July 28

Journey to Disney World

Morgan and Andrea

Morgan and Andrea

It was nine o’ clock in the morning and Andrea was still not up. I tapped my foot and stared at the empty room that I had called my room for the past seven months. Three beds were stripped of their comforter and any adornment, the fourth was mine which was crowded with things that still needed to get into the car.  I sighed and looked down at my phone.

“Are you awake?” I texted my sister.

No response.

Frustration started to bubble inside of me. When would she get up? My phone beeped and I looked down at my phone. Mom had texted me.

“Are you on your way?”

“No. Andrea is still asleep.”

My mom’s question just made me angrier. I tried to calm myself. We had an eight hour drive to Disney World and I didn’t want to start my day frustrated. I sat back down next to my pile of stuff. I guess I could throw away the cleaning supplies. I pulled myself off of the ugly avocado green cot and walked over to the cleaning supplies that were left over from our last night of scrubbing and cleaning. I grabbed a bag and dumped the cleaning supplies into the bag. I felt chemicals on my hands. Great, now I got chemicals on my hands. I huffed and pulled open the door to the room and tiredly walked down the desolate hallway.

Just two days ago the halls were crowded with girls excitedly getting ready to go home for the summer. Now, nobody was in the halls but a grumpy girl–me. I slowed next to my sister’s door, contemplating whether or not to shake Andrea awake. I refrained–for now. I opened the garbage chute and watched the money slip from my fingers and crash down the garbage chute. I hated to waste money on cleaning supplies.

A new text message was waiting for me when I got back into the room.

“When are you leaving?” Mom asked.

“I don’t know.” I respond.

Every second was strumming in my ear. I was itching to get on the road. I could have gotten the car, I could have read my bible and prayed, but instead I sat and allowed my frustration to be fueled. Finally I had enough. I was going to wake Andrea up.

Anyone that knows Andrea and me, knows that to wake Andrea is a death sentence. Andrea is the hardest to wake and the most grumpy once up. I walked up to her door and slowly opened it. It was pitch dark. I knew that waking her was a bad idea, yet my frustration won out. She should have set an alarm. When I woke her, she was furious. She pulled off the covers and stared at me with contempt.

“I thought you were going to allow me to sleep in.” She sputtered,

“It is 9:30. I wanted to leave at 10:00.”She frowned at me. I almost regretted waking her up. “Mom wanted to know when we would be leaving.”

“I’ll be ready in ten minutes.”

She turned around, signaling with her back that she was through with me. I sighed and walked back to my room. If I had any sense, I would have gotten the car or gotten my stuff ready to go, but I didn’t. I sat and stewed until Andrea came in ready to go. Then I got up and gathered my stuff. Now both our tempers were flaring.

Things to know about us: we are both very stubborn! As we drove, we argued for about the first half hour. We were both mad at each other for stupid stuff. But as true sisters are, we got over it. We, in truth, are opposites. She loves to have everything organized, cleaned and put away, whereas I’m the resident slob. However, I enjoyed being punctual and early, whereas she was more laid back. As I said, we couldn’t be any different. With that being said, I wouldn’t trade her for the world. She forces me to be more laid back and more organized with my stuff, whereas I ground her. Yes, I know I get the better end of the deal. After eight hours of driving through traffic and green and more green, we finally arrived at our destination.

 

Check back next week for another post about Disney World and Morgan’s adventures!

 

July 24

CHEA

When my parents decided to home school, they had to combat several myths of homeschooling. My mom had to answer an age-old question: Am I adequate to home school my own children? The funny thing is, if you ask any public school teacher they would tell you no. What is even more funny is that home schooling has been around a lot longer than public schools. The problem is, is that that home schooling has come in different names over the years. A farmer would teach his trade to his son, an earl would have his son be tutored by a private tutor, a mother would teach her kids about the Bible–these are examples of homeschooling. In fact, public schools didn’t start until 1821…and yet, we ask ourselves can we home school our own children? Yes, yes, yes.

My mom decided that she was going to home school me after attending a CHEA (Christian Home Educator Association) convention when it was at Disneyland seventeen years ago. Because my mom decided to home school, my life and her life would be changed forever. She had to go through the trials of having only one paycheck, of balancing a household and being a teacher of four children, and defending her decision to home school to countless others. Instead of taking the easy way out, my mom decided to do the hard thing and for that reason I admire her. She decided to put her career on the shelf and educate us. That meant countless hours creating lesson plans, driving us to practice, and taking us on field trips while still remaining sane when our Dad walked in. She was a wife, mother and teacher all wrapped up in one.

