12 Dec THAT I MAY DECLARE HIS WORKS
I would not be the person I am today without the Lord, but I also would not be the young woman I am without the training, loving discipline, countless prayers, and much encouragement from my parents.
I was born in 1993. Family photos show me as a cute, chubby little toddler while my parents recall my early talkativeness and love of singing. Up until God allowed a different plan to unfold in my life, I grew and developed as the majority of children do. However, when I was 3 years old, I was bitten by a tick during a family vacation and contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. My condition was misdiagnosed, resulting in severe brain damage that robbed me of the ability to speak, walk, and use my hands. The doctor told my parents that I would recover within the year, but that hope proved false. After many years of physical and occupational therapy, I relearned how to walk and regained the use of my left hand.
My ability to speak has never returned. When I was 5 years old, my parents finally found out that the brain trauma I experienced had led to the development of Dystonia, a condition which causes muscles to tighten and the body to contort in different ways. Currently, there is no cure for Dystonia, though I have undergone numerous surgeries and procedures to alleviate some of the more painful and debilitating symptoms.
From age 3 to 7 I had to have help with everything: getting dressed, showering, going to the restroom, and eating. I don’t know how my mom managed. From age 8 to my early teenage years, I gradually learned to take care of all my personal care. As I’ve gotten older, accomplishing those seemingly simple tasks feels like running a marathon. Eating and drinking can also be tough at times. For example, on a good day I can eat lunch in 35 minutes, but on a bad day it takes 45 minutes or more.
I can only use my left hand to accomplish tasks. My left hand has 20 percent dexterity. My right arm can be useful at times when I have to carry certain things. From early on, I had to learn to communicate my needs by pointing to pictures first and have since transitioned to a computerized device that voices words for me. I am very thankful for the progress in technology in my lifetime. Imagine, typing everything you wanted to say with either your pointer finger or thumb. I’m thankful for the relationships I have in my life. The best way I communicate with people is by texting. Very thankful for “word predict” – don’t know how I lived without it for so long.
I hope when you get to know me you can look past my disability and see that I’m just like you. I love watching sports, going shopping, drinking coffee, but most importantly, I love God. I’m thankful my parents raised us to go to church. My dad or mom would pray with us every night before we went to bed. They taught us to always do our best in whatever we accomplished, whether it be a chore around the house, or writing a paper for school. My parents also taught me to focus on what I can do, and reminded me every so often, that there are others who live with more frustrating disabilities than I went through.
I honestly can’t live day by day without the Lord. When I’m weak, He is strong. When no one understands what I’m going through, I can talk to Him. He’s everything I’ll ever need and so much more. I’d like to share with you how God has given me this unexplainable peace and joy through my adversity.
The way I would like to portray Dystonia is like I’m trapped in a prison cell, and that prison cell is my body. Now I don’t want you feel sorry for me. No, because I’m a prisoner of Hope! God has been so good to me through this trial in life. I honestly do believe He has a purpose and He allowed this handicap in my life so He can get the glory and honor. When I think about being trapped inside a prison cell, I think about Paul and Silas. They sang in prison! (Acts 16:16-34) And it wasn’t, “Woe is me; I’m suffering for the Lord.” They were probably singing “Jesus Saves!” I don’t know what they were singing, but they were singing to the Lord through their trial. Paul went through adversity, didn’t he? He was beaten, whipped, put in prison, and was shipwrecked. After all that, God allowed him to have a thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what it was, but we do know that he prayed to God three times to take it away. And God told him, “My Grace is sufficient for thee.” I love how Paul responds in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
When I look at my life and all that I’ve been through, God has shown me that I can have pleasure in infirmities. Obviously, I have never been through anything like Paul has. None of us have. Another verse that’s an encouragement to me is 1 Corinthians 15:10. The first part says, “but by the grace of God I am what I am.” I have come to the point to where I can say, “by the Grace of God I am what I am.” It took me a long time to finally accept this handicap and realize that He has a plan for my life. At the end of that verse it says, “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Were it not for God’s grace, I would be lost! I thank God that He saved me 17 years ago at a kids’ Bible study. I haven’t been the same since He came into my life.
God has taught me many lessons through this handicap. When all my friends were getting their driver’s licenses and cars, I was dealing with the fact that I would probably never have a driver’s license or my own car. It took some time alone with God to understand there are more important things in life than driving a car. Like depending on God and trusting His plan for my life. Learning to be content in this area of my life, still to this day, is not easy. Especially when I saw my younger sisters get their licenses and cars and move on in their lives.
As a handicapped single adult, I have learned that God will provide for all I need and want if it is for His will. Whether it be a job or a desire of a mate. I won’t tell you the whole story, but God worked it out for me to have a job. I have my own business called, Silent Inspirations. I sell my paintings and notecards that have my art on them. I also have a blog that I write on once a month. I started this blog 5 years ago after I graduated from high school. I entitled it Abiding with Joy in Christ. I mainly write about different hymns and southern gospel songs that have encouraged me, along with scriptures that have spoken to my heart.
You may not have a handicap like me. Maybe your kids have started to go down a different path than you had planned. Some of you might be struggling in accepting where you are in life. Or you’re tired of how mundane your week can get as a mom. Or maybe you’re having financial trouble. I don’t know what particular trial or circumstance you are facing. But the scriptures say that God brings trials into our lives for a reason. We may not understand those reasons at the time, but God will give you the strength you need to overcome whatever is in your life.
Lastly, I’d like to share these four verses with you from Psalm 73:
“Whom have I in heaven but thee?
And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth:
but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish:
thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
But it is good for me to draw near to God:
I have put my trust in the Lord God,
that I may declare all thy works.” (vs 25-28)
These verses have been my proclamation for the past couple of years. It’s my desire to declare all the Lord has done in my life – I hope you this is your desire also.
*Read more thoughts and reflections from Abigail on her blog, where she encourages others to deepen their true, abiding joy in Christ!