Words to live by

If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.

Read this…I mean REALLY read this!

There’s some mighty fine advice in these words, even if you’re not superstitious.  

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

4. When you say, ‘I love you,’ mean it.

5. When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ look the person in the eye.

6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

7. Believe in love at first sight.

8. Never laugh at anyone’s dream. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.

9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.

10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.

12. Talk slowly, but think quickly.

13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’

14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

15. Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.

16. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson!

17. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

18. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

19. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

21. Spend some time alone.

Finish the Drill

If you’re a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles football teams, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard or seen the phrase “Finish the Drill” and probably on more than one occasion.

Now I know most of you are thinking the same thing I was when I first heard the phrase: mat drills, weight lifting, running sprints… but I’m talking about another kind of drill here.

Former Florida State offensive coordinator and current University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt uses the phrase to motivate his players on the football field, or as I love to say “Between the Hedges,” in the fourth quarter to finish the game strong and preserve the win, especially against a tough Southeastern Conference opponent like Tennessee, Florida or Auburn.

It may sound funny, but “Finish the Drill” can also be used to motivate the players when they’re losing the game. What I mean is, the players may be tired, beat up, depressed and feel like they let the coaches and the fans down by losing, but they can also be motivated to not give up, keep fighting, give it everything they have until the whistle blows. They can be motivated to “Finish the Drill.”

I first heard the phrase “Finish the Drill” about two or three years ago, probably during the Dawgs football season, and for a while I was wondering what it meant. When I understood that it was a motivational tool to encourage and inspire the players on the field, I thought, “You know, ‘Finish the Drill’ can really be used in a much bigger game on a MUCH bigger field of battle.” What game is that? Well, that’s easy! It’s the game of LIFE!!! 🙂

I hadn’t really thought much about it until the past couple of days, but all my life I’ve been living by the motto “Finish the Drill.”

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I used to get stared at a lot by other students and classmates when I was going to school, but I have to be honest. Growing up, I absolutely loved going to school, meeting my teachers, making friends (although at first it wasn’t easy) and learning everything I could to make me a better student. As I entered high school and college, I still had that same excitement about meeting my teachers, making new friends and learning everything I could that would serve me well in the future. However, I found myself becoming frustrated because the work was getting a lot harder, and I had to study a lot harder if I wanted to receive my high school diploma and college degree.

I had to re-examine my attitude about school and keep my “eyes on the prize,” so to speak. I put myself in the position of a fighter going up against the heavyweight champion or the Georgia Bulldogs when they were preparing to face Florida in 1980 when they went undefeated and won the national championship with the help of Herschel Walker, Buck Belue, Lindsay Scott and head coach Vince Dooley. I had to “Finish the Drill.”

I hit the books really hard, studied, and focused my attention on writing term papers, making good grades on tests and earning the best grade point average I could. Receiving my high school diploma and college degree were two of the proudest moments of my life, but I still felt there was something missing.

I really wanted to be a writer at a local newspaper in the Atlanta area, so I immediately got to work on my résumé and cover letter. Seems like I sent 50-75 résumés to local newspapers, most of them small town papers I thought would hire me. Between the end of December 2006 and May 2007, I heard from maybe six papers, out of the couple dozen I sent résumés to, and all of them required anywhere from three to five years of experience. I kept asking myself and my parents “How am I going to get the experience if nobody will HIRE me?” I became very depressed and sad and even thought all the years of hard work, getting my education and receiving my degree had gone down the drain.

I’m not sure when it happened, but one day probably in April or early May 2007, I stopped dead in my tracks. I think I was in my bedroom on my laptop thinking of ANYTHING to land a job somewhere. I said to myself, “Jason, stop it. Just STOP IT!!! You are never going to get a job if you just sit here throwing a poor old pity party. Now I want you to get up off your butt, dust yourself off and Finish the Drill. You’ve come too far to give up on yourself, your family, friends, teachers and everything you busted your butt for all your life.”

