Category Archives: Disabilities

Catastrophic Grace

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We build our lives hoping the dreams we imagine will come to fruition.

We take the steps needed to have
A fulfilling career,
That house on the hill,
A loving family.

Whatever the dream,
We reach
To attain.

And then,
Somewhere along the timeline of life
An unexpected tragedy occurs.

For some, the tragedy comes early.
Others have plenty of time living the dream before it erupts.
Either way, as we live on this earth, life will crash in around us.

Illness. Disability. Alcoholism. Addiction. Death.  Flood. Tsunami. Fire. Hurricane. Tornado. Earthquake. Miscarriage. Infertility. SIDS. Accident. Abuse. Molestation. Rape. Murder. Betrayal. Adultery. Divorce. Termination. Bankruptcy. Depression. Slander. . .

Self-induced or brought on by another’s choice . . . no matter . . .

It is by the grace of catastrophe that people sometimes come to themselves and see what is before them as if for the first time.  Catastrophe can, like a mighty wind, blow away the abstracting veils of theory and ideology and enable our own sovereign seeing.  ~Eugene Peterson

As if for the first time, we see. The winds of change, the stormy gusts of tragedy blow away the abstracting veils of all the theory and ideology we have assumed. Or, determined. No matter how you came to your personal belief system, it is in shambles from the catastrophe that has overtaken your existence.

Now what?

I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us. ~Anne Lamott

The huge unaswerable question is formed,
And finally breathed: Why?

As the writer of Ecclesiastes laments,
“Everything is meaningless, utterly meaningless!”

Nothing in this life under the sun brings fulfillment.
Nothing brings meaning.
All may be lost in a moment.

Life isn’t like a book. Life isn’t logical or sensible or orderly.  Life is a mess most of the time.  And theology must be lived out in the midst of that mess. ~Chuck Colson

In the midst of the mess:
A glimpse of eternity,
A flicker of light,
A bubble of clarity…

A Divine Architect?

Notice the way God does things; then fall into line.  Don’t fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what He has made crooked? ~Ecclesiastes 7:13

What is He designing?
What is He working out for you, or in you?
What is He doing…is it for you…or for Him?

For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels–[everything] got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. ~Colossians 1:16-17

Whatever it is.
Whatever He is doing,
There is purpose in it.

And the purpose will be found in Him, alone.
For everything we try to create in this life will be meaningless,
Until God brings meaning to it.

It’s all about Him.
It’s not about me.

Not I But Christ

(Meet the music minister from my church, Scott Dyer…
and listen to one of my favorite songs!  Just hit play.

Great book on this subject:  Bold Purpose)

Where is Your Sting?

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The sting of death seems to permeate my existence these days…

The death of a marriage.
The death of a friend.
The death of a family member.

I suppose, with all the grief, it only makes sense for me to spend time in 1 Corinthians 15 and the 23rd Psalm. You see, I homeschool my nieces and a nephew and death has hovered around them for a few months now. Their beloved uncle, Andrew, has been suffering from melanoma for about a year. He went home to be with our Lord early Friday morning. As with Gitz, Andrew was very young.  Only 33.

I have always had a longing, a deep-seated desire, to be with Jesus. I’m not sure why, other than my love for Him. However, it could be the picture on the front of my childhood New Testament. Jesus is walking, holding hands, with many children — smiling — it appears He’s answering questions. As imagined at ten years of age, my mind takes me to the wonderful assurance of That Day when I will get to walk with Jesus. I will see Him face-to-face…on The Day He has fixed in His book.  The faith of a child…

I believe that with my whole being.
I believe I will walk with Him.
One Day.

He will call me Home when the time is complete.
When my days have been spent and the job I have to do on this earth is over.
I, too, will be with the Lord.

However, for now, I will continue to teach.  I will ask my little family members to read the 23rd Psalm with me.  I will describe Heaven in biblical terms.  They will understand that a river flows from the throne of God with trees growing on either side.  We will talk about the fruits that change every month and the leaves which are given for healing.  We will imagine what our rooms will look like and what questions we may have for Jesus.  And we will come to understand where our Hope lies. 

Our hope is not in this world, this life, this existence.

Our hope is in another place and time.

We can endure this momentary light affliction:

Ravishing cancer,
Ripping divorce,
Scraped knees,
Devastating loneliness,
Aching limbs,
Torn families,
Chronic fatigue, 
Hard labor,



The abuse of a world gone mad…

The results of sin run amuck…

We can endure, for as long as He determines.

And then…

We’ll go home.

    We’ll see Jesus.

Just like Gitz.

    Just like Andrew.

For we know…

Andrew playing with Twelve-Twenty Four

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable….For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

 My deepest condolences to Don, Esther, Pamela, Betty, Burton, Katie, Emily, Zachariah, William, and J.T.  We have this assurance, we will see him again.  And, for now and evermore, he is wholly complete.  Thank you, Jesus. 

A Life Well-Lived

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Today is the funeral of my friend, Gitz.  If you haven’t seen this article, please read.  Perhaps you will better understand how this blogging world, and the community it brings, can change a life.

