-- In His Strength: Renee' Bondi: The Last Dance but Not the Last Song www.superfluousbanter.org

In His Strength

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength --- Philippians 4:13

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Renee' Bondi: The Last Dance but Not the Last Song

So as you've probably read in an earlier post, I saw Renee Bondi at Joni and Friends Family Retreats a short time ago. She was selling books and CD's, and, well, I bought all four CD's (package deal) plus her autobiography. I even had her sign the book.
Her book is almost as amazing as she is! Crazy but, partway through the book and I felt as though I were reading parts of my own story.

At 29, Renee had an incredible future ahead of her. She taught music at a highschool. She had an incredible talent as a singer. And she was engaged to a wonderful man, Mike Bondi, the night of the senior prom where she worked.
All this changed in an instant. One morning she awoke to her body in midair. She landed on the floor as if she were diving into a swimmingpool. She rolled onto her back after realizing what had just happened. But when she rolled to her side to get up, CRACK! Pain so severe it threw her onto her back once again. She couldn't move. she tried to yell for help, her roomate downstairs, but her voice was reduced to a mere whisper. By some miracle of God, her roomate awoke about the precise time Renee had hit the floor, something they describe as the Holy Spirits doing. From this moment on, her life was changed forever.
Below are insights from what I gleaned from her story

Sometimes our lives take turns we didn't plan, and wouldn't have chosen.
Once she and Danny were both there together, I relaxed even more.
(I felt the same way while in the hospital, mom AND dad there, all is well)
All I did was fall out of a normal sized bed. Who gets hurt doing that?
(I broke my leg making my bed one year!)
"I'd rather be dead than live like this". - Doctor's remark
(Doctors can be so cruel sometimes.)

Junior year music became more important to me
(me, more like junior high)
We never know when something will happen that could completely change the course of our lives.

The horse era - that part of my life over?
I felt like part of me was being wrenched away
(riding horses,preschool too)
Where are all the people my age?
(me after graduating, and @ CLC)
using my music as a ministry
drawn to those whose faith I shared
(more so than non-believers)
Why would I go to Europe before I've seen America?
(I also have wanted ot travel overseas, to see wht it was like,, and how others with disabiliteis live in other countries. Ha, like I would be able to sit on a plane THAT long! I haven't been all over the U.S. yet)
I assumed I knew my sisters pretty well... (friends to roommates)
Renee and her sisters in Europe - God's saying if you just trust me...You'll still have a good time and see what you wanna see)
(God - Don't be afraid to tell others of your dreams, who knows, they just might be the ones I have for you)
I tried to get to know each of my students.....
(easier said than done in some cases)

How would he (future husband)fit into my whole life, and how would I fit into his? I needed to consider family gatherings, common ideals, mutual faith, parenting skills, security, social graces, and character.
It was a crisis of faith such as I had never imagined. Could I still trust God to make beautiful music of my life?
(I can sure try, and I need to!)

the stryker frame....I felt like a pig on a rotisserie
(I cracked up laughing at the sound of that, and then felt bad for doing so)
Was it always going to take all morning to shower, fix my hair, go to the bathroom?
(I could relate! Oh the frustration!)
....God is actively involved in the practical aspects of our lives
Mike was by my side every day
(I could not believe that Mike stuck with her the whole story, wanting to marry anyway,I only pray I find somone like that)
There are some things we are never going to understand this side of heaven. We just have to trust that God loves us and believe that He works all things together for our good. He is not going to waste our pain.
...there is a special awe one feels in a sanctuary.
(Oh don't you know it! I could sit there all day. Why When church is over, I am just getting into it!)
Having difficulty with the days challenges I replied, "Oh, I can't even pray."With her experience, she could easily see I was at the end of my rope, truly depressed. "Okay," she said slowly, ""Let's reduce this to the simplest denominator. Breathe in, say 'Jesus'. Breathe out, say 'mercy'."
(I've gotta remember this one)
I wasn't just remembering some words to some songs; what I was hearing didn't come from my memory. The music came from my soul! It was as though the words bypassed my mind and were being played like a recording to my heart.
(My singing throughout the day...God's communicating with me?)
God was encouraging me to allow the storms of my life...to send me soaring higher than I would have without the storms.
(seeing storms differently -okay God, what are You teaching me through this?)
God was really going to take care of me, in practical ways as well as spiritual ones.

