Friday, February 13, 2009

My Friends

I wanted to introduce you to some friends. Please understand that this not to illicit pity, I just wanted to share with you their stories and let you know that I think they are amazing. The one common denominator is that all of them serve and love the Lord.

Janet is retired, she and her daughter Rachel, live by themselves. Rachel's father walked on them years ago, so Janet is taking care of Rachel by herself. Rachel is physically, emotionally and behaviorally disabled. She can walk, eat and dress herself with assistance, but is quite frustrated all the time. She challenges everything her mother asks her do, including getting up and getting ready in the mornings to go to the sheltered workshop that she attends. It takes Janet 2 and 1/2 hours every morning to get Rachel out the door and Rachel can be angry about something for three to four days at a time. Janet has also helped to raise a granddaughter who is now attending college, because her mother took her own life (Janet's daughter). Janet is extremely independent and doesn't like to ask for help. She also never gets time away from Rachel, it is very hard to find someone who would be willing to stay with her.

Nancy and Bob have two children, one who is now going to college and Jimmy. Jimmy is severely/profoundly disabled. He is non verbal, in a wheelchair and needs assistance with everything. He could not survive without someone taking care of him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Bob is on disability himself and Nancy works to provide for the family. Bob is getting much older and was starting to struggle lifting Jimmy in and out of his wheelchair. Nancy has had three surgeries, her shoulder, elbow and knee. Her body is wearing out, even though she is only in her late forties. Nancy and Bob finally had to make the decision to put Jimmy in a group home and after two years of searching, they found one across the country. There son is now a 14 hour drive away from them and they are heart broken. In the mean time, they have had to put their home up for sale because every dime they make goes to traveling to see Jimmy, Jimmy's group home and college tuition.

Michelle started a special needs class in her church. She also interprets for the deaf. Michelle and her husband have two teenage boys, one is autistic and non verbal. Michelle is the most compassionate, kind, gentle person I have met and she has such a passion for people who are disabled in anyway. I was talking with Michelle this week and she was sharing about how she had to leave a women's Bible study because the women would ask for prayer for things that she would love to have her son do, such as, staying out past curfew, dating the wrong girl, sassing back. Michelle's prayer requests were different and the women didn't understand, such as her son not responding to the sensory integration therapy. It was too hard.

Lois and Missy live in a mobile home together. Lois is going to be 70 this year and Missy, her daughter, is in her mid forty's. Lois is going blind and recently had some major surgery on her foot which required her to be in wheelchair for several months. Missy has cerebral palsy but is able to walk and take care of herself. She is also legally blind and a little delayed in her development, but helps out her mom immensely. The two of them do very well together. Missy's father left them years ago and now they survive on Social Security. Neither one of them drive and have to walk or take a bus whenever they go out. This is getting harder because of Lois' sight and walking ability. Lois is so worried that if something happens to her, how would Missy care for herself. Who would be there for her?

My friend Lindsey is brilliant! She has several undergrad degrees and is working on a duel Master degree at the moment. Her gift and desire is to counsel people, to help them through difficult times, to be a listening ear. She has had a very hard time finding internships. Churches don't take her seriously. You see, she has cerebral palsy and her body is twisted. She walks with crutches, but even that is getting very hard to do. She is extremely proud and independent, has worked hard all her life and has not been on government assistance. But she cannot get a job and she is discriminated against. She is not doing well financially and I fear she isn't eating so she can make ends meet. Lindsey was married at one time, but the man she married was lazy, cruel and took her money. Need less to say, it didn't work out. Lindsey doesn't want to be a church project, she just wants people to see her, not her disability, be her friend and respect her.

I wanted to take a moment and share these amazing people's stories. Everyone of them have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They love Him and trust Him with their lives and the lives of their children. I hope that their stories will help you understand families that are affected with disabilities and encourage you to reach out and befriend someone who needs a friend.


Letters From Midlife said...

It is hard to read about the challenges others face but I so appreciate that you have shared the side most of us don't see. These are stories we all need to hear. You have reminded me that these are real people with real feelings and lives, not just random people with a "disabled" label.

I know a little of the struggle because of Cate's dyslexia but I know that is so minor compared to what these friends deal with on a daily basis.

Gina said...

Cindy, no disability is minor!!! When our children struggle, it hurts and we want to make it better. Dyslexia is very hard to deal with, I will continue to pray for her and you.

Dee said...

Gina, This is a powerful post. I hope others take time to read it. Wow! If only people would look past the outside to see the people on the inside as Jesus does and take time to listen and visit with the care givers and offer what help they can know matter how small it may seem. They are not invisible- people just don't want to see them. I guess it is fear!

Donna's Book Nook said...

Gina--Thank you for providing a window into the lives of these friends. We just need to be more aware and sensitive to those around us who are dealing with disabilities.

Cindy--I agree no disability is minor to the person who is dealing with it.

I have had a little experience with this as well, with my son who is bi-polar/paranoid scizaphrenia. But like Cindy, it seems small compared to what some of these families are dealing with.

Kim... and Her Coffee said...

Thank you for sharing these stories. My mother has Multiple Sclerosis..... and until someone is effected personally, it's hard to imagine what impact it has on so many lives.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Kelly said...

Gina, I have thought about this post for several days...and how it makes me want to stop and be more aware of people around me no matter what kind of disablity they have..I know when I was having back problems last month and was so stiff and sore, it meant a lot for someone to be compassionate and that's just over a backache! The friends you wrote about all sound very lovely and you have made me want to pay attention and think more about what's on the inside of people rather than the outside..thank you!