Voices That Haunt Us

24 Oct

20141023-235853.jpg

It is nearing the end of October. This is the time of year that you look around and you see Halloween decor everywhere you look. As I have looked around at all the spider webs, ghosts, witches hats and bats, it pretty much creeps me out. I don’t like scary things. I have had enough scare in my life to last me a lifetime.

When life has given you a major scare, there are always haunting voices that can follow you the rest of your life. These voices like to pop up at night. These voices like to come when you are afraid about something else. These voices like to come when you are reliving a nightmare. These voices pop up when you feel alone. These voices are heard only by you.

There are voices that haunt me as a wife, a mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a pastor’s wife and a paraplegic. Have you ever heard any of these voices? How about things like this: “You will never be able to….”, “If they really loved you…”, “I never thought my kid would do that…”, “You aren’t talented…or beautiful…or inspiring…or creative…enough”, “You aren’t enough…”, “You will never get over this…”, “You are a failure…”, “You look stupid and they will laugh at you…” and on and on and on. These voices play inside our heads sometimes like a broken record that never, ever quits and it can almost drive us crazy!

How do we handle this? How do we silence the voices? How do we stop listening to the negative words that ring only in our heads? How do we not allow these voices to creep outside of us and haunt our entire homes with gloominess and discouragement?

How do you enter a dark room? What is the first thing you do?

First of all, you must know where you are going.

In my house, I know where all of the light switches are located. I also know where my candles and matches are in case the electricity is out. When it is pitch black in my house, I start making my way slowly and cautiously towards the source of light. I don’t go fast because it is dark and scary and there are a lot of obstacles that I could get hurt on. I carefully and methodically make my way to a light switch.

So it is in our lives. Get in charge of that voice and tell it that you know where the source of your light is. You know which direction you are headed and you do not have time to be tripped up over panicking. You slow down, take your time, and keep your focus and concentration on which way you are heading.

Secondly, once you get to the source, turn it on!

You can make your way along a dark hall to find a light switch and then stand there next to it all night! Unless you flip on the switch, you will not have light!

So it is in our lives. We have a precious source of Light. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world!” We can know Jesus is near us, but we should call out to Him! We should ask Him to please illuminate my life again! I remember the Psalmist praying, “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation!” You know what he was doing? He was turning on the Light! He was asking God to fill His heart once more with the warmth of sunshine and salvation. We waste much of this solution by just not stopping and praying to The Lord and asking for His leading in my life. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. “ There does not have to be darkness when the Light of the World is in your hands. Open it up and turn it on!

Lastly, we have made our way through the dark house, carefully positioned ourselves near the source of light, and then we flip the light switch on! A whole new view opens up before us. What once was dark and scary, is now bright and safe. What once was the cause of our careful steps and stumbling, has now revealed to us that it was safe after all. What once made a place look so terrifying, now looks warm and inviting.

What made the difference? The Light.

These haunting voices that love the dark, the unknown, and the fearful dwelling places are deceiving us. They are trying to give us a facade so that we will stay in their bondage. Every lie they have whispered and I have chosen to believe has kept me prisoner to my own imaginations. This cannot continue.

As I look around at the scary stuff I see around me this month, I am reminded that fear is not my friend. It is my enemy. My God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). A sound mind. A sound mind does NOT hear voices in her head.

May God help each of us to know the way we walk, to find the Light, and to let HIM shine through us!

Goodbye scary stuff. We are now entering the season of thankfulness!!

I Have An Evil Twin

6 Oct

20141006-115847.jpg

Yesterday, I made a prediction. It was a sort of dark prediction. I told someone my prediction and they did not think it would happen. Guess what? It happened. My husband was astounded! “How do you do that? How do you know what people are going to do?” I will confess. It is not me. It is my evil twin….or is it?

