Saturday, December 1, 2018

My Top Christmas Songs and What They Mean to Me!

 Scene Dear Readers~

Wow, it's hard to believe there are only about 25 more days until Christmas; it seems just like yesterday my brother and sister-in-law and their kids were here celebrating. But I guess that's what happens as you get older - time flies and before you know it is gone! That being said, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite Christmas songs and why they are important to me.

Let's face it... We've all grown up hearing about Santa Claus- the jolly old man in a red suit who brings presents to those on the "nice list". If we are honest with ourselves, though, the impact of this story fades as we grow; as a result, we're left to view the innocence through the eyes of our relatives- younger nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters who we passed on the tradition too!

For that reason, every Christmas is different for me; I'm not saying that the "magic" is gone. I still enjoy watching my nieces unwrap their presents- their eyes glowing with excitement. But I realize what's most important during this season. It's the time you've spent with friends and family spreading God's love in their life. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

The following four songs help me remember what is most important during this Christmas season and remind me to do whatever I can to further God's kingdom because tomorrow is not promised. After all, as I've said many times before, we are God's representatives.


  1. Grown-up Christmas List by Amy Grant- Although this song has many versions, this is one of my favorites. This song illustrates how growing up our view of the world changes and we begin to focus on others rather than just our own needs. If we grown-up believing in Jesus, we know that it is only he that can solve the world's problems. This song makes me realize the world is still a broken place and there is still work to be done
  2. Happy Christmas (War is Over) by Celine Dion- This song makes me evaluate what I've done over the past year to share my faith with those around me. It also reminds me to not worry about the future because God has everything in the palm of his hand. It also gives me pause to think about those in war-torn countries, fighting for their lives as well as our safety and protection
  3. Where are You Christmas? by Faith Hill- This song reminds me that Christmas isn't always easy for everyone... Relatives may have passed this year and so they might find this year very difficult. They may have forgotten the happiness of Christmas because they are so full of loss. Also, this song reminds me that Christmas isn't just for the holiday season, it should be felt every day. People need God's love and hope- that's the ultimate gift of Christmas!
  4. Here Comes Santa Claus (the Christmas Carol version) by Unknown- I know this seems like a surprising choice considering the rest of my list... But hear me out, this version mentions the true meaning of Christmas in lines like this, ""He loves you just the same Santa Claus knows we're all Gods children That makes everything right So fill your hearts with Christmas cheer 'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight! " I admit this version is hard to find famous singers singing but it can be occasionally heard on the Delilah show on I Heart Radio.

Anyway, if I don't write any later on this month, I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Debbie

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hallmark Hall of Fame: Christmas Everlasting - Hallmark Movie Trailer (A...




Welcome Back Readers~

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope you took advantage of the time with friends and family because those are moments you can't get back. I certainly enjoyed our change in scenery as we celebrated in Virginia Beach this year. You see, my brother and sister-in-law decided to take the kids and visit Tennessee. So we decided to hit the road as well. I know what you're thinking...

But wasn't it cold at Virginia Beach? To answer your question, yes. But fortunately, we spent most of our time inside and relaxing. We ordered pizza and had dad get food for us most nights but on the first night we decided to venture out and walk the three blocks to Catch 31; it was blistering cold outside. For dinner, my parents ordered the traditional Thanksgiving turkey in some kind of fancy sauce while I decided on steak drenched in some kind of sauce that made it taste like pot roast instead. It was then that we determined if we were to venture out again dad would drive the van and drop us off as well as pick us up so the three of us didn't have to walk. True to his word, we ventured out the day before we left Virginia Beach to get our usual favorites-mine was the crab cake dinner.

But that's enough about my Thanksgiving. On November 25, our family enjoyed the Hallmark Hall Of Fame movie "Christmas Everlasting."  Based on Martha Bostwick's book "The Second Sister", this movie follows Lucy Tooney's (Tatyana Ali) journey back home after the devastating loss of her best friend and "sister". The two had continued to grow close despite the strain the distance had on their friendship. Their friendship had overcome the biggest test of their lives when Alice got into an accident and had a traumatic brain injury which left her mentally challenged having to relearn everything again. Now, Lucy is left to face her past as well as her guilt. In the process, she inherits Alice's home as well as her cat under the expressed condition that she stay there until after Christmas. At first, she is reluctant but feelings for an old flame began to change her mind- not to mention wanting to find out who the mysterious Maeve is.

I related to this movie for many reasons. First and foremost, it involves a character with a disability. Although she died, I can relate to sometimes feeling like a burden to the people I care about. I know it takes time out of their lives to care for me on a daily basis but I know they love me and that's why they do it. Second of all, I know I have a small group of friends like Alice did (the "FOA" - Friends of Allic) that care about me. However, I wish I knew and felt I was making a difference in their lives. You see, most of them live in states far away from mine and I don't get to see them that often. While it's true we have cell phones and text, it's not the same as seeing them face-to-face; I miss those college days where we were in the dorms and they were just a call away if I needed them. Back then things were so easy and uncomplicated by the struggles of life

Anyway, sorry for drifting a little off-topic there. I would really recommend watching any reruns of Christmas Everlasting when it comes on. With special guest stars like Patty Labelle and Dennis Haysbert, it's sure to be a new Christmas favorite; it certainly is for me.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Preview - A Godwink Christmas - Miracles of Christmas

Welcome Back Readers~


Have you ever wondered whether God interacts with us on a daily basis? I believe he does. It may be in the unlikely circumstances of meaning friends from your childhood in the midst of the crowded shopping mall or just a simple urging in your spirit that something needs to be done right away. Either way, God does still speak to us in his own unique way- that way he gets our attention and we have no doubt he is watching out for us. In tonight's premiere of "A God Wink Christmas" we take a look at one couple's undeniable connection and despite that circumstances keep them apart. But God doesn't give up that easily and through several "GodWinks" they can no longer deny their chemistry. See the movie tonight on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries at 9 PM



