A los 21 años de edad, David empacó sus maletas y se mudó a Okinawa, Japón para servir como policía militar. Solo meses antes, estaba disfrutando de su casa en Florida con su familia y novia a su lado. Sin embargo, la distancia entre Florida y el aislado Pacífico llevó la relación con su novia al piso, dejándolo en una grave depresión.
“El rompimiento llevó a la bebida, perdiendo el conocimiento los fines de semana y entrando en peleas. El 31 de Diciembre del 2012, tomé tanto que dejé una marca negativa en mis amigos más cercanos. Ese fue mi punto de cambio. Desperté el 1 de Enero del 2013 con una nueva perspectiva”, remarcó David.
Ese día vio un comercial de Yo Soy Segundo en su televisor durante las carreras de NASCAR. Pocos minutos después, David abrió su computadora portátil y comenzó a ver un video después de otro, Joe Gibbs, Jason Witten, Colt McCoy, Darrell Waltrip… y la lista continúa.
“Ellos son unos de mis atletas favoritos y es lindo verlos profesando su fe mientras escucho sus historias.”
Pocos meses después, mientras seguía en la isla, David acompañó a uno de sus compañeros a una sala de tatuajes. Antes de darse cuenta, David estaba recostado a la silla, apretando el puño, y teniendo un bosquejo de “I am Second” (Yo soy Segundo) en su antebrazo. En el conservatorio de la comunidad Japonesa en la que él estaba viviendo, esto era una declaración intrépida.
“Los Japoneses me dijeron que tenían mucho respeto hacia mí porque en su cultura ellos consideraban los tatuajes como una degradación personal. Ellos pensaron que era genial que yo tolerara el dolor por mi Dios”.
Muchas de esas personas se convirtieron en amigos cercanos de David. Incluso luego de regresar a los Estados Unidos, siguen en contacto y su tatuaje continúa siendo una declaración. Cuando la gente nota el tatuaje de “I am Second” (Yo soy Segundo) en su brazo, usualmente preguntan “¿Por qué no puso “I am first (Yo soy primero)?”
“No puedo decir que las conversaciones causan mucho, pero después las personas harán preguntas acerca de la fe y comenzarán a ir a la iglesia conmigo”, compartió David.
Hace sólo dos años, David pasó su Año Nuevo rodeado de botellas vacías en una isla solitaria. Este año, lo pasó con amigos cercanos que presenciaron la transformación de su vida, que siempre será recordada por la tinta en su antebrazo.
La semana pasada, el Segundo Bradie James se encontró registrándose en la Las Vegas Convetion Center. Conferencias y salones de hoteles no son nada nuevo para el muchacho de 34 años de edad, pero esta experiencia fue única.
Después de que los Dallas Cowboys lo seleccionaron en el 2003, Bradie disfrutó casi una década en la NFL. Sin embargo, en el 2012, su carrera llegó a su fin. Todo por lo que había trabajado ya estaba completo. Ahí es cuando Bradie empezó a buscar el próximo paso de su vida y fue cuando lanzó Premier Electronics. Pero instalar equipo de seguridad y automatización del hogar no es la verdadera pasión de Bradie. Electronics es solamente una excusa para ser un ejemplo para sus clientes y empleados.
“Puedes vender un producto, pero para mí, se trata de construir una relación”, compartió Bradie.
Recientemente, una nueva cosecha de internos llenaron los pasillos de la oficina de Bradie. Un hombre en particular le llamó la atención, no por su trabajo duro sino por su falta de motivación. En vez de dejarlo ir, Bradie buscó una alternativa inesperada.
“Comencé a ver a un muchacho que llegaba tarde y se iba un poco de fiesta, entonces lo comencé dejar y a llevar al trabajo”, comenzó Bradie
Bradie invitó al joven interno para que lo siguiera. Mientras veía a Bradie dirigir reuniones y resolver conflictos, conversaciones espirituales comenzaron a surgir y su relación se profundizó. Cuanto más se hundía el joven en el abuso de sustancias, Bradie se hundía más en su vida.
“Las personas pasan por eso y es algo con lo que deben lidiar. Debes dar las buenas nuevas, de que, sin importar nada, Dios nos ama. Siempre te puedes recuperar.”
Pasaron meses mientras el joven aprendía de Jesús, pero él no fue el único que cambió a través de su amistad. Bradie experimentó una oportunidad para vivir su propósito en la oficina.
“He aprendido a ser dócil. No es una debilidad, sino poder bajo control. Definitivamente eso es a lo que me he adaptado.”declaró Bradie.
Mientras Bradie estaba en la fila para registrarse en la convención de International CES Electronics en Las Vegas, representó más que un negocio. Él representó a un equipo de empleados y clientes que ha aprendido a servir como un ejemplo de Jesús para otros.
Para aprender más del viaje de Bradie viviendo Segundo, da click aquí.
As David Wilson rang in the New Year, it marked more than a change in the calendar. It marked two years of sobriety.
At the age of 21, David packed his bags and moved to Okinawa, Japan to serve as a military policeman. Just months earlier, he was enjoying his home in Florida with his family and girlfriend by his side. But the distance between Florida and the lonely Pacific drove his relationship with his girlfriend into the ground, leaving him in a deep depression.
“The breakup led to drinking, blacking out on weekends, and getting in fights. On December 31, 2012, I drank so much that I left a negative mark on my closest friends. That was my turning point. I woke up on January 1, 2013 with a new perspective,” David remarked.
That next day he recalled an I am Second commercial on his TV screen during the NASCAR races. A few minutes later, David opened up his laptop and began watching one film after another– Joe Gibbs, Jason Witten, Colt McCoy, Darrell Waltrip… and the list went on.
“They are some of my favorite athletes and it’s nice to see them professing their faith as I get to hear their stories.”
A few months later, while still on the island, David accompanied one of his buddies to a tattoo parlor. Before he knew it, David was leaning back in the chair, squeezing his fist, and getting “I am Second” sketched into his forearm. In the conservative Japanese community in which he lived, this was a bold statement.
“The Japanese people told me they had a lot of respect for me because tattoos in their culture are seen as a personal degradation. They thought it was cool that I would tolerate pain for my God.”
Many of those people have now become David’s closest friends. Even after returning to the United States, they still keep in contact and his tattoo continues to make a statement. When people notice “I am Second” inked across his arm, they often ask, “Why wouldn’t you get ‘I am first’?”
“I can’t say the conversations caused much, but the people would later ask questions about faith and start going to church with me,” David shared.
Just two years ago, David spent his New Years surrounded by empty bottles on a lonely island. This year, he spent it with close friends who witnessed the transformation in his life, forever memorialized in ink on his forearm.
This past week, Second, Bradie James found himself checking into the Las Vegas Convention Center. Conferences and hotel ballrooms are nothing new to the 34-year-old, but this experience was unique.
