Gift of Life

 

 

December has always held special meaning for me and for three reasons, three dates specifically and all dealing with the “Gift of Life”.

The first date is December 15th. When I was nineteen I almost died! I was rushed to the hospital by my sister, who saved my life. The doctors had to act fast, because had my sister gotten me to the hospital an hour later, I would have died! I wouldn’t have made it! The doctors and nurses were shocked that I survived the fatal circumstances and that I was able to leave the hospital a few days later with out any damage done to my vital organs and without any brain damage, which was the biggest concern. Since that December 15th day, I have never forgotten my second chance at life. To this day I can still remember what it felt like to be dying and the feeling of life draining from my body, its not something one can ever forget. I have never looked at life the same way again. It was a reminder just how precious and fleeting life truly is. I praise God for saving my life and my sister, my brave sister is a hero in my books!

Now the second date is December 1st. The following December after my near death experience,  I was dealing with a hardship and though I had been raised in a Christian home and asked God into my heart when I was three. That moment everyone talks about when they feel the change and become like a new person, I had never experienced that before. Well on this particular day I was in the living room and just crying out to God, asking for His help. At that moment I fell to my knees and as I prayed I looked up toward the Heavens. When that happened all  the overwhelming feelings of a crushed spirit and heartache instantly dissipated. I remember wondering why tears were falling from my face because I no longer felt any pain or heart ache regarding that hardship! In that moment when I asked God into my heart again, I felt the Holy Spirit this time! I felt something inside me that I had never felt before and I have never been the same since!  It doesn’t mean I don’t stumble from time to time or make mistakes, but my overall focus, has been Christ focused since that December 1st day. I finally knew and understood about the change everyone else always told me they experienced. I finally got to experience it for myself. To me my bday in Christ, on December 1st is far more important to me than my physical birthdate. The reason for that is the physical birthdate is a date that signifies my time here on earth while my birthday in Christ determines the rest of my life and where I will spend eternity. A great reminder that we are not to be of this world only in it and that Christ died so we may have eternal life not earthly life.

Which brings me to the third and most important December date, the 25th. One of three important dates, the other being Christ death & resurrection. All instrumental in forever impacting and determining the rest of my life and yours. When the Christ child was born, His life, death, and resurrection changed everything! Without Jesus being born, a Savior to rescue us, and ultimately sacrifice himself  by laying His life down for us to pay the ultimate price for our sins, we would be lost! Life would be hopeless but because of Him and through his birth, death, and resurrection we have hope and can experience eternal life with Him someday.

This Holiday season can be full of joy, wonder, peace, and hope for some. While for others it can be full of stress, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety as this year ends and a new one quickly approaches. Yet, what ever season of life you’re in this Holiday season or no matter what this season brings for you, always seek Him. Please don’t lose sight of the true meaning of CHRISTmas.

Also this CHRISTmas don’t take life for granted.  Reach out to others, be a neighbor, and even a friend. Spread some Holiday cheer and share the Gospel. There is about 5 days left until Christmas and my CHRISTmas challenge to you is to spread cheer and love by letting 5 people know that their life matters and that their life has a purpose. Give them the gift of life by letting them know how their life has been a gift to you! This gesture will make such a difference especially when you have no idea what someone might be going through and what they are dealing with behind the smiles they hide behind. Send them a card, write them a letter, drop them a note, or let them know in your own special way that their life matters. Give them the “Gift of Life”, in the name of the one whose life and birth we celebrate on December 25th.

 

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Hearts Full At CHRISTmas

{Photo Credit: @mydarlingcatastrophe/www.mydarlingdepictions.com}

SAY HELLO TO MEGHAN JOY!

 

Meghan Joy lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota with her husband and their 5 kids. They are expecting baby #6 in April 2018. Meghan Joy homeschools their children while running a few businesses from home and keeping up with her Blog. They love family dinners, lazy Sundays after church, and random dance parties. You can connect with Meghan Joy via her social media accounts either through Instagram and Blog.
 
 

 GUEST BLOG Q&A:

What does Christmas mean to you? What makes this time of year so special?                                                                                                                        Without a doubt, the sole purpose and reason for celebration at Christmas time is Jesus. All Jesus. His birth into the world is why we do all the things we do all December long. And we engrain that in our children throughout all of our traditions and events. Focusing on this fact alone, makes each and every day so special. That we get to live in a country where we have the freedom to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

What are some of your favorite family traditions during the Christmas season?                                                                                                            Beginning on December 1, we do an advent devotion (complete with chocolate) every day. We read through pieces of scripture that tell the story of the birth of Jesus. In years past, I would have a gift of a book to pen each day of Advent, but some years, that looks a little different. We have both sides of our family near and so we celebrate Christmas for like a week long. We have a “Yancy Christmas” where we open stockings in the morning, play and relax all day, and then open presents at night with snacks and treats. Christmas Eve we spend with my husbands family and go to church service. We spend Christmas Day with my side of the family and have a huge sleepover at my parents house and spend the whole next day there as well. 

