Archives for August 2014

A Parent’s Unconditional Love Rises Above Cerebral Palsy and Cancer, Post #45

Editor’s Note: This story I first told on February 18th. Judy Brooks lost her valiant battle to cancer on March 11th. We love and miss you, Judy. Tim, Sherrie and Terrie, this blog’s for you! 

The saying goes that we can pick our friends but we can’t pick our families. I am so thankful my family was picked for me. I have some precious jewels as family members. My first cousin Judy and her son Tim are examples of good people, good friends, good family members, and they have taught the world how to demonstrate love beautifully.

Tim was born with cerebral palsy in 1963. Tim’s doctors told the family he wouldn’t be able to walk. Judy’s parents, Tim’s grandparents, lived down the street from me growing up. They built a “walkway” with little handrails for Tim to prove the doctors and everyone wrong. With much prayer and perseverance, at three years old, Tim walked.  No is not an option with the Lord and perseverance as your rear guard.

Over the years, it has been a joy to watch Judy, her husband and family love on Tim and encourage him. I watched Tim graduate from high school in 1983. One of Tim’s most proud accomplishments was receiving his degrees from Cape Fear Community College, a degree in Business Administration (1999) and Accounting (2001).  We celebrated Tim’s 40th birthday in 2003 and 50th in 2013.

Like many in our family, Tim has such a servant heart and strong work ethic; he works at Easter Seals. Tim is brilliant. Although his speech is slurred, when you look into his big hazel eyes, you can understand him perfectly.

In December 2006, Tim had a stroke leaving him paralyzed except his left hand. His caregiver, Scott, taught him how to bowl using a ramp to assist him. Tim competed for two years in the NC State Olympics Bowling Tournament. In 2012, he received a first place medal and in 2013, a third place medal.

One detail I left out is that Tim’s mother Judy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and fought her stage four breast cancer while taking care of Tim and her family, her friends, her neighbors. Judy said, “It breaks my heart to watch my child struggle with his special needs but nothing like the pain God felt when His only son was nailed to that cross.”

It’s touching to watch how much the lavishing love of family and friends can bolster a soul, bolster a whole life, like Tim’s. They danced (Judy and her husband danced like professionals), laughed, prayed together, ate supper together, went to church together, served others together.

Through her doctor’s visits and chemo treatments, Judy’s effervescent, positive, Godly perspective encouraged Tim, her family and friends–all of us. She fought valiantly and lost her battle to cancer on March 11th. I was blessed to be try to honor Judy’s life in words  at the funeral. It was also a treat to give Tim a big hug and see Judy’s precious adult twin daughters Sherrie and Terrie Brooks.

Another inspiring Godly parent and child relationship is that of Dick and his son Richard Hoyt. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting them, their story resonates in my heart. Richard was born with severe cerebral palsy. He and his Dad Dick enjoy triathlons. Dick carries Richard all the way, pulling him in the ocean as they swim, pushing him as they run, and carrying him on his bicycle for the cycling portion of the race.

Isn’t that a perfect image of how our Heavenly Father, our Abba—which means “Daddy”—carries us?

Just like God chose Judy, Tim and me to be part of the same family, and Dick and Richard Hoyt, God chooses us as part of His family. The love shared between Judy and Tim, Dick and Richard, is a touching example of the love God shares for us as His imperfect children. You are chosen. Feel the love.

“Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”   –Mark 9:7

Enjoy this inspiring video link of Dick and Richard Hoyt’s persevering journeys together.

Father and Son Persevere in Triathlon

Reflect:

–What can you learn from the loving relationship of Judy and Tim, Dick and Richard Hoyt? Please comment below.

–How can you love differently based on this?

Renew:

–“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  –Isaiah 46:4

–“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” –John 15:16

Recharge:

–Seek out one family member, friend or neighbor to lavish love on this week and beyond.

–Open your Bible and feel your Abba, Heavenly Daddy, loving on you, speaking to you.

Resource:

Judy Brook’s obituary

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/starnewsonline/obituary.aspx?pid=170142131

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You’ve Got a Friend, Post #44

Who would you say are your true friends?  Who do you go to when you want to laugh, to cry, to celebrate, to confess, to be encouraged, to be your mirror?  Who calls you a true friend?

One of my most cherished blessings in  life are my precious, deep friendships, friends from different phases of my life.  What a blessing it is to keep in touch with friends from high school, college, after college, work friends, church friends, Bible Study Fellowship friends, and friends met through my hobby of writing.

A mantra that has resonated with me since childhood is “To have a friend, you must be one.” All these years, I have tried to be a friend but made mistakes when I wasn’t intentional to strengthen my friendships. Friendships are essential to a healthy life and for growth. It seems the truest friendships are easy, are refreshing, not draining.

Three different groups of dear friends stand out for me to describe for you.  One is a group of 10 beautiful friends from college. All 10 ladies live throughout North and South Carolina, are all married to great men, and have 22 children among the 10 of them. For the last 20 years, we have intentionally set aside the last weekend in April to rent a beach house in Charleston and spend time together, while their sweet husbands keep the children back home. We laugh, eat, tell stories, encourage each other, dance,  sing, cry through difficult times. I learn so much from them. Their influence makes me a better person.

