Why 'Seatbelts Save Lives' Is An Understatement

Why 'Seatbelts Save Lives' Is An Understatement

You never think it will happen to you... until it does.
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When you are 15 years old you feel invincible. Most people are worrying about getting their license and the boy in history class and the petty fights with so-called "friends" that will not matter in six months. Your mom is worrying about you when you're out on your first real date, or why you won't answer your phone when she's called you twelve times.

However, this is not a story of a typical teenage girl. It begins with the day her brother lost his faith, the day her dad lost his chance to walk her down the aisle, the last day her mom heard her voice... This is about the day Whitney kept her life.

This is Whitney's story.


I recall it like it was yesterday. My seven-year-old self was watching "The Wiggles" and enjoying my cereal, when I heard my mother gasp for breath as tears collected in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. My heart raced frantically as my mom told me something that changed my life forever, "Aunt Whitney's been in an accident."

I remember walking into the hospital room in Indianapolis as I saw all the machines attached to my aunt's body. I looked around the room to see my grandpa who looked defeated and my nana who seemed lost.

When they told me, "She was in the car with her friends. They were going too fast when the road turned to gravel. She flew out of the windshield 75 feet and is in an induced coma," I wondered what all this meant. How long will she be sleeping? Will she wake up soon and we can play? Nana used to make me jump on her bed to wake her for cheer practice, but she wouldn't want me to jump on the bed anymore; it wouldn't do anything — she wouldn't wake up.

Whitney spent her sweet 16 in a hospital bed. The day finally came when all my family said, "She's opened her eyes," and I was relieved. "Ah yes, she's finally better now," I thought to myself. She can talk and walk and jump on the trampoline with me like we used to. However, none of that happened. Whitney was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome. Since then, Whitney still is unable to walk or talk. However, when I asked if I could write this article for her, she gave a smile and extended her pinky finger to indicate "yes."

I remember everyone told me, "Pray that she will talk and walk again." So I prayed and prayed and prayed, and one day I woke up at 19 years old and realized my prayers hadn't been answered. There have been plenty of times that I was furious with God. "Why? Why did you do this to my Aunt Whitney?" I would scream and cry into an empty void where I didn't hear an answer. However, I would not wish this on anybody. When I asked God "Why my Aunt Whitney?" perhaps I was just asking why in a general sense. In the sense that no one should have to go through life like this. Every day I see her, I just want to tell her I'm proud of her. I want to tell her I am sorry — because this shouldn't have happened, not to her, not to anyone. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we will never know what that reason is, but that is supposed to be OK.

It is said that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I believe that God writes a narrative for us all. He chose Whitney for a purpose; he knew she was a tough soldier.

God knew he placed Whitney into a strong family. Whitney's dad does not always show it, but I know he is exhausted. I want him to know that I am sorry. No one should have to see their child go through what his does every day. I am so proud of him for working hard and being strong when I can only imagine how all he wants is to break down. Whitney's mom is the strongest woman I have ever had the liberty to know and I admire her immensely for it. God knew that Whitney's mom was a nurse, and he placed her to be with the right family. I want Whitney's mom, my grandma, to know that I am sorry. She should be able to hear Whitney's laugh fill the room like it used to. She should be able to scold her for making stupid decisions and then regretting it later and questioning her parenting ability. She should be able to hear Whitney's stories about her life and guide her in the right direction. I wish Whitney could come home over holiday breaks and exclaim the thrilling news that she's pregnant or engaged. I wish that Whitney could have a life of her own. I wish and I wish and I wish every day for things to go back to how they were before. I am so sorry that these are not the circumstances.

I am not going to ask my readers to pray for Whitney or our family. Whitney has gotten an abundance of prayers over the past decade, and I would not want to intrude on your beliefs. If Whitney could give advice to anyone though I am sure it would be this: Go on country cruises. Drive with the windows down with the wind in your hair as you belt out the words to your favorite song. Live life to the fullest. Don't take anything for granted, say please and thank you while you still can, and never forget to tell your mom and dad that you love them. Please, do not drink and drive. Do not text and drive. Do not be a reckless driver.

