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Friday, February 17, 2017

Casting My Crown in the Snow

It's been a little over two years since posted on this blog last, with the announcement that after being blessed with the opportunity to meet the amazingly fearless Jennifer Adams (Ms. Wheelchair America 2014), I was inspired to start my own business while competing for Ms. Wheelchair Arizona 2015. But, I never really wrote about the outcome. So much came out of that experience, not including a title and crown. Truth be told, I've been declared runner-up twice now. Though the loss still stings at times, I wouldn't change it. God used it to reveal my calling and to give me a friend who could ignite my desire for adventure.

Over the last two years, Jennifer has constantly encouraged me to take leaps of faith not only with my talents, but in life as well. So, once she started Making Dreams Come True, Inc., and asked me to be one of the first people to actually go on an adaptive sports adventure with her, I had to say yes! Early in the planning stages, I realized I only really had one choice. It was time I faced cold weather on my own terms and learned to make my muscles bend to MY will instead of vise vera. At the time I had no idea just how incredibly apt that decision would turn out to be (God definitely had a plan for the whole thing). Therefore, we decided I'd go skiing with Higher Ground in Sun Valley, Idaho January 29-Febuary 4.

The crazy thing was just as the holidays were approaching and we were making the final arrangements for the trip, I found myself in the hospital two separate times for different emergencies. They both made me feel even more trapped in my own body. But, I trusted God would give me the strength to make this trip happen and He did, abundantly. I wanted to have control over my muscles, which is exactly what I got.

At the start of my first run down Dollar Mountain (Quarter Dollar), I discovered it would take my entire core to steer the bi-ski and nothing else... no hands. I internally panicked for a second: Am I still too weak for this? We would find out soon enough. Fortunately, I was given two of the coolest instructors ever! Anders and Neil never missed a beat in terms of grasping my intelligence and knew exactly what cues my body needed. Plus, they were both just really kind in general. By the time I finished my second run, all fear was gone, the fire was lit... And I WAS BACK. I just wanted to fly! So I did. I skied the entire 3-hour lesson without a break. "Brooke, you're hard core!" was all the guys could say. You bet I am! Anders and Neil were both very impressed with my balance. That was a first. By the end of my second day, I'd conquered the Half Dollar run and my instructors decided I was ready to take on Bald Mountian at River Run– where the experienced skiers go. I was a little sore, but I was totally game and the cold wasn't bothering me!

My final runs down Bald Mountain were completely exhilarating! Withh each one, my focus got shaper and I felt powerful, like Elsa from "Frozen." Everyone at Higher Ground is so encouraging!

And to top the week off, I was invited to share the spotlight with Jennifer as a guest speaker at the Supper Club fundraising dinner for Higher Ground. Jennifer understands my passion for sharing my story and wants to help bless more people with it. The vision of Making Dreams Come True, Inc. isn't just about adaptive sports, but also supporting people's life dreams. Thank you, my fiercely beautiful friend, it was an extremely blessed week skiing with you. I found my way back to life on those mountains.

 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Prayers for Hope in My Surrender

Hope in surrenderence seems to be a running theme in my life as 2015 begins. It was the first topic in my new devotional journal and the message in my sweet friend Bethany's recent powerfully poignant blog post about her husband's worsening battle with cancer and the burdensome new developments in her precious young daughter's journey with cerebral palsy. After reading both texts, I started to wonder if The Lord is trying to tell me something… upon reflection of events since my last post in August, I realize Jesus has been urging me to fully surrender my trust to Him in regards to my calling for the Kingdom, the personal desires hidden away in my heart and my future prosperity.  I know many of those reading this might ask what in the world I'm talking about because I seem to have more faith than anyone else they know.

I'll grant them that allowing God's Grace to cover the daily frustrations and trials of living with a disability is nearly second nature to me after "rollin'" with Him so long.  My greatest struggle lies with confronting and accepting the abstract unknown. I strongly dislike "ifs" and completely loathe "maybes". They usually leave me to endlessly mentally chase my tail until I collide with disappointment.  I thrive when I'm able to make plans and have at least a rough idea of the direction in which I should go. That's not to say I can't "go with the flow," as I must adapt to many unexpected changes in one day sometimes. It has more to do with having a defined purpose.

