Posts Tagged ‘disabilities’

Is there a distinction between who’s invited and who’s welcome?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

I was privileged to hear Bob Goff speak last Thursday, then Becky and I spent a couple of hours with him and about twenty people at breakfast the next morning. Over the next few days I’ll share some of the nuggets swirling in my brain.

Bob asked a great question at breakfast: We say everyone’s invited, but is everyone welcome?

I know exactly what he means. I’ve seen the irritated glances when I show up somewhere with a wheelchair. It’s an inconvenience. They have to move chairs, my service dog takes up extra space. I need a little extra help or some accommodation.

Of course I’m invited. But for some folks, it would be more convenient if I didn’t come.

I know how the homeless guy feels. The sign says “Y’ALL COME,” but it’s pretty clear you’re making people uncomfortable. Invited, but not really welcome.

In many places the “unwritten rules” might as well be proclaimed in flashing neon. If you don’t share particular political opinions or doctrinal conclusions, or you’re gay, or you ask the wrong questions, often there’s a pretty obvious don’t-ask-don’t-tell environment.

Maybe your kids are autistic and sometimes act out, or you have a developmental disability. Well, we’ll set up a separate program for you—even if that’s more for our convenience than anything else.

If Jesus is known for one thing, it’s that he hung out with folks who made others uncomfortable. He didn’t see them as projects. They weren’t problems to be solved or defective parts to be fixed. He welcomed them as friends.

Is there a distinction between who’s invited and who’s welcome?

Monday might be a good day to ask why.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

“I can do everything through Christ..” – Is That a Broken Promise?

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Can a promise mean something bigger than you imagined?

We watched the powerful movie SOUL SURFER, the true story of a young lady with two passions: God and surfing. Both are tested when a shark bites off her left arm.

As she’s recovering in her hospital room, her dad encourages her (and himself) with a familiar scripture:

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Later, as she begins to comprehend the reality of her injury and the adjustments it requires, she screams in frustration, “WHAT HAPPENED TO “I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH CHRIST’? WHERE’S THE STRENGTH HE PROMISED WHEN I NEED IT?”

It’s a fair question, one I imagine we’ve all asked at some point. She believed with all her heart that God would help her get her life back, but she couldn’t even put on a swim suit with one hand. How could she ever hope to surf again? What did everything matter without the one thing that mattered most?

What’s the meaning of the promise that “…I can do everything through Christ …”?

I don’t think God’s assuring me that I’ll be able to dunk a basketball from my wheelchair if I try really hard and really, really believe. I have a feeling that “everything” involves something bigger than the physical functions I’d like to perform.

As I read Philippians 4:13 in context, I see an assurance that Jesus will give me the strength to endure whatever I encounter. He’s not telling me I’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He’s promising that He’ll help me face and overcome any obstacle.

When I was injured, all I wanted was to walk again. I still want that.

God showed me that I don’t need to walk to have a purpose, to accomplish a big dream, perhaps even bring together a circle of folks that can change the world. He showed me that there are other ways to get where He wants me to go.

Does my inability to walk represent a broken promise because Jesus didn’t give me the strength to do “everything”?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Purpose: Why Do You Do What You Do?

Monday, February 11th, 2013

A reporter’s question prompts today’s word-of-the-week…
PURPOSE

The reporter asked, “Aside from feeling good about yourself, why do you do these rides?”

I thought about it later on route A1A. Am I doing all this so I can “feel good about myself”? Or maybe so others will feel better about me? Is this a big exercise in building Rich’s self-concept?

It’s a worthwhile question. It’s important to examine motives, to honestly ask why we do what we do. Behind all the fancy words, what’s the real purpose?

Personally, “feeling good about myself” wouldn’t be enough motivation to maintain this sort of effort. I need something bigger than “me” to keep me moving down the road.

I’m not sure I knew that when I started. Maybe at the beginning this was about scratching a personal itch. But I have a sense we’re wired for bigger stories.

I believe we were created for community, and especially to serve others in our communities. I believe we’re happiest, most satisfied and fulfilled, when we’re using our God-given skills and passions in service.

