Friday, August 5, 2016

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Friday, July 1, 2016

"Write By Numbers"

The top photo is the lined paper Jessica used to help me learn to write. See the picture on the bottom left with the purple writing? That's how my writing used to look before I started working with Jessica. I started working on this with Jessica in the middle of February and Traci's birthday is March 31st. The book shows the finished product. Look at the improvement in a month's time! Not Bad Huh? It was well worth it!
I never learned to write my name very well in grade school.  With cerebral palsy, it takes more time for me to learn something than the average person. I know what I want my muscles to do. Often, getting my brain to communicate with my muscles to work together is a challenge. My brain has to figure out how to re-route itself. Repetition is the key.
I did learn to write a little bit but just my name. I couldn’t write well enough for the teacher to read a whole sentence. There were other things to worry about in school. Time wise I had to use a one lined flat screen typewriter.  Recently, I learned how to write thanks to my good friend Jessica.
 It all started when I wanted to write my name in a book, I got my attendant aide Traci, for her birthday. It was one of those small pocket books that says, “To and from” on the inside. I just wanted to learn to write my name well enough and type a short birthday message, then paste it on the inside. However, Jessica had another idea. “Why don’t you learn to write the whole message?”
Jessica always pushes me to go to the next level!
“Are you crazy?” I asked.
“No Really. I think you can do it.”
 Jessica doesn’t take no for an answer easily! We only had a month and at the moment my name was barely readable. How would I ever learn in time for Traci’s birthday? Jessica and I have accomplished other milestones. I knew she wouldn’t suggest it if she didn’t think it was possible. I really wanted to give Traci a nice surprise, so I l hesitantly said, “Okay.”
We got to work right away. One of my biggest challenges was to get the letter c going in the right direction. My c’s we’re always backwards and I was taught to write my name in capital letters. As I was re-learning how to write my name, this time using a capital R and the rest of the letters lowercase, my brain connected well with different shapes.
A lowercase  c looked like a mini size cookie, h was like a chair, my name has to a’s in it so we made two c’s with kite tails,  the letter e is like a c starting with a line going down in the middle. For letters like c a, and e, Jessica said, “Start to the left and go all the way around. “ I learned most of the letters in my name start with the c motion.
One day Jessica brought in some lined paper with numbers and colors. It reminded me of when I was a kid and they have those coloring books where you color by numbers. I looked at the paper and asked,
 “What are we going to do? Write by numbers?” We both laughed. The paper was supposed to help me get the size of my letters right.  I did learn to write in time for her birthday and Traci loved her gift. I learned to write my name and a whole paragraph! What an accomplishment! I can write! I did it! Now, so I don’t forget how, the key is to keep practicing on a regular basis. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.



First Grade Why Can't I?

This is the kind of typewriter I used in Elementary School.
I wrote this when I was in my UCLA Flash Fiction Class. It's a reflection of my thoughts about learning to write back in first grade.
Today my friends in Miss. Wolf’s class are learning how to write their names.
Something doesn’t feel quite right.
While everyone else is learning to write I’m using an electric typewriter.
               Why? Why aren’t my hands taking flight?
                If I trace the letters on a piece of paper dot to dot they come out perfectly.
    But if I try to write the letters myself I can barely read them.
             Everyone else’s letters come out perfectly. So clear, and clean.
              Why can’t I do the same?
             Why can’t I write my name?
             I’m told I was born with cerebral palsy and that due to lack of oxygen to my brain certain
              parts of my brain were damaged.
            Some things can be learned but some things I’ll never be able to do.
           Handwriting seems simple. Why aren’t my hands taking flight?
             I have the letter R for Rachael pictured in mind I know how it’s supposed to look
              Getting it down on paper is a struggle.
               You make a straight line down and then I a loop around and then another line down.
              Maybe I’ll learn to write like my friends someday.
              Until then, I’ll just look down at the tiny rectangle screen and peck slowly at the keyboard
             with one finger. I guess I’ll continue on in physical and occupational therapy and learn what I can learn.Still, I dream of the day when my hands might take flight.
Why? Why can’t I write?



