Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Skies on the Horizon

Hello friend,

I hope this little letter is finding you in a place of growth and joy. It has been a wild year and I'm finding it hard to believe that the year 2014 is already upon us! 2013, for me, has been a year of great growth. I have experienced God's provision in such sweet and tangible ways. I am constantly in awe of the way His provision exceeds the basic necessities of life; He cares so much that He gives me life and even blesses me with the desires of my heart. What a gift that is.

This past August I had the great pleasure of moving into a cute little house here in Orlando with three of the loveliest ladies. Living with these three has been such a fun adventure and has filled my heart with much joy. This fall I began my final year studying Digital Media and Web Design at UCF. It blows my mind that I'm graduating in May. My time here at UCF has been the greatest experience of my life. My heart is so full thinking about this whole journey. The ups, the downs, the friendships and lessons learned: it was all part of a wonderful plan that I am so grateful to have experienced.

All of my life, my heart has yearned for adventure. Exploring and discovering, I can constantly feel the anticipation in my bones. Being in a situation where traveling and spontaneity can often be very challenging and quite complicated, I have felt a great share of frustration. Because traveling isn't convenient when you come with a 400lb electric wheelchair, assistive breathing equipment, and a plethora of other necessary gadgets, I began to believe that seeing new skies was no longer in my cards (a very hard pill to swallow). This summer, however, the Lord began to change my perspective.

"Shake off your dust;
      rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
     Free yourself from the chains on your neck,"
- Isaiah 52:2

God put an idea on my heart: in the spring of the new year, I would fly in a plane and go on a grand adventure. A very exciting prospect, but also quite scary. I have not flown in a plane in over 10 years. Air travel is not well-designed for the physically disabled; it is a very cumbersome and challenging process. Out of a fear of discomfort and the unknown, as well as a lack of resources, I have not pursued my many major adventure dreams. Until now.

By God's grace and provision, I will embark to San Diego, California on February 26th to attend the Storyline conference.

Storyline is a conference that was started last year by Donald Miller. (If you don't know who Donald Miller is, you should read "Blue Like Jazz," his first big hit in the writing arena. It challenged me and gave me new perspective on what it looks like to follow Jesus. Anytime I see a copy in a thrift store, I buy it to give to someone. It's one of those.)  The purpose of the conference is to equip each attendee in
creating life plans that give them personal vision and clarity. As the name implies, Storyline is all about stories. The focus is meaning, connection, and authenticity, rather than production. Our lives are living stories and every day we have an opportunity to make those stories great. Another wonderful man, Bob Goff, will be speaking as well (If you don't know who Bob Goff is, you need to read "Love Does." Another favorite book that has helped open my eyes to see the joy that is available to us in every moment).

With the Lord's provision, I will have the great pleasure of making this journey alongside three of my dear friends and a talented filmmaker. Our hope is that this adventure will be more than an awesome experience of self-growth. We want to make a film that will encourage and inspire others. We want to tell a story of hope and adventure and joy that isn't dependent on agreeable circumstances. Yes, this trip is about embracing life and living fully, but more than that, it is an opportunity to open eyes. It is an opportunity to allow others to see the beautiful gift that life is and that it’s worth living fully.

I am super stoked but also very aware of how challenging the journey is going to be, both logistically and financially. Because I always need someone with me to assist me, every expense is double what it would be for the average traveler. Once in San Diego, I will have to rent equipment that is too large to travel with, as well as an accessible van. The total cost of the trip for myself, someone to assist me, and air travel expenses for a filmmaker is going to be $3200.

The Lord has put it on my heart to write this letter, to share this with you. I am trusting that God will provide the necessary funds. If you feel led to contribute in the form of prayer, finances (or maybe a private jet…) I would be honored and grateful. I am not sending this letter with lofty expectations but because I feel as if this is something I should share with you. I believe this is going to be an adventure of a lifetime and I would love for you to be a part of this journey in any way you are able.

By God's sweet grace, I have air in my lungs and opportunity before me. This life, this day, this breath is such a gift and so full of opportunity. I am grateful to have begun to understand a sliver of the weight of that beautiful reality and I'm ready to explore this wonderful world we are living in.

