30 August 2015

First and Goal by Jake Byrne--Interview with Holly Michael: Overcoming Diabetes

First and Goal by Jake Byrne

Welcome, Holly! Holly Michael is the co-author of this book by her son, Jake Byrne, a young professional football player. Holly will share about dealing with Juvenile onset Diabetes. 

Holly's interview:
Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God's help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your characters has had to get past?
Jake Byrne and mother, author Holly Michael
Jake’s mom here, speaking for both of us. One of the most difficult things that Jake and I had to go through was his diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.  He was fourteen and had a starting spot on his high school varsity football team as well as early interest from college scouts. Neither of us knew anything about the disease.  I had only known one other person with Type 1 Diabetes, a classmate, and he died young from diabetes complications. This was new and very scary territory for both of us.

What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
In this situation, definitely Jeremiah 29:11 “For 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.”
Jake and I spoke about God’s plans for him during those days while we learned about diabetes. We were told his pancreas longer worked and he would be insulin dependent for the rest of his life. Tough news to take, but early on Jake determined that he wasn’t going to let diabetes take him out of the game of football and that he would still focus on his goals and dreams. But diabetes meant a major lifestyle change for Jake. His endocrinologist assured him he could still play football if he did everything right. Controlling his blood sugar and acting as his own pancreas by injecting the correct amounts of insulin was no easy task for a teenage boy. I’d heard the horror stories. I worried he would go too low in the night and not wake up. Once, during a college football game, playing for the University of Wisconsin, I watched him go down on the field. I could do nothing from my living room. I paced the room, praying, until I finally got a text back from my daughter who was at the game, watching. Leg cramps, she said. 

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your book First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. And why?
Jake and I wrote First and Goal for those who are struggling to overcome challenges in their lives. He wanted to encourage kids and adults as well to never give up.  First and Goal is fun and inspirational read. Jake shares his faith through his professional and personal journey, giving God the glory through Scriptures that tie in with the stories and football terms. As one reviewer put it, “You don't have to play – or even like – football, to enjoy Jake's story. Full of truth and wisdom, and sprinkled with lots of scripture, Jake encourages all who read his story to live for God, giving all to Him and not feeling defeated during the rough times.”

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?

Jake and I worked together on this project, which was a sheer delight. I enjoyed our time together through personal time, Skype, and phone calls during his football season. The very short stories came from Jake. We researched Scripture to find fitting Bible passages for each of the situations and football terms. God’s Hand was really in it as it came together so beautifully.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?

Jake has an autoimmune disease and anyone with any disability or disease will enjoy this inspiring and encouraging devotional. The short reads are perfect for daily inspiration. Jake is a real overcomer and I think anyone who reads this book will come away inspired and filled with hope.

Back Cover Blurb:

Jake Byrne dreamed of playing professional football. He had the size, the talent, the drive...but at age 14, he found out he also had type 1 diabetes.

Still, Jake was determined to reach his goal. And God was determined to guide and empower him all along the way.

Jake's journey to the NFL is the backdrop for this collection of inspiring devotions based on nearly a hundred football terms. Jake takes you to the weight room, practice field, and even across the goal line. You'll feel as if you're lined up next to him, facing a very large defender you're about to take down. He also includes Scripture and then ties up each story in a way that feels real and encouraging. You'll discover...

* what to do when God calls an audible in your life
* how to respond when God puts you on special teams
* why prayer is never an incomplete pass

These quick daily readings will help you press through your own difficulties and experience God's dream for you.

Jake Byrne

Jake blogs at www.typewon.net
He can be reached through the following social media:
Facebook Page (Type Won): www.facebook.com/typewon1
Twitter: @sugarfreejb82
Instagram: Jakebyrne81

First and Goal, published through Harvest House Publishers, can be purchased at many books stores and online booksellers. Link for Book at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1FAYKo8
Also on Barnes and Noble
Emma and Jake Byrne

Jake’s and Holly’s new release is First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving UpJake 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. Currently, Jake and his wife, Emma, live in Dallas and have two dogs –Yeti, the Great Dane, and Duke, the Dogo Argentino.

GIVEAWAY:  A paperback copy of First and Goal by Jake Byrne and Holly Michael, or you may choose an ebook format.


  1. Thanks for having us here, Carrie. What a blessing!

    1. Thanks for the interview and coming to visit with our guests, Holly!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing about this book. Overcoming obstacles is so important in our daily lives, physical, emotional or others. I would love to win this book and share it with my husband and daughter, who would also benefit by reading it, I'm sure!
    bettimace at gmail dot com

    1. I agree, Betti! I think this devotional could be of great encouragement! Blessings!

  3. Thanks Betti, I've found that First and Goal is really enjoyed by all, of all ages. It's very inspiring.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful interview, Holly and Carrie!! I loved "hearing" how 'First and Goal' came about, and the "goal" for the book.

    I really enjoyed reading and reviewing 'First and Goal' - it was such an inspiration reading Jake's personal stories, and trying to imagine the struggles involved for such a young boy. His determination and accomplishments are so encouraging, and bring hope for anyone with health issues - including myself. I appreciate the recognition given God in Jake's story of overcoming, and the part you played in his awareness of that - from birth on!!

