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“I hope everyone reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.” – Gillian Anderson

Little Boy In HospitalHave you ever been with someone whose very presence changed a room?

I’ve been blessed to meet quite a few people like this in my life. The youngest was still in diapers, recently burned and living in El Salvador.

The oldest was a 104-year-old nun in a retirement community in St. Louis. 

The most remarkable, though, was a seven-year-old boy in the oncology unit of a children’s hospital. I was a hospital chaplain at the time and the experiences with these little ones, their incredible families and the staff absolutely altered my life — especially Kevin.

Before visiting Kevin, I spoke to his parents. They told stories of his fight with cancer, his remarkable courage and his strong faith. They told me he was who they wanted to be when they got older. Preparing to leave the waiting area and visit the child, the mother gently said, “John, please don’t talk about how sick he is. Kevin doesn’t know he is dying.”

I left the family, walked down the hallway and entered his room.

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Kevin was sitting up in a chair, wearing a hospital gown and had an IV snaked up his arm. He got out of his chair and shuffled over to meet me. With a big grin he introduced himself and asked me who I was. I told him and we started to visit. We talked about sports, camping, biking, fire, my hands, his sister and our favorite flavors of ice cream.

And we talked about cancer. It was an intense conversation, but somehow also full of laughter, peace and joy.

Near the end of the visit, we prayed together and I asked if there was anything I could do for him. He thought for a moment and said there was only one thing. Kevin looked at me, his eyes lit up, his smile still caked on his face, and he said, “Mr. John, you gotta promise that what we talked about today you’ll keep between us. My mom and dad don’t know it, but I am dying.”

No one had told him. No one had to. He just knew it. And he was spending every moment, every visit, every experience really living.

My friend, why wait for the diagnosis to live differently? Why wait for the fires of life to change how you are living?

Today, I challenge you to choose to wake up to the possibility of your life. [Tweet this.] Celebrate the good, passionately live your life today — because the opportunity to do so is an absolute gift. By thinking, speaking, acting and living this gift, your life and the lives of those lucky enough to know you will change.

Isn’t it time to wake up to that gift?

So, who is your Kevin? Who is someone that taught you what really living looks like? Share your answer and your favorite charity in the comments below and I will donate $10 in honor of your Kevin.

0 replies on “Isn’t It Time?”

My parents have always been my first “Kevin.” They work hard and play hard, have a strong faith, and are always thinking about how their actions might serve others.

Thank for your always inspiring stories!

your grandmother is my inspiration and an inspiration to all of us who spend time with her daily.
I hope when I reach 93 I can be as positive, loving, and considerate as Caddy.

Honestly, John….YOU are my Kevin. I was at a convention that you spoke at and it was the most intense presentation I ever sat through. It got so intense for me that I almost walked out. But I didn’t. I stayed because I wanted to hear more from you. I went back to my hotel that night and reflected on all that you said and I put it all to good use in my personal life. I hang on every word you say! You are my hero!!!

Amy — thx for sharing and thx for sticking with me last week. Continue boldly and keep asking yourself that pivotal question “What More Can I Do?” — honored to donate 10.00. J

My friend Brenda who has always lived her life helping others but now that she had a brain tumor removed and takes treatments she is no longer employed at her current job. She looks at this as if it has allowed her to spend more quality time with family and does volunteer work with Make a Wish and Head for the Cure. She sends a daily spiritual and motivational message to her friends , family and community. She is my Kevin and is an inspiration to many. She also says you inspire her.