From that moment on, I was more determined than I’ve ever been in my life. I refocused my attention and one day I came across the city of Marietta, Ga.’s, Web site. I thought “Well, I’m down to the last few bullets in the gun, might as well see if I can even get in the area code of the target.” I finally came across employment opportunities on the site, and saw an opening for a part-time public information intern. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I was already turned down by those five or six papers remember, I tweaked my résumé and cover letter and sent it in.

A couple weeks went by, and mom came in my room and told me I had a phone call. It was from the city of Marietta and they wanted me to come in for an interview! I couldn’t believe it. I went running into the living room and told mom and dad they wanted to interview me for the internship. I was really nervous but the interview went very well, and I was hired a couple days later. I had finally realized my dream, although it was a different one than I originally planned, but you know God has a way of making things turn out okay for those who will only trust and believe in Him.

I worked my tail off during the internship, learned everything I could, revised my writing skills, learned new skills and finished the drill. Thanks to all that hard work, determination, sweat and a lot of tears, I am now a part-time technician with the city. Looking back I would not change one thing about the path I took to get where I am today. I am very proud of my hard work and have found a new respect for myself I never knew existed.

What does this have to do with you and your life? Everything, if you’re struggling to find a job, feeling alone, have a disability or just feel like giving up.

I want everybody reading this to know you are special, and God placed you on this earth for a reason. You are unique and have so much to offer this world. I know you may be discouraged when things don’t go your way, but I want you to remember you have a friend in me who’s fought the battles and has the scars to prove it. I know you can do anything you set your mind to. Now get back up, dust yourself off, look yourself and your obstacles in the mirror, buckle your chin straps and do one thing:


Do you know what hope is?


It’s magic and it’s free
It’s not in a prescription
It’s not in an IV

It punctuates our laughter,
It sparkles in our tears,
It simmers under sorrows,
And dissipates our fears

Do you know what hope is?
It’s reaching past today,
It’s dreaming of tomorrow,
It’s trying a new way.

It’s pushing past impossible,
It’s pounding on the door,
It’s questioning the answers,
It’s always seeking more

It’s rumors of a breakthrough,
It’s whispers of a cure,
A roller coaster ride
Of remedies unsure

Do you know what hope is?
It’s candy for the soul,
It’s perfume for the spirit,
To share it makes you whole.

Author Unknown

PSSSST!!! C’mere… Want to know a secret?

A woman named Frances once knew a young person at church named Debbie.  Debbie always seemed effervescent and happy, although Frances knew she had faced struggles in her life.
Her long-awaited marriage had quickly ended in divorce. She had struggled to get a grip on her single life. She hadn’t chosen it, but she decided she would live it with utmost enjoyment and satisfaction.
Debbie was active in Sunday school, in the choir, as a leader of the junior high girls’ group, and in the church renewal movement. Frances enjoyed knowing Debbie.  Debbie’s whole face seemed to smile, and she always greeted Frances with a hug.
One day Frances asked Debbie, “How is it that you are always so happy, you have so much energy and you never seem to get down?” 
With her eyes smiling, Debbie said, “I know the secret!”
“What secret is that?”  “What are you talking about?” Frances asked.
Debbie replied, “I’ll tell you all about it, but you have to promise to share the ‘secret’ with others.” Frances agreed, “Okay, now what is it?”
The secret is this: I have learned there is little I can do in my life that will make me truly happy. I must depend on God to make me happy and meet my needs. When a need arises in my life, I have to trust God to supply according to HIS riches. I have learned most of the time I don’t need half of what I think I do. HE has never let me down. Since I learned that secret I am happy.
Frances’ first thought was, That’s too simple! But upon reflecting over her own life she recalled how she thought a bigger house would make her happy-but it didn’t.  She thought a better-paying job would make her happy-but it hadn’t.
When did she realize her greatest happiness? Sitting on the floor with her grandchildren, eating pizza and watching a movie, a simple gift from God. Debbie knew the secret, Frances learned the secret, and now you know it too! We can’t depend on people to make us happy-only GOD in his wisdom can do that.  Trust him. And now I pass the secret on to you!
So once you get it, whatcha gonna do?
YOU have to tell someone the secret, too!
— Author Unknown

How can I help YOU?

