life without arms

Just Above the Clouds

    Posted in Thoughts and Beliefs    |    Comments Off on Just Above the Clouds

Storms of LifeAs the plane descended, I looked out the window to see a beautiful blue sky above and a thick layer of puffy white clouds, below.  Above us, the sun was shining, and the sky could have been described as a beautiful day.  The clouds below didn’t look particularly ominous as their fluffy surface bounced up and down as far as the eye could see.  Up here, things were calm.  Up here, life was perfect.

Our descension continued bringing the serenity to an end as we bounced around while passing through the ever so innocent looking layers of clouds.  Once on the other side, things looked different.  A storm was afoot and by the looks of it, this storm was anything but weak.  Lightening flashed, thunder rolled, and the rain pounded the window thus blurring my view.  Down here, things were violent.  Down here, life was rough.

At any given time, my life can be easily be viewed based solely on the circumstances surrounding me.  Life throws constant changes or lifelong curveballs, and rarely could I say that life is perfect based on what is happening in the here and now.  The good news is that life CAN always be viewed as perfect based on the view of my life from above the clouds.  From God’s perspective, my life is lived in his presence and guidance, and thus is a perfect existence.   Sure, bad things will come, but God is always there to pierce his beaming rays of joy and hope through the clouds that have formed in my life.

Down here it is hard to see through the clouds to the glorious sun and sky that always remain whether our eyes can see them or not.  The clouds block our view of God, but not God’s view of us.  Weathering a storm can take its toll, but when the storm passes, and the clouds clear, we are reminded that the sun was shining all along even when sunshine was the furthest thought from our mind.

I thank God for his ever present help throughout the storms of life.

Wounds That Define Who We Are

    Posted in Thoughts and Beliefs    |    6 Comments

For the past week, I have dreaded going on Facebook.  Not because it is a black hole that sucks away my time (though it is), and not because I didn’t want to hear anything about the Olympics (since I’m DVR’ing it and watching later).  Rather, my dread came from the general anger and outrage over the statements made by the owner of Chick-fil-a.

I’m not going to further beat that dead horse by bringing up more arguments regarding the statements made, but rather focus on something else that I believe is a much deeper problem.  So many of the comments on Facebook this week were not about discussing the statements that Mr. Cathy made, nor were they even about the issue(s) brought up by what he said.  The vast majority of threads on the subject seemed to quickly devolve into shouting matches filled with hateful speech and pointless rhetoric from both sides.

And…it’s gotten us nowhere.

Never mind the fact that Facebook has to be the worst place for convincing someone else that your opinion is the only correct opinion (maybe Twitter would even be better because it would force people to be succinct in stating their cases).  The social media platform, instead, simply served to worsen the already deep wounds that are so prevalent in our society.  I believe those wounds have to heal before we can have any conversations in our country that aren’t reduced to neanderthalic, mud-slinging events.  So, why are these wounds unable to heal?

Because we let our wounds define who we are.

I hope it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that I have been discriminated against in every way possible.  I have seen and heard it all.  Don’t think for a second that hateful comments towards me haven’t left wounds.  That would make me a robot.  The difference in my life is that I have CHOSEN to not let those wounds define who I am.

If the scars of past statements and actions of others could alter my personality and beliefs, I would have become bitter and angry long ago.  I believe that our society holds on to these scars either because being pitied can be addicting, or because they have not found anything to fill those holes in their lives.  Either way, it is no way to truly live.  You can become enslaved to these wounds to the point where you can’t live a positive life, and instead you simply become a fight waiting to happen.  It is a broken existence.

Instead, the deep cuts that I have endured in life have made me stronger, and allowed me to serve others because I know what it feels like to be hurt.  I am in a somewhat unique situation, and can help when other people are knocked down in life simply due to what I’ve experienced.  How is that possible?

Jesus.

The ability to take an imperfect body like mine, and make it a life that is perfect in the eyes of God is solely credited to Jesus.  My wounds can’t define who I am because HE defines who I am.  And, while the scars may still be visible, the deep cuts have long ago healed through His love for me.  That healing allows me to be free.  It allows me not only to live, but to live happily.