What do you hope your children remember about Christmas? What do you hope to instill in them during this season?                                            We live in such a self-focused society and even more so at Christmastime where it is an easy time for kids to think of “Give me, give me” and “I want, I need.”  I want to impress upon them the impact we can have for others. To think of others, give gifts to others, and ultimately spread the love of Jesus wherever they go. I want them to know the reason for which we celebrate and integrate that into each part of the season. I want them to remember the moments of pause and peace. The moments with family and the beautiful traditions we can create. 

What does “Hearts Full At Christmas” mean to you?                             The beauty in the opportunity to live this season to the fullest. Not to let it pass us by with activities and have-to’s and to do’s but with a reflection of the beauty of this time of year. There are such wonderful experiences available to pour love into family and friends and even strangers and to allow them the opportunity of having a full heart. There is a natural overflow of joy this time of year and we can absorb that joy and spread it around more. 

How do you prepare for Christmas? 
 I get all the “to’do” done in October + November. The Christmas cards, the decorations, the Christmas gifts. I get it all done prior to the beginning of December so that I can focus on each day we are given to celebrate. I’m not stressed with everything I must accomplish and all the tasks that must be done, but instead, truly enjoy life and the greatest of all, a King being born. The kids have a present mom because the shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, and the stockings are hung. These are all good things that we love to do but there is a certain peace obtained when they are no longer items on a checklist but are just something to look forward to. We also do Advent to prepare our hearts all month long. So the physical and the spiritual/emotional aspects are in beautiful alignment for how I would like December to go.

 
What is Christmas morning like for your family?                                               Because of our shared family time with both sides of our family, our Christmas morning is spent at home preparing to head to my parents house. We spend the day there and open gifts with over 20 people present (11 of them are kids under the age of 8) it is a day full of loudness and absolute JOY. On the day we do our “Yancy Christmas,” our morning is a hearty breakfast while opening stockings. The fireplace is on and the Christmas music is blaring. Pajamas and snuggles and food and fun. It is a morning of excitement and overwhelming happiness.

What role does your faith have through out the Christmas season?
 Everything. All encompassing. In our gift giving, its about Jesus. We relate how the wise men brought gifts to the baby King. Our Christmas songs are about the Christ’s birth. Our Christmas tree, the star, ornaments- they can all have significant meaning + purpose, that we can trace back to the traits and depth of Jesus. I love that we get to impart that upon our kids and make the holidays less about us and more about others and ultimately, in everything, Jesus Christ.

 

You’re expecting your 6th child, as your family grows, how do you grow a family in faith?                                                                                            
 Our lifestyle must foster space for it. It has to be priority. We can’t rely on anyone else to teach our family, but ourselves. And it is a pure honor. I believe God equips us for the call and so He is our guide in how to lead our family. And I have a husband who leads so courageously and confidently, always seeking the wisdom of God. It is important to keep our faith first and so in all of our decision making, it comes back to our goal of how we want to raise our kids to follow Christ. 

 

You’re a Blogger and have your own website, tell me about that and the purpose behind it?                                                                               
 My whole life’s mantra is “Living for today” and God impressed this heavily on my heart a few years ago and it naturally stemmed into a part of my business and ministry. I am able to blog and share on social media about what that looks like in my life and how others can integrate a life well-lived with joy into their own circumstances. I consider it such a blessing to be able to run my website and blog from home while training up my children. My ultimate purpose in it all is to give glory to God. And if one life can be changed and impacted, my mission is worth it. 

 
Any final thoughts on the Christmas season and your growing family that you’d like to share with the readers?                                               I have a HUGE love for traditions. HUGE. But I’ve always learned to loosen my grip over the years and be okay with new and different things. Whether that being traditions changing or new traditions being started. You get to design how your life looks and so don’t be so stuck in your own ways that you can’t explore new ways to celebrate. This year, we are in a new home and so excited to see what it will feel like to have our first Christmas here. However you celebrate Christmas, enjoy every minute you are given. Go big, find times of peace, and make efforts to pour into the hearts of others. That’s what its all about. Full heart. Overflowing hearts. Hearts that are full at Christmas.

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Having A Christian Perspective When The Unthinkable Happens…

SAY HELLO TO LISA!

