Thursday, May 17, 2018

Breaking Stereotypes; Young Man Spreading Alopecia Awareness

Welcome Back Readers

I was watching Home And Family as I usually do and came across this inspiring interview with Jesse London As a child, Jessie was diagnosed with alopecia. For those of you that are unfamiliar, this is a auto immune disease that makes your hair fall out. Now there are three types of alopecia, but the type we are talking about here is alopecia Areata, which involves all of the hair on the body. It is important to note this condition is not contagious and can happen to anyone; it is not a discriminate of age, race or ethnicity.

You can just imagine the Jesse’s reaction, right? Not. Immediately, he wants to have in the assembly raising awareness about condition; he even has been asked to speak at other schools. Jesse has even gone as far as writing a comic book on the condition in the hopes of making it seem less scary and more acceptable.

“Everyone who is different in any kind of way, they shouldn't hide their difference, and they should embrace their difference, and they shouldn't feel ashamed of it."

This young boy reminds me of verse in I Timothy that says," “ Don’t let anyone look down on you) because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith  and in purity.”

For more information on this cause, please go to:
https://www.projectjesse.com/
https://childrensalopeciaproject.org/

Monday, May 14, 2018

My Experience Racing at the Semper Fi 5K With The Help of Ainsley's Angels

Dear Readers,

If you are familiar with my blog, you may remember how I first mentioned my encounter with Ainsley's Angels at the 2016 Ability Expo in Virginia. As well as offering information, they allowed me to "test ride," one of their actual chairs. While my runner and I took a short jog around the building, I felt free. If you've been in a wheelchair for a considerable amount of time, you may understand what I mean- always having something up against your back to support you. Though I was supported in the race chair, I was able to feel the air against my face and back. For just a moment, I felt like a runner with the wind of against my face; albeit, my partner. I was borrowing my partner's legs. But I wasn't just a person with a disability anymore; I wanted more of this feeling..

So I signed up on a email list to be notified about upcoming races

It wasn't until this April that the races happened to be in our area. It was then that I contacted the event organizer for our area (Katy). Unfortunately, she was unable to get a runner for this race, but she would definitely have a chair for the next race. In the meantime, she wanted to learn more about me and my disability to properly  match me with a team. My dad emailed her the specifics of my disability as well as other info.

Now we waited.

Finally, Katy emailed us back and said there was a chair available for me in the next race. She said it would be slightly more tilted than the other chair I had been in so I would be able to see more of the race. I was ecstatic. But how was I going to record the race for my friends who were unable to attend. It was then that I looked into getting a GoPro; for those of you unfamiliar with GoPro, this is a very small camera able to record or take pictures of action events, such as surfing, etc.. It can be attached to one's body and left running to record the actual event itself. What's unique about the GoPro is that it can be remotely controlled by a cell phone using Bluetooth interface. In other words, those that are disabled and unable to press buttons on a camera can control a camera just as easily through a app.

But that's another story for another time.

So it was a go. I was set to race in the Semper Fi 5K. This race was in an effort to raise money for a fund in the same name, which supports those who are wounded during the war and need help adjusting when they return home as a civilian. So, on Saturday, my parents and I got up at 5 AM in order to drive and meet the group at East Potomac Park by 715 a.m. In all there were 12 teams, one for each disabled person, and 22 runners that pushed the racing chairs. My chair had a flag that said "Team Debbie" and my team runners were Amy and Jackie. Amy is a schoolteacher and Jackie is a Intel analyst and retired from the Army. Before the race started, every chair was tested and taken for a test run. They secured me with a chest strap and I was ready to go. As it turned out, this was Jackie's first race with the Angels as well as mine; we both had to get used to how Phoenix (our chair) moved as well as felt. When everyone arrived, we decided to take a picture around the Reflection Pool by the Lincoln Memorial. (See below)


As our team arrived at the starting line, I was filled with anticipation. Would I get that feeling again? Would I temporarily forget about my spasms and remember who I was doing this for? Not only to feel that freedom without my wheelchair, but to support those wounded in war. After all, they sometimes find themselves in similar circumstances- in wheelchairs, wearing prosthetics and coping with their new circumstances. As I listened to the Star-Spangled banner, I thought about this and became deeply moved. Thanks to their sacrifice, I live in a country where I have my freedom. I'm not just talking about physical freedom here, but religious freedom as well.

But I digress.

