Thanks for the Compliment

A few hours ago, I returned from a weekend away with some ladies. Jerry encourages me to take advantage of opportunities like this, and works hard to schedule enough attendants to cover my time away. He tells me the first 24 hours I am away he enjoys full control of the remote. Which means, at least at this season, baseball is on all the time. If it is not on the television, he is watching a game in person.

By the second day the novelty has worn off and he is ready for me to come home. He remembers all the things he did not enjoy about living alone.

Like most of you, when I come home I unpack my car. We update each other on our time apart. And then it happens, no matter what time of day it is Jerry apologizes that he needs a little nap. I know that a little nap in this situation means a long solid period of deep sleep.
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I sometimes forget how much energy Jerry expends to live day to day. When I am away he does his best to keep things as tidy and together as he is able, increasing the amount of energy he expends. Giving me the grace to get a break, he accepts greater responsibility on his personal resources.

I could be frustrated that after being apart for a few days, I come home and he sleeps. Instead, I embrace it as a compliment. To me, it means he feels safe and content. We both know we’ll have the time to talk and tackle all the life decisions we have ahead of us tomorrow. Lord willing that is. And if we aren’t gifted that time tomorrow, we won’t need to worry about the decisions.

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Is there something in your life that could bother or irritate you, but it you look at it from another perspective it brings you joy. I would love to hear your story. Please share.

 

Disability and Real Estate

This is the week we expected to be moving south, and we are still at home in the north.  It has been twenty years since we made a major move and sold a home. Much has changed since then in the world and in real estate. We made some mistakes early on, but with the help of many, we have corrected these things.

A plethora of comments have come our way on how to improve our chances to sell quickly. One is that we need to try to remove all, or at least as many as possible, vestiges of disability from the home.

Wow!

Not only is this our home, but we both work from home, and disability is very prominent in our life. We had our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) pictures cleaned up houseof disability.  I’ve come up with a plan of what I can easily move out of the house when we have an open house or showing. My husband understands, but sees this as another form of discrimination toward disability. People want new homes built with universal design, but don’t ever expect to need to use it. Encountering a home that does throws people off.

Because it has been so long since we’ve sold a home, we did a search on disability resources in real estate  From our exploration we have not found any standard training that is offered to realtors to help them understand disability and accommodations.  Nor is there any clearinghouse or single reliable site to share homes that do have disability accommodations.  It is a check box on the MLS, but that may mean that there is one grab bar someplace in the bathroom.

question-mark-160071_1280           So, dear readers here are my two questions for you. I would really love to get your thoughts!

  • Have you sold a home while living in it with disability (physical, intellectual, or any other type of disability)?  If so please share a tip, or two or three or four that you employed.  I’d love to compile a list to share with others who sell an accessible home.
  • Are you aware of any resources (aside from MLS, or Craig’s’ List) that does serve as a clearinghouse or publication of accessible homes for sale?

I am excited to hear from you!         sculpture-2275202_1280

Thank You . . . For My Marriage and So Much More!

A brief but passionate Marriage Monday post today . . . Thank you!

Thanks to those veterans and those who are currently serving our nation. Part of the freedom you gained for me is that I can be married to my best friend who was born with a disability. In other countries I have visited, he would never have been allowed out in the community, let alone go to school, college, post graduate school, drive, work and be married.

Thank you to those who left with able bodies to serve us and came back disabled. I am sorry, and I am grateful. I pray for you.

Thank you to the spouses and family members of those who serve and have served. Some of you have welcomed your warrior home, others never will. Only in recent years have I come to understand more fully (though know I never will completely) the sacrifices you made, and continue to make.

Marriage is hard, but can be so good. Marriage with disability is hard, but can be so good. Marriage with disability due to war and national service is hard. Yet I pray it may also be so good.

May this small and humble thank you bring you a moment of peace.  May you know my husband and I are grateful.  May your marriage be strengthened and blessed.

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Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh!

In our early months of marriage we tried to navigate the division of household tasks while balancing that with the amount of time it took Jerry to help. One of the jobs he took on was some of our personal needs shopping at Walmart. BenGay was on the list that week. One of us must have had some pretty sore muscles, because he bought the biggest tube he could find.

As we unpacked the bags, Jerry began to take some items back to the bathroom for storage. He tucked the tube of BenGay between his thigh and wheelchair frame.   As he moved through the hallway I heard a funny sound and then an, “Uh, that was cool, but uh oh!”

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Crossing the fifteen feet between us I was met with the overpowering menthol smell of muscle rub ointment. In a split second that extra-large tube dropped out his chair and onto the floor just as his heavy front tires rolled over it. The safety cap and foil seal were no match for the PSI applied to that tube.

Ointment exploded everywhere.  On the walls, into the carpet, over Jerry and his chair, and even into a couple different rooms because he was at just that place to create a wide-angle expulsion.

The most interesting place we found it?  Underneath the corner guards we had applied to keep the corners from getting nicked.  It’s phenomenal how far and into such tight regions that white stuff flew.

When faced with cleaning up a situation like this we had two options. Cry or laugh.  We chose to laugh.  It didn’t change how much clean-up we had to do, but it sure made that clean up a whole lot more fun.

share-2482016_1920You must have some “Uh Oh” stories – when things didn’t go as expected and you just had to laugh.  Will you share one?

