Flashback Friday: Thankful Beyond Compare

Originally published March 8, 2016:

Swan and Ducks

Throughout my life, I’ve fallen into the sin of ingratitude. For the most part, I succumbed to this sin as a result of comparing myself with able-bodied people. I can remember the envy I nurtured in my heart during my two years in Memphis, listening to my co-workers talk about their homes and marriages, and feeling resentful that I was single and living in a nursing home. When they encouraged me to be grateful for a roof over my head, food in  my belly and people to get me up each morning, you bet I felt like smacking them! But, as angry as I was that I couldn’t have the goodies that they had, I was even angrier that their comments exposed my sin of ingratitude.

Rather than comparing myself to my co-workers, I believe the Lord wanted me to compare myself to the blind, non-verbal quadriplegic two doors down from me whose mother wouldn’t even touch him when she visited. Or the woman who had been disabled when a drunk driver smashed into her car, killing her baby and damaging her mind and body so severely that her husband immediately  filed for divorce. Or all those with Cerebral Palsy that had spent their entire adult lives in that roach-infested place, with no hope of getting out. Had I contrasted my life to theirs, I think I would have been much more grateful for all the Lord had given me.

Scripture frequently has to tell us to thank the Lord for His blessings precisely because we naturally gravitate toward ingratitude. We convince ourselves that, compared to certain others, we don’t receive what life supposedly owes us. Or, to put it in terms we’d never admit, we don’t receive what God supposedly owes us.

Our real problem is that we have an inflated opinion of ourselves coupled with a deflated view of the Lord. Rather than recognizing that we actually owe Him everything, both because He created us and because He shed His precious blood to pay the penalty for our sin, we demand that He cater to our desires. I say “we” because I still allow myself to dabble in the sin of ingratitude. I’ll cast the first stone at myself, but I seriously doubt that I’m the only one guilty of taking His goodness for granted.

With that being the case, we all need the Bible’s reminders to praise and thank the Lord for His goodness to us. Psalm 100 is one of many passages of Scripture that directs me to praise and thank Him.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. ~~Psalm 100 (ESV)

It helps me to compare myself to that quadriplegic young man in the nursing home. But that might not be the most Biblical approach to cultivating gratitude, now that I think of it. Instead of comparing ourselves with people more fortunate or less fortunate than ourselves, perhaps we’d do better by focusing on Who God is and how graciously He cares for us.

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Why Paul Didn’t Go To Church — And Why He Thought We Should

Once again, John is typing this post at my dictation. I’m getting better, and even sat at the computer for 15 minutes last night. However, I am still looking for a morning PCA who can help me build up my back muscles. Consequently, I am not able to include Scripture verses or links to citations at this time. Thank you for your patience and prayer as I recover from my back injury.

First Baptist Church of Weymouth has been open since May, but various circumstances have prevented me and John from attending. Even between my illnesses and back injuries, mask mandate makes it impossible for me to drive my power wheelchair because I operate the joystick with my face. Essentially, John and I are now shut-ins.

Throughout recent months, I’ve been hearing podcasts explaining that church attendance is a command from God. This weekend, in fact, Chris Hohnholz and Rich Story did their Voice Of Reason Radio podcast examining Scriptures directing Christians to meet together. Since Rich has a disability that prevents him from attending his local church, they were careful to note that some Christians are legitimately unable to meet with their fellowships on Sunday mornings (I deeply appreciated their carefulness to mention that fact). But they spent the bulk of their program urging listeners not to depend on livestreams and podcasts rather than going to church physically.

I have often thought about asking Chris and Rich to do a program addressing the needs of shut-ins. Those of us who cannot physically attend church often feel frustrated to hear sermons and podcasts about the necessity of going to church. At least I do. Although I know that the Bible explicitly says that Christians must gather together, I also know that John and I have absolutely no way of obeying that command. Yet it always seemed as if the Bible overlooked Christians in our situation.

Then I started thinking about the apostle Paul.

