Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Step at a Time


The teachers gathered the teens and said we were going on an adventure...in the woods. They explained the rules. Everyone had to have a buddy with them and we had to find our way back by working together. Note: This was a well-facilitated group exercise with many teachers and adults around.

Mrs. Stephanie and I started off just trying too get a feel for the area. Soon, we came to an area that forced us to decide which direction we were going to take. Left or right. The pine needles underfoot were no help. No one had paved the way for us. We choose one and continued on the path.

Time rocked on. I wondered if we were any closer to the church. I had no idea where we were. I just knew we had to keep going. Let's just say my legs had other plans. They were throbbing in pain because they weren't used to being used that much. I trudged on. The pain became more intense so I leaned into my crutches even more. "Do we need to stop and rest?" Mrs Stephanie. asked. "No," I said emphatically. Not now.

Weary from the walking, I didn't say much. I was tired. In my laziness, I failed to see a stick up ahead. My leg crumbled underneath me because of the little roadblock. Mrs. Stephanie. gripped my body tighter, holding me up as we went. I leaned into her shoulder determined not to make her carry all of the weight.

Little did we know, Mr. Bev was sent out to make sure we were OK. We were so focused on finishing we didn't even know he was 10 feet away from us. When I saw the Teen building, I knew we had almost made it. "Don't give up now,"I told myself. That would be ridiculous! Mr. Andy said, "Stephanie and Madison have entered the building. Give them a round of applause!" A huge smile crept across my face at the thought of what we had accomplished.

Sometimes we wander aimlessly through life thinking our knowledge is enough to sustain us. Then, circumstances arise that force us to choose our next step. Doubt or Faith? Love or Anger? We can't go through this life alone. We must have people in our lives that we can lean on. There is a sweet satisfaction that springs forth from your soul when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.

What obstacles do you need to push through?

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Monday, September 27, 2010

Duty Calls

I have a mid-term exam to study for and lots of little assignments, so blogging will be limited this week. I may have a Memories Rewind post up, but if I don't feel free to look at some of my past stories for your weekly dose of laughter.

Hope everyone is having a great Monday! Mine will be filled with studying.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's a Choice

Every day we are faced with a choice. Is today going to be good or bad? While you can't change the circumstances, you can change your attitude.

When my body is trying to adjust to the changes, which result in some sleepless nights, I get a choice. I can wallow in self-pity and find countless things to nit pick, or I can say, "No matter what I feel like, I'm going to praise You anyway." In fact, I uttered those words through tears today as I waited for relief. One thing I've learned is you can waste your life away waiting for things to happen. You have to embrace the moment. I thought of the first song that popped into my head and started singing.

God didn't mind that it sounded like a blubbering mess. I was determined to get in a good mood. Sometimes we can be so focused on a little thing that we miss the big picture. The big picture is I still have a life. I have breath to laugh and sing. I can write when words are stuck between the lump in my through and my stubborn head.

It won't be like this forever. I've been through this before at different times in my life. I choose to focus on the good because if I focus on the bad things, that does no good. When I'm at my weakest, I know things could be worse. So, I'm going to be thankful that tomorrow is Friday, which gives me a few days to recuperate.

P.S. Today is the fourth anniversary of my second surgery.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Memories Rewind: A New Beginning

I just came through another major surgery at 14. I slowly walked the hallway of the hospital as I was trying to prepare myself to meet my new physical therapist. Up until this point, all of my physical therapists had been women, so I was nervous.

My feet were dragging as my mind was racing. "Would he be understanding? Is he patient? Would he be like a drill sergeant?" I wondered as I stopped in front of the room. There was no turning back now.

I eased my body into a chair in the waiting room. I decided to watch the minutes tick by on the clock on the wall. I was trying to think of something...anything to keep from going into panic mode. Tick, tick, tick. Before I knew it, it was my turn.

I was met by a young man named Dustin. "Are you ready to get started?" As I got up to leave, the receptionist said, "He won't kill you." I felt a little more at ease as a smile crept across my face. "Maybe this won't be so bad after all," I thought.

We discussed my medical history and did the evaluation that is required before you can start PT. He was a great listener, so that was a major plus in my book. I wasn't quite at the "let's be friends" stage, but I didn't hate him either. That was a step in the right direction.

Now, I have no reservations about him. We are both on the same page as far as my health is concerned. Yes, he challenges me, but he wouldn't be a good physical therapist if he didn't.

Have you ever dreaded something only to be pleasantly surprised at the outcome?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Moving Right Along

School is keeping me incredibly busy. I am learning so much about how magazines and newspapers design their pages. It definitely takes patience!

