January 25, 2011


Every now and then I get the opportunity to meet a remarkable person. The fun part of this is that you never know where you will find them.

This past weekend, I was visiting my mother who is temporarily in a physical rehab facility following a stroke. I was sitting with Mom during an occupational therapy session, just minding our own business. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone speeding toward us in one of those electric wheelchairs called a “Hoveround.”

Mom looked up and said, “Hi Rachel!” At exactly this moment, Rachel realized that she could not get the hoveround stopped and ended up running into Mom’s table and turning it on top of her. Since nobody was hurt, this was pretty funny and we all sat and laughed together. In a place where most of the people there are struggling with their health, and some fighting for their very existence, laughter is a rare commodity.

After gathering her wits, Rachel said to Mom, “look through this mail and see if any of it is yours.” You see, Rachel can no longer read. She is 53 years old and is a victim of Cerebral Palsy. Her entire life has been a battle to walk, think clearly, and attempt to function just like everyone else. However, the disease is now rapidly taking over her body.

Almost two years ago, she fell attempting to take a shower and broke both of her legs. Because of her disability, she has never recovered. She is at the point where physical therapy is no longer an option. Since she has no family to care for her, she is now a resident of this nursing facility for the remainder of her days. (She prefers to call it “long term care” because someday, she is going to “blow this popsicle stand.”)

So what did she do with this news? She decided to find a way to be productive.

Every morning, Rachel reports to the front desk. Any mail that is addressed to the facility’s patients is given to her and she spends the next several hours delivering the mail. As she delivers the mail, she chats with the patients about anything they are able and willing to discuss. She is so pleasant and so quick to encourage. Her visits brighten the day of so many who have nobody to care.

I was blessed to speak with her for nearly a half-hour. Whether she realized it or not, I was inspired!

What would happen if we all had Rachel’s heart? If we would stop worrying about what we can’t do and figure out a way to do what we can. For Rachel, it would be easy to lie in her bed and be bitter about the cards she’s been dealt, or waste the remainder of her life wondering “what if?” But for Rachel, being productive is simply delivering mail and just talking to folks. So, what’s your thing? Well, that’s for you to find out.

Paul challenged the church at Thessalonica to “to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you…” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

It’s still good advice…in fact it is inspired.

I suppose this post is a Christian Nike commercial: “Just Do It!” What many people may not know is that Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. I guess the people at Nike have a point, because I’ve never met a victorious person who dwelled on what they could not do, but rather used and cultivated their gifts beyond anyone else’s imagination.

So, I encourage you to find a way to use your gifts and blessings, and on behalf of my new friend Rachel, who I consider a living, breathing goddess of victory…Just Do It!

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