Read the chart…

As a paraplegic, I have seen more than my fair share of health professionals. I have had some amazing nurses, doctors, technicians, etc. yet occasionally I need to see a new health care worker that asks questions that may have been better not asked or should have been rephrased.

These are just a few questions I have been asked with some of my actual responses and some sarcastic answers that just pop into my head but thankfully do not leave my mouth. You can decide which are which.

Can you rate your pain from 1-10? {0}. I need a number. {I gave you one. Zero.}. But that isn’t on the chart. {But I don’t feel pain. I do not have any feeling in my legs.} What do you mean you don’t feel it? {I mean, I am paralyzed and do not feel anything from the waist down.} But I need a number. {Okay… 10.} Writes down 10 and suddenly I am on a morphine drip.

Do you need the wheelchair? {No… I was just feeling lazy today so I purchased a $30,000 chair to drive myself around.}

Can you stand? {No.} Not at all? {Nope. I am paralyzed and cannot stand at all.}. OH. (Just looks at me, confused and not sure what to do.)

Can you flex your foot? {Can you read my chart?}

What do you mean you are paralyzed? {Hmmmm… I mean I cannot walk, stand, move or feel anything from the waist down. Google it. Try WebMD.}

If you are paralyzed, how will you get to your appointment? {Well I planned to drive my car but I suppose if it isn’t too far, I can crawl there with only my arms.}

Were you born that way? {Yes. It was very hard on my mom when she had to deliver the wheelchair, but at least she didn’t have to teach me how to walk.}

How do you go to the bathroom? {I use a catheter.} And you are able to do that by yourself? {Well it was either learn how to do it or drive to your office every time I have to pee. So I went with the first option.}

I am going to leave this next to your bed in case you need it later. Brings in a walker! {Okay, that wasn’t a question but it was very funny.}

And my all time favorite… as a doctor looks at me with my wheelchair sitting next to me… Do you get out of breath when running? {Sir… I can honestly say NO, I do not get out of breath when running.} I just sighed and shook my head in disbelief while my niece, sister-in-law and husband laughed hysterically in corner.

Disclaimer: I appreciate many of the people who have helped me and cared for me during times of physical struggles. So if you are a health care professional, please know this post is just in jest and I hold you in high regard. Except for a few who should maybe take a refresher course. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Sticks & Stones…

Some of my readers do not know my story but I am a paraplegic due to complications after childbirth 26 years ago. In one of my upcoming blogs, I will tell more of that story, but it happened from a congenital defect that I was born with but was unaware of until I ended up unable to walk after my first son’s delivery. But this blog isn’t really about that… that is just setting the stage for tonight’s musings.

This week my youngest child (who is now a married adult) celebrated her birthday. Still wanting to make her a special meal, I went to the grocery store to get the ingredients for her favorite meal (tacos). As I drove, I was reflecting on my journey to being a mother of three “kids.” I hadn’t thought about it for years, but I suddenly remembered something that was said to me shorty after my paralysis which led me to this post.

Always wanting to be a Mom, I had my first son at the age of 23. He was a 9 pound, happy little guy, Zachary Ty. Falling immediately in love with this little life, I was thrilled to be his Mom. I remember those first days of motherhood clearly, counting his fingers and toes; listening to him breath; looking into his bright blue eyes; and even wishing he would wake up.

Immediately after his birth, I knew that I would want another one. For me, childbirth was four hours from start to finish so I knew I would eventually be ready to go through labor and delivery again to have another baby and sibling for Zach.

Unfortunately, like I previously said, there were complications and although the paralysis came about gradually, I was unable to walk within two months of his birth. Doctors were baffled at what was going on so it took months to get any answers. In order to get a proper diagnosis, my neurosurgeon in Reading, PA sent me to a specialist at Columbia University Hospital in Manhattan. Thankfully this doctor finally discovered what caused the paralysis which helped to save my life, but a few years later he told me something that both angered and challenged me yet ultimately impacted my journey into motherhood.

