Measure a Year

I love me a good thunderstorm, but those aren’t good for me to practice walking in. I would still love to dance in one again, but right now, I have to hope for clear, dry weather to practice putting my feeble feet on pavement. This past Wednesday with Anja, I had the chance to stretch out my calves before we walked outside without my braces. We just wanted to see how far I could make it after not having had any good days to practice no-braces walking. I surprised us both making it a good 200 meters before needing to pause to rest. Anja stretched out my legs again and I wobbled a bit as I took a few more steps and needed another rest and stretch. For those familiar with Kandern, I made it from my house past the side of the fire station, along the Hieber path to the second bench.

Anja celebrates these big moments with me because while I have hit those targets before, I’ve had setbacks this year with blisters and spasms. Years ago, I used to walk a similar route with Hunter or Cindy bringing my chair along getting a whole loop in back to my house. You may have noticed my posts are less focused on those achievements lately – and it’s not for lack of effort. As I was leaving lunch at a friend’s house this afternoon, a woman who has watched me on crutches for the past nine years commented about how proud she was of the progress I’ve made. I needed the encouragement today. I navigated a couple of steps with help from friends before wheeling around the lawn at our TeachBeyond year end gathering where I was recognised for my ten years of service. It’s been a long stretched out two year commitment. I laughed as I sat next to a friend who said she’s on year 23 of her 2.5 year commitment.

Driving to church this morning, we saw loads of people running the 3-country-marathon, and I haven’t forgotten Mike’s words before I left New Zealand that he expected me to manage a 5k someday. Forty-two kilometers seems just as unimaginable to me as a simple 5k, but I start with my 200 meters on Wednesday.

Google maps can tell me the distance from my house to that bench, but it cannot tell you the incredible feat it is for a diagnosed paraplegic to refuse to stay in a wheelchair. Today I managed a staircase plus some extra uneven steps and off-roaded the wheelchair on gravel and a lawn. I’m not easily deterred by physical obstacles. Sometimes I just need a different route, or different measurements to account for my progress. This past week, I had a really positive encounter with a staff member who arrived this year. We’ve not interacted directly very much, but he found it relevant to our conversation to tell me that he’d heard several kind and affirming things about me from other community members. I can’t tell you what a gift that was to my soul to hear positive things.

Similarly, I received a message this afternoon from a former student that just said, “Praying for you today. God is strong and he is willing. His power is greater than our weakness.” How beautiful. As I think about how I have fallen short in my steps, I am reminded by the other ways I can measure my year. As I post this “late” in the day, I’ll go enjoy the last rays of light counting one more sunset from my bench.

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