Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hitting the Wall

My electric wheelchair has been a huge help to me, especially for the last six months. I zoom down the hallway at full speed (five mph), often startling my family. The wheelchair is due to joint problems that are a side effect of taking prednisone for asthma. Both shoulders and my left hip are replaced and both feet had extensive surgery to fuse joints and repair ruptured tendons. For what seems like ages, it was very painful for me to walk due to bone spurs in my hip – kind of like a wild animal was chewing on with every step. So, my doctor scheduled surgery to fix this for August 11th, right after I returned from a writing retreat with my husband, Ernie, who is also known as Psalty the Singing Songbook.

We stayed on the lush, north shore of Kauai, Hawaii, where we rented a little house and were spoiled with a view of seven waterfalls cascading down the green mountains. Paradise? Yes, most of the time. We were there to write our first Psalty album in fifteen years. Kids (now parents) who grew up with our music wanted more. The only thing we knew was the title, “Faith It! God Loves Me.”

Before we could proceed we had to learn to write together again. It’s not like riding a bike! Fresh off of my doctorate, I was all about goals and objectives. Ernie writes from the right side of his brain – creative, wacky, sensitive, and laugh-‘til-your-sides-hurt-funny. We hit some bumps in the road as we merged our writing styles. We planned to begin recording the last week in August so we smoothed out the bumps, laughed together, and sought the Lord for how to best present what He put in our hearts.

We wrote about worshiping God with our whole selves, as we are urged to do in Romans 12:1; to be holy, living offerings to the Lord with everything we say, do and think. This takes faith, for when times get tough we can despair or we can choose to trust God. It takes faith to trust God for salvation, to believe God speaks to us through the Bible, and to see hardship as a time when faith grows. Along with Romans 12:1, we chose Jeremiah 29:11, (about God’s good plans for us) and Proverbs 3:5-6, (trust the Lord with all our heats) to be the anchor verses for the album. We wrote songs that flowed almost like gifts and brought us to tears as we thought how the scriptures would impact people’s lives. Other songs were like delivering a baby after a lengthy and difficult labor. The biggest challenge was putting this into kid talk. It had to be simple, and it had to be fun. We finished most of the writing before my hip surgery on August 11th.

The hip operation was more complicated than I originally planned. They cut across tendons to relieve the stress and irritation on the joint so I am using the wheelchair much longer than I expected. We recorded the album in an upstairs studio. I went upstairs on my backside, a combination of comic relief and determination. After two months I was able to walk with the cane from the car into the house, but that was about it. I was eager to be out of the wheelchair, and even more eager to see our new album released.

On November 2nd we picked up, “Faith It! God Loves Me,” from the CD manufacturer and we uploaded the album to digital stores like iTunes. I was really happy with the result of a remarkable cast of kids, wonderful arrangements, and my husband as Psaalty the Singing Songbook. This album was from our hearts. We wrote, “Faith It! God Loves Me,” to kids and families of today. So many of us are struggling. It’s a time for faith, to know God is with us, and the Spirit of God is working in our hearts so we can grow.

I got an injection of Synvisc in my ankle (the latest joint to act up) two days ago. My electric wheelchair was a relief when I got home from the doctor. I zipped around at a relatively slow speed as I maneuvered the chair through our bedroom. Suddenly the chair lurched forward as a wheel caught my robe and pulled it taut against the controller. I smashed into the wall at full speed and was screaming in pain and frustration. Ernie scooped me up (after backing my feet out of the wall) and took me to the ER. My big toe is broken and there is a lot of soft tissue damage. I can’t walk at all now. Disappointment hurt almost as much as the pain in my feet. Then I had to laugh. It’s pretty funny, really. Me, with my goals and objectives riding a runaway wheelchair smack into the wall.

A verse from the song on the new album titled, “Faith Is Believing,” goes:
Faith’s when I stand up, when I begin to fall
When I keep going even though I’ve hit the wall
When things are tough He gives me strength to carry on
With God nothing’s impossible.

When I wrote that I did not know I would literally hit the wall. Wait a minute, this is supposed to be poignant, but I’m cracking myself up as I read this. So what now? I’ve already lived the verse. It must be time to live the chorus:

So I’ll sing to the Lord as long as I live
I’ll sing praise to my God while I’m alive
I will wait on the Lord as His Spirit works in me
And together we’ll move mountains to the sea

And that’s worship in real life.


  1. Thanks, Debbie. Sometimes I can't so much comment and say it back to the writer in other words, but I can say "Thank you" for your honest story.

  2. Debby, Debby! You make me think of a cat with nine lives. And running into a wall after writing about running into a wall: I think you set yourself up. Maybe you need to be a little more careful about what you write...don't they teach you that in D.Min school? I think that beyond the lesson in faith that you endeavor to convey, there is one on courage, and fortitude, and looking to God for strength when our meager reserves are depleted that you have blessed the reader with, intentionally or otherwise. Blessings to you, beautiful woman of God. Sue Snyder.

  3. As much as I appreciate your enthusiam for the new album, I'm not sure it was entirely necessary for you to hit the wall to illustrate your point. :) Seriously though, I hope your recovery is quick and smooth.

    I've really enjoyed what I've read of your blog so far. I would fall under the category of someone who struggles to remember just how much God loves me. I grew up on the Psalty tapes (back before they invented CDs) and then a year or so ago I had the opportunity to purchase the entire collection of CDs and DVDs which I have listened to and watched a few times since then. Even though I am 27, it's amazing how you guys manage to keep the message simple enough for kids and yet profound enough to reach someone like me.

    Thank you for all that you're doing and may God bless you and your ministry!

    -Christina R.

  4. Thank you so much for the comments. I appreciate them so much - they encourage me greatly. One way God expresses His love to us is through the love expressed as we encourage one another - the Body of Christ in action.

  5. Okay, so I know I already commented on this a couple of days ago, but I downloaded and listened to Faith it! and the "Faith is believing" song was incredible. I felt like it could've been telling my story. The verse that says, "Faith is knowing that God sees all my hurt/and He won't waste it, He'll allow it to give birth/to depth and compassion and a stirring in my soul/ with God nothing's impossible"

    As I mentioned before I'm 27 but I've struggled with depression and anxiety since I was in elementary school and cutting (self-injury) since High School. These experiences have made me so much more sensitive to others out there like me. I love to share my story of how God is helping me deal with these things and I look forward to the day when I can say that these "mountains" have been cast into the sea! Thanks again!

    -Christina R.