Monday, December 9, 2013

Inspiration

Christians are "judged based on how well they follow Jesus." 

"The #1 indicator that a young person will stay active in the church post high school: they have developed a meaningful relationship with an adult in the church who is not related to them."

KCBI. Twitter. 9 December 2013. Web. 9 December 2013.

May this inspire us to be an example daily and live a life of purpose.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Live.In.Peace. Nelson Mandela: July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, passed away. He made a tremendous impact on society. He was a great man with a great heart.

About Mandela: http://www.history.com/topics/nelson-mandela 

15 of Nelson Mandela's best quotes: 
1) "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."
2) "It always seems impossible until it's done."
3) "If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man."
4) "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles." 5) "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."
6) "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."
7) "Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."
8) "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
9) "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
10) "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
11) "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."
12) "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."
13) "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." 14) "I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days."
15) "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

Durando, Jessica. "15 of Nelson Mandela's Best Quotes." USA TODAY Network. 6 December 2013. Web. 6 December 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/05/nelson-mandela-quotes/3775255/.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 19

Day 19: I am thankful for hygiene products. For real. Yes, I went there!



Friday, November 29, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18

Day 18: I am thankful for my gut instinct! There is something so special about the gut instinct. It has been given to us for a specific reason. Just think about all the times we don't listen to it but then get in trouble. Or when we just have a "feeling" . . . and our feeling was dead on! Come on now, our gut instinct has power, truth, and our best interest at heart. It is our guide, our teacher, and our help - helping us make the right decisions! No situation is too tough! Rain or shine, our gut instinct is fired up working! It can tell us that a certain person needs uplifted and then gives us the exact word he or she needs to hear. It tells us when something is wrong and, if we pay close attention, it even tells us what that "something" is and when to act. How awesome to have! Our gut instinct screams the evidence of something far greater than ourselves. Our gut instinct is the Holy Spirit, live and in action! May we listen whole-heartedly, as it will determine the course our lives take!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 17

Day 17: I am thankful for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their efforts for the past 33 years! I just completed a public policy paper on drunk driving and MADD has played an enormous role in the fight. Alcohol-related deaths have decreased per year from 21,000 in 1980 to 10,300 in 2012 with the help of MADD! I am very proud to be a part of this organization and help save lives!

"Every 53 minutes on average, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. Every 90 seconds, someone is injured because of this entirely preventable crime" (MADD, 2013)


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 16

Day 16: I am thankful for common sense. Common sense: "sound and prudent judgement based on a simple perception of the situation or facts" (MW, 2013); or having knowledge that should be simple and obvious. Common sense is knowing right from wrong. Common sense is being responsible and cleaning up after yourself. Common sense is being loyal, kind, loving, caring, helpful, and generous to all; having manners; respecting others and property; and honoring our parents. 

Common. Sense. --> Simple. Obvious. 
Thank you Lord for blessing me with it


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 14 & 15

Day 14 & 15: I am thankful for God meeting my basic survival and safety needs - food, clean water, shelter, clothing, a stable environment, financial support, and reliable transportation! Many do not have these and sadly, most have it much worse.

5.8 BILLION people live in extreme poverty (World Bank, 2010); some without shelter, food, clean water, clothing, and without EVERYTHING that we have . . . YET, as a society, we still are not satisfied, nor do we want to give up anything we have, even time, for the benefit of someone lacking. Could we even begin to understand what such poverty is like? And what's worse, there are more than enough resources on this planet to fill the needs of everyone. We have been given the MEANS, the KNOWLEDGE, the WISDOM, and the POWER to make a great societal IMPACT! May we step up, align, and begin the battle!

