Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Be Still

I had a long talk with my cousin today. His name is Scott and he is younger than me. Scott was born with Cerebral Palsy and has dealt with a disability his entire life. As a little boy, he was my buddy. I always felt sorry for him because you could see in his eyes that he wanted to go out and run and play with his twin brother but he couldn't keep up. So, I would always play with Scott and try to keep him entertained. There were a few times I probably just about killed him trying to figure out ways to give him his own thrills. Once, he owned a little tiny red wheelchair and I started calling him "Jehu and his fiery chariot".

I grew up, went to college and Scott grew up too. We have stayed in loose contact all of these years and any time we were together, we would bond once again. However, since I have become paralyzed, Scott and I belong to the same club. We have a tighter bond than we have ever had. Scott told me today that we were always close, but he feels so much closer to me now and I have to agree with him as my feelings reflect the same. We talk on the phone quite often and I always look forward to his calls.

Scott has a beautiful singing voice and loves music. He feels called of God to share about his disability in message and song. He has written several songs and I will include one about disability at the end of this article. He made a statement today though that really caught my ear. He was telling me about a sermon that he was preparing and he was talking about the verse "Be still and know that I am God." He said "Alicia, we should learn from this. Those of us with disabilities should be among the first to do this because we know what it means to be still and be limited in our activity."

I just can't get that thought off of my mind this evening so I just had to write it and share. Scott is right. It is true. Who are the greatest prayer warriors? Those little shut-in's that can't do much more than sit up and breathe. Who are the ones who make a great impact on our lives? Those who have been stopped dead in their tracks and could only go on because of that still small voice. Who are the ones whose wisdom we long to hear? Those who have been to the darkest recesses and have found that even in the terrifying shadows, when we don't dare move or whisper because of the fear, that God was there and comforted them.

Oh how my heart is convicted. It seems that I always have something to prove. Something to pursue. Something to permeate my thoughts and keep my mind busy so that I do not dwell on my problems. I need to stop and dwell on the stillness of my legs - not to brood in self-pity, but in a thankful heart for this gift of stillness that God has allowed me to have as a reminder to listen and to know that He is my God.
Dear God, help me to be still.

Scott's Song:

He Walks For Me
Verse 1:
When I was a child I longed to play, with my friends and loved ones I wanted to stay,
But my mother said "No son you cannot go, for your body for them is much to slow".
Oh mother can't you see He walks for me, through the wind and the rain, He's still the same,
He is my rock and fortress each day, dear mother, can't you see He walks for me.
Verse 2:
Over two thousand years my Savior died, much pain He bore when they pierced His side.
And my burdens were too heavy for me to bear, my Savior walked up, my cross He shared.
Oh friend can't you see He walks for me, through the wind and the rain, He's still the same.
He is my rock and fortress each day, oh friend, can't you see He walks for me
If you have a need, He'll walk for thee.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Pity The Puppets

At therapy, I have been using a harness system that dangles you from a large metal frame and they crank a percentage of your body weight off. Every time they crank me up, I think that I know what if feels like to be a puppet! You are kind of just hanging there and waiting to "perform" whatever tasks the therapists tell me to do.

There is quite a helpless feeling as a puppet. You can't get up by yourself, your tied to all of these "ropes", you cannot move about freely, and you can't get down by yourself. Oh sure, while you are "performing" you look pretty good and amazing! But just wait until the ropes are gone - the puppet lies crumpled in a heap. At least I have my chair to land in!

My husband and I have been talking lately in regards to raising our children. How we want our children to be students of the Word of God. We want them to know not only what they believe but why they believe it. We were challenged by some friend's of ours who play devil's advocate with their children. They ask them Bible questions and then have them prove their answer with Scripture only - not opinion. It has really made us think.

I see such a deficit in this - not just among children (mine included), but among our grown-ups, our spiritual leaders, our pastor's and teachers. Many times we just parrot what we have always been told but if someone were to really put our feet to the fire about certain things we hold so fast to, we end up stuttering with some lame answer to get us off the very uncomfortable hook we have managed to get caught on.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not advocating a reversal of everything we have been taught. Quite the opposite! What I am challenged to do is to really figure out what I believe and why. If I can't give a biblical reason for the why's, then I have completely weakened my belief to others. They will view it as just opinion and no different than the right to their own. Except they will probably just keep their own opinion by not being compelled by any greater authority which should be the Word of God. This is important to others but is is of upmost importance to our children.

I wonder how Pinocchio felt when he changed from a puppet into a human. How freeing! How liberating! How wonderful to not be controlled by other people!

As a Christian, I am not to be controlled by external "ropes" but by the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. That is an internal work and is extremely liberating because I am not jerked about by everyone who desires to "pull my chain."

The Lesson:
Simple. I pity the puppets.

Go To The Ant

Our family shared a cook-out the other evening with some friends. We were all sitting outside around the campfire enjoying the late evening and the slightly cool breeze.

The fire started to get a little low so our host threw a new log onto the fire. It was a great big round log that had been out in the sun and was all gray and crackly and immediately the flames licked all around it and up through the center of it. We remarked on what a perfect log that was for our campfire. Suddenly, we noticed so many large black ants scurrying out of somewhere in that log and they were frantically looking for a way to escape the heat. The log was in the center of the fire and they kept racing all around the same areas not knowing where to go. They were doomed for certain destruction had a little 9 year old boy, my son Caleb, not saw their fate. His heart was broken that the ants could not escape so he found a large stick and made a bridge from the log to the side of the stone ring that encircled the campfire. Immediately, the ants found the stick and their escape.

