Access-Life Presents “Real Life” by Chad Van De Griek: January 13, 2022 – Holding our Heavenly Father’s Hand

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

As I have meditated on this verse over the last few days, I found myself struggling to figure out what to say. I ultimately kept coming back to a story that I’ve shared over various platforms in the past, and while that has caused me to hesitate from putting it down on this technological page, I think that it is a beautiful story that is certainly worth sharing today.

On the weekends that I would be with my dad as a kid, we would occasionally take the time to walk around the house together. Now, I know what you might be thinking, “Chad, I thought you said you couldn’t walk”. And, yes, that is still definitely true and it is a big part of why this story is such an impactful one for me. Keep in mind that when I say “walking”, I am using that word pretty loosely here because this was not a pretty process! If anything, this time of “walking” would be more accurately described as a time of me gripping my dad’s hands as tight as I could as my feet helplessly dragged along the floor.  It did not look all that graceful, nor do I think that it actually helped me get any better at walking, but I genuinely believe that it was truly one of the most beautiful pictures of the Gospel that I have ever encountered.

Walking with dad was always a struggle for me. The muscles in my legs simply were not accustomed to that kind of workload, irrelevant to how small of a workload that it may have been. My legs have decent strength, standing for a brief period of time isn’t very challenging on my good days. However, getting those muscles to work together and start the walking process is a completely different story. Certain muscles have a really tough time doing what my brain is telling them to do Walking takes a ton of effort and energy, as a result. It is an extremely uncoordinated and strenuous workout. Not only that, my balance has always been off, keeping my body upright has always been a challenge. With these two factors colliding, one could see how this time of walking was full of literal ups and downs. Despite this, in those moments, my dad was present, encouraging, and never let go. 

Whenever I think back on the times that dad and I would walk together, I immediately connect it to the passage emphasized at the beginning of the post I love the reminder that God is with me and holding me as we go through life together. Just like my dad walked with me as a kid, God helps me and holds me up each and every day. And that love and compassion has been made available for each of us. Through all the ups and downs, regardless of how many times that we may slip and fall, may we all remember to cling tight to the hands of Christ. Life is not easy, difficulty is inevitable, but we can rest in the reassurance that we are never alone on this journey. 

Access-Life “Merry Christmas”: December 24, 2021 – Emmanuel

Merry Christmas, family and friends!

Leanne and I hope you all are enjoying this Advent season to the most and soaking up all the joy that only the birth of our Savior, Jesus can bring. :) It is a one of a kind season of expectation, hopefulness, holiness, humility, festivity and giving when we celebrate the moment God came to us. Yes, He came to save, heal and help us in our need and He is still here doing that every day of the year. What a gracious, good and wonderful God we have!

There are so many inspiring things about Christmas. The LI GHT, Jesus that came to earth, the LOVE of God that sent His only Son, Jesus, the GRACE of God that gives us hope through Jesus and the MERCY God extends to us all who will but believe on His immeasurable gift of Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. This year I am especially comforted by Emmanuel, which means God with us. As Believers God is constantly present in our lives, not just walking beside us but in us and surrounding us. What a truth full of peace and joy. It is amazing how when we awaken to this reality and become more aware of His presence things change.

I’ve actually been think and praying about revival a lot lately. Now, you may be thinking, what does that have to do with Christmas? Emmanuel is the answer. Check out this definition of revival. Revival is living with an awareness of God around us, above us, beside us, and within us. This leads to true worship which is filling our minds with thoughts of God, our hearts with love for God, and our mouths with praise to God.

So my prayer for me and you this Christmas is that we will let the awareness of Emanuel REVIVE our hearts and lives so we are constantly refreshed, faithfully walk in the light and love of Jesus, always believing and claiming His many promises and moment by moment allowing the precious Christ child to be our Overcomer, Way Maker and Best Friend.