Monday, November 25, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13

Day 13: I am thankful for being blessed with such a great extended family! Thank you all who have been a part of my life before my accident, (especially) those who were there for my family and I when I was in the hospital, those who have visited me since my accident, and those who are there for us today. Your love and thoughtfulness mean so much to me! Happy Thanksgiving family! Love you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 12

Day 12: I am thankful for my amazing friends - those who visited my family and I while I was in the hospital, those who knew me before my car accident and have been a part of my life these past 8 years, and those friends who God has brought into my life (or back into my life) since my accident. You all are such blessings to me, more than you know. What words could I form to express my gratefulness for you? Your love, compassion, kindness, prayers, faith, support, and time . . . Not just anyone can be the type of person you are and the friend that you have been to me. No, you are special. You each have an amazing heart. I praise God for all of you, especially those who are there for me today and help me when necessary! With all sincerity, thank you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 11

Day 11: I am thankful for hot water heaters and that we have one! What a blessing it is to have hot water :) I am also thankful for welfare programs that help me survive - the Social Security Administration, SNAP, and Medicaid - as well as health insurance through my Dad's employer Raytheon. Thank you Lord for providing for me!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 10

Day 10: I am thankful for the abilities I still have and what I can still do despite the abilities I do not have. I remember waking up in ICU after my crash. I could only move and feel my neck and head, see, hear, and think. With my vision, I saw my body laying in a hospital bed, I saw countless tubes, and I saw the pain but also hope in my parents' eyes. With my hearing, I heard talk about my care from here on out and ultimately the devastating words that I was in a car accident and am now paralyzed. The harsh truth became more real as all my (then) present and future hopes and desires seemed to at once slip from my grasp. All I could do was cry but the more I did, the harder it was for me to breathe.
 

I know what it's like to lose everything, even more than the little I've shared, but it is in that loss that I learned how incredibly blessed I still am and how obliviously blessed we as a people are. What a blessing to be able to walk, move, feel, see, hear, speak, and think. What a blessing to be able to hop out of bed in the morning, take a shower, and work. Or to be able to go to the bathroom on your own. We are so blessed yet don't realize it. We complain and aren't satisfied with what we have while there are millions of people thirsting for our blessings.
 

I am so thankful for the abilities I have and praise God for them. He amazes me all day long for even allowing me to have what I have. Even though I can no longer use my fingers, there is still so much I can do. Even though I cannot move my legs, I still have a voice, my mind, and my faith and I will never give up. #ToGodBeTheGlory

Sunday, November 17, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 9

Day 9: I am thankful for my church Covenant Church McKinney! I started attending this church in 2010 and since then, have grown tremendously in my faith and knowledge of my God and my self. There is something so amazing and awesome about this church. You can feel it when you enter - the people, the atmosphere, the worship team, the worship music, the sermons, and the prayers - something about this church just strikes you and penetrates through to your heart. All stress, worry, and burdens lift upon entering. As soon as the music begins . . . boom! That "something" hits you again and you realize what it is: God, like never before! His presence is so thick, so captivating, and so real at this church. You can't help but release all the pain, hurt, and struggle you have up to God and as you do, there is an instant feeling of His love, peace, joy, healing, and restoration. Such a transaction in itself is a miracle. I have grown so much, in so many ways, the past 3 years from being a part of this church. I now am confident of who my God is and who I want to be and I owe it, in large part, to this church. Much love to my Covenant family!

http://www.covenantmckinney.org/ 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 8

Day 8: I am thankful for my morning caregiver and friend Teresa Mitchell! She has worked for me nearly every week day for 3.5 years (on/off). She comes in early, lets Buster out, stretches my legs, helps me with my catheter, waits a good 10 minutes for me to decide what to wear (lol), dresses me, helps me get into my chair with a slider board, fixes my hair, helps me with breakfast, does housework that I could do if I was able, picks up everything I drop, and helps take me to school and to run errands. She does so much for me, is the best one at getting me up, the best one at making my favorite breakfast, and can always keep herself busy. She does things for me and for others that go unnoticed and even though she knows this, she continues to do them. May God BLESS you for this Teresa and flood your life with mighty breakthroughs! May He reveal to you who you are to Him - beautifully and wonderfully made! Love you!


