“The King of Kings Calls me His Own.”


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Every day is wedding day.


Today, I want to make mention of these people – who have stood by us in great times, bizarre times, and hard times. Who make us laugh, bring purpose to our lives, and who we could not be ourselves without. These are words for them:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

-Elizabeth Kubler Ros

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…because love wins.

Weddings are dreams…if you do them right.


I got married this weekend!

Everything everyone says about the day going so fast, but being so beautiful, is right. Everything they say about being madly in love being intoxicating, is right. Everything they say about the great blessing of being surrounded by the people who love you, and who you love most, is right. They’re all right. It’s magical, but it’s only magical if you do it right. It’s only right if you’re marrying who you should marry. And if you’re upholding marriage until it’s time for marriage.

The most magical parts of our day were not the flowers (even though they were beautiful!), or the candles (which I got from the dollar store and that didn’t burn right…not that I noticed – I heard from my people), or the hair, or the makeup, or the suits. It wasn’t the “rager” we had after (the whole thing was over by 10pm), and it certainly wasn’t the tight (although also beautiful) dress I was wearing.

What was magical was Jesus. Jesus, who picked us for each other. Who made a love story out of our resistance (see any other blog post from before this about how we thought our lives should go). Jesus who changed us like water into wine, and Jesus, who was our first love. Jesus, who taught us what love is. Who teaches us what love is. Jesus, was the magic. Jesus, is the magic. Today is magical. Because marriage is Jesus’ and it can only be done as marriage, with Jesus. The rest is a sham.

Ray and I didn’t freak out about details while planning. We laughed a lot. We learned how to tie bows, and he got to watch me wander around Hobby Lobby a lot and grow his patience. We made time for our families and extended leases so that we didn’t have to live together before our marriage. We cried in the last three years as we lived in different houses, and states, and had surgery and almost cancer diagnoses, ER visits, hair loss, reconciliation of pasts, and figuring out how to fit into a new life. And we did it all together. It wasn’t easy, and it was magic too. This time with each other and Jesus, was our magic.

One of my two most favorite moments of our wedding was walking down the aisle with my father to greet my groom. After three years of up and down and changing as a person with him, there is only one person who could ever have compared to the love that my father has for me. I was proud of the man I was marrying. I was so blessed that my dad loved him so much and how much he has laid down his life for me. I am thankful that my father taught me to wait for the man who could make my life magical.

My second favorite moment, was when the man of my dreams cried while dancing our first dance with me. I have a hard time dancing – mostly because I am a white girl, but also because I have a prosthetic leg. While most people are busy working on shows for their first dance, we practiced me following him so that I didn’t step on him or my dress. It’s a vulnerable point for me. And it’s a space of challenge that only he could have worked himself into. He led me like the man of my dreams who knows exactly how to let me be independent while empowering me by holding me up in ways that people do not see. He has done physical therapy I didn’t know I needed, and he has wrapped up the broken pieces of my heart into one whole piece.

But he couldn’t do that without being led by Jesus. Half of the letter he wrote me before the wedding was Scripture. Wait for the man who doesn’t just give you himself. Wait for the man who unashamedly laughs with you while you plan for your wedding, who cries on your shoulder because he thinks you’re the most beautiful person in the world, and wait for the man who gets up the Monday after the wedding to go to work so that you can rest. Wait for the man who gives you Jesus.

Wait for the magic. Wait to see your groom until you walk down the aisle (pictures can wait until after). Wait for him to stand up and be a man. Don’t marry someone for the flowers. They will fade. Don’t marry someone for the candles. They won’t stay lit. Don’t marry someone for the sex. Married sex is the only sex that counts, and it’s not about the sex. Marry the person who you can let into the moments that make your heart break.

Wait for the man who will spin you around in front of a room of people because he can’t decide if he wants to look at you, or hold you close. Wait for the magic. Do the wedding right – it’s easy to do when the marriage is right. Wait for the right dream come true.

This is our first dance song. Here are the lyrics. Please listen and read. It is what we want people to see of our lives, which is why we picked it. The first verse is me (speaking to 25,000 this summer) and the second is him. And we have learned…nothing matters…but looking like love, Jesus, to each other, and to the world.

I hope everyone who was able to come and those who we know see that, and only that, in our wedding – and in our marriage. In our forever.

The marriage was worth the wait. The magic was worth the wait. Ray was worth the wait.

More Like Love – Ben Rector: Click here to listen

I use to think I wanted to be famous
I’d be recognized out in a crowd
But the funny thing is anytime I’ve gotten what I want
It lets me down

But now I just wanna look more like love
I just wanna look more like love
This whole world is spinning crazy
And I can’t quite keep up
It’s the one thing around here
That we don’t have quite enough of
So I just wanna look a little more
Like love

I used to think I needed all the answers
I used to need to know that I was right
I used to be afraid of things I couldn’t cover up
In black and white

But I just wanna look more like love
I just wanna look more like love
This whole world is spinning crazy
And I can’t quite keep up
It’s the one thing around here
That we don’t have quite enough of
So I just wanna look a little more
Like love

I find the farther that I climb
There’s always another line
Of mountain tops
It’s never going to stop
And the more of anything I do
The thing that always ends up true
Is getting what I want
Will never be enough

So I just wanna look more like love
I just wanna look more like love
This whole world is spinning crazy
I can’t quite keep up
It’s the one thing around here
That we don’t have quite enough of
So I just wanna look a little more
Like love

Like love

…because love wins.

first-dance

 

Words I support.


