Recliner Ninja

I’ll admit it. I am a recliner sitting American Ninja Warrior (ANW). I am captivated by that television show. Captivated, that is, to watch, not to participate.

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Photo by Jaco Pretorius on Unsplash

True Ninja’s and Ninja wanna-bes run across floating disks, climb salmon ladders, cross wingnut alley, open doors underwater and take on the warped wall. If forced to try I would plop, fall, crawl and likely give up. There is no way I would even try to run up a wall that curves at a ridiculous angle.

The ultimate goal  is to conquer each obstacle course and get to the top of “Mt Midoriyama” (a structure set up on the Vegas strip). Some seasons no one accomplishes this feat. In the most reason season two made it to stage four, with one winning the coveted title “American Ninja Warrior,” and a large sum of money.

What do I get out of watching?

Some of the back stories about these athlete-performers make me feel like I am listening to a symphony orchestra the way they tug at my heart strings. There was the young dad who competed to earn money for his infant daughter to receive a kidney transport. A viewer responded to that story and donated her kidney! Another athlete trains on his ranch in the Midwest by completing chores and activities while carrying his wife with disability on his back so they can spend time together. Others train and race to show their own kids, or the community around them what it means to overcome.

Not all the competitors have such altruistic purposes. Some are athletes who want to prove they can do more, better, faster. Others are just quirky and young enough that their bodies allow them to compete covered in gold paint, hair dyed green or wearing a super hero cape, or shrimping boots. It is simply fascinating to watch what the human body is capable of, and the unique ways God created each one of us.

What strikes me most on every episode is the level of comradery between competitors. This is an individual game. While some say they are just competing against themselves, the reality is that everyone is competing against each other. But I rarely see that.

Because there are a limited number of Ninja gyms around the country. Many of the Ninjas move to areas close to a gym, or create their own. Several of the Ninjas train together. They don’t do this just to scope out the competition. They do it to sharpen one another. Hmmm, seems like I read something about that before.

But here’s the thing; when one Ninja is competing, groups of other Ninjas are on the sidelines, shouting encouragement or tips, and wearing the colors, or t shirts of the Ninja racing. There are tears and hugs when a fellow competitor makes it to the buzzer. Likewise there is a sorrow among everyone when a Ninja falls. It could be that the Ninja they are cheering on will beat them to the final buzzer.

I watch because I want to live in a world like that. Or more specifically I  want to live among a Church community like that. I want to live, work, recreate and worship with people who have my back. People who cheer IMG_5819for me, who train with me, who encourage me to go farther and faster than I ever thought possible. Who are sad with me when I get caught by an obstacle, and encourage me not to give up.

Even more I want us all to look and dress like the one who is in the lead -Jesus Christ. I don’t want to wear the colors of “church A” only to promote it over “church B.” I want to remember that Christians in other churches are not my competition. We aim for the same goal, our eternal home with Jesus, filled with as many people we can bring.

Who’s with me?

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.

 

 

 

What’d You Get Me?

Jerry and I have most of our gift giving occasions between October – December.  That is the timeframe of both of our birthdays, our anniversary and of course Christmas.  The following post was written late in December several years ago, but the truth of it remains in my heart and mind–especially this Christmas day.
My husband and I have this game that we play around birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving occasions.  It goes like this, “So what did you get me?”  Sometimes it’s said once in passing, sometimes it’s repeated over and over in rapid succession to try to wear the giver down to sharing some clue.  Yes, I know this sounds rather childish for two wellintomiddleagedadults to engage in, but I think it’s one of the casualties of not having children – we sometimes have to play that role in the family.
The morning of December 23 I was having a delightful quiet time with my Lord.  I finished my reading and my pondering, and was just about to put my pen down after recording the last word in my journal when I heard it . . .

“So what did you get me?”
 

I paused and listened to the voice
– but it wasn’t that of my husband.  It was my other beloved’s voice – Jesus!  As I tuned in to His voice I heard, “It’s my birthday soon you know, I’ve seen the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone else, what did you get for me?” 
When I shared this with my husband his response was “Isn’t that just like God to speak to us in our own game and language?”
For the remainder of that day, and the next several days I spent time pondering what I would give Jesus for his birthday. The better question was – had I even planned to give Him anything for his birthday?  If I hadn’t, why not?  And if I was, it was getting late, so I better decide quickly. 

