Mandy Young

My Life Is Not About Me

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Does It Bother You When Children Stare?

Posted by Mandy Young on March 30, 2016 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Honestly no it doesn't bother me when children stare, it can bother me when adults stare.  Let me explain.

 

I looooove kids reactions and then their parents reactions. It's one of my favorite things! Kids will all the sudden just stop, stare, do the look up/down, walk around me and then say to their parent HEY MOMMY that girl only has ONE leg!! I crack up because the parent usually goes in hush hush mode! Freaking out thinking that their kid has just offended me in some way, but I'm laughing.  Normally if I see a child starting to stare or if I hear a child ask their parent I will turn to the child and talk to the child about it.  This way I explain it to thid child and I am also showing the parent that I'm okay with it. Kids are awesome!! They will come up to me and ask me what happened to my leg. I have to sometimes be careful in answering that question because I dont want to freak them out and dont want them thinking it could happen to them. But once I have explained it they are like oh okay and then go about their way. Kids are so accepting and they are ready to move on after recieving an answer.  

 

Adults are a different story. Dont get me wrong, I understand you don't see a one legged person walking around everyday (well enless you live in my house) so its different. We notice the differences in everything and everyone. Sometimes we see something that catches our eye and then our minds start to wonder and our thoughts take us 1,000 different places. We're not even really looking at the person because we are gazing into our thoughts but when that person looks at you they think you're staring, which you are but not really. But then there are times when people can't stop taking second and third looks. They want to know what happened or they are trying to figure out, do you only have one leg or is it just broken and I can't see their leg from this angle? Hey I get them all! I know that people stare at me ALL the time and I know it's not because of my super cute looks (haha) I know it's my leg and I'm fine with it. It just depends on how the look is given, but normally I'm okay with it. I would much rather someone asked me what happened for two reasons...1. I get to share the story that God has given me and tell them about how awesome He is! and 2. because once someone finds how why something happened then they stop staring.

 

But I just ask you to watch yourself when you stare at someone because you could cause them to have a complex. I'm completely secure with the way God has made me and I understand that people are just curious and interested. But not all people are like me where they are just getting used to their difference or they aren't as accepting of it, so just be careful :)

Do you ever get phantom pains?

Posted by Mandy Young on February 28, 2016 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Before I answer this question I'll answer another question first that some of you might be asking yourself. What is a phantom pain? Well according to Wikipedia is "Phantom limb pain is the feeling of pain in an absent limb or a portion of a limb." It's basically when nerve endings have been cut and then they try to grow back together but they can't. Studies show that phantom pains are more frequent right after amputation and go away in most cases, but everyone is different.

 

Now let's talk about MY phantom pains. Do I get them? YES! Some I can deal with and some are so bad I can't even talk through them. It's so hard to describe to someone what they feel like because it's an awful pain but where you would think the pain would be (mine feel like they would be in my back upper thigh) but there is nothing there! And unlike most cases mine have gotten worse over the years. I didn't really get them that often when I was younger but now I get them almost weekly. I even had one a few years ago that lasted for 3 days. It was so painful I couldn't even sleep. There is a preventative medicine that you can take but I'm not getting them strong enough or often enough to get put on meds for it.

 

There are three things I can do to help when I get a phantom pain. 1. Just breathe. Sometimes the pain gets so bad I forget to breathe or I just want to hold my breath but that's not helpful. So kind of like having labor pain you just have to breathe through it. 2. I can shake my wound (my amputation site). Sounds weird I know but honestly sometimes it does help. 3. During the 3 day phantom pain I tried to find home remedies of how to get rid of one. I found this and even though I still think it's crazy it does work. A lot of the time a phantom pain is a mind game. My brain still thinks that my leg is there. So while having one I have to figure out if I had a leg where would this pain be coming from and then I have to act like I'm massaging the area of where that pain would be. YES I KNOW, it sounds crazy and I thought it was too but when you are desperate you're willing the try anything and honestly that normally does stop it or at least eases it.

So do you have any questions for me?  I'd love to hear them!  

What do you do with your left shoes?

Posted by Mandy Young on February 24, 2016 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (1)

So I have decided that I want to start answering the questions that I get asked all the time and I'm going to start answering them on my blog!  So if you have a question send them my way!!  So let's start!


Of course I had to answer this one first!!! I get asked this all the time!! I remember one time I was doing an interview on the radio and the dj asked me if I had a dumpster in my backyard just filled with left shoes, and while I got a kick out of his question I wished that my answer would be just as cleaver, but sadly it's not. The answer is.....I just throw them away! This is one reason you'll never see me buying expensive shoes. Anything over $25 is a lot for me to pay on shoes because I know I'm just throwing the other half a way and that's just money down the drain.

 

When I was younger there was a shoe store that I could go to and they would do one of two things. 1. They would just sell me one shoe half off or 2. They would sell me two rights at full price. Option number two always came in handy when buying tennis shoes because I would have one to wear when I played outside and the other was to keep clean and wear to school! But that store has gone out of business and I haven't found another store willing to make this awesome exchange with me. Until that day comes I'll keep buying cheap shoes.

 

Now there is a website (I have never been one it but have heard about) for amputees where you can find shoe partners. Other amputees who wear the same size shoe as you but the opposite leg. So I could find someone who has their left leg and I could take their rights and they could take my lefts. But I have such a wide foot and I have to try everything on, so I dont want to get shoes over the internet. But I really should look into it so someone could have my rights even if I dont want their lefts! I think I just talked myself into checking in to that.


Do you have any questions for me?  It can be about anything...I'm an open book!

