New Year

Journey with Jen: Dry Bones

Journey with Jen: Dry Bones

I am beyond blessed to share with you this incredible woman who is living out the example of a beautiful warrior.  Jen Shultz is joining our website to contribute nuggets of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement, so LOOK BACK for more from "Journey with Jen"!  Here is her very first post!  Enjoy soaking up this deeply personal post full of goodness for your heart today.

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Control Freak

Getting in the car with my mom I must be prepared for one thing, the possibility she may honk her horn. And I don't mean a little "toot-toot." I mean, lay-on-the-horn, blaring-loud-for-all-to-hear kind of honk. It doesn't end there. Whatever ability she has to demonstrate her displeasure on the outside of the car is only a glimmer compared to her expressions on the inside of the car. And my Mom is a nice person! However, she gets all riled up on the road. Inconsiderate people who pull out in front of her causing her to slam on her brakes. Distracted drivers, talking, or yes, even texting away on their phones. Rushed workers ignorning the lane closure signs to squeeze in at the last possible moment. It infuriates her. When she rides with me she'll identify every moment I should utilize my horn. My neglection of such an opportunity produces much discussion as she'll inform me that I need to let them know what they did so they won't do it again. There's where her hope is. It's not an angry, difficult, short little lady. It's a woman who intends to help people out, highlight the error of their driving, so they can do it better the next time.

My take is different. Number one, I wonder if the person who pulled out in front of me, or cut me off, may be a mother who has a screaming baby in the car, a tired toddler and an argumentative child. Believe me, that causes some distractions and enough stress without being honked at. Or possibly, it's a nurse who lives forty-five minutes from the hospital and got called-in before she had a shower or a trace of make-up on her face. It happens. Secondly, and most importantly for me is, I don't care. I don't care about honking at someone and getting all worked up over them, because I have no relational connection, nor any ounce of influence on them to change anything. If a driver is flat-out rude, they're going to be flat-out rude whether I blast my horn or not. It's just not worth the aggravation to me.

Now don't misunderstand me. I do get worked up. I do get riled to the point of feeling steam come out my ears. Okay, not quite steam, but you get the picture. Flaming mad. Like Anger on Disney's Inside Out or Donald Duck when he's "had it up to here!" (Yes, that's what he sometimes says, although it almost requires a translator to comprehend his lines.)

I tend to get all upset with things I think I have control over. Emphasis given to the word, "think." It's like a quantitative study. I have variables in an experiment. The independent variable is manipulated to produce the dependent variable. Since my lab puppy, sweet little Ruby Sue, is turning one this weekend, let's consider dog food. The type of dog food is an independent variable because it's something I can change (or manipulate), and the results I get are the dependent variables like her weight, her likability to the food, and maybe her coat being more shiny.

If I have no influence on the outcome, I don't get too engaged. It's that whole, "it is what it is" kind of situation; “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”

But let me share with you where I do get hung up. It's again, in those areas I think I have control.

My parents were told, on more than one occassion, during my years of rehabiliation from my burn injury that I may develop an addiction to narcotics. I'll share more about the topic when the book project pieces together, but for now, let me focus on this subject of control. Although I desire to be as out-of-it as possible when I'm recovering from surgeries, I'm quite eager to stop taking the medication when I no longer need it, because I don't feel in control when I'm in a fog. Too much of my childhood was out of my control. As an adult, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the care I received. Absolutley overwhelmed. I'm living a life today because of the care I received. Nevertheless, I remember as a child wanting control over the situations I had absolutley none.

Memories of being restrained, with my arms braced out to my side, unable to move. Memories of a tube down my throat breathing for me, but occluding my ability to communicate. Screaming for help when those precious nurses were tearing bandages off my raw body. Fighting against amazing physical therapists as they ripped scar tissue to stretch my contractured body.

Yes, I have control issues.

I also have a good, good Father who loves me as I am, but desires me to grow in Him. Just as He provides opportunities to make the impatient patient and the prideful humble; He's given me many opportunities to release control and grow in trust.

A reoccurring theme for 2015 was trust. As I felt challenged in 2014 to rest, 2015 was about trust. Here's a bit of what I journaled toward the end of the year...