I'm juggling the workload fairly well, considering my pain. I love being busy because it keeps my mind off the pain. I haven't given an update on the medical side, so I thought I would take time to do that. I've been in a lot of pain these past few weeks, but I'm managing. I go back to the doctor in October to get a shot. I've often heard it's important to keep your routine as normal as possible, and I would agree with that. During a recent conversation with my old orthopaedic surgeon, he said something that really encouraged me: "You have a lot of things left to do in your life!"

I hung up the phone feeling renewed. It's amazing what a few simple words can do to encourage you. I was hurting that day, but I wasn't after we finished talking. I love it when I'm reminded of the big picture. I'm not going to stop living my life just because I have a few bad weeks. The assignments that I have don't magically disappear, so I take a break. Then, I get back to my work. Life isn't always easy, but God's grace is more than enough. I told God, "I'm running on empty today, so I'm going to use some of Your grace and Your strength." His tank is always full.

As humans, we let our pride get in the way of God's blessings. We think we've got everything under control, but we don't. We just think we do. Sometimes God wants to recharge us, but we are too drained to pay attention.

P.S. I finally got a new computer! My sound had quit working among other things, but I'm back in business now. This is why this post is a little late.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Memories Rewind: A Moment in Time

At my school, everyone looked forward to Field Day. It was a chance to take a break from our schoolwork and just have fun.

I found my group over by the swings and waited for the games to start. You could feel the excitement in the air. One of the first races was the wheel barrow race. One person had to push someone in a wheel barrow all the way around the orange cone and back, and whichever team did this the fastest won.

"C'mon!" we all shouted to our teammates as we waited our turn. I was next. I hopped in the wheelbarrow as fast as I could and off we went. A massive black guy was pushing me (if I remember correctly). "Are you ready to fly down this hill?" he asked.

"Yep, just as long as you don't throw me overboard!" I replied. The next few minutes were a blur. We whizzed past the trees so quickly they resembled huge green blobs to me.

"Lord, help me not to get sick," I mumbled under my breath as I heard my classmate's feet pounding the grass. We made it around the cone with no accidents, so we were in the homestretch. "Just do what ya gotta do," I told my classmate. "I trust you."

Everyone was cheering us on as we were coming back. It was a surreal feeling because in that moment we weren't divided into different teams, we were a unified group. Everyone forgot about their desire to win, and reached out to help me out of the wheel barrow. The teachers were stunned and stood there marveling at how bickering kids could work together when they wanted to.

I don't remember much of anything else that happened that day, but I will never forget how that simple little game showed the true meaning of teamwork. For a few minutes, I wasn't limited by my AFO's. I could be free to just enjoy the moment without worrying about getting tired.

Do you have any childhood memories that are etched in your mind?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Endangered Species

I was at a crowded, required function at school this week. I went in determined to learn something, and I did. I wasn't bothering anyone when I overheard girl talking in her cell phone:

"Where are you?" she demanded. "I'm over here by the door trying to find you!"

I watched this girl as she waited for her friend to find her before she would sit down. I wanted to tell her, "Sit down next to someone and introduce yourself. It's not that hard."

It was hard to watch her look so lost and nervous among strangers. She reminded me of a butterfly. If a butterfly doesn't get out of its cocoon, it will die. In order for it to live, it has to stretch its wings and push past the thing that has it confined. To put things in perspective, the butterfly is furiously working to reach what lies beyond that cocoon. All this time the butterfly has been nestled there, but there comes a time to shed that covering. If not, the butterfly will be suffocated and never fulfill its purpose.

Like butterflies, we need to get out of our comfort zones, or we will die, too. No, I'm not talking about a literal death. A piece of our hearts will die because someone was supposed to fill it...maybe someone we don’t even know yet. It isn’t always the easiest thing to let someone new into your life, but we shouldn’t avoid the opportunity. You never know who could change your life; you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone.

Do you want to stay where it's comfortable only to be met with an imminent death, or do you want to risk pushing through some barriers in order to live a fulfilling life?


*I would have included an image of a cocoon, but the photographer never wrote me back to give me permission. Just use your imagination. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friends

Being a friend means many different things to people. To me, it means being there for the other person no matter what. A friend is someone who knows all of your flaws and chooses to love you anyway. A friend listens. A friend supports. A friend challenges you to do things that you wouldn't normally do.

Lately, I've been questioning a few friendships. As with any relationship, it is a give and take. Sometimes, I wonder where to draw the line. I've forgiven many things. Friends spend time together, right? That's what I thought, too. It's like I'm a puppet on a string that is being led on and pulled in so many directions. I still love this person, but they have to make some decisions.

When they do, I'll be here waiting. I'm not going to be a doormat, but I am here to listen. I just think some people don't know the difference. We all should to re-evaluate what's important to us from to time to time, but not everyone does. It bothers me when people just float through life, letting things just "happen" without actively taking control of things in their life. I think people do this to avoid responsibility.

