17 things I learned in the 17 years since I was diagnosed with childhood cancer.


March 11, 1998.

We never forget the days that change our lives. We never forget the moments that change our lives, as a matter of fact. I had one of those on that day. I haven’t forgotten it. I never will.

I had been walking with a limp for about 3 weeks. I was a totally healthy, vivacious, excited little girl. Here’s a picture!

Age 6. :)

Age 6. 🙂

See? Right? Totally healthy. But that knee pain I had wouldn’t go away.

On March 11th, 7:35am, I was walking to the school bus. About halfway there, I fell down. There was a serious sharp pain in my left knee. I remember thinking I didn’t want to look dumb (classic 3rd grade thought process) and it hurt. A lot a lot a lot. The bus was waiting, and it was a shorter distance to get on the bus than to go home, so I got on the bus. I went through my day, limping along, trying not to walk. I have no idea how I was even moving at all.

We had an appointment scheduled with my family doctor that afternoon. When I walked into the office, he told me that he hadn’t seen anyone ever limp like that. The reason? My femur was shattered. The reason?

Bone cancer.

I was 7 years old. I played basketball and giggled and tried to avoid going to sleep at night.

Cancer?

CANCER?

The next day started 49 weeks of chemotherapy, the removal of my leg and a procedure called Rotationplasty (You can learn about that here.) and way too many sharp needles, anesthesia and brokenhearted moments than I can consciously remember or that I should have had to go through as a human being, regardless of age.

So, in honor of the days that I have lived (happily) since then, I want to share with you 17 things that I have learned since March 11, 1998.

1. Life is short. 
Not in the cliche, “Yeah, people say that all the time…” way, but in the “Don’t wait until someone you love is dead in a car accident before you figure this out.” way. Seriously, it can all end right now, and you need to not worry what everyone thinks of you or feel bad when people don’t like you. Choose the way you want to live those short days and then do that. Live, please.

2. Kids die. 
And it sucks. It sucks way worse than someone who has lived to 80 years-old dying. I’m not saying any one life is more important than another, but I am telling you that burying my best friends (4 of them) by the age of 12 is horrendous and wrong. It’s so so so so wrong. Parents should not have to live all the years their kids were supposed to without them. Which leads me to…

3. There is a pathetic amount of money allotted for childhood cancer research. 
I had 49 weeks of poison (chemotherapy) that potentially ruined my heart, potentially took my ability to have children, and certainly made me throw up burning vomit way too many times. The saddest part is that it’s been 17 years and kids today are still taking the exact same awful drugs. With an 80% survival rate. (Which I would say is definitely much lower than 80.) And they haven’t figured out why a lot of my friends never lived and I did. There aren’t many people who took this stuff and grew into adulthood, so there’s not really a way for me to know what my future related to this stuff will bring. Please help. Follow this facebook page and do what it says: TheTruth365.

4. Haters are gonna hate.
There is a saying that goes something like, “In the world people are going to hate you, and people are going to love you, and none of it has anything to do with you.” People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed. (Thanks, Frozen!) So be graceful and don’t worry too much.

5. God is everywhere. 
You just have to let yourself listen. Even when the truth hurts. Especially when the truth hurts.

6. Illness isn’t terrifying.
Sometimes it is, I suppose, but for anyone who is the friend of someone with a chronic or serious illness, don’t leave said person or family alone. And don’t be upset if they want space or you say the wrong thing. But answer the phone at 2am, expect nothing, give real hugs, and be willing to be whatever they need.

7. You should love yourself. 
There is a complex that tends to come after someone has been through a near-death experience which includes putting everyone else first. And then putting everyone else first until that person is basically dead from never paying attention to themselves. So it’s good to take care of yourself. Paint and laugh and don’t let people use you. You deserve the best too.

8. I am handicapped. 
Lots of people are. In fact, we all are – face the fact. We all have something really wrong with our broken souls. And I think that’s a really important thing to remember when someone can’t help themselves and you have the opportunity to love them.

9. It’s not easy to talk about pain. 
I’m a professional speaker, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to talk through the agony that I experienced. There’s this fine line between people wanting to hear the truth and people thinking you’re asking for pity by sharing what you’ve felt. Pay no attention to those people. If you have pain, talk about it. If they choose not to listen, they lose.

