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I Love Life: Living with Muscular Dystrophy!

While researching my book, “I Love Life: 50 Stories of Hope, Inspiration and Faith,” I met Monica German of Sioux Falls who lived with Muscular Dystrophy for years and didn’t even know it.  If you’re feeling down and don’t feel life is worth living – I encourage you to read Monica’s INSPIRATIONAL story!

“I was twelve years old when the symptoms first appeared.  I started to walk strangely and had difficulties with some physical activities. There were kids who would tease me about the way I walked.  We knew something was wrong, but had no idea what it was.   In spite of the symptoms, I did pretty much what I wanted to do.  I was in my high school marching band and I carried a tuba.  During my sophomore year in college, I found out about the disease.   My four siblings and two nieces also learned they had MD.”

When she was finally diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, Monica experienced mixing feelings at first.

“It was kind of nice to know what I have.  But, it really rocked our world.  We found out right before Christmas. I had to re-schedule all my college finals in order to do all the doctor stuff.  When the doctor asked me what I planned to do with my life, I told him I intended to graduate from college because ‘I can teach from a wheelchair.’”

When she started teaching at the Sisseton, South Dakota High School, Monica met the man of her dreams and married him.

“God surprised us with a pregnancy.  After a tough labor and delivery, Christopher John German was born.”

Monica eventually resumed teaching.  But, as a result of MD, she decided to become a full time wife and mom.  Unfortunately, the disease took its toll on her marriage.  Monica’s husband wanted a divorce and got it.  Instead of withdrawing from life, Monica and her son were welcomed with open arms at Central Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“People were terrific about pushing me around in my manual wheelchair and transferring me into/out of my van and wheelchair so I could participate in various ministries.”

A major breakthrough came through while Monica was attending a weekend retreat with members from the church’s leadership class.

“God revealed what He wanted me to do:  thank Him for the disease.  He brought so many wonderful people into my life.  Yet, I had never thanked him for Muscular Dystrophy.  I had finally come to follow Ephesians 5:18,20 by ‘….giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father,’ even for the disease that cost me in so many areas, but has given me riches beyond any earthly measure. The tears of release were cleansing and so wonderful to shed.  It was a definite breakthrough for me – one that has taken about 24 years.  Whatever happens in my life, I want to be in the center of His will.  There’s no better place to be.  If that includes a wheelchair for me, I’ll accept it.  It was a conscious effort among our family members that we are going to do this for the glory of God.  If the Lord chooses not to heal us instantaneously or medically through gene therapy, we will do what we can in our physical condition.”

Monica, physically and emotionally pushed to the limit by Muscular Dystrophy, decided years ago to live life to the fullest.

“I went though a time when the disease controlled me.  But, when I got my electric wheelchair, I totally felt free.  My message to others is this:  In spite of my physical disability, I just want people to understand I am much more than a wheelchair.  The biggest compliment to me is when my friends and coworkers forget I’m in a wheelchair and they want to do something.   They forget I can’t walk up the steps with them.  Some people would take that as a slam.  But, it’s not.  I can do many things.  My mind is functioning and my hands work well so I can still play and teach the piano.  I have friends that provide opportunities just to have fun – riding on the back of a Harley Davidson, tubing down the Niobrara River and riding shotgun in vehicles.  I have named myself ‘The Most Spoiled Rotten Woman in the State of South Dakota’ – I love it and I plan to stay that way, thank you!!”

Whether it’s a physical disability, a broken relationship or a loss of any kind, Monica says it’s possible to recover if you’re willing to let go of what you cannot change.
“When you’re down, it’s really important to go through the grieving process.  When I lose something I was once able to do, I go through the grieving process.   But, I don’t get stuck in it.  I force myself to move on.”

During the interview with Monica, I remembered this quote written years ago by the great orator Edward Everett Hale.  It goes like this, “I am one, but I am one.  I can’t do everything, but I can do something.  And, what I should do and can do, by the Grace of God, I shall do.”  Monica German, a woman with a can-do attitude, does just that.”

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