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


A Long Time Ago in a Faraway Place…

by Betty Thomason Owens

A long time ago in a faraway place…

Sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, doesn’t it? I can imagine scrunching down in my bed, getting ready to hear a wonderful story that helps me drift off to sleep. A story filled with marvelous things, like fairies…and princesses and kings.

What story do you read or tell on Christmas Eve? What story beckons to your imagination? “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” Many of us know that one by heart.

Then there’s the story of the animals that spoke at midnight on Christmas Eve. And the true story of the Christ child, born to Mary in Bethlehem, a long time ago…a faraway place. Shepherds came in from the fields, sent by an angelic host. The three wise men arrived, bearing strange gifts. The Christ child cooed in his makeshift cradle—a manger—a humble beginning for a king.

Leonardo DaVinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

The magic of Christmas glows in our hearts. The traditional telling, whether we read it or say it from memory, passes on the tradition of belief. And belief lends strength to the hearer. How will they hear unless someone speaks the message? How will they believe if no one teaches?

It may have all the earmarks of a fairy tale, but it’s grounded in truth. We’ve fictionalized it over the years, but the facts remain. If you open the Bible and read it directly from the Word of God, you find truth that touches hearts and ignites a fire within.

So plant the seeds of faith in your children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends. Tell the story, or read it aloud to them. Share the faith that burns in your heart because someone shared it with you. And never forget the Christ child born in a manger, who grew up to change the world.

May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and holiday celebration. Peace on earth, good-will to men!

Betty Thomason Owens

Mythology & Folklore: Giants on the Earth

Osmar_Schindler_David_und_GoliathAs a young reader, I loved mythology. I became interested in the myths in school when we had to read them, but continued on my own. So imagine my surprise when I found the following Bible verse:

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.–Genesis 6:4 NKJV

Could it be true? Had there really been giants on earth? Pre-flood, pre-Noah? The answer is yes. And they were men of renown. Well-known. Talked about. And why not? These were called the Nephilim, descended of angels. Later, after the flood, giants still existed in the form of the Anakim, the children of Anak, and also the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:11, 9:2 & Numbers 13:33).

Remember Goliath? He was nine feet tall. Nine. So it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe the myths may have been based in reality. And of course, as people do, they told tales about them. Fish stories. With each telling, they became bigger, taller, stronger, more powerful. Israel’s spies in Numbers 13 were shaking in their boots. No way were they going back there. Giants lived in the land.

2013-08-25 03.55.16Folklore is the passing down of stories, myths, sung or recanted. Loveable stories like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. Fun to read, fun to listen to around campfires. But fiction, all the same. Blown out of proportion by the tellers, but good clean fun, most of the time.

So could these stories also be based in truth?

They never seem to lose their fascination. Moviegoers flock to the hero sagas. Thor. Hercules. Can anyone play Zeus better than Liam Neeson?

As a young reader, finding that verse in the Bible (whose words are truth) was like a door opening on a whole new existence. My imagination shifted into overdrive.  I could see how people would think those men were gods. They towered over everyone else.

I hope my ideas have inspired you to look further into the history of mankind. Search the scriptures on your own and see what you think. Are the myths based in reality?

Writing Prompt: As writers, we have a wealth of ideas thrown at us in the stories of old. What can we do with them? Pull one of them out and give it a current setting. Mix in a little romance, if you will, or a good dose of humor. Make it real. Make it your own. Be creative! Leave us a short sample in the comment section.

“Osmar Schindler David und Goliath”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Betty Thomason Owens

Dragons: Mythology’s Favorite Creature

DragonsIs there a creature in mythology or folklore more beloved than the dragon? Fairy tales, allegories, and fantasy often contain dragons of all sizes and colors. Wikipedia says that “a dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures.” They contend there are two main dragons: ones found in European tradition and ones found in Asian traditions.

In appearance, dragons could be compared to a flying lizard or flying snake with legs. The scales and other features often resemble those of a crocodile or some dinosaurs. Dragons have traits similar to birds or reptiles, such as flying and their young hatching from eggs.  Many are said to breathe fire or be poisonous. European dragons are more often winged, while Chinese dragons resemble large snakes.

