God-Owned Disability

Right or wrong, imagined or reality, my entire life I’ve assumed God won’t come through for me in the little things.

I mean come on. Think about it:

“Your daughter has Cerebral Palsy.” Most people have no idea.

“We have no foolproof guarantee you’ll survive these brain surgeries.” I’m fairly certain I’m alive right now.

“We have no idea how much cognitive ability you’ll have post-recovery.” Very few people know I struggle mentally on a daily basis.

“You’ll never get through education.” 75% of my life right now is my SECOND year of college.

Why would God do something simple like… saving and reconciling a relationship or coming through financially for a college career I’m still struggling to believe I’ll live long enough to use?
He’s done more miraculous stuff in my one life than I should ever be allowed to claim. Why? Why should I look at the simplistic fear in my heart and assume He can do yet another miracle?

Yesterday, I was given information that made my blood run cold with fear. Financially, as of 9 o’clock, I wasn’t being given permission to add more classes to my agenda. I know my bank account. There was nothing I could give towards my education. Nothing.
Instead of praying in faith, I literally grumbled, “Okay God, I won’t add more classes, but seriously? I don’t even have money to go back to Alaska. Where else can I go? This is crazy. Did you call me to this or not?”

I laughed that morning. Not because I was thrilled to have my career as a student threatened, but because I didn’t dare let people see me cry. Once again, I felt my heart doing the math. God had come through so far… apparently, I’d used up my gracious gift meter? … I hate being an adult.

Around noon I got an email from a faculty member of the college that was expected to be just another automated “You owe $________, you have_____ days to pay. You cannot go any further” email. I debated deleting it simply to delay the inevitable (this is where my childishness is still very real). I’m blessed because I opened the email anyway.

This precious person had heard my story and decided to go above and beyond to make sure I was provided for. They said it was because they had always admired my deep faith in God and so they decided to do the leg work for me because they, “thought (I) needed the blessing.”

I laughed harder after I read the email, but I actually cried then, too. This person saw faith in me that was otherwise completely nonexistent. The Holy irony of their words was not lost on me. I heard my God whisper to my heart,

“I may still be using your years of hardship to bring Me glory, but I’m not done with you yet. Your disabilities aren’t your story. They’re Mine. Trust Me.

Physically Distracted Spiritual War

One more seizure. And then another. And another.

None of them nearly as bad as what I’d learned to expect, but still.. three muscle-clenching seizures that close together will always be enough to make me ask questions.

Too much coffee? … It’s 6am, I’m in bed, so.. no.

Too much sleep? … I wish.

Too little sleep? … Hallelujah, no.

Too much stress? … Define stress.

This morning as I watched my heart rate reach to at least 115 for the fifth minute, I finally broke through a new level of understanding.

It’s a physical issue but a spiritual battle.

For the first time in too long during a seizure, instead of asking for release from pain, I asked protection. I claimed Christ and Him crucified. I confessed sin I knew I wasn’t really freed from. … I watched my heart rate slow, my muscles found relief, and I was able to sit up in bed and start my day.

I can’t remember when I found enough difference in certain seizures to stop feeling as if my epileptic seizures were epileptic seizures. But I have. I can tell when it’s “just a seizure” and I need someone to hold my hand so I have something to identify. And I can tell when that seizure is quite simply one of the only things that can distract me from time with Christ or anything He’s called me to accomplish.

My prayers change, my attitude of fear dissipates and my approach to the episode literally becomes a challenge. Do I believe Christ can get me through this and can I then pick up where I left off spiritually before the seizure? Can I go deeper with my time with God after the episode or will I stay distracted?

All the sudden, I’m not afraid of what my body will do to kill me slowly- either mentally or physically.

I’m just down right curious what God has in store for my life. The Enemy feels as if one of the largest ways he can stop my pursuit of God is by making me scared of my medical journey. Why?

The Enemy knows my seizures scare me now. Fear freezes my heart, mind and spirit until I think I’m “back to normal”.

God called me to Battle this morning.

