Tag Archives: you are loved

Are You Aware? Let’s Talk About It!

Standard

 

awareness-road-sign

Many months, or many individual days come with awareness titles. Each day, or month respectively, seek to bring awareness to a cause. Something near and dear to someone’s heart. Well, this month – and specifically also this day is no different. Before I get to that, I would like to say something though. I almost wish I could go back to the brand of naivety where I simply didn’t know or understand these things. But, I can’t. And, my prayer is that, after reading this post, you won’t be able to either. I want you to be aware of these things, as nothing will change until we start to talk about them. No stigmas will be removed by remaining silent.

September is awareness month for multiple things. But, near and dear to my heart are two very intensely painful and “special” ones.

shirt front

First, September is childhood cancer awareness month. The month we bring awareness to something so rampant, and so widespread – but yet so many people think it is rare. Kids get cancer too. So many children, my daughter included, have fought and died as a result of this monster. So many children fighting this fight every single day. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Cancer knows no race, ethnicity, gender, etc.  If you are interested in standing with us to raise awareness for all those who have, or who continue to battle this monster, we’d love it if you’d consider ordering a special t-shirt – created actually by my daughter and I while she was still alive, this side of Heaven.

Children need hope – especially those who have to fight for their lives in a battle with childhood cancer. What they need is awareness, funding, research, hope and a cure. It all starts with you being aware. No amount of awareness will bring my daughter back, but hopefully fundraising that provides research will provide the potential of new medications and therapies. My heart hurts, and it is my desire that no other parent know this kind of pain. The cold hard fact is this though – there have been no new childhood cancer protocols to save our babies lives in multiple decades. DECADES. the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute (NCI) plays a pivotal role in research, yet only approximately 4% percent of its annual budget is dedicated to childhood cancer. The result is that children are dying every day waiting for promising new treatments that lack funding. Our children deserve more than 4%.

There are multiple organizations (locally, and nationwide) where funds go directly to research and finding a cure. There are also several organizations that directly help the families with a child fighting cancer. If you need help finding a reputable place to make donations to, please ask – either here in comments, or via my contact me page. I’d be happy to help you find what makes sense for you – and will gladly share my own experience in those places who made a difference during our journey fighting childhood cancer alongside my daughter for the three years she fought.

SuicidePrevention
As we open our hearts, and fight for these little fighters all across the globe, we also need to open our hearts and fight for some other fighters. They don’t fight cancer – but, they fight other demons. You see, September is also suicide prevention and awareness month – with September 10th being Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. This is a day where the entire world locks arms and stands together, fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. It is this day and month, that we are more vocal. Talking about it. Giving a voice to those who feel they have none. I have personally been affected by suicide as well. I have lost people I love as a result of their taking their own lives, and have struggled with my own inability to see anything other than the intensely painful moments that just hurt. I have had suicidal thoughts, and I know that I was made for more than just the pain.

WSPD2017-ResponseCard-Download copy

If I were to take (or have taken) my own life when I couldn’t see beyond the pain, I wouldn’t be here to ask you to please stay. I’m here today, asking you to stay. Please stay to be surprised. Please stay for love – to love, and to BE loved. Please stay to know others, but to also be known. Please stay and know that you are loved – that your life matters, and that your life is a story – with chapters, yet to be written. Please don’t take a beautiful story away from those who need to hear it. You are not alone. Not now, not ever. I join my friends at To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) in asking you to stay, and find what you were made for.

So, on this day – and throughout this entire month, will you join me in talking about the topics hard to discuss? Will you reach out to anyone you might see that is hurting? Know that any small act of love, of compassion, of kindness – it might just save a life. If you see someone in pain – for whatever reason, be present. Care enough to not greet their pain with silence. You may not have the right words to say, and it’s alright.

If you are reading this right now, and find yourself feeling hopeless, please know that you are not alone. You don’t have to do this journey alone. Please reach out for help. You are worth it. Your story is worth it. The world needs you to be here. If you need help finding resources, feel free to post here in comments or contact me directly via my “contact me” page. Also, you can find helpful resources on TWLOHA’s page.

If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA.

I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay. I tell myself this often. I ask you to join me in raising awareness for these two causes this month. Let’s take it beyond just this month – and make it something we talk about regularly. It is only with open and honest communication that we even stand a chance at making a difference, and erasing the stigma(s) that keep us from talking about it – that same stigma that takes lives, and keeps people from seeking help. Let’s be the change our world needs. Let’s talk about it. Let’s do something. Let’s let love lead the way. Always, Remember The Love.