While I did not stay in contact with that particular doctor, I contacted him when Zach was two years old to discuss my options for having a second child. My regular doctors were not familiar enough with my defect to feel confident in saying it was safe for me to go through a pregnancy, labor and delivery again. (My original issue had not been able to be completely repaired so a definite answer was unclear.) Since he was the renown acting head of neurosurgery at a top US hospital, I was unable to speak to him directly. I left a detailed message with one of his nurses, hoping I would hear back from him. Weeks later I did hear from him in the form of a letter.

I still have that letter. Here’s the gist of it…

Since your damage was not completely repaired, it is difficult to say if it is safe to have another child. Currently there is no research to give a definitive answer so my recommendation would be that you do not risk your health by having another child.

That would have been enough of an answer for me except that he added a little bit more.

Besides as a paraplegic, I think it has to be difficult to care for a child from a wheelchair so I think you should be happy that you have one child and focus your attention on trying to raise him with your disability.

Reading those words upset me. While I know this doctor, who was a brilliant yet kind man, never meant anything negative with his words, it still hurt my feelings. I already felt insecure in my ability as a mom because life with a two year old was difficult. The adorable little stinker had run away from me or darted out of my reach several times so I had moments of uncertainty in my abilities to raise a child from a wheelchair.

After I had time to process the letter and came to the conclusion that all two year olds are difficult, whether you are a mom who is paralyzed or a mom who walks, my stubborn streak kicked in and I decided…

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

No one was going to tell me that paralysis could or should stop me from being a mom to one, two or twenty kids!

With my new mindset, I was ready to try for baby #2…. or was I? Instead I found myself nervous and unsure if it was the right decision, questioning if it was foolish to risk my health to have another child; wondering if I could die leaving my husband and son alone; worried that more complications could arise and leave me in a worse situation than paralysis; or even if I would have the ability to raise another child as a paraplegic. Meanwhile, my stubborn side kept gnawing at me that I could do it, despite the concerns and fears of others. The question was… which was the right voice?

Thankfully Jesus intervened and showed me that there are many paths to motherhood. He completely guided Steve and I into international adoption and made it obvious that it was His plan for adding to our little family. (Another amazing story for another day.) When Zach was five years old, we adopted an almost 3 year old little guy from Romania, Alexandru Benjamin. Since I had immediately loved Zach, I prayed I would love my new son as easily. Every mom hopes that there is enough love in their heart for another child. Well I can truthfully say, there is plenty of room. One look into his big, sad brown eyes and I was a goner! I immediately and easily loved my new son.

Despite language barriers, emotional needs and a few discipline issues, it did not take Alex long to acclimate to his new world or Zach to adapt to his new role as a big brother. As for me, while I had moments of mom fails, I was settling into raising two active little guys. We kept busy going to the local pool, taking long walks, going on adventures around town and even having play dates. Unbelievably I even babysat a few other little boys, proving to myself that I could care for children from a wheelchair. Patting myself on the back, I was proudly proving that doctor wrong.

Months after Alex came home from across the globe, I began to get sick frequently. Loving my stay-at-home mom role, caring for my husband and two sons, it was frustrating to feel sick to my stomach often. It put a damper on our activities since I needed to run (or wheel quickly) to the bathroom and didn’t want to be too far from home. Finding out I was pregnant was a complete shock as well as a blow to my current state of contentment. Fear wrapped itself around both my heart and brain, allowing worry to settle in and doubts to crop up! How could I manage a high risk pregnancy along with my other health issues while continuing to raise two energetic boys? And how on earth would I manage a newborn, a preschooler and a first grader?

Honestly I don’t know how I managed it. But somehow I did! Giving birth to my beautiful, sweet 8 pound daughter, Morgan Elizabeth, is a miracle story in itself. Months of weekly doctor’s appointments paid off when both of us came through the C-section healthy without any unexpected complications (other than a nurse breaking my wheelchair after driving it into a wall). Growing our family from one child to three children in 18 months was not in our plan but thankfully God is wiser because I love my three children and their three unique stories of life.

