Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Almost two years ago now, I received one of those dreaded hone calls you never want. I was actually in the dressing room at J. Crew when the phone rang and thus did not answer. When my friend called back immediately I had that feeling you need to answer. When I picked up I could sense the downcast spirit on Leah already as she began to explain to me the current situation of our mutual friend from college.
I met Cara through the Christian sorority we were a part of. We were close through college and she was always someone I knew I had in my corner no matter what. Many of our friends at the time were your typical college gals, crazy, funny, loud, obnoxious and always trying to be in the spotlight. Okay, I may or may not be just talking about myself here but this is one of the reasons I was so drawn to Cara. She was one of those people that when you meet you instantly feel like you have known her your entire life. She was calm, a servant, always willing to let others shine and do what she could to help them do so. She laughed at all my jokes even the ones that were not funny. I tried so hard in college to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be but Cara was one of those friends I always felt at ease to drop my guard around. At 31 I now realize she saw right through my act and toughness and didn't care, her love was unconditional. We spent a good amount of time together as our close knit groups often would hang out and do things together, but part of me always wished I had invested more into that friendship. My soul knew I needed it.
In 2003 we both had new beginnings. Mine was starting a new life in Washington, D.C. at my first real job. Cara's was beginning a battle with a brain tumor. I remember sitting at my desk when I found out. Shocked. Prayer and seeking prayer through my email network was my first destination for this helplessness I felt so many miles away. I thought of all people to battle this. After much time had passed the Lord healed her and Cara was finally able to walk into the next stage of her life He had called her to as a wife and then a future mother. Both of our lives took many turns before we were able to finally reunite. Through the wonderful world of social media I was able to "keep up" with her and watch all the Lord was doing.
Now back to the dressing room at J. Crew, there I was when the phone rang and Leah began to explain to me the new battle Cara was facing. She told me how Cara had been having headaches all through her pregnancy with Kate. She continued on with the pregnancy and delivered a happy and healthy little gal 9 months later but the headaches didn't go away. Soon after that she went in for the tests where they discovered a stage 4 brain tumor. Then the call...
I remember being a bit numb, feeling guilty. I had let so much time pass with a friend I truly treasured. I also was in a bit of denial that this would not end badly. I was certain her life had so much to offer, two little gals (Hailey and Kate) and a husband who adored her.
It was now 2010, new clothes from J.Crew seem irrelevant and the best cancer health care in the world suddenly seems relevant. I actually lived in Houston by now, which houses M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where Cara came to receive treatment. I contacted Cara and Justin to make any resource I had or didn't have available to them. My fix it mentality went into over drive and I wanted to "do my part" spin and toil "to help". In hindsight, toiling is not what Cara wanted. Much like in college she saw through what I was doing and yes she accepted and allowed me to "help" where I could but for the most part Cara just kept reminding me just being there was all she needed. So I hung out in the hospital with her one night, had dinner a few others, got a little time in Boerne at her house. She offered to cook me dinner that night but for some reason I thought I was too busy to stay. I have thought of that moment many times and at her funeral realizing there would not be another night for dinner I wish I would have stayed a little longer.
We can spin and toil and do all we want to try to show those we care for that we do, but what people really want and what helps the most is you. Just You. Nothing more, nothing less. Just show up and love.
It has been a hard lesson for me to learn, and was something the Lord has been and is taking me me through in many different ways. But it is one of the biggest lessons the Lord put flesh on for me through Cara (especially through the last year of her life) is to just love. The last time I saw her before she left Houston to head back to Boerne I told her I was going to try to move some things around and see her one last time... She just hugged me and whispered very faintly in my ear "It's okay. I love you."
I can barely type that without crying but it is who Cara was. You knew she loved you. I never questioned that our entire friendship. She never made any grand gesture or anything crazy. She gave us her. She gave us her whole self. Nothing more, nothing less. When you spent time with her she was completely present and available. She was real and genuine through and through.
Few people have affected my life the way Cara has, and because it is so fresh on my mind I would tell you no one has. Her steadfastness and true faith in the Lord never wavered. Se trusted her God until the very end. I keep a picture of Cara in my bible tucked away at the page which holds the verse; "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7) I don't believe I have known anyone who embodied that more.
Cara's spirit of life love and faith were contagious and live on in her family. Who would like for more people to know her and thus her family and friends are in the process of setting up and endowment at M.D. Anderson in Cara's name. It's a huge cost $20,000 but I believe the Lord can do it. There is actually a skeet shooting tournament later this month that will take place to help raise funds. Clay's for Cara
I am planning to take part in it and I pray some of you in the Texas area would as well. If you are interested let me know and we can make our own team! You can also just come out for dinner. Just do as the Lord leads you in this and follow through.
But if you learn anything from Cara please learn to love those around you. Be real and vulnerable. Do not try to be someone you aren't because you think that is what is expected from you.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Look form the "other area" into the kitchen, entry way and the study
(no pics of the study yet... its still a work in progress)
Monday, August 29, 2011
But then I allowed myself to stay in the healing stage of life and have been favoring my foot and not pushing it to its full potential. I believe we sometimes do this not just physically but spiritually when we are afraid to step back out there and get in the race.
And then through my friend Amanda I learned about a really neat opportunity to run a half-marathon in support of a young girl in India. As Our Own is in organization that rescues girls in India who are vulnerable to being trapped into sex-trafficking; which is a severe problem there. Many of these girls are rescued from the brothels where their mothers are enslaved and they are forced to sleep under the beds their mothers are "working" in. As Our Own is an incredible and very credible organization.
This year they are doing a fundraising effort with runners in 10 half-marathon races across the United States running for 10 girls that have been rescued in India! They are asking each runner to raise $750 a piece (but my goal is to try to double that and raise $1500 for these girls) Please watch the short video below for a bit more info on the campaign.
I was afraid that there was not going to be enough time to train to run a half, then I was worried what if my foot isn't ready... well I can not think of any better reason to toss all the excuses aside than Pashi. She is the girl I will be running for in the San Antonio Half-Marathon in November. And I believe the Lord will get me through it all and across that finish line with His help and your support of Pashi and the new life she has been given. So please stand in support with me in this en devour. We are given so much in America and our kids have so much more than their peers around the world.
I would ask for as little as you can give even if its only $5 (those add up) or as much as you feel able to give! :) BUT if you have been struck by these girls as I have I would ask some of my running and non running friends to think about joining me in San Antonio and running for Pashi! The more runners we have running for her the more support can go to these girls! And its just fun to have people to run 13.1 miles with!
Here is a link where you can securely give online. Thank you for your support of Pashi and the girls of As Our Own.
Monday, July 18, 2011
To say its been a whirl wind would be an extreme understatement! I am still moving into my apartment and would love to put up some pics of the apartment but it is still a work in progress… but I did take a couple of the living room the first weekend on my phone to post on twitter so those will be at the end. I cannot say enough how much I LOVE my new loft! I mean the Lord has given me the perfect place even down to the little fixtures! He really is better to us than He should be! If I could have designed my own loft I would have designed this one!
My job has been just as great! I am working at Baylor University as their Director of Strategic Partnerships, in the office of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships. I started right before our big meeting week (this one) and thus it has been a crazy last week., but that’s just how I like it: Busy and challenged.
I have been seriously impressed with Baylor University and all they are doing there. They are truly taking the Great Commission seriously and its exciting to be a part of the team that is working to help more people realize all that is going on here! I could have you here for hours talking about just a few of the programs I’ve been blessed to hear about.
I’m keeping this one short (I’m sure you are glad about that) but wanted to check in… I will try to post more soon! Especially when my apartment is set up.
Oh! And my sister cut my hair! I have been wanting to do this for a long time and we were watching Friday Night Lights and I love "Tami Taylor's" hair and my sister was like you can do that... so she did... So what do you think is it Tami Taylor?
I have been blessed to work in some incredible historic buildings and my current office is no exception... Like I said the Lord is so much better than He has to be!
Sunday, July 3, 2011
So as y’all know I left out on this journey to find “What’s Next” a little over three months ago. I knew the Lord was calling me out I just did not know where, so any opportunity that came my way I threw my hat in the ring and asked the Lord to sort it out. I knew where I wanted to go and that was leaving Texas again for a while, I looked in Atlanta and had a blast with some old and new friends, and then spent a week in Nashville praying the Lord would allow my next step to take me there.
The thing I have come to love most about the Lord is His willingness to allow us to explore and search Him out. Wandering in this case I do not believe was out of His will but exactly what He had asked me to so that when He presented to me what the next step would be it would be after He had given me ample time to explore what I saw as personally desirable locations. So after maybe almost 2000 miles on the road He has brought me to a place not even a hundred miles north of my hometown. And I am pumped about it!
As I was driving out of Nashville (the city I wanted to be in the most) the Lord allowed a conversation to take place about an opportunity at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. The job itself couldn’t have been more perfect but I had to ask; as a single gal in her thirties who loved the city was Waco the right place to be. And I LOVE my family please don’t hear me wrong in that but I am a independent gal (sometimes to fault) and I like being out and about exploring and so I didn’t know if I wanted to be so close to home. Well I had about 12 hours in my car after that where the Lord worked on my heart and as I pulled into my apartment complex in Houston in the middle of the night I was convinced this was where the Lord has called me. And I was excited about it! (He is so much better to us than He has to be!)
So I started a long interview process that actually began the next day and did not finalize until this past Wednesday. In that time my lease was up in Houston so I moved back to my hometown with a childhood friend, then in with my brother and sporadically in with another friend from DC. This independent always has a plan girl was humbled because I needed to rely on those around me and I had no plan or timeline to work with. Through this time at home though the Lord has done so much not just in my life but also in some lives around me. Believe me this road has been for me! But its cool to see that He will use it for others as well. If I listed all the Lord has done we’d be here forever and they are not all my stories to share in this public forum but please know they are jaw dropping and even bring tears to my eyes now thinking about it all.
God’s timing is always right and His ways are always for our good. He is the best thing to ever happen to me and the only good that lives within me. He is it!
So I move into a new place on Wednesday, start a new job the following Monday and I am looking forward to the new path He has set out for me and all the adventures that are to come. I know I will meet people who I will love the rest of my life and will change and challenge me to look more like Christ. I can’t wait for this new adventure! Thank you to all who have prayed for me and walked with me in this season of my life. I am so grateful for your faithfulness… now here we go!
P.S. If anyone has Waco suggestions churches, places to eat or shop please let me know! I am totally new to the area!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I have thought about writing this post many times since getting ready to leave Living Proof. But how do you put two years of life changing experiences into one blog post that would not have y’all here reading for weeks. Well having been gone for a bit now and processing the past two years I firmly believe that it is straight up impossible so I am not going to try. I am just going to let the Lord lead me in writing and trust what He would share.
So when I was thinking about it, I had to go back to one member of this village who first impacted me when I was 18 years old. I honestly am not totally sure when I first met Amanda, I kinda just remember her always being there when I arrived to college. We pledged the same Christian sorority in college and were placed in the same freshman bible study. I had no idea that this person the Lord had placed in my life would have such a huge impact. My senior year of college I was blessed to obtain a prestigious internship in Washington, DC. Being the only in my family to go to college I was humbled by what the Lord had done and excited to see what He would unfold. But as the days became closer to my departure I was becoming increasingly scared and knew I was going to be out of my element. During finals week I was sitting in one of the main eating areas on campus and saw Amanda. She was getting married that summer and I was bummed to miss the wedding so I went over to tell her I was sorry and we ended up having a conversation that forever changed how I viewed my friend. Through the conversation I told her I was scared and didn’t know what to expect, Amanda calmly spoke truth to me, encouraged me and prayed with me for that summer. After that conversation Amanda became one of the main people I always reached out to in seeking advice when changing jobs. (And when you are in politics that is pretty often)
So of course the Lord would use her to be the link that helped bring me to Living Proof Ministries and the wild ride these past two years has been. Walking into the building I had no idea what to expect, I had just finished 6 and a half years in Washington, D.C. where even our informal moments were formal. And not to mention that my last job had been in the Pentagon, which in case you did not know is a much different world than Women’s Ministry. I knew I would really enjoy working with these ladies but I had no idea of how impressed I would be with the work they did. If you ever wonder about the work that is done at Living Proof Ministries I can guarantee you that those ladies and Curtis put everything into the work they do there. Not just their physical efforts but their spiritual efforts as well. They are the real deal. There is no better way to put it. They love the Lord with everything within them, and they love others just the same.
I have been blessed to work in many team environments where you are all striving after the same goal. It’s invigorating and allows you to build bonds and relationships that are rare. But I can honestly say I have never been in an environment quite like LPM. The Lord brought me into a whole new family that has forever changed my life. I was blessed to obtain some new sisters in the Lord, a brother and a handful of sweet mothers. Watching these women do life together challenged me in so many areas of my life. The Lord used each and every one of them to speak into my life, and bring me to a greater understanding of Him and how we are to pursue Him. My quiet times will never be the same and neither will my prayer life. I truly do not know how to express my gratitude to Him for these lives, neither do I know how to properly explain to anyone what the Lord did in my life through them. The best thing I could tell you is that He used them to bring me closer to Him and fall more in love with who He is and who He can be in our life if we allow Him.
Even if I never see a single one of their faces again (and that is not the plan so don’t get any ideas ladies!) I doubt I will ever get over them. They have affected me in a deep way that is only from the Lord. So before I cry here in Starbucks I pulled some fun pics from my two years to give a small view of my time there.
Amanda, Her Roomies (Maggie, Mel and Bonny) and I at dinner
(I think this is our Sophomore year at A&M)
No LPM highlights would not be complete without Starbucks. I grew to love coffee more here and a lot of fun times happened over coffee
And no one goes to lunch like LPM! Everyone together just about everyday trying to fit in one car. If nothing else happens in your day lunch was always an adventure and so memorable.
A highlight was a road trip to and from Austin in a 15 passenger van and lots of rain, I was blessed to drive for Di's daughters wedding. It was a blast!
This picture was one of the most stressful times in my LPM days... sitting in front of the group and Beth teased me that I was going to need to find Obidiah... oh the pressure. I still flinch when that book is mentioned.
Even everyday tasks are a blast at LPM! This was when the ladies spent all morning putting together some furniture and then moved it up in the tiny tiny slug! (I also had to get a pic of the slug in there! No tribute would be complete without it)
No one celebrates like LPM celebrates, I have so many memories from all sorts of celebrations with them. This was our Christmas party this past year.
The Road! Traveling was one of the duties I loved best for so many reasons. One small one was we usually had a lot of laughs on the way back! This was the day of Beth's heroic actions that saved many people in the Atlanta airport from slipping and falling.
I wish I had a picture of all the event coordinators at Lifeway! A unique group of women who I will miss just as much! Life on the road with them was always a blast! This is Paige (IGoM) and I in Seattle, she rallied to take a late night ride to the 1st Starbucks and the Fish Market for me!
This was Beth and I at the last LPL I traveled with her to.
The Lord sent me out on a strong Word from Him!
Travis and the Praise Team. Again no words for how much of a blessing these folks are. They have ruined me for worship with anyone else. They are gifted and bring you into the Lord's Throne Room like no one I know.
I had to bring this to a close with one of Amanda and I. This was a fun moment at the Christmas party for so many reasons!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Well I am bad at this blogging thing is all I can say! But I always intend to do it! There is a lot to catch you up on but I would hate to jump over my week in Nashville during my last road trip. (Which side note to say my car hit 50,000 miles this week in 2 years! So if you did not know by now you can tell I love to be on the road!)
So after a couple of days in Atlanta and lots of fun with friends I jumped back on the road for one of the most beautiful drives to Nashville. If you ever get the chance to drive that route I highly recommend it! It was breathe taking and peaceful. I kept trying to take a picture of the mountains next to the valleys or the water but there was just never a safe way to get one so alas you will just have to imagine it.
I pulled into Nashville late on Thursday saw a few friends for a bit and then hit the hay! Friday was filled with some fun meetings and catching up with friends for the most part. I was blessed to attend a silent Good Friday Service at The Village Chapel that really made you stop and take in the day and think. Which we all should do on that fateful day, without the cross we could never get to Easter Sunday.
Saturday I spent most of the day studying and laying low at a local Starbucks. The draw to this Starbucks, a former college student who I had the pleasure to pour into is a barista there. I had not seen in a year and a half so it was a true blessing getting to hug her neck and take her to lunch.
Here is my favorite Starbucks Barista, Faith
Sunday we went to the very early service at The Village Chapel and I was extremely blessed to watch the children of the church fill the holes in the cross (from nails that were nailed in it on Good Friday) with daisies. I had never seen this done and it was one of those moments that make you just stop and see the change of the pain of the cross on Friday to the joy of the cross and the empty tomb on Sunday. We had a fabulous Easter lunch that was just the home cooked meal this gal needed!
April, Me and Kelly all dressed up for Easter Sunday. Easter requires dresses and skirts
I stayed in Nashville till the morning of Thursday and the week was filled with lots of old friends and meeting some new. I was blessed to break up the 12 hour drive back to Houston with a stop for lunch in Jackson, TN with Travis Cottrell and his team there at Englewood Baptist Church. We had some great sushi and a lot of great laughs… although I did miss seeing his lovely bride Angela.
All in all Nashville was a true blessing and it is a town that truly has taken my heart! If you ever have the opportunity to go I recommend snatching it up as soon as you can!