10. People won’t always leave, and they won’t always leave you.
There’s my greatest fear. Now you know that. (Yay vulnerable!) I’m sure this grew from holding my friends’ hands while they died and thinking I would never be fully understood again, but in the years since that and some wonderful people in my life, I have learned that people won’t always leave. And I have learned that some people really really want to stay and love me if I let them be inside my heart. Give people a chance.

11. Healthy food isn’t just a fad. Tubing 2
Having a life threatening illness was pretty awful. But it also benefited me in great ways. Because I don’t like toxins because of that experience, I avoid them. And I am pretty particular about taking care of myself with what I put inside my body. And I know I live a more full, happier life because of it. Eat less Doritos and more broccoli. It’s worth it!

12. Downtime is not wasted time.
I laid in my bed for a really long time when I was sick. Like, about a year. And it’s clear that that time has not been wasted, even though I was doing nothing for 49 weeks. You’re human. Slow down. Life will come to you.

13. Sometimes hope just doesn’t feel real. 
There will be times in your life where you can’t hope. Where you realize that the thing that you have been hoping for for so long just isn’t going to happen. And that’s okay. Give up, cry, get mad, do whatever you need to do. Just because we don’t think there is hope doesn’t mean there isn’t. And it doesn’t mean that the days won’t get brighter again. They will.

14. Tie your brain to your heart. 
If you want to do something that really helps people, don’t just dream. Figure out what skills you need to tangibly do the work. For example, if you want to travel the world and feed homeless, start learning languages now. If you want to start a business, learn how to start a business. And then put your heart into your intellect.

15. Don’t take boredom for granted. 
I remember being 15 and telling my parents I was bored. But then I realized that I may be bored because my life is just okay at that time. And it’s not falling apart. And that means there’s goodness – and that’s not boring at all.

16. Bad things can still be bad years later, but they don’t have to rule you. 
I realize that there are some things from cancer which totally left me with PTSD. That’s the reality for my life, and I’ve accepted it. That’s pretty lame, but so are tsunamis, and I haven’t been through one of those. And some other people have to accept them in their lives. So it’s okay to not like things that happened to you. But that doesn’t mean they are in your now, or that they will take you down. Nah, there’s always healing, and always growth. And you’re good now. Just learn and live.

17. Jesus loves you. Jesus
I have tried this one out. I have searched the depth of my heart and society many times. I have watched people die, kids without parents in hospitals, and kids around the world who have no medical care and die just because of that. And there is still love – and love is the currency we should really use. Jesus is the only way to God, and there is one God, and He is Jesus’ father. And you know what? Whether you know it or not, He loves you. And He’s going to come back. Don’t wait to talk to him until your life doesn’t make sense anymore. Someone will always, always love you.

Here’s to 17 more years!

Love to you all.

…because love wins.

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12 Ways to Maintain a Bad Attitude for Your Whole Life


So, today is one of my best friends’ birthday. His name is Dustin. He and I had the same kind of cancer in the same leg when we were little. I was 7, and he was 11. We did everything together – played, talked, threw up, had major surgery; everything. He lost his leg to the cancer, and a lot of his lung. And so did I. But we also have a lot of photos, and we’re smiling in them. Because our mothers and selves, decided that regardless of what was going on, we were going to be positive and enjoy our lives. Dustin died when I was 12. He was sixteen. Our attitudes are still positive.

In honor of his birthday, I’m going to get on my soapbox and preach about the ways we maintain a bad attitude and waste our lives.

1. Wait for everything to be perfect. 
What does that even mean? Perfect changes every day with the color of your skin, the latest fads, who you meet, what you process from your childhood, and the kind of house you just saw on TV. I will just blow that up for you now – it’s only as perfect as you make  it. Fiercely look for the positive in situations. And it would be wise to get used to life being a mess. Because it always is. Put on your best shoes, get ready to get them muddy, and jump in to see what happens.

2. Quit before you see the ending. Aka, avoid at all costs.
This lines up pretty well with number one. This whole world is full of quitters. When you have cancer, you don’t really get the choice to quit. It decides for you. Life should be like that. Cuz when you’re dying it will be. And I will tell you that walking away when someone needs you, when you’re afraid, or when you feel like you’ve failed is an excellent way to make sure that no one ever needs you, everyone is afraid of you, and to fail yourself, and others. Just stick around even if you don’t know what to do. Life has a way of working itself out if you leave your heart in it and bring your good attitude.