Monday, September 21, 2015

Dear Awana Kids

Here's another piece I wrote back in January when I took my flash fiction and nonfiction class. It's a letter to my Awana kids explaining my disability and answering some questions they might have. Enjoy!
Awana Awards Ceremony T & T Girls  3-6th grade (Truth & Training) May 2013 at Grace Baptist Church
Dear Awana Kids,
I have cerebral palsy or CP for short. I was born this way. I had some problems at birth. Don’t worry it’s not contagious. CP is a condition not an illness. If I had a real illness I couldn’t be here. My wheelchair is nothing to be afraid of. I may look different on the outside but on the inside, I’m just like you.
            When I was your age I was in the Awana program just like you. I memorized the same bible verses you memorize, had similar Awana books just like you and got awards just like you. I was very good at memorizing. I got awards for my uniform almost every week.  I was one of the fastest memorizers! My mom was amazed. I turned out to be one of the kids who was the “crème of the crop” as the old saying goes. My body has cerebral palsy not my brain. I always say because I can’t write things down on paper I have to exercise a different part of my brain, which is why I have a great memory.  Some people have told me I have the memory of an elephant because I remember things so well! Have you ever heard the old saying, “An elephant never forgets?”
When you come up to me to make conversation with me, you don’t have to slow your speech down or talk to me in a loud voice. Just talk to me like you would anyone else. I can hear you and understand you. We don’t always have to talk about my disability.  I like to talk about other things too. What’s your favorite food? What about your favorite color? How about your favorite candy? My favorite candy is Snickers but I like anything with chocolate. I even have a shirt that says, “Drop the chocolate and nobody gets hurt." I have quite a sweet tooth! Some people have called me, “Sweet tooth Rachael.” My favorite color is purple.  If you see me drop something on the floor, go ahead and help me pick it up. If we’re going outside somewhere, hold a door for me. I promise I won’t run you over!
If you have questions about the lesson, don’t be afraid to come up to me and ask me. I’m just as capable of answering your question as anyone else in the room. Again, my body has CP not my brain. I’m here to have fun with you and honor the Lord with my service the best way I know how. I’m really looking forward to some of the theme nights this year. Crazy hat night is one of my favorites. I think I’ll wear my Dr, Suess hat. “I do not like them Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.” I’m really looking forward to a fun year at Awana of studying God’s Word with you and getting to know everyone better!




Monday, July 20, 2015

God’s Promise

 I had so much fun writing the poem about Saul I decided to write another one about Noah and the flood. I wanted to tell people what the rainbow means to me. A special thanks to my good friend, Sarah March. She was my extra pair of eyes as I wrote the poem. Your input was very valuable. Also, a special thanks to my brother-in-law, Cody Jensen. He gave me great direction in searching through the scriptures. I really enjoyed our conversation last week. Writing this definitely caused me to dig into God's word more! The last couple weeks have been quite a journey! If you want to read the story of Noah in the Bible, it starts in Genesis chapter six, and ends with chapter nine, where the Lord talks about the rainbow, which is the emphasis in this poem. If you haven't read the Bible, Genesis is the very first book. All scripture quotations are taken from the NIV. (New international Version). Genesis 9:12-15. Enjoy! 

I colored this picture last year at Joni and Friends Family retreat when the  theme was, "Hope Overflowing." As you read this, I pray your heart will overflow with the hope and peace of God's Goodness.
 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13
God was grieved by man's sinful heart
So many people went their own way
Noah and his family were the few to obey
So God told Noah to build an ark
Soon a big flood would destroy the earth
There would be noting left
Nothing left of worth
It wouldn’t be long
Before God’s creation was gone
But Noah and his family would be safe and sound
For following God’s ways they would not drown
 Noah built the ark and brought in the animals two by two
 The Lord shut the door and the flood began
For 40 days and 40 nights the rain came tumbling down
The Lord began to flood the ground
While those in the ark were safe and sound
Noah sent out a raven to find dry land
But he came back he found no safe haven
Noah sent out a dove
He found a green leaf
 Everyone breathed a sigh of relief
 The storm was through!
  The earth made
A rainbow appeared in the clouds
nd God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between
me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over
the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will remember my covenant between me
and you and all living creatures of every kind.
Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”
 The rainbow is more than a pretty little charm
 It’s God’s Promise to keep us safe from harm
A beautiful reminder He loves the human race!
Thank you Lord for your Amazing Grace!

















Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Adventure 2015 Jesus is Lord over His people

Last week I got teach the lesson at my table in fourth grade at Summer Adventure A.K.A. Vacation Bible School at Grace Baptist Church. The theme for the entire week was Jesus is Lord. Friday was Jesus is Lord over His people We told the kids the story of Saul. I wrote this poem and they loved It! I held their attention! I gave all my kids signed copies of the poem to help them remember the story and the fun week we had together1 Another table leader shared it with her kids and soon everyone wanted a copy! It was a hit! Maybe I'll have to start writing more poetry. Enjoy!

Saul was a bully

Who tried to kill the holy

Slowly God worked on his heart

And Saul had a brand new start

After being blinded by the light

Ananias restored his sight

And Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit

And God used him with all his might

Even with a dark heart like Saul

God changed him and his name became Paul

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Rachael Benson's Ballet
Hey everybody here's  the link to my Ballet recital I had on March 28, 2015. It started with a dream I had when I was a little girl. I'll let the video do the explaining. At the end of the performance be sure to watch "Rachael's Story." It was a real dream come true! A Real Taste of heaven. Enjoy!
Here's the link that shows the behind the scenes stuff before the performance. Enjoy!