Twist and Turns

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”

– Hebrews 12:11

 

Do you ever ask, “Why God? Why?!” and then immediately wait for the clouds to separate and for God to bring down the answer? No? Just me? Well, I have done this several times in my lifetime, and never has God answered my questions as quickly as he did one early Friday morning.

A few weeks ago while on an evening run, I lost my balance and rolled my ankle. I was only a few blocks away from home, so I opted to hobble jog all the way back home. Probably, not the most brilliant idea but I didn’t want to alarm my sister. Well, my decision lead me to make my injury worse and therefore I have been on a running sabbatical for three weeks. Now, as you can see from previous blogs, running is my safe haven, it’s the moment where I am “still” before God, it’s my outlet where I go to find clarity. So, it’s been hard.  It hasn’t just been hard because I’ve had to put one of my passions to rest, but it’s been hard to just slow down, sit still, and wait. So one Thursday night, after some reading before bed, I took the time to be honest and sincere with God and asked:

“Father, why?

Why did I have to get injured? Just now, when I am making so much progress? I feel like I am regressing? I don’t understand!

Help me to understand.

Help me to see you in this injury.

Help me to see purpose in this…”

And then I went to bed.

The next day, I woke up a few minutes earlier before my alarm went off. So I decided to start my day early, got dressed for my morning workout, ate my breakfast, and began to read chapter 5 of my Beth Moore study. That day’s lesson was about Jacob and how his name meant “deceit” and it told the story of how he deceived his Father Isaac, received (stole) Esau’s blessing, and Jacob fled from his home in fear of Esau’s retribution. After many years, the LORD asked Jacob to return to his homeland which meant Jacob would be facing Esau soon. Genesis 32: 24-32 depicts the night before Jacob and Esau’s confrontation. After sending out his family and company ahead, Jacob was left alone and wrestled a man all night.

“When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. The he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’ And he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed’. Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name’. But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered“  – Genesis 32: 24-30.

On that night, Jacob was permanently injured, yet he received a new identity at the same time that would have never happened if he hadn’t wrestled with God.

In that moment, I saw the answer to my prayer. I heard the verse in the epithet above, Hebrews 12:11,  echo in my mind reminding me that this injury, though not pleasant, will serve a purpose, teach me a valuable lesson, and produce a harvest in time. I realized that in the midst of the recovery process, God is creating something new. He is bringing forth self-control, discipline, and increasing wisdom. He is teaching me the value of being still (literally) and letting patience take its course. He is teaching me to analyze and take a look at my schedule, and consider slowing down. He is teaching me to delight in every moment throughout my day, whether it’s good or bad, happy or sad. Beyond that, He is teaching me the value of friendship and support. I have had some many people speak truth and wisdom into my life, speak comfort into my restless heart, speak peace over my anxious thoughts. He is teaching me to trust the process (the recovery process), that building back up my strength will take time, and it will be a day to day process. And that’s the beauty of it, God has a way of surprising us like that. He just shows up out of the middle of nowhere the  to teach us, to comfort us, to speak to us, to remind us we are never alone and He is always there ready to embrace us when we are ready to come to Him.

Only He can take any situation and turn it for good for those who love Him [Romans 8:28].

So, maybe you are not physically injured, but perhaps you can relate to any of the other needs listed above. Perhaps, you are going through a tough time and you’re seeking answers. Perhaps, you are in a restless place and needing God’s peace in your heart. Or perhaps, like Jacob you have made some mistakes in the past and are in the process of resolving them. Whatever the need, know that God is always there ready to listen, ready to comfort, ready to resolve. Trust Him. Father knows best. And even when you are faced with many unknown confounding variables, if you call out to Him, He will answer.

As always, I appreciate you for stopping by and reading. I pray that these few lines brought forth some type of encouragement to your soul today. Remember, God loves you so much!

-S

 

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Fairy Tales in the Bible

“…and by this I will know you have shown kindness to my master”. – Genesis 24: 12-14

When I was a little girl, my mom would read bedtime stories to me. There was one in particular, I was quite fond of, and almost every night I would ask her to read me that story. She would smile at me and try to convince me otherwise; she would give me other options such as the one about “Persephone” or “The Odyssey” attempting to lure me with adventure, sometimes she would even throw in “David and Goliath” since she knew I also enjoyed that tale, but every night I would win and she would lose. Almost every night she wound up reading from the same book. She had read this story so many times, some nights she opted to tell it to me from memory, but I enjoyed the words and if she forgot a detail, I adamantly encouraged her to read the book by saying, “No mom, read the story, don’t tell me the story”, as I would take her hand in mine and tap her fingers to the page – the story was Isaac and Rebecca.