KLove Cruise 2016

Posted by Mandy Young on February 7, 2016 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (4)


Can I tell you about one of the best weeks of my life? This past week I had the privilege of working for Premier Christian Cruises on their KLOVE Concert Cruise. I was given the opportunity to work for Premier a little over a year ago and this was my second time serving in hospitality on the KLOVE cruise. And let me tell you, I have nothing but rave reviews!


Premier offers chartered cruise experiences featuring celebrity entertainment, television personalities and musical talent. I have worked on four amazing cruises so far! The first was a KLOVE concert cruise featuring some of the most notable Christian bands and singers on the radio today, second was a Duck Dynasty cruise that hosted much of the family from their TV show, in November they had ‘Sailing with the Scotts’ which was hosted by Drew and Jonathan Scott from HGTV’s The Property Brothers. They also brought along several additional show hosts that held DIY and Q&A classes. They have all been so much fun but I think the one last week has topped them all for me!


There were about 15 Christian artists/bands that set sail with us on the KLOVE cruise. The musical line up included Matthew West, Mercy Me, Crowder, Skillet, Tenth Avenue North, Sidewalk Prophets, Chris Tomlin, Danny Gokey, Moriah Peters, and more! There was also an unbelievably talented painter, Jared Emerson, who is so amazing it’s crazy! Guys, google him, your minds will be blown!


The first night, Matthew West and Mercy Me were in concert and I pretty much cried the entire night. It's just amazing to be there with 5,000 other believers and listen to the crowd sing with their hands raised in the air. They aren't screaming to the band wanting to be noticed, they are praising the Lord and it's beautiful! Each night of the cruise there are two concerts in the main theater and one up on the Aqua Deck. During the day there are a ton of activities to take part in hosted either by MSC (the cruise line we sailed with) or through Premier.


Our stops this year were Montego Bay, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. I'm not going to lie I built Jamaica up a little too much in my head. Now don't get me wrong, the beach was beautiful, but the surrounding areas and getting there was a little scary. There were 19 in our group and yes we were using the buddy system as though we were back in elementary school. We had to wait over an hour for the first bus to take us from our boat to our first stop, shopping; but not before we almost wrecked 3 times because of crazy drivers! Some stayed to shop while 15 of us waited another hour to get on another bus to take us to the beach. Once we finally got to the beach about 7 of us were starving because we hadn't eaten in 2 hours (it’s pretty well known that you eat ALL the time on a cruise and you become quiet use to it) so our group went to this little place right on the beach to grab a bite, but it took us 2 hours to get our food so by the time we finished we were barely able to dip our toes in the water and rush back, only to wait an hour to catch the last shuttle to take us back to the ship! So now our joke is when someone asks us what we did in Jamaica we just say we had lunch. Luckily it was an awesome group and even though it wasn't our favorite adventure, we were already laughing about it before we even got back to the ship.


So do you want to hear about the most epic day ever?!?! Let me tell you about our day in Grand Cayman. One of my awesome cruise coworkers had gone to Grand Cayman for Christmas with her family, so she decided to plan excursions for us! During her trip, she and her family rented a boat and had their own little excursion and since they had so much fun she had taken the company’s information home with her. 22 of us voyaged out on this highly recommended excursion and boy are we happy we did! None of us really knew what we were going to do but we were all up for whatever adventure headed our way!

The water was so blue .... the kind you only see in pictures and just know it had to be photo shopped! Well this wasn’t photo shopped, I saw it with my own eyes. Our first stop wasn't planned but quiet abrupt when one of us (I won’t name names) dropped his phone in the water and our tour guides took an early swim trying to find it. But it worked out nicely because they decided to stop there for us to go conch diving. We put on our snorkel gear and headed out in to the picturesque waters. The girls snorkeled around to find them, and the guys swam down to get them. I felt like my dream of becoming Ariel was finally coming true when I put my fin on! One of the guys handed me a conch shell (we needed 10-15) and I was going to swim back to the boat to hand it over to our guide. I have one hand in the air holding the shell (praying the creature inside wouldn't try to escape while I swam) while my other arm and one foot were trying to swim against the current.... the struggle was real y’all! I had no idea that being a mermaid was so hard; it's not as glamorous as Disney makes it look! Oh and not only did we get our conch shell quota, our friends phone was found during the dive too!

Our second stop was snorkeling and feeding fish, but first our guides showed us how to clean a conch shell and what lives inside. Not gonna lie, it was pretty gross. Snorkeling and feeding the fish was a lot of fun. Although I kept letting salt water sneak in my snorkle because I couldn't stop smiling from the awesomeness around me!


For our next stop we were taken to a sand bar where sting rays swim around you. These are wild sting rays but they are fed every day and around people so they are totally used to people. They were HUGE and kept coming up and rubbing up against us like they were cats. We got to hold one, give it kisses and then it gave us a back rub. I even got to feed one! As they would swim around all I could think of was Steve Irwin and how he died and with the way they were swimming around me I was scared I was going to lose my balance and fall on one so I was always on high alert...who am I kidding? We all were.


Next stop, they took us to find star fish. The water wasn't up high enough for me to get out (I need at least waist high water to be able to balance without crutches) but my friends would bring them over to the boat so I could see and touch them.


Our last stop was to an island where we docked the boat and had lunch. Our guides had taken the conch meat from the shells we dove for earlier and made us fresh ceviche; oh my word it was so good! We also had fish, bbq chicken, rice, coconut bread and salad with fresh garlic vinaigrette dressing! Hands down the best meal any of us had the entire time we were gone. Everyone in our group agreed it was the "BEST DAY EVER" - an experience of a life time. So if you are ever in Grand Cayman check out Captain Marvin's, it's totally worth it!


