Thursday, August 20, 2009

Child-like Living

Last week our daughter's family came from California to visit. We had been anticipating it for months... Lindsey has three daughters and that means three grandchildren came to play! I love being with these young ones not only because I love them, but because they remind me how to have fun like a child does.

One afternoon we all went to the Oregon Children's Museum where there are lots of interactive exhibits. What fun to see the girls who love to go grocery shopping with Mommy put their own (fake but real-looking) food in small buggies and take them to the cash register that actually makes a noise when items are passed over it! What fun to see Calysta (ten) serve a plate lunch she had "cooked" for her grandpa. And the water area was dousing at it's best for even Ryenn who is eighteen months. We took Maycn when she was that age and she loved even more at age five.

Then on Sunday we went to the Clark County Fair. (Was I ever glad it wasn't a scorcher like we had the week before!) Calysta and Maycn rode the Ferris wheel with me and oh, I enjoyed as much if not more than they did!

When we moseyed through an exhibit room there were several trampoline bungee jumpers--all children--having such fun. I yelled, "Can anyone do that--my age, for instance?" And guess what--I got right in line with Calysta and Maycn. What a BLAST for me--from my power chair (which I use for this type of all day event to get around in)--to crawling on the huge air-filled trampoline.

My attendant asked, "Have you ever done this before?"
"Never! But I'm soooo excited!"

I even did flips! You can see me doing so by clicking here! It's the video at the top called "Just for Fun - Jo Trampoline Bungee Flipping". Every opportunity to have an adventure is absolutely amazing for me. I laughed so hard I could barely jump. As I flipped backwards I felt so many joints and muscles crying out I knew I'd regret it, but I didn't care.

My poor husband hadn't wanted me to do it because of my cervical spinal cord injury in 1994 and neck problems ever since. He could see me breaking my neck. And, to be honest when I watched the entire video, I barely made one back flip. But as he video taped me he cheered me on, yelling this and that. He said all of the adults around him were cheering me on and looking envious.

I'm reminded that Jesus said to come to him as a little child. He wants our lives to be filled with child-like faith and wonder and his love that overflows into our hearts cheering us on to the best abundant life he has purposed for us. Do I have limitations with MS that make life difficult? You bet. But I have such love flowing into me from Jesus I shout with joy at seeing my granddaughters roll in the grass. I want to always be child-like.

How about you? What can you do today to be child-like with wide-eyed wonder?


PS You can also see lots of fun things I've done and places I've been here! You can watch the same video at the bottom of the page!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Ruptured Appendix Can Be An Opportunity

It took me much longer to get to this than I'd expected. Having two surgeries within 13 days took it out of me and I've been recovering slowly--and now surely.

After coming home from Joseph, Oregon after the wonderful opportunity to share with ladies from Baker City about how we can be friends to those in need, I was tired but extremely fulfilled. We had a great time and my husband who drove me had a great time as well--he needed a break and got it while I "worked"!

But only two days later I felt ill, the following day I felt worse, and on Friday May 8 I told Ray he needed to take me to the doctor. My own was out that day so the new physician I saw asked Ray if the pain that had me doubled over was common. He said he'd never seen me this way before (and I've had a lot of pain with a cervical spinal cord injury--thankfully I've forgotten how bad some of that was). She said, "Go immediately, straight to the ER! I'll call ahead to get you in front of others!"

We're so thankful to her, I have taken the energy to write her a letter of thanks. The surgeon I saw said the CAT scan revealed a need to check out my appendix and abdomen, so I had surgery about 1:30 am. My appendix had burst and I had a drain to remove infectious toxins. One of the worst affects though was the "ileus," a result of anesthesia making the gastro-intestinal track go to sleep! Which means, you can't have anything but ice cubes until something wakes up! Hence, I was in the hospital eight days.

On my sixth day there we had a fire in our garage which my husband put out himself, braving blinding black smoke to open the doors by hand and find the source. Nothing like adding more stress to his life! The garage was covered in oily black residue since it was an electrical fire--he was charging a radio control battery for his airplanes and the charger shorted out! Apart from his job, the cleanup with professional crews has consumed his time.