I always hear the phrase "Seatbelts save lives," which is true; but, seatbelts are so much more than that. One time is all it takes to change your life forever. Whitney did not wear her seatbelt, but, she is still here with us today. Strapping on her seatbelt that one time would have changed her quality of life. Wearing a seatbelt means much more than the difference between life or death.

Wear your seatbelt.

Not for me, not for Whitney, but for you.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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15 Bible Verses To Calm An Anxious Mind

Finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
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Anxiety hits us from all directions. Whether it be school stress, work stress, a stressful family situation, or anything else in life that causes us to feel unsettled, tired, and afraid of the future; anxiety can feel like it's taking over our lives.

As someone who constantly struggles with anxiety, I know how hard it is to find peace in the midst of a stressful situation. When we feel anxious about something, we generally try to do all that is in our power to control the situation. When we can't control it, we become even more anxious. So how do we stop this downward spiral of anxious turmoil?

We must turn to the one who is in control of all things. God holds all of our lives in his hands and is the only one who can calm our anxious minds. When we frantically struggle to put the pieces of our life together on our own, we will fail.

The only way to gain peace in the midst of anxiety is to turn to God, trusting in His perfect will and His power to hold us in His hands. The best way to remember this truth is to look to the Bible. Here are some verses to help us remember God's provision in the midst of anxiety.

1. Philippians 4:6

We don't have to be anxious when we can freely talk with God about our needs. We can cry out to Him for help and He will hear us.

2. John 14:27

Peace is a wonderful thing. Notice how it says, "I do not give it as the world does." We have to remember that worldly peace is only temporary, but God's peace is forever.

3. Isaiah 41:10

Not only will God give us peace, but He will also strengthen us. The image of God "upholding us with His righteous right hand" is pretty powerful and very comforting.

4. Psalm 94:19

Anxiety can make us sad and upset, but knowing that God is with us can bring so much joy in the face of desolation.

5. Psalm 34:4

Freedom from fear is so empowering! Imagine God setting us free from all the fear that holds us back. Oftentimes fear can make us feel trapped, but God can set us free.

6. 1 Peter 5:7

God cares about us so much, that He allows us to cast all of our worries on His shoulders.

7. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Human capacity is limited. We can by no means do everything, in fact, we can't do anything without the help of God.

8. Philippians 4:13

Nothing can hold us back or scare us when we have the strength of God.

9. Proverbs 3:5

We always try to lean on our own understanding, but it will never be enough. We try to control everything, but it will always fall through. It is because of this that we need to trust in the Lord for everything.

10. Matthew 6:25-34

This passage, while somewhat lengthy, is such a great reminder that God is truly in control of everything. We don't need to worry about a thing because He has it all planned out. We stress out about things that were never ours to worry about in the first place.

11. 2 Timothy 1:7

We were not created to be afraid, but to be empowered and loved by God.

12. Isaiah 26:3

If we simply keep God in the forefront of our minds, we will have perfect peace. Trust in Him brings the greatest peace.

13. Matthew 11:28-30

How comforting is this? Anxiety causes a lot of weariness but knowing that we can rest in God is amazing.

14. Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, so we don't need to worry about it. His plan is always good and always exactly what we need. His plans will always be better than anything we try to control ourselves.

15. Isaiah 41:13

When we feel anxious and afraid we can take comfort in knowing that God is reaching out His hand to us to help us trust Him and walk with Him.

While anxiety can feel overpowering or terrifying, we should not fear, but rather trust in the perfect and never-changing love and peace of God.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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Sharing Suicide Hotlines Doesn't Make You A Good Samaritan

Jesus wants us wholly devoted to fighting for the lives of others.

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The desire to make a positive change is obviously an understandable reaction in the face of a tragedy: we see the destruction and hurt around us, maybe even destruction and hurt we or our own society has caused, and want to offer anything we can to push back against the darkness.

But as followers of Jesus, we must always be assessing and reassessing how we respond to tragedies: are we responding how Jesus wants us to respond, or are we choosing to go along with how our surrounding peers and society is responding... or even worse:

Are we even thinking through how we are responding to a tragedy at all?