#JESUSISTHEREASONFORTHESEASON

Access-Life “3 in 3”: December 21, 2021 – THE CHRISTMAS LIGHT

The December #AL3in3 is here! Kendahl Hancock and I have a special guest, too: #ALROYALAMBASSADOR, David Browne. 🙂 He is here to help us share Christmas light with you.

Now this is no ordinary Christmas tree light, nor light from a star but #THELIGHT. Check out our ministry video to find out about this completely pure light that IS #CHRISTMAS!

Access-Life Presents “Real Life” by Chad Van De Griek: December 16, 2021 – Dream Big, Live Bigger

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” 2Thessalonians 1:11

There is something so special about taking time to dream big. I wish I did it more often. But, the truth is that I’m not very good at acting upon the dreams and aspirations that I have, especially the ones that I believe have been placed by God. I want to dream big and accomplish all of the good things that my faith prompts me to do, but more often than not, I don’t. More often than not, I freeze up and then eventually talk myself out of pursuing the dream in my soul. I want to take some time to share some possible reasons why this is the case for me and hopefully encourage and challenge others in the process.

I am an incredibly realistic person, especially when it comes to how I view myself. I am someone who is keenly aware of my own weaknesses and flaws. They are almost always at the forefront of my mind. This is partially for self-preservation. I have to best understand what I can and can’t do so that when obstacles inevitably arise, I can be as prepared as possible. This is a good and helpful mentality at its best, but at its worst, it can lead to me only focusing on my weaknesses and obsessing over what keeps me from striving to accomplish what God asks of me. My view of myself is often defined by where I am limited, which leads to a huge lack of confidence. And that lack of confidence loudly proclaims that my dreams aren’t worth pursuing.

However, I have learned that this unhealthy mentality is simply the fruit of something that is much deeper. If I am truly honest with myself, there is a big part of me that simply doesn’t believe that I am deserving of the dreams and goals that my faith prompts me to do. I look at my desires and aspirations and genuinely think that I can’t reach them. Because of my own personality and painful scars from my past, I am almost always under the impression that there is someone who is better suited to accomplish the dreams that are in my soul. So, I freeze up, and I don’t pursue them like I know I should. 

When looking at trying to dream big in a healthy and Christ-centered way, I am learning that, like most things in life, it takes balance. For sure, it is important to know one’s strengths and weaknesses, but we have to make sure that we aren’t solely focusing on the negative or the things that we simply don’t like about ourselves. We have to honestly look at the positive and affirm those qualities as well. We can’t let an honest view of our weaknesses grow into insurmountable fears that keep us from what we are being prompted to do.

But even when we are struggling to have the confidence to pursue all that God is calling us to, it is so important to remember that God is with us in the midst of it all. We dream big anyway, not because we always feel worthy or deserving, but because we are in Christ and Christ gives us the power to accomplish all the good things that our faith prompts us to do.

Access-Life “3 in 3”: November 23, 2021 – Blessings from God

It’s time for our November #AL3IN3. What do you think it is about?

#THANKSGIVING! That’s right I’m holding tightly onto the old pigskin and Kendahl Hancock is wearing a delicious looking turkey hat. However, is that what Thanksgiving Day is all about?

You better check out the video Leanne Goddard took to make sure you know the real scoop!

Guest Blogger Chad Van De Griek: November 11, 2021 – New Challenge, Same Solution

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

I graduated from college in the Spring of 2019. It was a huge accomplishment that took a lot of personal effort and a lot of help from those in my support group. When I reflect on my college experience, I can’t help but be extremely proud of myself and thankful for each and every person that helped me along the way. There were a lot of hurdles that I had to overcome before I could roll across the stage and get my diploma. And while there were times where I never thought it was possible, I did it. But of course, graduating isn’t just a finish line, it’s the start of a new beginning.

