Today is World Diabetes Day. To educate a little about diabetes and football, I’m sharing a post from my son’s devotional book – First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up published by Harvest House Publishers.


photo by Sean O’Toole

Jake is a type 1 diabetic who pushed hard, fighting against diabetes highs and lows to climb to the pinnacle of football success and play in the NFL.

This month, National Diabetes Awareness Month, Jake is giving $1 from each AUTOGRAPHED copy of his book sold to the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.) 

First and Goal is filled with short anecdotes and stories about overcoming and faith. Below is a devotional story, the first one in Jake’s book where he shares his diagnosis story. This A-Z football devotional is filled with short inspirational clips of his life, faith walk, and journey into the NFL.

Audible  – When the quarterback changes the play at the line of scrimmage, based on the defensive formation, he calls an audible, which is a better-suited play.

01f5b5aca74f53007313ae467f0f98784ea4d3f3edBeginning my freshman year in high school, through hard work, dedication, and by the grace of God I’d earned a starting spot as an offensive tackle on our football team. Standing at 6 feet 5 and weighing in as a 240-pound 14-year-old, I was one of the team’s biggest players. With early interest from college scouts, I ran full steam ahead, thinking I had life all figured out.

By the time the season had ended, I’d dropped 40 pounds and suffered from constant fatigue. The drastic weight loss confused me, my parents, and the coaches. I ate like a ravenous wolf and worked out constantly, hoping to gain weight. Instead, I shed pounds like a German shepherd sheds fur.

An unseen offense had launched a full-scale attack against my body. First, relentless hunger and weight loss. Then, the thirst. I guzzled gallons of Gatorade and water. My constant bathroom breaks annoyed my teachers and had me worried.

At the doctor’s office I expected a prescription for a bladder infection. Instead, I got rocked by the hardest hit I’d ever taken: a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 ).

Diabetes meant a major lifestyle change. My endocrinologist assured me I could still play football—but only if I did everything by the book. I had to call my own audible. This disease forced me onto my own personal line of scrimmage, where I had to come up with a new game plan and change my mind-set. Controlling my blood sugar meant huge dietary adjustments. I had to act as my own pancreas, injecting proper amounts of insulin each time I consumed carbs in order to maintain healthy sugar levels.

Support from family, friends, and coaches carried me through difficult moments, along with a peaceful reassurance that God cared about my plans, hopes, and dreams. Have you been there? Believed you had your game plan all figured out, only to take a hit from an unexpected challenge? Have faith and listen to the audible God is calling. Trust that He has plans for you—good plans for a future and greater plans than you can ever imagine.

Houston JDRF Ad 3Want a copy of First and Goal autographed to you or a special someone? $1 from the sale goes to support the JDRF. Click here Great motivational devotional for anyone. 

12016186_10156044039905635_176705038_oWRITING PROMPT: Know a diabetic? Type 1 or Type 2? Think of a character with high goals and dreams. Bam! They get hit with a diabetes diagnosis. How do they react. Also, if you use a diabetic character in your writing make sure you do some research into the differences between type one and type two. Type 1 diabetes has no cure. It’s an autoimmune disease. It means you are completely insulin dependent. Type 2 is curable.

Jake Byrne grew up in Rogers, Arkansas. A type 1 diabetic since the age of fourteen, he has since been proactive combating the disease and mentoring diabetic youth. He played football for the University of Wisconsin as a tight end, and went on to compete in the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent who signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012, he has also been a Houston Texan, Kansas City Chief, and San Diego Charger. Jake lives in Dallas with his wife, Emma, and two four-legged kids: Duke the Dogo Argentino and Yeti the Great Dane.

Jake blogs at He can be reached through the following social media:

Facebook Page (Type Won):

Twitter: @sugarfreejb82

Instagram: Jakebyrne81


What’s a Forever Family? by Anne Garboczi Evans

anne evansToday we welcome one of our own Crew members, Anne Garboczi Evans,  as she discusses her newest children’s book, What’s a Forever Family?

Hi, Anne! First question:

(1) Why did you decide to become a foster parent?

Anne: When I was in middle school at a local PE group that my mom ran, I met four little girls who I’d never forget. These four sisters who ranged from about one-year-old to very early school age were all in foster care. Like most middle school girls, I loved small children and spent a lot of time playing with them and listening to their prattle. What I remember most about those girls is how much they wanted my time and attention. They always wanted me to play with them and would beg me for piggy back rides and to push them on the swings. I vowed then that I’d be a foster mom someday. And this year, after many hours of classes and training and paperwork, my husband and I became fully licensed foster care parents.

(2) Have you always wanted to write children’s books?

Anne: What inspired me to write a children’s book was my own son, Joe-Joe. He was two at the time we started the foster care licensure process and I was looking for a book to read to him to explain how being a foster family would affect his life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture book geared toward the bio child in a foster family. So I met the talented illustrator Helen Cochrane and we created our own,What’s a Foster Family? and officially released it in May of this year for National Foster Care month.

Then this month for National Adoption Month, we released the sequel What’s a Forever Family?  As a mom, I really enjoyed the process of writing a children’s book. And writing a picture book gave me a great excuse to read lots of picture books to Joe-Joe to get ideas. He certainly didn’t complain about that.

(3) What projects are you working on now?

Anne: Way too many. In a good way. I recently signed a four-book contract for a series set in the first and second century A.D. Roman Empire. Those will all be coming out next year, so I’m writing furiously at present. Read more here.

Thanks, Anne, for stopping in! And congratulations on your new release and upcoming books.

What’s a Forever Family?Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000444_00047]

On Tuesday, Bonnie’s brothers arrived.

“We’re twins,” said Charlie.

“But I’m bigger,” said Harry.

“No, you’re not,” said Charlie. He punched Harry.

Harry whacked Charlie back.

“Don’t hit,” Alex told them.

They both stuck their tongues out at Alex.

In this sequel to What’s a Foster Family?, elementary-school-aged Alex York is about to gain not one, not two, but three forever siblings. But becoming a forever family isn’t quite as smooth a road as Alex envisioned.

Anne Garboczi Evans is a mental health counselor, military spouse, and mama to an opinionated little preschooler named “Joe-Joe.” Anne and her husband are licensed foster parents in the state of Colorado and Anne has worked with adoption and forever families in her day job as a counselor. You can find Anne online at