Perhaps the question of purpose is a good one for a Monday morning. I wonder if we always understand why we do what we do.

Maybe, if we honestly examined motives, we’d realize we need to do some different things.

Mostly, though, I suspect we’d find many of our actions have deeper purposes than we realize. Maybe articulating those underlying purposes would give us a renewed sense of energy and commitment.

I can’t crank 1000 miles, day after day, along lonely roads, just to make myself feel better about me. I can do it, gratefully and joyfully, to feed a few hungry kids and help some people believe in hope.

It’s really not about me.

Or you.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

A Brush With Fame

Friday, January 4th, 2013

How Donald Miller Changed My Life

Okay, that’s probably a little extreme.

I admire Don’s writing. He’s the writer I want to be when I grow up. My friends might question the “growing-up” part, but let’s not quibble over details.

Now, about the life-changing thing.

I don’t believe much in coincidences. When remarkable circumstances collide to create outrageous opportunity, I tend to believe God’s involved. I think He orchestrates something resembling a complex series of long-term, converging trajectories that don’t make much sense until they intersect. If we’re honest, we almost never see these moments coming. When we’re observant and open-minded and perhaps a bit lucky, we might notice when a convergence of circumstances creates a unique opportunity.

I don’t pretend to understand how this works, how God meshes His work with our choices and mistakes. I think it involves His answers to prayers, His ultimate plan for creation, and how He uses us in ways we’ll probably never comprehend. He’s patient and relentless, and He uses everything for good, working through the relationships and events of our everyday world. I’m pretty sure it’s more complex than I can imagine. That’s okay.

I’ve heard God chuckles when we tell Him our plans. If so, I suspect He laughs out loud when we claim to fully comprehend the details of His plans. It’s my job to do what I can, where I am, with what I have. I trust Him to fit the pieces together with love.

Anyway, I experienced a confluence of three events several months back. The first was the movie The Bucket List, a story of two old guys who survive cancer and realize they don’t have forever to realize their dreams. The second was my approaching 60th birthday, my personal reminder of a limited time frame in which to address a dream I’d been resisting for more than ten years.

Those two events, by themselves, wouldn’t have tipped the balance. That’s where Don Miller enters the equation.

Don wrote a book titled A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. He talked about analyzing his life as a story, realizing it wasn’t as interesting as it might be, and resolving to write a better story going forward.

The context for Million Miles was Don’s cross-country bike ride. As I read, I felt like he was personally challenging me. Remember that ten-year-old dream I referenced? For a decade I’d dreamed of doing…a cross-country bike ride.

But that’s just crazy, because guys in wheelchairs don’t do cross-country bike rides. After a quarter-century as a quadriplegic, I knew my limits. This dream was impossible—right?

And when I finished reading Million Miles, I told my wife it was time to stop making excuses and start writing a better story.

Don said an interesting story involves a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. And since we tend to avoid conflict, the story requires an inciting incident, an event that forces the character to change or move.

In story lingo, Don’s book was the final inciting incident in the story of RICH’S RIDE and our 1500-mile handcycle journey along the Mississippi River. Million Miles tipped the balance, forced me to confront the fear and the self-imposed limits. The dream’s invitation sat squarely before me, and I could no longer ignore it. I had to say Yes or No.

So, in a way, Don Miller did change my life.

Once I said Yes, a bunch of folks surrounded Becky and me (and Monte, my service dog) with support. That’s how God woorks, through relationships and other people. In eight weeks I cranked the entire Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota to New Orleans. We spoke to more than 4000 people about hope and dreams and God’s promises. Generous people along the route got the opportunity to donate nearly $60,000 to feed hungry kids through the worldwide feeding initiative of Convoy Of Hope.

The ride was about hope, a confident expectation that God keeps His promises. Hope allowed me to challenge what I “knew” was impossible. Hope allowed me to sit at the bottom of a hill I couldn’t climb…and then crank to the top. Quite literally, hope changes what’s possible.