Sunday, October 28, 2018

"One Heart At a Time"-a candid look at what makes Radio Show Host Delilah who she is

Welcome Back Readers,

I'll be honest I haven't felt quite like myself the last few weeks. Although I've been rolling along trying my best to work on the blog and YouTube videos, my heart hasn't been really in it. Still, news of Delilah's new book and podcast gave me something to do and post about. As I've said in previous posts, I've been listening to her radio show for as long as I can remember on and off throughout the years. Except for her faith (which she shares candidly on the air to anyone she feels led to), I didn't know much about her. Sure, I knew she had a nonprofit foundation to help feed and provide for the needy in underdeveloped countries. But because I read her new book "One Heart at a time" I feel like I know her more like a friend. Let me preface this review by saying, I'm only halfway through the book but I just had to share what I've been touched by so far.
  1. Delilah is a famous radio show host, yes, but she is also just a human with a broken heart- as with her radio show, Delilah is open and candid about her life and difficulty. In the very first chapter, she tackles the most recent tragedy that broke her heart- Zack's suicide. I admit this was a difficult chapter for me to read and listen to because I'm always used to hearing her positive attitude and spirit. But that's the truth, people are broken in this world and that's why they need to hear about the love of God.
  2. Delilah always seems to know what to say to her listeners. Reading and listening to her show, I'm always amazed how she knows exactly what to say to her audience. She is not afraid to share the gospel and how she feels about any subject. As she puts it, she has "the gift of gab"
  3. Delilah believes in Jesus and follows wherever he calls her. It's amazing to see how God works in other people's lives. Sometimes there as miraculous as receiving a email from a complete stranger that leads you to learn more about the difficulties in Liberia. That led to the greater purpose in her life- Point Hope
  4. Delilah believes prayer is vital in this life- her stories of praying for miracles as a child touched my heart; in the prayer chapter she also points out that God has the ability and often does meet us where we are in life, we just need to pray. Are you doubting? That's okay. It's even normal. Ask him to show you his presence in a very unique way to you and I'm sure he will. But you must keep your heart open.
  5. She is changing people's lives "one heart at a time". In her book, Delilah explains how she developed Point Hope with the express purpose of giving the homeless a hand up to restart their life. Over time, she realized they just had come to rely on that daily as their meal. It was then that she realized you have to get to know the person to really impact change.. Even with my blog and YouTube ministry, I sometimes feel like I'm not doing enough. I am not making a difference. But as my dad puts it, "God is watching you and is very proud of you!" If I'm being honest, a lot of the times I don't feel that way; I don't see the impact. Not only that, having a disability has a tendency to get me down these days. I don't know why. I can't explain it.
In short, Delilah has been through a lot in her life; but she has chosen to use her circumstances to share God's love through actions, foundations, and kind words on a daily basis.I can only hope to make the kind of difference she has. God bless!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Radio show host Delilah's philosophy: Touching "One Heart at a time"

Dear readers,
 
I'm not sure whether I've ever mentioned the Delilah show on Wash FM on here before or not. But I'm going to again if I haven't. I've been listening to her show on and off for as long as I can remember; as a matter of fact, I rekindled my love for the show soon after I got my first Amazon Echo and I realized I could listen to her on I Heart Radio whenever I wanted. This woman is special in too many ways to count- not only does she have the unique ability to listen to someone's story on the radio and pick out a song to match, but she also has a heart for children with special needs and those that aren't easily adopted. After taking a hiatus to deal with a personal loss, she is back to inspire people with her story, music, and podcast. Her new book entitled "One Heart At a Time gives a more in-depth and personal look into her life and her philosophy of reaching one person at a time.

She also has a new podcast entitled "Conversations With Delilah" where she invites friends and authors to have a open and authentic conversation about their books and life in general. Within each conversation, she hopes audiences take away something- a little piece of hope and inspiration for the future. In her most recent podcast with Rory Feek, the two share how you don't really learn to get over a loss, you just move on knowing that they are always with you.

For more information about Delilah, please go to:







Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Encouragement: GOD FRIENDED ME Official First Look Trailer HD

 Dear readers,
Ten years after this season finale of Touched By An Angel, CBS brings back feel good television with the introduction of "God Friended Me". In this series, Brandon Michael Hall stars as a struggling PK trying to find the meaning of life on his own and making his opinions known on a podcast. That is until "God" sends him a friend request on Facebook. At first, Miles considered it as some type of practical joke but after persistent friend request,  he finally relents. From then on, God suggests possible "friend" suggestions to add his circle. The first being Cara Bloom, a journalist with writer's block. Once the to meet, they have but one goal- to find out the person or thing behind these requests real the truth once and for all. Still along in the process, he is given people to come in contact with and help in some way. During the process, his attitudes begin to change and he is determined to use this podcast to open the lines of communication for his audience. At first glance, this series seems like it's making fun of the faith but I tend to disagree. This series reiterates the fact that we are all connected and in need of something. It's our job as Christians to see the need and meet it. After all, we are God's representatives and who knows we may be the one connection to God the person has. God uses us whether we want them to or not. God can use anything to reach anyone if he wants! "God Friended Me" airs Sundays at 8 PM

For more information about this series, please go to:

https://www.cbs.com/shows/god-friended-me/cast/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/GodFriendedMeCBS/about/?ref=page_internal


Friday, October 5, 2018

The Angels of Concordia -Guest Post by Debbie's Dad

The Angels of Concordia
Guest Thoughts by Debbie’s Dad

The Bible clearly speaks of angels, the created beings that carry out missions for the LORD on earth. Few have seen angels, but many are recorded in Scripture. In both the Hebrew and Greek, the words that we translate as angels have the meaning messenger - a messenger from God.

Angels In the Old Testament

In Genesis 18 Abraham conversed with men (angels) that accompanied the LORD. At the peak of Israel’s’ kingdom, the Psalms recorded the practical theology of trusting the Lord and described the angel of the LORD as a protector (34:7). Other Psalms described how angels are given charge to watch over us (91:11) even as they praise the Lord (103:20). 

