This quote and picture inspired me to write “Shoes.” Photographer unknown.

Shoes speak.  Shoes define each and every individual.  Shoes tell the story of where people are going and the places they’ve been. Shoes show the wear and tear of each journey. Shoes display the hardships, the trials, the good times, and the bad. Shoes show where and how each occupant has attempted to make repairs when times became tough; these repairs are evident in patches, in clumsy stitches, and crisp white laces.  Behind  every brand name and every sandal, slipper, sneaker, and stiletto is a story.

What about that person without shoes? How is his or her story told? Their story is told in the cuts, scrapes, blisters, broken toenails and callus upon callus. Their story is told by the layers of dust, dirt, mud, and sand which coat every inch of tough leathery skin. No one questions a person without shoes. They’ve walked down every path, battled every storm, crossed every valley, and climbed every mountain. The person without shoes has more stories than the person with a closet full of them.

On average, every American buys 8 pairs of shoes each year. 8 PAIRS. What do your shoes say about you? Does your story simply say you are returning to the mall for yet another pair to add to your collection?

Jar of Happiness

This blog is so awesome. Hipsters are overrated. Happsters are “like hipsters but happier.”

Happster Brenda let us know about this jar of happiness idea & we think it’s awesome!

Here’s the concept behind it: Write something that makes you happy on a piece of paper every day and put it into the jar. Whenever you need a pick-me-up, dig into your jar and read your happy thoughts!

What do you think? Will you make a jar of happiness? Share it on Twitter or Instagram with #imahappster so we can check it out!

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P is for Purple

Today is “Purple For Epilepsy Day.” I love purple. My favorite childhood classic book-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- is bound with a purple cover. I have a purple raincoat, purple bible, purple water-bottle, purple toothbrush, purple, purple, purple, purple….. I think understand the picture. Only recently,within the past couple of years, did I actually connect the color purple with epilepsy. At this point I can imagine you are thinking, “So what?” So, I have epilepsy. I’ve thought about writing a post-or a few pages in my journal- for some time, but I didn’t want to come off as someone looking for attention or be labeled ‘epileptic.’ Is it obvious yet I have a severe pride issue? OK, I thought so. (I’m so glad God blessed me with the gift of sarcasm, otherwise I’d be a mess.) Anyways, I put off writing about my epilepsy for purely selfish reasons. Then, I realized that there is easily a gazillion other people, NOT sharing their stories-whether health related or not- for exactly the same reasons. This is why I’m asking YOU to share your stories.

OK, hold the phone right there. A story or testimony doesn’t have to be something heart-wrenching. I’ve seen to many people demean their own stories simply because they thought it wasn’t “moving” or “shocking.”Heck, the most relatable stories are in the form of “little” everyday problems.I.e.

Person 1: You received a D on you Spanish test?

Person 2: Dude me too. 

If you have struggled with serious issues in the past or are struggling currently, here is my message to you: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. That thought is a lie. Only you can make the choice to believe it.  Keeping your fears and feelings bottled up is the worst decision you could possibly make. If you don’t believe me, believe Dumbledore when he says “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” Trust me, Albus Dumbledore doesn’t lie.

I’ve had epilepsy for over ten years. It’s definitely a reality, but it doesn’t define who I am. What defines me is how I respond to the ups and downs. The hospital visits, the sick days, and the days when I ask “Why me?” And then I look around me. I could be so much worse off. I have so many things to be thankful for. Best of all I love knowing that no matter what kind of situation God puts me in, it’s only to refine me! We should bear these challenges-even something as insignificant as a Spanish test- knowing that there is definitely a to be learned so that next time, you can do better. If you think you can fight this battle on your own, good luck with that. I’ve tried and failed. It’s easy to look strong on the outside and inwardly destroy yourself. When people tell you “Wow you are so strong!” Things begin going to your head. Society tells us it’s not okay to be weak. I’d like you to consider otherwise.

