Recently I had the honor of sharing with some college age students at Texas Bible Institute, in Columbus, Texas. I love this group of young people because I remember being in that stage of life, ready to launch into all God had prepared for me. Since then, my husband and I, and an incredible team of people have had the privilege of pastoring, leading and loving on countless thousands of people at Shoreline Church for the last 30 years.

If there were only 3 thoughts I could communicate to millennials or any age person, that will cause you to walk steady, strong, and full of joy, through the good & tough times... here’s what they would be.

The longer I live, the more I realize that pain and heartache come to all people. Every person’s pain is sacred, very real, and quite frequently all consuming. However, there is always HOPE regardless of what we are experiencing because our gracious Creator has given us some valuable gifts, in the form of choices, that will help us to keep moving forward.

Just over 7 years ago, we received a knock at the door, at 6 am, from a police officer telling us that our 17 – year - old son Caleb had been in a single person car accident. He fell asleep at the wheel, his car hit a tree and he was instantly relocated to Heaven. The devastation was overwhelming. From that moment on we have been walking out a grief so deep, yet are continuing to live joyful and purpose filled lives. I want to share about these 3 amazing gifts we choose to embrace on a continual basis that have helped us to do so. I believe these gifts can help you on your healing journey as well, no matter what you might be facing at this time.

Connect

Every single day I choose to connect with God! Even though we have questions about the ‘why’ behind the reality that Caleb is no longer on this earth… we know God loves us! Spending time soaking in His words of comfort and strength... allowing Him to love us... and spending time with Him, causes us to surrender, depend on, and trust Him more and more! We all need to connect with God daily, because honestly...

He is our only hope!

There is nothing else out there that can take the pain away – no drug, alcohol, or other escape mechanism, that can bring us the comfort, peace or healing we are desperate for. Our connection is necessary! I could have never walked through the loss of our precious son without God by my side! In Matthew 28:29, Jesus said - “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age…” God is and always will be about relationship – connecting with us, because we’re His kids! I personally believe that our awareness and belief of God’s presence ‘with us’ is the key/solution to every difficulty in life. Because when we know He’s with us – our trouble melts into peace. There’s nothing we can’t handle together! Also, when we connect with God – something amazing starts to happen. We begin to have a grateful heart! It’s another choice I make each day, because to be honest, I can start down the road of thinking about what I don’t have – my son, Caleb is not here… So, the first thing I do when I get out of bed is make a list of all the things I DO HAVE. I sincerely thank God for the many blessings in my life. Being grateful really helps me to keep perspective. Please stay connected with God – He is always there!

Community

The most profound way I’ve experienced God’s love through our loss has been through people loving us - through community! From that first moment until now – we have been surrounded by the most incredible group of people on the planet. Friends near and far, our personal families, our church family… all I can say is WOW!

I can never doubt that God cares because of how community has responded.

In fact, I simply don’t know how people who aren’t connected in community make it when trouble comes. Bottom line is - We need each other! That’s what the body of Christ is all about; we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are a family and it’s our delight to bear one another’s burdens; to lift and lend strength to one another. Jesus said in Hebrews 10:24-25 – (Amp)And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another...  I realize, it’s hard for some people to reach out & tell someone they need help and we all need to walk by and speak our faith... At the same time, when we’re vulnerable with one another, and we participate in all the ‘one another’s’ scripture tells us to, healing comes because we encourage, pray for, and help one another!! Let’s choose to stay in community! I need it – you need it – we all need community!

Cause

Another gift I’ve discovered that keeps me moving forward is living for a cause that’s bigger than me! I don’t know about you – but I know too much! I can’t just sit back and not reach out to others when I know I have the answer! I’ve got to tell them! I’m compelled! Something rises up on the inside of me when I hear of someone else’s loss, a health issue, a divorce, or someone in need of prayer or encouragement -

The ‘cause’ kicks in.

I do my best to respond in the way the Holy Spirit is leading. I’ll never forget one particular day I was really sad and struggling. Then, I got a call from a friend who told me she had a friend who just lost her daughter in a car accident. Even though I was having a tough day, barely had my own nose above water, and felt like I had absolutely nothing to give... I felt a powerful urgency to call and minister hope to her. I couldn’t stop myself. We talked, cried, and prayed together… The cause kicked in! Paul said, “I am compelled to preach.” Jesus said, “For this cause I came into the world…” You and me are all God has to be His touch, His tears and His voice of encouragement. He’s given us the awesome privilege of partnering with Him to tell others who need to know about His magnificent love and grace to help in their time of need. There is a CAUSE – a reason, we are here! God created each one of us, the whole package, unique character traits, the family we grew up in, where we live, the experiences we’ve had, the strengths and the weaknesses– the joys and pains!... to be a blessing to others. He crafted us for a purpose; He has a destiny for you and me to live out! He needs us to do our part! Let’s choose to live for a Cause greater than ourselves! We are the carriers of Heaven to earth – carriers of God’s love and grace – carriers of Jesus into this world.

Every day - we can choose to keep moving forward - to live with victory and joy in our lives. We’ve been given some wonderful gifts to help us in this process. The gifts of Connect – Community – Cause. I believe that if each of us will connect with God, stay in community with one another, and live for a cause greater than ourselves, we will find the healing we long for and the passion for life we so deeply desire.

-Laura