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When it's hard for an optimist to be optimistic

Posted by Mandy Young on May 9, 2019 at 2:35 PM

By nature I guess I’m what you would call an optimistic person. Although I see myself as a realist optimist. You give me a situation and I’ll give you the bright side. It’s just ingrained in me. But I’m not going to lie sometimes it’s even hard for an optimistic person to be bright and shiny all the time when they are surrounded with so much negativity.

When I speak I talk about how important having a support system is. It’s about the people that you surround yourself with. And as cliché as it may sound you are who you hang out with. If you hang with negative people then you will become negative. It’s just the nature of the beast. I try to make sure that I surround myself with people that are my cheerleaders and encourage me (and I do the same for them). I want positive in my life. Life is negative enough and we don’t need our peers to bring us down faster and effect our attitude.

Yesterday I was just having one of those days. The negative, negative and negative had been building up. I was on the verge of a break down or at least a good cry. I woke up in the mood and started carrying it on with me throughout my day. By lunchtime I just needed a break. I got in my car drove to a drive thru and just sat there and ate. I needed sometime to just be still. I have been in pain which wears on your body and your mind. I feel like I need rest but I’m not really getting it. I felt uneasy about my job. Real estate is not the most upbeat career (which is what helped make me a realist). I felt like I was failing at what I was hired to do. Sometimes I just feel like a light in a dark world. Or as I like to put in trolls terms I’m the Poppy in a Branch world. And honestly I love knowing that I’m His light. I want to be that….that is part of my purpose in this world. But when you feel surrounded by Branch people and situations it can be hard even for an optimist.

But then I remembered a sermon I had just recently heard (and honestly something that I normally try to remind others of but I just needed to hear it myself) is that God has you exactly where HE wants you. Not where I might want myself but where HE wants me. I’m there for a reason. I have purpose. So basically suck it up buttercup God has a purpose for you right where you are Mandy! Sometimes I need those mental spankings to get my head back in the game and remind myself that as much as my generation so wants me to believe that my life is all about me….it’s not at all. His plan. His purpose. That’s all that matters.

Later last night my mom and I went to dinner. I saw a guy that was sitting at the bar that I’ve known since high school and who I’m friends with on facebook. We exchanged hellos and how are yous and then mom and I headed to our table. I sat there explaining my day to my mom. I just needed to vent and get it off my chest. We had some great mother daughter time. At the end of our meal we asked for our checks and our waitress informed us that our meal had already been paid for already from a gentleman that was sitting at the bar. I said did he have on a blue shirt and she said yes. I went straight to facebook messenger and asked him if he paid for our meal. He answered with scripture “ My food, said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”-John 4:34 and then said With your faith and your Mom's love all near shall know the righteous path of God!!#TRUEROLEMODEL

I was in shock. You just never know who you are impacting by just being you. You never know who’s watching you live your life. You never know who is noticing your light when you think it’s being hidden. When you are shining for Jesus you are always shining.

So just in case you need what I needed yesterday. Here’s your reminder: You are exactly where you need to be. Be content and shine for Him. You are impacting those around you even when you don’t know it. Continue to be a cupcake in a muffin world. And don’t be shocked if you catch yourself singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shiiiiiiiiine!!


“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.…” Matthew 5:14-15


My word for 2019 is....