Remember, there are always consequences for going against the grain. Humbleness isn’t a trait valued by most. I don’t know about you, but when people ask me how I’m doing, I enjoy testing their sincerity by telling them the flat out truth. I may say “Well actually this week kinda sucked.” I know people who I know are going through hell and still respond with “oh I’m doing just dandy.” Sorry to break it to you, but nobody’s perfect.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Wear purple and share your story! I want to hear it and I’m sure others do too!

S is for Seattleite, Sleet, Snow, Sunshine, Spring Break, and Other Such Things

Snow and Sunshine
Kaylab Photography

When I first rolled out of bed at 8:00 am this morning, snow was  falling. Washington’s seasons seemed to have been mixed up.  I wasn’t all that surprised. the past few days we’ve had everything from sun to sleet. Once I drank my morning mocha and ate my Nutella toast, I tried not to let the weather get the best of me. How could one possible be upset with such a well-balanced meal?!

Snow and all, the beginning of a bluebird day was on the horizon.

Right now my feelings regarding this type of weather is neutral  Not one day of school was cancelled during the winter quarter. Now that I have a nice long spring break, it is 38 degrees outside with a chance of snow, rain and thunderstorms. Funny how that works

This picture was taken around 8:30 am or 9:00 am and now-pushing 3:00 in the afternoon- everything is exactly as it was yesterday.  Wet and Cold. This combination seems to be the perfect excuse to not be productive. However if every seattleite chose that easy way out it would not be a pretty picture.

 You Know You Are A Seattleite When:

  • It’s February and fifty degrees outside and everyone orders their beverage of choice at the coffee shop iced. 
  • In March your Facebook news feed is filled with instagram pictures, phone pictures, tweets, and statuses complaining about classes not cancelled, pictures  of snow either present in your yard or absent, and road-trippers on their way to Disneyland or some other warm sunny place.
  • Residents wear flip-flops beginning in February at the first glance of sun.
  • Within the same day of snowfall,the phrases “spray tan” and “yay it’s snowing are used interchangeably.
  • You take Zertec and Vick’s because your allergies are awful and you think you might be coming down with a cold as well.
  • Your vitamin D level is thirty, which would be normal if you lived anywhere BUT Seattle. The “new norm” is fifty. (Not even joking, my doctor put me on a daily supplement.)
  • Breaking of the “normal” weather cycle is actually normal.
  • On a near daily basis you comment to your friend,
  • “Aw man, it’s raining outside.” They reply, “What’s new?”
  • If you live in the suburbs, umbrellas are reserved for tourists and foreigners only, except on rare occasions.
  • Groundhog’s Day means nothing to most people. It merely remains a great excuse to watch the movie.
  • Being snowed in on spring break is very easily a potential problem.

Living> Surviving Part 2: In This Moment

From Left: Jordan, Kelli (Josh’s wife), and Josh Taylor.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Josh Taylor from YouTube’s one and only Blimey Cow.  I have been so excited for this post! Here were his thoughts on “Living>Surviving “:

Me: Josh, tell us a little bit about Blimey Cow’s history, for those who aren’t familiar with your popular YouTube channel.

Josh: Blimey Cow is a YouTube channel started by myself and my brother Jordan in 2005. We produce a new video every Monday and Friday.

Me: Have you ever met someone ( or multiple people) who you could relate too, but also look up to as a role model and be inspired by? Who is that person ( or group of people) and in what way did they inspire you?

Josh: My family inspires me. We are all best friends. I’ve really had only one other best friend that wasn’t a part of my family, so I married her. I am seriously so blessed with the family in which I was placed. I am inspired by how they love me, by how they relate to others, by how they relate to God- and how all of those things are somehow interconnected.

Me: In light of 1st Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” What are some little things young people could do in their everyday school and work lives that could potentially make a difference in their own lives and/or someone else’s?

Josh: There is an optimism and idealism that the youth have that is invariable lost as time goes by. I think a lot of times when Scripture makes these kinds of references to “youth,” this is the idea. So, I guess I would say… dream big, ask uncomfortable questions, and don’t let mistakes slow you down.