Joyce, thanks for sharing your story and Brenda’s — sounds like you are part of a pretty great community. Continue boldly, keeping inspiring each other and I am honored to make a donation in Brenda’s honor. J

My older twin son Akaninyene is my Kevin. Diagnosed with a rare condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta and at the verge of amputation as campaigns to #HelpAkanWalk isn’t bringing in enough funds for his operation in India. Caught in a country with little and inadequate medical support my son did a video https://db.tt/6oW7rsgp and went ahead to spend his time motivating and encouraging children with special needs. He looks at me daily and says “we do not determine the way we are born but we can define the way we live” He goes round schools speaking to teenage boys about the worth of leaving living legacy. I may not have the money I need for him to have his surgery but I know he will be just fine. Being a single mom has been a great experience buy above all raising my boys has taught me the worth of life. He insists that he trusts help will come and that he wants to be a medical surgeon giving free treatment to children with special needs. He doesn’t look like his visions but his faith overweighs them

Thank you for sharing Akaninyene’s story and video. He has such zest that you can absolutely see in his smile and his drumming. I will try to make a donation to the information given on the video — although it is rather difficult to see — so if you can send the way to donate to info@risingabove.com — that would be great. J

John – you know my Kevin. Her name is Julie and she is 3 years in heaven on August 27, 2014. I got chosen to see to her needs from her cancer diagnosis to her journey to heaven, and I am forever a different person. So much to be grateful for in so much tragedy. And the day I get to see her again? Complete, utter bliss. If you will donate the $10 to Blue Dog Rescue (www.bluedogrescue.com).

Thanks, and I love you, my friend.

Sweet Joanne — thx for sharing Julie’s story with us. I am honored to donate to Blue Dog Rescue in honor of Julie. Continue boldly my friend — I love you. J

My Grandma. She met each day with a smile and a song. Even when she wasn’t well. She never spoke a bad word about anyone and was always true to God and her beliefs. She truly lived the verse to that we do ” all as if we were doing for Christ”. Whether that is washing dishes, changing diapers, or hugging a dirty child. That is what I want to be like. I think that is what Jesus was like, too. Always reaching out to hug the dirty child or lift someone up no matter what or who they were… I want to be that way to. That is truly living in my book!
John my favorite charity is ADRA but it is ok you don’t have to donate, I am sure there are many other things you need to do.

Kerry — thanks for keeping your grandmother’s spirit alive. I am honored to donate to ADRA in her honor. Continue boldly and thx for all you do. J

My daughter, Isabelle, is the “Kevin” in my life. She is a confident, spunky 16 year old who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. The last few years she has faced many, many challenges that have tested her resiliency but have not defeated her. Last year she made the varsity tennis team at her school as a sophomore and was later named MVP and won a service award for doubling the number of hours she volunteered. Last Saturday she was admitted into Children’s Hospital PICU with acute respiratory failure and had to be placed on a ventilator. She was discharged Saturday and we will continue IV antibiotics here at home for at least the next week. Because of her strong wishes, today she is back to her nanny job of 4 kids, balancing her airway clearance and IV treatments in between her duties. She wants nothing more than to live each day to the fullest which inspires me to do the same!

What a vibrant spirit Isabelle is! So glad to hear she is doing all of the things she loves and continuing to bring joy to those she meets. I am honored to donate to CF research in her honor. Continue boldly. J

John, go buy yourself lunch. YOU are my Kevin. I was blessed to meet you in St Louis last Thursday. In 1999, 2 weeks before his 6th birthday, my son also caught himself on fire playing with gasoline and fire. At the time, you deal with everything with laser focus. Then, eventually, life goes on. You deal with your new now. For the first time on Thursday, I really looked at how lucky my family and I are. Since Thursday I have looked at life differently. On top of my personal life, I am a nurse and get to make a difference in people’s lives every day. Thank you for your words of encouragement and your hugs. My life and the lives of those I touch are richer for it!