As the nation of Israel divided and finally fell, the prophets provided more insight into the work of angels. The prophets saw angels as “Seraphim” (Isaiah 6:2) and “cherubim” (Ezekiel 10:1-3). Daniel, while in captivity in Babylon, actually named two angels who came to help him: Gabriel and Michael (9:20-27 and 10:13, respectively).   Similarly, a man, identified as an angel came to help Zechariah understand the visions he was seeing (cf. Zech. 1: 7-9).

The Angels and the Messiah

After a long period of silence from God, the people returned to a devastated and conquered the land. The most well-known messenger is the angel Gabriel who informed Mary that she would give birth to Israel’s Messiah – “the king of Jacob’s people forever” (Luke 1: 26-38).  It was an angel that announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-15), then angels warned Joseph to flee to Egypt and then to return when Herod had died and the danger had passed (Matt. 2:13-15 and 19-21). Angels ministered to Jesus at the beginning of His ministry (Mark 1:13) and rolled away the stone after his resurrection, remaining at the tomb to greet His followers (Matt. 28:1-2 and John 20:12). Jesus acknowledged the role of angels (e.g. Matt 22:30; 13:39; 25:31) as serving Him. Angles similarly ministered to the apostles in their ministry opening prison doors (Acts 5 and 12), providing ministry guidance (Acts 8:26 and 10:1-7) and encouragement in perilous times (Acts 27:23-25).

In all of these cases, the angels appeared as people, sent from God to give messages: to warn,  to explain, to encourage, and to protect.

My Angelic Encounter

Back in the period 2003-2006 when Debbie attended Concordia University in Ann Arbor, I actually saw some angels at work: warning, explaining, encouraging and protecting!

Before you declare me a heretic, let me explain. Debbie was accepted to Concordia in the fall semester of 2003 after 2 years of hard work at Washtenaw Community College. She was able to transfer 51 credits and began as a sophomore. On paper, all was well academically. But physically, it seemed a mission impossible for her to live on campus and succeed as a student. Being quadriplegic, she needed caregivers to get here up in the morning and then put her to bed at night; that could work. But how could she make it through the day? – For three years!  The Concordia staff was terrific, charting her path to classes and then walking with my wife and me across every path on campus to make sure they could be traversed by a wheelchair. Every ramp and every door threshold was checked.  Out toilet seat was tested on the David Dorm toilet.

But the daytime routine was the killer- ominous, overwhelming effectively impossible.  How could Debbie …
  • There Be fed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner??
  • Handle loading and unloading her backpack/travel to and from classes throughout the day?
  • Open and close the pages of her books/take notes in classes to help her keep up?
  • Study at night, turn pages in books/ practice foreign language, look at note card, etc.?
Indeed it was not possible ... but when my wife, Debbie and I explored the David Dorm where she might live, angels appeared.  Appearing as friendly college girls, they came alongside and asked us what we were doing. We explained and like angels do, they warned us of things we had not thought about, explained how others could help Debbie through the day, and encouraged us that it would work.  And soon, they assembled an entire army of the most wonderful young women we could imagine. The army grew and grew and they spent the next 3 years encouraging and protecting Debbie – enabling her to complete her degree. 

A few of "Angels" of Concordia with Debbie in 2006

Being and Angel to Others

Sure I know these young women were not the heavenly being like the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles saw, but they sure behaved as if they were sent by the LORD. They played the role of angels, providing us the message that what seemed impossible, was made possible by their sacrifice of time and energy to be Debbie’s hands and feet.  To me, they will always be angelic. And they set a wonderful example for me to follow. They glorified God by their Christ-like lives …

Encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with every person. 1 Thessalonians 5:14b (ICB)
Debbie earned her BA degree in January 2007, enabled by that platoon of wonderful young women in David Dorm and across campus. Many of them still keep in touch with Debbie online, pray for her and, as angels always do, encourage her from afar.   May the Lord send to each of us someone to whom we may serve as an angel, just like that.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Unbroken: Path to Redemption- Debbie's Review

Welcome Back Readers~

 About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch Unbroken: Path To Redemption. This sequel continues where the predecessor left off telling the story of rescued war hero Louis  Zamperini. Louis (played by Samuel Hunt) struggles to adjust to his civilian status while he is still haunted by dreams of his time in captivity. Capitalizing on his popularity, his superiors ask Lewis to start campaigning for War Bonds; he agrees with hesitation. His post-traumatic stress disorder continues leading him to drink; his superiors notice a change and insist he takes a mandatory vacation in Florida. This is where he Cynthia (Merritt Patterson)-his future wife. Over the next two weeks, the two of them fall in love and decide to get married. Zamperini looks for a job to support his family (and new baby) with no success; in the meantime, he grapples with even deeper questions. Why did he survive while his friends died??

These questions further intensified his PSTD, bringing back memories of him being the lone survivor in a boat questioning God. Committed to the marriage, Cynthia is determined to help her husband find some kind of passion in life again; for that reason, she decides to get him up and running again so he can participate in the upcoming Olympics. On a bet with his brother, Zamperini tries to run a mile in under seven minutes; tragically, he re-injures himself forever damaging his chances on the Olympics. There goes another dream down the tubes. What does God have against me-taking away everything I love, he thinks.

This anger leads him to drink on a daily basis until one day Cynthia threatens divorce; fearing she would leave him, he continues his drinking in secret. Meanwhile, his wife continues to go to church and seeks the advice of a friendly apartment neighbor. The neighbor advises, “Sometimes God uses our difficulties to prepare us for something bigger and greater in our lives.” Encouraged she starts to attend one of Billy Graham’s crusades and her life is changed forever. With prayerful consideration, she renews her commitment to the marriage and continues to urge her husband to join her and hear Billy Graham (played by Will Graham-Billy Graham’s grandson). Louis attends the revival for several nights but isn’t attached until Billy prays for someone who is drowning and in need of help. Louis gets up to leave but he is stopped when Billy interrupts his service by yelling “don’t go” seemingly talking to him if he were the only person in the room. From there, he goes home to empty all of his bottles and finally goes an entire night without any night terrors.