After the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in 2003, Bradie enjoyed nearly a decade in the NFL. But, in 2012, his career came to a close. Everything he had once worked towards was now complete. That’s when Bradie began searching for the next step in his life and launched Premiere Electronics. But installing security equipment and home automation isn’t Bradie’s true passion. Electronics is simply an excuse to be an example for his clients and employees.
“You can sell a product, but for me, it’s about building the relationships,” Bradie shared.
Recently, a new crop of interns filled the halls of Bradie’s office. One young man in particular grabbed his attention – not for his hard work, but for his lack of motivation. Instead of letting him go, Bradie pursued an unexpected alternative.
“I started seeing one guy come in late and noticed he was partying a bit, so I started picking him up and taking him to work,” Bradie stated.
Bradie invited the young intern to shadow him. As he watched Bradie conduct meetings and solve conflicts, spiritual conversations began to unfold and their relationship deepened. As the young man sank further into substance abuse, Bradie sank further into his life.
“People go through that and it’s something you have to deal with. You have to share the good news that, no matter what, God loves us. You can always bounce back.”
Months passed by as the young man learned about Jesus, but he was not the only one changed through this friendship. Bradie experienced an opportunity to live out his purpose in the office.
“I have learned to be meek. It’s not a weakness, but power under control. That is what I have definitely adapted to,” Bradie stated.
As Bradie stood in line to check in at the International CES Electronics Convention in Las Vegas, he represented more than an electronics business. He represented a team of employees and clients he has learned to serve as an example of Jesus to others.
To hear more of Bradie’s journey towards living Second, click here.
“La culpa de sobrevivir me estaba consumiendo tan rápido como yo estaba consumiendo los analgésicos”, comentó Aaron Walker.
En el año 2008, Aaron regresó a su casa como el único sobreviviente de un accidente de carro.Este era el segundo accidente de carro en un mes. Sin embargo, Aaron sobrevivió ambos.
“Tuve varios amigos que me dijeron que tenía que ser parte gato después de todas esas llamadas cercanas”, recalcó.
Como adicto a las pastillas y al alcohol, celebró su camino a través de dos matrimonios y múltiples trabajos. Finalmente, estas dos experiencias en las que estuvo cerca de la muerta, cambiaron toda la perspectiva. En recuperación, Aaron se encontró con el video de Yo Soy Segundo de Josh Hamilton.
“Cuando vi el video, seguía repitiendo cosas que habían acontecido en mi vida y que me pusieron en este lugar. Debí verlo alrededor de 10 a 15 veces ese día”, dijo Aaron.
Ver el video fue sólo el primer paso de un largo camino de recuperación de su adicción. Una vez, él dependió de las pastillas y las botellas de alcohol. Ahora, Aaron se llena de vivir Segundo.
“Puedes ver todos los videos que quieras, pero sin tomar ese próximo paso, estás en el mismo lugar en el que estabas”, compartió Aaron.
“Estaba en mi camino para trabajar con los Dallas Cowboys y fue muy vivo”, empezó a compartir Greg Ellis. Después de jugar con los Cowboys por ocho años, Greg Ellis se dió cuenta que si su casa se quemaba, lo que más le dolería perder serían la fotos de su esposa e hija. Este pequeño momento determinó el camino de Greg después de su carrera en el futbol. Él quería crear y salvar recuerdos para las personas. Con un corazón para los adolescentes, Greg comenzó PlayNow Enterprise con el fin de ayudar a los aspirantes de camarógrafos y fotógrafos.
“Rechacé el ser entrenador porque me gusta ver a las personas sonreír. Puedes hacer eso entrenando, pero salvar recuerdos es en dónde está”, comentó.
Esta Navidad, Greg y PlayNow Enterprise traen un sueño a la realidad con The Now Christmas Program (El Programa de Ahora de Navidad). Esta temporada, ellos alcanzaron la comunidad de Dallas y llevaron el motivo de la Navidad a la vida. Con pasión para alcanzar a las personas de esta ciudad, proporcionan actividades divertidas de Navidad así como la oportunidad de escuchar la historia de Navidad.
“Cuando vas a las tiendas ves muy poco acerca de los orígenes de la verdadera Navidad, mi meta es traer eso de vuelta sin excluir el lado comercial de la Navidad”, compartió Greg.
Greg Ellis salió a su comunidad como un faro de luz para llevar la esperanza de esta temporada a todas las familias que pueda.
The Now Christmas Program va desde el 13 al 24 de Diciembre. Para unirse a la diversión y recibir más información, click here.
After playing with the Cowboys for about eight years, Greg Ellis realized if his house ever burned down, the pictures of his wife and kids would be the worst to lose. This brief moment determined Greg’s post-football career path. He wanted to create and save memories for people. With a heart for teens, Greg began PlayNow Enterprise in order to help aspiring videographers and photographers.
“I turned down coaching because I like seeing people smile. You can do that with coaching, but saving memories is where it’s at,” he remarked.
This Christmas season, Greg and PlayNow Enterprise bring a dream to life with The Now Christmas Program. This season, they reach out to the Dallas community to bring the reason for the Christmas season to life. With a passion to reach the people of this city, they provide fun Christmas activities as well as an opportunity to hear the Christmas story.
“When you go to the stores you see very little about the origins of the real Christmas. My goal is to bring that back, while not excluding the commercial side of Christmas,” Greg shared.
Greg Ellis steps out into his community as a beacon of light to bring the hope of this season to every family he can.
The Now Christmas Program goes on from December 13-24. To join in the fun and receive more information, click here.
“Survivor’s guilt was eating me up as fast as I was eating the painkillers,” Aaron Walker commented.
In 2008, Aaron returned home as the lone survivor of a car accident. This was two driving accidents in one month. Yet, Aaron walked away each time.
“I had several friends say that I must be part cat after all the close calls,” he remarked.
As a junkie for pills and alcohol, he partied his way through two marriages and multiple jobs. Finally these two near death experiences shifted everything into perspective. During recovery, Aaron stumbled upon Josh Hamilton’s I am Second video.
“When I watched the film, I kept replaying things that had happened in my life that put me in this place. I must have watched it 10-15 times that day,” Aaron noted.
Watching the film was only the first step on a long road of addiction recovery. He once depended on the pills and alcohol bottles. Now Aaron fills himself by living Second.
“You can watch all the videos you want, but without taking that next step, you are still in the same place you were,” Aaron shared.
Time passed and Aaron took step after step. To overcome his shy nature, Aaron purchased his first I am Second t-shirt and wristband to help him share his story with others.
Today, Aaron not only shares his story with others here in the states, but he takes annual trips out to Nicaragua since 2012. During his first trip, Aaron met Mario, the local drunk. As Aaron shared his story and why he traveled thousands of miles to Nicaragua, Mario began to open up. Shortly after, Mario poured out his alcohol bottle, broke his cigarettes, and began to live Second. Since meeting Mario, Aaron still sees him each time he comes to town. Sharing his story with people all around the world helps Aaron see the good in surviving those car accidents.
Pssst….. want to know the secret to a great holiday season? Spending time with family and sharing the message, of course!