Now home, I began running a low grade fever and eventually went back to the ER on Memorial Day, May 25. I had two abscesses due to the rupture. I won't go into the surgery I had to drain this . . . to say it would gross some out is an understatement! This time I was in the hospital another eight days!

I've been recovering ever since, and in this past week I've seen a marked change in how my energy level has been growing. I am back to doing some of my exercises! My neurologist said last week--with much relief and happiness due to all my body has been through--that I haven't progressed with the MS since he last saw me. YEAH!

How does one see all this as an opportunity? Well, for me, every hospitalization has been an opportunity to share my hope and faith with nurses and doctors and other personnel I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. The stories I could tell about seeing a smile spread when I simply said a genuine "Thank you" abound. Listening to nurses tell their own stories and being able to encourage them, or as was the case one time actually say, "You did all you could" as I looked into a face filled with despair and guilt and watch that beautiful face relax and tears fill her eyes, made my day. Then there was the student nurse I got to encourage before her professor and her training nurse--what joy that brought me! I was saddened to learn many patients are belligerent and even mean!

Would I have preferred to not have gone through all this? Definitely a big "Yep!" as our granddaughter would say. But I would not have had the blessings I did in being kind to others or experiencing the blessings of others providing meals, praying, and being available when Ray had to leave town for three days during my recovery. Nor would I have had the opportunities to encourage my husband in certain ways as he did me.

Even a ruptured appendix can be an adventure with living!

To every adventure!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Emergency Surgery and More

Just after I wrote my last post about going to Joseph Oregon to speak/sing for a retreat I had emergency surgery on a ruptured appendix. Since then I have spent more time in the hospital than out. I hope to write a full post next week.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going to The Shack

You've heard about the novel, The Shack, and perhaps you've read it. I was dubious until I saw William P. Young, the author, speaking about his life and why he wrote the novel. I was in tears.

Now I know people who hated this book, and I know people who loved it. I'm not sure there are many in between.

I am one who loved it. I love it when a book takes God out of "the box" people try to put him in.

Did you know that the place where Paul Young has set his story is real? There is a Joseph, Oregon, and there is a Wallowa Lake where the tragedy occurs.

Well, this coming Thursday my husband is driving me to Wallowa Lake where I will be speaking for a women's retreat Friday through Sunday. I will share my topic "Friends, the Silver Lining in Difficult Times," which is based on a song I wrote for the amazing people who lifted and carried me places in Israel I would never have experienced without their help. We were working together on an archaeological excavation team. I can hardly wait to speak to these wonderful women I've communicated with, and I can hardly wait to see some of the sites I have imagined in my mind while reading The Shack.

I've always been this way. After reading historical fiction I could hardly wait to see Andrew Jackson's home "The Hermitage" in Nashville, Tennessee. It met my every expectation. And since I've seen photos now of the area where I'll speak I know it will do so as well.

I hope if you've been afraid to read this book you'll take a risk and see what it's about. And let me know what you thought of it if you've already read it. I'll let you know what I think of the area the author describes after my weekend away!

I'm stopping for now--I spoke this morning and am a little tired.

Have a great week!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taking Care of Me

Do you find yourself overdoing easily? When I have a "good" day, do I ever want to get going on things! I've been blessed to feel good for awhile after the MS siege of bad symptoms last summer. And so I've been out there speaking, singing, recently writing a new book that I'll have available to sell in a couple weeks . . . and that's not all!

I had a book signing scheduled last Saturday and when I called the store manager on Friday I needed to ask for a rain check. She loves having me any time I want to come in and I love doing it--connecting with new people at the store--getting my memoir into more hands. But I had been working and going so strong with a lot coming up I knew I had to take care of me! Fortunately, this wasn't a paying gig, because I never cancel those unless it's drastic. Rae understood and said, "Take care of yourself. Whenever you want to come in, just let me know."

That's why I haven't written a blog either. I've been so busy, just taking time to catch you up on life had to be put on the back burner. I'll be out speaking weekly for the next month but I'll try to write again soon.