(Note: I may have missed a few plot lines here and there. In fact, I know I did.. As I forgot to mention the very beginning of the movie takes place years later when Louis is standing in front of the prison where he Was during the war by his captors; this time he has come to meet with the prisoners there (the ones that had previously captive) in particular, he is looking for the bird-not to kill him as he previously wished before God changed his heart on that fateful day but to forgive him and show him a little bit of God’s grace

In general, I was not expecting the movie to be as intense as it was. I know writers wanted the audience to feel as Louis had-experiencing his PTSD episodes right alongside him as I did. But I believe this is what made his transformation from a prisoner of war/alcoholic to a Christian even more remarkable.. This movie shows how intensely soldiers may suffer from PTSD when returning home from war. They sacrifice themselves to protect our freedoms-the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion just to name a few...

But even more than that, it shows us Christians how quickly our identities can become preoccupied with something we do rather than who we are in Christ. Now, I know you’re saying, “But Lewis wasn’t a Christian at first..” While that’s true, we are all human susceptible to the same insecurities as everyone else; we want to be able to support ourselves and not have to rely on others. On the contrary, Jesus teaches the exact opposite-that are identity should be found in Christ and nothing else.

For more information on this amazing sequel, please go to







Thursday, September 6, 2018

Born This Way: Season Finale September 5 | A&E

Dear readers,

On the season finale of Born This Way, the gang celebrated the long-awaited wedding Angel and Christina. Over the last few seasons, I have seen so much growth in her as an individual as well as a couple. They each have taken classes in order to learn the necessary skills of housekeeping and cooking. Their story gives me more hope for my future in terms of my love life -although it is squarely in God's timing and hands. If it can happen for her, it can happen to me too!

But Christina is not the only one becoming more independent, they all are in different ways. For example, Rachel and Megan moved in together briefly, Jon is persistent about learning to drive a car and so much more.

One reason I think everyone enjoys this show is that it is relatable not only to the general audience but to those with disabilities as well. I can relate to this show because I understand how hard it is to keep your independence; yet, it shows the internal struggle between mother and daughter of letting your child go and leaving the nest. I've seen the struggles between Meg and her mother and understood them so well.

In looking at YouTube, I realize I am not the only one who was disappointed with how the season played out over four weeks. I mean eight episodes- two episodes per week .. You have got to be kidding me... Being disabled, I for one know there has got to be a lot of new material they didn't use for the show. But that's my rant. Hopefully, that leaves more material for next season! Fingers crossed. Anyway, at least they have a new one-hour special coming up highlighting what it's like to be deaf. It's entitled deaf out loud and airs next Wednesday at 8 PM. If you missed this season finale, it still can be found on A&E on-demand or on fire TV

Good luck Angel and Christina! I am rooting for you and can't wait to see what happens in future episodes

Friday, August 31, 2018

My Experiences Aboard the Ruby Princess and in Alaska!

Dear Readers,

First off, let me begin this post by saying how happy I am to be back on dry land. No matter how much fun I had with my extended family and parents celebrating their 50th anniversary nothing compares to the feeling of being back at home knowing that your wheelchair arrived in one piece. Those that have traveled on airplanes will no what I'm saying - especially once I show pictures of how my wheelchair arrived in Seattle. But let me start from the beginning.

After months of planning my mother had finally settled on taking the seven of us (brother and sister-in-law family included) to Alaska for their 50th anniversary. Congratulations again to mom and dad. I can only hope to have the kind of relationship you guys have - one of faith and commitment - that has lasted this long. In the beginning, we debated on taking my new wheelchair, concerned that it would get damaged in transport. You see I've traveled by plane several times before and have seen how they tried to carry my other wheelchair to the conveyor belt. Yes, they've actually done that. So you can imagine our concern about damaging the head control. But still, I was determined to be somewhat independent during this trip. So my dad took every precaution- learning how to dismantle the head control and joystick before handing it over to the airlines to board. He even attached a box with the parts on the wheelchair so they wouldn't get lost in transport on our way to Seattle. Despite our preparations, this is how the wheelchair arrived.

Don't get me wrong, everything turned out wonderful and we were able to fix it when we arrived in Seattle where we were to board the next day; I'm just letting giving people a realistic view of what can and often does happen to wheelchairs at the airport. The airline we used were very patient and apologetic as they stood watching my brother and dad put it back together again. It's just that people using wheelchairs should be ready for anything after traveling by airplane. Once we collected our luggage from baggage claim, we were about to head to the hotel for the night when we were met by a Princess representative. We explained we were supposed to get a transport from the airport to the dock to go aboard ship tomorrow; she took our information and made the transportation even easier for us arranging transportation from the airport to our hotel that day as well as arranging transport from the hotel to the dock the very next day- eliminating one less trip for our numerous bags.

Onboard, mom had reserved two suites for us - one accessible one for us and one regular for my brother and sister-in-law as well as my nieces. They both were pretty much identical except for the amount of closet space (I assume the lack of closet room in the other suite was used to accommodate and make extra room in our suite. Sorry guys!) and the accessible bathroom  Otherwise, we both had a balcony. I was surprised by this because I would've thought they would be afraid of possible accidents. But no, there was a little ramp inside the door that came out every time the balcony door was open. Granted I made sure that my parents watched me every time I went over it just in case  (see the pictures below)


Although the suites were accessible, I still had a lot of difficulties getting around the ship. This is for two major reasons.
  1. The hallways
  2. The elevators

In most cases, the hallways are narrow to the suites not leaving much space for a wheelchair let alone other people to walk by. In terms of the elevators, I have two complaints. First, it is difficult to get on one.  Now I realize that this is probably because Princess cruises are larger and have room for more passengers, but that still doesn't account for the quickly closing doors. After all, elevators are primarily for those who are unable to walk up and down stairs. Right? I was fortunate to have someone with me at all times to make sure my chair did not get caught in the doors. But there were some very close calls at times.