This DIY I am Second wristband wreath will help you do both. The wreath holds and displays I am Second wristbands and makes it easy to give them away! And when they’re all gone? The wreath still looks great and is easy to re-stock.
Gather friends and family to help create this fun wreath, or invite them over after you’ve made it to make sure they have their own wristband this season! Here’s how:
Step 1: Gather Supplies
1. Some fake greenery from Hobby Lobby or any other craft store. We chose some soft leaf fabric stems (easy to cut and glue) and some other greenery that had pine cones on it.
2. Some clothespins! This will make it easy to hold and distribute wristbands to guests. We bought a 24 pack.
3. Piece of cardboard cut into a circle. The middle of ours was about the circumference of a coffee mug. Width of the actual cardboard is about 3-4 inches.
4. Glue Gun. Other strong tacky glue will work too, it just may take a little longer to dry.
5. Ribbon to hang the wreath.
6. Green paint and paint brush.
Step 2: Paint
Using your green paint, paint the clothespins and one side of the cardboard circle. We painted the majority of each clothespin but left the inside of the “clip” unpainted (the part that holds clothes, or in this case, the wristbands).
Step 3: Glue
When the paint is dry, glue the clothespins on top of the cardboard circle, green side up. Make sure the inside of the circle of clothespins is the part you normally squeeze to open a clothespin, as the arrow shows in the image. (The actual clip of the clothespins should be facing outward so it will hold your wristbands on the outside of the wreath.)
Once the clothespins are glued to the wreath and secure, cut some of your greenery and glue to the top of clothespins. You can make the length of each stem vary, but make sure the stems line up with the inside of the circle, not extending beyond the part of the clothespin that you squeeze. (They can extend a little at the end of the clothespins where you’ll clip the wristbands in).
Step 4: Decorate
We took the pine cones off the other greenery we purchased and glued them straight on to the fabric leaves. If you decided to use fake pine as your leaves, you may have to tie the pine cones down with thin wire, as the glue may not hold well. You can also skip the pine cones and decorate with whatever you like (ribbon, small ornaments, etc.) or just leave it green! Lastly, we glued a little extra greenery on the inside of the circle where any cardboard was showing, just to make it look more full. This is optional!
Step 5: Clip in the Wristbands
Squeeze each clothespin from the inside of the circle and place a wristband on the outside of the wreath where the clothespins clamp down. We made our wristbands face upward so visitors could see the message and it also looks a little more full. This is also the point where you add ribbon to hang the wreath. There are multiple ways to do this. We folded a long piece of red ribbon in half, put the loop through the middle of the wreath, and brought the loop back up to put the ends of the ribbon back through the loop. Hide the ribbon that’s wrapped around the wreath between a couple clothespins, then lastly, tie a bow!
Step 6: Hang It and Give!
You’re done! Time to display and give away some wristbands. You can hang this outside on your front door, or inside! After the Christmas season, you can keep customizing the wreath to make it last all season: change the ribbon to a festive “New Year” color like gold; re-stock the wristbands or just leave it green; have it hold any Christmas cards you received; remove the Christmas-y ornaments and attach flowers on it by the time Spring comes, etc. So many options!
En una mañana de martes, Amy Lowe, profesora de teatro en la secundaria Franke Seale Middle School, tomó un conjunto de 200 estudiantes. La campana aún no había sonado cuando los alumnos ya estaban con sus mochilas en los pasillos. Mientras ellos entraban a su clase, los líderes pasaron el material que iban a discutir para la reunión.
Todo comenzó aproximadamente hace tres años, cuando unos estudiantes estaban juntos mirando unos vídeos de Yo Soy Segundo. La palabra se esparció en los pasillos de manera que a sus compañeros les provocó curiosidad. Amy sólo conocía a estos chicos como los amigos de su hija. Ahora los reconoce como líderes en la escuela.
Estos alumnos que comenzaron los grupos hace tres años, son líderes de los suyos en la secundaria. En la actualidad, nuevos líderes de estudiantes continúan con estos grupos. Amy sigue reuniendose semanalmente con ellos. En tan sólo pocas semanas, los nuevos líderes volarán a Florida para recibir un entrenamiento.
¿De dónde vienen los líderes?
Muchos de ellos comenzaron como estudiantes en sus días normales de colegio. El número de ellos no incluía a Emily, la hija de Amy.
“Emily era una líder en los grupos de Yo Soy Segundo sin siquiera conocer de Jesús”, recalcó Amy.
Sin embargo eso no duró mucho. En el sexto grado, Emily comenzó a preguntar acerca de Dios. A partir del 8vo grado, las preguntas que realizaba eran cada vez más profundas y comentaba acerca de eso en su grupo de Yo Soy Segundo. En un semestre frío de otoño, Emily le dijo a su madre, Amy, que ya estaba lista para ser bautizada.
Los estudiantes de 8vo año no son los únicos en dar un paso adelante para liderar. Uno de sexto grado, Jace, se unió a un grupo y ni siquiera sabía de Jesús. Él sólo quería hacer amigos. Al pasar de los meses, se convirtió Segundo y los muchachos del 8vo grado comenzaron a invertir en él. Cada semana, más estudiantes de 6to grado se comenzaron a unir. Actualmente, Jace lidera su propio grupo y es uno de los líderes de Yo Soy Segundo en la secundaria Frank Seale Middle School.
¿Interesado en poder involucrar a sus alumnos en el movimiento Grupos de Estudiantes Líderes de Yo Soy Segundo? Mira
Early on a Tuesday morning, Amy Lowe, the theater teacher at Franke Seale Middle School, takes a headcount of over 200 students. The bell hasn’t even rung yet and students fill the hallway with their backpacks. As the students trickle into her classroom, the leaders pass out their discussion material for the meeting.
It all started about three years ago with several students watching I am Second films together. The word spread throughout the hallways and more students became curious. Amy had simply known these kids as her daughter’s friends. Now she recognizes them as leaders in the school.
These students who started these groups three years ago now lead their own groups in high school. Today, new student leaders continue these middle school groups. Amy continues to meet with these students weekly. In just a few weeks the new leaders fly out to Florida for an I am Second training.
Where did the leaders come from?
Many of them started out as your normal, everyday middle school student. A number of them were not even Ch including Amy’s daughter, Emalee.
“Emily was a leader in the I am Second group without even knowing Jesus,” Amy remarked.
But that didn’t last long. Emalee began asking questions about God in 6th grade. During her 8th grade year, the questions became deeper as she voiced them in her I am Second group. One a chilly fall semester Emalee told her mom, Amy, she was ready to get baptized.
The 8th graders aren’t the only ones stepping up to lead. A 6th grader, Jace, joined a group and did not even know Jesus. He just wanted to make some friends. The months passed, he became Second and the 8th grade boys began to pour into him. Each week more 6th grade students began to join. Today, Jace leads his own group and is one of the I am Second leaders at Frank Seale Middle School.
Interested in getting your students involved in this wildfire of I am Second Student-Led Groups? Check out I am Second Students here.
