• sarah@healingeyes.org

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Choices in grief

Life is full of choices and decisions to live. Those who have experienced great loss can choose to live in that past or be bound by the chains of grief. There are times when those chains serve a purpose, forcing us to face the evil face of grief and cry those tears loss. Then there are times to accept what loss has done to us and be strong. When our strength fails it’s time to rely on other people, let go of our pride and humble ourselves before others and show our vulnerabilities.

Today I experienced all of those feelings and by the end I went so dark into the pit of despair that I feared I would suffocate. But then I took the life line God was throwing at me, he forced me to see my weakness and do something I stubbornly fight against. I reached out to other people for help, I cried out in my pain for a ear to listen to the guilt I carry. God knew my burden was too much for this frail heart to take and he sent me angels today. So many voices today gave me hope and insight into the web of guilt I have choked on. I have learned that in my solitude I am twisting my thoughts into a tiny little prison of guilt. For a moment I broke free in talking to others and seeking help from my therapist. I am weak, I know many think I am strong for flipping my life upside down but I am so frail.

My most precious moment today was when on my second day helping at the Boys and Girls club I saw this look in the kids eyes as they opened up to me. It was madness all around, me and 15 kids with severe A.D.D., and I was teaching them. ‘Miss Sarah, Miss Sarah, help me with this or can I go to the bathroom, I’m thirsty, help me next, help me’. It’s hot and the mosquitos are hungry and I have these 3rd and 4th graders looking to me for guidance. At that moment I wished I could clone myself because I am darting here and there trying to help each kid, frustrated when I had to leave the behaved ones to read on their own. One boy who was working so hard on his homework, quietly, comes to me for help a couple times but each time another kid interrupts. My heart! My heart aches! Why for so many years did Andy and me hide from children, why did we harden our hearts? Kids surrounded me today and I saw how hungry they were for knowledge. They are so far behind in comprehending words and I am just making up ideas on the fly to reach them. The staff today even saw me use discipline and assertiveness to keep the kids attention, I got a thumbs up from one of the teachers. I got on bended knee with one boy in the library and explained how important it is to understand what he reads and not just race through a book. He looked at me, he looked at me with an eagerness to try!

Assembly at Boys and Girls Club

Assembly at Boys and Girls Club

I think of Andy and I smile because he has to be laughing his ass off at this. Me of all people, working with children and adults, instead of hiding behind a computer in an office. Oh Andy, I wish you were here to change with me, that your heart could be healed like this. Andy you would have made a great father. Perhaps you got your wish and are in heaven taking care of little Hope.

Angel Fruit Cake, Andy's Favorite

Angel Fruit Cake, Andy’s Favorite

Healing Eyes

Blessings

God has told me THREE things I am sure of!

Live on the island to take time to heal
Help Kids to heal my wounds
Write a Book about my experience

In the midst of this he wants me to share how he works his magic for willing participants, such as I. Mini recap of my blog…my husband died from cancer and I then moved to an island to be a entrepreneur missionary or whatever label I end up using…

Today I prayed the prayer I only use cautiously because each time I say it something happens. “Bless me and expand my territory”. Now it seems to work when I really mean it so I am very very careful because he doesn’t hold back when I invite him in. 

I went to a new church today on the island that I kept hearing about. Of all days I go it was the day the kids run the show. Neat theory, sometimes they let the entire youth run the service. I’ll break down the blessings the best I can…it really is an organic experience that God weaves when he acts on a request.

  1. Small boy named Andy did a little standup comedy. Reminded me of my Andy the goof ball.
  2. Request for volunteers to help with the pre-school kids and they did it to the tune of ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen which I am learning on my Ukelele. Sometimes God is blatant in his signs. So yes I signed up to volunteer the first day I visit a church. The lady that runs the kids program I met the previous day on the beach too.
  3. Ran into another lady I met earlier on island and she opened up to be about there kids program where they tutor children one on one. I had been wanting to hear more about it before but she never opened up…this time she did. Obviously God nudged her.
  4. Got a free ride out to Buck island by the family that runs the kids programs, that I met yesterday at the beach, and that i talked to at church about volunteering. Coincidence? ha!  It’s hard to get rides out to Buck island so that was a nice little blessing from God.
  5. While on Buck island got to share my story about Andy and his illness. Which coincided with the fact that this family was going through some illness too. Coincidence? No.
  6. The Biggest blessing was this same lady knows a counselor and wait for it….she’s going to introduce me and I don’t have to worry about the cost. So when I was in Michigan the other week I was told to find a counselor on island and what happens? God weaves his way in and most likely has found one for me. I didn’t even have to do anything but WAIT on him. Sometimes I hate it when I am proven wrong and God shows off like this. Plus its so nice talking about Andy! Standing in the sun and water talking about my soulmate is so therapeutic.

