One of my favorite groups, The Collingsworth Family, singing a song that has comforted me many dark nights. I just felt someone needed this song today so I thought I would share!
We just celebrated Mother’s Day. What a wonderful day for me personally! I adore my family and am thankful that they took the time to make my day special. My Facebook news feed was overflowing with beautiful pictures, tributes and love for motherhood. However, it also had some sad stuff. There were Mom’s who were missing their children who have died. There were children who were missing Mom’s who had died. There were blogs from women who want children so desperately bad and sharing how Mother’s Day is a very hard day for them.
This past week, one of our children had a decision to make. We allowed this child to make this decision all on their own. They made it, were confident with their decision and acted upon it. The next day, however, this child was NOT happy. I knew something was wrong and I asked this child what was wrong. “Nothing,” was the cold reply. I asked them to my room and told them we weren’t leaving until they told me. This precious child then shared, in tears, how the decision that was made did not turn out as hoped.
The irony is that we had a fun evening planned with our kids. Everyone in the family was in a happy mood – excited over the family outing! All were happy – except this one child. I said, “Honey, that was the decision you made. Sometimes we have to live with our decisions.” To which my child replied, “Isn’t it okay to be sad?”
That is a good question isn’t it?
Recently, I heard knew of someone who was newly diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. They were receiving immediate treatment and a diagnosis and were going to recover. I would be lying to you if I did not think, “Why couldn’t that have been me?” It evoked a long series of text messages between and dear friend and I as we worked our way through that. It had made us both stop and relive some things. Thank God for precious friends!
There are always things in our life, that if we think about them, will immediately stab our hearts with pain. The Bible talks in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to mourn, and a time to laugh. I gave a talk once to a group of ladies not long after I had been paralyzed. I have always handled my heartaches with laughter – “a merry heart doeth good” right? As usual, I was telling a few funny stories to make all of us more comfortable and then I got into my talk. When I finished, this lady (who had known me since I was a child) said (condescendingly), “You act like you have fun being paralyzed!!” I totally was taken off guard by that. My first instinct was to scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” My second instinct was to say, “Would you have preferred I cried the entire talk?” My response though was, “Well, it is what it is and you make the best of it.” However, I left questioning myself. “Did I present honestly? Did I make it sound fun? Should I make my talks more sad?”
As my beautiful child looked at me, with tears streaming down their cheeks, asking me if it was okay to be sad, I prayed for wisdom. I immediately thought of this precious person recovering from Transverse Myelitis. Is it okay for me to be sad that I didn’t recover so well?
I gathered my hurting baby in my arms and said, “Yes, it is okay to be sad. But, we can’t let the sadness of yesterday ruin our happiness today.”
Life can be sad. Disabilities are sad. Broken homes are sad. Barren women are sad. Ruined relationships are sad. Bad health is sad. Death is sad. This broken world is sad. Is it okay to be sad? Yes, but we mustn’t let our sadness ruin our joy.
Honestly, I am thrilled this young lady is recovering. I pray every day God will restore every single nerve in her body! God is just writing her story different from mine – that is all. I can go on in sadness, or I can rejoice in my blessings that God cares so much about each of our lives, that He personalizes our stories. No copies. A unique story written by the Master Author.
My child was sad. As his mom, I want my children to be happy. This child learned something though. He learned that his parents cared about his heart. He learned that life sometimes doesn’t go the way we like, and he learned that sadness is allowed but cannot control.
We must not wallow in our sadness. It can become a disease that strips us of gratitude, perspective and the simple beauty of looking around you and counting your own personal blessings.
Are you feeling sad today?
Praying your day is wrapped in the joy of the Lord!
I have seen so many beautiful written pieces about what our mother’s have meant to us. I enjoy reading them! It is the time of year where all the sentiments about motherhood spring up like the flowers around us. For me, I will always be thankful for the love my own mother gave me throughout my childhood. I also know that my own children will be thinking of their own ways to show and tell me that they love me. But, today I want to write to my children about what mother’s day means to me.
I have a bunch of you – you know! Briley, you reminded me just last night that in a couple of months, you will all be 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, and 6. I can’t believe that is true! It was just yesterday when your daddy and I walked in the door of our home with our very first baby and I promptly set down and bawled my eyes out. I was too young to be a mom! This was too much responsibility! We should have thought this through longer! I was probably going to kill you or at least raise absolute heathens! I had no clue what I had gotten myself into and it all hit me – right then and there – as we walked in the door of our home on Oak Street. Your daddy compassionately shared that it was too late to have all those thoughts. He was right, so I was doomed to destroy your lives.
