2017 and My One Word

It’s 2017 and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

With a thankful heart, I’m so excited to welcome this new year with open arms. I’ve missed writing so much and have returned to this blog numerous times the last 6 months and written countless drafts and have published none of them.

Everything happening seems too personal, too sacred, too holy to write about.

But today is the day I feel empowered to start fresh and write about it. I am so thankful.

At the beginning of each year, I choose a word to focus on that year as well as compose a list of New Years resolutions and I largely stick with them. This past year hasn’t been one of those years I stick with it and that’s okay. This morning I read over my one word for 2016 and was brought to tears: Faithful. That was my word. Faithful. At the beginning of last year I had no idea how faithless I would be and how faithful God would prove Himself to be to me. He blows me away with His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. He blows me away with His love, despite my unlovingness. If you ever want to experience what real love is, choose Christ, He will show you real love and then show you that you are the opposite of that and He loves you anyway. Faithful.

This past year I faced fears by quitting a job in February and starting a new one, then I faced fears and in obedience  moved across the country and started seminary. I resisted HIm every step of the way, questioning if it was really His will for me, because I wanted so badly to stay in Knoxville and simultaneously felt it was time to move on. He brought me through times of deep loneliness and times of such great joy. He introduced me to the most handsome man that I am now dating! The Lord in His own Holy way showed me that I must fear Him more than people as I read this book. He showed me what it means to step in faith, even when the stars don’t align. He so faithfully showed me that His word really is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword… the validity and sufficiency of God’s word is something I didn’t know I doubted until I did. He gave me a sure foundation to stand on, and proved Himself so unbelievably faithful.

After much prayer and consideration, my word for 2017 is…

joy

Photocredit: Google Images

This year, I choose Joy. I choose obedience. I choose Christ. In Christ there is joy! There are many people who think that God is someone with many rules who sits in heaven and hates it when people are happy. However, that’s unbiblical and I disagree… He created His law and commandments for His glory and our JOY!

SO this year… 2017… is a huge year! I choose Joy, seek Joy, Seek Jesus, because in Seeking Him, I know I will find joy! 2 Corinthians 1:20 states that all God’s promises find their “yes” in Him!

While, Instead of having New Year Resolutions or New Year Goals…. I took some inspiration from Ann Voskamp and made New Year Soul-utions. 

2017, I choose to…

Embrace the hard things…
Engage laughter…
Be kind and compassionate
Believe for a daily miracle…
Break bread with friends…
Daily continue new habits…
Do fun things!
Let Go of expectations…
Learn to serve and love…
Live with a thankful heart
Give forgiveness when it’s hard!
Grow a new family…

If you’d like to make soul-utions rather than resolutions, you can find some pretty cool resources on Ann’s website here.

In Daniel 1:8- Daniel Purposed in his heart that he wouldn’t defile himself with the King’s food…. While we are not Daniel, nor are we in captivity… we can purpose in our hearts as well! What do you purpose in your heart to do this year in 2017?

 

 

His Amazing Grace

I opened my eyes to the sun rise through my blinds and blinked. 8:00am. On my own. Without an alarm. I rolled over to feel my sweet puppy Watson breathing beside me, his breaths steady against me. I smiled and thought about what i’m doing the next few days. I looked around my room, my walls bare, boxes stacked up next to my bed, my pictures put away…

I’m moving to Fort Worth, Texas this week.

I sometimes lay awake at night and wonder if I really am doing this, then wake up in the morning and realize that I am and it’s okay. I’ve said goodbye to countless friends and watched them leave with tears in their eyes and have wondered… where are my tears? I feel emotionless sometimes.

I’ve sat across from friends who want my story of why i’m moving and why I chose this particular seminary… and I think many are waiting on an extraordinary story. One with signs and wonders and huge miracles…  with a clear conviction and direction. I’ve sat across from people who are shocked, because i’ve not mentioned it before, and others who know it’s right.

But instead I sit across from person after person and just explain that I feel peace. That this is something that’s has been on my heart for a couple of years or so and I’ve been too afraid to do it. Because what if…what if I don’t fit in? What if I stick out like a sore thumb? What if they realize that i’m really not seminary material and instead i’m messy and rude and loud and sometimes even obnoxious? What if I get there and accidentally curse in class? What if they see my wicked heart and realize… I don’t belong? 