Lisa is the sister of Thomas Gunderson, who is a victim and survivor of the Las Vegas Shooting, which has been declared as the deadliest mass shooting ever committed by an individual in the United States. The shooting would claim the lives of 58 innocent people and injure another 546 victims and survivors, including Thomas. Who is known for being the shooting victim who was shot in the leg and whom stood on his injured leg out of respect for the President and First Lady, when meeting them. Though that respectful and yet painful stand on his part has garnered both praise and criticism. Yet he has responded to all comments and opinions with class, grace, Christ’s love, and all while sharing his faith. It is his faith and love for our country that would inspire this Q&A Blog post.

His sister, Lisa and her husband were there in the hospital with him (see pic above) as he was being treated for the injuries he sustained. As I’ve gotten to know Lisa, I’ve come to find that she’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She exemplifies a servant’s heart, as she serves along side her husband who is a Youth Pastor. Serving in community outreach with their family and church, and being readily available to help anyone who is in need.

Now being a victim of violence myself, I know the toll the trauma from violence can have on the victims, survivors, and their loved ones. So I hope all who read this will be encouraged and your hope renewed as Lisa shares what, “Having A Christian Perspective When The Unthinkable Happens”, through her own personal account of what Thomas and her family have experienced in the aftermath of the shooting. My prayer is that this blog post will help others to understand how to have faith in the midst of a world filled with violence. Especially for the victims and survivors impacted by the Las Vegas shooting and all the other shootings that have recently taken place, I hope if anything this blog post helps you to heal. Though I know that healing will never change what happened, please know my thoughts and prayers are with all of you and that this blog post is dedicated to you!

 

Guest Blog Q&A:

Tell me what those moments were like for you as a family when you received the news that there had been a shooting in Las Vegas & Thomas was shot?

My dad called me at 11:30 at night. Just hearing the phone ring and seeing it was him I knew something was wrong. I go to bed early so no one ever calls me that late. When I answered my Dad said there has been an incident and Thomas was shot. Go turn on the news. He was so upset he forgot to mention he was ok. I immediately turned on the TV and started calling my sister. It was unbelievable. Unreal. I was so scared.

With being a Christian, tell me how faith has played a role in how you responded and handled the news of this tragic shooting? 

Being a Christian gives me the belief in God and I have faith that everything has a reason but I was still upset. I couldn’t understand the why until a week after the fact. So many people have stepped up to support us. So many people have come together because of this. Isn’t that what God really wants? For us to love everyone no matter the person or circumstance.

What has the aftermath been like for Thomas and your family and how do you keep the faith? 

The after math has been rough and amazing at the same time. Thomas has dealt with nightmares and pain. His recovery was long and painful. For us we have learned that each day is so important and we need to be kind to everyone because you just never know. Spreading the word of Christ is my goal more than ever now.

Some people will say, “Where was God when this massacre took place?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” What would you say to them in response? 

I would say bad things can happen to anyone. We all have a choice to love God. He wants to get our attention sometimes. Our world has fallen hard and more than ever we need him. God gives free will and these people chose evil over food but guess what? Through that evil so much good has come from it!

What moment has been the hardest and how has your faith gotten you through it? 

I think the hardest part are the what ifs? What if my brother died, what if that happens somewhere where I’m with my kids. I have had to pray about it and really let it go. It could have been worse for us but it wasn’t. Sometimes we are so anxious over things that will never happen so I put my trust and faith in God always and give my fears to him.

What has been Thomas and your family’s outlook on life and this world, since this has happened? Has this changed your perspective of how you look at good and evil? 

Thomas bounced right back and I believe my family did too. We only have one life and our job is to love on others. Everyone, no matter the religion, race, or gender. There will always be people that want to hurt us but we can show them the love of Christ in those moments.

How do you keep a Christian perspective when the unthinkable happens? 

Because I know Jesus is always there in every circumstance. He doesn’t want to see his children hurt. He hurts with us. God is love and I will continue living through life sharing his love to everyone.

What is the one take away you want people to remember after something like this? 

I think that sometimes evil gets publicized too much. Look at all the good that has happened since. So many heroic people, so many amazing stories. God has orchestrated amazing things through this horrible disaster. Try to be the good the light in someone’s life. Being there for them and showing them you care. In that they will start asking how can you be like this in a time like this and that’s where you can share the love of Jesus Christ!

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They Say Things Happen In Threes

 

 

They say that things happen in threes! That certainly seemed to be the case over the weekend. We received three life altering health diagnoses for three separate family members all within a couple of hours of each other. It seemed as soon as we had gotten the news about one and were processing that diagnosis that’s when we received the diagnosis of another.