I felt decently prepared for life after college. There were the obvious hurdles that I had thought about and planned to metaphorically jump over, like finding a job (which, admittedly, can be difficult for a guy who can’t drive and has a pretty limited physical skill set). But then there were other obstacles that I wasn’t prepared for at all. And of all of these unanticipated struggles that came, there was one that I didn’t think would have as large of an impact as it did. I never realized how much I would miss it all.

I miss being a college student. I knew I would miss friends, professors, and mentors, which certainly is far and away the number one aspect of college life that I miss the most, but it’s not the only thing I miss. I didn’t realize how great living on a college campus was for me until I looked back on it all in hindsight. When I lived on campus, I rarely needed to use a car to get where I needed to go. I had relatively easy access to food, friends, my job, a gym to work out in, and almost anything else I needed. Everything was within pushing distance, which kept me in great shape and helped me enjoy the beauty and energy that permeated the campus. Sure, there definitely were days where my body was sore and wasn’t in the mood to roll everywhere, but I even miss that feeling. Not only did those days teach me how to listen to my body and care for it well, but I would be reminded that I was working hard and it motivated me to continue to give maximum effort and to work on my physical endurance And, believe it or not, I even miss going to classes and having school work every day. While I don’t necessarily miss stressing about getting assignments done on time, I loved how it all brought structure to my daily life. I always felt like I was productive and got stuff done each day. No, my time as a college student wasn’t perfect, there were a ton of triumphs, and a ton of lows. But as I reminisce, I see how my time in college helped me grow and develop as a human being. I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone.

My first year out of college taught me how I truly struggle when life transitions from one phase to another. I’ve never really loved change, but this was a whole new ball game. As I started my new life as a college graduate, I often found myself feeling really discouraged. I wanted to be back with my friends and support group that I had, I wanted to be back in an environment where most everything I needed was accessible, and I wanted to have a physical workload and a sense of structure to my day again. Without those things, I felt lost in many respects. I was incredibly unsure of myself and felt out of place once I moved back home. I got easily frustrated and felt unmotivated as a result. I didn’t want to make new friends, I didn’t want to be far away from my mentors, and I didn’t want to have to retrain myself to have to ask for a ride to get to work or to get food, or see friends, or wherever else I needed. Yet, that is exactly where I was. I felt like I was starting all over again and I hated it. I was stuck. I wanted to quit, and it was extremely hard for me to hold tightly to the dreams and aspirations that God had placed inside of me. But even while battling through those thoughts, feelings, and doubts, God still held me close and gave me what I needed in that season. And I believe that the same is true for this current phase of life that I find myself in.  

Life isn’t easy. Seasons change, expectations go unmet, and obstacles (both expected and unexpected) inevitably arise. And as a result, it can leave one feeling like I did after graduation: unsure, lacking in confidence and motivation, and wanting to quit. But, like the verse in Galatians talks about, my hope is that we don’t give up, we continue to do the best we can with what we have, and we cling to Jesus tightly. When we do, the truth of the verse will come to fruision as we will reap a great harvest of undisappointed hope, increased faith, deeper love and more. So we fight on because we know that God’s best is better than we can imagine and His love for us that is deeper than we could ever fathom. We all have a unique perspective and stories to share, and I believe that it is oftentimes our perseverance and reliance on Jesus that can make those stories and perspectives so much more colorful and impactful! 

Access-Life “3 in 3”: October 26, 2021 – Florida Vacation

Well, sliding in just under the wire again this month with our October #AL3IN3. However, it was worth the wait as we have FIRST TIME GUEST, Bayleigh Wunsch with Kendahl Hancock IN FLORIDA bringing you the latest Access-Life INFO, a great FLORIDA joke and of course an encouraging verse. Watch out there is a sneaky PUN in there, too. :)

Guest Blogger Chad Van De Griek: October 14, 2021 – Patience, One Step at a Time and Do the Best with What You Have

Hello, all! It is such an honor and a privilege to be writing to you all today as a guest blogger! I want to take some time to introduce myself and share a little bit of my story as a means to hopefully bring some encouragement!