However, although my mom was a hero, she wouldn’t have started without the hope of one CHEA convention. CHEA was a beacon of hope and allowed my mom to believe that she could teach us at home–that she was adequate to teach us. Speakers such as Susan Beatty and Mary Schofield encouraged the new home school moms to not give up even when they feel like screaming their heads off. They stated that the reward would be worth while if you just stick through it all. They didn’t lie and because of that I’m writing this, praising homeschoolers who haven’t given up. Nine years ago I was able to repay a little bit of that debt by helping at the CHEA Audio Store. We worked hours upon hours and I got to meet the giants of homeschoolers that had encouraged my mom several years ago.  I was awestruck to meet them and talk to them. They have devoted years of their life to encourage the home school families. I wish that I could have done more, said more to help them because they helped my family.

July 21

Come Home

Two years ago, I walked out of 7/11 and saw this woman sitting on the curb. The scene never left my mind the last couple of years. My Dad and I never saw this woman again, but I always wondered if she had a mom searching for her. I hope you enjoy this description.

Homeless girl (not picture of the homeless girl I saw)

As I exited the store, I caught a movement in the corner of my eye. I turned to notice a woman sitting and rocking back and forth next to the desolate pay phone that nobody ever used. Every once in a while, she would suddenly jump up and rush to the phone as if someone was calling her. Her hair looked like straw hanging around her face. I watched as she rocked herself like a child would rock themselves for comfort. Her clothing hung loosely on her boney body while she clutched a cigarette as if someone would take it from her. Humanity streamed past, not even giving her a second glance. She turned suddenly towards me, as if she knew that I was watching her and I saw young eyes in an old face. She jumped up and ran to the phone and picked it up and started jabbering nonsense into the phone. I saw the desperation in her eyes, hoping that someone would answer her plead for help. I couldn’t help but wonder as my dad called me to the car, if she had a mother that was praying for her daughter to come home.

July 14

The Secret of the Barrier (Personal Essay)

The sun glinted off the windows, making the inside of the studio hot and humid. Parents lined the walls cheering for their children as they demonstrated their skill. All our faces were bright red like a tomato. Sweat trickled down my face as I waited for my turn to demonstrate that I could break a board.

“Morgan, it is your turn.” I tightened my hands and glared at the board from across the room. Everyone had gone before me and had broken the board. I was the last one. Two boys were kneeling, waiting for me to jump over them and hit the board.

“Morgan, it is your turn,” Master Peter stated again. His pristine white attire contrasted with the six degree black belt tied around his waist. His bald head glistened with sweat.

Everyone’s eyes were on me. I ran and jumped. I veered to the side instead of jumping right over the boys. I heard the groans of sympathy when I didn’t hit the board.

“Morgan, you can do it,” I heard a shout from the crowd. I felt my face flush redder as I took my stand again. Everyone had hit the board the first time.

I ran, the blood pounding in my ears. I missed the board by a millimeter. Dead silence. Nobody misses the second time.

One of the assistant instructors came up beside me. “Morgan, you need to hit the board in the middle.”

I wanted to tell him that I knew. I wanted to tell him that I quit. I wanted to tell him my secret, but I remained silent.

I ran back to the start. My sweating face hid the tears that were quietly making their way down my face. I clenched my fists, one arm pulling slightly up. I pushed the arm down before anyone noticed. I felt their eyes burning holes in my back as I took my stance.

I ran again. The two boys tried to crouch even lower, but they were too big to make a difference. I veered off and hit the board to the right, not in the middle.

It didn’t break.

My foot throbbed. By now the tears were moving faster down my face. I wiped the tears away. I could hear the whispers spreading through the studio like wildfire. Will they guess my secret?

Two factors cause cerebral palsy—being a twin and being born premature. I was both. At three years old, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy on my right side. I had and still have difficulty walking, holding a cup, or picking stuff up with my right hand. Most of my growing up years, my parents and I had to work on my physical skills that normally came naturally to kids. Growing up, I tended to stumble from one embarrassing moment to the next without seeing the bigger picture. I asked myself questions such as: why could I not break that board in Taekwondo at fifteen years old? Why couldn’t I swim in straight line right away? Why couldn’t I be just like my younger, more athletic sister?

Some days I was more depressed than others. Days when I had to walk around the block stomping made me mad at my parents.

“Morgan, pick up your feet,” Daddy told me for what seemed like the umpteenth time.

“I am.” I worked my feet as best as I could. My right foot dragged across the pavement.

“Try marching.”

I picked up my feet and started to march past the sedate houses like a fool. My little hand was clasped in Daddy’s much larger ones.

“Why can’t you tell Andrea to march?” I pointed at Mommy and Andrea up ahead who were having a lot more fun than me.

“Because she is walking the right way.”

I glared at my sister. “But I AM walking the right way.” Daddy shook his head at me without responding.

As if to prove Daddy’s point, I stumbled and Daddy had to catch me from falling.

“Pick up your feet,” commanded Daddy.

I sighed at the command, angry that I could not be like my sister.

Now, I know that my Mom and Dad were trying to help me be normal. At five years old, I didn’t realize that I was so different than everyone else. I didn’t realize that people didn’t have to worry about dragging their foot, or falling randomly, or even not being able to play their instrument like everyone else. I was different.

