Archives for January 2015

Remembering My Dad {7 Years}

I noticed it while looking for a sweatshirt yesterday.  It was on the bottom of the stack, folded neatly.  Subconsciously, I knew it was there.  I’ve kept it, but not worn it, for years.

Edison sweatshirt

Seven years to be exact.

The sweatshirt I wore as I raced down I-77 and ran to ICU, wanting to see my dad alive one last time, knowing he had few minutes left on this earth.

It was the sweatshirt I had on when I leaned over him, telling it was ok to go on home.  We’d be there soon enough.

It was the sweatshirt I had on when he took his last breath – a small sigh as he left his earthly body.

It was the sweatshirt I had on when my good friend, Chad, came to get him – and the one I had on as I rode silently to my mom’s house – minus my dad.

This sweatshirt…serving as a memory. And even when the past is wrought with hard and heartache, memories are good.  I’ve come to learn that.

I have other memories of him in my house.  A peaceful picture of him – hands folded, eyes closed – taken the last time he camped, which he LOVED.  It hangs with our family pictures.

hallway pics

 

The picture and poem I purchased from the funeral home sits framed in my hallway.

pic of dad and poem

I look at these three things and smile.  Dad’s been gone for seven years today– seems like seven minutes most days.  (And if you’ve lost someone, I bet you can relate.)

I love telling stories of him and how he tried his darndest to parent me – a strong-willed, bossy, independent, know-it-all child who challenged him and my momma at every turn.

I love hearing stories of him – the way he took in relatives, treated the kids on his bus (just one of his jobs), and loved others – in such a simple, unsuspecting way.

I’d love for him to meet his new granddaughter, Chloe.  He’d love her and her unique personality.  Her giggles and smiles.

I’ve written about my dad on his birthday and this, his death day, for years.  And today I don’t have much to add.  I remember the story the same way; I remember my dad the same way.   A good dad who loved and cared for us well.  (I am still a Daddy’s girl!)

So I will keep it simple.

We love and miss you, Dad (and Poppy).  Every single day.

We remember you everyday, but especially today.  This will always be your day in our hearts.

Oh, the One Word for 2015 {What a Process}

The One Word.

I’m guessing you’ve seen something on Facebook or Instagram about choosing one word for the year instead of making a laundry list of resolutions that you (probably) won’t keep.

I love this idea because I am a resolution maker and breaker –planning big and failing quickly.  But, this year?  No energy for all that.  I need to lose weight.  I need to keep better track of my nickels and dimes.  I need to declutter (physically and emotionally).

Sound familiar?  Me and most of country have similar thoughts about 2015.

I believe in goals. I believe in writing down intentions.  For sure.  But, making new rules and resolutions feels like pressure.  And while I often do well under pressure, I cave under pressure when it has to do with self – ugh.

So.  The One Word – great solution.  I’ve chosen one in the past.  Hope 2013 and Abide 2014.  Easy peasy – choose a word.

Except.

ME choosing a word seemed a bit pointless.  I really wanted God to choose it.  It’s my 40th year of life; I do NOT want to find myself on January 1, 2016, 40 years old, and making the same old “resolutions” again.  And, OBVIOUSLY, I am powerless to break any of these cycles left to my own devices – as my life and weight reflect.

Me choosing?  Not so successful. So…

In November I began begging God…help me find my one word.  This year starts a brand new life in so many ways.  The first year I am single.  New home, new job.  About to turn 4-0 for heaven’s sake!

I made a list of words.  I answered all the “reflective” questions on various blogs.  I sat in on an awesome Fuze call with The Storytellers …”Finding Your One Word.”  I answered all the call’s prompts.  I made lists in my notes app on my phone.  I took pics of signs and verses and plaques…could my one word be on one of these?  I processed with my friend, Krysten, who said – maybe you don’t have to pick a DANG one word if you don’t want to {LOVE her}. Amen!

I ran words past my best friend.  I think she’s probably tired of hearing all my one word blah, blah, blah, but we processed through quite a few words.

January 1 came and went.  I love lots of words…brave, thrive, release, simple, quiet, shine, be, rooted, dwell, breathe, fearless, alive, renew…

Aren’t these GOOD?