But all those what if’s don’t matter anymore, because The Lord is my Shepherd and He has guided me to Knoxville and away from Knoxville. He has lead me through dark valleys. The what if’s don’t matter anymore because the applications for seminary asked me all the questions that I was afraid they would and I answered so brutally honestly that..when I got my acceptance letter, I was shocked.

I’ve been silent about it because He’s been stirring something deep within me that feels too personal and too holy to talk about. He’s been shaping and changing and molding me in ways I didn’t realize I needed. He’s transformed me and continues to do so.

Moving away isn’t a big spiritual struggle like I imagined it would be. I thought attending to seminary would be a gigantic emotionally spiritual experience, but it’s just the next step that He’s lead me to and I feel peace.

Whether this is right or wrong, i’m unsure. But I know He will lead me into green pastures and lead me by still waters and I know He’s restored my soul. His rod and His staff they comfort me even in the presence of evil, because I know His discipline will help me stick by Him.

He is my comfort. My peace. And I don’t have an amazing story, I have His Amazing Grace and for me, today, that’s more than enough.

The Year of the Vegetable Oil

I held the phone to my ear with my brother on the line, my hearing aid whistling as he asked, “So Sara, how ya doing with the reading?”

This is a common question from my brother. For the last year or so, he and I have been tag-teaming on reading the Bible through, though not necessarily reading together in the same place,we’ve held each other accountable through texts and conversations such as these.

“It’s been alright,” I paused, “I’m in Numbers. I guess i’m slowing down a little since last year.”

His concern was evident, “yeah I noticed. Why do you think that is?”

I sighed. “I don’t know. I was so alive and excited about the Word, but since Ciera’s death, I’ve just had a lot of doubts. I doubt His promises. I doubt His word. I doubt my understanding of it… I doubt so much.I know these are rookie doubts and they’re stupid since I intellectually know His promises all ring true no matter what.” I continued, “I don’t know if I subconsciously thought if I sought the Lord and prayed and pleaded and begged and obeyed, that she would be healed. I don’t know if that was subconscious or not, but…”

I sat there and expressed my deepest doubts. The things I’m struggling with most. I’ve had a million people tell me that she’s healed and in a better place. That just alienates me more. I’ve had people tell me that all things work for the good of those who love Him and in response i’ve wanted to punch them in the face and tell them “this is for your good”. I know the answers. I know the sermons. I know it backwards and forwards and still doubts plague me. I pick up His word and the temptation to just not be interested is there. I struggle through prayers but sometimes all I can get out is “Are You there? Do You hear me?” My prayers haven’t changed all that much since October 26, 2015.

You think the months would make it better and that time would heal wounds, but it’s like my brother said in our conversation, “Sara, it will take years. You and C had a Jonathan/David friendship. I bet David missed Jonathan until he went to the grave. You won’t ever get over it…” His words washed over me like water. Cleansing. Acknowledging. I won’t ever get over it. I breathed in relief.

He spoke truth over me and like songs they rang right through me to my soul, “You did seek Him in hoping she would be healed. I watched you and it’s been incredible. There’s nothing wrong with that, because we all do it. We are all human. We all seek God and hope that things will happen- we seek Him and want things from Him… It’s our nature.” Thankful to hear that the most private part of me- the fact that I begged God for her healing and He didn’t give it in the way I wanted. The temptation for me to quit was out in the open and acknowledged by another human who gave me grace encouraged me to give me grace too.

Tonight he reminded me to keep pressing on. I heard the urgency in his voice, “Sara, you have to keep reading the bible and praying because that’s what will get you through shit like this. Remember Hebrews 11? Remember Abraham? He went through all of that moving from place to place to receive God’s promise and died not having received it, but he still kept pressing on…”

I remembered… By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth… (Hebrews 11:8-10;13). 

His voice brought me back to the present, “they didn’t receive it in their lifetime, but God’s promises still rang true then, and they still ring true now. If C was here, she’d be by your side rooting for your faith, for you to hold on. Just like you guys used to do when you ran races! I bet she’s up there right now telling you how great it is up there and for you to hold on to His promises. They’re still true!”

