Wednesday, May 16, 2012

J.R. Martinez Has Great Moves!

Convention 2012: Passport to Freedom keynote speaker J.R. Martinez captured the hearts of America when he won the Dancing with the Stars competition last year. This accomplishment is particularly remarkable given the fact that as a 19-year-old soldier in Iraq, J.R. suffered terrible injuries when the Humvee he was driving hit a land mine. J.R. was left disfigured and in despair. His life seemed over. His dream to play professional football was gone. After spending months in the hospital and undergoing countless plastic surgeries, J.R. said he wanted to die. His mother told him that the people that really mattered in his life still felt the same way about him, regardless of his changed appearance. (What a wise mom!)

During Passport to Freedom, J.R. shared that he began to find purpose in life again when he started to reach out to other wounded soldiers. Service was a critical key to his recovery. He also said that learning to adapt to overcome challenges is one of the secrets of life. J.R. has become a motivational speaker, inspiring many people with his message, humor, and love.

After he spoke, David asked J.R. if he would give me a twirl on stage, J.R. graciously accepted. He took one of my hands, told me to put the other hand on his shoulder, and said, Just hang on tight." And before I knew it, I was being dipped, twirled, and lifted. It was a moment I will not soon forget!

In addition to his great dance moves, those of us in attendance will not soon forget J.R.'s powerful message, especially during our own times of discouragement and adversity. After all he has been through, J.R. says that he's grateful for that day his truck blew up because it led him to the life he is living today. It's a life that J.R. would not have necessarily chosen for himself, but it has more meaning than what he had planned. Serving, adapting, overcoming, and becoming. Those are some really great moves to have in life!