Living life beyond Cerebral Palsy for God's glory.

Archive for the ‘living beyond my circumstances’ Category

Dear Mom

It’s been a year since you graduated to heaven. We miss you so much. It has been an incredibly hard year. Life is so different without you.

Terry came the day you left. He was a great help to Dad, getting him through that first week. Michelle and all your grandchildren came on Friday. Dan’s family came home from the U.S.A.  Saturday we had your Celebration of Life at the church. Many of your friends came from all over. It was a great service and you would have been shocked that your four children spoke at the service, even Sharon and Danny.

Dad misses you so much. Sharon and I are keeping him fed and teaching him how to cook. Ginger misses you also. She chewed up your eyeglasses!  

I’m struggling. It has been hard to not talk with you, see you, and be with you. There has been nothing easy about this year. In February the world was in a pandemic. That’s a virus that makes people very sick. By mid-March everything was closed. Schools, stores, and churches were closed, but we could watch the service online. People had to work from home. The Canada-US border has been closed. People had to self-isolate for weeks and life was pretty depressing. At times I was wishing I could be with you. God took you at the right time because this would have been very stressful for you. We have to wear a face mask when we go into stores or anywhere else in public. You would be impressed that I have masks to match my clothes.

Danny and Grace were able to open the new bakery location in May and it’s thriving. It’s actually doing better than the old location. It’s so busy that Danny is working there 80 hours a week! The people just keep coming. The lunch items are a big hit. We go there Sunday mornings to watch church online, as it’s safer for Dad. We’re there as a family and Danny cooks lunch. It has become a special time that we all look forward to.

The first Sunday in August, Ian and Sharon woke up to a big fire on their property, and the beautiful barn that Ian built was gone in a matter of minutes. They lost everything accept the house. It was very devastating. The fire marshal doesn’t know what started it.

In September Sharon became a grandmother and you a great grandmother. Kristal had a healthy and happy baby boy, but her delivery was far from easy.  She’s a great mother and takes Joey to see Great Grandpa often. Ainsley started university in September, but it’s all online. So, she’s at home. That would make you happy, to still have her here.

Life is so different now. I feel very alone without you. Your passing left a big hole in my heart. When we were at the funeral home saying our goodbyes to you, Dad told me that you needed me as much as I needed you. Thank you for being the best mom, encourager, coach, cheerleader, and friend I could ever have had. I love you and miss you. Mom, I’m so glad you gave your life to Jesus as a teen. I know I will see you again.

18 The LORD is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.   Psalms 34:18 (ESV)

Mom & I in Hawaii 2011

Mom’s Tribute

On November 26, 2019, my world was rocked. My mother was taken home to be with Jesus.  This was my tribute to her. It was read at her funeral.

 

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)

We met when she was 21. She was an ordinary person, but her 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 and 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.  Mom would not let me use the words, “I can’t.”  She made me try everything at least once.  Sometimes her friends would get upset with her because she wouldn’t help me, but her perseverance made me who I am today.

Even before my sports career began, she was my biggest cheerleader! She was always encouraging and pushing me to go further. Even my staff gets frustrated with me because they want to help me, but because of my mom, I am determined to do things on my own as much as I possibly can.

She took me to Pioneer Girls at our church. I loved to earn badges, but I was concerned I could not get my hiking badge. But she made sure I could by carrying me on her back through the woods with the other girls. Then I had to light a fire to finish the badge. The other leaders said not to worry about lighting the fire, but Mom insisted that I would do it if I wanted to complete the requirements. She got me to hold the match in my front teeth and brought the box up close so I could strike it. Then I leaned down, dropping the match on the paper and the fire was lit.

Mom 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 would not.

Mom had a sense of humour. She wanted me to experience life. One morning when she was getting me out of bed (I am not a morning person), she sat me on the toilet with the seat up, which resulted in me plunging into the cold water, waking me up rather abruptly. When I looked at her with a questioning shocked look, she just laughed and said, “I just thought you should experience this!”

Mom travelled to many of my sports events. The biggest event was the 1984 Paralympics in New York, where she proudly carried around the Canadian Flag. During the wheelchair soccer game that I was playing in, she was interviewed on TSN. To this day, I don’t know what she said, but that interview was a highlight of this trip for her.

On Tuesday God called Mom home. She has left a big hole in our family and in my heart, but I know she is with her Saviour and Lord.

Thanks, Mom. You’re the best! See you soon.

BOOK SIGNING

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SATURDAY MAY 14th FROM 11AM TILL 2PM

CHAPTERS @ 1037 WELLINGTON ROAD

WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING 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.

DADDY

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”    Psalm 103:13

 

When I was 10 years old my dad wrote this in my autograph book:

 

Big brown eyes, brown hair too,

Has her lows, lost her shoe,

Has her highs, face just glows,

. . . that’s my Debbie.

Love,   Daddy

 

Dad was strong in his faith, always putting God first in his life and teaching us to do the same. He always read a Bible story to us at the dinner table despite the many distractions. The phone often rang during devotions. Dad would take it off the hook and stuff it in the towel drawer. He was faithful in his own daily reading of God’s Word.