“You know, Sara, this is going to sound stupid, but stick with me.” He continued, “I was watching Marcela (his wife) bake something the other day. She got a cup of vegetable oil and poured that in a bowl. Now by itself we wouldn’t drink vegetable oil for breakfast and call that good, but we put it in stuff when we bake.”
I laughed as he gave an illustration of telling someone he drank veggie oil for breakfast.

“Then she put a little bit of flour in it- Flour by itself is nasty, right?! Tasteless!” I giggled, knowing where he was going with this. “Then she put eggs in it- which aren’t too bad cooked- and raw– well…. Anyways, then she added chocolate chips and those are pretty good I can have some chocolate chips. She put it all together and put it in the oven and when she took it out it was delicious.”

I rolled my eyes and said “yeah”… Then he took an unexpected turn.

“Well, Sara. Some years are vegetable oil years. Right now, you are in the year of vegetable oil and it’s pretty terrible. Other years are flour years- and then you got some days that are like chocolate chips and those are pretty good. But in the end, God mixes all those years together and throws you in a pan and lights your ass on fire and.. well.. You end up with a masterpiece. You just gotta trust Him. It’s going to be okay. Remember Abraham. Remember the Greats- the ones who Trusted Him even when they never received their promises- not while they were alive. Remember.”

I leaned back and thought about Deuteronomy. I thought about the day that the Lord set before His people a choice and I could feel Him setting before me the same choice- “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.” (Deut 30:15). I feel a strong pull to death and destruction. And I feel a small tug to life and prosperity. I know the small tug is Truth. I know the small whisper is His. I know His voice. I know Him.

And I choose it. I will. I have to. He’s mine and I am His and with all my heart I choose life. I choose Him. I choose His promises even if I don’t see them- ever.

You have a choice too- You have life and death- prosperity and destruction. You have years of chocolate chips and veggie oil. Whether you’re in the best or the worst year- or whether you’re on fire… choose Him. Hold onto Him. Don’t let go. Don’t give up. He’s there.

 

If you made it to the end of this really long post- congrats. I miss you guys and have been struggling to put my thoughts into words- I hope to get back into blogging soon. I miss doing the weekly blogs. They are fun, but my soul needed the break. Hope you enjoyed! 

Let Something Happen To Me

Last night I spent time organizing all of my important papers. Since I moved into my most recent apartment in September, important papers have been piled instead of filed. So it was time to organize and reassess what to keep and what to throw.DSCN0379

I came across a letter a dear friend, Christi, wrote to me several years ago. It’s undated, but I would date it back to 2010- maybe even 2011. A lot of significant things happened during that time in my walk with Him. In the letter she shared with me a prayer that she read earlier that week. The author is unknown but I want to share it with you all today.

 

Oh God,
Let something happen to me,
Something more than interesting
Or entertaining
Or thoughtful. 

O God,DSCN0383
let something essential happen to me,
Something awesome,
Something real,
Speak to my condition, Lord,
and change me inside somewhere
Where it matters,
a change that will burn and tremble and heal
and explode me into tears.
Or laughter.
or love that throbs or screams
or keeps a terrible cleansing silence
and dares the dangerous deeds.
Let something happen in me
Which is my real self, O God.

Emmanuel- He’s Present in Heartache

I lay awake in my bed, my mind full. Question after question. Tears fell, fears filled and I wondered. I started my prayers to Him:

My 23 year old best friend was buried. October 31, 2015. I think that warrants some questions. 

My voice wavered and tear after tear came. Earlier that day I made the mistake of picking up the journal I have used over the last 2 years and reading through it- Prayer by prayer. Line by line. All the prayers I prayed for her. I felt like with each new line with each new word my heart cracked.

Lord, Breathe Your life giving breath into her that You breathed to Eve.

Protect her heart, her lungs, her kidneys, her liver. Let your spirit flow through her body and become a shield of protection around her.

Become Emmanuel to Ciera today- Not the noun, but the verb! Lord, Emmanuel!

Emmanuel! Be with her! Be present! Be active! Let us Know you’re here!

Lord i’m on my face today, We need you.

Lord, help us, help her. help. help.

Page by page covered with prayers. With tear stains.

The journal ends with her date of death.