In my last post I said I would explain where I sense God leading me when I had more concrete details. But, months later, I'm still waiting on a great many of those details to be revealed. If I'm being honest, keeping everything under wraps is just a sign of my fear, doubt and lack of trust in the Lord's plan for me. 

Now I realize that in order to succeed in any of this, I must give up control of the situation through praying and anxiously waiting for things to unfold precisely how I'd like to see them. And instead, surrender my complete trust to the thoughtfully measured guidance of Jesus in quietly peaceful expectancy.

"Trust in the lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take." - Proverbs 3:5-6

In light of this, as long as you can bear with me for a little while longer, I'll explain my intentions with a humble request for your prayers and encouragement/suggestions as you feel led… So, here it goes: I began earnestly trying to determine what exactly God wants my life's work to look like after being laid off from my first job at the end of 2010.  I knew it would ultimately entail putting my writing skills to use, for books yes, but for something more interpersonal as well, as I have a passion for encouraging others.  I just had no idea what that would be.

In truth, I've felt like the majority of these past few years has been an aimless wander through the desert, as my search for gainful employment continues to fail – a fact which only exacerbates my fear, frustration and distrust of the unknown. Sure, I've kept busy with sporadic freelance projects, book signings for The Little Butterfly Girl and my regular involvement with Improbable Theatre Company (ITC), etc., but those things haven't been steady or financially fruitful enough to build a career on.

But, as I'm noticing more each day, with God there is a reason and sequence for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!  Through my participation in ITC, The Lord has allowed my confidence to grow in speaking/performing in public using the augmentative communication app on my iPhone or iPad (Proloquo2go is awesome) and also blessed me with the gift of my precious friend, Jolene.  A little known fact about her is that she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Arizona 2009. The closer we became, the more she'd nudge me to vie for the title myself. For a long while I was in "Moses mode," pleading as he did in Exodus 4:10: “O Lord, I’m not very good with [spoken] words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

Obviously I got The Lord's response in the very next verses: “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

Dearest Jolene never gave up either. So, I was left with no choice, but to honestly consider the possibility...

As if to be sure I was paying attention, The Lord presented me with the opportunity to hear Jenny Adams give her final speech as Ms. Wheelchair America 2014 within days of all these revelations. My conversation with Jenny that day was the switch that needed to be flipped for all the pieces to snap into place. I intend to compete in this year's pageant for Ms.Wheelchair Arizona. 

The idea for my platform materialized almost immediately, but it needed a concrete anchor. Thus, thanks to Jolene being willing to brainstorm with me into the wee hours of the night (read the two previous posts for details) and become my marketing guru, Brooke's Butterfly Touch was born (click the link to the
 Left).

While my human inclination is to be extremely worried because interest in the business is very slow to come and I've yet to receive any word on the pageant,I'm choosing to trust and be grateful that The Lord is taking the time to ensure the foundation of my life's work is properly laid. 

Philippians 4:5-7 ~
"Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Moment for Thankfulness - a 5:11 Note

One of many blessings of attending a Christian high school was going on retreat Soon after the start of school year.  It was four days in the Prescott hills to completely focus our minds and hearts on God with in depth Biblical teaching and worship, form deeper bonds with our classmates through fun activities and get to know our teachers on a more personal level. As much as I loved everything about retreat, especially since everyone went out of their way to insure I was included (a stark contrast to my horrid two years in public jr. high), my favorite retreat traditon was giving and receiving "5:11 notes," inspired by 2 Thessalonians 5:11, which reads: "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."  We were given a paper lunch sack to decorate with our names before leaving for retreat. Upon arrival at camp, the teachers would stick our bags up on the back wall in the mess hall and over the course of the four days, the students would fill each other's sacks with encouragement.  It may sound like a cliché form of "prescribed kindness" to some people, but I'll be the first say that couldn't be further from the truth.  It was an incredible blessing.  I would keep the most poignant and uplifting notes close at hand all year long, to reread during my most difficult struggles.  I cherished each one.  There have been countless times since high school (especially in the last couple years of feeling miserably discouraged about my lack of career and uncertainty about my life's purpose) when I've wished I had another 5:11 bag to open and overpower the darkness.  This feeling was once most accute when I couldn't muster the stamina to write. Many said, "writing is a lonely craft; you just gotta keep at it. "  That was true for a very long time. But, over the last couple weeks something BIG has started to change.  Light is now breaking through the trees and I can see my path.  And not just my path, but also the people who will travel it with me!  Never in my life have I received such overwhelming affirmation for one idea (which I will disclose very soon) and while sleep remains scarce amid the outpouring of my mind, my stamina endures to the Glory of God. He is here. He is working in and around me.  HE IS GOOD. Thank you to my one precious friend who has stayed awake with me 'til 3am, letting her own ideas add fuel to the creative fires... there are no sufficient words for the depth of my gratitude, Dear! Thank you to the others who've seen the first puzzle pieces fit together and lovingly demand more everyday.  I'd get nothing done without you.  And lastly, thank you to the beauty with one seemingly simple, but powerful suggestion.  Meeting you was the clearest answer to prayer I've had in the last four years.
May God bless you all even more abundantly than you have blessed me.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Preparing to Turn to a Blank Page

