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On Gaps, Struggles & Purpose

I’ve been through some trials in my life, but this season of life I’m currently in seems to be one of the biggest struggles of my life. It’s not anything really big that I’m going through, it’s just a collection of a bunch of little things. A collection of family issues/worries, pending decisions, pending moves I need to make, pending hard conversations I need to have. As I’m writing this, I realize that a lot of things just require me to take action but it’s really not that simple, either. I very much feel like I can’t make certain moves because I’m waiting for other things to happen first. However, I’m also at this place wondering if I’m wasting my time? Am I waiting for things that will never happen? Am I hoping for things that will never change?

Here’s a little something only few people know about me. I have a big tendency to hesitate or maybe you could call it procrastinate. However, I was never that person in school to procrastinate on homework, projects, etc., however, it seems when it comes to other things, adult life sorts of things, I do have a tendency to procrastinate. Give someone an answer, step out of my comfort zone, make a tough decision or confront someone about something uncomfortable.. these are things I definitely will hesitate to do.

Living in the GapAt church on Sunday, our pastor taught us that The Gap is the Gift. The ‘gap’ being the gap between where we are and where we want to be. I’m definitely in a huge gap right now. Where I am in life is definitely not where I wanted to be. You might have heard me mention on social media lately that I really need to be better about being content in the present and wanting to flee from certain things. I am able to look back and wish that I had been happier where I was, I wish that I had appreciated more instead of being so focused on the reasons NOT to be happy. I am able to realize that there is a reason for everything and I need to stop being so depressed and down about where I am right now and just appreciate what IS good. They say gratitude is the antidote for negativity. If we stop focusing on the negative and what we DON’T have and be thankful for what we DO have, we will be much happier in life. The gap IS the gift. We ALWAYS have something to be thankful for. Now that’s something to get excited about!

On a somewhat related note, I’ve really been wanting to write about something else that has been in my mind and heart lately. On Easter this year, March 27, 2016, my brother, Aaron, would have been 34 years old. This time of year he’s always on my mind more, but this year especially is weighing pretty heavy on my heart. 10 years ago.. he was starting what would have been his last age here on this Earth and what would be the last few months of his life. Just a few short days after turning 24, he would find out he was in heart failure and there was no other further course for him other than a heart transplant. When I think about that time and that emotional roller coaster ride that started right around that time I am also able to look back with such gratitude. Such gratitude that I was so fortunate to have such an inspiring young man as a brother.

Aaron & ReeseMy brother’s life also reminds me to be thankful for my health and take care of myself better (which is something that I have not been so great at lately). He struggled with his health since he was born. He never got the luxury that so many of us have. He never knew what “normal” health felt like. But did he ever live his life that way? No! In fact he lived his life in spite of his health and lived a life fuller with more purpose with more gratitude than anyone I ever knew. He lived more like Jesus than anyone I have ever known since. He was a nice guy, a joy to be around and if he didn’t like someone, he never ever let it show. I spent 22 years of my life following in footsteps that I could never ever fill. As he grew older he grew so much wiser. He had such strong faith and though he faced some of the greatest struggles he was never afraid because he knew, without any doubt, that if he left this world, he was going to heaven. When people visited him in the hospital where he was waiting for a heart transplant and they asked him if he was afraid. He would tell them with 100% confidence, that he was not afraid because it was a win-win for him. He would either get a brand new NORMAL heart and get to continue living his life or he would leave this Earth and get to be with his Father in Heaven. Wow! I still struggle to hold back the tears when I think about that. Not to mention, instead of being down and out about living in the Gap of his life.. he was instead going around to the other residents in the hospital talking to them about Jesus. He was such an incredible guy.. and I miss him every day. I miss all the little ways he would purposely annoy me and I miss those moments of pure joy and laughter. Nobody could make me laugh harder than him, especially when he was with some of his best buddies. Being with them together was always a total riot!

AaronHe has gone on to heaven because his purpose here was finished, but I am still left behind which means I still have some work to do. I need to be better about telling people about Jesus. I need to be better at sharing my brother’s story because I know that part of my purpose, part of the reason I was blessed to call him my brother is because I am now placed perfectly to be able to share about his story with others. You hear people say all the time.. “Why does God allow bad things happen to good people?” sometimes we can’t see the whole picture when we’re struggling, but sometimes our struggles are exactly what helps save others.

