Kip and I have had the privilege to speak to several groups since my book was released. This is such an honour for us yet we are amazed time and time again how much we gain from others.
One of the most common struggles expressed to us is also one of the hardest to cope with and it can silently hamper progress. It is called loneliness and it's so painful for those who experience a sudden, acquired disability. Not only does the disability change their world, it also changes the world around them. Suddenly, they can no longer participate in events that wove into the very fabric of their lives. Suddenly, they are dealing with limitations they never imagined and the world they knew so well shrinks enormously.
I remember those earlier years when my newly acquired brain injury settled in and shrunk my world. In fact, I devoted an entire chapter in my book to the impact loneliness had on me. This is what I wrote:
"God knew I was a social butterfly. He knows I still am. He's moulded that personality into who I am. I pondered over how I was going to overcome these times of loneliness. My heart pleaded with my emotions, begging me to participate in events as they arose. I felt as thought I was caught in the middle of a tug of war, my heart and emotions craving to join the fun, my brain and disability stating bluntly that I could not." (Worthy In His Eyes: Part Three, Chapter 5, p. 80)
I knew I needed to proactively seek ways to overcome loneliness. I'm not going to tell you it was easy...it was a constant, ever-changing, frustrating and often exhausting task which I could not do alone. I am so grateful for God's Word and how He speaks to my heart, when I listen. I went to Him, asking for guidance. Through the ensuing weeks, months and years, I tested many areas tucking away the successful efforts and discarding the unsuccessful.
I continued to search for alternatives, and still do. God is teaching me really neat ways to adapt...but it's crucial for me to listen to His guidance and pay attention to my abilities and challenges. There are things I won't be able to do again but gradual acceptance has greatly reduced that frustration. "Time" is a good friend and weeding out the possible from the impossible does become clearer.
Asking God for help with this enormous challenge will change your life. Turn to Him first and He will help to lighten your pathway, offering hope for the future. He will oversee each step and when something doesn't work out, lift it up to Him...then..... let it go. You will be amazed at what He has waiting for you around the bend.
KEYWORD: LONELINESS (What ideas would help combat feelings of isolation or loneliness? ie: Invitation to a wedding.....Attend the wedding, but if it's too much, forego the reception or go just for a short while (be sure to mention that on the RSVP....folks will be grateful if you do).
"The END of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride."
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV)
P.S. For those who know someone with a disability, your encouragement through a note, a phone call or a cup of tea would undoubtedly make their day! If they can't come to you...go to them. I have no doubt that your own day would be enriched as well.
This past week, I shared the following note on a particular interactive website, hoping to pass along encouragement for those struggling with acquired brain injuries, particularly married couples. This is what I shared:
"We’re still learning after 13 years, but that’s the exciting part (now) –we’re still learning! Sure trudged through a lot of miry pits to get to where we are today, but I believe those pits made us reach up for God’s Hand to pull us out so we weren't (aren't) buried in despair.
I liken it to a situation which happened a few years ago: As I walked along a secluded coastal bay, I suddenly felt my feet sinking into the sand. I tried to run to get off of it but I couldn’t get one foot out. I began to panic because my foot wouldn’t move and the more I struggled, the deeper my foot sank. I was so scared and pleaded with God to help me. Miraculously, I managed to pull my foot out and scrambled on my hands and knees to a safe spot. My sandal remains buried beneath that quicksand area. I know beyond any shadow of a doubt, that God miraculously pulled my foot free that day.
This is what I’m trying to say I guess… acquiring a tbi (traumatic brain injury) is very much like this real-life example. We can be coasting along pretty good somedays, then suddenly find ourselves being buried beneath a load of can’t do’s, fatigue, frustration and feelings of worthlessness because we can’t DO the things we used to. But God doesn’t want us to be consumed by those things. He reaches out to us, offering hope, faithfulness, progress and most of all, He wants us to know how very valuable we are in His eyes. Worthy enough to save….even all the way to the cross. He loves us that much.
God sees no disability in us… we do. Rather, God looks at our ABILITIES, and we when surrender everything to Him (including our “new normal”) He can do miracles in and through us… for His glory. That’s an astounding privilege. It’s also an incredible gift. But we have to unwrap it.
There’s still plenty of “not so fun” situations that arise for us, but we are learning to roll up our sleeves and face them square on because God goes before us, and behind us. That means the miry pits cannot swallow us up… Almighty God will enable us to move forward."
He will do the same for you.
KEYWORDS: QUICKSAND (What things can you surrender to God in order to free yourself from the quicksand of despair? ie: (perceived) failure, lack of self-worth, limitations.....)
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand....For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid." (Isaiah 41: 10, 13, 14a NIV)
"I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34: 4 NIV)
"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 58: 9 NIV)
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY PRECIOUS MOM who went Home to Heaven on Sept.5. Today would have been her 92nd b-day, and we always celebrated it with her.
I miss her a lot, but my heart is not heavy because I know she is celebrating in Heaven this year.....and best of all, I know I will see her again. Here is a pic of a floral bouquet I ordered for Grace Church's Sunday morning service this past Sunday. In her favorite colours: pink and lavender. Also attached is a pic Kip took when I gave Mom her copy of my book (I gave her the very first copy). Good times, great memories and tons of love shared.
