Living life beyond Cerebral Palsy for God's glory.

Archive for the ‘Devotions’ Category

Mother’s Day

For Mother’s day I thought I should re-post this.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NLT).

We met when she was 21. She was an ordinary person, but her warm smile would warm up the coldest day. She loved chocolate, ice cream, black coffee, and making things with her hands. She always made time to listen or help others. She knew nothing about Cerebral Palsy, but she was willing to learn. She pushed me to work hard, but at the same time, she accepted my limitations and loved me for who I was.  When the world told me I could not succeed, she told me to try.

This person is my mother. She looked after me every day for the first 25 years of my life: getting me up and dressed every morning, bathing me, feeding me, getting me ready for bed. She could not call in sick. The doctors told her to give me up and put me in an institution, but she did not.

In 2012 Mom went through a different battle. She had ovarian cancer. Mom went through surgery and chemo. This May she has been done chemo for five years. It has not been an easy five years. She has lived through much pain and the chemo has given her many other issues to deal with.

I want to thank Mom for her dedication to Jesus, her husband, her children, grandchildren, and life.

Thanks, Mom, I love you, you’re the best!

Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” (Proverbs 31:28-29 NLT)

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Jay

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”

(Psalm 90:12 ESV)

 

JAY

            It was September 1977 and life was exciting and scary all at the same time. I was in my first year of high school, I received my first power wheelchair, and our family had started going to a new church.

I started going to youth group at church. It was a fun time to be meeting others my age, but it was a bit intimidating being the only one in a wheelchair. Some people would not talk to me, afraid of the unknown. There were some people who looked beyond my wheelchair and got to know me as a person. One of those people was Jay.

Jay was a good friend. He saw me as a person, not a wheelchair. If there was an event going on he would take me and he would pop my chair in his car after lifting me in. I never felt like a burden for him. Even in high school, Jay put Jesus first in his life. He had a part-time job at our church as a custodian, and one Saturday evening after youth group, a few of us were waiting for Jay to drive us home after he closed up the church. He bounded down the stairs to tell us he was almost done. He wanted to check the baptistery tank, as there were some baptisms Sunday morning. Five minutes later he was sloshing down the steps, wet from the knees down. He started to explain: “It looked so clear I didn’t think there was any water in it.” We all laughed as we got in his car to be driven home by a wet driver.

Jay went on to be a teacher. He married and had three children. Life was busy as we went different directions, but in January 2015 Jay emailed me to see if I would speak at his church for their Father/Daughter banquet. On May 8 Katie drove me to Hamilton to speak at this event. That evening I watched as Jay helped set up, organize, and run the event, I realized he was still very dedicated to his Saviour Jesus. You could see it in his face and hear it in his voice. It was an honour to be a guest speaker at this banquet. I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with his beautiful and only daughter.

December 2, 2015, on Jay’s way home from teaching, he was hit by a car and killed. I know Jay is in heaven with Jesus, not because he was good but because he knew Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

You can know Jesus too. He died for you many years ago on Good Friday. Seek Him while you have life and breath.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

 

Christmas Greetings from Steph Beth Nickel

 

Graphic for Deb's Blog

When Deb asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I said, “Sure!” And then I sat down to write. “Shall I give step-by-step insight into the writing process?” “Shall I make a list of some of the lessons I’ve learned since first meeting Deb?” Or . . . “Shall I share the story of a family who, long ago, also lived beyond their circumstances?”
Here is my poem “’Twas the Day Before Christmas,” based on Clement Clarke Moore’s classic.

’Twas the day before Christmas and all through the land,
The people were traveling, some hand in hand,
No stockings were hung, no chimneys in sight,
Just walking – keep walking – until it is night.

Some people were nestled all snug in their beds
While others had nowhere to lay down their heads,
And Mary was slowly plodding along,
Not knowing the angels were prepping a song.

Then up ahead they saw the bright lights,
The small town of Bethlehem coming in sight,
“Ah, now at last, a place we can rest,
“Perhaps they have room at the inn for a guest.”

But, no, the inn’s full; the owner is sad,
He knows Mary’s tired; he feels really bad,
But he offers a stable and freshly strewn hay,
“I hope it’s enough” is all he could say.

The smiles on their faces touched the man’s heart,
Surely he wanted to do a small part
To make the babe welcome whose coming was near,
The baby whose coming would drive away fear.

Now Mary and Joseph, their Sweet Baby Boy
Whose coming would bring oh so much joy,
A tiny young fam’ly on top of the world,
Such glory and wonder around them was curled!

And out in the pasture, where shepherds kept sheep,
Talking and working, not falling asleep,
A strange thing did happen; they trembled in fear,
A voice from the heavens boomed very near.

It was an angel sent from above,
To speak of God’s glory, to speak of His love,
To send them to town, away from their lambs,
“Leave behind ewes and leave behind rams.

“For something most wondrous has happened this night,
“Go now to Bethlehem; do what is right,
“The Promise of Ages has come now to you,
“The Saviour, Messiah, is born; it is true.

“He’s dressed not in splendour or a king’s royal cloth,
“He’s just wrapped in swaddling, and that is enough,
“But go now and worship your Lamb and your King,
“And as you will journey, all heaven will sing.”

Their eyes how they twinkled and glistened with tears,
For the One that they spoke of had been promised for years,
And now they would see Him and give Him their praise,
This surely would prove the most glorious of days.

Their staffs they would carry, gripped firm in their hand,
The best gift of all had come to their land,
And they got to see Him, simple shepherds no less,
They saw the new Saviour; they were so blessed.