My evil twin is something else. Here are some more things she does besides predicting the dark side of people:

She knows how to manipulate everything to go her way.
She knows how to cut right through someone’s heart with her tongue.
She knows how to make her husband feel like the scum of the earth.
She knows how to hurt her children’s feelings.
She desires to blast her marriage aggravations all over Facebook.
She desires to gripe about her children acting like children all over Facebook.
She wants to be the perpetual martyr and play the victim over every situation.
She wants to “keep it real” by blasting anyone who dare disagree with her.
She wants to put people in their place and if it hurts them…well, they will get over it won’t they?
She wants to isolate those in her life who disagree with her. Who needs them right?
She wants to burn bridges and never reconcile differences.
She tells me all sorts of ideas on how to handle things.
She gives me visions of how it will make others feel if I do it.
She gives me inner pleasure when I follow her ideas.

I look around, laughing with her at our victory! Her voice fades from me. Her evil task is done and she is gone. She has left me. I am alone. Her selfishness has ran those I love away. Her “way” has led me to a path that no one else but me travels. Her “realness” has left no room for other viewpoints. Her “putting people in their place” has no room for compassion and now others are afraid to speak in front of me. Her isolation from those who disagree has led to a world that only consists of me. Those bridges that she burned are really hard to rebuild. I am angry at her! How could I let her do this to me? She has taken my life to a place that I did NOT want to go! She has hurt people that I love! She has made my world a dark, stormy, tiny little island and I am the lonely exile.

I want her gone! She only seeks to destroy all that was good in my life! She does not want me to be happy.

I try to lock her up but she figures out ways to escape.
I try to block her voice but she finds ways to unplug my ears.
I try to run from her but she always catches me!

What do I do? Where do I turn? How can she be put in bondage? How can I live free? How do I love others? How do I put my selfishness aside? How can I seek the good in those around me? How can I reach out beyond my own little world and into the world of those around me? How can look through eyes of compassions instead of condemnation?

Listen? Do you hear it? I hear a voice that is whispering in my soul. It is the voice of my Savior. I remember that voice. That still, small voice. I could not hear it so well when I was concentrating on the voice of my evil twin. But that voice is still there. Now that I do not want to listen to my destroyer, I can hear more clearly!

The voice of my Savior is saying things like:

“You cannot control your evil twin, but I can.”
“You cannot love others like you should, but I can love them through you.”
“You will have husband and children problems. Just talk to me about it, not others.”
“You can be real about your life. But being real doesn’t mean being real mean. Love others is always first.”
“You will go through hard times in your life. You can glorify me by not complaining. Do all things without murmuring.”
“You cannot always have your way. You should seek my way for your life and allow others to do the same.”
“You should live peaceably among others. Always seek peace.”
“You cannot control others. When they hurt you and reject you, keep an open heart so that if they ever want to come back into your life, you will allow them another chance.”
“You get yourself in trouble by listening to other voices. Listen to my voice and I will guide you.”

And then, my Savior speaks His last words of truth to my heart. It caught me off guard and offended me at first. I let it sink in and I realized that once again, He was right.

He said,Alicia, you have no evil twin. You are your own worst enemy. You cannot blame your actions on something or someone else. All good things are from me. Every good thought and every good action you have ever had are from me. Without my help in your life, this is what you are left with. Your selfishness, your manipulation, your whining, your offenses, your rejection of others….these are all evidences that you are not letting me control your life. Don’t be discouraged. You see, you are only exiled as long as you choose to stay on that island. I am here to rescue you and to help you. It is up to you.”

I run quickly to my Savior! “Yes, I want rescued! Yes, I want delivered from the captivity I have out myself in! Yes, I want to live and to love!”

Suddenly, the clouds break. The sun shines! I look around and my world has opened up. I see people that need loved. I see hearts that need healed. I see my husband and my kids as I see myself….just ordinary people that need the help of Jesus Christ in our Iives! But mostly, I see me. I see me honestly. I see that I am a broken, helpless girl who makes a mess of her life…all by herself. I see that I desperately need Jesus. With that vision, compassion comes. I am not held in bondage anymore because I know how I get there…and I know WHO can get me out. (2 Timothy 2:9 “Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.”)