I love working the KLOVE cruise! I get to meet so many people (and this year there were a ton of Green Bay Packer fans) and make new friends and the concerts are amazing! I'm already excited for next year and I'm freaking out a little that I have to wait 11 months for that to happen! The lineup for next year is amazing too! The Newsboys, For King and Country, Steven Curtis Chapman, Crowder, Jeremy Camp, Rend Collective, Big Daddy Weave, Building 429, Josh Wilson, Francesca Battistelli, Natalie Grant, Matt Maher, Blanca and Finding Normal!!!! Oh my word it's going to be amazing! The stops next year will be Nassau and Amber Cove, Dominican Republic!! Don’t wait, book your cabin now! You can pay in full or they have awesome payment plans. (klovecruise.com)


If you want an incredible vacation that's centered around the Lord, you need to try a KLOVE cruise! You will be blessed! Amazing people, fantastic ports, unbelievable entertainment and a whole lot of fun!


I want to know about your most awesome vacation! Have you been on a KLOVE cruise? A Premier Cruise? Tell me your stories!

 

My Wish

Posted by Mandy Young on August 21, 2015 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Y’all I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this coming weekend! If you follow me on social media you might have seen that I am now a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and this weekend I will be throwing my first wish reveal party! I will explain all of that next weekend after I throw the party so be on the lookout for that next week. I realized in all of this that in the past I’ve talked about how I was a “wish” child but I’ve never really told you what I wished for.

For those of you who don’t know exactly what a wish foundation does, let me explain. Wish foundations are geared to making terminally/seriously ill children’s dream come true. So if the child wants to be a cowboy, they will give him authentic cowboy clothes, roping and riding lessons all at an amazing dude ranch. If a little girl wants to meet her favorite Disney princess she’ll get to go to Disney World (or Disney Land or maybe a Disney Cruise) where she’ll meet her fairytale best friend along with other princesses she may have dreamed to meet. Or maybe a teenager wants to go on a shopping spree, the foundation makes it happen. Really in the mind of a child the options are endless.

When I was 9 years old (when I lost my leg) I was approached by a wish foundation about having my wish granted. And at 9 years old most girls are dreaming of being a princess or playing on a beach somewhere…but there was only one thing that I wanted and it had nothing to do with any of that. There was only one thing that my little heart would jump with excitement over - hands down I wanted to meet New Kids On The Block. Just a little side note: When I lost my leg and I was in a coma for two weeks (no one knowing if I would ever wake up) my parents played my NKOTB tapes over and over in my ICU room hoping that would wake me from my slumber. I was even moved to a larger ICU room at one point because of all the NKOTB paraphernalia that filled my room. That’s right, I was a super fan!

The day had finally arrived that I was going to meet the boys that held my heart. I was most excited to meet Jonathan Knight. He was the one that I would take markers and draw hearts around his head. Every girl I knew was totally head over hills for Donnie; but not me. My heart pitter patted for Jonathan but following close in second was Joey. The wish foundation put my family up in a hotel where we got ready for the concert. My sister and I dressed in our 90’s best….white tank tops, jean skirts, Keds with bright, neon socks, a hat & suspenders that were covered in NKOTB buttons! We were decked out and ready to go! At first we were supposed to go backstage before the concert for our meet and greet and then enjoy the concert. But the guys never showed up and we were told they were running late so we would meet them afterwards. We went to our seats and screamed our little hearts out, danced, sang and I’m sure being the fan girl that I am I cried a little too from all the excitement. Right before the encore we were escorted backstage to fulfill my dream. But again the boys were a no show. We were then told to go to the hotel where the guys were staying and they would meet us there. Once again a no show. My 9 year old heart was completely broken. All my little preteen heart wanted was to meet the guys I loved so much. But it was not meant to be. Even though the concert was awesome, my dream had been shattered.

                                                                         

A couple of weeks later my mom got a call from someone at the hospital where I had been an inpatient for months when I had my leg amputated. Mom came to my room and said there was someone at the hospital that wanted to meet me and that we needed to get ready and go. Being the medical mystery that I am, doctors are the only people that ever want to meet me so in my head I’m thinking I’m going to meet a new doctor. We get to the hospital and for some reason we were waiting in a hallway. Being very comfortable in hospitals (since growing up they were more like a first home than a second) my sister, cousin and I were playing around just waiting for this doctor. All of the sudden this large group of people round the corner; the sea parts and standing in front of me is Mike Seaver (aka Kirk Cameron, but I didn’t know his real name then I just knew him from Growing Pains so his name was Mike to me). I was in shock. It wasn’t a doctor that wanted to meet me it was Kirk. Come to find out the wish foundation that had tried to make my wish come true had also brought Kirk to the hospital to meet the kids in the hospital. They told him about me and what had happened and he asked if I could come back to the hospital and meet him. They called my parents and told them what was going on but my parents didn’t tell me who wanted to meet me just in case another NKOTB moment was about to happen. They didn’t want to put my fragile little heart through that again. But not this time…he was there….standing right in front of me and even though he tried to talk to me no words could come out of my mouth. He didn’t mind he stood there and took pictures with me.

                     

You wanna know what’s awesome about this meeting? 25 years later we are still friends with the Cameron family. After meeting him at the hospital that day, his mom invited us to come to California to see tapings of Growing Pains and Full House (his sister Candace played DJ Tanner on Full House and will be starring in the new Fuller House reclaiming her role as DJ for Netflix, Jan 2016).

