Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life is short!

I sat in an auditorium earlier this summer enjoying some incredible talent at a benefit concert at local high school. They were raising money for a cause I knew little about. While waiting for the show to start, I perused through the program and was reminder how precious life is and how things can change in an instant.

I read the story of Jason. A  young 30-something theatre teacher. Excellent Health. And performing at a local theatre when it happen. In the middle of his performance, Jason suffered from a stroke. He was carried off stage and rushed to the hospital. Three months later there we sat, watching remarkable talent in order to help Jason and his partner raise money for the treatment center where Jason was temporarily living in hopes of learning to speak again.

It was a sobering thought---in an blink of an eye, Jason's life was drastically changed.

There is no doubt that I held Melinda just a little tighter that night.

But those sobering moments of enlightenment often fade quickly.

Life moves on, schedules get full, and our minds wonder onto those "to do" lists that seem never ending.
We set aside those "I should go visit," and continually push back those. "I'll call tomorrow."
We let silly things such as running late, or shoes by the door get under our skin.
And at times we get so self-absorbed that we forget to say thank you or notice the sacrifice of others.

Why is it so easy to live with the expectation of tomorrow? To take our days for granted?

This past Saturday, I was excited to head to Eagle Rock, Va to spend a day with a family that I love, but in all honesty, rarely make the time to go see. Despite an over cast rainy day, the evening was pretty darn perfect. There was a lot to celebrate that weekend. A beautiful wedding, an 80th birthday, and a new engagement. There were babies to hold, and hugs to be given. There were stories to share, memories to relive, and photos to be taken.  As I sat by my mom, it dawned on us that it had been over a year since we captured a photo of us together. 

We remedied that!

I was mindful that night. Of loved ones. Of making time. Of listening. And enjoying the short time we were there.
But it didn't take long for me to fall back in the mental list of to do's once we were on the road heading back to civilization.

We didn't anticipate crashing at mom's but we got back later than expected an neither one of us felt like driving another hour and a half in the middle of the night with 2 dead cell phones and no chargers. But our plan was to skip our bright and early so we can begin to tackle our lists before Monday rolled around.

As we picked up the guest room, and quietly left the house, we never anticipated that only 5 hours later I would receive the call that mom was on her way to the hospital.

It was a long day not knowing what was going on. Phone calls and text. CT scan, EKG, blood test. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Overnight hospital stays. MRI. Heart Echo. More test, test, test. and waiting, waiting, waiting.

Even after learning of Jason's story, a stroke still resonated in my mind as something that happens to an "old person." Not Jason, not my mom.

But that's the thing with life, nothing is guaranteed, it often doesn't play by the rules.

Forty-something years olds aren't supposed to get pace makers. Thirty year olds aren't supposed to die from heart attacks. Cancer isn't supposed to find the young. Fifty-something year old mom's aren't supposed to have a full blown stoke. Planes aren't supposed to crash into buildings. Shootings aren't supposed to happen in our schools. Babies shouldn't just be left on the subway platform.

But they are, and they do.

Not only has this summer been a reminder that life is short and the unexpected happens often, but it's been a reminder to be ready--to stand firm and "steady the boat" no matter what comes my way. To hold fast to the Truth and to let His love penetrate through me and radically touch those I encounter. It's been a summer of trusting the One who can see the unseen and following Him one step at a time. It's been a summer that has reminded me to live a life of gratitude. Of enjoying life's little blessings as much as the big ones.

Mom gave us all a scare this past weekend, but considering everything, God was close by and watching over her.
Even though I think we'd all rather not have experienced a stroke up so close and personal, I pray that it  is a moment that will stay close to our hearts and will serve as a reminder that life is too short. So hug the ones you love a little tighter, and be grateful for this God giving day, no matter what it may hold.

**If you want to learn more about Jason's story click here http://www.gofundme.com/7odo30

**For those of you who stopped by the hospital, who prayed for my family and who sent texts and calls of encouragement, I am overwhelmed by your generous hearts and appreciate you more than you know.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We live a thousand lives in one lifetime

"We live a thousand lives in one lifetime."

A fascinating quote from Emily P. Freeman that has stuck with me since I came across it.

I remember being that 7 year old little girl who once lived on a quiet street in Chesterfield, building forts in the back woods with my childhood friend. The fort had one rule and one rule only: "NO BOYS ALLOWED."

 I remember falling in love with baseball at the age of 10 in my red jersey (proudly sporting the number 8) when I hit my first double.

I remember running through the winding roads that always brought me home with my dad and being able to escape from whatever was bothering me in my 14 year old world.

There was that season where I fell in love with being at church--being a part of my youth group and I decided to give up playing with my traveling softball team in order not to miss so many Sundays.

I remember being that nervous 17 year old trying out for show choir, and that terrified 18 year old who stood alone on VCU's campus trying to figure out this new world before me.

I remember being that 21 year old taking on a second job just to make ends meet and realizing for the first time I was good at what I did.

How could I forget the season of my first crush. A season of self-discovery, of a broken heart and wondering if I would be single forever.

I remember that season of loss. Of grieving. Followed by a season of healing and forgiveness.

There was a season of bad choices and ugly consequences. A season I decided to live for me and where I turned my back on God.

I remember being 27 a living in a season of false reality. At 29 I found myself crashing into the season of reality, of hurt, confusion and betrayal.

I remember the season of turning back, letting go and trusting that God would bring good and that He would restore.

There was a season of serving, of giving back and dreaming big of making a difference.

There was a season of fatigue and of struggle.

There was a season of pretending. Of trying to be normal.

There was a season of retreat and of discovering who I was in Christ, who He formed me to be and feeling His peace overwhelm my soul.

There was a season of falling in love with His Word and waking up at the wee hours of the morning just to get a taste.

There was a season of new love and of wondering would this be the one.

There was a season of late night phone calls, early morning text and many miles traveled to visit (even if it were just for 10 minutes).

There was a season of disagreements, of learning to communicate, and the stress of work.

There was a season of new adventures.

There was the season of puppy love, and potty training and sleepless nights.

I am thankful for the season of "falling" into a sucky small group, where I have learned to open up and how to become part of a community that gets it.

And I find myself in a season of wedding planning, of becoming one flesh and dreaming of a life where God can use us beyond our wildest dreams.

I am here.

Now, living my thousand lives. Moving along, one step at a time.

It is in these moments when I stop and remember, that I feel like life is passing me by. And lately it's been passing me by. Today, I will intentionally steal moments here and there. Seeing my life as I know it and the blessings that have been graciously poured upon it.  But tomorrow, after I clock in my four hours and steal a few moments with the bestie, I plan to come home, to turn off the phone and put away the computers. I will love on the cutest puppy I know, cook a fabulous dinner and soak in this beautiful moment in life beside the one whom I love.

I do not doubt that my heart will full of gratitude and of humility and in awe of the One who has given me more than I could ever deserve: fullness, and hope, and love and grace upon grace upon grace over the thousand lives that have so far made up my lifetime.