Thankfulness ~ A Cure for the Season?


Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years ~ I love that the holiday season starts with thankfulness! In our day, many times Thanksgiving is observed as a day to eat turkey, take a nap and watch football, go hunting or plan your Black Friday shopping. Not that any of those things are wrong, but what are we missing an amazing benefit of Thanksgiving?

Winter is around the corner, and for many, that means a seasonal depression is coming on. Christmas will be here in a few more weeks and many dread this holiday. Statistically, depression and suicide are very high around Christmas. The New Year will be here shortly and with it comes high resolve to change some things…finally! Only to find, that for most of us, that resolve doesn’t last long and you feel even worse about yourself.

How about if we just stopped and thought about this day called Thanksgiving as a great vaccine to fight against all of those above symptoms? I don’t think we do that very much. I believe we go through this day laughing with family – which is awesome. I believe we eat our yummy food -which is delicious. I believe we watch, or play, or engage in our games and hobbies – which is fun. I believe we strategize – which is brilliant. But…do we actually stop and give thanks. Are we arming ourselves to face the days ahead with the proper ammunition?

Thankfulness has amazing benefits!

  • Bratty kids demanding or complaining about presents? Give them a dose of thankfulness. Any present is better than none.
  • Spouses with hurt feelings about presents? Try a dose of thankfulness. At least that spouse tried!
  • Family out of sorts with one another? Try a dose of thankfulness. Thank God for those you get to be with.
  • Health not where you wish it was? Try a dose of thankfulness. Cemeteries are full of people who had it worse than you.
  • Feeling alone? Try a dose of thankfulness. God is always with you and you are never alone.
  • Out of money? Try a dose of thankfulness. Since when has money equaled happiness. Find other ways to show love.
  • New Year discouragement? Try a dose of thankfulness. It is not all about you. Serve someone else and you will be cured.
  • In a funk? Try a dose of thankfulness. We all get there. Thankfulness really does work.

We should not focus on feeling thankful. We should focus on being thankful. When you are intentionally thankful (whether you feel it or not), you will start feeling that way too. And it feels really, really good.

So, make your list today. Then, live focusing on that list. What are you thankful for?

May each of you truly have a very happy holiday season and may it all start today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Life Cycles ~ They Matter!

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Recently, I took my daughter – a junior in high school – to look at a college. What? When did this happen? When did this adorable little girl grow up into a beautiful young lady? When did I get old enough to be college “shopping” with my child already?

The college we went to look at was the same college that I attended when I was very close to her age. I felt so mature and grown up. I felt totally in control of the world. I felt absolute confidence to leave my parents and establish myself in a new world. But, when I look at my little girl, I don’t think she is prepared for this! She is so young! She is not ready to handle life without Momma right there guiding her. Or is she? Maybe I am not ready.

We attended a special time called College Days that is catered specifically for prospective students. The students get immersed in the college culture right off the bat! They are welcomed, an open rally and orienting them to the schedule, then off to tour and ending in the cafeteria. Let me just stop and say that the food was amazing! I mean, I was looking forward to dabbing the grease off my pizza with white napkins. I was a little disappointed that Briley won’t get to experience that! My sons are ready to go to school there just because they are excited about the cafeteria!

Since the cafeteria is night and day different, I didn’t experience the feelings there that were soon to engulf me. We watched a ball game in the gym that night. Wow. Now that brought back memories. It is kind of weird because now I am in a wheelchair, and I was not when I went to college there. I really couldn’t sit in the bleachers, but I enjoyed it just the same. That gym. The sounds of sneakers squeaking on the floor, the cheers and whistles and buzzers….it all brought back so many sweet memories of my days in school cheering and screaming like an idiot for our home team!

The next morning, we chose classes to attend. I attended a Bible class with my daughter that one of my classmates and good friend now teaches. I loved hearing him teach. I knew it was him, but there I was, transported back to my time and listening to our teacher give similar notes. We went to a chapel service and heard the same truths and heart for Christ given once again. Next, we went to hear the college choir. Oh how I LOVE singing in a choir! I loved choir. It was my favorite class. I loved watching my daughter’s eyes light up as soon as she heard them start singing. She was hooked. She wanted in that choir.