I don't remember if there was a gun to signal the beginning of the race, but next thing I know we were off. Amy decided to run first pushing my wheelchair along as Jackie ran beside me. A gentle breeze kept me cool as the pavement pounded beneath my chair; even though I was sitting down, I felt like I was running. I tried my best to take in the scenery, but we were going pretty. During the race, I heard an occasional spectator yell "Go Team Debbie" as we sped past. Occasionally, I had the opportunity to speak to Jackie about my future plans as she ran beside me. (see below)



At around Mile #1, a motorcycle policeman passed us; they were there with Park officials to make sure all the runners were safe.I believe it was then that Jackie took over for Amy and Amy walked beside me. I was quiet for a bit as I tried to take in the scenery around me. As we reached the turn around point, I was surprised as a man with racing prostatics sped past. "That's who I'm doing this for people like him- injured in war." I thought. Whoever this man was, he was not letting anything stop them.

Reaching the final lap, Amy and Jackie decided to swap over bridge. (My apologies if you guys swapped more and I didn't notice. I was just trying to enjoy the scenery and take it all in). Another thing I really liked about racing with the Angels is that fellow racers didn't look at me as someone with a disability, they looked at me as a fellow runner and cheered me on! There was a camaraderie there. We crossed the finish line in record time about 25 minutes as the song "The Eye of the Tiger" played. (See below)

As we waited for the others to finish, I took a lot of pictures to memorialize my first race. I got my team's phone numbers and email addresses so that I would be able to keep contact with them in the future. Not only did I have the opportunity to participate in my first 5K race, but I have developed so many friends in the process. The first being that of Katy (the event coordinator); without her, none of this would have been possible. Thank you Katy for your tireless work on our behalf making sure that we have every opportunity to participate and gain a new sense of freedom in these events. (See below)

Another big round of applause goes to the many volunteers that offer to race in these events. Without them, people like me would not be able to participate in these events. To my team (Amy and Jackie), thanks for letting me borrow your legs for the day; you will never know what it meant to me being able to feel that air in my face as you raced your hearts out. For once, I didn't have to worry about being seen as a person in a wheelchair, I was just a person. Even though we just met, you took time to get to know me and treated me like a friend. Your friendship means the world to me.I know I can only speak on my experience, but I'm sure other participants may have similar experiences that they can't always express. Just know we appreciate your time and effort trying to make it the best experience for all of us.




Thank you everyone! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

38th Birthday Reflections


Dear Readers,
You may have noticed that I only acknowledge my 38th birthday adventures briefly in the last post; that is for several reasons. 

1). I was (and am still) recovering from it 
2) I was still entertaining visitors from my birthday extravaganza
3) I hadn't really had that much time to reflect on it by myself
4) I thought my birthday experience deserved a separate post.

But let me back up; I'm getting ahead of myself.

Most of my regular readers may remember that I usually celebrate by having a simple dinner with my family. Occasionally, my best friend travels from Michigan to spend it with me- but that's about it. Not this time. Unbeknownst to me, my friend (Rondalyn) had contacted my mom in February about the possibility of coming to visit me for my birthday; mom said she would see what our plans were and get back to her. In the meantime, I had been playing around with the idea of going someplace warm for my birthday. It was (and is) still cold and I was in need of a little sun.

As time grew closer, I became more adamant about that idea. So mom and Rondalyn came to the conclusion that she would just have to come with us.. All this time I had no idea; I was under the guise that Rondalyn was going to Las Vegas with her family! (You see, we usually talk daily and are very close).

So you can imagine my surprise when I get a FaceTime call from her saying she is not touching down in Las Vegas, but in Virginia! She had come to join us at Virginia Beach and celebrate my birthday.
From then on, it was a whirlwind. We spent the evening at home and then woke up early and packed up for our three-hour trip. When we arrived, mom arranged for us to have a suite; for those that are unfamiliar with the concept, a suite is a small kitchenette/living room area attached to a bedroom with a bathroom in between. Although Rondalyn can walk with a walker, she brought her wheelchair along for touring the Boardwalk. With two wheelchairs, you can imagine how cramped it became. Not to mention, we could barely fit through the narrow corner at the entrance to our hotel room. Still, we made the best of it.

The first night we ate at a small restaurant attached to the hotel. I think it was called The Blue Whale. Rondalyn and I each had a crab cake. After that, we walked the Boardwalk for a little bit; it was quite chilly. 

When we awoke the next morning, it was still quite chilly but the sun was out. We were determined not to let the weather deter our task for that day- shopping. First, we had lunch at a little restaurant on the boardwalk. Dad and I shared a huge bacon burger and fries with a bowl of some type of zesty cheese soup; it was definitely unique. From there, we traveled across the street to a "Sunsation" shop containing Virginia Beach merchandise. It was there that we spent the next few hours milling over what to purchase. I purchased nine different items, one outfit the same as Rondalyn's; so that we would match. (See below)


After we had exhausted ourselves as well as emptied our pocketbooks, we were hungry. Mom, thinking ahead, suggested we pick up something for breakfast the next morning. "How about Duncan donuts?" Before we can reply, she pointed out another option, there across the street stood a Duck Donuts shop. For those that are unfamiliar, Duck Donuts are slightly different than regular donuts; not only are they made from different ingredients that make a heavier dough, but they are made fresh to order right in front of you. This Duck Donuts had a variety of items that were Boardwalk themed such as "The Beach Ball" and "The Flip- Flop" . (We actually ended up getting a dozen different types because we couldn't decide on just six!) Personally, my favorite was the S'mores- a chocolate and marshmallow with graham cracker doughnut. They smelled so good, we couldn't help but share one on the way back to the hotel. Before we headed in, however, dad was able to make reservations for a popular restaurant on the boardwalk - Catch 22 for the very next evening. Once we returned to the room, we spent the remainder of the evening just talking and watching TV; my parents allowed us to have the bedroom to ourselves a majority of the time, so we could catch up in  privacy.

On my birthday, dad went out to get us Starbucks for breakfast. Little did we know that he didn't go to the one closest to us; instead he walked several blocks just to get a coffee. But at least I got my peppermint mocha. Instead of heading out for lunch, we all decided  to snack - knowing fully well that we were going out for a fancy dinner. In the meantime, my parents allowed me to open some of my gifts beforehand. One was a protective cover for my Alexa, while the others had to do with my anticipation of the coming a dog owner in the future. First, my parents got me a Goldendoodle book and a pair of pajamas featuring cute dog cartoons with sayings about what dog owners usually do involving their pets. One of my favorite examples says something like "....makes sure to keep to his or her side of the bed." Rondalyn gave me a bracelet from Alex and Emma that has the names of the "Angels Of Protection" on it, such as Michael.

Around lunchtime, we decided to walk the Boardwalk again. By this time, the sun was high in the sky; but there was still a chill in air. On the way we passed by a street artist making paintings using paint from spray cans. I fell in love with a purple and pink setting with black palm trees. After telling it was my birthday, he just gave it to me for free! (See below). However, dad did give him a very big tip...

All of us went to dinner shortly after. The place was packed with prom reservations. I was surprised to hear people praying at the table next to us; but after passing a Christian booth on the boardwalk, we believed they were with them or something. Just a glimpse of their beautiful dresses reminded me of my college homecoming; it seems like just yesterday I was sitting with my friends at IHOP drinking hot chocolate after a long night of dancing and talking with friends.

Wow, how time flies..

Still, my friends stick by me through thick and thin; we stay in contact through Skype and give each
other Godly advice when it's needed. Rondalyn and others have taught me the true meaning of friendship.They have seen me as just a person, not a person with a disability

But I digress..

That night I had a crab cake dinner (with some fancy name) and a strawberry daiquiri  while Rondalyn had the same. While the dinner was great, the daiquiri was not- probably because I asked them to put whipped cream on top or because they used a different type of alcohol. Mind you, I don't drink - only on special occasions. For dessert. I had a S'mores cake type thing which the manager graciously deducted from the bill for my special day


When I returned to the room, they gave me the remainder of my gifts. First, there was a dog mug in purple with black pawprints all over it that said  "DOG MOM" and then there was my ultimate favorite a necklace with a pink paw print on it that says the same. Now to most of you it might seem strange that I have all of these things with the word "DOG" on it when I don't even have a dog; but to me, these are promises of things to come in the future. I have always wanted a dog that would be able to do things for me and make me as independent as possible.. But even more than that, I want the dog for a companion. Sure, I will always have my family around.. But there's something about a dog that loves you in his own special way that appeals to me.

As you can see for a 4-day trip to Virginia Beach, there was a lot to write about. Even now, looking back, I'm exhausted.

