The Gift of Your Child

The following entry is a topic that has long weighed upon my heart, I do not wish for anyone to feel condemned or even shamed in the process of reading this. If anything, it is my hope and prayer that your heart and mind might see things in a fresh perspective and that you may sense a jolt in your spirit, and even a fresh perspective on the life your leading.

I can’t imagine what is was like, for my parents to hear from the doctor that I would be born with cerebral palsy (CP). The doctor gave my parents a lot of double speak, in that, one hand I would probably grow out of the condition, which never ever happens. If I didn’t grow out of it, then, according to the doctor, I would be dependent on others to help me live my life and I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything on my own.

You don’t have to be a pattern in the present moment, to get an idea of how that made my parents feel. My mom always tells me this story, that she grabbed this doctor by his lab coat and gave this doctor a piece of her mind. Apparently, in doing this, that caused this very small hospital on lock down. Furthermore, my mom would tell me about how, she would walk in the snow, to the hospital to make sure I was fed and gained the weight that was needed to be discharged from the hospital.

There is only one word to describe this: Love. Was it stressful and nerve racking? Yes, without question. I can only imagine that there were times where my parents felt frustrated and just needed a moment to breath and gather themselves back up. God knows, that we are only human and have our breaking points. Yet is was love, for my dad to take me to each physical therapy session and doctors appointment. It’s love, for my dad to teach me martial arts and how to be strong as a man.

Now, I have always tried to be as sufficient as possible,  but there’re a few things in life which have always got in the way. 1) driving and 2) cooking, I have attempted to learn to drive before, and will try again. The problem becomes, in having a bad startle reflex and taking a bit of time for my body to wake up and regulate its self in the morning. As of now, wisdom tells me that it’s easier to air on the side of caution. I would hate to be behind the wheel, and get startled by a loud noise, gun through the intersection and either being badly hurt myself or injuring someone else.

Cooking, it’s something I can do for myself, however the kitchen in my home is not the best set up for me. But I know that this arrangement is only temporary. The point being, is I know that things get stressful for my parents. Because, as I said earlier, their human too.  Yet, knowing that I am dependent in some ways and as a person with CP (or any other disability one wants to fill in the blank with).

The idea of being a gift or blessing, gets replaced with the word burden or thinking that we are dead weight. Now, let me lay before you that, parents that vocalize any sort of frustration. They don’t actually mean it, does it feel good? No, it doesn’t, in fact it hurts and cuts down to the bone if we don’t learn how detach ourselves from the moment, and cling to truth.

The truth is, our parents just might be having a bad day, should parents vocalize such frustration in front of their sons or daughters? Probably not. The reality is, it’s not good for anyone. I think that there should be times for parents with special needs children to vent, but in a healthier context. Not directly in front of your son or daughter.

Once again, to those of us who have CP or any other disability. Remember the truth, you’re not a burden, but a joy. Who has unique gifts and talents to offer the world. It’s important that we have a forgiving and grace filled spirit. Because the people around us, who love of the most will have bad days. And it’s important to know who we really are, to smile and forgive.

Parents, again, God knows you will have bad days. God knows that you will say things that you don’t mean. I think is key to remember, that if your son or daughter could actually drive, cook or do X, Y or Z for themselves they actually would. I m deeply thankful, for all my parents and family has done to help me get to where I am in life.

And if I could drive and do a few other things for myself, I would gladly do so. But in this current moment, things are as they are. Yet that does not mean, that I stop trying to improve myself to be as sufficient as possible. Lastly, and I don’t mean to pull at your heart strings, but always remember what it was like to see and hold your child for the fist time. The love and joy you felt for them in that moment, is still there even when you have a bad day.

Sons and daughters, the same goes for us, the love our parents does not change, simply because of one day. Always be kind, loving and gracious.

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Two Realities of CP: Adapting and Stillness

Having lived with Cerebral Palsy for 34 years now, I have come to a few conclusions, however painfully obvious they may be. Allow me to elaborate more in the following paragraphs:

One: I am not “normal” I get it, no one is. But I use crutches to walk around, sometimes a wheel-chair, I scoot down steps (at times) and sometimes I still crawl around. Furthermore, crawling around for me, is sometimes easier, yes others can and do help me and I’m grateful for it. But the reality is, if I can’t carry something in my mouth while walking, well, crawling on the ground while moving something works just great. Again, I know it’s not ideal, or however else one would describe it. But it works for me. I’m not ashamed of it, and it honestly saves my legs some strength and even prevents me for slipping and bonking my face on things.. Which has happened before.  I have come to terms that, some things in life need various levels of adaptation.

