Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lucky 13

November 17 probably just seems like an ordinary day to most people, but for me, this date holds an extreme amount of significance, since that was the day when my life changed in a monumental way. The day I was transformed, physically, and reborn, spiritually. My life was changed in a split second, and has turned out very differently than I ever would have expected. My new life hasn't been a cakewalk, but it's been much better than you might think.

The two feelings/emotions that I've felt most deeply over the past 13 years are quite different from each other: disappointment and joy.

The Disappointment:
What happened to me at the young age of 19 was really so sad. Just as I was emerging into the adult world, I was struck down and thrust into a life of extreme disability. [I wonder if anyone ever thinks about what that would've been like, or would be like. If you've never given it any thought, think about it for a minute, just to give yourself an idea of how difficult it would be.] If being disabled was all you had ever known, it would be much easier, in my opinion, than to have known what it was like to be "normal," only to suddenly find yourself being anything but normal, physically, while at the same time still being the same person you always were, mentally and emotionally. It's an extremely difficult transition.

After my accident, my biggest hopes and dreams for the future were no longer attainable. My dreams were snuffed out, just like that. Finishing nursing school/working as a nurse? That was over just as it was beginning. Marriage? Still possible, but not likely. Children? Nope. There were so many things I wanted to do and experience in life that I would now never be able to do. Even small, insignificant things like doing my own hair and makeup, or dressing in the kinds of clothes I liked were no longer possible. There has been so much to be disappointed about, and I know the disappointment could overwhelm and consume me, if I let it (which I won't).

The Joy:
Despite the tragedy of the situation, I've been able to make some refreshing lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown my way. I give all the credit to God, though, since He has given me the gift of joy that has allowed me to press forward with positivity.

Psalm 30:5 says, "... weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." I know that my physical situation is only temporary. I'm sure my paralysis will last the rest of my life, but in the grand scheme of things, mortality is actually very brief. I just need to put "mind over matter" and keep pressing forward. After all, as Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." If I live a good life, I know God will reward me and compensate me for everything I've had to give up or go without. Anything is bearable for a little while, especially if you know there are good things in store.

I feel very lucky to be alive, happy and doing as well as I am. 🌷

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


I finished reading the book "Ugly" a couple weeks ago. This is a true story, written by Robert Hoge. My mom heard about this book a few months ago and was interested in reading it, so I bought it for her for her birthday, and we read it together. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

When Robert Hoge was born, he had a tumor the size of a tennis ball in the middle of his face and short, twisted legs. Surgeons removed the tumor and made him a new nose from one of his toes.  Amazingly, he survived—with a face that would never be the same.  

Strangers stared at him. Kids called him names, and adults could be cruel, too. Everybody seemed to agree that he was “ugly.” But Robert refused to let his face define him. He played pranks, got into trouble, had adventures with his big family, and finally found a sport that was perfect for him to play. And Robert came face to face with the biggest decision of his life, he followed his heart.

This poignant memoir about overcoming bullying and thriving with disabilities shows that what makes us “ugly” also makes us who we are. 

The book was really good! It was written for adults, but is simple enough for adolescents to understand. I think it would be a great book for middle schoolers to read, just to give them some perspective on what it's like to be different, and how much unkind words and bullying can hurt.

Below is a picture of Robert as an infant, and below that is a picture of Robert and his parents after one of his surgeries:
And this is Robert today. When the doctors wanted to give Robert another surgery to make his face look even more "normal," he said, "Thanks, but no thanks," and opted to not have the surgery. He basically said that if people can't accept him with the way he looks, then that is their problem. I have to give him respect; I'm pretty sure I'd get the surgery! I guess I'm just more vain, and would want to look as normal as I could.
My one disappointment with the book is that it didn't include how Robert met his wife (their little family is pictured above). I'm so glad that Robert could find someone that was able to accept him the way he isnot everyone would—so his wife sounds like a great woman.

