Take It Easy

Take it easy
Take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can . . .

These words, written by Jackson Browne and Glen Frey and recorded by the Eagles,  resonated in my head on a road trip we took this week. Our destination was a military post where our nephew and his family live. Our base access pass from our last visit had expired. Our goal, or more properly stated, MY goal, was to get on post between 3pm – 4 pm to get a new pass. If we arrived after 4 pm we would have to be escorted on base and listen to the stern counsel of the guard on duty to get our pass first thing in the morning.

Focusing on this target, we left home allowing a two-hour window for rest stops, fueling and changing of drivers, which is not as quick as it may sound as it involves physically changing the setup of the van. In previous posts I have disclosed that driving was our greatest challenge in marriage. Twenty-three years later, it is still true!

With each stop our two-hour window shortened. I became antsy, which sounds better than saying my need to control kicked in. On the one hand I was telling Jerry to stop asstress-2883648_1280 often as he needed when he was driving so he could change position and keep his body healthy. At the same time I was telling him our arrival window was down to only 30 minutes and we needed to be more mindful of the time.

While saying that, I felt guilty.

When Jerry pulled over so we could change drivers, he asked why I was so bound and determined to get there before 4 pm. He reminded me that we had not done that on any of our previous visits and survived. It was then that I confessed my motivation.

I wanted to make life easier for my nephew and his wife. I did not want them to have to pile the six kids into their van (three still in car seats) to drive the four miles out to the gate and escort us in. Concern for their comfort and ease made me compromise my husband’s comfort. My concern wasn’t even valid as our family reassured us it would be no big deal for them to come escort us.

The clincher to that conversation came when Jerry said, “When you try to make it easy for others, you sometimes make it harder for me.”

Ouch!

This is not the first time I’ve become aware of that tendency.

Next Monday I’ll share a little more about the dangers of making life with disability look or seem easy. Can you relate?  For now I am going to take it easy and enjoy these precious days with our family. Have a great week friends.

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Marriage Dreams Part 2

A new friend and I recently chatted about the difference in our marriages because I married a man with a disability, and she did not. Yet more than 20 years later, her groom became disabled. We commented how the death of dreams is tougher in her situation because she didn’t expect disability.

The more I thought about that I came to a new understanding of my own self. If asked, I would reply that I did not encounter the death of dreams because  I knew disability was a part of our marriage. Until these last few weeks. I now see that while the situation and expectations were different, the outcome is similar.

Jerry and I spent hours on our dates and through our engagement dreaming about how we would minister together, serve together and continue to travel for ministry, as we both did when we were single. We talked about how his life would be easier. By me helping him with his care needs he would gain an hour or two every day. I could assist him to do physical therapy exercises, again extending his functional abilities. We dreamed of me camping with friends and traveling on international mission trips. The pictures we created in our heads were beautiful, fully accessible and without any bumps in the road. Not to mention completely achievable.

Honestly, our marriage is beautiful. But my definition of beauty has changed. 1240269_10201749692684916_1017749866_nAcknowledging and dealing with bumps, and sometimes downright huge obstacles, contributes to my new view of beauty. It is a rugged rather than pristine beauty today.

 

Working and ministering together? Yes, we have done that about half of the nearly 24 years we have been married. It has been exciting, memorable, fulfilling, an area of struggle at times as we uncovered some sense of competition. The reality has not looked much like those dreams we shared during our engagement. As Jerry is fond of saying, “The best part of working together is we’re together all the time. The hardest part of working together is we’re together all the time.”

Assisting with personal care and therapy routines? Little did we know that it wouldn’t be too many years into our marriage before I too would have therapy exercises to keep my body functional to help him! If we both did all the therapies recommended for our various body parts it would take the full day! We had to pick and choose. Helping him with his routine impacted my previously free and flexible schedule. Not to mention the toll it took on my own body.

Traveling? We have been able to do a significant amount of travel around the United States, and brief ventures to some islands accessible by cruising. Such a source of joy. As for international missions trips for me, I am grateful for the experiences I had when I was single. In recent years I believe God is telling me this is not my time for international travel. I have pushed back and fought against that (with God, not Jerry). But God has held pretty firm. My place, my job, my primary ministry is to/with my husband.

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Conversations about the pace we can continue to travel have been frequent in recent weeks. We are still talking through what we gain from that versus what it takes out of both of us now that we are nearing the next big decade of life.

I hope you hear my heart in this. I am not looking for sympathy. It has been healthy for me to acknowledge that I too have experienced the death of some dreams. But perhaps some of those dreams, were simply that – dreams. What God has granted us in place of those is a stronger appreciation and love for one another, a deeper understanding of what is important in life, and a gratitude for the time and opportunities we have.

chalkboard-620316_1920What about you? How has God taken what may have been the death of one or more of your dreams and traded it for a new kind of beauty? I really want to hear your stories. For those who post a reply by Friday September 6 I will choose one random commenter to receive a free copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy. You’ll read a story from me in there. So start typing  . . . .

