Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Blog Is Moving!!

I just wanted to let everyone know that checks in here that I am moving my blog to my own personal website. I think it will be less confusing than jumping back and forth. When I started this blog, I did not have the website and now I do and the blog will just be one part of that site.

So, thank you for your faithful reading and encouragement! I will still be writing but just moving where you will be reading!

So, please follow me on over to here: www.aliciareagan.wordpress.com
God bless!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mommy, I’m Thirsty

It is summertime around here and the whirl of our summer started long before the hot weather came! We have been so very busy with finishing school, trying to keep the household duties up, ministering in our church and traveling as the Lord has opened the doors for us to sing and share the testimony of what the Lord has allowed in our lives. I have enjoyed the days at home when there has been nothing on the schedule! The kids have been outside playing their little hearts out and the phrase that I have been hearing continually is “Mommy, I am thirsty!”

This week, I was with a dear friend who was hosting her Summer Spectacular ladies meeting. I took some of my ladies with me and we participated in that meeting. We were having a wonderful time and my friend did a dramatic telling of the story of Ruth and Naomi. She had memorized the first two chapters of Ruth, dressed up like Naomi and quoted the Scripture of that story like a professional actress. It was one of the most moving things I had seen in a long time.

At one point of the story, I was moved to tears. She had just quoted the portion of Scripture where Ruth was gleaning in Boaz’s field and he came and talked to her for the first time. The scene is set, and those of us who know and understand the story of Ruth, know that Boaz is a picture of Jesus Christ. He is our redeemer and all that is His, is ours through our relationship with Him. As my friend was telling this story, my heart was rejoicing in what this all meant to me and how thankful I was that the Lord loved me. And then, the story introduces Boaz and here is what he said to Ruth, “Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.”

When I heard those words, “go not to glean in another field, but abide here…and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn” I felt so many emotions. My mind went to so many unhappy people - those who are bitter, sad, jealous, angry, judgmental or vindictive. My eye went the faces of many that look like they are having to endure life. My ears went to the sound of complaining and negative people whose words just zap your spirit right down. This part of the story has stayed on my heart and as I look around, I can see where I am also so guilty of not gleaning in my field and when I am thirsty, not drinking from the vessels that have been prepared for me.

I think so many times, we look to others for our gratification in life. We look to them and compare ourselves or we look to them to fill the thirsty spots in our lives. I know that as a wife, mother, Pastor’s wife, daughter, sister, and friend, I have often been guilty of looking at those roles, and the people who belong in those roles with me, to meet my needs. I need their praise, their admiration, their attention and their time or I am unfulfilled and normally end up unhappy at them as well as within myself. Like Ruth, I am alone, a stranger, hungry and thirsty. Christ owns the “field” of my life and longs for me to not go and try to glean in another field but to stay in His and when I am thirsty, He has prepared the vessel for me and I just have to go and drink. Unlike Ruth, I allow my happiness, my purpose, my identity, and my thoughts to be defined by a whole different set of fields and when I am thirsty I look to all of these different things to fill me.

I remember when I first became paralyzed, the thought that bothered me the most at the beginning was not if I would spend my life in a wheelchair or not. Those thoughts came later. I knew how hard everything was, I saw how hard my husband worked to help me, I knew we already had 5 children and I was expecting our 6th and I could not get my mind around the fact that I could not be the homemaker that I had been before. It was physically impossible to do some of the chores. My kitchen is not accessible and is very hard to cook in. Just use your imagination and see what all a 4ft. person could do in your kitchen! In the early days, I just couldn’t cook anything. I was very disturbed with the fact that I had become half of a woman. I couldn’t even get my child a drink of water when they asked for one.

I remember, after crying to my husband one frustrating evening, his sweet words of encouragement to me. He said, “Honey, I don’t need a housekeeper and I don’t need a cook. The children don’t need a mommy who can do everything. We just need you.” Those words healed me. What he was saying to me, was that they were not fulfilled by what I could do for them. They were fulfilled with just paralyzed-in-a-wheelchair me! We can be fulfilled in our lives by Jesus Christ alone not by what others can or should do for us. Jesus stands by us, telling us that He has all we need, to please stay in His field and glean, to come to Him when we are thirsty and that will be enough to nourish us physically, spiritually and emotionally.

I still have trouble getting my children a drink of water, but I am so glad that I can teach them who can quench the thirsts of their hearts. I will never hear the words “Mommy, I’m thirsty” without being reminded, like Ruth, to “stay and glean in the fields” and to “drink from the vessels” that have been provided to me through Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 21, 2011

God Made These Bumps

I took my sweet little Macey to the doctor today. It was just me and her. She sat in the front seat next to me as she wanted to be near me. Bless her heart, she felt so bad. Her tonsisl are all big and swollen and she moaned everytime she swallowed. I wanted to hold her hand as we drove but I couldn't because I need both of my hands to drive!