October 26, 2015 6:02 pm, Ciera ran into the arms of Jesus. 

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This is Ciera and me after our first 8k in November!

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Photo on 5-4-13 at 10.27 PM #2

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And with the start of a new journal, new prayers have surfaced. Prayers turned to questions.. questions turned to heart ache.

Do You hear me? Are You even there? Do You care? Are You listening? Where are You? 

Question after question. Tear after tear. I clutch my pillow and watch the burning candle above my bed frame.

Right now we are in a season of Advent- a season of actively waiting. Waiting in worship, waiting in longing, waiting in the mess of life for Him to come back and Emmanuel- and take us home with Him and make all things new…

And in the midst of this waiting, In the midst of my questions that sound more like accusations to outsiders, but in my heart they aren’t accusatory- instead they’re filled with anguish and heartbreak and restlessness.

If I pray do You hear me? Do You really pay attention? Are You there when I need You? Are You present? Can I trust You? You took her Home and I don’t understand. My constant prayer throughout the last 2 years in that journal has been for Your name to be glorified. Was it? I don’t see it. Where is Your glory? Is it present- even in the midst of such raw grief and heartache? Help me see it. Help me know.

It’s moments like these when the story of Lazarus resonates with me. I deeply identify with Mary as she runs up to Jesus in John 11:32 and says “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died!” I feel the urgency and the pressure in her voice. My heart breaks with her and I turn to Jesus and echo her heartache.

And as I echo her heartache I hear His response. Still. Small. Whisper. You have to really listen and I hear Him saying.

I know. I know. I’ve been there. I hurt. I’ve lost. I see. I hear. Hang onto Me. Keep on praying. You have been given the marvelous gift of intercessory prayer… keep on. Don’t give up. It feels like I didn’t get glory but I did. I have. I am, my child…I AM.

I hear him echo out His heartache. I hear His encouragement. I hold onto it by my fingernails. Sometimes I hold on not truly believing but truly wanting to. I hear Him tell me that He knows. He has lost- He’s been broken. He’s suffered. I think of the cross. I hear Him weeping with me through the dark nights and singing over me in the early mornings. I feel like a child in His lap with heart break in my hands… “Abba, help!”

He’s here. Even if I can’t see Him. Even when I don’t understand. He is Emmanuel. He waits and wades through our questions and is there on the other side. He’s patient. He knows. He’s here. Always.

So my question and plea is the same as last year- Emmanuel, Lord! Emmanuel! Be with us! Come with Us! Be Active in our grief! Be active in being with us and giving Glory to Yourself. Help us see You and worship You… and be our comfort.

Emmanuel, Lord! Emmanuel!

 

 

A Tribute: Beauty, Thankfulness, and Open hands

For those of you who have been following my blog and have followed my friend Ciera’s journey through my blog… this is a painful post to write.

This is Ciera and me after our first 8k in November!

This is Ciera and me after our first 8k together, Thanksgiving Day 2013.

If you are curious about Ciera’s journey, you can read about our friendship… here, here, here, here, here, here, here.. and many,  many more posts…

On October 26, 2015 at 6:02 pm, Ciera went Home to be with the Lord.

The mere sentence steals my breath and makes my heart squeeze. I’ve only written it, or said it out loud a handful of times. It’s too painful. Ciera won her battle with cancer. She won an amazing life in the arms of Jesus…

And that knowledge doesn’t stop my breath from catching every time I think of her. Or when people ask me how I am. Sometimes I am just able to stare at them with wide eyes. I don’t know how I am today.

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From outside of myself looking in, I think this is interesting because I normally express my feelings outwards to everyone, but this feels too close and too sacred to share at times. Sometimes I think that grief is holy. Other times, I feel too fragile. It feels too fresh. She feels too young… But I know He has allotted all of our days before our first breath and no one is too young to fly into His arms… If you want to read about how I’m feeling right now, Jill Buteyn describes it perfectly in this blog.  She says what I cannot say.

Ciera’s family asked that I would speak her funeral. For days and nights…for  hours I wrestled and prayed that He would speak for me and that those that attend would see Jesus. My prayer was that God would be glorified so much so that people who did not know Him would come to know Him. Not because of my words or because of her life, but because of His presence. Several have asked me to share what they called “my tribute” on facebook, but I felt my blog was a more appropriate place for my speech.