One of the questions I get asked the most, especially when I am out in public, at a store or a restaurant, is “How can I help you?” “Are you finding everything okay?” or “Is there anything I can get for you?”

Now, that’s a legitimate question, that everyone should be asked, disabled or not, in my opinion. I mean, it’s common courtesy to ask someone if they need help finding something when they’re shopping, or if they need a refill if they’re eating at a restaurant.

It’s a little embarrassing to talk about publicly, but because I have spina bifida, I have special supplies I have to buy every month, and about the only place I can find the supplies I need is Wal-Mart. Most of my supplies are within arms’ reach, so I’m able to grab what I need and go check out. Sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for, because the supplies are not in stock, or as is most often the case, they’re on a shelf that’s too high for me to get to. Most of the time, when this happens, I have to ask my parents to go get the things I need, which is also embarrassing because I shouldn’t have to depend on my parents every time I need to pick something up from the store.

I know I can ask a person working in the store to get them for me, to save time and my parents a trip to the store, but again it’s really embarrassing to go up to a stranger in Wal-Mart and say, “I have so and so, and I need this and that, can you get them for me?”… I can’t really put this into words, but just imagine how you’d feel if you were in the same position…

Whenever someone asks me, “How can I help you?” or “Is there anything I can get for you?” I always tell them I have everything I need, or I’m just looking. But actually, that’s only half right. I think the biggest way people can help me, and anyone else with a disability, is to remember that we are the SAME as everybody else. We have the same emotions, wants, needs, desires, frustrations and feelings as everyone else in this world. We cry at funerals, laugh at somebody’s jokes, get mad when somebody cuts us off in traffic and share in the grief of a loved one when a family member dies or has major surgery. I think we all just want to be accepted and loved for what’s inside, and not pushed away into the cold because of some physical deformity or disability.

I have met some amazing people with disabilities and, although it’s hard to understand them sometimes, the smile they have on their faces when I first meet them means more to me than all the money in the world. I wish I had the chance to meet a lot more disabled children and adults, to just spend a couple hours just talking with them. I know my life would be blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

I can’t speak for every disabled person in the world, but I think the biggest question I have for all of my readers is “How can I help YOU?” That’s what I really want people to understand about me and this blog. I really want to help people realize their full potential in life and achieve their goals. I want to know what’s going on in your life and want to help you overcome obstacles and solve problems you’re having. I’m no rocket scientist (believe me I’d probably blow it into itty-bitty pieces!!!), but together I hope to make this world a better place for you and me.

I truly believe with all my heart and soul that every person, young, old, disabled and not disabled has something very special to offer this world. It’s just a matter of looking inside your heart and soul and seeing where that gift lies. It took me a long time to realize my purpose was to help people and to show them that disabled people are no different than anyone else. So, the real question my friends is “How can I help YOU?

Different, but oh SO similar!!!

I first heard this song about 15 years ago, and when I first heard it, I didn’t really understand the power of the lyrics. As I got older and was fortunate to hear it on the radio or see it on TV, the meaning of the song hit me like a ton of bricks. Now, whenever I hear it, I get emotional and almost start crying because this song says what I think anyone with a disability wants: to be accepted, despite our physical ailments, and loved for what is in our hearts. I’ve met several children and adults who have a disability, whether it is MS, muscular dystrophy or spina bifida, and we have SO MUCH to offer this world, if people will just give us a chance.

