He was the result of unique bloodline. Choctaw, German, Irish, Black. Whatever you could name, he probably had a bit of it floating around in his DNA. It led to a fantastic background story, but also led to a very rare disease that manifested itself after a football injury. It’s a disease that is slowly atrophying his muscles. It’s a disease that he probably had at least a one-in-a-million chance of having. His parents had to both be one-in-a-million carriers who would have to just happen to meet and have him. It is a disease that has manifested itself in a one in a million life.
I was the result of the need for work other than parents paying me to paint the garage. I ended back at my first job out of college. We often jokingly called it “The Family Business”, Disability Support Services at a local community college. My brother works there and my mother teaches at the school. I came back as almost a favor to my family, but one I would be paid for. There were moments I really enjoyed it. There were moments it felt like there was no escape. All in all, it served its purpose, but when something better finally came along, it was time to leave.
That’s how I found myself seated with this man in his wheelchair on my last day of work. That’s how I found myself facing major life change with a man who changed my life in just ten minutes of storytelling. Read More…
The cars have lined the neighborhood streets, as teenagers flood out of the vehicles in school colors and painted faces. Many of the vehicles are still painted as well. Their windows marked with the motto that was introduced to our city on Friday night just a week before.
Pray For Walker.
Earlier in the day, hundreds drove to a funeral that shouldn’t happen. We’re not supposed to have funerals for teenagers. Yet as they drove, they passed by brightly lit red and blue billboards, the colors of Jackson Prep. They had a simple message written on them as well: the number 65, Walker’s number. It was a reminder to those driving by and to the whole community that they were not driving to a funeral. They were headed towards a celebration of a spectacular young life.
“I think your second post starts tonight.”
A youth minister’s words hit me as we walked past the cars together. I knew he was right. There was plenty more to write, and he knew exactly what those words needed to say.
“The healing starts now.” Read More…
Sorrow announces itself with rain.
It comes in suddenly, on what would have otherwise been a bright, sunny day. A gorgeous day, one that wasn’t as hot as anticipated, which was perfect for eating lunch outside and driving with the top down. A perfect day for students to laugh and joke with each other just like they would on any other school day.
That would change quickly, though, when the rain fell. And when it fell, it fell fiercely. It fell like the tears of the students at Jackson Prep that were about to fall. Students that were just about to learn that their friend and classmate, Walker Wilbanks, had passed away right about the time the rain came in. Read More…
There is a small sheet of paper that hangs on the wall above my bed. It’s positioned above the place where I often rest my head. It has a list of names. Mostly people, but there are a few locations on it. And the top of the paper simply says “PRAY” in capital letters. It’s my prayer list, and it constantly changes and will soon have to be replaced by an updated list, but that’s okay.
I’m not bragging about my spiritual maturity when I’m telling you this. The list exists because I don’t pray. The names on the list are people I care about, but also people I’ve wronged. There are names on the list of family members who I see frequently, but there are names on the list of people that live across the country that I owe a phone call. The phone call may or may not happen, but the names are on the list. There are names on the list of people that flat out hate my guts. And that’s cool too. They may never be able to forgive me for whatever reason they have for hating me, but their names are on the list.. Read More…
I hope in something bigger than myself. It’s how I can find the desire to get out of bed in the morning.
I hope that there will be a bigger truth than what we often see. For most of my life, I have looked at the world and tried so hard to make sense of it. How there are orphans, and sick, and homeless, and heartless, and so much pain. How there are disasters and tragedies and so many things that I have no power to change despite great desire to. But it’s not the end of the story. I have to hope that there is still good to come out of these places. Beyond that, I hope in the fact that someday, all that is sad will be made untrue.
This is my last post based on my journaling or diarying or whatever it was I was doing while I was in the United Kingdom. Either way, I had a lot of thoughts and experiences that really encouraged me and I just wanted to share. If you’ve read any of it, thanks.
Even though our flights on on the 14th, the trip home actually starts on the night of the 13th as we sit in the hotel lobby charging phones and allowing ourselves to finally feel like we didn’t have to be somewhere right then and there. There’s an odd feeling of traveling exhaustion when parts of your trip feel as though they were two months ago, yet you also still can’t believe you’re already about to head home.
Home. There’s a fatigue I feel when I’m away from my muddy broken home for too long. I tend to lose my charge when I haven’t heard a “y’all” in a while. This trip didn’t have that, however. Not to the same extent, at least. I felt more at home here in London and Edinburgh than I have with other places I’ve been, even if I was rushed. Things started rushed, and since we’re trying to see as much of these countries as we can in only a week time, it has felt like a bit of a blur. Two months of living crammed into seven days.