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My speech is below:

Some of you may think i’m up here to talk about the friendship I had with Ciera, but I’m not. I’m here to tell you about what God has taught me through our friendship, so you might know Him through her death, like I came to know Him more through her life. 

Ciera’s beauty is too much to encapsulate. I’ve struggled for words, because to tell you she was beautiful isn’t enough. Her beauty radiated. Not just through her attitude and smile, but through her spirit.

Her spirit of beauty taught me so much. I hope you are paying attention so you can learn too. She taught me that beauty starts in the heart and almost always starts with the words “thank you”. Ciera said “Thank you” different than any person i’ve met. How she treated me said “thank you”, her smile said “thank you”. When she had no strength to visit, she found ways to say “thank you”.  It astounds me. She taught me that the character of God starts with thankfulness. That’s something i’ll never forget.

Ciera taught me what it means to love and laugh and embrace adventure. Whether that means we were snowboarding on the side of a mountain with a terrified me yelling at her to leave me- or we were bravely walking into a new small group at church. Her sense of courage and adventure taught me that it’s okay to love and laugh and see life lightly. She taught me to enjoy my time here and quit taking things so seriously.

Watching Ciera talk to and bond with children is another kind of beauty she possessed that always left me jealous. The way Ciera could talk to any kid and get them to open up about their adventures made me see the true spirit of care in her. She was never afraid to step into their space and expand it. She would make best friends out of strangers wherever we went- the beach, the hospital, the coffee house.

Ciera’s spirit of beauty taught me how to see people- really see them. See into them and step into their lives and do life with them, because i’ve learned if you’re not making a point to do life with people, you aren’t truly living.

Ciera taught me the art of openhanded living. To always keep my hands open regardless of who’s around and how much I want them to stay. Because I can’t give and receive with closed tight fists! Open handedness led me to Ciera and allowed us to receive such a beautiful friendship. Open handedness allowed us to give and receive what God offered us through our friendship. Open handedness allowed me to let the Lord work in us and through us.

So because of Ciera’s beauty and friendship, I am changed. I’ll never be the same again. Her relationship with Christ and the strength she got from Him is a testimony to me. The way she’s lived out her many “thank you’s” and the way she chose to see people and do life with them has changed me.

I hope her beauty changes you too. I hope you walk out of here giving glory to God that you will never the be same because of the way she lived.

Ciera, I will forever miss you and love you. Every time I say “thank you”, you flash through my mind. My prayer is God gets HIs glory through your life. Go run on streets of gold, my friend. I love you.

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A Quote I enjoy…

I’ve not written in a while, so I decided to write a short blurb and share some quotes from a book that I have previously mentioned, called “Things As They Are” by Amy Carmichael. I have been reading and re-reading parts of it, even months later. So, I’d like to share some parts of it every so often when I want to post, but am unsure what to write about. At the beginning of each chapter, Amy pulls quotes from other missionaries to make or emphasize her point. Sometimes when beginning a chapter, I would read the quote and not be able to continue reading the material because the quote itself had hit me so hard. Below is one of those quotes at the beginning of a chapter in the book titled “If it is so very important…?”

Let us for a moment imagine what would have happened on the Galilean hillside, when our Lord fed the five thousand, if the Apostles had acted as some act now. The twelve would be going backwards, helping the first rank over and over again, and leaving the back rows unsupplied. Let us suppose one of them, say Andrew, venturing to say to his brother Simon Peter, “Ought we all to be feeding the front row? Ought we not to divide, and some of us go to the back rows?” Then suppose Peter replying, “Oh no; don’t you see these front people are so hungry? They have not had half enough yet; besides, they are nearest to us, so we are more responsible for them.” Then, if Andrew resumes his appeal, suppose Peter going on to say, “Very well; you are quite right. You go and feed all those back rows; but I can’t spare anyone else. I and the other ten of use have more than we can do here.”

Once more, suppose Andrew persuades Philip to go with him; then, perhaps, Matthew will cry out and say, “Why, they’re all going to those farther rows! Is no one to be left to these needy people in front?”

Let me ask the members of Congress, do you recognise these sentences at all?

