Who’s Out There?

 I started this blog a year after my devastating accident at the urging of a friend. I began it with the purpose of sharing my thoughts and daily journey with others who either face or are wondering about how I’m doing on my Road to Recovery. Writing is therapeutic for me as well. I have been astounded by the number of people from literally across the world who have read the blog and taken a peek into our world. I say our because spinal cord injuries impact the lives of family and also close friends. They are the ones who step in to help when I cannot step. They help for the many crucial work-arounds as I call the methods to help with functions from my T-6 injury point on down that no longer operate.

Maybe you, like me, also wonder, “Who’s out there?” Well, there have been readers from all the continents except Antartica! There have been readers from 45 different countries. Those are humbling statistics. One thing that my husband and I had looked forward to in our retirement, that has been severely curtailed, was travel, especially international travel. How amazing it would be to visit each of the countries where others have read my blog. You’ve looked into my world; I’d love to visit your world.

Recently, there have been a great many view from Hong Kong. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed a visit to Hong Kong less than ten years ago. I am intrigued by the person or people who have been reading at this time. If you have questions, want to ‘talk’ in more depth, have specific questions about other work-arounds, or need information, please contact me. If you submit a comment, I can keep it private. No one else needs to see it. I will certainly respond, again privately.

As I said many times, I have been given grace through this accident and experience. It is NOT easy; nothing about it is easy. But, I’ve been helped and supported. I’d like to help and support others.

I’ve been blessed through this experience. Watch for your blessings. Shalom, Collene

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B ~ So There, Death: Freedom

(Continued) Do you ever have those moments from a song or talk or sermon that come back to prey on your mind? Moments that seem to be seared in your memory for what they meant to you? I had two this summer that seemed related. Here is B. A preceded this.

I am well aware of the miracles recorded that Jesus performed and also that there were a lot more miracles that were never recorded. Despite knowing them well, here, again, I learned in a startling way what I did not know. One day near Capernaum, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee in Israel, two blind men came to Jesus. It was the first time blind were given sight and there is no record of the disciples ever healing blindness. Ok, I knew that. I also know that lepers were considered unclean, lived apart from others, and were considered to be extremely contagious – untouchable. I learned now that the blind and also others with handicaps (ok, now you get why this caught my attention anew) were all considered unclean, a scourge on humanity, rejects of culture, and certainly not to be touched. Here, these two blind men – who were likely close to death since there were no hard-fought ADA (Americans with Disability Act) laws and they could not see to work, get about, or do much of anything living as rejects of society – declared that Jesus was the Son of David and asked that he heal them. Jesus could have simply announced that they could see, but rather, he chose to touch their eyes and pronounce them healed. He touched them! Through this simple interaction, they declared him the Messiah – Savior of all – and he declared them clean, fit to be touched, and included with society.

Side bar: Here is another eureka for me that I have yet to wrap my mind around.    Perhaps others have the answer I’m trying to come to grips with. In both the tabernacle and the temple, there were levels of access culminating in the Holy of Holies providing only the High Priest access. But, remember the outer levels? The unclean and handicapped could not enter. Pause. Ok, so for 63 years of my life I could have entered the temple. All of a sudden, at 64 I would no longer be allowed access? Maybe I’m too American but I do not understand that – in either Old or New Testament days. Note: the tabernacle and temple were not accessible. Period.

Jesus opened the eyes of the blind men but also gave them liberty, freedom, and inclusion. They were no longer marginalized but had full access to the temple, which was the only space for worship in those days. How accessible are our churches? How welcomed and included are those with a wide array of handicaps to our churches?

Usually in church, it’s the music that moves me to tears. This time, it was the sermon. Perhaps it wasn’t just for me but because of a summer in which we faced difficult loss. There was a lot of sadness including a miscarriage. We tried to support a brother-in-law, a cousin, and a dear friend with cancer. It was also a summer in which we watched a friend die a devastating death just a year after his wife lost her battle with cancer. This left their children and grandchildren without that anchor of support. I was fighting tears throughout the service and trying to get it together with bowed heard during the final prayer. A friend who typically sits in front of our reserved for families and those with handicaps back pews because she needs to leave early, touched me on my shoulder on her way out, leaned down, and whispered, This one’s for you, Collene.

Later this reminded me of finding out, literally by mistake, that the one and only accessible excursion on our cruise, based on their literature as well as assurances on two calls to the cruise line’s dedicated handicap phone number, was only available for those who could stand and climb steps. What? This was in the largest city and capital of the country. Ma’am, the excursion desk staff woman told me, there is not one accessible bus in xx(capital city)xx. Our emotions went from anger to frustration to disappointment and finally to, Wow, thankfully we’re only visiting and not living in this country.

Even greater, I’m thankful that I live in a world where Christ saves us regardless of abilities and gives us life abundantly.

