I want to be brave…..

Whirlwind of emotions. That is what the past three hours have
been. My iPhone calendar told me it was a day void of appointments,
distractions, or to-dos (except for buying Jordan almonds and crackers for an
upcoming trip). Sounded simple to me.
Backing up a bit…..I spent the day yesterday with my
adorable 14 year old eating wings (blek!), shopping for socks, and getting him a
much needed haircut. Before we hit the mall, I ran into the Christian bookstore
to find a good book for my trip. I, of course, got sucked into the rows of
catchy titles and tag lines that hook me at first breath. Should I go with a
light fiction, an old favorite? Then I saw it….the title the hardest peace by Kara
Tippetts. It was the one- never heard of her or seen the book but the back
described a mom battling cancer. Since I lost a close friend to cancer 2 1/2
years ago, I always seek out reading more about walking through cancer with
other people I know who are sick. I picked it up and walked out, joined my son
who was sitting in my running car blaring the air conditioner and classical
guitar. We were off on the sock hunt.
I did not think much about the book- the afternoon got busy
and there were 20 inch trout to be seen in the cooler after a boy’s fishing
excursion that day and later to be enjoyed at the dinner table. There were
friends to come by bearing gifts for my precious children in Haiti, and
just-like-daughters to be hugged and encouraged. Just a normal Sunday
afternoon.
After everyone went to bed and the house was eerily still, I
picked up the book to look it over. I was ready to dig in and hear how she had
kicked cancer’s butt and was now encouraging everyone around her to fight the
good fight. That was the story line that fit in my little, limited box of
perfect reading. The box- tied with a big burlap bow and a little vintage bird
ornament attached. That was my box. And God and this book and the rest of my
life needed to all fit in that well adorned package. Period. 
After about 10 minutes of skimming, I put down the book and
suddenly out of what seemed to be NOWHERE, this burning, yet cold sensation
spread all over my body and I started to panic- I am going to die one day. And worse, my kids are
going to die. I birthed
them for LIFE and one day they will die. I prayed I was never around to see
them leave this earth. Then I was enveloped in another round of gut-wrenching
fear…I thought if my husband died, I would be ALONE, missing the absolute
love of my life, getting parenting all wrong, and not even know where he kept
my passport or how to book tickets to go to Haiti. OK- THAT did not fit into my
box. YUCK. SUPER YUCK.
As the panic subsided, I drifted off to sleep. Then this
morning I awoke, listened to the same fish stories again that never get old,
and sat with my cup of coffee and the local news show. Last night’s experience
was not fresh in my mind because I was only on coffee cup #1 1/2 and no clear
thoughts come until after coffee cup #2 is indulged. I then open my Facebook
and there in front of me is: HOMECOMING…Kara Tippets dies on March 22, 2015.
WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? The day I buy the book, skim it, have this extreme
fear of dying experience? I am undone. The story was not supposed to end like
this. I am crushed to lose someone I only “knew” for 12 hours.
So I spent part of the morning chatting on the couch with a
sweet friend, Lynn, and told her about buying the book, seeing the post, etc.
She started reading the blog aloud- I had only made it past the fact that she
had died. One excerpt said:
“As the cancer spread, Kara courageously embraced
her situation, trusting in a Sovereign God. She believed that cancer was not
the point, but Jesus was; how she responded and trusted Christ in the midst of
this hard was where she would find Grace.”
She sounded just like
my friend, Kristen, who lost her fight to cancer- courageous and brave. Lynn,
Kristen’s mom,and I had a moment of silence, reminded that we miss
Kristen, who lived courageously and died courageously. Then Lynn left so I could get
at least a few clothes put away and bags packed. I plugged in my new speaker
and hooked up my iPhone. I started to play my new playlist and the first song is
“You Make Me Brave.” I was busying myself with the laundry and the
morning’s sticky counters and I suddenly just fell into a heap on my bed…..again undone.
The fear of dying episode from last night finally came flooding back to me.  I screamed in my head, “GOD!
I am not brave! I am not brave like Kara or Kristen! I am scared and frail and
a big mess!” I weeped and cried for a few minutes. I then picked up my limp body with red, blotchy eyes and smudged glasses, and walked to my computer with a mission and started writing this
blog. I like to write before I have a clue what something means. It helps me and I hope it helps you know you are not alone with the world of ANSWER VOID…..and still with no answers. 
I love Jesus…..like REALLY love Him. I pray. I
read. I serve. I love (the best I know how). And I am still not brave. WHY?
What is wrong with me? I love life- I don’t want to leave. 
I know that eternity
is perfect, beautiful and forever. But what about….and I start listing off
all the names of people who I am convinced NEED me. 
So what do I do now?
Pray Scripture to wipe away the fear? Done that. I feel like crap that somehow Scripture did not fix me. What does that say about my faith? Self condemnation starts to heap itself on my shoulders. I am a Jesus following failure. Everyone else gets it but me. Shame. Guilt. I try to put the brakes on that train that is headed nowhere very quickly. I decide 3 things that are all I know right now:
God will honor
honesty- we fear talking about death and we fear worse that we are Christians who fear death in the first place.
God will grow me- and
if I stay connected to Him I will get a little braver as time goes on.
God will love me through my
brokenness- He loves when we are desperate and we will turn to Him instead of hiding in distractions. Busyness is the biggest killer of maintaining relationships,
dreaming big dreams, and creating a life of purpose. 
There is no cool
ending to this blog. Nothing in a cute little box with a burlap bow and vintage
bird ornament on top. But I know that I WANT to be brave….and I think that is
a great place to start.

Legacy….What If?

As I plunged into the pool this morning to swim my laps, I thought of my friend, Kristen, and how much she loved to swim. Kristen passed away almost 2 years ago and  I cannot think of her without the word LEGACY coming to mind.  Leaving a legacy. She gave me the greatest gift when she showed me what it was like to give your life away and love the people in front of you. That leaves an eternal legacy.  She taught this to me and I pray I can model it for those around me, in spite of my shortcomings.  
So I started to think….what if?  What if we approached life with a greater purpose and focused our attention on what really matters?  It would change everything.  In our busy lives, we miss opportunities that are right there. Such amazing blessings in front of us but we don’t see them. Well, today is a new day!  I love that about life.  So what if?
Many of us drive to church on Wednesdays.
What if we talked to some parents in our neighborhoods whose children are unchurched and asked if we could bring them each week? That reminds me of my neighbor, Kadeem, whose dad works 2 jobs and he was home alone at night and and he just needed a ride to youth group (and some mom love).
What if?
Many of us have our children in sports.  
What if our team decided to sponsor starting a team in a third world country where they do not so much as have a ball to play with- much less shoes? That reminds me of the students at our school in Haiti whose love for soccer could be channeled into an incredible team but none of them have any of the equipment.
And yes, the shoe peeking out from the side of the picture belongs to my son while the others have no shoes. We are all a work in progress.
Many of us enjoy a sport ourselves. 
What if we decided to take our love for that sport and make a difference for those who need us? That reminds me of a sweet friend who I met on an Inheritance of Hope retreat. A 42 year old mom with 2 children, ages 9 and 11, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer on August 10th.  We can run for Inheritance of Hope and raise money so that families like Lisa’s can go on a family retreat and make precious memories.
What if?
Many of us take family vacations. 
What if we decided this year we will take a mission trip together as a family instead? That reminds me of so many families who have decided that serving together is the ultimate family vacation.
What if?
Many of you are already fulfilling your purpose and your lives reach so many. That is LEGACY. That is what changes everything.
                         
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