It’s a better, more interesting story than “paralyzed guys can’t do stuff like this,” don’t you think? Here’s a video version:

I’ve learned one thing about good stories. Continued interest means seeking new opportunities and confronting new challenges. It also means finding new ways to share your story, because that’s the only reason for writing it in the first place.

So I wrote a book, creatively titled RICH’S RIDE: Hope Changes What’s Possible. The video you just watched allowed us to collaborate with Kristin Orphan and her Finally Home Foundation. FHF supports a broad spectrum of adoption services, helping orphans and their new forever families adapt successfully to challenging new circumstances. I hope you’ll visit their site, check out their CD, and support their important work.

On January 28th, we’ll kick off FLORIDA HOPE TOUR 2013, the latest chapter in this unlikely story. I’ll crank 1000 miles around the perimeter of Florida. We’ll speak to groups, hear some great stories about overcoming adversity, and offer the chance to support our great partners at Convoy Of Hope.

So that’s how Don Miller changed my life. Except, of course, he really didn’t.

I did. I changed my life, because I chose to stop believing in impossible and say Yes to the opportunity God presented to write a better story with the remaining years of my life. And the cool thing is—you have the same option.

If an old, bald, crippled guy can crank a handcycle the entire length of the Mississippi River, what can you do?

What’s the story you want to write live?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Fate, accident, chance–or SOVEREIGNTY?

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

“I form the light–and create darkness; I make peace–and create evil! I the LORD do all these things!” Isaiah 45:7

What a sad world this would be–were it governed by Fate! Were its blended lights and shadows, its joys and sorrows–the result of capricious accident–or blind and wayward chance! How blessed to think that each separate occurrence which befalls me–is the fulfillment of God’s own immutable purpose!

Is it the material world? It is He . . .
who “forms the light–and creates darkness;
who appoints the sun and moon for their seasons;
who gives to the sea its decree;
who watches the sparrow in its fall;
who tends the lily in the field; and
who paints the tiniest flower that blossoms in the meadow.

Is it the moral world? All events are predetermined and prearranged by Him! I make peace–and create evil!” Both prosperity and adversity are His appointment. The Lord who of old prepared Jonah’s shade-plant, also prepared the worm! He gives–and He takes away. He molds every tear! He “puts them into His bottle.” He knows them all, counts them all, treasures them all. Not one of them falls unbidden–unnoted.

“The lot is cast into the lap–but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” Over every occurrence in nature and in providence, He writes, “I the Lord do all these things!” True, His thoughts are often mysterious, and His ways are past finding out. We are led at times, amid the bewildering mazes of His providential dealings, to exclaim, “O Lord, how great are Your works, and Your thoughts are very deep!” Be it ours to defer our verdict–until their full development.

We cannot envision the thoughts and intents of the architect or engineer in the first clearing of the ground for the foundation of some gigantic structure. The uninitiated eye can discover nothing but piles of unshapely rubbish–a chaos of confusion. But gradually, as week by week passes–we see his thoughts molding themselves into visible and substantial shapes of order and beauty. And when the edifice at last stands before us complete, we discern that all which was mystery and confusion at first–was a necessary part and portion of the undertaking.

So is it, at present, regarding the mysterious dealings of God. Often, in vain, do we try to comprehend the purposes of the Almighty Architect, amid the dust and debris of the earthly foundations. Let us wait patiently, until we gaze on the finished structure of eternity.

Oh, blessed assurance–that the loom of our life is in the hands of the Great Designer–that it is He who is interweaving the threads of our existence: the light–and the dark, the acknowledged good–and the apparent evil. The chain of what is erroneously called “destiny,” is in His keeping. He knows its every connecting link–He has forged each one on His own anvil!

Man’s purposes have failed, and are ever liable to fail–his brightest anticipations may be thwarted; his best-laid schemes may be frustrated.

Life is often a retrospect of crushed hopes–the bright rainbow-hues of morning, passing in its afternoon into damp mist and drizzling rain. “Many are the thoughts in a man’s heart,” (knowing no fulfillment nor fruition) “but the counsel of the Lord–that shall stand.” “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse My actions!”