Friday, November 15, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 7

Day 7: I am thankful for my shower girl and great friend Demarus Bassett! After 4 years of my family and Billy doing my 3-hour shower program every other night on their own, we had to seek help. Two and a half years ago, God sent us Demarus It is difficult to put into words how much she means to me and how she goes above and beyond for my family and I. If we need help with anything, she is there. If Billy or my parents want to go out of town, she is there to help take care of me - staying the night to do the turns, helping me with dinner, getting me in bed, and getting me up. If I need up at 5 a.m., she will do it. If one of my family members needs help with anything, she will help them. Her heart is beautiful and absolutely amazes me every day. She is an extraordinary person and friend and I praise God for her, truly. May He RICHLY reward you Demarus for your love, compassion, and kindness you have shown towards my family and I. You are a diamond. Love you like a sister!



Thursday, November 14, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

Day 6: I am thankful for my boyfriend Billy. We started dating October 25, 2002. We celebrated our 3 year anniversary while I was in the hospital and celebrated our 11th anniversary this year. He stayed with me, despite something as big as paralysis. He helps take care of me, turns me twice every night (to prevent pressure sores since I do not have good circulation and cannot feel most of my body), takes care of our house and yard, grills some mean meat, has the cutest smile, and has an embrace that heals all brokenness. Every day I am amazed that he is still here steadily sacrificing his body, his strength, his time, his sleep . . . his life. I am very thankful for him, appreciate him, and love him very much, more than he knows!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

Day 5: I am thankful for my sister Natacha Winchester! She is my only sibling and because of that has made an even greater impression on my life. I have always looked up to her and admired the person she is. When I had my accident, she moved in our house for 2 years to help take care of me and even when she moved out, she continued (along with my Mom and Billy) to help shower me and do my shower program every other night (which is BIG!). I appreciate her, respect her, always go to her for advice, love spending time with her, and cannot help but have fun when with her. She is beautiful inside and out and deserves nothing but the best and happiness. Love you sister so much!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 4

Day 4: I am thankful for my Dad Gerry Winchester! Where do I begin? One thing I love about him is how affectionate and loving he is. He displays how a woman should be treated, has the best hugs, and doesn't hold back from telling me he loves me and is proud of me! I can always feel how grateful he is for me in every hug. He has also always been a great provider, teacher, and encourager to strive for the prize. He has instilled in me a strong work ethic, character, perseverance, compassion, a foundation of faith, and a little bit of OCD :) I appreciate him, love him dearly, and wouldn't trade him for the world! Xoxo Dad!


Monday, November 11, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 3

Day 3: I am thankful for my loving family and boyfriend who remain by my side. They are my number one supporters in every way. They always have been. Today, I dedicate to my Mom. She truly goes above and beyond for me and does things for me that no one else will do. Without hesitation, she quit her full-time job to become my caregiver. The four months I was in the hospital, she spent the night with me nearly every night. She does and does for me until she can do no more and then still asks if I need help with anything. She has a beautiful heart, tries her best to help everyone she can, loves God, and always provides a positive outlook on every situation. Oh and she's got this crazy sense of humor that rocks also! She is my best friend and is absolutely amazing and I love her so much! God tremendously blessed me when He gave me her as a mother!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 2



Day 2: I am thankful for life and every single new breath I'm given. I was found 8 years ago laying on the pavement of Hwy 5 not breathing. I had died. Who called 911 & what pushed the paramedics, who tried multiple times to revive me, to try that last time? Who protected the helicopter care-flighting us? Who guided the hands of the doctors & nurses through every surgery & scare? Who am I to have been saved and given a second chance? Who am I Lord? You could have said, "No" and let me go, abandoning me as I had You but You said, "YES! I will save her & she will come back to me & I will use her for My glory. I will show her how much she is worth." 

