Thursday, 16 April 2015

Are You For Real?

I have a friend who is paralyzed from the waist down. He is in a wheelchair. One day he was waiting for the bus and a lady standing next to him was being abusive to a child standing next to her.  He told her that she should be nicer to her child. She started yelling at him calling him a little boy, saying what do you know about children you can't have any children. Well I'm sure you can imagine what happened next. My friend got angry and started screaming back at the woman.

I'm not saying that what my friend did in response to the woman was right, but what she did was very wrong. How does she know that my friend had no children or couldn't have children. He is a grown man, not a child so why did she call him a little boy?

Several years ago I was in a cab with a friend of mine. She was helping me with my groceries. The cab driver proceeded to ask me why I am such a burden to my friend. He told me I should just stay home and have my groceries delivered to me. He said disabled people are a waste of space and didn't deserve to live on this planet because we are such a burden on society. He went on to say that I was wasting government money and his hard earned money was being wasted on freeloaders like me.

It was devastating to me.

I have been very active throughout my life. There were times when I needed help from others, but for the most part I am very independent, and try to do things for myself as much as possible. Until I got married I lived alone, cooked for myself, cleaned my own house, did my own groceries most of the time, I taught music lessons, I have taken many classes after college to keep up with my education, I worked as a crisis counsellor for suicide prevention, I have callings at church. My point is I have never just sat around and let others do everything for me. I contribute to the world around me. Yet this person who knew nothing about me still continued as he drove my friend home to berate me and all disabled people everywhere.

Now that I am in a wheelchair permanently, I get strangers coming up to me on the street, at bus stops in grocery stores talking to me like I don't have a brain in my head. They say things like "Hiiiiiii little girrrrlll are you okaaaaaay? Oh you poor thing, do your legs hurt? I feel so sorry for you, it must be depressing being that way all the time. Do you need some help, here let me do that for you."

These kinds of responses used to bother me a lot. I couldn't understand why people saw me as helpless, useless, stupid, and childish, and I would get very depressed. I felt like the world was confirming every bad thing that was ever said to me by abusive people in my life.

After having experience with many disabled people, both physically and mentally, throughout my lifetime most of them, with the exception of a few, are hard working, independent, intelligent people.  Not one of them would want to be spoken to or treated in this manner.  I thought that in our world today, where discrimination is frowned upon, that people would understand that talking down to a disabled person or treating them like they are a waste of space would make them shudder.

I have been blessed, however, to be around people who treat me with respect, who look at me as an intelligent human being.  They don't see my wheelchair or illnesses as a part of my identity, but rather, look at me as they do any other person.  My life is now filled with people who are compassionate, kind and trustworthy without being condescending.

As I have come to know the Savior better over the last 20 years as a member of His church, I have come to realize that He is the perfect example of love, compassion, kindness, but is also clear and down to earth, never skirting around the truth.  He has become my best Friend, my Teacher and my Exemplar.  He has taught me to recognize who is and is not going to treat me like a good human being, as well as to be less judgemental of those who simply don't understand.  I have found increased ability to find peace and put off feelings of anger towards those who have hurt me, realizing more and more that everyone is in a different place in life with unique perspective.

He is transforming me into the most real, true version of myself I can be, because that is how He is as well.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Divine Protection

There was a baby born with myelomeningocele commonly known as Spina bifida with hip and foot deformities. The mother was told she needed to plan her baby's funeral. Children born around that time with spina bifida had about a 10% to 12% survival rate. The baby survived but was left paralyzed and there was a bleek outlook for their future.

As a young child, they were burned with cigarette butts and boiling water, starved and abandoned.  Separation anxiety disorder developed as a result of being tossed from home to home and then finally adopted into a family that would give them everything they needed except love, respect, kindness. They were taught that they were born to be a slave.

They were given piano lessons, horseback riding lessons, swimming lessons, guitar lessons, private coaches for competitive wheelchair sports, this child seemingly had everything they could ever want in life. But they were not allowed to feel anything without permission.  All the stuff in the world made no difference because this child was being taught that they were worthless.  All the extra activities and talents that were developed were paid for and forced on them in an effort to make them (the parents) look like good parents, like nothing was wrong.  It was used as a tool to make the child look perfect, like they were the happiest person in the world, that they could do anything.

Sexual, emotional and physical torture were a part of every day life at home.  No one would have ever guessed by simple observation the kinds of trauma that were being engrained in this child's mind and heart.  It continued on until they moved out years later.

Keep reading though. This isn't just about bad things.

They missed most of third grade due to surgery and hospitalization because of other complications After getting out of the hospital, chicken pox butted up it's ugly head, followed by red measles and then mumps.  At this point, the hospitalization had been for so long that the limited amount of ability they had gained to walk had to be relearned from scratch due to atrophy.

