Sunday, January 31, 2010

Those I Love

So many people mean so much to me - they have been there through all of the hard parts of my life - they have taught me life lessons. A very few are:

My cousin Geoffrey - gets us together for the family reunion. Teaches me that by aligning with him, we both win at Monopoly :) (bigger life lessons are there). Sits with my younger brother and me at my older brother's wedding as we look back, smile, and sing to a cheesy 80s song. Listens. Gets the ultrasound "announcement" that Lori is on the way and shouts his excitement in the elevator, then calls me with enthusiasm (not everyone was supportive).
And flip it - endures judgemental comments about "him," when those people
making the comments do not realize who he is. Is afraid to tell us,
his family, who he really is. Once he does, he realizes it's all ok.

My friends Dana and Jen - college friends/roommates. Dana always wants to hear stories about ME and never leaves enough time for stories about HER. Dana strives to understand MS, writes a poem about MS and dancing, thus flipping stereotypes. Dana--willing to do anything. Jen - always busy studying but we went to church together on Sundays during college (very few of us did that!). Jen listens. Dana and Jen are raising a little girl.
Flip it - Dana's parents hated to be at her wedding. Some of her
family is simply not supportive of her. Through her post-college life,
she has struggled to bring them back, but they refuse to accept Dana
for who she is.

These are a few of the people I love. They all experience discrimination. People with disabilities can bond with people like Geoffrey, Dana, and Jen because we seem to understand discrimination and lack of understanding of who we are.

And yet, we don't necessarily make headway. And I'm left at meetings thinking, you have GOT to be kidding me! Do you really think Jesus would reject all of us? I'm pretty sure he would reach out his arms in loving acceptance.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's different

I always forget that when I get sick, I get hit harder than the average person, so I go along thinking I'm pretty tough and can fight anything. And then occastionally a truck plows into me, in a sense, even if it is only briefly.

This week a critical project which seemed on Wed like it was never going to get done, somehow wrapped up on Thur and I couldn't wait for the final wrap-ups on Fri and then somehow a celebration.

And then Thur night I woke up with the stomach flu my daughter had 2 days before me. I got to this chair which is right next to our bedroom and stayed there but eventually had to get up. And there the problem started. Viruses will always go after my legs too. So I was semi-stuck in the chair. Eventually I got up very briefly; then back to the chair. My husband carried me to a different chair where I stayed all day...

I left once to go to the bathroom but had to drag myself across the floor. Not pretty. I liked when someone called to ask if I had checked my work email. No, I can't walk. But then the topic shifted to people this person knew who had what I had. Not sure if "I can't walk" was even heard. Somehow I sense that only those closest to me really know this happens.

Whenever I get some silly virus, I contemplate whether I'll be able to walk again. And then the virus ends and my legs come back as they were. Amazingly enough, my legs came back full strength today. I still was dizzy and didn't want to move, but my legs were back. The emotions behind this are difficult to explain. But thanks be to God for the comeback. Perhaps all things are possible, in some kind of different way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Walking the Beth

I shouldn't write how I really feel late at night, but oh well.

People want to help. That is a good thing. But sometimes, I have to be honest, it can be annoying.

There's someone who wants to help me and keeps trying (oh no, they're thinking like my "come back tomorrow post!"). But they have THEIR ideas of how I should be helped and what is best for me. They keep pushing these ideas. I have even said (in different words), "I think what I am doing makes you much more uncomfortable than me." "Yes," they admit. But then back to their agenda of "but, but, but, ... you should do...... , you do better with the wheelchair").

I have a walker. I also have a wheelchair. I also have the walls of my house, covered with fingerprints. I have trouble walking. I also have severe leg cramps. If I don't walk during the day, my legs will cramp all night and I won't get any sleep. So I walk and often call it "Walking the Beth." Besides that, as uncomfortable as it may make others feel, I like to walk. I love to stand and stretch my legs. It feels great! So I stand and walk.

I cling to hope that something will come along to make walking easier, faster, something. It seems that something is on the horizon--it's exciting. And if I had given up my choice to walk, that possibility would be more difficult.

So I walk. So others feel uncomfortable. So some voice that they think I should not walk. So I feel like telling them to shut up, if I'm being really honest. People push me on my walker when I'm tired. But I still get to stand more and it feels great. People don't seem to understand that.

So the prayer is, God, could you help some people who have agendas for me perhaps focus more on themselves, even though they are trying to help? What would help is if they would let me choose. My life, my choice, God's support.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

have a little faith

I'm starting to read this book called "have a little faith" by Mitch Albom, even though it's the start of a new semester. Great book--at least to page 50 of 250!

