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.

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40 days to a Radical Life.


So yesterday I got quite a few new followers to my blog. (Ohhhh, heeeeyyyyy all!) One of them is a beautiful lady with a sweet blog herself. Here, don’t just take my word for it – check it out: https://laurabrookekeith.wordpress.com/.

She’s doing this sweet 40 day challenge dealio to be like Jesus. And…I’m gonna follow along with her. And do the things myself, cuz I feel like I should. Maybe you want to join me. I think you totally should.

Yesterday’s was this: TODAY’S DARE: The next 40 days are going to be radical… so today’s dare is simple. In Mark 6:21 Jesus invited His friends to go away with Him to rest. Rest is so important in today’s rushed and hurried world. Today, take comfort in something red, a red blanket, woolen socks… anything that brings you comfort and let it remind you that Jesus wants you to commit to R.E.S.T…. Radically Entrusting your Savior To-supply-all-your-needs.

I’ll let you all know how things go. Jesus loves you 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.

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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.

Who do you say I AM?


“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

“They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

“Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”

Pause. What does that mean? Webster, whatcha got?

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I wonder if they all already believed that and were like, “Well, yeah, duh, Peter. Obviously. Maybe His question was rhetorical? He obviously just caught about a bazillion fish for you. Or were you asleep for that?” And then Jesus has to be all like, “Calm down boys, no competition needed here. You can repent to Me for that later. I’m still here to save you.”

I mean, it could have happened. They’re humans. And men. I’m half-kidding. We’ve all been at a football game before. Men are good competitors.

Anyway…moving on.

gardenThe other options are something likened to stopping breathing or realizing that this is potentially a mental health problem on a grand scale. They could have all been thinking, “You know, a year ago I was just chillin’ with my money and now I’m hanging out with these other 11 guys that I’m not sure have a clue, walking around with this guy who prays in gardens when he should be sleeping. This seems like a good time to jump ship.” Or, they were just like…”Eh, whatever, I was bored anyway, and this could be fun.”

That last one is probably unlikely, but still possible. Still humans.

The final option is that they could have gotten it. And knew that this was the real thing. This guy showed up. He didn’t come all fancy based on world’s standards (They probably thought he’d show up in a Fisker Karma or something.) but sure did have something special about him. Maybe that was the point.

Jesus goes on,

“[He] strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will

save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Man. We just established that he’s the Messiah. And now he say to these guys, “Well, let’s go. Leave your whole life. You don’t need anything you’ve ever had before; just Me.”

sandals

Are you kidding me? I would have been like…”Um, my house, my donkey, my only book that I’ve got hidden in my backyard, my rice, my beans, my SANDALS! You’re just a guy – and we won’t get many showers travelling like you intend. Smelly and no iPhone. How can we make it?” (Who knows…Apple could have been there too.)

I think we all would have been. I also think it’s easy to think that these men were something special, that they saw something that made everything make sense in a way that it doesn’t now. I think we think it was easy for this men to do this.

But think about it. There’s no way in the world that they would have been able to just do this without a major struggle. It’s quite obvious that there were enough people around who didn’t think Jesus was the right One. And they thought that enough to murder Him.

Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t easier for them to believe than it is for us to.

But he was also talking about dying. And saving the world. And that catches my attention. And theirs.

It’s then also safe to say that it was right.

Think about your closest friends. Do you care what the world thinks about them? No, you don’t. You care about who they are. And you will follow them, be with them, and live life with them, because you know who they are.

The same applies to Jesus. We are just like Peter. Who do the athiests say Jesus is? The Mormons? The Muslims? Well, they say He’s something that He’s not.

But He says to you, “Child, who do you say I AM?”

Will you come?

…because love wins.

Jesus

Cited: Luke 9:18-27

7 words America’s 20-somethings didn’t know before September 11, 2001


As someone in my early-twenties, 12 years is almost half of my life. There have been thousands of growing experiences in those years, but there are just some days that create adulthood in children faster than they ever should.

Never ForgetOf course, we all remember where we were. I sat in the front row of a 6th grade classroom honestly not even knowing what was going on. I hardly had a concept of what an airplane looked like, and had never been to New York City. My teachers were crying, and I wished my teenage sister was with me to tell me what had just happened. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel about this – but I did know without thinking, that I was scared.

That day changed my entire generation. Until that point, we had the safety of America in which we could rejoice. We trusted that we were always safe here. And we were dreamers, not fighters. What was there to be afraid of? The fight is always miles away. It’s my job to play until I grow up and get to lead the world as an American that the world respects.

But then we learned some things. These are 7 words we never knew, and now some we’ll never forget.

1. Terrorism: [ter-uh-riz-uh m] noun: the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce especially for political purposes.

What? What even is that? Why in the world is that even a thing? Those people flew those airplanes into our buildings because it just is what they do? What?

Who would have thought we’d live years of it to come?

2. Al-Qaeda: [al-kaidah] noun: a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in Pakistan at some point between August 1988 and late 1989 with his origins being traceable to the Soviet War in Afganistan.

I remember how long it took for me to be able to say this word. And to learn that this is a group that operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and racial Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad. Understanding that these folks could be anywhere in the world at any time begged a lot of questions of me as a child.

3. Osama bin Laden: (March 10, 1957 – May 2, 2011): The founder of Al-Qaeda, and born to a billionaire in Saudia Arabia.

Even as a child, I was a Christian. And I learned very quickly that this man didn’t like us very much. To him, his actions were his truth. And he really needed to believe it to encourage someone to fly a plane into our buildings. And so much more.

4. Mass Casualty: (MCI): any incident in which emergency medical services resources, such as personnel and equipment, are overwhelmed by the number and severity of casualties.

I know as a 6th grader I had no concept of 3,000 people being killed in one location alone. But I did understand that my family wasn’t with me, and that I wanted them to be. I knew what it would be like to be that family waiting for their dad to call home. And I understood that a lot of dads wouldn’t come home that night.

5. Hero: [heer-oh]: noun: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave and noble qualities.

For the first time in my life, I saw true, no-holds-bar heroes. They ran into that plume of gas and debris, and fire, to save someone else’s life. I will never forget that for all of my life. The greatest love is that of laying your life down for that of your brother.

6. Ground Zero: at its purest definition, this is the point on the earth closest to a detonation. That was where those families lost their loved ones.

We still talk about it today the way we did that day. It’s still observed as a place of remembrance. It’s a place of great unity. It’s a place of great American pride. It’s a place that deserves our honor forever.

7. Hope: /h-oh-p/: noun: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

I knew that I had hoped for things in life. I even probably understood it better than most my age because I had already faced childhood cancer, but 9/11 changed what that word meant in a great way. We could have given up, but hope won’t allow that. Instead, we hoped. We hoped for an end of terrorism just as fast as we learned what it was. And we hoped that we could return to America and so many families what they lost that day.

12 years later, us 20-somethings are older. We are more America than we were then. And we’re proud to say that no matter how those words changed our lives, America still hopes. We hope for life for those who hurt us to change, we hope for our own understanding of the need of compassion and selflessness, and we hope always for freedom. Because that’s what we are. Land of the free. Because of the hope of the brave.

We’re America – we won’t forget and we’ll always have infinite strength in our hope.

…because love wins.

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.