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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Words to live by...

Most of you who know me, or who read my blog frequently know the name Avery. The name of a beloved little girl who went to be with Jesus almost 11 months ago.  A name you may not be familiar with is, Bridget.  Bridget is Avery's mom.  

This morning, I came across these words on Bridget's Facebook status:


"There is so much in this world I need to learn, but this is what I DO know: Life is not a guarantee. You're not promised longevity and you're not promised perfect days for always. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's awful. Sometimes it makes you want to scream and yell and rant and rage. But, honey, it's up to YOU to decide if you want to spend whatever time you have here being angry and ticked off. And it's up to YOU to decide to keep on walking away from that dark place over on towards the fields of light and happiness, no matter how long that trek is gonna take you."


Now, if you know Bridget, you know she is a highly intelligent, uber funny, and amazingly witty person who writes from her heart on a daily basis.  You also know, that she loves so deeply and with so much passion that simply looking at her can make you want to give hugs to every random stranger you meet.  

If you know Bridget, you know that she is ambitious in her goals, and in helping others reach theirs.  It's also evident that she is hell bent on making this world a better place.  

If you know Bridget, you know she has suffered an unbearable loss, and has done everything she can to pick up the pieces of all the broken hearts around her.  

If you know Bridget, you know she is an AMAZING mom.  She leads by example, lets her kids make mistakes and teaches them the importance and the value of knowing that every person was placed on this Earth for a reason.  

If you know Bridget, you know that she is a faithful friend.  She will go above and beyond the call of duty to help someone out, to give a voice to their cause, or to simply offer advice- still working on the chainsaws, B ;-)

If you know Bridget, you know she is strong; Stronger than any person should ever have to be.  She is so strong, in fact, that she was strong for everyone else through her hardest time... and continues to be strong in more ways than I could ever count.  

If you know Bridget, you know that she loves God, that she trusts Him, and allows Him to lead her through this life, that oftentimes makes no sense at all. 

She is the crazy, witty, wild, hilarious, heartfelt, passionate and INSPIRING voice that keeps Avery's heart alive.  --and I am blessed to know her.  

If you know Bridget, you will undoubtably agree with everything I have just written... If you don't know Bridget,

Now you do.  

Love True-
Allison

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mandisa- "Overcomer"

I woke up this morning, started a pot of coffee and turned on "Good Morning America" just like I do every weekday.  It's been a ritual of mine for the better part of two years.  I've decided, there is no better way to get my news, and certainly no better way to start my day.  The news anchors on GMA are incredibly uplifting, even when the topic is hard to discuss.

My favorite anchor is, of course, Miss Robin Roberts.  She is, without a doubt, one of the strongest and most inspiring faces on television.  Her genuine personality and the heart that she has shared with the world is truly remarkable... and the perfect example of the kind of person I want to be.

Robin has had to fight for her life more than once, and she has allowed the nation and the world to be a part of her journey.  Her perseverance and her will to overcome her illnesses are so moving, I can barely find the words to describe her impact on me.

Gospel Singer, Mandisa, just released a new song and music video that features Robin, along with other incredibly inspiring individuals who have truly overcome an obstacle some would say is too big to overcome (among those featured are figure skater Scott Hamilton and US Senator Gabby Giffords).

Since seeing the world premier of the video this morning, I have had the song on repeat.  The words are so relatable, no matter what your circumstances.  As an athlete, there were so many times when I thought I would not be able to go on.

When injuries plagued my body and the pain was so great I couldn't fall asleep at night, or hearing the news that I needed another knee surgery, I needed to hear that I would overcome this.

When the bone in my foot shattered into 4 pieces, I needed to know I would still have a chance.

When I just couldn't stay on the beam, or couldn't make that skill on bars and thought it would never get easier, I needed to know that hard work would persevere.

When my heart was in pieces because I was losing a fight with an eating disorder, I heard the voice that said you are strong enough.

And when we lost our Angel, Avery, and it seemed like the sun would NEVER come out again, He made sure it did.

You see, as Mandisa says so eloquently in her song, "There's nothing He can't do!"

When I was hurting and holding on to the smallest bit of hope that things would work out... they did.  My knee healed, (very well I might add) and I was able to do college gymnastics.  My foot healed, my shoulder healed and I got that second chance I needed to accomplish more of my goals.  Because of this, I was able to stay on as a coach and witness the team I love dearly achieve more dreams and more goals year after year.  If that wasn't the greater plan, I don't know what is.  ;)

During that horribly dark time where I thought I might not get better because I was so sick I couldn't support my body weight (very necessary as a gymnast), He hand selected some of the most wonderful people I have ever met to help me through.  I firmly believe that that support system is the reason I am the person I am.  Robin Roberts says, "Make your Mess, your Message."  --One of the most beautiful statements I have ever heard.  People sometimes wonder why I've been so open about my struggles, and well, it's because I don't want anyone else to go through what I went through.  So my MESS will become my MESSAGE.  To my friends at Team True Beauty... you'll always have me by your side because I am a firm believer in your wonderful mission.