Reflections on Blizzard or Hurricane Prep

Blizzard. Hurricane. No, I am not thinking about the ice cream treat or drink by those names. Either would be more fun, than the weather events.

We are in the middle of living through our first hurricane season (June – November) in central Florida. Prior to this we endured more blizzards than we would like to count. Though they are very different weather events, there is a great deal of similarity in the preparation.

Hype. I understand by using that word I am indicating that there is some sensationalism to the reports we hear. Forecasting for both blizzards and hurricanes has improved, but still to a large degree a guessing game. Very rarely did the blizzards hit the areas, or with the intensity that the forecasters thought. Already we are seeing that the “cone of error” for Hurricane Dorian covers a 600-700 mile area. Still we don’t want to be caught off guard in either scenario, so that leads us to the next similarity . . .

Shopping frenzy. For blizzards the time period seemed to be 24 hours or less in advance to load up on milk, bread and eggs. For hurricanes the prep begins months ahead to have shopping-3225130_1280as much on hand as possible when the storm approaches. The lines for gas and last-minute groceries seems to start about 4 days in advance. For hurricanes people are not concerned with eggs and milk – we may not have power. But the bread and shelf stable food along with bottles of water and batteries are a must.

Uncertainty. I remember often with blizzards wondering if we should cancel a meeting or appointment a day or two out. One does not want to appear foolish or uncaring if we did get dumped on with snow and ice. But how many times does one change their schedule only to find it was not needed? In hurricanes the uncertainty revolves around do we go, or do we stay? Today it may look like we can stay, the next report may say the eye is coming to our specific address (or so it seems).

From where I sit today, here is what I know:

1) People are people. Every area, every event, is going to have people who don’t believe anything will happen, and others who believe we are facing Armageddon. Their response depends on many factors. My response depends only on one factor – Grace. When anxieties and uncertainty flare around us, a response of grace is always in season and fits the forecast.

2) Technology and forecasting have improved significantly over the years. Even the best acknowledges there is a large margin of error. I need to listen and wisely process the updates. My trust, however, cannot be in those forecasts, or my preparation. There is only One in whom I can trust. The One whom the winds and waves obey (Matthew 8:27).

3) As I prepare my home, family and self to the best extent possible I cling (pun intended as I think of a hurricane) to the truth of Romans 8: 38-39. Nothing – not height, depth, wind, rain, snow, ice, or flying debris can separate me from the love of God (my adapted paraphrase of the verses).

So thquestion-mark-160071_1280ere’s my reflections on preparations. What are yours? No matter where you live you likely have some type of environmental event to deal with. How do you prepare?

Marriage Dreams

Dreams of marriage . . . candlelight and romance . . . tackling projects together. . . kids that look like you, and act like him (or vice versa) . . . retirement days to travel and enjoy one another and the family. What was your dream for marriage?

Happy 284 +1Many of us don’t think about disability when we dream about marriage. But here we are, with wheelchairs, memory loss, seizures, spasms, paralysis or some other constant partner in our family because we either married into disability or one of you acquired it after marriage.

Often we talk about how disability results in the death of our dreams. I know that can be true. I also know that while we said “better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and in health” most of us don’t really understand what that might involve.

Let’s be honest. Are there any marriages – even those that do not involve disability – which do not deal with reality clashing with our dreams?

Early in our marriage we were taught that life would not be so hard if we did not expect it to be so easy. There is so much truth in that statement.

If you are in one of those periods today of feeling the loss related to disability, know that you are not alone. No marriage is easy. We all encounter loss.

Sometimes in marriage we see the disability as something to be grieved or overcome. There is nothing wrong with grieving or working to alleviate disability and it’s effects. But the final chapter has not been written. God is working good through our circumstances. How might disability be a tool God is using in your marriage?

share-2482016_1920We can all benefit from hearing from one another. Would you share how God is using disability in your marriage and relationships?

Stay tuned next week for some lessons I am learning in how God is using disability in our family.

PS – Kudos (or maybe since we are talking about marriage I should say hugs and kisses) to my  husband Jerry who helped me find the right words when I was working on this post today.

 

 

 

Don’t Forget Your Walking Stick!

Circle Bar B Reserve had been recommended to me by nearly everyone I’ve met since moving to Lakeland. People rave about the paths for walking or bike riding. Photographs fill Facebook with the variety of birds, plants, amphibians, and bugs that make their home there.

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I love seeing God’s love displayed in nature.

Today my schedule and the weather allowed me to venture on my maiden trek at the B. Thankfully, a neighbor was also able to go. While making plans a couple days ago, she ended our conversation with, “don’t forget your walking stick.”  I told her I did not have one. She assured me she had an extra one she would bring.

