Sharing Wisdom (February 15, 2015)

Have you had this happen?  Your wheelchair needs repairs, and the cost is almost a quarter of what the chair cost?  Or your wheelchair van needs service, and the cost is in the thousands of dollars?  Where do you go for help?  Is there help?

Last week my husband and I drove to our nearest mobility vehicle dealer and service center, six hours away.  They are very reputable, and very hospitable.  But we learned my van needs a new ramp motor and a new controller, for a total of $1,800.  That’s on top of the $750 for a new CD player, which was necessary to keep the GPS system up-to-date.  Unfortunately, the vehicle’s CD player is interconnected with the GPS and DVD, and you just can’t go to Best Buy or another place and pop in another unit.  The entire center dash unit had to be pulled out and sent away for repair.

We were fortunate that we had been squirreling away some money for a “rainy day.”  We just didn’t figure the rains would come so soon.  And what if another storm comes?  My chair, like my van, is out of warranty, and seems to consume batteries.  The local medical supply store leaves a lot to be desired.  The Sears store sells batteries with a 90-day warranty, and that’s how long they lasted.  The batteries I ordered online have a six-month warranty, and it’s getting close.  A friend thinks maybe I need a new controller.  Heaven forbid!

I’m wondering how many of us have had similar occurrences.  Have you had good luck with particular suppliers, or bad luck?  Are there funding sources out there that we should know about?  Perhaps we could set up an information hub to share resources.   As I remarked on a Facebook post, “It ain’t cheap being disabled.”  But perhaps there are ways we can save a little money, and heartbreak.

I’m happy to set up a page on my blog site for money-saving ideas and resources.  If you have some to share, please let me know, and we can share them with our brothers and sisters.  The e-mail address is umcdisabilityconnections@gmail.com.

“for gaining wisdom and instruction;

    for understanding words of insight;

for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,

    doing what is right and just and fair. . .

let the wise listen and add to their learning,

    and let the discerning get guidance”  Proverbs 1:2,3,5

Dear Father God, We know that like the lilies of the field, and the birds of the air, we should not worry about our daily needs.  Yet, being human, we cannot keep from worrying.  Help us remember that one way you provide for us is by giving us resources we can share with each other.  Thank you for this network of friends that lifts one another up in friendship and prayer.  Amen.

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Every Child Is an Artist (February 8, 2015)

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Pablo Picasso

Although the attribution of this quote to Picasso is in doubt, the truth is not.  I was talking with a friend about Shubham Banerjee, a 13-year-old boy who invented a Braille printer using his Lego Mindstorm system.  He made it, he said, because he read that Braille printers cost around $2,000 and he thought it would be nice if blind people could have a more affordable way to write notes and shopping lists.  His Lego version cost about $350.  The people at Intel were so impressed they are funding development of a commercially available product.*

My friend remarked he did it because no one told him he couldn’t.  And that gets back to the Picasso remark.  When is it that we cease being artists?  There is a talmudic commentary on a poem by Isabella McCullough that reads:

Every child is a poet.

Every child is an artist.

Every child is a philosopher.

Every child is a theologian.

Every child is an actor.

Every child is a dancer.

Every child is a nature-lover.

Every child is an explorer.

Every child is a comedian.

Every child is a skeptic.

Every child is a teacher.

Every child is a boundary pusher.

Every child is a truth speaker

Again, when do we cease being poets or dancers or boundary pushers or truth speakers?  Sometimes we can remember.  Someone told us we didn’t do that activity very well.  Someone told us it wasn’t appropriate.  Someone told us boys (or girls) “didn’t do that.”  Or they laughed at us, or ignored us.

Even now, we might hold back from doing something because we are afraid to do so.  We are afraid to us our God-given abilities.  We might be called to preach or teach, to praise God with music or writing.  For years I was afraid to sing in public because my parents told me I had an ugly voice.  They lied.  I loved to sing, and when people told me I had a good voice, it was a joy to share it in church.

Trust your heart.  Spread your wings.  Be the poet, artist, dancer, teacher, singer, truth speaker you were meant to be.  God will be there guiding and supporting your every effort.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12:6-8

Dear Creator God:  We thank you that you have made us so wonderfully.  Help us be like children, confident in the gifts with which you have blessed us, and reflect your grace and glory to the world.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

*http://news.sky.com/story/1412266/boy-entrepreneur-invents-lego-braille-printer

A Light to the World (February 1, 2015)

This is an interesting time in the seasons of the church.  We have experienced the anticipation of Advent, and the joy of Christmas.  In the Lectionary we are greeted by the “suddenly” gospel of Mark, who portrays Jesus dashing from place to place, healing person after person.  And in a couple of weeks, we will suddenly be in Lent, joining Jesus on the long, sad journey to the cross.  His short time with us as a human feels particularly short to me this year, and I ponder what this means to me and my Christian walk (roll).

I have thought lately about some of the people who tried to harm me, who set obstacles in my way, who rejected me for my disabilities, who were unkind, and I find that it no longer matters.  I find that they too have disabilities – of the heart.  We are all broken in some manner, and I found the best way to live with hurtful people was to look at them the way God looked at them.

It was hard at first, but I learned to see them as God might – smiling, happy, innocent, beloved children.  If I could picture them that way they no longer frightened or upset me, and I could pray for them sincerely.  In time I could even be with them without fear or discomfort.

I think this is something the world doesn’t understand about Christianity, and perhaps something it fears.  As a young girl I actually said “I never hold a grudge after I get even.”  And that is the world’s way.  I rejoice that I am no longer that person.  That is the gift of Jesus.  We don’t need to “get even.”  We just need to “get over.”

I learned a long time ago that carrying around all the past hurts was like carrying around poison.  I had swallowed it, and I was waiting for the other person to die!  I had to rid myself of these horrible feelings, and the only way I could do that was to forgive the people who had hurt me, and what they had done.  It didn’t mean I condoned it.  It didn’t mean these people were now my best friends.  But it did mean that I could greet them as fellow children of God, as broken as I was.  I could protect myself around them, while showing them God’s love.  It’s a peculiar road by the world’s standards, and I must always remind myself that I am not of the world.

As people with disabilities we are usually seen and treated as “different.”  Some want to see us as “inspirations,” rising above our circumstances.  Others see us as “less than,” as if an unbroken body or mind symbolizes superiority.  Some resent the courtesies (dare I say necessities) of accessible doors, ramps and parking spaces, Braille signage, tactile paving, and chirping crosswalk signals.

We must present ourselves as we are, made in God’s image and proud of it, gracious in our acceptance of all of our differences.  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

Prayer requests this week:  A celebration.  I received a statistical report from WordPress.com, our blog host.  In 2014 we had over 350 readers from five countries:  the United States, Canada, South Africa, Tanzania, and India.  What a blessing the world wide web is to our ministry!

Dear Creator God, We thank you that you not only made us in your image, you gave us the capacity to forgive and forget when others hurt us, and to use our gifts to bring others to you.  Help us to keep our lanterns lit, to bring others to you, and to keep ourselves strong in your World and in the world.  In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.