As we sat around praying, crying, leaning on each other, and clinging to hope we never stopped trusting God. Even when we weren’t sure if my Grandma would make it through the weekend and still be alive today, Sunday, Nov 12th.

There are still a lot of unknowns with these health diagnoses. In fact I spent the time during church today, on my knees in prayer. For now my Grandma, is stable. With the other diagnoses, we will deal with them and the unknowns associated with them as they come, while we await more tests results to come back. Still praying and remaining hopeful.

God reminded me that there are other things that come in three’s  – like the Holy Trinity, made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We always say in my family that we do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds it. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ holds our future in the good times and in bad times. His will, will prevail regardless of what the health diagnoses are.

Currently in my life group we are reading a book by John Eldridge about moving mountains. I shared with the group that the mountain we may want to be moved and pray to be moved may not be the mountains God will move. Because to move the mountain we want moved that may not have the results He needs it to have in order to fulfill His purpose, that not moving our mountain would. Our mountains are not always God’s mountains. Ultimately His will, will fulfill His purpose and sometimes will be the opposite of what we want.

As we get ready to start another week, we still do not know the medical/health fate of these three very important people to me. But as we face these unknowns I know that regardless of what happens, that God’s got us. I know He will be there to rejoice with us if our prayers our answered the way we want and my family members are healed. I also know that if healing is not His will He will be there to comfort us and wipe our tears in those times!

For those of you who are going through something similar, please know you’re not alone. Psalm 34:18 say, ” The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Let’s pray for each other and encourage one another. If you want to talk and share with me what you’re going through or if you need prayer, please reach out to me via my email @ Witlee.Ethan@outlook.com, so I can pray for you.

 

God Bless,

Witlee

 

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The Seasons Of Life

 

Everything Has Its Time

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

We all experience different seasons in our life. The weather seasons very much can represent the different generations within your own family.

I think of how Spring is a reminder of new beginnings, very much like the great-grandkids who are just beginning to grow and thrive in the beginning stages of their young life.

Summer is probably my least favorite season but that is the season I currently find myself in.  I experience the changes of hot and cold regarding opportunities and relationships no different than the summer temps of cool nights and warm days we experience during this season.

Now Autumn has always been my most favorite season (hence the pic of Autumn in NYC), probably because its also when my birthday is, but I love seeing the changing of the leaves. Trees have always been a symbol of family and growth among other things. So is it any surprise that just as the trees bud, bloom, change colors, and wither away its no different than what our bodies endure as we age through the seasons of life! This is the season of life my parents are in. Of course after Autumn when the leaves fall to the ground and wither away we have Winter, my second favorite season.

In fact every year I pray that when those last leaves fall that it brings about a magical Winter Wonderland. Though to be honest,  I’ve been looking at this Winter season different, lately. My grandparents are in this season of life and watching them slowly wither away is devastating! Yet has opened my eyes in new ways to seeing just how precious and fleeting life truly is. As they will never get another Spring, at least not until they enter Heaven’s gates and are given new bodies and my PopPop who has Alzheimers is given a new mind. A complete healing of the mind in which he’ll be able to remember me again.

Today marks November 8th and calendar wise we’re in the season of Autumn as Winter is quickly approaching. Yet I am left feeling sad and this year, dreading the Winter – knowing that for those in the Winter season of life, that this is the last season for them. It’s hard to watch your loved ones health decline knowing the end of life is near. Just the thought of losing them makes me already miss them so much! It makes me dread the day my grandparents will pass away because as much as I will miss them, I know there is so much they will miss out on. Dreams I’ve always envisioned them being part of, yet knowing now that will never be.

 Yet scripture says, “Everything Has Its Time”. Now my head knows that, but my heart still struggles with that at times. But I learned a long time ago that our timing is not God’s timing. I do believe regardless of what His timing brings and taketh away – His timing is perfect. I take comfort in knowing their pain will someday be completely healed when they are finally within God’s loving arms in a Heavenly embrace.

 

We may never get over the loss of losing our loved ones but even through the weeping there will be moments of laughter and healing for us as we remember them fondly. Their legacy will live on through us, life will keep going just as it did before. With Winter turning into Spring, Spring into Summer, Summer into Autumn, and Autumn into Winter. Don’t just let the seasons pass you by – embrace it, live it, and experience it because just as quickly as the seasons come and go each year, so too will the seasons of life pass us on by. Remember with each season to always “Live Each Day With Purpose”…”Making a difference one day, one life at a time”.

 

 

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Facing Trauma with Steadfast Faith

 

Say Hello to Annaliese!  