No matter what you may be going through, there is always hope.  Life might knock you down here and there, but He would never hand you something you can't handle.  It might be a test, it might be a road block, but if you simply get up each day and make the most of the situation you're in, you will be an OVERCOMER.

Mandisa- "Overcomer" Video on Good Morning America
Robin Roberts receiving the 2013 ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage

"You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight 'til the final round.
You're not going under
'Cause God is holding you right now.
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when he reminds you
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer."

Love True-
Allison

Monday, September 2, 2013

You Lead, I'll Follow

Recent events in my life have led me to a rather challenging place.  I've been overwhelmed by a few changes in my life, some unbelievably wonderful changes, and some changes I could have lived without.  I feel like I've been on a scale, teetering between being excessively happy about the new opportunities in my life, and incredibly lost regarding other situations.

I know what that sounds like... and you're right, it was awful... for about 2 days.  I spent the better part of 48 hours in limbo, trying to decide my next move.  Because I could have gone either way.  I could have said, "Screw it," and just fallen into misery.  And a couple of years ago... I might have done that.  Hell... 6 months ago, I probably would have done that.  I decided that was not the best option.

Instead I prayed.  I prayed a lot.  

I talked to God and asked him to lead me down the right path.  I prayed for support and understanding, and I pleaded for guidance.  I also thanked Him for all of the gracious things He has done for me, and for bringing some incredibly wonderful people into my life.

You see... I have the best mom in the world.  Don't argue with me.  I'll win any war someone will wage with me.  She is the best... period.  Along with Rhonda's "epic-ness" I have some pretty great friends.  Friends who called to talk when I couldn't string a sentence together.  Friends who texted me to check up, friends who snap chatted a silly face in order to solicit a smile,  or tweeted to encourage my strength.  I had friends who gave advice and friends who just listened.  New friends, and old friends came to my side and through it all I felt Him.  He was handing me these wonderful people who were nothing but supportive and encouraging.

There is a Jamie Grace song that literally changed the way I was looking at my situation.


"You lead, I'll follow, Your hands hold my tomorrow,
Your grip, Your grace, You know the way,
You guide me tenderly,
When you lead, I'll follow,
Just light the way and I'll go,
Cause I know what you got for me is more than I can see,
So lead me on, on, on and on"

These words helped me to realize that it doesn't matter what life throws your way.  God wouldn't hand you something you can't handle.  He wouldn't place me in a situation that he didn't believe me capable of conquering.  He has a plan, and though sometimes it is hard to see, you can't loose faith.  

In my time of wandering, he placed all of the right people in my path.  Those people were there to guide me to this place of content.  I will be okay.  My life is great, and I know that these wonderful opportunities were not meant to be overshadowed.  He is leading... and I will simply relax and follow.


Love True-
Allison

By and By

My oldest friend got married last weekend... in storybook fashion.  Picture this:

A Gazebo on the beach,
Overlooking the beautiful lake,
Mountains in the background
...and a timelessly beautiful bride walking down the aisle towards her Prince Charming.

It was perfect.


In the 23 years that I have known her, I have never seen her as happy as she was that day.  And I couldn't possibly be happier for her.

Kendra and Kyle have been best friends since we were seniors in High School.  To age myself... that is in fact 9 years this fall.  So, for the better part of a decade, these two shared everything.  They loved, they laughed, they fought, they cried, and through it all... they had each other.  No matter what their love endured... it was always going to be Kendra and Kyle.
Kendra was stunning, and the ceremony was almost as beautiful as she was.  It was literally a perfect day on Lake Lure.  The sun never stopped shining, and the wedding guests never stopped dancing (after a few cocktails of course).

It was truly a blessing to witness this magical event.  To see these two high school sweethearts realize their dream of "forever" was beyond amazing.  (Not to mention it was a heck of a weekend vacation) ;-P

It was one of the most intimate and romantic weddings I have ever been to.  The guest list was that of 53 of their closest friends and family members.   This meant that I had 3 of my other best friends at my disposal for 2 full days as well!  The time spent with my high school soul mates is never long enough, yet never wasted.  It's as if the eight years and 5 states spanning 2 time zones has done nothing to diminish our friendship-- and can I just tell you what a blessing that is?!  Kendra and Kyle's wedding song was a beautiful song by Brett Dennen, called "By and By."  There is a line in it... that though it was perfect for Kendra and Kyle, I selfishly take to heart as describing my relationship with these beautiful ladies, "I don't know if I'd survive without a friend like you in my life."

Having spent the last 23 years with Kendra as my friend, and knowing Kyle now for almost 10 years, I know that this is just the beginning of their happiness.  They have both worked so hard to be where they are today, and I am so incredibly proud of both of them!

So I will raise my glass of wine (because all writers toast while they blog), and wish them a long and blissful life together.  May your journey together be a long and incredibly happy one!  I love you both, more than words can say!!!

Love True-
Allison