Thursday, October 30, 2014

OVERCOMER: Alli Max

Honestly, an October Overcomer celebration would NOT be complete without a celebration of Allison.  She is more than a fighter.  She is a pink boxing glove wearing warrior.  This gal came into my life during my last year at the American Cancer Society as she joined the ACS Northwest Arkansas board.  Her smile is contagious.  Her warrior spirit is evasive and she is just down right one rocking chick.  Allison is a cancer survivor.  She's been featured in Essence magazine and among the Proctor and Gamble Early Detection mouthpieces.  She will tell you to squeeze your boobs and squeeze them often.  Even after reconstruction surgery, she found another spot recently and quickly acted.  As a young 20 year old, she has had the luxury of having life put in perspective and she knows that these faces that look like the one she sees in the mirror do not always like to be vulnerable and face the realities of life.  For her, pink is more than a color - its a lifestyle!

Allison is a warrior, a fighter and WAY more than an Overcomer.  She lives life on the other side or victory...that's a rare glance than only a few view with nostalgia goggles.

  • What have you OVERCOME? cancer
  • What was your turning point? Finding myself in Christ! After being saved, my life changed for the better! No my life isn’t perfect, No I’m not perfect but God changed my heart so my desires and intentions are good! I am now more loving, full of joy and I am able to deal with the issues of life so much better…So grateful!
  • 5 word life mantra - LIVE the Life YOU LOVE! So many are just existing and not truly LIVING! LIVE every day to the fullest!
  • Quote you live by - I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

Connect with Allison:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

OVERCOMER: Giveaway announcement

So, I'm kinda behind on announcing, but it just gave more time for YOU to enter the giveaway!

Thanks to The Media Collective, Mandisa's managing group who offered a CD for giveaway during our Overcomer series, I got to bump things up a notch!

I conducted a very southern and scientific drawing.  I wrote the names of all who qualified down on their own piece of paper.  I folded them.  Put them in a bowl and shook it up (I was shaking to Good Morning off The REMIX album!)

I reached in and pulled out one lucky chick.... @Amanda_Farris1

She is hosting a month long series on Intentional Friendship you should totally go check out.

And, just so all of you feel like winners, here's a link to one of the songs on the Remix album.  Make sure you follow @MandisaVevo on youtube for all the videos that will get you movin!

 
 
 
And, just for those curious, we will keep this going as long as people want to submit...so, not to fret we will keep hearing the #overcomer stories into November.  Aren't you loving seeing all the bravery?!?!


OVERCOMER: Ashley Robbins

Met this gal when I moved to NWA.  We met as volunteer and staff partner and soon became friends.  Along the way I learned she was bravely chronicling her journey with trying to get pregnant.  It was brave.  She is brave.  She is a fighter.  She fights for life on a lot of fronts.  She was an amazing ACS volunteer and gave everything.  But, I also just love her company.  I love laughing with her in the wee hours of the foggy morning as dew sets in and she reads the name of community fighters.  Or the early Saturday morning as we watch the sunrise and 50+ runner take to the streets of Carroll Co.  Or, over BBQ as we celebrate Surviorship and life. 

Over the last 3 weeks, I've been overjoyed to see pictures of baby Sawyer sneak into my news feed.  The sweet little miracle is here and I love seeing her mama smile brighten her face. 

I introduce you to Ashley...aka Sawyer's mama...