3. Hate yourself.
Most specifically, I mean get up every single morning and look in the mirror. Find every piece of your body and mind that you hate, recite every word that anyone ever said to you about how you looked, and then work to combat them with changing your clothes, combing your hair, and all around aiming to be whatever level of perfect they set for you. THAT IS DUMB. Every single person in this world is busy living up to some standard of someone. All the while, the person who set the standard is trying to live up to someone else’s. IT DOESN’T MATTER. You’re a soul. Just go fly, soul. Haters are always gonna hate. But it’s because they hate themselves. There’s no need for you to hate yourself too. It’s really not so great to fit in with all the people who already hate themselves.

4. Take your aggression out on others. 
In the house in which I grew up, we were allowed to be whatever mood we wanted to be. We were not, however, allowed to hurt other people because of our mood. So if I was mad at something, I didn’t get to redirect that at the safe place – my mom. I mean, I did, for a while, until one day she just looked at me and told me she didn’t like me anymore, no matter how much she loved me. She’s a great mom, and that was a pretty swift wake up call. If my own mother didn’t like me, there is a good chance that no one else would either. And it wasn’t her fault. (She again likes me after I stopped being mean.) People are not punching bags. They are not responsible for your happiness. I mean, if you’re happy, unwaveringly lift people up. Don’t quit. (see above) But for your aggression, find a real punching bag if you need to. And then go punch it until the emotions are taken down enough notches to have a real conversation with someone who will share wisdom with you. But leave your walls with the punching bag and let go of your aggression. Being mad about someone or something doesn’t do a thing to them…but it ruins you and your life. Also, anger isn’t a safe place. It’s a lonely place.

5. Never take ownership for your mistakes. 
This is a perfect way to pretend that you’re perfect. And it’s a perfect way to keep everything locked inside like poison. Every person you hurt will carry that hurt because you have legitimized the mean things you did to them. They’ll think of your bitter words when they look in the mirror in the morning. Being disconnected from your reality is not okay. That’s a great way to continue to be disengaged and distant. Because you know, even though we all pretend we’re perfect on facebook, we’re really not. And no one really likes someone who thinks that they are and can do no wrong. No one likes to get blamed for someone else’s pain all the time either.

6. Always blame everything on everyone else. 
This is a great way to continue to never take ownership for your mistakes. The guy at the grocery store didn’t smile at you. What a loser. So negative. Your mom didn’t call you soon enough on your birthday. Work was challenging because your coworker was mean. Your toe hurts because you hit it on a curb and the city built the structure wrong. We can all pretend that we don’t do that, but oh, we do. And the thing is, you see what you want to see. And you see what you feel. So pay attention. If you’re blaming the whole world for your pain, it’s probably because you’re putting yourself in that painful place all on your own.

7. Never let anyone love you.
We all have bad attitudes because people don’t love us, right? Wrong. We have bad attitudes and that makes us hard to love. How are you in any more trouble than the rest of us? We all have our hard stuff. And just because it’s hard and someone or something hurt you before doesn’t mean everyone is going to be a twit and hurt you again. Or they might. But that’s how life works. It’s better to love and get hurt than to live in the lonely place where you keep yourself. People just want to help. You have to let them. And be prepared – they may not help just how you want them to. But it may be how you need them to.

8. Never listen. 
This is an excellent way to be in a bad mood forever. Never listen to what anyone says. When they’re talking, always be thinking about how dumb what they’re saying is and be waiting for your turn to talk. Because obviously that’s what needs to happen for you to feel better. Wrong. People hate people who don’t listen. And that’s a good way to make sure that you never have anyone to listen to you again. Yeah, you need people to lean on, but you might learn a lot if you hear what they say and apply it to your own life.

9. Always think about yourself. 
You’re walking down the street. What are you thinking about? Yourself? Well, stop it. Just, stop it. Think about anything else. The trees. The water. People who need prayer. Your shoes. Jesus. Anything. I promise that the more you think about yourself, the worse your attitude is going to be. Life comes from helping someone. When things are hard, go help someone else. Call a friend and ask them how they are. Do anything but think about yourself and what you think you’re missing in life.