As I’ve sought the Lord, as He’s challenged me to trust Him, using situations to strengthen my trust muscle, I can see the control shatter. I needed to be here and He was preparing the time for me. I needed to grow in the quality, in this characteristic.

‘Do you trust God?’ Yes, I’ve always trusted God. However, do I trust God when I have no control, no influence over the outcome, when I have nothing to contribute, or even manipulate?  Not in a bad manipulate-evil-devising way, but in a manipulate as, take it in my own hands and change what it needs, or what I think it needs to be, to form it and mold it on my own. Do I trust God even then?

Oh, how I thought He was teaching me through the writing to trust Him. Oh, how I thought He was teaching me through the speaking to trust Him. Oh, how I thought my obedience to step away from full-time nursing was trusting Him, or being given our website was trusting Him- but, those situations were PREPARING me for the biggest trust exercise the Lord could have set before me….

I know where my desire to control comes from. It's fear. I wanted control when I was little because I was scared. Not much has changed. I still to this day fight fear. The fear is a bit different, but I fight nevertheless. But again, God is so loving and kind towards me. His Word says, "perfect love casts out fear" (I John 4:18). Which means I don't have to be in control. I just need to trust in Him.

Therefore, as you're stepping into your dreams, visions and goals for 2016, be aware of the vision killers we've discussed the last few weeks: feeling overwhelmed, making assumptions, and fear.

Fear has no place. You serve a great God! And the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in you (Romans 8:11).  Remember that fact, and exercise that muscle to trust in the face of any fear this year!

Isaiah 30:15 ESV For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and REST you shall be saved; in quietness and in TRUST shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

This was one of the verses I've stood on, encompassing the Lord's challenge for me to rest in 2014 and to trust in 2015. But unlike the people of Israel, may we be willing.

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click on the link to hear this song-- No Longer Slaves  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxkNj5hcy5E

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I'm Fine

I walk around like everything is fine, but deep down, inside my shoe, my sock is sliding off.” This message caught my eye when posted by a friend on social media. Of course, my heart was moved when I read the first half thinking, “she’s going through something.” Upon completing the sentence I truly laughed out loud understanding the sentiment exactly. It happens to me with a certain pair of boots. I must wear long socks, otherwise, there’s no inconspicuous swipe-it-with-my-index-finger type of retrieval maneuver. No, I must take the boot off entirely to fetch the sock that is nearly off my foot, scrunched up down around my toes. Irritatingly uncomfortable, I must say.

Nevertheless, we wear it well. We stroll around cool and casual without the slightest indication something is not right. We don’t let on something is out of place. We don’t expose our sock is driving us nuts!

The reality is, all of us are walking around with our sock sliding off at one point or another. All of us.

Why do we act so casual? Why do we walk along without the slightest indication something is wrong?

I’m sure you realize we’re not talking about socks at this point.

A short time ago, someone contacted me about a woman who needed a bit of encouragement in a trial she was facing. The trial was similar to one I had experienced before, but one I’ve not shared with many. We met for a visit. As I listened to her pour out her heart, mine broke at the memory of going through what she was enduring presently. The Lord stirred me to share with her the testimony.

Sharing the testimony was timely and effective. While it brought the intended comfort and encouragement to her, it was apparent that it came unexpectedly.

We all walk through things others may never imagine.  However, it is wise to demonstrate prudence in sharing the storms we face. For one, some who do not have the same insight, do not understand, and our sharing can render us vulnerable to attacks. We must listen to the Holy Spirit in seeking counsel.

Secondly, we don’t want to magnify the storm. Personally, I’m not a sweep-it-under-the-rug kind of girl. I’ve been a fighter my entire life. It’s why I’m alive today. And it’s not something one can switch on and off. While I was commended for my spirit to fight as a little girl, as an adult now, it can make some people uncomfortable. Although I’m geared for conflict resolution, wisdom is essential to know the difference between progressing toward resolution and merely magnifying. We must know when our speech is magnifying the problem or resolving the problem.

Third, if we haven’t taken it to the Lord, we must not take it to another. As much as I’m a people person, as much as I crave and truly need the interaction of others, no one on this planet has everything I need. Speaking to the Lord and allowing Him to guide who we need for godly counsel is exercising complete trust in Him. And as a result, removes vulnerability to attacks and provides dimension to what we’re facing.

