2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for sat n’ all that, with some surprising results, which you can read for yourself below:

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

One day, one post had over 300 views, and many more on other days. One of my highlights of 2013, for sure. Other highs and lows of 2013, as posted on my FB page today include:

two new hair colours, pierced my nose, turned 30, had the most amazing party with wonderful friends and family, (lots of whom made special efforts to be there) fell deeply in love for the first time but had my heart truly broken, learned all over again what it is to trust God with an unknown future, learned how fantastic some of my fabulous friends are, had an exciting Skype conversation with an establish Christian author who thinks my writing is “fantastic”, learned all sorts about myself… faults too, and made constructive goals for 2014… going forward with my hand in the hand of the One who loved me and gave his life for me…

Here’s to the hope of a new year, going forward in faith with joy and peace, showing God’s love to all who cross our path. Glory be to God’s amazing grace, of which I shall write of in this coming year, with many more topics besides! Thank you for sticking with me, and let’s raise a glass to all that’s to come in 2014!

Five-Minute Friday: Tree

This picture shows the tree I can see from my kitchen window. Though it has lost lots of leaves I can still see l lots of different shades of red and orange.
This picture shows the tree I can see from my kitchen window. Though it has lost lots of leaves I can still see l lots of different shades of red and orange.

As soon as I saw the word ‘tree’ I thought of two in particular. The first, the magnificent tree I can see from a window in my kitchen, resplendent in all the colours of autumn with just enough leaves left to show off. The other tree, the fig tree in Scripture, and of which I was reminded recently while reading Christina Schofield’s story, My Life and Lesser catastrophes, beginning with the motorcycle crash which shattered  Christina and Allen’s marriage, ministry and family as they had known it, and in its place, was trauma, uncertainty, hardship, and disability. One day, while Christina is reflecting on the caregiving challenge presented by her husband’s paralysis, God gently reminds her of the fig tree in Habakkuk 3: 17.

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior (My Life and Lesser Catastrophes, kindle edn. P 317).

Each of us, if we are Christians, regardless if we face horrendous circumstances, or perhaps especially if we do, still have the same requirements on us as others, for example to choose to find joy in God and what he has done for us, to be thankful for the gifts he has given us and to find our strength in Him rather concentrating on the hardships we face and then trying to fight on our own. If we do, we are sure to lose.

I found I had much in common with Christina and her husband. For instance, it is easy to become bogged down in the monotony of day to day life, especially when faced with significant disability, as it takes so much energy just to get through each day, leaving little inclination or energy for travel, life does not vary much, as it revolves around routine by necessity, and there may not be much, if any money left over from benefits (or disability pension) for distractions and luxuries once the extra costs of being disabled are met in part or whole. We do though, have the constancy and companionship of Jesus, and the strength that only comes from Him, which is exactly what we do need. In our lack, we have plenty. I am thankful to God for such a vivid reminder of these things. I am off now, to see how many different colours I can find in the other tree, the one out the kitchen window. Until next week…

N.B. This post was written for Five Minute Friday. Why not have a go yourself? I’d love to read it!

 

Five minute Friday: Laundry

I wrote this short post yesterday for ‘Five-Minute Friday‘, but forgot to post it, so here it is!

I am someone who has rather a lot of laundry. I’ve been without my ‘big wheelchair’, and so been so tired from half-baked attempts to get around other ways, I have had a bag accident once a day where I’ve had to change half or all clothes and put them in the washing machine. Yuck. They’re not pleasant and involve lots of effort to sort, either by me or others, depending what’s happened.

clothes pegs on a washing line
clothes pegs on a washing line

But then there is that other kind of ‘dirty laundry’ – those things we would not wish others to know, and if they do, then it is embarrassing and extremely unpleasant to face the consequences, and it may be something which hurts others, by it a rumour which gets out, an affair gets discovered, or an argument between an (ex) couple on social networks such as twitter or Facebook. Any of those things, or countless other examples could be called ‘airing our/their dirty laundry in public.

What a stinky, unsavoury mess, right. The name for examples like that is sin. The only One who can wash our dirty laundry clean is the Lord Jesus. His blood washes us clean, giving us brand new, shining white garments to wear. Things have happened recently which have made me acutely aware of my own shortcomings, because I let my standards slip badly. I am so grateful to Jesus who gives me something I don’t deserve – his unmerited favour, a good gift called Grace (a bit like getting ice-cream even though we’ve been naughty, instead of what we do deserve – punishment. I can never fully grasp what Jesus did for me, and continues to do for me, but what I do grasp, I am extremely grateful I can give up my dirty laundry and be washed clean – so can you!

What about my future?

Tuesday’s daily prompt was one of the easiest I’ve ever answered. It was as follows:

Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post:

Only God knows what future holds

I find this an enormous comfort. I don’t have to strive anymore, because God’s got it sorted. I have no idea what the future holds, but He does… and he know’s what’s best.

