In 2010, I was stripped of who I was through a brain illness called Encephalitis. I lost all physical abilities, much of my memory as well as some of my cognitive function – and was given no hope of recovery. All of this began while I was working as a teacher in the war zone known as the Gaza Strip. After waking from an almost 30 day coma, and discovering the extent of my setback, I realized that I had 2 choices – resign or rebuild. I chose to rebuild.
In rebuilding, I had the gift of being able to do so with intention. It included relearning to do things I had previously taken for granted but now learned to do so with gratitude; starting with brushing my teeth, sitting up, taking a shower, walking, talking and even thinking.
Through that process, I learned what a magnificent and uncharted territory our brain is with its immense yet untapped potential and how vital it is to access my brain’s remarkable ability to restructure, reconnect and rebuild.
My mission is to educate people so they too can believe in the immense capacity of the brain-mind conspiracy to create the life they envision!
A person does not need a near death experience to learn how to transform their life. What they need is an understanding of the miraculous potential and scientific reality of the brain’s neuroplasticity, its ability to create new pathways that can, indeed, revolutionize their everyday lives.
I will forever be grateful that I was stripped of my old ways of thinking and being, and was forced to find a way to rebuild, creating a new identity, and in doing so, discovered immeasurably more than I ever thought possible!
“You don’t have it get it perfect, you just have to get it going” Several people, including Jack Canfield, have said this, or some version of it.
So many times we hesitate in taking the next step because we worry that we won’t do it perfectly. Here’s the good news – WE DON’T HAVE TO! In fact, I would be so bold as to say that it’s better if we don’t! Why!? Because then we have to try harder – and it’s through that sustained effort that real breakthroughs are accomplished!
So often our perception is that we need “more” (more skills, more money, more support, etc) in order to take the next steps. When we learn to see progress as a series of baby-steps rather than one big leap, it is easier to muster the courage to take the next step, realizing that I CAN DO THIS with the skill, money, support, etc that I CURRENTLY HAVE.
After I had finally come out of my almost 30 day coma, I realized that I had extremely limited physical abilities. I couldn’t walk or even sit up, I couldn’t raise my hands very high at all, I couldn’t stand unassisted, so I needed help for everything. One of those things I got help with was to take a shower. For some reason, the nurse who helped me take my first shower seemed to have it in for me. She place my wheelchair in the shower stall so I was facing her and turned on the water. She pointed the water nozzle at me and sprayed me full in the face. Because I was unable to lift my arms and so couldn’t get my hand any higher than my shoulders, I could only flail helplessly while I sputtered on coughed as the water sprayed into my face. I felt humiliated as I sat there, trying and failing to protect myself, while the nurse stood holding the water nozzle on me.
Finally she sprayed me all over, finished my shower and rolled me back to my room. I struggled to get from my wheelchair to my bed and lay down, defeated. As I lay there I reflected on what had just happened. I was determined that the next time I needed a shower, I would do it myself….. but how?
There was no way at all that I could get my hands up far enough to enable me to wash my own hair or body, so I devised a plan. I sat on the edge of my bed and slowly and painfully bent my head towards my right shoulder while raising my right hand as far up as I could and then repeating the process on my left side. When I started, my hands couldn’t even reach my head at all, but I kept trying, day after excruciating day. I had decided that all I needed to do was to be able to reach the tips of my fingers across the centre of the top of my head, as this would enable me to wash and rinse my hair. I wasn’t looking for perfection right away, I just needed to get the job done.
By the time I needed a shower again, however, I still couldn’t reach the top of my head so I asked a kind Turkish nurse if she would please help me. I don’t speak Turkish and she didn’t speak much English but we managed to understand each other and so she helped me. I was grateful but still determined to be able to shower myself.
I continued my practice of sitting on the edge of my bed, bending my head over as far as I could to the right and the left while forcing my arms to lift my hands a little higher each time. Finally, after a few days, I was able to feel my fingertips cross the middle of the top of my head! SUCCESS! I knew I’d finally be able to give myself a shower.
