Thank you BB&T for sponsoring this post.
Did you know Thomas Edison struggled academically? But he had his mom who believed in him. He went on to be considered “America’s greatest inventor.”
Then there was Wilma Rudolph who was a sickly child and had to wear a brace on her left leg. The doctors told her she would never walk again but her mom told her she would. She believed her mom and later became an Olympic champion.
These leaders found hope and resilience in the midst of tragedy, poverty, and pain.
They all had this one thing in common–one person who believed in them.
Someone who poured into their life and reminded them they are valued, strong, and loved.
We all need that “one person” who believes in our dreams and ultimately, in us.
Born Without Legs
I was recently introduced to the BB&T Leadership Series, which includes videos highlighting the top men and women in our community paving the way on leadership, overcoming odds, positive thinking, and the like to help inspire others to be their best.
After watching only a few minutes of Jen Bricker’s video I was inspired! Her life breathes perseverance, courage, and strength.
In Jen Bricker’s loving adoptive home, this was the one simple rule: never say can’t.
She was adopted by a simple, small-town family who overflowed with encouragement and optimism for Jen, in spite of her challenges.
And pretty soon, there was nothing that she couldn’t conquer: roller-skating, volleyball, power tumbling, and spinning from thirty feet in the air.
She has an incredible story!
Be the One Person in Their Life
As parents, we have such an incredible impact in our children’s lives.
Here is a glimpse into the BB&T Leadership Series with Jen Bricker:
“We all have different gifts and talents that the world needs to see. Our children need to know they are significant and they matter. You have the power to believe in your children and change their life for good.” ~Jen Bricker
I wholeheartedly believe that what we tell our children will be what they will tell themselves. There is power when we give our children permission to be themselves. See how this unfolds in the life of Jen Bricker.
From an early age, Jen Bricker’s adoptive parents spoke truth into her life. She believed this truth. They would say, “You’re a miracle! You can do what you want!” Her parents told her she was born this way and God doesn’t make mistakes.
Jen Bricker’s life was changed because of that one person in her life that believed in her. Actually, for her, it was more than one person: it was her mom, dad, her community, teachers, coaches, and friends that encouraged her uniqueness.
Jen Bricker is a NY Times best-selling author, international speaker, and professional aerialist. Bricker, who was born without legs, captured her experiences growing up in the memoir Everything Is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams. I highly recommend her memoir as it’s such an inspirational story of courage and determination.
My One Person
As a low-income Hispanic in Texas, I had many obstacles to overcome from an early age. Some of the challenges were ones I wasn’t quite aware of until I turned six years old and I overheard a woman talking about my family. This obstacle was one that no matter what I did, I would never be able to hide the color of my skin.
But my challenges really started in my mother’s womb–I was the surviving twin. My mother’s economic situation made her unable to care for herself much less for 2 little lives growing in her womb. I was born at my grandmother’s house as she was the village “doctor” and to my parents’ dismay, only one of their babies survived…me. As a preemie, the odds against me were great, with the lack of proper medical equipment and care my days were counted. Most thought I wouldn’t make it to the end of the week.
I was so tiny I fit in the palm of my grandfather’s callused and worn hand.
I survived! God was not done with my story just yet. I went on to live not just one week nor one month, but I’m going on 40+ years of life.
That “one person” has looked very different as my life story has unfolded. Some were males, friends, females, strangers, senior citizens, teachers, modern-day heroes, books, the Bible, my children, and my husband.
But throughout my childhood, my parents regularly reminded me of my “miracle” birth. On my birthday and other occasions, they would whisper to me, ‘God has great things for you to accomplish. He’s going to use you in a mighty way.’
Like all parents, mine were not perfect. Actually, they struggled with giving words of affirmation but even in the midst of their own struggles, they gave me a beautiful gift. They believed in me and reminded me I can accomplish anything through God’s strength. They modeled it with their life.
They Believed I Could and So I Did
They gave me courage. I was the first Hernandez to graduate from high school and I was determined to go to college.
My parents didn’t have the financial means to send me to college, but with determination, I showed up to college with $1,000 and lots of enthusiasm. It was a sheer miracle that I was allowed to start school that year.
With the support of my parents, which came mostly in large doses of encouragement and concern for my education, I was the first Hernandez in my family to receive a Master’s degree. I finished college in three years and then later became a certified life coach.
Help Them Find Their Why
We are all born with gifts and talents. With those talents and abilities, we have the power to change a life. We all have a platform, we all have a stage, we can change a life.” ~Jen Bricker
My mom and dad would regularly tell me that God has great plans for me. As a little girl, I had a very strong sense that I had a “why” even if I didn’t know specifically what it was.
When I graduated from Columbia International University with a Masters, I started a grassroots organization with the vision to empower, educate, and bring forth renewal in the lives of newly arrived immigrants in the United States through after-school programs, art programs, and field trips amongst other things..
I remember presenting my grand idea to the leadership council at my church with excitement. They had questions, they had encouragement, and they had no idea how I was going to get this project going. But they funded half of that school year’s program because they believed in me.
I was blessed in this effort with community partners, friends, grants, press exposure, volunteers, God’s provision and a wonderful co-director. Above is a newspaper article where I was featured as a “young professional whose leadership has improved quality of life…”
I eventually moved overseas to serve with my family in South America facilitating outreach programs to serve youth, the poverty-stricken, and girls rescued from sex trafficking amongst other things.
I don’t share this story to toot my own horn but to tell you that I’m living proof of the power of having others believe in you. It spurred me on to unfold my faith, my giftedness and courage.
Focus on the Beauty We See
Our children are bombarded with negative messages coming from their peers, magazines, books, TV, society, and life as we know it. They need you to be on their side. They need you to be their safe place. They need you to see the good in them when they can’t see it in the midst of their tantrums, challenges, rebelliousness, pain, sickness, and even mistakes. They need you to have faith in them.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to influence thousands like Jen Bricker, but like Jen’s parents, they took their role as influencers seriously. They saw the power in their words, in loving and inspiring their little girl in spite of her challenges and as a result, they have inspired thousands of other people.
Will you consider being that “one person” who will speak words of encouragement during your child’s life despite their challenges?
Today be the one person who sees the beauty in your child!
For more information on Jen and her story: https://clvr.li/2u9tCjy
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.