MV5BMjkyOTI5NzgxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjg4MzQzNzE@._V1_SX640_SY720_I went to see the movie Miracles From Heaven with my Dad last weekend and both of us absolutely bawled most of the time. I’m sure we were a lot more emotional given what we had been through with my brother, but also it really reminded me that I need to be doing more to share my brother’s story. Last year I was perfectly positioned in a city that really needs Jesus and I should have been better about sharing the story. There are many others here in Virginia whose lives were personally touched by Aaron’s that can continue to share his legacy here, I should have done more when I was in a new place and I intend to go back and do just that, eventually. Not to mention.. in this GAP that I’m in right now, I need to remind myself that I am still here. I need to be thankful for my health and take better care of myself, physically, emotionally and especially spiritually.

As far as the movie, everyone should go see it! Great movie.. very touching and it’s a true story! Here’s the trailer:

Give More Of Yourself

I think we can all agree that it’s pretty much the norm to live our lives only for ourselves. We do this within our relationships and ESPECIALLY outside of them. We want things for ourselves and pretty much operate solely for that purpose. My church has been doing a series called “Not Normal” and through this series it’s challenged us all to think about what is normal in society and challenge us all to be “Not Normal.”

Philippians 2:4

I was trying to think of ways I’m NOT normal and I think when it comes to selfishness and selflessness I’m more of the latter in many ways but there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. I find I’m mostly selfless when it comes to the people I care most about. I will sacrifice myself tenfold to let those people closest to me have what they want and make those people happy. Sometimes I think this is a little bit of a bad thing (when it’s in excess and I forget I have needs too), but it’s just who I am and largely part of the way I grew up. The thing is, I need to learn how to use that part of myself and branch out and do more for people I don’t necessarily know that well or even for complete strangers. I want to be that thoughtful type of person. I want to be NOT normal in that way.

I just thought about all this as I was busying myself finishing up a crochet project I’m making as a gift for someone special. The amount of time, effort, thought and love I have put into this project and the thought of giving it to the person I made it for just fills me with this intense JOY. Ever noticed that? When you give to others and see the difference you’ve made or the smile you put on someone’s face doesn’t it give you joy in return? There are a lot of people in the world who are feeling unfulfilled in their lives and are maybe even chasing after the wrong things trying to find fulfillment. Interesting that all we have to do is give a little of ourselves back in order to receive it! We all have something to give. It could be money, time, special skills/talents or maybe just a little bit of love or even a smile or an encouraging word. I think we’d all find that in giving OF ourselves instead of TO ourselves we will find more contentment in our own lives!

So I think that’s going to be one of my Challenges for 2014. I’m going to challenge myself to be “Not Normal” and try to find ways I can give more of myself to others this year!

I Already Have What I Need

I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, but when I look back on the last 9 years of my life and think about the change, it seems almost astronomical. Even just in the last year, the changes are so profound. I’m not just talking about physical, which is definitely the most noticeable, but there have been changes all around. I’ve been faced with difficult decisions, faced some big fears and experienced more than I even imagined possible. Most importantly and above all I learned to trust God more though all of that. When I look back I can see how even the smallest of choices and little changes started a process much like a domino effect.

God Will Provide

God’s timing is so perfect! For a long time I looked back and regretted certain choices I made. I envied the people around me who seemingly had their lives, hopes and dreams completely figured out. Only now am I able to look back and see that God was leading me through a process that was shaping me into the person I am supposed to be. He was slowly but surely planting new dreams in my heart and giving me everything I needed little by little.

This morning I was reading one of the daily devotions I get in my email and it was talking about how God gives us what we need and if at any point we need more, He will give it to us. When I read that and looked back on the last few years of my life, I felt like I could see just where God was pouring a little more into my life just when I needed it. At the time I didn’t even realize it, but looking back I can clearly see how each time He was placing an integral piece to the puzzle of my life.

When He planted the seed in me to change my lifestyle, that was what started it all and of course that seed was planted long before I even knew it. It started a process of learning to trust Him and to love the life He gave me and teaching me to have the discipline to take better care of it. It started a process of personal growth of learning more about myself and revealed hidden passions and hidden dreams that I never knew were there. Today, as I once again struggle with the looming possibility of having to make another hard decision, I try to remember that this is just another step of the process and another piece of the puzzle. No matter what decision I make, I know that I can trust that God will be using it to further shape my life.

Even now, as I proofread this post, I noticed something I did that was completely unintentional! Look how many times I used the word “process” which I have now gone back and edited in as links. Maybe it’s just because it’s still fresh in my mind and my subconscious is trying to drive the “point” home, but I find it interesting how in church on Sunday we heard about how the process is the POINT and now here I am talking about the process God has been guiding me through over the last few years. Just some food for thought! I think if you take some time and look back on your own lives you will also see how things have fallen into place or even OUT of place only to eventually let other things fall into place.