The next day I wheeled myself down to the shower room and backed into a shower stall. I still had great difficulty with my strength and mobility but I finally got everything set up for me to take my own shower.
I turned on the water and wet down my hair, carefully bending my head from side to side so I could make sure my head was properly soaked. I poured shampoo into my hand and carefully rubbed that through, one side at a time, until I could feel that I had washed all my hair. Next came the moment I had been preparing for! Slowly, carefully and painstakingly, I rinsed my hair, bending my head as far as I could, first to the right, then to the left, while bringing my hands up on either side as far as I could. I rinsed thoroughly, making sure I couldn’t feel any shampoo in my hair. I had difficulty washing my body too due to my limited and painful mobility but I did my best before shutting the water off and wheeling myself back to my room.
I checked the time. That shower had taken almost an hour and a half – but I had done it myself! After days of preparing, I had reached my goal! Never again would I need help to take a shower!
But I was completely exhausted and needed to sleep for the rest of the day. I slept with the pride and satisfaction of knowing I had won the day!
Was my life perfect? It depends on who you ask. Compared to the life I had before the coma, maybe things still weren’t looking very good, but compared to the life I had a few days before, I had made incredible progress! For me, that was the perfect end to the day, and indeed, to that week.
You don’t have to get it perfect, just get it going. I had definitely gotten it going!
Our perception can be “I need more before I can start” but reality says, “start now, and you’ll get more”
Don’t let your perception hold you back from pushing forward. Push, and watch the doors open for you, because you don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.
Haunting shame holds us back from joyful communion with God and with others
Jesus defends us from those lies
God is the Potter - taken from Romans 9:21 as well as looking at what happened to Job in the context of God being the Potter.
This message was shared with Redemption Church on Friday, Oct. 4. 2019 in Abbotsford, BC
As I have been praying for "immeasurably more" that we're told about in Ephesians 3:20-21, doors have been opening!
I was invited to speak to a beautiful group of survivors in my church's Friday night ministry called Redemption Church.
After that, I was invited to practice a 30 minute version of this message to an advanced Toastmasters group. God is faithful and has said that his message never comes back void - and so I am excited for these "practice" opportunities to share His message with audiences who might not otherwise sit to listen to a message about the grace and power and love of God!
I had another opportunity to share this message with my own Toastmasters group. Again, there are people who may not otherwise be interested in hearing about what God has done and yet, there they were, listening and taking in this message of LIFE and HOPE.
Then (and this is the big one!!) through a brief conversation with my friend, Dr. Hanna Massad, pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, suddenly we were talking about Missions Fest 2020 and how I could help him with his booth for the ministry he founded called Christian Mission to Gaza http://cm2g.org
That discussion quickly led to talk of doing seminar, which he had not thought of doing. I offered to look into it and discovered that we still have 2 weeks until the submission deadline!! All we need for that deadline is the outline of the seminar and not the completed project!
I was a seminar presenter at Missions Fest in 2012 and so told Pastor Hanna that I would be happy to put together an outline, submit it, and then put together and present a seminar on God's work in the Gaza Strip and the Christians there!
If you would like your church to hear a first hand account of the church in the Gaza Strip, I am happy to come and share with you. I lived and worked there in 2010, got sick there, wasn't expected to live to tell the story and was miraculously restored by God's healing power.
Does God actually do immeasurably more than we ask or even imagine? Oh yes He does!! I am living proof of that!!
This is a 10 minute presentation of Immeasurably More!
God is really speaking to me as I share this message. He is reminding me to bring all my concerns to Him because He really can and does do immeasurably more than I can ask or even imagine.
My friend is very sick and so I've been praying for him, non stop. I am encouraged to keep praying and believing that God can do so much more for him that I can even think or dare to pray for. God proved this to me years ago when He restored my health after I was ravaged by both encephalitis and sepsis while working in the Gaza Strip.
If God can do that, I know he can heal my friend who is being cared for in a Canadian hospital. Nothing is too hard for him. And so I keep praying, believing and knowing that God gives us miracles all the time, not because we deserve them but because of His grace and mercy. I pray that my friend's healing will be so obviously a miracle of God, so unmistakable, that his friends and family will see and know and believe!
