“Press One”


I can’t drive so I use Access. It’s the public bus system for people with disabilities. Sometimes it can be so frustrating!
            Last night I was on my way to Fun Life. The bus was supposed to pick me from my house between 5:36-5:56. Fun Life only lasts two hours from 6:00-8:00. I waited the 20 minutes they ask riders to wait when scheduling a ride.  By the end of the window, the bus driver still hadn’t shown up. Normally I wait five minutes pass the window, but the company already cut it close with the time they gave me and I really wanted to get there.  After two minutes, I called them.
            Access has one of those automated systems.  I got to the part where it says,  “For English, please press one.” I found out that the company had my pick-up time down as 6:14. Somebody changed my pick-up time and didn’t call me to ask my permission. I asked to speak to a supervisor and filed a complaint. I finally got there at 6:30. While I’m on the phone I’m thinking, These people need to speak the language of details!
             God wants us to learn to speak His language. If we have questions about something, all we have to do is pray, read the Bible, and listen for His still small voice.  No automated system required!
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for making Your word so simple.

“Sweet Tooth Rachael”


Anyone who knows me really well knows that I love sugar.  In fact, one of my aides calls me, “Sweet Tooth Rachael.”
            Last week my mom was in charge of bringing snacks to her Sunday school class.  She made a tray with three types of popcorn: parmesan, nacho, and caramel. She knew it would take awhile, so she started very early in the morning.  As I was coming down the hallway, I smelled the scent of caramel.  I wanted some right now! I could eat a bunch! “I get to test it, right Mom?” I ask. “Yes Rachael.” She replies.
            That same day when it was time to go to church, I was so tired from the day that   I actually thought about not going. My mother emphasized that it was important for me to have fellowship with other solid believers. The more we talked, I realized she was right and I ended up going.  Once I got there I was glad I didn’t miss it.
             The thing about eating sweets is that the “sugar rush” only lasts awhile and then we’re hungry again. In the same way, our “sweet tooth” for the things of this world only lasts awhile and then we are looking for something else to fill our hunger. Only Jesus can really fill our lives with sweetness that lasts a lifetime.
Dear Jesus,
Give me a sweet tooth for the wisdom of your ways.

Rachael The Miracle Child

Hey everybody! Here’s the first article I wrote when I started to take writing seriously.  I sent it to Guideposts Magazine in 2007. They loved it but it didn’t quite fit their criteria, so it never made it to the magazine.  It’s my testimony.  Enjoy!


     The date: February 8, 1983.  The time: around noon.  The weather: cool and breezy.  The newscasters would call this the Santa Ana winds. The baby is not due to come until April 8, but there is a problem. The baby is ready to come early.
            The mother to be is at her next-door neighbor’s house and calls the grandmother to be, who then rushes over to take her to the hospital and pages the father to meet them there.  Once they are at the hospital, the doctor rushes Rosemary into surgery and delivers the baby by emergency C-section. When the baby comes out of the womb, it stops breathing. Within 15 minutes, the doctors are able to get no more than five breaths out of it. Imagine trying to hold your breath for 15 minutes. Could you do it? No. You’d kill yourself if you tried.
            Unfortunately, the baby’s skin is blue.  It’s not making a sound—not even a normal baby cry.  It’s quiet— too quiet. Rosemary’s water broke early, causing the baby to become very ill. The doctors realized two days later that the baby had pneumonia, and that lack of oxygen had caused serious brain damage. Is there any hope for this child? Or, should the parents of this child say good-bye right now? Is it even possible to say good-bye to babies who haven’t even taken their first steps, their first breath of air, or their first look at life?
            After that, the doctors tried everything medically possible, but the baby’s body didn’t respond.  When the doctors were about to lose hope, they tried one more thing.  They gave the baby antibiotics. The baby began to recover within 24 hours, and then the doctors knew that the baby would live.
Now that the baby would live, what about a name? I’m sure that Rosemary and Rex hadn’t thought about that yet. After all, the baby wasn’t even due until April 8, and here it was February 8, two months early.
Rex decided on a name and its spelling.  “Her name will be Rachael Benson,” he said.  When the nurses found out this baby would live, they were ecstatic, and they started writing the name on everything.
I’m Rachael Benson.  I’m the “miracle child.”  I’m 24 years old now and have cerebral palsy.  This is the story of what happened when I was born.
Even though everyone was sure I was going to live, that didn’t mean I could go home right away. Because of complications, I weighed only three and one half pounds.  The doctors would not let me go home until I weighed five pounds.
Heartbroken that she couldn’t bring me home, my mother traveled back and forth to the hospital for five weeks to feed me. If I was asleep when she came, she just had to wait for me to wake up. Finally, I reached five pounds and the doctors said I could go home.
When they brought me home, they had to put me on a heart monitor for my first year to monitor my heart rate. The heart monitor’s alarm went off quite often, causing my parents to jump up to check on me, but nothing ever happened. It only went off because I moved around so much.  My parents would look at me and I would just smile.  My heart never completely stopped. But, it slowed way down at times, especially if I had a stressful day. The doctors were monitoring what is called apnea, which is where you forget to breathe. My mom and other family members were well prepared for the worst before the doctors sent me home. They had taken a special CPR class so that they would know what to do in an instant if they had to. They did it together so that Mom could have a break every once in a while.
Mom said that while I was on the heart monitor, I slept in my parents’ room in a bassinet so that she could see me and drop what she was doing in an instant if she had to.  She said she could see out of the corner of her eye that I was all right.
Because of my health problems, my mother, even though a follower of Christ, harbored anger against God until she realized that she had quite a bit of spiritual growing to do. She says I was her wake-up call.
After my mother got past her anger, she made sure that church was a high priority in my life. This taught me to focus on the positives about my disability, like learning to walk with a walker. I’m thankful that I can talk to people and make intelligent conversation.  I don’t have a speech impediment, although I stutter occasionally.
Most of all, I’m thankful for a mother who emphasized that God had a reason for allowing me to have CP. She wouldn’t allow me to have a “woe is me I’m disabled” attitude.  She has taught me (and is still teaching me) to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t do.  Thanks to her and the many other friends and family members that have loved me, I came to know the Lord at a very early age.
I’ve learned to be thankful for only have two seizures in my lifetime: once when I was a year old, and again when I was 15. The second seizure happened because the doctor tried to take me off the medication. I’m stable enough that, even though my mom has to help me quite often, she doesn’t have to be there all the time. While my mom runs errands, someone else can help me, and I can socialize with people my age.
I’m also thankful that my disability is physical, not mental.  Although I sometimes have trouble with my sense of direction and math, or things that require a lot of motor planning, I don’t have any major behavior problems that scare others away. I don’t scream or throw tantrums in public.
I’m thankful for the people God has put in my life to help me learn the essential skills I need for my life, like walking with a walker. I am very thankful that God allowed me to live.  Instead of being in heaven right now, waiting for my mother to arrive, I am sitting here at my computer, writing this story.
     My disability is not a mistake. Everything happened for a reason.  In Psalm 139:13-16 the Bible says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (New International Version),
     Since I was created in my mother’s womb, how could my disability be a mistake?  It wasn’t. God didn’t say” oops” when I was born. He doesn’t punish people by giving them disabilities, but allows them to go through trials to develop character.  The Bible says in Romans 5:3-4: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (NIV).
People sometimes ask,  “Where is God in the midst of suffering?” I tell them, He’s been right there all along.”  The real question is not, “Where is God?” Instead, the question we should ask is, “Where are we?”


