Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome to the World

Today I had the opportunity to see a baby being brought into this world. I couldn’t help but be emotional for this growing family and this baby, who was already so clearly loved. This little girl opened her eyes to our big world for the first time, and I couldn’t help but think of her future. So I decided to write a letter; a letter that she will never see, but hopefully learn throughout life:

Dear sweet baby girl,

Happy birthday and welcome to the world. I know you’re only a few hours old and you’re still getting used to all of the new noises and sights, but there are a few things I want to tell you.

Stay as young as you can for as long as you can. Appreciate your parents, they did a lot to bring you into this world and they are madly in love with you. They may not know everything, but they are learning right along with you. Participate. Don’t let life pass you by because you are afraid or unsure. Jump in head first and explore all of life’s opportunities. Right now your parents are probably looking over every inch of your tiny, perfect body. They are loving your tiny toes, your squishy thighs, your soft round tummy, your fuzzy head. Appreciate your body for as long as you can. Be aware that you have a body and that it is capable of many amazing things, but don’t think too hard about it. You may grow up hearing, “oh you’re so tiny, you’re so beautiful, you’re so cute”. And you are. But you are so much more than that. You are a culmination of many things. You are your memories and experiences, what makes you laugh, and what makes you cry. You are your favorite foods, and the songs you like to sing, and your plans for the future. You are the light that shines in your eyes when you get excited about something. You are your favorite subject in school, and your intelligence that helps you to understand these things. You are a daughter, a friend, a granddaughter, maybe even a sister or cousin. You are a child of Christ, and you are made up of so many wonderful things. But sweet girl, there are also so many things that you are not. You are not your pants size, or the number on a scale, or a grade on a test, or the money you have or don’t have. You are more than the number of friends you have, or the sports you play.

So yes, you are so beautiful; don’t ever forget that. But you are also brave, and strong, and smart, and capable of so many things. So as you go through life, you will face times of hardships and times of doubt. But times of happiness and joy and love are never far away. Happy birthday. And welcome. Enjoy.

my welcoming into the world


Friday, September 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation

Every once in a while, a person drifts into your life at just the right time, even though you may not know it yet. For me, that person was a teacher; and this teacher was my high school chorus teacher.

For the first year of high school Mr. Horrell was just another teacher. He was funny and I enjoyed his class, but I honestly don’t remember him as a standout part of my freshman year. Sophomore year is when everything changed. When I was 15 my life drastically changed. I can honestly say it was one of the lowest and hardest times of my life. By the second semester of my sophomore year, I decided that attending regular classes wasn’t an option for me anymore, so I was “hospital homebound” (which is basically saying I was self taught at home). During this time I wasn’t leaving my house or really willingly accepting visitors. I was a prisoner to myself and I spent most days in my pajamas wanting to be anyone other than myself. My teachers were all very cooperative and understanding and made sure to send me homework and lessons at home. However, one teacher went above and beyond and reached out to me. Mr. Horrell would call my mom to check in on me and would occasionally send me e-mails, via my mom, to check in and see how I was doing. He kept me informed on what was going on in school and told me that they’d be waiting for me when I was ready to come back. He asked me about my doctors visits and how my progress was coming and offered up advice. He worked with me to make goals for myself. When it was time to take the state writing test (which could not be taken from home!), he offered me his office to sit in to take the test. I remember he talked to my mom and suggested we plan a practice run before the official test day, in order to decrease my anxiety. So during his planning period one day, I saw in his office as we ran through a mock writing test. By junior year, when I was easing my way back into school, he helped me to come up with a plan. It may not seem like much, but it was the small moments that helped me to get through high school.

In all honestly, I’m not sure if I would have made it through high school without the support of an amazing teacher (as well as my parents, friends, and doctors). He saw me at some of my worst times and continued to support me through it. And because of that, we have stayed in touch. Last year, on my 23rd birthday, I was able to spend the evening with my parents, as well as Horrell and his wife. I am forever thankful for this teacher, who turned into a friend.

I thought I’d share an excerpt of what Horrell wrote in my senior year book:

“June 8, 2007
First of all let me say something that 3 years ago I wasn’t sure I would, WOW- YOU MADE IT!!!! It is remarkable, excuse me…you are a remarkably courageous and determined young lady. I am so proud of you for fighting with everything you have. Greatness is measure in different ways, and often confused by those taking the measurement. I would argue that your “fight to finish” is a true mark of greatness, and ranks along side any award or acknowledgement that is given at Saturday’s graduation ceremony. I don’t think I would have done as well as you if faced with the same obstacle!! Rarely in a teacher’s career does a student impact the teacher’s life in a way that changes his approach to teaching, and life for that matter, the way you have impacted me! I am a better person/teacher because of you…”

So teachers, as the school year begins and you’re overwhelmed with chaos and excitement and frustration and exhaustion, please know that what you do matters. And what you say, and the relationships you form, have the ability to change a life.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month

September. The beginning of fall, a new school year, pumpkin spice lattes, cooler temps, and pediatric cancer awareness month. As many of you know, I work on a pediatric oncology/hematology floor in a childrens hospital and am extremely blessed to work with this population. These kids are some of the bravest, strongest, and sweetest people I’ve ever met, and they are facing the challenge of a lifetime. Pediatric cancer doesn’t just affect the child, but the whole family. Unfortunately, each day 36 children are diagnosed with cancer.

On November 9th, I will be walking in the CureSearch walk. The CureSearch walk celebrates and honors children whose lives have been affected by childhood cancer, while raising funds for lifesaving research.
This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart and I would love all the support I can get. Please take a few minutes to check out my personal page, and see what you can do to help (donate money, volunteer, spread the word)! These kids deserve a future, and we can help give them that!