(Funny little side note here: I apologize if I got any of the gift giving and presents out of order. I was trying to do this by memory)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Encouragement: Song Of the Week-I Am the Lord (Do Not Fear)

Dear Readers~

On my birthday adventure to Virginia Beach, this song kept coming to mind;I thought I would share with you. Based on Isaiah 43, this some is a reminder that God's always with us.Although the version below is performed by Grace Community Church, the original song is written by Hillsong United.


I am the Lord (Do Not Fear) -Lyrics Based on Isaiah 43

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
And the waves, will not overcome you
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you
I have called you by name, you are Mine

For I am the Lord your God (girls repeat)
I am the Lord your God
(I am) the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (2x)

(Guys) I am the Lord
(Girls)Do not fear

When you pass through the fire, you'll not be hurt
And the flames will not consume you
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you
I have called you by name, you are Mine

(Guys)You are the Lord
(Girls)I'll not fear

You are the Lord

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness Official Trailer



Dear Readers,

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to see God's Not Dead 3: A Light In Darkness. I believe this movie accurately reflects our current struggle to share The Gospel in the midst of a fallen world. In this third installment, controversy arises as Pastor Dave copes with protests about having a church on University property; it all comes to a head when the church is burned down in a fire. As he struggles to pick up and rebuild his father's legacy, the protests continue with fighting from both sides. Enlisting the help of his brother (John Corbett), the two begin to fight it out in court against the University; however, the brothers are also dealing with their own childhood issues. Things haven't been the same since his brother walked away from the faith; since then, Dave have been praying for him and he finds that annoying.

In the end, Pastor Dave surrenders, realizing that that church is just a building and he needs to share God's message everywhere. He then decides to rebuild somewhere else.

I will admit it - some churches are struggling today. They have forgotten their purpose and goal... To proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Christians tend to forget that we are the Living Church.  I love this; the church is not just a building. One of my favorite quotes from the movie says,  "Without grace, we are just fighting," We need to remember to share God's truth in love. After all, we are representatives of Jesus and His Light. Matthew 5:14 says, "You are the light of the world. A city set on  a hill cannot be hidden;"

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

See What's Coming Up On MY LITTLE LIFE

Welcome Back Readers~

TLC is trying to broaden its audience with the addition of a new reality series featuring a number of people with different varieties of dwarfism. Each are at different stages in their life; some are looking to move out and assert their independence like 21-year-old Timberlee and her daughter while others are looking for love and the possibility of motherhood. This series follows each one of their journeys as they struggle to grow and accomplish their dreams. The show airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

 For more information, please go to:
https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/my-little-life/


Monday, April 9, 2018

John Legend - Jesus Christ Superstar Review


Welcome Back Readers~

On the heels of such hits like “The Passion: New Orleans” and “The Sound Of Music Live” featuring Carrie Underwood, NBC tried to re-create the magic with their version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” With lyrics by Tim Rice, this 1970's rock opera follows Jesus' journey through Jerusalem on the
last seven days leading up to his crucifixion.

On the surface, this musical may seem like a nice introduction of Jesus to those who haven't heard the gospel; however, there are several biblical inconsistencies. 

  1. Romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene- Despite the sub plot of the musical, there is no evidence that Mary Magdalene had anything other than platonic feelings for Jesus. In fact, little is known about Mary herself except that Jesus drove seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). After her healing, she becomes faithful follower of Jesus. After the crucifixion, she is the first to find the tomb is empty. What is so special about that? Women weren't typically believed when it  came to messages of importance in those days. Any romantic relationship was fabricated and even an inappropriate deviation from the Gospel. 
  2. The Portrayal of a Confused Jesus- Throughout the concert, Jesus is portrayed as a confused man- which he is not. Despite being fully man, he is also fully God. Jesus is fully aware of God's plan to save us from our sin and his part in redemption. In a moment of weakness , he even asks God the Father if there is in the other way to accomplish this goal, saying "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).
  3. An Incomplete Crucifixion-Resurrection Scene - Although they had John Legend (playing Jesus) on the cross ascending into a blue background with light pouring down from above, this did not accurately portray the complete story. Jesus died on the cross and was physically resurrected to meet with his disciples - demonstrating to all of us the hope of our bodily resurrection. Only after that did Jesus ascend to heaven -physically and bodily. Without the resurrection and reuniting with his believing followers, the musical provides and incomplete Gospel.
I am pleased that the musical brought attention to Jesus at Easter time and that so many artists put their heart into the effort. I only wish that the story had more accurately portrayed the complete Gospel of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and His offer of forgiveness for our sin. 
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