  • What have you OVERCOME? Resentment
  • What was your turning point? I was reading a blog post that was shared to Facebook about infertility, this was a few months after our failed IVF. The author of the blog was talking about every feeling and emotion I was having, she was asking herself the same questions I was: Why me? Why us? Why God do you choose to bless that person or couple with a child but not me? Then came her revelation that slapped me in the face, the one God wanted me to hear and see at that exact moment… in John chapter 21 Jesus is talking with Peter and he asks him 3 times if he loves him and 3 times Peter says yes, Jesus goes on to tell Peter of the kind of death he would die to glorify God and he says to Peter “Follow me!” When Peter turned and saw that the Disciple who Jesus loved (the one who asked Jesus at the last supper who would betray him) was following them he asked Jesus “Lord what about him?” And Jesus answers: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” After I read this, and it wasn’t the first time I’m sure, but after I read this it all seems so clear to me, what’s it to me if he chooses to bless that family with a baby? It’s not my job to question Him… it is my job to follow Him and believe in his word and blessings and know that he has great things in store for us we just have to be faithful and pray, and we cannot question Him. The most amazing thing about this is you can insert anything there, whatever you’re struggling with, Follow Him.
  • 5 word life mantra - I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  • Quote you live by - A bible quote Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares The Lord, plans to plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Connect with Ashley:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

OVERCOMER: Alison Chino

Loving this sweet friend of mine.  She is a constant encourager, lover of the everyday and teaching us all to love life and live in the moments in between.  Alison lives on the other side of the world and we can't wait to have our Arkansas gal back on the mainland.  In the mean time, we are living vicariously through her adventure, envious of her morning coffee view and relishing in the lessons she is learning in the far off lands.  No, really, she lives an adventure...a lesson we could all learn from!

I'm learning so much from her lately and I hear her voice in my head when I look at the orange glow of leaves, wonder if I should make coffee at home or go to a local shop, and determine my next fatal weekend Bucket List...I give you, The Alison Chino!!!


  • What have you OVERCOME?    Dear goodness, so many to choose from. Depression, Really Bad Self Esteem, Other Peoples' Expectations. Um, all of these things are works in progress still but I have moments of overcoming...
  • What was your turning point?
  • for Depression: Calling it what it is. Saying it out loud and then being willing to give myself grace for the seasons that it knocks me off of my feet.

    for Really Bad Self Esteem: Listening to
    Brene Brown talk about how destructive shame is and choosing to believe I can live whole-heartedly.
  • 5 word life mantra - Be Grateful. Every. Single. Day.
  • Quote you live by - see above! and instead of reading a quote, please go watch the Brene Brown talk linked above, such a good 26 minutes!

Connect with Alison:

Monday, October 27, 2014

OVERCOMER: Gina Knuppenburg

Confession: yes, I had to look up her last name to make sure I spelled it right!

Gina K as I know her is a giver.  Honestly, I'm learning more about this friend.  But, when I think about her, I think "inclusive".  I love that she is always participating in our AWBU bloggers community, that she is encouraging and that she brought "flat" versions of our friends who couldn't make it to the conference this summer.  I mean she even went back when they got left behind at the Improv event to get them....that's serious friendship!  She is a giver and I'm getting to know this dear and beautiful writer even more!

Desperately seeking this friend and learning more about her....


  • What have you OVERCOME?   Inadequacy
  • What was your turning point?     I've been struggling with my day job for quite some time. The hour long commute, a change in responsibilities, differences in opinion with co-workers-they've all exacerbated the unhappiness I've felt with a job I've been doing for almost eighteen years. The real cause of my unhappiness, I've uncovered, is not the job or the co-workers. I discovered the real truth over the summer; it's my feelings of inadequacy and the fact that I've let myself settle to comfortably into a position that have created the discontent.
    I'd like to say I spent time reflecting, setting goals, and making plans to change careers.  But the truth is I just decided on the spur of the moment; wanting to move toward working from home or, at the very least, doing something I love to do. I closed my eyes and typed out a proposal.  I sent it off feeling silly and inadequate-not really expecting a positive reply.  The reply I received gave me the confidence boost I needed to kick that feeling of inadequacy.  That one little instance of asking for something I wanted led to asking for more these last few months giving me the opportunity to do more of what I love to do.
  • 5 word life mantra -     "Ask for what you want"  -a new mantra for me.  I'm setting some goals to ask for what I want at least once a month.
  • Quote you live by -      Stop comparing your place in your path to someone else’s place on their path.  I've seen this same quote all over the internet but this particular wording comes from Jacqueline Wolven, whom I admire and follow online.

