Friday, April 8, 2011


Here's an insight for you walking people out there into the culture of disability... It is not a very good sign when you present a problem to a veteran wheelchair repair guy and he responds with, "Wow. I have never seen that happen before in my life." Of course, to be fair, I have to say I've never seen it happen either, and I've been in a wheelchair for 20 years. And that is why I am writing a post about a seatbelt. Let me back up...

I have this seatbelt that I wear when I'm in my chair to keep me from, well... flying out of my chair when I speed up to hit speed bumps or when I go full speed down ramps and hills or when I bumpety-bump over treshholds and uneven pavement and cobblestones and soccer fields... you get the idea. Seatbelt is a good thing... respect the "safety first" rules of the road.

Occasionally, one of my helpers and I will be talking and not paying attention, and she will try to lift me out of my chair while my seatbelt is still on. We do not get very far in these situations. Granted, the girls are strong - some would say they even have Chuck Norris-status power - but they aren't that strong. And I try to keep my weight reasonably low (though ice cream will be my mortal downfall), but the weight of my chair is far out of proportion to my own. So, we laugh and quickly unclick the belt and I am free to be me-minus-wheels for a while.

Today, my helper was dutifully unclicking the belt to set me free... except the belt would not give. Tugging and clicking and jiggling ensued. For several minutes. But to no avail. This is a problem... one that I have never experienced before. I was trapped in my own chair! Of course, I spend most of my day strapped into this seat and normally I don't think twice about it, but all of a sudden it seemed a crisis to be there and I felt this need to be free. Must... get... help...

Hannah got home from work early, and when I told her the dilemma, she knew instantly (as all good bosom friends do) that this was a big deal. So off to the wheelchair shop we went. Upon our arrival, the nice man at the counter asked what I was looking for. I calmly replied that I really needed a repair job done. He scanned my chair with his eyes and asked what the repair was. That's when I lost all professionalism and sort of fell apart. "My seatbelt is stuck and I can't get out!"

He seemed slightly alarmed by this outburst and tried to unbuckle it himself (the wheelchair equivilant of the IT standard creed, "Did you try turning it off and on again?"). When his attempt failed, he confessed that in his 16 years of this kind of work, he'd never seen this problem before. "It's a challenge, because you can't exactly get out of the chair for me to work on it, can you?" He hmmmed a moment and then decided he'd have to cut me out of it. Not exactly the Jaws of Life, but it still sent a chill down my spine. He went to The Back Room - where every model of every supply for every chair exists - and brought back a new seatbelt, five shades darker and shinier black than my old ratty faded one, with a bright red "PRESS" sticker on the fully-functioning click button. Then he unceremoniously snipped my belt strap and unscrewed it from the back of the seat.

"How long have you had this chair?" he asked as he wiped dust and rust from the straps. Too long... running on seven years, and like an old car I feel like I'm putting too much energy into patching it up. A new chair is #3 on my priority list when Medicaid finally comes through. By the time I'd told him about the other dilemmas this poor chair has faced this year - chewed up armrest, dislocated power switches, flour-filled seat, dead batteries, etc. - he had the new belt installed and clicked in place across my lap. It was fast and inexpensive, and anyway you can't put a price on great service!

Before I left, I had to sign a form that said the store would not divulge any of my case with anyone else. Understandable, in the many cases in which medical help is quite delicate and private, but I couldn't help making a joke as the man handed me my receipt. "So, you promise you aren't going to tell anyone that I jammed my own seatbelt?" He just smiled and assured me that my secret was safe with him.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Annual Daffodil Blog Post

I realized that every spring I write a post about daffodils... but I just love them so much! They are my favorite flower, because I think they represent so much about God's promises and the joy we can have in him when we depend on his grace. So here I go again...

When we got back to Little Burma Tuesday night, this patch of daffodils were on the path beside our house waiting to greet us. The thing about these particular daffodils is that I've watched them try to bloom for the past three weeks. Their faces have been pinched, pale yellow buds among long green leaves, getting a little brighter and bigger when the temperature reached above 40 degrees, then shrinking back and getting pale when it fell to freezing again. They seemed so eager to shine, but they also knew the time wasn't quite right, and for all their excitement and anticipation, they patiently waited for the perfect time.

There are so many times when I feel like those daffodils, waiting on the edge of my seat, looking anxiously at the future, trying to convince God that I really am ready for the next step, and that the timing is right, and can we please just hurry up and get on with it! But then, my Father... so loving and patient with me... sits me down for a daddy-daughter talk. And he reminds me that he not only has the universe in his hands, but also my life and my time. He has it under control, and I don't need to try to rush forward or make things happen before he has it planned. He knows my heart, he knows my dreams... he knows that, like my daffodils, I am eager to bloom and shine. He also knows my story and what the next chapter holds... and all the chapters after that. So like my daffodils, I choose to trust him, rest in him, and wait on his perfect time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Power of a Moment

"What am I gonna be when I grow up?
And how am I gonna make my mark in history?
What are they gonna write about me when I'm gone?
These are the questions that shape the way I think about what matters..."

Yesterday at church I saw some people who mean a lot to me. Josh is getting ready to graduate and is praying about which college to attend in the fall. Neha is also heading off to college and I reminded her of the value of daily prayer and Bible study with her roommate. Darius graduated last year and is hoping to get a job soon, but I want him to come do ministry in Indiana this summer. Willy is working and still smiling like he always has, and I pray for his heart to stay focused on the Lord. There are others from my old youth group who weren't there... some of them are following the Lord, and others are wandering now. My heart breaks when I think of them, and I spend so many of my prayers on them, and I wish I could still be in their lives like I used to. No matter how old they get, I'll still think of that group as the 13-15 year-old hodgepodge fireball of energy that could light up Winston-Salem once upon a time. Some of them are still shining, and I still believe the others have the potential to shine if they let Christ carry on the work that he started.

My youth ministry days were unplanned. I graduated college and intended to move away that fall, so what could it hurt to hang out with some teenagers for two summer months? And I got hooked. I realized I got energy from being with them, my brain started buzzing a mile a minute with ideas and dreams and prayers. They weren't just some kids I knew anymore... they were my kids, and I would fight for them in every way I could. I'm so thankful for the moments I had with them as kids. I am pretty sure I made some mistakes and failed them at times, but I loved them more than I could ever imagine loving people, and yesterday I realized I still do. I swell with pride when I hear how they are honoring God with their lives, I break down and cry when I hear about bad choices. I wonder sometimes if it was right for me to move on when I did, but then I remember that it isn't about me... they don't need me, they need Jesus. And he promised never to leave them or let them go, so I am trusting him to keep his word, as he always does.

I am so thankful I get to continue to spend my time loving teenagers. In Fort Wayne, the kids continue to make my head buzz with ideas and prayers to the point of not being able to sleep some nights. I wonder if I will make a difference in their lives... if I will love them as I should or if I will let them down. I have to keep remembering that Jesus is the main character in their stories, not me. But I'm so glad I get to be a part of their stories and watch how it unfolds. I hope I will get to serve teens my whole life! I don't know what God's plan is for me or any of my kids in the future. But at least I know that he has given us this moment together... and this moment is powerful.

"Well I have no guarantee of my next heartbeat,
And my world is too big to make a name for myself.
What if no one wants to read about me when I'm gone?
Seems to me that right now is the only moment that matters..."