What an amazing woman she was on this earth.  And now, she’s dancing in heaven, while we mourn her passing. 

I’ll get to hug you in heaven, Sweet Gitz…

Sara Frankl 
May 13, 1973 — September 24, 2011
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable,
and this mortal will have put on immortality,
then will come about the saying that is written,
“DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?
O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”

CHOOSE Joy!

In Him

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I feel I’ve been in a strait place for quite some time. 
A narrow, difficult passage has been my path for a few years now. 

Some may say it’s by my own doing, others will see I may have been pulled along, and still others could care less…saying, “she gets what she deserves!”

I am so thankful, in these difficult years, that I have found the Source of my strength. In Him.

In Him. 

I know I am where I am because God is sovereign.  And in His sovereignty, He will test me for His glory.  However, the fires of sanctification can become so painful that, sometimes, I seek an escape from the heat.  Usually it only means the melting was stifled and I must start again from a cold, hard place.  In that process I am learning to remain in the fire.  It’s much less painful in the long run. 

In reality (vs. fantasy) I can rest in Him instead of worrying what “others” may think.  If He is sovereign then He is in control.  It is by His will I am in this place.  Strait or wide open…HE directs my path.

I found this passage awhile back. 

I think Murray makes my point…or I made his (since he wrote in the 1800’s)… 

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.” Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.” Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.” And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again. How, and when, He knows.

Therefore say, “I am here

(1) by God’s appointment,
(2) in His keeping,
(3) under His training,
(4) for His time.”

~Andrew Murray, 1895

Trusting in God’s sovereignty today.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.  ~Colossians 2:6-7

Her True Colors Shining Through

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Mourning Into Dancing…may she rest in peace.  September 24, 2011…

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  ~ The Message – James 1:2-4

I think, for me, it has been about learning to want what He wants for me more than what I want for myself. It’s a tall order and I don’t say that flippantly. But my joy has truly come from Him finding His joy in me rather than me finding my joy in what I desire. It doesn’t mean I don’t long for different, it just means I find peace in fulfilling rather than understanding.

In the knowledge that this life isn’t about me, it’s about Him.

The thing I try to remind myself of, as I am without all the things that I wish I had to make me happy, is that my biggest need is Him. More than I need to be outside in the fresh air, more than I need to move without pain, more than I even need Dad… I need His will to be done in my life whether it is comfortable or not. There is not one thing that feels comfortable about my world right now, but I need Him more than I need to change my circumstances.

It’s still brutally hard. I have to remind myself of these facts every day. It doesn’t always come easily.

But it doesn’t make the truth any less true.

And the truth is that I can choose the joy.

~Excerpt from “How Do You Stay So Happy?” by Gitzen Girl

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result,
so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

Choose Joy

When I’m Weak

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Gitz was a consistent help to me during some very difficult days in my life (Sept ’08 – Nov ’09).  Her comments spoke truth, but most especially, her posts taught me how to praise through suffering.  She reached out and spoke beautiful, uplifting, encouraging words to me.  I am so thankful she will be able to see The Love of Her Life soon…

A link to Sara’s post, At Peace, is at the end of this post.

When I’m Weak
Original post published January 9, 2009:

It’s an overcast morning.  I must get to the doctor today.  I was out all day yesterday helping a wonderful friend.  But as is usual for me, too much activity one day causes much fatigue the next.  I would like to stay in the comfort of my home, but…

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
~Philippians 4:13

True?  True.

Somedays it feels impossible to move.  Somedays I’m not sure how I’ll get through.  Somedays I need my pillow and blanket to feel the warmth, to bring comfort to my stiff, aching body.

Today is someday.

I’m asking for His strength.  When I am weak, He has promised to be strong.

“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 
~2 Corinthians 12:9

Heavenly Father, help me get up.  I need Your help to move.  You have been my source of strength for many years.  I know You are the One who gives me breath.  You sustain me.  I need more of Your sustenance today.  I will boast in my weakness for I know it is Your power that gives me strength.  Thank you, Father.

An encouragement for me this day: At Peace by Gitzen Girl

Are You in Denial?

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“Nothing will deteriorate a relationship faster than denial.”

I found that quote in a book concerning disabilities.  It hit me right between the eyes.  I took the truth of it into my situation, forgetting all about the focus of the book.  I asked myself these questions:

Do I have relationships that have deteriorated? 
How have I been in denial concerning them? 
Or, have they been in denial…?

Denial deteriorates our relationships.

Denial — the refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.

Self-protection gone amuck. 
A refusal to grant the truth of a statement. 
To contradict.

Denial destroys relationship.

I can see places in my own life where denial has ruined relationship. 

A refusal from me to acknowledge a painful reality. 
A refusal from him to acknowledge my feelings. 
A refusal from you to hear my thoughts…or vice versa…
A refusal to see truth from another’s perspective.

To choose not to hear another, because what I’m saying is more important.
To protect myself from others.
To NOT admit my own sin which has affected you.