All these years later, I still feel like that many times. I look at your beautiful faces and I pray, “Oh God, please help me to do this right!!” Sometimes, I look at your ornery faces and pray, “Oh God, please help me not to kill them!” :) There is no way that I still feel “old enough” to be your mom. I am sure there are times when you are convinced I am not old enough. Embarrassing you really is fun at times!
Many times, I am a bluff job. I have to act like the mom and that I know exactly what I am doing until I figure out how to handle something right. Many times, I don’t bluff and I come off at you – all totally wrong!! I handle things unfairly, I am too quick to judge you, or I am careless about what is important to you and don’t pay enough attention.
My sweet young’uns, you have taught me WAY more about life than I have ever taught you. When I have blown it, you have taught me how easily you forgive. When I have a bad day, you have taught me what compassion looks like. When I have been sad, you taught me how to smile. When I have been happy, you taught me the joy of joining in the fun that is around you. You have been an example to me that has helped me more than I will ever be able to write.
As you have grown up, I always wanted you to be able to speak your mind. We have had to work on learning how to do that respectfully (all of us have had to learn that together). I wanted you to learn to stand up for what you truly believe in. I want you to never compromise to make others happy but to know who you are and know how to discuss hard things with others who may not agree. As you are getting older, that has come back to bite me some because you do not always agree with me and will tell me so. This bites! How dare you question me!!! Through this, we are learning. We are learning that we don’t have to always agree. We love and respect one another anyway because we are family. You are actually demonstrating the very thing I have tried to teach you! I am so thankful for the strong beautiful adults you are becoming. I have learned to listen to your perspective and you listen to mine. Together we make a much stronger unit with our unique perspectives. Together. I really, really like that word.
Some of my very favorite times are when we are having our “bedroom” talks where you all take turns to come in and talk to me about what is either bothering you, or what you are dwelling on or planning for. I love it when you all say, “Mom, can I talk to you?” It makes me feel like you trust me. You trust me with your feelings, your heart and your dreams. I want to earn your trust. I want to keep that trust. You teach me that it is good to trust and good to share our feelings in a safe place. I am so honored that I am one of your safe places.
I sit at our table and look at all of you sometimes and I let my imagination carry me away to 20 years in the future. You all are grown, married and probably have kids of your own. I will want to control your lives – I know I will!! But I won’t. I promise. The love and care that we all show for each other, will still be there. We will disagree. That’s okay. We will get upset. That’s okay. We will laugh and make memories. That’s okay. We won’t live in a drama zone. We will love and appreciate every single time we are together. By the way, the one fight I love to hear you all have is over who gets to take care of me when I am old. My heart swells so much it about bursts!
You all remind me every day that I am not sufficient for all of your needs. I know my weaknesses. I know my failures. I know that I fall very short of what a perfect mom should be. But that is good. It teaches you that I am not the answer to all of your problems. I am just your imperfect mom. However, we both are learning that God is there to guide us, lead us, show us, strengthen us, and comfort us when no one else can. If I can teach you to always turn to God, then I will have accomplished something great in your lives.
You all are my best friends. I enjoy every day with you. You make me laugh. You brighten every day. You are my teachers in how to be a mom. I always pray that you keep teaching me what it means to be a mom.
Thank you, my precious ones, for making me a mom. Thank you for making every single day a “Happy Mother’s Day!”
I love you Briley, Caleb, Isaiah, Audrey, Macey and Elisha Reagan!
You know my love with hearing birds sing early in the morning right? This morning I could NOT hear them!!! I woke up early with spasms…like always…before light…and laid there listening. It was silent. My heart jumped a beat. Why weren’t the birds singing? What time is it? I could see a glimmer of dawn just like always. Why were they missing? They know they are supposed to be awake with me. Don’t they know I look forward to that? Don’t they know they have a job to do? Don’t they know that I was in here waiting to praise God with them? Don’t they know that they sing me back to sleep? Where were they?! Why couldn’t I hear them sing?!
Then I remembered.