Despite the difficulties, I had a marvelous time going around the ship and out to the ports. The first evening everyone and I went to go see a musical production called "Magic To Do" in the Princess Theater. Exclusively for Princess cruises, this musical featured a compilation of songs from Stephen Schwartz. Some of these included Pippin, Godspell and many more. We also made quick friends with Ashley, Monica, George, and Joe. Their family and ours developed a deep connection when they realized I also had CP like their daughter, Ashley.  (If that weren't enough for coincidences, they too had purchased a wheelchair controlled by a head- array.) Since Ashley is only 15, they were happy to see the possibilities ahead for their daughter...

On our first day at sea, the family met for breakfast as my nieces geared up for their time in their age-appropriate activities. Since they weren't allowed around the ship on their own, Elizabeth and Rebecca and I ventured out to get ice cream on our own several times. This was really exciting for me since it allowed me to practice my driving and see how helpful my nieces might be in the future. Elizabeth and Rebekah are really growing up right before my eyes.

On our first port of call (Juneau, Alaska) we disembarked with hopes of taking the tramway overlooking the mountains. But that was not meant to be as passengers who booked the excursion were stuck on the mountain do to the tram not working and they were unable to find a way down until hours later.. Fortunately, Monica and Joe were able to enjoy the view before it broke down; unfortunately,, though, we had to stand in line and wait for a refund. Even so, we made the best out of a situation by meeting and talking to a real Alaskan born Indian from a tribe (I believe it was he was one of the only Alaskan Cliniko Indians in Alaska). I also got my very first Alaskan souvenir from the trip.

On Tuesday we arrived in Skagway Alaska (our second port of call), where we prepared to board the   White Pass and Yukon Railway. This is a four- hour train ride into the mountains via the White Pass. While Ashley and I enjoyed the view from the car, our parents were free to watch from the open platform between the two cars. Locally, I was able to raise myself up to look out through the windows and see more of the views. At the top of the mountains, we briefly passed through Canada (we didn't need our passports though) and later always down. See some of the pictures below.



Wednesday was relaxing day on board as we moved through Glacier Bay National Park. Park Rangers climbed aboard in the early morning hours to answer any questions the passengers may have had; I even got my picture taken with one of them. Below is a picture of my family and I took at the Margerie Glacier.



We embarked on our third port of call on Thursday in Ketchikan Alaska. While my nieces were interested in seeing if there were any seals in the river, I found myself occupied shopping. It was in Ketchikan where I found my final souvenir for Alaska a purple necklace which I paid for myself. When we boarded the Ruby Princess cruise ship once more, we found a surprise at our door- an exclusive invitation for all seven of us to dine at the Share restaurant- an exclusive restaurant of six-course creations by a famous cook.

Friday was my parents 50th anniversary as well as our final day at sea. We spent the morning drinking coffee on our balcony while trying to see if we could spot any whales at the same time. Our friend, Monica brought over some wine she brought from California to celebrate and we had a girls time. For once, I actually enjoyed the sweet wine (which I later found out was Stella Rose.).

 Since my brother and sister-in-law were out on excursions with Elizabeth and Rebekah, we celebrated my parent's anniversary just the three of us in our usual dining room. It was neat because the waiters actually sang happy anniversary (song sang to the tune of "Happy Birthday") and videotaped the whole thing. Later we disembarked with Ashley's family and explored Victoria, British Columbia, Canada together. All in all, it was an amazing cruise with wonderful weather and amazing memories--full of amazing memories and brand-new friendships. Someone told us that this was the best weather they've had out of the 21 cruises. Most of the passengers were unable to view the glaciers because of the fog or rainy weather, but we had a wonderful clear view. 


Monday, August 27, 2018

Raising Tourette's Premieres Aug 15th 10pm ET on A&E



Welcome Back Readers

After seven days on the Princess cruise to Alaska, I am happy to report I am back on dry land and that my wheelchair is still in one piece. Although it was close call when we arrived in Seattle for the first time. But I will leave that for my Alaska cruise post which will be in a few days once I am fully back to normal. For now, I want to introduce you to a new show that premiered on A&E; this show shines a new light on the neurologic disorder called Tourette's. It follows several parents and their children of numerous ages who are dealing with Tourette's. It airs on Wednesdays at 10 and 10:30 PM.

Monday, August 13, 2018

ZION Official Trailer (2018) | Netflix | Documentary

Welcome Back Readers~

Before I take a break from YouTube and this blog for a couple of days, I was wondering what to write about; but then I just happened to see a short commercial on Netflix about Zion Clark's story. Put up for adoption by his mother, Zion was born with no legs. After putting up with negative experiences in a number of foster homes, he had just about given up hope about ever being adopted; at 16, though, his dream finally came through. Despite this, he still had difficulty trying to fit in. Zion never really felt comfortable wearing`prosthetic legs but felt more himself when he was closer to the ground. That's when the idea of wrestling came into play. Zion refuses to see himself as a person with a disability; instead, he chooses to rely on God and trust in his plan for his life. For more information on this movie, please see the following:
https://www.bustle.com/p/where-is-zion-clark-now-a-new-netflix-movie-spotlights-the-athletes-incredible-resilience-10056176
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=327AEuMF0YQ
http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/15273815/the-unbelievable-story-high-school-wrestler-zion-shaver

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Encouragement:38 years in Bethesda

