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Two years later

Photo: Luke White

Photo: Luke White

In July of 2012, I travelled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti with a small team of  high school and college students from Northshore Community Church.Our initial goal was to partner with a small orphanage located in one of the most poor and dangerous city in the world.

On that twelve day trip, I met an amazing man named Windy Sauver. He had a passion for the children of Cite Soleil and a huge heart for Jesus.

He had an enormous impact on my outlook on life and my relationship with Jesus.

Windy is the most joyous person I’d ever met. His wide smile revealed pearly white teeth. When he thought no one was looking, I’d find him wearing his headphones and jamming to Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

At the time of our visit, Windy was also incredibly ill. Windy, unable to access reliable healthcare, was taken under the wing of Jeff and Terry Clark, our team leaders. The Clarks both work in the medical field in the United States. The Clarks, who worked alongside medical organizations in the states finally concluded that Windy’s illness was most likely Leukemia.

On December 8th, 2012, Windy was finally able to see the face of his sweet Jesus. All of his earthly pain and suffering was finally removed and his body fully restored. My heart aches because I selfishly wish that he never had to stop listening to his gospel music and writing his book. However, I also am comforted because I know that he found solace and strength.

As someone also living with a disabling condition, I found his endurance, faith, and hope absolutely incredible. Ever since I had been diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, I consistently failed to believe that anything positive could come from my situation. His testimony gave me hope.

I relayed briefly these anxieties to Windy who bluntly stated  that I was lacking the faith I claimed to hold. It took some time, but I eventually realized that he was not reprimanding me for any doubt. I think doubt is inevitable. In my life, doubt has always motivated me to seek truth and reassurance.

Windy told me that all the time God is good.  I began to take his words to heart.Joy remains within reach and fear should never dominate our lives, especially if we claim to be followers of Christ.

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Writing

Pause. Breathe. Decompress.

More than convinced. I was more than convinced that while on vacation, I would get an incredible amount of writing done. I’d write everyday in my leather travel journal and share all the details with you, my readers, the very moment the plane ascended, the blue Wi-Fi light turned on, and I trudged into the chilly terminal in Seattle. After all, I somewhere in the description of this blog, I threw something in there about loving to travel, right?!

I’m sure, at some point in time, I will talk about my crazy Hawaiian adventure. But on this particular vacation, more than any other trip in recent years, I realized just how hard it is for me to live and breathe and function in the moment. I’m sure , whoever you are and whatever you, you can relate to this feeling. No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be a thought lingering at the back of your mind. A task on your To-Do list, which hasn’t been completed yet. An e-mail you need to respond to. A phone call you need to make. A conversation which needs to be held with a friend or family member.  You get the idea. It’s too easy, in the midst of all the bustle and hustle to forget to pause.

For me, personally, writing is my best escape. Not only do I take the chance to pause and write, but because I decompress at the same time. So when I say writing isn’t going all that hot, it means I’m stopping to pause, but all those crazy thoughts are building up inside of my head. And with nowhere to go, the pausing and breathing doesn’t do too much good.

That being said, last night, I finally started out my crazy thoughts. With no intention of anything being perfect or even making sense. The random nonsense probably isn’t blog worthy. However, there’s power in putting words on paper. It restores some sanity. Especially when we can’t always hop on a plane and escape to the beach. That vacation taught me the importance of creating a consistent sabbatical. Whether that be Sunday or Wednesday  is not important. Perhaps frequent staycations are the answer.

How do you carve out time in your day to pause? Feel free to share in the comments below.

 

Enjoy this long weekend! Don’t forget to Pause. Breath. Decompress.

 

-Kayla

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 17: Love Does

Photo by Kayla Bonar

Photo by Kayla Bonar

Title: Love Does

Author: Bob Goff

What’s it about: Love Does. Does what? Loves how? Loves who? Loves what? These are the questions which have been lingering on the the forefront of my mind. I challenge you to read this book and be inspired to love more and love harder. There is no doubt in my mind that if you accept this challenge, your world will be rocked in some way.

Why did I read it: My sister entered and won a drawing a few months ago and this book was included in the package she received. I’d heard of the book previously, and was excited to read it first! I’d recommend purchasing this one, I frequently found myself underling and marking up the pages.

Favorite idea: “That’s one of the things about love. It doesn’t recognize boundaries and never obeys the rules we try to give it” (213).

Where you can find it: here

Also! All proceeds from the book are donated to Restore International’s Leadership Academy in Uganda.

 

Have you read the book? What did you like most about it?

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Writing

The World Goes On

Khalid Albaih, Creative Commons

Khalid Albaih, Creative Commons

 

When I made my grand entrance back to Facebook the day after Ash Wednesday, it was not so grand as I had expected.

