Monday, September 29, 2008

Growing Pains

I was reminded this past weekend of how far I've come from when I first became paralyzed by an email sent to me. A gentleman by the name of Gary in Florida shared with me that he has been paralyzed for a little over a year now and that by seeing my site, he was reminded again that there is life after a disability. Wow! What a compliment! However, I had no idea how much it was going to throw me back to how I was a year after being hurt. Yes, life was hard then. Very, very hard for me. Let me not forget that my great life now took years to accomplish and a lot of muddy waters to tread through. But, it does get better! I can promise you that!

A year after I got hurt is when I began to start giving up on God. In my finite mind, I figured God was just going to make me endure this pain for a year to teach me some sort of lesson, but after that, He would make it all better again and give me back the life I knew. I specifically remember on my one year anniversary waking up and looking over to the side of my bed and seeing my wheelchair sitting there next to me. I was more confident than ever that that day would be the day I wouldn't have had to use it anymore. I remember concentrating very hard before trying to move my legs on my own to the side of the bed, but unfortunately, they just layed there... lifeless. I believe it was around that moment that I thought God had forgotten about me. That He hadn't heard my numerous tears or screams of anguish to make it all go away! As the days got further and further away from that date of July 29, 2000 (the date of my accident), the sadder I got and the more alone I felt. It was very, very hard to put my faith and trust in a God who seemed (in my eyes) to be silent.

Christopher Reeves once said that he realized at one point that he could either sit inside his house and watch the birds fly outside his window, or he could get outside and fly with them. I made a conscious decision to choose to "fly." I knew it was going to be something that would take a lot of purposeful effort, some days taking three steps forward to taking one step back the next day. I knew I had to only stay focused on today, but realize that overall, I was making progress. I allowed myself to celebrate the things that were good, and decide to find ways to work on things that were hindering me. Every day was a choice on how to spend that day... sad, alone, and angry, or thankful, persevering, and hopeful. When it was a bad day, I let myself have a bad day (because as a Christian, I "thought" I was supposed to be "happy" all the time and that it wasn't ok to feel the way I was really feeling.) Everytime I said or thought I couldn't do something anymore because of my disability, I listed 5 things I still could do. It was a mindset shift. Only through the power of God revealing Himself to me along the way (even though I didn't recognize a lot of it during the time) did I come to realize (looking back) that He was there for me all along.

The journey is hard. No doubt about that. And there are still days that are bad where I tend to place the blame on my disability. But I am thankful for everything and count all things for the Lord. No matter what "hard" thing you're dealing with in life, slow down, take a good look at it, and be patient with yourself and with the Lord as together you move into the next level of growth. You can do it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Standing in Remembrance

Today is a day in my mind where reflection will always take place among Americans. Today, I want to honor those who were involved directly or indirectly with the attacks on America that happened seven years ago. I am praying for peace in this country as well as worldwide. Those of you who lost loved ones or who are surrounded by images that are inescapable, I pray that the Lord's love will envelope you. I remember where I was when this happened. I remember the feeling of watching live on the tv as the second plane sliced through the Twin Towers. It was unreal.
Everyone knows someone who was somehow affected by this terrible tragedy. I have the distinct honor to proudly call one of those heroes my friend, James Walker. He was at the Pentagon when the plane hit. He was in a private conference with our nations top leaders when they got word that the first plane had hit. Slowly, a note was pushed across the table towards him. A few minutes later, another note that the second plane had hit was handed to them. With that, America would be changed forever as the next plane was headed towards the Pentagon. Without warning, the lights went out and the plane hit. Please know that these men and women both at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center saved lives and did all they could to survive that day seven years ago. I am honored to call such an honorable man my friend. He is someone who will fight with all his heart and even give up his own life to protect America from this happening again. James, thank you for what you do each and every day.

May God protect this country as we enter into a new presidency, and may we never forget the tragedy that happened seven years ago today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changing the World, Wealth of the Heart

This past week, I was in Atlanta, GA for the Network 21 National Leadership Convention. What a great group of people! Jim Dornan and his wife, Nancy, sought us out almost two years ago. I was then introduced to them when I joined Free Wheelchair Mission a little over a year ago. Jim Dornan (l), me, and Don Schoendorfer (r)

Me and Nancy Dornan

They are amazing people! Over time, we eventually grew the relationship into a partnership of which we are all excited about. Network 21 is currently distributing wheelchairs to people in need in South Africa, and currently, we are working on providing aid to those in Ukraine through their help!

Me and Oleksii Mautanov of the Ukraine

Saturday night, the President of Free Wheelchair Mission, Don Schoendorfer, and I were asked to speak on stage to a group of almost 3,000 independent business owners.

I spoke to them about the need for aid in developing countries, but most importantly asked them to reflect on what truly makes us successful as individuals. Not only is it monetary success (to some people), but it's also wealth of the heart. Those people who can inspire a difference in others, change the world for the better, and educate the next generation are those (in my eyes) who are truly wealthy. As stated that evening, there are over 100 million people in the world who have a disability and are in need of some sort of aid. Sadly, eight years ago I joined those statistics. However, it is my desire to turn an unfortunate situation like mine into the best possible scenario. Over these years of being paralyzed, I have learned that my desire is to help those in other countries who have no relief at all. This is what drives me to work hard! I want to change the world and through that plight, I know I will be wealthy beyond words of the heart.

For more information on how to help provide mobility to those in need for only $51.29, please visit "Free Wheelchair Mission" at