“Mom, you know my life is sort of like this bottle of water. When I look through the water in the bottle, everything is blurry. I can sort of see things, but nothing is clear. When I think of my life, it’s the same. I don’t understand everything that has happened, I don’t know what the future will be either. I know I have a future, but God keeps it a little blurry so we have to trust Him. My life is like this water. It’s good and sometimes filled with pain, but once the water is gone, the bottle can be clearly seen through. It’s no longer blurry. That hope and future God talks about are fulfilled in Heaven. All of our lives are blurry here. They are only made clear once we are with Him.” Ethan Hallmark, hero of our newest film, “Many are The Wonders.”
We were blessed to capture the courageous cancer journey of Ethan before he passed away. His 45 minute film shares his story of being light in a dark place. See it here.
Thanks for investing in I am Second. Your gifts help make it possible to share stories of courage and hope with millions.
Krystal texted her friends, “I don’t know what we’re getting into but come to my house and check this out.” After watching the “How to Start a Group” videos, Krystal jumped in.
And it all got started with just a white and black I am Second wristband. After receiving the bracelet from her youth pastor, she checked out the website, watched the small group videos, texted a few friends and started her I am Second Group.
A group of five high school students turned into twenty-five students or more packing out Krystal’s house within just a few months. After reaching out to her band friends, the word spread to the Drill Team, and reached all the other groups in the high school. Before she knew it, everyone was asking what I am Second was. Each Tuesday night, people from all groups of the school began hanging out together, playing some Game Central, eating snacks, and discussing the I am Second films.
This buzz in the hallways, attracted even the younger kids, who began begging their parents to drop them off each week. Now when the phones go off at school it’s because they are texting each other about the group. Throughout the week, the students make a point to help one another apply what they discussed and share what they learned with other friends. When Spring semester hits, the students train new group leaders for the next year. Today, the group continues to multiply into one group after another.
Interested in getting involved in student-led I am Second groups? Check out I am Second Students.
One kid had “satan” written across his chest and many people had scars covering their forearms. Some would only stay a minute, but then you get those few who just wanted someone to listen. Whether it was a down pour or scorching sun, kids would trickle by the booth and ask what I am Second was all about. Check out these stories from the volunteers and kids who visited the booth.
“I had a long conversation with a sixteen year old named Leah. She came to the tent and started crying. Without saying anything to her, I walked over and gave her a hug. She bawled on my shoulder. We talked for hours about the things she has bent through in life: raped and pregnant at twelve years old, lost the baby, sexually abused at fourteen by a thirty year old man now in prison. I prayed over her and we talked for a long while about her ambitions in life. She wants to go into the medical field and help people. I gave her an I am Second Bible and she promised she would read it. She was beaming when she left our tent for the day.” – Joe; Cleveland, Ohio
“I walked my butt off trying to find two teenagers at ‘Warped Tour’ in Cuyahoga Falls. No matter how swollen my feet were or how many miles I probably walked to find them, I did find one sign for I am Second. I stopped to take a break and there was the sign. I continued to look for my teen’s I brought with me, but at the same time was looking for a booth. By the grace of God, I remembered when my son gave me my rubber bracelet to wear when I finally decided to go back to church almost two years ago, since my divorce seven years ago. I truly am enlightened to find this booth. I am back and I am ready to give it all to Him.” -Emily; Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
“Okay. So here’s my story for the campaign I am Second. At the Chicago date for Warped Tour, I spotted the tent for I am Second. It interested me, so I went up to the tent and talked with a man. He told me what they were about and I told him I full on supported them and explained to him how I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for a number of years now and how I was almost six months free of cutting, but I was finally telling myself life was worth the battle and things would get better. He hugged me and told me how proud he was of me for overcoming my battles. I fully support this campaign and what they’re about. Everyone should check them out when they have time!” -Amber; Chicago, Illinois
“I had a really good conversation with a kid named Colten. He said he had been dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide when he was alone at home every night. He said he felt like he didn’t have a purpose in life and didn’t know why he was here and had no one to talk to about what was going on(mostly bullying and being picked on). I talked to him for about 15-20 minutes just about his life and things going on. Towards the end of our conversation he voiced that he really wanted to start going back to church and it had been five years since his last attendance. All of his memories from church were really positive and he really enjoyed his youth group but it had been so long that he was scared to go back. He tried going with his last girlfriend and as they were on the way he got sick to his stomach and started throwing up from anxiety and nervousness. So I encouraged him to try it again and he promised me he would. It was a great encounter and I have been praying for him. Hopefully he will get back involved with church and use the 24/7 chat if he needs to.” Ben; Volunteer in Kansas City
Dylan Stopher was given his first I am Second wristband while volunteering at a Newsboys concert. Whether it is at his job as a Funeral Director, with his youth group, or back in South Africa, Dylan uses every opportunity he gets to ignite a fire with the message of Second. While Dylan has numerous opportunities to share with individuals in the states, his most inspiring moment involves sharing Second on his first trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.
When he arrived, Dylan and his team were invited to attend a BBQ, but declined the invite to host a youth gathering instead. Dylan, a lover of rap music, asked the group if they had heard of the Hip Hop artist, Lecrae. He was astonished to find none of the teenagers knew him. At that moment, he played Lecrae’s I Am Second film. He quickly noticed the youth were captivated as this young artist who looked like them and talked about the radical freedom he found outside the world of drugs, theft, alcohol and gang activity. Tears and conversations gradually filled the room. By the end of the gathering the youth flooded the product table wanting an I Am Second wristband and other tools. Before you knew it, the team ran out of all the product!
Later that night, a man found Dylan because he sincerely wanted a wristband. They began to talk. He opened up about his previous crack addiction and how Lecrae’s film encouraged him to find his identity and hope elsewhere. The night came to a close when Dylan gave this man his I am second volunteer t-shirt.
It all started when a young guy named Ethan was diagnosed with a rare cancer four years ago. Last year an 8th grader named, Peter, got his buddies together on Friday mornings to pray for Ethan at a middle school in Midlothian, TX. They began using I am Second materials and as they opened it up to others, it immediately went to 80+ students.
In the week prior to Kaká’s film, 6 countries provided over 90% of the traffic to iamsecond.com:
Since the Kaká film launched, 15 countries have accounted for 85% of the traffic to iamsecond.com, indicating increased visits from around the globe:
Please enjoy the following update from Second and former Navy SEAL, Remi Adeleke:
Hello I am Second family,
So much has happened over the past few months. For the sake of time, I’ll only touch on the highlights. First, my wife Jessica gave birth to our baby boy Cayden on February 19th. He was born weighing 7 pounds 6 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long. Cayden has brought so much joy to our lives, and has taught us a new aspect of love we have never experienced. Providentially, my brother’s wife gave birth to their first child on the same day!
God has also blessed my company. For those who don’t know, I am part owner of a consulting company, Acumen Performance Group (APG). APG trains Professional Athletes, Collegiate Athletes, Olympians and Corporations on SEAL principles. Our topics range from Team Building to Mental Toughness. This second Quarter of 2014 is projected to be our biggest quarter in our company’s history. I truly credit all of our success to the Lord our God.