So main theme! Be careful when you ask for something from God… he might throw a lot at you in one day! I’m sure I missed something but part of my deal with God is that when he does something I have to share it on my blog…even if I think no one cares or reads this. He gives and then I give back, I wonder if he’s my employer now? I worry about money and tomorrow but it’s kinda stupid to do since he is one step ahead of me….ugh how quickly I forget that. There is one thing he hasn’t broken my stubbornness on yet…if the day comes that he gets me waving my hands in the air during church you will know I am done for.

Note: today I woke up thinking I was going to a different beach but after church the beach got super sized by getting the free boat ride (normally its $75 to get out there). I set my expectations low and he delivered Abundance instead. Dang! Is this what an abundant life is like? Sure would be nice if it had cheaper food and long john donuts again but I’ll settle for a nice beach day.

Healing Eyes

Bittersweet return

My heart is torn paper. Ripped to pieces and written with tears.
Oh God why do you torment me.
Why do I gasp for air.
Let it end. Give back light to my eyes.

I have returned to the island after a mini vacation and self discovery tour of loss.
I spent time with a dear friend who loves me and the memory of Andy.
I saw my dogs and sister in law and I thank God for that opportunity.
I kayaked with my daddy and quacked at ducks on a picturesque river in Michigan. Saw turtles sun bathing and remembered a time when Andy was alive.
I biked on my beloved road bike.
I chatted with a supporter and shared my testimony with her and gained encouragement from that chat.
Lunch with my past boss/mentor who helped mold me into a more confident person and gave me the self confidence I have because of his leadership. He knows I am determined and stubborn.
I saw my crazy opinionated friend who tells it as it is and laughed a lot.
I saw my old house and the street I called home what seems forever Ago.
Each time I see it I am reminded you can’t go back home when it’s gone. Not as it was at least.

I was reminded how vacations are not the same without Andy and faced pain of memories dredged up by that.
Even though I look high and low for Andy he is gone. He is not where I left him.
I saw a therapist and he said I must let go in time. Some day I’ll smile again and the guilt will lessen. Look out for my heart and grieve but let God heal me. Everything done was done because it was the right thing at the time based on what I knew. I can’t go back and change it.

Let it be….

I am back…I am sad…I am alone. My flights home I sat alone, no one beside me oddly. God was protecting me or perhaps isolating me in my grief.

My rent is due in a week and I’m $300 short so far. It is amazing to see how after PayPal was emptied last month that it did recoup some of the loss. Thank you to all who have helped and thank you for your prayers. I pray for discernment and ways to touch others hearts thru this blog in order to persevere.

The clubs After school programs start in a week. This week I have time for reflection and grieving. Time to work on doubts and fears. Above all I fear loneliness and humiliation. Pray I can gain peace in my path and see light in my choice to live on crazy faith.
To think I could have a chance loving kids and breaking past that pain of being barren and widowed.

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭54‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

Tell my heart to beat again.

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Healing Eyes

Boing Boing..Jump

My day wasn’t supposed to be all kids but it ended up being that way. I am floundering around and each day it seems I never know what will happen. Today I was with the kids at the club all day and we went to the beach for most of it. As usual I was awkward when I first arrived and shy around the kids.

The staff members talked to me more today, yay! I’m making progress in being accepted.

Then little ‘Happy Feet’ came by and she is so full of life. She has 3 names but today it was mainly Happy Feet. All day she was my little shadow, from bouncing around to being a fish she rode in the water, this little girl kept me jumping. By the end of the day she was tired and grumpy and laid on my lap crying. I taught her lessons on sharing food with others, being nice, how to work a camera, and finally she taught me love. There is a boat we have to take to the beach we bring them to and at the end of the day she got on the first boat back to the mainland while I was on the second. When I got off she was waiting for me, she was explaining to the staff member she was waiting for Miss Sarah and pointed at me. She said she loved me and missed me. As if I had been gone long since it’s just a 2 minute ride in the boat.

Whatever did I get myself into?

They have offered me a staff position when school starts, possibly teaching computers in the lab (it’s a tiny lab so nothing high end). Also seems I may have a graphic arts opportunity in creating a promo flyer for future donors. Today God has thrown more ideas at me and I am spinning. So many kids and I have no idea what to do.

Pray for discernment on this coming school year…it seems I have too many options on what to do.

 

Healing Eyes

Earning My Stripes!