When it comes to be a father some day, I might not be able to carry my child in my arms in the middle of the night. Walking them around as most good fathers (and mothers) do, but I can find ways to hold them and other ways of doing things for them. I’m not normal, and I parent or raise my children normal either.  I’m actually very open to this reality and am very excited about discovering what works and what doesn’t in all aspects of my life.   The world most become more open to the realm of possibility, rather than being stuck in the world of impossibility.

My faith in God also plays a huge role in this, because I know that he is faithful and good. Providing all that I need and working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). It’s learning to trust him, even when I cannot see how things are going to happen, or even understand what God is doing.

Two: I’ve come to terms with the amount of pain that my body is in everyday. Much of the pain, I believe anyway, has much to do with A) getting older and B) the amount of stress I put my body through while in the gym . Both in strength training and Jiujutsu. Again, I’m ok with this, I do the very best I can to combat the daily aches, pains and stiffness . Yet no matter, what anyone does it’s going to be there in some degree. In many respects, I’ve come to a place where I am at peace with the pain. Meaning, I know it’s there, but it will not be the defining factor of my life.  I will not allow it to stop me from being the person that God has destined me to be. This is not to say, that I don’t have days where the darkness sets in, in much thicker shades. They do, yet I have the greatest light in times of darkness, and the deepest anchor in times of trouble.

In conclusion: Not one of us is “normal” whatever that means anyway. Each of us, how are only problems, worries and battles we fight on a daily basis. Life is hard, but that is no reason to quit, we keep an open mind to how we can greater adapt with the circumstances that life throws at us. Lastly, we learn to make peace with the contexts that we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean that we become complacent in the fight. No, we keep fighting and moving forward. We teach ourselves to become more resilient and adaptable in the fight. We find joy, hope, wonder in the bleakest of circumstances. If not, we will die a quicker death emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Which is reality that is all too often easily accepted.

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How To Endure Suffering and Embrace All of Life.

 

Life is a series of moments, moments that are quickly escaping us. Whether we are aware of it or not. Which is breath, each month, each year, with every word and with every thought. And what we do in these moments is up to us. What we believe in these moments is up to us.

We can choose to be a pessimist or we can choose to be optimist. Sure, each day brings trials and worries of its own, yet the choice is still ours. Even in the darkest of times, we don’t have to be completely swallowed up by suffering.

Suffering does not have to crush or destroy us. One of the ways I have found to endure the hard times of life, is to condition myself in the midst of suffering. The same way I condition my body in the gym and on the matts. I condition my mind to be strong and stable in the harshest of conditions.

Am I always successful at it? No, I am not. I fail at it a lot, but if I/we do not condition ur minds to endure suffering. Life will in fact crush us. How do I condition my mind, you ask?

two ways:

  1. Patience’s in suffering- this is something we humans do not want to hear, but it is true none the less. Wishing the pain away, really does nothing for us. But being calm and as steady as rock, thus allows us to pray, ask, seek and knock. It allows us to endure and learn optimal lessons about ourselves. Consider the words in James 5:7-8 (NIV)  Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.    When we know that the Lord is near, nothing can shake us. When we truly know his character and his love for us. The suffering and adversity is momentary compared to his steadfast love.

2. Learn the art of Joy: Psalm 30:

 will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.[a]

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.[b]
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.[c]
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

 

The poet David knows suffering all too well, and even he has endured much difficulty and despair. And yet he has learned the secret of rejoicing in the Lord, for he understands that God will not let the darkness triumph over him. Yes, I know that others may not share my same belief and faith in the Christian world view- but I believe that it is the only world way, that has anything to say about suffering. And it is the only world view that confronts suffering head on. Some say that faith in God is a “crutch” per- say, and yet most of us, that have been put the ringer of life, understand what it’s like to walk with a limp.  And so yes, Jesus comes along side us in our suffering and gives us himself to trust and lean on.

