Monday, March 23, 2009

Only You Can Be You

I am blessed and amazed at how God works in my life. Almost nine years ago, I was devastated by this turn in my life as I tried to navigate my day in wheelchair as opposed to walking. I was faced with challenges of inadequacies, negative self-talk, and loneliness. I had no idea why God had caused this accident and left me this way. Nine years later, I'm blown away at where God has brought me and the ways He uses me and the pains in my life for good.

About a month ago, I was introduced to one of our pastors at Saddleback Church, Erik Rees (left in picture above). After hearing my story regarding my accident and how it eventually brought me to Free Wheelchair Mission, he swiftly asked for the opportunity to capture it on film for his new book coming out in July called, "Only You Can Be You." In his book, there are three main points: Surrender, Stewardship, and Serving Others. I was blessed by the opportunity this week to share my story with him and have it captured on film by producer, Ted Parker (right in picture above). I had the best time with these two men! Both are such good, down to earth people which made the experience that much easier to open up in. God's provision and plan for my life continues to blow me away. I'm thankful that God has blessed me with the gift of speaking with such ease. I don't take for granted that that gift isn't given to everyone. It charges me up and energizes me in a way like nothing else can! I love the adreneline it creates, the freedom it releases in other people, and the connection that I make with God each and everytime as I am reminded of his provision and grace in my life. I pray that God continues to open doors to allow me to use my gifts and talents to better His Kingdom.

Thanks Erik and Ted for such a fun day! I know this is just the beginning to a long friendship and partnership. I look forward to many more events and opportunities to work together in the near future!

(To read more about Erik Rees and his upcoming book, "Only You Can Be You," please go to Erik's website at www.erikrees.com.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Would You Do With $50?


(Narration done by actor Jim Carrey)

For only $51.29, you can help give the gift of mobilty and change someone's life forever. I know what it means to need a wheelchair. Please don't let someone in a developing country have to go without the feeling of hope, confidence, and that Jesus loves them simply because they can't afford to have a wheelchair.

In this hard economic time, it's important that our money gets the most value out of it. Watch this video and then tell me, do you still see a plastic white chair? How much is it worth to you to see the smile on a child's face?



This is why I love my job!

To make a donation, please visit Free Wheelchair Mission. $51.29... simple and affordable.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prayer Request

Hi everyone! I'm asking for prayers in the next two weeks. I have many big things happening in my life both professionally and personally that are great things, but I'm having a hard time finding time to do it all and sleep, too! :) Please remember me in your prayers and pray that God would give me the strength, stamina, and focus to complete everything and be prepared for each. I will update everything after it is all over!! Thank you for surrounding me with angels!

Monday, March 9, 2009

From A Distance

*Note: Picture above is of my car accident in July 2000. *


"There's always someone worse off than you." Those words ring in my ears from childhood, having heard my mom say it more times than not. As a teenager, I always thought my family was the worst on the block, that my parents didn't allow me to do anything, and that I was living a life as close to the bottom of the barrel as it gets. I know now that that thinking was not accurate. But, in my finite mind of "teenager-hood," it was all I knew.

I don't often get the opportunity to say those words to myself now because typically, I'm "worse" than the average American. It takes me longer to do everything from getting ready in the morning, to going to the bathroom, to getting in a car, to carrying groceries in the house. A bad day for me is when it rains and I can't carry an umbrella. When my wheelchair pushes away from me after transferring out of it (meaning I can't reach it to get back in it). When my bladder doesn't hold. When my spasms are so bad they knock me out of my chair. When I can't reach the baking powder that's on the tallest shelf in the grocery store.

But tonight, I met someone to whose words I spoke felt empty to me and where my bad days seemed rather, well, good. Through conversation at a class I'm taking at church, I met a woman named Elizabeth who in December 2007 lost her daughter, Yesenia, in a car accident very similar to mine. Yesenia was only 4 days shy of her 27th birthday. It's only been 15 months for her since her daughter tragically passed away, and for once I felt helpless, without the appropriate words to express my sympathy. "I'm so sorry" didn't seem to match the grief she is surely facing. I felt guilty sitting in front of her in my wheelchair, sharing with her my story and it's similarities with that of her daughter. However, the ending was obviously different. And although it doesn't make her grief go away, I sadly know there is someone out there "worse" than her.

Grief, pain, and sorrow all have the same feeling of loneliness and helplessness, no matter what the manifestation it takes. Over the 9 years I've been paralyzed, I have experienced various forms at various times. Although the outbursts are few and far between now as I have dealt with the majority of the issues, there are still times the devil tries to pry his way into my happiness. But, the pain of losing a loved one, having to ID her body in the morgue, having to lay her body to rest? That grief I do not know. It is unbearable for me to think of, and frankly pathetic for me to try to compare my grief to that of this mothers grief.

Bette Midler sung a song that became popular in 1990 called "From A Distance." In it, it speaks of a life full of peace, happiness, and love.

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.
From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs,
and no disease,no hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.
From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.
From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes,
it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.

From a distance, you would think the woman I met tonight was just like any average American woman. Working hard, tending to her husband and family, and doing the best she could to make her dreams come true. However, when we take a moment to take a deeper look, a closer look (as opposed to one "from a distance"), we see that she is a woman who has endured much heartache and pain. She is now a mother without her daughter, and a heart that seems no longer whole.

May we all take a moment each day to give grace to people and look a little deeper into their lives to see what lies beneath their water-filled eyes. "There's always someone worse off than you," as my mother would say. But may we never wish to love people... from a distance.

You can read more about Yesenia and her beautiful passion for life by going to Yesenia's Humanitarian Foundation.