Billy (the kid)

Golf ball
Golf ball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some days, I fret about what I will write, and other days, a post will write itself. Thankfully, this is one of the latter! I needed to go back to sleep this morning, which I did, but forgot to set an alarm. I woke about 1030 and managed to get out of my house in fifteen minutes flat, since care had got me ready to go out a few hours earlier.

Once outside. there was a wee boy running up and down the pavements with his scooter. He later told me the pavements are better up here than where he lives! I am sure I have seen or heard him in the last couple of days. First thing is, he says hi, and asks me if I know what the noise is. I say no, and he tells me how annoying it is. I try to indulge him a bit but think, right I better get moving. Next thing is, the boy is asking about my electric wheelchair, wanted to know what each button on the control box does and test it out. I suddenly think. where would Jesus be? Of course, he would keep the pharisees waiting at Synagogue and talk to the little boy. I relax. and let him push and pull the chair using the golf ball, spinning me round in circles and tipping the chair backwards. In between he asks me why I use a chair, can I walk a bit, and where was I going when he saw me? All natural questions, and somehow it feels much safer to answer while he’s messing with the chair. His next statement took me by surprise though…. he said he wanted a chair too!! He said I could have his scooter and the golf ball and he would have my chair (cheeky or what….!!)

i thought that was the end of it, as Billy spun me round in the right direction and shoved the golf ball forwards. I take and go the long way round, following flattest path to the end of the street and across the road. Quick as anything, he’s caught up with me, asking why I didn’t cross at the dropped kerbs in the middle of the road. I show with my arm as best I can the path leading from the dropped kerb and how steep it is compared to the path I used. He gets it. He spies the grass, and decides that’s where the chair is going too. Thankfully  the grass was dry so the chair coped fine. The only hiccup was were were too near the main road for my liking!! I veer off the grass, and he suddenly says he’s off. He shoves the golf ball on the chair in the direction I’m going and speeds off, back towards home, right down the ginnell at the side of my house, and beyond.

I went to church with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart, for Billy. Not caring that I was late, even though Billy said “You’re allowed to be late because you have a problem….!!” I met Billy BECAUSE I was running late!! Also, if only all Disability Awareness Training was as easy as it was this morning, ours would be a much more compassionate society to live in!

Our distorted view of ourselves and God

The image shows two drawings, one that the illustrator drew of Shelly, based on her description of herself and the other, described by a stranger, It shows the difference between what we think we look like, and how others actually see us.

A guest post from Bryony Taylor:

I was very moved to watch the new campaign from Dove. In it women were asked to describe themselves to a forensic illustrator who drew images of the women as they described themselves. Strangers were also asked to describe the woman they had just met and the illustrator drew images of the stranger’s description. Both images were then shown to the woman who had been drawn. Of course there was quite a big difference between the images as described by the subjects themselves and how the strangers described them. An amazing lesson in itself about self-esteem I think. You can watch the video here:

Then I got to thinking, what if we did the same with the attributes of God? If you were to describe God, what would the illustrator draw? What would a stranger draw?

In Vincent Donovan’s book ‘Christianity Rediscovered’ he talks of his experience as a missionary to the Masai tribes. He describes how much of evangelism is simply a case of saying you think God is like X, but actually God is like this, like Jesus’.

Often our perception of God can be as distorted as our perception of ourselves. This is partly why, I think, that God chose to reveal his full nature in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In coming to earth, God was saying ‘this is what I’m like’. The portrait of God is Jesus. Want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus.

local observations

This post is a response to the Weekly Writing Challenge, asking for descriptions of a person, place, and thing.

A Person

Being me, she was the kind of person I would notice, I never did find out her name. I didn’t want to interrupt the girl’s time with her mother, or upset her in any way. At least, I think the woman with her was her mother. They did look a bit alike. The girl herself had a wonderful mega-watt smile; the kind that is instantly contagious. Beautiful girl, sat in an ugly standard-issue wheelchair, of the sort that is seen everywhere: steel frame, red sides, 4 small wheels, so not very easy to push, either. Heavy and burdensome, though covered in stickers to make it look a little more cheerful, and somehow also made it seem more personal. The girl herself was very pretty, brown hair in a pony-tail, brown eyes, neat features, and as I’ve already said, her infectious smile. She wore school uniform, though I do not remember what colour, this being some time ago, and gave no clue as to her age. There seemed to be no personalisation to it as other teenagers might do. It wasn’t until sometime later that I realised this girl had down syndrome. I guess that smile had something to do with it. I do not remember what the girl had to eat or drink, though I remember juice of some kind, perhaps a “fruit shoot” or similar, as I know the cafe sells those. The girl and her companion be they her mother, a carer or guardian, did not stay long.

