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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Testimony Tuesday: The blessing in brokeness

Over the past few weeks, it has been brought to my attention, that I have friends and acquaintances with little ones experiencing physical troubles that are feared to be lifelong. Nothing breaks my heart more then a child that has to suffer some deformity, due to birth defects, or accidents, and to know nothing will ever be able to fix it. I do try to keep it in perspective, children are so resilient, and the number one way to ensure success in that child is by the adults who surround them. I feel lead to address this, I feel I offer some insight for the adults with these gifts from God in their lives. These children are not broken, they are fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image, even if it's not the image we had in mind.

Does the term Amniotic Band Syndrome mean anything to you? For most, probably not. It has only been in recent years that even I became aware of this specific term. This is significant to me because I was born with ABS. What this means is, I only have one hand! I am missing about three inches of my arm, my wrist, and my left hand. And I have never let that stop me from achieving my goals, but I can only attribute that to my family. I remember the stories my mom would tell me of how she didn't get to see me for three days, and how they told her I would be developmentally delayed, not to have lofty expectations. Talk about dashing a mothers dream! Fortunately, there was someone there who saw things differently, and no one can remember who that person was! My grandmother tells me of a conversation she had in the waiting room with whom she thought to be a Doctor. He felt I would be able to accomplish anything I wished, but it would all depend on my families attitude toward the situation. He explained how I would only be restricted in my achievements by limitations my family imposed on me. I do believe there was some divine intervention in that conversation, I believe it made all the difference in how my future would evolve. It hasn't always been easy, I have shed many tears over life with "little hand". I can remember some pretty mean things that have been said and done, but they made me stronger, and I was rightfully shy a good portion of my life, not anymore, ha! I never placed any limitations on myself, though scared to try sometimes. I remember wanting nothing more then to be a Cheerleader (instilled at birth, I am sure, by my Drill Team mom), how was I going to do that? The stunts, the tumbling, how would I hold the pom-poms? That fear, held me back a whole year. And when I did try-out, I rocked it! I had to think out of the box and be creative. I also had the support of an encouraging mother and amazing friends. I was just as effective at stunting as my two handed counter parts, and I discovered I could tie my pom-pom on with a hair scrunchy. Tumbling? No problem, I had long accomplished the basics, my first attempt at a spotted back handspring however, landed me on my head! My response, "Do I get to try again"?! My senior year of High School we were state champs, I cheered in the Shrine Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, and competed at the national level in Orlando, Florida, ESPN, baby! I also had the opportunity to try-out as a UCA All-Star, I made it. I didn't stop there. I then took my passion for Cheering to the next level and earned a spot on the Cheerleading Squad at Francis Marion University.

To this day, I remain active as a Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor, I know my class gets a kick out of me tying my weight on with my pink bandanna. I even have my coffee mug handle fitted snugly on my arm as I type. There are ways around things. And my three children know full well, "I can't", is not language I accept! I have come to a place in my life were I have gained the understanding that I might spend a lifetime one-handed, which I wouldn't change, but I will spend eternity two-handed. That said, lets move on from my story. If you have questions, just ask.

I feel pretty confident in saying, when your child doesn't exactly meet your vision, you probably place blame on yourself, wondering what you did wrong, or could have done differently. You have to remember, God does not make a mistake. Once you can get past the guilt and isolation you feel you have to get creative. There is no time to consider the what if, take your what is and get moving. You have the blessed opportunity to learn more from your own child's special needs then you ever thought possible, and remember, your attitudes and actions will shape your child's image of themselves. With that in mind, it's important how you refer to them. Using language like, "He suffers from.....", "She can't do....." will affect how they see themselves. Building a vocabulary of positivity and encouragement is the best gift you could give any child. You have been given a grand assignment to care for a child with a special need, and you will never be given more than you can handle. I want to get across how humbling it should be that you have been entrusted with the care of an exceptional child. Finally, I know all situations are different, and can be difficult, but it takes the same tenacity, courageousness, and Faith, regardless of your circumstance. No one is broken, just unique, and all our gifts are given by the same spirit.

                                                                           Go Gators!

                                                                   Holding a 'Chair'

    I couldn't resist! A day at the Magic Kingdom while cheering in the Florida Citrus Bowl.

                                                    Me & My family today.

No matter what you do, always remember to.......Keep the Faith!