Connect with Gina:



 
Instagram: www.instagram.com/desperately_seeking_gina

Saturday, October 25, 2014

OVERCOMER: Sherri Jones

I'm going to cut to the chase on this intro.  I'm so grateful for this woman for believing me.  I mean she listened to a woman who hadn't talked to me 5 years.  She took her word based on a conversation in the Clearance section of a Hallmark store.  She drove an hour to meet me.  And after listening to my story, she said "I want you".  She put her reputation on the line and put in a recommendation for me, she fought for me.  She was the answer to a prayer I had been praying.  She opened the door for me to tell my story, which started the first steps of my own "overcoming".  She is a dreamer herself, but she believes in the dreamer of dreams.  And, for that I will forever be grateful for my friend Sherri!

I challenge you to read her words...all of them.  She is a warrior. It is rare to meet a person who spends their everyday to make the life of others.  She is a rare breed and yet has a gift to breed a culture of giving of oneself for another.


  • What have you OVERCOME?   Loss
  • What was your turning point?    On September 12, 2003, I woke up with a weird feeling.  I called my cousin, Kristen on the way to work which I never did in the mornings.  It was strange.  She answered the phone hysterically crying and said she needed to call me back.  It left me wondering what was going on, but I decided to wait for her call back. I went on to work and went into my training.  You see, it was my first couple of weeks at my new job.  While sitting in the training room with no cell phone because we had to turn them off, someone came in and said “Sherri, you really need to call your mother”.  I knew it wasn’t good.  I picked up an office phone and called my mom.  She too was crying hysterically.  She said, we’ve been trying to reach you.  Kevin’s been killed in Iraq.  Well…you see, Kevin and I were cousins, but more like brother and sister.  We were 2 months apart in age and practically lived together when we were young since our moms didn’t work.  Kevin was only 34 when he was killed.  I remember breaking down and looking around at these people at work that I barely knew.  They were very kind.  They offered to drive me home, but I knew I needed to get myself together because I would need to take care of my Aunt and Mom once I arrived at my Aunt’s house.  So…off I went.  I drove from Little Rock to Benton that day and don’t remember anything about the drive.  The only thing I remember was pulling over in a church parking lot in Benton and calling my best friend and completely losing it.  Again…knowing I had to get it out of my system.  Crazy, but true.  I went into taking care of others mode for a couple of months.  I was so angry at God for taking him at a time in his life where he was really making a difference.  Kevin had a few rough teenage years, and the military really made a difference in his life.  He became a Christian and was holding Bible studies and really witnessing to others in Iraq.  I couldn’t quite understand WHY God would have taken such an active Christian off of the battlefield of Earth.  It took me several months to really grasp that Kevin had truly made an impact on so many lives…including my own.  I finally understood what it meant to give your life to tell others the story of Jesus.  It was at that point, I really started looking at my own faith and realizing that I could certainly do more.  I now teach small groups in the high school youth ministry and try to live out my faith on a daily basis.  Oh there are days when I fail, but I remember that Kevin was my biggest cheerleader while he was here and now he sits at the feet of Jesus and cheers me on daily! 
    The next reality check came in February of 2004, just 5 short months later.  My friend Lynnette had been battling breast cancer for a long time and it had metasitized.  She was only 35 years old.  She was one year older than me and had two boys that were exactly one year older than each of my girls.  Lynnette had not been doing well, and had been admitted into the hospital.  On February 20th, I received a call from another friend.  He told me that Lynnette is not doing well and she’s asked to see you.  You see, at this point I had not accepted the fact that she wasn’t doing well.  I didn’t know how to deal with her illness and I had closed myself off.  Of course that night, I scrambled around and re-arranged appointments and trotted up to the hospital to see her still thinking that everything was going to be okay.  When I arrived, there was a room full of people that night.  Her husband looked at everyone and said, let’s all go have some dinner and give Sherri some time with Lynnette.  My heart sunk.  I knew at that point it wasn’t good.  I waited until everyone left and pulled up a chair beside her bed and sat down.  Lynnette just smiled.  She had the most beautiful smile even when she felt so awful.  When Lynnette was healthy, we were lunch buddies.  She was fun, energetic and ALWAYS the life of the party anywhere we went.  We used to have the best times meeting up, eating and talking and of course solving the world’s problems in an hour.  Well…that night, it wasn’t much different.  We laughed, I cried and she told me that God had told her that it was time to come Home.  She shared with me that night a story of inspiration.  God had let her know that her boys and husband would be okay and told her not to be scared.  She was actually excited that she would be meeting Jesus soon.  She smiled more and of course I cried more…selfishly.  However, I left there that night with a gift.  She showed me that no matter what our journey, God always shows us the way and gives us the strength to get through everything.  I will never forget that night.  No one witnessed it…just she and I and God.  It was amazing.  She lost her battle with cancer two days later on February 22, 2004.  Now, fast forward 4 years later.  I would attend a ribbon cutting at the American Cancer Society.  A friend that worked at ACS caught me in the parking lot as I was leaving and said, you need to come work here.  I just laughed and explained to her that I wasn’t looking for a job.  I was happy where I was at the time.  Of course, she was persistent.  I started praying about it. God gave me the overwhelming feeling that I needed to interview and just see where it took me.  After interviewing, that feeling just kept tugging on me.  I had my Sunday School class start praying that if God wanted me there that it would be easy and I would not be able to say no.  My husband and I had just built a brand new home and leaving a job with salary plus commission just wanted smart.  Well, you guessed it, God had other plans for me.  I have now been with the American Cancer Society for over 6 years and I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I just know Lynnette is smiling and laughing that I tried to fight it at first.  This year, we are starting a brand new event in Central Arkansas…Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.  I can’t wait to pour on the PINK and proudly remember Lynnette’s smile.  I will continue this fight in her memory!
  • 5 word life mantra - Life experiences make you stronger
  • Quote you live by - “Every day is a good day, some are just better than others!”  I’m not really sure if it was his own quote or not, but I worked for Jim Pledger for a few years.  He was the Chief of Staff for then Governor Clinton and then came to work at the Director of the Arkansas State Fair where I worked as an Administrator.  He took me under his wing and mentored me for many years.  Ironically, he too passed from cancer. 

