What If

The other day I had a conversation with my brother about working. He’s been home almost a year and has not looked for a job. Before you freak out about him not working, it is something that my family discusses quite a lot and I push the issue more than anyone in my family. I’m a great little sister. 😉

I asked Matthew why he wouldn’t go look for a job right now and he said, “I might move back to Texas soon. I don’t want to work for 3 weeks and then move.”. I shot that down quickly with finding a job at a place that he could transfer to a location in Houston. He kept coming at me with all the “what ifs” he could find. What if I do find a job here and they are not hiring in Houston? What if they don’t want to hire me? What if, what if, what if? UGH!

I got tired of his continual “what ifs” and said “Matthew, you have got to stop living in the world of “what if!”.  I’m not sure if it made an impact on him but I sure took what I said to heart. For years I have lived in that world. A world marked with indecision and a constant fear that if I step out to do something then I will miss out on another opportunity. It has been a life long process and I am sure I will deal with this for many years but I am learning to take my “what ifs”, make a decision and live with that decision whether it is right or wrong at the time. The “what if” world can keep me in constant fear of making a bad decision and worry about the outcome of that decision so that I don’t step out in faith. I then have a false sense of control.

One of the biggest ways to rob myself of time is to live in that world. Whether it be for a job, a relationship, a letter to write, or a person I feel would like to hear from me via a phone call, or a blog post that I feel should be written, I know I need to be more intentional in stepping out of the “what if” world.

I was reminded of the scripture below:

Matthew 6:25-27  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Do you live in a “what if” world?

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I Didn’t Know

I didn’t know that I would hear “I feel normal” so much in one place from so many different people. Yet, I heard it over and over again at Family Retreat. In our culture everyone is wanting to be normal. What is normal to you is definitely not normal to me. Then out of the blue while at Family Retreat I heard myself say “I feel normal here” in a conversation.

Why did I feel so normal there? What was it that I experienced that made those two weeks seem normal? I’ve been trying to process through these questions and more since my return home. I know one answer is that I was surrounded by families that experienced the same things my family has experienced. We were all bonded by the fact that some one in our family is affected by a disability. This is “normal” to us. I saw the tension in so many of the siblings and parents eyes that I have lived with for many years; that tension of how do I experience things my sibling or child really is not able to experience as fully as I am able to and still be okay with that? As the weeks flew by I also saw that living in that tension is our normal. I have found that living in that tension there can still be joy. A joy to move beyond what I see as normal and know that God understands where I am at.

Here are a couple highlights of both weeks:

I will never forget the dad who watched his daughter who has a severe case of Cerebral Palsy be hoisted on top of a horse and be led on a ride around a field. I saw him a bit later on in the day and he was still beaming from ear to ear showing his wife the photos he took of their daughter riding a horse for the first time. This young lady’s mom was able to see her ride again the following day! There was so much joy in that family!

At the first week’s Ho Down I had the pleasure of dancing with Jesse. Jesse has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound. Thanks to his buddy, Ryan, Jesse and I got to square dance! The smile on Jesse’s face during our dance was priceless.

Even though there are many more questions to process and the tears are still on the brink of spilling over, I know that God started a work in my heart and it will continue for a life time.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Glass Child

When I first heard the term “glass” child at work I was a bit confused. During a conversation at work with my boss and a co-worker they both looked at me and at the same time said, “you are a typical glass child”.

What does that mean and why did they say that to me? I found out that a “glass” child is someone who grows up with either a sibling or a parent with a disability. I grew up with a brother who has Cerebral Palsy and a best friend who is deaf. When I was around them people did not see me, they looked through me to my brother and best friend and what their disabilities were. I was like glass to others around us. I have never seen this as a negative thing but for many “glass” children I can see how this would be a negative and a hard thing to over come.

I believe “glass” children are fiercely independent and fiercely loyal. I can remember people picking on my brother and my best friend and coming to their defense often. I also learned how to do many things at a young age to help out my parents because they were very busy with taking care of my brother. This was my normal and to some extent still is my normal.