I want to be brave and thrive.  I have so much to release – trust me on THAT.  I want to BE this year – a simple, quiet, rooted in Him life.  I often just need to stop and breathe…seemed like a great word for my year.  I have lots of fears that hold me back and keep me fat, so “fearless” seemed perfect – maybe.  I want to renew and shine and dwell.  Really, I do.

See?  This is WHY I don’t make resolutions!  (Or, fail at the ones I make.) I do not know how to stop – and breathe and dwell and rest and simplify.  I love a good plan!  I love creating a concept or a program or a….well, plan.

Anyway.

I read this in a note from She Reads Truth and it resonated:  This year, instead of resolving to finally get it right, let’s resolve to walk with Him as He makes it right.  Instead of determining to get better, let’s determine to get closer to Him through His Word.  Instead of making a list of all that we will do on our own, let’s notice all that He is already doing and let’s JOIN Him in that. 

So freeing.

I heard this from Ann Voskamp and it resonated:  I can’t meet the needs of other people unless I release my grasp on the things I think I need.

So true.

I researched each “potential” word in Scripture – just to be sure nothing in His Word resonated deeply – it didn’t.

I said to God – about 100 times:  I just want this year – this new time in life  – to be DIFFERENT.  Please?  Then, I dared to ask…don’t you want this to be different too, God?  You want me to steward my health and money and time better, right?  Those things are Biblical, right?

And…nothing.  No feeling of YES!  Or THIS IS IT!

Sighed.  Kept praying.

Every day of January, the word wasn’t far from my thoughts.  I got emails from my Women of Purpose sisters sharing their words and why they chose them.  I love what God is doing in their hearts.  Courage, revelation, be…so good!

My daughter, Hannah, chose peace as her word and her reasoning is beautiful.

I read blog after blog proclaiming one words.  Still nothing.  I didn’t feel moved in the least toward ONE word.

Then, while reading Common Prayer

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever He may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you; may be bring you home rejoicing: once again into our door.

I’ve read this on other days without much thought.  But this day, I write in the margin:  Show me wonder today, Lord. 

I close the book and turn toward the sink…and a song I love and have heard many times comes to mind…May we never lose our wonder.

 

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

Fill us with wonder
May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

 

Cause you are beautiful in all your ways
King of Kings
You are beautiful in all your ways
Cause you are beautiful in all your ways
Just close your eyes
Just close your eyes, you’ll see him
You are beautiful in all your ways
Open the eyes of our heart to see you God

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

Cause you are beautiful in all your ways
Oh you are, yes you are
You are beautiful in all your ways
We give our lives to sing
Cause you are beautiful in all your ways
You fascinate me
You fascinate us
You fascinate us, with you are
You fascinate us
You fascinate us with your love
You are beautiful
You are glorious
You are beautiful
Yes you are
You are beautiful
You are glorious
You are beautiful

You are beautiful in all your ways
May we never lose our wonder  (lyrics from Bethel Music)

And as crazy as it sounds, I know.  That’s my WORD!

WONDER.

wonder with wood

 

Wait, what? Wonder?

That is not on any of my lists. What does that even mean or look like?

And I almost feel God chuckling…truly.  I know what He’s saying…Sarah, you didn’t choose this word – I did.  You asked me to choose, and I answered.

My response?  So, what do I do now? 

Recognize wonder today. 

So….that’s it?  I mean, you don’t need me to…ya know… make a “wonder” plan? Or, read a book on wonder? 

You’ve lost your wonder, Sarah.  Life has taken “wide eyed and mystified.”  You’ve forgotten childlike faith, staring at the beauty of your King.  I used to facinate you.  Return to that. 

I know it’s true.  Sadly.

And in the next few hours?  He kept confirms my word over and over…

The wonder of a little boy sleeping in my bed after he got up early to talk about the day with me.

The wonder of a verse on Instagram just a few moments later:  Be truly glad there is wonderful joy ahead. 1 Peter 1:6

wonder necklace

 

The wonder of snowflakes flying outside my window –each so different and unique.

