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Most of us, if we’ve lived long enough, will experience a serious shift in direction that is often unplanned and sometimes unwelcomed. We are humans after all, carrying our spirits around in fragile fleshy frames that weather the elements as best they can, but there is always something bigger and beyond our control. This can be both terrifying and reassuring, depending on the circumstance. 

For Rachel Barkley, who graciously shared her story with Root & Vine, the shift was life-changing from the outside in, and her experience bears witness to the complexities of hope and gratitude in the face of fear, vulnerability, and loss. 

The Barkley family. Photo courtesy of Rachel Barkley

Rachel told us earlier this year, “Sometimes I give myself a pity party for how hard it is to be in a wheelchair ‘momming’ – I want to be that fit mom running around with my toddler. I get a flash of sadness about not being able to do that. But everyone has that – mine is very obvious and very physical – everyone has a way they wish their lives turned out differently. There is always another side of the coin. Sometimes limitations are a gift. Had this not happened, I would be the run-myself-ragged type of mom. It makes me limit what I do.”

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

When I think of Rachel, I am challenged to take stock of my own circumstances and where I’m missing the point, where I’m not seeing the joy and absolute abundance of life that is all around me. I wonder too what I am seeing as an obstacle or limitation that could be a gift, an opportunity for grace and growth.  

“I have had to stare my mortality in the face so many times that it has made me number my days, so that the beauty of my life is so rich. “

Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 24:14 

Rachel has found a way to not only survive, but thrive, through an intentional shift toward gratitude. This informs her perspective and her healing. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

God is at work, God is speaking, God is healing – I’ve always believed that. After this event in my life, I believe that even more, but my perception of what miracles look like has shifted. This is so much bigger than I could have ever imagined.”

I love this because all of it — life, the breath that is in us, our love, our hope, our future — is bigger than we could ever imagine. Rachel’s patience throughout her healing process strengthens her faith and her faith in turn, gives her patience. 

“Do I walk around with a glow about me all of the time? No. But then I remember how quickly things can turn south and I remember that God gave me today. He gave me story time at bedtime. And those moments are so beautiful.

Writing the Book of Hope 

We’ve been writing the Book of Hope together for 26 weeks now, but it’s never too late to join us! Here’s all you need to get started.

Join me in a very special conversation with Rachel Barkley today on Reasons to Hope, live on Root & Vine’s Instagram at 3pm ET. We’ll archive our chat on IGTV for those of you who can’t make it. 

Family vacation. Photo courtesy of Rachel Barkley

Leave us a comment on Instagram or Facebook, how do you relate to Rachel’s story? Have you or someone you love experienced hardship and lived to tell about it? We’d love to know. Comment with the hashtag #reasonstohope and we’ll encourage one another as we grow in faith and gratitude.