My mom never understood why I enjoyed the story so much, perhaps it was a father’s desire for his son to find marital bliss, perhaps it was the way the young lady in the story is depicted as a compassionate thoughtful woman, or perhaps it was the illustration of “love at first sight”, but for some reason her youngest child would end her day pleading for her mom to read “Isaac and Rebecca” as she fell asleep in her mother’s arms. As a child, I thought the reason I enjoyed this “fairytale” was because of the underlining theme of “Happily Ever After”, but as an adult I have discovered “happily ever after and love at first sight” were just two aspects of the story, the real reason why this was my favorite was the depiction of answered prayer.

Like all other young girls, I grew up in the world of Disney. I was introduced to the idea of fairytales one Christmas day when my next door neighbors gifted me a “Beauty and Beast” VHS (yes I am that old). This film marked my first introduction to the idea of romance, love, and marriage, following this film were Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, and Snow White. I was only three years old, but all these films had a common theme: “Man meets girl, girl meets man, love at first sight, conflict arises, love wins, and they lived happily ever after” (Boring). Although I did enjoy these tales (and songs) and watched the films many times over, they were all the same to me, it is no wonder why when my mom first read the story of “Isaac and Rebecca” I fell in love with their story. Here was a “fairytale” that was different, a story about a father who wanted the best for his son, so he entrusted his servant with a task to go find a bride for his son, the servant not having much to go on other than “go to a land” decides a bold approach, the servant prays to God for direction, and God answers his prayer…word for word! Don’t believe me? Take a look at these verses:

“Then he said, ‘O LORD God of my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’ – let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac..” Gen 24:12-14.

This was the servant’s prayer for God’s direction in making his decision. Fast forward a little ways, and we find this:

“And the servant ran to meet her and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher’. So she said, ‘Drink my lord.’ Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking’. Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels” (Gen 24: 17-20).

-What?!

-Did she just do exactly what the servant had prayed? How awesome is that?!

-Incredible!

That section right there was what captured a four year old’s heart, mind, and attention. A servant prayed and God answered that prayer word for word. I knew as a little girl, that these cartoon fairytales were “make believe”, but what about this? Could this be real? Is this possible? After all, it comes from the Bible.

I didn’t know it then, but there in the midst of a “bedtime” story, God had gifted me with His fairytale for my life. A fairytale that one day I would revisit at age 23 and would cling to, not believing so much for that “prince charming”, but rather believing that my Heavenly Father has my best interests at heart. Isn’t it romantic, the idea that we can draft a prayer, and have faith that the LORD will answer this prayer for our lives?

This post has been written on my heart for over two years now, but I could never work up the courage to write it. Perhaps, along the way I lost hope and stopped believing that this type of prayer is attainable? Perhaps, the thoughts were too vulnerable for me to share with the public? Perhaps, I began to doubt God? You know what I think the reason was why I haven’t written this post, – timing. The moment had not taken place yet for me to type this up, nor for the audience to read. So I am believing boldly here, that whomever is reading this, it is one of those kairos moments where you were meant to read this in God’s timing dear one. I hope it has encouraged you. To the young mother, believe and dream BIG for your children, start praying for their spouse now while they are young. It will make a great difference in their lives, especially with all the sorts of ways society bombards young minds. To the young woman who waited for her answered prayer (spouse), share your story. Your tale of how you met your husband and how you prayed for him before you had even met him will encourage and inspire many young souls. To the adult single woman, have faith. God has His best interests for your life at heart (Jer 29:11). He has purpose for you, and trust me if you have not met “The One” it’s because God’s timeline is different than your own timeline. To the teenager, talk with your parents, seek their advice, matters of the heart are meant to be treated with great care, who better to discuss this than with an adult who cares for you like your mom, a guardian, or your group leader/youth pastor.

And if you are wondering dear one, I have list. It’s not lengthy nor does it involve drawing water for camels, but it’s my list. The One God inspired in my heart many moons ago, and I pray over consistently believing that one day God will answer my prayer just as he answered Abraham’s servant.