Part of it is about a Rabbi, and Mitch preparing to give the Rabbi's eulogy (though the Rabbi seems fine). Mitch asks the Rabbi why he is not cynical and the Rabbi responds by telling a story of someone who kept trying at something, even when the person was spat in the face in doing so. The Rabbi said, "Mitch, that's what faith is. If they spit in your face, you say it must be raining. But you still come back tomorrow."

Faith, in so many ways. Come back tomorrow. A valued friendship may seem gone. But keep trying--keep coming back tomorrow, and maybe the next tomorrow, and the next tomorrow, and maybe many more tomorrows. It may come back. If I can't walk one day or feel like I've hit a wall, come back tomorrow. I may feel better. If many days my shoulder really hurts by the end of the day, come back tomorrow. It may feel a bit better. If work is completely overwhelming and I've felt about to break, come back tomorrow, as difficult as that can be. All these things may not be better tomorrow. But don't give up--hope--and come back tomorrow. Offer it all up to God. Come back tomorrow. If nothing else, eventually there may be a sense of peace. Or tomorrow, maybe something will happen that is completely unexpected. Today, the hope of yesterday's tomorrow came true for me in a small way.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This week I've thought a lot about Haiti and how to help, I can give money, and that's about it. Then I can sit and look at the horrific images courtesy of our media.

Today on the radio I heard someone from Frisco, CO talk about his experience. He was in Haiti as part of a faith-based organization and got stuck with 5 others from the group in a hotel for 55 hours. He is home now. Two of his friends didn't make it. He talked about how they prayed, that God didn't help 2 of his friends. But, he said, he looked at it from the standpoint that God had given him the gift of life. For that he is grateful. With that in mind I realized yes, it's horrific, but I have the gift of my life now to live.

And so tomorrow Lori, my daughter, and I head out past Frisco to Breckenridge, to ski. We'll start the drive and Lori will notice the cross on the side of the mountain and get very excited. Then we'll climb, climb, climb as the sun comes up. The sun will be up and we'll reach the top--the Eisenhower tunnel.

As we leave the tunnel will be the stunning view of the mountains. I'll turn on the CD to the song from Charlie about not realizing how far we've come, and again I'll look out to the snowy mountains, headed to the slopes, to the outside, where I love to be, and I'll be reminded how far I've come. As we head into Breckenridge, I'll turn on another song which reminds me of my friend Jean Ann and inspires me to drop some of the fear that prevents me from being a better skier. And I'll see those slopes that seem to shine.

After seeing friends at the ski office, off to the slopes. The world at home will disappear for awhile--the stresses that are there. And in a sense, I'll fly. And I'll be thankful for the gift of being able to do this.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Closing this tough week--need to write this to help move on...
"When the mountain touches the valley, all the clouds are taught to fly,
as our souls will leave this land, most peacefully.
Though our minds be filled with questions..."

She died alone. She went to the bathroom, had a massive heart attack, and died. Alone.

I knew her, but not well. She attended a disability training I did. She answered a couple emails of mine. She was swamped, so the answers were brief, because she didn't have time.

There were tears this week at her unexpected death. And there were observations. She was only 57. She was large. She had nausea problems since June and hadn't seen a doctor. It went quickly because it was a massive heart attack.

She was alone.

That bothers me. What else bothers me can be viewed in many ways. She needed to take better care of herself. She needed to see a doctor. She was working too hard to do these things. Society asks a lot of us, particularly during this recession. We are told we are not a healthy nation. But we are pressured to work hard, harder, harder. This pressure means that we may not take care of ourselves, and we may not pressure others to take care of themselves.

She was alone. It seems she was alone in many ways. I hope she is truly at peace now.

"... in our hearts we'll understand... when the river meets the sea."

God help my heart to understand this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random words of kindness

It's been a tough week. A seemingly great friendship seems halted. I physically hurt (bad shoulder). I am on complete overload at work.

Tonight I came out of the building in my wheelchair through the moving circular exit. It seems to amaze people that I do this, but it's all in the timing, and that way I avoid the "evil" blue buttons that auto-open the other doors and are no fun. The circle, and timing, are fun.

A driver was sitting there, waiting for some group, and he remarked at my timing. Then he came over to my car to try to help. To be honest, I thought he smelled like a cigarette and was going to cause the wheelchair to be put in the car in some strange way that would make it impossible to get out.

But he surprised me. "Can I help?" he said. I explained no, then the chair ends up in the wrong place. But he stood there, with me fearing he would grab something and "ruin" my process. But he didn't. He put the main part in--that's the part that really hurts my shoulder, and then he shut the trunk for me (also painful--heck, lots of pain now!).

Then he said "and some people think they have it rough..." So I thought yup, the people of Haiti have it rough now!