I love spring and always have the windows open. Yesterday it rained so hard. I got really cold getting in and out of the house. I had went to church and gotten even colder and came home a bit sooner than usual. I was still shivering when my hubby got home and I remembered. I asked him to shut the windows so I could see if that would help me get warm.
Why couldn’t I hear the birds sing? Because I shut the windows!!
The problem was not that the birds were not singing. The problem was that I had shut out their song.
They were singing just like normal. I just couldn’t hear it because of my own actions.
I was challenged as I thought about that this morning. How many times is God speaking but we don’t hear? How many times does a sermon speak to others but never me? How come some love their church and others hate it? How come the world is a wicked horrible place to some who can’t wait to escape it, and to others it is beautiful opportunity to build God’s Kingdom? How come there are some who think they are the only ones who are truly serving God…all alone…in a world where compromise is at every corner and that everyone else is falling around them like flies, but then there are those who are so excited at the work that God is doing all over this world through all kinds of people?
I remember the story of Elijah. He was holed up in a cave, wanting to die, because he was “the only one” in the world who loved God and wanted to serve Him. You know what his problem was? He thought the birds weren’t singing. God told him to get out of that cave and get busy! He told him that there were hundreds of others out there who were faithful to the Lord just like him. God opened his windows.
May God help me to keep the windows of my heart always open so I can always hear the birds sing!
Today an interesting thing happened. I have a van that was graciously given to me that has a big lift that comes right out the side door. It is quite an amazing piece of mechanics. I can put a key in by the back tail light and operate that lift with toggle switches. When I get on the lift, it puts me right up in that big van and I never have to lift myself! It is a big, tall Chevy conversion van so I could never lift myself in anyway! It has over 300,000 miles on it so I just use it local.
Once I get in the van, I have controls inside the van to close up the ramp and doors. I then transfer into the driver’s seat and off I go. When I get to where I am going, I just do the opposite – open the doors, get lifted down to the ground, roll out, go to the back of the van and use the controls to shut it all back up.
I work at the kid’s school today so I left on break to take my sister to her job. When I got back, the playground was empty. All of the children had gone back into school. I began to take myself out of my van and it would not go down all the way to the ground. What?!! I was so close I wanted to just hop off of it. But, the there is a lip all the way around and so I couldn’t. I could go back up and into the van but what good would I do just sitting in there.
I looked around to figure out what the problem was. A little bolt had fallen out and the leg that is supposed to fold down when lowered was sticking straight out and would not allow the lift to touch the ground. What in the world was I supposed to do!? All my kids were inside. The teachers were inside. I could call them for help…and would have. But, I wanted to get out of this jam by myself!
After about 10 minutes of lowering and raising it and hoping that it would trigger and go down, I was continually met with failure…and was still stuck.
Stay with my story…I am going somewhere I promise! :)
I decided to get my long wallet out of my backpack. I leaned all the way over, hanging on with my left hand and started banging on that leg with my wallet to get it to release as we came down. After multiple tries, it worked!!!
I was stuck…..3 inches above ground…unable to get off or go anywhere….because of one tiny missing bolt.
The moral of this story? As I was sitting at the back of my van, finally free from my dilemma, putting my lift back up in my van, it hit me.
How many times do we let one little tiny detail just totally get us stuck? Maybe it is a friend that doesn’t make a decision we like. Maybe it is a preference that we have that someone else does not. Maybe it is a spouse that makes a mistake. Maybe it is family that gets offended. Whatever it is, in the course of life and eternity, how big is it really?
How many times do we sit there on the lift of our life with our arms crossed, denying that we need any help, and not even trying to get out of this situation. Friends will make decisions that disappoint us. Family will hurt our feelings. Spouses will sometimes act like the sinful humans they are! We all get stuck. But, for how long? Over something so little?
We must work to get over these things. We must work to fix what we can. We must work to get out of that situation. We can crawl back into our little holes (my van) and I won’t be on the lift anymore. Instead I will be all alone in a van going nowhere. Or, we can sit on the lift with our arms crossed doing nothing. Still not going anywhere.
Or, we can figure it out and get over it. Now we are going somewhere.
By the way, it is pouring outside now. I am so glad I am in the warmth and comfort of the school surrounded by people I love.
Don’t let Satan get you stuck over the “little’s” It truly is the little foxes that spoil the vines. We cannot control others, but we can make sure that we do all that we can to not get stuck over the little things.