Thirty-Eight Years at Bethesda
Guest Thoughts by Debbie’s Dad

One of several interesting accounts about disabled people meeting Jesus occurs in John’s Gospel during Jesus’ second visit to Jerusalem. The account describes His encounter with a disabled man at the pool called Bethesda. It was common in those days to have pools for healing and purification. At this pool there was apparently a tradition that when the waters in the pool moved, there was a race to get in the pool – the first was healed. (This healing competition is certainly not consistent with a Hebrew or Christian view of compassion for the disabled - a race, a race of the disabled for healing? Pretty ironic, right? The ancient world had many deities and must have also had many such traditions!) Of course, the pool area was filled with “a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed” waiting for this event (John 5:3).  John describes the encounter like this:
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" 7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." (John 5: 5-7 NKJV)
As the father of a disabled daughter, this brief account raises several questions in my mind:

What kind of infirmity did he have?  John notes that at the Bethesda pools there were “a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed”.  The original words used to represent lame and paralyzed refer to those who are physically weakened, limping, and whose body is withered. The man that Jesus met is described by a different word that more generally refers to his weakness or infirmity that he had for 38 years – likely run the business and would like to talk his whole life.  Because of this, it is reasonable to think that this man might have had cerebral palsy and, like Debbie, suffered brain damage at birth that impaired his muscle tone and motor activity. And like Debbie, he may have been quadriplegic, because he was “lying there” and unable to get into the pool.  In any event, someone caring person brought him to the pool of Bethesda that day, where he was reclining. 

Who cared for him? At the time of Christ, it is believed that a normal lifespan was about half of today’s 80 years. If this is so, the man’s parents would have likely died over a decade or two before this point.  Relatives – siblings, nephews, cousins, or neighbors were probably caring for him and in those days this was not easy. We also know that Jesus encountered another man who was cared for by some men who lowered him through a roof to be able to meet Jesus. (Luke 5:17-20) In that case, Luke specifically used a word that is often translated as or “sick with palsy” a condition of weakness with inability to control aspects of your body; that man could also have his friend is a missing had cerebral palsy.  In that time, caregivers had a difficult time - and Jesus specifically commended those who cared for the weak (the same word used for the man at Bethesda) as if they care for Him! (Matt. 25:36)

Why Did Jesus ask him if he wanted to get well? Jesus “knew that he had been there a long time” and yet asked the man if he wanted to be whole. A good friend of Debbie’s once told me she asked Debbie the same question – and Debbie hesitated. She has been quadriplegic her whole life and this is how she perceives herself; she could not imagine being whole. I believe it was an act of kindness that Jesus asked what might seem like an obvious question. Did the man want this radical change after 38 years? I believe you know the rest of the account; Jesus instructed the man to get up, pick up his mat and walk. And he did, in an illustration of Jesus’ power over nature, clear evidence of his claim to be the anticipated king of the Jews, and an example of grace to a man who had given no indication of any faith in Jesus (See John 5:11-13).

Why 38 Years of waiting?  The man indicated that he never made it into the pool because he had no one to put him in the pool. He had effectively been waiting a long time to be made whole! It is a long time. I know. The reason this passage has particular meaning to me because this year is because Debbie has now been a quadriplegic for 38 years, too. And she is trusting in the very same Lord Jesus that met the man at Bethesda. Near the end of His ministry and prior to his crucifixion, Jesus simply said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me …”(John 14:1)  I am proud of my daughter who heart is not troubled – because she believes in Him.

Debbie’s Take: First off, let me say I never really realized this miracle happened to someone my age or disability. In reading my dad’s description, I have gotten a new understanding of the miracle of the 38-year-old man. To be honest, I don’t remember when my good friend asked me if I ever wanted healing or what my first reaction was. I can only surmise that I was taking a back because I’ve never really thought of it. That isn’t to say that I don’t believe God can do it these days. I KNOW HE CAN. Miracles happen every day. We just need to be open enough to see them.

Growing up, strangers have tried their best to “heal” me of my CP. I don’t doubt their sincerity in trying to pray for me and help me. However, coming away from those experiences I couldn’t but be disappointed and upset. After all, some people tend to equate faith with one’s ability to be healed. Did I not measure up?? Was there something wrong with me??  Coming away from those experiences, I was often disappointed or upset. After 38 years, I have come to a different conclusion- that I'm disabled like this for a reason. I would like to believe dad’s reason for Jesus asking the man with the disability whether he’d like to be healed is correct. Jesus not only wants to make sure the man believes, but Jesus realizes he’s spent 38 years and has become comfortable with his situation.

As dad mentioned earlier, a friend told him I once hesitated on the topic of being healed. As I have explained above, this question has often brought feelings of doubt and not measuring up to the surface. But even more than that, I don’t know who I’d be if I weren’t in this wheelchair. One characteristic can change your whole perspective or outlook on life and I don’t really know myself any other way.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What Would You Do: Customers ridicule waiter for stuttering | What Would...

Welcome Back Everyone~

Last week ABC's What Would You Do featured a young waiter with a small stutter. While most people probably wouldn't consider this a disability, approximately 70 million people have this condition worldwide. Some more prominent figures have severed with it also, including Julia Roberts, Joe Biden, and King George VI. In 20% of these cases, the condition can last into their adulthood-sometimes leading to teasing or bullying. In this scenario, here were some of the inspirational responses:

"There's plenty of people with disabilities. We have to respect that and they have value.. " said one customer

"I can't believe you guys... He's a good kid trying to make a living and you're taking his disability out on him... Why shouldn't everyone have the opportunity to do what they want? He's quite competent.

I agree 100% with these sentiments; although I don't always agree with the way What Would You Do shows its political side. But that's just me. For your encouragement and entertainment, I have included the segment below for those who are interested.
God Bless and Happy Wednesday,


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Encouragement: Josh Wilson - Dream small - With Lyrics

Dear Readers

I came across this song while listening to the K Love radio channel on Monday. I feel it actually portrays what people think they must do to make a difference in today's society. But that's not true-the small things make a difference as well and sometimes have the greatest impact on others. That's why it's become one of my favorite songs lately. That being said, it is featured on my YouTube channel as one of the inspirational songs. I just wanted to share it here as well in case you missed it.