Physically Fragile, Divinely Protected

“You’re really fragile right now, Cassie. Seriously, I know you feel strong, but the only thing strong about you is your heart and attitude. I’m not kidding…”

If anyone knows what it’s like to get a tongue lashing from a neurologist, I feel your pain. Although the appointment was weeks ago, I can still hear the doctor telling me what I don’t want to hear.

I’m fragile.

I hit my head several weeks ago, and the resulting wound ended in a CT scan and the nerve wracking four day wait to see if I had inadvertently jarred my epilepsy into action. Epileptics and head wounds are a toxic combination. Though by the power of God the test results came back clean, I was reminded once again of that ugly, deprecating truth.

I’m fragile.

Yesterday, God woke me up to that reality, and somehow, I walked away with a smile on my face and a pained giggle on my lips. I may be incredibly fragile, but God apparently wants me alive. Keeping me alive is not an easy task; or so I’ve learned in the last two months.

Although Epilepsy is the disorder that makes me “fragile”, every once in a while, my Cerebral Palsy has to make a guest appearance. It’s as if that little blessing is set on a timer. When the timer goes off, my cerebral palsy gets three minutes to scare the livin’ crud out of me and remind me it is the other disability that exists in my ever-adventurous body. Isn’t that just sweet?!

Randomly, Cerebral Palsy can cramp a person’s muscles to the point it feels as if that leg, arm, or hand can no longer work. For me, it’s always my legs. Yesterday, that temporary muscle deficiency happened at the top of a flight of stairs. I proceeded to roll down 12 stairs hard and fast.

My head didn’t get hit once.

My body at this point and time looks like I got thrown off a cliff. But my head wasn’t touched. Actually, I wasn’t bleeding at all.

I may be fragile. I may make doctors nervous (I know I do). But for whatever reason, God protects the fragile ones He’s created.

Knowing that makes the bruises worth it.

When Death Won’t Come

Death is an evasive award in my book. No… I’m not suicidal. Far from it, actually. I cling to life, just not the life most humans want me to cling to.

The new buzz-phrase on social media is “Medically Assisted Death”. Brittany Maynard is instantly famous because she’s brave enough to say that she wants to choose when she dies rather than watch her disease rape her body of everything she has. It’s brave. It’s intimate. It’s real. It’s spot on.

Honey, it’s so incredibly wrong.

Though my disorders (that often times feel like diseases) have never been guaranteed a life-stealer, they have threatened my life.

Though my disorders have never been guaranteed to only give me six months, I learned a decade ago that you can be entirely dead while still breathing. Disorders do that to you. Diseases rob you. When you’re that scared, your last desire is to be healed. There’s a point where you just want to die because the pain is too much. The idea that the healing is temporary and you may live through the pain again just in another fashion is mind-numbing.

Death is an evasive award.

I was brought up to believe that suicide was wrong. Therefore, I got really good at convincing myself God would bless it if a doctor “accidentally” helped me die. I spent a night in the hospital before my brain surgeries trying to figure out the best, most convincing way to persuade my doctor to tap too much morphine or even pull the plug entirely.

I never got my plan to sound spiritual enough. Even at 16, my only hang up was the fact I knew my medical team knew I was a missionary kid. If there weren’t enough John 3:16s in my excuse, I felt like a hypocrite. So, long story short, I cried my way through my last night in the hospital and finally ended up with the prayer that I’d learn to live one more day till God decided I’d done enough.

I can’t tell you how many times those pleas have entered my prayers; even now, when life is amazingly full. You pray differently when doctors constantly have a finger on your pulse and the words, “I advise you not to do that because you’re too fragile”. Out of exasperation, my prayers often start with: “Can today be my last, Abba(Father God)? Please?

When Brittany’s legal proceedings first hit the media, I was so jealous it made me sick. Why does she get to die? Why does she get the easy road out and I’m left here to…. Yeah, I’m just left here. To be honest, simply because as a Christian, death means life, every funeral I go to breaks me a little more. To be able to choose the day I die would be amazing. I’ve waited long enough. Would yesterday be too soon?

I’m not suicidal. I just want my real life.