My family was then invited to spend a week with Kirk and his family at Camp Firefly, a camp he created for critically ill children in 1990 where he chooses 5 children from the hundreds he meets at children’s hospitals across the country each year to basically go on the most wonderful vacation imaginable. After that week, our families became close and today, the Cameron family is like my own - I love the entire family so much!

Wanna hear the God part of the story? For my 30th birthday my parents gave me a plane ticket to LA! I was so excited! Then I opened Candace’s (Cameron Bure) gift and it was NKOTB/BSB tickets for the L.A. show for when I was going to be there! The night of the concert we danced, cried and sang our hearts out. And after the show we went backstage. As our group walked down the hallway, the first person I see was none other than Jonathan Knight. All of the sudden I was 9 years old again. My eyes filled with tears, I mean come on, I had been waiting 21 years for this moment. He ran up to Candace and Andrea (who you might know better as Kimmy Gibbler from Full House) and gave them hugs. Then they went around our circle introducing everyone. We also met Donnie and Joey (but never Danny or Jordan). But during that night it hit me. If my wish would have come true 21 years before, all it would have been was handshakes, hugs and some pictures and it would have been over. But because that night never happened and we met Kirk and the Camerons, my wish was coming true with who else but a Cameron! As hard as it was to understand when I was 9, it now all made sense, it was all in God’s timing. My eyes filled with tears again figuring out the connection and how awesome God is! And I’m sure you’re wondering, did I tell Jonathan, Joey or Donnie about my wish and my broken heart at 9 years old? The answer is no. It wasn’t the time or place; I was just thankful that it was happening then.

                                                                              

But let’s rewind back 25 years again and let me finish the rest of that story. Since my wish was never technically granted (Kirk’s mom was responsible for bringing us to LA) another wish foundation heard about me and they offered to grant me a wish. As we filled out the paperwork, we saw three blanks on the questionnaire where you write down what your 3 top wishes are. (Honestly I don’t remember what all three of them were now I just remember what I got.) But once we filled out the paperwork I had no idea what or when I was going to have my wish revealed to me. One day I had gone to school and my mom was going to check me out early because it was Jump Rope for Heart day. A school fund raiser where you had to get sponsors and jump rope your heart out. Well I couldn’t do that, I had just lost my leg and I could barely walk on crutches at this point so since I was going to be sitting on the sidelines mom said she would check me out early. Once we were home like any 9 year old does, I walked in the living room dropped my book bag and headed for the couch. As I start to sit down mom asked me to get my book bag and take it to my room. Being the precious sweet and obedient child I am, I did as my mother asked. I opened the door to my room and I froze. There was a TV camera, reporter, and a fairy Godmother standing there waiting on me and capturing my reaction to my new fantasy bedroom! When I left that morning my room was neon wicker furniture, a day bed, posters of New Kids all over my walls and stuffed animals hanging in a net shelf in the corner of the room. My dream room was completely different, it was for a big girl. There was a canopy bed with a porcelain doll propped on the pillows. A dresser with a desk attached. On the desk was a computer (and this was before people had computers in their house, especially not in their bedrooms). Plus my favorite part a TV/VCR combo…in my room! The colors were mostly white with light pink and soft blue accents. Seriously I was in so much shock you could have knocked me over with a feather. The reporter kept trying to talk to me but like the Mike Seaver experience nothing would come out. I was just trying to take it all in. I still have the wand the Fairy Godmother gave me that day. It has a silver glitter star on top of a white stick. When our house fire happened last year and it was clean out day. There was a dumpster outside underneath my bedroom window. The firemen busted out the window to my room so they could get inside to put out the fire. So when the cleanout crew came in they would just get an arm load and throw in out the window to fall in the dumpster. One day I walked over to the dumpster just to see all of my belongings destroyed inside. But lying on the ground, all by itself, was my magic wand. I grabbed it, cleaned the soot off of it and displayed it in my hotel room.

                                                        

So if you’re keeping count, I kind of got two/three wishes; it just took 21 years and God intervening for the first wish to happen. Although I do believe it was God’s plan all along, I just had to wait out His timing. Oh how true that is in every aspect of my life. God’s timing is always perfect.

 

 

The House Fire: One year later

Posted by Mandy Young on August 5, 2015 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

One year ago today, my dad and I were outside unpacking my car of things I didn’t need so that I could fit my luggage and merchandise in that I was taking with me to North Carolina where I had a speaking engagement. All of the sudden my mom (who had just gotten out of the hospital from having both of her diseased kidneys removed) wobbled to the door, barely able to stand, telling us she could hear an alarm but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. As Dad hurried inside he could hear the faint alarm and followed it’s sound, but didn’t realize what it was until he reached the door to the stairwell that went up to my room. He opened the door and now the alarm was blaring and black smoke filled the air and rushed downstairs. He ran up the stairs through the smoke to see what was happening and found my entire room full of thick, black smoke and my bed engulfed in flames! He ran back down the stairs yelling to mom that our house was on fire to get outside. I was still in the driveway, not having a clue what was going on and I heard my parents calling for our dog and my mom yelled, “Mandy call 911! The house is on fire!” I was in shock...I didn't know what to do and was in disbelief and wondered if I heard her correctly. She yelled it again! Mandy, call 911 our house is on fire!

