The Challenge

Sometimes we think, I just can’t do that!  And sometimes it is true, yes, but sometimes we find we are stronger than we thought.

This morning, after dropping my two preschoolers off at school, I had to go get a blood draw.  In the past, I would have had someone watch my one-year old, but this morning, with the sun shining so beautifully, I was up for that challenge to go it alone!  So when we pulled in, there was not a single handicap space available.  Now, especially with a one-year old and a scooter, those larger spaces are quite helpful.  But, I had to take a regular space.   So I pulled into one that had an empty spot next to it.  I could get my scooter and then pull up right next to the van and get my daughter more easily.  Things are going well!  Afterwards, as we were heading back to the parking lot, I said a quick prayer that the spot next to my van was still open.  It would just be so much easier.  Well, we got out and no, there was a vehicle parked next to me, and quite close at that!  So I park the scooter behind my van, get my cane and the two of us make it to the door.  As I get her in her seat, it gives me a moment to laugh with her and praise God that we did it!  And of course, thank Him for being with us every step of the way.  I get her buckled up and then go put away the scooter and we head off….  And so I realize I can do it!  It’s funny how something can seem so daunting, but once you are ‘forced’ to do it, you realize it is not so bad after all.  I think my prayer was answered — God wanted me to realize that He is with me and I can do it with His help!   Those physical challenges are always popping up in my life.  But I think we also get spiritual challenges….things we think we just cannot handle.  But, as we go through it, we realize God is right there with us, carrying us through.   And when we get to the other side of the challenge, we can see with more clarity how God was indeed there all along!  It’s funny, sometimes I think we have trouble seeing, feeling His presence while we are in those tough moments, but when we make it through, it is so important to look back, see how He was with us and always thank Him for His goodness!  Because He is always seeing us through, He is always giving us the strength we need.  But sometimes He also gives us the weakness so that we can more fully turn to Him!  I think the beauty is in not having to wait until we are through…Are we seeing Him in whatever it is we are facing?

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Surrender

Wow!  Sometimes life just keeps you hoppin’!  And sometimes, it is not so much of a hop, skip or jump, as it is just getting by!  After our wonderful little get-away, my days have seemed so full.   I say “seemed” simply because they were not really full, but I struggled so much more to do anything and everything I did took so much longer that my days seemed full.     And what a great opportunity to just surrender.  To just give it all to God.  Every Sunday at mass,  when the gifts are presented,  I always say a prayer, “Lord, I lay my life down on your altar; I place everything at the foot of the cross.’. I say it week after week, but am I truly living it?  the prayer should start with ‘Help me to…’. Because I do need help with that!    As much as I try to just give it all to our loving Father, I falter, losing hope, wondering ‘why’, and fears creep in…if I am getting this much worse already, how much worse is it going to get!?   Good Friday services are really special to me.  My favorite part has always been the veneration of the cross.  Something about walking to Jesus on the cross, being able to kiss him.  Yes, I can do that at home, but it is really awesome to see hundreds of people doing it– walking just to honor Jesus, whether it be to genuflect, to touch, to kiss, to bow…  And this past Friday, I had to take that walk.  Now, I slowed the line down quite a bit, but I had to do it…I just had to walk up to that cross.  I just had to kiss Jesus, thank Him, honor Him, love Him.   He walked a much tougher walk, surely I can walk this short distance.  I needed to just completely surrender and allow Jesus to take over.    I needed that Good Friday experience.  I needed that reminder.  Perhaps I shouldn’t just wait for Good Friday.   Maybe I could make it a point to surrender every day.  I have crucifixes throughout my home.  Maybe it is time I paused and prayed before them, rather than going past without a thought.  Maybe that is the reminder that is there, day after day, that I do not even realize.   Once again, there are signs of God’s love all around us; we have to open our eyes!

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Escape!

Spring break came at the perfect time.  We headed out early Saturday morning for a long drive to Georgia.  Our destination was Tybee Island, but we stopped to visit friends for Saturday night.  And what a great visit it was.  It is good to have friends who have been with you through the years.  It is good to have friends who think nothing of picking you up and carrying you to the area where everyone is visiting.  But with that also comes a terrible dose of reality.   I am not sure I can take much more of that right now!

