Cerebral Palsy

The Thing About CP

For those of you who don’t know, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement and posture. For some, effects can be severe, but for others, it’s more mild. I’m blessed to be on the more mild end of the spectrum; for me, it affects the way I get around. I’ve used a walker and worn calf-high braces since I was little, and weekly physical therapy is routine.

I try to have the perspective that my disability is a way for me to inspire others and impact lives; it’s a platform the Lord has given me to spread His Light and Love. While that is the way I look at it, there are days when I lose perspective and end up crying, because the frustration has become too much. Like when I see my dad get ready to run, and wish I could go with him but can’t. Or when I wake up, and taking a step sends throbbing pain through my feet. Or on the days when I’m so tight, I feel like I can barely move.

But here’s the thing about CP. It is an it. It’s a thing; it’s not me. It doesn’t define me or who I am, and it may affect the way I get around, but it will not affect the way I live my life. I want to be known for lighting up a room; I want to be the reason someone’s day is brighter. I want to inspire others and make an impact, and be known for that. Not my disability.

So here’s the thing: I may have cerebral palsy, but cerebral palsy does not have me.

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Faith · My Writing

Help Me to Keep My Eyes on You: A Poem

Lord,

As balls of stress form knots in my chest,

Help me to keep my eyes on You.

Help me to remember

That You are bigger than what I am feeling,

Help me to remember

That I am not a grade on a test,

And I am not the math problems I don’t understand.

 

No. No, I am Yours.

I am Your Child,

Created in Your image,

Created for Your purpose,

And You have me

Right in the palm of your Hands.

Even though the future is filled with unknowns,

And my journey

is full of unexpected twists and turns

May You be my Constant,

May I hold steadfast

To Your love and to the promises You have made.

Lord,

You have said that You go before me,

And everything works together for my good.

Lord,

Help me to trust You

And as the storm swirls around me and I wade into unknown waters,

Help me to keep my eyes on You.

Cerebral Palsy

Chasing Dreams

It’s the little things that matter.

For years, my mom has put my hair in a ponytail for me because due to my cerebral palsy I didn’t have the range of motion in my arms to do it on my own. Thanks to a surgery I recently had, I’ve gained more strength and range of motion in my arms, and on Sunday, I decided to figure out how to do my hair on my own. I’d just gotten accepted to the University of Florida, and I knew that was one thing I had to be able to do on my own if I want to go. So I went into my room, shut the door, and tried to do it. It wasn’t easy. My arms are still tight, and after a few minutes, I could feel fatigue in my muscles and had to stop. But I’d figured out how to get my hair through the elastic once, so at least that was progress.

I’ll be honest: I was exhausted last night and didn’t feel like doing anything. But then I thought about how amazing it would be to go to the O Connell Center to cheer the volleyball team on and how incredible it would be to say, “I go to my dream school” and knew I had to stretch and work out anyway. I slipped the hair tie on my wrist and tried again, knowing I was close and I’d figure it out eventually.

And you know what? I did it. It was a loose bun and definitely nothing I’d walk out of the house in, but I’d put my hair up on my own, and that was all that mattered. I was one step closer to Gainesville in the fall and the Swamp on Saturday afternoons. I was one step closer to my dreams.

Figuring out how to be totally independent won’t be easy, and I still have a lot to figure out. But Florida is worth it. My dreams are worth it. And I’m getting to Gainesville in the fall, no matter what it takes.

Faith

You Need Only to Be Still

“The Lord is fighting for you, you need only to be still.”

-Exodus 14:14

Ever since a family friend shared the verse with me when I was younger, it’s been one of my favorites. But this morning, when I came across it on my Twitter feed, the verse took on another meaning for me and I fell in love with it all over again.

To put it lightly, the last month has been a roller coaster. Between classes, scholarships, and trying to regain my strength after I had surgery, my life has been a whirlwind. And to make things even more interesting, I found out whether or not I got into Florida next Friday.

Next Friday. That means in eight days, I’ll know whether or not I got into my dream school.

I was a little nervous to even apply, for fear I’d get rejected and my heart would break. My parents encouraged me to do it anyway, because as they pointed out, it was a definite no if I didn’t submit an application.

So I applied, and over the course of the last five months, I’ve fought a mental battle. Some days, I feel the same way I did the day I applied: there’s no way I’ll get in. And then other days, I think I have a fighting chance. God’s done amazing things before- why can’t He do it again?

As the date inches closer, He keeps reminding me of His strength. Sometimes, it comes in the form of Scripture. The other day, I felt led to read Chapter 8 of Romans, and when I did, I came across this verse:

“If we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we should wait for it patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

The verse quieted my nerves and reminded to trust in His plan because it’s perfect, and He knows where I need to be, whether it’s UF or somewhere else.