I share this for you to be encouraged. Our tests aren’t the focus. We wait for divine intervention and share the testimony in His timing.

So what’s so encouraging about that?!

It’s that everyone has a sock sliding off!  Whether they're talking about it or not.

Thinking back to last week’s post, in addition to feeling overwhelmed, what is another vision killer to reaching our goals?

It’s assumptions.

We assume that everyone else has a sock nicely in place not causing an ounce of irritation or aggravation. We may even have toxic thoughts like, “So-and-so has it all together. They’re so strong in their walk with God and here I am dealing with this garbage. I could never be the kind of person or Christian so-and-so is. I’m just sick of trying.”

First of all, we must all stop trying so hard and find rest in His power at work within us. II Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Secondly, know that assumptions are a tactic the enemy utilizes not only in our church, but in our homes. There is a lot of defeat, and potential disappointment, which can come from assuming the comfort of another’s walk. We walk through trials strong and confident, because our trust in God. It doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy. We’re all walking through stuff at some point.

Remember, we all have a pesky sock sliding off every now then.

We’re not always fine.

Allow me to close with a passage by Lysa Terkeurst. These words spoke encouragement and healing into my storm of 2015. I pray it blesses you in pursuing your goals for 2016.

Humility and wisdom are a package deal. And often people who have the most wisdom have experienced the most humility. Or sometimes even the most humiliation. A wisdom like none other can arise from those hard places that bring us low.

When I’m going through stuff that makes it hard to make good decisions, I want to turn to people who have been through some stuff. And not just people who went through hard times, but those who came out on the other side carrying some wisdom from which I can learn. Real wisdom- wisdom that’s been unearthed in the messy, untidy, mud-puddle places of life. When this kind of wisdom sits in the heart of a person who is vulnerable enough to drop their pride and share what they know- that’s a gift I desperately need when going through some stuff.

Lysa Terkeurst The Best Yes -pages 209-210

*in reference to: James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. and Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

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Casting Crowns sing a beautiful song on the subject titled "Stained Glass Masquerade" ~ you can listen to it on the following link ~  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7U--p31vIY

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7U--p31vIY[/embed]

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New Year, Same Life

We’re a week into the new year. A week ago today many people had packed up their Christmas décor, along with their reflections of the previous year, embracing the annual “ready, set, go” as our new starting line when the clock strikes midnight. As far as decorations, there wasn’t much packing for me to participate in this year. The kids and my Mom tackled the task. I picked out non-physically demanding packaging, like the nativity scene. While trying to delicately fit each piece back into the Styrofoam containers, I thought about my goal for 2014. Of course, I’ll share it. But brace yourself. You may think I set the bar as low as possible.

2014 New Year’s Resolution: Be Less Productive.

We quote Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” But are we sensitive to the seasons the Lord is moving us into and out of? Certainly many of us would choose to return to a warmer season, perhaps a beautiful summer day over the bitter cold ones we are encountering at the moment. This is literal and figurative.

Our temperatures here in the grand state of Oklahoma aren’t the coldest in the nation; but are definitely low enough to qualify for mention. How many of us would love to hop on a plane to the Caribbean? But that’s not going to change the reality of the conditions where we live. And sometimes we have to endure where we are until the season changes. It is in the different seasons that we grow and mature. The season shakes things up. No monotony. No apathy. No complacency. Sometimes the bitter cold makes us more aware and more appreciative for the warmth of brighter days.

My 2014 New Year’s Resolution, or what I would consider to be my New Year’s CHALLENGE, had to do with a season the Lord was speaking to my heart…rest.

After years and years of setting lofty goals, I felt challenged to rest.

My husband and I married in 1999. We started building our home at the end of 2000. We welcomed our first child, Brooklyn in 2001. Brandon went back to school in 2002 after a hiatus for the house and new baby. Jaron made his debut in 2003 with our first, yet brief, NICU stay. All the while Brandon and I were working and he was going to school.  2005, I had six surgeries in five months, and then my Dad passed away.  My Mom and I kept the wheel rolling until we sold the business. Caden arrived in 2006. Brandon received his congratulatory letter from OSU on the completion of his mechanical engineering degree and walked in the spring 2007 ceremony; only to find out he had been misadvised on a class and wouldn’t get his diploma until after taking the required class, which he did that summer. I started my pre-requisites for nursing school as soon as Brandon finished. We found out we were expecting again in 2008 and Gavin arrived in 2009 with our unwanted, but second short stay in NICU.  In 2010 I started nursing school at OU, had a couple year whirlwind, graduated in 2012 and started working in the NICU. 2013 felt like our year of transitioning.