THANK YOU to each of our family members and friends for leaving your footprint on Mom's heart throughout her lifetime. We love you all!!
THANK YOU MOM for being the BEST MOM IN THE WORLD!
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14: 1-3 NIV)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3: 16 NIV)
This weekend carries many memories for Kip and I. For the past decade or so, we have driven back to Calgary to share and celebrate my Mom's birthday with her. This year is different--Mom went Home with Jesus on Sept. 5th. She would be 92 this coming Wed. (Feb. 11th).
Last year, on her 91st b-day, Kip took a photo of us (above) in the SunRise Lounge at the Lodge Mom lived in. I am sooo glad he took that photo because it has become such a treasure to me. This special room made many celebrations with Mom priceless because we could decorate it up and have just 3 or 4 of us, family would come up from Lethbridge and celebrate with her, and we had her big 90th b-day party in there.
That "breakfast" room was one of many in the Lodge, but to us this particular room was an absolute gem. Beautifully decorated, it was that special place where we could enjoy tea with Mom everyday at 3 p.m., or have others come to join us. It was a place of reprieve for Kip and I when the city and responsibilities became overwhelming. It was a place of joy and warmth and fellowship.
Sometimes other residents came in while we were there, so we'd chat with them too. But it seemed the times we needed it the most, God put an invisible "Do Not Disturb" sign on it because He knew my limitations better than anyone. And, not just for me. Many seniors find it difficult to filter out background noise and activity also. My Mom needed that too. We knew Mom was failing very quickly when we celebrated her 91st b-day with her in that special room one year ago, but that's not what I remember when I see the photo Kip took. I see a daughter hugging her Mom, with smiles on our faces because we were simply celebrating her life and enjoying our time together.
God is just like that.....He knows our every need, and He lovingly puts plans into place without our awareness. I don't believe in coincidence....I DO believe in God's provision...at all times. He's faithfully pro-active in our lives. Sometimes we recognize His provision, blessing or plan but many times we simply don't.
This week, as your days unfold, try to look back at the end of the day to seek out circumstances or little blessings which seemed like a coincidence. If you do, you will likely be in awe of the power of God as His faithfulness suddenly becomes very clear and "coincidence" could never have turned out so well! Doing this has opened my heart and my eyes to the intimacy of our God, and how much He cares for us moment by moment.
May your week be filled with an awareness of God's faithfulness that blows you away! Then remember to thank Him because His Plans always work for our good, and most often for the good of others as well.
KEYWORDS: God's Perfect Scheduling: (When have you recognized God's faithfulness (in hindsight--not at the time) of God's definite provision or plan following a certain event, circumstance or situation you were uncertain about or didn't know would happen?)
"For I know the plans I have for you, "declares the LORD,"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, " declares the LORD......(Jeremiah 29: 11-14a NIV)
"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3: 11 NIV)
Below is one of my favourite songs. The words really pulled me through some discouraging and tough times after acquiring my brain injury. They are powerful words of surrender, assurance, and victory through Him.
Surrender: A willingness to go before the Lord, asking for a changed heart and a renewed mind.
Assurance: Recognizing His unconditional love, grace in it's purest form. Looking beyond the reflection in the mirror...to see the "me" GOD sees.
Victory: Embracing all He can do in and through me---with a brain injury. My perceived weaknesses lifted up to Him so I can receive HIS strength...to soar in life, as the Holy Spirit leads me to accomplish the things HE wants me to do.
Today, I stand much stronger than I did 13 years ago. But it has been, and will continue to be a life-long process of surrender, assurance and victory. New challenges still arise, but I have the spiritual weapons to overcome them. That doesn't mean I can do everything now---I cannot, no matter how hard I try. But I'm learning to surrender those, resting peacefully in the truth that my perceived weaknesses are stripped away by the power of God's love. What I am unable to do now, is a.o.k. to Him, and it needs to be a.o.k. with me.
Let His grace change and renew your heart and most importantly, your mind. Surrender your weaknesses to Him. Let HIS will unfold in your life...refocus to see Him. Read His Word to grow closer to Him...to understand Him and your relationship with Him.
While you learn and grow there will be times of "waiting"....when God's will and direction will not seem clear. But I guarantee you, He WILL guide you...in His time. Meanwhile, remain pro-active in every way you can ("as I wait, I'll rise up like the eagle")....then you too will soar as His Spirit leads you on IN THE POWER OF HIS LOVE.
Lord I come to You, let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace that I found in You.
And Lord I've come to know the weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away BY THE POWER OF YOUR LOVE.
Hold me close, let Your love surround me
Bring me near, draw me to Your side.
And as I wait, I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You, your Spirit leads me on
IN THE POWER OF YOUR LOVE.
Lord unveil my eyes, let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love as You live in me.
Lord renew my mind as Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day IN THE POWER OF YOUR LOVE.
KEYWORD: GRACE (In what ways have you recognized God's Grace?)
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Heb 4: 16 NIV)
(Songwriters BULLOCK, GEOFFREY/BULLOCK, GEOFFREY --- Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group)
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