10. Never be pleased. 
Always let your emotions lead what you say. Never speak out of logic, only emotion. Complain whenever you can. That the food doesn’t taste good enough. That the service isn’t fast enough. That your hair isn’t nice enough. Whatever you can complain about, DO IT. I’m totally kidding. Stop complaining. You won’t feel better doing it. When you’re about to complain, stop. Whatever it is you were going to complain about, find something positive to say about it instead.

11. Don’t be thankful. 
This is an awesome way to be in a bad mood always. Don’t be thankful for stuff. Always focus on what you don’t have and never on what you do. Also kidding. Stop doing that. Focus on the positive. Don’t think that you’ll be ignoring all your sad thoughts and that they’ll build up or something. No. Just fill your mind with good things, and the negative will come to the surface manage-ably. Whatever it is you’re upset about, stop being upset about it and find something in it for which you are thankful.

12. Try to hide from God. 
This is the capstone here. The best way to have a bad attitude forever is to hide from God. Cuz then he can’t change you, and you can wallow until you die. Continue to think that He can’t heal, that he won’t come through, that if you keep your heart locked up you’re safe, or that you’ve done too much bad stuff. Nah, focus on the truth. And see the positive in Christ every day. I promise you, that will set you free. Your joy will turn into happiness, and pretty soon you’re going to be known for being the person that is happy. And all of a sudden everyone will want to be around you. And that will create a positive cycle for you to live in.

But, it has to start with you. No one else makes you happy all the time. But you can make sure you’re much happier with the way you think. You need to do what you need to do inside yourself. Happy day, all!

…because love wins.

10 Things American Society Uses to Turn Men Into Boys


I’ve always been best friends with guys. It’s a long story as to why, but regardless, it’s taught me a lot about them. From the age 5 to 50. The relationship before the one I am currently in was abusive, painful, and needed to end when I ended it. While I felt the pain, the reason the hurt existed by that guy was not because of his choices alone. It’s a bunch of things. It’s what American society does to and about men. So here are 10 ways that America messes up men.

Heels

1. It teaches them that they can have what they want, when they want it. Usually sex.
I’m not saying that all Americans aren’t this way (women included), but I am saying that men live under this belief most of the time. How can they not? Have you watched TV? What happens? The man thinks the women (usually all of them…) are “hot” (ew, such a gross word.) and then picks one that he wants, talks sexually to her, and then gets to have sex with her. Making him the king and her the prize. That’s not love. 

2. Pornography.
The ever-present-but-never-talked-about-issue of nearly all men. In college I came out of my nice naive state and learned how intense this stuff is. The most current statistic is that 68% of men take part in pornography each week. From what I can tell, I think that number should be much higher. And it’s devastating. It’s not real, but after so much absorption in it it’s nearly impossible for a man to even know that. Their brains and minds are taught that they can again, have whatever they want, when they want it. And that sex is an act, not a showing of love. Not an experience of love. Untying that in the mind of a sex addict is not something easy to do.

3. Women should be size zero. With D-sized breasts. And a thigh gap. And that’s what they’re worth.
So men don’t spend a lot of time around real women. I mean, they do. But society, and porn, and movies have them living in their heads a lot. So they may see a woman, but they may imagine them to be something else, or inherently think they need to look some other way than how they do. Because most women who are healthy have body fat, no thigh gap, and whatever sized breasts. But society (see Target’s ad mess up) doesn’t seem to think reality sells. Though they haven’t really tried that for a while.

4. Men don’t need to lead their families. 
Enter, sitcoms. Enter, The Bachelor. Enter Pop music. What is a man anyway? According to society, they’re someone who sits on the couch and watches sports and then picks what women they would like and can go to the club and pick any shorty they’d like. To use as they’d like. All while looking like some prize to these women to swoon over.

juan5. Men have lots of muscles. 
I don’t even know the origin of this. But I do know that men are just people. And while they like to pretend that they’re not insecure, porn lies about them as much as it lies about women. A strong man is not one who can bench the weight of his girlfriend times three. It’s someone who would step between anyone and his wife to keep her heart safe.

6. The need for “Bro-time.” 
I’m not saying that men don’t need men time. But what I am saying is that time with other men should not be spent as an “escape from your girlfriend or wife’s crazy mind and unrealistic expectations.”