Connect with Sherri:

Twitter: @SherriJones21
Pinterest: @SherriJones21

Friday, October 24, 2014

OVERCOMER: Whitney Sutherland

Whitney is one running fool.  I mean the last time I saw her, we were both looking rough...she had just finished a race.  I was just out at a farmer's market on a Saturday morning.  Seriously I love seeing how independent and fiercely she lives.  As a single gal in NWA, I'm so honored to have her in my corner. 

I respect anyone who can get up early and run before they start their day and I'm a little jealous that lately she's been able to see the Red Moon and the Ozark sunrise.  It almost makes me want to get up early, but not to sweat!

She hits the one thing that we all deal with.  It might not be the thing we listed, but we have all been there!  Thanks Whit for being so honest....(and for talking to me even if its on a random street corner!)

  • What have you OVERCOME? self-doubt
  • What was your turning point? discovering that if others believe in me then I should believe in me too.  It took doing over 300 push-ups in one workout to hit this turning point!
  • 5 word life mantra - Run your own Race.  I'm a running blogger so my mantra is based in running but applies to life too!  It's that reminder to run my own race or live life without comparison to others.  I can't train as if I'm someone else, I have to train to my abilities for the races and events that I'm doing.
  • Quote you live by - "Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving." By Albert Einstein. I also love "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined." By Thoreau.

Connect with Whitney:
Blog - http://runningwhit.blogspot.com
Twitter - @runningwhit
Instagram -
www.instagram.com/runningwhit