As I mentioned in my last entry, I was headed off to ‘fill my well’. And that my friends, is exactly what happened. But I found that before you can fill a well that is empty (aka: a body that was a bit ragged, had given and over-driven, and run somewhat ‘dry’) that you have to get rid of the sludge at the bottom of the well before you can fill the well with fresh water.
For me, it was coming to the end of myself. On the trip to WA/OR/CA, I found myself surrounded in places and with people who were pouring into me – from the folks who have helped launch the book, to family friends, college buddies, church friends, new and old friends at Joni and Friends in Agoura, CA International Disabilty Center, and even former babysitters. I was flabbergasted at the Relay For Life in Battle Ground, WA when the Hero of Hope for Great Northwest Region 2009-10, Marilyn Hash, who is MY Hero of Hope and adopted ‘mom’ for over 36 years and her daughter Shelly (also a former babysitter for us!) had driven 4 hours in over 90 degree weather just to surprise me as I spoke at the Survivor’s Luncheon. Jenne Henderson, (you read about her and her family on pg 47 in my book!) spent an AWESOME (but HOT) day with me at Relay. We hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. I will NEVER complain about pitching a tent for Relay For Life in 20-30 degree weather again! Battle Ground: 97 degrees (110 on the track) is one HOT Relay For Life…guess I’m just a true Alaskan, eh?! Then there was the day Joni Eareckson Tada and I went to record a radio spot – the sound board blew for the first time in 15 years! Did someone say Care was in the house?! So we did it the ‘old-fashioned way – Joni’s wheelchair facing one way, my wheeling chair facing the other and a hand held recorder in between us!
Everywhere I went the sun followed, (Northwesterners thanking me for bringing it with me – it rained in Alaska every day I was gone!!) It was sunny and warm – even at Tillamook and Rockaway Beach Joni and Friends Twin Rock/So. Oregon Family Retreat. And THAT’s where the ‘sludge’ removal began. For the first 3 days I was ‘leadership’ – helping to train and be a support to the short term missionaries who would serve the families affected by disability coming to camp. These volunteers would literally be the hands and feet for families who needed respite, who needed a break, who needed to be loved. Hmmm….wonder why I got to teach the Intellectual/Developmentally Delayed Section? By the third group I WAS a total example of someone who was intellectually impaired as my neurological flavors kicked in and Yoda Speak took over with all the noise and overstimulation. Call it hands on training? After my last session of training, I OFFICIALLY became a camper. Me….who had been to the very first Family Retreat on the Oregon Coast in 1991. Me… who had ended my career at Joni and Friends staff as Asst. Director of Family Retreats. What a different perspective.
The transition from leadership to camper was harder than I thought. But there was no mistake that this life lesson was taking place right near where our family had vacationed when I was little….around the age my dad gave me my life verse of Matthew 6:33-34. (See pg 124 of the book!). Once more I could hear my dad’s voice as I sat alone on the warm sand looking out to Twin Rocks you see at the top of the page. “Care: Seek FIRST and FOREMOST, ALL that God has for you, and be OBEDIENT to do them..and things will always work out. Just take it one day at a time.”
My “one day’s at a time” have changed. My life has changed. It is time to truly ‘rest’ and relinquish, and get my grimey hands off the one thing I had been clinging on to: my overly independent spirit and my “I can do it MYSELF, thank you kindly!” As I humbly unclinched my fist, I accepted, truly, that I can’t and won’t be able to do many of the things I could before, and am willing to accept (and ask for!) a helping hand.
As I became a camper – someone who is affected by a disabilty, God paired me with a short term missionary, Vicky, who didn’t put on her application that she had worked as a teacher in the Bush in Alaska and her hubby was a commercial fisherman at one time out of Ketchican….(do I hear anyone say “Godcidence”?!)
Vicky was patient and let me ‘toxic dump’ as I transitioned from leadership of sorts, to lead differently – adaptively …one day at a time. No two days in my physical life are the same. I never know ‘who’ or ‘what’ I will wake up to. Sure, I may not “look” disabled – and I sure don’t ACT disabled, but I am neurologically, orthopedically and medically impaired and I’m finally ‘owning’ it. I know…don’t all faint at once!! SOME of us are slow learners (or hard headed!!)
So the sludge is removed, and it’s good to be home with my dear hubby. He surprised me with magnetic car signs of “Care’s Corner” and PAINTING (YES!! for the first time in 35 years I don’t have white walls!). It is called “Stolen Kiss” and adds just the right accent to the rest of the white walls. And he canned away – salsa, salmon, beets, corn, spinich, potoatos and more, getting us ready for winter. I’ve delighting in returning to photos of camp and Relay, amazing gardens at Beth/Mike’s and Francie’s (and floating in Francie’s pool in 100 degree sun for 2 1/2 hours (how do YOU spell “this side of Heaven!!) and a BBQ and s’moring (no…no ‘human s’mores!) with dear friends new and old from Joni and Friends.
Thanks for taking time to share this journey with me – you all mean more than you can possibly know. As I celebrate the joy of another birthday this week, I owe it to each and every one of you as you have loved me, helped me and most of all, put up with me…one day at a time.
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.