My prayer and hope for you precious one, is that you found encouragement within these words. I appreciate you for pausing at my blog and reading. You are fearfully and wonderfully crafted out of God’s great love, keep smiling, keep hoping, keep believing, God’s great purpose unfolds over you every moment of your life. Remember, God loves you! And his mercies are new every morning.

Until next time,

-S

“Let the Past Die” – Title Brought to You by Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you we’re bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Cor 6:19-20

Hello fellow readers, I know what you must be thinking, “Okay Sari you’ve written some interesting thoughts, but what does Star Wars and the Bible have in common?”. I promise you reader, it will all make sense at the end…hopefully.

So it’s been a while, a long while, and I can honestly say I did not plan on, this, being my first post back from my sabbatical of silence. In fact, I’ve spent an entire year working on what I hoped to be my first blog of 2018 (super excited about the topic by the way, but I digress).

-Where was I?

Oh yeah, I have been editing, revising, and editing this future blog post, but when inspiration strikes, a blogger must write. So, to catch you up, writing has not been the only thing I laid down for almost half a year. Due to a head injury back in March ’17 I also had to lay down exercising. Letting go of lifting and running was not easy for me, but I had to give my body time to recover. It’s been almost a year later, and I am back on the grind!

–“But, am I really?”

You see today, I woke up dark (yes the sun had not risen) and early and made it to the gym! After about an hour of a bosu ball workout and ten minutes of running, I was feeling good! So, I did the one thing I avoid at all costs with the exception of today — I stepped on the scale… and the numbers read .8 more than I weighed in December.

–Shocked, would be an understatement.

Immediately I shook it off and decided to continue with my cool down and stretch. Expectation: Zen. Reality: WAR! I had entered into a battlefield of my mind, the entire 20 minutes engaging in a quiet argument with myself about my goals, routines, and eating habits. The outcome didn’t make sense! “I have reduced my calorie intake and been exercising consistently for the past 3 months, how on earth am I point eight pounds heavier than in December?!”

The more I tried to shake it off, the worst it got. I was jealous of the woman behind me doing her cardio and weights workout, and I’m not a jealous person. I just felt this unshakeable envy of every individual at the gym, and as I saw my reflection in the mirror I despised what I saw (although I actually am smaller in size then in December) I still despised it.

I left the gym crushed and confused. My thoughts swirling like a tornado, I made it home and walked into the bathroom. And that’s when it hit.

The thought came like a still small whisper, “Why are you chasing the past?”

In that moment I realized my frustration was not about the numbers on the scale, It was with the woman staring back at me in the mirror (present) and the one standing at the mirror (past). You see my mentality had been that of two years ago Sari, the one who had just completed her first half-marathon and was learning all about lifting weights. The one who had lost I don’t even know how many pounds because she never stepped on a scale. The one who’s job required for her to be on her feet staying active for the greatest part of her day. The one who was inspired by Stasi Eldredge’s book which conveyed the ground breaking thought: to work out out of love for one’s body, mind, and spirit and not out of shame. My reality wasn’t meeting my mentality, in fact they have been at war with each other for quite some time.

This entire time I have been chasing after two years ago me, and was growing discouraged by 2018 me. So many changes have transpired since 2016 and they have been like a roller coaster, thrilling for sure but intense and fast. I haven’t had a chance to slow down and process everything, once I do I can focus on the present and move forward.

And so I am choosing to, “Let the past die”.

The reality is, I am not at the same fitness level I was in 2016, in fact I am stronger and have gained more muscle so yeah my body composition looks different. My cardio has decreased significantly and with it so has my agility, but instead of chasing the past I can move forward and set new goals, create new workout plans, and focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. The most important thing is to remember the verse that started my fitness journey in 2014, “my body is a temple” and as a temple I must care for it, spend time on it, and love it for what it is not for what it could be.

Today, I was reminded of why I started running and exercising, and it was all because of my faith, ministry, and acknowledgement of the epithet above ( 1 Cor 6:19-20). My ultimate goal was not to lose weight, drop clothing sizes, or look slimmer, no, my one and only goal was “Love”. Love God by loving who you are today and taking the BEST possible care of your body, mind, and Spirit.

