Are You a Ladder or Adder? Post #43

This world is full of choices. I read that the average person makes 1200  choices per day.

Push snooze once more? What to wear? Which shoes? To which radio station do I listen?

Go through the yellow light? Take this leap of faith?

Our attitude is also a huge daily choice we make.

I strive, although imperfectly, for my daily attitude to be positive. Some people may call me a Polyanna, a glass-half-full optimist. I sure strive to be. It comes naturally because my precious mom is a beautiful combination of June Cleaver and Jesus rolled up into one genteel, joyful, encouraging, Southern lady.

My mom once told me that we can choose either to be a ladder or an adder. A ladder is someone who lifts people up, encourages them, and even draws them closer to God. An adder, though, is someone with such a personality, who, like the serpent by the same name, can drain the life out of you. Which are you?

A wonderful example of a ladder I know is Charlie. Charlie Cole is a distinguished, brilliant, handsome man. He retired about five years ago as a dynamic banking executive leader, whose territory covered all of South Carolina. Charlie and his bride of 40+ years, Joanne, go to my church.

In June 2008, Charlie and Joanne returned from a wedding and went upstairs to their bedroom to sleep. In the middle of the night Charlie went to the bathroom and fell down the steps. His fall resulted in paralysis as a quadriplegic, confining him to a wheelchair.

Charlie was immediately airlifted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where he and Joanne stayed for three months. They returned to Charleston to their new life in their old world. They came home to their beautiful Sullivan’s Island home, already equipped with an elevator. For more than two years Joanne and Charlie tried to navigate fragmented healthcare resources for spinal cord injury patients. Imagine needing a specialized urologist or OB/GYN because you are paralyzed. Imagine needing a Physical and Occupational Therapist to relearn leg and arm muscles to one day, perhaps, walk and even feed yourself again.

Charlie had served since 2002 on the board of our Roper St. Francis Foundation,  Charleston’s excellent, not-for-profit healthcare system. At the time, Roper St. Francis offered no specialized rehabilitation for spinal cord injury patients nor did the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Charlie and Joanne brought awareness to the fact that more than 10,000 spinal cord injury patients live in South Carolina and need better specialized healthcare resources for those who are paralyzed.

Working tirelessly with both Roper St. Francis and MUSC physicians and staff, the Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Roper Hospital was established in June 2011, just three years after Charlie’s injury. As of this writing, more than 300 spinal cord injury patients have been served from all of over the state, since the Center for Spinal Cord Injury is the only collaborative resource of its kind in South Carolina.

I have the pleasure of spending time with Charlie and Joanne weekly as we work together to raise at least $1.5M to endow and sustain the Center for Spinal Cord Injury. Charlie inspires me and everyone he meets. Charlie lives his life intentionally as a tall, tall ladder, not an adder, lifting everyone’s spirits. He turned his “test” into a “testimony” and is truly impacting numerous lives because of it. He brightens every room and heart into which he and his wheelchair roll.

Yes, we have a choice–

To be a victim or a victor of our circumstances.

To be bitter or better because of our circumstances.

To be a Polyanna or a Debby Downer.

To be a ladder or an adder.

The choice is yours.


  • Do you consider yourself to be a ladder or adder? Victim or victor? Bitter or better? Please comment.
  • What language do you use to speak to yourself or others? Does it build up or tear down?


  • “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV84
  •  “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” –Psalm 59:16NIV 84


  •  Name one different choice you plan to make this week toward being a ladder. How will you accomplish it?
  • Please let me know what you decide to do.


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Leave a comment here | 2 Comments


  1. Wow! I really needed this today as I’m going back to school. We are also going through a lot at our church. Lord, help me to be a ladder, a victor, and a better person. Thanks so much for such great thoughts!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Danya, I needed to hear that today as well. With everything going on with my mom, I am determined to handle it well, remember that life is precious and it is so much better to be a ladder. Thank you for all of your encouraging messages. Love you!

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