When I was evaluating my personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth for the new year, I felt the Lord speak to my heart…REST.

Matthew 11:28, Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Why do we discredit it? Why do we neglect it? Why do we not prioritize it? We feel we can’t turn down someone’s request for the mere fact we need rest. We think we have to be the ones to step up to head the project, because rest isn’t a real reason to decline it. We assume if we’re pursuing good things and meeting goals then we’re fine and don’t need to simply sit. We conclude if we’re home resting, then we’re doing nothing.  When in all reality, it is something, and it’s something quite important. Even Jesus gave us an example to rest in Mark 6:31, “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”

We’ve all heard that sometimes we have to disconnect to reconnect. Over the year, each time I began to allow feelings of guilt to seep in, I’d remind myself that I was meeting a goal, rising to the challenge to be less productive. And was it ironic at all that while I was intending to have a year of rest, the Lord already knew I would? I had no idea at the time that I’d be working three surgeries into 2014. While it takes a lot of energy to heal, I had what He desired of me...to be still, to be in the quiet, and to rest.

When reflecting on the year, I see how my loving God orchestrated my season of rest. For 2015, I hear Him speaking to my heart, “It is time.” Over and over, I hear His precious, gentle, inaudible voice speak, “It is time.”  2015 is the time to start the beginnings of what He has prepared, for what He has set before, for what He has planned. And the only way I could have ever known this is by those quiet moments.

Taking a year of intentional rest helps me to realize how productive being unproductive can be. We don’t always have to have measurable outcomes. We don’t always have to have evidence of completed tasks. Sometimes the biggest benefit, the grandest gift, the priceless pieces cannot be seen with our eyes, scheduled on our calendars, or fabricated with our hands. They have to be received in our hearts, nurtured and grown without our meddling and without rush.

The time we take at New Year’s to self-examine is an opportunity to adjust, to tweak, to elevate who we are and who the Lord has called us to be. We get this one life to live. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what we need to be our best. Yes, it’s a New Year, but it’s the same life, the same life we had back in those warm summer months. It’s what we decide to do with this life that makes the resolution worth making.

Bless you as you set out to conquer the goals set before you. Bless you as you pursue the one who placed them there. Bless you as you use your life in this New Year for His glory.

 

*In case you’re being called to a season of rest and quietness, I pray these scriptures encourage your heart.

Psalm 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 46:10Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now stand here quietly before the Lord as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you and your ancestors.

Psalm 62:1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

1 Timothy 2:2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Joshua 1:13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’

1 Kings 8:56 “Praise the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses.

Psalm 127:2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Isaiah 28:12 God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.

Isaiah 32:18 My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.

Jeremiah 31:25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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One Magical Year To The Next

There is a family photo, which sits on our bathroom vanity, in a frame that reads, “Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” And when this season comes around, when we gather the highlights of the year and send our cherished family and dear friends Christmas greetings, we feel incredibly blessed how the Lord gave so many fairy tale moments to such ordinary people like us. Some big news making it at the tail end of 2013 was the newest addition to our family, Libby Lou. We wrapped up a pretty box, put her inside and gave her to the kids on Christmas morning. She is another little black lab, like Miss Daisy Mae. Then in May, a little calico kitten joined our family; we named her, Callie, after Sheriff Callie on The Disney Channel.

Keeping up with the kids is undoubtedly our greatest achievement for the year. We’re not sure how we can go in four different directions. Again, these are the reasons it all feels a bit magical. We must have some pixie dust under our feet to keep up with the schedules!

Brooklyn turned 13 on March 4th. We celebrated her milestone year with a painting party. We transformed the living room into a “studio” where an instructor directed the “artists” in painting their own tiger’s eye on a 16x20 canvas. It was a classy celebration for our classy girl. We’re so proud of the young lady she has become. Her interest and passion for playing trumpet in band, learning Spanish and having her own horse continue to grow. This fall we built a three-stall horse barn; so the next step is to find her fit for a horse. Nana is planning to bring her horse out too. And we can only anticipate the priceless memories they’ll create together.

