This I Believe

I haven’t written in quite a while. A lot has happened over the past few months. For starters, I graduated college with two Bachelor degrees, and I am cancer free!!! Still having tummy troubles but Lord willing they’ll figure out what it is eventually. I had surgery to hopefully shrink my liver tumor, so we’ll have to go back in a few weeks to see if it’s actually getting smaller than go from there.

This has been the hardest year of my life thus far, and I’ve been through a lot.

I have suffered with anxiety and depression more this past year than ever before.

In my deepest moments of despair, I had to remind myself or be reminded by others what I believe and why it’s going to be OK.

So on this eve of the New Year 2019, I am listing exactly what it is that I believe. Everyone needs to know what they believe, or the first storm in life will knock them down for good.

Maybe this little declaration isn’t necessarily for your benefit. Perhaps it is something I must do so I can look back on these words when I’m in the next valley to remember the meaning of life and the promises of God.

I believe:

That the blood of Jesus washed my sins away.
That that one day at Calvary changed everything.
That by His wounds I am healed.
In God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and that our God is three in one.
That Resurrection day is fast approaching, and we will rise again.
That life is hard but God is so good.
That all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
That God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine.
That with Christ truly anything is possible.
That God will supply all my needs.
That hard work and determination is the only way to achieve your dreams.
That if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them.
That family is the biggest blessing in this life.
That life is what you make it.

So, yeah. That’s what I believe.

What do you believe?


Let’s be real here. I feel like this concept is so lost in this crazy world. To be real, honest, raw, vulnerable. Why would anyone put themselves in that position? The American way is to appear strong, not weak. You should always have the upper hand. So, we paste on our smiles, conceal any imperfections, and head out to join our fellow American zombies another day.

How did it come to this?

I don’t believe in complaining. If something is wrong, fix it. If it’s not fixable, learn to be content. Wallowing in self pity doesn’t help the situation. Still, everyone – healthy or not – has moments of weakness; be it fear, sadness, anger, and even doubt. And I’m here to tell you something completely contradictory to the American way: sometimes it’s OK to not be OK. I know what you’re thinking: this girl has finally snapped. On the contrary, I’m learning as I go.

If you are familiar with the scriptures, you might recall there was a time when Jesus Christ, the son of God Himself, was not OK. Luke 22 tells us, “And He (Jesus) came out, and went, as He was wont, to the mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said to them, Pray that you enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared an angel to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” I believe that Christ, God in flesh, in that moment was afraid for the pain that awaited Him, and yet that didn’t make Him any less perfect. It is not a sin to fear the unknown or even question that God remove our trials if possible. However. notice something imperative in such moments; Jesus went into the garden and had a moment of pure fear… But He did not linger there. The anguish of what lied ahead was so real that blood poured from His pores as sweat does us. And He probably cried. Maybe He even screamed at the sky to His Father who’s presence He could no longer feel… Then an angel gave Him strength; and so He rose, wiped His face, and went back to the cruel world to finish what He came to do.

Life isn’t easy nor is it fair. Adam and Eve screwed everything up in their selfishness and thus we live in a fallen world. Life wasn’t easy for Jesus and we shouldn’t expect it to go smoothly for us – especially if we’ve committed our lives to serving Him. Some days are harder than others; I would know. When life is overwhelming it’s OK to take a short time out. Go somewhere alone, cry, scream, talk to God, even ask why this is happening. Then clean yourself up and get back to work.

Doctors are pretty sure my liver tumor is a hepatic adenoma, and as such it poses a risk of rupturing or turning cancerous in the future. It has to come out but we’re not sure my body can handle such major surgery. We’re exploring options to hopefully shrink the mass. I hope it works but it might not. We have to take it one step at a time and it might be a longer journey than I would like, but we’ll climb this mountain like the rest. I don’t understand, and I have moments of fear for the unknown. And you know what? I don’t think God’s mad as me for that. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they’ve done everything they can do and have to trust God to carry them the rest of the way. So here I am, waiting on Him to move. And He’ll show up like He always does. At the end of the day, if it’s God’s will that I should go through this valley, then so be it. I’ll face it head on. Cry, scream, admit I’m afraid, then get back up and fight.


