Tag Archive: paralysed

I discovered that this week was the Global Week of Sharing [sharemydream.org] and the invitation was to be ‘sharing your website or blog this week with someone who’s dream you share and want to encourage. Ask them to write a guest post for your site about their dream.’ My South African friend Uel Maree was the first guy that came to mind and he agreed to share his story on my blog, for which i am eternally grateful… meet Uel Maree, the life of the party:uel


…and then i dived into the river & broke my neck.

Prior to that i “had it all”. 27 years old, a job i loved, living in beautiful Cape Town, beach on the weekends, outdoor adventures on the surrounding mountains, involved in my local church. Life was good.

However after my accident, being paralysed from the shoulders down, there was a definite spanner in the works. No more job, no more beach, no more mountains, no more church, no… more… movement.

100 days in hospital, operations, emergency procedures, tubes down my throat, purified foods, specialists telling me to accept my condition…. Why not just let it rain indoors as well? Hahaha.

I was an avid rock climber so people used to ask me, “Why do you climb the mountain & not use the cable car?” I always remembered then the bruises & cuts i received along the climbs, looking up from the base at what seemed like an impossibility but then i would forget its size but rather focus on the next step & the next handhold. Eventually i would look down from the peek & smile over the world. You see, mountaintop experiences are great but what makes them truly special is the work it took to get there. Generally free things are never as appreciated as earned things.

We stretch & work our body & senses more often than we do our mind & spirit, they need exercise too. For many of us, our cushy jobs, easy lifestyles & facebook addiction this fast world assaults our senses with, keeps us so busy floundering around the shallows that we never explore the deep recesses within ourselves. I know, i was there & at times still am. I was forced into having  a time-out from the world after my accident & i’m grateful that the experience taught me that the eternal things really worth putting effort into in life are friends, family, relationships, love & God. The flashing lights & latest gadgets can only satisfy for short periods until u need your next fix. Its taking half a day to sit without a phone, book or IPod & explore that dusty room in your mind, open its curtains, sweep its floors, rearrange its furniture & see who you really are. I pray that nobody ever has to physically go through what i am BUT, i do hope that everybody takes time out for self-discovery before ending up in a difficult situation (which you will) or before time runs out (which it will). The magic doesn’t happen in your comfort zone. Your career generates your salary, but its your calling that makes your life.

Forward thinking is great, future planning is wonderful.

Yes we’ve seen this day’s dawn but that doesn’t guarantee us this day’s dusk.

Stop living only for this coming weekend, stop living only for the next holiday,
but start living for the only moment that is truly ours, right here, right now. Make these seconds count more than the thoughts of a future that is not yet yours.

I know, i almost died… face down in a river.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

“2 farmers pray for rain but only 1 of them goes out to prepare His field. Which 1 do you think trusts God…. ” – Facing The Giants

Seems like im finding myself standing at my field, being reminded by God & my peers, to not turn away but to keep sowing with an expectant heart…

Though sometimes we get so fixated on staring at the ground or other people’s fields, waiting for the seed we want to grow, that we forget to look up at the rest of our field & see the endless sunflowers that we planted a while back but are now waist high 🙂

I’m convinced that seeds take longer to grow when we stare at them 😛

We cant bear fruit until our trees are grown.

So my outlook has changed. Sure i cant walk… yet 😉 but i have more now then before my accident & that’s thanks to having learnt (& still learning) how to reevaluate all i see & have through a different filter….. eternity.

We’re all different & there’s different ways to do things BUT its all built on a universal Truth & there’s no changing that.

Uel Maree 

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
[You can join the Pray for Uel Maree group on Facebook to stay in touch with his progress and more importantly his wickedly good sense of humour]

instead i got to hang out with my buddy Uel Maree for about an hour, catching him up on my story for the last two years and getting to hear some of his.

Uel Maree

Just over a year ago now, Uel Maree, helping out a girls group on an adventure camp, dived into a river in a spot he knew well as one where they launched canoes regularly, but this time something was different. He has dived hands first, but whether it was a rock or a sand bar, something pushed his hands to the side and he took a direct impact to the head. Paralysed from the neck down and lying face down in the water, not able to do anything about it [but fortunately having taken a big breath] he told me he was filled with incredible peace as his friend who was a life guard was 20m away and would soon see what was wrong and come running. He did, and Uel was carefully taken out of the water and later helicoptered to the hospital where he was given a rather negative prognosis that there was like a 1% chance he would not be completely paralysed from the neck down. Uel and his family chose to think differently and with a huge network of support, much prayer and a fair number of miracles along the way, has physically come to a point far exceeding anything the doctors could imagine… and continues to push through for small breakthrough after small breakthrough.

i guess i was a little nervous arriving at the house and being ushered in by his dad [who first pretended i had arrived at the wrong house to really ease my nerves] as i didn’t really know how the visit was going to go. i had camped as a leader with Uel a couple of years before, but only really knew him through the facebook group that was set up after the accident and so had followed updates there and seen some of the progress and been so hugely encouraged by the amazing network and community that exists there. i had witnessed how the group and Uel had been an encouragement to so many other people besides Uel and a place where people and faith and needs had met up regularly.

so in some ways, i was anticipating hanging out with a crippled guy in a bed or maybe a wheelchair. but as i turned the corner, from the moment of laying eyes on Uel, what i encountered was life to the full. Uel was completely animated and positive and full of humour and just so much life, it really was such a joyful encounter. He started off all interested in my journey and what Val and i have been up to and it was a while before i was able to jump in and direct the conversation to him and his journey and some of what he had gone through.

and it was just completely encouraging and uplifting. having spent just an hour or so with Uel i walked away thinking that i know more crippled people than Uel who have full use of their bodies. i got to ask about the bad days and the times of frustration as well and there certainly are those, but for the most part it feels like Uel, faced with a potentially life-ending scenario, absolutely just chose to make the best out of every part of it and has stubbornly refused to accept any restrictions places upon his body by doctors and specialists as to how far he can go to recover.

what impressed me was how he spoke about God and how it took something like this to happen for him to really understand having a need for God and needing to rely on God and so his faith has increased immensely. a lot of people in a situation like this would no doubt end up feeling sorry for themselves, whereas Uel is going to be co-leading the home group that meets at his house every second week, he is working on pushing his wheelchair around [with specially enhanced door stopped bits added around the edges so he can grab hold of the wheels] and he is a machine on his iPad keeping up with his facebook group and the latest news and happenings.

what a legendary time and what an example of the ‘life to the full’ we are called to in Jesus. thank-you Uel Maree for fitting me into your busy schedule and for showing me a vibrant faith and attitude for really embracing life.

[If you want to read the piece Uel wrote on Sharing Dreams, click here]

[For Uel’s piece on Living with Disability where he shares some more of his story, click here]

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