Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Two days to go until my surgery.. There's nothing left to say but it's in the Lord 's hands. I just need to believe in his mercy and his plan for my life.
As I am coping with the upcoming surgery, I am speechless and nervous. That being said, I thought this clip appropriate.On Tuesday's wild-card version of America's Got Talent, I was pleasantly surprised when Howie Mandel brought back one of my favorites, Connor Doren. I had previously featured Connor in one of my blog post because of his unique talent of indoor kite flying. He is back, and his recent kite flying edition to the music of "Raise Me Up" has won him a place in the semi finals.
As for Friday's post, I'm not sure whether I'm going to be up and around writing. So in case I don't see you, we'll catch up Monday!
Pray for me and God bless you,
Monday, August 16, 2010
The movie "Letters to God" served as one of the many interesting distractions I've experienced this last weekend. Inspired by Tyler Doherty's lifelong battle with a brain tumor, this movie shows how one boy's has the power to change lives. In the clip above, Tanner Maguire (who plays Tyler) writes letters to God in an effort to make sense of the cancer and its impact on his family. He sees God as his personal penpal, someone with whom he can share his deepest feelings without fear of rejection. His letter serve as prayers not only for himself, but others in the community.
So how do you go about mailing letters to God? That's the question for mail carrier, Brady (played by Jeffrey S. Johnson). At first, Brady thinks about just passing them off to the local clergy and letting them handle it. But after talking to a pastor, he has a change of heart.
"You know, it seems to me that God put these letters into your hands for a reason; so maybe you should hold on to them!" The preacher says, continuing by asking Brady if he could pray for him.
In the end, Brady develops a strong connection with the Doherty family as they starts to discover the true meaning of faith and positivity in life no matter what the obstacles.
I'll be honest in saying the concept wears on you after a while. Just as the concept of writing letters to God does. After all, God can't write us back- at least not in the conventional sense. That's what makes praying so difficult. You have to believe that your prayers are being heard and then wait. Sometimes, the answers may come in the form of family and friends, technological as well as surgical advances, etc. Other times, though, the answers may not be as clear.
With my surgery coming up on Friday, I seem to be caught in the middle of my life. My future, my past, belief and doubt, certainty and uncertainty. From the very beginning, I wasn't keen on surgery and I can't help wondering whether I'm doing the right thing. I wonder if it's just because I'm afraid of what the future holds for me not just because of the surgery or everything involved with that, but because it could change my life. I've only known one way of life, using my left hand for practically everything. But retraining my brain, that's a whole different task. Not only that but I'm not as young as I used to be. I can be a little stubborn too. That being said, I can't help wondering what I gotten myself into.
On the other hand, my parents are positive I'm doing the right thing. That's what baffles me the most, they've got the peace I've been praying for. Shouldn't it be the other way around, I'm the one having the surgery? I'm the one whose life is going to be changed one way or another, with therapy, splints, etc. I've had surgeries before, so I don't know why this one scares me the most.
My apologies if this post took a negative turn, but that and more has laid on my heart lately.
But then again, my life isn't my own anymore.
It's God's, to do as He pleases.
God, I hope you were listening.
Friday, August 13, 2010
[August 2010 This is a guest article by Debbie’s father; I am honored to be an invited contributor to Debbie’s blog and quite proud to be her dad.]
My daughter Debbie is an amazing young woman who has accomplished much. She continues to impress me with her strength of character and perseverance, rooted in her deep personal faith. She holds a BA degree and is now in the final stages of completing her first manuscript of a planned trilogy of novels on the growing faith of a young woman and her (disabled) boy friend. (Oops, hope I did not reveal too much of the plot!) She maintains an online blog with about 400 posts - all with the sole purpose of encouraging others by sharing her life experiences. This is quite an accomplishment for a 30-year old young woman with cerebral palsy (CP); her quadriplegia prevents her from using her body, and she cannot use her hands to type on a keyboard.
The Amazing Dragon
But this is where the friendly dragon enters the story. Beginning at the age of two, Debbie attended a United Cerebral Palsy school in Baltimore, MD and then a special education school until entering a mainstreamed elementary school in 1985. It was in 1988 that I first met this amazing dragon! At that time, Debbie was eight years old and I attended a Disability Expo in Baltimore; I watched in amazement as a lawyer with CP demonstrated a prototype voice dictation system called “Dragon” running on an early “souped up” personal computer. It was amazing to see a quadriplegic man dictating through a computer, and it gave me great hope for Debbie. The entire system was beyond our budget, but I knew the day would come when this technology could help Debbie. I dreamed of the day when she could begin using voice recognition to do schoolwork. In the meanwhile Debbie excelled in school and my wife and I were her dictation system – writing down the math and written assignments as she progressed in school. I continued to watch the literature, read every review of speech recognition software in the PC magazines, and tracked the company called Dragon Systems – looking forward to the day when its dictation software would become practical for Debbie. As Debbie studied in school, the pioneers of the emerging technology of speech recognition continued to work to make the technology available to the public.
