I was rushing about in my normal Monday routine, was just about to head out the door and remembered my phone was on the charger, so I grabbed it.  The text read, “She passed away around 4 this morning.” My heart sank.  What had occurred thus far in my morning, and the rush to get my daughter to her orthodontist appointment, suddenly didn’t matter. The flood of memories caused me to linger a little longer.

When a difference-maker makes you believe YOU can be a difference-maker, you are never the same.

She came into my life over 10 years ago.  My family and I were moving into town for my husband to pastor a new church.  We were young, a little beaten down, but full of hope and a new start.  We didn’t have a place to live and she and her husband offered us their vacant home until the church parsonage was ready.  Before I knew her really well, I already knew how selfless she was.  In the years to come, selflessness wasn’t the only part of her that impacted me.  It was her humor, generosity, humility, uniqueness and her ability to just be herself and not care what others thought of her.  She honestly only cared what God had to say of her.  You couldn’t be around her and stay the same.  You always left with a pep in your step.  That is just the way she was. She made you feel, to put it simply…good!

Dark days entered my life.  That young pastor’s wife that moved her with hope and a fresh start entered into days of confusion, hurt and to put it plainly…anger.  I often found myself getting in my car and driving to see her.  She didn’t help me through the time by feeling sorry for me. She let me talk.  She let me cry. She let me say some pretty nasty things, but she came back at me with the Truth.  I’ve been blessed in my life to have people believe in me.  I’m very aware that they have been put in my life to be the uplifters of my arms, but it has been in the times of distress and heartache that those who were willing to believe in me especially in those times have changed me the most.

When you are down for the count and just want to quit, knowing someone believes in you breathes life into you.  

When God is teaching you, “I am your Defender,” He often gives us earthly examples to make us believe He really means it. She was that for me.  She further taught me my circumstances do not define me.  God will use me in it and after it. My guess is, she probably didn’t realize the impact she made on me in that way.  She lived her everyday that way.  She never told me anything she didn’t truly believe.  We walk a lot of life with those who are all talk, but she was not one of them.

When life dealt her a bad blow these last few years, that same go-to attitude sustained her.  The life she had spoken into me, I could now speak into her.  Over these last few months, God has reignited in me how very important people are.  It seems a no brainer that we should get that, right? But life moves on, and the rhythm of rush takes over, so we forget.  We forget to look in the faces of those we love, of those to whom we minister, to those we pass in the crowds. In the matters of death, though, we pause to remember – it often takes that TO remember.  What if we turned the tables around and began to remember in the moments of LIVING? What if we were intentional every, single day to see the person, to look into their eyes and see their need? Life is but a vapor, they say.  It’s true. So, let’s believe in others today.  Let’s stop and care about others more than ourselves. She did that for me and it’s made all the difference.  What if you are that someone for the one who is about to quit?

Today, I honor you, Mrs. Verna.  You lived your life as a GameChanger.  Absent in body, but you are so present in my heart today.  I want to be like you when I grow up.  If I know you at all, I know you would be cheering me on as I make my way there. Thank you for believing in me!

Pura Vida

When I lived in Costa Rica, the mantra of the people was “Pura vida”…”Pure Life”.  This wasn’t just a cool thing to say.  It was not uncommon to hear it followed by loud cheers and see big smiles on the faces of the people.  You said it.  You lived it…life…to the fullest.

Yesterday, my daughter turned 13.  From the time she was born, I pretty much knew what we would be doing on her 13th birthday.  Of course, we would be having lots of fun celebrating her, but for her Dad and me, it would also be a time to give one of the most special and significant gifts we could imagine…the gift of Covenant.  While the details of our time with McKenna will always be private and personal to us, the message for all of us is the same…God wants covenant relationship with us.

A covenant is a solemn agreement to engage in or refrain from a specified action

For Jeff and me, we entered into covenant when we stood before God and man, committing our lives to Him and to only one another “for as long as we both shall live.” I am his, and he is mine.  We entered into covenant with our daughter on her 13th birthday that she would live a pure life…a life for an audience of One.  And, we gave her a very special symbol of our pure love for her…a symbol to remind her to save that pure love for her future husband.  A symbol that she will always have to remind her Whose girl she is…a Jesus girl.  A symbol that says, “You were made for more.”

Prom is this weekend here in my community.  Let me share a little secret with you. I never went to prom.  I lived in Venezuela and we didn’t have prom, but what we did have were the same pressures, expectations, and hormones every girl faces.  A very long time ago, you see, I made a covenant with God.  I chose, for myself, to believe that I, too, was made for more…that there was a young man out there that God had chosen for me, and only me, to love.  I chose a “Pura Vida,” a pure life.  Nope, it wasn’t popular.  Sure, I was made fun of, and you better believe I was an insecure teenager. I sought approval of others. I was desperate for a boy to love me, to find me beautiful.  I walked on the very edge of making very dangerous decisions, but very, very deep in the quiet of my heart, I heard God say, “You were made for more.”  You know, He’s still telling me that.  I still face challenges…challenges that would be so much more complicated had I given myself to someone that really didn’t love me back, or given myself because that’s “what every teenage girl does.”  How much more complicated they would have been if I believed that giving myself to another was some sort of “rite of passage.”  It was hard to keep my covenant.  It stunk, at times, but I believed something much stronger than myself.  “He loves me.  I am beautiful.  I am much more than a one night stand.  I’m a Jesus girl.”

And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. 1Timothy 4:12 MSG

Do you know who you are?  Better yet, do you know Whose you are?  I do.  Your face is as clear as a bell to me.  You are BEAUTIFUL.  You are His.  You were made for so much more than all of this.