A ~ So There, Death: … You

(First of 2 parts) Do you ever have those moments from a song or talk or sermon that come back to prey on your mind? Moments that seem to be seared into your memory for what they mean to you? I had two this summer that seemed related. Here is A. B will follow.

My husband and I need to arrive almost everywhere we go early because, not only do we need a handicap spot, we need a handicap spot with the blue slash marked area. Apparently many, even with handicap hang tags, do not understand these spaces are designed specifically so those with ramps have space to lower that ramp plus space to actually roll down and off. (But, that’s an entry yet to be written.) One advantage of getting to our church early is that we get to hear our 70-100-voice choir rehearse their songs. I noticed it was Abide with Me one morning and thought, “Oh, good, this is one song that won’t move me to tears.” I had grown up with this song and it seemed a bit slow and ho-hum. Well, I hadn’t heard the rendition by GM, Minister of Music and Director. Our brass ensemble, rather than the full orchestra, was playing this day. The Brass were seated at our directors left with the choir in front of him. As the service progressed and it drew to the choir’s contribution, the words caught me. (Italics added)

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide

The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.

When other helpers flee and comforts fade,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

I need your presence with each passing hour.

What but your grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who like yourself my guide and strength can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

 

I fear no foe with you at hand to bless,

Ills have no weight, and tears their bitterness.

Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory?

I triumph still, if you abide with me.

I’m not a swearing person or taken to crude language but at this point I am moved and am thinking, so there death! xxx you death! You had your chance but I’m still alive. I’m living to do more – (of what)?

Hold now your Word before my closing eyes.

Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

At this point the director has been building the brass and voices but he’s demanding even more. He stamped his left foot and dug down-and-out with his fisted left hand to inspire the brass.

Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;

And, now, instead of the soft pianissimo I am used to hearing with this song, the director digs down-and-out with his right hand to inspire the choir to give all they have for:

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

(Henry Francis Lyte)

Whew! Death, you did have your chance with me. I was at death’s doorstep, unconscious, and on life support for days leaving my family feeling helpless and praying as much as they dared and as boldly as they dared. Little by little I’ve gotten to this point. Not easy for my family or me. But, here I am and I’m still working to be as independent as possible. I’m asking God to abide with me and bless the work I’m trying to do. It’s certainly not what I expected to do or much of anything that involves moving about. Thankfully, we live in a world of being able to communicate with the keyboard and Internet. Is that what I’m to do? Am I to be here longer for our children and families? Is my manuscript going to be accepted and published? It seems the message I have to share is crucial for mobility challenged children, their parents, and health personnel. What message am I to share through my blog? I will trust and watch how he abides with me, not quietly but working to the fullest I can. So, there death! Take that!

How to Win …

Instead of me writing this blog, I’m sharing a blog written about me. It is from BraunAbility’s website. To read it, click the title (italics) immediately below.

How to Win the NMEDA Local Heroes Contest

Good News ~ Round 2

I am excited to announce that I received an email noting that I have advanced to the semi-finalist stage of the Local Heroes contest. My submission received enough votes to make the top 10 percent of the senior category and the story is now under review by an independent selection committee.

Once the four finalists are selected, a National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association representative will contact winners. (I’m keeping my phone charged.) The winning Local Heroes will be announced via social media, MobilityAwarenessMonth.com, on national TV, as well as contacted personally on June 30th.

I was brought to tears by this email and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the concern, time, and votes of SO many of you. I keep hearing about friends of yours from, literally, around the world that have voted. I don’t think I’ve been a person for whom lots of possessions were important. But, if nothing else, I have learned without a doubt that PEOPLE – what we do, what we say, and how we behave – are paramount. Certainly I hope we win a van knowing it would open up my world to continue to serve and to keep Alan free of injury. However, win or lose, we are winners already because of what you have all done for us. We are grateful for the blessings you are to us.

Blessings! Shalom!

What’s in it for Me?

“What’s in it for me?” That question has played on my mind over the last few days prompting me to address that with you. I have asked many I know to vote for me daily throughout May in the adapted van contest so Alan and I can appreciate greater ease in mobility, avoid possible injury, and achieve greater independence. While that request of time may feel worthy for close friends and family, no one would have enough close friends and family to muster enough votes. Our family and friends are asking their family and friends to also vote daily. With about 220-250 votes every day and not everyone getting the bonus points, there must be about 300 people voting each day. Wow, that is humbling and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your caring and time. But, what’s in it for you? Talk about intrinsic motivation! Besides family and friends, we know there are colleagues, business partners, educators, students, former students, parents of students, fellow sailors, church members, neighbors, former neighbors, casual acquaintances, and even strangers. We don’t even know who some of you are so we cannot even thank you personally. Just know that I start my morning with specific prayers and I thank our Father for you and ask blessings for you. Sincere thanks for your ongoing concern and votes. Watch for your blessings.