    1. Thanks for your review, Bonnie! I love stories of overcoming and I know you do, too!

  5. Thanks Bonnie. Appreciate your kind words and am so glad the that devotional inspired you as well. It was so fun to write. I loved working on this project with Jake. From the moment of approaching the editor at an ACFW conference to the final edits, God sure was in it.

    1. I bet you were super blessed by this, too, Holly! Praying for you and Jake!

  6. I think this would really be a fantastic story to read. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Your welcome Melanie, First and Goal is told in short story devotionals - one to two pagers, so it's an easy but engaging book that can be put down and picked up at any time.

  8. Thanks so much for being with us on OWG this week, Holly. What an inspirational testimony of God's grace and your son's determination! We lived in San Diego for about a year before moving to Anaheim, and my brother-in-law is a huge Charger fan! Go Chargers! lol

  9. Jake's got some really interesting devotional stories about the Chargers in this. Your brother-in-law might enjoy the inside scoop. :-) And some inspiration, too. Blessings Diana, Holly

    1. Thx, Holly! His b'day is coming up...I just may get him a copy! My b-in-l said Jake's a very good player! You must be very proud.

    2. Better buy one for your hubby (if he's a sports fan) also, Diana - so you can read it. I was a football 'mama' for 6-7 years (many years ago) when my son played, and go to my granddaughter's softball games when I visit her (she lives out-of-state, and wants to be a professional pitcher) - but, never watch sports, otherwise, and I loved this devotional. Jake's personal stories, and the spiritual lessons in the book are wonderful!!

  10. Hi Holly, it's great to have you on OWG!! I'm already inspired just from your reading a little about your son's drive and determination not to allow his disability to stop him from doing what he loved! I hope to read your book someday... Though I might not understand the American football terms (I'm from Australia), nor am I a follower of footy here lol, but it sounds like there's a great deal to be gleaned from your book! I have Chronic Fatigue, have had for many years now, and although it was scary joining this wonderful OWG team here because of it, God has helped me SO much!! I'll forever be grateful for His encouragement toward me taking that step. God bless you Holly,your son Jake, and your book!!

  11. Noela, great to meet you. I pray God's healing mercies will be yours. I pray the Lord will pour out His Grace upon you and fill you. Thanks for your kind words. I will try to post a small excerpt from Jake's book that might inspire you.

  12. This is long, but I'm going to post one of the devotionals in First and Goal:

    Camp: A place of two-a-day practices, and you live, eat, and breathe football from sunup to sundown a month before the start of the season.

    I hate camp. It’s the hardest, most horrible part of football season, a time when you plan on physically, mentally, and emotionally breaking down. Days are measured in one-hour increments, with only twenty minutes of cherished free time. You lose track of days and forget there’s an outside world. You sleep for a few hours and then throw down some ibuprofen just to get out of bed the next morning. You welcome any small distraction to take your mind off camp stressors.

    During one college camp, a lineman limped into the locker room with a sprained ankle. “Man, I could go for mini corn dogs. If I had some mini corn dogs, I bet I’d heal up by tomorrow.”

    We all laughed, and for the next few days we joked about mini corn dogs having healing powers. When we were tired, we’d say, “If I had a mini corn dog, I’d have more energy.” The jokes got us through the day.

    At the end of the week, when we sat down to dinner, all eyes went to the trays on the table, where browned-to-perfection mini corn dogs cuddled up against a variety of dipping sauces.

    “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” A lineman wiped a tear from his eye.

    “It’s like Christmas,” I said, all choked up.

    “I love you, Coach.” The quarterback’s bottom lip quivered.

    We dove into the pile of savory sausages, watched NFL football, and forgot our aches, pains, and camp struggles.
    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalm 23:1-6 KJV).

    For football players, camp is the valley of the shadow of death. At the college level, we doubt we will survive the week. At the professional level, many don’t, as that’s the time the number of players gets cut from the 80s down to the 53-man roster.

    There may not be mini corn dogs on the table God prepares for us, but He promises to fill our cups and give us goodness and mercy.

    Are you wondering if you will reach your goal…or even get through the day? Psalm 23 assures us that even in our darkest valley, the Lord is there, tending to our needs and setting before us the things He knows we need for encouragement and restoration. He is our Shepherd. Mini corn dogs are great, but they can’t restore our souls. Only Jesus can do that.

    1. Oh Holly and Jake, what an awesome and incredibly inspiring testimony. Thank you so much for sharing that! Definitely don't need to understand American football to get God's message through that story. God gave me some "mini corn dogs" just a couple days ago which really encouraged me at the time. He really does know just what we need, praise His name!

    2. They're beautiful devotionals for everyone, not just football lovers - right, Noela?? I found them really inspiring, and loved Jake's stories too!!

  13. Thanks Noela and Bonnie. God is so merciful that He blessed us with this opportunity to share His word and these faith stories.

  14. Awesome interview, Holly! I can imagine how hard it was to go through this journey without God, but because y'all loved Him from the start and leaned on Him and trusted Him, just look what He has done! What a wonderful testimony. I pray He will open doors for you and Jake to take this book all over God's Kingdom to encourage others with hard situations to face. I'm so proud of Jake, and I've never even met him! You must be over the moon! :) Hugs and blessings!

  15. Awww....thanks Caryl. God is great!


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