Beauty for Ashes

I came across someone the other day complaining about having vehicle problems and needing prayers because the stress of it is just so bad.

I had to hold my composure to keep from laughing…


The older I get, the more I realize that more people than not are truly in a bubble of their own, lacking perspective and empathy for those who struggle with more serious difficulties than their own.

Now, before you write me off as a cynic, know that I do understand the burden of being without transportation. See, most people in my position – being very medically fragile – don’t have the luxury of owning a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Most people rely on EMS services to transport them to and from medical appointments and otherwise don’t go out. I have been blessed with an amazing father who works incredibly hard to make life easier for me as much as possible. But there are far more serious things in this world than you lacking transportation. Sorry cupcake.

Someone lost their mother this morning. Someone just lost their sibling to drug overdose. I guarantee that several people have died today alone in car accidents across the nation. Someone is hooked up to a chemotherapy infusion, reading a book and praying for healing. A child somewhere is dying from Spinal Muscular Atrophy because their body just isn’t strong enough to keep fighting. Tragedies happen around us every day; yet who among us has actually stopped to see them and offer a shoulder to cry on?

I have SMA type 1. This is the worst kind of SMA one can have. I have had it my whole life. My prognosis was two years or less. I have beat every odd, expiration date, and stereotype thrown my way. Doctors don’t understand. I’m now one of the oldest patients with this disease and the most functioning one they’ve seen. I’ve come through so many battles; through nights where there was no logical reason I should have. I have had my deceased sister read me stories as a child. I’ve seen angels. I’ve visited Heaven. I talk to God, but He talks to me more.

You’d think, “what else can come my way?” Right? I’ve overcome every trial. I’m unstoppable!

How naive I was…

I’ve been very sick over the past year; honestly two years, but the last year has been much worse than the first. I’ve had respiratory MRSA, serious feeding tube complications, was hospitalized for over a month on and off, and had cellulitis multiple times. I also broke my arm. You’d think that’s enough, right? It just keeps coming.

Even after we finally got the feeding tube complications seemingly fixed (buried bumper syndrome is not my friend), I’ve still been having stomach issues: random pain and nausea. I’ve been telling doctors that something isn’t right but they weren’t listening. I finally sat down with a GI specialist last month after I was blown off yet again. “I mean no disrespect, but something is wrong – I know in my heart – and nobody is listening to me. The last time this happened, I got septic and almost died (early this year). If you won’t help me, I will go somewhere else where they will. What will it be?” Next thing I know, I’ve got an IV in, they’re drawing labs for a full blood panel, then doing a CT with IV and stomach contrast. Then we waited. And waited…

They scheduled an appointment with another specialist, but we couldn’t get in for two weeks, which ended up being this past Friday. It was at a different location which was odd, but I didn’t think anything of it. Mom and Dad both came with me to this appointment which doesn’t usually happen, but I was happy nonetheless. I assumed maybe we would talk about my diet since I switched to eating specific foods easily digestible for those with stomach disorders. I figured, what other tests could they want? I had genuinely tried to prepare myself. In my mind, the worst thing they could tell me is that my body doesn’t process food and I can only have formula. This would be devastating, as eating is very enjoyable for me. But, if that was what the worst scenario was, I could handle it.

I wasn’t ready for this…

“You have a mass on your liver”…

“It has to be removed”…

“We don’t think it’s cancerous, but it could be”…

“It could rupture”…

“With your feeding tube it’s harder. We’ll cut here and here”…..

“Surgery is major with your condition and the ventilator”……

“4-6 hour long surgery”…….

“About a week, at least, in the hospital”……..

“Long recovery time”……

“We don’t want to wait too long”…..






