Tag Archives: loss

It’s Not What You Endure, It’s How You Endure It

 

iGnite - unshakeable faithiGnite Members Christie Skinner (left) and Kerrie Pennington (right) at Christie’s home while the iGnite Community helped her sort through her salvaged items on Sunday.

“Forget what you can’t control and focus on what you can control: your attitude, your faith, and your perspective. Choose to make the best of every situation that comes your way.”
(Anonymous)

Point to Ponder:
How do you tend to react when faced with personal loss or tragedy?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As our iGnite community received word of via email this weekend, on Tuesday iGnite member Christie Skinner’s home burned. Upon learning the news, I sent Christie a text extending my sympathy, care and prayers. Honestly, I was nervous to reach out because I feared my text would be burdomsome. But, I tried putting myself in her shoes and I knew that I would appreciate friends reaching out. I didn’t expect or need a response, though what I received just minutes later blew my mind. Here is our exchange:

Neissa: “Hello Christie, Kathleen let me know about your home and I want you to know how very sorry I am. I am so thankful you all are okay. Please know that Russell and I are praying for you all and will continue to pray for you throughout the recovery process. Know that you are loved and being thought of.”

Christie: “Thanks!! It’s pretty sad but it’s just stuff!! And amazingly we are in the process of buying a little condo on Lake Austin so God’s timing is really good!!”

Neissa: “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

Christie: “You can bring me a Diet Coke on ice anytime you happen to be around.”

My initial reaction was, “Really? Did I read that correctly? How is it possible for someone to have lost so much yet have such tremendous perspective? And, she’s only asked for a Diet Coke? I can do that!”

I was briefly able to stop by Christie’s home today, Sunday, while our iGnite community helped her sort through her items. I’ve always thought that if a big project or job needs to get accomplished, the quick solution is a group of committed women. Indeed the job was getting done, and Christie’s spirit was contagious. She was positive, smiled and did what she needed to do. The entire sight was inspiring, like Christie’s faith and attitude.

I am always amazed by the events, circumstances and losses that the human spirit is able to endure. Most everyone faces some type of tragedy or difficult circumstances in their life, though what distinguishes one person from the other is not what they endure but how they endure it. The way I see it is we have choices: we can either (1) endure alone, without faith, think that life is out to get us, God is trying to punish us, give up and have a bad attitude — or, we can (2) let go of our pride, let others know how they can help us (even if it’s simply a Diet Coke on ice!), pray for unshakable faith, ask for others who have unshakeable faith to pray for us and trust in the plans that God has for us: a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

While we all will not experience the tragedy of a burned home, we all will experience loss in our lives. It is for this that having an unshakable faith, never underestimating the power of prayer, surrounding ourselves with a community of people who also have unshakeable faith, and trusting in the promise of a future is crucial. There’s no doubt that life is going to shake us over and over again, but it doesn’t have to break us. Thank you, Christie for showing us this!

Action Item:
Contemplate Christie’s response to the events of the past week and be inspired by her unshakable faith and ability to accept help in such difficult circumstances.

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It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine!

iGnite - let your light shine

Point to Ponder:
Are you a light to those around you?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Excitingly, last Tuesday our kiddos (Durant, 4 & Malaine, 2) attended their first week of pre-school in San Diego. You. have. no. idea. how thrilled I was! Not just for me and my own sanity, but for theirs too. I was excited that we could begin establishing a routine, they could start making friends, their world was expanding beyond “mom,” and I could have a little freedom.

The pre-school they are attending is at the church we attend, The Rock, and it’s in an area near downtown called Point Loma. Like all of San Diego (including the neighborhood we live in), it’s full of a very diverse group of people. Ironically, moving to a more diverse neighborhood was actually something that my husband Russell and I considered while living in Austin before we knew we were moving to San Diego. Now, I realize that our interest was more than just coincidence — rather, it was God opening and preparing our hearts and minds for our future environment.

So, Tuesday was their first day of school and it was an exceptional day for all of us. Absolutely, my heart was a bit unsettled and nervous, but I knew it was necessary for feeling grounded, creating relationships and for our overall growth and development. Then on Thursday, after dropping them off and while filling out paperwork in the school, a heavy dose of loneliness blindsided me out of nowhere. As I I looked around, everything felt unfamiliar. I’m just gonna be honest and say it — no one looked like me (how about that “don’t judge a book by its cover” fail!?). Unlike at the Mother’s Day Out my children attended in Austin, I do not have a relationship with the director, the teachers or any of the moms here. Seriously, I was on the verge of tearing up when out of the blue a random woman walked up, noticed my Stronger TogetHER tank [that I was of course proudly wearing 🙂 ] and said, “I really like your shirt! What’s that about?” I perked up and gave her the 15 second description of iGnite, ending with “we are community-based and believe that in all aspects of life, we are stronger togerHER.” She then enthusiastically invited me to join the women’s Bible study called SHINE. Shine – wow!  What an encouraging, happy and powerful word!