These are just some of my thoughts on friendships. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Memories Rewind: Laughing in the Night

We had just moved into our new house. The crickets were chirping as people were getting ready to relax for the night.

"Wanna throw the baseball around with me, Madison?" my brother asked. He didn't have to ask me twice. I jumped up off the couch and headed outside.

Eli was good about throwing it easy. He stood close to me, letting me catch the ball with ease. The muggy air was making me sweaty as I concentrated on catching the ball in his worn glove. We were talking about school when I forgot a ball was headed in my direction.

"Madison, you were supposed to catch it!" Eli said as the ball rolled to a stop on the grass. I laughed as I tossed it back to him. He just had to understand that girls get distracted when they talk.
Eli was a little frustrated. He wanted to play catch. I had ruined the game. Oh well, that's what little sisters are for, right? I felt bad, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw his trademark grin. That was our unspoken signal that everything was A-OK.


Before we knew it, it was time to come inside. I still remember the stickness of the air as I stood talking to my brother. We didn't have a care in the world. Sometimes I think back to that night and a smile creeps across my face. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Seeking Solace

As human beings, when tragedy strikes, we have to find something beautiful in the midst of the chaos. Isn't that what we search for? We come home after a long day at school or work and seek solitude in food or a good movie, right? We want to quiet our mind's restless thoughts as we try to make sense of our lives. Sometimes we can't plan next week's schedule, much less what we will do tomorrow.

It's normal for us to crave calm in the storms of life, but we need to look in the right place. We can't do it alone, that's for sure. When my mind wants to wander off in million directions, worrying about things I cannot change, I'm gently reminded by my Father of something I sometimes forget. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

After l went to Augusta for my last doctor's appointment, I was left with a lot to think about. The song "Beautiful, Beautiful" by Francesca Battistelli came on. The lyrics really spoke to me that day.

I thought I would share a few lines:


Don’t know how it is You looked at me

And saw the person that I could be

Awakening my heart

Breaking through the dark

Suddenly Your grace



(Chorus)

Like sunlight burning at midnight

Making my life something so

Beautiful, beautiful

Mercy reaching to save me

All that I need

You are so

Beautiful, beautiful



After hearing those words, I was no longer focused on the day's events. My God had provided all that I needed. He had been with me through countless surgeries and sleepless nights. In that moment, nothing else mattered.
To an outsider, my life probably looks like a tragedy. I'm in a wheelchair. My mom has to help me with a lot of simple tasks. I could say more, but none of that matters (I've not always been in a wheelchair and don't plan on staying in one forever). It would have been had God not done a miracle in my life when I was a very sick baby in the NICU. He has truly made my life something beautiful. If you can't say the same about your life, just focus on how great God is. You'll get there.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Promoting Your Blog

I had an interesting question someone asked recently I thought I would share with you.

Anonymous said, "Wow...this blog is so popular. I just wanted to know how do you monetize it? Can you give me a few advices? For example, I use http://www.bigextracash.com/aft/2e7bfeb6.html I'm earning about $1500 per month at the moment. What will you recommend?"

First of all, thanks for the compliment. To answer your question, I don't monetize my blog. I don't have any ads on here. In other words, I don't earn any money from my blog. I do this because I love it. It's not that I'm opposed to making money doing what I love, but that's not why I started this blog. (I don't want to put random ads on here that have nothing to do with causes I don't support.)

Writing is my passion. It's actually like breathing for me. I try not to go a day without writing something. This blog isn't popular because of anything I've done, I can assure you. I write about things that God lays on my heart as well as my life in general. I can only hope that it touches someone in some way. This blog started out as a way for me to journal my thoughts, but as I began seeking God, He wanted something more. He wanted me to share my talent, so whether one person or one hundred people read this...I'm OK. It's about doing what God wants, and I don't want to miss out on what He has for me.

I did submit my URL to Yahoo, Google, and Bing about a month ago. It's free. You won't earn any money by doing this, it just makes sure your site will show up when people are searching these sites. It may get you a few more readers. Bing is a relatively new site, but it can't hurt to do it. Go here to submit your URL.

My advice for you is to be yourself. Don't try to be the next big blog. That will only lead to frustration and burnout. You have to have a passion that drives you regardless of what others are doing. Find your niche. Write about things you love. If you are struggling for topics, start there. People will be more receptive of that. People who know me in real life will tell you that I am the same person on this blog as I am in real life. This is my story. You are reading my raw emotions. Some days are good and some days are not so good, and I think that has helped make this blog what is today.