Recently (at least for me), reports of deaths by suicide have been a common occurrence in the news I take in each day: whether it be acquaintances from my local community to celebrities from Hollywood. But as these heart-breaking losses become more widely reported and spread across social media, so does everyone else's responses and reactions.

One of the most common trends from those reacting to these types of tragedies is posting and sharing suicide hotline numbers (and even lists of them). Whether the platform is Facebook, Instagram, or even Snapchat, posting links, captions, and even info-graphics serve as the primary way people respond.

Again: as followers of Jesus, we must asses how we are personally responding to the tragedy that is death by suicide.
Every action and word we take and speak in retaliation against darkness must be put through a "Jesus lens," as we ask ourselves "based on what we know of Jesus through Scripture, is this how He would want us to best respond in this situation?

Largely, when we react and try to spread awareness in the aftermath of a death by suicide, it is typically to comfort others: we don't want anyone we know making the same choice, and we want to open up the conversation for those who may need to seek comfort and healing.

I would argue that the common response (posting hotline numbers across social media) is not God's best when it comes to fighting back against the spiritual and human evil of suicidal thoughts.

I believe Scripture gives us the best idea of how and why to engage in this fight, and it comes from the opening lines of a passage from the Gospel According to Luke, famously known as "The Parable of the Good Samaritan." The scene begins with an expert of the Old Testament Law asking Jesus "what [he must] do to inherit eternal life" (Luke 10:25, NIV).

Now, this line is pivotal: it is important that we remember what is truly being referred to when "Eternal life" is being discussed. "Inheriting" eternal life, sure, means that we get to be a part of God's Kingdom in the New Creation. That is when Jesus returns and unifies Heaven and Earth once and for all, and God fully rules over His creation as His Kingdom. "Inheriting Eternal life" means being an ensured member of God's Kingdom in the future... but also in the here and now!

"Inheriting eternal life" means that we are currently also living as citizens of His Kingdom because we have aligned ourselves with Jesus, the King of God's Kingdom and the one sitting on the throne above God's people. Essentially: we are a part of God's Kingdom now because we have agreed that He is our King and that through His Spirit. He is guiding and leading us in allowing His rule to take place, through spreading and acting with how He defines love and mercy and justice.

But don't be mistaken: all of this weird Kingdom and eternal life stuff has everything to do with fighting against suicide!

See, Jesus answers this question about eternal life (or being a part of God's Kingdom) by saying that it is by loving God and loving our neighbor that we truly live like God (through Jesus) is our King. Jesus then shares a parable, where a man is beaten on the side of the road, in need of help, and the one that truly lives like God is King is the other man who stops to bandage his wounds and take him to a safe place to rest and heal.

And this is what it means to truly respond to darkness: not that we post from afar on social media ways people can seek help, but that we physically meet people in their hurt and in their darkness and sacrifice our own time and resources to bring healing and help.

Sharing suicide hotlines doesn't make you a "Good Samaritan." feeling the compassion to physically act and support others does. (Luke 10:33-34, NLT).

Yes, showing where people can seek additional, professional help is good and welcomed: I would hate to discourage anyone from doing that. However, if that is all we are practically doing to reach out to others and bring God's Light into the darkness... I'm sorry, but that is not God's best.

What is God's best? Making yourself physically available to friends, taking them out for lunch or coffee, and checking in on how their doing, shooting them a brief text asking them if they need prayer for anything (and then actually praying and following up with them), maybe taking them out on a cheap fun day to explore the town or staying indoors with them to hang out and chat. Physically coming alongside to support others out of compassion is how Jesus describes fulfilling God's will and being a member of His Kingdom.

And if that's the Kings will, isn't it obvious that that is what we should strive for? we shouldn't just share a hotline and do the bare minimum that society expects of us when fighting back against suicide, but to do more than fight against something: we need to, as Jesus did, fight for the lives of others, through submitting to them, and loving and serving them.

As Jesus Himself commanded us to do after sharing the parable of the Good Samaritan: Go and do likewise.

Cover Image Credit:

Kaboom Pics

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