That’s the simple truth. If I were to have a childlike faith, as I should, I should accept this and live by it without wavering. However, I am not as faithful to my father God as he is to me…! This is something I am learning over time, as I make mistakes, or try to have things my way. Were I completely disability and illness free, maybe I would have a husband and children of my own by now… or maybe not! Only God knows things like that, or whether I will ever be stable enough, and have enough support to have a job, and a career, or a husband! I am learning to develop a heart of gratitude for the many, many things I do have, from food, running water, flushing toilet and a roof over my head, a little money in the bank and money in my purse. This makes me in the richest percentage of people in the world. I think sometimes the disability lobby forget these things, though who knows what will continue to unfold with the welfare ‘reforms’. Things may well be completely different in a couple of years… or maybe not. I guess this is part of the reason it is important to trust God for the future. However, it is just as important to trust Him in the present, as I am to live for God now.

My life now also has consequences for the future; my eternal future. On Monday, I published a post about Invisible Illness Awareness week, and the scripture I quoted as helping me through the tough times is also relevant here:

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Col. 3: 1-4)

Scriptures like this help me keep going through the tough times. I have to admit, I am not superhuman, there are days I struggle so much with physical, emotional or spiritual pain. I am finding things tough at the moment but it helps to know that this isn’t the end though. What I do now will have a bearing on then. Just recently, the last 6 months or so at least, I didn’t see things as clearly as I do now. When things are bad I try to think of others more disabled than me or who have a particular need and pray for them, or to read a devotional by Joni Earekson Tada or a Psalm from my bible. It may be a song, or a prayer on Christian radio. It’s what Tanya Marlow called ‘the truth that comes in sideways’. (I highly recommend her post, which you can read here) I’m off to find some of that now to help me get back to sleep. I got a few hours rest before midnight but have been awake for at least 3 hours now!

p.s. I can’t remember where I read or heard this, but someone once said life is like a tapestry. We see only the picture on the front, but behind the scenes, at the back of the tapestry is the One who holds all the threads and can see the to bigger picture. One day, I will see the bigger picture too, but for now, I have to live in the present.

 

Ruth: from Refugee to Redeemed

Ruth: from Refugee to Redeemed Apologies for not posting much lately.  Had some difficult times which have made writing almost impossible. I am going to spend today working on the blog and get back to posting more regularly. Probably three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. For now, enjoy my thoughts on Ruth! This is […]

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Normal? No Thanks!

I wrote the following yesterday (Monday). I just got sick and didn’t post it, so here it is now…

Oh goodness. Yesterday’s daily prompt question is a rather pertinent one in a world where ‘abnormal’ is penalised, and ‘normal’ is praised. To be different in some way means you are not normal.

As a disabled person unable to work and reliant on medication, mobility aids, wheelchairs, and physical help from others on a day-to-day basis I am all too aware, I and my life, are far from normal. It is not ‘normal’ for someone as young as me to be unable to work. Medically, my body has never been normal. From the day I was born until the day I die, my body falls far short of ‘healthy’, and short of physical ability in day-to-day life. I am grateful I am healthier than I could be… though not as healthy as society thinks I should be. In these senses, I am not normal.

Who decides what is ‘normal’ though? This Government are penalising anyone who is sick, disabled, old, those looking for work or unable to work, poor, needy, or homeless. by labelling everyone in these categories as scroungers, and therefore somehow not trying hard enough to find work, or work that pays well enough to support a reasonable standard of living. It is ‘normal’ to be able to provide for your family, or pay your own way, in my case. It is normal to achieve certain grades in Education to go into education or training. Anyone who fails to do this is called a ‘NEET’ (Not in Education, Employment, or Training).  Anyone with requirements different to other children or teenagers has ‘special’ or ‘additional’ needs, and generally, their parents have to fight for every bit of help their child gets. If you would like to read more on this, I can recommend Jane Raca’s book, Standing up for James in which she writes of the struggle to find and finance adequate education provision for her son, and the failures of social services, especially if your family is going through similar struggles. (You can read my review of her book here). I did hear the other day that Katie Price’s request to begin a ‘free’ school with other parents of children with special needs had been rejected. Begun because there is not enough provision for children with complex needs, a claim also made by Jane Raca, though I cannot quote her directly unless I find my kindle before I publish this post!!

Personality wise, I have always been just the right side of daft. Life is more fun if you can laugh at yourself, and if you can handle tough situations with a degree of humour, it all helps, in my opinion. In this sense, ‘normal’ is boring. I would love to be more sensible and more organised though. In some ways I still feel as though I live and think as I did when I was a student, and in other ways I have grown up. I think that is a lot to do with not being able to work. In that sense, I am not ‘normal’, and here, I would wish to be. Spiritually, I tend to agree with the late, great, Mike Yaconelli. ‘Messy’ is best, and Jesus is right with us in the midst of it. I read a great post the other day to do with authenticity in church, and faith. I think I may have already linked to it in another post, but it is worth another mention. I definitely think Mike would have been the same in whatever sphere of life he was in at the time. People who can do that and get away with it are oftentimes, (though not always) my favourite kind of people because there is no ‘normal’, around them, and you never know what will happen next. Life is an adventure. I happen to agree. So did Jesus, who didn’t do ‘normal’ either. He hung out with the very people society shunned, when there was nothing to gain from doing so. Me? I prefer to aim to be like Jesus; life is more fun that way! “I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full” (John 10: 10)

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!