I share this today because maybe some of these words will resonate with your heart and soul. If they do, I hope this post encourages you and reminds you, “you are not alone”. Many of us experience battles with our self image, but we win the war. The victory is ours! It’s just a matter of our approach. For me the victory is in Christ, my faith, my knowledge, and understanding of the Bible is what keeps me anchored and breathes hope and life. Maybe for you, it will too. All I know is that you were made in God’s image and He loves you dearly because you are here in this moment reading and breathing.

Thank you for visiting dear reader, and remember God cherishes you every day.

— S

Is it Wrong to Want These Things?

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” –Psalm 139:3-4.

This is by far the hardest post I have ever contemplated to write. A few months ago, the idea began to stir up in my mind and heart, but over the past few months I have experienced great difficulty in finding the “right words”. You see, it was late one night as I was driving home from watching a film with my friends. I was contemplating the storyline; the film was about following your dreams and risking everything to pursue them. It was a very inspiring musical, you may have heard of it, LALA Land, and I just could not drive home right away, so I drove around the city limits lost in a sea of thoughts. Something was clearly bothering me, so I did the only thing I knew to do when restlessness stirs in my heart…I started to talk to God. I don’t know if it was a prayer or just carrying conversation with Him, but the answer I got was everything I have been searching for the past three years.

In the fall of 2012, after returning from a summer in Colorado serving as a church plant intern, I thought I had discovered my “life purpose” , and so I pursued it. Two weeks before leaving my hometown and relocating to a new state, I realized I had what other’s call “jumped the gun”. Though it was painful, I had to let that desire burn with the fire that I felt had destroyed my reputation and character as a “woman of God”. It hurt, but I knew I had made the right decision. Over the next two years, I overcame the sorrow and made the brave decision to put the dream of church planting in Colorado to rest. During that time of healing, I sought answers to so many questions. “Why would I feel such a close attachment to the people and culture, if I wasn’t meant to go? Why did you (God) let me get that far in the journey, if I was meant to stay? How come it’s so easy for my friends to relocate and serve in ministry? Did I just not have all my ‘ducks in a row’?”.  Slowly those questions turned into rationalizations, “Perhaps, I am supposed to get our of debt first like my friend so and so and her husband did before they moved..,Maybe its still church planting just not Colorado. I should go to graduate school first. Financial stability comes first. My family needs me to stay close because this and this was going to happen and God knew that.  Ohh, I know! I am supposed to be married first before I go off on my own into ministry”. This had lasted for years, just going back and forth yet still feeling like I was not fulfilling my life’s calling. Of course family and friends supported me and also offered their perspectives and opinions. Many advised me to stabilize a career first, and I tried but it was like just as I started to climb the mountain boulders would come tumbling down. –Big life’s boulders.  So then I attempted to become more financially stable and really pay attention to my expenses and save, and well… student loans and medical bills just seemed to keep drowning me one after another.

These were the memories, I continued to discuss with God on my drive that night, just seeking the answer that would put to rest all of my anxieties, doubts, and fears. At one point I said, “Lord, I just don’t understand. Why does it look so easy for my friends, why does it look so easy on Hollywood? Am I just crippled by fear? Am I not persevering enough? Do I need more endurance? And what about my other dreams like having a family and a home?”.  And in that moment it came to me like a whisper, “I made you, you”, and in that instant it was like all the weights, all the chains, everything that had been weighing me down was gone. I felt free.

In the film there is this “deciding” moment for one of the main characters and she has to decide if her dream is worth pursuing?, and I felt like this was my moment and I too had to decide. Except I had already made my choice many years ago,  the day I said “yes” to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You see what I learned that night was that each one of us is genuinely and intricately made. We each have our own personalities, talents, likes, dislikes, dreams, passions, professional paths, families, etc. There is not one single one of us who is made the same, not even twins. We are unique and especially divinely designed for a purpose. Just like our personalities, there is a variety of life’s purpose and each one of us discovers it in this beautiful journey we call life. I have sought many ideas and opportunities that I convinced myself were the right ones for me, and I was mistaken but that is not to say that they would be mistakes for another. Money , education, significant other, children, a career, just are not the things that my heart, mind, and spirit truly seek. I cannot explain it but there is one passion, one dream, one desire, that outweighs the rest of them. Like in the Book of Solomon,  I view money, education, career path, etc  as a “chasing after the wind”. I do not find fulfillment, or joy in any one of them.  My desire to see other’s have a new life in Christ, to see the wonderful transformations saying “yes” to God can do for people is the great treasure I am after. I have tried with great intent to look and seek other things, but I come out empty every time.  I believe that faith is what helps us overcome the storms in life. Faith is what aids us in breaking down the boulders piece by piece until they are just small pebbles in our life. I believe that a relationship in Christ with God can be everything we could ever need and hope for in our life, and I believe this is worth pursuing though it may cost me everything I have.