Thx for your kind words, for sharing your story (and your son’s) and for ALL you do. Stay in touch and remember the best is yet to come. J

8 years ago I had been ill with what had been described as pneumonia. I had experienced pneumonia at least 15 times in my 41 years of life so it really did not take me by surprise to be diagnosed and hospitalized again. What did happen was that I just couldn’t get well although I was sent home after a week in the hospital. Within the following week I was still feeling worse and met with my doctor sharing my concerns. A CT Scan was ordered of my chest for that day. There were numerous setbacks to having the CT Scan done that day and finally I was given the last appointment of the day.The test was done & with disbelief I was told that I had multiple pulmonary emoboli. (multiple blood clots in my lungs) This was extremely serious.To combat the serious situation I currently in meant that I was admitted to a cardiac unit hooked to monitors with my life dependant upon the Heparin that was being pumped into my veins.I look back on that time and realize that although I was in shock for a few months with this turn of events, I had made up my mind to change my life & live it better. I had been putting off changes that needed to be made bother professionally & personally. Within 12 months of that event I took the leap of faith, resigned from my job that was not a good fit for me any longer & starting rebuilding my financial practice. Still giving back to the community I went on to volunteer with several non profit agencies. Today I am the board chair of a local non profit & leading the agency in a 3M capital campaign to help support homeless, expectant mothers & their children. I have been told by many that it is a challenging job & agree.Helping others is part of what makes me actually “live” life to its fullest for me. I thank God everyday for the opportunity to serve people in my financial services practice & through my volunteer efforts. PS-I was a young mother with limited resources & told that I would never amount to anything. I beg to differ & continue to rise above the hurdles placed before me in this wonderful life.

Regina — wow. You absolutely make a difference. Thank you for all that you do…and for sharing your story and your talents with us all. Please tell me the name of your local charity that supports expectant mothers so I can make my donation in your honor. Continue boldly. J

My “Kevin” is not an actual person, but rather cancer itself. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 1/2 years ago at the age of 27. Cancer taught me to live each day. Cancer taught me that what others think of you doesn’t matter. Cancer taught me that we have no idea what that stranger on the street we walk by is going through. Cancer taught me that our fear paralyzes us to really live life, give back and share our stories.
I am much like you John, passionate about sharing my story and telling others to live life now!! My mom, Audrey, met and visited with you at the ReMax convention in Vegas in March. She shared your amazing story with me. Thanks for being an inspiration to so many more than you will ever realize you are inspiring! I will be a mini-you and share my story with as many as I can. Tomorrow I’m sharing my cancer journey with the young youth in my community at a youth conference.

By the way, at this very moment I’m sitting in the infusion room at my cancer center, getting an IV treatment that I receive every 6 months. It’s a time for me to reflect on my journey and remember all I’ve overcome. It’s also a time that I am so thankful for. To know that this is a preventive treatment to keep my cancer away while so many others are fighting for their lives here. Thanks for letting me share!

Wow — such depth and courage. Thank YOU for sharing your story, Janell. Please keep sharing it — what a blessing you are for the youth at the conference you are speaking at…and for all you touch each day. Please stay in touch. And don’t forget to tell me where you’d like a donation made in your honor. J

Janell is my Kevin…she & other patients at The Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo ND, have blessed me by letting me share their journey with others. My life is forever changed. And I will be forever grateful.
Robbie Daniels

Thank you for sharing in their journey and for ALL that you do — Robbie. Please let me know where to make a donation in Janell’s honor. J

John, YOU are my Kevin. You amaze me and are a true inspiration. When I grow up I want to be just like you – have your positive attitude, drive, and faith!

Sweet Sarah,thx for your kind words, they mean more than you know 😉 And thanks for all that YOU do each day to touch the lives of those you meet. Tell me where you’d like me to make a donation! J

My Father… As a young man he lost his Mother & Father, family & friends as a Holicost survivor… Although he had DREAMS as a young husband and father… He BELIEVED IN LIVING FOR TODAY… As EVERY DAY is a Gift from GOD! Although he crossed over many years ago, his precious gift remains with me always….