It was after 3am Monday morning and I could only drift on the edge of sleep because the giant pinball machine in my head was cranked up to full speed and didn't show signs of slowing anytime soon. My brain was screaming, "sleep? Who needs sleep??? Stay awake and write!" I tried. Really tried. And I failed.
I could only get down the first sentence before my neck and right shoulder were whining in pain from the awkward position in which I was laying in bed, while trying to type on my phone. I can't always stay at the computer as long as I'd like at night because it means a night of badly broken sleep for my dad.  He usually crashes on my couch to help me get in bed, etc. and then gets up before sunrise to go to a full time insurance job.  This never-ceasing battle of wills between my mind and muscles is one of my strongest contentions about being a writer with a disability – my physical limitations often severely hinder my tangible productivity at opportune times, while still depriving my mind of necessary rest (you can read my quirky illustration of this phenomenon in my 12/27/08 post entitled, "A Nightly Argument").  But, conversely, writing is also my true means of freedom. I can do anything with the right words and ink always carries my voice perfectly, with no chance of misunderstanding. Therein lies the reason I continue to endure the numerous aggravations of my obstinate muscles. What other choice do I have if truly want to be "heard" in this endlessly noisy and judgmental world?
So, what was I trying to write in the first place, you ask? Actually, I'm not entirely sure. I was just toying with some ideas for my two current projects for my next "roll in faith" and how this blog will be the link between them.  The first is the memoir people have been persistently "suggesting" I write for years. The second is one I'm not quite ready to announce yet; waiting for a certain phone call to make it official. It will come soon.
When it was time to start again, I was going to revert to the original plan, but then thought, facing my own words means clearing the first hurtle first.  Mind over muscle. It just took two days. Still, thank you, Lord, for small victories.
 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blogging as an Author: Anyone Reading My Thoughts?

I've heard it said that a serious writer in this computerized day-and-age should, at the very least, have a regularly updated blog where reader can get updates on an author's projects, thoughts, etc. This is a quick task for most authors and can be done with plenty of time left to focus on their actual stories, however it's easier said than done for me.
Having Cerebral Palsy greatly limits my overall mobility; making typing, handwriting and speaking tedious work. Still, I know without a doubt being "An Author of Faith and Fiction" is my calling, part of the purpose the Lord had in giving me a life on this earth. I dearly love weaving together tales that have the potential to bring God's goodness and affection for His children alive for someone. Therein lies my dilemma.
I understand the value in blogging and desire to share my heart with my readers, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm wasting precious typing time and energy just writing to the black void of cyberspace, like Julie Powell first thought in "Julie & Julia." I realize I haven't posted anything in a couple weeks (because up until this weekend I've been in pain, overly tired and just not feeling like myself), but in my last blog I posted a little piece of the revision work I'm doing on The Little Butterfly Girl and asked for feedback. No one responded.
Is anyone out there? Please let me know if you are...

Blessings ✞

"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." - Colossians 3:12, NLT

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Tender Moment...

Please allow me to tell you a bit about the world of The Little Butterfly Girl (for those that aren't already familiar with the story) before you read and enjoy the following, newly added scene.
Bridget Saunders is 11-years-old and knows the Lord better than most, truly beautiful, with the heart to prove it. Yet, she's bound by her wheelchair and uncooperative muscles, which makes her feel like she really should be living in one of her favorite storybooks as some strange elfish creature. Jesus has a better idea, of course. He knows the gifts of a butterfly, wings and all, will bless Bridget for her unfailing faith and also help her restore the faith of a special friend.