This is the effect, LALA Land, had in my heart that night. Somehow this film started up a flame in me and every day my prayer is that it will continue to grow and remain. So if you are wondering is it wrong to want these things, fame, money, financial stability, love, career, marriage, children, ministry? My answer to you is absolutely not, God designed you to be you. We each feel pulled to different things, be wise not to let it consume you, but explore the place these general concepts may have in your life. I believe that as you unfearfully explore these ideas and bring them to God every day, He will reveal to you the goodness in each one of them without it overwhelming you and destroying you. He will build them, He will guide you in discerning which are worth pursuing and which to put to rest. For me, I know that a life in Christ, and being a witness to others, and share the gospel is what will always triumph over the rest, so as long as I am pursuing that on a daily basis the rest will come as it may. Whether I am teaching at a university or serving in an orphanage in a foreign country I will do it with a Colossians 3:17 mindset. So take courage my dear reader, and explore all that God has for you. Walk in wisdom, seek discernment, seek Godly counsel, remember to pray and pursue your dreams.

As always, I appreciate you for visiting, remember God loves you.

Blessings!

-S

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”. –Colossians 3:17

The Human, the Pavement, and the Longboard

longboard

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”. –Joshua 1:9

 

“What was I thinking? I can’t do this! I am not cut our for this…this was a bad idea.” These were the thoughts running through my mind as I walked up to my friend’s car. Earlier that day, I had made up my mind to go for a run later at the park, but as I was leaving church the opportunity to spend time with two friends opened up and when the suggestion of long-boarding came up my response was, “Sure, why not?  I’ve never gone longboarding before.” Enthused my friends decided they would teach me and so we all agreed to meet up later at the park.

Hours later, after a leisure stroll with a dear sweet friend (to walk out the nerves) there I was standing behind my friend’s car as we selected a longboard. Lucky for me my friends were experienced and eager to teach me so I knew I was in good hands. One of my friends was already gliding and attempting tricks–“surely this isn’t so hard”.

Wrong (so wrong)

“Okay guys so what do I do?”

“It’s easy you just keep one foot on the board and you push off with your other foot, like a skateboard”. 

“I’ve never been on a skateboard..”

Other friend, “No worries, just climb on, try to balance, push off with your foot (like this) and turn your feet to turn”. 

So I did exactly as I was told. I placed my right foot on the board, pushed off with my left, and as I pulled my left foot to get on the longboard…

-BAM!

(Missed)

-There goes my right ankle..

(No worries, again)

BAM!

-Floor.

(And again…) “Yay, I got the hang of it! Now how do I…stoooooop?!”

-Floor.

(There goes the longboard…)

Quickly, our gallant friend ran to recover the longboard before it hit the water. By now, I knew this was an indication that this feat would be difficult…and perhaps a visit to the emergency room was in my future.. Uncertain, I voiced out my doubts and fears in jest and laughter, as my concern only grew for rest of this day. You see, I know myself. Although, I make the best efforts to stay active and exercise, I also know that coordination is not my forte. Accidents tend to follow me. I once fractured my pelvis while running ( at sixteen) and that has always haunted me. (I am the girl that trips over thin air, and here I was on a longboard trying to maintain my balance).

-c-a-t-a-s-t-r-o-p-h-e 

About 5 ankle hits later, I was able to get on the longboard. This short-lived achievement resulted in an apparent indication for my friend to give me a gentle push (of encouragement) to be off on my way.

-(Wrong idea, John Wayne).

Heart racing and eyes bulging out of my sockets, I was certain I was about to hit the water (Did I mention, I don’t know how to swim?). Thankfully, I didn’t and I was able to stop. My friends caught up to me, applauded me, and encouraged me that I was getting the hang of it. We were only about 1/4 of a tenth away from our starting point..(but progress is still progress, right?). I am usually a long processor, but when it comes to these type of moments my brain goes on hyper-speed. I deduced that if I was ever going to succed at this, I needed space (no more gentle nudges for this gal). So, I persuaded my friends to go ahead of me, and so they left.