I am my evil twin without the Lord controlling my life. I can easily become my evil twin when I don’t listen to the Lord in my life. I need His help and voice each and every day. I am so thankful that God is patient with me and that He never stops speaking. May God help me to never stop listening!

How I Am Ending Spinal Cord Awareness Month

30 Sep

Today is my final post for the month of September, which has been designated as Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. As I sit here reflecting on that tonight, I found it kind of interesting considering what my day has been today…and how I will start the month tomorrow.

Today I went to hands on training for a program called ThinkFirst program. This is a program that goes into public schools and teaches kids about brain and spinal cord safety. There is a presenter who does the teaching to the kids, and then there is a VIP who is someone who has a spinal cord injury that is there to tell there story and let the kids ask them question. I am training to be able to do either part. I am so excited and was honored to be asked to be a part of this!

Tomorrow morning, I wake up early and head to Georgia because our spinal cord support group is going zip lining! This has been on my bucket list for a long time and I mentioned it to our awesome director and she wrote a grant for it and got it! So, off a large group of us goes to an accessible camp for a day of zip lining, fishing, putt putt golf and anything else we can get into!

Why do I find all of this fascinating? Because, like I stated in this earlier post, the greatest awareness we can be is simply to be. Today’s activities for me will happen over this next school year – not just September. Tomorrow’s activities start the month of October and I hope many other adventures await me!

My friend, Donny, summed it up well today at the school we were at. Donny has been a quadriplegic for 29 years from a diving accident. He is one of the coolest people I know. He is a mechanic and is a the master of figuring things out! A young student asked him this today: “Is life easier for you now than it was at first?” Donny said, “No, every day is hard. But you go on, figure it out and enjoy it anyway. Don’t let obstacles stop your life.” Good answer Donny.

I hope that as this month ends, awareness does not. For my able bodied readers, I hope you will continue to learn! For my disabled readers, I hope you continue to get out every day and live! I am ending is month by starting over tomorrow. I hope you do too!

20140930-230506.jpg
My friend, Donny

Meet Chris Stoutenburg – My Crossfit Inspiration

23 Sep

20140923-232641.jpg

I have never met Chris Stoutenburg face to face but I feel like I know him because I have watched so many of his videos! He is an amazing athlete who won medals in the Paralympics playing wheelchair basketball. I love basketball but this is not why I admire Chris. Chris left the competitive basketball game and became competitive in another activity: Crossfit.

I became addicted to Crossfit about 3 months ago. I have a friend who is very active and she was working with me outside of her time in the gym. She told her trainer about me and he wanted to meet me. I went one day and he offered to sponsor me if I would work hard. He said that I was not disabled in his gym and wanted to make sure I was okay with groveling in the floor in front of people. I told him I would do whatever he said. He worked me hard and told me to come back the next morning and not to use handicap parking. I will never forget what he said, “Inspiration starts in the parking lot. You won’t be coddled here so don’t ask me to.” I loved those words!!

I have never been as sore as I was that first night. I could not even transfer back into my van or in and out of my chair. As I moaned in my bed that night, my husband suggested I not go back the next day. I knew that if I did not go I would never go again. I woke up excited about going back. That is the weird world of Crossfit. It kills you and you say thank you and come back for more. I think my body knows it is good for me!

Since I physically cannot do some of the workouts (like jump roping or box jumps), we have to come up with an equal workout that I can do. This is when I started You-tubing “adaptive Crossfit.” This is when I found Chris Stoutenburg. I was mesmerized at what this guy can do in a gym full of barbells, medicine balls, bars and rings! I knew right then that I could be a Crossfitter.

I have watched all of his YouTube videos and have drooled through most of them hoping that I can even work up to half of what he can do! I then friended him on Facebook and have talked to him a few times through chat. One day, I was in my gym and saw the WOD (workout of the day) posted on the board. There were new things up there that I wasn’t sure what to do with. I quickly shot off a message to Chris and he replied right away with how to substitute. He is a humble and helpful guy and I appreciate the time he has taken to help encourage a crazy southern girl who cannot even do a chin up yet! But, that is also Crossfit. What a great family even far away!