Last year APG had the luxury of running the I am Second Leadership Team through a day of TEAM training. Considering all the athletic and corporate organizations I’ve worked
with, our event with I am Second is among my favorites.
Lastly, with I am Second Speakers, there have been many opportunities for me to share my testimony, help others discover the I am Second movement. At these events, we’ve seen many live Second!
Momentum for I am Second Speakers continues to grow, bringing Seconds and their stories to conferences, college campuses, churches and special events everywhere. Recent bookings include speaking engagements for Seconds Matt Barkley, Remi Adeleke, Karen Green, Bradie James, Sean Lowe, Jason Castro, and I am Second author, Doug Bender.
J’s Coffee Shop is an outreach ministry where we encourage our regulars to invite friends who belong to different faiths. We try to make it not seem so much like church so they won’t feel intimidated. It actually started out as a homework club, but after three to four times the kids figured out it was more fun if they didn’t bring their homework. We do a very short devotion time. Aside from that we just hang out, eat, play games, etc. When I use the IAS videos for devotion time, I usually make some comments about the content and I always invite questions, but I don’t force the issue. We have watched dozens of films such as Propaganda, Vitor Belfour, and Wayne Huizenga.
Most of the discussion takes place in the kitchen afterwards whether one-on-one or in small groups. After the Propaganda video, one kid said that “He explains the truth like a boss”. Another kid was very moved by the Vitor Belfour story, having spent a number of years in a Russian orphanage before being adopted and brought to the US. He said a lot of his story was similar. I think you could have heard a pin drop when I showed the Wayne Huizenga film. They’re pretty smart and I think they picked up that me showing them a film featuring a rich and entitled man was me calling them out as somewhat entitled.
The kids identify with the films and often times they know the people giving their testimony. It’s enlightening for them to see people who seem like they have it all together don’t always have it all together. Many of the kids have realized that having wealth and power does not guarantee happiness. It is hard to say specifically how their lives are impacted, but I know the films are contributing to their lives. Plus, they keep coming and their parents aren’t making them. I’ll take that as a win.
For more information about the I am Second tools, click here.
Until the Summer of 2012, I was not a runner, in fact until my church announced the FIT FOR LIFE 5K – I had never participated in a running race. With some simple social steps and a small group of I Am Second volunteers we created a Facebook group where we would team up, wear the Finish Second shirt, and be united as a team to run.
Now, two years later the I Am Second Runners Group exist to support and to encourage any runner to run, but to always FINISH SECOND- we share stories on how the gear sparks lively conversations and we join forces to create teams on any race at anytime.
With every race I do, I wear my FINISH SECOND shirt and it is amazing how it allows for people to engage in conversations – some identify with the message of I am Second and they shout –” awesome shirt” others say “I love your shirt”. But, the ones I really enjoy are those people that come to me and ask me , “What does I am Second mean?”
I can recall last year when at the TooColdToHold Race this girl approached me and asked, “Why do you wear that shirt? What do you mean Finish Second?” I was able to be open and share my heart with her to let her know that I don’t have it all together. It is my faith in God that enables me to finish any race. I have realized that everything makes sense when I put God first in my life.
The I am Second Runners Group shares this common bond -To live SECOND: to know that we run this race because we were born to do so. We say, “find some running partners, forget what lies behind, strain forward to what lies ahead, and press on toward the goal.” Now, after 20 plus races, I run social runs, run training runs, and lead running groups. I fill my calendar with half marathons and trail runs that go beyond the proverbial 26.2 but at every race, I wear the same shirt, to start a conversation, to FINISH SECOND.
To get the gear and start a conversation please visit the I am Second Store and share your stories with us!
Everyone needs a pen to write out those checks, pay the bills, and to wrap up work. Warm up the office with the I am Second pen.
Let your teen keep track of the car keys with an I am Second Carabiner. Plus get a reminder to be Second while driving in busy traffic!
A practical, yet thoughtful gift for mom or dad, spouse or you! Start conversations with new clients and employees whenever a business card is needed.
Jazz up the season Second-style with a hot n’ fresh Cabbie Hat. Grandad, uncle, or friend can always use more style, right?
A perfect quick and easy read with a cup of coffee in the mornings to get you ready for the day ahead. Get two. Your best friend might like something like this as well.
Deep conversations over a cup of something warm happen often. This mug can be a door opener to sharing God’s story!
Have tech savvy friends, kids or parents? An I am Second iPad sleeve will keep their iPads nice and cozy.
This month’s promo codes give you a discount on everyone’s favorite T-shirt. Great for all shapes and sizes- and all friends and family. Starting conversations is its specialty.
We heard pink is the new black. Add the finishing touch to that winter wardrobe with the I am Second Wristband, now in hot pink.
Camo hat inspired by The Robertsons’ Second film – enough said!
Robertson Film Makes for Biggest Month Ever
Thanks for making November the biggest month ever! With more than 2.5 million views in just a few short weeks, the Robertson film made for the biggest month ever for I am Second and YOU made it all possible. Our biggest thanks goes to all those who shared the film and hosted one of the 9,651 watch parties in homes, offices, and churches across the nation, beards and all. Here were some of our favorite pics you sent in:
“4 Generations of Duck Dynasty fans and fans of I am Second, only one of us just didn’t need a beard on a stick though!” -Maggie Beasley
“Been showing the film at different homes, just so excited to share it with people! Laughs, tears, hope…its all good.” -Julie Kieschnick
“Beards aren’t just for the guys…” -Stacy Steele
“Beards-a-plenty” -Billy Butler
Plus, check out the coverage of this new film by CNN and Good Morning America:
CNN Headline News features the Robertsons and I am Second: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxqDl4PEqf0
Good Morning America talks the Robertsons and their road to recovery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICWyWIebYfQ
Fox News feature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=335duMFgS-s
CNN reports (http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/25/pf/black-friday-sales/) that total spending over Black Friday last year hit a new record of $59.1 billion. While this is a season for shopping, that is not what makes this season special. This is a season based on relationships, friendships, and family. If it weren’t for all these people in our lives, we would not have over 307.67 million people rushing to the stores on Black Friday. The key to making this season special is not the shopping, but rather remembering who you are. You are Second.
Why? How does being Second make this season special? It gives you reason for the shopping, for the giving, and putting up with your family drama. When we are Second, the reason for the season comes alive.
Here are the 5 ways to making your season special:
1. Throw a party. We all have friends where the holidays are not the happiest time of their lives. Many of our friends might not have family, friends, or anyone to shop for but themselves. Invite them to join you and your family.