Advertisements

Unmerited Grace, Unwarranted Forgiveness, and Undeserved Love

Standard

Grace. Forgiveness. Love.

These are three words that people throw around time and time again. I do, and you may too. The question is – do you believe that they are for everyone? Think about those people who are hard to extend grace to, who just don’t deserve forgiveness, and those who are really hard to love. Do you have a mental picture of someone in your head right now? I know I came up with several examples.

As an example, I will bring up a recent news event. A little ten year old girl was abducted. An amber alert was issued, and hope for her safe return was sent around the nation. We all went to bed that evening, many people nationwide praying for her to be returned home safely. The next morning, however, the news reports were heartbreaking. A man had been found, arrested and charged with her murder. Murder. Seems she wouldn’t be returning home safely after all. I know my heart broke with many, many people about this. My initial response was WHAT THE <insert expletive of your choice here> IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???? Then, as the news story further unfolded, it was noted that this precious child had been abducted, molested, and then murdered. Harder to think about, this was all allegedly purported by someone many children trust every day – a teacher. This made me angry…and it should. This broke my heart…for what the little girl endured, but also for her family, and for those who loved her, and now will miss her.

Now that I have painted this hard to think about picture, I’d like to offer another scenario that will likely make your stomach turn. It may even make you angry. But, what I’d like, more than anything else, is for it to open a dialog. I’d like to hope you will at least think about it.

Let’s take this man. A man many people have called all sorts of names – many I will not repeat, cause they are not appropriate for general audience. That said, people have also been quick to explain what they’d like to do to this man. What punishment they’d give him, if it was their ability to do so. I bet you could imagine what your punishment for his crimes would be. Torture? Execution? Whatever method chosen, it would likely be very unpleasant, and likely painful.

So, about my scenario regarding the man charged with kidnapping, molestation and murder — Does he deserve grace? What about forgiveness? Surely not love!? Couldn’t be – he doesn’t DESERVE any of those things!! I would like to challenge this line of thinking!! No, he absolutely does NOT deserve grace, forgiveness OR love. The truth is, though, NONE of us do! God hates sin. ALL sin.

*******Prior to my continuing, I would like to insert this little caveat. While I am about to explain my thoughts about grace, forgiveness and love – as it relates to a criminal of his nature, I want to make it known how I also feel. I believe 100% that this man, provided he is found guilty of the aforementioned charges, should be held accountable. I think he should be punished, and every amount of the legal ramifications he is due, SHOULD be afforded him!!*******

Now I’d like to explain my thought process behind what I mentioned earlier. This man needs grace. He needs forgiveness, and he also needs love. As Christians, we are called to love as Jesus loved. What does this REALLY mean though? God’s grace is not earned, and you can never actually earn it. The same rings true about forgiveness. God forgives. Period. At this point, you may be thinking I am off my rocker! That may be, but not for these reasons. You see, every human being alive needs grace, forgiveness and love. Period. EVERY PERSON.

Does this mean we have to love (or even like) what he did? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, if we are truly going to love as Jesus loved, we are going to dig deep, ask God for help if need be, and offer him love. This doesn’t mean we’d ever want to even look at him. It doesn’t mean you’d run up and give him a bear hug. It doesn’t mean you would ever invite him over for Christmas dinner. What it does mean, is that you’d want to see his heart softened, him come to know Jesus, him turn from his criminal ways, and ultimately end up in Heaven one day. Does he DESERVE it? No! But, I’m back to the same sentiment that NONE OF US DO! Should his crimes be forgiven? Not in the eyes of the law, and not as it relates to justice being served legally. What it DOES mean is that God gave his only son to die on the cross to forgive EVERYONE of their sins. This man’s horrible, despicable choices are no different. Jesus has already paid the price. As I mentioned previously, I absolutely believe he should be held accountable for the choices he made, and for the crimes he committed if he’s convicted. Grace does not erase what he’s done. It doesn’t make it all better. It does, however, give him the opportunity to do the right thing. It makes it possible for him to have a second chance.

I recognize this isn’t necessarily a popular topic, and I’m okay with that.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done. God loves you, God forgives your sins (if you ask Him to) and He freely gives you grace. Knowing that God’s grace is freely given, that His forgiveness is for the taking, and His love is very real is not a ticket to commit crime. It is, however, the possibility of a second chance. It’s not even living a perfect, or blame free life. It’s knowing that you ARE human, and at some point – you WILL mess up. But, it’s the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient to cover you, His forgiveness is available simply because you ask and make the choice to change, and His love – it’s yours because you are precious. You may not always feel precious, and you may not understand how anyone could love you – let alone the creator of the entire universe — but it’s true. You are loved.