I told her my phone was inside and she yelled to dad to grab a phone and they ran out the door (well she wobbled). While mom called 911, Dad told me that it was my room that was on fire and my bed was in flames. Still in shock and disbelief, I turned to look at the side of the house where my bedroom window was and smoke was pouring out of the air conditioning unit. The fire department arrived very quickly, but it felt like it took forever. We were standing in our driveway, mostly in shock, not knowing what to do when one of the firemen yelled, “is everyone out of the house?” We shouted yes! Another said to mom, “mam your house is burning, it’s not safe here, please go across the street.” Dad and I helped her and Bailey, our 16 year old dog, across the street and then dad moved our cars.

We waited outside for hours as they put the fire out and checked for hot spots. There were 5 fire trucks, the fire chief’s car and 4 police cars from what I remember. As neighbors and friends heard what was happening, many came to our side.

I paced our neighbor’s drive way thinking, how did this happen? What did I lose? Could anything be saved? How was I going to get to NC to speak for the two events I had booked for the next day? Do I cancel or do I go? Thoughts were racing through my mind. Five hours passed and finally after standing out in the Georgia heat and humidity in early August, with mosquitoes eating me alive, the fire chief came to talk to us. After he realized it was my room where the fire started, he wanted to discuss the possibilities of what could have started it with me. He asked me numerous questions like where was I when it started and if I had started smoking and caused the fire it was time to confess, crazy stuff like that! I said, sir I don’t smoke, I was outside and I haven’t been upstairs all day and he left.

As the firemen came out they began to take off their suits and helmets and that’s when I realized I knew one of them. I rushed across the street to him and asked, “how bad is it?" He turned to look at me and I could tell he was surprised I was there and said "Mandy, was that your room?" I shook my head yes and his face dropped. He shook his head and said, “Mandy, it doesn't look good". My stomach sank.

Soon after the rescue teams left and gave us the ok, mom, dad and I entered the house to see the damage. It smelled as though someone was burning food on 5 charcoal grills and the smoke was trapped inside. We soon found out that while the fire didn’t reach downstairs, the smoke got into the heating and air system and spread throughout the house and water was pouring out of ceilings and some had fallen in. The stairs leading up to my room were sopping wet and the walls were covered in black soot with water streaks from the fire hose. As I reached the top of my stairs, I turned to see that my entire room looked the exact same as the stairwell. Night was starting to fall and the room was dark since there was no electricity but from what I could see pictures were blown from one side of the room to the other, the far right corner of my room was burned from where the fire started and everything in its way had melted or disappeared. My suitcase that was lying underneath the window and was filled with clothes for my speaking events was destroyed along with everything inside. Both closets that once held my clothes were now filled with empty wire hangers, ashes and threads of their remains. My bed, my beautiful, most comfortable bed in the world, was gone. I looked around and realized, it was all gone. The only possessions I had left was the navy blue sun dress I had on and my flip flop. Later I remembered that thankfully my purse and phone were downstairs, but everything else I owned was gone.

I walked back downstairs and told my parents I needed to book a flight to NC for early the next morning and two of my girlfriends who were still at the house loaded me into a car and we went on a shopping frenzy for essentials and a few select pieces of clothing so I could still go on my trip. At this point I think I was still in shock and running on pure adrenaline. I kept thinking if I stay here there is nothing I can do...but if I go to NC I can work for God and let Him tell my story; that's where He needs me to be tomorrow. My parents thought it was important that I go too, so the plans were laid.

I remember being in Target, I grabbed two dresses, a pair of pajamas, a suitcase, a shoe and then I would be like okay girls I'm done. Then one would say "ummm Mandy don't you need underwear?" I would be like, "OH yeah I'm gonna need that! Okay now I'm done." Then the other would say, “Ummm Mandy don't you need a hair dryer? Shampoo? Soap? And I'd be like " OOOH yeah I'm gonna need that too!" I really don't know what I would have done without my girlfriends that night and them being my brain. With their help I was able to get everything I needed. We came back to the "fire house" and they helped me pack and book my flight. That night I stayed with friends who offered to take me to the airport early the next morning. My parents were able to reach our insurance agent, who happened to be on vacation, and he guided them as to what to do. They checked into a hotel.

The entire night I texted with my mom while lying on my friend’s couch. I couldn't sleep and neither could she. Thoughts flooded my brain and kept me awake, plus I was scared I was going to oversleep and miss my flight, so I think I got an hour of sleep the entire night.

While I was out of town, I got a picture text of a pink bible from a friend and she asked me if it was mine. I told her it was. She said that a guy working at our house that she is friends with had taken a picture and posted it on Facebook. He also described how my room looked, how everything was a complete loss until he walked over to my now burned desk and sitting on top of the ash, soot and water, completely unharmed, dry and undisturbed, was my Bible. Hanging right above the desk I had a large, wrought iron cross. In his picture, the cross itself was not there (it landed 10 feet away during the fire) but instead was an imprint of the cross created by smoke and soot on the wall. I still get chills thinking about it. And that's when it hit me. God's got His hands ALL over this - so I can't be mad. I can't be upset about it when I know God's at work.

After a couple of days of investigating, it was discovered that a faulty IPhone charger (the Apple cord that came with my phone) that was bent, not broken, not frayed or showing wires, just bent, caused the fire. It sparked and a spark hit my pillow on my bed, which caught on fire and the rest is history. And this is where I beg you……If you have a bent or frayed charging cord, PLEASE get rid of it! If you have tape keeping it together, that’s dangerous too! Please throw it away! It's worth the cost for a new one! I do not want you to have to go through what we have. My mom asked the fire investigator if he had ever seen this before and he said they get calls every single day for the same thing! Please learn from this – if your cord is questionable, throw it away!