Raising three children was indeed taxing on me physically and emotionally. I had many surgeries, hospital stays and health concerns while they were growing up. Many days I was exhausted, weary and lacking. Often I lost my patience, yelled too much and even said some naughty words.

Sometimes I thought back on the words of that doctor, knowing that I was much more than a paraplegic. I was a wife. A mom. A daughter. A sister. A friend.

So yes, it is true… I have physical limitations! As a mom of young kids, I could not kick a soccer ball when they wanted to practice at home; I could not swim laps in the pool on a hot summer day; I could not ride a bicycle through the neighborhood in the dusk of the evenings; I could not hike through trails with them to enjoy the crisp, fall air; I could not give “under ducky’s” to make the swing go higher and faster; I could not…; I could not… that list can go on and on of things I was unable to do with my children. And that does make me sad if I dwell on it. I wish I could have experienced those activities with my kiddos.

But was that doctor right? I don’t think so… I do not believe my limitations hindered my ability to be a mom. I hope that instead my children think back on their childhood and remember having dance parties in the dark to loud, thumping music; snuggling on my bed reading book after book; catching fireflies on summer evenings; throwing rocks and sticks into the creek to see how big the water would splash; doing crafts around the dining room table; riding on the back of my wheelchair as fast as it could go to the bus stop; or looking into the crowd and seeing that I was cheering them on at every game, concert, meet or recital. So while I may worry sometimes that they were jipped out of a normal childhood, I pray they know they were loved unconditionally and constantly by a mom who sat 24/7.

So my encouragement to myself and hopefully to others…

* Don’t let someone else’s words or opinions be a manacle around you, stopping you from pursuing something great. Instead use them as fuel to move forward, jumping over every hurdle in your path.

* Watch your words. Use them to encourage and spur on, not to tear down, belittle or hurt. The phrase “sticks and stones” is a lot of malarkey. Words are impactful and often get repeated as a mantra in one’s head. Let your words be a positive melody and not a negative clanging.

* Instead of letting challenges limit you, use them to build your character, your strength, your faith!

* Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on the I can’s!

* And most importantly don’t let fear stop you from living a life of love and joy. Give it to God. Trust me, He’s got you!

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Lastly… I did have my tubes tied because while I wanted to prove that doctor wrong, I am not a fool! Three children was plenty for this paraplegic!

Standing in the hospital with Zach.

My little baby could often be found on my lap.

Alex still in Romania with those big brown eyes. Melt my heart!

Brothers meet the first day.

Little sister joins two proud brothers.

After a surgery, we had a bedtime snack in my hospital bed at home!

My three best gifts!

My three plus their three equals six of my favorite people! I love being their Mom!

(Left to right… Alex with his wife, Mandi; Jaiden with his wife & my daughter, Morgan; Zach with his wife, Katie)

18,262

I have been alive for 1/2 of a century today… exactly 18,262 days!

It took me a long time to do that math and then double check my numbers but I am willing to do that much work for the faithful readers of this blog post.

Okay… truthfully I just googled it but I am 50 now… my brain doesn’t do math anymore… or in reality it has never done math. Just ask my Dad! He tried so hard to make me understand math but my emotionally charged, imaginative, wordy right brain just never got it!

For many of my 18,000+ days, I have been a hot mess! Some of my mayhem is from being a sinner who makes bad choices and fails regularly. Self admittedly, I have moments of frustration, impatience, judgements, doubts, selfishness and so on… that sin issue sure can make my life messy.

My personality also contributes to my mess. I have voiced things I later regret; laughed at inappropriate things at inappropriate times; made assumptions before knowing facts; created problems that never existed… a lot of that comes from being a talkative, overthinking, excitable extrovert.

Another factor is that I have not walked for 9,669 days. That’s longer than the number of days I was able to walk. So needless to say, the wheelchair and paralysis is a very big aspect of my life. Add all of that together and it equals some chaotic, muddling moments!