There I was, just me, the pavement, and the longboard. Only one of us destined to be the winner. And so I attempted it, again, and again, and again. And this is how it went:

“Yay!”

-I got this! 

-………

-I don’t got this, I don’t got…

-Ankle! 

Okay, here we go again.

-Steady, steady..

-Alas! 

-This isn’t so…

Pavement! 

-Again

-Pavement.

-Again…

-Pavementtt.

-Really pavement.

-Pavement wins.

Friendly runner: “You are brave for doing that, I couldn’t do it”.

-(Laughter) 

-And again….

-Yay! 

-Okay, now turn…

-Turn…

-Leaves!

-Okay, here we go..

And then there they were, my friends, so proud and happy that I was able to stay on board. After much encouragement, I told them my goal was to make it to this one landmark so they accompanied me. They gave me a few pointers, like keeping a wider stance for balance, and then they stopped to examine a snake. And then they stopped to chat with some people they knew, so I kept on. Proud of my accomplishment I was thinking, “Okay God, what are you trying to teach me? Surely, you are teaching me something…”

-PAVEMENT.

I hit the pavement so hard my injury lasted for the next seven days. And of course, there was an audience (my friends). I laughed. It was the only thing I could do to mask the pain. Both of my friends rushed to my rescue, one helped me up, while the other (John Wayne) made sure I wasn’t bleeding or seriously injured. Once I was back on the board, we proceeded to return to our cars.

Overall, I had fun. I enjoyed trying something new and having two friends by my side to share this longboarding venture. My aching body disagreed with my final thoughts, but I truly did enjoy the experience.

Afterwards, I decided to go wash my car and as I was drying it I was recalling that afternoon laughing about all the falls. Laughing about how my fate had been sealed from the moment friend A and friend B were my teachers. “Teaching is not their forte. Where were the rehearsals? The step on and step off? The..”. And that’s when it hit me.

 -Life doesn’t teach us that way.

In fact, my friends ended up being excellent teachers, they taught from the “every day life” approach. In life, we don’t get a “step one, two, and three”. There may be people who will guide us and offer advice but that’s about it. Everything else is up to us. We choose how to respond. There will be moments when we fall and our friends, family, and other loved ones will be right there to help us. But there will also be moments when we fall and we will be by ourselves facing the choice to keep trying or give up? Likewise, there will be many victories. Some will be experienced with others around who will encourage, praise, and celebrate with us. Just as there will be many victories only known to us but still meant to be celebrated. These triumphs are just as important and teach us that we don’t always have to depend on others to succeed. What we have learned from others goes with us wherever we go.

This is the beautiful part of it all. Philippians 4:9 states, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”. And Joshua 1:9 proclaims, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Both verses echo the same idea, you are not alone God is with you and equips you. The One who taught me to fight and how to fight remains with me wherever I go. He was the reason I kept getting back on my feet and continuing to attempt to master the longboard. He gave me life, and life was not meant to be wasted, but to be enjoyed. Sometimes that means that you make the best of every opportunity even if it’s one that doesn’t cater to your strengths. I had been given a gift that day. A gift of fellowship, friendship, laughter, strength, perseverance, and endurance. A gift that was meant to be opened, enjoyed, and appreciated, and that’s why I kept going.

God gave His only begotten Son so that we would not know death, but be granted the gift of eternal life. I wasn’t just born; I was born for a purpose. Just as Christ was born for the purpose that all would come to know Him and believe in Him. Whatever the circumstances Christ faced, He kept going. He kept loving. He kept getting back on the longboard (metaphorically speaking). Just the same, to the cherished churched ones, whatever comes your way remain steadfast and keep your eyes on God. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Keep living for Him. Abide in Him and His light will never go out. To the cherished un-churched ones, don’t grow discouraged and don’t lose hope. If darkness falls believe that there is a light nearby, and when you see it, walk toward it for where there is Light there is Hope. Keep your head up and keep moving forward for along your path God’s love is being poured out and He is knocking at the door. My question to all of us is, how will you respond?

As always, I appreciate you so much for reading and remember:

HOPE.

In His abounding love,

-S

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” -John 3:16-17