Are You Blind?

“Seeing” isn’t easy in our fast-paced, self-focused society. Life goes by in a blur as we rush ahead from one task to the next.

I’m guilty of this. I’m a super-motivated-achiever type of personality, which can lend to blindness.

It has taken bumps in the road in order to force me to slow down. These bumps (deep hurts, miscarriages, illnesses, tragedies) have brought me a new awareness on life. An awareness that I needed because ultimately we’re all born with innate selfishness. Of course, the way we respond to the bumps of life will also determine our route—toward bitterness or betterment. I traveled bitterness highway for a season, luckily, God helped me find a detour back to betterment road.

What I have discovered along the way is that the hardships have produced an empathy and compassion inside of my heart that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The pain I have experienced helped me recognize the pain in others and sympathize with them. My hardships gave me new sight.

The day my nephew, Levi, was diagnosed with a duplication syndrome, my sight was again, refocused. I became aware of the struggles and obstacles facing, not only a child with special needs, but also the family. I grew observant to those I came in contact with. My heart expanded, longing to celebrate the beauty of all our differences and how we are all uniquely fashioned by a God who does not make mistakes. My nephew might have MECP2 duplication syndrome, he might be non-verbal, and his development comes slow, but he is perfect. No one can take his place. The world needs Levi in it. The same way the world needs each one of us.

No one can replace you. You are uniquely crafted and designed by the hands of a loving God. Even if you do not believe in a Creator—to bad, He believes in You. He made you.

He made our beautifully diverse world with its beautifully diverse colors. Oh, how lovely it is.

Let’s open our eyes and SEE the wonder around us.

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The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

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I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

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Pearl and I at Breathe

Different– Not Wrong: Embracing All People

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I’m taking a course called, “Journey” at Engedi Church in Holland, Michigan. Our latest session dealt with connecting/ building relationships with people different than ourselves.

“Jesus’ desire wasn’t just that more people would believe in Him. Rather, He desired that those who followed Him would do so in complete unity. This means people from every nation, social strata, language, and culture worshipping and serving God together in the local church. Celebrating and learning from their differences, and growing more and more in the image of their Creator.”

God’s loves His people. He loves our diverse differences. He’s not a boring Creator that wanted us all to be the same.  As such, our “differences should be celebrated and learned from rather than ignored. Avoiding diversity and living in sameness runs contrary to the reconciling power of the gospel.”

“We need to stop seeing each other as wrong-Christian or right-Christian and value the diversity of the body of Christ.”

“How much could we all learn from each other, if we simply put aside our self-focused ‘values’ and considered the values of others?”