Jaron is approaching his 11th birthday on December 23rd, our little eve of Christmas Eve baby. He continues to pursue his passion too…sports! He was on a successful basketball team through the winter and is back with the same group kicking off another season. Spring soccer was equally exciting; he even received MVP from one of their tournaments, a great honor considering the talent on that team. This fall, he stepped out for his very first season on the football field. But he surprised us all with his hidden theatrical niche this past March when he participated in the school talent show performing “In Summer,” from the number one animated film of all time, Frozen.

Caden should have a TV show titled, “Everybody Loves Caden.” It was a topic of conversation at his parent/teacher conference this year. Talk about a compliment. Suppose it’s part of God’s design for the third child. His “go with the flow” personality brings balance in a lot of different social settings, like in his family! Caden turned 8 on the 2nd day of 2nd grade, August 15th. We celebrated with cupcakes at school followed by a pool party with lots of classmates at home. Caden followed in Jaron’s footsteps and has enjoyed his experiences in basketball, soccer & baseball, but he’s stepping out on a new adventure and starting gymnastics this winter.

Gavin celebrated his 5th birthday Ninja Turtle style on July 13th. We had family and friends over to swim, drink toxic ooze and eat nothing other than what a ninja turtle would eat, pizza! In August, he started pre-K at Caden’s school, so he is definitely feeling pretty grown-up going to school with the big kids. We are amazed how our socially uncomfortable child has become so, well…social! All in good time I suppose. Being the baby of the family, he gets lugged around to all the activities but we’ve never signed him up for his own. Well, say no more. He is joining his big brother and will start gymnastics this winter.

June marked a momentous occasion for us, and we headed to a couple’s only resort in St. Lucia to celebrate it—our 15th anniversary! It’s hard not to get emotional thinking about those 18 year-old kids who had many unanswered questions but knew two things: they loved God and they loved each other. We aren’t even the same people 15 years later; we’re better, we’re even more in love…with God and with each other. That is definitely something to celebrate! Click here for the Packing for Possibilities” story. We’re blessed to share it.

What made to be a really fun part of our year was that our children assumed we weren’t going on a family vacation since we went on a couple’s trip. Unbeknownst to them, we had secretly booked our annual Disney trip and had plans underway, details lined out and reservations made. We hadn’t been to Disney WORLD in almost five years and we surprised them the morning we left. That story and the video of the surprise are also here on the blog titled, “The Best Kept Secret” and “I’m So Jealous”. The surprise, the trip, the time together was nothing less than magical.

Brandon continues on with his engineering work at Quanta and I continue to love on the sick babies through my nursing ministry in the NICU. We frequently express how much we love what we do. And the Lord continues to stretch us and give us vision. We share our lives through blogging and pursue the plans God has through a variety of speaking opportunities. He has opened doors with nursing schools, elementary schools, women’s groups and churches. Using our story to educate on the different facets of patient care, to address bullying and the importance of a healthy self-image, to motivate, challenge and inspire, as well as helping people examine their purpose and the power of being an overcomer has been fulfilling, healing and challenging in a way only the Lord could orchestrate. Please consider how our story could be used in your special events, workshops, seminars, classes or churches.  Visit the Speaking Events page for details and contact information. We ask for your prayers as we follow His leading in growing this endeavor.

Our year certainly wouldn’t have been what it was without the people we shared it with. We want to thank all of you who supported us to reach our annual $500 March of Dimes goal for 2014. Our family joined fellow Saint Francis NICU co-workers and their families for the walk. Looking toward the 2015 walk this spring, we once again, ask you to consider making a donation to this organization which blesses so many families in getting their sick babies home. click here to donate

More magical moments included getting to take the kids to their very first college football game. We got to see Oklahoma State win over Iowa State at the October 4th home game. Over Mother’s Day weekend we headed to Chicago for our nephew, Charlie’s baby dedication. It was a fast trip, but a celebration we couldn’t miss. Other family moments included time with our England family, Pam & John, when they visited in September and then in October with my cousin Austin and her girls, Taylor and Maddy. Brief time yet cherished memories.