I'm not going share all of the past 11 ½ months. Yes - we were out of our home for 11 ½ months! Honestly, so much happened, it's simply too much for one post! Let me just say this…we were told in the first week of the aftermath of the fire, this would be a 4 to 8 week job and we would be back in our home. It took 11 ½ months for us to move back in and it still isn't finished! My parents have worked themselves like crazy completing work the contractors were paid to do. And in the last month, we have had to hire an inspector, a contractor, an electrician, and a plumber to come out and finish or correct issues caused by the restoration company we hired. So please, check out your contractor completely. Ask for references, licenses, permits, etc.! Although our contractor came highly recommended, he disappointed many people. The damage done to our property, the work left undone, the bad quality of workmanship, is crazy – but I really can’t say anything more due to some potential legal issues. But I will say this, what has gotten us through this experience is our faith in God and a whole LOT of prayers!

That’s enough about the bad, let me tell you some good things that have happened! The hotel that my parents went to that first night, became our home (which I call the home-tel) for the next 11 ½ months. The question we are asked the most is why didn't you get an apartment or a rental house during those months. And the answer is, when the fire happened my mom had just gotten home from the hospital from having major surgery and my parents asked the insurance rep if we could stay in the hotel for a few days to regroup and get a time frame on the reconstruction. Those few days turned into a few weeks at which point we were told it would only be a few more weeks to possibly a month and we would be home and my parents couldn’t see finding an apartment, renting furniture, etc. for a few weeks. So we stayed. And every few weeks the same thing happened. You’ll be in by Thanksgiving! By Christmas! By the first of the year! By the 3rd week of January! And on and on!

At some point we stopped thinking about leaving and made the hotel our home. The staff became part of the family. We treated our rooms like our home. I’m sure you’re thinking of course you didn’t want to leave you had daily housekeeping. But to tell you the truth it was our home so we cleaned our own rooms , cleaned our bathrooms, changed our sheets and did our own laundry. So I’m pretty sure we were housekeepings favorite guests!

And during the months we spent there we continued living our lives! Alex and I put together a Lovin Life 5k, we celebrated Alex and Chad's 30th birthdays, celebrated mom’s, dad’s, my two nieces and my birthdays, we went to Disney World (thanks to a kind friend ), decorated our hotel rooms for Christmas, I was an extra on the TV show The Originals, worked as a hostess on the KLOVE cruise, I took classes and became a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish foundation, , I traveled to some pretty cool places sharing my life’s story and testimony, flew to VA to see Natasha Bure be crowned the Apple Blossom Queen and met some amazing people, got a whole round of acid shots for my knee, I had a pink stripe put in my hair (twice), Alex had emergency surgery, I flew to Washington DC and was in the hospital for 3 days, I went on an awesome girls getaway with some blogging friends , mom was in the hospital twice, we took a family beach trip, we reunited with old friends and made new ones and the list goes on and on. You see what I did there? I could have gone to an angry, bitter place because talking about the process of the rebuild takes me down an ugly road. Instead I chose to look at all the fun and awesome things that came out of the last year while we weren't in our house. And too, what good would it have done for us to be bitter, complain, or wish for something different? We know that everything is in God’s timing and for His purpose – we are simply here to watch His plan unfold!

I will be posting pictures soon of my new room and all the changes that my parents did downstairs too! It's really coming together nicely and I can't wait to show you. My family and I are going to have an open house/house warming to let those who have been on this journey with us to come and see the house. Which means that I won't be posting pictures until after the reveal - sorry!

Thank you for your love, caring, thoughts, cards, calls, visits, gifts, help and prayers over the last year. Thank you just doesn’t seem big enough! We are still in the depths of putting the house together, paper work and negotiations. So if I could ask, please keep us in your prayers! Thank you for going along this journey with us, we couldn't have gotten through it without you

 


 

Making Dreams Come True

Posted by Mandy Young on February 23, 2015 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Are you looking to give back to a wonderful cause? Would you? Today I donated to one that touches my heart and I thought I would share it with you just in case you are looking like me.

I'm not sure if you know this about me but I was a "wish" kid when I was younger. So you might be asking yourself, what is a wish kid? Well, let me explain. There are some wonderful organizations that grant wishes for children with life threatening medical conditions. My wish was granted after I lost my leg. What was my wish you ask? Well that's for another blog because this one isn't about me! hehe :) Needless to say these types of organizations have a special place in my heart.

There is a radio station here in Atlanta, Q100, and one week a year while listening to them I am guaranteed to cry. Bert Weiss (Q100's morning show DJ) started his non-profit in 2002 called Bert's Big Adventure. This is an all-expenses-paid, five-day trip to Walt Disney World® for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families. They have no idea how amazing their week is going to be! See more at: http://bertsbigadventure.org/about-us/our-mission/#sthash.dVitWxRq.dpuf

Hearing the children's stories and knowing the life they live (because I once lived it too) brings me to tears. When you’re a sick child (or the family of a sick child) you don't get vacations. You see hospital rooms, doctor offices and treatment facilities. Even when you aren't in one of those places you normally don't have the money to go on vacation because of medical bills. Families dream of making their sick and sometimes dying child's wish come true. To make them happy and feel like a normal kid even if it’s only for one day. That's why organizations like Bert's Big Adventure and other wish foundations are so important. Plus with Bert's Big Adventure families get to meet other families who are going through similar things and that gives them a bond. These children get to make new friends who can relate to what the other one is going through. Plus they get to have the time of their little lives at the happiest place on earth!