As we were coming back home, we took Highway 247. This road has been named "The Roller Coaster Road" by our family because of its many dips and turns. Some of the dips are very fun to drive over as they move your stomach up into your throat. On a normal trip, the children squeal with delight as I love to hit those hills just a little hard to scare them to death!

Today as we were driving home, I knew Macey was feeling bad so I was taking it easy on that road. We went over the best spot and Macey had a little smile on her face. Actually, it was one of the few smiles I have seen all day on my normally bubbly girl. As she smiled, she looked over at me and said, "God made those bumps, I just know it." I smiled and said, "Yes, honey, He did."

I got to thinking about that the rest of my drive home. "Did God make those bumps?" Well, technically, the road crew made them. But God did make the hills, and he made men with the ability to carve those roads out. So, in a round about way, I was telling Macey the truth. God did make those bumps. I also started thinking about how fun it is to go over those bumps. I love that feeling you get in your stomach. My hubby, on the other hand, does not! I remembered how in our recent airplane flight, the turbulence and bumps that we felt in the air. I did not like those bumps! My hubby seemed calm as a cucumber and my stomach was feeling very nervous! However, the same God that made the fun bumps made those bumps too.

Why do I like road bumps but not air bumps? Because on the road bumps, I am in control and so it is fun. On the air bumps, I am very much out of control so it is scary. Isn't that just like life? We think, as we travel along, that we are so very much in control and we handle the little bumps along the way as no big deal because we've got it all covered. But when we hit a bump that shows us that we are completely out of control, then we are scared to death.

Let us all remember, my dear friends, that God made these bumps in our lives. Maybe He didn't initiate all of them, but He has allowed them so in a round about way, He is still in control of every single bump we hit. We need these bumps because we need Him. We aren't in control of anything. He is in control of everything and always has been. The fearful times are when this truth is revealed to us and we need that reminder. Otherwise, we are cocky and self-centered and are quite sure that we have the world by the tail.

I need Him. You need Him. Yes, I agree with Macey. "God made these bumps. I just know it."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Summer and Winter

Since the day is absolutely beautiful outside, and since my hubby just preached a tremendous sermon, this post is dedicated to the topic he preached on. It won't be long but it was just too good to pass up. It blessed my heart and I pray it will your too.

The winter here in Ohio, and across much of the U.S., has been a long one this year! I do not like the cold. It sets my "trying-to-wake-up" nerves on fire and the cold leaves me in a lot of weird pain. One minute I am being stabbed internally by a knife, another minute I am being burnt to the bone by a giant blow torch, another minute I am being shocked by an electrical wire and another minute someone is rubbing me down with sand paper. Of course, these things aren't literally happening to me but such is some of the descriptions of paralysis and nerve pain. It happens all the time, but for me, the cold just amplifies it ten-fold! I am VERY tired of the cold and after several months, you get extremely weary and it is very hard to fight the blues!

Last Sunday, my hubby preached a sermon from Psalm 74:17 called "Thou Hast Made Summer and Winter". Oh my, what a message and it is exactly what this frost-bitten heart needed! He talked about how much more we appreciate the summer times of our lives after we have been through a hard winter. How that if we lived in the summer and beautiful weather all the time we would shrivel up and die. It is the falling snow of winter that adds nutrients back into the soil and prepares the ground for a greater increase.

Today as I look at this beautiful sunshine and am soaking in the pure pleasure of warmness and less pain, I know that he is right. I am enjoying this day so immensely because of the hard winter. We do not realize how selfish we have become in the summer times of our lives, until we face a winter. It is then we realize how much more we should appreciate the beautiful days of our lives!

So, my friends, join me in appreciating every single day and living it to the fullest and to the glory of our great God who created both summer and winter!

Monday, February 14, 2011

For Better, For Worse

“For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…” These are words that my Valentine and I spoke to each other in a covenant to God on December 4, 1998. We meant them that day as much as our hearts could mean them. He was my prince who had made all my dreams come true and I was his princess. Our home was established that romantic evening and our desire to stay faithful to one another and to God was burning in our hearts.

Life started and moved on. God called him away from the financial industry into the ministry. Children came and we even located away from our families where God called us to serve. We have had our ups and downs as every couple has as life gives you new adjustments. Some things we handled properly and some things we did not. All of those times were stepping stones in the path of married life that you learn from. Through all of that, our desire to be committed to one another and to our Lord stayed true.

