As I look back over my life, it is so obvious to see the hand of God working. Things seem so clear in hindsight but when you are living them, they can be mighty fuzzy! I was born into this world on April 28, 1977. I was raised in a Pastor’s home and I had the honor of being a PK! I realized that I was a sinner and deserving of hell when I was 5 years old and I trusted Jesus as my Savior. I was very excited that day about my name being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but it has taken many years and some trials for me to realize the depths of that decision on my entire life.
When I was 16, my sister and I attended a camp and I can see how God really used that week as a spiritual turning point. It opened doors for us that we never knew existed. For one, we learned about Crown College and my sister enrolled for that semester. I followed in 1995 and have never regretted that decision. I met my husband in the single’s department at Temple Baptist Church in Powell, TN. When we were married, he was a bank manager and we were thrilled to be serving God together in our church.
After we had been married a couple of years, God called my husband into the ministry and in 2003, he took a pastorate in West Union, OH. We moved away from our families with three small children and were able to be full-time. The church was really struggling at that time. Our salary decreased by about 75% but what we grew in faith was far more valuable than money! We saw God do miraculous things and our faith grew by leaps and bounds. Our first daughter born in Ohio we used “Faith” in her name as a testament to what we had witnessed God do. God was at work in our church and in our lives. Our faith was so very strong – so we thought!
On March 12, 2009, life as I knew it dramatically changed. I had been experiencing a lot of neurological problems and was expecting our last baby. The day before, I was in excruciating pain and had spent my entire day in bed. I actually have only one or two faint memories of that day and when I awoke on the 12th, I was completely paralyzed from my ribs down. I had no feeling or movement at all. My arms felt like they were so heavy! Because I was pregnant, they were not able to do testing or strong doses of medicine because of the risk to the baby. I was told that we would just have to wait and see.
The days and weeks that followed seem such a blur to me. Trying to relearn the simplest tasks that I just took for granted. Learning how to roll over in bed, sit up, shower, dress, bathroom, get from point A to B, get in a car, avoid steps, and how to live life from a wheelchair. There is not one aspect of every day life that paralysis does not affect. My simple routines that used to take only an hour were now taking me an entire day! By the time you finished getting up and getting ready for the day, you were so tired and worn out you just wanted to go back to bed! My husband cried a lot and I would try to make him laugh – telling him that we would learn. As the weeks turned into months, it all hit me more and I would cry and he would make me laugh – reminding me that we would be okay. I made the decision on the first day that my precious children were watching me and they were going to learn how to handle trials in their lives by watching me. I decided and told them over and over the first few months that we would stay faithful to God even when we did not understand and we would be happy. Overall, we have been happy and I thank God for the unselfish love of my husband, children and church family.
Our baby boy, Elisha, was born healthy on July 27, 2009. I had many complications after he was born. There were a few times, I was really not sure if I would live through all of it. I asked the Lord a lot of questions during that time and came to my closest time of seriously getting discouraged. I felt very guilty that if I was such a strong Christian then why did I have these questions and fears? There were days I would cry out “Oh God, please be real to me today!” and something little would happen that would let me know that He had not forgotten about me. There was nothing that could comfort me like pouring my heart out to my Heavenly Father and the peace that would flood my soul was truly beyond understanding. I still did not have the answer to my questions, but I knew that I had Him and that was enough.
Nothing can raise my dander quicker than for things to be scattered across the floor and I can’t roll through a room without having to move item after item. It hinders me from getting to my destination. So it is with life. God has a course that He has set for me and for some reason that I know not, paralysis and living in a wheelchair is part of that course. He has given and will continue to give me the grace that I need to live within that bond. However, the things I bind myself up with and scatter across the floor of my life are not from God – they are from me. These can greatly hinder me from a smooth trip to my destination. What are some of these bonds? A negative attitude, a victim mentality, a sour disposition, a questioning spirit and a complaining heart. You see, this wheelchair is not what has me bound. It is not my cross that I have to carry. The thing that will bind me and the cross that I have to bear daily is Alicia Reagan. She is the one that I have to deal with the most – more than the many facets and difficulties of paralysis. She is the one that will either give God the glory for her life, or give in to the temptations of Satan and ruin God’s plan.
I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis after going to a neuroimmunologist at Ohio State University. My spinal cord was damaged at the C5-C7 vertebrae level. TM is a virus that attacks your spinal cord and the inflammation damages your spinal cord just as a bone fragment from a broken neck or back would do. It is a bad day in history, but I have been stable for over 9 years and they feel that this is not progressive. I can move a toe on a good day but still have no feeling or other movement from my upper ribs down. My arms and hands got stronger and work pretty good – they just wear out quickly especially when I am tired. I do not know if I will ever walk again physically but I know that He is with me and even though the outward man may perish, the inward man can be renewed day by day!
My prayer is to not doubt in the dark what I have known to be true in the light. My prayer is to continue to trust the Shepherd that has so lovingly carried our family through some very dark shadows. My prayer is to allow the fears of the unknown that I sometimes feel to be the fuse that will ignite an explosion of faith. My prayer for all of us is to stay faithful and look forward to the day that He will say “Well done!”