Music Monday: “In Jesus name (God of Possible)”*

Preparing last Monday’s blog, I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have such loyal friendships; I didn’t always feel that way. Don’t get me wrong; my parents have done their best to instill a positive self-image and confidence in me. They never really put limitations on me because of my disability – believing I was capable of anything that I put my mind to. This led to me being one of the first children to take part in a pilot program for mainstreaming in middle school.

The mainstream program was exciting to me at first because I got to interact with other people with disabilities who were just like me and who had encountered similar struggles dealing with a disability. In the mainstreamed classes, I met regular kids without disabilities. I was able to stretch my intellectual muscles and see what I was truly capable of in terms of regular learning. It also allowed me to interact with the regular students in a somewhat normal setting. I tried to make friends.

Learning along with my peers

My middle school years were tough. In the beginning, I assumed my peers needed time to get accustomed to having disabled students like me in the classroom. I thought that if they just got to know me, they would see I was just a regular “kid” like them, and they would accept me. Boy, was I wrong! My peers would have nothing to do with me, as I would often get picked last for group assignments or the teacher would assign me to a group because no one wanted me in their group. I remember the stares I received driving from class to class with my head-controlled wheelchair; the students parted like the Red Sea when they saw me coming.

Granted, some students were willing to help me; but sometimes I believe it was to get special recognition for “going above and beyond.” For the most part, I kept up with my academics, attempting to prove myself worthy of being in regular classes.

By high school, I’d accepted my disability and social life for what it was and tried to make the best out of a bad situation. Sure, I tried to interact with my peers, but I didn’t bend backward to make them like me. Because of my high academic standing, I was invited to join The National Honor Society. In spite of being unable to participate in many physical activities, I was given the unique responsibility of keeping track of everybody’s hours in an Excel spreadsheet.

By senior year, I was over the drama and ready to move on with my life. I had researched the pros and cons of getting my high school diploma immediately after graduation versus having the school keep it in exchange for receiving services until my 26 birthday. Thanks to the goals my Individual Education Plan (IEP) set forth. Even though I continued my education at a college while still living at home, I don’t feel it encouraged my personal growth as much as my time at Concordia.

Step of Faith

After getting my Associate’s degree in General studies, I was determined to spread my wings a bit further and brought up the idea of going away to get my bachelor’s degree. As expected, my parents were a bit hesitant. So we came up with a compromise. My brother was attending Concordia at the time, and it was only 15 minutes away from our house; we decided that would be a good fit. I would stay on campus during the week and come home on the weekends. The faculty and staff were so accommodating; they even walked me around the campus to see if there were any problem areas that would be difficult for me to drive my wheelchair through. I had heard college was an amazing time of self-discovery, and I was finally going to experience that for myself…

Still, there was the question of getting personal assistance during the week to give me up in the morning and put me in bed at night. Finally, we found an agency willing to accommodate those hours; but who would take care of me in the hours in between, making sure I got to my classes on time?

Biblical Views on Friendship

Before I finish my story about Concordia, I’d like to take a closer look at what the Bible says about friendship. In Romans 12:15, we read, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” In other words, a friend should take up your burdens and carry them alongside you, making sure you are not alone in your journey. It also says in Proverbs 27:9:

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)

A true friend knows someone inside and out and has their best interest at heart. My time at Concordia really taught me this and so much more.

Concordia Friendships

During this time, I prayed that this experience would be drastically different and I would find friends that genuinely accepted me for me looking past my disability

God had that already taken care of! That’s when I met BA. She introduced herself to my parents and me when visiting the college cafeteria; she was getting her degree in Special Education and wondered if she could help me. From then on, our friendship grew. Other students came out of the woodwork as well- more than willing to make sure I got to class on time and photocopy their notes for me after class. Of course, we were on a Christian campus, but you could tell it was more than that. They truly liked me for me.

Even now, my friends still contact me via text or Skype to see how I’m doing or catch up.

Although this blog is primarily about friendship, it’s important to remember that God is the best friend we could ever have. God can open doors other people can’t. That’s why I chose “In Jesus Name (God of Possible)”; we must never forget what our God is capable of doing. So if you are a parent of a disabled child, don’t give up hope. Anything is possible if you believe in Jesus.

For more information on Debbie Waltz CLICK HERE.

*”In Jesus name (God of Possible)” By Katy Nicole (2022 Centricity Music)

This Change is For the Good

When I moved back to Michigan fourteen years ago, I would have given anything to own a kitchen table. (Actually, any table, for that matter) In the last few months, I have stored many of my possessions, which makes me glum, including my beautiful oak kitchen table.