I spent my adolescence longing and searching for acceptance, belonging, and for my peers to tell me I have value; that I am of worth. I spent all this time desperately searching for these needs in people and in the world, never truly finding them. All I found was false acceptance, false belonging, and conditional love from peers. When my wreck happened, I lost nearly everything and hit absolute rock bottom. I could hardly move or feel, became dependent on others, and was just in a tough place emotionally, socially, and physically. I literally had no where to look but up. Once I did though, once I finally did, once I finally released all my burdens and grips that I had held onto so tightly for so many years, God showed me that He was all I need and that He is all I've ever needed. He revealed to me the Truth, my value, my importance in this world, and who He created me to be. All that time I had been trying to fill my God-shaped hole with things that would never fit because it was Him all along and only Him that I needed. Not allowing Him in created my void. I just am so thankful for God and for life. He loved me so much that He breathed life back into me. Me! Oh my God, thank you for life!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 1



I've decided to jump on the 30 days of Thanksgiving! 

Day 1: I am thankful for my Father, Christ, & Holy Spirit. When I rededicated my life (a couple years after my accident), I finally reached that point where I was ready to give up my self and live for God. I asked God to reveal Himself to me, my purpose, and how much He loves me. The experiences I've had; the revelations, prophetic words, and spiritual gifts I've received, and all the prayers that are beyond coincidence that I have seen answered ... I could never deny Him or live without him. And although this life with paralysis is difficult, I would never go back. I didn't know who I was, I didn't grasp the love of my God or family, I took EVERYTHING for granted, and I lived for MYSELF, never satisfied. I was broken, shamed, abused, and discarded by the world. God has shown me who I am and who I'm not, what's important and what isn't, and most importantly, who HE IS. Oh His love and presence... they absolutely captivate me. You have my heart God. Truly. I love you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Speeches

November 1, 2013 - Speaking to Early College High School students (a branch of Brookhaven College) whose classes are dual credit (count as both high school and college credits). When these students graduate, they will have in hand a high school diploma and an associate's degree.

November 12, 2013 - Speaking to the Social Work Student Association at the University of North Texas (the university I attend) at 4:40 pm in Sage Hall 329.

November 13, 2013 - Speaking to my cousin Matthew's fourth grade class at Bridlewood Elementary School in Flower Mound, TX at 1:30 pm.

November 19, 2013 - Speaking at MADD's Adult VIP at 6:00 pm located at the Salvation Army (600 S. Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney, Texas 75069)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FREE Fall Festival October 30, 2013 in McKinney!

Our church is having a FREE fall festival for kids and the family tomorrow night, October 30th. See email below!
 
Covenant Church, McKinney campus
975 S. Central Expressway, McKinney, Texas 75070 (Map)
972-548-2700
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------
 
Fall Festival – NOW FREE FOR EVERYONE!
Wednesday, October 30th | 6:00-9:00pm
 
 
Don’t let the rain keep you away!  The party is moving inside!  With rain expected on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, this may be the only chance the kids will have to get their candy! This is a great way to keep your kids safe and still have tons of fun.
Admission is FREE for everyone.  Even if you don’t have kids, plan to come out, listen to the band, and have some great fellowship and great food.
 
** Tons of Candy ** Face Painting ** Carnival Games ** Inflatables ** Food Trucks ** Live Band ** Costume Contest for the Kids and Teens (with great prizes) and more!
Remember to bring cash to purchase food from the food trucks.
McKinney Membership Services. "Fall Festival - Come Enjoy the Fun!" Message to author. 28 October. 2013. E-mail. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

October Speech

I made friends with Julie Mongue, the Collin County Teen Court Coordinator, in 2010 while volunteering for MADD at a Collin College community fair. Last year, she asked me if I would like to be the speaker for a Teen Court/YMCA program for at-risk teens and it has been an awesome experience! And nearly two weeks ago, she contacted me again and asked if I would be the MADD representative at their 2013 Annual Texas Teen Court Conference this year (which also happened to be hosted in Collin County) and of course I said, "Yes!" Julie wanted me to share my story and also encourage the Teen Court coordinators to partner with their local MADD chapters. MADD and Teen Court are partnered in the North Dallas area through the program "Teen Victim Impact Panel." Teen VIPs consist of a short presentation by a MADD facilitator on the potential dangers of alcohol and drinking and driving as well as one to three impact statements from victims, offenders, survivors, family members, friends, AA members, or any other person who has been negatively impacted by alcohol. Individuals who have received a DWI or DUI are court mandated (depending on the judge and other factors) to attend a VIP. I have been speaking at VIPs since 2009 and absolutely love it. I feel God's loving presence, my purpose being fulfilled, and an inner healing each time I speak. To me, there truly is no greater feeling!



