Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Beautiful Conversation

What does a beautiful woman have to look like?

What is a sexy body?

Interestingly, from an identity standpoint, what does it mean to have a disability?  Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do—nobody calls her disabled!

These questions came from the mouth of one of my new favorite people—Aimee Mullins.  Aimee was born without either of her fibula bones, so she had both legs amputated below the knee at age one to give her the greatest amount of mobility.  Since then, she’s gone on to become a collegiate athlete, Para Olympian, and fashion model.  What she has to say about the collision of beauty and disability is so thought provoking that I would like to share it with you.  Please take 10 minutes to watch this video and see how Aimee is redefining our concept of beauty.

Over the course of the summer, I want to explore the beauty that is to be revealed within the experience of disability and human limitation.  I would love for you to join this conversation! “Attend” this event on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @Bibliophile84, or follow The Walk via e-mail.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Finding My Voice

“I hate the phrase ‘cerebral palsy.’”  I began to weep openly in front of my counselor.  I brought my hand up to my face covering my mouth to muffle the cry that I could feel rising in my throat. My eyes started to overflow with tears, spilling down, wetting my cheeks.   “I can’t even say the words.”

Surpassed only by the fear of snakes, public speaking still ranks number two on the list of America’s top fears according to a recent Gallup poll.  I too, hope that I never come face to face with a reticulated python, but give me microphone and an audience of any size and I’d be happy to articulate my thoughts on any subject!

Except CP.

During most of my formative years, I felt a strong sense of shame surrounding the fact that I had an incurable, unchanging, physical and very public disability.  Some part of me thought that if I didn’t ever talk about it, then maybe it wouldn’t exist.  After working through my issues with a counselor and accepting some invitations to speak, I am finding my voice and growing in my willingness to share my experiences with others.

Last month, I was asked by a colleague to Skype with two classes of 5th graders who had recently read the book Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper.  The book’s main character, Melody, is an 11-year-old with severe CP who is unable to speak due to her disability.  My colleague wanted to give her students an opportunity to meet someone who shared the same condition as the book’s main character yet had a completely different range of functionality.

So, for a half hour, students asked me questions about what life was like with CP.  What does it feel like? What has been the hardest part of your life? What did you like to do as a fifth grader?  Their questions were honest, asked with concern, and demonstrated an interest and growing understanding of what it must be like to live with CP.  

This experience inspired me.  I always find it deeply personal to talk about living with CP and the pain I have experienced.  Every time I speak, I feel like I am being asked to give part of myself away.  However, it seems to me that a vulnerable speaker who is willing to share in front of a receptive audience is what ultimately leads to understanding. It helps to bridge the gap, helping others to gain insight into an otherwise narrowly shared experience.  

This is why I have decided to launch a speaking page on my blog.  I welcome the opportunity to share stories, experiences, and insights with Christian groups and to students in schools.  Check it out for more information: or contact me:

Monday, May 7, 2012

He Withholds No Good Thing From Us

Tonight I thought I would share an evening devotion with you, compliments of Sara Groves.  Enjoy and be encouraged that God withholds no good thing from us!  Have a wonderful evening and a productive week!

A verse:
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  Psalm 84:11

A story:

Sara Groves - "Open My Hands" Story Behind The Song

A song:

Sara Groves - "Open My Hands" Live Performance

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Gift of Pain

“You’re no stranger to pain.”  I looked at him, taking in his observation.  Like it or not, he was right.  Pain and I have become well acquainted.  

If I were honest with myself, I would admit that I have experienced inconsistent low-level back pain for about a decade.  It’s usually a dull ache that comes and goes.  “It’s probably just from your CP,” I was told once by a physical therapist.  Research confirms this suspicion.  One study compared adults with CP to those without and found that nearly one-third of the adults with cerebral palsy had chronic pain, vs. 15% in the general population.  Back pain was the most common in both groups.

Lately, my pain has transformed from a dull ache to at times a stabbing pinch and travels down my leg.  MRI scans revealed that I have Spondylolisthesis and Degenerative Disc Disease.  Medical terminology aside, I’ve been experiencing a little more pain than normal.   

Philip Yancey, in his book Where is God When it Hurts says the following,  “Suffering produces something.  It has value.  It changes us.”

Pain, I am learning, is a gift.  Marcel Proust is quoted as saying, “Illness is the doctor to whom we pay the most heed: to kindness, to knowledge we make promises only: pain we obey.”  Not something to be ignored, pain can be the compass that ultimately points us in the direction of help and healing.  

Although my acute pain has nearly subsided as April came to a close, there was a time last month where simply walking became painful.  It was especially during these times that I was reminded that the Lord will sustain me and He is committed to walking with me every step of the way.   Britt Nicole’s new song All This Time has been particularly meaningful to me this month, so I am including it at the end of this entry.

Pain has helped me gain perspective, causing me to become more grateful for many things: over-the-counter pain killers, access to health care, health insurance, compassionate physicians who have devoted their professional careers to caring for the back, and having a physical therapy clinic next to my work.   
It’s when I lay in bed at night though, my knees propped between a pillow, situating my back as I prepare to sleep that it seems I can hear my body aching for a new being.  I am reminded that this is not my home.  Ultimately, one day I will let go of the hand of pain and the two of us will part ways…forever.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  (Revelation 21:4). 

What has suffering produced in your life?  How have you responded to your pain?

Recommended Reading: 
The Gift of Pain: Why We Hurt and What We Can Do About It by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey
Where is God When it Hurts? Philip Yancey