The person who really showed me what living is I had never met in person. His name is Zach Sobiech. You may have heard his story, if not, I would recommend you looking up his story on youtube. He knew that he was going to soon pass away at a young age from cancer, but he lived each day to the absolute fullest. If you can donate the $10 to St. Jude Hospital that would be my choice.

Thank You

Evan, I will absolutely donate $10 to St. Judes in memory of Zach Sobiech. His story really touched me too — I actually included it in my Spark! Challenge so I could make sure I share it with as many people as possible. You can take the challenge here: http://www.risingabove.com/spark

Thanks for ALL you do, Evan. J

My mother is my hero. She also taught me that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. She also gave me a strong foundation in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Even though she recently went to heaven with Jesus, she is still teaching me that all things are possible through Jesus. Please donate $10.00 to American Diabetes Association in her honor. Thank you, Michelle Palmer

What a blessing her life and spirit have been to you and certainly countless others…thanks for sharing, Michelle. A donation will be made in your mother’s honor and memory. J

I lost my brother when he was 9 and I was 12 to a Braun tumor. It was rather sudden for me at 12. Loosing someone that close at a young age taught me early not to sweat the small stuff in life. Today I am constantly challenging my husband on this. I have not yet gotten through to him but it does not keep me from trying ….my charity is Ronald McDonakd house because parents and family need a place close by to their loved little ones without having to worry about affording accommodations.

Gail, thank you for sharing with us and for sharing with everyone you meet through your example that our time here is best focused on “the big stuff” — I will absolutely donate in honor and memory of your brother. Thx for all you do. J

My daughter, Letha, she had come home for me to take care of her because of the diagnosis of cancer. She was given 2 years to live. Even when she was so sick from the chemo, did not complain. She was always positive that she would beat it. The chemo days she would get a blanket for others or a drink of water. She lived 2 years and on her last day, was with her and she said “Mama hold me. Mama rub my back and take the pain away. Was holding her and rubbing her back. Told her there was only one person that could take the pain and it was Jesus”. She said Jesus three times and she went to sleep in my arms and awoke in His! She is my only daughter. Have lost 7 family members with this type of cancer. This September will be my 2 year of being cancer free from this same type of cancer. Colon cancer is the group I choose.

Faye — what a beautiful story and relationship you share with your daughter. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am sorry for your loss and grateful for your health — Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis does some research on genetic colorectal cancer — in case you have any interest in looking into that…Thanks for ALL you do, Faye. A donation will be made to colon cancer in honor and memory of Letha. J

Thanks John for the info. Had genetic things done through M.D. Anderson and have the FAP gene. Have beat cancer twice. Go to Mayo Clinic every six for check ups. Really enjoyed your speach Friday at the Scentsy meeting. Want to get your book with your signature but did not have enough time. Would love to purchase the book from you with your signing!!
Thanks
Faye

Faye, MD Anderson — glad you are well taken care of! And honored to have spent time with you last week. Please email info@risingabove.com about your signed book — I am sure we can arrange something. Continue boldly. J

My Kevin would have been my son Steven Spurlock II. He lived each day with so much passion. It was like he knew his time was short on earth and never let a moment pass that he didn’t live his life to the fullest. At 2.5 he touched so many people’s lives and he didn’t even know it. His smile was so contagious. In his memory, we have vowed that we would raise as much awareness as possible about Infant Swimming Resource.

Heather, thanks for sharing your sweet Steven’s story with us. I am honored to make a donation to Infant Swimming Resource in his name. Thanks for ALL you do each day, continue boldly, my friend — J

John
Thanks for the encouraging story today. I met you in Las Vegas at a RE/MAX convention. What a blessing you were to me and continue to be. My Kevin is two people—my daughter Janell and son, Kevin. They both continue to teach me to live life to the fullest. Alive and well is how they live. As you may recall or not (I know you talk to so many people) I talked to you about My Janell and her cancer journey. She is cancer free and excited about her next journey which is having a carrier carry her baby! I talked to you and we prayed about it in Vegas. I want you to know that prayer and loving people like you make a difference!! Thanks and I will keep you posted! Audrey