Me:  In your own personal life, what is the importance of making obtainable goals, as well as big ones? (As opposed to cliché bucket list items?)

Josh: In my experience, “big goals” I set for myself change by the time I’m in a position to fulfill them. I think there is a difference between dreams and goals. All of the things I’ve always dreamed of doing, I’m getting to do. But usually when I decide on a“goal for the year” or some such thing, my priorities change. I would say… do the best with what is in front of you. The only thing predictable about the future is that it will take care of itself.

Me: To you, what is the difference between living and just simply surviving?

Josh: I am reminded of the quote by Soren Kierkegaard: “To be loved, is to be helped by another person to love God.” To me, that is living.

On that note, check out Blimey Cow’s hilarious take on YOLO here:


The Feeling of Impending Doom

Charlie BrownHmmm have I ever experienced the feeling of impending doom? Yes, yes Linus indeed I have. I would certainly say that during the two – three weeks leading  up to finals contain a certain feeling of impending doom. No matter how well or how awful I’ve done in a class there is still that lingering fear  that makes me question whether your current grades in the class are high enough to leave you room if you are not in fact entirely successful. In other words, I have not neglected this blog for no reason at all. In fact everyday it has been in the back of my mind and it has been tricky to prioritize.

I have found that the keys to surviving finals is  to 1) stop studying when you have reached the point where you are no longer studying, but just staring at a page. It’s OK really. I promise.2) Make yourself some coffee, tea, or other beverage of your choice and then 3) turn on your favorite Pandora station and/or 4) watch one, two, or three episodes of Psych. (However many it takes.) Laughter is the best medication. “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” Mary Poppins rightfully tells us.

Anyhow, stay tuned because “Living>Surviving” will be returning next week on Friday, March 16!  Josh Taylor from Blimey Cow will be sharing with us who inspires him and why he thinks you should choose to live and not just survive!

P.S Please do survive finals. If I can you certainly will!

Windy Sauver616163_10151104691072348_223404987_o

“I don’t want to survive, I want to live!”

The Captain from Disney Pixar’s Wall-E (2008)

So much of our lives our spent talking about the kind of life that someday, we will achieve. These schemes or fantasies range from typical far-fetched bucket list items to the typical American dream. However, the amount of time we spend in the here and now actually working towards these THINGS  that we want is shockingly small. We fail over and over again to realize that

“The best THINGS in life, aren’t THINGS after all.”~Art Buchwald

Sometimes in order for us to see and understand that clearly, a change of perspective is needed. See what I mean…..

Last summer, I traveled to Port-Au-Prince Haiti on a mission’s trip with Northshore Baptist Church’s first youth team. For those of you who read the paper, watch the news, and have even the slightest geographical knowledge, you are easily able to imagine the type of place I was stepping into. Or at least you think you know. What you probably don’t know is that even before the tumultuous earthquake in 2010, its economy was in shambles, its president a drunkard and according to PBS news an estimated  500,000 people are still living in tents. Even two years after the earthquake.  Cite Soleil is known for its highest (gang related) crime rate in Western Hemisphere, if not the world. Because I was a minor, I was not allowed into the heart of the city for the sake of my own safety, but I know people who have witnessed firsthand the sights and sounds of its core. In fact, it is from the core of this city that our trip was born.

 You are probably wondering at this point “what in the world does this have to do with Living Versus Surviving?” It has all the world to do with one amazing Haitian man named Windy Suaver.  Our main man, friend, translator and tour guide was what I like to call the epitome of YOLO. He lived in more ways than one. Not only was his heart still beating, but he lived with purpose. Windy had never been asked the question “What would you do if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?” He didn’t need that prompting to truly live. Most people would consider him just another poor man trying to survive .   While technically that is correct, he ignored that seemingly huge detail.Not only was he trying to survive, but at the time I met him  he was fighting a disease unknown to him. However, he chose to live on purpose long before this sickness invaded his bright future. 