Throughout teenage years, cartilage was removed twice from the right knee due to an equestrian accident, a toe was amputated, and their nose was broken.  Shorty before graduation, the stress and trauma of life had accumulated so much that severe anxiety issues finally began to surface in their fullness with failing grades and nervous breakdown.  Valium was prescribed, the adoptive mother noticed the difference and proceeded to rip through all their belongings and bedroom in search of drugs they suspected this child was "dealing" or "doing".

The summer after graduation they were assaulted by someone they were dating.  Ribs were removed because of injuries sustained and an extreme allergy to latex was discovered during treatment at the time when they went into shock and a defibrillator was needed.  Because of complications from this event, college only lasted for a year due to injuries and effects from the assault.

But there's a good side to all of this. Just keep reading.

Deep depression ensued because they had very little left to celebrate in their life for a time.  In an effort to combat this they worked for suicide prevention in an effort to find reasons to keep going as well as give them to others.  This, however, resulted in further trauma from callers and eventually they quit after one caller pulled the trigger over the phone, shooting themselves in the head.

A possible threat of colon cancer was suggested by a doctor several years later.  The diagnosis of crohn's was made instead and allergies aside from latex were discovered.

A few years later several more problems came up around the same time.  Ulcers on both legs were becoming commonplace, lymphedema set in and chronic problems like acid reflux, high blood pressure and insomnia were making life even harder.

Of course, the only reason I would know this much about a person's life, unless I had known them from birth is if this person was... yup, you guessed it, me.

I don't want all of you to think that my life was all bad. I know I have painted quite a grim picture. During the times of greatest trial I always had help from my Heavenly Father. Now I can't tell you everything that has been shown to me, but I can say that I have had plenty of help from on high.

When I was around 8 years old, when I was in the hospital, and when the abuse was at its worse. I had this recurring dream. It started with being punched in the face by these little men at the end of my bed, when they had knocked me out, my bed started spinning through a tunnell and it landed in someone's backyard. The back of the house was the shape of a barn but it was white instead of your typical red. The backyard was surrounded by a white picket fence and the ground beneath me was covered in yellow roses. I then saw a beautiful women step out from the side of the house and she would come and sit with me on the bed and talk to me all night.

This went on every night until I was 15. The dream ended permanently when the woman asked me to get up and smell the roses with her. I was walking around the garden and bent down to pick one of the roses, when I picked it I fell to the ground and woke up, and that was the end of it. I later found out who the person was in the dream, but I cannot share that with anyone. Suffice it to say that she was one of my guardian angels.

In highschool once the dream stopped Heavenly Father brought an earthly angel into my life. I can't mention  his name in this blog, However I'm sure if he reads this he will know that I am referring to him. He was the only one I would talk to about things going on at home. He seemed to naturally take on the roll of protector. Nobody could hurt me when he was around, and if they tried to and he heard about it.... well let's just put it this way, you wouldn't want him to find you. I was in a wheelchair again by this time, and nobody was allowed to touch my wheelchair except for him unless he wasn't going to be at school, and then he would ask someone he trusted to help me.

He also saved my life, but doesn't really know that he did. It was purely by accident I'm sure on his part. My mother had threatened to hit me over the head with a cast iron frying pan one morning, she held it over my head while screaming threats at me.  I was terrified, but I was also very depressed that day after she left the house. She only put the frying pan down because I grabbed for the phone to call the police and it scared her.

After my mother left, I wanted to end my own life. I grabbed the biggest knife I could find and was about to shove into my heart when the phone rang, and it was him. He never called me, and he hated talking on the phone, but he called anyways and I answered. He talked to me for hours that day, but I didn't tell him what I was about to do. I believe that Heavenly Father whispered to him that day, to give me a call. If he didn't listen to that prompting I can honestly say that I'm not sure I would be here right now.

My last post talks about the things that happened next with joining the LDS church and how that was a protection for me.

Then I met someone who would be my friend for the rest of my life. Again I cannot mention his name, he wouldn't want me to. But he has been the only friend aside from my husband that I could talk to about spiritual matters. He understands the things that I see and has been able to give me insight into things that I don't understand. He has helped me by offering spiritual protection through priesthood blessings, and long gospel disscussions. He keeps me focused on what really matters and doesn't get caught up in the drama of my life. He can quickly bring me back to reality and remind of of the amazing blessings that I have recieved from my Heavenly Father.

Now I must take a moment to talk a little bit about my husband. We met at a time when I was struggling again with depression. He was a missionary when we first met, and I really didn't like him very much. Don't get me wrong, I love all the missionaries, but he just rubbed me the wrong way. He was very hyper and played the piano way too fast and loud, but he was a missionary so I put up with it. When he got home he started to call me. I told him of my depression, and he said he would call me everyday for a week to make sure I was alright. He became my earthly angel. I'm not going to write our whole story out in this blog, I will save that for a future blog. But I believe that the Lord worked many miracles to bring us together, and I know that the Lord put us together to be a protection for each other.

