Monday, July 1, 2013

stop, rest, accept

Today was the day. With a rested back, restless mind & READY heart, I entered the unit floor. My patients were kind,  eager to fill me in on recent happenings of our little unit. Co-workers waved, saying they were glad to see me back & feeling better, but instantly provided updates of imminent needs.
I smiled, nodded – assured everyone I was OK, better & could handle all of it. But to be honest, it was overwhelming & I knew it would be. That’s why armored-up with a comfortable maxi-dress & Tall Iced Grande White Mocha to face the day.IMG_1754
I accomplished many “to-do’s,” but was advised to leave early (by a very stubborn Medical Director) so to not strain too soon. I understood her point & even appreciated the concern, but my desk was lost in paperwork, June notes not done & with this Type-A personality, it will drive this girl-writer / social-worker NUTS.
But, I left at 2:00pm because I’m a little scared of her. And I took Vickery Rd. home, pondering my continued issue  with limitations.
My limitations are physical. I have a mind that never sleeps, a heart that never stops, but a body that cannot keep up… & this is the hardest part for me. 
 My head says “walk” – my right leg stops.  My head says “stand” – my spine says, not without crutches. My heart says “stay” – my body says, you can’t.
This is the battle I face, the life I lead. But in the fight between mind, body & heart, I find Jesus. I find his truth & his strength… & not strength to keep walking, standing, or staying:
So, I will stop. I will rest. I will accept.
And Jesus, Dr. Chamarthi & I are good with that.

Sincerely, Holly

Joni & Friend, Holly

It's been a quiet Saturday. The pain has dissipated (thank you, Jesus) & my body is responding just as Dr. Ward said it would - I'm ready to get up & get OUT.  But I'm heeding his orders & staying in...even scootering around my 675 square foot apartment... you know, normal stuff.
Don't believe me? See instagram for proof.

I've had a lot of time to think over the past week & oodles of time to write, so this "pain-cation" hasn't been all bad. But thinking & writing will only take you so far in a day, so what do I do? Instagram. This morning I shared with Edward the latest  on the Gram (yes, he cares) & how I learned Joni & Friends Family Retreat is going on.  It's been fun seeing  pictures, videos & tweets from STM's & even Joni herself.
There were many years I played a role in Family Retreat.. First as a Short-term Missionary, then as Leader of the High School Group. I LOVED camp &  made friends that will last  a life-time.  The families call it, "heaven on earth" ... & it is, it really is.
And it all started with her story.
When I was a little girl, my mother loved telling me about it.
"Holly, Joni's in a wheelchair, she's paralyzed & can't move her legs, but GUESS WHAT? She paints with HER MOUTH!"
My little face would drop & she would go on, "You see , God is SO strong he can use anybody he wants to."
I didn't know it then, but my mother was planting a very important message in my heart.
She was teaching me that God is bigger than my Spina bifida...& he's stronger than my weak little legs...& he did a GOOD thing giving me a broken body, for I will know him more because of it.
I'm proud to say Joni is an actual friend of mine.  We met at Family Retreat, but it wasn't right away & I didn't approach her. When you look up to someone for so long, it's difficult to muster the courage to say hello. So I kept my distance & admired from afar, because she is so important & I didn't want to get in the way.

But on the last day, my camper, Billy, went right up to her in the cafeteria to say hi.  I tried to grab him so we could eat lunch & Joni wheeled over toward me - so tall, even in that wheelchair - & said,
"I've wanted to meet you all week."  My heart stopped. All I could say was, "I've wanted to meet you my whole life."
That was the beginning of our friendship. She decided to feature my own story on her TV program (2008) & I continued serving at camp, visiting the International Disability Center in Aurora, CA & hanging out with cool people like Cindy Fahy, John Wern & Dan'l Markham... until school stopped & reality started.

Seeing all of the pictures this week, provoked me to relive these memories of Joni & her friends. It's difficult to do camp now with work, responsibilities & back pains... So to feel "apart" I decided to send a quick email to Joni, because I felt she HAD to know how fabulous she was looking on Instagram. I knew she was at camp & honestly did not expect a response... But she did...
& I have to admit.. my heart didn't stop. It lifted.
So, here's to Family Retreat. Keep laughing, loving & dancing those summer nights away.

Sincerely, Holly

*Picture from left to right: Me, Joni Eareckson Tada & Angie, my beautiful friend with Spina bifida who is now home with her King.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Don't Pick Your Battles