This table was my prized possession, and I honestly did love it. Doing my homework before purchasing it, pursuing the internet and researching all of the furniture stores in our area, window shopping in my spare time to look at different options, and saving to

buy it with my own money just before Eric and I married. It meant a lot to me; it was sturdy, extendable, and ready to seat the family for holiday dinner parties. This table was more than just furniture; it was a piece of stability that I believed would anchor our home and marriage. Boy, how wrong could one be!

God was orchestrating a big transition for us, one that was improving the resources available to our youngest son with autism, and this was important to me. We were temporarily moving into a much smaller house, which filled me with sadness; I wasn’t a happy camper. My husband Eric and I discussed moving the table into our rental home, and it just didn’t make sense. The new kitchen in the rental was much smaller than the one we were leaving, and my table would take up too much space.

I was heartbroken (although this wouldn’t affect our decision to move.) It was a done deal, and we knew God was moving our family north, giving us a new place to call home. It was also in God’s perfect timing after all the dramatic changes our family had experienced in recent years.

Seeing how distraught I was, my mom comforted me by quietly reminding me it’s a long way from the mind to the heart, and in this particular circumstance, I understood her sentiments entirely. Even though my mind understood the reasons to move, my heart had trouble catching up.

I had many unanswered questions, even though I was sure this was God’s will for our life. I needed a reminder that we haven’t stepped backward; sometimes, God stretches us before moving us forward to where he wants to grow and develop those deeper roots. I decided to take some time and ponder my mom’s thoughtful words and delight in her wisdom.

It took some time and many tears on my pillow, but acceptance soon followed. The sun came out, and I could see the light of God shining down. Seeing my son improve by leaps and bounds was enough motivation to keep me moving forward, and for this, I am so thankful to God.

Even though we are still getting planted in Midland and trying to grow those roots, we have found a wonderful community here and feel we belong. The boxes are getting unpacked, and the shelving is going up, although my beautiful oak table is still in storage. I’m learning to accept that this change is for the good and stepping out of my comfort zone to enjoy the transformation.

We are embracing the new, and I’m starting to admire my small farmhouse table. It’s cute, easy to clean, and tucks neatly into a kitchen corner. As a mom, it’s a definite win in my book! I’m learning to adjust to our new way of life, something I’ve instilled in my children to do all along. I know God is using this move to mold our family (especially me) to cultivate us so we are ready for the pruning season when the time comes.

Isaiah 5:6
“I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”

Homemade with Love and Extra Butter

     Sitting at the kitchen table that morning, I watched Mom bustle around the kitchen, prepping for the family dinner party scheduled for later in the evening. My troubled heart filled with annoyance as she pulled out her old recipe box and set it on the cupboard. She took her time, flipping through some brightly colored cards and asking me what I thought she should make for dinner that night.

                 Like I cared? All I could think about was how ugly her recipe organizer was! Pea-green, plastic, and desperately needing to be tossed into the garbage, or so I thought. Eying the box and rolling my eyes with exasperation, I silently asked, what’s the secret ingredient, mom? You don’t even use the recipe. I was in a phase back then, a not-so-pleasant time in my life, where Mom’s gentle encouragements boiled more frustrations inside me than water, and I was drowning in those flames.

                Thankfully most of the time, she pretended to ignore my hurtful behavior, probably more for my benefit than hers. She effortlessly prepared the meal and danced around the kitchen while cupboards opened and drawers closed, pulling out all the required utensil essentials. Never once stopping her methodical rhythm or missing a beat. She was like an orchestra conductor, swaying a baton meticulously around. Something that I will never forget. Mom was content and at peace, knowing that her kitchen was the heart of our home and that family dinners had good food and laughter. 

    Years have passed, and mom is in the same kitchen, using all her favorite gadgets and, most importantly, still cooking and recreating her famous masterpieces, still using that vintage recipe box. Though now, I have learned to cherish that old box, even searching for one of my own. I love the memories that come with it, all the conversations, and especially the joy.

                 I’m reminded of God’s word as I watch mom make her way around the kitchen now. The verse about rising while it is yet night comes to my mind. It’s beautiful watching someone give of themselves for the sake of others, sometimes rising just before daybreak to ensure she finished her task. Sitting in her kitchen today, I watch and breathe it all in.

                Time may have changed the color of the walls, along with the places where we are seated, but I am still a daughter watching an essential lesson from Mom.

                Mom added a little of this and a little of that to a large mixing bowl. Seasoning and spices, into a bowl, for a recipe that she recreates often. Like the seasons of life, she has a time and a purpose for everything. Mom showed us, kids, that sometimes we have to change how we do things, like with a recipe, adding or substituting the parts that were not part of God’s bigger plan. To rework the parts that were soiled. Over the years, I’ve added spice to the equation when I need to add sugar instead. However, my mom knew and was willing to share that the secret ingredient was always love.

1 Corinthians 16:14-Let all your things be done with charity.