{red ribbons and God moments}

1546011_644081759065_1474495243_ni’m sitting here, pretty much exhausted, with so much running through my mind.
i’ve been wanting to write something significant these past few weeks but to be quiet honest, i’ve had trouble finding words. this is rare when it comes to writing, so i knew it was important to wait.

i am currently nestled up in the mountains, surrounded by hundreds of youth who are having so much fun learning and embracing God’s Word and His endless gifts. i’m having one of those moments where i wish this event could last forever, just because these kids continue to astound me with their bravery, strength, and wisdom. it’s been even more special being a part of the planning team and being able to watch a theme develop, the planning group grow stronger and closer, and for the audience to really get each piece of it. strangers are embracing each other…welcoming each other with open arms with the only knowledge being that they are here because they wanted to be in this intentional community…and it can go eons from there.

tonight, in our very special planning team small group, we did an exercise where we passed around a candle and asked who God was to us. afterwards, the people in the group added how they saw God in us. it was a very uplifting, motivating exercise, and it was even more interesting to see how people saw our one God so differently in so many ways.

when i got the candle, i knew what i was going to say.

God, to me, is my very best friend.

for the past few months…well, years, actually, i’ve had the chance to grow much closer to my God and see His wonders even more clearly. through the midst of it all, whether celebrating something amazing or grieving something i could not understand, He was there. i learned very quickly that this Man never has an intention to harm, but rather to heal. He does not want to take a way, rather He wants to teach. i learned that He would be the One person who was there for me in the quiet when no one on this earth could quite understand. that’s who God is to me, and our friendship grows stronger each day. each time i find myself dropped into a place of quiet, i take a minute to look up, thank Him, and think about where i’m at and why i’m there. i pray in that moment (and many others, by the way) that He continues to lead me so that i can do His work.

these past few weeks specifically have created some challenges emotionally. this past monday we laid a girl named sarah to rest. sarah, a sweet girl from my church, had some intense things going on that none of us even knew about. she was dealing with depression, thoughts of suicide, and in the end, it affected everyone around her immensely. she may never know how deeply we all are hurting. a lot of us are holding each other up, the family especially, at this time as we try to find peace and comfort.

tonight, when i was holding that candle, one of the members of the group asked straight up…’HOW did you go through all of that with your church and then come to winter cel?’

the truth is, i dont know. the ride up was hard. i didn’t know how to put my feelings into words and i still don’t, which is why it’s taken me so long to write this post.

but, while spending most of the day with the family one day, i was able to witness how much love and support there is to go around, and again, i saw God. sarah’s hospital room was so packed at one point that i excused myself and met the family at the house later. there was someone at her bedside at all times. people were there to embrace her, her parents, and her siblings. that’s how its been for the past few weeks; the petersons have had people lifting them up, embracing them, supporting them. our whole entire community has begun to put red ribbons up. as  you drive around norfolk, you’re bound to spot at least 10! this is spreading all over the country. even here at winter celebration, people were sporting red ribbons, constantly praying for this family whom some of them never even met. the youth group from my church held each other as they tried to make sense of it. there was love filling up ever square inch of this place, and you could feel it.

but then…what about those quiet moments? what about those moments when no one is around? i hope that in those moments, each one of those family members can find some quiet time with God. i hope they can find time to take a deep breath, cry if they need to, and seek understanding.

last week was one of the hardest weeks of my life to date. grief and mourning a loss of someone so very young and special can be a very heavy subject, and its going to be a long way to recovery for a lot of us. i continue to pray to my Best Friend, in hopes that we can continue to see the beauty in everything…even those hard moments.

the day after sarahs funeral, there was snow. more snow than i’d seen in years. i also witnessed the MOST beautiful sunset right outside the neighborhood grocery store and just a few days later up here in the mountains. i know shes up there smiling down at us. and each one of these miracles…the snow and absolutely astounding sunsets..those make me think of her.

im thankful for sunsets like that. im thankful for the God moments that fill our lives and remind us of all that there is around us and beyond.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory,
He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend,
with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of God that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

-Ephesians 3:14-19-

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