Today is hard.  I made the decision at 5:23am to not work, because I had been awake since 2:30am taking hot baths, laying in my recliner, watching the clock to make sure I downed that ibuprofen every 4 hours.... that's what nerve pain does to me.  Keeps me awake & hurting beyond belief.
And even though I am in such severe pain, it's still tough to text my boss and say:
"Deb, I'm so sorry, but I can't come in."
Not because I'm afraid of what she'll think - that's the beauty of working in medicine, she always understands - but because it's difficult for me to let Spina bifida win.
As soon as she texted back wishing me a speedy recovery, I had the thought - "Most days I win, but there are some days SB wins... & I need to learn to just pick my battles."  But just as those words came to my tired, stressed out little mind - I felt the Lord quickly correct me.  Even though there are days where I must stop & allow my body the time it needs to heal - it doesn't mean I gave up fighting & it also doesn't mean I lost.
I think a losing battle would look very different... Like, not trying at all.  And by not trying - I don't mean - not working. I actually mean, letting the darkness consume my entire existence...  Being negative about my disability, instead of inspiring.  Being cold toward my sisters, because they are the ones with beautiful spines. Or having resentment against my Lord for ever putting me in this fight to begin with.
I actually, by His grace, feel none of that. I'm not saying I've never had a moment or two - but I am telling you, I don't abide in this darkness. Praise God.
So as you face today, whatever your cross may look like, I want you to NOT think: "Well, I'll just pick my battles."
No. Take on every battle & win them all. We can, because He DID.

I love you, friends. Pray for my healing.
Sincerely, Holly

A Beauty, But a Funny Girl

All-time FAVORITE movie:
Disney's "Beauty and The Beast"...  & yes, that's me sporting serious devotion.
Every little girl finds that one princess to relate to. Mine happens to be Belle, or rather, her tale.
I love every thing about this character.  I love her beauty, intelligence & adventure-seeking heart.
In the first scene, you watch her stroll through a small french-town, talking (actually singing) about how she longs for more than what is offered.
All the while, those surrounding gather & voice a more judgmental opinion:
Look there she goes, the girl is strange but special. A most peculiar mademoiselle.
It's a pity & a sin, she doesn't quite fit in. 
'Cause she really is a funny girl, a beauty but a funny girl, she really is a funny girl that Belle.
A beauty, but a funny girl.
When I stroll, I often bury my head & heart in things too. However, like Belle, I am at the same time FULLY aware of surrounding discussions.
Many people (primarily small children & some adults if they were honest) whisper about my own strangeness: 4 foot; crutches; outward pointing feet w/ odd contraptions; curved back.
You know how men will give pretty ladies a double-take? Well, I often endure 'triple takes' & not just from men.
Take one: notice my presence.
Take two: notice my body.
Take three: notice my face.
For those brave enough to get to Take 3 - I usually have prepared a small speech with my eyes & smile.
I'm sure you're thinking, Holly must relate to Belle because of these things.  That's not exactly it. She is NOT the only character I relate to in this story. Remember, there's also a Beast. A prince trapped in a frightening body. A man who scares people just by his outward appearance & presence.
Story of my life.
But most importantly, I relate to the underlying truths & hardships one endures when they are a little strange or peculiar... be it, a beauty or a beast.... or both in my case.
I relate to the difficult effort of resisting judgement. I relate to the heartaches of loneliness & to the deep fear that no one will love this beast of a body.
But mostly, I find HOPE in that TRUE beauty beats all beasts.


Saturday, June 29, 2013


September 2, 2012
Original Post,

Right now I'm at my parent's house... sorting through old photos; completely nostalgiac (& just a tad freaked out) about turning 29.
I'm sure many of you much more mature adults are rolling your eyes... but hey. Cut a girl some slack.  Try to remember when you turned 29... weren't you just a LITTLE bothered?  Coming in on a number so close to 30? Don't lie.
Ask anyone who is close to me how this past month has gone & they will roll THEIR eyes. Here's a little dialogue:
Self: "Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!!!!"
Whomever: "WHAT'S THE MATTER!?!?!?!"
Self: "I'm turning 29. Ughhhhhh. And not even an INKLING closer to being married OR a New York Times Best-Selling Author."
Whomever: "Holly Strother. You're not dead yet."
Self: LOL... Except I actually laughed-out-loud ;)
I really love some of these pictures I'm finding.  Wow.  I was really thin, kind of ridiculous, with terrible terrible hair in high school & college.  Oh, and let us NOT forget the 'boy-cuts' Donya Strother forced on me ALL through childhood - thanks again, Mom. And going back even further, I'm finding a VERY little Holly, with HUGE eyes and a bright smile... even on operating tables or struggling to stand up with my 'push'... or rolling walker.

Amazing.  What an amazing life I  have led.  What amazing memories I have made.  What amazing people I have known.  What an amazing struggle I have been gifted with.
I say gift, because I see this little girl who knew how to turn every head in a room just by walking through the door.  I see this.  And even today, walking into the Corner Bakery after church I am CERTAIN I caught a few stares shifting.

What a gift.  To be able to do that by just breathing.  By just walking.  By just trying to be like everyone else... but I'm not. And I'm glad.

And tomorrow, I will still be that girl.  Until the day I die... I will still be a girl who commands attention in every room.  I only hope I continue to have huge eyes & a bright smile.  I only hope I continue to walk in this with dignity & grace... always crediting the one who strengthens me to do so.
So ok, maybe I am still single.  Maybe I am still a social worker, only writing because I love to & only published by a humble website designed by Gene Strother... and only receiving reviews from those who love me most.
The truth is, I am lucky to be loved & I am thankful to be me.
But the truest thing I know after 29 years: Christ is the love of my life & ultimately he is the one I write for.