That word shine made an impression on me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. By definition, the word shine means to give out a bright light. As I looked more into ‘shining,’ I was reminded of a sermon I heard by preacher Francis Chan about how a silversmith gets his best, shiniest silver through a process called “testing.” The testing process starts with raw silver in a pot and a fire that is heated to the highest possible temperature. As the silver melts, the impurities rise to the top, at which the silversmith scrapes off the impurities and continues the same process of extreme heat and scraping the impurities off until he or she has the shiniest possible piece of metal — so shiny that they can see their own reflection in it.

What I find remarkable is how this process relates to life and the hardships, stresses, losses, disappointments and discomforts that we all must experience in order to shine. That with the right attitude and perspective, those scary and seemingly ‘unfair’ experiences actually produce maturity, perseverance, faith and wisdom in us so we can shine for others. That’s the part that I was forgetting about on Thursday in my moment of self-pity. I was so consumed by my own discomfort that I was forgetting about my responsibility to shine for others. I had to step outside of myself and my self-pity in order to see the big picture.

Author Marianne Williamson says is perfectly below, suggesting that when we shine, we give others permission to shine:

“Our deepest fear isn’t that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that are more powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, how are you not to be? You are here for a reason! Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It’s in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson

Action Item:
If you are currently experiencing hard or stressful times, just remember, you are going through the testing process so you can shine even brighter on the other side. If you don’t have the energy or even the hope to shine, find someone that is shining and allow their shine to brighten yours.
Or, if life is feeling great and you have plenty of shine to give, in all of your interactions, conversations and even casual passings-by, make it a priority to shine. It’s our responsibility to and for others who are not shining to gain strength from our glow. So let’s shine as brightly as we can so others can be inspired and encouraged to shine as well!

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I Will Live Each Day As If It Could Be My Last

anneandneissa

Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, “Yahooooooo, what a ride!”   -Mavis Leyrer

by Anne Jarvis

by Anne Jarvis

When I was 17 and a junior in high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the next ten years she had two radical mastectomies and eventually died of bone cancer that had spread throughout her body. She was only 59 years old. She was exceptionally brave, a strong believer, fiercely loved by her family and friends and was joyful, even until the end. When I think of my mom’s tremendous bravery and characteristics, I always think of three things.

  1. *Believe In Miracles* When she became ill this was the little sign that sat near her bed.
  2. *This is the day that the Lord hath made. Rejoice and be glad in it*  She would greet each day with these words.
  3. *Have fun*  These were her final words.

When she passed away, I was an emotional and physical wreck. I lost twenty pounds in a month, was having regular panic attacks, had to quit work and was suffering from situational depression.  Over the next year I had to heal from this place of sadness and one thing I did everyday was walk outdoors and repeat—“God will see you through.” But my biggest ‘A-ha moment’ was when a therapist I was seeing said, “Anne, what are you going to do if you never feel any better than this?”  It was at that moment I was given the choice of how I wanted to live my life. I decided I wanted to reclaim a place of health, joy and purpose. I wanted a rich and full life filled with highs and lows. I wanted to live each day as if it could be my last.

I recognize that while life is filled with tremendous blessings, it is also filled with painful moments of loss and great sadness. For me, I have come to my own personal crossroads that has caused me to make choices on how I will continue to live my life. For example, I value my family and friends, my faith, my health, my community, and the freedom to be my authentic self. I want to live each day knowing that I have made a difference not just to myself, but to others. I want people to think of me as someone that didn’t take herself too seriously and found humor in life. I want to keep learning, have a sense of wonder, remain grateful for the life I have been given while also looking towards the future. I want every day to count and have no regrets.

A life with no regrets or living each day like it could be your last is definitely easier said than done. I’ve found that I must face my fears, take risks, believe in myself, take a deep breath and put that foot on the floor each new day. Just this week I have found myself full of fear about having to make the decision to take the Brac breast cancer gene test. I don’t want to find out if I carry the predisposition for breast cancer, but the results might save mine and my daughters’ lives. And, if I claim to value health, then I must do the hard work. Life’s hardships build character and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

This is why I love iGnite — as women we are on life’s journey together, helping each other, encouraging each other to live full and happy lives. We are growing physically, mentally and spiritually. We are there for each other in joy and sorrow. So, from the wisdom of a woman who joyfully lived as she was dying, I encourage you to: Believe in Miracles, Rejoice in Each Day, Have Fun and allow yourself to be moved by closing your eyes and hearing the inspirational words of Tim McGraw in this video.

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