Take that leap and go out and live trusting God! Do it! I dare everyone to try it….wow….but don’t expect instant results. It really is a minute by minute commitment to not give up. I’m glad today I stuck it out and went with God’s direction, as much as it confused and scared me.

For some reason God wants me to learn to drive Jeep and crawl up steep scary inclines. For some reason God wants me to learn to public speak by being a tour guide. For some reason God wants me to lose that shyness and let loose with other people. Today I went on my second training with driving Jeep. Now when I say ‘driving Jeep’ I need to clarify what I mean. It will involve being happy and showing a lot of patience and diligence. It means not getting angry when the Jeep breaks or when I am tired from the heat. It means performing for a group of 4 guests per ride and selling the island and its beauty to them. It means letting my needs come last. It also involves driving up some damn steep hills and learning about teamwork to the extreme.

I thought today I was going out alone with the teacher but there was another newbie driver and I had to show him what to do when first looking over the Jeep. Need to check 5 things in the engine and survey the undercarriage for any broken parts. Then we picked up a second driver who used to drive for the company and he turned out to be a bonus in my learning experience.

I picked the same Jeep as before and we were off. 7 hours later I am finally home and exhausted. To sum it up on the way back up the road to the tide pools and being the one to drive while the other 3 guys watched me, I failed getting up the hill and then the Jeep died. The gas line had a leak and the entire tank was dry. Now cell phones don’t work so well out in the bush so me and the second driver walked back down to the tide pools (the ocean) to try and find a signal. Luckily we got thru and a Jeep was on its way with gas (the owner of all people). A nice dip in the Tide pools while waiting was a must! As well as pleasant conversation about life and food. He is also a chef and he asked me how my husband died and I explained how food became our enemy. It’s so refreshing to talk about Andy and cancer! He might cook some meals for me and show me the restaurants that have great food. One thing he said to me was, “We need to not have you being all depressed anymore”.

Some time later help arrived and then the true fun started. I wasn’t getting off that easy from making my first successful trip up that hill. So I have 3 guys telling me how to do it and I am getting scared and frustrated at myself. One of the drivers in training bailed out the back of the Jeep, lol he just has no guts it seems when the Jeep slightly tipped a bit, it made for a good camaraderie experience with the other two guys on the drive back. They assured me that I have more ‘balls’ then that guy and to not worry.

Did I make it?! I sure did! The Jeep stalled a lot but I finally pressed the gas and sucked up my fears (with a little help of a tool box behind my back to support me from falling back in the seat) and drove that Jeep up that incline.

So the owner of the company and his son both had so much patience with me and I learned what true teamwork is today. They didn’t give up on me, and thank you God for giving me the strength (stubbornness) to not give up.

A great day of smelling exhaust fumes, sweating, African killer bees, and conquering one of the inclines on the trail. Maybe, just maybe I earned some of my stripes today!

When God wants to give an abundant life to someone he doesn’t joke around. I’m in the Caribbean volunteering to work with kids and I get to have a piece of Andy back with being around mechanics and learning to drive. Andy loved teaching me how to drive…he loved playing cars with me.

Healing Eyes

Uno

Uno is the card game of choice for the kids at the club. I was a hit since I had a new deck of cards and would play for hours (I mean hours!). Slowly the kids are realizing I am going to be around for a while and they wander up to me while I am sitting at the picnic table. Today’s conversation jumped from if God can die to Jesus Dying on the cross and then finally me explaining the deck of cards were Andy’s but he died before he could play them. Kids are really great listeners.

Another kid read me several books (one was a joke book and the other Berenstein bears) and then later we played Uno for hours. He was a soft spoken kid and a nice change from all the screaming I normally receive. The two girls in the video came by later to play and normally they scream during Uno but I explained this was ‘quiet Uno’ and they respected my request. Each time I go back I don’t know what to expect and I am nervous and hesitant to go but then the kids surprise me and slowly accept me.

The bathroom is broken there so everyone stateside appreciate those flush toilets…the porty johns get very hot in the middle of the day.

Healing Eyes

A Small Life

The approach to raise $5,000 for 5 months of service on the island wasn’t the right approach. Well it felt right at the time, thinking of how will I make it after quitting my reliable paid salary job. Every two weeks I got a check that would let me buy food and pay for lodging. It was a very enticing lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong…I miss it terribly! That was one of my passions that is now gone. The laptop is in the FedEx box waiting to go back to Michigan.