What do you do to take care of you? (Trying to be cute here, not the writer.) Read a book? Just sit in the sun? (We haven't seen much of that in the Pacific Northwest!) Eat ice cream? Uh, oh. I'm getting hungry thinking about that one.

I hope you're taking care of yourself--whatever that means. I know when I overdo it affects everyone around me.

Let me know what you do when you take care of you--write a post!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

When I "Get" to Help

Last week I wrote about accepting help and today I'd like to share what a blessing it is to me when I get to help others.

I simply love encouraging other people. It comes through when I am speaking about some topic or especially sharing my life story, singing with all my heart, or just listening to someone's problems.

It also happens when I "peer counsel" someone with MS. I was in the first training class for certified peer counselors in the Denver area in 1984. What a privilege to share the hope and even simple steps to take that can begin making life with multiple sclerosis better, fuller, and more of a daily adventure than a grind. (Which it certainly can be!)

But this past December I got to help our neighbors. In our part of the US it began snowing on December 18 and didn't stop for ten days. Now, we didn't get many feet of snow like the Midwest does, but for our elderly neighbors across the street it was dangerous. The snowfall that covered the drive and sidewalks and street was enough to keep them home bound. It wasn't safe for them to walk to the mailboxes.

When I first called Maxine we chatted about the beautiful white mantle draping everything while it floated from the sky and then I offered Ray's help in getting the mail. This began a daily routine of my calling to see what they needed and Ray getting the privilege of following through. Yes, I would have been delighted to walk in the snow to the mailbox and even clean off their driveway with Ray, but at least I could do this one thing--call and chat and be the go-between.

Maxine and Keith were certainly grateful, but Ray and I commented on Christmas that helping them had made the holiday even more special for us. Our girls and grandchildren live out of state and we had visited at Thanksgiving so we were alone. Our hearts swelled with joy at being able to assist as well as lighten their days with laughter and conversation.

We "got to" help and so I know how my friends must feel when they "get to" help me.
Next week I have the opposite outlook . . .

To finding someone each of us can help this coming week no matter our circumstances!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'd Rather Do It Myself--But I'll Accept the Help

Have you decided you're open to help? So many of us have a "I want to do it myself" attitude. It's like we're children who never grew up.

Now don't get me wrong. I'd still rather do it myself than need help, but since I've discovered I can't make it without assistance to do certain things, I've decided to enjoy the process.

Last week I spoke on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday--all in different cities! In the first place, I only drive locally due to the fatigue of MS on my muscles used to turn the wheel and push on the gas and brake. (The entire body fatigues out when I overuse one strong muscle that is taking over for the weak ones. I am incredibly grateful that I can drive even locally though, since I lost all ability to drive for two and a half years in the early 1980's.)

This means I needed a driver to even do these speaking/singing engagements. And my friend Lynda is indeed a helper extraordinaire because her spirit is all about meeting my needs! She drives with such ease we missed our first exit on Monday because we were chatting away! She removes my power chair from our van with skill after doing it many times. (I walk in our house balancing off furniture and walls and use my cool-aids for short distances, but prefer my power chair when I speak within driving distance--instead of flying somewhere--so I am more independent. There's that "I'd rather do it myself attitude again! GRIN)

Lynda hauls into each venue all we'll need, never griping or upset by less than ideal situations. And handling my book and CD sales after I've shared my program is a breeze for Lynda while I am autographing books and speaking to people.

When we arrive at our host's house Lynda thinks nothing of meeting my every "Would you please..." with a smile or she responds "I could do that in a while when I'm going out..." Because she's secure enough to suggest alternatives I never feel I should watch out for what I am asking Lynda to do. She just shows such a spirit of service I want to hug her!

And then there were our hosts, Cathy and Rick. Without being willing to have us for THREE nights in a row I wouldn't have accepted this tour of cities. And because they were such down home people, while trying to meet our every need, we felt totally comfortable for those days. Rick was the handy-man we needed for my power chair when the mushroom hand guide got out of place and he was always ready to meet other needs and Cathy worked deliciously with my "no salt" diet and perfectly with my "no scent" sheets, keeping me in just the shape I like to be in. We've made friendships we hope to renew later. (Rick and my husband Ray are both Marines who fought in Vietnam... once a Marine always a Marine.)