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I Needed A Snappy Title

Getting up Sunday morning, my back went out again. Yup, I probably fractured it, so I’m once again on bed rest for awhile. I needed a snappy title to reflect snapping my back bone a third time. I appreciate John for typing this on his laptop as I dictate to him. I’m not sure if I will dictate a few short blogs in the next month — maybe if I’m a good girl, John will agree to type for me.

The first time I had fractures, I told people that I injured myself skydiving. Last year, my story was that John made me carry him up three flights of stairs. This time, I struggled to come up with an outlandish explanation for my injury, but finally settled on snowboarding. You gotta have fun with these injuries!

This time around, the Lord is helping me pray in an orderly fashion. Normally I need to be at my computer where I can use my prayer lists in order to keep focused. But the Lord has given me inexplicable grace to pray through my list from memory yesterday and today. I cannot express the encouragement I feel at keeping up my communication with Him in this way.

Although I am not able to read my Bible, I have been watching Seed Family Worship videos on Youtube. These videos are a great Bible memorization tool for kids, and maybe for old ladies like me. At least it’s a way of getting a little Bible intake. I also intend to watch Sons of Korah videos on Youtube, since they put Psalms to music.

John and I wish each of you a merry Christmas filled with the wonder of God Incarnate. I look forward to blogging early in the new year.

Hospitals And Speaking In Tongues

Although I came home from the hospital on November 5, my ten-day stay weakened me so much that I am just beginning to regain my ability to type. My diagnosis was initially anemia and malnutrition, but during my stay I developed a blood infection. I returned home with a Hickman port, which allows visiting nurses to give me daily IV antibiotics.

But let’s not make this article another update on my health, okay? I do appreciate your prayers during my absence, and I want to assure you that I am doing better. At the same time, I prefer to focus this post on something the Lord taught me while I was in that hospital bed.

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I’ll Blog When I Can

Among all my other problems lately, I haven’t had a regular PCA for Tuesday and Thursday mornings since mid-August. A cousin and a dear Christian friend had been graciously helping out, understanding that I’ve been feeling too poorly to advertise and interview.

Yesterday, neither lady was available, so I spent the day in bed watching Animal Planet while John posted an ad on Craigslist. So today I have a backlog of email, made heftier by responses to the ad.

As much as I want to blog, I don’t anticipate anything other than a Throwback Thursday tomorrow and a Flashback Friday the following day. I apologize for the lack of original content right now. Hopefully things will settle down soon — at least enough for me to blog consistently.

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I’m Not Letting Go Without A Fight!

Not only do I type with a headstick, but I drive my power wheelchair with my face. Having a strong neck is crucial to my daily function, particularly as a blogger.

So you can probably guess that the severe neck pain that I’v been feeling since a week ago yesterday has alarmed me and John considerably.

We got Blue Emu last night. I tried my first application this morning, and so far I haven’t had any significant relief. Some reviews said it works immediately, while others said it takes a few days. Still others said it was a complete waste of money. So I’m asking the Lord to let it work for me. So that I can keep working for Him.

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Flashback Friday: A Woman With Birth Defects Looks At Abortion

Originally published January 25, 2018. My dear friend Ginny reminded me of this article after getting me up yesterday and witnessing the terrible pain I’ve been experiencing lately,

Bride&Mother
Me and Mom on my wedding day

When doctors discovered that I had serious birth defects, they advised my mother to put me in an institution and forget she ever had me. According to them, I’d be a vegetable my entire life.  (Thus John refers to me as his spicy little tomato.) Thankfully,  Mom rejected their counsel, put me through college and lived to see me get married a month before my 49th birthday.

My mother didn’t raise a turnip, thank you very much!

All joking aside, I understand that the doctors sincerely believed they made a humane recommendation. Certainly, because they doubted that I had cognitive function, they concluded that I couldn’t possibly tell the difference between a loving home and an institution. And, more importantly (from their perspective), my parents would be spared the anguish of having a severely disabled child.