How fun to watch the adults playing with the kids, running, playing soccer, just hanging out at the playset, pushing them on swings…  Or seeing a couple walk hand in hand, occasionally stealing a kiss…   Very aware of the two story home whose stairs are effortlessly maneuvered.  No, I am not fighting the envy right now.  I am struggling to find my purpose.  At a priest’s suggestion, I have been trying to focus on the cross.   Look to Christ on the cross to better understand and carry my cross.  That was the idea.  Now when he suggested it, I felt really good about it, almost excited to have a new outlook with regards to my MS.   What the week has shown me, however, is how I am a cross for others to bear.  And I am just struggling with that.  Is it my pride?  I watch as my husband does everything possible to make me a part of everything.  The walkway to the beach only takes you so far in a wheelchair, then the dunes are there to contend with.  That is when I said, go have fun; I’ll see you later.  “No you’re going too” as he bends down for me to get on his back!  He piggybacked me through the dunes right to the beach and found a spot for me to sit!   He always does things like this so lovingly, so naturally.  And yes, I feel a bit guilty that we are not walking hand in hand, stealing those kisses.  I miss those days…   My kids are so wonderful about getting the wheelchair for me, pushing me in it.  It is humbling.  When we went to mass, it was beautiful how kind people were.  One woman even came after communion and gave me a hug and kiss, handing me a note that she wrote  that read,

Jeremiah 30:17.  I will restore you to health.

All of this (and lots more!) got me to thinking…   In looking at Christ carrying the cross, He had a man who helped, He had a woman there to wipe his face …  Who am I that I think I should do it alone?    Perhaps I need to focus more on gratitude.  There is no question I have much for which to be grateful.  Do I express my gratitude to friends, loved ones, even strangers? Or do I express my frustrations more?   What about to God… I know I share my frustrations.  Am I equally good about sharing my gratitude with Him?

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Slamming into the wall of reality …

Last week was a tough one.   It was one reality check after another.  First, the process to get a new wheelchair, excuse me, powerchair, is quite intense.  Not what I expected or was prepared for at all.   So, to sum it up…they look not only at how far gone you currently are (inabilities in standing, walking, transferring, etc.), but what they expect them to be in the (perhaps near) future!  See, chairs are made just for your height, weight and disability!  So after meeting with the gentleman for almost 2 hours, I guess it hit me … This is not going away.  This may get considerably worse.   Deep breath.

Ok, I can handle this.  I can focus on the cool new chair and what I will be able to do with it!  Wait.  What will I do with it other than zoom around the house?

Enter God’s amazing blessings.  And maybe a bit more of reality.

A friend of mine went to see someone at our church to find out if they knew of any handymen who might be able to help with putting a ramp on my front porch.  Well, that opened a huge door.  I had a wonderful woman (one I have always admired for her selfless works) come to my home and have a look at my home and what else may be needed.  So that meant I had to admit that, yes, I need safety bars in the bathroom because without them, falling is a regular thing.  And crawling out of the shower just gets old.  That’s a time you want to feel good.  Refreshed.  Ready to face the day.   But it meant facing the question of, ‘are safety bars enough? Do you need a ‘ride-in shower?’.   Deep breath.   ‘What about your back yard?   Can you really wheel around out there?’.  Whew.  The kitchen may soon need some changes too.

Ok, so my amazing husband came home to be with me for the  meeting about e wheelchair, but was not a part of the next meeting.  Well first, the power chair meeting was a huge dose of reality for him.   These chairs are not the generic ones that you can just pick up.   This would be custom made to my specifications.  (and the only ‘upgrade’ I asked about thinking it wasn’t a big deal, I found out is something very hard to get insurance to cover and the upgrade alone would add thousands of dollars to the cost.   Ok…I didn’t really need that…just being crazy with my thoughts!). But all the talk made my husband realize how severe this is.  I cannot imagine how hard it is on him.  And he has no one to really talk and share all this with.  He doesn’t have a lot of close friends and he isn’t one to really open up and talk much.   Thank God that he makes it a point to go to mass once in a while during the week!  And thank you, God, that he took this new job that he really enjoys!   God knew what was coming and just knew that he would need to draw his joy and peace to some extent in his job.

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Sometimes you just gotta hang in there …

…and you will once again see God’s glory!!!  I probably should have seen it all along, yes, but I did know he was there, I just fell completely into human mode!