Sometimes it comes when I’m able to do something I couldn’t before. Before my surgery, it was always difficult for me to frost cookies or butter bread because of the limited dexterity in my hands. You could always tell which Christmas cookie I had decorated, because it wasn’t exactly the prettiest. But the other day, I had a craving for peanut butter crackers. Even after someone offered to put the peanut butter on them for me, I was determined to spread it on my own. I knew that if anyone else wanted a snack, they would make it themselves, so why should I be any different? I did it, but not only that, the procedure had strengthened my left hand, so I was able to do it with much more ease. It’s funny how God can use something as small as peanut butter crackers to remind you that He’s stronger than the trials we face.

And sometimes, it comes from things that I’m positive have to be divine intervention. For example, the Tim Tebow Foundation’s annual Night to Shine prom is next Friday. It can’t be coincidence that the dates of both things coincide. And I’ve been blessed to receive scholarship opportunities that have given me options at a few other schools I’ve been accepted to.

Seeing Exodus 14:14 made me think about each of those things, and the words resonated with me in a way they hadn’t before. God is fighting for you, you need only to be still. As much as I feel as though I’m fighting this battle on my own, I’m not. He’s on my side, which means impossible things can come true.

What Bible verses have resonated with you lately?

Sports

Alabama to Hire Hugh Freeze?

On Tuesday, NBC’s College Football Talk reported that former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze visited Alabama’s football facilities, and today said that head coach Nick Saban is pushing to hire him to replace Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator. Understandably, there is some reluctance to bring Freeze back into the SEC- but is it really such a bad idea? I don’t think so. Before you call me crazy, hear me out.

Prior to taking over Ole Miss’s program in 2012, he was head coach at Lambuth for two seasons, where he went 8-4 and 12-1. He spent the 2011 season at Arkansas State, leading them to the GoDaddy.com Bowl before succeeding Houston Nutt as leader of the Rebels.

Freeze’s impact was immediate, as the Rebels went from winning just two games in 2011 to going 7-6 in 2012 and bringing home a bowl trophy. Ole Miss continued to rise, ranking in the top five in both 2014 and 2015. The program sent Robert Nkemdiche, Leremy Tunsil, and Evan Engram to the NFL, and Juco transfer Chad Kelly quickly became an SEC star under Freeze’s direction.*

Then came the NCAA investigation and allegations that Freeze had made some… unprofessional phone calls from his work phone. 2017 saw those allegations become sanctions, and in July, Freeze was officially fired as head coach of Ole Miss.

I think Freeze to Bama would be a good hire because when you look beyond the scandal, you see one thing: success. He knows how to win games (anyone else remember his victory over the Tide in 2015?) and looking at the players he sent to the NFL, it’s obvious that he knows how to develop talent.

As for what happened under his direction of Ole Miss’s program- it’s unacceptable. But I think we also have to remember that Ole Miss was Freeze’s first major head coaching job, and let’s be real: leading a college football program isn’t easy. There’s recruiting, game preparation, traveling, being away from your family, mentoring young men, trying to keep boosters happy…. it’s a lot. And when you do all of that and have the type of success Hugh Freeze had, is it so far fetched to say everything simply went to his head? Maybe it all just became too much, he saw himself as invincible, and thought he could overstep his boundaries and get away with it.

What I’m saying is this: Hugh Freeze is a human being who made a mistake. Granted, it was major and the whole world found out about it, but that’s all it was- a mistake. He deserves a second chance, and who better to give it to him than Nick Saban, who has mentored Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian? To me, the hire is a win-win situation: Freeze gets another shot, and Alabama gets a coach who can continue to lead their program to success.

Should Alabama hire Hugh Freeze? Let me know in the comments below!

*Statistics and facts taken from Ole Miss.com and

Cerebral Palsy

What Blogging Means to Me as Someone with a Disability

I’ve never reblogged a post on here before, but I found so much truth in what Amelia wrote that I had to share this.¬†She does an incredible job vocalizing what life is like for someone with cerebral palsy- a much better job than I do- and this post is no exception.

Like Amelia, I’ve always found writing to be an escape. Because when I write, the limitations I have don’t exist, if I don’t want them to. And for years, that’s exactly how I wrote stories. I would write a story using characters from my favorite books and then insert myself. The version of me I wrote about didn’t use a walker, didn’t have a disability, and could do whatever she wanted, without having to wonder how, exactly, she was going to do it. But then, in sixth grade, I came up with a storyline about a girl who has cerebral palsy, and how the love around her helps change the way she views herself. I didn’t start writing it until about a year later, and instantly, I was struck by how freeing it was to write about a girl who goes through exactly the same things I do. That story is still a work in progress, and writing it is still as cathartic now as it was then. My dream is to one day publish it, and share my character’s-and my- story with the world.