sip and puff
(in relation to my trying the power chair for the first time-LOL!)
three pound weight on her belly to strengthen diaphragm.
(I need to remember this one too, to give me a bit more breath control when I sing)
(I likened her 'halo' experience to my 'body cast' experience-pure misery.)
Dad,...powerless to prevent the accident or to put my body back together.
Hope was gone and the future was dim
(been there, thought that.)
I would always be dependent on someone else taking care of my needs.
(God's dealing with me in this one)
One of the most discouraging realities was the realization that it took a minimum of three hours to get out of the bedroom every morning.
(frustrating for me too! Hoping its no always going to be like this, but....)
....to trust in the Lord and take things one week at a time
( still learning)
There had been a death-the death of life as I had known it.The death of my movement, the death of my career, the death of my wedding, the death of my usefulness, the death of my future hope and dreams and plans, the death of my body.
(I am praying, and waiting, to see what God brings back to life, or gives me in place of )
Later I realized it was necessary to go to that place of mourning so that I could release the grief and start the healing process.
....being content with the way life is now, but it seems like the battle is more intense on holidays and special occasions.
(another lesson to be learned).
I started to worry about how his family would receive me, and and what they must think of me as a potential wife for their wonderful son.

(Oh how I cried through chapter nine)
My paralysis was robbing me of the joy of feeling like I would be a welcome addition to the Bondi family if Mike and I went forward with our wedding plans.
mike -.....I don't need a child to be complete. I love you just like you are, wheelchair and all.
teal brides maids dresses. More flattering in the front than the back due to the wheelchair (coordinate with the color of MY wheelchair)
it was another realization of how interested God is in the details of our lives
(God IS interested)
We came to understand that intimacy is not sex....but holding, loving, listening, caressing...about being loved and giving love in return.

I can't allow myself to get sidetracked by 'what could have been', nor can I spin my wheels wondering what's down the road for me.
I can trust Him to make beautiful music of my life again.
(Yet another lesson still...)

Song - Be Not Afraid
I go before you always
Come follow Me
And I will give you rest
If you pass through raging waters
in the sea, you shall not drown
If you walk amid the burning flames ,
you shall not be harmed
If you stand before the power of hell
and death is at your side
know that I am with you through it all

Mike - romping and playing with our nieces and nephews
Just like one of them, and they adore him. He loves children, is energized by them, and gets just as wound up as they do.
I went back and forth like a ping pong ball between these two questions. being patient and quiet until I began to feel a peace when the pendulum was at yes, and an anxiety when it was at no.
If it was God's will for us...He would equip us with the tools we needed.... We simply left it in God's hands.
Life could be complete from a wheelchair.
It was a different kind of okay than what we had chosen, but none the less, we were okay.

Sometimes ghosts of our past just won't die.

We had walked on the edge of defeat and despair, and now we were beginning to dance on it.


peace that passes all understanding
a new year, always symbolic of a new beginning

powerchair troubles - no thanks to the airlines
Catholicism -confusion on both sides, whether it be from misinformation, lack of awareness of eachother's beliefs, or just plain predjudice.
Carholicism, Protestantism ...both believe and teach that salvation is through Jesus and Him alone. Any person....who has accepted the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for his sins is Christian.
When we're drowning, God sends a lifeboat, when we're without direction, He sends a compass.....in the form of a person-someone who has been where we are and has made it safely ashore.

I thought it interesting that throughout the book, Renee Bondi seems to struggle with an idea that Mike could leave her for a woman who is not in her situation. From the beginning, Mike has stuck with her, and has no intentions of ever leaving Renee's side.
...I have been criticized by other Catholics for not being Catholic enough.
...if I start talking about my Catholicism from the stage, I am pointing the audience to a denomination when what I really want to do is point them to Christ.
Corri ten Boom - "when you are praised or receive a special compliment, hold it in your heart like a flower. When you gather enough flowers to make a bouquet, offer it up to God, because He is the one who really deserves it.
Disabled? Severely. Discouraged? Sometimes. Defeated? Never. Victorious? Absolutely! Why? Because my God is an incredible God who knew just how to make beautiful music of my broken life.

What is hardest for you mentally about being paralyzed? Being dependent. Giving up the luxury of aloneness. Privacy.
What mistakes to people commonly make around you?
Her aid, Deborah, on a roadtrip. Ticket agent approached and asked D "how would she like to get on the plane?" Renee answered the question anyway. (I know the feeling!)
What would you do if your body worked normally for just one day?
Run and spin like Maria von Trapp on that mountain. And undoubtedly, I am going to approach the throne of grace and respectfully inquire, "What .....was that all about down there?"
Would you go back and undo the accident if you could?
Undoubtedly yes, but I have learned so much about God by being in this wheelchair. Maybe my wheelchair is my brick. It slows me down so "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings". Phil 3:10

Now I see that the whole experience was the key to my future.
There is not a dubt in my mind that before the foundations of the world, God picked (him)for me. God protected me from marrying someone who would not have been as perfect for me in my situation...
God can do good things with your life.
(telling this to myself on a daily basis)
Trust that God has a way of blessing that is far better than your way.(....trust God with your whole life....with your deepest dreams and desires.

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