And if you’re smiling and saying…how wonder-ful!  I was too!  In fact, I had a few thankful tears falling.  And then…

I read this: bitterness, anger, and resentment have no place in a heart as beautiful as yours.  Lysa Terkeurst

lysa quote

 

And I know immediately, deeply, surely…bits and pieces of these things are still in there.  In my heart.  And wonder can and will bid them farewell.

Who can dwell in bitterness – who can resent another – who can be angry – while looking for wonder?  While living in wonder, waking up each morning looking for the day’s wonder?  While learning from, serving, and walking alongside a King who is glorious, beautiful, and fascinating?

I hope none of us.

Wide eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child, staring at the beauty of our King.  May we never lose our wonder.  (And if you have, friend, know he can restore every, single drop of it.)

What’s your one word for 2015?  I’d love for you to share in the comments. Yay for 2015!

I’d also LOVE to hear where you’ve seen wonder today:)

 

Goodbye, Friend {You Changed Me; Made Me Brave}

As the new year began in 2012, my faith had stagnated.  Halfway through my first year of homeschooling, and I wasn’t sure I’d made the right choice.  I KNEW – KNEW I had been following His voice.  I knew life had to change radically.  Our family could not sustain the schedule and expectations.

I prayed.

I was tired of the American Dream.  Tired of following culture’s lead.  Just tired.

So, I Googled some version of those frustrations; I can’t really remember the words or the desires – exactly – but my sovereign God led me to a blog by Marla Taviano.  I started reading.

Marla was struggling too. Suddenly, I’d found a different kind of blogger.  No mommy blogger perfection to compete with or even emulate…I’d found authentic. I didn’t know her, but I loved her.

The first post I read:  January 24, 2012 – The Story We Never Told  

I learned quickly that her husband, Gabe, had been sick. Money was tight.  And Cambodia her heart.

I followed along; it felt like each post became a conversation with her – my new friend, Marla – whom I’d never met.  I didn’t even comment on her blog.  Just my heart friend.  {I know, it’s a bit stalkerish!}

Then, this post in February:  Read Along Details Coming Soon! 

I clicked over to Amazon.  Bought the book, and thought…no way. I can NOT do that.

But, why not?  Stagnate faith.  Feeling God calling me to different.  Resisting at every turn because I like food and stuff and my sweet little American Dream life too much.

So, I read along and wrote along.  (My first post can be found here.)   And life slowly began to change; my heart began to change.  The way I talked to and taught my kids began to change. Priorities were upended. For example:  Hannah was about to turn 12.  She’d been reading Katie Davis’ book and had decided on her own to forego gifts and ask birthday partiers to give $12 to Amazima (Katie’s ministry) instead.

Our hearts were changing.  And…

A day or so after Hannah’s birthday, we get this in the mail…

Marla photo

 

From the Tavianos.  Who I know are struggling financially.  And, I’ve only talked to Marla a few times through her blog comments, yet she cares enough about my heart, about Hannah’s heart, about efforts in Uganda – to give.  A simple gesture.  (You can read about that gift here:  Unexpected Gifts in the Mail )

This was also the moment (return address!) I realized she lived in Columbus, Ohio – so close to me!

God birthed a friendship of sorts.  I read Marla’s blog and commented.  She read and commented on mine.  We became Facebook friends.  I wanted to share 30 stories on my blog in November 2012, and Marla helped me find 30 people, introducing me to her friends (who have now become my friends).  She also shared her own story.

We were online friends.

Then, something weird happened…

I landed at the Columbus International Airport after a trip to Honduras.  I “checked in” on Facebook, and Marla commented something like…we should have coffee while you’re in Columbus sometime.

Huh?  Meet someone I met on the Internet in person?  That sounded like a Dateline NBC waiting to happen.

A few more times she offered to open her home or meet at the nearest coffee shop …and then finally, my friend, Jen, and I found ourselves in Columbus with an offer to have dinner with Marla and her family  – at her house.

I asked my reluctant friend…will you go with me?  You know, just in case she’s an ax murderer?  I mean, I am almost positive she’s not. But, this is weird.  I am about to show up at her house – a stranger! (Did my parents teach me nothing about stranger danger?)