Working at Joni and Friends has really helped me in so many ways. I have told friends recently that working here has brought healing to my heart in just the short amount of time. Everyday the Lord reminds me, it’s okay. My life has never been “normal”. I have said for years that the Lord made me independent so that my parents would not have to worry about me as much as they had to worry about my brother.

Here I am, now working for an organization that affords me the privilege to not only be there for those affected by disability but to reach out to other “glass” children (who are adults now) and let them know it’s okay, you are not alone.

Even though I am a typical “glass” child, I see how God has used that over the years to help me get through struggles I might not have walked through as easily if it were not for my fierce independency and loyalty.

Do you have some one in your life that has a disability? How do you view yourself or your family? Have you heard the term “glass child” before reading this post?

 

Paper Towel Holder

I made this paper towel holder...in 7th grade.

I made this paper towel holder…in 7th grade.

 

Recently I was in my parents kitchen talking with the family about the above paper towel holder. My mom has kept this thing for 23 years. I made the paper towel holder in 7th grade shop class.

My mom and I have different memories that come to mind when we look at it. My mom thinks about how wonderful it was that I made her this creation during shop class. I took time to make it and give it to her. She remembers me in junior high.

I on the other hand, have different thoughts and memories. I sigh, loudly when I look at it! It is a reminder to me of how horrible of a job I did and how I threw up in shop class. Yes, I just said I threw up in shop class. That was SO embarrassing! I had been sick earlier in the day but my dad felt that I needed to go to school after eating an early lunch. Needless to say, my dad had to come back to school, pick me up and get me home before I threw up again. Did I mention how embarrassing that was??? 🙂 The smell of wood being sawed also reminds me of that time. For quite a while I could not go into Lowes or Home Depot because the smell of wood being sawed would make me sick.

Did you have to take a wood shop class? If so, what did you make?

Ministry IS Messy

I have been wrestling with some thoughts lately about being in the ministry and doing ministry.

I know working in a ministry setting is messy. Why? Because you are working with people and people have lives that are not neat and tidy, wrapped in a big red bow. I’m learning this more with the ministry I work with. (Joni and Friends) Working with people who have disabilities is not easy and is messier at times than working with people who are considered “normal”.

I do know what it is like to be in a family that has some one with a disability and the challenges it presents. I’ve talked about my brother who has Cerebral Palsy and how it has affected him and our family. I can remember many times just wanting him to “act normal” and “be like everyone else” so that we could be a “normal” family. (Side note: My family is anything but normal and it has nothing to do with my brother. 😉 )

Many times I have begged,  and pleaded  for people to come alongside my brother and be a friend and minister to him only to have it fall on deaf ears. I got the “yeah, I would love to hang with your brother and connect with him” comments only to realize that it was not as sincere as either of us hoped or wanted it to be. Why? Because hanging out with my brother is messy. He’s not “normal”. I don’t fault the people I have tried to connect my brother with in saying “yes” when it came down to “I don’t know, let me think about it” and several months go by with no contact. It is not easy to connect with some one just because their sibling thinks you should. Another reason I don’t fault them is because I’ve done the same thing. Many times people have wanted me to connect with someone who is hurting, or their lives are just plain messy and I say “yes” with good intentions only to have horrible follow through.

I’ve realized over the years it takes special people who truly want to get their hands dirty and jump into the mess that is ministry. Disability ministry adds a whole new dimension of messy.

I like things tidy and neat, wrapped in a big red bow. That’s how things in my life make sense. But life is not like that everyday and ministry is certainly not like that. It is messy and often times makes no sense. As a believer in Christ, I’m called to the messy.

Nashville, Annapolis and DC in pictures

In the last couple of weeks, I went to Nashville, Annapolis and DC.

I went to Nashville with one of my best friends, Lisa and had a wonderful time! We went to the “Hits Deep Tour” with Tobymac and Friends!