Consequently, this has led me to the realization that the process of becoming a little less messy is all because of WHO I believe in and not what I do!

One of my favorite images of God is as a silver smith working on a piece of silver over a fire. The fire is necessary to bring out the beauty and the strength of the work. The artisan has to hold it over the heat, never taking His eyes off of His work. He watches it intently, knowing exactly what that silver needs to become pure and not damaged. He knows his work is only truly completed when He can see His own image reflected clearly in it.

I look at my life as God continually refining me. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior 11,899 days ago. I didn’t know anything about living for Jesus at age 18. Who am I kidding? At age 50, I still have a lot to learn. But through many years of paralysis, 29 surgeries, three near death experiences, being life lined, and surviving other numerous trials that challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I believe that God has been molding me into a better person.

Some learned lessons…

I have learned to trust Him, thankful that His eyes never flicker away from me during the painful moments.

I have had to have faith when I question why I am in the fire, fully believing that the craftsman understands the process so I don’t need all of the answers.

I have discovered I have strength to withstand the fire and trials as long as my Father is right there holding me in His nail pierced hands.

I have seen that beauty can be made out of something ugly. Thankfully the artist can see beyond what only human eyes see. He chips away the impurities, knowing underneath there is a rare treasure.

I know I am not complete yet. None of us are. But I desire to be a reflection of Jesus. I long to love like Jesus. I long to serve like Jesus. I long to give like Jesus. As inadequate as I am at loving, serving, and giving, Jesus is teaching me and fashioning my character to be more like His.

One great gift of refinement is gaining empathy and compassion for others who are going through their own process of refinement.

Being in a wheelchair has given me countless opportunities to talk to others. Many people are struggling and need encouragement to deal with their “handicaps.” (We all have handicaps; mine is just visible.) It can be physical trials or depression or family issues or financial troubles or all of the above… but all of us can say we have times of difficulty. With the platform of my paralysis, I have had opportunities to talk to people about their trials (or fires). Experiencing my own moments of distress has allowed me to feel more compassionate towards others. God takes our challenges and turns them into opportunities. Opportunities to pray, love, give, help, comfort, listen, encourage, share… take your lessons and turn them into occasions to be there for someone else.

God turns beauty from ashes. Messes into messages. Tests into testimonies. Trials into triumphs. But you cannot keep that transformation to yourself.

SO….

Pray unceasingly. Love the unlovable. Give of yourself. Help with a need. Comfort the hurting. Listen to the lonely. Encourage the weary. Share your story.

Today on my big milestone, I want to just say that I am thankful that Jesus, the creator of the universe, holds me in His hands, never taking His eyes off of me while He creates something beautiful.

And now after all this deep reflecting, I am off for my free breakfast at Shady Maple… happy birthday to me!๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽ‰

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My P.S.’s…

Special thanks to my family & friends who made my birthday so wonderful! I am thankful for all of you who “walk” this journey with me!

Dad… I added numbers in this post just for you! Usually I never mix numbers and letters… that’s too much like Algebra for me! ๐Ÿ˜˜

My kiddos… missing Katie & Mandi, my fellow birthday girls!

My parents who rescued me from the wild dogs… a story for another day!

Some Steve look alikes!

Some of my special girls (Katie, Jenny, Kenzie, Camryn, Morgan, Danielle) The photo would be perfect with Donna, Becky, Zoey, Holly, Anna, Nova, Mandi & Ashley in it!

Just a few of many people I adore. Missing pics of special friends & family but count myself beyond blessed!

When it rains…

Rain, rain go away.

Everyone in my area will agree that this summer has had record rainfall. Downpours. Flash floods. Roads closed. Detours. Sump pumps working overtime. Activities canceled.

We have had rain in record breaking proportions. Several times I have gotten stuck on roads that were closed due to flooding and have had to detour completely out of my way to get to my destination, taking me much longer to get from Point A to Point B.