At each event helpers abounded and though I have my own way of doing things I've learned to do my best to go with the flow and accept their own ways of operating--that way we are all accommodated in the ebb and flow of give and take.

Yes, there is that pull to do it all myself still within me, but oh, the joy I experience from the help of others. And the blessing they receive in return for assisting me. It's a win-win situation.

To a week of letting others help us and blessing them with the joy of meeting our needs, or having the privilege to assist them!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

It All Depends On Your Outlook

Last week I promised to share with you various responses I had to my "The Good Life" TV interview that aired the week of January 4-12 (and beyond in re-runs according to continued feedback I am getting.)

Let me begin with Teresa. She called to say she really enjoyed the program and wanted to know about my "Soar Unafraid Ministries" because she wanted to assist me in any way she can. To say I was blessed is an understatement--because Teresa is only 33 years old and she has lived in the current nursing care facility for two years and another for four years before that due to the multiple sclerosis she battles. It touched me to tears to know her situation. But Teresa wasn't griping, just stating the facts. She told me how she had just learned to transfer from her bed to wheelchair on her own that very day as she is working to become stronger and live alone again.

Teresa didn't call to bring me down with her situation. Teresa called to tell me she wanted to minister with me. PAUSE. THINK DEEPLY.

Teresa had not one hint of "poor me" in her voice. She was excited to know she could minister with me through prayer. She was excited to be able to take that big step of transferring on her own.

I vowed then and there to help Teresa in any way I could. I called Steve from CTN who had taxied me here and there because he had told me he is a pastor. Come to find out their church is in the same town as Teresa's! Next time Teresa and I spoke she was going to their church if she found a ride. Please pray with me this all works out for her. Pray she is strengthened every day.

Moving on, I received several emails and calls from others who wanted to tell their stories and they wanted a word of encouragement, which I tried to give as best I could for their individual situations that were heart-breaking. But what I heard in return was something akin to bitterness creeping into their words about wanting to be close to God. I know how very hard it is not to go there when we're hurting. My journey to keep myself from doing so is shared in my memoir Soar Unafraid: Learning to Trust No Matter What.

I heard from others like Esther who has a sad story but she came right around to her life based in her belief that God Lives, and he will lead her on as she, too, works to improve her life and situation. She, too, asked what she could do for me!

When I told Teresa during our latest conversation that I was telling people about her precious attitude and outlook she responded, "It's only Christ in me. On my own I'd be very sad." How true that is for any of us! I know it is for me in all struggles that come my way. MS is hardly the only thing I deal with. When I asked an audience before whom I spoke last Friday, "How many of you have had something unexpected happen to you in this past year?" everyone raised a hand!

I hope these differing attitudes give you some interesting things to think about. A woman who recently signed up for my newsletter wrote after receiving the Freebies that come with it: "Your list is amazing and fun......causes one to 'recalculate.'" If you'd like to recalculate your life, go to my website and sign up--it's free!

Have a great week! (I'll be speaking Monday-Thursday next week so my post will be late again...)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winner Announced and the Trek Story

Last week I announced a contest with the winner receiving a free autographed copy of my memoir Soar Unafraid: Learning to Trust No Matter What as the prize.

Mary Morgan is the winner!

Mary wrote that she watched The Good Life TV interview live at She said in her email, "You did a great job in the interview! I love the name you came up with your crutches--"Cool Aids"--that is so clever. You are quite the adventurer--skiing, horse packing trips, etc. I really enjoyed hearing your story. Hopefully lots of people saw the show and the publicity helps you sell lots of books."

Thanks, Mary for writing such encouraging words to me. We're shipping the book to you right away.

I need to share with Mary and the rest of you how the name "cool aids" came about. While I was single I took a wonderful trip with a dear friend, Ruth, and her three children. (The Peters family adopted me, so to speak, and we are close to this day.) Well, we five were hiking in the Petrified Forest in Arizona when teenage David said, "You really get around." I told him it was because of my aids (forearm crutches). He dubbed them "Cool-aids" at that moment and the name has stuck.