The biggest challenge of our marriage came in March of 2009 when I became paralyzed. We are so thankful that our marriage was strong when that trial came into our lives because if it wasn’t, I just don’t know what may have happened. Everything that had been established as the “Reagan Home” was completely turned upside down. Suddenly becoming childlike and needing assistance in simple things like dressing, bath rooming, bathing and putting your shoes on to the simplest forms of romance – like no longer being able to hold hands as you walk together became so confusing and redefined our ideas of what our relationship was. No one wants a marriage to seem like parenting where one constantly takes care of the needs of others. But such is a marriage many times when one becomes disabled.

There were a few times that we both would just sit and cry. We were frustrated trying to understand all of these new things. Selfishness reared its ugly head as Jimmy and I both were trying to get a grip around our new roles in life. We discovered that although I am the one that became paralyzed and people notice me because I am sitting in that wheelchair, the disability belongs to both of us. His life changed as drastically as mine. His role in our disability doesn’t involve sitting in a wheelchair, living every day with pain, and not physically being able to be involved in things you once loved. However, his day involves not only the demands of the ministry, but also one of helping me all day long. Our marriage developed a new psychological and emotional layer that we had never before had to deal with. We both learned that there were new ways to meet each other’s needs, physically and emotionally, and we chose to dwell on the joy of discovery instead of the disappointment and frustration of what we had lost.

I love my Jimmy. He is my “gem” – a rare jewel above and beyond those who boast of their manhood. You want a man? Here you go. My man washes all the dishes in this house – I physically cannot reach my sink. My man washes all the laundry. I can’t even reach the knobs. He washes and dries and brings them to me and I fold. The children put away. My man brings me a cup of tea every morning. My man helps me cook meals and put things in and out of the oven. My man loads and unloads a wheelchair in the sunshine, the rain and the freezing cold. I have a lot of trouble regulating my temperature now so my man will sweat so that I won’t be cold. My man will physically put me to bed when I am too tired to make the transfer. Although I have now learned to be independent and do almost everything, he will do things for me anyway just to make my life a little easier.

Why would my Valentine do these things - knowing that this is it? For good. Permanent. No getting over the flu here and being normal again. Why? Why would we fight so hard to not only survive in our marriage but to desire it to thrive? Because this is love. A giving of yourself unselfishly as Christ did for us. This is keeping a promise that we made to God and to each other 12 years ago. “For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

But If Not

I am nearing my 2 year anniversary of being paralyzed. It will be March 12. The "paralysis" statistic they tell you is that whatever you have gained back at your 2 year mark is about where you will stay the rest of your life. Hearing these words at this point of the game can almost hit that giant red panic button that exists somewhere in our brains. You feel like you are racing a giant clock and that your life depends on winning! Of course, that is one perspective. The other perspective is one that I find much more comforting and have chosen to take.

When you have lived your entire life trying to serve God, following His Word, and even giving your life to full-time ministry teaching others about Him, then you grab on to all those verse of promise that you shall prosper, He will bless you, and you assume from that that life will be peaches and cream. Sure, trials can come, but God will get you through them and all will be fine again! Well, that is fine, until you feel that you didn't get through that trial. That loved one is sick, you are in God's will so you prayed and they died anyway. So many people choose to kill their babies, not wanting them, but you want your baby and you will raise it to love God, but your baby dies. You have been told that you have very little time to live and you know God can heal you but what if you die anyway? You are paralyzed and you see people who recover and are walking around but you aren't - and they aren't even trying to live for God!

These are all very real thoughts and maybe are afraid to utter lest anyone would then accuse us that our faith isn't strong enough and that is probably why we haven't experienced healing. There is nothing that can upset me more, then for people to tell me to just have more faith. The reason it upsets me is not because it makes me mad at them. It truly upsets me for them. I fear for their own thoughts if they ever have to go through something major.

I assure you, if you love God, then know one has more "faith" than the person who is in the midst of their trial. No one will pray harder for their child to live than the parents. No one will pray harder to live then the one who knows they are dying. No one will pray harder to be made whole than the one with the disability. You know how much faith you have in what God can do and when the outcome happens, that is against what you prayed, the strong faith that you had in God to answer your prayers, turns to strong doubt in this God that you had trusted. You feel betrayed, let down, forsaken and although you dare not say it, you wonder how real this all is. Why didn't He help me when I needed Him the very most?

I think that one of the greatest things that I have learned, is that my faith is not in what God can do, but in Who He is. God is God and I do not know the way that He chooses. I do not understand why these things happen. I know He is able to do whatever He wants but that is not where my faith is. My faith is in Him and that involves trusting Him when the outcome doesn't go my way. It involves trusting Him that He has a much bigger plan and He has invited me to partake of His plan by using me in a role that I had not counted on.