Posted by Mandy Young on January 22, 2019 at 11:55 PM

So I'm going to start this off with an apology. I was planning on putting this blog out Jan 1st and here we are at Jan 23rd. But there are two things that made this delay happen. Even though it's true this is going to seem like an excuse but I have been SUPER busy with work. I work in a real estate office and the first of the year things get kind of crazy. But when I wasn't working there I was working on speaking. Booking/hopefully booking some events (if you would like me to come and speak at your church, women's event or youth event let me know who to contact: NAME, CHURCH AND EMAIL ADDRESS and I will reach out) and working on new merch. Plus there is just family, friends and normal life happening too. So I'm sorry! But really it's because of number 2 of why I haven't written it and that's because I was still trying to figure my word of the year out. I had already started writing the blog that I thought I was going to put out but something just didn't feel right about it and even though I thought it was my word of the year something just kept telling me that it wasn't. But then I figured it out and what I thought was my word now became a part of my actual word. So are you ready to know what it is???? My word for 2019 is DIFFERENT. I have a feeling right now you might be a little confused. Different? That's your word? So let me do a little big of explaining of why and how I picked this word. When I started praying about my word of the year initially the word that kept coming up was intentional and I really thought that was my word. But it just never really felt right and when I started trying to write the blog something told me to stop. I realized I was trying to put a deadline on myself just to get a blog out instead of really listening to what God wanted for me. So that's what I did. I stopped and prayed for more guidance. Then about a week later I was driving in the car and I was listening to my music that I have downloaded on my phone and the song Different by Micah Tyler came on. And it was like it hit me like a ton of bricks! THAT???S IT!!! THAT???S MY WORD!!!! And right now you're thinking but Mandy you are already so different than everyone else isn't this word a little easy for you? And yes I see why you might think that. But this is not the way that I'm using it. I'm not using it because of my crazy gene situation or because I only have one leg. Yes I usually stand out in the crowd physically and medically but I want to be different for Jesus. I want for people to see me but know that I'm oozing with His joy and confidence and know that it could only be because of Him. I socially want to be different too and that's where the word intentional comes in. I want to be more intentional about what I'm doing, where I am and who I'm with. I want to be present. I want to put the phones away unless someone is showing me or unless I'm showing someone something. But then as soon as that is done put the phone back up. I've noticed more and more we are all distracted with our phones. One thing leads to another and it's like a rabbit hole. Pulling out the phone and texting someone back and having a convo but then not really paying attention to the person that is sitting right in front of us. That can make them feel unappreciated or unimportant. We don't mean to but it happens. I want to be present in the moment and take notice of it instead of trying to capture it on my phone. I want to build real relationships. I want to out pour the love of Jesus on people. When I'm waiting in line, in an elevator or in a waiting room I don't want to jump on my phone to fill my time I want to talk and socialize with people. Make new friends, learn about people and get to know each other again. I want to step out of my comfort zone and do more of the things that make me uncomfortable. God doesn't ask us to be comfortable. I want to go beyond what I know and try new things. I am usually very open to trying things (foods or activities) but I want to do more of that. I can already see myself getting in a rut and I don't want that. I want to go where God wants me to go. Usually in these situations or places is where we can really see God using us, changing us for the better or just have an amazing time. We just have to be open to allowing ourselves to step out on faith and know that we are protected and God's got this even if I don't. I want my walk to be different. I want to find a new church home. Some where that I can learn, get involved and grow more in my faith. I haven't had a home church in a little while and I've given a lot of excuses of why I haven't found a new one. But that stops. I'm going to have to do some visiting and find where God is leading me in that journey but I have to make the steps to make that happen. I want to learn and I want to grow. I want to join a new bible study. And be a part of a group of other believers. Not just where we meet once a week and talk about the study but where we are also a part of one another's lives. I want to handle my ministry differently. I want to work at it more and that starts with me. I have different projects I'd like to work on for it but haven't finished any of them and I'd like to change that. I need to write more blogs and interact with you more on social media. I need to focus more on my ministry. Unlike a lot of people in this world I know why I was put on this Earth. I am supposed to be used in the medical world. Being a human lab rat that is my job and I know that. But I also know that a a part of that is speaking and showing people what God has done in my life and giving Him the glory for it all; while trying to help others realize their trails and struggles are building them to be the person that God created them to be. "I wanna be different. I wanna be changed. Till all of me is gone and all that reminds is the fire so bright the whole world could see that there is something different so come and be different in me." "I don't wanna spend my life stuck in a pattern. And I don't wanna gain this world but lose what matters." ''So take this beating in my heart and come and finish what you started. When they see me let them see you'' These are the lyrics of the song Different by Micah Tyler that stand out to me and that are encouraging me to be different. Every day I am going to listen to this song as I begin my day. Just like when I speak. Every time before I speak I listen to Matthew West ''Something To Say''. Its my pump up song and reminds me why I'm doing what I'm doing. That's what I'm planning on doing with Different. I am going to remind myself every day of what I want and who I want to be for Him. I want to be different. Not for me but for Him. And while yes I am already so different I want to stand out more. It's already amazing at how God has already changed my heart from when I was a young girl who was newly amputated and the only thing I wanted to do was fit in and be like everyone else. But as I've grown and gotten closer to God and have realized He wants me to do anything except be like everyone else. I have grown to love my differences and just want to stand out more. I feel like I wanna live out the Dr Seuss motto of ''why fit in when you were born to stand out!?'' That is so me. But I don't want to take glory for it or for it to be for my own wants and needs. I want to do it for God. I want to be the person that He designed me to be. So here am I am being different and just waiting to see what all He has in store! Did you pick a word for 2019??? What is it and why? What are you going to do with it?