So to wrap things up the Lord has given me so many blessings and protection throughout my life. He has taught  me how to love through the kindness of my Heavenly and earthly angels. I have only mentioned a few people here that have been instrumental in my life. There are a myriad of others that are too many to mention here, but if you are one of my friends or family reading this know that you are loved by me and that I appreciate your friendship. I am so blessed to have so many kind loving friends and you all know who you are. I am eternally grateful for all of you.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

My Fork in the Road

Growing up fear was a constant companion of mine. I was taught to be fearful by abusive parents, and by kids who bullied me and sometimes threatened to kill me because I was a little different from them. I learned that nothing in life was certain and that at any moment I could have everything taken away from me. See, some people in my life just took what they wanted from me, whenever they wanted it. There was no respect shown to me by those that were supposed to love me, my opinions didn't matter, I was treated as an object, I was nothing more than a slave to their desires.

I was taken away from my birth family at a very young age, but I was old enough to understand that I wasn't ever going back. I was  molested raped and abused in so many ways that fear was all I ever knew. I was afraid to wake up in the morning and to go to sleep at night. I was afraid to go to school and even more afraid to go home at the end of the day. I was afraid of summer and christmas vacations because thats when the abuse at home was the worst. I was afraid to eat because I was always told I was fat and ugly. I didn't want to tell anyone because I was afraid they wouldn't believe me. I was in a constant state of fear with very little reprieve.

Then one day it all changed.

I woke up one morning and realized I had nothing left in my life that mattered to me. I was severely injured from being assaulted, I was told by doctors that music could no longer be a part of my life, and those that know me will understand just how much music means to me. My parents hated me, and my friends didn't want anything to do with me because It seemed like I was in a contant state of depression, and let's face it who wants to be a part of that? I didn't want to be a part of it, but it was my life.

I decided that I needed to do something different, I needed to know where to go next. I had no future plans I had no immediate plans, so I did the only thing I could think of to do. I prayed. I prayed so fervently for several hours. I told my Heavenly Father that I would do anything He asked of me as long as He made it perfectly clear to me what His will was for me, no questions asked.

The very next day I received a knock on my door. Jehovah's witnesses were there. I invited them in and listened to what they had to teach me and then told them that I would not be joining their church. I didn't feel anything while they were there and I knew that Heavenly Father would make the answer clear to me as to what I needed to do.

Two days after my earnest prayer, there was another knock on my door.  This time when I opened the door I immediately began to cry. Tears streamed down my face as the three young men spoke to me. They asked me why I was crying  and I told them that I needed to join their church. I didn't know anything about them or the church they belonged to, I didn't even know that this particular church existed, but I knew that I had to be a part of it.

When they picked their jaws up off the floor, they told me they were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I invited them in and they began to teach me about Jesus Christ, who He was and what He has done for me and all mankind. I listened while they taught me of a young boy of 14 who wanted to know what church he should join, and in answer to his earnest prayer saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I began to see parallells between my life and Joseph Smith's life. He had questions and recieved answers to those questions because he showed faith and asked Heavenly Father. And I did the same and Heavenly Father answered me.

My family were and are still devout Catholics and had raised me to be the same. I was the choir director and my mother was a part of that choir. So when it came time to be baptized in the LDS church I struggled to set a date. Then the three missionaries that taught me were all transferred and two new missionaries came in. The one missionary challenged me to be baptized in four days. I explained that if I get baptized my mother would probably come after me and try to hurt me. He said to me "where is your faith?" If you die right after you are baptized what is there to fear? I would be clean from sin and I would have celestial glory with my Father in Heaven.  He asked me if it mattered what happened to me once I was a member of the Lord's church, and my answer surprised me. It didn't matter what happened to me. I would be putting everything in the Lord's hands, having faith that no matter what happened I would be okay.

I was baptized on Mother's Day May 8th 1994. Now I would love to say that everything in my life changed and  was perfect after that, of course I still had problems to deal with just like the rest of the world, but I made new friends and found my birth family and music was restored and  many doors opened to me. I replaced all the fear with faith, and I know that having faith has saved my life many times. The people that have hurt me in the past are no longer a part of my life, but I still pray for them. I can do that because of the incredible love my Heavenly Father showed to me, I now know that he loves all of His children no matter what bad things we do.  He has taught me how to love my enemies and throughout the years has showed me an outpouring of blessings and many miracles which I may share in a future blog.

In conclusion white paper always looks whiter when its next to something black. I have been shown so many miracles and amazing blessings. However I needed to be shown the dark first so I would later understand the light when it was presented. The Lord showed me pain and suffering and allowed me to be dragged down into darkness so that when He knew I was ready, I would easily know and understand the Light. How can we know something is hot if we have never felt cold. How would we know light if we are never shown darkness.  I still struggle with health problems and with fears from my past, but when I show faith in my Heavenly Father those pains and those fears are wiped away. I am grateful for these eternal lessons that my Heavenly Father teaches me daily, and I look forward to the many lessons still to learn. My life has become a wonderful journey filled with faith hope and love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ and I will always be eternally grateful for all the people that He has put in my life to teach me these life lessons, both good and bad, because they all amount to one amazing mortal life experience.