Cerebral palsy (CP) can manifest in different ways in a patient’s life. In my case, I have it only on the right side, for others it could affect all their limbs. There was no cure for CP. Therefore, life would always be a little more challenging for a patient with CP. I was no exception.

When I was sixteen, I was in orchestra. I loved playing in the orchestra—in being part of something bigger. But today, I didn’t like it.

I yanked the car door open and threw myself into the car.

“What is the matter?” Mommy asked.

I felt the tears falling down my cheeks. “He—he—” I sobbed.

My Mom waited for me to answer. I was too mortified to answer. My Mom pulled out letting me digest what just happened.

I thought back to what happened. I swiped my tears from my eyes and stared out the car. Why did I have to be different?

Today had been different because none of the other cello players had shown up. There had been a massive car accident that had closed off the whole 5 Freeway. I had been late, very late.

We pulled out from the community college parking lot and I let the tears silently flow. My mom gripped the wheel. It wasn’t the first time that I had broken down over something in my life.

I loved playing the cello, but I couldn’t pluck. Plucking required dexterity in your right hand, something I didn’t have. My teacher and I had worked for hours to get a particular passage down, but we eventually concluded that it wasn’t possible—after hours of practice, I couldn’t play it.

“What happened?” Mommy asked again.

I glared out the window letting my shame fill me.

“The assistant conductor was subbing today.” I gulped. “He played that piece that I was having so much trouble playing.” I looked at the slow moving traffic outside. It was going to take us a while to get over the hill.

My mother’s silence let me know that she knew what was next.

“I couldn’t play it, Mommy. I couldn’t play it and he stopped the whole orchestra to ask me to play the passage by myself.” My tears were falling and I swiped at them angrily. “Everyone was looking and I couldn’t play it.” The snickering and whispers that I heard kept replaying in my head.

I sounded like a broken record. I knew it too. The mortification of that day has worn off, but the question still stands—why would the Lord let me go through something like that?

Over my high school years I grew bitter and never talked about my disability. Anger burned inside me against my parents for forcing me into various sports. Jealousy ate at me for having a more talented, younger sister. Ultimately, I believed my life wasn’t fair.

In community college, I met a woman who struggled in speech class because she was dyslexic. She was frustrated over the barriers that her disability forced her to deal with. I sympathized with her and shared my own disability. She was ecstatic and encouraged.

“Morgan, you should speak about this,” she stated once.

“No.” I smiled at her. “I’m nothing special.”

“So many people struggle with disabilities, Morgan. They have no hope.”

I shook my head. I wasn’t ready that day to tell the world my story. The class ended and I never saw her again.

I don’t remember her name, but she encouraged me to tell others about who I was—all of it. She told me that the Lord had placed this disability in my life for a reason. That day she planted a seed, a seed to not be ashamed of the way the Lord made me.

I realized that my parents had been helpful to me. Because of their hard work, people don’t recognize that I have a disability. My parents were successful in helping me become normal. Today, I use the perseverance that I had honed as a child to work hard in school, at work, and in sports. No, I will never be ‘normal’ like my sister, but I can use CP to glorify God.

That day in Taekwondo was like any of the other embarrassing moments in my life, but for my decision to preserver.

It was my fourth time setting up. I breathed in and out. I dared not peek into the audience to see the disappointment of my parents. I glared at that barrier. I could’ve taken the easy way out and made an excuse about my disability, but I didn’t.

I ran and sailed through the air. I felt the rough board give way under my throbbing foot.

It snapped.

I was happy, not because of the cheers of the crowd, or my parents congratulating me, or even because I passed the test. All those sensations dim and eventually fade from memory over time. I was happy because I won the struggle within myself. The barrier was not just the board. The board represented the barriers that I placed in my life. Yes, CP will be with me until I die. I still have embarrassing moments, I still have a hard time telling my secret, I still have moments of frustration, but my disability is not a horrible secret. The Lord made me the way I am so that I can glorify Him through all the trials in my life.

Life is always more exhilarating when you have to break through a barrier. Just like that board that I broke so long ago, anyone can break through a barrier.

July 9

Why Do I Blog?

Hello World!
Why do I blog? Blogging gives a writer or a wanna-be writer and outlet to test his thoughts and ideas. Yes, it is scary when you first start to self-publish yourself and put yourself out to be laughed at, but it is worth it. This last semester I had the privilege of writing in a creative writing class. During that writing class, I realized that I was too afraid to show my work. I was afraid of being laughed at. I kept telling myself that I was still not good enough and would never be as good as the others that were taking the class. I know I make a ton of grammar errors and other errors, but need to find my voice–that is why I am writing again. I don’t classify myself as a writer, but I do want to become a better writer. I hope you enjoy reading some of my blog posts.