A place

The cafe itself attracts a whole mixture of people, though I have never seen anyone go there who seems particularly well off. I have been there several times, sometimes months apart. To me, the place is either mobbed or empty, there is no happy medium. It is unusal in that it is entirely staffed by volunteers, many of them elderly, or disabled in some way. One might assume this is because it is often elderly or disabled people who have the time to volunteer, or the desire to do so, and therefore make volunteering a priority. There is always a cheerful atmosphere about the place, whether it be busy or quiet, and Christian music playing in the background. I always find there is a peace about the place which is attractive. No one ever seems in a hurry to leave, or in a hurry to make you leave. After costs, any profit is ploughed back into the place, or given to charity. There is a notice on the wall on the left-hand-side which explains this, and lists which charities received donations in which year and how much for. Alongside this there are sometimes framed certificates from the recipient charities thanking the cafe for their donation. On the same wall, nearer the door there is a large grey notice board covered in pieces of paper, and posters of all colours advertising local information, services, or events. Other places on the left-hand and right-hand walls are taken up by colourful posters displaying clever religious slogans or bible verses. I do not remember off the top of my head what is on the far wall, as it is a good few weeks since I was inside the cafe. On the wall nearest the entrance to cafe, a solitary blue door, much like the front door of a house, is a large window made up of several pains of glass, each one held in place by a wooden frame painted white. In front of this is the unofficial “trolley park” sometimes occupied by buggies or prams. The rest of the space in the cafe is taken up by several wooden tables, which I imagine not to be solid wood, but the type that has a wood-effect covering on the outside, with a circular metal base, and one wide leg in the middle. The vast majority of the chairs are also wooden, although there are two small brown-leather (faux-leather??) sofas with a small coffee table in the middle, next to the music speakers, and the specials board, contradiction in terms because extra dishes are written plainly, in white chalk on regular blackboard slate and are generally nothing fancy, though the regulars seem to like them. Near this is the counter, with a glass shelve unit which displays the cakes and tray bakes and keeps cans and bottles of pop cool. At the other end of the counter is a standard regulation automated till. Behind this end of the counter is a back wall covered in shelves and a unit which contain cups, saucers, mugs, plates, There is also a big dispenser which contains a large jug of filter coffee. Very good it is too!

A thing

The above is as detailed a description of the place as I can summon from the brain, but the thing which really captures my imagination is the glass-fronted cake-counter. As I can see it now in my mind, there are three categories of cake — old fashioned favourite, the simple classics, and new fangled favourites, so they might have butterfly cakes, which remind me of bake-sales at school, classic carrot cake with slices cut out, and American style chocolate brownies. I seem to remember other things such scones, flapjacks and mars-bar crispy cake, all of which remind me of being at my Grandparents house for tea on a Friday night while I was growing up. A treat then as now, and all home-made, familiar and comforting. Apparently the lady who makes the cakes for the cafe is a lady who makes cakes for a living anyway. Nothing in the cabinet stikes me as being overly fancy; however if you are looking for good quality cheap coffee and tea and an afternoon treat, or a morning bacon roll and pot of tea with a friendly atmosphere and a warm welcome, look no further than ABC!!



Drum-roll please!

Hand on keyboard
The picture shows a laptop keyboard, with a hand resting on it as though someone is typing

Today’s ‘Daily Prompt’ Question is one of the best; simple, yet profound:

Why do you blog?

For me, the answer is straight forward. I blog for several reasons.

1. A creative outlet

Firstly, because my parents encouraged me to find an outlet which used my gifts and also engaged my brain. As a person with significant impairments, it is very difficult to find enough to keep me occupied without exhausting myself at the same time. I have discovered, that this is a common problem. To know I am not the only one who faces this precarious balancing act on a daily, perhaps hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute basis is a massive relief. It is also useful to share coping strategies and tips, and simply to talk about the frustration this particular battle can cause. There are days where I am simply too exhausted to type. Additionally, if another part of my disability is out of kilter, say I am in excessive pain, or the bag is being particularly difficult I may well have no energy or head-space left to blog, as has been the case of late. That said, to have found an outlet which I enjoy, uses my gifts, engages my brain, and connects me with people who have similar interests is a joy. I have to admit, I needed encouragement, or a ‘boot up the backside’ to actually start writing. Bryony had been telling me for weeks that i should start a blog. When I joined twitter, she introduced me to Bex as the friend she had told her about who was going to start writing for BigBible, which Bex now works for, as they had been on the lookout for someone like me. Introductions made, I had no choice but to start. This was the boost I needed. It was a thrill to be one of the #digidisciples whose work featured in the top ten of most shared posts of 2012. The reaction to my first post was something which has stayed with me ever since, and I often bring to mind when I am in need of encouragement with my writing.

2. God is using me, and my writing

This reason for blogging is also connected with the first point. It is God who has given me the brain and the gifts necessary to make a good go of my blog, and my hope is to use it for His Glory, as should be my aim with everything I do. Many of my non-Christian friends or family like to read my posts, so this is a motivation for me to show how my faith makes a difference to the difficult times in my life, of which there are plenty. I hope and pray this will be a witness to those who read it. I decided early on that as much as possible I would keep my blog ‘real’, by writing honestly, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, without dramatising things but also without glossing over the tough stuff. I wanted mine to stand out. Not just a single-issue blog but something that reflected the variety of my life, and also so that as many people as possible could find something in my writing which speaks to them or with which they identify. Occasional feedback from readers is proving this to be true.

