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Where ya gunna go?

Today is our son Caleb’s 8 year anniversary of being in Heaven.

O how the pain is still so real. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, drive by the crash site, see his picture, or whisper a prayer of gratitude to God that Heaven is real and one day we will all get to be together again. In those moments, tears come easily and my heart aches for my boy.

When I’m overwhelmed on these or special days like his birthday or anniversary, family reunions, holidays... I often feel like running away from it all. Then I think, “Laura, where ya gunna go?”

Psalm 139:1-8 – You have searched me, Lord, and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out, and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

God is all knowing, all powerful and everywhere. There is absolutely no escape mechanism or place we can go to get away from his constant pursuit of us!

So, the only logical, helpful, and joy filled place to run and hide is into the safe haven of God’s perfect comfort and love! And every time I do... it is well.

If for any reason at all you are in a tough spot and thinking you need to ‘get away from it all’ – may I gently ask you, ‘Where YOU gunna go?’ Instead may I boldly invite you to join me in running right smack dab into the center of the caring grace & presence of your heavenly Father!

WHATCHA GUNNA DO?

Grief is horrible on every level. However, one of the most life transforming and perspective changing things I’ve done since Caleb relocated to heaven, is to give my life away in service for others. DOing something for others, who are also walking through difficult life circumstances, always takes my focus off of my own pain and sorrow, and brings a ton of joy to my soul.

Over the past 7 years, as a family, we have participated in the CALEB Run, which is a Caleb Foundation 5K race we put together to galvanize our church family, to raise resources for at - risk youth in our community. It was a fabulous and rewarding 7 years.

This year, our family decided to shift the 5K run into a city - wide outreach week we’re calling Beyond The Shore. Our goal is to get outside the 4 walls of Shoreline and love Austin and the surrounding areas in ways they’ve never been loved before. The week kicked off with a golf tournament in which we raised over $22,000, for 6 charities, who care for under-resourced youth in our community and in Haiti, and victims of sex trafficking around the US. There are over 30 serving opportunities, ranging from stuffing 1100 backpacks with school supplies for a Title 1 middle school, to partnering with Habitat For Humanity, Central Texas Food Back, cleaning up parks in the city, Austin Life Care, Side By Side Kids and much more...

The response has been overwhelming! The number of people who signed up and showed up all week long is mind blowing! If you were to ask any one of them how they felt after they spent just a few hours caring for people, hammering some nails, smiling, buying someone’s coffee or groceries, opening someone’s door, mowing their lawn... on top of volunteering countless hours serving their fellow man in all the ways we reached out... you would hear comments like:

“So thankful to be a part of a church that has a heart for the middle school students. 1100 students will get backpacks FULL of supplies to start the new year! It was such a joy to serve today!”

“So as this guy started out thru the green light I saw his load start sliding off of his truck. I stopped, I honked and prayed everyone would stop behind me. They did right away. I had a choice to stop and block the lane for them or drive around them and get to my doctor’s appointment on time. I decided to stop and make a difference in a stranger’s life!”

“This is my first time ever doing anything outreach based and I thought to myself ok I am going to go do something for someone else and as I sat there writing a little love note to hurting people and I just thought this is going to go to someone and it is going to help them know that they are worthy and they are important. I am so thankful to have the chance to have my eyes open and a perspective change. I encourage everyone to go out and volunteer in some kind of way”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that giving your life away to serve and bless others is one of the quickest ways to fill your heart with joy and make a difference for good in the world.

Luke 6:38 MSG - Give away your life; you'll find your life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

So, if you’re bumming out about something small, or truly grieving over a deeply painful loss of anything, let me ask you, “Whatcha gunna do?”

Live for a CAUSE bigger than you are – give your life away – DO something for someone else... and chase those blues away!

-Laura

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Addicted to Haiti

I have an addictive personality. In different seasons of my life this has been a disadvantage. Recently I found a new fix… one that has wiped me off my feet.

Hi my name is Danielle and I am addicted to Haiti.

For the last seven years our church has partnered with an organization in Ouanaminthe, Haiti called Danita’s Children. Their mission is to raise up orphaned children in the ways of the Lord and empower them to change their nation. Through the generosity of our church family, the Caleb Foundation has supplied them with buildings, where many young people are currently living. They have sincerely kept Caleb’s story and legacy alive.

Although there are some undeniable facts about the conditions of Haiti, it is absolutely a diamond in the rough. Every time I go there, I see less poverty and more diamond. Every nation has its own set of issues, but every nation also has things that make it beautiful. So let’s switch things up.

Today we are going to chat about what is right with Haiti.

One thing that Haiti does really well is community. I have learned how to love people better through watching how they love. As a youth leader I interact with students who often deal with depression and negative thoughts. Suicide is an epidemic in our nation. I was asking one of my Haitian friends if this is an issue they deal with and he said no. That sparked my interest. He began to explain that although high rates of sickness and disease lead to death in Haiti, suicide hardly exists because everyone feels like they belong. Community is a part of their culture. It is just simply how they do life…..

Community saves lives.  

My favorite thing to do there is to people watch. I sit back, relax and just observe. Haitians are a beautiful people. They are hard workers. They look after one another. It doesn’t matter if you are a stranger, you are family. You are accepted simply because you are breathing. Wouldn’t that be nice? To be known and loved just for being alive…. Like I said I have learned a lot. I am challenged to see things differently.

To fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.

I want to challenge you to look deeper. There is beauty in everything. Take your blinders off and take a look around. Don’t miss out on what is right in front of you.

The unseen always has a way of transforming what you actually see.

-Danielle Koke

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