The next day I was talking with some other neighbors and mentioned Patty and I would be going to Circle Bar B. They responded with, “don’t forget your walking stick.”

I looked at them and asked, “what’s the deal with the walking stick? I keep being reminded to take one. I don’t have one, but I am not unstable on my feet. And I am not that old. Are the trails rough?”

Tim and Cindy smiled and said, “you want it to flick a snake out of the way if it comes across your path. Or you may need it for protection from other wildlife or animals.”

Ohhhhhhh. That makes sense! And now I want my own walking stick.

There is so much to learn in a new community and environment. While on the nature trail today I learned a couple fascinating tidbits about alligators. Did you know . . .

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See the gator between the two lower to mid log shadows?
  • The temperature of the nest in which the alligator eggs are laid determines the sex of the hatchling. Below 86 degrees F makes it most likely that females will hatch. Temps above 93 degrees F will most likely hatch males. (Don’t ask me what happens between 86-93 – maybe twins?)
  • The distance, in inches, between a gator’s eyes and nostrils will approximately equal their total length in feet (e.g. 4 inches between snout and eyes likely means you are looking at a 4 foot gator).

Patty and I had a great time. Neither of us needed to use our walking sticks for defense or offense. At least on this trip. But I’ll be ready next time. And if you come to visit I’ll rustle up a second one to share!

feedback-3387216_1920We’re never too old to learn new things. What is something new you learned recently? Please share; I have much to learn!

Through Another’s Eyes

NOTE: Thank you to all the kind readers who shared your thoughts and welcome back with me. I love hearing from my readers. I am particularly grateful to those of you who noticed, and pointed out the typo I had on last week’s post. Thank you. It has been corrected. Please don’t hesitate to share your observations, ideas and comments with me!

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Watching the groom as the doors swing open and his bride walks down the aisle is my favorite part of a wedding. The strongest of men turn to mush and tenderness when they see the woman of their dreams.

As the years go by, and day to day busyness piles up, it is hard to recall that gleam in the eye of your one and only. When I do hear words of pride, love, and complement I sometimes become jaded, wondering if there’s a reason I am being buttered up.

That is why the perspective a woman shared with me at the conclusion of a writers conference this week meant so much to me.

“I watched him when you went forward. His eyes got big. He had a huge smile. I could see him saying WOW! I even saw tears forming in his eyes. He was so proud.”

A couple months prior to the conference I had decided against entering any of the contests. I felt as though I did not have time to submit anything worthy. . . except for one piece . . . an article I wrote about Jerry.

Jerry agreed with that submission but encouraged me to make the time to enter multiple categories. I did.

Saturday afternoon we walked around the conference grounds. I told him that I only wanted to win in one category – the article about him, entitled, “A Most Unrealistic Life.” Placing would affirm that others could see the man I know.

With the awards ceremony underway, I rejoiced with each winner. When the category of articles was announced, I did not hear my name for honorable mention, third place, or second place. When first place was announced it sounded like my name, it was! Thank you Jesus, was the silent prayer I uttered as I made my way forward to accept the awardmedal-303422_1280. I didn’t get to see Jerry’s face of pride until I returned to my seat. My evening had been made. I looked at him and said, “it’s because it’s about you!”

The evening became a whirlwind for me as I was surprised, and humbled to place in some additional categories. Jerry asked someone take photos of me. I wished someone would take a photo of Jerry for me. I know the old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case the verbal picture this woman shared was a priceless gift.

We all need reminders from time to time that the relationship between us and our spouse is one like no other. As great as it is to hear the words from our partner, sometimes we need that outside observer to refresh our view.

arrow-1773931_1920How has someone outside of your marriage reminded you of the valuable gift your husband or wife is to you? How can you share words of encouragement about your spouse with others? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I Can’t Imagine

One of my friends met Jesus face to face yesterday.

This friend lived a hard life. At first, I found it ironic that she spent her last several days in a hospice home that likely was the nicest place she ever lived. But then I thought that this peaceful place was “training wheels” for the eternal home she would soon enter.

Several years ago my friend gave her life to Jesus. The day she was told it was time for hospice she called me. We talked about the excitement of knowing our final destination but the fear of the route we need to take to get there. I encouraged her to run without delay into the arms of Jesus whenever He called her name. I believe she did.

sun-rays-182170_1920I know what the Bible says about Heaven. The pearly gates, the streets of gold, the homes prepared for us by Jesus himself, the banquet feast we will share, a place of no tears, a place of no sin, and best of all . . .  Jesus. A forever home with Jesus.

Yet my finite mind can’t really grasp Heaven. I am glad my friend can now. The suffering and pain she endured, I am certain she would say, pales in comparison to what she is experiencing.

I have no idea when God will say it is time for me to join Him. Until that day comes I want to be present and engaged with the life He has entrusted to me. But when my time comes, know I too will be running into the arms of my Savior.