2. Have a small group. Do you have some friends or family that aren’t Second and you don’t know how to start that conversation? Invite your friends, family, or even co-workers to discuss life and God. Get the FREE Hope for the Holidays discussion guide: http://iasresponsive.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/HopeforHolidays.pdf
3. Become a storyteller. It is easy to get caught up in the shopping rush of the season. Share the story for the reason for the season. It can be as simple as inviting a friend, coworker, or family member to lunch and discussing what it means to be Second. Or it can be as extravagant as making dinner, picking out a Christmas Classic, and exchanging white elephant gifts, then sharing the reason behind the gifts. Whatever you do whether big or small, share the story behind the season.
4. Play with the kids. How can you tell your kids about being Second? This can be as simple as asking them what they think it means to be Second and what that looks like. Invite them to help you come up with ideas of how to be Second together. Help them tell their teachers, friends at school, or friends on their soccer teams. Let the season come alive for your kids.
5. Make that phone call. Here is the tough one. Do you have any friends or family members you don’t talk to anymore? Maybe you had a hurtful conversation with a friend, a coworker, or even someone in your family. Now is the perfect time to give them a call, ask them out for coffee, for lunch, or for just a few minutes of their time. Remember who you are. You are Second.
You can’t make this season special by giving them that diamond necklace, that motorcycle, American Girl Doll, or Red Ryder BB Gun. What makes your season special is not based on how much money you spend. It is based on who you are. If you are Second, it changes how you celebrate this season and it changes your relationships. When we are Second, the reason for this season comes alive.
Share photos of ways to be Second with your friends and family this season and we will share our staff favorites in an upcoming blog post!
As a Navy SEAL, Remi Adeleke recalled “living in a foreign country where you know people want to kill you; you kind of live on edge; you always have to be attentive.”
Jessica, his wife, remembered longing for a time when she wouldn’t need to worry “about the constant threat of somebody harming [Remi] whether sleeping or awake; for him to experience the luxury of a hot shower and a comfortable bed. And of course to just have him in my arms again!”
But they also knew that living Second in a me-first world was another very real battle they must fight. Fighting to be Second in a world of first is hard. The battle can be gruesome and exhausting at times. But we fight, because there is a battle to be won. There is a victory.
“Being a Navy SEAL strengthened my faith exponentially,” Remi said. “Every day I knew that I could die at any moment. My career as a Navy SEAL helped me to not just read the afterlife promises of God, but to believe them and trust them wholeheartedly.”
As a Navy SEAL, he was trained to fight. “I had to engage in warfare through many different methods,” he said. “My career in the physical as a warrior has helped me to prepare for my job in the spiritual, as a spiritual warrior. I had to put on my breastplate, utility belt, helmet, shoes, and bring my weapons on every mission. If I didn’t I would be combat ineffective.”
Military families face battles on two fronts, overseas and at home. “I really do have a new understanding and appreciation for what many military families go through,” Jessica said. “I took each day one at a time and put complete trust in God. As long as I did not think my own thoughts, but instead, meditated on the faithfulness of God, I was ok.”
Because of their dedication to the fight for a life of Second Remi and Jessica were able to say, after the deployment the first month back home was pretty “normal”. Jessica says Remi, “has such a mental toughness and most importantly, a complete trust in God, and I believe these attributes allowed his seamless adjustment back home. He also spent the majority of his free time on deployment studying God’s word and I could see how that helped him greatly while away and on coming home.”
Reality collided. Her hope collapsed.
How can you be Second in the midst of grief? Is it really even possible? We all experience it. Maybe you grieved over a loss of a friend, a family member or over a personal battle. Maybe you’re living through the pain on your own. Is there really any hope? For Denny Slaton, grief stormed into her life taking her for a spin of a lifetime. What she anticipated as a regular check-up at the doctor’s office spun out of her control.
To Denny, grief is, “experiencing the death of a dream, a hope, what you thought life was ‘supposed to look like.’” How can you be Second when the world crumbles beneath your feet? Who knew those two simple words could mean death– the death of dreams, of plans, or expectations. Is there life after death? Lets read on to hear about the power Denny found in the death of her world.
Reality came crashing down when Denny met another patient with Breast Cancer, wearing a hat. “She wore a hat because she had no hair from chemo, and she offered to show me her reconstructive work. I cried when I saw her.”
Denny recalls, “This was the death of what I thought my life was– I was healthy, and had never missed a day of work for illness, but now [I] was faced with being in and out of the hospital for multiple surgeries. I think it was the death of my self sufficiency. There was absolutely nothing I could do to fix this on my own. I had to lay [down] my idea of what life was to look like.” Denny struggled with the thought of of her children losing their mom, especially having just gone through a divorce three years before. Denny had fears and questions.
Can you relate with Denny? How do we juggle a life of Second and grief? Denny fought this battle with grief daily, reminding herself to keep her focus on being Second. She found peace and hope, remembering who was first.
Her advice to us today is to trust in Him who is first. Be real about your feelings with people you can trust. It is not about, “trying to ‘gut it up’ and be strong enough”. Remember, “the circumstances are not about [you], but about Him.” That is what it means to be Second.
How have you dealt with grief? What advice would give others going through their breast cancer journey?
Just recently we received a letter from a boy who is now at boy’s camp. He writes, “As a young teen, I grew up in a bad neighborhood with drugs and gang violence going wrong. And growing up, I didn’t have much of a father. He was ignoring me for a while. [But] today I am writing to get a bracelet from you. Today I just found my real Father. Now I made God first.”
Another changed life through I am Second. There is so much to celebrate in a declaration of Second.
Last month the movement celebrated five years of changing lives and capturing stories. The I am Second Live event, hosted by New York Times #1 Bestseller, Eric Metaxas, celebrated 100 I am Second films and their impact. Eric conducted interviews with many of the Seconds- Brian “Head” Welch, Annie Lobert, Remi Adeleke, and Scott Hamilton, accompanied by our musical Seconds, Jason Castro and Moriah Peters. These Seconds shared stories of how their involvement with I am Second has been an investment in changing lives.
On December 2nd the I am Second movement will celebrate its 5th birthday. We will be streaming this night of I am Second Live with you. Celebrate with us. Introduce others to the movement. Help us change more lives, like our friend who just became Second.
When you hear “Israel,” what comes to your mind? Is it deserts, camels, markets full of tents and vendors, or men in military uniforms? Have you ever asked yourself what it would be like to live a life of Second in Israel, or anywhere else in the world today?
Over the past few years in America, it seems open religious expression has lost its cultural support- no prayers in school, don’t say “Jesus” in public spaces, people going to court for speaking up. Now more than ever, we’re told it’s imperative that we remain politically correct, regardless of what we may feel in our heart to be right or wrong.
But despite our own country’s resistance, we have a freedom we still take for granted. For years now, Stefan, Eitan, and Yair have been collectively working on creative ways to spread the idea of Second in Israel. With several organizations and tools in Hebrew and English, they bring a creative and technologically savvy approach to spreading the idea of Second. In fact, it’s their goal to use much of I am Second’s approach when spreading the message of hope, except for one aspect of it: the gear. They can’t put up a billboard, pass out flyers, or even wear the same gear that we so freely wear here in the U.S.