I have also experienced downpours and detours personally. I have had days, and sometimes extended periods of time, that it seems like nothing goes right! Like the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” There have been many times where storms just dumped on me!

I have had moments with my health that have been one thing after another. Once I underwent one surgery (a hysterectomy) where everything from the beginning went wrong and resulted with several unplanned consecutive surgeries, pancreatitis and my staples coming out leaving my entire incision opened. And the worst thing was they could not complete the hysterectomy due to complications so I still had all of my original issues plus a slew more by the time all was said and done. That time it definitely poured and I had many unexpected detours to overcome.

And then there are days like I had last week. Nothing major but a multitude of continuous, misfortunate events that led to my extreme irritation and a slight (actually more than slight) emotional breakdown. Looking back now, it’s amusing… but then… not so much!

To set the scene…

My youngest child, Morgan, was married six weeks ago so I no longer have children living at home. Since the wedding, my husband has had to go on a few week long business trips. This left me completely alone at home which I am convinced is a recipe for disaster. We were also having a week of seemingly endless rain. I used the time inside to clean out a few closets that needed attention. But this left me with several large garbage bags that needed to be put outside for pickup.

Raining lightly on Tuesday night, I decided to run the trash out before the skies opened as my weather app showed was coming. I dumped the entire cat liter box into one of the trash bags so it would be gone and not smell. I took several bags out and that was the last one I took to the curb.

On the way, the bag ripped spilling its contents all over my lap, clothing and wheelchair! I had cat liter dropping on the sidewalk and driveway as well as clumps of excrement on my lap, down my legs and on my foot pedals. I tried to shake it off and had to try to get it off my foot rests by bending over and using my hands to shake it off. It was disgusting and smelly. I wanted to quickly get inside to shower off the stink!

I went up my front sidewalk to go up my ramp. Now I had been frustrated with my ramp because when it was wet, I noticed my chair would slide on it. I was always able to get up but my wheels would slip and spin. This evening my wheels did indeed slip, and I went backwards with my back wheels going off the sidewalk into the mulch and my front wheels not touching the pavement, but now up in the air.

With my front tires inches off the ground and my back tires in the mulch, I quickly realized I was stuck. My tires were digging deeper and deeper into the muck of dirt and mulch. Getting nervous, I moved my body up in the chair, rocking it back and forth as I hit my joy stick forward. It took a decent amount of time, but finally I was able to get the back tires to push up onto the sidewalk. Now my chair is covered with cat liter and mulch! I was wet, stinky and disgruntled!

Back to the ramp. My tires were damp, slippery and dirty and would not give me enough traction to get up to the front door. So now I am stuck outside. I wheeled down my sidewalk to see if any neighbors were out and about. But it was raining so everyone must have been warm and cozy inside. Plus everyone has steps to their doors so I couldn’t knock to ask for help. Waving my arms in the air, I tried to flag down passing cars to see if someone would stop to help me. No one stopped.

Now I am crying because I have been outside for quite awhile without a viable plan to get back inside. I knew I had to call someone for help but who? Steve was in South Carolina. Zach and Morgan live close by but still would take about 20 minutes to get there so I decided against them. I decided to text Morgan’s close friend, Emma, who lives about five minutes away. She answered me immediately and her and her mom were actually driving home and close to my house.

A few minutes later they pulled in and pushed me up the ramp within seconds. Emma even took out my dog so I wouldn’t have to go back outside that evening. I was so thankful and grateful for their help. After Emma and Mary gave me hugs and left, the heavens opened and it was a deluge of torrential rain outside. But inside it was also a downpour of my tears.

I was a stinky, disheveled mess leaving cat liter and muddy tracks throughout my house.

I was alone and depressed, missing my once full house and hating the silence.

I was weary of living my life in a wheelchair and all the inconveniences that constantly come up.

I was angry that simple tasks like taking out the trash or going into my house was a grueling effort.