This is a practice of my Immeasurably More! message. Unfortunately I didn't have a mic but I hope the message comes through.
Living in an RV has its way of making life interesting, sometimes in awkward ways. One of those ways is that I don't have a sewage hook up where I'm living and so I head out to my local McDonald's every morning to get coffee and to use their facilities.
Months ago, when I first started my daily ritual, I met a group of "older men" (when I say "older", I mean "older than me". One of my McDonald's buddies read this and gave me a hard time for calling them "older" hahaha I thought I better clarify) who meet up for coffee before they head off to their day. Some are contractors, some farmers, some retired, some I don't know what they do - but they are obviously friends who enjoy their morning visits.
Trading friendly and sometimes witty (and mostly hilarious!) salutations with them has become one of the best parts of my day.
I have learned the names of 2 of my buddies, maybe 3, and today they asked me my name, but that really doesn't matter. We talk and laugh anyways. No names needed.
They may not know how much it means to me to get such a great start to my work days.
I have been asking God "what is my message?" and he answered with this:
Eph 3:20-21 (NIV) "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"
What does that mean? How is that my message?
That phrase says it all - "to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine". Let that sink in. Able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. The Good News Translation says "able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of"
I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot! Yet we are told that Jesus can do more than we can ever ask for or even think of! That's amazing!
Why would that be my message? Because I am an eye-witness to this truth. When I got sick in 2010 and wasn't expected to survive, there were people all over the world praying for me to survive that devastating illness. I had been diagnosed with a double-whammy of encephalitis and sepsis. Either illness can kill or leave a person permanently disabled.
As people prayed, they asked for my survival - but God, who is able to do immeasurably more than we ever ask for or even think of, did so much more! I know that, as I lingered in a coma, I was somewhere in that space between life and death. The doctors didn't think I was going to make it. My test results weren't giving them any reason to think I would make it.
"Immeasurably more than we can ever ask for or even think of".
There were dangers that I was unaware or, or at least unaware of just how much danger there was, for me in Gaza. I believe that God used this illness as a means of escape and then restored me to full health - physically and mentally.
It wasn't God's will for me to be harmed in Gaza at the hands of the his enemies nor was it his will for me to die from a devastating illness.
Have faith when you pray - and be bold. Whatever you ask for or even think of, know that God is able to do immeasurably more!
I listened to a sermon this morning that was exactly what I needed.
For a long time I have been plagued with doubts and insecurities over the mistakes I have made in my life. Some of my mistakes have been of little consequence but some of them have been doozies.
How could God still use me and even want me after what I've done? This morning, my wifi was finally working well enough to listen to a sermon by Dr. Erwin Lutzer of the Moody Bible Church in Chicago. He spoke about the fact that our mistakes do not render us beyond God's reach and use - AND BLESSINGS!!
As I lay in bed and listened and reflected on the message, I found hope returning to my heart and mind. God has used and blessed SO many who have gone before me who have also made colossal mistakes!
He is not deterred by our human frailty. That is not to say that there are no consequences that we must live with due to some of the mistakes we make but God is able to weave them into our story and still make make a way for us to be a blessing!
If you haven't heard of Dr. Lutzer, I encourage you to look him up. I first heard him when I was about 12 or 14 years old at a youth conference in Ontario. It was then that I heard of his book called "Failure: the backdoor to success". What a profound message of hope that book is!!
He is a prolific writer and has a strong message of grace and hope that is so desperately needed for those of us who find ourselves seeming much more imperfect than others.
We can find so much comfort in the fact that God used David for great things - even being in the human lineage of Jesus! And that was after David committed adultery and murder. He repented and God restored him.
My own mistakes are no less devastating than David's and so I can believe that if God went on to use David to be such a blessing, then I am not too far gone to be used greatly by God as well.
The grace of God is deeper, wider and more profound than we could ever imagine.
Take heart, my friend. as one who has been saved by the precious blood of Jesus, God has promised that you will always be held in His hands and never ever be discarded, even though the world may discard us. God takes us by the hand and lifts us to our feet again and calls us His own.