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!” Revelation 19:6


John MacDuff, “The Thoughts of God”

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Is A Chapter Opening Or Closing?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Today’s one of those days that helps me see there’s something bigger going on.

Sometime this afternoon some books will arrive. I’ll get to see, for the first time, actual physical copies of the new book. For me, that’s a big deal, but it’s not an isolated event.

Thirteen years ago it took me nearly thirty minutes to complete my first two-block handcycle ride. Three years ago I went public with my dream of a cross-country ride. A year ago we did the 1500-mile Mississippi River trip. Last January I started writing the story of that ride.

Today, a book appears.

You don’t make up that sort of story, and I don’t think you plan it, either. It’s the result of a long series of apparently independent, isolated, unrelated choices. Somehow they not independent, isolated, or unrelated.

We could have a long debate about the theology, about exactly how and how much God guides a process like this. I’m not sure there much point in such a debate.

Here’s what I’m sure about: when I follow Jesus, amazing things happen. When I decide to stop believing in impossible, when faith trumps fear, when I choose hope, my life tells a better story. I don’t know how it works, but it does.

I’m excited to get the book, to see what happens as people read it. I trust God will use it for good, as He always does.

I hope you’ll help me share this story by ordering a book and telling others about it. If you’re in the Fort Collins area, I hope you’ll stop by and say howdy at our book launch event (details are here) this weekend.

You’re an important part of how this all came together. None of it could have happened without the love and support of the people in the circle around this blog (that’s you!). I sincerely believe God used you to help get those books to my door today.

Thank you.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

What Burden Would You Cast Off?

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Our small group has been working through Mark’s Gospel, verse by verse, for several months. I keep learning how much I miss in apparently familiar stories.

This week we looked at the story in which Jesus heals a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. I’ve read and heard this text many times and never noticed four words that might just be the heart of the whole interaction.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:46-52

“Throwing his cloak aside…”

A man’s cloak was an important garment. It was heavy to protect against late night and early morning chills. It would have probably been comparatively expensive. As a blind man, and a beggar, Bartimaeus would have valued and likely kept his cloak close. Casting it aside in the midst of a crowd of strangers was a huge act of…what?

Bartimaeus wanted to get to Jesus. He wanted that more than anything. He wanted to get to Jesus so badly that he was willing to cast off anything that got in his way.

He was almost the opposite of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. (Mark 10:46-52) Jesus told him, and he walked away because the sacrifice seemed too great.

Bartimaeus didn’t wait to be told. He took the risk, tossed away what he valued most, and came to Jesus. Symbolically, he cast aside his old identity for the opportunity to follow Jesus.

Bartimaeus didn’t ask about minimum entrance standards. Once he knew Jesus was there, he was all in.

I keep picturing myself sitting beside a road, and suddenly Jesus walks by.

I can’t help wondering what I’d be willing to toss aside–and what I wouldn’t–for the opportunity to go with Him.

How about you?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

A Quarter Century…God has brought incredible good out of a senseless accident

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

…is a long time.

I can remember when a quarter-century was my whole life, then most of my life. Now it’s less than half my life, but it’s still a long time.

A quarter-century ago today, lots of things were different for me. I still had hair, for example. And I could walk. Tomorrow’s the twenty-five year anniversary of the day a whole bunch of things changed.

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, on December 5, 1987, I didn’t suddenly lose my hair. That happened a little more gradually. But I got out of bed that morning and walked down a set of stairs for the final time. By the time I fell asleep that night, if you can call it sleep, I was permanently paralyzed below my chest.

I refuse to minimize or romanticize my injury. I don’t like sitting in a wheelchair any more now than I did a quarter-century ago. It’s frustrating and difficult and painful.

But God’s been faithful and relentless in the grace He’s demonstrated. I can testify to the truth of Romans 8:28. God has brought incredible good out of a senseless accident, and for that I’m grateful.

I’ve been asked often if, knowing the outcome, I’d trade the experience of the injury. My answer is an unqualified YES, because I believe God would also have brought good from an injury-free life. I’ve learned that life’s truly determined, not by circumstances, but by how we choose to respond to them.