I was questioning myself because I had just read my devotional about when storms come you need to still trust God. But instead a small storm was rocking my world. I have been through so much worse but for some reason this night’s events had me an emotional wreck. I cried as hard as it rained and probably for as long. I was just so weary… bone tired, worn out, spent! I wanted to drive my wheelchair off a cliff and never get in it again.

After sleeping, I woke up and realized that it was a funny story and that God really had been with me through my “storm.” He helped me get out of the mulch; He had me get in touch with people who helped me physically into the house but also emotionally supported me with hugs and love; and He held the total downpour until I was safely inside.

I honestly do not know why I cried so much that night. Like I said, I have been through much worse. Usually this story would make me laugh but it didn’t. Not right away anyway.

But I am comforted by the fact that…

I follow a God who can calm the storms! (Mark 4:35-41)

I have a Lord who collects my tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8)

My Savior has also cried. (John 11:35.)

God knows our troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

I believe in a God who cares for me and reminds me to give Him my worries. (1 Peter 5:7)

Downpours, detours and storms are going to come our way! Expect them! Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) Prepare for them! Just like people order sump pumps or generators, we can prepare by drawing closer to God, learning and imitating His character, studying His Word, and having a group of trusted friends to support you. Preparation will help you when the tough times come so that you can stand firm when the winds shake you, the rain dumps on you and you need to take unexpected detours.

I may have emotionally lost it last week but thankfully His mercies are new every morning. I was able to wake up and laugh about the preposterous events. And even more, I was able to see His hand taking care of me even in my distress, anger and weariness!

And just to wrap up the story… I showered and cleaned off the cat liter, finally smelling better, but mulch fell out of my chair for the next 3 days!

It must be nice…

I know people mean well. I understand they are being nice. It doesnโ€™t usually offend me. But strangers often say comments to me such as…

โ€It must be nice to sit while you shop.โ€

โ€I wish I had one of those!โ€

โ€You are such a good driver.โ€

โ€Do you have a license to drive that thing?โ€

โ€Donโ€™t run me over.โ€

I love talking to people and understand that their intentions are good so it doesnโ€™t bother me to hear these comments.

And I must say… it is nice to sit while I shop; my chair is super cool and fun to drive; I am a dang good driver (although a few walls at home say otherwise); I do not have a license but I have 26 years of experience; and I only run over people when they annoy me but I make it look accidental!

These comments, however, do make me want to show people that there is much more to being paralyzed than just sitting. That is the easy part of my disability. But people donโ€™t see the daily struggles and challenges beyond the visual of seeing me sitting.

One of the daily challenges I face are spasticity and non stop muscle spasms! And by non-stop, I mean NON-STOP! Sometimes they are less than one second apart. Spasms are involuntary movements that include muscle tightness, joint stiffness and jerky movements of my legs. If you stabbed me with a knife in my legs, I would not feel it but I feel every second of the spasms. They hurt like heck so I am in pain almost every moment of my life. My legs get so tight and stiff that the strongest of men cannot pull them straight. I take medication to try to control them but honestly, they do not always help. I have tried to have nerve blockers put in, cutting my nerves and even Botox shots but nothing has helped.

My spasms have caused several crazy situations (and feel free to laugh because they are pretty absurd). But I’ve caught my toes on fire from a spasm causing my feet to get stuck between the oven and broiler doors, causing third degree burns. I smelled burning flesh which is how I discovered that they were burning.

I have broken limbs, including an ankle on Christmas Eve. That time I waited 3 days to go to the hospital because I didn’t want to miss the Christmas festivities plus let’s be real… it’s not like I use it so what was the hurry?

I have fallen out of my chair multiple times from a strong spasm, once in the middle of a street and a car saw me and instead of stopping to help, they just drove around me! I also run over my own leg frequently when I do not realize that I have had a spasm and my leg has moved off of my leg rest. There are so many wacky moments but spasticity is one of my biggest frustrations!