-Eugene Stock, at Shrewsbury Church Congress

According to my research, Eugene Stock wrote that around 1896-1897.

Just wanted to leave that tidbit here for you today. If you would like to leave comments that fosters discussion at the bottom, please feel free!

Jamaican Deaf Village- Living Water

Deaf Jamaican Village 

Manchester, Jamaica. 

July 2015

Internet is extremely slow here and we are very busy. This is the first moment I’ve had to sit down and update. Our first full day here was Sunday. We woke up after a full night’s rest and headed to deaf church. They opened in prayer with Lord, You are good. You are always good. We call on Your  name today for rain. We need it and You know our needs and You know best….” 

A prayer for rain. When is the last time you had to pray for rain? 

Water is precious here, because their only water source is rain. Manchester is both in and surrounded by gorgeous mountains and getting to the city is quite a drive. They haven’t had rain in many weeks.  Money is of little value, but water? Water is jewels. 

Lord, we know You are good and Your plan is perfect. Lord, please pour out Your blessings on us and pour down Your rain. 

They’ve had to go to the city and get more water. This seems like no big deal to you and me, but water is expensive. Despite their desperate calls for rain and their water supply shrinking and shrinking, they invite us to their village and let us drink their water and take showers every day and wash our dishes and live. Because water is necessary to live. They invited 13 American people, some whom they had never met, and have given us their water. 

Lord, You are amazing and always faithful. Please provide Your life-giving, life-cleansing water. We need You. We need You. 

I look around at the people, the laughs, the relationships, the smiles, their giving, our working together toward the Gospel as one and our conversations and realize… America is much more dry. We need His healing rain. We need His help. We NEED to look at Him, thank Him for being faithful, for His goodness, and for being Who He is and pray for His healing rains upon us. In our hearts. 

In my heart. 

I need Him. Every moment. 

Lord, You are amazing. You are always good. Your plan is perfect and I am not. I am not perfect, I am faithless instead of faithful and I need Your healing rain. Thank you. 

Thank you. 

As you cook your meals with your plentifully running water, take a long, hot shower tonight, brush your teeth with water, and climb in bed with a glass of clean, fresh life-giving water pray. 

Pray for these men and women who are so selfless. Pray for The Lord to send rain abundantly for their crops and cows. For their health. For their needs. After you do that, search Your soul and Ask Him if you have that life-giving Water. Ask Him if He’s cleansed You with His healing rain. Do you feel empty? Has He quenched Your thirst or do you continually try to fill yourself with… idols? 

What’s in my heart, Lord? What’s in my heart? 

Thankful Thursdays Guest Post: When Losing Is Gaining

Hi Everyone!

I wrote over at my friend Lily’s Blog today about thankfulness! Lily has been doing a series of guests posts about Thankfulness the past few weeks and I was both delighted and honored that she asked me to write about my experience being thankful. We mysteriously mutually agreed that my journey through deafness/hearing loss was something that I would bring up in my thankful post- which made my heart quite happy. You can read it Here. Lily and I went to high school together, but were never friends until this past year when we reconnected through facebook and blogging!

I really admire Lily and am so thankful and honored to be her friend! I enjoy her writing, her skills, and her compassion toward people- especially me! She is one of those few people that I can have open, honest conversations about the hard topics with and she hears my side without judgement and then gives her input. That’s an admirable quality and I love it!

Hop over to Lily’s Blog today to read the post..

Such Small Hands

Today’s guest post comes from my friend, Sara. Sara and I went to high school together, but we didn’t really become friends until this past year when we reconnected through Facebook and blogging. I am constantly inspired by Sara’s outlook on her life, by the way she clings to faith in difficult times, and by her willingness and desire to do whatever God asks of her. She has such a beautiful, tender heart. I got chills reading this piece which brought me into her experience of living with a “disability” and reminded me of the God who is in the business of redeeming our brokenness.

When Losing Is Gaining

I remember.

I remember the day I woke up and felt like my only hearing ear was stuffed with paper, or cotton, or wax. I remember the dizziness I felt as I tried to get out of bed that morning, unaware…

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Eyes Wide Open: The Art of Quitting

Watson and I went on our nightly walk as the sky grew darker and darker. He stopped, sniffed, and leaped for the bug in front of him as it lighted up, his little furry paws frantically dug in the grass, looking for where the light went. He looked up at the sky, up at me, and his eyes settled on the tree line ahead. He froze.