So, this morning, tears flowed freely.  I cried out to God that I just didn’t know if I could do it anymore.  Then a friend came and prayed with and for me.  Then my friend who needed prayers for her son stopped by to tell me that prayers are being heard and shared some good progress.  WOW!  God was with me the whole time and in my deepest despair, He was listening and as always, He was caring,    And now, I got a call and it was one of the people who entrusted their prayers to me! — I will get my prayer intention book again – she will see to it!   And in the meantime, she gave me the name and situation of someone in desperate need of prayer.  I have (this is how I view it!) a purpose for my struggles!    God is ALWAYS there!  Sometimes it gets hard to rest in that truth, but do try and know that the sun will shine again!!

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When your world is falling apart…

Today, the walls are closing in and I am alone.  How long am I supposed to smile and act like everything is just great?  Because the truth is, it is not.  I am surrounded by friends who are in great shape, very active and happy.  I have a husband, the same.  Talking with those friends about things we did for the weekend is hard because I can not share exciting stories of places I went, things I did.  And who wants to hear about the trials and joys associated with a wheelchair?!  My life is so different from theirs.  I cannot relate to them and they cannot relate to me.  As a result, there are many friendships that never get the chance to blossom, to grow.  They fall by the wayside and that is it.  I want to scream out, “This is not ME!”  But, the reality is that it is me.  I have a priest friend who used to share with me intentions of people who were in dire need of prayers.  I always appreciated those times I would get a text right when I needed it most … when I was down on the ground crawling and crying!  Having that person to pray for somehow gave my struggles meaning.  I also used to get a notebook from the church where people would share their intentions.  Again, it was something that made me feel like somehow I had a purpose for my struggles.   I have not gotten any such intentions for months.  I am struggling more with each passing day.  So where does that leave me?  How do I move forward with anything?  There is simply nothing I can do to change the reality.  I listen as friends share that they are venturing out in new areas and trying new things.  And all I could share was that I hope to play basketball with the kids when I get my new chair.  See?  Reality is just so different.  I have nothing to offer.  Nothing worthwhile anyway.  I want to teach my kids to jump in and really live and embrace life.  But what do they see when they look at me?  A person who just sits, who needs help to walk up 2 steps and to walk 10 steps just to get to the table to sit down.  I am falling short in everything.  My kids deserve more.  My husband deserves better.  I am tired of being the one who can’t go there or do that because of my disability.  I’m tired of being the “downer”, the  blob that just sits there.  I’m tired of being the reason we have to think of another alternative or a different way to do something, something that can accommodate the chair.  It gets old and I am just tired of being that person.  Yes, I’m envious of many of the people around me.  I guess it is a good thing that there is a penance service tomorrow night.  Perhaps I will get there….

A friend came to me in tears asking for prayers for her son who is going through very hard times.   Praise God!   Perhaps there really is some meaning….

 

(This was typed up Sunday, but not posted)

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Seeing my Guardian Angel … in the flesh!

What a day!  Where to start!??!…

Probably with I am so blessed.  So my sweet friend made sure I had a wheelchair this morning.  Before 9:00, I got a call letting me know my power chair was on its way.   And what an experience!  The gentleman delivering it was so gracious and kind, displaying a level of concern and care that made me feel God’s loving embrace.  I wasn’t just a disability, I was a human being who mattered!  He told me how his grandfather had struggled and before he passed away, he told his grandfather that he would work in this field and help people!  I know his Grandfather is smiling at his work!  He even asked about my old chair that died.  He wondered if I would mind if he took it and had a look at it.  Well of course not, it’s just in the way anyway!   Within the hour, I got a call from his company stating that my old chair is fixed!  It was just faulty wire!  They will exchange the chairs on Monday, as they couldn’t do it today.  But I can get around this weekend and my chair will be back on Monday!  And I will move forward in getting a new chair (my old chair is still just that–old!), but with no worries of being stranded with no way to get around…and no more holes in the knees of my pants!  My friend who got the rental chair for me is such a blessing.  The gentleman who brought it is a blessing.  They both did it to help me, nothing more.  They displayed, so lovingly, God’s love for us.  Perhaps it was just a hint, but wow!  If that is just a hint of God’s love for us, imagine–imagine–how greatly he loves us!  Imagine if we all just gave each other even a hint of God’s great love!  Funny, last night, the older kids and I watched the movie Amazing Love.  It’s the story of Hosea.  And today I got to feel and experience just a touch of that amazing love!  

 

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