I suppose it would be helpful if I recalled to you Windy’s background. I’ve tried, but it is nearly impossible to summarize. When people ask me how was Haiti I respond “Well, how much time do you having?” However, I promise you it will not bore, Windy was born in the heart of Port-Au-Prince. Every night he went to bed with the sound of gunshots ringing in his ears. His father left  his mother and siblings when he was a pre-teen, a vital time for a father in every young person’s life. He was quite aware of the dangers that he and his family must face every day. When he was just a teen he rescued his mother from the city to live in the countryside. Once they were out, his future began to brighten. He excelled in school and graduated with highest honors in his class. From there, things were on a steady climb uphill. In the fall of 2011, Windy graduated from Medic One, Port-Au-Prince’s EMT training program. Not long after graduating, Windy took a terrible turn for the worse. The healthy and strong twenty-seven year old man who was always the first one to take care of someone else’s needs, became terribly sick. He bounced back and forth between hospitals, but Haiti’s most medically proficient hospital’s could not diagnose his illness.  He was unofficially diagnosed with a bad parasite, Tuberculosis, and finally Lymphoma.

He went downhill. He had his bad and good days physically, but  there is one thing he said  and always stayed true to, every day of his life:

“My friend, lets me tell you something, when you already say God has control, your situation gets worse, or even you saw you are in front of death, you must say you are very good in Jesus’ name. and God will say you have faith in him. so my friend, I am very good in Jesus Christ.” ~Windy Sauver

Before going to Haiti, I already felt as if I knew him. Meeting him was absolutely life-changing. The first thing he asked us as a group, while we were waiting for our rental car at the airport was what languages we all spoke. At the time he spoke his Haitian Creole, his native language, English, Spanish, French, and  was currently teaching himself Portuguese. Oh, and did I mention he was writing a book? Instead of using his being sick as an excuse to be lazy, he was doing and learning as much as he could! Windy had one goal in life, and the way he accomplished it is even more amazing than the goal itself. He told someone about his dream. He didn’t pin it to his “bucket list” board on Pinterest. His dream? To build a school in the heart of Cite Soleil. To give kids  a second chance who didn’t have one.  Word spread like wildfire about Windy’s dream. Our team leaders gave Windy the means to fulfill his dream. His dream seemed impossible for multiple reasons. He was only earning $100 per month from the hospital. He used this money to take care of his mother and at times himself. Even though he was “in front of death” he was thinking about everybody except himself.  To everyone EXCEPT those who knew Windy, his dream seemed impossible. Especially given the circumstances. Windy inspired others to help him and because of that his dream came true. In October of 2011 the kids of Jehova Nessi School had their first school session.  Those same kids were the ones we had the pleasure of meeting in the summer of 2012.

Our trip leaders had been trying for quite a while to give Windy’s records to a Medical Teams International Agent from the Dominican Republic. The day before we flew home, those records were finally passed onto an expert. Windy’s options were very limited. The nearest place he could fly for better medical care was Cuba. If he went, he would have to go alone. The choice was up to him. Windy had never the country. He had also never been told by any doctor that Lymphoma was a form of cancer.When this reality hit him, he broke. We all broke. In the end he chose to stay in Haiti. He knew his time was short and he could not bear the thought of being far from his family.

 To be honest, I had doubts about going on that trip.My original dream for that summer was filled with THINGS. I thought “I’ll get a job and make money”- and there is nothing wrong with wanting a job or “I’ll be a camp counselor.” And now when I look back, I realize that skipping  that trip probably would have been the worst decision I could ever. I have the rest of my life to work, but moments slip out of our finger tips far too quickly. Windy passed away on December 8th, 2012.  I know building a school in a third world country isn’t our idea of a dream and only certain people, in a certain place, and at the right time can achieve things like that. Windy also achieved a lot of little thing on our trip. He faced some fears and tried new things. The reason why I will never stop sharing this story is because the only reason why Windy’s legacy lives on is because of people who believe that dreams do come true. 

Dèyè mòn gen mòn~ Haitian Proverb saying “Beyond the mountains, there are mountains.”

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