This isn’t real. It can’t be.
I have SMA. Not a tumor.

I have enough to deal with. I can’t have anything else.


I keep thinking I’ll wake up soon and it’ll just be a crazy dream.


And yet, this is real.
We’re looking into a different way to remove the mass. Please pray.


I don’t understand.

It’s not fair.

I am scared.


But I still love the Lord.

I will conquer this mountain just as I have the rest.



Provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. – Isaiah 61:3


There’s something that’s been on my mind more than usual as of late: the word “no”. For such a small word, it packs quite a punch when uttered in conversation. NO, you can’t do that. NO, you’re wrong. NO, I won’t help you. God created the word “no” for a specific purpose: to protect and to teach. Unfortunately, as with everything else originally designed for good, Satan took that word and twisted it into something that can be used to hurt, belittle, and and show carelessness. What was meant for good is now often attributed with bad and sad instances fueled by anger or misunderstanding. And so here we are in the year 2018, where everyone is so fearful to utter the word “no” and offend anyone that our society has been turned upside down. Don’t tell a little boy he’s a boy because you might hurt his feelings (let’s not even look at the studies showing how doing this can have serious long-term psychological repercussions, but anyway…). Don’t stay in when that guy you like is at a party. Don’t you deserve a good time? Don’t correct your children for doing wrong… Lighten up! They’re just being kids! Don’t you want to be their friend?

In a word, NO.

It’s not OK to do something simply because most people are doing the same thing. It’s not OK to allow your kids to disrespect authority and act out of lawlessness. And it is so not OK to teach children that biology is irrelevant and they can be their own God. No. I’m sorry if think it’s right, but no.

Sometimes saying no would in actuality spare people much heartache.

We even play the yes game with a holy God.

If He loves me, He won’t let me suffer.

Right. Let’s not even look at how most of the original disciples of Christ suffered cruel deaths (did anyone actually find Paul’s head once he was decapitated? That would certainly make for an interesting Resurrection story!), but anyway…

You don’t understand. Jesus said in John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” So God can’t say no!

This isn’t Aladdin, and God is not a genie.

God is good and just and sometimes has a better plan than we do.

God can, and does, use the word no, but never without cause. And never does it not cause Him pain to do so.

Last night my stomach started hurting terribly bad, again. Today it began bleeding, again. I don’t understand why this viscous cycle is still ongoing. If I’m being completely transparent, there are still days I feel I don’t deserve to carry the constant weight that is Spinal Muscular Atrophy. But I believe in God’s plan. In John 9, Christ and His disciples came upon a blind man. Scripture goes on to say, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Do you understand?

On this roller-coaster ride of life, there are ups and downs, smiles and tears, joy and pain; all for His glory.

I might, some day, get some cure for SMA. I might not. Even so, God is still my everything. My four-year-old niece went swimming with her sister and “Abbi” (grandma) yesterday. I said in passing that I wished I could go with them. Haven so matter-of-factually spoke up and said “oh, Sissy, don’t worry! You’re going to walk one of these days! I even drew a picture of you walking! Wanna see? We’re going to swim in Heaven and it will be SO FUN!!!” Out of the mouths of babes…

Even when God says no, He is still on His throne. Trust Him.