Pictures from the Teen Court Conference:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beautiful Pay-It-Forward Story

When I woke up this morning, I opened my Yahoo! homepage to this story. 

After experiencing the sudden passing of their 18-year-old daughter Alyssa Josephine O'Neill, this couple decided to bless 40 people in honor of their daughter by paying-it-forward at a Starbucks and it caught on - everywhere! May this story inspire your heart!

http://shine.yahoo.com/ellen-good-news/parents-pay-forward-pumpkin-spice-lattes-221300973.html

Ellen's Good News. "Parents Pay it Forward with Pumpkin Spice Lattes." Yahoo! Shine. 27 September 2013. Web. 28 September 2013. <http://shine.yahoo.com/ellen-good-news/parents-pay-forward-pumpkin-spice-lattes-221300973.html>

Saturday, September 7, 2013

August and September Speeches

August 3, 2013 - Speaking to Biblical Community Church's youth located at 810 Lookout Dr., Richardson, TX 75080 at noon.

September 8, 2013 - Speaking to Christ United Methodist Church's youth located at 3101 Coit Rd., Plano, TX 75075 at 6:45pm.

September 18, 2013 - Speaking at MADD's Plano Teen VIP located at 900 E. 15th Street, Plano, TX 75074 at 6:15pm.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thank an officer this Labor Day

"While we spend the Labor Day holiday and the end of summer celebrating with our loved ones, law enforcement officers across the country will take to the roads in an effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives during this year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement campaign."

"Holidays like Labor Day are particularly dangerous for encountering drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 138 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over the Labor Day weekend in 2011.  That’s why, through September 2nd, officers will be out in force to help stop these 100 percent preventable tragedies." 

"Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem, as well as deterring people from committing the violent crime of drunk driving, and that’s why it is a key component of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®."

"Join us in thanking law enforcement for the work they do to keep our loved ones safe during the crackdown, and all year long, by signing our online thank you card. And if you come across a sobriety checkpoint this Labor Day weekend, make sure to thank the officers for helping keep our roads safe."

Withers, Jan. "Thank an officer this Labor Day." Message to Tonya Winchester. 19 August 2013. E-mail.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kidd Kraddick

Praying for the family and everyone hurting from this. Sometimes things happen that we don't understand but we must hold tight to the good times, recognize the blessing he was in so many lives, and let his legacy - how he brought inspiration & laughter - live on. May this remind us how precious life is and that it is meant to be lived with no regrets and with purpose. Here's to Kidd!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets

I like to begin my day with praise music. Today, the song "Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets came on the radio. I've heard this song many times but this time, it spoke to me. I listened to the words and their meaning and was utterly inspired. This is what I want my life and my decisions to reflect. I hope the words inspire you as they have me.

Click here to check out the music video. It is powerful!!

K-LOVE. “K-LOVE - Sidewalk Prophets ‘Live Like That’ LIVE.” Youtube. 26 March 2012. Web. 27 July 2013.

"Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets:

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

Chorus
I wanna live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything You say and do
Points to You
If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back
I wanna live like that

Am I proof
That You are who You say you are
That grace can really change your heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they me do they see You

I wanna show the world the love He gave for me
I’m longing for the world to know
The glory of the King

Sidewalk Prophets. "Live Like That." Sidewalkprophets.com. 2012. Web. 27 July 2013.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

We Must Strive Harder to Be and Live as Great Examples

I was reminded yesterday that there is always someone watching and observing the people we are and the lives we lead and that is why it is so important to lead an exemplary life - one you are proud of and one that encourages and inspires greatness. Our behaviors, attitudes, words, and interests reveal who we are - our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, goals, and priorities in life.


