On March 24, 2010, my dad and I had the opportunity to speak to guests of the Hope Network Foundation in Grand Rapids, MI. The Hope Network Foundation provides a much needed service to those in the community with disabilities, providing everything from housing, employment, and most importantly, providing pastoral care. So often, our churches are either ill-equipped to provide for the needs of people with disabilities, or they have attitudes that give off a message to the community that suggests that people with special needs are not wanted in the kingdom of God.
I find the direct opposite to be true in Jesus’ ministry. In Jesus’ day, society had built walls around the diseased, handicapped, and around those who were easy targets of ridicule. Sound much different from today? Oh, maybe we don’t require certain people to live outside the city gates, but we do prefer that that they live in “another part of town.” Maybe we provide some services to those with disabilities, but so often it is because the US law says to do so rather than because we are following the example of our Savior. Jesus breaks through the man-made barriers time and time again, and when asked why, His reply is always some form of “because I know the will of my Father.” If we are truly following Jesus, we must have a heart for those whom society has already turned its back on. Jesus loves everyone, and so should we…
I absolutely love the work at Hope Network Foundation, and thank them for encouraging me through hearing about their mission. The question is, though, why must we have organizations like this? This organization specifically carries out the mission of Christ…but why has the church gone so far astray of this mission? If Christ’s church is to continue to be THE source of love in this world, we must find a way to get past the way we look, and we must learn to see Jesus in each and every person.
Posted in Events, Non-Profit Speaker, Schools Posted in February 3, 2010
This past Thursday, we traveled to Luverne, MN, to speak to the community of Luverne at a fundraiser for the Palace Theatre. Now, I’ve never been this far north…especially in January. I was not ready for the brutal reality of what it means for the temperature to be “below zero.” Wow, if that won’t wake you up, nothing will. The Palace Theatre in Luverne is an historic location, built in 1915. While the building has been renovated, it still has that classic theatre feel, and I loved getting to speak there. I particularly enjoyed seeing my name up on the old-style marquee out front complete with flashing lights. While I had never spoken for a “community event” before, I can tell you that the crowd that gathered last Thursday night was ready to laugh. It was an incredible evening and it was perfect…well, nearly perfect.
I close out most of my presentations with a song, and on Thursday, I had chosen to close with Garth Brooks, “The River.” The song was going well until about halfway through when the track I was singing with completely cut out. For a flash of a second, I was stunned. Thinking very quickly though, I decided that if I were to quit and walk away, I would not be following my own message of being able to accomplish anything no matter the obstacle. So…I grinned…said, “there went my track,” and continued singing the song a cappella. As if on cue, many in the audience began singing with me and providing my rhythm section by clapping along. I finished the song, and thus completed my message that you CAN do anything. Many people in the audience asked if was done on purpose…which means I must have hidden my surprise quite well.
We finished out the trip with a stop at Adrian High School were the 5th-12th graders came in for a short talk and a Q&A session. I love being able to go into schools and encourage, but more importantly, I feel it extremely important to open a line of communication so that students can learn what life is like without arms. So often, they find out that I’m like they are…just without arms. I loved getting the chance to be with them, and was a little nervous when I was asked to stay through lunch…until I found out that pizza had been delivered.
While I was ready to get back to relative warmth of Texas (I’ll never appreciate 32 degrees the same way again since coming from a 30 below zero wind chill!), I’ll never forget the kindness and warmth of the community of Luverne and the energy and spirit of the students in Adrian. Now…if we can just get Texas to warm up outside, we’ll be set!
Posted in Non-Profit Speaker Posted in October 13, 2009
The following is a video taken from September 24, 2009, at the Goodwill Industries of Kansas Annual Banquet. Please enjoy!
Posted in Churches, Non-Profit Speaker, Pro-Life Speaking Posted in September 29, 2009
This past weekend, my dad and I journeyed out to speak four times at three different locations in two different states. We first arrived on Thursday night in Wichita, KS, were I spoke to Goodwill Easter Seals of Kansas. Goodwill was celebrating the year with an awards banquet, and we watched as so many employees were rewarded for their hard work. We also heard some of the best “acceptance speeches” ever. One young lady simply walked up to the microphone after receiving her award and announced, “Woohoo!” I think the Academy Awards recipients in Hollywood need to take a cue from these Goodwill employees. It was a fantastic night, and I was so glad to get to tell my story and inspire those serving the community in Wichita, KS.
Next, on Friday, we boarded the plane headed for Sacramento, CA (after a stop back in DFW…gotta love the routing of the airlines). After landing, we drove to Stockton, CA, where we both were to speak for Stockton Pregnancy Healthcare. Their annual banquet was held at an area country club, and the dinner was “luau” themed. After eating some great food, my dad and I told our story. We had a great crowd and they were very attentive despite a loud party going on in the room next to ours. I was so impressed by what Stockton PHC has been able to do with very little financial support, and we hope that those at the banquet that evening were able to help continue the pro-life cause in Stockton, CA, with their donations.
We took Saturday to drive to San Francisco to see “Wicked.” Such an awesome show, and what a great lesson to learn about not judging others by the color of their skin.
Finally, on Sunday, we spoke twice at Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton. This church was rockin’, and they were so welcoming to us. I was so impressed by the multitude of races represented in their membership. I firmly believe that God intends for our churches to reflect the racial makeup of the world around us, and it was so refreshing to see people from so many different backgrounds worshiping together. Quail Lakes Baptist and Pastor Marc are to be commended for not excluding anyone from the message of the Gospel.
In closing…I LOVE my job as an inspirational speaker!!! I was glad to get home to my family, but even though it was tough being away from home, I absolutely loved the ability to simply tell my story and for others to be touched by it. Praise God for the amazing things He is doing right before our eyes!