One of my personal favorites… Enjoy…


In a world full of possibility, don’t settle for mediocrity.
I haven’t been able to drive my wheelchair for a while. It’s been very discouraging. Since I was just twelve years old, I operated my wheelchair with my right thumb and forefinger – the only muscles (other than facial ones) I could successfully use – through fiber optic light technology. I had four sensors that I simply held my thumb or finger over to move different directions. While this technology is very fragile and breaks down often, it was a huge blessing to me in giving me a sense of independence which is so vital when you’re in the kind of situation I’m in. I know how to care for myself but can’t move to do so. I train people to care for me, and I am eternally grateful to have the privilege of doing so; as others in my condition often times are placed in nursing home facilities where they are given sub-par care and have a very low quality of life. Even still, training others to care for me just isn’t the same as taking care of myself. I don’t mind it, and I’m not writing this to complain or garner pity, but to give you a glimpse into my world. I have little control in my life; it’s simply a byproduct of living with SMA. I found two main outlets of independence at a young age and latched onto them: the ability to control my own wheelchair, and the ability to control my own computer. When I reached age 11 I had lost the ability to utilize any of the “normal” types of computer mice… er… Mouses? Anyway, at that time I transitioned over to an intricate hardware/software combined system that allowed complete control of my computer using only a small microlite switch. These two seemingly small innovations opened up a world of possibility. Try to imagine having that, then having one of them taken away.
The first half of this year has been… Hell is the only way to describe it. And take it from me, if Hell is even half of what I’ve suffered, turn your eyes upon Jesus while you can. The whole mess really began a few years back in 2016 when my permanent feeding tube began coming out of place and causing serious health complications, but it really climaxed in October of 2017 when I began an ever-increasing stay in John Hopkins ICU. To condense a very long story, it was a viscous cycle of cellulitis, g-tube displacement, then MRSA, then g-tube infection, then starving, then… I almost died. Then I broke my arm, then my g-tube wasn’t happy again, then I got cellulitis again, because why not? Everything hurt and I was so over life. Nobody understood, and most were tired of hearing me complain. I tried to hide the pain but I just couldn’t, and was reminded of it with every movement. And to top it all off, I couldn’t even drive my own wheelchair anymore. Whether it happened because of my broken arm or simply the progression of my disease, I’ll never know. Regardless of the reason why, I was utterly defeated. I would spend hours trying to get my hand in the perfect position to drive, only to admin defeat in tears and give up. So I cried. Then I got to work. There has to be an easier way to drive, but my wheelchair tech said no. So I searched and searched to no avail, and scheduled an appointment with my technician today. Imagine my surprise when I got inside and heard him say “there is one thing you could try…” LET’S DO IT!!! “But you won’t like it.” LET’S DO IT!!! “It’s slower than what you’ve got.” Jeff, my man, you’re killing me! What I have is the best but I can’t use it so it’s useless. “I don’t know what interface would even work for you…”… A microlite switch! Ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, I’m driving! I’m a little slower, sure, but I finally have my independence back! What an amazing feeling to have it back.
In this life you will face challenges different from my own, but still just as important in creating the person God has called you to be. It’s not the circumstances that define us, but how we respond that tells who we truly are. Are you going to give up at the first road block or find a way around? You can say what you want about depression and anxiety – I know they’re real and crippling. I also know that hope and perseverance are just as real and maybe even a little more powerful than the other two.
Life is hard but God is good. Don’t settle for a mundane life when God wants you to soar. Christians have become so passive in life that they forget God made us to be warriors. Where would we be today had little David of the Bible had an enlightening conversation with old Goliath? We’d be in big trouble! No, David stepped up boldly and showed that giant who’s the boss – the God of Israel! Stop settling, you only get one shot at this life. Make it count! And don’t lose hope. I know how the story ends – we win!
I can’t decide if this song fits, but it’s awesome nonetheless…


My last post (which was a while ago, sorry!) mentioned my cousin, Ricky Wilson, who’s life was changed instantly when he suffered a stroke due to a brain aneurysm. Ricky was a senior in high school, completely healthy, with a bright future ahead. He has overcome every obstacle and was even able to participate in his high school graduation – even walked to get his diploma! But in this rollercoaster of life where the ups and downs can come without warning, Ricky is in the valley again; this time with painful kidney stones. Ricky’s father recently posted the following message in a social media page dedicated to prayers for Ricky:

