Originally posted March 2019
Today’s Wednesday Story is shared by Karen Papin. She sells inspirational shirts at Inspiring Dreams Apparel– and she is always posting uplifting thoughts as well on IG. I hope that you will check out her line of t-shirts and follow her on IG. I know that I am always uplifted by the light she shares. This is a tender story today about Karen’s brother Sam. You might want to grab some tissues.:)
“My younger brother Sam had a deep impact on my life that continues to be a part of me even though he has been gone for almost 20 years. Sam was born blind and also with a rare kidney disease that would eventually take his life. Due to his medical conditions, he had brain surgery as a baby, during which he had a stroke. This left him with a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. He was unable to walk, had limited mobility with his arms and hands, and could not form words. He was not expected to live for long and the fact that I was able to have him in my life until he was 11.5 was a huge blessing for me, one that I am still realizing as his influence and the things I learned from him continue to impact me.
Here are a few of those things that I learned from Sam.
- I learned to appreciate the simple joys in life. Sam may have been unable to communicate in the ways that most people are able to, but he still had his ways. His eyes would light up, he could squeal with delight or talk with excitement similar to the way a baby talks. He could move his arms around with expression as well and you could often tell that he was listening in the way he would get quiet with a thoughtful expression on his face. It was through these things that I could see how much he loved the simple joys that are found in life. The wind was a delight to him. No one loved the rain like he did. He loved cuddling with animals and our dog, Andy, would often be found curled up next to him, Sam’s hand upon him. And music, he felt music deeply. Through Sam, I realized that there are many beautiful things that can get missed in the hustle and bustle of life, but when we stop to consider what is around us, we find a richer life. In my life now, I love teaching the positives of such delights to my kids. I am often reminded of Sam when I feel the wind on my face. Often when I am outside with my kids and the wind is blowing or there is a gentle breeze, I point it out to my kids, focusing on the beauty of it. And when it rains my mom and I often text each other, “Rain!” because of the excitement that it brings us.
- I learned that we can find joy even when things are difficult. As I’ve mentioned, Sam was unable physically, to do things the way the most of us are able to do things. But, that never kept him from experiencing joy. He was the happiest person I knew. He experienced life more deeply than many of us. His appreciation for the simple beauties found in life helped him to be someone who found joy in spite of the difficulties and challenges presented in him. I also further learned this lesson after he passed
away, even in the midst of immense grief, I could find joy in these simple beauties because they reminded me of the joy Sam would find in them. Even in the difficult times, if I shift my focus to the things that I do have in my life, I can find tender mercies that the Lord has given me.
- I learned that friendship can extend beyond the bounds that the world may set. Sam’s best friend was deaf and yet together they found a way to love each other. They enjoyed being with each other even though they could not communicate through words. They enjoyed flying kites together and playing with blocks on Sam’s wheelchair tray. I learned through this that we should not let our differences hold us back from loving each other, even when we communicate in different ways. I have since come across many people who think and believe differently from me, yet I have found that even with them, I can connect with them in some way and become friends.
- I learned that God is aware of us. There is a hymn that we sing in my church called, “There is Sunshine in My Soul today.” Sam loved this hymn and would get excited every time we sang it. He would do his best to sing along with all the hymns even though he could not form the words, yet it was especially apparent with this one that he loved it. It wasn’t until my mom read a book about a family with a child similar to Sam’s condition that she realized why he loved this song so much. It’s the second verse. In it, it says, “There is music in my soul today, a carol to my King, And Jesus listening can hear, the songs I cannot sing.” Sam recognized that Jesus could hear his songs. Even though he could not form the words, Jesus knew that he was singing and He heard Sam’s words. So it is with us, Jesus can hear our songs, He can hear the prayers of our hearts. He is mindful of us, cheering us on, and helping us along the way.
I also learned how much God is aware of us the night before Sam passed away. I woke up in the middle of the night with a strong impression to go and check on Sam. I went to him, stood in the doorway and was filled with an immense love for him. I was filled with gratitude for having him in my life and before I left to go back to bed, I whispered to him that I loved him. I did not know that I would not have him for much longer in my life, but God knew. And He allowed me to have a moment to recognize my love for my younger brother. Looking back, it’s clear to me that God is aware of me, that He loves me.
God knows us. He knows what we need. And if we follow His promptings, we can recognize His love for us.
5. I learned to turn to the Lord. This one is a more indirect lesson. I learned this one from my mom as she took care of Sam as well as the other 5 of us children she raised. She often relied on the Lord to guide her in knowing how to raise us and many times received spiritual promptings that guided her to know if Sam needed immediate attention. I have seen how the Lord can be a partner in parenthood because of the experiences that my parents have had. He is there leading us and guiding us. I’ve seen that through my parents as they took care of a special needs child, and I now see it as I raise my own kids. He is there.
The lessons that I learned from Sam continue to impact my life. There are more lessons from him, many that I am sure I don’t even realize. Looking back on these lessons I have become aware how our influence continues even after we are gone. My experiences with Sam have affected not only my only life but many of those with whom I interact because of the way that those experiences have shaped and influenced me, the way that they have become a part of me. It also led my mom to become a Marriage and Family therapist. She is now blessing the lives of so many and it started because of Sam.
Even years after he has passed away, he continues to inspire and lift others. God had a plan all along for Sam and even with him gone, God still has a plan for those who he has influenced. I am amazed by the fact that Sam can continue to impact the lives of others. Truly we may never see in our lifetime the impact that we are having on others, but we do have the ability to inspire others, even after we are gone.”
I want to thank Karen so much for sharing about her brother Sam. I know for me the song Sunshine in My Soul will from now on mean something a little more. How many of us through trials pray that Heavenly Father will hear the song we cannot sing?
I am grateful for the knowledge of life after death. The knowledge that we will see our loved ones again gives peace and hope. I hope that we can find joy in the simple things of life like wind and rain. Remember you are known and loved by Heavenly Father.
Life is Good. Share the Good.
PS Please check out one of Karen’s recent blog posts about infertility and miscarriage. We both have experienced this challenge in life, and I love Karen’s words of understanding and hope. https://www.dreaminspirers.org/2019/03/tender-mercies-even-in-heartache.html?m=1