At my age, my annual Senior Wellness check-up is an interesting event. After preliminaries, the nurse said, “I’m going to say a series of three words and ask you to remember them after I ask you a question.”
“Last year one of them was apple,” I offered.
“OK, I’ll give you credit for that… The words are apple, table and penny. Repeat those. (I did.) Now spell “world” backwards. (I did). What were the three words?” (I said them.)
This was six days ago now. I’m hoping to remember them all before the test next year and really wow the nurse.
Then she announced a walking test. “Get up from your chair and walk to the door. Face the door, then walk back to your chair and sit down.” Was that to test my ability to follow instructions or to walk without toppling over? Did the nurse notice I cheat, using crutches?
Nurse didn’t crack a smile during either test. I sure did! Take note, young friends. Fun times with the doctor are coming up.
Tomorrow the 22-minute video, “Bad Legs – Elinor Young, a Missionary Story” will be launched by my mission agency, World Team. See the one-minute trailer at:
This photo was taken shortly after my seven months in the hospital recovering from Polio. I was learning to walk using parallel bars on a ramp built by my dad off our kitchen porch. I felt as pleased with myself as I look in the picture.
But it’s about more than that.
I am not a parent, but reflecting back over my life, I am blown away by the power of mother and father love. I was just one of five kids, but my mom spent two hours a day doing physical therapy on me, and my dad built for me equipment they could not afford to buy. They were such models of a “can do” attitude that for years it didn’t dawn on me that there was any other kind! How MUCH I admire them – both in Heaven now.
I took a tumble off my patio this morning. Wasn’t paying attention to a common law of physics. I was weeding, which would not be remarkable, except that the weeds were by the patio and I was standing about seven inches above them. You gotta understand – because I don’t have any quadriceps, I can’t bend my knees very much, let alone squat. In fact, to stand I have to hyper-extend my knees some so my legs won’t collapse. No quads also means I can’t get up from the ground without crawling up on something. Now you get the picture…
I was standing on the patio, bending at the waist pulling weeds seven inches lower than my feet. One can’t mess with center-of-gravity laws without consequences. Yep. Over I went, a face plant. After doing a mental checklist and finding nothing was hurt, I rolled over, sat up and decided those varmints would be a whole lot easier to pull from ground level, where I was now. When I was done, I put my crutches where I could grab them when I was ready to, crawled up on the patio and used it for leverage to get my legs under me and stand up again.
Metaphorically I’ve done that lots of times. You, too, I’d guess. We do something dumb, like maybe ignore one of God’s laws? and take a tumble. I have found it pays to assess the damage, redeem the experience, file it away in my mental “warning” file, get up and go again. But that’s always with the Lord’s help. He’s the solid thing I crawl up on to stand again. I know it is fashionable these days to “believe in yourself” and do things your way. Yeah, and end up with your face in the dirt and no way up. Like a bent over bruised reed. I prefer to rely on the Solid and Strong One.
I wrote a story that talks about all this, “Bruised Reeds“, about a simple tribal teenager with a big heartache. Check it out! What do you think? Send me a comment.
I didn’t make it to church today, but it wasn’t for not trying. Last night we got fresh dry snow on top of the previous crusty snow. No big deal except that with the new snow came high winds. I didn’t realize that the snow was drifted too high for my Honda until I turned the corner to head down my driveway and got stuck. We native Spokanites know all the tricks for snow driving, but none of them worked. I couldn’t get unstuck. I had to abandon the car and walk back to the house, which wasn’t very far I suppose. Unless you are a crutch and full-leg brace user and the snow is ten inches deep at best with ice underneath. And you don’t have boots. And are wearing a dress.
Needless to say, I prayed all the way to the house. If I fell I could not have got back up. Crawling is very difficult with full-leg braces. Add deep snow and a dress … well, you get the picture. But I didn’t fall; I made it.
That is something to ponder. Did I make it because of fear-motivated focus and luck, or did the Lord come alongside and help keep me on my feet? Is He really that personal? Does the Sustainer of the Universe truly care about one little woman’s request for help in the snow? Yes. I’ve seen Him come to my rescue too many times to believe otherwise. One time you may chalk up to luck or coincidence, but there is such a thing as “a preponderance of evidence.” So many such incidents that they by far beat the odds of happenstance.
Can I then presume upon His protection or rescue and recklessly get myself into dumb fixes knowing God will bail me out? No. Though He has promised to always be present with me, He did not promise that the way would always be smooth. What if I had fallen? Could I then say He had abandoned me? No again. I’m theologically getting in deeper than a snowdrift here, but I believe that any child of God through true faith in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible, can bank on the Lord’s presence even while freezing to death in a snowbank. Because God’s perspective of things is so eternally above anything we can imagine, His “no” in answer to our requests is as merciful as His “yes.” It is always the right one. What peace of mind that gives!
At least that’s how I see it.
For similar thoughts, see a letter I wrote at What I Learned When Things Crashed.
Not all that many years ago I would not have titled my Weblog “Polio, Jesus and Me.” Call attention to the fact that I had had Polio? – Never! Mind you, my body did. It couldn’t run, jump or walk up stairs in a normal manner. I couldn’t even ride a bike. And my walking gait had a pronounced “galumph”. But I did everything I could to make people either forget that I was different (I also would not admit to being actually “disabled”), or at least get them to look at my polio-caused differences on the same level as color of eyes or hair. Descriptive, but no big deal.
So why the change of heart? Why do I now put “Polio” right up front in my title? Because I now understand, with actual gratitude, that polio had a profoundly positive affect on my life and in fact is the central factor that shaped me. It made my mind sharp, always having to search for alternative ways of doing and being. It forced me to think deeply theologically – did God play a cosmic joke on me, or was His plan to make something intensely beautiful from what appeared to be ugly. Something only He can do. Just look at what he made from a handful of nondescript clay. From that statement you know the conclusion I came to. I wrote a some of articles about these musings. Check a couple of them out and tell me what you think. One is “Faith Healer Experiences” (Yes, I even explored that). Another is “What I Learned About God When Things Crashed” And “Good-By to Irian.” On a lighter note, there is “God’s Secret Weapon“. Any come-back?
I have long resisted entering the Blog World, but finally here I am. I don’t see much use to the “stream of consciousness” stuff, but I do think I have some helpful things to offer the world out there. For one thing, I have had unique experiences in two arenas. What I have learned from those may be helpful to someone.
One arena is polio. I am a polio survivor. Having polio at the age of five means I can’t even remember what it feels like to run, skip or ride a bike. Medically I am a quadripregic (significantly but not completely paralyzed in all four limbs – note the difference between “..pregic” and “..plegic”.) My torso and breathing muscles were also affected. Therefore, the other arena of my experience is an amazing surprise. I worked for several years as a missionary in one of the most physically rugged areas of the world. WHAT?! I told you it was a surprise.
So now you see why I am going to have to give some thought to where to begin. Stay tuned. For now, you can read some of my stories about these experiences by going to my formal website.