This blog is cathartic, too. It’s amazing to write a post about something I’m experiencing and get words of kindness, love, and support back. It’s comforting and encouraging, and I’m so grateful for each of you who read, like, and comment on my post. Thank you for embracing me with opening arms, and thank you for listening to my story.

Without further ado, here is Amelia’s post:

What Blogging Means to Me as Someone with a Disability

Florida Gators · Sports

More Than Just A Game

This morning, prior to Oklahoma’s Rose Bowl matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs, ESPN’s College Game Day aired a segment on Oklahoma QB’s Baker Mayfield’s relationship with Mackenzie Asher, an eleven year old battling cancer. As I watched the way he interacted with her and heard the love in his voice as he talked about her, I was reminded of what it is that makes sports so special: the way they allow people to connect with others and make a difference in the lives of so many. Tragically, Mackenzie passed away recently, and when he heard the news, Mayfield reached out to her family and told them he would be at her funeral. I love what he said there: “I’ve been able to meet a lot of special people, but I’ve never fallen for someone as fast as I fell for her…. we’re going to dedicate the rest of our season to Mackenzie.” The segment made me view him differently, and it made me fall in love with sports all over again.

I couldn’t help but think of times in my own life when sports have encouraged me and helped create relationships in my life that I’m beyond grateful for. While I was in the hospital, the University of Florida’s volleyball team was playing in the NCAA tournament. I watched every game on a laptop, and for the duration of the match, I forgot where I was. At a time when nothing felt normal, cheering on our volleyball team made me feel like myself. Because while I may not be watching where I normally did, my love for our team hadn’t changed. They were a source of encouragement and strength, because as I went through rehab, I kept thinking about how hard they had worked to get where they were. They were my motivation. But more than that, I’ve met a few of our players and coaches, and they’re all incredibly kind and amazing people. If I was ever having a rough day, I would think back to the time I spent with them, and I would have the strength and encouragement to keep going.

Florida’s volleyball team exemplifies what’s so amazing and special about sports: they give people a platform to leave a mark in the lives of others that can never be erased.

Cerebral Palsy · thoughts

My War With Technology

For Christmas, my parents gave me a Google Home Mini, so that we can sync a lamp to it and I can turn lights on and off on my own, without having to wait for one of my parents to come in and do it for me. I was excited by the way it allows me to be more independent, and I spent much of yesterday marveling at how far technology has come and the amazing things it can do. But then, this morning, my father and I were having a conversation and Google randomly began giving us NFL scores. We hadn’t asked for them. We weren’t even talking about sports. It creeped me out a little, and it made me wonder, When is enough enough?

Technology can do amazing things. It can give someone a voice, it can save a life, and in my case, gives me independence and aid I otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, when I was younger and needed my mom’s help in the middle of the night, I would call her name again and again and hope she would hear me. But now that I have a cell phone, I can pick it up and call her, and have peace of mind knowing that she’ll see it and answer. And the technology I saw when I was in the hospital was amazing. During rehab, I used a Functional Electrical Stimulation bike which fired muscles for me that I didn’t know how to use. While I pedaled on the stationary bike, electrodes on my arms and legs would stimulate my muscles for me, strengthening them more quickly than I ever could without it.

But then, there’s the other side of technology, the side that I feel is overtaking our society. So often, we spend time on our phones instead of talking with one another. I’m guilty of it. The first thing I do when I get to lunch is pull out my phone to check my text messages and other notifications. Email has replaced the art of letter writing, and more people read the newspaper online than holding a physical paper in their hands. Yes, it’s convenient and faster and gives us instant gratification, but… is it truly necessary?

And I have to wonder: with all of the technological and scientific advances we’ve made, why haven’t we found a cure for cancer? Why haven’t we found something to treat AIDS or discovered what causes Alzheimer’s? I don’t understand, and my heart breaks for everyone affected by illnesses and disabilities that can’t be cured. We’re smart enough to cure these. I know we are. We’ve got the technology and science to do it- we’ve got to make that a priority. Who cares about a newer model of the iPhone when a little girl is fighting for her life in a hospital room?

I’m not saying technology is bad and I’m not saying I don’t use it too much. It’s not and I do. What I’m saying is we need to learn boundaries with its usage and harness its power to help, not be a distraction. It has the ability to change so many lives and solve so many problems- but only if we use it the right way.