The other day, I mumbled a conversation with the Lord that basically made me sound like a five year old throwing a tantrum. Every other word was “why?”… every three words had something to do with the sovereignty of the God I serve that somehow glorifies himself through my journey of living in pain and medical unknowns.

What hit me was when God reminded me that when He called me to himself 22 years ago, He didn’t call me to a life of ease. He called me to pick up my “cross” and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24)

For me, for whatever reason, that “Cross” has been to learn how to live in pain while still searching for Him and loving those He puts in my path. He never once said that I needed to “pick up (my) cross, follow (Him) and then decide when to quit so life can be abundant; physically at the feet of Jesus whenever I felt it worked for my schedule.

I’m not dying any time soon. I remember the days when I was shocked that I woke up. However, if my ability to live normally ceases to exist, so be it. I may end up suffering to the point of wasting away in a hospital bed. But the day I die is not up to me. Who knows who needs to see me die in order to finally face the God they’ve been ignoring? What if… what if I had the option of just “slipping away” and they never had that chance?

Death is an evasive award… but it is not up to me to determine when my Lord gives it to me.

The God-like Idol

Don’t worship the journey, worship the Journey-Maker.

As a Christian, I’ve found myself, many times, making an idol out of the presumed journey God sets before me.

At one time, the journey I worshipped was the idea of making it to 18. I worshipped the idea of a God who would be benevolent enough to get me there. To be honest, I worshipped the idea of being strong enough to get to 18 more than I worshipped the God who gave my humanly uncertain life a purpose worthy of living.

Now that health can be either ignored or forgotten, I find myself worshipping the idea that God is making me into something. I’m at College. I work in communications. I love Jesus. In three years, I’ll be somebody because I’ll hold a piece of paper in my hands telling others I have worth. It’s been a journey. It’ll continue to be a journey.

While spending talking it out with God the other day, I heard him ask, “If I change your journey, If all you have left is the assurance that I am with you… will you still believe I’m shaping you?”

Out of complete confusion, I gave him all the Christian answers–
* God I believe in your sovereignty
* God I know you love me
* God I surrender all… or at least I want to surrender all
Meanwhile, I was silently muttering What in the world do you want from me?!

I could almost hear God chuckle as He asked, “What is more important? Becoming more like Me or having a journey you can find identity in?”

Only then did I understand God’s question. Do I believe my journey is my identity?

Am I willing to acknowledge my pursuits in a college education, journalism and ministry as Godly things while not making them into my God-like idol?

Harriet Potter and Humility

Just call me Harriet Potter. Or Air-headed Annie…

The only thing I lost during my brain surgery years was the majority of my sight in my right eye. There are days where I suspect the blindness is slowly getting worse. If I had only known how much insanity that “oops” on the operating table would bring through the last decade, I may have reconsidered my nonchalant attitude about it all.

I now have a one inch scar in the middle of my forehead. People have tried to give reasons that sound heroic.. or at least understandable. I wish I had some kind of Wonder-woman reason behind this scar that dubbed me Harriet Potter by those who dare. I wish.

But no. I got my scar because 3 weeks ago, I ran into a sign that was maybe two inches taller than I am and it cut my forehead. Yep. You read that right. I. Ran. Into. A. Sign. I have a brain. I left it somewhere.

But here’s the thing, I didn’t see it! Promise. Not kidding. Had no idea there was an inanimate object awaiting me for torture. None.

I’m trying to decide what was worse; not seeing the sign in the first place or not having enough feeling in my body to know I had cut my forehead. My head was bleeding like a death wound. This is why people don’t call me graceful when they’re trying to be nice. Sweet. Fun. Cool. Those words are acceptable. Graceful is just too much of a lie.

I’ve never had to really think about the dangers behind going blind before. I know for a fact people are learning how to Cassie-proof my surroundings simply because they don’t want to witness another anticlimactic “She’s an odd one” moment.

This is my life. I am an adult, but my insanity is taking over. Oh well, Honey. Laugh anyway. (The laughter may or may not convince your audience that your insanity is not permanent.)