One of my favorite Bible stories is that of the three Hebrew children. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not worship the king's idol. The King warned them again to bow or they would die. Here is their reply "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." This sums it up so beautifully. We know our God is able, but if not, in other words, if He decides a different way to bring Himself glory though my life, or through my death, then that is okay. We will stay faithful to Him anyway.

For me and my situation, I know that God can heal me. I know that He can make me walk again or not. But it isn't my faith or lack of it that decides this. Surrender says "It is not up to me, it is up to Him." Do I have my own desires and wishes? Well, of course. But my deepest desire is that I can be used of God. If He thinks He can use me better in this chair, then who am I to pray otherwise? When my thoughts go away from this, then that is the time that I re-evaulate if I am truly yielded to God's will or not. Some days I am, and some days I am not. It is a daily choice to choose God.

My dear friends, this is such an important key. We cannot answer the hard questions of life but we can trust Him. We know we serve a God that can, but if not, we serve a God Who is and we can rest in the fact that He is working in our lives to bring Him glory. Do not beat yourself up for "not having enough faith". It is not the quantity of our faith that matters - it is that our faith is in God alone, in Who He is, the Master and Creator of the universe, and He knows. We just trust Him no matter what.

He has an individual plan for every life. Trust Him with yours!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Battle of Independence

“It is a good thing that I did not become paralyzed, I would enjoy it too much and lay around and do nothing.” These words, or some like them, have been echoed to me many different times since I became a paraplegic. I always give a smile and say, “No you wouldn’t” and think that I am right. Whether I am or not I don’t know. This battle for independence. I think some of it does depend on your personality but a lot of it comes from an inward drive where your body knows you can never be totally independent, but your heart says “watch me try!”

I was thinking about a man that I know. He has some mental handicaps and although he lives alone, he requires monitoring and assistance with daily challenges. His guardian was talking to me about how stubborn he can be. I know this man and I know she is right! He desires to make decisions and be in control but he just can’t quite do it. That must be frustrating.

For myself, I know how very hard I push to do everything by myself. I always tell my husband that he better let me do it all now because when I get old, someone else will probably have too! I don’t want “pushed”. I am capable of doing that myself! I don’t want you to get the door for me. I can open a door for you and get in myself! I don’t want you to help me get in a car. I can do it so please leave me alone! I don’t want you to carry me up the stairs. It must somehow be easier to get out, pull my body up step after step and arrive at the top justified that I did it all alone.

I may have accomplished those things by myself, but I was probably foolish doing it. I am all for being independent, but I would have thanked you for opening that door when I was walking so just what am I trying to prove? Before I sound vicious, I want you to understand that I don’t ever tell people to stop pushing me, get out of my way, or put me down. I smile graciously and thank them. It is just the thoughts inside my head that I am now confessing to!

I can get from the floor up into my chair by myself. I have swam a little excessively this week so my back and upper body are in quite a bit of pain and worn out so I couldn’t get in my chair last night. I had a friend nearby who I asked to give me a boost. It killed me to have to ask her! This was something I could do - and I had to have help!! The thought of being dependent, of needing help, was really hard on my independent spirit!

I find a fascinating correlation between this and my spiritual life. You know, there are some things that God requires of us - a sort of spiritual independence. He says to “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Hey, that’s up to me! But then He offers His help saying “I will bless them that bless me.” He says to “Be strong…” - I can handle that because I think I am tough! Then it says “…in the Lord” - now that’s a different story. That puts my strength in being dependent on Him. We are told that the great King David of old “encouraged himself” - see, grab yourself by the bootstraps and get with the program! Then it says how he did that “…in the Lord.” That involved dependence again. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things…” - we like that don’t we? But then it finishes with “…through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

You see, my friend, this battle of independence goes beyond my physical challenges. It affects my relationship to God also. I am given an independent choice to serve God, to trust God, to stay faithful to God, to rejoice in the Lord, to surrender my life, my plans and my wishes to my Maker. Yet through all of those independent choices, there is a realization that I can do none of those things without depending on God and allowing His strength to compensate for my weaknesses.

I desire to be independent in my daily life. I desire to do everything I can without anyone else helping me. I desire to live as normally as I did before my wheelchair and I became partners. But I also realize that there are times that this just isn’t realistic and I will have to feel dependent and “less” as a person and I need to learn to be okay with that too.

So, it is in my spiritual life. I desire to trust God, to be strong, to have faith, to serve without question, to be okay with a less-than-perfect body and all the complications that go with that, and to keep on smiling without a quiver. But sometimes this isn’t realistic either and I find myself weary, fearful, questioning and grumbly! This is exactly the point that I am reminded that I am not spiritually independent for without Him I can do nothing!

May God help me to surrender in the battle for independence and depend on Him!