Tobymac in the center of Bridgestone arena

Tobymac in the center of Bridgestone arena

Walking along Music Row

Walking along Music Row

LP Field in the background, that is where I finished my third half marathon! :)

LP Field in the background, that is where I finished my third half marathon! 🙂

Mike's ice cream shop. Lisa had ice cream, I had hot chocolate!

Mike’s ice cream shop. Lisa had ice cream, I had hot chocolate!

Lisa on Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge with LP Field in the background.

Lisa on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge with LP Field in the background.

My family decided to go visit my sister in Annapolis to take her some furniture and to celebrate Christmas. Here are a few pictures of that adventure.

Matthew, Mom and Dad in Annapolis

Matthew, Mom and Dad in Annapolis

Me and Julia freezing in DC

Me and Julia freezing in DC

Me and Matthew in Annapolis

Me and Matthew (my little, big brother :)) in Annapolis

Julia and Dad on the subway to DC

Julia and Dad on the subway to DC

Julia at the Vietnam Memorial

Julia at the Vietnam Memorial

Matthew at the Vietnam Memorial

Matthew at the Vietnam Memorial

Julia and Dad at the Vietnam Memorial

Julia and Dad at the Vietnam Memorial

The stage for the inauguration

The stage for the inauguration

The White House

The White House

Mom in front of the Michigan Tree

Mom in front of the Michigan Tree

Julia next to the North Carolina Tree

Julia next to the North Carolina Tree

Matthew, Dad, Julia and Mom in front of the National Christmas Tree

Matthew, Dad, Julia and Mom in front of the National Christmas Tree

Me, Matthew, Dad and Julia in front of the National Christmas Tree

Me, Matthew, Dad and Julia in front of the National Christmas Tree

Me, Julia and Mom in front of the National Christmas Tree

Me, Julia and Mom in front of the National Christmas Tree

Dad in front of the Illinois tree

Dad in front of the Illinois tree

If you are wondering why I don’t have pictures of me and my brother in front of a State tree, well, England is not a part of the US! 🙂 We both were born England.

What did you do for Christmas?

 

I hope you all had a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child seasonal work has ruined me for the ordinary. Which is a great thing. I felt like I was on a mission trip or at camp for three weeks in my hometown. I LOVED it with everything in me. That is probably why I am completely exhausted. 🙂

The work was hard but that never bothered me. I like hard work. I like knowing that I could be a part of a team that works together on a project that is as simple as packing shoe boxes but will impact a child’s life in a big way.

I will never forget this season of my life. If I seem a bit distant and reflective in the coming weeks, please forgive me.  I have a lot to process and in the meantime a full time job to find as well. I do hope that my schedule will get back to some sense of normal soon. I can’t wait to share the stories I have, with you all!

Here are a few pictures of my team (Spicy Green) from our last night together at OCC.

Me and Asia

Me and Asia

 

Marc, Bob and Chip. Some of the guys I ate dinner with each night!

Marc, Bob and Chip. Some of the guys I ate dinner with each night!

 

Me and my line manager, Mike. He was great to work for!

Me and my line manager, Mike. He was great to work for!

 

Mike and Amy! One of my favorite pictures!

Mike and Amy! One of my favorite pictures!

Samuel and his scanner angels!

Samuel and his scanner angels!

Monteece worked on my line with Bob and Amy.

Monteece worked on my line with Bob and Amy.

The "Spicy" Green team minus Sharon and Monteece!

The “Spicy” Green team minus Sharon and Monteece!

Me and Sharon!

Me and Sharon!

Me and Saah. He said I was one of his "Favorite" people but with his accent I thought he said I was one of his "Favorite White" person! LOL

Me and Saah. He said I was one of his “Favorite” people but with his accent I thought he said I was one of his “Favorite White” people! LOL He kept me laughing with his stories! 

Me and Trisha! She and her husband are missionaries to Nicaragua!

Me and Trisha! She and her husband are missionaries to Nicaragua!

Brian on his way out the door of the last night at OCC.

Brian on his way out the door of the last night at OCC.