We, as Americans, have the luxury of using our I am Second gear to start conversations and explain what it means to live Second. However in Israel, to discuss how they live Second faces more resistance, and even giving someone the gear without saying a word is deemed as bribery, particularly when it comes to I am Second and what’s behind it. Stefan remarks, “[we] are seen to be traitors to our own people as those who have ‘converted’ to a different faith altogether and are no longer a part of the Jewish people in any way.”
Much of this resistance in Israel is due to a history of persecution associated with the church. Anything that has to do with living Second is seen as something very negative because of the associatuion with the crusades and even the Holocaust events that happened in the name of Jesus by ‘christians’. Because of this, when the idea of living Second is mentioned in Israel one of the first things that comes to their mind is persecution.
Stefan comments, “If you are [ethnically] Jewish, you can believe in anything. You can be a Buddhist, a satanist, into new age, magic, witchcraft…anything and you are still considered Jewish. But, if you become a follower of [Jesus] you are no longer considered a Jew but a Christian.”
Due to the historical scars, it is nearly impossible to share what it means to live Second in any easy way. Nevertheless, Stefan shares many stories of friends who declare a life of Second because of their boldness despite the resistance in their country. And the group’s ability to harness technology and impart creativity is helping them take the idea of Second to the next level in Israel. You can see that here at oneforisrael.org.
What does this mean for us? Let us take advantage of our freedom and engage our communities. Let us take advantage of our freedom to wear our Second gear and share a life of Second. Let us join our Israeli friends in boldness to declare a life of Second in the midst of resistance. Because despite not being able to use the I am Second wristband to start conversations, the Israeli group still wears the message as a simple reminder to themselves: there is hope!
Take advantage of October’s promotions when you get the gear this month at iamsecondstore.com:
- 10% off Activeware : NO PROMO CODE NEEDED
- 10 FREE wristbands with $30 order : promo code 5910 for IAS wristband; promo code 5911 for YSS wristband
School is difficult, right? Research papers, physic quizzes, calculus equations, english books that bore you, and chemistry labs that puzzle you. But sometimes the hardest thing about school is the people surrounding you. Some seem like they have it all together – everyone already has their best friends, everyone knows where they are sitting at lunch, the pretty girls have the boyfriends. And you just can’t seem to fit in anywhere. The jeans don’t fit anymore, the lunch tables are full, and the only locker left is the one in the corner that reeks of rotten eggs. Sometimes we just want to fit in! That is what Moriah Peters discovered.
Moriah remembers her freshmen year of highschool, trying out for cheerleading just so she could show up the first day of school in a cheerleading uniform and prove she had friends. And yet, she still felt embarrassed when she had to walk along in the hallways. You know the feeling, right? We all want to be liked. We all want to have friends. We wonder what everyone thinks of us when they see us at lunch, in the bathroom, at our lockers, and in the classrooms.
We look in the mirror and hope we don’t look awkward. We wish that the orthodontist would just take all that metal out of our mouths. We wish we had that outgoing personality or had better clothes. We just want to fit in.
Moriah remembers when she was 14 years old, deciding that she did not want to give her first kiss away to a random guy playing spin the bottle or while playing seven minutes in Heaven. She wanted to save it. After making that decision, she remembers meeting boys at school. Moriah would mention she was saving her first kiss for marriage and next thing you know she never heard from them again. She had to learn to be brave and take a beautiful stand. What does it mean to be brave, anyways?
Moriah believes, “brave means standing strong for what you know to be right and being bold about what you believe in, especially when faced with opposition. It doesn’t mean it is not difficult to stand up, often times it hurts and its vulnerable and its embarrassing, but it is so worth the sacrifice of your own comfort.”
So what if we took a #beautifulstand….to be brave? Moriah confesses for a long time she found her identity in how other people viewed her so she would push herself to fit in. But now she asks, what if we saw those people in our classes sitting alone and asked if we could sit next to them? What if we sat with those who had no one to sit with at lunch? What if we got to know the new kids and introduced them to our friends? What if it was about more than just trying to fit in?
Live Second. Take that #beautifulstand.
You deserve love. Yes, you. No matter how ugly, stupid, weird, or unlovable you think you are, I am here to tell you that you are loved and you deserve it. And until you recognize this, these six low self-esteem traps will poison all your relationships, at least they poisoned all mine.
1. The Everyone-Thinks-What-I-Think Belief
What you think about you is not what everyone else thinks about you. Maybe some people don’t like you or make fun of you. There will always be the haters. And believe me, I know. It’s no fun knowing some people don’t like you or disapprove of something you said or did. But you have to decide that the track you hear in your head is wrong. “I’m too ugly” or “Nobody likes me” or “I’m not good enough”, whatever you’re hearing is lies. I have learned that it’s not about silencing that voice as much as it is choosing to ignore it, to NOT believe it. It’s been 14 years since I had my first major breakthrough with my self-esteem, and I still hear “You’re weird. Nobody likes you,” in my head. I just choose not to believe it. And if you want to have healthy relationships you must too.
2. The Self-Thinking Spiral
Low self-esteem is driven by, among other things, an over awareness of self. Not everybody is looking at you. Not everyone is whispering nasty things behind your back, or laughing at the way you look. There was once a time in my life where I convinced myself that everyone was always judging me. Come to find out, most people were doing just what I was doing, wondering if anybody noticed them or liked them. Stop worrying so much about what others think of you and start loving them. You will find you have less time to self-doubt.
3. The Timid Love Syndrome
Everyone is looking for love. You can spend so much time wondering if anybody likes you, that you forget that everyone else is asking the same question of themselves. I used to avoid the center of a room, thinking everyone would stare at me. I would cover up my elbows, afraid everyone would point and laugh. Then I realized, nobody really cared about my elbows or my butt or my bottom lip (yes, I had a problem with that too). What they cared about was if anybody loved them. When I learned to think about the emotional and relational needs of others, I found myself surrounded by friends. Be bold with your love and you will find others will be bold with their right back.
4. “I Deserve Bad Treatment”
You don’t deserve to be abused. Period. Whether its physical, sexual, or emotional, nobody deserves to be abused. The first emotion abuse victims typically feel is worthlessness. They feel in some twisted way, that they deserved this treatment or that having received it are too dirty or ruined to ever move beyond it. You are better than whatever terrible experiences others have put you through. If this is you, watch this film and talk to someone today!
5. The Self-Sinking Complex
I still remember the first time Jacob asked me to see a movie with him. Up to that point, I thought I was his pity friend. We were friends at church and at school but I didn’t think our friendship was anything beyond a public goodwill project. I had convinced myself that he only talked with me out of some sense of charity or pity. Then one Friday night, he called me up and asked if I wanted to go see a James Bond movie with him. He smuggled in some candy and shared a cherry lollipop with me. I don’t know why exactly, but for some reason I realized that night that we were friends, real friends, that I was loved. I still have that lollipop today as a reminder that I can be loved. You can be, too. Don’t get stuck sinking your own relationships.