After all, he was plunged into the deepest sea of darkness for us, to show us his mad love for us and that we are not alone in suffering. He knows our suffering, temptations and weakness very deeply. The blessing of life then, as I said in the beginning, is a bundle of minutes and precious moments, passing us by whether we like it or not, believe it or not. As such, it is up to us to embrace the moments, darkness in all. We all have a choice in how we handle and view the suffering.

I say embrace it, head on, knowing that God is the great shepherd. Who can lead you beside still waters, regardless of where you have been, what you have done or have scared you may be about the future.

You are loved, it is never too late to accept the hand with the most amazing love and grace.

Caught in the Storm

Do What You Were Meant To Do.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

― Howard Thurman

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space. I repeat:

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space.

What does this mean?

It means that God has endowed us all with things that we are passionate about, and talented out. What ever those things are for you, are the things that I truly believe that you should be pursuing.

It doesn’t matter if its painting, web design, clothing, public speaking, mentoring, coaching or something else. If we are not doing the things we love in some fashion. We are living a horrible existence.

As a society, we are caught in the 9-5 trap, working for our bank accounts. Now, if you like what you’re doing, good. Keep doing it. But I feel that most people hate what their doing and as such they are dying on the inside. Living for the Fridays and drinking some beer… Not that that’s bad at all.

But I just think that we could be living a more meaningful existence… You have to work an odd job to make ends meet. But to not do something that makes you come alive, is utter foolishness.

Write down what makes you come alive, make a plan and go do it.

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A Tighter Grip.

I don’t even know where to begin

All I know is that I want to get a grip on myself.

My anxiety has been so bad.

My emotions have been everywhere.

And sometimes I feel like my chest is going to implode.

I find myself crying when I am alone.

I find myself utterly sensitive to the energies around me.

One moment I am happy and the next, anger, sadness, frustration rage.

I hate this…. I hate this.

My soul is desperate for change.

I want to know what it’s like to feel stable.

I hate feeling like such a wreck.

Perhaps its only a season or moment in time.

All I want is to break free. And not be dominated by this internal, unstable and insecure war inside me.

I want to get to the bottom of this, one breath at a time, one step at a time.

 

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Cerebral Palsy. Body Image and Internal Healing.

I’m starting to see a correlation between cerebral palsy and body image, this correlation stems from being in contact with numerous people who live with cerebral palsy through social media. In this particular regard, I’m speaking about having a negative self image.

You may look at the image of me below, and not think that I am “fat” all, but when I look at myself. That is what I see.

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When I look at the sides of my stomach, I think “Ugh gross” then I start thinking or obsessing over what I eat and upping the intensity of my daily workouts. Which is not a bad thing at all. It is a problem though, when you are in the middle of your workout and you can’t stop dwelling on how disgusting you feel and look.

I posted that above photo on instagram a few weeks ago, lots of people said that I looked great, or that we all had those feelings, or even “that’s just skin!” The comments were heart warming and helped me to think more positively.. For awhile, but then I would find myself in the downward spiral of self destruction and sabotage.

My workouts have consisted of lots of burpees, probably two-four hundred every single day. Along with Kettle and Bar Bell lifting. I sweat a lot, recover well but am utterly hungry the rest of the day.  Nor am I afraid of eating my carbs, protein and Beer… My one beer after work.

The engine is constantly stoked, and I’m constantly pushing my mind and body.. But there is this area of my life, that needs change. I’m tried all the thought stopping methods, all the positive affirmations etc. And still nothing helps the crap shoot stop.

After CF today, I came home, ate and then went to wash my stinky self. There I was, looking at my body with contempt. And then I thought, “this has to stop!” Truly the only thing that gets me through life is my faith. So after redirecting my thoughts back to it, I whispered to God:

“God, you don’t want me to hate my body, I know that. Help me to see myself differently, as you do.” At that moment, something clicked on inside of me. I’m not saying that you have to do, as I do, that is something that you have to decide and work through for yourself.

What I am saying though, is that these destructive thinking has to stop, or at least be put in its rightful place. A vast majority of therapists would saying that working out is killing me, and steer me away from it as they would most addictions. But I don’t think that that is the end all be all solution.