I promised last week to tell about the long trek I took getting to Florida to do the TV interview in Clearwater (near Tampa). I had sent my book and media kit last spring in 2007 to the show producer and fortunately she didn't contact me requesting an interview during the summer because the MS hit me hard and I wasn't in any shape to even go out of the house let alone fly by myself anywhere. (This was another of those times when you know God is working all things together for the good as Romans 8:28 says because we were praying CTN would contact me and fortunately they didn't when we asked, but in God's perfect timing!)

In early November I was contacted for the interview to be taped live on Tuesday, December 16. She booked my flight--the only one available from Portland, Oregon (we live 30 minutes north of there in Washington state) to Tampa for Monday, December 16. I literally had to get up at 2:30 am in order to get to the airport at the check-in time. UGH. I went to bed at 8:30 pm Sunday night and awoke alert and praising God, singing while I applied makeup.

When I fly I use my portable wheelchair with cushions that are removable. Airport skycab push me between terminals and the airline personnel take out the cushions for me to use in the airplane because they're much more comfortable than the airplane seat and I can handle the flights better. My wheelchair is then taken into the cargo hold and brought back to me when the plane passengers have departed.

The ONLY possible flight stopped in Denver and then Chicago before arriving in Tampa eight real-time-hours after it began (not including time changes). That is a long day for me.

But the great thing was the people I got to talk with for 8 hours. The eleven year old who wanted me to read the story she was writing, and then a poem, and she was so excited because I was an author. She was traveling between parents who live on opposite coasts . . . And so many others . . .

A nice guy who works for CTN picked me up at the airport and drove me to the hotel after offering me dinner which I turned down. I just wanted to eat my almonds and high energy Kashi bar and go to bed, which I did by 8:30 pm EST after calling home to my hubby!

Steve picked me up again in the morning to take me to CTN's studio where we did the live interview within 45 minutes. One take and the producer excitedly handed me the DVD so we can upload the program to my website (it's in the process of being added this week.) She had told me before taping they like to do it live as much as is possible and she cried as she hugged me, "That was great! Perfect! Well-worth you flying across the country!"

Then I chatted warmly with the program host's assistant Stephanie (who had read my memoir and recommended I be asked as a guest) for perhaps an hour. Steve then took me back to the Tampa airport and I began the long trek home via Denver this time. I arrived at 10 pm PST to my husband's big hug and kiss.

On the way back I had the most wonderful conversations with people about their lives and why I was making this long round trip in only two days. Everyone has unexpected things happen in their lives, not just me, and their stories, our shared laughter and tears will remain with me for years if not till I die.

The trek was definitely worth it and ordained by God. Emails and phone calls have blessed me richly as well as book orders. I am touched because I believe my memoir--due to responses I have received--IS impacting lives and that is why I wrote it.

Some thoughts next week about some responses I received . . .

Hope your week is full of wonderful treks--even if they are only in your dreams. (I have a lot of fun dream treks and I dream BIG!)


Friday, January 2, 2009


Everyone loves a freebie, I've been told. Well, I've never hosted a contest before, but I am beginning 2009 by doing so!

Anyone who posts a comment after viewing a TV program on which I will be appearing Friday evening (this coming Friday, January 9) will be eligible for a FREE AUTOGRAPHED copy of my award-winning memoir Soar Unafraid: Learning to Trust No Matter What!

The program to watch is "The Good Life" on CTN at 9 pm EST. You can find CTN on DIRECTV channel 376 and DISH Network channel 267. You can also go to this to check out various markets where it is showing or you can watch it online.

On January 12-16 I will announce the winner who will be drawn randomly from those who post comments or email me from my newsletter we are sending out on Monday. Anything you'd like to share about what you learned, something you thought was funny or an "ah-ha" moment, just so long as you're not totally negative will be accepted. We will ship my book to the winner at our expense as well.

And next week I will share the amazing story of how I got and from to Tampa, FL to shoot the live taping on December 16. Considering the fact that I was so weakened by the MS last summer, it's quite a story.

Here's hoping you make time to watch and enjoy "The Good Life" Friday January 9!

Have a great first week of the new year!