You’re a survivor and that is amazing.


Each day older I grow, I understand more the reality of what it means to have survived childhood cancer. As a younger person, it was just a part of my life; I hadn’t seen much else, and I was just too busy playing to understand what it means to still be alive today. But now, I marvel at my leg, my hair, and my beating heart. Let me tell you why.

I stood up one morning. I took a step, and my knee gave out beneath me. I never knew that I’d never walk on that leg again. I ate my vegetables, and I slept full nights, and I was even nice to my friends. I never would have expected cancer. I probably would have just called you a liar if you would have told me that was really going to be my life.

But alas, I couldn’t walk. Soon, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes, I almost couldn’t breathe. To say that it’s a humbling experience to face mortality is just more of an understatement than I can explain. No one can walk to death with you. It’s you, and Jesus, (which is why you need Him), and death. I met myself in ways that I cannot describe.

I remember laying in bed begging God to make the throwing up end. To bring my friends back to life, and to just make it all be okay. And seriously, I don’t even know how I survived. I looked dead almost every day for a full year.

But then I did. I started to take steps on crutches. I made myself get out of bed. Jesus restored my spirit, and I locked eyes with death, and shook my head, “no.” And I just turned and walked away into the rest of life.

I am 23 now, and I feel like I grasp that death didn’t win, but that it sure could have. My fingers move, I can take a deep breath, and I can kiss my nephew. And it’s very much on purpose that I am alive.

The take-away is this. If you haven’t met death yet, listen to what I say. Right now, you’re a survivor, and that is amazing. Don’t take that for granted.

….because love wins.

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Glow


Glow

So many lights on in this city,
but people still walk in the dark.
I watch them as they’re passing by me.
I hide the truth inside my heart.

Cuz I’m afraid to lose control.
I’m comfortable.
But there’s something in my soul,
they need to know.

Shine, shine, shine tonight,
it’s time to let it show.
Burn bright;
light the fire that leads the way to Hope.

The Maker of the stars
lives in our souls.
We have His light,
so what are we waiting for?

Get out and glow.
Glow Glow, GLOW! 🙂

A city on a hill can’t be displayed,
until we take our faith;
set it ablaze.

It’s time to glow. 🙂

…because love wins.

An open letter to the world.


Hello citizens of the world,

Today, a friend contacted me and said that she had just checked the news. What did her email say? Just a simple, “:(” What is going on?

I remember my young years growing up in America. I ran across the street freely, I talked to strangers, I could walk to the local pool on my own. At the time, that was how life was. I was thankful we lived in America – I was proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance under God every morning in school.

But clearly something has changed. I remember the first time our school was put on lockdown because someone had carved into the wall that there was a bomb inside of the building. I remember Columbine. And I remember never walking down the hallway to the bathroom at school again without looking where I would be able to hide when a shooter would show up. In my middle school mind, someone coming in with a gun wasn’t an “if,” it was a when.

The headlines today, years later, are worse than ever:

“Man shot by teens – just because.”
“Actor, 29, commits suicide in his Los Angeles apartment.”
“Kids okay after gunfire in Georgia school.”

This used to be the stuff even movie moguls couldn’t come up with. And now it’s my young adult real life. What have we done? What have you done?

The thing is, bad doesn’t just happen. It presents itself as an idea. Maybe it’s in someone’s head who doesn’t ever speak it. Maybe it’s just on an online forum. Or maybe someone really tells someone what they are planning to do, and then it happens anyway. And we’re obviously not noticing soon enough.

Now, I’m not claiming that it’s just your fault that that man was shot while jogging, but I am claiming that it might have been. We’re all connected in this world, and maybe a little less iPhone and a little more real life conversation would let us know when someone is so unwell that these things will happen.

It’s not a debate about guns. Clearly people who want to hurt others can find other ways. But you can find ways to stop it from happening. You are the world, and you are the way we live. It doesn’t just happen.

I see an awful lot of people who could do good, share Jesus, and listen intently to do the right thing for anyone anytime, just not do it. And that? That is not okay. When someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t yell at them. When someone is crossing the road, let them. When your children want to play, don’t be on facebook.

You need to be engaged in the planet on which you live. It’s the little good things that need to come back. They fix it. Drugs will not take you away, alcohol cannot make it better, but telling people about Jesus and treating them like you love them as you love yourself in the grocery store might build the planet we’re trying to achieve in our continuous pursuit of escape.

So, take responsibility for those shootings and that suicide. You. Yes, you. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, seriously evaluate if you can start spending all of your time doing good, kind things. I will tell you; not only can you, but you must. Add patience and understanding to a world. Maybe even having conversations with strangers on a bus. Maybe you saying hi will stop someone from feeling so alone that they must go kill to be noticed.