Firefly. Lightning bug. Beauty.

I continued watching him, wondering what he was looking at and thinking he was so adorable and serious simultaneously. I, too, looked up at the treeline and stood there stunned and amazed.

Hundreds of fireflies lit up the dark night sky as they called to each other in silence through the trees. I opened my eyes wider, not wanting to miss anything, awed and starstruck. Too many to count, there for a second and gone again. Even tracking the movement of just one was difficult.

Watson became like a tiny little bucking bull again, chasing a firefly in the night. His front paws flailing in the air. I smiled. I looked away from the trees again to see his adorableness and reflected on the last few years of my life, analyzing my wide eyes and zeal to not miss a single firefly to how i’ve lived in recent years.

And it truly hit me. Really. For the last few years I’ve lived life with eyes closed tight, peeking through eyes half open to live this life. I’ve lived in a fog. I’ve missed opportunities and lived in fear. I’ve not lived big and loved big. I’ve lived safe. Safe.

In most recent years i’ve done what I’m supposed to do and tried to follow Jesus, but I cannot reconcile this safe life lived and eyes closed tight with a life that follows Christ. They don’t match.

“I love Jesus but I’m afraid to move…. ”

“I love Jesus, but I’m afraid to love.”

“I love Jesus, but I can’t be truthful about myself to you.”

“I love Jesus, but I cannot let myself be loved by you”.

“I love Jesus… but… but… but… ”

The “buts” of life crowd my memory. The internship that I could have gone out of state for. The program I could have quit to join another program. The job I was too afraid to take. The opportunity I passed up because of my laziness. The years I missed out not following Him. The train wreck of a life not willing. My life. My train wrecked life.

Regrets filled me as I looked up at the night sky with watson by my side. We looked at the sky, the trees, the fireflies. I even dared to look at the grassy field near the treeline and I imagined. I imagined green grass that I couldn’t see in the dark nights. I imagined what it looks like during the day, the dragonflies, the bunnies in their holes, the bats in the trees, the birds building nests. I imagined what my life would be if I had lived life in the daytime with eyes wide open. With heart wide open. With arms wide open. If I hadn’t thought about my discomfort and instead, thought about others. If I hadn’t stayed in this little hole I’ve build myself, but instead climbed out, taken risks, lived large, loved big…

And through my regrets and missed opportunities realized, here’s what I knew:

Life is too short for regrets. Life is too short for the ifs. Life is too short for the what nots and should nots and safe living. Life is too short. The days of life are long and years are very short. Year after year passes by in a blink. Seize the opportunities. GROW.

When you realize that, the regrets leave you. The missed opportunities and the safe living all becomes a part of who you are and the path He has called you to. All of those things become amazing for His glory. All the glory to Him when I realized I didn’t do those internships and didn’t take those jobs and didn’t live where I thought I should.. and life is still amazing.

Life is still amazing because it’s been given.

So friends, Let’s quit. Let’s quit our navel gazing and quit our regrets. Let’s rejoice over quitting those things and quit lamenting over quit dreams. Let’s start living with eyes wide open and seeing people as they are. Let’s start calling out the beauty in life around us. Let’s start giving thanks to Him for every moment of every day- because even He can use what seems bad to us and make it good. He’s the best at that. He truly does miracles.

He makes my sadness turn to joy and my grief turn to dancing. Though my sorrow lasts for a night, his joy finds me every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

This is a gift.

Life is a gift

Live this life with eyes wide open, even if you have to painfully pry them open with toothpicks.

See the goodness in life like…

  • Fireflies in tress like stars in the sky
  • Smiles from a thankful friend
  • Bare feet running up the stairs
  • A blog post written
  • St Jude doctors and their wisdom
  • A friend’s sweet text “how are you?”
  • Job well done.
  • The ending of a headache
  • Freedom to be honest in Christ
  • New friendship, new bonding, new smiles.

What’s in your life? What are your gifts? What do you see with eyes peeled open? How do you see the world?

Help me change today.

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