In art, dragons are a frequent theme—as symbols of sin but also as a nature force, fighting against man. Dragons have been found in stories from Europe to the Middle East to India to the Far East. People love to use dragons to represent evil against a hero fighting for good. Examples of literature containing dragons are J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion and The Hobbit, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. The character Eustace Scrubb is turned into a dragon in the C.S. Lewis book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In the Bible, the book of Revelation, John on the Isle of Patmos describes Satan as a dragon. In The Neverending Story, Falkor (Fuchur in the original German version) is a luckdragon, portrayed as white, furry, and friendly. Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.

Movies and television programs also love the myth of the dragon. From Smaug in The Hobbit to the Dragonheart movies to Pete’s Dragon, dragons can be ferocious, whimsical, or just plain fun. As far as television, in Avatar: The Last Airbender, dragons taught humans the art of Firebending, which is based on the dragons’ movements. Spike, the baby dcute dragonragon, in My Little Pony and Spot, the dragon in The Munsters are creatures that are more like pets than monsters.

Dragons were even brought to life in an Animal Planet show, Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real. I turned this show on after missing the beginning and they had me convinced that dragons really could have existed. It’s one show that’s worth watching.

Dragons, myth or reality? There doesn’t seem to be a physical evidence to support their reality, but they live on in the minds and imaginations of people worldwide.

Do you believe?

Writing Prompt: You are making a documentary of a specific type of lizard in Australia when you come upon a newly hatched dragon. What would you do? Let your imagination flow as you jot down a few paragraphs.


Jodie Bailey


Today we welcome Jodie Bailey, avid reader and life-long writer, to 3 Questions Wednesday.



(1) Do you watch reality television? Why or why  not?

Jodie: I’m not a fan of the crazy “drama” of reality TV, but I do love me
some Shark Tank and some Amazing Race. My family got hooked on
Duck Dynasty this summer. For the most part, though, I’m not a fan
of reality TV. It pretends to be reality when a lot of it is
editing and contrived situations. It gives kids a kind of twisted
view of reality that I don’t think straight up fictional TV does.
Can you tell I’m a teacher? 🙂

(2) What are your thoughts on  e-publishing?

Jodie: I’m of two minds. I will never, ever let go of physical books.
That’s a full on experience, touching and feeling and smelling a
book. But I love the convenience of my Kindle too. I think the
challenge of e-publishing is going to be maintaining quality
across the board.

 (3) Which do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?

Jodie: It’s so much more of a social interaction. I LOVE seeing
what everyone is up to!

freefallcrossfireThank you, Jodie, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Jodie is offering a “win it before you can buy it” giveaway of Crossfire, which comes out 1/1/14 and a copy of Freefall in a drawing from comments given. So stop by and say hello!

Jodie Bailey is an avid reader and a life-long writer. When not tapping at the keyboard, she teaches middle schoolers how to love the written word. Jodie is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter.

Modern Day Heroes


By Betty Thomason Owens

I was a teen in the early seventies and part of a vibrant youth group at a local church. We were out to change the world. I remember the night Billy, along with his girlfriend Connie, became a part of our group. There was something special about them from the first. God’s hand was on them. I left when my dad was transferred to another city, but I kept up with the youth group through some of my close friends. After I returned to Louisville, I married and attended another church. I ran into Bill and Connie several times over the years. He went to college, they married and had a daughter. They pastored a church nearby.

What impressed me most about them, was their dedication. They suffered losses. Connie had a terrible accident, they lost two children due to a genetic disorder. Life wasn’t easy for them. Then I got a letter from Bill. They had accepted God’s call to missions. Their heart was set on Ecuador. They were leaving for missions school in Costa Rica, where they’d be immersed in the language. Would I be interested in supporting their ministry? Absolutely.

I started small, since I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time. But every month, I sent in my donation. They graduated from missions school and I received another letter. Cuenca, Ecuador, in the Andes Mountains. Wow. I was so proud of them, but I could not imagine moving to a foreign country with my little guys, leaving all my family and friends behind. They were very brave, and I was in awe of them.

Later, I spoke with Connie about what it was like to leave all she knew behind. She told me about that first day, after their arrival. She faced fear, but they were together, and not only that, God was with them. She had to trust Him for everything. The worst time came at Christmas, far from home and family. I could only imagine. I had a difficult time with the holiday when my parents moved three hundred miles away.

Their first order of duty in Cuenca was to establish a church. Centro Cristiano started small, but in a very short time, the church had grown and they needed a new building. As their ministry expanded, they developed and led a childcare program under the Assemblies of God, to plant schools with a Christ centered curriculum.