Don’t Laugh at Me by Mark Wills

I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call the geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I’ve got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels
To cry myself to sleep

I’m that kid on every playground
Who’s always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin’ to overcome my past
You don’t have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

I’m the cripple on the corner
You’ve passed me on the street
And I wouldn’t be out here beggin’
If I had enough to eat
And don’t think I don’t notice
That our eyes never meet

I lost my wife and little boy when
Someone crossed that yellow line
The day we laid them in the ground
Is the day I lost my mind
And right now I’m down to holdin’
This little cardboard sign…so

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

I’m fat, I’m thin, I’m short, I’m tall
I’m deaf, I’m blind, hey, aren’t we all?

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

When you feel like giving up…

I was watching Country Music Television one day about two weeks ago, and heard this beautiful song. I was feeling a little down, a good friend of mine’s dad was scheduled to have surgery in a couple days… When I heard this song, I was like, “I don’t want to hear another sad song, I’m already feeling sad for my friend and her family.”

As I sat there and listened to the words, it hit me that we are all facing our own journey. No matter what you’re facing: divorce, addiction, a death of a loved one, major surgery, or, like me, a disability that you can’t do anything about, I want you to do me a favor. Get back up, dust yourself off, put the biggest smile on your face you know how, thank GOD for this AMAZING, WONDERFUL life you’ve been given and……..

Journey On (by Ty Herndon)

Sometimes the mountains tower high above you
Sometimes the current’s just too fast to swim
Life can carry you all kind of places.
Journey On.

Sometimes in the moment of your weakness
When you’re on the edge of giving in
You hold your heart before it falls to pieces.
Journey On.

Journey On – hold your head above the water
Journey On – you can weather out this storm
Journey On – there’s a better day coming
A better world than you have ever known

Journey On – someone’s waiting by the river
Waiting there to take you by the hand
So make the most of all that you’ve been given
Journey On.

Anybody’s ship can take on water
You gotta make the choice to sink or swim
Just grab a piece of rubble from the wreckage
Journey On.

Too many times your heart will leave you stranded
You bear the scars of where you’ve been
Don’t be afraid to ask for new direction
And Journey On.

Journey On – hold your head above the water
Journey On – you can weather out this storm
Journey On – there’s a better day a coming
Oh, a better world than you have ever known.

Journey On – someone’s waiting by the river
Waiting there to take you by the hand
So make the most of all that you’ve been given
Journey On.

Journey On.
Journey On.

The Greatest Gift of All

I received this in my e-mail and knew I had to share its powerful message with all of you. God bless!!!
The Greatest
The highest aim in life – To know God and do His will
The most enriching good habit – Complimenting others
The most destructive bad habit – Worry
The greatest joy – Giving
The greatest loss – Loss of self-respect
The most satisfying work – Helping others
The ugliest personality trait – Selfishness
The most endangered species – Dedicated leaders
Our greatest natural resource – Our youth
The ugliest look – A frown
The greatest “shot in the arm” – Encouragement
The greatest problem to overcome – Fear
The most effective sleeping pill – Peace of mind
The most crippling failure disease – Excuses
The surest way to limit God – Unbelief
The most powerful force in life – Love
The most dangerous piranha – A gossiper
The Greatest Life-Giver – The Creator
The world’s most incredible computer – The brain
The worst thing to be without – Hope
The deadliest weapon – The tongue
The two most power-filled words – “I Can”
The greatest asset – Faith
The most worthless emotion – Self-pity
The most beautiful attire – A SMILE!
The most prized possession – Self esteem
The most powerful channel of communication – PRAYER
The most contagious spirit – Enthusiasm
The most urgent need – SALVATION
The greatest attribute of Jesus – Obedience
— Author Unknown

Monstrosity or curiosity? That was the question.

Going to school, whether it was elementary, middle, high school or college was one of the MOST amazing, fun-filled times of my life, but it didn’t start out that way. As Deputy Barney Fife told Gomer one day on the Andy Griffith Show, “During our lifetime, we travel many roads…” Seemed like I had a rocky road in elementary and middle school, and I don’t mean the ice cream!!!

