Me Before You…Is NOT Disabled Friendly.

The previews are awesome. Finally…another beautiful story of love with a person with a disability! But don’t be fooled! 

Please watch my opinion of this story. It is a strong one that I make no apology for. I will be running videos through this blog, as they are shared with me, to show you the positive side of what it means to all live boldly…with those around us…for a realistic view of our wonderful lives with disabilities.

Check back as I post videos of others like me!

Speak Life: The Power of Words

- Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Words are so very powerful. We know that they can hurt, heal, hinder, harass…I really can’t think of any more H words! ūüôā The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” sounds good but it is the farthest thing from the truth.¬†

When I was a kid, I was a tomboy and always, always had cuts and bruises all over me. Bike wrecks, cowboy stunt moves, volleyball dives, thorns and briers from hikes in the woods, scuffles with siblings…something had always left its mark on my body. Do you know that I do not remember the pain of any of those physical scars? I remember the incidents, but I don’t remember the pain. In contrast, I remember hurtful things that people have said over the years and you immediately feel the stab in your heart and you can feel the pain all over again. The pain is especially hurtful if it comes from someone who says they love you.

Words are something that you can never blame on someone else. The phrases, “The devil made me do it,” “I can’t help it, they just made me SOOOO mad!,” “Well, if you hadn’t of started it…,” “It’s my personality. It is just who I am. Deal with it,” are so FULL of baloney. Someone may break your arm by pulling it behind your back, but no one has every invented a way to pull words out of someone’s mouth without permission. We are 100% in total charge of our words. No more excuses about it.

With that being said, our words should have weight. They should have value. They should have meaning. They should be respected. ¬†They should be kind. They should be encouraging. Even if a hard thing has to be said, it should not be done harshly. Our words should speak life to other humans – whether we agree with them or not. I often tell my children, “It is not what you are saying to me. It is how you are saying it. Start over and do it right.” Do they always get it right? No. Do I? No. But I would hope that my pattern is not one of thoughtless, hurtful, selfish and showing a lack of compassion or concern.

If those who know you best, are asked about the pattern of your words, what would they say? Would they say that you are a hypocrite and they do not receive the kind words you always have for others? Would they say that you speak one way and live another? Would they say that you rip up and criticize and destroy everyone around you? Would they say that you tell the truth? Do you make promises you don’t keep? Are your words hateful? Grouchy? Short-fused? Negative?

It is easy in a world where people only see the superficial, to give any appearance I want. This is one reason we all get annoyed with politics. Everything looks so good…until the dirt follows! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any dirt to follow in my life.

Our words will either speak life, or they will speak death.

They can either build up and strengthen your relationships, or they will kill off and destroy your relationships. Our loved ones know it the best – no matter what show we give to others, or excuses we like to embrace.

These past couple weeks, have been a living lesson to the power of words. Words uttered in anger, words uttered in haste, words uttered without any regard to the feelings of those you speak them to…have long-lasting, negative consequences. As the speaker of words, that we alone are responsible for, we do not like the consequences. Yet, consequences ARE¬†out of our control. Once you say it, it is very, very hard to take it back.

I want to speak life. I want to bring smiles. I want to help guide truth with loving words. I want to use my words not as a sword to kill something off a little bit more inside those around me, but as a salve to help soothe and heal. And, if in those moments, I feel that I just will not be able to control my words, I will remember that is a big lie and I need to just put my hand over my mouth or remove myself from the situation.

May God help us all to speak life, and not death, with our words.

Important NoteIf you have someone in your life that is mean with their words, I would recommend that remove yourself from their presence. If they will not stop when you ask them, then go to another location yourself. It is not “spiritual” to have to listen to them yell, accuse or insult you or your children. You do not have to answer or be pulled in. This is VERY hard to do, but it is very important.

Also, I would highly recommend the writings of Leslie Vernick and David Cloud and John Townsend. They have written several books about emotional abuse and boundaries in relationships. I have read, been helped and highly recommend these authors.

 

The Duty of the Stronger

Weak-vs-Strong

In celebration for my husband’s birthday, we told him to pick the movie of his choice that we would watch together as a family. He pulled out an old John Wayne war movie. In this movie, the enemy planes were bombing a children’s hospital. The nurses were holding and calming the children as they all huddled under beds. You could see the fear in the eyes of the adults as they calmly told the children it would be alright. The children found comfort in the strength of those stronger adults.

I started thinking how it is our duty in life, as the adults, to be stronger for our children. When the scary noises happen in the night, it is our job as adults to comfort those little ones. When they are sick, we soothe and tell them they are going to be okay. When the thunder is cracking and the lightening flashing, we calm them by teaching them weather and keeping their minds busy with science and not fear. This is so easy when we think of it in this way – an adult soothing a child.