I watched and as that plot unfolded before my eyes, this verse popped into my head "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;..." . Hebrews 2:3a Silently, I thanked the Lord for saving my soul and becoming that bridge for me between hell and heaven.

After thanking the Lord for saving my soul, I then thought about the fiery trials that we go through - even as believers! The Lord is just as much as a bridge for us in our fiery trials and the continuing in our faith as He was the bridge to save my soul. Again, I silently thanked the Lord for not only rescuing my soul from hell, but for being my Rescuer every time I am in the midst of the fire.

The Lesson:

I do not have to run around frantically with nowhere to turn in my life. I do not have to be consumed by the fiery trials that we may be in the middle of. Jesus Christ has provided a way of escape - for my soul and for my life. If you do not know what it means to have your soul rescued from the eternal fires of hell, then please write me and I would love to share with you.

If you know that you will spend eternity in Heaven, and have already trusted Jesus Christ as that bridge for your soul, then don't let the things you go through in your life derail you. Keep your eyes on Jesus, call out to Him and trust Him that He will deliver you! We are not only conquerors through Christ, we are MORE than conquerors!!

"And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8

My Confession

Alright, I will admit something. I have this obsessive compulsive thing going on with my feet! I am forever wanting to make sure that they are sitting straight on my footplate. I don't want them to be crooked. They have to be perfectly side by side, toes pointing straight, and feet even. I don't even want one foot sticking out farther than the other one! Of course, every bump you hit, every wheelie you pop or every transfer you make and there your feet go - doing their own thing and completely messing up my system. I think, somewhere in the back of my head, as I stare down at my feet adjusting them once again for the umpteenth time, that I think I "look" more normal if my feet are straight!

You know, from my perspective, it is important to me that my feet are straight because that is what I see when I look down at me. However, from your perspective, you are seeing an entire person sitting in a wheelchair and I am sure you are not the least interested or impressed if my feet are straight or not. I obviously look like there is some sort of problem from your perspective because I am sitting in this chair! Believe it or not, I sometimes forget the big picture here!

The Lesson

So many times it is too easy to pick out the little things in people's lives that annoy us. We get bogged down in the little unimportant pettiness of it all and we obsess about it! That is all we want to talk about, that is all that consumes our minds, and that is the problem of the hour that we must solve!

Seems to me, we probably ought to take a step back and look at ourselves with a different perspective. We need to realize that while we may be obsessing over this pettiness in someone's life, someone may be looking at us and thinking we have a few things we could work on too!

I want to view my life as God views me and let God take care of everyone else too. I have enough to work on taking care of just plain ole' me - like adjusting my feet!:)

My Relationship To My Chair

Since my wheelchair is one of the first things you see upon meeting me, I thought we should get a clear understanding of the relationship between me and my chair.

The months before I woke up paralyzed, my legs had been getting weaker and weaker. It had gotten to the point where I could only walk around about 15 minutes or so before I would get large numb patches in my legs. my balance would go haywire, and I would feel like I was wading through concrete. We would go to a store as a family and I would sit pitifully on a bench while Jimmy and the children would get our stuff. Jimmy would try to get me to let him push me in a store wheelchair and I would say "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"

I remember one particular day in Wal-Mart, Jimmy and I had a major argument. Witnessed by the shopping carts and 5 little sets of eyes, he was determined to push me and I was determined it wasn't going to happen. I remember telling him that I would rather feel pathetic all alone on that bench then LOOK pathetic in that...that...that chair!!

When I woke up paralyzed on March 12, 2009, it occured to me in the weeks that followed that I would be living my life in one of those chairs! Over time, as i have used this chair, my relationship with it has changed. This chair is no longer something I "use". I am not "confined" to this chair. I "cling" to this chair!! It is no longer an accessory for me - it is part of me! It helps to define what and who Alicia Reagan is.

I have developed some strong opinions about my chair. I don't want people pushing "me", I don't want people leaning on "me", I want my personal zone acknowledged or I might accidentally "step" on your toes! This chair is my legs! It does not hinder me - it allows me freedom!!

In fact, I have this recurring dream. I dream all the time that I am sitting on the couch, or on a church bench, or at a restaurant and everyone gets up to leave and I can't find my wheelchair. I am always panicked in my dream asking everyone "where is my chair?!" Even in my subconscious mind I know my chair and I should not be separated!

The Lesson:
So many times we look at the Word of God as an accessory. WE look at it as something necessary for old or weak people. We acknowledge that is is a helpful thing in our lives but we would rather sit on the bench of our lives feeling pathetic, then to humble ourselves and be helped.

Many times, it is at the point of our lives when we have nothing else to cling to that we finally turn to God's Word for answers. It takes something major for us to realize that God's Word and it's teachings are not there to hinder us in our lives but to lead us to freedom in Christ!

How much greater if our Bible was not something that we just "use" but something that is part of us. Something we depend on and cling to so much that we get some strong emotions about it and even in our subconscious minds we would dwell on. Something that becomes so real in our life, it is a part of us and defines who and what we are.

My prayer for you, my friends, and for me is that our relationship with the Word of God will change and deepen as we live a life using it every day!