Then his final words--"I can tell you're a really sweet lady." He meant that. I got in my car and, though I told him thank you, thought several more thank yous as I exited and headed home. And those soft tears that followed came from remembering, again, how there are random strangers who appear and save the day with a few kind words, and they don't know how much those words meant today.

Thanks be to God for random words of kindness from random people we can meet along the way.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The confusion of loyalty

This may make no sense--loyalty can be so confusing...

"Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor." (somewhere in Romans 12)

That word... honor... it's high on my value list... it grips me... it guides me... it confuses me... it holds me back... it leads me to create conflict on which I can dwell... it seems to go hand and hand with loyalty.


When I was much younger, my parents came to the realization that I needed a different piano teacher because I had stopped progressing. I remember being told this and being devastated in a sense, even though my new teacher had given me a few lessons and was very good. With this better instruction, I continued to play (from first grade) through high school, continued to advance, played pieces I would never have imagined, and developed a new loyalty to my new teacher. We still exchange Christmas cards. Back then, I didn't have the choice to stay "loyal" and stay with my first teacher. I wonder what I would do if that happened today.

As I have continued through my life, I have placed great importance on loyalty to so many different things. And while generally loyalty is a good thing, it can hold a person back, can cause an inability to say no, and can cause difficult situations. I hold onto those difficult situations and can't let them go easily. Can it cause treasured friendships to be lost? I think it, unfortunately, can. Big messes. Hard to turn those types of messes over to God.

Recently, a kind of transition led to the feeling of breaking loyalty and hurt feelings. Never know who will read these postings but oh well. I've had great athletic coaches in my life, and they've all become friends. Then at some point life has gone on, I have different coaches, and I stay friends with the old ones, who mentally coach via email at a distance. Honor... loyalty... both remain. Now is different.

After MS stopped me from running and walking for exercise, I was frustrated watching others outside running (it's still hard to watch). But I tried skiing and met someone who has been a great coach and has become a friend throughout the past 8 or so years. Without him I would never have found the love for handcycling which challenges me and takes me outside where I love to be. Friendship somehow together with coaching translated to loyalty for me. But reccently something has felt different. My friend is near retirement and I need different angles on skiing. So I decided not to ski with my friend each time.

This past week I went skiing. Great skiing. Some great new tips. Disaster on the friendship front. He didn't know we weren't going to ski together.

So, was my decision right? It simply had to happen. I may lose a friend although I hope not, because the friend helped me realize my potential. It's easy to say he should see what I need. But when reality came, he didn't. And I felt stuck in a loyalty tug of war. A mess. Somehow, this mess should be handed to God. But it's going to sit with me for quite awhile, as I question loyalty but know what I did in some ways was not completely a choice. God, pull me through the loyalty mess... somehow... and what here is good?

Muddling through the mess...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Showing God the Mess

"She listened with her eyes closed to the sermon, which was about letting God into your worst drawers and closets, and how healing could not happen if you let God into a living room that had been cleaned for the occasion. If you wanted the healing, you had to show God the mess." (Anne Lamott, from Blue Shoe)

I haven't read a novel in years and thought, what's the point of reading a novel? It's not real. And then there was this, right in the middle of the novel I chose to try. Of course, it's not surprising as it is Anne Lamott, known also for her non-fiction works. But there it is--novels can offer things, too.

Outside the story, I look at what great meaning this has. My older brother, sister-in-law, and I were sitting around our kitchen table talking and I was asking my atheist brother, "Really Tim, you have never had that feeling that isn't you--that you know is God?" No, absolutely he has never had anything like that, not even in all his years singing in his university's chapel choir. Yet I've had that feeling many times. Why? I don't know.

I began to think of when I've had that feeling. The two definite strongest times were when I've been in probably the biggest mess of my life, and God entered. I can't really explain it--it's a completely different sense where I have the feeling of being held and a message is somehow conveyed in that holding. There have been other times when I've felt held, though not as strongly. Those tend to be the times when I take the time to sit, pause, and let everything out. Then God comes in. It's not when I'm happiest, but not necesarily when I'm a train wreck either. It's like the quote says--it's not when I've cleaned everything to create a space for God. It's whene everything is out there, as it is--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I was talking with Leo a little while ago and he told me he lay for hours in excruciating pain in prayer, begging God to take his pain away. Eventually that led to surgery which removed the specific pain. Maybe he didn't felt held, but maybe that's how God answered--the surgery took the pain away.

People go about making New Year's resolutions and I typically don't, as I'm constantly striving to do things, and a date doesn't mean they're more likely to occur. But as another year begins, I hope I find the time to show God my various messes and unclean drawers, and to open myself up to those healing feelings of being held.