What do you get the Lord of the Universe, who
owns everything and can create anything out of nothing?
The only response I could think of was “to obey is better than sacrifice.”  I think what Jesus was asking for was more of me. All of me in fact.  No need to spend time trying to figure out the hottest gift to give Him but to “just do it!”  To surrender myself and obey what He has already shown me. 
Funny several years later, I think this is still the gift He wants and the one I need to give.
So what about you? What are you giving to Jesus for His Birthday?

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.

Man with Binoculars

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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Does Easter Matter on Monday?

Holy Week was last week. Easter was yesterday. Today life returns to normal. Or does it?

passion-3111247_1920If the reality of Easter means anything it means change. The One who conquered death rose to new life. By doing so he changed the course of history, and each of our lives.

Maybe the details of daily life have not changed (schedules, care routines, appointments, responsibilities, etc.). But how I live and experience those minutes and hours each day better be impacted by the resurrection, or it was in vain.

Yes, there are still going to be mornings I don’t feel like getting up first to prepare for Jerry to get up. There will still be days when I just don’t want to pick up one more thing that has been dropped. Times of having our plans changed at the last minute because his body unexpectedly changed course will still happen.

If the message of Holy Week, culminating in Easter, means anything then I will whine less when waking early to serve my husband. I will smile when there is one more thing pexels-photo-424517.jpegto lift off the floor. I will exude grace when helping Jerry adjust to his body’s request and while calling the friends with whom we had plans.

This weekend I read Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. I was struck by the way Kara (who was living through chemotherapy and then hospice care while writing this book with her friend), talked about “Big Love” and the “hards.” She endeavored to leave her family and friends knowing that even through the hard and difficult times of life we can share big love and make a difference. She knew she could only do that because of Christ in her.

share-2482016_1920Does your faith make a difference in your daily life? If it does would you share an example so we can all be encouraged? If you are not sure your faith does make a difference, don’t despair. We all hit those low points sometime. That’s the beauty of grace, you can start again right now. I’d love to hear your comments too – we want to keep it real here at Marriage Mondays!

 

 

Driving Mr Jerry

This is week 3 of Jerry using his back up wheelchair while waiting on a new right motor for his regular chair. As I noted last week, that means he is unable to drive his van.

If you live with disability in your family you know that this is not all that unusual, these things happen. Paperwork drags on and on, calls don’t get returned, repairs can take weeks, if not months. Most of us could win a Gold Medal if waiting or insurance hassles were Olympic sports.

The difference this week is that I am back from my trip, and I am now, “Driving Mr Jerry.”  (Too bad a movie like that has already been made, I am sure ours would be a hit comedy)!  At least he is no longer housebound.

Yesterday Jerry had scheduled service for the lift on his van. There was no sense in him going along for the ride. I rearranged my schedule and took the van to the appointed service, about 45 minutes away from home. The shop is fantastic and provides a nice waiting area. I packed enough work to keep me busy for three years.

322615_3126101352345_993835468_oPrior to the van appointment I met with someone who has a child with a disability. My friend commented about how weary she is. She went on to say one way she keeps going is to realize what a privilege it is to serve Jesus by serving her child. She asked if that was the same among spouses?  As I thought about it she went on to describe how my trip to take the van for service was serving Jesus.

My life goal has been to love and serve God by loving and serving others. Given that, my friend’s comment should have been no surprise to me, but it was. I love Jerry, which means that (most days) it is a pleasure and joy to assist him. But I had somehow forgotten that by serving him I am also serving my Lord.

That reminder put a new spin on my day. When I got home that evening after running other errands the unexpected visitors we had, the unplanned need Jerry asked me to help with were no big deal. Getting to love and serve others while remembering that by doing so I am loving and serving God changed my perspective.

Instead of fretting about not getting a Marriage Monday post up until Tuesday, I chose to invest in and love my spouse and the others God brought to me that day. I hope you’ll forgive my delay.

Knowing that sometimes people who have a disability feel they become burdensome to their family or close friends I made a commitment to God and myself early in our marriage. I would choose to show joy when asked to assist (even being woken from a sound sleep in the middle of the night), and to always complete the task by saying “I love you” and sharing a kiss. I have missed that mark a few times, but it is still the goal for which I aim.

push for helpWhat about you?  What is it that helps you readjust your focus when you are worn and weary?  Do you have a strategy you use to keep your relationships healthy in the unpredictable dailyness of disability?