|Ward's favorite Alayna with her doll|
Friday, June 22, 2012
Ward Foley: Thanking His Lucky Scars
Everyone’s Story welcomes Ward Foley as its new guest this week. Ward, aka Scarman, was born with a rare congenital disorder called Arthrogryosis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a painful and often debilitating disorder. Instead of letting AMC control his life, Ward followed the path that God wanted him to walk down. Along the way he met many special people, encountered extraordinary life lessons, and encouraged countless of souls. How? As the title of his memoir says, he thanked his lucky scars! On his FB page he often highlights children with AMC, saying “My Favorite (name of person)." I’m honored that My Favorite Ward is paying us a visit.
Book Giveaway: Ward is offering a copy of his book THANK MY LUCKY SCARS to 2 different lucky commenters. I just finished reading this book last night and can easily say that this is the most uplifting book I have ever read. For ease, please leave your email address within the comment.
Ward would like to share this with you:
Ward, I congratulate you on choosing such an excellent, eye-catching title for your memoir, THANK MY LUCKY SCARS. It well expresses your positive attitude. We all have scars, whether physical or emotional. Through God’s grace we’ve become stronger people because of these scars. Do you have any encouragement to those with tender, fresh scars?
Thank you. A friend who designed the cover of my book also suggested the title, and I agreed.
Good question! We’re not given a good life or bad life. God gives us life and it’s up to us to make it good or bad. We all have scars, (some we can see and some we can’t) some emotional, some physical. My work with recovering alcoholics and addicts has taught me that sometimes emotional pain is harder to deal with than physical. And my work with Hospice has shown me that being there for others, just being available can make all the difference.
But, the key thing in dealing with any type of scar is to allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s okay to say, I hurt. It’s okay to mess up. Sure, you have to love others unconditionally but it’s very important to love yourself unconditionally!
And, give to others. You’ll be amazed at the peace you will receive by both getting out/over yourself as well as by helping others. Helping others can truly be one of the greatest gifts to our self.
You write about how a disability does not equal the end of life but rather can be the beginning. Please explain.
Here’s the reality: no one really has the control they think over what happens in their life. I first began to realize this when working with dying patients in Hospice. When we become more vulnerable by accepting our weaknesses then we can actually become stronger and begin to find peace.
Recovering alcoholics, addicts, and parents who have sadly lost a child seem to like THANK MY LUCKY SCARS the most because of the message of hope. Hope is something we all need. When we accept and embrace the hardships we will then begin to heal. When we TRY to take the worst and make it a positive we begin to see hope.
You “bribed” a friend to accompany you cross-country while you bicycled with promises of seeing miracles. Would you like to share one of these experiences?
We never expected to meet the people we did. One of the biggest miracles occurred in Dallas-Ft. Worth. The TV news picked up my story of bicycling cross-country. This resulted in me meeting a family who had a boy with AMC. Unfortunately, their boy had died. I still keep in touch and what a blessing this family has been to me throughout the years.
In comparing children with AMC to celebrities, you try to remember everyone is equally famous in the eyes of God. Beautifully stated! Yet, you confess you’ve had trouble believing this about yourself. Please share.
One of the hardest things for me was accepting myself. I always wanted to be “normal”—whatever that is! By accepting myself as is—the whole package deal—my life changed for the best. It emotionally liberated me. I realized it’s okay to be who I am. Everyone’s normal is relative to himself or herself. God loves each of us for who we are.
I can relate to your frustration about trying to do the best in life, but sometimes it’s not “good enough.” When you relayed this to your friend Steve he replied: “He knows it.” Share with viewers about who He is.
Although it was Steve and I, alone in the room, I know that God spoke though him, that God was saying directly to me that He knows I am trying the best that I can and that is all that matters. Society says success is about money. Who has the biggest house, the best job, etc? That’s not God’s definition. Success is not about being on Oprah, but visiting with someone and or offering a smile to a stranger. Focus on God. Walk with God. The expectation from society and us is a lot of that weight that presses down on our shoulders.
I just read a great quote by actor Martin Sheen: “The most important thing is that regret is useless and faith is necessary and love is everything.” Any thoughts?
I agree 100%. It’s all about that unconditional love I mentioned—the unconditional love not of only others but of yourself. I once gave a speech to 400 kindergarteners up through third graders in a Christian school. I tried to phrase things simply: God is love. The more you love the closer you are to God. And, resentment of others takes us away from that love, God.
By the way, I still have those 400 thank-you cards that those kids sent to me.
You go by the AKA “Scarman.” How do you hope God sees you?
I believe God sees all of my good, all of my bad, and accepts me for who I am. He knows I keep trying and sees my true heart.
I have several ladies who volunteer to make blank cloth dolls. We then distribute them at AMC conferences—and wherever I go—and ask children to draw in their scars. By doing so I’m hoping they learn to love and accept who they are, and that God loves them just the way they are.
That’s what this life comes down to: unconditional love for yourself, for others, giving yourself to others, and finding the peace that God wants you to enjoy.
Have you been on the receiving end of any encouragement? Or, have you uplifted anyone's spirits? Ward will enjoy hearing from you.
Ward Foley was born with multiple birth defects and very little chance to live. But he did, only to undergo decades of surgery, agonizing rehabilitation, ridicule, and humiliation. He was also severely burned in a deep fryer, beat up, and almost killed by a drunk driver.
In his mid-twenties, Ward married and adopted two infant children. Relocating from California to Kansas, he coached little league, taught Sunday school and served as a community volunteer. Today, Ward is a happily married man and his two children have recently graduated college.
It turns out that each “scar” in his life brought Foley one step closer to the people and experiences that would give him what he wanted most.
After the death of a close friend, Foley found himself entering the world of hospice care and a circle of people who had more to teach him than he ever imagined.
Since the publication of his memoir, Thank My Lucky Scars, in 2006, Ward has emerged as a popular and sought-after motivational speaker, in addition to his regular hospice work. He has spoken in myriad venues across the country, bringing forth a different kind of hope with his message of faith, endurance, and inspiration.
You can find Ward at: