How can life be so beautiful yet so full of pain and suffering? Last week I was beyond privileged to be a part of the camp which forever changed my life at a young age, showing me true love as well as a glimpse of the awesomeness of the God we serve. Before I could head down to Kentucky, there was one more milestone I had to cross—the annual TJ Sommers Memorial Softball Tournament. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since my hero and role model relentlessly dove through the gates of Heaven with a softball glove on his left hand and an unceasing smile overtaking his radiant face as he died doing the one thing he loved most—softball. TJ taught me to be a relentless competitor, unwavering in strength and fazed by nothing; Shakespeare’s quote, “And though she be but little, she is fierce” personifies exactly what I mean and remains one of my favorite quotes as it reminds me of the true essence of my soul created to fight—fight for life. After TJ’s death, his selfless family decided to honor TJ’s wishes to be an organ donor and his decomposing body was cut up to remove his vital organs in order to bring life to the dying; his selfless family didn’t just stop there—they chose to allow one death to bring yet more life by hosting an annual softball tournament supporting the needs of the unfortunate. Through this tournament my life was literally saved as money was raised to assist my medical bills more numerous than words could ever accurately describe: a seven hour spinal fusion including two titanium rods, twenty-one screws and numerous hooks as well as bone grafting; over ten hospital admissions in less than a year for the life threatening disease of Anorexia determined to take away my life; two inpatient treatment centers, over three months each, to restore the health of my body as well as my mind; two outpatient treatment programs to restore normal eating as well as disruptions in my mind; weekly doctor, dietitian, and therapist appointments; too many blood draws to count; two six-packs of Ensure Plus weekly, despite the fact hardly one was actually being consumed—the list goes on and on. Without the support raised, my life would look drastically different as my heart would have ceased to beat and I would have become another statistic—another killed by the deadly grips of Anorexia. Although I can never repay those that gave, I am determined to not allow that to stop me; my day was spent in humble service, making too many burgers to count and helping in any way needed. Although my selfish and deceitful heart wanted to be in the center of the competition, I found that service and complete surrender are why my frail heart is still beating.
The next morning, after yet another late night, I headed on my first road trip exempt from chauffeurs and embraced yet another beautiful adventure. To Kentucky and back, we used nothing but written directions and arrived exempt from stress as well as difficulty; yes I, the queen of getting lost, arrived without problems of any kind, merely by the grace and power of God who obviously wanted me to be there. The week was nothing short of amazing and beyond fulfilling, even though my first choice of being directly involved with the kids was not granted, as God had other plans; my soul consumed by encouragement was filled not by counseling, as I’d first hoped for, but by the mere service of videotaping the week and creating a movie. Although my heart longed to play a role in the center of attention, experiencing each amazing and life-changing experience as it came, I am honored to have been a part, as small as it may seem, in the week which forever strengthened many vulnerable lives. God’s presence was intensely felt and miracles answered beyond comprehension, angering the devil who fought his hardest against the lives of innocent and incredibly vulnerable teenagers. Spiritual warfare was experienced and lives taken in attempts to destroy the newfound strength of faith in God. The week was one I will never forget—full of testing as well as strengthening, bringing forth beauty beyond compare.
The Olympics will always hold a special yet bittersweet place in my heart as they remind me of the future I was relentlessly training for, convinced nothing could be greater and determined at all costs to pursue and obtain my selfish desires. Placing in the top four, as a freshman in middle school, in the running events against high schoolers as well as the freakish strength and discipline of a relentlessly determined athlete convinced me sports was my calling—my life. Through much pain and fighting, I surrendered the selfish desires of my heart and allowed the God of perfection to consume me, bringing me to the life I’d fought with all my strength against. A life of competition will always haunt me, bringing my sinful self to the verge of tears, but a life of service will forever keep a smile glued to my face. I’ve found what makes my heart sing and life is no longer based on my own feeble strength. My pride has been shattered relentlessly into a million pieces as daily I embrace the fact that on my own, I am nothing but a mere speck of dust.
Prayer is greatly appreciated as I pursue publication of the story God has given me; timing is crucial, and I, having an intense need for speed, tend to rush things and run low on patience. Pray for discernment and that I could hear the still small voice of God as He leads me, directing each step and every word written. More than anything I write so others can be strengthened by the mere and underestimated effects of love—what keeps my heart forever beating.