6. You Don’t Know You Are Loved
I always believed in God, went to church, knew about the whole Jesus died on the cross for our sins thing, but I never really got that he loved me, personally. That happened years later, when at a simple little birthday party I saw God answer my prayer. I cried myself to sleep countless nights asking God for a friend, one person who cared, who knew my needs, looked beyond my failures, and just plain liked me. I asked him to give me one friend and at my sixteenth birthday party he filled my house with friends. I realized that the one friend I had always wanted was the one friend he had always promised to be. Jesus wants to be your friend too, if you let him. Maybe this sounds corny to you, it did to me once too, but trust me its for real. He really does want to be your friend. Check out my full story at www.iamsecond.com/dougbender
Doug Bender is Director of Content for I am Second and author of best selling book, I am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives. and Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First.Watch his story about loneliness, self-esteem, and finding true friendship at www.iamsecond.com/dougbender.
I was told I would never make it to see the age of thirty. As a 10 year old child, I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.
In 1998, I had made it to my Senior year in a very prestigious art school. I was living the life and my diabetes was taking back seat to the independent and chaotic lifestyle I was leading. I was a very talented fashion illustrator. I was motivated, on fire for the fashion world. I knew it was only a matter of time before I broke through. I knew I had great talent and, honestly, I was pretty arrogant about it. I knew the plan that lay ahead of me and nothing was going to get in the way of that… so I thought.
It wasn’t long after that, while in my last semester of school, that I began to notice some subtle, then not-so-subtle, changes in my vision. Everything became blurry and warped and I was seeing something floating in my field of vision. I brushed it off quickly.
“No time for insignificant issues such as this,” I thought. I had a portfolio to put together, a graduation to attend and a plane flight to catch out of Nowhere, Ohio.
I took a vacation with my Mom, which ended in her scheduling me an appointment with our family friend who was an ophthalmologist. As we sat and talked about the old days, he got a terrible look on his face. The next words out of his mouth were words no diabetic ever wants to hear.
“You have severe diabetic changes in the back of your eyes, Amy.”
Those words lingered in the air and then seemed to fall on me like a ton of bricks. “What does that mean?”, barely speaking the words in an audible sound. I knew what it meant. I had read all of the books. I had heard all of the warnings from doctors throughout my life.
It meant blindness.
I was immediately booked with a surgeon and, as he analyzed the situation, he decided to try to do some work to stop some of the bleeding that was going on in the blood vessels in the back of both of my eyes. He started laser work immediately, but warned me that the more laser work he had to do, the more blind spots I would have in my field of vision.
He sent me on my way to wait and see what this treatment would do. Within days, I had lost all vision. The next step was to do a very detailed eye surgery which involved going into the eye and cleaning all of the fluid out. He scheduled me for this and soon I was waking up from my first eye surgery. Another followed for the other eye and amazingly, a form of my vision was back. There were definitely some permanent differences, but I could see. The world was great once again.
This wasn’t the case, as my surgeon sat down to talk to me about some things. He said he believed I needed to see a kidney specialist. In all of his years of training, he saw how this severity of eye problems almost always had a correlation with kidney failure. He was right. I was diagnosed with the beginning stages of kidney failure and yet another journey transpired shortly after.
Dialysis started a whole new realm of reality for me, as I became very sick. The treatments were going terribly, if they were going at all. I was allergic to the very thing that was supposed to keep me alive. Every access they placed for treatment failed. I lost my vision again, due to all the stress of the actual dialysis treatment and being so recently out of surgery. I became very frightened, believing I wasn’t going to make it through this.
It was during this time that I really started to lean on the Jesus. I had accepted Jesus as my Savior several months prior, as I sat in front of a TV by myself with failing vision, but now He was becoming real. I began to realize that He was the only chance I had of making it through this nightmare. If anyone could bring me through, it was Him.
1. Keep A Positive Attitude
I knew in my spirit this was something I was going to have to do if I was going to make it out of the valley. I spent a period of 1 ½ years blind. I had to learn to adapt. I had to learn to look at the positive side of things, even if it seemed there was nothing positive in sight. My sight was gone. This was my reality; however, God left me with a ray of hope in the darkness. I was able to see light sources, so I would pretend the light I saw was Him. That way I always knew He was there with me. Trusting in God in even the worst circumstances is one of the reasons I find the Bethany Hamilton story so inspiring. Check it out if you haven’t already.
2. Do Something For Others
While on dialysis, my Mom and I found a mission that we could do together. We became the dialysis center’s welcoming committee. She would decorate and greet the patients and their families, while I put my artistic talents to work. I would make the patients holiday gifts and cards to cheer them up in such a disheartening environment. To see their faces light up gave us both joy and it gave me purpose. Janelle Hail, founder of the National Breast Cancer Association, learned the same through her struggle with cancer. Watch her film here.
3. Let God Use What You Have
We have to allow God to use what we have, no matter how insignificant it may seem. He can multiply whatever we give. Never underestimate the ability of a willing heart. God sees the heart above all else and knows the motives with which we do things and He honors those who are willing to offer whatever they have to honor others. We saw this time and time again in the dialysis unit.
4. Don’t Settle For Mediocrity
It’s only natural to see our abilities and think that’s exactly what God wants for my life; however, that could just be a small portion of the plan He has in store. He can take us on a detour to show us other abilities, stronger abilities and gifts that we ever dreamed possible. Don’t settle for mediocrity and live your life according to what you see for it. Instead, live a life of excellence by allowing God to lead you into the destiny He has chosen for you.
5. Praise Him For His Goodness
No matter what our situations look like, God is good. He is the same yesterday, today and always. His love for us never fails. Even in our darkest times, He is right there, guiding us to our victory, when we allow Him. We have to remember that we don’t see the whole picture of our lives. Our human minds only see a limited scope; however, God sees the whole thing. He sees what is down the road and how He is shaping and molding us to fit perfectly where He wants us. Praise Him in the storm, because on the other side of that storm, you will find your rainbow: A promise He makes to each one of His children to not harm them, but to give them a future. Allow Him to work in and through you. You will never be disappointed. His plan is always the best plan.
Today, I am 10 years post-transplant, with a beautifully functioning kidney (Chen) and pancreas (Miller). I no longer have to be on dialysis and I am no longer diabetic. I am 8 years past the expiration date I was given as a child. I have my eyesight with only minor imperfections. I am healthy and it’s all because of Him. Would I take back anything I have gone through to get where I’m at today? The answer is an emphatic “NO”. I believe everything I’ve been through was for a reason and that reason is to help someone else on his/her journey. There were great difficulties along the way, but by God’s grace, I made it through every valley and now I’m standing on a mountaintop!
Amy Thase-Jacomet is a double organ transplant recipient who learned through many hardships, that God is the one true and faithful constant in her life. She has learned to be very grateful for life and all of its circumstances, because each and every thing we encounter leads us to a greater level of development where we are able to help others in need. She is a writer, an artist, a lover of life and people and now also a wife. She got involved with I am Second through a simple Facebook post which led to a much deeper level of involvement. Once she became involved, she was hooked.