Happy Wednesday!

Debbie


Josh Wilson's "Dream Small"


It's momma singing songs about the Lord

It's a daddy spending family time that the world said he cannot afford

These simple moments change the world

It's a pastor at a tiny little Church

Forty years of loving on the broken and the hurt

These simple moments change the world


Dream small

Don't buy the lie you've gotta do it all

Just let Jesus use you where you are

One day at a time

Live well

Loving God and others as yourself

Find little ways where only you can help

With His great love

A tiny rock can make a giant fall

Dream small


Cause visiting the widow down the street

Or dancing on a Friday with your friend with special needs

These simple moments change the world

Of course, there's nothing wrong with bigger dreams

Just don't miss the minutes on your way, your bigger things, no

'Cause these simple moments change the world

So dream small

Don't buy the lie you've gotta do it all

Just let Jesus use you where you are

One day at a time

Live well

Loving God and others as yourself

Find little ways where only you can help

With His great love

A tiny rock can make a giant fall

So dream small


Keep loving, keep serving

Keep listening, keep learning

Keep praying, keep hoping

Keep seeking, keep searching

Out of these small things and watch them grow bigger

The God who does all things makes oceans... from river


So dream small

Don't buy the lie you've gotta do it all

Just let Jesus use you where you are

One e day at a time

Live well

Loving God and others as yourself

Find little ways where only you can help

With His great love

A tiny rock can make a giant fall...

Ya five loaves and two fish can feed them all

So dream small

Dream small

Ummm...


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Preview - Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To the Altar

 Welcome Back Everyone~

This Sunday Hallmark's Movies & Mysteries will premiere its latest installment to the "Signed Sealed Delivered" franchise. In this latest movie, Norman Dorman  (Geoff Gustafson) and Rita Haywith (Crystal Lowe) prepare for their long-awaited wedding. In the midst of the chaos, a mysterious letter arrives in the pocket of a wedding dress found in the dead letter, leading the POSTables on an incredible journey to find its owner. It is still unclear whether this will be the last movie of its kind for Hallmark as they have yet to renew their contracts. Many think this movie will be the best climax for the characters. See how it all ends (?) This Sunday on your Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel at 9 p.m.





For more information on the latest installment of "Signed, Sealed and Delivered", please go to:

https://parade.com/684783/rielyhaven/exclusive-clip-kristin-booth-talks-signed-sealed-delivered-to-the-altar/



https://aleteia.org/2018/07/11/signed-sealed-delivered-takes-a-memorable-trip-to-the-altar/

Friday, June 29, 2018

We Are The Reason | Avalon

  Welcome Back Readers~

I'm not sure how many of you have been following my ongoing series on Candace Cameron Bure's Kind Is the New Classy on YouTube, but it's definitely been a world wind for me-learning how to record and trim clips appropriately. That being said, it takes me about three days to create and trim a six-minute reflections video. That leaves me with the question for you readers, would you like to see more writing on this blog or video clips on my YouTube. It has come to my attention that it's difficult to to
do both at the same time. It's all about balance for me-balance between working on my computer all the time and living in the moment with my family and friends. So, I would like to ask everyone reading this for a little feedback. What do you think?

Anyway, feel free to view my YouTube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVS_NHAx_sZl5_DkAH9xVCA?view_as=subscriber

On a side note, since it's a Friday, I thought I would include one of my favorite encouraging songs in the post. Originally, this song was sung by Joni Eareckson Tada in the early 80s. I remember singing along to this song on cassette tape when I was in front of my family and friends. I have no idea where the tape is now but I heard this new rendition of the song in a LifeWay store while I was shopping. Hope you enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMhajmOBr0c

Sunday, June 24, 2018

I'll Push You - The Story of One Friendship Able to Conquer The Mountains of El Camino

Welcome back readers~

This week I had the pleasure of finishing I'll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair. While this book centers around Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck's friendship and journey on the El Camino Trail, it is so much more than that. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. At an early age, Justin began noticing a weakness in his feet and legs; after a string of misdiagnoses, he is finally given a name for his condition- a neuromuscular disorder- called MAMA. Like ALS, this disorder causes one to progressively lose the use of his body. Despite the devastating news, the two are determined not to put limitations on what is possible- what they do, where they go or how they travel. Case in point- their most recent quest of walking 500 miles of the El Camino together. Not only did that require a lot of physical training on Patrick's part, but they had to find and invest in the appropriate equipment for Justin (a three-wheeled lightweight chair that would be able to handle all surfaces); this investment cost over $8000. Thanks to the sponsorship of a business, they are able to buy the equipment... Under one condition though, that they record their journey



On this 500 mile journey, the two friends encounter there share of challenges- including a broke wheel and what seems like the impassable. These difficulties challenge them to think outside the box and accept help from strangers along the El Camino; in doing so, this causes them to redefine their meaning of community. In the same way, I felt challenged in reading this book. It caused me to look at how I defined community and church in a sense. A church is more than just a building; it's a group of believers that you can trust and be yourself around. It's letting go and letting God provide for you by the people and things God gives you. It's letting go of control, staying in the moment and being thankful for everything you have.

For more information, please go to:
https://www.facebook.com/illpushyou/
https://www.illpushyou.com/

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Faith- based movies on Netflix-THE STAR

Welcome Back Readers~

This June, Sony Pictures Animation's The Star premiered on Netflix; this animated story of Jesus Christ's birth is told from a very unique perspective- an animal's point of view. While many animals join in on the adventure, the story is told primarily from the perspective of a donkey named Bo. Bo is looking for his purpose on this earth; he has dreams of becoming part of the King's caravan. In order to achieve his goal, he escapes from his owner's shed; unfortunately for him, the owner is close behind. Somehow, though, Bo finds solace in Mary's house. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Mary has been told by the angel Gabriel that she is to give birth to Jesus. This part of the story is biblically accurate, with Mary questioning "Why her?:; In the end, she accepts it saying "Let it be as you have said." Joseph is surprised by Mary's news but takes it in stride after going to God in prayer. As they decide to travel to Bethlehem, the two debate bringing Bo. Long story short, they decide not too. Finally, Bo is free to escape and join the caravan.