I have no doubt that each and every person who chooses to read this has been hurt by someone else.  I believe you when you say those pains run deep, and that it is hard to let go.  What I refuse to believe is that you can’t let go.  What happens to you is often out of your control, but your reaction to those events is 100% within your power.  Your default reaction to pain can be re-learned to the point where you let your hurt go the moment after you have been wronged.

I don’t believe for a second that the vile nature that came out all over Facebook this week is simply because of the issue at hand.  More likely, the spiteful things typed out on the social media giant’s site this week were born out of hurt.  Hurt that has been building up for years, and explodes at every turn.

I challenge you to take that hurt…that pain…and give to God.  He is big enough to manage your hurt while you take the time to heal.  And, once you are on the path to healing, find others along the way who also need healing and care for them.  Caring for each other is the only path towards a discrimination-free society…because it is hard to hate while you are loving.

Our Normal Obsession

    Posted in Family/Parenting, General, Thoughts and Beliefs    |    Comments Off on Our Normal Obsession

I have an amazing wife.

I love her with all my heart, and I know she loves me just as much.  She posted a blog entry today that I believe each and every person needs to read.  It is a declaration of our “normal” and I strongly encourage you to read: “Our Normal Obsession

I Don’t Have Arms…So What?

    Posted in Thoughts and Beliefs    |    1 Comments

I want to give you a sneak peek at my new book, entitled “I’m Not Broken.”  I hope to have the book out by the end of the year.  Here is an excerpt from the chapter entitled, “Change Your Perspective”:

The obvious thing here is to spend some time on what it means to be able to see the positive side of not having arms.  So many people, upon first glance, see me as unwhole, handicapped, and typically take pity on me.  Why?  Because they don’t know the awesome life I live.  I don’t have arms… 

…But I can drive a van that has special equipment.
…But I can type with my feet at over 35 words per minute
…But I can write with my feet
…But I can feed myself and brush my teeth with my feet
…But I can “hold hands” with my wife…with my feet
…But I can hold my daughter up in the air and play “Super Hannah” with my feet

Yes, there are elements to not having arms that genuinely “bite it.”  I have daily aches and pains that won’t ever go away because my body is not designed to do the things I do with it.  For instance, some doctors told my parents early on that I wouldn’t be able to walk.  I can walk just fine, though, long distances are a problem due to having no bone support structure in my hips.  I walk on sheer muscle mass and willpower.  I can’t do some things for myself that others take for granted.  There are problems in life.  But…you don’t need to be missing limbs to know that, right?

Instead, focusing on the positive has allowed me to develop a personality that my wife found attractive enough to want to marry me.  I have a great career spreading joy to as many people as I can through books and presentations.  I have a daughter, who just after learning to crawl, finds her favorite spot curled up in my lap.  (I know that won’t last forever, but I’m loving it while it does.)  All of these things in my life would have never happened had it not been for my passion and zest for a happy life. 

How did I get here?  You have to decide to see the positive lining in EVERY situation. 

—-

Want to be the first to know when my new book is released?  Sign up to get my FREE  “7 Steps to a Happier Tomorrow” at the top of this page! 

Inspiring Those Who Inspire

    Posted in Schools    |    3 Comments

Yesterday, my dad and I were invited to speak to a group of over 600 school teachers and administrators who were gathered at a Special Education conference in Decatur, TX. Now, the conference mainly focused on new laws and policies for special education, but our job was to put a face on special education and to inspire teachers going into the new school year.

We told many stories of my educational background including how my parents were able to get me “mainstreamed” (I understand the term now is “inclusion.”), and how special adaptations in the classroom helped me to become the educated person I am today. Most of all, though, the positive attitude of the teachers and school administrators throughout my life really allowed me to flourish. My dad mentioned that he heard of people wanting to “take on the school system”…we never had to…the school systems I was involved in always bent over backwards to help me accomplish my goals.

These teachers were a great crowd, and many visited with me afterwards about how much our presentation helped them going into this new school year. We hope to have many more occasions to speak to both students and teachers in the future. Inspiring teachers allows us to inspire the thousands of students they inspire every day!

Jim and Chet McDoniel are inspirational speakers and are available to present to your school’s faculty and/or students. Chet’s unique view of life without arms allows him to inspire students in ways no one else can. Click here to request more information.