God Gave Me Extra Credits (Yet Still I Rise!)
The purpose-driven life. For me it was more than a slogan or a concept or the title of a book. This was my reality. There's so much I want to share about my story I can't put it on one page. I guess the best place to begin is back to that night in January 2011. I was preparing for a fundraiser. Things were quite hectic but the chef, the volunteers, the decorations, the music was all there and things were all going great! I was getting a migraine and had to ask one of the volunteers to go the store to buy some migraine meds. As I was about to sign a form to accept a package, suddenly, my arm went numb and my vision became blurred. Thankfully, the symptoms passed, I felt better and never gave it another thought. A few weeks later, (I remember this so vividly) I was in Atlanta planning another fundraiser for the foster kids to be hosted in New Orleans. This was a very stressful experience for me as I was trying to coordinate so many pieces for an event in New Orleans from my home in Atlanta. Seeing that the stress of the task was getting to me, a friend suggested that I go to Red Hot Yoga and work off some of my stress. I knew that I was in pretty good shape, so this was going to be great. I was excited to go and couldn't wait to get back in my zone.
But wait. Let me back up for a moment and share the first part of my story. Like the title says God gave me extras credits! Almost six years ago I was in a domestic violence situation in Atlanta. I'll never forget it. We were in a parking lot and he had a gun. He said he was going to kill me! Inside the store, he physically picked me up and threw me against some glass shelves! By the grace of God, I survived the attack, got a restraining order on him and I moved on. It was quite an ordeal because he kept coming back and harassing me. Fortunately, my family came to Atlanta to get away from Hurricane Katrina, so I had 15 people in my house (including my sons). Given the overwhelming numbers surrounding me, I felt protected and he simply went away! I am a survivor of domestic abuse!!!
Soon after that ordeal, I organized a charity golf tournament called The Lady & Her Caddie to raise awareness and money for women who were victims of domestic violence. This became my life purpose--to do whatever I could to help ensure that domestic violence against women would be eradicated. Again, God gave me extra credit! Three years ago I had a blood clot in my leg and it traveled up to my lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism. In no time at all, my mom was on a plane from New Orleans and for the next three months, she took care of me! While recovering from the embolism (thank God I survived!), I came across some information about the domestic violence crisis in Georgia and how it affected the children in those homes. My heart was touched by their plight and I knew immediately that I had to do something to help children from homes where domestic violence occurred. That's when I created my 501c3, It Stops With Me. My vision is to create a sports play therapy camp for kids. It was an amazing experience for me and the kids featuring golf, tennis, soccer and horse back riding activities - these children were being introduced to for the first time. I began having golf tournaments to raise money for the camp! That year, our camp impacted 20 kids from homes where domestic abuse had occurred.
In 2010, I was blessed with an incredible place in Cherokee county in which to host the camp. Children are a precious gift and from that camp, I was introduced to five foster care kids who changed my life with their affection and with the riveting stories they shared that made me want to cry. I learned through their shared experiences that whether you are a woman or a child, abuse is abuse! I wanted to help them in the biggest way I could, so once the camp ended in 2010, I went to work creating a foster care registry as a subsidiary of It Stops With Me. Through the registry, I envisioned generating donations of clothing, supplies, appliances and more to help enhance their lives in foster care. I called on friends and associates to help me get the project off the ground and was well on my way to raising funds in January 2011 when once again, God had another plan! On February 20, 2011 (right after my session at Red Hot Yoga), I had a stroke. I am a stroke survivor!!! I was paralyzed on my right side from my arm down to my leg and I was unable to speak. Did I mention that my mom came to my aid again along with my sister Linda and they didn't leave my side! I went through rehab in Warm Springs for six weeks and my family was there the entire time. My daddy, my sons, my ex-husband, my cousin Bridget started a fund raiser to help with my expenses.
God clearly has a plan for me. I can cry and wonder "Why'd this have to happen to me?" But I don't have to cry and wonder because I know He has a plan for me. A year later, my recovery has been miraculous. I am busy planning the camp again for abused kids and kids in foster care this summer. With God's help, I can get started again helping my kids and changing lives! Part of this year's program will be field trips on Fridays to visit stroke survivors! And still I rise!
Shattered, but I'm not broken
Wounded, but time will heal
Heavy the load, the cross I bear
Lonely the road I trod, I dare
Shaken but here I stand
Weary, still I press on
Long are the nights, the tears I cry
Dark are the days, no sun in the sky
Yet still I rise
Never to give up
Never to give in against all odds
Yet still I rise
High above the clouds
At times I feel low
Yet still I rise
Sometimes I'm troubled but not despair
Struggling I make my way through
Trials they come to make strong
I must endure, I must hold on
Above all my problems
Above all my eyes can see
Knowing God is able to strengthen me
Yet still I rise, never to give up! (As performed by Yolanda Adams)
God gave me extra credits......I am going to use them on the KIDS!