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I just finished listening to another sermon from Ada Bible. For some reason last sunday’s and this sunday’s keep resonating with me. From the Ant Power to now the Barb Wire discipline. Over last week I would remind myself to be like an Ant, be consistent and diligent even if it was hard. Every morning drag myself out of bed even if I didn’t want to. Eat food even when I don’t want to. Now today I am reminded its the Slow and Steady commitment I am after in my life. My blog is the most consistent thing in my life. It’s always been there for me. I consistently update it even if I don’t like what i’ll write about or how it might affect others. I try to be raw in my writing even when it sounds depressing. Life is broken!

Yesterday I got a gift from someone I never met in Michigan but talked to over email. I am realizing its not My journey now, it’s everyones journey. For the people that can’t pick up and just go, sell everything, live off faith, be a free spirit…that isn’t something everyone can just Do. Inside us all is a passion to make a difference, to touch lives, and to make an impact. Not like what I am doing is that impactful, half the time I feel like I am failing and I see no fruit from my labor. Perhaps when little Divani at the club says, “you came back”, makes a difference in my perspective. It’s not just those moments that make my heart feel good, actually my heart leaps when I see friends and strangers joining me in this adventure. The adventure to live life to the fullest and to not wait for my life clock to run out. Andy didn’t know he was going to die at 34, if he had then he would have lived more abundantly. I want others to feel this amazing gift of compassion, denying self, and pain for others.

It’s the sum of the smalls that wins hearts. It’s the sum of the moments that make a life. It’s living beyond what we think is possible that makes it all worth it. I want to live a resilient life by longing for more than what this broken world can give me.

Yesterday God gave me another $60 thru one of his family members. My Paypal account was empty from paying rent and then he filled it back up with $60.

Everyone can’t have their Mountain top experiences. Life altering moments that rip everything away and we are left to start all over. I pray that not everyone gets that wake up call. It’s not pleasant and it scars you. Every morning I need my eyes constantly reopened to what is around me. I hate being slow at things! I hate being patient! I want everything Now and then act on it. My lesson to learn is patience and resilience. Doing great things over and over again!

It really is the smalls 🙂

 

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Healing Eyes

Evening with the Stars

So I am struggling with what to share about my day. Part of me just wants to share the ‘Doing’ part and a bunch of kid photos. But my heart is being pulled to a different direction. It is rewinding back to last night and my conversation with God. Be warned this conversation is a mixed bag of emotions and a bit hard to share since it just exposes my vulnerability more. Perhaps that is what I am supposed to do when Go said, ‘Write’.  Plus if I had my way I wouldn’t share my private journal with the public but maybe God’s ways are better than mine.

The sun gives me a reason to breathe.

Helping others gives me purpose.

Is it because of taking care of Andy?

Am I trying to make up for his death?

Help me God!

I can’t do this alone

What lesson am I to learn?

Oh what misery I feel when loves first kiss is gone forever. Never to return again… I long for you Andy.

“I have called you to follow me on a solitary path, making time alone with me your highest priority and deepest joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover as you walk close to me, I can bless others through you.” -Jesus Calling book

Don’t let your service become self serving.. Don’t let it become mere busywork, losing sight of walking with God.

Watch carefully that VBS, Girls and Boys Club, and the Lighthouse do not become busy work, pulling you away from me and slowing the rebuilding of our relationship. I must remember to have my solitude – to write and to listen. Take time to enjoy the world God has given us.

“God what do you want? To use me to bless others thru simple interactions that may seem unimportant and are awkward.”

Be in many places for now but do not be busy, calm yourself to be in my presence. Spend time with me – even in guilt – even if others think you are slacking. It is not there ways but mine. Guard your heart and walk slow.

Tell the story of your heart. Do not doubt your ability. If I give you gifts I expect them to be used. Even if you can’t see how or if they exist, trust me. Over and over I say trust me. My love – my child – my gift to you is time. So appreciate it even though you fight it! Embrace boredom – see past what you were taught about living. You were taught for years to be busy. You fought the stillness I sought to give you!

Do not fear the night for tonight the stars shine for you. Sleep in my arms – rest in my love.

Why do you think you disliked the ways of how Christians try witnessing to non-believers for all those years with Andy? Does it feel to forced, scripted, rehearsed, fake, and ungenuine? Only I can change a heart. Only I can lead others, you are to be a follower, let me take your control away. Let your will go. You are finally seeing what it means to be open to relinquishing that control so now let me lead you.

Remember you need to first walk with me and learn how to believe again.

So long you were gone and hid from my face…take this time to remember me.