I want to publicly thank Bo Seamon and Lake Murray Crossfit for believing in me and giving me a chance to better my health and for sponsoring me. Thank you Garris Gonce and Derrick Bastian for thinking outside of the box and working me hard! Thank you Kattie Hallman for introducing me, always being willing to help and pushing me to push myself! I will be starting a blog to help others with adaptive Crossfit. I am working on pics and figuring some things out myself first and then I will pass it on!

I would love for you all to take just a few minutes and watch this guy! He is an inspiration to me. Thank you Chris!

Check out these videos:

Chris pulling himself and chair up from tipped over position with a rope

Chris climbing a rope!

Overhead presses and chest to bars

If you are enjoying these, just keep watching his channel! He is also on Instagram at stouty08.

20140923-232656.jpg

20140923-232628.jpg

*I had permission from Chris to blog about this and post his videos and pictures.

Let’s Meet Alex

15 Sep

20140914-233436.jpg

This week, I am going to blog every day about someone that I know who is leading the way showing the world that the word “disabled” does NOT mean “not able”. Yes, I know that is what the dictionary says, and that is what many in society actually think about those of us that have disabilities, but it is all wrong.

As we continue to talk about Spinal Cord Injury Awareness in the month of September, I can think of no better way to make you aware than allow you to meet some of my amazing friends who have spinal cord injuries. I am proud to know them and admire each of them. Not because they are disabled, but because they do not allow that disability to define them.

Today, I would like to introduce you to Alex Jackson.

I have met Alex since I have moved to South Carolina through the SC Spinal Cord Injury Association. He has an amazing smile that will capture your eye right away! The next thing you notice after that is his camera! He is a very talented photographer and rolls around capturing the beauty that he sees.

Alex has been a quadriplegic since he was injured in a car accident as a small infant.

Here is his bio:

I was born and raised in Charleston, SC and was injured in a car accident when I was an infant. I have C5-C6 incomplete SCI.

Now 27 years old, I haven’t let my disability interfere with the ability to accomplish my goals. I have a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Communication, both from College of Charleston. Throughout college, I hosted a radio show called The ‘A’ Train, where I shared my experiences of living with a disability. I also DJ’d gospel and R&B music.

I still enjoy sharing how I live with a disability, but now I tell my story through my blog, Tuesday Talk With Alex. On my site, you can find information about current disability issues. I also share photos and videos of me driving my van, wall climbing and playing tennis. I’m an avid photographer and enjoy taking pictures of sunsets, flowers and other nature scenes.

I’m working as a writer and editor in the Public Affairs Office for the Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR) in North Charleston, SC. When I’m not working, I volunteer my time with a number of disability organizations, including AccessAbility and the local chapter of the SC Spinal Cord Injury Association.

I’m grateful for all of my abilities. My motto in life is that “I’m living with a disability and a purpose!” and I want to share that with the world.

As you can see, Alex is more than able! He has accomplished more with a disability than many able bodied people I know. Be sure to check out his blog, “Tuesday Talk With Alex”. Alex, I am honored to know you! Keep up the good work!

Enjoy some of his gorgeous photos! I know the one I have picked for my wall!

20140914-233824.jpg

20140914-233831.jpg

20140914-233838.jpg

20140914-233843.jpg

Spinal Cord Injury and….Female Fashion!

13 Sep

20140912-230916.jpg

As we continue our Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month in September, I thought I would share some specific info about a struggle that we women face. So guys, you may already be checking out on me! I won’t scare you, I promise! Let me say, that I know some guys struggle with this issue also but it is not discussed like the gals discuss it.

There are some great Facebook groups set up for learning from our peers with paralysis. It is a lot of fun engaging with other ladies who are paralyzed. Alright, you guys are fun too but I relate a little more to the gals! A conversation going on in one of those groups is the topic of today’s post.