We enjoyed that trip together so much. As Briley was introduced to other young people, some were strangers to me. But others….others were children of my classmates. We are all here together on this wild cycle called life. We are transitioning into a new cycle of grown-up children. Children who have been taught and loved and invested in, and who sooner than later will leave our nest to fly their own journey.

As I hugged Pastor and Mrs. Sexton, and thought about their own life cycles, and how they have poured their lives into training young people to serve Christ, I thought of the Apostle Paul’s words when he talked about his children in the faith. I was a part of the first generations going to a new little Bible College in the hills of Tennessee. But not anymore. It has now cycled around that the first generations are returning with our young. As I see their graying hair and age creeping up on them, I know that is also a life cycle. They are watching their life being duplicated in every young person they train. I was one, and now my children may be next. That is overwhelmingly precious!

I want my life cycles to matter. How sad to reach the harvest years and have nothing to reap. I’m not totally crazy how fast this all seems to be happening, but I certainly don’t want a day of my life or my influence wasted. I pray that some day, when my children will be taking their children to look at the same places that positively influenced them, that I will make the list in their hearts.

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I Am SO Offended!!!


It is so fun to watch little children play. They are laughing and giggling and hugging and wrestling. Suddenly, you see one of them separate from the group. His little lip quivers and his eyes fill up with tears. You go over and ask what is wrong, and he tells you that his feelings got hurt. You encourage that little one to dry his tears and you walk him back over to his friends and help resolve the problem.

We expect little children to get offended. They are young. They are immature. They wear their feelings on their sleeves. The emotions are barely under the surface of their skin and they can go from giggling to sobs in two seconds! They are children. This is why they need wise, mature adults to not help them milk their offenses but to walk them to maturity.

I’m not sure if we have had a dearth in mature parenting that have caused this or a flood of adult babies that refused to listen to wisdom growing up, but this I do know – everyone is offended all the time! I do not care what side of the political fence you sit on, I do not care what church you attend, I do not care what race you are, I do not care what football team you root for, or where you buy your coffee. It seems like so many people are wearing glasses that see nothing but reasons to be offended. Is it so unreasonable to hope that maturity – just maturity – would allow others to see the good in others instead of taking a microscope over their lives looking for dirt?

I know Christians that get so upset over a style of music in the church, they don’t even see that the church is reaching the community for Christ! I know families that are so offended by their individual differences that they have completely failed to look at how much they have in common! I know politicians that love to eat each other up to make themselves look better , but forget that they work for the people and represent us – not themselves! I personally know so many precious stories about love between races and people groups and all we want to focus on are the negative stories of irresponsible people reaping what they have sown. Why? Why is that we sit in front of any source of news –  whether that is a wagging tongue in church, a television news report, or social media outlet – with our tongues hanging out just waiting for the next juicy, negative, and opinionated sound bite? We love this stuff and it spreads like a wild-fire.

Opinions are a dime a dozen. We all have them. We all think we are right and we are disappointed at times when others do not see things our way. But, let’s remember – they are just opinions!

Just because you have a different opinion than I do, does not make you my enemy.

It proves you are not my clone! 

When our world is so very small, and offensive things happen (as they will), it takes up all of our time and thoughts and we consume ourselves with the HUGE offense in our tiny world. But….if our world view is huge, and offenses happen (as they will), they are not that big of a deal in the scope of our huge view. If my offense is a tennis ball, and my world view is the size of a frisbee, then that ball is going to feel really big. But if my worldview is a swimming pool, and my offense is a tennis ball, it will barely make a splash! Do you see the difference? I firmly believe that those who are “most offended” about things have the smallest worldviews and live a life that is mostly all about them. There is no room for others in their small world. This speaks more of this kind of person than it does their offence. We should not allow ourselves to be snared into these tiny worlds.

Since I will always choose my opinion over yours, I cannot even trust my own opinions. Since I am a follower of Jesus, His opinion does matter to me. I wonder what His opinion is over us getting offended all the time? Did you know that the book of Matthew talks about being offended 8 times? I guess Jesus might have something to say and I think it is worth our time to listen to His opinion.