“Would You Like A Magazine?”

Hey everybody! Here’s the article that got published in the Santa Clartia Magazine in April 2009.  It’s about the volunteer work I do at the hospital.  Enjoy!
Henry Mayo volunteer Lifts Spirits and Eases Loneliness

Imagine that you’re a patient at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.  You’ve just had some tests done, and the doctor has just told you that you’re going to be here for awhile. It’s noontime. Friends and family do come to visit, but they can only come at certain times for a short visit.   They can’t stay all day. Nurses and doctors come in and out of the room, but mainly to give you medicine and check your vitals.   No one really has any time to talk because everyone is so busy.  What happens when your friends and family leave? You’ve got a long day in the hospital.
            You could sleep, but what if you’re not tired and need some stimulation? You could watch television, but television can get boring after awhile.  The hospital offers Internet access, but what if you’re not a huge computer person? What else is left to do besides lay in bed and stare at the walls?
            That’s where I come in.  My name is Rachael Benson.  I’m a patient visitations volunteer at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. I make rounds throughout the hospital to visit patients.  I’m the one who comes into the room and says, “Hi, would you like a magazine?” 
Even when patients don’t take a magazine, many appreciate the fact that someone besides their family members came to visit. I’m a good listener; if they feel like making conversation, I will gladly stay awhile to talk with them. Patients often say to me, “Thanks for coming by.”
When people see me, they are often surprised that I’m a volunteer.  I’ve seen some patients in tears when I hand them a magazine because they can’t believe that someone like me could or would want to set aside time to help others in need. That’s because I have cerebral palsy, and I’m in a wheelchair.  Why am I volunteering when to many people it looks like I am the one who needs the help?  How is that even possible? It’s not only the patients who feel good as a result of my volunteer service.
I remember one patient in particular who goes by the name of “cowboy.”  One day when I was driving home in my wheelchair, he literally stopped his car in the middle of the street on McBean Parkway to say “thank you” for the magazine. Then, on another day, I saw him again just outside Henry Mayo’s Pavilion. He said, “Thank you for the magazine.  I really appreciate what you did for me.”  
People love the service—especially when I tell them that the magazines are free. One time when I said that, a patient replied, “What a delight.”
It feels good to know that I’m helping to bring smiles to patients just by performing a simple gesture when they may be going through a rough time in their life.  I love the fact that people see me, they often realize that if I’m at the hospital volunteering, even with my disability, then they can overcome their burdens. I hope to keep volunteering for a long while because in addition to the magazines I deliver, I also bring inspiration and cheer.    
The free magazine service provided by Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s volunteer department is dependent on magazine donations from the community.  If you have any unused magazines at home that you would like to donate to the hospital, please deliver them to the information desk in the hospital’s main lobby.