It was started by a friend of mine who is newly paralyzed and struggling with a VERY common struggle for all of us that sit in chairs – FASHION! Why did I just yell that word? Because it is SO frustrating at times to feel like you look good in your chair!

Let me share some of the problems:

- Clothes are not designed for the sitting person.
No one goes into a dressing room to try something on and says, “Oh! Let me sit down so I will look better!” No, we go in, try it on, turn sideways and suck in our gut and decided if we look skinny enough in it or not. Or so some of us used to. Because we are sitting, many tops just bunch up in our laps adding extra fabric everywhere. No one wants a shirt that comes to your knees!

- Lack of muscle control.
Many of us lack some abdominal muscles. This gives even the thinnest gals a pooched belly just because there are no stomach muscles to hold in your insides. So, they pooch out! If you are trying to look pulled together, you really don’t want to emphasize a round stomach! So, we need blouses that will hide our tummies AND not have an extra yard of fabric laying in our laps.

- Our broken thermostats.
A spinal cord injury breaks your internal thermostat. It is very hard to cool down once you get hot, and it is extremely hard to get warm once you get cold. Our clothing can greatly help or hurt this process! Dressing warmly in cold seasons can make a huge difference in how long I will be miserable and vice versa and not overheating in the summer.

- Getting dressed is NOT an easy task.
The clothes that we pick to wear cannot be too complicated to wear or we just can’t get them on and off very easy. Asking a quad with limited hand dexterity to wear a button up shirt would take a huge amount of time just to try and get it buttoned. A pullover is much simpler. Not only do we need to get dressed in the morning, but anytime we need to restroom, we have to wrestle clothes. I think the pulling up and down of clothes takes more time than emptying our bladders! My bathroom time can be greatly increased just by what clothes I wear! If you think this doesn’t matter it does. Try going into a bathroom with your friends and they are all completely finished, hands washed and dried and they are waiting on you and you still haven’t even started because you are still wrestling clothes! It really can be frustrating.

- Our tires eat up long sleeves.
Imagine taking the bottom of your shoes and continually wiping them on the cuffs and arms of your sleeves. This is what our tires do to our clothes! I have SO many stained and chewed cuffs of hoodies and jackets because of my wheelchair tires. It cannot be helped. Rain, snow, gum….you name it…it has been on my sleeves!

- Pressure sores.
We have to be very careful of back pockets or snaps or buttons or seams! Those little things can give us BIG problems!

- Strong arms!
We use our arms for everything so we get some biceps on us! That is good….until you try to wear certain pieces of clothing. They don’t fit your upper arms very well and your arms are restricted from rolling. Coats, suit jackets, and certain shirts bind you and you can hardly get your arms back to give yourself a push.

- Shoes are limiting.
We have feet that swell and flop. Toes don’t go in shoes real easy without bending backwards. Adorable flip-flops fall off our feet It is very hard to keep feet on our footplate if there is much of a heel at all. Sometimes the angle of our feet on our footplates (like if you even try a heel) can set off spasms. We have to be careful if our feet swell to not get a pressure sore on our feet from shoes that have gotten too tight without us knowing it.

- Our self-image.
Shopping for clothes that look good sitting down without you holding yards of fabric, fit you right and look decent on bodies that have changed shape due to paralysis, are fairly easy to take on and off, picking sleeves and colors that will hopefully stay clean and fit your upper arms, staying alert for big seams and buttons or snaps, layering abilities so we can add too or take off so our temperature stays even, and then finding fashionable shoes that match your outfit can be a very tall order to fill! It can leave you discouraged, extremely frustrated and feeling frumpy and unattractive. It can really take a toll on your self-esteem. We are not shallow enough to think that our worth is in our appearance, however, we want to look just as attractive and stylish as we did before paralysis.

Those are some of the problems with the paralysis fashion world! However, I don’t want to leave you thinking we are victims of the fashion world! We have learned a few things along the way! There is hope beyond sweat pants and t-shirts!