7. Lack of vulnerability. 
Ask a man how he is. Any man. He’ll probably not tell you that the real deal is that he often doesn’t feel good enough, doesn’t know how to kick his sex addiction, and doesn’t know if he can be a good enough significant other or father. That’s because America doesn’t like vulnerability unless it has really big dramatic background music in the climax of the movie. And it’s usually not the man crying.

8. Men don’t need support. 
Check out Superman. Or Spiderman. They just fly around and save the world and aren’t supported by their women. They’re just always saving the women. Why those women can’t deal with anything on their own, I don’t really understand. But I do know that women need to be a lot better at holding their men up as the head of their families. Just tell them you’re proud of them. Just thank them for loving you. Just let them know you love them.

9. Men can’t have family and work. men
It’s like robbery on television or in the news to take a man from his career. How dare he be asked to come home and have dinner with his family? Shouldn’t he be respected for going out and “providing for his family?” Yeah, he should. But it’s also good for him to come home and be loved on. Men need that. Families need their man. To just be there and loving.

10. Men are everything. 
As much as women are expected to be something, men are too. But men aren’t perfect. A perfect man is the one who knows he’s not perfect, but lays his heart before Christ to be made perfect. The one who doesn’t know how to lead, but knows how to be led.

I’m not bashing. But I am tired of seeing men hurt. Because when men hurt, so does the rest of the world. If you’re a man who has stopped being a boy after the world tried to make you one, keep standing in that. If you’re a woman, don’t be afraid to be respected like you need to. And to support your man like he needs. We’re all just humans. And we all just need love.

…because love wins.

I’m a woman. My best friend is a man. We don’t intend to get married, and it’s awesome.


Ask my parents who my closest friends have been my entire life, and they’ll tell you it has always been them, my sister, and boys. Not in a weird always-crushing-and-being-a-hopeless-romantic kind of way, but in a hiking and biking and dancing and building and drama-isn’t-really-my-thing, and never has been kind of way.

Enter the year 2013. My best friend is a guy. Here we are.

Image

And, I’m a Christian.

Scandal.

Haha. I’m just kidding. But, only a little bit. I cannot even begin to express how hounded I have been by others in the church who were quick to ask me if my friend and I were dating, and when I said that we weren’t, be sure to tell me that it looked like we were. Duh. Hanging out with anyone can look like that these days. And they have always been sure to make sure they can make me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, and that being best friends with the opposite sex is basically the seed of Satan. I wish I was exaggerating. No matter how good the “intention” may be, it’s not always good.

This entire post will make a point, but let’s start here. Gossip is gossip, even if you’re asking someone about their personal life and you’re a Christian. Is it your place to know? Are you even a close enough friend to ask? Should you respond with any sort of opinion without listening? Have you been in this place before, and do you know the deep hearts of the parties involved? Those are pretty important questions to ask. Because I assure you, if you don’t listen to me, nor seek to understand, I won’t be coming to you to speak anymore. And I’m not the only one.

The point is, be careful. And the other point is, don’t assume that others are always living in sin. It is possible that two people enjoy the same hobbies, and seek the same Lord, and have been able to live true siblingship in Christ. And it’s also possible that we could all learn a thing or 12 from that.

Now, moving on. I do know that opposite sex friendships are kind of a scary thing for most Christians, because we’ve all been (at least if we’re past our teens), in a place to be hurt by someone of the opposite sex. But this is where I take a stand. I don’t think that Jesus said that the girls were to stand on one side of the room and the boys were to stand in another room, just to make sure we don’t slip into adultery. No, just like every other sin, Jesus tells us to be alert. But He also tells us He’s overcome. So, if you’re wondering how exactly you can have a best friend who you don’t intend to marry, check out these helpful points.

There are definitely challenges that come with opposite sex friendships.

1) Hormones. Hello, I’m 23. And my best friend is 24. We’re basically hormonal animals. We never know when we’re going to be attracted to someone and we rarely know if we should actually act on what we feel. It’s likely that, if spending enough time with someone in a place, the idea of connecting on a romantic level will cross your mind 1 or 50 times. And, that’s normal. What matters then, is what you do with that. We’ll get to how to manage that further down.