Only six notifications required my attention.

I found all my friends very much alive and well.

Wow, the world managed to do without me for forty-days. How ever did they do it? The painful truth of the matter is that the world adjusted to my absence. To my surprise, this didn’t injure my feelings.

It was quite freeing  to spend days unplugged. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to take a break until I actually took one. Of course, I hardly wanted to admit that to anyone. The bad habit is a tad embarrassing to share about.

I realized within the first few days of  my fast that my life  was so wrapped around everybody else’s life that I began to neglect my own. I didn’t attempt to grow in my relationship with God. I became easily frustrated and constantly felt I never measured up.  I began to compare and contrast my life to others. I found it difficult to achieve the happiness I so desired when I was convinced that somehow, I was missing out. I could not obtain the key to happiness. There is no key.

But this was not the case. I  looked at a very small part of my friend’s stories.

The one word that is absolutely detrimental to anyone’s  vocabulary is everyone. Everyone has a boyfriend, everyone is going on vacation. I’m convinced this single word is the source of so much of our ungratefulness. I’m sure there are others, but this one for sure is one to be wary of.

The biggest problem with Facebook is that users are able to choose what they post.  A little bit of this, a little bit of that. It’s the perfect place to paint an unrealistic picture of an unrealistic life. Not too many people choose to post about the crappy parts.

One goal that I have created over the course of time is to break down that facade. I desire people to know the truth about me: my life is a beautiful mess. I’ve learned a lot through my messy life and as hard as it is at times, I wouldn’t want my life perfect.

More often than not we must fail before we succeed. And when we do succeed, it’s not always in the way we originally expected. 

During my fast, I felt this sense of peace and joy that I had not experienced in a long time. A very long time.  I believe it’s natural to feel somewhat obligated or inclined to stay in touch. We want to converse.  We’re humans. It’s in our nature. It doesn’t matter how introverted or shy or “socially awkward” you are. At the same time-whether we are aware- we have an inward desire for a life which is more fulfilling. We chase after many different people, material objects and wander various trails to accomplish this feat. It is my understanding that very few people find what they *think* they are looking for.

Upon my return to Facebook, I realized several things almost immediately:

1) I didn’t miss Facebook, I missed my friends. Maybe this is unfair, but I didn’t tell anyone right away that I was fasting from Facebook for Lent. Nonetheless, I suppose one or two texts asking whether or not I’m alive.

2)  Facebook brings to my attention insecurities I thought I had identified and taken care of.

3) Social media is good in moderation.

4) I need to spend more time on my real, tangible friendships.

Before I let you go…

Did you give up something for Lent? What did you fast from? Did you learn any lessons during your experience? Leave a comment if you are comfortable sharing!

-Kayla

 

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Rhymes With, Writing

Ode to Boots

Mark Sebastian, Creative Commons

Mark Sebastian, Creative Commons

 

Ode to Boots

My grandma gave me a pair of boots

chosen by herself especially for me.

 

Two durable covers smooth

as saddles.

 

The mustard colored leather

keeps me a firm grip

on the ground.

 

They promise to carry me anywhere.

 

I showcased the gift the way

I imagine Cinderella modeled her

glass slippers.

 

My boots appoint me

a royal adventurist.

 

With wool socks,

my feet become two tough vehicles

 

with the power to bring me to

any destination my heart

so desires.

 

They smell of asphalt and dirt,

of course gravel and dark mulch.

Sweet grass and dust.

 

They have danced down empty

hallways and bustling stairwells.

Kicked dead leaves and hopped puddles.

 

Many steps are left in their lifetime.

All I know is where I have been,

not how far I will go.

 

The path ahead remains a mystery.

 

-Kayla

P.S. Do you have any adventures planned?

 

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Writing

More Than A Case Of The Blues

For a few weeks now, I’ve debated internally about whether or not I should share about my struggles. it’s personal and messy and I’m not sure I want to reveal that to the world. Well, here I am. Messy, broken, but healing. In an attempt to make sense of my experiences, I wrote- a lot- about the question I believe many people ask: what is depression?

I came to the conclusion in that depression, unlike other medical conditions, varies drastically from person to person.

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San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Creative Commons

Depression is_______

  • unable to be defined.
  • wanting to enjoy the company of friends and family, but ignoring them when they reach out to you.
  • lying awake at night and dragging yourself through the night.
  • telling yourself that you’re the only one who feels this way.

Isolating yourself is the worst possible action you can take if you’re struggling with depression. It’s tempting. I created excuses not to go to birthday parties, and many other activities. I didn’t have any reason not to attend these events, but I convinced myself that I wasn’t wanted. Surely the party would be more fun without me.