Matthew 5:29

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Jesus is teaching us that it is better to cut out the “offenses” in our lives than to let them remain and ruin our life!
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Jesus is teaching (in the context) of all the good that He does and those who do not get offended in Him will be blessed! Even Jesus Himself is saying to focus on the good that is done for the sake of the gospel. Don’t be offended by the good. Be blessed by not being offended!
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Jesus is teaching that we can hear the word, we can be happy about hearing it, and because we are not rooted, we get offended at the slightest perception of tribulation or persecution. Is the problem our persecution? Or is the problem that we are not rooted in Christ? I believe this passage makes it pretty clear!

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

Jesus is telling us that He will take care of all things that offend. I love that word all. We can just stop worrying about this stuff. Jesus will take care of it someday! 

And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

These two passages are talking about the same group of people: the religious. Many offences come because we have shifted our focus onto a religious system and off of a person. We use our “religions” as a banner to wield our swords and cut everyone up. This is not to be. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus. We are to speak the truth in love. We are to just uphold the words of Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do the work of a skilled surgeon in hearts that we cannot see. 

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Jesus does not want us to be offended. And He was also making sure to tell us that we are not to be offensive. I just need to be a vessel that lets the love and truths of Jesus shine through my life. 

I want to end all of this with one more verse that is not in Matthew. It is in Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Nothing. Nothing. Should I say it one more time? I know I need to hear it many times – every time I get offended! If I am offended by anything, my problem is not the issue. My problem is me. 

“I am SO offended!” I don’t think Jesus would say this. Therefore, I think it is time we stop saying it too.

Weary Soldier….Disability, Ministry, Finances, Health, Marriage, Parenting……You Name It!


Recently, in a Facebook group for women with disabilities, one of our rank was discussing how she was just really struggling with her disability. She said her injury had happened many years before and she really didn’t know where this was all suddenly coming from. I love this group, because immediately, we were all over that with love and encouragement and a very long thread how all of us have seasons dealing with the exact same thing.

Fast forward to another Facebook group I belong too for Pastor’s Wives only. Guess what? A pastor’s wife was greatly struggling because some people in her church had been very ugly to her family and told them they were not welcome at a certain church function. It broke her heart. Once again, Pastor’s wives across Facebook flocked to share love to her hurting heart.

I was at a Bible study the other night and there were 3 mothers sharing their broken hearts over their grown children. My heart wept with them as they were desiring to trust God to help in these situations.

A dear friend called me today with a very serious health problem. Her husband had an accident last year, her daughter faced a serious health crisis and now this friend is facing a life-changing surgery, and they are terrified they are going to lose their home. She was so weary and my heart broke for her as we talked and I tried my best to love on her and encourage her across our many miles. I wish I was a millionaire and could at least take one burden off of her.

Do you see a theme here? Life is a battle. So many people are facing battles that we know nothing of. The silent wife who dreads her husband’s angry outbursts. The child who will be abused by selfish parents. The parent who mourns the addictions their grown child is bound in. The pastor whose people misunderstand him. The student who will face the bully again tomorrow. The employee who will be made fun of again for his beliefs. It is real and these things happen every single day.

One of these is enough to weary you in the battle. Let alone two or more going on simultaneously! When we are in the midst of this, it is a battle to keep a smile on your face, a song on your lips and joy in your heart. You want to show the world that you are strong, but inside you feel like you are about to crumble in a thousand pieces. You want everyone to think you are brave, but inside you tremble and weep. You do not want anyone feel sorry for you, but you long for someone to understand what you are going through.

The battle is hard. It can be very lonely. It can be terrifying. It can be soul-searching as you try to figure out if it is really even worth your effort to fight anymore. Lester Roloff once said, “When you are in the valley, farm it.” It sounds wonderful but so far, in my valleys, I have been too weak to farm. Maybe crawl, but not farm. The battle is raging and many times, we are ready to go AWOL. What can we do? How do we find strength in our battles? How do we go on?

  • Remember Who I fight for.