2) Later relationships. Yup, if you’re best friends with someone, it’s not okay to later date them because they are about to like someone else and that might leave you with less time with them. Jesus is in control of that, and you’re not meant to marry everyone. Sit tight and be siblings. It’s actually a lot of fun, and if you continue to listen to Jesus, it’ll probably be more incredible as the years go on.

3) Society. Have you listened to pop music lately? If you have, and it’s the only thing you’d ever heard, you would assume that everyone is drunk, high, and having sex always. If you have only heard Miley Cyrus, you would assume that it’s actually IMPOSSIBLE to stop doing things that are bad for your person. Cuz that’s what the song says, and it must be true, right? Wrong. That’s not real life. We’ll get to that too.

Now, how do we deal with those?

1) Seek the Lord with a pure and open heart on your own. There is nothing quite like needing to have a pure heart that will continually push you to Christ. I love my best friend. He’s a big brother to me, and as 1 Corinthians says, love protects. If I really am seeking Christ in our relationship, I would always aim to protect his heart. I wouldn’t do things that I know will cause him to stumble, and he would protect me, doing the same. That’s love. And that leads to us knowing Christ more fully.

2) Communicate. I know, this seems simple, but that’s most of Satan’s hold in our lives. If he can keep us from speaking with each other and holding our lives out in the light, then we are going to be fumbling around in the dark with each other. And I can promise you, that’ll lead to a mess in more ways than one. Be honest. Be honest. Be honest. If you’re nervous about something, talk about it. Read the Bible. Apply truth. Don’t listen to your fear, and trust that in Christ, we actually can speak about all things.

3) Seek Christ together. I know that we can have non-Christian relationships like this, but I also know that without something to seek together, people run out of hobbies and make one another their hobbies really, really fast. Do not do that. If you’re not seeking Christ together, there’s a serious problem (in any relationship really). Do you care about this person? Then point them to Christ. And the reality is that they probably will do the same. My best friend and I worship and pray and encourage our friends together. We speak honestly and openly, and point out each other’s sin. And we feel so alive in that.

Now, why are these relationships worth it?

1) The Bible says so. Galatians 6:10 – “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith. “That means boys and girls. And we’re in the same family, under the same Father. Brother and sister. And that means that there must be some value in having fellowship with another in the body of Christ, no matter what gender they are.

2) There is a lot to learn from the opposite sex. A ton, in fact. Have questions about how you should be treated? Need to know if you should or shouldn’t date someone? There’s a good chance that the opposite sex (if they’re using their Biblical wisdom), will be able to guide you in that. And there’s an even better chance that they can help you heal from pain from that past. They shouldn’t fill a void, but they should be able to help you make sense of pain.

3) It’s a lot of fun. To find someone who understands you, and who is understood by you, is a wonderful thing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have other friends (Most healthy relationships do have many other sources of energy…even if you’re married to your best friend.) but that doesn’t mean that you have to only have friends who are of the same sex because you’re afraid of the stumbling that it could lead to. I laugh a lot. And so does he. Because there are things that, as a female, I can think more solidly about than my friend can, and he himself can think more solidly about than I.

Of course, these relationships take some awareness, but so do friends who are of the same gender. Anyone can cause others to stumble. Even in sexual ways. The point is, eyes on Christ. Soak up Christ. Let Christ love you, and protect each other’s hearts. Maybe you’ll get married someday, but you were meant to be brother and sister before anything else. And for now, that’s all you have to be. At worst case, you and your future spouse have another best friend in the body of Christ forever.

Oh, and Jesus uses love. Always, and forever. Don’t stop Him.

And that’s awesome. 🙂

…because love wins.

PS: Join us in our newest ministry together: http://www.Facebook.com/LivingLikeJesus7

“I suffer with depression.”


“It’s the stigma that makes you hold it in and you hide it, because the stigma around depression in our society is very real. Unfortunately we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs to sign your cast. But when you say you have depression, they run away. We can’t procrastinate on something this important.”

This, my friend says it all really well. Please watch – understand depression.

Depression is real. It’s not weak.

Depression

…because love wins.

It hurts, you know.


It hurts.