I’m tired of people romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic. Coffee (though {sometimes} a delicious necessity) is not a food group, and running on fumes is not admirable. Why do we hold pedestals for sleepless nights, break downs and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self care, balance, the ability to  know when your body, mind, and spirit need to take a step back. Those are things we should admire. We have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment’ and self endangerment, because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine.Exertion

…because love wins.

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.

Beauty, beauty.


Your life is your lesson. You can’t change what people say to you, how they handle your quirks and imperfections, or even sometimes what you say when you’re not thinking. But you can learn. You can grow. And you can take everything we learned in school and make yourself the student, and life the teacher. Your life is your lesson. And you’re getting straight A’s.

…because love wins.

I must dance. You must dance, too.


She stands behind the curtain, looking at the piercing eyes in the crowd. She could back down, she could hide from the stares and the judgement, and the knowledge that she will inevitably mess up this routine. She will probably fall. It won’t be perfect. 

And they expect perfect. 

“Can I do this? Will my leg even hold out? I haven’t ever tried such a thing.” 

“Dance,” God says. 

“But how?” 

“Dance with me,” He says again quietly – strong. In a way that almost demands to be trusted. 

“No one taught me how. I can’t dance like everyone else.” 

“But you follow the beat I put in you. You need to dance. You’re My music.” He whispers. His eyes are strong – confident. 

“I can trust Him. He knows my steps,” she says to herself. 

Out she steps. 

Just alone out here. 

The music starts. 

A slow, gentle, beat, as she has learned like should be – slow and gentle. 

One step, and then another. Some quick steps. A magical spin under the moving orange lights. The air is crisp, and the audience silent. 

She starts to see the life events show up on the dance floor. 

A sick child – she floats to take his hand, and brings the music to him. Soon he is smiling a most magnificent smile. 

An illness in the family – she ducks for the challenge it is to get to that ill person, but finds that music unlocks the doors to stop her from helping. Healing comes in a brilliant soft white light.

Jobs, pain, rainy days – No need to face them. They resolve themselves as she floats around them and her light shine upon them fast. 

And it occurs to her – 

“I dance to my own life. That’s my own beat. I know exactly how to dance. My life is my dance. He made this. I cannot fail if I try.” 

God steps out onto one side of the stage, opposite of where she took her place. She sees those obstacles that are life between her and Him. But she also sees that wherever He steps, those obstacles minimize to a beautiful piece of the stage – highlighting her special steps in brilliant colors. Her favorites – making her dance more freely still. 

He guides her. A hand motion there, a step there. Pointing, carrying, dancing right along. 

She’s forgotten all about the people who were once her fear, and her eyes, heart, and soul, are locked with Him. 

The stage is now covered in the most beautiful flowers. Open paths. Wide spaces, where she is entirely free. The obstacles are gone. And as He spins her like she spun as a 2 year old, He gestures to the audience. 

She stops, and takes a step towards them. The lights come up on those faces. She gasps a soft breath. Every single one is someone who has come alive because of her dance. They were strangers at one time, but she now sees them all clearly. 

Best friends. Acquaintances. Used-to-be enemies. Mom, dad, kids, boyfriend.

Everyone someone she has danced into the life of.

This is her life. This is her stage. It’s important.

And it’s magnificent.

She beams, and takes a seat on the edge of the stage. God stands proudly and in a lovely way behind her. Tears fill her eyes. She didn’t know how to dance, she thought. She didn’t know where she would step, she thought.

“But He made the music in me know where to dance.”

“And it was the performance each of these souls needed to see to bring them to life,” He says.

And she knew from that point forward that our purpose in life is to dance. To dance, just as we know how. And we all learn together with each step. 

Our lives are His symphony.  

…because love wins.  

Mental Illness and Jesus


So I’m crazy. 

At least that’s what society says. Of course the stigmas of depression have continued to improve as years pass by and we can see that people all around the world have it, but still, there are lot of people who don’t understand mental illness. Either because they have it and don’t know, or they just don’t have it. Which is awesome. 🙂

But for those of us who do understand and are also Christians, there is this post.

So I have mental illness all around me. As you know (hey frequent readers!) I myself have been diagnosed with depression. I’ve got anxiety, more anxiety, addiction, and ADHD hanging out in other people in my family and friends. And it’s a new learning experience every day.

First thing’s first. Jesus CAN fix anything. He totally can. Prayer works, and you should keep praying, no, matter, what. There have been plenty of times when I have been hopeless for the people around me with mental illness. And by nature of depression, I was pretty hopeless for a long time for myself. But, I have learned to not relent. God wants us to keep knocking on that door until He opens it. He desires healing – he desires peace for us. But, that doesn’t always mean that He’s going to answer in the way that we think He will. He’s going to answer in the way that is most effective for bringing us to Him.

I will tell you, being mentally ill will bring a person to Jesus. There’s not a lot more to do without actually going crazy. Trying to help someone with anxiety, depression, or ADHD will as well. And you know what? I’m thankful for that. Some of us are on meds. I used to think that they weren’t necessary. Jesus humbled me…sometimes that’s the tool he wants to use. Sometimes the meds can’t do it all and there’s some serious soul-digging that has to happen.

But through it all, Jesus is king. He knows that mental illness is just another piece of the fallen world, and the truth remains the truth – He has freedom for us. We may not know how healing will come in earthly terms, but we do know that it will come from Jesus.

Anyway…if you’re ill, or someone you know is, don’t give up. Beg for strength, mercy, healing. Keep your eyes on the goal. You may need to change the plan to get to the goal, but walk in with a shield of love, and see that healing will come, in some way. It will. So rest in that. You’re not at all alone.

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…because love wins.