Or so he thinks..

When Herod's dogs arrive to find Mary, Bo must warn them. And so the journey begins..

On the surface, this storyline is very entertaining with stars like Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey lending their voices; although the major plot gets somewhat lost. For example, Herod did not send his dogs to search for the child; instead, he enlisted the help of the three wise men. Going a little bit farther; it did not show them being warned in a dream not to go back and report to Herod

On a brighter note, I liked how mainstream and Christian singers joined forces in the making of this soundtrack. My favorite songs were On a brighter note, I liked how mainstream and Christian singers joined forces in the making of this soundtrack. My favorite songs were "Mary, Did You Know?" By Zara Larson, "His Eye is On The Sparrow" by Casting Crowns, and "Carol of the Bells" by Pentatonix.


For more information about this movie, please go to:

https://www.eonliws/893035/the-star-s-oprah-winfrey-gina-rodriguez-kelly-clarkson-and-more-pose-with-their-movie-charactersne.com/ne

https://www.amazon.com/Star-Original-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/dp/B0767PM65C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529526096&sr=8-1&keywords=the+star+soundtrack

https://www.facebook.com/TheStarMovie/


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Encouragement Wednesday:Samuel J. Comroe: Comedian With Tourette Syndrome Impresses Crowd - Amer...

Hey Folks~

It occurred to me while ago that I designated Wednesday's for encouragement blogs. This segment appeared on America's Got Talent last night and features Samuel J Cornroe - a comedian with Tourette's Syndrome. Instead of minimizing his disability, he features it in his act. Samuel has a family who has a 50% chance of being diagnosed with the condition; he wants to show her that anything is possible despite one's condition. Personal note: I have also added this man's routine to my YouTube channel. I will continue to update you on his progress throughout the show.

For more information, please go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQycwL74X7o

https://twitter.com/samueljcomroe?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/agt/videos/vb.10646929759/10156021876639760/?type=2&theater

(

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Michael Ketterer: Father Of 6 Scores Golden Buzzer From Simon Cowell - A...

Welcome Back Readers~

Every year America's Got Talent seems to have its share of inspirational stories; 2018 is no different. Last night AGT featured father of six Michael Ketterer. Ketterer works as a pediatric mental health nurse from Orange County California. Originally, he hadn't planned on having such a big family until fate stepped in. After a difficult first pregnancy,the couple gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Sofia; the doctors warned that if they wanted to have more children they would most likely encounter the same experience. So Michael and Ivy decided it would be just the three of them.. That is until Sofia began having dreams which had three little boys and them; it was then that they looked into the idea of adoption. After three years of getting certified, they were called about three brothers from a difficult upbringing. That's how there family began growing. After a year and a half, the couple receives another call, another little boy was available. By this time, they thought they were done for sure. Wrong again. God had other plans.

Because of Michael's background as a pediatric nurse, the next call was a special one. This one involved a little boy with cerebral palsy. But Michael still wasn't sure about it. So he asked God to give him a sign. On his way home one night, Michael saw a literal featuring a father pushing his son with CP through a marathon.

And that was it. He knew.

For more information about this amazing contestant and his family, please go to:

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/entertainment/2018/06/05/americas-got-talent-knoxvilles-michael-ketterer-audition/670516002/
echo pause
https://www.facebook.com/WFLANewsChannel8/videos/10156005412924760/


Monday, May 28, 2018

My Very Own YouTube Channel

Dear Readers,

For a couple months now, I have toyed with the idea of creating a YouTube channel where audiences could actually put a name to my words as I write my blog. This would allow me not only to get to know my readers on a more intimate platform, but put something out more often. I'll admit it's not as easy for me to speak on recording as it is for me to write. But hopefully you will appreciate my effort and come to me with more questions or comments this way. I don't pretend to know it all when it comes to having a disability, but hope to be a help to those on their personal walk of self-discovery. Either way, I'm here if you want to talk. I have no specific plan for these videos except to say they will inspire and challenge you on your road - whether you have a disability or not.

I will be continuously updating this as people become more involved. I look forward to seeing what God does with this..

God bless,

Debbie (a.k.a. Rollin Debbie)

For more information on this channel, please go to:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVS_NHAx_sZl5_DkAH9xVCA?view_as=public

Saturday, May 26, 2018

My Last Days - Season 3 Trailer

Welcome Back Readers~

I heard about "My Last Days" when asking Alexa to turn on my lights one morning. While the premise of  this show may seem morbid at first; it's really not. This show features real people dealing with terminal diagnoses in very unique ways. Rather than focusing on their death, these people concentrate on living every day as if it was their last. This allows them to follow their passion with no apologies and excuses. Take for example choreographer Miranda Davis, who is just 33 and expected to die by the age of 40; this is after her seventh diagnosis of a series of complex and rare disorder.

 Then there is Anthony Carbajal, who was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 26; unfortunately, the diagnosis runs in the family- his mom and grandma both had it in their lives. But he hasn't allowed the diagnosis  stop him from pursuing his dreams of photography. He has his camera attached to his wheelchair.

"This wheelchair is making me a better photographer. In a weird way, I'm grateful for that. I started paying attention to the present moment.." he said

This medical docudrama airs on Fridays at 8 PM on the CW.

For more information on this series, please go to:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwtv/article/MY-LAST-DAYS-An-Uplifting-Docuseries-Created-by-JANE-THE-VIRGIN-Star-Justin-Baldoni-Returns-to-The-CW-Today-20180524

http://variety.com/2016/tv/reviews/tv-review-my-last-days-justin-baldoni-1201838783/








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)
Related Posts with Thumbnails