It hurts to hear that my friends are suffering.
It hurts to hear that radiation is burning their skin.
It hurts to hear that they are throwing up.
It hurts to hear that their parents cannot comfort them.
It hurts to hear that they are miles away from their little sisters for weeks.
It hurts to see their hair fall out.
Again.
It hurts to watch their tired eyes.
It hurts to watch them shake in weakness.
It hurts to see them not even be able to do their homework.
It hurts to not even be able to communicate the pain.
It hurts to be here, when they are there.
It hurts to hold their hands as another child dies.
Again.
It hurts to come home and cry.
It hurts to realize that hardly anyone sees this.
It hurts to realize that those who do know, obviously don’t care enough.
It hurts to miss them at Christmas.
It hurts to walk into their empty rooms.
It hurts to have another piece empty in my heart.

Childhood cancer, it hurts much more than you know.

Childhood cancer, it hurts, please know.

…because love wins.

Standing

Dreams do come true.


ImageShe steps out into the light. The backstage had been a flurry of hundreds of people milling around. 

“Decker, check. Check. Check.” 

In 2 hours, thousands of people will enter this auditorium. They’ll come from all around the country. They’ll be in the middle of a fight with their wife. They’ll wish their children could do better in school. They’ll have an autistic sister. They’ll be sad. They’ll be hopeless. They’ll be happy. They’ll understand life, or they won’t. 

She stops out there. Says a prayer.

“Abba, it’s not me. It’s You. You have them. You be with them. You dream loud, speak loud, do what you do. I’m just so human.” 

She looks down at her leg. Who would have thought that this piece of molded plastic would lead to a headset, singing on stage, jumping up and down, crying in front of people? Well, surely not she. She was just this little girl with doggies on her footy pajamas sitting on the porch talking to her Father. 

And a tear falls. One tear, as she looks down at her mom, dad, and sister. Front row, always catching a tear, a hug, a smile, a reminder of who she is. 

Who is she that she could speak through an amputation and chemo drip? 

She’s just a human. Who has lost much. And who has everything, because of Jesus. 

She’s a girl who watches His dreams for her come true every day. 

…because love wins.

I have depression.


I have depression.
But I am not depression. 

I am not a foggy thought.
I am not a worried eye.
I am not an aimless tear.
I am not a useless try.
I am not my frustration.
I am not just lazy.
I am not really mean.
I am not crazy.
I am simply me.

I have depression.
But I am not depression.

I overcome each day.
Just to get out of bed.
I wake up and say,
“I’m going to try again.”
I withhold how I feel.
And sort my self from my thoughts.
I try to be who I am.
And even if you don’t understand,
I’ll never see you for what you’re not.

I have depression.
But I am not depression.

I am open, honest, helped.
I am well.
I am stable.
I am understanding.
I am able.
I am strong.
I’ve sought light.
I’ve come to see,
That life doesn’t have to be a fight.

I have depression.
But I am not depression.

I write these things to you,
and you may know what it feels,
or you could turn and walk away.
But there is one thing to know –
whether you have depression or you don’t,
the world around you has depression,
so tell them right now that they’re not alone.

I have depression.
But I am not depression.

A little known fact about me is that my family is riddled with depression. I myself manage it, understand it, and am treated for it each day. I’m writing this honest post to share with those who have depression that you are not alone – there is hope, there is life, there is sanity beyond the fight.

I am well. I have been taken care of. This society that we live in seems to think that those with depression are muted by their medications or should be left alone to cry. But I want to silence that today, because you’ve seen me, and I’m alive.

Who I am is not pretend. I’m just finally me. So do not leave those with mental illness alone. Rather, take a moment, and help them believe.

Most importantly – I am not my depression. I am not hiding, running, fearing. I am free. If you have depression, you don’t have to live this way. Reach out just a little even if you don’t feel you have the strength. Someone will help you until you can walk again.

If you are afraid of depression, ask me about it. Seek to understand. You can no more hide than a penny in a water glass. Be kind – for you yourself may face this one day.

And if you’re taking care of your depression – I am so proud of you. And I’m not the only one.

I’m going to leave you with a video of a little girl with cancer and rotationplasty who I have been blessed to mentor. She is brilliant, and though this dance exemplifies overcoming a physical disability, it  speaks to our mental lives as well.

Back on the stage!

Share this with your friends and family and share your success stories below. And, keep smiling – on and on.

Oh, and, just don’t ever. give. up. One more breath at a time.

…because love wins.