Another issue is constant urinary tract infections. I have to use a catheter several times per day plus I have a bladder that was reconstructed from part of my intestines, (Weird, I know!) which both contribute to frequent infections. I don’t have the typical symptoms but instead have increased spasticity, pain in my back, vomiting and extreme fatigue. I try not to call the doctor at every symptom or I would be on antibiotics constantly. But chances are I have an infection brewing in my system.

For the faint at heart, skip this next paragraph, but since I am paralyzed some of my organs do not work correctly. Bathroom issues arise to be totally blunt. I will not get into details but everyone has had a bathroom emergency in their lifetime. Now imagine not knowing there is an emergency because you can’t feel it coming or happening. Enough said… but it is literally a “pain in my butt” to deal with!

Sores and wounds are another constant issue. My skin breaks down easily so I have to be careful or I will have a wound that takes a long time to heal. Once I had a sore on my leg for about 5 years that I could not get healed. I often lose my shoes because they just fall off my feet and that causes a lot of sores on my toes, heals and ankles. Last year I lost five right shoes (never my left shoe which is odd) that I never did find when I was out and about. When I get a deep wound or one that won’t heal, I need to go to a wound center for treatment which often requires appointments a few times per week.

Since my brain and lower extremities do not communicate, I need to remember to move myself so that I do not get sores. This includes turning every two hours throughout the night. And it’s not just rolling over. I have to pull myself up to a sitting position, manually move my body and adjust pillows so there isn’t anything able to rub against my skin. Lack of sleep is another ongoing struggle.

Besides the physical problems, everyone who knows me knows that the issues with my van and wheelchair cause me a plethora of additional stressors. There are way too many stories to share but a few include… my van lift having an electrical fire when I was alone with my 2 year old; the door to my ramp unable to open leaving me trapped inside the van for several hours; my wheelchair tire popping so loudly in the mall that security thought it was a gunshot; and a personal favorite is when my chair just stopped after my shower leaving me naked, stranded and panicked because I was not going to call anyone for help when I was not wearing clothing!

There are more challenges and more stories I could share, but I really just wanted to say that sometimes we see the outside of people but have no idea of what is really going on in their lives.

It is natural to glance at people and make assumptions or judgements (I admit, I do it all the time), but we never know what that person is struggling with or the pain they are having or the fears they have. So to quote Rafiki from Lion King, “Look beyond what you see.”

I believe the best way to do this is to try to look at people as Jesus would see them… using lenses of His love. If we begin to look at people with the love of Jesus, we will start to see past the superficial outward appearance and begin to see their heart!

Look deeper! Go love someone today! โค๏ธ

The Journey Begins

Hey there…

My name is Debbie Barker and I have been paralyzed from the waist down since the birth of my first son 26 years ago! (Now I am a mom of 6, my own three plus 3 amazing kids-in-law plus a husband of 28 years.) I wanted to start a blog site to share that being wheelchair bound is much more than simply sitting all day and to share what reality is when you live with a permanent disability. My goal is to encourage others who are struggling physically, emotionally or spiritually because I truly believe that we all have handicaps… mine is just visible!

One strength of mine is finding humor in the craziness which is my life, yet there are moments when I have total meltdowns and feel like I cannot handle one more thing.  So what I share will be REAL… the good, the bad and the ugly! And some funny, crazy and unbelievable moments as well but those stories often get categorized under the ugly! But let’s be real… the ugly times often end up being the funniest tales!

I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ so I have complete trust in His plan for my life!  Even when the days are discouraging and I want to give up,  I try to keep faith in the fact that Jesus is my strength and comfort!  He endured much more than I ever will so I am on the journey of gratefulness for my “disability.” I want to praise Him and give Him glory for every moment of my story… when it’s great and when it’s not so great!

I may not be able to move or feel my legs.  I may not be able to walk or wiggle a toe.  I may not be able to stand up or climb a set of stairs. But I am still abled… just differently!

“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” Isaiah 66