Soon after writing that I stood up and went out on my patio and saw that the clouds had parted and the stars were the brightest I have seen since living here. I nearly cried with joy as I felt a bit of loneliness lift from my heart. I laid down on the patio chair and stared at my stars and listened. The star Vega shown so bright and I felt Andy near me. I felt God surround me and comfort me in that moment. If I hadn’t calmed my mind and gave God an evening with me than I wouldn’t have slept so great last night. I felt the tears flow from my heart to my eyes and then fell into a deep sleep. It won’t always be like that but I’ll take that moment and maybe those moments will become more frequent as I learn to be still.

Ok enough mooshy stuff. Here Are the photos from my day! At one point I had to swim out into the ocean to save 2 kids who tipped from the paddle board and bring them in, so now I am learning how to be a lifeguard.

Healing Eyes

Ministry for Kids

Your sponsorship would support:

  • Volunteer work at the Boys and Girls Club of America for the Summer Camp 2014. This includes being there to provide love and attention to the kids, arts and crafts, and going on field trips on the island with the kids.
  • When school starts up again in September I hope to split my time in between Lighthouse Missions after school program and the Boys and Girls Club of America program.

Check out the ‘Contact Me Page’ to be added to the Supporters list here


Personal Testimony

 

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Healing Eyes

Everything is Awesome

A Boy sits across from me and taps me on the shoulder, he says, “My name is Eddie Smith, will you remember me”? I look back shocked, “Yes, now that I know your name is Eddie I’ll remember you”.

My chest feels like its been opened up and my heart and all my vulnerabilities are exposed. Like its been in a deep thaw for years and God is pouring hot water on it, burning off the hardened shell and then taking a sledgehammer to it.

The sledgehammer was when Andy died in my arms. Now it’s a little hammer every few weeks that’s wacking off the thin shell that keeps hardening back over it.

Today I was at the Boys and Girls club all day. I didn’t pack a lunch and didn’t bring enough water so I am shocked I survived until 3pm, but I did! Where to begin? It was very awkward at first as I stood around aimlessly wondering what I got myself into. Eventually all the kids were brought inside and then the manager called out my name, “We have a new volunteer today, Miss Sarah. Sarah come over here, we want to bless you”.

Bless me? What is this crazy mumbo jumbo stuff but I was not in control and I went with the flow. I held my hands out with palms out as the whole group of kids and adults started to Bless the fact that I was there and that me being there was important to them and that it made a difference. They then did a very loud ‘HooRah’ at the end. I won’t lie I got choked up and almost cried. That was the first smack on my heart with the hammer.

I ended up in the 5-9 year old room where I met Eden (which was Eddie, he goes by both names). I think he tells people Eddie until he likes you, than he is Eden. The first boy who talked to me right when I went thru the door was Dante, no idea what he said but he was happy. Then there was Kalina, Frank (who I called Fred and they laughed), and Qui’nyah (such a pretty name). I read books to the few kids crowded around me and had them read back some of the words. Played some games and really just felt so out of my element (but secretly liked it).

Outside for snacks and lunch I sat at a picnic table with boys. Very odd since usually its girls I’ve been around. Eden was there and he has a temper I soon realized. Jackie (pronounced not like it looks, he’s a boy) who is really creative and was playing with some jenga blocks, he was making a fort and zombies were attacking it. I later filmed his debut movie of the zombies attack and got them to sing the ‘Everything is Awesome’ song from the Lego movie. During all of this Eden kept losing his temper and I think he was testing me. Kinda like one special girl at the lighthouse. Then I went on the field trip to the bowling alley. Now by this time all the high school kids that volunteer from the states during summer camp  had left (they did the morning shift). Others thought I was with them since I was white and young but nope, I am solo volunteer.

While waiting for the vans to take us back after bowling Eden was really clinging me to all of a sudden and asking me questions. If I had any kids, a husband, how he died, what age was he when he died, when did my baby die, pretty much all the questions adults are afraid to ask. He made me sit next to him on the bus so I must have made it thru some door where he trusted me more. It’s so odd, sometimes it feels like kids don’t see me but off and on at the bowling alley they kept saying hi and smiling. Was I now more credible than the others that come in the morning? I don’t know what God is up to but I feel like an odd duck amongst everyone, no matter how I look at it I don’t blend in well.

Another thing that happened at the picnic table with the boys was a discussion about God and how you get to heaven. So weird how that conversation got started but it was so surreal.

I noticed though that the kids are so used to having there photo taken and as I looked around in the morning I noticed all the high school volunteers from the states were snapping photos. Do these kids think that is all we are about? They come and come and take photos and then move on with there life. By helping are we just making the kids feel like they are only worth a photo opportunity? Too soon to tell I suppose. But I can’t help but remember Eden saying “will you remember me?”

Healing Eyes