“Well, I did it. I couldn’t help it. It came on like a flood …and I just couldn’t withstand it. I questioned God. And once it started, I couldn’t stop, so I questioned Him as I walked and cried from KKI to my truck at 6:00 this morning. I questioned Him for the entire drive from KKI to the Ronald McDonald House, and I wept. I questioned Him as I pillowed my head at almost 7:00 in the morning, after pulling an all-nighter in the ER with Ricky. I question Him. I can’t tell you how ridiculous I feel even telling you that. I questioned Him, who is Faithful and True. After all He’s done, I questioned Him.
On this new and beautiful day, I don’t question Him. I can’t. I shouldn’t. I won’t. There’s 10,000 reasons why, but here is the big one today…
He answered my question. In the stillness of my solitude, when all of the emotions I was feeling had subsided, He answered. That truth alone stirs my soul this day, that my great God answered me. He didn’t have to. His answer has made all the difference and I want to declare it to the world….
John 9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Instead of doubting and questioning, I want the works of God to be made manifest, or known. God is doing something. He is working. And today, I praise His name, and I once again thank Him for who He is and for all He has done.
Psalm 107:31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

What beauty comes from some of our deepest pains.

John 9:3 has to be one of my favorite passages of scripture. I have been where Rick is and still have days where I question God and His plan. The past year has probably been the hardest one in my life yet. It’s truly been a battle of the mind, which is so much harder than I can ever truly express. I can preach positivity all day long, but I’ve been in the fire and I feel like a total failure. I was addicted to opioids. People hate to see me in pain but some seem shocked that I became addicted to pain pills. I became someone I didn’t recognize. I needed help, and I got it. This is literally the second day in… I can’t remember when, that I haven’t had any oxycodone. I’m still trying to take back the reigns of life and let go of my fears, though. Fear of the same issue coming back, fear of going back in the hospital, fear of pain so unbearable it’s hard to breath, fear of letting my family down, so many fears. But fear is not of God.

There was a recent discussion about the recent suicides of celebrities. People who seemingly had everything needed to “make it”: money, fame, success, sex, the best cars, the best houses… What more could you want? Nobody understands. I do. All the money in this world can’t satisfy when your heart is empty. You can only fill the void with alcohol and drugs for so long before you begin losing your mind. You can only hide your demons for so long before you have to unleash them – even if they slip out. People commented that “sometimes people just need to be thrown a lifeline.” That’s a nice thought, isn’t it? But we’ve already been handed one; it’s in the shape of a cross. The cross literally holds all human life together. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search for the term “laminin”. It’s a protein of the extracellular matrix, literally described as “a protein that holds the body together.” And it just so happens to be in the perfect shape of a cross. I don’t believe it’s just a coincidence.

I know what depression is because I have experienced it. I have more anxiety than I’d like to admit. Please seek professional help when needed, there is no shame in asking for medical intervention when there are chemical imbalances or you simply need a little relief. But the road to help shouldn’t stop there, for medication can only do so much. Please heed my words: when the Bible says to “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”, there is no greater form of protection you can have in this life. Psalm 73:26 says it all: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Satan unfortunately doesn’t get tired in his mission to make children of God suffer, fear, doubt, and become completely incapable in furthering the Kingdom of Heaven – which is our most basic purpose in this life as believers. And Satan finally got to me. I was so cocky before last year’s battle began – I really thought I had this whole “life” thing down pat. Boy, was I wrong. But I’ve made the decision to stop living in defeat. And it’s hard. And I’ll have to make this decision every day I wake. But He’s worth it, and I’m done wasting this precious gift of life. I’m tired of screaming for help, I’m grabbing hold of the lifeline that’s always been right in front of me. “This is do or die. The time has come to make a choice, and I choose joy.


I’m a thinker in case you haven’t noticed yet. My mind is constantly jumping from one topic to another, rarely pausing to rest in between. My thoughts keep me up at night unless I muzzle them with medications. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the human heart. The human body and organs are truly an amazing work of art. Did you know the heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through our bodies each day we’re alive? It is vital for life, yet it only weighs 7-15 ounces. It beats around 100,000 times a day, usually in perfect synchrony. The human heart begins beating only four weeks post conception. And some say all this just happened by chance? Think about that.