My name is Chad Van De Griek, I am 24 years old and I live in Nashville, TN! I was born with Cerebral Palsy, which mainly impacts my legs and left arm. As a result, I use a manual wheelchair on a daily basis to help with mobility and independence. Of course, while my disability is a big part of my life, it isn’t my only defining factor! There is so much more to me than just my wheelchair! However, I didn’t always think this way.

For much of my childhood, I was under the impression that my disability was holding me back. In my mind, Cerebral Palsy was the thing that was keeping me from being everything I dreamed of being. I did anything and everything I could in hopes to eventually be seen as “normal” by those around me. I was embarrassed at the fact that I had to use a reverse walker, or had to wear AFOs, or even at the amount of upper body strength that I possessed at a young age. All of those things made me different. All of those things made me feel insecure, and I projected those insecurities on everyone around me. I assumed my disability was all that people saw because it was the only thing I noticed when I looked in the mirror. 

Things began to change when I entered my teenage years. I started playing wheelchair basketball and, as I fell in love with the sport, I started to gain more confidence in who I was and became more comfortable in my own skin. I began to see that my disability wasn’t actually holding me back as much as I had initially thought. No, it didn’t make life very easy at times, but perhaps CP wasn’t the dream-crusher that I always assumed it to be. I could still be the follower of Jesus, the student, the athlete, and the vocal leader that I had always dreamt of being, even with CP.

As I transitioned from high school to college, many of these same self-doubts and insecurities came flooding back. Sure, it was one thing to live with confidence when in the comfortable confines of home, but college felt like a whole new ballgame. I had to learn how to live life independently on a college campus and it was a major struggle at first! There was a ton of pain and tears involved. I honestly didn’t think I would make it through four years of schooling. But despite my numerous doubts and moments where quitting seemed to be the best option, I was patient with myself, I took it all one proverbial step at a time, and did the best I could with what I had. It wasn’t easy, but I eventually grew more and more comfortable living as a college student and achieved my goal of obtaining a college degree!

But, even as I sit here and write these words over two years removed from my college graduation, I find myself having to learn and relearn many of those same life lessons. This current season of post-graduation life and trying to figure out what I truly want to do with my life has been extremely difficult in many ways and quite a bit longer than I had initially hoped. I have really struggled with job searching over the past year or so, along with an incredible amount of fear and nervousness when trying to get more comfortable independently driving with hand controls. These struggles have made it hard to have confidence in my ability to eventually become a mature and independent adult that is able to live by myself or have a family of my own one day. But in the midst of these present difficulties, fears, and unmet expectations, I have had to remind myself to, just like in college, be patient, take everything one step at a time, and do the best I can with what I have. 

Like I said back at the beginning, my ultimate goal is to use my story to encourage those who may be reading it today. For those in the reading audience that have a disability themselves, I hope that my words would be a reminder that life isn’t always easy. There are (and will continue to be) a lot of obstacles that come our way, and that’s ok. When encountering these inevitable obstacles, be patient with yourself, give yourself grace, take everything one step at a time, and do the best you can with what you have. And for those in the reading audience who are loved ones of those with disabilities, my encouragement would be to always be willing to instill confidence in your loved ones and constantly point out and affirm the strengths and passions that they have. Speaking from my own experience, people who have done this in my life have made a gigantic impact that I am forever thankful for.

Thank you all for reading my words! I appreciate this opportunity so very much!  

Access-Life “3 in 3”: September 29, 2021 – Fall Leaves

We are squeezing the September #AL3IN3 in just under the wire of the month’s end but with a Philippians 4:13 attitude, we “GOT-R-DONE”! It was no easy task with all the Access-Life, Inc. news, we had to share but it was good to be back on screen connecting with so many folks. 🙂

So check it out the video, be on the look out for lots of #FALL#PUNS and always remember to FALL for Jesus because He never LEAVES!