Granted, I was just getting used to the chair the first couple years in elementary school, so I had a lot of questions. How do I push a wheelchair? Would I like it? Would I make friends easily? Would other students treat me like an outcast? Would their treatment force me to be hidden away in a special education class, force me to live my life in a strange imaginary bubble, away from society, away from the world I was excited to get out and explore? 

Boy was I shocked to learn the answer to these questions… When I started kindergarten, I used to get stared at a lot, mostly from other students and classmates, and this continued through most of middle school. I’m not ashamed to say I was truly saddened that they thought I was ugly and perhaps thought I was some kind of a monster.

I remember one instance like it was yesterday. I was coming back from the gym one day in elementary school and noticed a girl beside the ice cream freezer staring a hole right through my head. (We got ice cream a couple times a week after lunch if we were good :)) I thought about that girl the rest of the week, and the weekend, and finally decided to tell my teachers and parents what happened. I’m not sure what became of the situation, but as I got older and started to put myself in other students’ positions, throughout the rest of my education, I changed MY attitude toward the other students.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why change your attitude? THEY’RE the ones that need to change.” Well, I got to thinking one day… “Jason, you know the students and other kids that look at you may not think you’re that ugly at all. Maybe, just maybe, they’re curious about the chair and why you move around on wheels.”

I vowed to myself, probably during high school (things were a little crazy back then!!!), to tell people about my disability and invite them into “Jason’s World” to ask questions, touch my wheelchair, and pick my brain to better understand how AMAZING life with a disability can be.

Looking back, would I have done things differently, by talking to other students early on, making them feel comfortable right away? Probably, but the answer you’re likely to get from me is ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! It’s hard to explain, but growing up with the stares and (more than likely) remarks behind my back, has probably helped me become a better man and better able to deal with small children when they come up to me in public.

I understand that they’re curious and now I have so much fun talking to children and adults, too, about spina bifida and wheelchairs. I’m out in public two or three times a week, writing stories and taking pictures for my job with the city of Marietta, and it’s amazing how many friends and colleagues I’ve met and formed great working relationships with. But whenever I meet someone new, I alays try to have a smile on my face and introduce myself to put them at ease before we start talking. And little kids are some of my biggest fans now!! Matter of fact, I was at Wendy’s drive-in last week and saw this cute little girl turned around backwards in her chair (her knees were in the chair), smiling at me, eating a salad. I smiled at her and kept waving at her. I think she was shy because she kept looking away when I caught her looking at me, but she was SO CUTE!!!

What’s that? You don’t know what spina bifida is?

I know most of you have probably never heard of spina bifida before. If you have, it was probably explained by a doctor who used all those technical, medical terms they use to confuse their patients, and you’re sitting there staring at him like he’s got fire coming out his ears or has three heads!! Believe me, I’ve seen ME do it!!!

Relax, simmer down and take a deep breath. That’s not what this blog is about. I want you to feel comfortable coming to my page and reading my story. I want to talk to you like we were talking face-to-face or on the phone. If you have a question, a comment, or a topic you’d like me to discuss, I want to hear it. I want to develop a relationship with my followers and know what you want to see or read on my blog.

Oh yeah, what the heck did I come in here for anyway? That’s right, you wanted to know what spina bifida is. Well, come on in, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you. Spina bifida in everyday, “Jason Bourne” terms, is a disability I was born with, that has caused me to be paralyzed below the waist. I can’t feel my legs, and because of this, I motor around the house, in public, and in the city of Marietta, Ga., where I work in a bright red wheelchair. Because of the spina bifida I have other underlying conditions, that are really personal, that I would rather keep quiet, until I feel more comfortable.

Well, that’s it in a nutshell. If you have a question, comment, a topic you want to discuss, or just want to stop in and say hello, drop a note in the comment box. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit. I’ll try to make the place look better the next time you stop in!!