. That is what the church is supposed to do anyway. I beg. I plead. I will say this till my dying day. Churches – take the lead!

We can sit back and let someone else do it, or we can be the one to start making noise for change. I will make noise for those who cannot and I pray that you will join me. It is never too late to do right. Start budgeting, start planning, start contacting me for ideas or plans, start an accessibility committee in your church…..something! Just start!

Luke 14 has one more section that I love. Verses 13-14 say, “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee:for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

Here is a promised blessing of God. Are you missing a blessing? Let’s be the change that needs to be made and God will bless us for it!

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