But there is so much more where the strong should help protect the weak! What about the stronger kid sticking up for the kids that are bullied? What about the speaking¬†up for the woman who is being verbally or emotionally abused? How about the child with special needs that is getting ignored and sidelined? How about someone who is racist and cannot love someone of another color? How about the unborn baby, still helpless in its mother’s womb? What about the disabled who are not strong enough yet to speak up for themselves? What about the elderly who can be killed off so that they will not put a burden on their families? I could go on and on!

You know, in most of these areas, we let the weak win. It is a weak person who would pick on the weaker or different kid in school. It is a weak man who would hurt a woman in any way. It is a weak group who cannot see the value that special needs kids bring to life. It is a weak¬†person who would judge a person by their skin color. It is being weak¬†to not speak up for those who are either too young, or too hurt, or too weak to speak up for themselves. It is weak to trade the life of any human for the “easier” life of the strong.

We have become experts at finding reasons to say nothing. Absolutely nothing.

“I would like to defend that kid, but then the bully might pick on me, or the other kids will think I am stupid for defending the totally not cool kid!”

“I don’t want to say anything, because then he may just make her life more miserable.”

“I would like to go talk to that mom of that kid, but I would not really no what to say. I hope they find a way to be included.”

“Well, I’m not racist, but that person is so vocal about it, I don’t want to rock the boat or make them mad or anything. I have friends of different colors so I feel pretty good about it.”

“I know people that have had abortions. I don’t want to upset them. Maybe they are just little blobs with no feelings and it really is okay. And what about women that have been raped? We need to think about them! They should not have to deal with a child on top of everything else. I have decided this is how I will think about this. It is much more comfortable.”

“The disabled? Well, my goodness, they get all they need from the government. Do you know how expensive it is to put in ramps or accessible restrooms? I am not trying to be mean or anything, but I mean, we can’t redo everything for one person! I am sorry they are missing out. Maybe they should find a hobby they will enjoy.”

Am I being extreme in some of these excuses? Maybe. But you can fill in your own blanks as you think through every single example I gave, and what would your answer be? If you answer anything besides being strong and defending the weak, then you are shirking your duty as a human being.

I cannot state this strong enough.

I cannot, or will not, defend ANY weak, if I cannot or will not defend ALL the weak.

hitler

Who gets to decide the value of strong vs. weak?¬†People like Hitler? He didn’t like Jews…or the disabled. He had them killed! Do we let him decide the value of humans? What about the Muslims? Should we allow them to determine the value of women…or little girls who get married off as children? What about the sex slave trade? Should they choose the value of children? What about the bully? Does he decide the value of who should get picked on or not? What about the medical field? Do they get to pick when you should live or die? Is it okay just because you are still inside a body instead of outside of it? Do they get to decide when the elderly will be more trouble than worth? Do they get to decide because you have broken your neck and they do not think you will have much value in society anymore so they choose not to save your life in trauma? We are okay with some of that, and are appalled by others! Why?! Because we have let others decide and TELL us the value system we are supposed to follow – this sliding scale of value – that picks who the weak are or who the strong are. The evolutionist, Charles Darwin, called it the survival of the fittest. How terrifying is that?!

Are we sure we really want that? I am SO sympathetic to that woman who has been raped and now has a child that will enter the world. But why, of why, would we, as stronger adults, determine that the value of that mother is MORE than the value of that child? I have never been able to understand that. Before you get offended at what I am saying, here me out.

I was not in a rape situation, but when I became paralyzed, the option of treating me taking a priority over the safety of my baby was definitely on the table with my medical doctors. “We need to take this baby at 20 weeks, so we can treat you aggressively so that we can fight off this paralysis as much as possible.” You know what was at stake? Asking my baby to be strong for me. NO way. I would rather be paralyzed the rest of my life, than to risk the health of my little weaker baby. That is my duty. So, I get it. I really do. I get the hard decisions. I get the decisions that will very likely affect the rest of your life. I get not being asked to be put in this position and having to make these decisions. But life…all life…has the same value. Plain and simple. It is all on the same even line. There are no “more valued life” choices. To believe otherwise, is to ultimately put your own life in jeopardy as you wait until someone now views you as the lesser one!¬†

I am a believer in God. As a believer in God, I know that every single life is important to Him. Anything that evil wants to through our way, He can restore it and make something beautiful out of it. Mostly, I am so thankful because His value system is not ours. He doesn’t pick the strongest or the most fit or the toughest. He actually says that it is in our weakness that He can use us. And it is through that, we are strong. That comforts me.