3. Semi housebound, but reaching the masses without leaving my front door!

For my first #digidisciple post for the Big Bible Project,. I wrote about the benefits of social media in general and twitter in particular when it is impossible to interact with the world in other ways. To go out, I have to book care, of which there are limited hours in a week, and/or a wheelchair taxi. Many of you reading this will understand just how expensive this can be. This all also depends on me having the finances to cover the cost of transport and having a good day energy wise to be able to go out. For both those reasons,. the places i go to are often limited to a specific list of places, or if in Leeds, a specific area meaning I frequently meet the same people. Online, however, it is a different story, and I can reach a much broader audience. My father recently referred to me as “a master blogger”, and commented on,the variety of people who read my work. I aim to be different from disability activists, as I do not feel this is my gifting, there are others much more adept at lobbying the policy makers, council leaders, whoever needs to be told. Having said that, I aim to inform as many people as i can about the complexities of life with significant needs, and deep Christian faith and to live as full as life as I can. I am aware of other disabled people I know who live fuller lives than I, even with a more significant physical impairment. Though I would sometimes wish my life was more varied, in general blogging is my way of being ‘out and about’; reaching people I would not otherwise meet and finding a creative outlet, while having a lot of fun at the same time!

The explanation for my absence….!!

Dear lovely followers, (should I have any left?!) If you’re reading this now, thanks for sticking with me! As you might have noticed, I haven’t been writing much over the last week or two. There is more than one reason for this, but I can only go into a couple of those here. You might remember reading about my little accident a couple of weeks ago now. I thought then I hadn’t done any lasting damage, not even to my knee, but unfortunately, I have. How long it may last, I don’t know, but the healing process may take a while. Though I live in England and have the backup from the NHS, I’ve been having to fork out (pay up!) for physiotherapy, originally for chronic pain in my back. So bad, that had I not gone private, I would have had to start being hoisted, say, from my chair to my bed, within a few months to a year, because of the severity of the pain and the level of restriction the pain caused. Fortunately, it is making a difference, but because this meant I was already regularly seeing a very good physiotherapist, I knew that if between the physio and I we could work out what the problem with my knee was, she would give me as good advice as she could. I was getting to the stage with my knee where the pain in my knee would cause my leg to collapse underneath me. An absolute nightmare for anyone with any mobility problems, never mind how someone who has mobility as poor mine is. I am still attempting to transfer front on, with the help of my zimmerframe, rather than side on with a banana board as the strength, co-ordination, and control in my arms is far from adequate for this. For those of you who know about chronic pain and/or life altering physical disability, I am sure ou can well imagine how difficult tranferring had become. Aditionally, my leg collapsing would cause my knee to spasm, which would greatly increase the pain, which would mean putting even less weight on my leg than I could all ready…!! This meant I was willing to let the physio do whatever it took to work out why I was in pain and how to help it get better. What she did have to do may well may you wince, as she had to ‘create the pain’, i.e. get me to take two or three steps so she could see it collapse, and once I was sat. prod my leg to fine out where the pain was. Yes, it was a painful as it sounds!! It turns out, I have damaged a major nerve at the back of my knee, which wraps round the side of my knee. The whole thing is badly inflamed. Apparently the nerve at the back of the knee splits into two, there is the siatic nerve, and the other one, which I cannot remember the name of! Once this was diagnosed, my lovely physio-terrorist (sorry, therapist) was able to give me advice. Advice so good, it has already helped improve my knee by decreasing the number of times it collapses, reducing the resulting spasm and increased pain. Anyone with chronic pain, or severe disability or both, will tell you things often go in a vicious cycle especially with spasms or pain. Breaking that cycle can be heinously difficult, but once you do, it can make an enormous difference. P.S. For anyone who would like to read more about the causes and effects of pain, see Health Activist, Mrs. Rants excellent blog. ————————————————————————————————————————–

I wrote the majority of the above last Wednesday, but had no time to publish the post. I am finishing this in the early hours of Monday morning, a day and a bit after early 30th birthday celebrations. My lovely friend who organised the bash asked my Dad to say a few words. I admit to having moist eyes! I may write another post explaining a little of what my Dad said that night, but he also referred to my blogging skills when listing some of the things I am now filling my life with. Apparently, I am a “Master Blogger”!! I am well and truly back. For your amusement, I have included a photograph of me at my party, which the lovely Bryony took of me.

The photo shows me at my 30th Birthday party.
I am wearing a black sash which says “Birthday Princess”, and I have a large pink badge pinned to my jacket which says “I’m thirty, pour me another”, with a picture of a wine or cocktail glass on it! I have a big smile on my face. I didn’t realise until I saw this photo that I am sat underneath one of the ceiling lights, so it looks like I have a halo above my head!!