I loved this excerpt from Donald’s Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz:

We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when really, it is like setting your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy.

Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

In the past, I was naive in believing that depression was black and white. In other words, I thought you happy go-lucky or suicidal. The truth is that there is a large gray area spanning between those two extremes.

I’d say my depression peaked my sophomore year of high school. I was trying hard to fit in. Trying to finally become friends that I had eaten lunch with since 5th grade.

Whether or not I realized it at the time, writing became my therapy. It helped me come to terms with feelings I didn’t know how to share in depth, even with my closest friends.

Here’ what I found about writing:

Writing heals you from sicknesses that before, you never even knew you had.

When you write (if you do), my guess is that you tell a piece of paper more than you tell most people. People wonder why I’m such a crazy advocate for keeping a journal. I guess I hadn’t previously connected those experiences with my writing habits. There’s no doubt that they’re related.

I knew I was depressed when I denied having any feelings at all. I threw myself into school, church activities. Not to mention other people’s problems. It was bad.

Only recently have I really been able to do more than just write, I’ve come to the point where I can wake up in the morning and decide for myself that I’ll get out of bed and choose joy.

Regardless of how my day goes. Unfortunately, that is one thing I don’t have control over.

That decision may seem action may seem small and insignificant, but not everyday is as happy-go lucky as we’d like. It’s not something we should discredit. Recognizing the smallest of achievements is important.

For me, depression is something that doesn’t really go away once it’s begun. I’ve  simply learned to cope with it and recognize the red flags which let you know the real you is being stifled by someone else. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve filled over twenty journals with practically everything. I’m not saying that to brag, but to emphasize that a lot of life happens in short amounts of time. If we’re not careful, life continues on it’s way before we are able to learn anything from our time spent in the pits. And thus the cycle goes unbroken. Nothing gets better.

Choose joy!

-Kayla

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Writing

Something for Sunday

Hey there! Here are some cool articles I read throughout the week. In case you missed  my first weekend reading list, just click the link. Enjoy!

How Can You Make Your Weekends More Awesome? by Eric Barker

Make the most of your weekend! This is an article full of great methods (backed by science) which just might help you to enjoy leisure time while not being completely lazy. Psst! With all good things comes some measure of hard work.

Happiness Is Not the Goal by Tyler Ward

I found this article on happiness very interesting. The idea that we spend so much time prioritizing happiness that we forget to be happy is intriguing. Key thought: Tyler writes, “The key to finding happiness is to not let it guide you. It’s electing a better, more meaningful guide in life that will create a reason to be happy.”

29 Ways to Stay Creative by TO-FU

This is a super cool 2 minute video. Got a creative block? Looking for some fresh ideas? Check this.

Creative Faith: Living and leading with an artist’s heart by Cole NeSmith

This is a longer read available at Noise Trade, but if you have an hour or so, it is most definitely worth your time. I love NeSmith’s approach to creativity, faith, and how the two are intertwined.

 

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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 12: The Pursuit of God

Title: The Pursuit of God

Author: A.W. Tozer

What’s it about: The Pursuit of God is about just that: pursuing God. Tozer discusses how we can get pursue a closer relationship with God.

Why did I read it: Tozer is an awesome theologian.

Favorite idea: “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.” This is absolutely beautiful. God want us to pursue Him so badly.

Where can you buy it: Right here

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Bible, Blog Series, Writing

Reading The Bible Is Hard

Reading the Bible is hard.

I won’t lie, some days, I just don’t feel like reading the Bible.

Occasionally, I’ll use the excuse that I shouldn’t read it when apathetic. But I’ve realized that’s pretty pathetic–as most excuses are. That’s like saying I’m only going to read the New Testament because it’s more “relevant” or “understandable.” If I based my habits around this then I’d pick and choose passages and never allow myself be challenged by God’s Word.

My problem is that before I even open up to a book I expect words to just come flying off at the page at me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with these sentiments.

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I am fasting from Facebook for Lent.  What I’ve discovered is that it’s much easier to fast from something than to fast and make an intentional effort to grow spiritually during that time.

That being said, I’ve decided to try something new that will hopefully help re-ignite my passion for God’s word. I’m going to write out the book of Ephesians.

I’m not sure what I’ll learn, or if I’ll learn anything at all from studying the scripture in this way.

But Paul is cool and I like writing letters so there’s that too.

I was kinda sorta inspired by Lucas Chadwick who, in 2012 set out on a journey to write out the entire Bible. It’s a crazy cool project and you should definitely check out his Facebook page.

-Kayla

P.S.

I’d love to hear any stories about how you grew closer to God through his word. Join me on this challenge?

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