I am reminded of II Timothy 2:3 that says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” To read this is one thing. To live it is another. I want to endure hardness as a good soldier. I know I am a soldier of Jesus and so I have to remember that this battle is for His glory. I may be the flag bearer that goes down in the battle, but keeps the flag flying! I am a soldier of Jesus! My Commander fought the greatest battle for me on Calvary and with that victory, He gained my salvation. He was afraid. He was in pain. He went through tortures that we can never imagine. But He stayed and fought and won. Scriptures even say that He could have called 10,000 angels to come rescue Him, but He did not. Death lost that day and if my Commander can die for me, then I can follow Him and live for Him even when it is hard and scary and I am weary.

  • Remember my orders.

In Deuteronomy 31:6, we are told to, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” That is a tall command! “Be strong! Be courageous! Don’t be afraid!” Really? That is NOT how I feel when I am weary! It is more like, “Hide! Curl up in a ball and scream! Panic!! Panic again! Cry! Run everyone off so I can be alone!” But no, that is not our orders. We are told what to do and then reminded how. Because HE will not fail me or forsake me. Everything and everyone else may, but my Captain will not. He is in the trenches with me. He is fighting for me. He will not run AWOL on me – even if I want to on Him!

We must conquer the head battle before we ever engage in the physical battles. If an enemy can get in your head and start playing with you, he has already won part of the battle. We must keep our focus on our commander and on our orders.

  • Remember how to get help.

You do not fight without strength. I am afraid that many times we get weary because we have stopped giving ourselves the basics – like rest and food and water! Every soldier must eat his rations or he will get weak. He must, at some point, get some rest or he will sloppy and ineffective. He must stay hydrated so every cell in his body will work properly and be in a prepared state. How do we get strength when we are weary?

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. Oh how I love this verse! I have quoted it to myself so many times!

I remember my first year of paralysis when I was in therapy and they wanted me to get up on long leg braces and try to walk. It was SO exhausting. It would take so long to go so little. It would take every single cell in my body and muscles from my neck down to where there were no working muscles to just try to get my shoulders to swing my leg 4 inches. I would finish, dripping in sweat, absolutely exhausted. I would sleep all the way home from therapy!

Therapy was trying to help teach my body to get stronger. There were trying to renew my strength in muscles that no longer worked. They were trying to help me get strong by working me hard! God isn’t like that. He does things differently than we humans do. Remember, His ways are not our ways. God says to get strong we must simply wait.

I have felt this way so many times spiritually and emotionally. Every step you try to take forward is met with such opposition! Our minds and hearts scream in pain to what we are battling. But God doesn’t say to keep working harder. He doesn’t say to keep trying. He doesn’t say to fake it till you make it. He doesn’t say to do more and more. He says wait. Just wait.

To keep in context, that verse starts with the word, “But”, which is a conjunction so we must go back and see what we are joined with. Did I say I love this passage?

Isaiah 40:28-31

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, theLord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

That is our Commander up there in verse 28. The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator! He doesn’t faint. Ever. He doesn’t get weary. Ever.

Because of that, He will give us power. He will increase our strength when we have none left. He will mount us up and once again, we will run and not be weary. We will walk and not faint. It may not be the journey that we planned, but it will be the journey that He has planned. 

Weary soldier, I do not know where you are but I assure you I have been there. I do not know your battle but I have certainly had my own. I know this. I am still fighting. And so will you.

Keep you eyes on your Commander, keep your orders in your heart and wait on the Lord who will give you just what you need to face each day!

Fear….and Thankfulness

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October just ended and the last day of that month is Halloween. I know people love this holiday but it has personally always creeped me out. Spiders….cobwebs….bats…skeletons….zombies….haunted houses…ghosts….witches…..uhm…no thank you! Those are all very scary things! I don’t like scary things. At all. A horror movie? Oh my goodness, I get nervous just typing that! I know there are some adorable little costumes, kids are always cute and who doesn’t like candy? But for the overall feel of the holiday – no thanks. I think it is scary.

Fear is a powerful thing. It can absolutely paralyze you. Stop you dead in your tracks. I just took a wheelchair self-defense class and they talked about how that when we are in a fearful situation, our body loses it’s fine motor skills. Now we know why the keys can never get a door open fast enough!

