The Blog

417280_3394716236163_460560780_n (2)“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.

 

PNE-front0-470x654“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.

 

PNE-front0-470x654“I was on my way to work out with the Dallas Cowboys and it  was very vivid,” Greg Ellis began to share.

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.

417280_3394716236163_460560780_n (2)“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.

 

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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

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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.

7. 25 pack of I am Second wristbands.

 

Step 2: Paint

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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

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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).

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Step 4: Decorate

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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

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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!

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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!

Get your 25-pack of I am Second wristbands here to get started >

 

 

 

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.

 

04Nov, 2014

“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 and her friends started their first small group two years ago. Today Krystal is in college, while the small groups continue to meet each week.

Krystal and her friends started their first small group two years ago. Today Krystal is in college, while the small groups continue to meet each week.

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.

Outside of the weekly small groups at Krystal's house, the students build deeper friendships but hanging out throughout the week.

Outside of the weekly small groups at Krystal’s house, the students build deeper friendships by hanging out throughout the week.

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.

This past year the group had over 45 students pack out a house for the annual Christmas party.

This past year the group had over 45 students pack out a house for the annual Christmas party.

22Aug, 2014

One kid had “satan” written acrLion in the Maineoss 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, OhioDSC_8316

“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

DSC_8220“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

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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.

One year later, he returned to Johannesburg.  Dylan was greeted by this same young man.  Still free from crack and still rocking his I am Second volunteer shirt.unnamed

 

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.

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These students formed Team Ethan in order to support their friend through this battle with cancer. Team Ethan inspired these weekly I am Second groups.

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On this particular morning, 140+ students flooded through the doors and Peter opened the group with his story.

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The students then broken into I am Second Groups to discuss the story.

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As they gathered, they shared their stories and talked about life and God.

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Before the bell would ring for class, the students ended their time together talking to God.

16Jun, 2014

Home-White-Kaka-2 The shift of visitors to the I am Second website since the launch of Kaká’s film shows the worldwide reach of the movement.

In the week prior to Kaká’s film, 6 countries provided over 90% of the traffic to iamsecond.com:

United States
Canada
United Kingdom
Poland
Australia
Brazil.

Since the Kaká film launched, 15 countries have accounted for 85% of the traffic to iamsecond.com, indicating increased visits from around the globe:

United States
Brazil
Mexico
Poland
Canada
Colombia
United Kingdom
Venezuela
Italy
Guatemala
India
Peru
Australia
Costa Rica
Argentina

 

20May, 2014

Please enjoy the following update from Second and former Navy SEAL, Remi Adeleke:

Hello I am Second family,

Remi's FamilySo 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
Remi Speakingwith, 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!

-Remi Adeleke

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.

Please stay tuned and connect with I am Second Speakers on Twitter and Facebook.

JsCoffeeShop

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.

-Ken Foster

For more information about the I am Second tools, click here.

13Mar, 2014

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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.

Eduardo Ortiz

To get the gear and start a conversation please visit the I am Second Store and share your stories with us!

13Dec, 2013

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Jazz up the season Second-style with a hot n’ fresh Cabbie Hat.  Grandad, uncle, or friend can always use more style, right?

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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.

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Deep conversations over a cup of something warm happen often. This mug can be a door opener to sharing God’s story!

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Have tech savvy friends, kids or parents?  An I am Second iPad sleeve will keep their iPads nice and cozy.

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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.

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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.

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Camo hat inspired by The Robertsons’ Second film – enough said!

13Dec, 2013

Robertsons Film Update

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

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“Been showing the film at different homes, just so excited to share it with people! Laughs, tears, hope…its all good.” -Julie Kieschnick

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“Beards aren’t just for the guys…” -Stacy Steele

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“Beards-a-plenty” -Billy Butler

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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

 

www.IamSecond.com/TheRobertsons

 

 

26Nov, 2013

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.”

20101203-20101203-E3_I am Second_Remi Adeleke 88Military 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.

Breast Cancer.

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.

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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?

For more inspiration and hope check out iamsecond.com/grief and iamsecond.com/cancer

 

 

28Oct, 2013

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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.