Some helps:
– Stretch denim pants, knit skirts, and elastic waists!
– Leggings with longer tunics over them.
– Soft cardigans or knit suit jackets that stretch and move for our arms.
– Soft, silky blouses that lay in soft folds instead of big bulk.
– Cute flats, Sperry’s, Converse tennis shoes in adorable colors, Ugg boots for warmth in the winter, riding boots, and for those who
can without spasming….heels that can be tucked behind a footplate. Just don’t hit too many bumps! :)
– The knowledge that women with disabilities have already overcome many things. We will conquer fashion too!

Let me give a shout out to my friend, Priscilla Hedlin, who models her fashion as “The Stylish Gimp” on her blog, The Wheelchair Mommy. Go see how she overcomes her fashion crisis and makes a statement!

-

Did You Know? A list of things you may not have known about paralysis!

7 Sep

20140907-002736.jpg

As we take this month to highlight spinal cord injury paralysis, I made a list of some things that you may not have known! If you are paralyzed and want to add to my list, leave a comment and I will add it in!

Did you know?

That paralysis that affects just your legs is called paraplegia (para=two)?

That paralysis that affects your legs and arms both is called quadriplegia (or tetraplegia in Europe)(quad/tetra=four)?

That paralysis that affects one side of your body is called hemiplegia (hemi=half)?

That your level of paralysis is determined by where your spinal cord was damaged at? The higher the damage, the more your are paralyzed.

That there is a difference between a completely paralyzed person and an incomplete paralyzed person? Complete usually means that there spinal cord was completely severed or damaged and they have no feeling or movement below their level of injury. Incomplete means they have some movement or feeling below their level of injury (that could mean just a toe wiggle).

That not walking is just one paralysis problem?

That loss of bowel, bladder and sexual function, temperature control, energy levels, spasms, pain, pressure sores and UTI’s can frustrate us more than not walking?

That 1 in 50 people live with some level of paralysis? That is nearly 6 millions people!

That we are capable of marrying, parenting and living as productive citizens?

That we do not find it amusing when you tell us that “you sure wished you could ride around all day”? We would have a hard time wishing this on our worst enemies.

That even though we would not wish it on anyone, most of us do not play the victim card and enjoy our lives?

That there are many wonderful inventions that have been made to make our lives easier?

That spasms make us look like we can move certain body parts? One lady told me once that she saw my toes moving and she was pretty sure I could move them and just didn’t know it. I just smiled. My legs and feet move when they want and I have nothing to do with it. No. I am not suddenly healed. Let me say, that I can get my big toes to move sometimes but it takes a lot of work and much concentration!

That our necks get really, really, really, really….okay, you get it….sore when we talk to a lot of you as you stand and talk to us? My favorite people are those who come to talk to me and sit down next to me. Well, maybe they are not MY favorites, but they sure are my necks favorites!

That we like to figure out our own problems. We are very used to barriers in our lives and we have become experts on how to get around them. You don’t have to solve things. Just ask us and we will figure it out!

That “bitter cripple” is a really bad stereotype and that few actually exist?

That many people whose legs are paralyzed, also have paralyzed abdominal muscles? We do not have very good balance at all. Our chairs our built to help us keep our balance.

That if you grab someone and push them wildly or tip them, you could throw off their balance and they could fall out of their chairs? Or you could cause their bodies to spasm and they could get hurt. Be sure to ask before you grab someone.

That we always appreciate prayers, but we do not want “prayed over” or hands laid on us, or called out in a service for prayer unless we request it?

That some of us desperately want healed, but others of us feel that paralysis has changed our lives for the better and would not change that? Let each paralyzed person speak for themselves on that matter, but don’t assume healing is our only chance for happiness.

That we are just normal people who laugh, love, dream and desire?

And finally…..

That we love each of you to taking this month to learn a little bit more about spinal cord injury?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,549 other followers

%d bloggers like this: