Friday, May 13, 2016

Sara's Birthday Wish

As I have been sharing Sara's discipleship of choosing joy, people will often ask me how I would sum up her message. My response is..."To be intentional in choosing..." 

One of the things we need to be intentional in choosing, is savoring our moments. I am re-posting Sara's last birthday wish she posted on May 13, 2011. 

Make her wish come true again today...Savor your moments.


:: Re-posted from May 13, 2011::

Today is my birthday, and people have been asking what they can get me or do for me. Watching the video below made me realize my answer.

Someone sent it to me the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s actually a piece about marketing, but for me it speaks volumes about what I’ve been trying to say to others with my life.

Will you take a moment to watch it before you read on?

I sit in this condo after these years of being homebound and I realize I have forgotten what fresh air smells like. I turn my ceiling fans on high so that my curtains rustle as if there is a breeze flowing through the windows. I watch them and try to imagine that the wind has picked up outside and the fresh air is blowing in.

But it isn’t. I can trick my brain and pretend, but I can’t capture that smell I’d taken for granted the majority of my life.

I don’t have a window that gets direct sunlight streaming in. I sit by a lamp and close my eyes and try to imagine the heat on my skin and the orange behind my eyelids as if the sun is beating down on me, but it’s not. The freckles that used to adorn my face are long since gone with the rays of sunlight that escape me.

I hear the lawn mower roar to life outside my walls as spring begins to bloom and I search back into my archive of memories to try to capture once again the smell of the fresh cut grass… even the pungent smell of blades ripping over unruly crab grass would be welcome to me now. I try so hard to find the smell that escapes me after too many years of having it gone missing.

I’m starting to lose the moments that mattered. The ones everyone rushes about their day not even realizing they exist.

Those are the things I want you to take away from looking at my life. I want you to not miss your own.

I’m not saying any of that so you’ll feel sorry for me. I don’t need that for my birthday. And I don’t need things for my birthday.

What I want is for my NOT getting to experience something to affect you in a way that you see what you might be missing.

For my birthday, I want you to do something for you.

I want you to STOP. I want you to FEEL and SMELL and ACKNOWLEDGE the gifts that God puts out for you every single day when He makes the sun rise from it’s slumber and beat down on your skin. I want you to look up in the dark of night and see and feel the magnitude of the heavens and the stars and the full moon that I can’t see out my windows.
I want you to be fully awake to the blessings in your life and not miss a moment. Take them in and savor them in your senses as if you might lose them tomorrow.

Savor your life and blessings. And thank our God for the gift of it all.

That’s the best gift I could receive this year. To know that my life taught you something about your own.

Will you come back here and tell me something you savored today that you might have otherwise missed?

I would love to share in those moments with you.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Filled with JOY!

Hey friends! God continues to open so many doors to continue the Choose Joy ministry that Sara started during her time with us. He is truly good, all the time.

We have been blessed with the opportunity through Tag You're It Jewelry, to offer people a daily reminder of joy by purchasing a Choose Joy necklace. An added bonus is that it is in Sara's font! Tag You're it Jewelry is also giving a portion of the sales back to the Choose Joy foundation!

Choose Joy will also have a featured section in Positive Note Magazine. A subscription to the magazine is $30 for six issues. If you are wanting to provide someone in your life a positive note, this magazine would be a perfect opportunity!

And of course, gifting someone with the book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. People's lives continue to be impacted through Sara's spirit filled words. You can't go wrong
providing others a reminder of the importance of faith, family and a life of choosing joy!

Just click on the links provided to purchase any of these wonderful gifts. I promise your loved one will find any or all of these gifts a true blessing. If you have any questions or difficulties, feel free to email me at choosejoyfoundation@gmail.com.

Peace.

Laura

Friday, April 29, 2016

Anticipating May

As we come upon the month of May, I have been reflecting on the busyness of the month, as well as the many blessings it brings. The busyness includes, end of the school year kid's programs, graduations, weddings, summer camps and jobs, spring cleaning and yard work... The list goes on and on.

The change and busyness can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and add stress to our lives. 

So, how do we move beyond being overwhelmed and stress? By being grateful!

I have so much to be grateful for in this upcoming month of May...

  1. On May 3rd, I will celebrate my dad's earthly birthday. My dad was such an inspiration to me. I would use every excuse I could think of to be able to ditch the housework and work beside my dad on the farm. I miss him and am so very grateful God chose him for me. It was a true joy to be his daughter.
  2. On May 7th we will move my son and new daughter in law into their first home together. What an exciting time as they begin a new chapter in their lives. I am so proud of them and feel blessed that my son found such a beautiful and godly woman to spend his life with.
  3. On May 8th, Mother's day, I celebrate my mom! A woman who taught me to be strong. A role model not only as a mother, but as a wife. You are a true inspiration to me mom. I love you!!
  4. On May 13th, I will celebrate our sweet Sara's earthly birthday. I was like a 2nd mom to Sara since she was the youngest of 6 and I was the oldest daughter. Even though Sara was the youngest, and her life here on earth was only for 38 years, she accomplished more than most. The lives she changed, the journey she walked and the lessons she taught is a blessing I will forever cherish.
  5. On May 14th, I am blessed to continue Sara's discipleship by sharing God's message using her story as an example of how it is possible to choose joy when life hurts. God continues to open doors and bless us with so many opportunities to continue Sara's spirit lead discipleship.
  6. On May 21st, Mary Carver and I will be hosting a book signing and celebration in Cedar Falls, IA. Cedar Falls is where Sara attended college and lived. We are so blessed to spend time with her community in Cedar Falls, thanking them for loving Sara so well!
I am grateful.

I am filled with joy.

How about you? What do you have to be grateful for as you enter the busy month of May?



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Awaiting Grace


As Christians, we spend a lot of time waiting...

Waiting for His birth.

Waiting for His death.

Waiting for His resurrection.

Waiting for answered prayer.

Our faith is often tested by waiting. Waiting on God means that our life is under His authority and direction. If we move ahead without God's direction, we live in a life of turmoil, anxiety and uncertainty.

Waiting provides us an opportunity to learn. We learn about God's perfect timing and His ability to be in charge of every detail. We so often long for proof, but that is where faith come in. Faith is believing and trusting in God.

Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

As we enter this last week before Easter and continue our wait for Jesus' death and resurrection, I pray for strength. Strength in our faith to trust in His plan and be encouraged in His grace of waiting.

Peace.

Laura

Monday, March 14, 2016

Our Job is to Love

Today the sermon at church was on "Sharing My Faith." As I was listening to Pastor Darrin, I couldn't help but think of Sara.



Pastor Darrin talked about how sharing our faith today is very different than how it has been in the past.  How it is important for us to first listen to others...listen to their story.  Listening requires us to be fully present with others and give them our full and undivided attention. Once we hear their story, it is not our job to judge them and/or save them. It is our job to love them.

God's job is to judge, Jesus job is to save, and our job is to love.

Isn't that awesome! Why do we make our job so difficult? All we have to do is love.

I think Sara was a role model at sharing her faith. She first and foremost loved well! She fully trusted and left the rest up to the One whose job it is to judge and save.

Sara shared her faith by being fully present and listening to the needs of others. She developed relationships and loved them well.  It was through her love of God and others that she was able to impact the lives of others and connect them closer to the one who could bring them peace and joy.

I am so grateful to my little sister for being brave in sharing her faith.

And, I am grateful and blessed to continue this ministry by sharing my faith, here in our lower story, while she is enjoying true joy with Him, in her upper story!

Have a blessed week!

Laura




Monday, March 7, 2016

Our Ultimate Purpose

Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life."  ~John 12:23-25


Since losing dad in 2010 and Sara in 2011, Easter has taken on a new depth of meaning. Those that God blessed us to love and live with here on earth...those that we can't imagine living without, are given eternal life! One day we will live with our heavenly father, and be reunited with our loved ones!



When I'm feeling lost without them, when I long for their giant hug, I can find joy in the blessing that Christ died so we can live.

I also find joy knowing that both dad and Sara lived their life glorifying Him. They lived their life showing people through their actions what it means to give up their own wants, needs and desires for the will of our Father.

God tells us through the above bible verse, that until we die to everything but the Father's will, we will never accomplish the purpose we are living for in the first place. If we truly trust God and have faith in His will for our lives, we should not be afraid to be buried like a seed in the soil of God's will for our lives.

I saw this with both dad and Sara...they were not afraid to give up everything for God's will in their lives and because of that, their faith produced an incredible amount of fruitfulness in their lives. Ultimately the grace and peace of Christ in their lives.

For that, I am eternally grateful and filled with JOY.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spread the Joy and not the Fear

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster for me...

I am filled with JOY over the response we are receiving from individuals whose lives have been positively impacted after reading Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. It is truly a humbling experience to continue Sara's legacy of teaching people how joy can be found through faith and trust in our heavenly Father's promises.

Even though I am filled with Joy, I find myself at times with tears that don't seem to want to stop. Continuing Sara's legacy is such a humbling experience and includes the ability to also live her life Goals. The life goal that has been going through my mind lately is to "Spread the Joy and not the fear." I pray that God's message of Joy through Sara's story will continue to bless others and bring them joy in a world filled with so much fear.

Before Sara began her journey to heaven, she placed her hand on my shoulder and said, "When you need me, close your eyes and feel my hand on your shoulder. I will be with you." I have been closing my eyes and praying to feel her hand gently on my shoulder...and yet I don't feel her like I want to. The struggle of my head knowing that she is with me and my heart so desperately wanting to feel her, to talk to her, to celebrate with her.

Today, I not only felt her hand on my shoulder, I heard her whisper words of encouragement. You see, today Sara sent an Angel of encouragement to me...

I received a note of encouragement with some precious choose joy graphics and a picture of me and my angel friend, Rachel Lundy. It's as if she new exactly what I needed.

I learned from my sweet sister, Sara to always act on those whispers that come into your mind and heart, because they are the whispers of the Holy Spirit talking to us. Thank you, Rachel, for listening to those whispers...you blessed me with exactly what I needed, when I needed it!

Do you follow through with the whispers you hear? I encourage you to...I promise you will make a difference for someone!

Peace.

Laura