I am thrilled to announce my very FIRST nominee, T.J. (Tamara) Ellis. T.J. is not only my FIRST nominee but she was DOUBLE nominated!! This young lady is someone I have know for years, but never realized just how truly outstanding she was. Our families have crossed paths many times over the years.
T.J. was first nominated by her aunt, Margaret Long. I asked Margaret to share a few words about T.J.
T.J. Is my niece and she is an inspiration to me all the time. She is a very loving caring person who would go out of her way to help others. A few things about her. She has a wonderful way with words. She loves to write and is very talented in that area. She hopes to be published some day. She is a wonderful Christian and active in her church and other organizations. She is a great aunt to my grandchildren and they climb all over her wheel chair and she loves it. We all love her so much.
T.J. was also nominated by a fellow high school classmate, Amanda Burkhart Newell. Amanda shared the following about T.J.
I would like to nominate T.J. Ellis. I graduated high school with her and she has always had such a contagious, happy spirit. I keep up with her on Facebook and despite the challenges she has been given, she finds a way to stay positive. She is very deserving of being honored for being such an inspiration to all.
Since I know T.J.'s family personally, I reached out to a few of them to see if they would share a little about the positive impact T.J. has had on their lives. T.J.'s mother Madeline Ellis was off course more than happy to talk about her fabulous daughter.
God blessed me 30 years ago with a beautiful daughter that was born with cerebral palsy. For the past 30 years TJ has brought so much joy to me and our entire family! I can’t imagine life without her! TJ has always had a caring heart for others and has always put others before herself! She has always had a very close relationship with Christ and we call her our prayer warrior. She is the one our entire family turns to for prayer request.
TJ has always been outgoing and friendly. She never meets a stranger and has always shown great character and determination in whatever she is involved with. TJ has taught me so much through the last 30 years and is my best friend! She has taught me to face difficulties head on in life, as she has done with her physical challenges. She encourages others and is always ready to help others in need. I am proud to call TJ my daughter!
T.J.'s cousin Kim Long Baucom wanted to share as well.
T. J. Ellis is thoughtful, caring and a great example of a Christian woman. Her caring heart lends her the innate ability understand the needs of others. T.J. is continually reaching out to those in need, whether it is through her actions, sincere prayers or words of comfort. She is a great source of encouragement and is an inspiration to me and to all who meet her. I am so thankful to know her both as my cousin and my friend.
T.J. describes herself as compassionate, funny, driven, and friendly. She says she has a sense of humor and adds that she is flirtatious! T.J. loves the beach and says her nickname is Teej.
T.J. is a part of a very large family. She lives at home with her mom and grandmother. T.J. says that her mom is her hero. She also has a younger brother who is very talented and she is so proud of him.
T.J. is a graduate of Chattanooga Central High School. She also attended college from 2001-2003. If T.J. went back to school, she would attend a Christian college to obtain a BA in Biblical Studies. T.J. volunteers two days a week as a Client Advocate doing crisis intervention for those facing unplanned pregnancies at Choices Pregnancy Resource Center. T.J. is currently training to become a certified pregnancy Life Coach. Although she does not have any children of her own, she loves investing in the lives of children. T.J. does addition work from home. She also loves to speak at churches and inspires others through her devotional writing on her blog. Please take the time to check out her blog, Writing for His Glory.
There is one question that is always asked of individuals in wheelchairs. Some people just can't help it. After all it is human nature to be curious. People that don't know T.J. personally probably want to know why. Why does T.J. need to use a wheelchair? Before I tell you, I would like to provide you with a little 'wheelchair etiquette'. If you run across someone out and about that uses a wheelchair, please don't ask them 'What's wrong with you?'. I know most all of you are thinking 'I would never do that'. Well, let me tell you, you would be surprised at the number of people that think it is an okay question to ask. I get it AT LEAST once a week. Let me assure you, there is nothing 'wrong' with someone that uses a wheelchair. I promise we are exactlly the way God intended us to be.
T.J. was born with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an umbrella term denoting a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement. CP is neither genetic nor a 'disease', and it is also understood that the vast majority of cases are congenital, coming at or about the time of birth, and/or are diagnosed at a very young age rather than during adolescence or adulthood. Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centres of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. The resulting limits in movement and posture cause activity limitation and are often accompanied by disturbances os sensation, depth perception, and other sigh-based perceptual problems, communication ability; impairments can also be found in cognition. (Wikipedia)
T.J. says that one of her biggest challenges is dealing with having to be physically dependent on others. She adds that at times it can take an emotional toll, but she is richly blessed! T.J. states that another challenge is to stay driven while setting realistic goals for her future.
Sometimes the general public has misconceptions about people who use wheelchairs. T.J. feels that people think that those in wheelchairs have it easy. She says that some people think if a person is in a wheelchair, then if they would just try harder the obstacles in their path will just disappear. Sometimes people assume people in wheelchairs are lazy or dumb, and T.J. is always trying to show people that she is neither of those things.
I asked T.J. where she saw herself in 5 years. Her response was that she would like to be more confident in her calling and she hopes to inspire others as she follows the path He has for her. It is her desire to have a devotional book written and published, but most of all, T.J. wants to be closer to her God.
It has been an honor to feature T.J. Ellis as my very first nominee. I hope you all take the time to follow her blog and in five years purchase her published devotional book. T.J. thank you for being an inspiration to all those you touch.