 

When I was young, before I received a wheelchair, he carried me everywhere. He was always trying to make my life a little easier. His hands were always big, strong, and rough, and he always smelled of wood. From as far back as I can remember, my dad loved to work with wood—and he could make anything. Because I could not use my hands, I fed myself by bending down and getting the food off my plate with my mouth. One day Dad made me a toast holder out of wood. Another time he made an ice cream cone holder. Sunday evenings were fun. After church he would make milkshakes or ice cream sundaes for all of us. It was the only thing he could make that was not wooden.

 

Dad always loved me the way I was. He never expected less from me and always encouraged me to be the best I could be. He loved to help me do things that were not expected or accessible. One time at Disney World in Florida, he was so excited that I was able to go on a ride that had been inaccessible the last time we went that he ran with me in my wheelchair towards a moving ramp. My foot plates hit the ramp and I was catapulted out of my chair and onto the moving ramp. I heard a lady yell, “I think she’s dead.” I was still alive and not hurt. The thing I was most upset about was the rip in my shirt.

 

I am so blessed to have a daddy who was handpicked for me by God. Thank you, Dad, for living for the Lord, for being real, and for showing us how to live for God. Someday in heaven I will dance first with my Lord Jesus, then with my Daddy.

 

 

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Book Signing May 9th

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in London, Ontario.

We hope to see you there.

Book Signing

Paralympian Debbie Willows and her co-author, Steph Beth Nickel, are holding a book signing at Chapters, 1037 Wellington Road in London on Saturday, September 20, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Autographed copies of Debbie’s memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, will be available.

 

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  We hope to see you there.

Stept and Deb

Stept and Deb

An Author

In January of this year my book, Living Beyond My Circumstances, was released. It was exciting to see years of hard work finally in print. It was so cool to have physical copies; there were many mornings when I would check the boxes in the office to see if the books were real. One day it hit me: I am a real author!

This April was crazy and busy. We had a book launch in London and one in Huntsville three weeks later. To my delight, many people came out to the launches. If you were able to be there, I would like to thank you.

Book launches take some planning. Where should I hold it? Who will speak? Any event is better with punch and cake—but no event can be successful without guests.

Each event was unique; London was like a great reunion. People were there from over the years, including my Grade 8 principal. Huntsville was special as well. Between the two launches, over 200 people came out. This still blows my mind. Steph was able to be at both and that was very special for me.

As exciting as it is to have a book to sell, it is even more thrilling to see what God is doing in the lives of others.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23).

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 Signing a book at the Huntsville launch.

Castle Quay Books

On February 29, 2012, we drove to Vaughan Mills Mall to meet with Larry Willard. It was a dicey drive as the roads were icy and it was snowing. We made it and had a nice lunch at the Pickle Barrel. Larry left with my manuscript and only a promise to read it. Esther and I made our way home through the snowstorm. Was it worth the trip? Now almost two years later, my book is published.

It has been a long journey but so worth it. This journey with Castle Quay Books has been a pleasant one. Most people who publish have told me to be wary of editors who try to change too much in your publication, but working with Marina, my editor at Castle Quay, has been a great experience. She asked good questions so she could understand what I was trying to say. Marina did a great job putting the final touches on that shaped the book. I found myself a little disappointed when the editing was done.

As this book is now available in bookstores and online, I want to thank Larry and Marina for all their assistance in making this book a reality. It has been a privilege to work with them. They did a great job on the layout and cover; they even worked to get a note for the book from the Honourable David Onley. Check out Castle Quay’s web-site http://castlequaybooks.com/ they have published many good books.

Thank you, Larry and Marina and all those at Castle Quay, for your work on this book. May God bless you as He is glorified.

“He hath made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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Steph

We met in October 2007 in London, Ontario. Steph was introduced to me through a family friend. For many years, I felt God wanted me to write a book about my life, but I knew I could not do it myself. Typing with a mouth stick is slow going at times, so I started looking for a Christian woman with whom I could work. Steph was a great fit and I believe God brought us together.

 

I felt a good connection with Steph. We were around the same age, so many things I talked about, she knew what I meant. I started by dictating on tapes and sending them to her. After a few years, this book was taking shape, but we still had a long way to go. It was time to seriously work together on the book, so Steph came up for a week in the summer. We talked, wrote, talked, ate, and wrote. It was a great week.

 

Dr. Jerry E. White from the Navigators was speaking at M.B.C. and we asked him if he would read a draft of the first chapter. He graciously took the time then met with us over lunch and gave us many pointers and ideas that helped shape the book.

 

The next summer, Steph spent another week with me, again talking and eating, more writing and editing. She spent time with my parents and siblings, asking questions and at times, just watching us interact. I know this helped Steph write better because some stories she wrote like she had been there! Email and Facebook have made our communication easier and by January 2012, we had a completed manuscript.

 

Thank you, Steph, for seeing a story and putting up with all my questions, phone calls, emails, my ups, and my downs. I could not have done this without your expertise. Thanks for your friendship. This is a great bonus to working with you.

See Steph’s web-site to learn more about my friend.  http://stephbethnickel.com

 

Living Beyond My Circumstances is being released in December 2013. This is not just my book. It’s about my family and about a great God who cares for each life and how He can use anyone for His glory if you are willing to trust Him.

 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).