Years passed and Bill and Connie welcomed another child, Seth. I loved watching their children grow up through photographs received in their updates (no Facebook back then, just snail mail). The church in Cuenca continued to grow as well. Bill made trips into the Amazon regions, into places only accessed by canoe and on foot. Scary. I received pictures of their excursions into the Andes on foot and on horseback. He led missions teams into some of these places as well as to the Galapagos Islands. I longed to go on one of these. But the opportunity never came.

After their daughter Leah married, she and her husband also became missionaries (Jungle Missions), traveling into the Amazon regions teaching and preaching the gospel.

In 2002, I got a letter from Bill and Connie. They were turning over leadership of Centro Cristiano to Ecuadorian nationals in order to pursue other forms of ministry. Then he wrote about a new opportunity. A television station called Unsion. I had no idea what a bright star had just dawned on the world and through Bill and Connie’s ministry, I was part of it. Exciting stuff!

Bill and Connie’s son Seth is now grown, also working in missions. Their daughter Leah and her husband Joil Marbut have four children; Bill and Connie’s grandchildren, growing up on the mission field.

When Bill speaks, God speaks through him, using his natural abilities, the perfect mix of wide-eyed-wonder, humility, and humor. He’s never lost his awe of God and seems amazed of God’s goodness. He’s dedicated to Jesus, Connie, his children and grandchildren. Connie is one of the most humble women I know, yet beautiful, accomplished, and strong. She’s endured many hardships, but is always found serving God, her husband, children, and grandchildren with a graceful smile.

There’s a song we sang back in the early days, when Bill and Connie first got involved in the youth group. A line from that song says, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, but soon all those around can warm up in it glowing.” Bill was the spark God used to ignite a mighty, glowing flame that continues to spread across the world, carrying the greatest message of all. The gospel of Jesus Christ.

1048906_10200466198676034_645386335_oFor this reason, Bill and Connie McDonald are my heroes. Modern-day heroes of the faith. They would not wish to be exalted. They would give all glory to God, which is exactly where it belongs. He who has called them has given them the grace to perform His calling. (But they’re still my heroes!)

For more information on Bill and Connie McDonald’s ministry:

Joil and Leah Marbut:

Today’s Prompt: Darcy had often dreamed of serving God in a remote region, but she’d never planned on the degree of hardship she’d endured. And she wasn’t even there yet. After twenty-four hours en route, eighteen of them spent in the Bangladesh airport, what she longed for most was…

Little Boys, Comic Heroes, and Heroes of the Faith


By Betty Thomason Owens

Comic book heroes were one-dimensional when I read my big brother’s latest editions. Superman was my favorite, with Captain America in a close second.

Many early comic book writers meant to inspire children to read and also to impart good morals. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Heroes, in our minds at least, are usually superior in some way. Like Captain America, they show bravery in the face of difficulty and step up when called upon, whether it’s to save a kitten from a fire or the whole world from a dangerous criminal.

A superhero stares down fear and walks into dangerous circumstances for the greater good. How many little boys aspire to do this? I grew up with brothers then raised three sons. I’ve watched enough cartoons and movies, read comic books, and observed enough little-boy-games to tell you this with some certainty. They love heroes and they aspire to become one.

My sons grew up studying heroes, beginning with some of the greatest of all time, Samson, David, Joshua. Reading about these biblical heroes inspired them to believe that anything is possible. Like the comic book heroes, these men often made human errors. Really, this makes them more human in our eyes. For instance, Samson is publicly humiliated when he loses his power. But he repents and in his final moments, completely annihilates his enemy, and makes history in the process. It is said that Superman’s creator modeled him after Samson and Hercules, with superior strength, ready to right wrongs and fight for justice.

Some little boys and little girls do grow up to be heroes. They move beyond the childhood stories and games to work in hospitals, on fire crews, police squads, as soldiers, teachers, and even pastors. The greatest of these don’t do it for notoriety, but because they want to do it.

They become the greatest heroes to their children as the process begins again, to inspire leadership and inner strength, an abiding faith, rooted deeply in the Word of God and the greatest hero of all, Jesus Christ. The one who gave his life one time, for all of us.

Next week, I’ll write about a different kind of hero. Heroes of the Faith, who gave up ordinary lives to accomplish the extraordinary. I hope you’ll stop back by. And don’t miss our special Wednesdays here, when we ask one of our favorite authors 3 Questions.

Today’s Prompt – Finish this statement: “I think my dad is Superman, because…” Have fun with it!