In my latest hospital stay I suffered from a very sudden “minor” heart attack, according to physicians. Since being admitted, my blood pressure was scary low – so much so that I couldn’t get any pain medicine for fear I would crash. Later the second night of my stay, my nurse was instructed to administer epinephrine – a drug given to help raise blood pressure to a stable number. We discovered very quickly that I am allergic to epinephrine. One second I’m carrying on with my mother and a visiting friend from church, the next I’m feeling like I was hit by a freight train. I looked at my sweet mother: “Mom, help! It’s my heart.” Looked over at my monitors and everything was crashing – my heart rate, my blood pressure, this was bad. Mom runs out in the hallway screaming for help, and so many people came rushing in: doctors, nurses, technicians, respiratory therapists… I had a large ICU room and it was full of staff. “Amber, are you OK?” “Amber, I need you to talk to me.” “Amber, tell me how you feel.” Asking all kinds of questions, all while barking orders to the others to administer meds, stop others, and put in a arterial line to monitor my heart rate and blood pressure on a second by second basis. I looked at my mom, my best friend, and she’s sobbing. She thought this was the end too. Everyone did. Dad and my pastor came immediately. I just can’t bare to see her so scared, so I did all I could do; “Mom! Look at me! Keep your eyes on me. I’m OK. I’m going to be OK.” Over and over and over I said those words while deep down I’m screaming “PLEASE DON’T TAKE ME HERE!! I’m not finished and I can’t leave my family!” It’s quite a surreal thing to have one foot in this world and one foot in the next, and still making the choice to stay down here and keep pressing on. It’s easy to quit, but it’s more rewarding to stay and fight. It took a while and felt even longer, but eventually they got me stabilized, and there was peace.

Like the heart, the human brain is just as much of an incredible organ – so incredible in fact that the most renowned scientists have only begun to scratch the surface in understanding all of the phenomenal abilities it possesses. The average person has around 70,000 thoughts per day. Contrary to popular belief, we use our entire brains rather than parts of it. The brain uses 20% of the total oxygen in the human brain, and when awake generates enough energy to power a light bulb. There are more brain neurons and neuron connections than there are stars in the entire universe. The brain processes information at an approximate speed of 268 miles per hours. You get the picture; the human brain is another amazing creation of God.

In a perfect world, the heart would always function perfectly, there would be no need for modern medicine, and the human brain would be absolutely limitless. Unfortunately, Thanks to Adam and Eve and the entry of sin into this world, we suffer from pain, sickness, disease, and other tragedies that God never meant for us to endure. However, in His goodness, God can take what Satan means for evil and use it for good if we trust Him.

My cousin is lying asleep now in a bed at the John Hopkins Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, recovering from a traumatic brain injury in which he had a stroke and a brain aneurysm. He’s a senior in high school who has also dedicated his life to sharing the message of hope through Jesus Christ. His chance of survival was next to nothing when he was brought in, but God has much bigger plans for Ricky, and through this trial God is being glorified and Ricky will learn to lean on God in a way he’s never had to before, making Him a true warrior and giving Him a very special relationship with his Heavenly Father that only some of us have the privilege of knowing.

The point I am trying to make here is that life is very fragile and can change literally in the blink of an eye. One minute everything is great; the next you get T-boned on your way to work, or disease enters your body, or your heart stops beating… And your life is changed forever. Are you ready to face the uncertainties of this life? Because in one blink everything can change. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” is true and I can testify to it. When the ground shatters beneath you, hold onto the hand of God and He will carry you through. It won’t be easy and it might not even end the way anyone wants, but I promise that going through Hell with God is much better than going it alone. Be prepared, friends. Take it from someone Satan loves to mess with: he can destroy your body and wreak havoc upon your mind, but if you have put your faith in Christ, at the end of it all you can still sing…

“When peace like a river attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well with my soul.”