As keynote speaker for the fifth annual T.J. Samson Women’s Conference on Thursday, Eva Self of Hopkinsville shared stories about how she has used difficult situations as opportunities to grow as a person. Most of those situations involved her needing help and learning when and how to accept it.
Self was 17 when she wrecked her car while driving on a country road. She hit an icy spot on a bridge, lost control of the car, causing it to roll down an embankment and into an overflowing creek.
“I didn’t have any feeling in my legs immediately,” she said.
She was paralyzed from the waist down.
Many people came to her assistance, including Ron Gandy, who stopped to ask a highway patrolman what had happened. The police officer told him a teenager was trapped in the car, but to get her out rescue workers would have to get into the ice cold water.
Gandy waded into the water and held Self’s head out of the water while rescue workers freed her from the wreckage.
That day was just one among many when Self needed help from others, and several times she didn’t want the help that was offered, but accepted it in the end.
She recently received a message from Gandy through Facebook. He told her he was glad God was using her to inspire others.
A few weeks ago she invited him to another conference where she was speaking. It was the first time she had seen him since the wreck. She took advantage of the opportunity to thank him for helping her that day.
“For 36 years that man never asked for a ‘thank you,’” she said.
Self often thinks of Gandy and others who have helped and encouraged her in life.
The day she wrecked her car could have been the worst day of her life.
“Now as I look back, I sometimes think it could have been the beginning of some of the best days of my whole life,” she said. “And that is a matter of choice as to how I look back and how I look forward with regard to that event.” Everyone has an opportunity to decide how they are going to respond to difficult situations.
“I believe all of us receive lemons in life, … but in every situation we have a choice, … are we going to be lemonade, or are we going to be sour pusses,” she said.
Self told listeners that people have an opportunity every day to be a cool refreshing drink, such as lemonade.
“Sometimes we need to ask for help. Sometimes we need to receive help. Sometimes we need to give help,” she said. “I don’t know where you are in your walk today. It’s my prayer that you take [help] and that you give it to others.”
Sharon Billingsley enjoyed Self’s talk.
“She’s just wonderful and brings to the table such sweet countenance and wonderful ideas and encouragement for those who have struggles; just a wonderful Godly lady,” Billingsley said.
The conference provided women an opportunity to shop many vendor booths ranging from jewelry to make-up, plus a wide variety of services such as elderly care. It also gave women a chance to see how well they are by participating in health screenings.
Becky Grider was among those who took advantage of the bone density and blood work tests.
“I found out that I’m doing OK,” she said.
This was the first time Grider had attended the conference.
“I enjoyed it,” she said. “I plan to come next time.”
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