Yes, some things might need to change, or pause. But this is less a physical issue, and more a mental, emotional and spiritual issue. And until those issues heal, nothing we change the way we long for.

So! We have to understand that this is going to be a long journey, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. We have to accept where we are at. I know that this is something that will not want to be heard, you might spend lots of time in a wheel chair, and be on lots of meds. Okay, we can work with that, the fact is that we cannot give up.

There are plenty of exercises that can be done from a seated position, plenty of ways to even build stamina too. I should get on making videos regarding these topics. Yet the biggest component is learning to take care of ourselves from a place of love and not so much a “I have to” but an “I want to” there’s a huge difference.

Change your forward thinking: Think less on your image, and think more about prolonged health, mobility, strength and focus. So that we can be the strongest version of ourselves, not so much for ourselves but for others.

The internal healing is more tangible than we believe, more closer than we think. Much like any medicine though, it takes time for the benefits to show up, but rest assured. Through discipline and diligence change will come.

Blessings!

-Brandon

 

 

 

 

Anxiety. Jesus. And How To Cope

Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ. -CS Lewis (Letters to Malcolm)

Anxiety is a very crippling affliction, for me it consists of a tight chest, racing thoughts, anger, fear, dread, panic and intense sobbing when the tears are able to pour forth. It can be debilitating in some sense, sometimes I don’t even want to people around people, mostly I just want to escape to a quiet and peaceful place.

In our modern society, anxiety is either as a mental health issue, and thus prescribed anti anxiety/anti-depressants. On time of counseling of some form or another. I have mixed emotions about it, sometimes when they anxiety is so bad it doesn’t seem like anything helps calm the rage inside me. Honestly, in these moments I turn to an ice cold beer to aid in helping numb the numbness.

I know that there are healthier ways of dealing with it, physically and spiritually speaking. So I’m sorry to disappoint. On the other hand some in the scientific community are saving that the war against anxiety lies within our gut and what we eat. I don’t have with a problem with this idea, other then the fact that some within this community try a pit the physical against the mental and so on. Rarely is it ever both at the same time.

In recent years I have taken a more holistic approach to self-care, being sure that the body, mind and spirit are all taken care of to the best of my human ability. No, I’m not always perfect at it, but I do the best I can by Gods grace. Jesus knew anxiety very well, and was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). To see this, all one has to do is look at his reaction in the garden of gethsemane, His reaction to what was about to come before Him, was not just a physical, spiritual, mental or emotionally one but rather the harshest wave of each of them.

Be that as it may, if Jesus experienced this sort of anguish (which I believe He did) then He is the most vital figure to look at. This is not to imply that others who struggle with anxiety aren’t worth gleaning from,  but because how He (Jesus) understood deeply and overcame triumphantly, our affliction. He is the truest path to peace.

Even when words fail, when everything else fails us. He will not. He will uphold us with an out stretched arm. Furthermore, it is vitally important to note that Jesus does not minimize anxiety as some in our culture do. He knows it, He has jumped head first into the deepest anxiety for you and me.

Again I say, medicine, therapy, exercise, community etc is not bad, but more than anxiety is the calming serenity and joy that we long the most for.   He will hold you close to His chest, He will hear your cry when no else has a moment to spare.

Know that this moment will pass, it might not pass when we want to. But it will.

Pray,

Journal,

Cry out to God, for He hears you before anyone else will,

Find a few loyal friends you can depend on, in the darkest moments.

Eat healthy, avoid processed food and sugars

Exercise daily, get your body moving.

Go to a counselor if you want to.

Cry. Scream. Slam things if you need to. Just don’t stomach it any longer.

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God Spoke To Me

There I was sitting on the toilet this morning, as I always do. Taking care of the demons in my stomach. Truth be told, I have not been feeling all that great about myself the past few days. For reasons that I do not wish to share on this blog.

But there I was, the few places that I pray are when I am in the shower, working out or on the toilet. I tend to pray more privately these days… As I was sitting on my throne, I was noticing all the negative thoughts coming out from my mind, making their way to my heart.

When I heard and felt a soft whisper say from underneath all of the crap coming out of (non pun intended).

Your my son… 

I know its crazy, and this blog might very well make you think that of me. So be it. For many religious crack heads have said that God spoke to them, well, let me tell you quickly why my experience is different. The words that were spoken to me, can be back up with scripture.

Psalm 2:7

Matthew 3:17

Luke 15:11-32

To name a few, I don’t think this is as crazy, because God speaks to various people in various ways through out the whole of scripture. Further more, the Lord reminding me that I am his son, is far (far) different than some other Christian claiming “the phone rang and that was a sign I was meant to marry this person!”

I know my soul needed these words today, I needed to be reminded of my true identity today. Does this happen often to me? No, but when it does. Its very special to me. Today my hope and prayer is that you know that God loves you, in Christ all things can be made new.

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The Lies I Believe And The Power of Ephesians

Contrary to popular belief, or how social media my portray I don’t wake up with a smile on my face all the time. In fact, some mornings I wake up and it seems as though, there is a spiritual war going inside me. A war against regret, doubt, shame, hopelessness and so much more.

The lies I believe:

You’re not good enough

you don’t have what it takes

nobody actually cares

no women will ever want you

you’ll never be all that you dreamed of being

God hates you

Just give up.

There’s more lies in there I’m sure, but you get the point and maybe you can relate. Sometimes I’m not even sure how these thoughts enter my mind. I could just wake up that way! Wake up feeling like I’m in a fight for my life, my mind, my eternal destiny. I have to be reminded that I’m not hopeless, that the God of the university is for me and on my side. His eyes are ever upon me. The one thing that has caused me to hold on and fight back against all these thoughts, is the love letter of Ephesians. I could easily copy and paste the entire 6 chapters in this blog, but I think I will settle for Eph 1:3-14

eBlessed be fthe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing gin the heavenly places, 4 heven as he ichose us in him jbefore the foundation of the world, that we should be kholy and blameless before him. In love 5 lhe predestined us2 for madoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, naccording to the purpose of his will, 6 oto the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in pthe Beloved. 7 qIn him we have rredemption sthrough his blood, tthe forgiveness of our trespasses, uaccording to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 vmaking known3 to us the mystery of his will, naccording to his purpose, which he wset forth in Christ 10 as a plan for xthe fullness of time, yto unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained zan inheritance, ahaving been predestined baccording to the purpose of him who works all things according to cthe counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be dto the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard ethe word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, fwere sealed with the gpromised Holy Spirit, 14 who is hthe guarantee4 of our iinheritance until jwe acquire kpossession of it,5 lto the praise of his glory.

I can think of no other writing in the world, that makes my mind and soul come alive in this way. I can think of no other spiritual or religious text that makes me want to put on my armor, grab my brave heart sword (metaphorically speaking) and start slaying these lies in my head. Because Christ has overcame it all for me. He has done the same for you, so that you no longer have to be chained to these crippling thoughts any longer.

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What DC Movies Have Taught Me

The past few days I have seen two DC movies: Justice League and the new Thor. Both were really good, laced with a good mix of humor and action, but within each movie I find myself being drawn into a deeper meaning, and deeper purpose and pulled from my current reality.

This is what good movies are supposed to do, right? They are meant to engage all the aspects of the human condition. Their meant to make us, laugh, cry, think, scream in terror (if you’re into that) and they’re meant to be a secret escape. Kinda like the movie Last Action Hero, where a kid get so drawn into his favorite action hero, he actually becomes a part of it.

Or in the movie side kicks, when a young protagonist becomes the side kick of Chuck Norris. I know, that doesn’t happen to us. But it almost any Marvel Movie or any action hero installment, there is almost a message of justice (and the longing for it) hope, losing it and being able to find it again. These movies speak of loss and triumph, of death and resurrection.

These are all eternal and divine things, that I believe are inside of us all. Things that science by it’s self cannot explain on its own. These are good and holy things that we should not simply dismiss, nor should we chalk them  to be mere chemical reactions in our brains.

I think that for myself, I want to (try) and let myself watch a Marvel movie, or something like it. One) just to let myself escape the hardness of this world, Two) to not lose hope, the fact is, is that sometimes when can be so aware of our own reality. That we become numb to hope, change, truth, justice, love etc.

That we embrace a sort of nihilism without even knowing it. So my challenge to you, is to let yourself get lost in a DC movie, I think our souls depend on it in a way. And let getting being lost in these movies propel us to be the hero in someone else’s life.

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