Whatever it is 2015 may hold, we pray you are blessed as you see His hand at work orchestrating your very own fairy tale.

There’s nothing more magical than feeling His love,

Brandon, Heather,

Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden, & Gavin Meadows

and Daisy Mae, Libby Lou & Callie Rae too!

View More: http://malloryhallphotography.pass.us/meadowsfamily2014

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The Gift of a Positive Outlook

Many of us are spending some time this evening reflecting back on 2013, thankful for the memories, or perhaps wishing things had gone a bit differently.  There may be some time set aside in how we plan to approach the next year.  My husband and I sit down each year and make plans for the next.  We map out how we plan to use our time, what we intend to do with our kids, what area of ministry we plan to serve and where we want to direct our money.  In other words, New Years provides a time to regroup and perhaps, redirect our focus.  How we approach that is entirely up to us. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter a couple of years ago.  Brooklyn had had the most fabulous fifth grade year.  Her teachers made the school days interesting and fun; the students were friendly, polite and had an encouraging dose of enthusiasm for their time at school.  Brooklyn couldn’t imagine it could get any better.

The night before her sixth grade year started, she shared those very thoughts with me.  We discussed how blessed she was to have experienced such a wonderful school year in fifth grade, but that sixth grade could be just as good, if not better.  She wasn’t convinced.  She couldn’t see it being any better, nor nearly as good as what she had.  She just didn’t think it was possible.  I spoke with her about our outlook.  If she had already determined in her heart that sixth grade wasn’t going to be as fun as fifth, then it wouldn’t; but God could have even more wonderful things in store for her new school year.  And He did!  She absolutely loved sixth grade. What a great life lesson to learn so early.

My daughter’s thoughts weren’t immature though.  They were human.  But I believe as adults, we may be inclined to see it in the other direction.  It can be hard to imagine things getting better when we’re living in the muck and mire of a difficult time.  Life circumstances can be downright brutal.  However, if those realities consume our thoughts, we’ll never see brighter days.

I was honored to have met a man who illustrated the characteristic of a positive outlook.  Nate Waters sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of 19 from an altercation with his mother’s boyfriend.  Due to the resulting diagnosis of quadriplegia, Nate was dependent on nursing home care for over ten years.  At a time when most young people are discovering life and the world, Nate was attempting to accomplish tasks most of us take for granted.  But none of this kept him from pursuing his best.  Even a doctor telling him he would never have the use of his arms or legs prevented him from attaining his goals.

Nate could have spent the rest of his life in bitterness and anger.  He could have accepted the limitations many associate with his diagnosis.  He could have, but he didn’t.  Nate didn’t focus on the injury or the unfairness.  Nate Waters had unwavering determination, immeasurable optimism, and immense drive.  Those characteristics were noted from everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.

This amazing man made no excuses.  He graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University.  He worked at Williams as an accountant and gave back to his community through his involvements in fundraising and public speaking.  He seized every opportunity meeting political leaders like Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, Rudolph Guiliani and Colin Powell.  A dear friendship was formed between Nate and T. Boone Pickens who was instrumental in helping Nate reach the goal of independent living.  Nate had his own home, could make his bed, brush his teeth, do his own laundry and partially dress his self.  Although he needed nursing assistance, it didn’t limit his drive or his attitude.  The immense progress he experienced in his rehabilitation gave him great optimism in his on-going efforts to recover.  None of which would have been possible had he not been determined to think optimistically and try for what others deemed impossible.

Nate Waters passed away April 20, 2013 at the age of 35.  Nate touched countless lives and I’m deeply grateful mine was one of them.  He inspires me to dream big and continually strive for what is beyond my reach.

In the New Year, let us glean from Paul’s words:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

May we let go of what is behind….

May we press on…..

May we have an optimistic outlook knowing the One who calls us….

Happy New Year!!!!

~~ Nate Waters~~ 

http://www.ultimatetributes.com/pages/explore-tributes.asp?id=6823

http://www.fox23.com/news/local/story/TCC-breaks-ground-on-Nate-Waters-Physical-Therapy/ZRWKoiBHkEuN8VQoArkbPQ.cspx

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