This week happens to be Bert's Big Adventure week! I can imagine all the fun the families are having! Even though their stories make me cry, they bring a smile to my face and heart too! I noticed through Twitter that they are looking for donations and I couldn't help but give. You can make a donation too! My heart strings were being pulled and there was no way I could say no. And before you ask, no I am not a spokesperson for this organization, nor did they grant my wish. I just wanted to share a cause with you that I feel is worthy of your donation. Maybe you're looking for somewhere to donate or you hadn’t even thought about it, either way, Bert's Big Adventure is worth you taking a look at!

Thank you to Bert Weiss, the morning crew and the volunteers that have been part of Bert's Big Adventure. You are doing something so awesome for these children and their families. It's a memory they will hold tight for the rest of their lives. My wish was 25 years ago and I remember everything about it! You're doing a wonderful thing and I pray that it continues for many years to come!

If you would like to make a donation please visit: http://bertsbigadventure.org/support-us/donate/


How do you buy shoes? What do you do with your left shoes?

Posted by Mandy Young on February 20, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)


How do you buy shoes.? What do you do with all your left shoes??- Thanks for your question @jlockett99

 

Of course I had to answer this one first!!! I get asked this all the time!! I remember one time I was doing an interview on the radio and the dj asked me if I had a dumpster in my backyard just filled with left shoes, and while I got a kick out of his question I wished that my answer would be just as cleaver, but sadly it's not. The answer is.....I just throw them away! This is one reason you'll never see me buying expensive shoes. Anything over $25 is a lot for me to pay on shoes because I know I'm just throwing the other half a way and that's just money down the drain.

 

When I was younger there was a shoe store that I could go to and they would do one of two things. 1. They would just sell me one shoe half off or 2. They would sell me two rights at full price. Option number two always came in handy when buying tennis shoes because I would have one to wear when I played outside and the other was to keep clean and wear to school! But that store has gone out of business and I haven't found another store willing to make this awesome exchange with me. Until that day comes I'll keep buying cheap shoes.

 

Now there is a website (I have never been on this site but I have heard about) for amputees where you can find shoe partners. Other amputees who wear the same size shoe as you but the opposite leg. So I could find someone who has their left leg and I could take their rights and they could take my lefts. But I have such a wide foot and I have to try everything on, so I dont want to get shoes over the internet. But I really should look into it so someone could have my rights even if I dont want their lefts! I think I just talked myself into checking in to that.

I'm always looking for more questions to answer!  Feel free to send them to [email protected]

Valentines Day 2015

Posted by Mandy Young on February 18, 2015 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

If you've read one of my previous Valentine's Day posts you know that I am not a sit at home and cry over a gallon of ice cream while watching chick flicks kind of girl. That's not my idea of enjoying the life that God has given me. Single or taken I'm going to have fun! In years past I have gotten single friends (ladies and gents) together for dinner and/or any other fun activity that the group wanted to do. This year was no exception! I have been friends with Katie since high school. I messaged her on AOL instant messenger thinking that she was someone else and instead of getting embarrassed, a friendship was created. Seventeen years later we are still friends! Morgane and I met at the gym and clicked right away. Even though we've only been friends for about 5 years, it feels like we???ve known each other for much longer. This wonderful two-some are also my Disney escapade buddies! Whenever the three of us are together it's fun, fun, fun! In years past I've always kind of made a plan for the group but this year I hadn't. I sent text messages to Morgane and Katie Valentine's morning to see if they had any ideas for the day. None of us knew what we wanted to do, but we wanted to do something. Then I remembered that Morgane has been wanting to go to the World of Coke!! Perfect! Let's do it and then we???ll have dinner (somewhere low key where all the mushy couples wouldn???t be). I texted the girls and they were all in so we hurried and got ready, got in the car and headed to downtown Atlanta. Once we got off the exit to the World of Coke we noticed that traffic was CRAZY! Yes we understood it was Valentine's Day but there was NO way this was just holiday traffic. We couldn't get into the parking garage for the World of Coke so we tried to find another place to park. This one guy tried to get us to park in his lot for $30!! I told him he was nuts and told Morgane to keep driving! But traffic was out of control and after we realized there were several events going on around the area, we knew we needed a new game plan. So Katie suggested....THE ZOO! So off toward the Zoo we went. But it was a bit chilly and very windy, so I wasn't too keen on the idea and right as we pulled into the parking lot it hit me....Girls, the circus is in town, let's go to the circus! They were all in! We headed back toward the crazy traffic and once there, we sat!! HA! I thought Katie was going to lose her mind (traffic makes her nervous and a bit, well, crazy). But even sitting in traffic we told stories, laughed and giggled! Morgane even snort laughed for the very first time in life! HeHe! We finally made it to the arena, traffic was insane and I got yelled at for not bringing my handi-tag (I've really gotta start putting that thing in my purse!). Once at the gate we realized the show had started 30 minutes earlier, but they let us in anyway and we had great seats! None of us had been to the circus since we were little so this was something different and fun! We ate ourselves into a sugar coma with snow cones and cotton candy but added in a little salt with popcorn; while we watched the amazing acrobats, elephants, trapeze artists, dogs, goats, llamas, HUGE pigs, fire performers, kangaroos and so much more!! We all agreed we were so glad that we went! After the circus we luckily didn't hit too much traffic like we thought we would. Which was a good thing because our tummies were growling and we needed to find some actual food! We went to one of our Atlanta favorites Tin Lizzy's! It's a Mexican Cantina and If you know me, you know that Mexican food is the way to my heart (hehe), my Valentine's knew what I wanted! We stuffed ourselves with fried pickles, cheese dip, salsa and tacos! We even got lucky with no waiting to sit! And of course over dinner we discussed our next Disney adventure! So, you see, even if you are single on Valentine's Day you don't have to hate the day. The day is what you make it. If you want to wallow in sadness that's what you have chosen to do. But I have realized that this day is not about just loving one person. God's greatest commandment to us is to LOVE. So that's what I do. I love love. I love my life. I love the people in my life. Therefore I celebrate every day. I hope that I tell the people in my life that I love them more than just one day. But just because I'm single doesn't mean that I can't enjoy or love this holiday. I make the best and most of it. At this point a boy would just mess up my normal fun Valentine's Day plans! So until the day comes where a boy messes that all up for me (hehe), I will enjoy every Valentine's Day with the people in my life I love; whether that's my friends or my family. I had a fun filled Valentine's Day, I hope you did too!