With great love,

If you feel led to contribute financially, you may do so with the donation button to the right. Please email me with any questions regarding this trip, the payment process, etc. I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lessons from a blueberry bagel

It has been about a year since my body has ceased to allow me to enjoy all of the yummy's that I love. I can no longer eat normal food. It has been a difficult journey (as many worthwhile journeys are). 

I don't like to tell people that I can't eat normal food. Food is "the great equalizer," "the greatest pleasure," "the way to one's heart." Life is shared over food, love is showed through food. We gather around food, we celebrate with food. Jesus broke bread with his disciples and in that sharing, they united in fellowship. Food is a big deal. It many ways, it feels like I'm missing out on the greatest human tradition that ever existed. I am no longer a part of the club. 

Though it has become a bit easier with time, right now as I sit writing this, I would really love to eat a blueberry bagel. With cream cheese. Not toasted.
Or maybe some of mom's homemade enchiladas. With a side of cumin dressing salad. My ultimate favorite. 
Man, that would be glorious.

Something so simple as a late-night snack, this body I've been given can no longer enjoy. It is something I long for every day. 

It's in these longings that I am learning so much. 

For a long time I have carried the weight of my inability as if I was, in some way, responsible - as if I chose it like a haircut or a career. I have been embarrassed about my weakness, as if I could have prevented any part of it. Intellectually I know this isn't true but subconsciously this is how I've behaved; tip-toeing around, trying my best to not infect others with the burden of my inability.

The obvious truth is, my body is weak. I cannot brush my own hair or help wash the dirty dishes. I cannot lift my arms to embrace you or turn the page of the book in front of me. And while those abilities would be so wonderful to posses, their absence points to something bigger.

"We begin to see a pattern developing that God purposely chooses those who are weak in the world's eyes to carry out his work... so that when God gives them the victory, all will know that the victory came from Yahweh, not from the people he chose as his agents of deliverance." (Michael S. BeatesDisability and the Gospel)

Jesus uses the weak because in our weakness His power may be fully known. God redeems broken situations. He takes the hard and painful and turns them into something beautiful. Through the longing and heartache, God is laying the ground work for a deep and meaningful relationship with himself. It is from our deep struggle that we are able to see Jesus.

Unless the Lord heals this body of mine, I will probably long to enjoy homemade guacamole and fresh strawberries all of my days. And while that is challenging in such a deep and simple way, these sharp realities are refining me. These painful and messy difficulties are molding me into the person that Jesus has called me to be. With every unwanted limitation, with each unfulfilled desire, my eyes are being opened wide and my focus narrowed. 

I think maybe that's the point.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I listen a lot. I often have no choice but to sit and take in the words around me. I hear people talk. I hear humility and I hear compassion. I hear entitlement and self-righteousness, appreciation and heartache. I listen to people's stories. We all listen to people and begin to get a taste of where they have been and how they see the world.

We are all shaped by what we encounter in life; the successes and the failures, the suffering and the joy - they all have the ability to turn our thinking and shift our perspective. These experiences can leave scars and bruises. They can also bring about growth and deep understanding. Ultimately, every impactful encounter in life is inviting us to proceed on a certain course.

My view of life has been molded and impacted by the circumstances I have been placed in. Yours has too.

Growing up with an undiagnosed degenerative muscle disease, I have seen the loss of most of the major functions of my body. It has been, and continues to be, a process of mourning and discovery. It can be tough and sad and frustrating. And it continues to be.

But there is also something about this whole mess that I'm beginning to see as beautiful. Maybe you think I'm looney in the head, that's fine. But this whole reality, this daily struggle, has given me something very precious: perspective.

Because of Jesus, these circumstances don't define me. They have greatly impacted me, but instead of pulling me down and holding me there, the Lord has given me a changed view.

Every morning I am awakened to the truth that this very day is a precious gift. In that awareness comes an immovable sense of urgency - to fully live, to deeply love, with no fear and no reservation. To show Jesus to the world and impact lives.

Everything that's been lost, the ability to walk, to express myself without limits, to speak with clarity, to enjoy favorite foods, have all combined to intensify a longing that I believe exists at the core of each of us, beneath all the distraction and hedonistic pursuit. In this lack of diversion, something so very unique emanates: a deeply intimate relationship with the creator of the universe.

Suffering has taught me a lot. And because of Jesus, we all have the choice to have joy despite our afflictions.

Life is messy. Jesus wins. Today is the day, let's go.