She has been blogging at Southern Belle in Training for over five years! Her blog focuses primarily on affordable fashion and style, but she also enjoys writing about beauty, travel, millennial lifestyle topics, and her Christian faith. In addition to blogging, Annaliese works full-time in broadcasting as an on-air radio personality, and also enjoys cooking, reading, and traveling.                          

In April 2016, two weeks before graduating college, Annaliese was the victim of a (non-sexual) crime. After much prayer and reflection, she decided to move forward and pursue legal action. In October 2016, almost six months later, the case finished.

 

Guest Blog Q&A:

 

Tell me about how you came to have a relationship with Christ?

I grew up attending church with my mom, but didn’t really accept Christ until a middle school youth retreat that I attended in 6th grade! It’s funny looking back – I actually got sick during the retreat weekend and came home feeling physically terrible, but I also came home spiritually forever changed!

 You experienced a trauma, and I know you can’t go into it, but how does one keep the faith when the unthinkable happens?

 

When you experience a trauma or the unexpected, that is when the time comes in a person’s life where they have to decide if the faith that they claim to believe in is really “real” for them. I knew instantly that I would never blame God for the crime that I was a victim of, and then legal situation that I found myself apart of. To me… even though I was going through some very hard and emotional trials, it just wasn’t an option to abandon my faith. I knew in my soul that He would carry me through. That doesn’t mean that it would be an easy ride or that there wouldn’t be tears and sleepless nights, but I knew He was there and He felt my pain.

 

What has the healing process been like for you?

 

I went to counseling for the months during the court process and a few months after, which was helpful not only to the situation, but also helped me to learn things about myself! I think there does come a point for a victim of a crime when there’s only so much work that can be done in counseling related to the situation (if that makes sense?), but initially speaking it was so helpful! And only you yourself will know when that ending point is. I also sought out comfort in friendships and my parents, and I was in school at the time that my legal case was going on, and I threw myself into my education.
A blogger friend also sent me an incredible devotional called Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On by Stormie Omartian. Reading and working through this devotional during the months leading up to and in between court dates helped me SO much. This book is incredible for anyone going through a tough time!

 

Some people would say that for evil to exist than there is no God, what would you say to them?

 

 That’s such a tough question, Witlee! Honestly I have trouble sometimes debating with those who aren’t fellow believers. I pray sometimes that God gives me more wisdom in the future with sharing my faith with unbelievers. I suppose the simple answer is that yes, there is so much evil in the world. But there is also great beauty and modern day miracles too. We live unfortunately in a fallen world – we have to let the good outweigh the bad!

 

What are some ways to be supportive of victims/survivors in the aftermath of a trauma and during the judicial proceedings?

 

I wrote a whole post about that on my own blog 🙂 *shameless self promotional plug* I’d love it if you checked out my blog post, How to Help a Friend Going Through a Legal Situation

 

Tell me about your website/blog…Why did you start it and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

 

I started my blog as a hobby during my freshman year of college! Originally it was just supposed to be something fun for me to do outside of college classes, mainly just a way to document my outfits. I had no idea back then that it was possible to monetize blogs, or even make a career out of it! Clearly my site has grown a lot in the five years that I’ve been doing it, and that is such a blessing!! I went to school for communication and journalism and I do have a full-time day job in broadcasting which I love, but I adore blogging and hope to do it for a very long time!

 

*If you would like to connect with Annaliese, you can do so either through her blog or instagram.*

 

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Live Each Day With Purpose…

Welcome to “Live Each Day With Purpose”! The “purpose” of this website and blog is to educate and spread awareness on many controversial issues that impact our health & well being, safety, liberty, justice, and life.

A little bit about me, I’m a Speaker and an Advocate (go to my Bio to learn more) and I do what I do to give  a voice to your stories and the injustices happening in this world. This blog will be real and transparent, but in order for us to see change surrounding these issues, we have to first start talking about them.

More importantly, this website and blog is all about the importance on how to “Live Each Day With Purpose” and on here I will share just how to do that.

So here are some things to know…

1. Every Week, I will post a new blog.

–I have some great blog posts that are set to be posted within the next few weeks, including some collaboration posts. I hope these blog posts will encourage and inspire you.

2. Resources Page.

–This page will be added at a later date with information about organizations that are doing some amazing work and whose work either has ties/aligns with my ministry and this website/blog, or who I have personally worked with and/or collaborated with in some capacity.

3. Contact info.

–To contact me to either book me for a speaking engagement, interview,  or to connect with me for resources, tell me your story, etc, go here.

4. Video Series.

I started a video series on various topics through my twitter account and those video series’ will continue via this website.

 

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

“‘Making a difference one day, one life at a time”!

 

© Copyright 2017-2019 Witlee Ethan - All Rights       Reserved

 

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