Because of who I am in Him, I am one of the strong. This gal sitting in a wheelchair has value. I am strong because of all of my million weaknesses. Because I am one of the strong, I have a duty. A duty to take a stand for the weak.

  • Because I am strong, I will defend the bullied. But, I will also reach out to the bully because he is also weak and needs help.
  • Because I am strong, I will speak up against marital abuse. I will help hold the hands of those who are afraid to move alone. But, I will also help those abusers and rescue them from themselves before they destroy their lives.
  • Because I am strong, I will include all children. I will encourage all children. I will love all children. My family will make a point to love and include and invite all children. But, I will also encourage other families to do the same! Get to know, understand, cheer and come alongside those you do not understand. Then you will understand.
  • Because I am a strong person, I will see people as God sees them. Not as a skin color, but inside their souls. But, I will remind those who are looking at all the wrong things to get their focus where it should be.
  • Because I am strong, I will never stop speaking up for those precious little babies inside the womb. I will never forget feeling them kick and only being separated by a few inches of my flesh. They are alive. Inside my body where once again, my strength keeps their weak and growing bodies alive. Those babies will grow up and thank you for being stronger for them…even though you felt so very weak. My son loves me to tell the story how I chose him. But, I will never stop trying to reach out in love to those who are considering an abortion because they feel they have no other options. There are options and because I am the strong one, I should be there to help walk them through this valley.
  • Because I am strong, I will speak up for the disabled. I will help them in daily matters of life, political policy, and unfair treatment. But, I will also speak up to educate, inform and make aware the realities of life so that others can be strong for them also.

This world needs strong people. We need only one reference to decide the value of humanity. For me, the Creator of life has already set that value in place. I will agree with Him.

Because I am weak, God uses me to be strong. Will you let Him use you too?

weak

 

Does Pain Ever Have A Purpose?

pain

Paralysis is a weird duck. I¬†say, “Oh I can’t feel that” when I¬†shut my¬†foot¬†in a door, but then I¬†turn around and talk about nerve pain and how awful it can be. Weird right? Right. It is the complexity of¬†our nervous system and the signals that get damaged or not.

These past few weeks have brought several stories along my way. One story is of a friend who fell out of his chair and broke his hip. Another story is of a friend who has been newly diagnosed with MS and is adjusting to zero energy, changing numbness and pain. Another story of a friend who is in chemo for lymphoma and contracted Transverse Myelitis. She is dealing with adapting her home to a wheelchair and all the side effects of paralysis. Then there is my sweet friend whose brother was just diagnosed with ALS and already losing the use of his body.

What do all of these stories have in common? Pain. Lots and lots of pain. Gut-wrenching, breath-taking, heart-sobbing pain.

Pain is a horrible and a wonderful thing. There are times when I am glad I cannot feel certain pain. I have spilled boiling water on my legs and never even knew it until I took my clothes off that night and had blisters. However, I get intense nerve pain in my back and legs when I do not have the right cushioning under me or when I have been in one position too long. When my nerve pain ramps up, I know that I need to reposition so that I will not get a pressure sore. Not having pain is nice, but having pain is helpful. 

In all of these stories among my friends these past few weeks, I have felt their pain. It hurts me to know they are hurting. So does all of this pain have a purpose? I believe it does.

My friend who broke his hip, is the guy who gave me my power chair. He gave my friend that has TM and is weak with chemo a power chair. He is preparing a power chair for my friend’s brother who was just diagnosed with ALS. He has been a quadriplegic for a long time and even with his broken hip, he is still helping others. Has his pain had purpose? Oh yes! And he¬†is reaching to many others in pain.

My friend with MS is turning to the Lord in her weakness. Does her pain have purpose? Yes, it does and will continue to. It is taking her to her source of strength.

My friend taking chemo and dealing with her new life in a wheelchair on top of it? She has a smile that will light up a room! She knows the Lord is doing His work in her life. Does her pain have purpose? Yes, it does. It is a discovery that she will continue to make on her new journey.

My friend whose brother was just diagnosed with ALS? Her brother said, “If I win, I win. If I lose, I win.” He knows that his pain has purpose and he is looking unto Jesus – the author and finisher of his faith. My friend is strengthened by his strength in his pain. And her pain is bringing her to a new depth in her faith and walk with Christ. One that we do not choose willingly, but one that takes us in the very steps of our Savior as He has walked it before us. That path brings us closer to our precious Lord. We come to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering and that has great purpose.

Pain does have a purpose. Pain lets us know where things are wrong so we can make them right. Pain lets us know we need a doctor so we find the Great Physician. Pain brings us to the end of ourselves so that we look at Him.

Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain….they all do serve a purpose. Some day, my friend, all pain will be gone. But until then, may God help us to see His purpose in our pain!¬†

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

 

 

 

Paralyzed Seven Years Today

  
Today is seven years since I woke up paralyzed. It is hard to believe. In some ways, it seems just like yesterday. In other ways it seems like it has been a lifetime! 

It is funny how time is. They say time heals every hurt. I am not sure that is true. I believe healing can still leave scars. However, I think that as time moves on, what was once your “new” normal becomes more normal. It doesn’t feel so new or raw anymore. I believe that is where I am now. 

Jimmy and I were married 10 years with me being able-bodied and we have been married seven years with me in a wheelchair. We still have things pop up that are problematic because of my disability, and we have to work through it as a couple, but overall, my disability is not raw or new in our marriage. My younger children don’t even remember me ever walking so I am a totally normal mom to all of my kids. So, no raw or new normals there. My friends have all been around me and spent time with me and I don’t feel like an odd duck anymore with them. Totally normal now. Although there is still a pain in my heart that has never gone away when I miss my walking days or when I get frustrated or feel bad, my life feels very normal. Time is a big part of that.

Today, on my anniversary, I am speaking to a group of women who have been diagnosed with MS. The University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville, TN contacted me about speaking a few months ago. When they told me the date, I paused because I knew it was my anniversary. Would I be able to give them my best? But then I thought what a great way to spend this day – trying to encourage other women who are on a similar journey as mine. Although I do not have MS, a life-changing diagnosis is shared by us all.

So, today as I am entering my 7th year in a chair, time has been good to me. I am so thankful for every physical ability I have. I am thankful for the beautiful gift of life every single day. I am thankful for my husband’s love and faithfulness to me, my children’s sweet hearts and happy faces, and for my friends and loved ones encouragement and friendship. I am thankful for the opportunities God has allowed me to be a part. My life is full and precious. I am not sad today. I am grateful. I am happy. I am encouraged. I am at peace with my life. I am excited about the future God has for me.

In our world, many of us call this day our “Happy Alive Day” because if we are alive with spinal cord injuries it means we are survivors. It is a day to remember and be thankful. I am not only happy to be alive, I am very happy with my life.

Thank you for sharing my journey with me!

Evangelicals…Did You Pick the Wrong One?

political-endorsements

Politics intrigue me. I am a lover of our freedoms as an American. The right to vote is a right I have always taken seriously. I will research and dig and analyze just to make sure that my one little, single, solitary vote is going to the candidate I feel is the best for our country and what I value. The power of one vote is so minuscule…but it is more than my vote. It is my right to vote. That is a right I should not take advantage of, but I should instead exercise it freely!

The political scene this year with the Presidential election is one like no other! No matter which side of the political party you sit on, I think we can all agree that this is one crazy election year! For good or for bad, the media has a way of telling us what to think and we lap it up like a thirsty dog needing water.

I have watched, and been engaged, on social media as the supporters of various candidates have duked it out over who was the best candidate. Personal opinions are many and these conversations must be handled carefully because there is so much passion it can easily ignite into a nasty conversation which isn’t helpful or productive.

As a Christian, I have listened as the leadership of Evangelicals have endorsed their particular candidates. I want to say that even though I understand why they would make their endorsements, I have been disappointed in many of these Christian leaders. Comments have been made from fear-mongering (our nation is doomed unless you vote for so and so) to big promises (this candidate is the only hope for the future of our country). The Evangelical leaders are endorsing, but they are on the wrong track! 

Let me share with you my endorsement:

Psalm 33
Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

2 Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

4 For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.

5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

13 The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.

22 Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Nations have risen and nations have fallen. Of course, I want my nation to remain strong, a beacon on a hill, and land of freedom and opportunity! I will exercise my freedoms as a citizen of this great land. I will cast my one little vote and pray for my nation. However, the hope for America is not in Cruze, or Trump, or Rubio, or Kasich, or Carson, or Hillary or Sanders. The help for our nation, for all humanity and for every politician is to put our hope and trust in the Lord. It is NOT about us or them. It is all about God. The leaders in the Bible were always pointing nations back to God Рnot back to a king.

We must be careful that we are not pointing people to false gods.

Scripture tells us that God has ordained the powers that be, but the glory goes to God – not the person. We must encourage during these strange and troubling times that our hope is not in man. It is in God. My future is safe and secure. I am sheltered under His wings. He is my help and my shield. He has already delivered my soul from death. His eye is on His sparrow and I know He watches me! Amen and amen!

Therefore, He has my endorsement.