“Whenever you are with Me, you will stand,” Jesus promised. “Your disability is just a tool you can use to share your faith with others… It’s not how I see you.”

“I’ve dreamed of hearing You say that,” Bridget confessed tenderly. “What do mean my disability is just a tool, though?”
Jesus smiled adoringly at Bridget. Her meaningful questions always gave Him such pleasure and He’d been particularly looking forward to answering this one. “Well, Dearest, I know your disability brings you many struggles and times of sadness when you can’t blend in perfectly with your friends. Yet, you carry this glowing ball of joy in your heart, so bright even the blind can see it.”
“I do? If that’s really true, then it’s only because You’re always with me, helping me find ways to get through the hard stuff. I can feel You hug me a lot,” Bridget interjected.
He hugged her tightly again, just to prove the point further. They both laughed gleefully.
“That’s exactly it, Little One. A lot of people wonder about you because they see you stuck in that chair, having to work extra hard to do the small things they don’t even have to give a second thought to, and don’t understand how you can still remain genuinely happy. A great many of them will be bold enough to ask to explain it throughout your life…”

“Well, that’s easy. I’ll just tell whoever asks about all the blessings You’ve given me and how I don’t do anything without Your guidance,” she explained matter-of-factly.

The Lord kissed Bridget’s forehead with a pleased chuckle. “There now, see? You answered your own question. You do understand why I allow your disability to work for Good.”

Bridget sat still, thinking for a moment. A smile danced on her lips. “Yes. Yes, I do… And wow… I just figured out what the Apostle Peter meant when he wrote that we should keep You in our hearts, so when anyone asks us to give a reason for our hope, we can explain it.”
“Tell me…”
“People have to know You really well and be sure of Your work in their lives so they don’t get scared and mess up if someone asks what they believe…”
Jesus nodded, a proud twinkle in His eyes.

“When I am not afraid to tell someone that You give me unshakable happiness, even when my muscles are frustrating me to death, it gives me a chance to introduce them to You, so they too can be loved and blessed like me.” Bridget sat up tall and grinned widely at Jesus. “I knew I’m supposed to help people some way or another!”
“Yes, I know, and a father could never ask for more than that from his beautiful daughter. I also know you have other goals and dreams, as well,” He continued, as His hands gently fingered her curls.

This conversation is not in my original version of the book and it should be. I want people to understand why God allows disabilities to happen sometimes... What do you think? I'd greatly appreciate feedback.
Blessings!



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Update: So Close, Yet So Far...

Do you ever have those days or blocks of time when you're on the threshold of something big... you can see the door you need to open very clearly, but you can't get close enough to get your fingers around the handle? I've been in that place for the past few weeks. Perhaps in explaining this experience here and sharing my thoughts with you, I can make sense of it myself.
Everyone comfy? Here it goes. I initially self-published The Little Butterfly Girl because first, it had been my focus for so many months that I was just happy to see it print and second, I was secretly afraid of the whole query letter, looking for an agent/publisher process. Promotion hasn't been easy by any means, but I've had the most success speaking and doing signings at various disability conferences. Bookstores are a whole other animal to deal with, though. And yet, I was even nominated for the Schneider Family Book award, which honors authors and illustrators that capture the dramatic essence of kids living with disabilities. And in May I was invited to do an interview for Exceptional Parent Magazine.
Still, I feel in my heart that Bridget's story hasn't yet reached its full potential. It has many more places to go. I think the Lord still has more He wants to do with it, truthfully, because I haven't met one reader who's not been inspired or encouraged by Bridget and/or Jeremy in some way. It's quite a blessed and humbling experience to be approached by young girls who say, "I wanna be a butterfly, like Bridget. She's cool!" I wish I could give them each a pair of wings.
Although, I was never completely satisfied with the version that's on the market now... but, being as determined as I am, with the echos of those precious little ones in my head, I've decided to revise the book and tackle my original fear/dream of landing an agent. My query letter is yet to be written because I'm still doing publishing research and I want the manuscript to be as flawless as possible before agents ask to see it. I just wish I could type faster than I do. It's difficult to post regular updates here and make headway on my revisions. Yet, with constant faith and prayer, I'll find a way... Look for story details soon. As always, I appreciate your feedback, encouragement and prayers.
Blessings!

"Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come." - Jeremiah 33:3, NLT