This book definitely helps you realize that it's important to be kind to everyone, especially those who are different. They are still people and deserve respect, even if their exterior isn't quite normal.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chan Ties the Knot

Chandra and Joe got married in New York on October 8, when Chan went to go help Annette when she had her baby. Chandra wanted to get married some place that was really pretty, and Syracuse has an abundance of beautiful places, like Onondaga Park. It rained all morning, but fortunately it stopped a little while before the ceremony was supposed to begin.

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking:
I like the two pictures of Christian below. His tired, little face says, "Are we done yet?!" :)
Our sister, Annette, who was just days away from having her baby, went to the ceremony to be a witness and to help take care of Christian while Chandra and Joe were posing for the photographer.

I'm glad Chandra and Joe finally tied the knot. I'm now the "old maid" of my family, since all of my other sisters are all married. If there has to be a single sister in the bunch, then I'm glad it's me, and not one of the other ones.

Here's to wishing Chandra and Joe many, many years of happiness.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me"

I recently heard about a book that piqued my interest. It was called: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege, and it's a true story (my favorite!). Here is a synopsis of the book:

An international bestseller—the extraordinary memoir of a German-Nigerian woman who learns that her grandfather was the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List.

“I am the granddaughter of Amon Goeth, who shot hundreds of people—and for being black, he would have shot me, too.” In an instant, Jennifer Teege’s life turns upside down; the shock of discovering her ancestry shatters her sense of self.

Teege is 38—married, with two small children—when by chance she finds a library book about her grandfather, Amon Goeth. Millions of people worldwide know of him through Ralph Fiennes’ chilling portrayal in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. Goeth was the brutal commandant of the Plaszów concentration camp—Oskar Schindler’s drinking buddy, and yet his adversary. Responsible for the deaths of thousands, Amon Goeth was hanged in 1946.

Goeth’s partner Ruth, Teege’s much-loved grandmother, committed suicide in 1983. Teege is their daughter’s daughter; her father is Nigerian. Raised by foster parents, she grew up with no knowledge of the family secret. Now, it unsettles her profoundly. What can she say to her Jewish friends, or to her own children? Who is she—truly?

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, since it wasn't very long. It was so interesting to read about how this woman inadvertently stumbled upon a book while at the library, and it changed everything she thought she knew about her family history. I definitely recommend this book if you like true stories and history.

Friday, October 21, 2016


For years I've been thinking how great it would be if my mom could reach at least 25 grandchildren. I found out earlier this year that this desire would be a reality when my sister, Annette, told me that she was pregnant. Yay! Another grandchild for my mom, and another niece for me. :)

My sister, Chandra, flew to New York to help Annette out when she had her baby, since Annette didn't have anyone to help her with her kids. Chan to the rescue! She and Annette had a lot of fun together. Here are some of the highlights...

They went apple picking together:
Annette took Chandra to see some of the LDS church's historic sites in Palmyra, NY:
Chandra held down the fort at Annette's house and took care of her four kids while she was busy having her baby. Annette's baby arrived via C-section on Wednesday, October 12, at 11:47 AM. She had a little girl that she named Eden Elizabeth (Edie). She was my sister's biggest baby, weighing in at 6 lbs. 5 oz., and she was 19 inches long.

Here are some pictures from when Chandra and Annette's kids went to the hospital to meet the new baby:
Christian had so much fun with Annette's twins, Lincoln and Annika. Christian loved having playmates that were his size. Chandra said that Annika especially took to Christian. The three little ones loved watching the big kids leave for school in the morning, and were excited to see them come home in the afternoons. 
Annette came home from the hospital two days after she had her baby. There's no place like home! The hospital gave Annette this peas in a pod toy. Joseph put Edie inside of it, and Chan snapped a picture.
Here's Christian taking a closer look at his little cousin:
I'm so grateful to have another sweet niece, and I look forward to meeting her some time next year!
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