Audrey — yes I remember you, your sweet daughter and our prayer. Janell actually posted to this blog and shared that she is now sharing her story at local youth conferences — how AWESOME! Thx for staying in touch and for ALL that you do. Please tell me which charity you would like a donation made in honor of Kevin & Janell. J

Our “Kevin” is our son John Thomas Rogers. From the day he was injured in a fire almost 2 years ago, to today, he has continued to be the bravest, smartest kid ever. He never complains about his recovery and has used his experience with the health care system to lead his education and career choice. He doesn’t dwell in the past, but forges ahead with the best attitude imaginable. He is truly “Rising Above” and leads us all.

Charity:
Camp Hope – Vanderbilt Burn Center
Vanderbilt Gift Processing
PMB 407727
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7727

Kevin — brother — as always thank you for sharing. Kevin is truly an example and an inspiration…thanks for loving on him and raising him and sharing him with us all. I will absolutely make a donation in his honor to Camp Hope. The best is yet to come! J

The person who taught me what living really was, was my friend, Valerie. She died from complications in a car crash, when we were both seven years old.

A police car was chasing a drunk driver in a high speed chase and the police car hit them on their way home from church.

Valerie was in the middle seat, in the back with her sister. Her sister survived with a few scrapes, as did both of their parents.

She was a great friend, and a firm believer in God and how he has a plan for everyone.

At the funeral, it was reflected upon how much she trusted and believed in the plan of God. It has been the only funeral I’ve ever cried at, but it was also the first time my younger sister said that she believed in God.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and while he took Valerie home with him, my sister was welcomed into his family.

Valerie’s family still remembers her, and they welcomed a son into their lives a few years later. They miss her, but know that she is in a better place with: no pain, no suffering, and that she is at peace.

What this taught me is that the Lord works in mysterious ways and you may die at any time. The best thing that you can do is to be a true friend to those you love and cherish and enjoy the time that you have here; because when he calls for you, you will return to him and see your loved ones once more.

Valerie is a beautiful spirit and it sounds like she touched –and continues to touch– so many. What a gift in your life. Thanks for sharing and for ALL that you do. It is so true that we should all focus on “be a true friend to those you love and cherish and enjoy the time that you have here.” Please tell me where I can make a donation in honor & memory of Valerie. J

Hearing you speak at Scentsy convention you are my ah ha moment and the highlight of our reunion. My charity would be breast cancer~
Thank you for all you do~ sincerely

Thx for your kind words – they mean more than you know. One of my favorite quotes is “Words create worlds.” so please keep sharing your words with those you encounter. I will be happy to make a donation to support breast cancer. Continue boldly. J

My “Kevin” is my son Jacob. He had a partial right frontal lobectomy in January of last year because he was having 35-40 seizures per day! He is seizure free since…but watching the strength and courage he’s had has been amazing. More than 10 hospital stays, countless ER visits, procedures, etc. And then the brain surgery….the day of, he had a smile on his face. The anesthesiologist came for him and asked if he wanted to ride to the OR in the bed or if he wanted to walk. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’ll walk”. He never looked back. He recovered much quicker than anyone expected – was home 5 days later and cooking dinner with me that night! He is my hero!

WOW — Jacob sounds like one awesome kid. Thank you for sharing his story with us — so happy to hear his strength and courage and spirit propelled him to a beautiful today. Please let us know where to make a donation in his honor. J

Hi John!

The Epilepsy Foundation of Texas, please. They do great work and he just attended his second year of camp with them. Awesome to see how the kids forget about their Epilepsy for a week and can just be “normal”, with kids that understand what it’s like.

As a side note, my best friend and I are starting a nonprofit to help other families that are in similar circumstances to those we experienced with our sons. We can’t wait to help others LIVE.

Thank you!
Jennifer

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.