To get more information about the online streaming of I am Second Live, plus other I am Second news and deals for www.IamSecondstore.com, sign up here: http://eepurl.com/HMOJ5

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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.”

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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

- FREE Black Coffee Mug with $30 order : promo code 5912 for IAS mug;  promo code 5913 for YSS mug  

24Sep, 2013

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.

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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?


You can view Moriah’s I am Second film here for more inspiration, or check out her interview with I am Second here. Who could you share this message with today?

Live Second. Take that #beautifulstand.

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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

 

iamsecond photo 2Doug 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. 

 

 

 

Amy

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!

amy2Amy 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.

 

By now, most of America (and beyond) has probably heard of Miley Cyrus’ 2013 VMA performance of “We Can’t Stop”  and true to the name..we really can’t stop… tweeting, posting, blogging , supporting, condemning…this young celebrity.

We blame Miley…

We blame her parents…

We blame our culture and the media….

We blame the music industry….

We blame ourselves…

Incidents like this are only small glimpses of the world we live in. We are in utter shock when we see this on national television. How could she?  The fact is, it’s all around us and has been for quite some time. Have we taken notice? Are we doing anything about it? A culture evolving so cunningly, that we are only able to see the true ramifications when it is displayed on national television.

Before Miley, there was Britney, before Britney there was Madonna, and so on. The list will continue to move forward as we continue to watch from the sidelines, encourage, approve through our actions and with our wallets of the new “norms.”

As we all know, no one wakes up one day and decides to be a drug addict or alcoholic or even suicidal. That is the extreme, as we like to think. It all starts out with baby steps..all in good fun.  What are the baby steps we are missing and where are we partaking in encouraging or discouraging this in others?

It starts with us. Before we judge the actions of others, let’s think of how we contribute to this new “norm” as a whole. What do we give our attention to? Do we join in on the conversation as others joke, or do we offer a different view – one that goes beyond what is in front of us.

Most have a moral compass they go off of when making decisions. The problem is that when this moral compass doesn’t know where north is..it’s easy to get lost and end up somewhere you’d never thought you’d be. This is the case with Miley, this is the case with ALL of us, who’ve yet to find their “North” so that everything else can fall into place. Yes, I will go here because I know what it is like to not have a “North.” I now know that my “North” is God. And I also know that He is good. Outside of Him, we literally get lost.

But where’s the freedom in that? How utterly boring. We are in an age where we should do and be whatever our little hearts desire. This get us into the dangerous zone.

Whether you believe in God or not, you know that place, and when you go there, you stay and go deeper or are lucky enough to get out in time.

But as time passes, we forget…we justify and we make it OK.  Until the next time.

The latest article that came out today speaks on how absolutely thrilled Miley’s management team is of the latest happenings. “We were all cheering from the stage, “ said her manager. The fans “got it” and will continue to support her, along with her mother and her father who have been tweeting snippets of support for their daughter.

Time passes..we forget..we justify…we make it OK.

Will the same people that cheered  from the stage be there in her darkest hour? When the cheering stops, who will be there? That is something we have seen play out in young celebrities over and over again and in our own lives.

Do we just sit on the sidelines and watch? Or can we work toward creating a new norm, a new mainstream?

So, all this to say…here is my part in trying to create a new “norm” and give attention to something, someone, who is standing firm in their faith, not swayed by the pressures of peers, culture or music execs. Here is a girl we can all agree would be nice to have our kids (or future kids) look up to. Confidence like this is rare and it must be celebrated. #beautifulstand

Check out Moriah Peters film:  www.iamsecond.com/seconds/moriah-peters

marlenyCommunications professional by day, speaker of personal opinions and observer of human behavior by night. Marleny joins the I am Second communications team with a track record spanning public relations, marketing, brand management and social media marketing.  From Guatemala to Dallas to New York and now back to Dallas, Marleny brings fresh perspective and new ideas on all things mainstream, celebrity driven, and pop culture – through the lens of a woman/wife/new mom following hard after God. This is not without an epic, personal story of her own. To learn more about Marleny, feel free to email her at marleny.wood@iamsecond.com.