The second group of my friends all met at a church retreat years ago. These six dynamic women are like big sisters who live throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. They are in their 50s or older, have great husbands and adult children.  Like the first group, we are intentional about getting together at least once per year for a weekend together. This past winter we all were together in the North Carolina mountains. As it poured rain outside, we didn’t care. We laughed, ate, told stories, encouraged each other, danced, sang, cried telling about difficult times.   Then in June we were all together again celebrating the beautiful marriage of one of their sons. What a glorious weekend! I learned and learn so much from them. Their influence makes me a better person. 

Recently, I bid farewell to a dear friend who serves our country in the Air Force and is moving to Macon, Georgia. She is part of a group of new, precious Godly friends I met through Bible Study Fellowship. She has such a sweet, soft spoken voice and gentle spirit, which I know I need more of.  God’s love radiates from her. I know distance will not separate our friendship, just as distance hasn’t with the others.   I learn so much from her, from this group of friends. Her influence, their influence makes me a better person. Do you see a pattern?

I encourage you to evaluate your friendships and be intentional about strengthening– fertilizing–those friendships. Look in the mirror, my friend. You are a friend, and remember–you’ve got a friend. In fact, you’ve got many friends, friends who can be your mirror and show you the real you. You are blessed.

Reflect:

–Describe a true friend in the comments below. What do you love about them?

–How can you be more intentional about strengthening your truest friendships?

Renew:

-“…He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” –Proverbs 11:25 NIV84

–“Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” —John 15:13 NIV84

Recharge:

–Pick up the phone and set up a time to rekindle a friendship.

–Pick a weekend before the end of 2014 and call a few of your friends to have a refreshing retreat.

Resource:

–Find a Bible Study Fellowship class near you at www.bsfinternational.org

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to my weekly blog.

My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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Are You a Ladder or Adder? Post #43

This world is full of choices. I read that the average person makes 1200  choices per day.

Push snooze once more? What to wear? Which shoes? To which radio station do I listen?

Go through the yellow light? Take this leap of faith?

Our attitude is also a huge daily choice we make.

I strive, although imperfectly, for my daily attitude to be positive. Some people may call me a Polyanna, a glass-half-full optimist. I sure strive to be. It comes naturally because my precious mom is a beautiful combination of June Cleaver and Jesus rolled up into one genteel, joyful, encouraging, Southern lady.

My mom once told me that we can choose either to be a ladder or an adder. A ladder is someone who lifts people up, encourages them, and even draws them closer to God. An adder, though, is someone with such a personality, who, like the serpent by the same name, can drain the life out of you. Which are you?

A wonderful example of a ladder I know is Charlie. Charlie Cole is a distinguished, brilliant, handsome man. He retired about five years ago as a dynamic banking executive leader, whose territory covered all of South Carolina. Charlie and his bride of 40+ years, Joanne, go to my church.

In June 2008, Charlie and Joanne returned from a wedding and went upstairs to their bedroom to sleep. In the middle of the night Charlie went to the bathroom and fell down the steps. His fall resulted in paralysis as a quadriplegic, confining him to a wheelchair.

Charlie was immediately airlifted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where he and Joanne stayed for three months. They returned to Charleston to their new life in their old world. They came home to their beautiful Sullivan’s Island home, already equipped with an elevator. For more than two years Joanne and Charlie tried to navigate fragmented healthcare resources for spinal cord injury patients. Imagine needing a specialized urologist or OB/GYN because you are paralyzed. Imagine needing a Physical and Occupational Therapist to relearn leg and arm muscles to one day, perhaps, walk and even feed yourself again.

Charlie had served since 2002 on the board of our Roper St. Francis Foundation,  Charleston’s excellent, not-for-profit healthcare system. At the time, Roper St. Francis offered no specialized rehabilitation for spinal cord injury patients nor did the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Charlie and Joanne brought awareness to the fact that more than 10,000 spinal cord injury patients live in South Carolina and need better specialized healthcare resources for those who are paralyzed.

Working tirelessly with both Roper St. Francis and MUSC physicians and staff, the Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Roper Hospital was established in June 2011, just three years after Charlie’s injury. As of this writing, more than 300 spinal cord injury patients have been served from all of over the state, since the Center for Spinal Cord Injury is the only collaborative resource of its kind in South Carolina.

I have the pleasure of spending time with Charlie and Joanne weekly as we work together to raise at least $1.5M to endow and sustain the Center for Spinal Cord Injury. Charlie inspires me and everyone he meets. Charlie lives his life intentionally as a tall, tall ladder, not an adder, lifting everyone’s spirits. He turned his “test” into a “testimony” and is truly impacting numerous lives because of it. He brightens every room and heart into which he and his wheelchair roll.

Yes, we have a choice–

To be a victim or a victor of our circumstances.

To be bitter or better because of our circumstances.

To be a Polyanna or a Debby Downer.

To be a ladder or an adder.

The choice is yours.

Reflect:

  • Do you consider yourself to be a ladder or adder? Victim or victor? Bitter or better? Please comment.
  • What language do you use to speak to yourself or others? Does it build up or tear down?

Renew:

  • “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV84
  •  “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” –Psalm 59:16NIV 84

Recharge:

  •  Name one different choice you plan to make this week toward being a ladder. How will you accomplish it?
  • Please let me know what you decide to do.

Resource:

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