KLOVE Cruise 2015

Posted by Mandy Young on February 15, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (1)

It's been a month since my Premier KLOVE cruise and I think I'm over my post cruise blues to finally

talk about it! It was such an awesome week! My friend Brandi and I were asked to be part of the

Premier Hospitality crew for the KLOVE Music Cruise sailing from Miami to the Bahamas and a private

island too!

After our meeting and instructions, our first job started right away! We welcomed passengers as they

boarded the ship, answered questions, pointed them in the right direction of where they wanted to go

and even registered guests for next year’s cruise!

Our week was spent on The MSC Divina. I had never cruised with this line before but it was great. The

Divina is only two years old and she's beautiful! MSC is an Italian cruise line offering a full course dining

room, an authentic pizzeria and gelato stand! And yes, I tried them all!

Our first day on board was mostly getting everyone acquainted to the Divina. You know, just trying to

figure out where to eat, sleep, buy merchandise and find the concert locations. By the time everyone

boarded it was time for early dinner or the first concert! Every night there were two concerts and two

dinner times. If you had early dinner you went to the later concert, if you had late dinner you went to

the early concert. Either way it was the same concert!

Our first night For King and Country and Building 429 performed. I had seen For King and Country at the

KLOVE awards this past summer and I loved them! Their performance was my favorite of the night so I

couldn't wait to see them again! They did not disappoint! Don't get me wrong Building 429 was great

but if you have a chance to see FKAC, go see them!

The next morning we docked in Freeport. Brandi and I got off the boat to visit the straw market to buy

little keepsakes for our families back home. What was supposed to be a rainy day ended up being

beautiful and sunny! After our time on land we decided to go back to the ship, find our friends and lay

out by the pool on the top deck. It was so enjoyable. But our time was cut short because we had to get

dressed for dinner and head to that night’s concert. Colton Dixon and Casting Crowns were about to

take us to church! I tell you what those American Idol kids can sing; Colton rocked the house! Casting

Crowns is an all-time favorite group of mine too! Not only because they are amazing, but maybe

because I go to church with them and have just gotten to know them over the years. Later that night

registration opened for the 2016 KLOVE cruise! And The Blue Angels, our self-named group, were hard

at work booking rooms for next year!

Thursday we docked in Nassau, Bahamas. Some of the Blue Angels and I decided to take a water taxi

over to the Atlantis Resort. On our way we saw one of our cruisers in a wheelchair sitting by himself.

We asked if he wanted to join us for the day and he happily accepted. Little did poor Peter know that

we were going to push him all over kingdom come! He probably regretted accepting our invitation after

the first 10 minutes! But everyone really did have so much fun on our little adventure that day.

Once back on the Divina is was time for showers. Dinner and the nightly entertainment was just around

the corner. That night we saw Chris August (who I might have a little crush on) and Mandisa! It was a

little more of a chill night with Chris August, which honestly was very welcomed (I was exhausted!). But then we were jumping up and down and dancing with Mandisa. After Mandisa’s concert, we stayed to

rock out with Sanctus Real. Who by the way were amazing!

Friday we dropped our anchor at Great Stirrup Kay, the cruise lines private island. It was so pretty. The

weather was a little windy and gray but we didn’t care. We sat on the beach wrapped in towels because

it was a little chilly, but we didn’t care, we were still on the beach! I walked down to the water’s edge to

put my foot in the crystal blue ocean and right as my toes touched the water, a man’s voice came

through a speaker telling us we had to clear the island and get back on our boat, a storm was coming in

and we had to leave early. Bummer! But once everyone was back on the boat, The Blue Angels went to

work booking next year’s cruise!

Evening came and it was time for our last night of concerts! Music provided by Plumb and the

Newsboys! Wow! They were awesome!!! Then back to work we went for our last shift! After turning

in our walkie talkies we headed up to the pool deck to hear the bon voyage concert! It was sad to know

it was all coming to end!

I told you about the amazing concerts that our schedules allowed us to see, but we also had wonderful

speakers like Bob Goeff and Lysa Terkhurst who led devotionals. Singers Tim Timmons and Byron

Chambers were great, there was the amazing painter Jared Emerson, a meet and greet with Bob and

Larry from Veggie tales, people were baptized in the hot tub, couples got engaged, precious Make A

Wish families on board, and so much more!!

Next year is going to be awesome too!! The KLOVE Cruise will be on the MSC Divina again! Cruising

January 25-30, 2016 going to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Georgetown and the Cayman Islands. The lineup

for next year.....are you ready for this?!?! Chris Tomlin, Skillet, Matthew West, MercyMe, Crowder, Kari

Jobe, Sidewalk Prophets, Francesca Battistelli, Tenth Avenue North, Citizens Way, Danny Gokey, Moriah

Peters and Unspoken! It's going to be amazing! If you want more information on how to sail next year,

visit their website! www.klovecruise.com

Happy Sailing!



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