 

At the risk of adding to the already ridiculous amount of blogger buzz about Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s, I feel I must say something. Nearly every post or tweet or review, that’s shot across my screen this past week has all but crucified Miley for her gross/disturbing/offensive performance. “What happened to innocent Hannah Montana?” “What happened to our culture?” “What happened to the music industry?” Everyone shouts.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Let’s set aside our judgments about Miley’s twerking, gyrating, and foam fingering (and, yes, even the foam finger creator has apparently spoken out in disapproval). And ask ourselves are we really so offended?

I am Second recently launched a beautiful film about young artist Moriah Peters who was kicked off American Idol for not having enough edge, for saying she wouldn’t kiss a boy until marriage. While not a stand everyone needs to make, its a #beautifulstand that should be celebrated, but instead was punished.

MTV would gladly show videos of cute kittens chasing yarn and little kids eating ice cream cones, if we’d watch. Sony would gladly sell records about abstinence, walking old lady’s across the street, or any of a thousand more wholesome topics, if only we’d support their decision with our dollars. The point is, we don’t. This doesn’t let entertainers and industry execs off the hook for promoting material better left in the editing room, but it does remind us that we too have a place on that hook. We get what we ask for. She did what she knew would sell records, gain followers, and generate buzz.

Perhaps, Jesus said it best. We get so upset about the speck in someone else’s eye (and nobody is denying there’s not a speck) that we forget the two-by-four in our own. We gladly deride public offenders, those whose “sins” everyone can see, but forget that Jesus reserved his harshest judgment for the secret “sinners,” that group of people whose chief offense lies in denying they have anything to deny.

To the upstanding citizens of his day, Jesus said “sons of hell,” to the guys with all the answers he called “blind guides,” to the religious judges he called “hypocrites.” I long pondered why? Was he exaggerating to make a point? Or did he really think that upstanding decently good people who had the habit of not admitting their mistakes were worse than prostitutes, drunks, and thieves? Call me literal, but I think he was being serious. I think he would much rather have someone openly offensive than someone in denial.

So if you must judge Miley Cyrus, then go for it. I wasn’t a fan of her performance, but I don’t she cares what I think. I’m not going to stop you from speaking out and, apparently, its the cool thing to do this month. Doing so will likely grab you a few new followers. But before you do so let me give you a warning: you have a plank in your eye.

DougBender

 

Doug Bender is a writer for I am Second and author of best selling books “I am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives.” and “Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First”. His  story about self-esteem and friendship is featured at iamsecond.com/dougbender

 

 

30Aug, 2013

Sept PROMO_RAW_IMG_0249

She is I am Second’s newest staff member serving as digital content editor but in a way she’s been part of the team since the beginning.

“I didn’t know anything beyond the billboards,” she said. “My friend, Annie, saw them too and went to the website. When she saw what it was about, she got so excited. Every day she would ask me ‘Did you watch this video? Did you watch this other video?’”

They decided then that they would be more than consumers of some cool films, they were going to join the movement to spread the message. As senior staff members at their school yearbook, they convinced their teacher to let them put an I am Second spread in the yearbook. With an email to I am Second and an interview with the leaders behind the movement, they became one of the first publications to feature the movement.

College came and she got involved with I am Second groups. Texas A&M became the nation’s first school to officially launch I am Second on their campus. (Learn how you can launch groups here: www.iamsecond.com/groups.)

“I invited my friend, Julie, to my I am Second group,” Ashley recalled. “Everyone loved her, accepted her. I think that’s why everyone loved the group. It was a place of acceptance. She didn’t always want to come but always felt drawn back, always came back. She had a tough home life, some bad things happened to her. She found herself dancing at a strip club. We had a lot of hard talks. She wanted the community our group offered but didn’t always know how to accept it. But eventually something clicked and she got what we were all about. Today, she leads a group of her own at her school. Her life is totally turned around and it started right there in our I am Second group.”

“It’s stories Iike hers,” Ashley said, “that makes me believe in this movement, the power of changed lives. It just wouldn’t make sense for me to be anywhere else. I am Second normalizes the deep personal conversations. Gets you talking about the deep things of life without making things weird, gets you talking personal and open so easily. That’s what really sets it up for success.”

