Cynthia L. Eppley 12/11/2022
Why is this Christmas Different?
As holidays come and go, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Shopping, wrapping, more shopping, returns, not to mention school concerts, church activities, and on and on.
But when you’ve had a hip replacement?
Then it becomes much different than you would expect.
My first Clue
People told me, “Oh, a hip replacement is so easy! Easier than a knee!”
And so I assumed I’d be back on my feet in a few weeks, and jump right back into the Christmas spirit.
Hobbling about with first a walker, and then graduating to a cane did little to encourage my sinking mood.
Resting became a way of life, and naps were required in the afternoon.
But you see, I am a Costco fan. A big Costco fan. And it was calling my name. There were things I needed. Things I had to have.
And so I ventured out with my trusty friend Paula.
Under strict orders from my husband, I was to commandeer one of those fancy electric carts. You know, the one with forward and backward.
My most recent memory of this beast was with my mother. And now it was my turn.
Am I Here?
As we ventured into the store my first hint of “Disabled World” were the people streaming by me.
No “excuse me.” Reaching over me while I tried to view the products.
You see, the beast of a cart is huge, and so edging close to displays is impossible.
But people can and do slip right between you and what you’re trying to see. And it is impossible to reach for items on the shelves.
It became apparent that the corners were a “Danger Zone”. When seated in the cart, you become….shorter. And people are rounding a corner with the intent of getting that sale or that item.
Laser Focus. And apparently, they don’t see me.
I was nearly bowled over by a frantic shopper. Am I invisible? Do I count? Am I still….me? Hello?
And so my introduction into the “Disabled World” has been enlightening.
I know this will pass; in a short time I will drop the cane and hobble around, hanging onto my cart for stability.
But what do we make of the people who are permanently disabled? Who are permanently handicapped?
As a friend mentioned: “Welcome to my world.”
And another: “It always amazes me how people cut you off and just pretend you’re not there— like you are inconveniencing them.”
An Accident Changed Lives
My good friend Bob Wendt, is well acquainted with the disabled world. Due to a freak accident, his wife Jane had a Traumatic Brain Injury. (TBI.) He and Jane were thrust into this world abruptly and without warning.
What is “Normal?”
“July 2, 2008, is burned into our hearts as the day God changed our lives and altered “normal” forever. It was the watershed moment for our faith, marriage, family and ministry. We were on the mission field hosting a volunteer team when tragedy struck. Jane and several team members were taking pictures at the base of a waterfall when a 50-pound rock came down the falls, bouncing wildly as it hit other rocks. Jane was struck in the head. She suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and now lives with symptoms of short term memory loss, logic and balance impairment, and severe chronic neurological pain down her left side.”
Abundant Honor Ministries
Bob and Jane’s lives would be far from normal. They sensed that so many in the handicapped and disabled world are marginalized, ignored, and overlooked.
With the help of a ministry support team, they formed an outreach that would bring these issues to the forefront.
How could we help the disabled in practical ways? How can the church become more educated and helpful? What do we need to learn? How can we better listen? And how can we be better equipped to help?
The mission of Abundant Honor Ministries is to provide help, hope, comfort and guidance for families affected by disability. We do this by supporting these families with counseling and by advocating for their needs and for the use of their gifts within the Body of Christ. As advocates, we will work directly with church leadership as well as teach, preach, conduct seminars and network with other ministries to build a strong, supportive community serving the disabled.
Look at how this ministry comes alongside the local church: Lay counselor training. Awareness education through seminars, teaching and preaching. Crisis support. Church inclusion assessment.
Read this testimony from a Pastor:
“Abundant Honor Ministries serves as a valuable resource for Pastors to draw upon as needed among thrown congregations, but also as a personal help. To whom does a Pastor go to talk over dark thoughts of the soul? Seldom is there a friend or safe person with who to speak aloud things that are so difficult to bear personally. I have found Bob Wendt to be both a friend and a counselor with whom it is safe to articulate thoughts and feelings ranging from discouragement, anger, and fear—and how does that coexist with faith?”
Counseling is a very large part of this ministry, in practical ways: Listen to the heart of a counselor: “That’s how I am with all my clients I carry them in my heart all the time and my thoughts are constantly on them.”
The statement of a team member: “Wow! In one brief exchange with Bob, I got a powerful insight into what it’s like for him to be a Biblical counselor. He’s always thinking about how to get through to his clients. He broods over them with a burning desire for their healing. Their liberation. Their joy in Christ. I came away with a new appreciation and respect for what Bob does. He’s involved in nothing less than pursuing healing and liberation for broken, hurting people.” (Chris French)
Abundant Honoris taken from 1 Corinthians 12:23:
“Those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor.”
God takes the things we think are broken or weak and builds his Kingdom with them. Two Biblical truths which are easy to overlook in our culture;
“My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) and
“God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1Cor. 1:27) are at the heart of Abundant Honor Ministries. We take seriously the charge of Proverbs 31:8-9 to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Back to Costco
I would be happy to report that my trip to Costco was a success. Paula reached the items high on the shelves. And the good employees of Costco were more than helpful.
I made it through the store without mowing anyone down. Or destroying displays.
And there have been those who open doors: “Let me get that for you!” And still others: “Make sure you keep that cane with you…..people will be more accommodating if you do.”
Invisible…… or Seen?
But it makes me wonder how many others have faced the dilemma of being ignored or made to feel invisible?
How many families are isolated and lonely due to disability?
It would be my desire that God would use this short time in my life to teach me to honor the weak things of the world; to reveal my weakness and prove His grace.
And perhaps, along with Abundant Honor Ministries, to use the weak things of the world to confound the wise.