So I’m grateful, not for injury or non-injury, but for Jesus’ love and presence in all situations.

I’m also grateful that doctors aren’t always right. A few weeks after the injury, as reality settled around me, I asked the neurosurgeon about life expectancy for someone with this type of injury.

“Well,” he said, “you’ll most likely make it past forty, (I was thirty-six at the time) but I wouldn’t count on getting to fifty.” Neurosurgeons are known for their sensitive bedside manner.

He’s retired now. Maybe I should give him a call and see if he’d like to ride his bike a thousand miles around Florida with me on Florida Hope Tour 2013.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Differences: a hurtful illusion

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Do you notice how invested our culture is in highlighting our differences?

Of course it’s election season, so we’re buried in ads promoting difference. But I think the election rhetoric only ramps up what’s become our “normal” environment. We’re literally inundated with messages assuring us “we” are different from “them.”

I believe most of this notion we hold about our differences is a hurtful illusion. I believe the messages are dangerous lies.

Media and politics are the most obvious investors in the illusion of differences. They need us to believe THIS agenda, person, country, ideology, perspective, or approach is different—and superior. The stakes? Power, control, and huge sums of money.

This insidious lie spreads to every corner of life. Those folks are different because of what they wear or the language they speak. That group is different because they’re disabled. They’re different because they choose an unfamiliar lifestyle.

Then it leaks into even the smallest places. The people in the church down the street are different because their music is odd, or they don’t say the same prayers, or some theologian four hundred years ago disagreed with another theologian so they formed competing denominations.

I believe our Enemy delights whenever we focus on what divides us. I believe he loves it when we seize upon opportunities to separate ourselves from others. I think he dances with joy every time we put ourselves in a little group and pretend we’re somehow different than those others.

Dividing us is the Enemy’s desire. He doesn’t want us to remember God created us for community, that what divides us is inconsequential compared to what unites us.

We all ride the same road. We don’t have to ride it the same way, but if we ride it together we have a much better chance of getting where we need to go.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

A Bigger Picture (on being Disabled)

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Ever forget you’re not the center of the universe?

My discussion with a spinal injury support group left me pondering the whole notion of An Able-Bodied World.

The audience was folks who are relatively new at figuring out how to navigate life with some level of paralysis—and their spouses.

Becky pointed out afterward that the people in wheelchairs aren’t the only ones caught between a culture created for a narrow range of abilities and the reality of life outside that range. Spouses, family, and friends also struggle with trying to know how to adapt. They weren’t physically injured, but their lives are profoundly altered.

I know that, of course, but I’ll admit that I usually think of my injury in terms of myself and the adjustments I have to make. I’m “the little blue guy” on the handicapped signs, the one who needs the special parking spaces.

I tend not to think as often of how those around me live an altered life as well.

Becky needs those parking spots as well, when she’s with me. She has to look for ramps and accessible entries, avoid buildings with steps, skip certain events. To some degree, she has to traverse a landscape that mostly wasn’t designed for us.

I obviously struggle at times to make my way in what’s often a world that caters to able-bodied people. I forget that Becky lives in a world that caters to people with able-bodied spouses. I fear I’m too often oblivious to the reality that everyone who cares about me is caught to some degree between the able-bodied world and the reality of relating to one who doesn’t quite fit.

I’ll put that down under the heading of myopic and self-centered. No matter how often I remind myself, I can’t seem to internalize the truth that IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!

But perhaps there’s a larger lesson beyond my personal tunnel vision. Maybe we can learn to see a bigger picture of adversity.

When someone encounters significant adversity, life changes. Like it or not, that person is caught between the life they knew and the life they must come to know.

And so are those who care about that person. Things have changed, adjustments must be made. I wonder how often we minimize those challenges.

I wonder:

  • Do I really listen, or simply assume I understand?
  • Do I marginalize or minimize their circumstances?
  • Do I work as hard to include those in the support system as I do the obvious “victim”?

Your thoughts?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com