The downfall of this world is all of us. If we don’t stop it, we let it happen. And it doesn’t improve by just stopping bad. It improves by facing the bad with the good. And seeing that it will win. Please, ask yourself. What more is going to take for you to do something to make this world a better, free, safe, place?

What more is going to take for you to stand up for love and quit sitting and watching the hate win? Please answer, and act. I don’t want to see you be shot because playing Angry Birds on your phone was more important than smiling at someone walking down the sidewalk. You have to save us. And you have to save us now.

Love,
Your Neighbor

PS: Come over and say hi sometime – no need to text.

Cancer is over. I think.


Recently, I was contacted by one of my facebook followers who is facing Osteosarcoma, the same kind of cancer I “beat.” (Not like we get a choice in getting healthier.) She’s writing a book, and asked me to write a poem about finishing treatment. After a year of chemo and then 15 more years, I find that the emotions are still the same as the day I stepped foot out of the hospital from treatment one last time. The cancer is gone, but so are the options if it were ever to come back. So there’s a lot to feel, and learn, and not a lot of conclusions to make. But I learned, and continue to learn, from what cancer taught me about me. Enjoy!

It has been a year.Chemo
Or maybe a hundred.
I look down at my fingers.
How I made it is a wonder.

I can still taste the poison.
That orange death that saved my life.
What does food taste like?
Can I now sleep through the night?

The day I heard “cancer.”
I never thought I’d live.
Some days I felt dead.
Gave more than I could give.

It hurt.
The prodding; poking.
It ached.
Mom and dad’s eyes only looking.

It took my leg.
HallwayIt taught me to love.
Osteosarcoma.
A battle finally done.

I walked into these doors,
so many times.
Now I walk out,
to meet what I left behind.

The cancer is gone.
I’m 8. Maybe 9.
The days were like nights.
The memories just mine.

So what do I do?
No one knows.
No one knows.
The sting; hm, slowly it goes.

I’m not a little girl.Kid in bed
But I’m not grown up.
I’m something new.
I just don’t know what.

Eyes opened to the future.
But living in the day.
It’s the last day of chemo.
“Hello life,” is to say.

My leg is now plastic.
My veins getting strong.
My sister, she smiles.hand holding
But will it stay gone?

Society doesn’t get me,
this little girl who survived.
But I think I know me.
Because I actually didn’t die.

There is a lot to learn.
And I know today I’m free.
For beating the cancer,
taught me to be me.

…because love wins.

Album Review: Christina Grimmie – With Love


I may have a new music obsession. This quirky girl (who would probably say she was a ‘gurl’), who loves video games, inspiring the world, laughing, being herself, singing, and Jesus.

ImageHer name is Christina Grimmie. There’s a real possibility that you’ve heard one of her gazillion awesome cover videos, but this week she released her second album. She’s younger than me, raw, honest, and just so human. And that means I’m going to promote her. Because if there’s one thing this world needs, it’s to see that the next generation of leaders is interested in being real, not being a show.

She reminds me a lot of me. More than the dark hair and smiling, but less than the video games. Though, Mario Kart is my game. Anyway, you should buy her whole album, and listen to every single word. And then dance.

And then you should really listen to the song I Bet You Don’t Curse God. This is most certainly my favorite song on the album. It’s set gently a midst some songs about heartbreak and hope. And it says what America needs to hear.

I cannot even explain how sick to my stomach I get when I hear someone use the name of Jesus Christ as their opportunity to look awesome, to act in power, or just to sound like they’ve got confidence in something.

I get that way because I have held the hands of 5 year-olds who take their last breaths on earth before they make it to kindergarten. Because I’ve watched moms and dads lay on caskets begging for hope, and I’ve watched people who spend their entire lives ignoring Jesus Christ and then begging Him for help as soon as life doesn’t go according to their plan.

I get that way because I used to curse God. Maybe I wasn’t profane all day every day, but I wasn’t respectful of who He was every day. I didn’t treat Him as though He was my best friend every day. But I sure did when I found out that I had cancer. I sure did when He needed to save my best friend. I sure did when I was in the depths of depression and wanted to die.

Real Love

And you know what? I was wrong. Ignoring Him is foolish. It’s completely stupid. He’s not a set of stitches, He’s the nutrition to our skin so that we don’t get cut. And we would save ourselves so much if we walked with Him before we felt like we needed Him.

I am, and Christina is. And we’re just humans like you. Quit waiting and wasting your life. And just join us. There’s a lot more hope in your pain than you could ever imagine. Just treat Him like a friend. Just don’t curse God. Just don’t. Be who you were meant to be.

I Bet You Don’t Curse God – Listen Here!

…because love wins