In 1993 we moved to Michigan and Debbie entered a new Middle school; everyone around Debbie continued to take her dictation. It was in this period that the Intel Pentium chip was introduced and the “Dragon Dictate” speech recognition product and a powerful laptop computer was within our grasp! In October 1996, eight years after I first dreamed of Debbie being able to dictate to a computer, we traveled to Traverse City Michigan, to purchase a copy from the closest dealer and receive instructions. Debbie received an hour of personal training – we were off and running. She began dictating her homework alone right away - writing and even her math! Even more, she was able to control her PC and use more applications that were previously hidden from her. Dragon Dictate opened an entirely new world of exciting independence to her! I even hooked up some light controls and a room fan that she could turn on and off by voice command. This Dragon was bringing a world of encouragement. But there was more to come.
Debbie and her Faithful and Tireless Dragon
Debbie graduated from Saline High School in 1999, a member of the National Honor Society. In 2003 she graduated from Washtenaw Community College with honors, earning an Associates Degree. She proceeded on to Concordia University in Ann Arbor, MI and used Dragon Dictate in the David Dormitory on her desktop computer to conduct research on the Web, write papers, and send e-mail and instant message with her friends. In those years, she was helped by a small “Army of Angels”- the battalion of wonderful and Godly young women from Concordia that drove her wheelchair to class, copied their notes for her, fed her in the dorm, turned the pages in her books, and much more. She graduated in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in communications and a minor in English. All of this was performed with the same copy of Dragon Dictate she purchased ten years earlier! Through the years we had diligently tried the newer, continuous-voice software versions (Dragon Naturally Speaking) but none could compete with the performance of her good old Dragon Dictate. But by 2008, as new Microsoft operating systems were introduced, we started having operating system conflicts, and we knew we could not live with Windows 98 forever. We kept trying new versions of Naturally Speaking and finally, in 2008 we got version Naturally Speaking 9.2 to work as well as the old Dragon! We were now ready for new operating systems!
The Dragon at Debbie’s House
Today, Debbie’s life revolves around this tireless technology pioneered by Dragon Systems. Debbie is at her desk from morning to bedtime, saying “Wake-up” and “Go to sleep” between endless conversations with the Dragon that is her faithful companion to open the Internet to her. She keeps up her blog, “Rollin into the Future”, which has now become an accumulation of hundreds of articles on disability-related subjects, including reviews of current news articles and TV programs on disabled people, and her inspirational commentary on the role of faith in living joyfully though physically disabled. She uses Skype to phone her friends, including a weekly Bible Study with her Concordia friends in the states and on the mission field, all controlled by the dragon. For a person that cannot use her hands, the faithful Dragon is a wonderful blessing – a technology that came at just the right time in life for a person like Debbie.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
It's hard to believe I've written 389 post during the last four years. It's funny because I first began this project in the hopes of being a springboard towards employment and it's become so much more than that to me. Isn't that how God chooses to work miracles in our lives, though? This shows us that we are able to do more by His Power than that of our own will.
This topic has been the discussion of many religious dramas and television shows. Inspiration - what is it and where does it come from? Personally, I believe that no other show explains it better than Touched By an Angel in episode 100 entitled "Psalm 151". In the episode, the angels try to help uncover and grant the wishes of 10-year-old Petey who is dying of cystic fibrosis. One of them being that his mother (played by Wynonna) complete writing a song signifying that she would be able to provide for herself after his death.
I've provided the "inspiration" clip below. I found it on YouTube, thanks to a user Miss Wings. In short, Monica (the Angel of truth) tells Audrey that "God puts into your spirit things that couldn't come from your own mind."
In the end, Audrey completes the song and performs it for her son. The song "Testify To Love" was originally written by Avalon, but fits the storyline perfectly. We should look at everything in life as a opportunity to be "a witness in the silences when words are not enough". In that way, we are pointing others to Jesus.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Powerful words, right?
Imagine the impact these words would have if we actually acted on them
Last weekend, I had a chance to experience this impact in action as my parents and I traveled back to Ohio for the first Medina Baptist Church High School Bible class reunion. Stepping into the sanctuary, it was as if no time had passed between the group and you could feel the love of God in the room. They had gathered together to reminisce as well as show their appreciation for the one man whom God placed in their lives to share with them the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Dallas.. What can I say about a man I've only met once in my life? I can't say enough! Not only is he the humblest person I I've met in my life, but he gives God the credit for everything.I'm so grateful that he served as such a role model for my parents. Now I understand where the conviction for their faith stems from... I can only hope that kind of conviction stays intact throughout the decades.
I don't know about you but sometimes it's hard to give any answer in regards to our faith. Especially if it's something we've grown up believing all our lives. It's personal and uncomfortable when someone doubts who you are and what you believe at your very core. But it makes you think.