Maybe chubby and plump, snuggled in hay,
Wonder of wonders, what a great day!
The shepherds were awestruck, the babe’s family too,
The Promise of Heaven had that night come true.

He spoke not a word but went straight to their hearts,
His work lay before Him; this was the start,
He’d come down from heaven, left angels behind,
Entrusted to shepherds, this message we find.

They sprang from their knees, went out from that place,
Sharing the news of God’s goodness and grace,
We hear them exclaim to this very day,
“The Saviour has come; now walk in His way.”

2015 Headshot 2 (small)

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor and was honoured to co-author Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. This fall they met to discuss ideas for Deb’s second book, tentatively titled Still Living Beyond My Circumstances. Steph looks forward to this next phase of the adventure. Photo Credit: Stephen G. Woo

Fifty Six Years

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV).

Wedding Day 1959

Wedding Day 1959

Today we celebrate my mom and dad as they have been married for 56 years. In today’s world, this is a big accomplishment.

 

Fifty-six years ago they were young, nervous, happy, and in love. They had no idea where this journey would take them, but they made the commitment to put God first in their marriage. They have lived in three homes, raised four children, opened their home to other children in need, always had a dog or two, built cottages, and expanded their home, taught, traveled, and lived through a kidney transplant, diabetes and cancer.

 

They enjoy being retired, spending their winters in the south, watching their ten grandchildren grow up, helping at church, and renting their cottages in the summers. Life is still full of ups and downs, health issues, and just plain aging concerns, but they keep going, being there for each other and their family.

 

I want to thank you, Mom and Dad, for your commitment to God, each other, and your family.

June 2015

June 2015

We love you.

The Word Guild Award

Paralympian Deb Willows and her coauthor, Steph Beth Nickel, are thrilled to announce that Living Beyond My Circumstances, available from Castle Quay Books and other suppliers, has won after being shortlisted in The Word Awards 2014 Life Stories category. Though born with cerebral palsy and faced with numerous challenges over the years, Deb has had many dreams come true, the nomination and subsequent win of her memoir being the most recent. She and Steph are honoured and overjoyed.

book award

Winners in each category were from across Canada and recognized on Saturday, June 13, 2015, at The Word Awards Gala held at the Novotel Hotel in Toronto, ON. If you would like to see the complete list of winners, please check out The Word Guild website

 

Deb is available to speak in schools, churches, and other venues. If you are interested, please contact her at contact-Deb@bell.net

 

Steph is a freelance editor and writer and a regular contributor to HopeStreamRadio She is also available to speak and teach. You can contact her at stephbethnickel@gmail.com

 

Deb and Steph trust that this honour will open even more doors for them to point others to the Lord Jesus, the Source of their hope, strength, and salvation.

 

Living Beyond My Circumstances is for anyone who is facing life’s challenges and desires to “go for the gold.”

 

As Deb said in her speech on June 13th,

“This book and award is dedicated to Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Lord. Without Him, my life and this book would be meaningless.

I would like to thank Steph helped put my ideas into words, my parents who have encouraged me to live life and to Larry & Marina for getting this story published.”

For His Glory.

Steph, Larry & Marnia with Deb

Steph, Larry & Marnia with Deb.

Deciding to do Nothing

“Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Matthew 22:21 ESV).

 

Sometimes by not choosing we have made a decision.

This time of year I do tax returns for many friends and family members. Most bring me their pile of receipts hoping for a refund. If I have done their return before, I gave some tips for the following year. No one likes to pay taxes. I usually suggest they get more tax taken off and make some donations so they can receive a receipt as this will help lower what they need to pay. You have to pay someone, so make it a charity of your choice or pay our government. Some take my recommendations, but more often others do not. They have many excuses: I did not have time; I did not have enough money; I could not decide what to do. There are endless justifications.

This year is no different. I have to break the news that they do not want to hear: “You owe the government money.” Those who did what I recommended have a better return. Why do we think if we ignore the problem it will go away? Dealing with your income and taxes is important to keep in check, but it is not a life or death choice.

There is another issue that people like to just disregard: the decision of what to do with Jesus. Good Friday is set aside for us who believe in Jesus to remember the ultimate price He paid for our sin. Jesus died a very public, humiliating death. He was nailed to a cross for all to see. You ask why would I care if you do not know Jesus as your friend and saviour? Jesus died for you and me. You see, we are sinners and He was not. He died so people like you and I could be saved from eternal torment. If He was willing to die for us, then people like you need to know.

 

Take time this Easter weekend to read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in the book of John in the Bible and take time to decide what you will do with Jesus. This is one decision that will make or break your eternal destiny.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 ESV).

 

 

 

Do you see what I see?

This is the account of the first Christmas: God gave His Son Jesus, the greatest gift of all, to mankind.

 

We read in Luke 2:1-7 …

 

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”ESV

 

 

Christmas is a special time. It is mixed with emotions from excitement to depression and everything in between. We get wrapped up in gift giving and receiving, trying to find the perfect gift—but the perfect gift has already been given. The real meaning of Christmas is Jesus coming to live with the very people He made. He came to live a spotless life so He could give His life for you and me.

 

Do you see what I see? If you know Jesus, then thank Him for giving you His life. If you are not sure of what to do with Jesus, I invite you to explore His story. Read the book of John in the Bible or find a friend who knows Jesus and ask questions. Do not assume what the world tells you is right. If I did that, I would have not done anything with my life.

 

It is my prayer that you see Jesus, God’s gift for you in the manger and upon the cross. If you find Him, you will have the greatest gift of all.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18 ESV)