Mom knew that doctors aren’t God. They have limited powers in predicting an infant’s future. So she brought me home and proceeded to make my childhood as normal and happy as possible. When one teacher told her I’d never go to high school, she informed him that she fully intended for me to attend college. When my occupational therapist insisted that she tell me I’d never marry, she countered, “I can’t tell her something that I don’t know myself.”

Those chilling words, “Put her in an institution and forget you ever had her,” horrified my mother. They horrify me. They horrify everyone who hears the story, as well they should! Doctors have no right to predict a baby’s future and advise a new mother to put the baby away. Had Mom followed their recommendation, both of us would have suffered for the rest of our lives.

I praise God for His sovereignty in giving me a mother who refused to give up her dreams for me. Cerebral Palsy definitely has its challenges, I admit, but the Lord has blessed me with a joyful life.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. ~~Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

Thinking about the doctors’ prediction 64 years ago makes me think about present-day doctors who, on the basis of prenatal tests, recommend abortion to women carrying children with potential birth defects. Typically, they reason that such children, in addition to imposing an enormous financial and emotional burden on the family, would needlessly suffer a low quality of life.

But how can anyone accurately predict the future of a baby who is still in the womb, even if genetic testing indicates birth defects? Perhaps a child will be nothing more than a vegetable, but even then, God might have a purpose for that life.  As a matter of fact, He used such a man to bring me to repentance of self-pity.

Usually,  however, children born with birth defects exceed expectations and live full, productive lives. Aborting them simply because of possible disabilities (especially when the extent of those disabilities couldn’t possibly be determined until well into childhood) seems both arrogant and cruel. Using potential disability as a rationale for aborting a child is horrifying to me.

Actually, the rationale for aborting any child is horrifying to me.

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Throwback Thursday: Missing The Reason That I Long For Heaven

Originally published September 6, 2016:

temple

Many evangelicals assume that my eagerness for heaven stems from a desire to escape my disability. I understand their assumption. After all, Cerebral Palsy (especially such a severe case) imposes multiple restrictions on me, and those restrictions often carry a variety of subtexts. So of course one would conclude that the promise of a new body, free of the limitations currently thrust on me, holds a significant appeal for me.

In one sense, it does. But only when I view heaven in terms of how it will benefit me. And as I grow in understanding doctrine, I become increasingly convinced that most professing Christians hold an inverted view of heaven and its purposes.

Somewhere in my past, a friend posited the idea that heaven would be different for each of us, according to our interests, tastes and desires. Using her paradigm, heaven for me would be a giant art  museum filled with works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Monet, Sargent and Rockwell. With cheesecake for meals. Her heaven would be stables of magnificent horses for her to ride and sturdy oak trees for her to climb.

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It’s Friday, And I Have Too Much To Blog About

Cartoon drawing of a snail

Today started off well. Massachusetts General Hospital called bright and early, saving us the trouble of calling to reschedule my procedure Monday. The RIDE is getting a new software program this weekend, so we know taking it into Boston Monday would have been a massive nightmare. Anyway, I got to my computer relatively early, and opened my Bible on eSword.

eSword includes a feature that allows me to keep a prayer list. I know some people equate prayer lists with Rosary beads with their rote petitions, and that danger is certainty present. But I struggle to stay focused in prayer, so my prayer list gives me needed structure. I’ve recently taught myself how to use my list as a guideline while enjoying rich fellowship with the Lord.

So I had a refreshing time of prayer as I prepared to study God’s Word.

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Breaking A Blogging Rule Because I Do It So Well (And Because I Don’t Want To Do A Flashback Friday)

Earlier this week I noticed an article on Pinterest about five rules that Christian bloggers should never heard break. Actually, none of the rules seemed specific to Christian bloggers — the main thrust seemed to be about growing readership.

Because you, dear readers, apparently exist to make me a famous blogger. Right?

(Please note the sarcasm in that last paragraph.)

Anyway, the first rule mandated reserving personal updates for a blog’s social media page. Personal updates, according to the writer, have a limited shelf-life, and therefore aren’t good for Search Engine Optimization.

And her point made sense. At least it made sense if a blog is first and foremost a business rather than a ministry.

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