The people who are in our lives are in our lives for a reason. We have been purposely placed at the locations we live, work, and frequent for a reason and these reasons are much greater than ourselves. May we recognize this fact and live as so. These people and places are our spheres of influence and you hold the power of the way they are influenced.

A friend once told me that there are three things we can do for a person - make them feel the same, worse, or better. The fantastic thing about this is, in most cases, we already know the potential consequences (good and bad) that a spoken word, behavior, or reaction can bring and make someone feel. That is the hard part and it is already done! We have been given the ability to recognize good and evil and right and wrong. May we take control of this ability and utilize it!

One of my speaking points is we only have one life, one body, and one chance to make the best decision in every situation. There is no going back. We cannot undo what we say, a decision we have made, or an impression we have given and we live in a society that is unforgiving and remembers every time you fall; every time you fail to meet perfection.

Your children, spouse, parents, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and community are your sphere of influence. It is time for us to stand up, rid ourselves of the things that hinder and corrupt us, and strive without ceasing to be and live as great examples and as the men and women God has created us to be because there are too many who are lost, who do not know God's love, and who are looking for "something" to fill and satisfy their void. These people in your sphere of influence - their lives, future, and very being - desperately depend on you and need to see God in you. So show them greatness. Show them love. Show how God has changed you. 

What is the point in all of this?
- Live a life that inspires.
- Live a life that encourages.
- Live a life that brings out the best in others.
- Live a life where God's love, fruit, and Spirit shines bright, radiates, and completely captivates others.
- Be an example.

As you do this, watch how you are strengthened and changed. This reward is as sweet as honey.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Take Care of Our Wildland Firefighting Heroes!

Wildland firefighters are some of the most skilled and dedicated firefighters around. They're tasked with battling intense wildfires that are spread over miles worth of terrain. They often put in a full year's work from just May to October — the prime time window in which wildfires are most common.


The work isn't easy. These firefighters, also known as hotshot teams, are exposed to extremely dangerous chemicals during a fire, including smoke and dust. They're often working in inhospitable environments where they are at risk of falling objects or contracting poison oak.

But hotshot firefighters don't have a health insurance option because they're considered temporary workers by the US government. These men and women are on the front lines battling dangerous wildfires, and in return, they have the right to comprehensive health coverage.

Ask President Obama to mandate health care for all of our nation's wildland firefighters.

Click here to sign this petition!

"Take Care of Our Wildland Firefighting Heroes!" The Hunger Site. Web. 17 July 2013.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pastor Natalie Choate

What an awesome and uplifting memorial service for Pastor Natalie Choate last night! As we all stood and sang praises to God, I gazed across the sanctuary and saw the most beautiful sight - the congregation with hands raised and voices united worshiping God. What a victory your life has brought God and us!! Pastor Natalie, I did not have the pleasure of knowing you while you were here on earth but I feel that I know you now. As Pastor Kevin mentioned, your name means "a gift from God." I have been praying for about 2 months for everyone I know & everyone they know to be motivated in life and faith. Through your life and legacy, we have been inspired and motivated to fight the good fight, to not give up, and to fully lead the lives God has for us. God has answered my prayer through YOU! Just as Pastor Kevin said, I thought I was strong in my faith and I thought I trusted God fully but through you Pastor Natalie, God has opened my eyes to what that means and how much more trust and faith I must and can have. Through you, God has strengthened me, reminded me of my purpose, and given me a deeper courage to be the woman He has called me to be no matter the depths, pains, struggles, or outcomes I will face and have - to keep pressing on and knowing that God has my best interest at heart and He sees the big picture always. You have inspired me and blessed me Pastors Natalie & Kevin Choate! Love you both! We stand with you arm and arm, heart and heart! — Covenant Church

Obituary: http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Natalie-Choate&lc=4270&pid=165802289&mid=5599271 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July Speeches

July 10, 2012 - MADD's Plano Teen VIP located at 900 E. 15th Street, Plano, Texas 75074 at 6:20 pm

July 16, 2012 - Speaking to Farmersville Rotary Club for MADD located at Carlisle Civic Center (201 Orange, Farmersville, Texas 75442) at 12:00 pm

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

In honor of Independence Day, I wanted to thank all of our military men and women who have fought and are still fighting for our country and for freedom. May God bless you!