Every morning I wake up to the sound of birds singing. It is always around 5:00 in the morning. I lay there and just soak in the sound. It is my very favorite sound of nature. That is when I tell my Lord, with my bird friends, “Good Morning. Thank you for another day.” Then I go back to sleep. This is not vain repetition. I am truly so very thankful for each day the Lord gives me.
The other day, while speaking to around 200 high schoolers about brain and spinal cord safety, a student asked a wonderful question to my friends and I who were presenting that day. He said, “I know there are a lot of negatives in your life because of your paralysis, but is there a positive?” What great insight! Yes, there are positives. Your priorities change dramatically. Your values change dramatically. Your pettiness changes dramatically. Your appreciation for life changes dramatically. Those are all wonderful positives!
I know that it is only God that allows me to draw my very next breath. It is God who has a plan and purpose for my life. It is God Who was not finished with me 6 years ago. The same neurological disorder that hit me so quickly that day could have easily taken my life…had that been God’s plan. But it was not His plan that day. I have never hungered more for life than the days and months that followed that were so terrifying. After not being able to leave my home for almost 3 months after the birth of my baby, the beauty of blue skies and flowers were overwhelming to me. I never appreciated them more.
I have a very tiny tolerance for those who are weary of their lives here. I am not trying to be judgmental but it hurts me to hear them grunt and groan through their daily lives. Do they not realize how precious it is? Do they not realize how many people are clinging to just one more day?
Please don’t tell me I don’t understand. I do. Daily life is no walk in the park with paralysis. But even on my very worst days, I am still so thankful that I have days.
Today is my 38th birthday. I am THRILLED to be a year older! I love it!! Every single day…every single year…is a precios gift from God. I am so thankful for that.
It is the best birthday gift ever!
Yesterday morning, I posed a question on Facebook. Here is what it said:
“Only 12% of Americans have a disability. Only 2% of those are actually paralyzed. Is it worth my time and efforts to be an advocate, educator and friend to such a small percentage?”
The replies I received were overwhelmingly encouraging. The faces of many of those voices I know deal personally with a disability themselves, or with a very close relative. To hear them all proclaim more than just a yes, and to answer with well written reasons that yes, a voice is needed, bolstered my resolve to continue in this journey. It is a path that needs blazed. I personally believe it was started by Jesus Christ Himself in His loving treatment of those who were outcasts in that society.
I think I accidentally scared a few of my friends. If I did, I apologize. I have no intention, or temptation, to stop what I feel pulsates through every beat of my heart. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is my calling in life – to speak for those who are seldom heard. The sweetest phrase that was repeated yesterday was “if it only helps one, it is worth it.” Amen to that. I posted it, in my mind, as a rhetorical question preparing for this blog post today.
I have just come off a whirlwind weekend that was exhausting and most gratifying. I drove to Georgia to see a friend who was paralyzed not too long ago. While there, we dealt with a local firefighter who just got home from the hospital and they messed his catheter order up. A great friend from the support group I direct, jumped on the phones and we got a great connection going and helped this guy get through the weekend. After posting about that on Facebook, I started a conversation with a mom whose family was in a horrific accident that killed her 5 year old and paralyzed her 2 and 7 year old children. She is also having catheter and trachea issues and I am trying to help her out. I shot an email out to a friend that just got his trach taken out to see if they had connections to help this new mom. They had a connection to a family in FL that had also been in a wreck that killed their little girl, paralyzed their son and seriously injured their other 2 children. Now, we have connected the mom in KY to the family in FL. Why? Because a few people care about a very small percentage!
I have been sorting things out in our family life since the new year. I wear a lot of hats and I am happy to do them all. I also have to take care of my own health so that I can be here for the most important people in my life – my family! I also know that taking care of me physically, is also taking care of me emotionally. Working with and for the disabled is so therapeutic for me. It is truly a balm for my soul.
The small percentage is absolutely vital.
I remember a story in the Bible about a man named Bartimaus. He was blind and as custom had it in those days, would be taken out to beg as his way of helping to make a living. He heard that Jesus was near and since he could not see, he started yelling, “JESUS!! Have mercy on me!” Those around, who were leading the way to Jesus told Bartimaus to “Be quiet.” But Bartimaus yelled even louder. Jesus heard Him, called Him forward and healed him. Do you think that one voice in the midst of the multitude meant something to Jesus? Yes it did.