From the beginning, when I am Second launched as a local media ministry in Dallas with billboards and commercials, Ashley has been hooked on the movement that changes lives. From T-shirts to wristbands, billboards and films, to the I am Second groups that continue to change lives, Ashley has seen lives changed again and again.

Start your own I am Second movement at work, school, and home with something as simple as the I am Second gear. Get it all here: www.iamsecondstore.com, and don’t forget to use one of September’s promos below.

 

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Sunday after the kid were tucked into bed, I sat down to fold some laundry (yes, I fold laundry…don’t judge me) and fired up the “idiot box” for a little Sunday night unwind time. I knew that the MTV VMA awards were coming on so I figured I would give it a “look see.” Through the magic that is twitter, it’s often fun to watch these award shows with the iPad handy to read the commentary and thoughts of others too.

The VMA’s have always been something to see. MTV usually does their best to bring some sort of shock value and give people something to talk about/debate/argue around the water cooler for the next week or so. Like it or not, it’s Marketing 101. Nothing sells like bad publicity and MTV has made a career out of it. When I was in college, we used to sneak over to Kenyon College to watch the VMA’s in their lobby because we didn’t have access to MTV at the Nazarene University I attended. It seemed silly at the time, but I kinda get it now.

If you’ve been on the web at all today, I don’t need to tell you what happened next. About 15-20 minutes into this program, Miley Cyrus set the pace for this years bad pub (as if Lady Gaga hadn’t already set the bar pretty low). Look, I’m not here to write an open letter to Miley Cyrus. There’s a million other bloggers and sites doing that. My only thought today is sadness for her. I don’t know who is making career and marketing choices for Miley. I don’t know if she’s making them alone or someone is forcing her into this. What I do know is that she can never get that back. This is her end of innocence.

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin’ by

(Don Henley)

Someone, somewhere is encouraging Miley to push that envelope. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t approve of the behavior, but she is buying the line that someone is telling her. Maybe it’s even a line she’s telling herself. While she continues to follow this formula, we watch her innocence fade away.

I lost my innocence too.

Just not on TV for the entire world and web to see.

Thank God for that.

This is the new world we live in. Moments are recorded, uploaded and replayed. This is my fear for my 3 kids. This is the sermon I give them. The internet is forever. Your moments, your decisions (good, bad or otherwise) will be recorded. They can and will be uploaded. They’ll be discussed, shared, “liked” and forwarded. They are forever.

Choose your moments wisely.

“The Boy” asked me once if growing up when I did was harder than it is now. My answer was that it wasn’t harder, it was different. Sure, there are challenges today and there is access today that we didn’t have. But what scares me the most is all of the apps, devices and sites that will capture it all. Thank goodness that my foolish choices and moments were not captured to be spread around and forever remain. Living with the memories is hard enough. Seeing them recorded and replayed is even harder.

I had three thoughts last night.

1.) This is a moment that Miley will never be able to get back.

2.) What will she think in the morning.

3.) She doesn’t need critics. Her mirror will be the only one she needs.

I can’t stand in judgment of Miley Cyrus. I can hope that her family and those closest to her step in and soon. What breaks my heart is that last night, we witnessed the end of her innocence and she’ll never get that back.

My challenge as a father is to make sure that my three children understand just how important their innocence is and to hold onto it. Defend it. Cherish it. Treat it with care. Respect it. Own it. Know that Jesus died for it. It was that important to Him. It’s that important to me. It should be that precious to them too.

If you haven’t watched the Moriah Peters film yet, you need to. One of those rare stories that makes innocence beautiful and powerful. www.iamsecond.com/moriahpeters.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 5.05.28 PMAaron Conrad: I’m a husband, father and follower of Jesus. It is my hope that in each category, I am as quick  to point out my failures as I am any success. I led an I Am Second group in Columbus and most recently helped write for the 60 day launch of the I Am Second book. I started a personal blog 8 years ago and somehow, it’s still going strong. You can find me on the web at aaronconrad.com, and tweeting @aaronconrad. My name is Aaron Conrad and I Am Second. 

 

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