I have talked about fear before on this blog and when I speak. I have shared how terrified I was in the early days that I would not live to raise my children. I have shared how afraid I was at night. To this day, my health can still scare me to death if I dwell on it. I feel my body already after just 6 years of paralysis and I start to feel afraid of how it will be after 20 years. Will my shoulders last? Will my hands hurt worse? Will my pain levels get so high I will be on massive pain killers? Will Jimmy be able to help me when he is older? Will I be able to be a Grandma to my grandbabies? Will I…..? This is just health. What about parenting? My marriage? Finances? My kids? And on and on and on! The fears of our lives can overwhelm us.

I find that our season of Thanksgiving is what follows Halloween. How appropriate that our seasons of fear should be followed by a season of thanksgiving. Is this true? Does it actually work? Can thankfulness be the antidote to our fears? I think yes.

When fear strikes it’s fangs into our hearts, we go into survival mode. Our breathing changes, our fight and flight engages, and we are ready to spring into action to save ourselves! Many times, with fears of the heart, our lives our not in physical danger, but our joy and peace sure are. These fears can kill us just as surely as a bear could. We must be prepared to spring into action emotionally when fear hits us.

I believe the action we are called to is thanksgiving. It is not what you will feel like doing. No, you will feel like crawling into a hole and hiding from the world to protect yourself. But that is a sure way to die. Instead, do an intentional thank you list.

When fear is knocking on my door, I start talking to myself!

  • I am thankful I have been given another today.
  • I am thankful I have been so blessed with my family.
  • I am thankful that Jesus is always with me. I especially feel Him when I am afraid.
  • I am thankful for the health that I do have!
  • I am thankful for how far medicine has advanced.
  • I am thankful that I don’t have to live all of my tomorrow’s today. One day at a time.
  • I am thankful for the opportunities to grow through this.
  • I am thankful for the sun, the flowers, the hugs and kisses of my children. Little things that mean so much!

Do you see what happens? We take our eyes off of our fears and we focus on our blessings.

Fear loses its power when you stop staring at it!

I love this season of thankfulness. May God help me to stop dwelling on my fears and to be thankful for what I have been given!

“For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”              Isaiah 51:3

Meet Anne ~ Run Over By A Car and Has Never Stopped Going

Anne is another friend I met at my SCI support group meeting. I am honored to be the director of that group now, but my first year I was a faithful attender and so enjoyed meeting all of these amazing people! You know, I never knew Anne’s story until I made this video. I thought a long time ago she had told me she was in a car accident, but I did not realize what kind of accident! When you hear her story, you will be amazed that she is alive to tell it.

Anne has been on the go for a long time now. She has moved and started her life over several times. That is not an easy feat for anyone, let alone one with a disability. She is not afraid to try new things. She is not intimidated by life. She loves her dogs and she loves to help others.

Anne’s story is unique in the fact that she was measured wrong for her new wheelchair and now a brand new chair, that she needs, is useless to her and she is stuck in an old chair. This is a real problem when a new chair costs thousands of dollars and you just don’t have it. It is very hard to get insurance to help you with very real problems.

But, you don’t need to hear this from me. You can see it yourself.

Meet Anne:

PLEASE sign this petition to help Ann and others like us. Click here to sign.

Meet Mark ~ My Surfer Friend…and a Quadriplegic

Mark has a twinkle in his eye as soon as you meet him. It is not a Santa Clause twinkle. It is a “better keep your eye on him” twinkle. It draws you in though and you are anxious to hear every story behind those eyes. Then again, maybe you don’t want to hear every story! His premature white hair, his big grin and his unbelievable ability to push his manual chair with zero finger control, appeal to your curiosity about this fun-loving and ornery guy!

I met Mark at my spinal cord support group meeting and we made friends. We were at Myrtle Beach together where I did adaptive surfing for the first time. Not Mark. That guy is a fish! He made me nervous, but he felt no fear. I kept thinking he was going to drown out there on that surf board, but he didn’t. Instead, he was my cheerleader as I went out myself with a bundle of nerves. I think Mark stayed in the water all day long. His love for adaptive sports and activities keeps us busy trying to keep up with him.

Mark is a great friend and I want you to meet him. I want you to hear his story. He has been in a chair a long time. He went to college, and now lives alone and takes care of himself. I don’t want to steal his thunder. He will tell you all about it.

My friend Mark:

Please sign this petition to help my friend Mark and others like us to keep our complex rehab equipment! Click here to sign.