A refusal to sacrifice my “rights” for yours.

“I refuse to see the situation as you see it.”

What does that do to the relationship?
It stops it.
It brings it up short.

Either, you must see for the both of you,
Or choose to overlook the other’s dismissal of you.
In either case you have denial — more lies — with which to deal.

I’ve learned through Celebrate Recovery to “own my stuff.”
I try not to put-off on others what I have done.
And, I try not to accept responsibility for what others have done to me.

It’s very hard, but necessary, to be honest with myself.

I desire to live in truth — not lies — any longer.

How ’bout you?

Get honest.
Purpose to see the truth.
Refuse to live in denial.

It will only kill relationship.

‘Fess up.

But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception.  ~Hebrews 3:13

May Your ear be attentive and Your eyes be open to hear the prayer of Your servant that I am praying to You today throughout both day and night on behalf of Your servants…I am confessing the sins…that we have committed against You – both I myself and my family have sinned.  ~Nehemiah 1:6

When an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things (a past sin, even done in ignorance, which the individual has realized) he must confess how he has sinned.  ~Leviticus 5:5 (italics mine)

The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy.  ~Proverbs 28:13

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. ~James 5:16

Above all keep your love for one another fervent,
because love covers a multitude of sins. 
~1 Peter 4:8

He Never Leaves

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No matter what we do or where we go, He is there.

I’m reminded of the words from a popular song a few years ago:

You can spend your whole life building something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good.
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should,
But I do it anyway…

Do it anyway.

I wrote about the time my family took off without me.  That experience was over eight years ago and since that time I’ve had hundreds of similar stories to tell.  But, in the telling, please understand, I do not feel they should’ve stayed behind.  That would have been detrimental for them.  They needed to move forward.  As Wordsworth said, “Come forth, into the light of things.  Let Nature be your guide.”  That’s been my educational philosophy since training to become a teacher.  And, as a teacher, I could not squelch their opportunities to learn because I was unable to “tag along.”

I thank God their father had (has) the energy to keep up with them.
Yet, at the same time, I would’ve liked to not be left alone. 
(Can anyone say, conundrum?)

I spent quite a bit of time devouring books, watching inane television, and snipping fuzzballs.

Yes.  Snipping fuzzballs.

Somedays it’s too hard to move, but my hands need something to do.  I’m just made that way.  I need to keep busy.  But, when my body won’t cooperate and needs rest to, hopefully, move the next day, I must choose an activity that won’t burn up too much energy.  I started with the afghans and then moved on to some sweaters.  It does allow for a feeling of accomplishment to see a pile of fuzzballs on the nightstand and a sweater that appears almost new, at the end of the day.  😕

It’s not much.
But, it’s something.

I’ve kept myself “busy” to have some sense of accomplishment.
Even something as silly as snipping fuzzballs.

It’s small.
It won’t make much of a difference in anyone’s life.
And it may be eccentrically OCD…
But, I do it anyway.

And…
I sing.
I dream.
I pray.

God is great.
He remains close beside me.
Even when others must move on…

When They Took Off

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Things are fluid in my world.
It seems change occurs daily.
I’ve been in survival mode for a few years now.

Survival Mode — It’s explained as the result of the “fight or flight” response. When we feel threatened our instincts go to one or the other. And if you’ve felt “threatened” for a while, survival mode kicks in. It’s a state of constant stress with your instincts on guard. It’s not a restful place. I liken it to the “deer in the headlights” state of being. Never sure when you’ll be run over.

Since 2002 I’ve responded to most anyone who asks how I’m doing with,
“I’m hanging in the there.”

It seemed the easiest response that would bear truth.

I wasn’t dying. I just wasn’t living to my fullest potential.

Chronic illness, without a specific diagnosis,
was further complicated by a car accident.
My questionable health steadily went further south.

I’m a doer.
I love to create.
I love to work.
I love to clean.
I love being busy.

But my body won’t cooperate.

And as much as I’m a doer, my family is moreso.  We are made up of hyperactive, impulsively stimulated people. In other words, they’re more “doer” than me.  And since I couldn’t keep up, they went on without me.

The first time I noticed the change was after the accident.  We needed a weekend retreat so we drove to a national park close to home to climb the mountains and enjoy the scenery.  I was still bound up from my wounds and didn’t dare risk the climb.  So, I sat at the bottom of the mountain and watched with binoculars as my family ascended.  I had my sketchpad, made myself as comfortable as possible, and waited their return.

It was a nice day.  I enjoyed drawing.  But now, looking back, I see that’s when they took off.  All four of them.  Without me.

I thought that was a good thing, that they kept going…until I woke up one day and realized, I was alone.

I will never leave or forsake you. 
~Jesus

Great Glory

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“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,

The Master calls a butterfly.”
~ Richard Bach

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We never give up.
Though our bodies are dying,
our spirits are being renewed every day.

For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long.
Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory
that will last forever!

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now;
rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen.
For the troubles we see will soon be over,
but the joys to come will last forever.

~2 Corinthians 4:16-18