The Hunger Site is a great website that is full of opportunities to stand up for your beliefs and for what is right regarding many economic, social, physical, and personal issues. The website has an area of prepared petitions and all that is needed is your signature.

A petition that caught my attention is titled "Tell the Pentagon It's No Crime to Share Your Faith" and it states:

Several recent events have caused a great deal of alarm among those who are concerned with religious liberty. The heart of this issue is one of conscience and freedom of religion: soldiers who "proselytize" their faith face reprimand or court-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In a statement, the Pentagon tried to assure the faithful that military personnel would not be court-martialed if they "evangelized." Unfortunately, "proselytizing" and "evangelizing" are virtually synonymous terms, leaving service members vulnerable to a subjective interpretation of the Uniform Code.

This is truly a First Amendment crisis. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…". No matter what God one worships, as Americans we all have the sacred right to share our faiths.

Join us in asking Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to remove any prohibitions against proselytizing from the Uniform Code of Military Justice and respect the First Amendment rights of service men and women.

Click here to view and sign this petition!   "Tell the Pentagon It's No Crime to Share Your Faith." The Veterans Site. Web. 4 July 2013.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Garage Sale Fundraiser JUNE 28-29!

We have set a date for our garage sale fundraiser and are kindly asking for garage sale donations, volunteers, and shoppers! We are most in need of big donation items and volunteers for Saturday, June 29th.

Please contact me if interested in helping at tonya.winchester@hotmail.com. Thank you!

June 28-29, 2013
805 Bluffview Dr., McKinney, TX 75071

Details: http://tonyawinchester.com/Garage_Sale_2013.htm

Fundraiser Flyer: http://tonyawinchester.com/Flyers/Garage%20Sale%202013.doc


Fight Hunger & Oppose Congress' SNAP Decision

"Don't let the government make any more cuts to hunger-fighting programs!" (The Hunger Site, 2013).

"More than two million people would be dropped from our food stamp program (SNAP) on September 30 if the current version of the Farm Bill passes. The time to act is NOW!" Visit the Hunger Site and learn more about this issue and sign a petition opposing the Farm Bill.

http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/ths/petition/SNAPFunding

"Fight Hunger and Oppose Congress' SNAP Decision." The Hunger Site. Web. 21 June 2013.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June Speeches

June 2, 2013 - MADD Teen VIP at 7:00 pm located at Allen Municipal Court (301 Century Parkway, Allen, Texas 75013)

June 18, 2013 - MADD Adult VIP at 6:00 pm located at the Salvation Army (600 S. Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney, Texas 75069)

June 22, 2013 - McKinney YMCA MyChallenge at 12:00 pm located at 300 Ridge Road, McKinney, TX 75070 to at-risk teenagers

Friday, May 31, 2013

Red Cross

My heart goes out to these families and towns. As one of my Meals On Wheels clients put it, "We are one body, united. We are all affected and must pray for one another daily." Makes our daily struggles look insignificant in comparison. May we do more than pray but also learn from this, especially how truly blessed we are, and do what we can to help. Let's be the love our fellow Americans who were impacted by this need!

www.redcross.org

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May Speeches

May 21 - MADD Adult VIP at 6:00 pm located at the Salvation Army (600 Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney, Texas 75069)

May 28 - Sherman High School juniors and seniors at 10:00 am located at 2201 E. Lamar, Sherman, Tx 75090 