Jesus’ whole ministry really involved dealing with the small percentages that no one else cared about or swept under a rug. Jesus always had time for them. He dealt with sick children, He dealt with old mother-in-laws, he dealt with prostitutes and harlots, and he dealt with the stinking, rotting flesh of the lepers. He saw the blind, heard the deaf, and walked to the paralyzed. All around were masses of normal people. Constantly around were the scowls and murmurs of the religious. But the stories that move us are the ones where Jesus focused and came to the small percentages – the poor, the lame, the blind, the hungry, the imprisoned. And He told us to seek them also!
Will you allow me to bring up a small percentage that has very little voice in our spiritual lives? It is the voice of the spiritually abused. We have all been guilty of spiritual manipulation. We have all been guilty of spiritual blackmail. We have all been guilty of plucking out Bible verses, completely out of context, to make a hammered point to make someone feel guilty about not doing what we say. All of those things are spiritual abuse and we have all been guilty at one point or another of hurting others. Even though we have all been guilty of spiritual abuse, that doesn’t make everyone spiritual abusers. To do something as individual acts because you are human is one thing. To develop a pattern or habit or these things is what makes you an abuser.
A spiritual abuser is one who makes it their normal practice to twist and manipulate God’s precious Word to get their own way or to meet their own personal agendas. Most of these people, in my opinion, are extremely insecure, fearful and full of pride. Their pride demands that they be at the top. Their insecurity makes them afraid that it will never happen. It is not okay to be viewed as a failure or not successful, so they begin to move and shake things until it they arrive. The bloody bodies they leave scattered across that path of success are disturbing. If you dare to speak up against it, you are kicked and beaten again until you are afraid to say anything else. No, not physically. Spiritually. The spiritual abusers have created many silent hypocrits. The perform like the master says because they don’t want to be the one to rock the boat…or be proclaimed a dividing liberal.
The spiritually abused are truly a small percentage. So many precious people have shared with us how they “were in a place like that once but now are in such a wonderful church.” Praise the Lord for that! There are sincere, God-honoring pastors and church members alike. But there is also that small percentage that are afraid and do not know where to turn. Do you leave them bleeding on the side of the road? Not according to Jesus and the story of the Good Samaritan.
My husband has been blogging for some time about this small percentage in Christianity. It is the group of those who have been in spiritually abusive relationships – whether that is in a church, in a family, or even in marriages (it happens!). Hundreds have written sharing their heartbreaks over living in a church relationship that has been horribly abusive and manipulative. At times it has been horrific and obvious and at other times, it has been subtle and deceptive. They have spanned the independent Baptist world and have crossed into other denominations. We are not alone in this problem.
Pastor’s and their families have had their own share of spiritual abuse from church members! It is easy to demonize the pastor’s and leadership of these churches (and the emphasis is important because of the leadership position), but abuse can always be two sided. There are members that connive, lie, manipulate, twist Scripture and distort truth to get their way or make their Pastor a puppet, just as there are Pastors who have done this to members. Let’s not get stuck in the church either. Christians have done this to one another, parents to children, children to parents, church member to church member and the list goes on. Some have left these abusive relationships and found true freedom in Christ. This is a good thing as this is exactly what God’s Word teaches we are to have!
Jimmy does not need me to defend him, nor would I because truth needs no defense, but I think there is such a beautiful parallel to my disability world. My husband has been asked if that blog is truly worth his time. Is it truly even helping anyone? The questions are fair and have been asked with good motives. So, I asked my own question regarding my own small percentage that I focus on. Are the small percentages worth speaking up for? Are they worth advocating for, educating and friending? Yes.
The small percentage is vital.
We each have a calling. We each have a job that others may not understand. We each have a personal connection to both disability and spiritual abuse. We each have a passion that God has placed within us to help hurting people. We each have a voice to use for those who have been pushed aside, hushed, and treated terribly. It is not our job to point people to us to rescue them. It is our job to pick up the wounded, love on them, and take them straight to the Great Physician. It is not our job to teach others how to become victims. It is, instead, our job to show them that through Jesus Christ, our only Master, we have victory!
Yes, we will fight for the small percentages. Why? Because we are only two small people in this great big world. That’s a pretty small percentage. But Jesus would have come just for us, to give His life for us, so we could spend eternity with Him.
The small percentage was vital to Him, and it is vital to us.