New Year...Resolutions...Words

Posted by Mandy Young on December 27, 2018 at 2:05 PM

A new year usually means new beginnings. We set goals for ourselves and try to become better people. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. But if you're like me it's pretty much the same goals year after year. Eat better, get in shape, lose that extra weight, actually be on time to work, be better about posting on my blog, travel more and the list goes on and on. We start full force but by the middle of January we tend to revert back to our old ways and then get so mad at ourselves because we couldn't meet our goals.

Two years ago I decided that I wasn't going to do the traditional New Years resolutions. Yes while I still wanted to do all of these things I felt like I needed something more than the same things I tell myself every year; I want to become more of the person that God wants me to be and less of the person that I want me to be. Not that God doesn't want me to try to be healthier; He does, I mean it is His temple after all. But I want to focus more on that being the person He made me to be. So instead of resolutions I started doing the word of the year. I start praying right after Christmas for God to lead me to a word that I should strive to be or that I need to be more of or better at.

Two years ago my word was SHINE. I wanted to shine for Him. Everyone that I came into contact with should be able to see Him through me. In everything (even in my knee replacement) I wanted to give Him glory for it all. Because really that's how it should be. In everything give thanks (good and bad). I wanted and still want to be the light on the hill or be His light in a dark place. I strive for that even today. So even though that was my word two years ago it has stuck with me and continues to be a part of my life.

Last year my word was INSPIRE. I have people come up to me a lot and tell me that I'm inspiring; but honestly I don't get it. When people say this to me it's usually when I'm living my every day life. I'm just living. It's when I'm doing things for myself but I guess that others maybe wouldn't do if they were in my situation. But to me I'm just getting things done. So even though I get told I'm inspiring I wanted to try to be more aware and inspire people in the right way and that's toward Jesus! When someone used to tell me that they've been inspired by me they want to know how I live my life or how I do the things that I do; in the past I've been known to just shrug it off and say I'm just living my life. But when inspire became my word I became more mindful of my answer and began to tell others that it's only through my faith (because honestly it is) and I'm just living my life the best way I know how. Before it seemed like I was taking all the glory when really it's not me at all. But now I'm giving glory where glory is deserved. And this I will continue to be answer. Pointing it all back to Him.

Which leads me to 2019....what will my word be? I'm not sure yet. I've been praying about it and asking God to point it out to me but it's not totally clear yet. A couple of words have come to mind and if God points one out more than the other or just slaps me in the face with one then that's what my word will be. I can't wait to see what He points out to me this week.

Do you do anything like this? What are your New Years resolutions? If you have a word of the year what is it and why?

A Young Family Christmas!

Posted by Mandy Young on December 20, 2018 at 11:05 AM

Christmas Traditions are all around us! Every family seems to have their own. Whether it’s making gingerbread houses, baking Christmas cookies, going to the Pink Pig (if you live in Atlanta you know what I’m talking about), going to look at Christmas lights and this list could go on and on.

When my sister started dating my brother in law they started spending Christmas Eve with his family and Christmas Day with ours. Chad’s (my brother in law) family has always celebrated on Christmas Eve; which worked out nicely since we celebrate on Christmas Day.