Just such an experience happened to me at the reunion. A fellow attendee noticed me sitting by myself as a group was taking a final picture. He must have seen me growing a little bored (I have a tendency to do that at reunions, I don't know why) and sat down to talk to me. I was prepared for the usual small talk (how are you? What are you doing these days?, That kind of thing)
"Do you feel like you have a personal relationship with Jesus? " Tom asked
In the midst of spewing verse after verse, I was taken aback. He was confident and unassuming when it came to matters of the heart. This has been the first time someone had asked me to give a testament to my faith and I couldn't do it (not to my satisfactory at least!) How could someone question my intentions when I was attending a Christian function?
After my conversation with Tom, I was a bit shaken and doubting my commitment to God. When you are confronted and forced to face the reality of your humanness, it can scare you to death. But that's when you have to remind yourself you're not in this alone. There comes a point where you have to ask God to carry you because you can't climb the stairs of life and perfection any further.
This is where God's commitment to us comes into play. Not only did he show his ultimate commitment and love for us by giving his life on the cross, but in reality he's the one that's holding onto us
Friday, August 6, 2010
So I'm quite proud of myself. Not only did I possibly learn how to embed some videos into my website, but I'm not at quite far behind. Yesterday, because of thunderstorms I was unable to post my entry for the day. Anyway, I have been anxiously anticipating Natalie Grant's new song "human" to hit stores. I think the lyrics do better than I ever could in encouraging people to live everyday as if it were their last into make a difference wherever possible because you never know who you may end up influencing.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The last couple weeks have brought crazy weather for Virginia, but we've been luckier than most people. So you can imagine my surprise when we had gorgeous weather this weekend. So gorgeous my father and I decided to take advantage of it and attend an annual summer festivity.
I don't know about you, but it's always been a staple for our family growing up. Granted, I wasn't able to enjoy the rides; Still, I laughed with glee watching as my mom struggled to win some kind of roller-ball game just so that I could receive an enormous stuffed animal. Sometimes, even, vendors would even see me in my wheelchair and give me one for free. Those were some good times!
Since moving here, we hadn't had any luck finding one. So you can imagine my surprise when dad came down with the brochure for the county fair. Coming into it, both of us didn't know what to expect, considering our previous experiences.
But this one was different.
The world's smallest fair, I like to call it.
It was located on the top of a small hill. There were about 25 - 30 vendors with hot dogs, hamburger, corn dogs and nachos. It also included several rides for the kids, as well as camel and horse rides.
You heard me right! Camel rides.
Long story short, this fair made me nostalgic for my youth. But hey, at least I got my funnel cake.
Anyway, that was my weekend. Now, on to today's post. I came across a television segment on 60 minutes featuring the topic of savants. More specifically, musical savants. It highlighted the talents of Derek Paravicina. Today, Derek is a 31-year-old gifted musician who travels the world reminding audiences that no disability is too great and you should never limit yourself.
According to 60 minutes, Derek was born three months premature and weighed only a pound and a half. This left him with a number of developmental delays as well as blindness. But nothing could have prepared his parents for the surprises ahead as he developed a fascination with his toy keyboard.
"My daughter suddenly sent to me one day'he's just playing one of the hymns we heard in church this morning" said Nic Paravicina
He was three at at the time.
In an effort to cultivate his skills, his parents arranged a interview with piano teacher Adam Ockerford. The interview didn't go quite as planned, however, because he bumped into the teacher in the middle of a lesson. Despite Derek's lack of technique, Adam sensed there was something special in the way he played "Don't Cry for Me Argentina". But how was he supposed to teach someone who could neither see the piano in front of him or hold even the simplest of conversations.
And so the journey began.
In the beginning, he couldn't understand why this man wanted to take control of his keyboard. When in reality, Adam just wanted them to repeat the scales or notes. Eventually, something changed.
"I think suddenly it clicked that he could have a conversation in sound. Suddenly, he just blossomed," said Ockelford
Finally, Derek began feeling connected with that outside world. Within three years of daily lessons, he was even asked to perform in front of an audience. It was there that Adam finally saw Derek's love for performing for the first time.
"When you are on a big stage, the applause hits you like a wave.. He was trembling with excitement and elation that people were reacting to him and his playing," he said. Even more remarkable is his ability to take a song, any song and change it to any style from ragtime to jazz. Or any key, for that matter.
As well as doing concerts and making CDs, Derek still loves connecting with people on a personal level. His recent experiences have brought him to nursing homes playing the piano for the elderly.
"He's like a musical jukebox," Adam says
As for his father who continues to be amazed by his son's accomplishments, he says "They say good comes out of bad and that's certainly true in Derek's case: without even knowing it, he's done more good than probably most of us will ever do!"
Citation for TV program: 60 minutes. CBS Channel 9 WUSA, August 1, 2010