Little Kindnesses

This week I was the beneficiary of some little kindnesses that impacted me in such a big way I want to share.

Here’s the scene. We were ready to head home from Ohio after a family visit. The drive, with stops, is about 10 hours. We’ve each driven it by ourselves. In more recent years sharing the drive has proved a healthier choice. The problem this time was that Jerry was not feeling well. I felt cautiously optimistic that I could complete the drive home, but still had a few friends join me in prayer.

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When packing the van, the hoyer lift always goes in first. I rolled it through the lobby to go out.  I noticed a few business men waiting for someone in the lobby.  I took the hoyer apart, loaded it into the van and came back in just as this group was leaving.  One of the men stepped toward me ever so slightly and looked me right in the eyes and said, “you have a good day.” Odd though it may sound, that small greeting spoke deeply to me.  It said he had acknowledged my responsibility and wanted to share a word of kindness with me. It felt like God was saying to me, “I see what you need to do today, I am watching and will be with you.”

The next load was the shower chair and a portable table.  As I rolled these items out a different man stopped and asked if I needed any assistance.  I’ve done this so long on my own that sometimes assistance is more of a hindrance than a help, and these were easy to pack.  I thanked him but told him I had this ok.  Again, another small kindness that spoke deeply to my soul on a day when I felt an enormous weight on my shoulders.

I doubt I could ever identify these two men, but I am grateful to them.  Likely they will never know the impact their 3 to 5 second phrase made in me.  But that’s ok.  I know. And God used their kindness to encourage my heart and remind me that I was not doing this trip on my own.

I even had back-seat kindness on the trip – whenever Jerry woke up on he checked in to see if I was ok, and then went right back to sleep.  I am glad I could minister to him by letting him rest, and we made it home safely.

I came home grateful, and reminded that it often is the little expressions of kindness and grace we share with someone that matter.  We may not ever know if, or how, our words or actions mattered.  But Proverbs 3:27 reminds us to do good to others when we have the ability to do so (my paraphrase).

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I Lost Jesus

We often use puppets and role-play when communicating Biblical truth to students  with intellectual impairments. On this particular Sunday, the students were re-enacting the story with puppets. At the end of the replay, as the students were relinquishing their puppets one of the assistants took the Jesus puppet and quickly put it in a cupboard. She knew one student would lose all focus if “Jesus” was still in view.

After class was dismissed the assistant opened the cupboard to put the Jesus puppet away correctly. Imagine her surprise when Jesus was gone!  She began looking around for Jesus. A few minutes later one of the coordinators came into the room carrying “Jesus.” She also was aware of the one student’s difficulty focusing when the Jesus puppet was around. In an effort to reduce distraction, she slipped in and took him out of the room.

When my friend told me this story she began by saying, “I lost Jesus today.”

I snickered hearing the story.  Then I started to think about my own life. How many times do I put Jesus on a shelf, or tuck Him away – whether mindfully or not?

Misplacing a Jesus puppet is one thing, but mis-placing Jesus, giving Him any other position in my life than as the sole holder of the Throne, is another.

 

Philippians 2:9-11 NIV 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Rumors

Once upon a time, though this is a true story, I facilitated an informal support group of wives married to men with disabilities. Most of the ladies were older than me, most had little exposure to disability prior to their husband’s accident or illness. None of them chose to marry someone with a disability. Each month I listened to their stories and concerns and realized my life with Jerry was easy compared to theirs.  I held back from sharing too deeply from my life because it seemed to pale in comparison to what these ladies shared. They needed a safe place to be able to vent and talk freely.

After a few months I decided enough trust had been built and it was time for me to takehands-2374246_1920 the plunge with them. Jerry and I had recently been through a rough period – nothing earth shattering, but still, unpleasant. At our next meeting I shared some of that with the ladies. They expressed relief to know I/we were like them. I felt like our group had bonded on a deeper level.

Later that week I got a phone call from one of the husbands. After sharing the initial pleasantries he expressed his sorrow  to hear about the difficulties Jerry and I were having. He never thought we’d be on the verge of divorce like this.

WHAT?  I had no idea what he was talking about.

Then he went on to say that his wife had told him about the conflict Jerry and I had and he just hoped we would not split up. After all we were the first couple living with disability in marriage they had ever met.

My first inclination was to say, “Do you have any idea the things your wife has said about you?” Thankfully God held my tongue on that one. Next I wanted to ask to speak with his wife to see if she understood confidentiality. But God said this was not the time.

Instead I assured him that we had weathered a little storm, like every marriage encounters. We were not planning to split, and had never entertained that thought. I thanked him for his prayers and welcomed him to continue to intercede for us.

I learned a few lessons from this experience:

  1.  Groups want and need their leaders to be real. Even if the leader’s life is different than that of the others, authenticity from the start matters. Leaders though, need to  balance being open while also learning with whom and what we are safe to share.
  2. Marriage is hard. Every marriage goes through difficult spots. Don’t be surprised or alarmed when someone you thought “has it all together” shares that they don’t. We are all broken people in need of a Savior.
  3. Unless it persists, there is no need to fight back against the rumors, let them die.  Love one another, take the matter to God, and pray for the other people involved.

family colorful groupWe all need people who will accept us as we are, share real life with one another and encourage honesty and growth in our marriages.  Where do you find that support in your marriage?  If you don’t have someone, pray about finding that support, whether as a couple or individuals.

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1 NIV