So my family’s Christmas tradition is on Christmas Eve we all go to church together. My sister’s family attend the same church as my brother in laws entire family. So my parents and I always go there for Christmas Eve service that way we are all together. After church the Crawfords (my brother in laws family) go and have their Christmas together. But my parents and I split from the pack. The three of us venture out to find an open restaurant and then we leave our server a thank you note for working on a day that they might not want to and then inside the card we leave a Christmas blessing (aka: a generous tip). After our dinner my parents go back to our house where they continue to wrap gifts throughout the night (even though they swear every year they are never doing it again and will be done with wrapping early next year lol). I will have already had a bag packed and I will head back to my sister and brother in laws to spend the night with my three nieces. I help the girls get their milk, cookies and veggies ready for Santa and his reindeer! Then the girls and I head upstairs and watch a Christmas movie (usually a Muppet Christmas Carol- Alex and I always watched this on Christmas Eve growing up and I’m trying to keep the Christmas tradition going) and at some point fall asleep; excited to wake up the next morning.

Christmas morning is when my job really starts lol. I am in charge of keeping the girls upstairs until mommy and daddy are up and the grandparents get there! Everyone has to be downstairs before the girls can go down. So normally I keep them busy with another Christmas movie or the parade. Once everyone is there we come down and the girls get to open their gifts from Santa and mommy and daddy. After gifts are open we have Christmas breakfast; which is always yummy). Then it’s time to clean up (the room and ourselves) and then it just depends.

For years we went to the movies after opening gifts but when the girls were so young we stopped doing that although this year we are bringing this tradition back! I can’t wait! We already have our tickets for Mary Poppins!!! After the movies we will all head back to our house (including my grandparents and sometimes my aunts and cousin) and open up family gifts and have dinner. Now our Christmas dinner isn’t the traditional kind. Yes we do get a Honey Baked Ham and Turkey (small ones) but we make sandwiches and homemade soup! We go more low key then making a big hoopla and easy so everyone can enjoy! And that’s a Young family Christmas!

I wanna know about yours!! What’s your Christmas look like? What traditions do you have?


About last night

Posted by Mandy Young on September 26, 2018 at 11:35 AM

So about last night. Do you know those amazing videos on Facebook of the soilders coming home surprising their loved ones? You sit at your desk like a blubbering mess with your heart just so full of joy and appreciation that you just can't stand it? I know it's not just me....we all do it!

Well I got to be a part of that for real last night! A couple of years ago my family and I met Christian when he started working at our favorite mexican restaurant. He was the son of one of our favorite waitreses; which meant we instantly loved him. He was adorable, sweet, kind, good at his job and just a great kid all the way around. He graduated high school and tried to figure out what he wanted to do...go to college, enlist in the military or move up in the restaurant. He went back and forth about enlisting and the management position. He finally chose to move up in the company. He trained to be a manager and stayed home to be with his family and friends.

But something kept tugging at him and telling him to enlist. He finally went and talked to a recruiter and after some conversations enlisted in to the Army. He left for boot camp and graduated! When he got to come home for a visit my family and I got to see him before he was deployed to South Korea.

He has been in South Korea for the past year and was supposed to come home for a visit in October. He had been working with his sister to surprise his parents. His sister is opening a nail salon and had put together a little dinner to celebrate her new business and this way their parents would be there but not expect anything. Everything was in place. His parents were there, friends (some knew what was about to happen but others didn't) but his sister who is opening the nail salon was not. Their dad was getting restless and mad that his daughter who this dinner was supposed to be for and she wasn't even showing up to her own party. You see the party started at 8:30 but it was now 9:45 and nothing. Christian was having some problems at the airport and got delayed. By 10pm they finally arrived at the restaurant. Christian in his sandy colored camo Army uniform walked in and his dad took off running and jumped into his arms, his mom just started crying and ran to him and they all three embraced each other. Everyone was crying and cheering. It was really beautiful. I was able to get a tiny video but I was blocked by a wall so it's not very good. Luckily I can see it in my mind and play it over and over again but sadly for yall I just have these pictures to show you.

So thankful that he will be home for a few weeks before he reports back for duty. So proud of this kid. Love him so much!

Does It Bother You When Children Stare?

Posted by Mandy Young on March 30, 2016 at 1:10 AM

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

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

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

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. (

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

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.