My friend (very reluctantly) agreed to go with me.  And as they say:  the rest is history.

We ate pizza and chatted for hours.  Marla talked of Cambodia; we spoke of Honduras.  Conversation laced with Jesus.  Who He is and all he’d done and was/is doing.  I left feeling closer to Jesus than I ever had.

Marla and me

 

And I wanted {want} to be like her.  Like Marla.  I wanted Jesus to pour from my being.  To be a natural part of my decision-making and conversations.

We followed that first meeting on May 13, 2013 with many more.  Each time I found myself in Columbus, I met her for breakfast or found time for coffee. I watched and learned as her family sold their home and moved to the Abbey Lane apartment complex, answering God’s call to be His hands and feet.  {In fact, I celebrated my 39th birthday in her apartment with a mix of her neighbors.}

my bday at Marlas

 

We processed life at Abbey Lane as they minister to other cultures and faiths (make NO mistake – her neighbors are not a religious label or a people group “to be reached for Jesus.”  They are beautiful, loving NEIGHBORS – people – moms, dads, sisters, and brothers whom she loves deeply.)    And through Abbey Lane, I learned much about my world and myself.  My fears.  My opinions. My suppositions about others. My ideas about the gospel and how to share it.  My ideas of “church” and how we are to be like Jesus.  My role as “Christian.” Truly, this chapter in Marla’s life completely transformed mine.

She supported and loved me through divorce.  Our girls became friends.  We saw Divergent together and closed down a Steak and Shake one night.  I attended her church three times {you’re a beautiful representation of the church, Sanctuary Columbus!).  She spoke at Women of Purpose – a local conference I help organize.  We sat in On the Border for four hours one afternoon sharing our hopes, dreams, and fears. She came to watch Hannah dance and cheered her on as if she were about to win a Tony Award.  We processed freedom and giving to the poor via email.  We dangled our feet in a hot tub, discussing Jesus and Cambodia with people we’d never met.  We debated unschooling and homeschooling and education on more than one occasion.  We danced around the Columbus Zoo during Wild Lights to win a Jack Hanna DVD.  I watched and prayed as she walked alongside a sweet family whose baby boy was fighting cancer.  I laughed (and cried) at her going away party.

at marla's

Han w taviano girlsat starbucks w Marla

Conversation after conversation about how to love Jesus and others better.  To make this world a better place.  To do kingdom work for His glory.  To love well.  To follow His will (and what that even means). I am almost sure we have processed and questioned every aspect of faith, justice, and love.

She prayed for me. I prayed for her.

And I could go on and on.  Because there is no end to the beauty of Marla or the Jesus shining in and through her or our friendship or the sovereign God who brought us together. I wish I could share all she’s taught me.

And I will miss her.  So much.

Tomorrow, Marla and her family fly to Cambodia at 8:30 am.

marla and fam

 

The Cambodia I read about in that long ago post when I first happened upon Marla’s blog.  The Cambodia that she and her family have raised money for every single day for years.  The Cambodia that was and is never far from Marla’s heart or lips.

The Cambodia on the other side of the world.  The Cambodia God has called her to.

And I could NOT be prouder to call her friend.

Dear Marla, it has been (and will be) an honor and privilege to call you friend.  To stand by and witness God’s work in and through you. Knowing you has strengthened my faith and made me brave.  Knowing you has shown me a different kind of kingdom, a different way to live, and a different kind of joy and peace.

Knowing you has shown me a different Jesus.  Thank you for following Him and loving Him- and me – no matter what.  You’ll forever hold a special place in my heart – no “other side of the planet” can change that!

Gabe, Livi, Ava, and Nina – we love you. So much! The leap you’re making evidences authentic faith in a loving God.  We look forward to hugging your necks again in the near future.  In the meantime, we text and PRAY.

kids at goodbyeowen and gabe at goodbye

 

If you’d like to follow and/or support the Tavianos, you can find them on Facebook and /or subscribe to their website.

Much love, Taviano friends.  #Cambodiaorbust