I don't have any earth-shattering tips on this subject. I'm just a writer...and I like that. If you want advice on how to promote your blog, e-mail Louise at Adori Graphics. She has people that sponsor her blog, so she would be much more help in that area.

As always, if you have any questions, just ask!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Forever Marked


I have many scars on my body. One girl even went so far as to tell me she felt like she was going to throw up after looking at my leg, even though there was no blood or anything.

I look at them as something beautiful. They signify that I've survived. No, I didn't always look at it that way. As a young girl, I didn't think anyone could ever love me with all of my issues. If I'm being honest, sometimes I still feel that way. I know that love isn't determined by what's on the outside, but you would be surprised at how society is towards people like me.


But, as I was going in for my spinal fusion surgery, something changed. I was seventeen years old. I was no longer a scared nine year old girl. I knew what I had to do. "Let's go add another scar to my collection!" I told my Granny with a laugh.

We all have scars. Some of us have scars on the inside that run deep. Just because others can't see them doesn't mean the pain isn't there. You survived, too. Scars signify the wound has healed up.

The recovery process isn't easy. Some days are better than others, but after each surgery, there was one thing that kept me going: The end goal. At the end of of each physical therapy appointment, I could look back and see my progress. Other times, I felt as if I hadn't made any, but the outcome was what I kept in my sights. When my leg wouldn't bend, I pictured myself walking with ease. I willed myself to look past the pain of the moment.

Let's embrace our scars and be thankful we are not there anymore.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Memories Rewind: Towering Stacks of Treasure

Hello, readers! Madison invited me to do a guest post for this week's Memories Rewind, and I was very excited for the opportunity to share with all of you. My name is Tanya Hudson, and I was Madison's junior English teacher a few years ago. (She was an excellent student and, of course, an excellent writer, as I'm sure you could've guessed. :p) Now, I'm a school librarian in Athens, GA, and I thought I would share one of my favorite childhood memories: summer trips to the library with my Mammaw.

We didn't have much money when I was growing up; my parents had me and my little brother, Dave, when they were teenagers--just kids themselves. Despite their limited means, though, Mom and Dad always made sure we had books at home, and they always encouraged us to read--but I was ravenous for more. I even read in the bathtub, squinting to decipher the microscopic print on the lime green shampoo bottle.

Enter my Mammaw, who kept Dave and me in the afternoons during the school year and in the summertime while Mom and Dad were at work. Often--sometimes twice a week, sometimes every single day--Mammaw would pack us kids into her clunky blue station, along with her bulky black handbag and a canvas sack full of books to be returned, and we would ride across town to the library. (I don't mean for the ride to sound long; "across town" in Hartwell, GA is never more than a few minutes away.) When we arrived, she would head over to the large print adult fiction (she didn't see so well) and inevitably choose a handful of trashy romance novels to peruse while Dave and I made our choices.

Now, honestly, I don't remember the first time I visited the library, probably because I was too young to remember most things yet, but I do remember the sense of awe I felt every time I saw those shelves upon shelves of books. They were all treasures, all full of magic and wonder, packed with people and places I didn't yet know but yearned to visit.

I started, of course, with the picture books, like most kids do. Sometimes I would take a towering stack of those over to the lounge chairs by the window and read them right there in the library before choosing even more to check out and take home. I had my own library card, but kids were only allowed to check out three books at a time, and I just couldn't abide by that silly rule; instead, Mammaw would check out my books on her card so I could take eight or ten at a time (stuffed, of course, in one of her faded canvas bags).

When I got a little older, I moved two shelves over, from the E-for-Easy area to the J-for-Juvenile-Fiction section, where the books got thicker and, in my opinion, much more exciting. I learned that Encyclopedia Brown was smart enough solve any mystery, followed the Boxcar Children on many adventures, envied the girls in the Babysitter's Club books (who seemed so mature to me at the time), laughed at Ramona Quimby's antics, cried with Wilbur the pig when his spider friend, Charlotte, took her last breath. I read my favorites over and over, and the librarians (who, of course, knew me by name) would always let me know if they'd gotten in a new book that they thought I might like.

Now that I'm a librarian myself, I get to experience the magic from a whole new angle. When I read a picture book to my kindergarteners and see them smile or laugh or stare in disbelief, it reminds me of when I was their age, just starting to realize the wonder of reading. When I recommend Mary Downing Hahn's Wait Till Helen Comes (one of my childhood faves) to a fifth grader who wants a good scare, and when that kid comes back a week later saying, "That was so good! Are there more books like this one?"....well, pardon the cliche, but it warms my heart. When we order new books, I bubble with anticipation, just waiting to show them to the kids next time they come in. And sometimes, I even plop down in our story corner with a big stack of picture books and just sit there, reading, letting the stories whisk me back to those summer days in the library.