Fundraiser #1 for Toby Mills

We are raising funds for Toby Mills, my boyfriend's best friend since middle school, who was in a serious car crash last September and is quadriplegic and paralyzed as a result. Not only is he paralyzed but his injury is much worse than mine. He damaged and nearly severed his C4 spinal cord segment which is very high on the spine (actually in the neck). The area of the spinal cord that is affected and the amount of impact and damage to the spinal cord determines what an injured person can move or feel. The higher the injury level on the spinal cord, the less ability and function a person has. Also, a person with spinal cord injury is classified as either paraplegic or quadriplegic. Paraplegia refers to a person that cannot move (or possibly feel) lower body extremities due to damage in the back. Quadriplegia refers to a person that cannot move (or most likely feel) all or parts of both upper and lower body extremities due to damage in the neck. The high spinal cord damage Toby obtained unfortunately has left him with only the abilities to blink, eat, speak, think, and move both his neck and one forearm (very) slightly. He has lost the abilities to move and feel below his neck and encounters daily struggles with pressure sores, breathing troubles, bladder infections, and loss - loss of independence, privacy, and all the abilities the average person takes for granted. We often think we have it bad, but then comes along someone who has it much worse. Toby spends most of his days in his hospital bed watching T.V., waiting only for night to come and another day of doing the exact same thing.


We are raising funds for:
a) Toby to have a computer with adaptive technology - aide in independence and quality of life
b) Inpatient and at-home rehabilitation - aide in physical health, independence, and quality of life
c) Adaptive equipment and tools for daily living (eating, getting in and out of bed, etc.)

We plan on having on-going fundraisers for Toby as he has many needs and desires and currently does not have insurance. His first fundraiser, "Tools for Toby," is an online fundraiser but is only the beginning! The direct link is http://www.youcaring.com/Tmills.

Ways you can help:
1) Pray
2) Donate money
3) Send Toby or Amber, his girlfriend and caregiver, an encouragement card or helpful resources (9433 Olive St., Princeton, Texas 75407)
4) Share this email and spread the word
5) Help us get more fundraisers started
6) Offer knowledge or help - visiting with him, praying over him, care sitting to give his family a break, etc.
7) Make him and his family meals

We have a couple restaurant fundraisers in the works and will keep you posted on those!

Toby's girlfriend, Amber, has honorably remained by his side. You can contact her at aweglowski21@gmail.com or 469-951-7863.

Father, we lift up Toby and Amber and pray that their faith will not fail but be strengthened. When all they see is struggle and defeat, Father, again, strengthen them. Let them experience you personally. May their eyes and hearts and very being be opened to you and who you are. May they understand how much you love and care for them and how you are there for them and always have been. May they look to you for understanding. Reveal purpose, truth, and guidance to them Holy Spirit. Father, we ask for doors of opportunity, blessing, and healing to be opened to them. We trust you God and thank you for saving Toby and their relationship and for your amazing calling on their lives. I see the greatness you have in store for them and praise you God for that revelation. Father, may their spirits be lifted, encouraged, motivated, and empowered and may your people enter their lives and bless them. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Thank you supporters. May you be eternally blessed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Life Update

Hello family and friends!


I have been good and just finished another semester of school. I have been at UNT for a year now studying social work and love it! I have been learning so much about people, society, behaviors, and especially, myself. I also have been growing a lot in my faith and spending a great deal of my time volunteering. I have been speaking for MADD since 2009 and for the YMCA since last June. And for a little over a year, I have been volunteering at Meals On Wheels as a "well check" caller to 55 clients every Monday. These three things - school, growth in faith, and volunteering - have opened many doors for me but more importantly, they have been preparing me for the life ahead of me and affirming the personal revelations from God about myself, my future, and my purpose. And I look forward to further opportunities to use my skills and talents once I graduate in May 2016 (from taking only two classes per semester)! My family has also been doing well (minus the major foundation work and sewer leaks in our house)! My boyfriend Billy recently started a new job which he enjoys and my sister Natacha moved to Colorado at the beginning of May with her boyfriend!

This summer I plan to continue volunteering but am interested in gaining experience with the homeless. We have one homeless shelter in my county and it happens to be in my hometown. I am not sure how I can help at the Samaritan Inn but I definitely plan to get plugged in. I also have plans to update my website (three new pages) and create several fundraisers for my boyfriend's best friend who is paralyzed. Be on the look out for his fundraisers!