Live Like You’re Moving Tomorrow

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Live like you’re dying tomorrow.” It’s a good one, because it reminds us to make every moment count, to think about more than just the here-and-now, and hopefully prompts us to forgive quickly, worry less, and love more. To hang onto the good stuff and let go of the bad.

But it can also get a little depressing after a while. A little morbid. We all have to face our own mortality at some point, and there’s a reason the Bible says it’s better to attend a funeral than a party (Ecclesiastes 7:2.) Because it’s the funerals and the hospitals and all the bad stuff that reminds us of what’s really important, and we need those reminders.

But lately I’ve found that even the thought of moving to a new state does, too. So I humbly put forth a new phrase to consider: “Live like you’re moving tomorrow.”

It’s amazing what even the thought of moving has done for my perspective and appreciation for the people and things around me. Right now my family is at an indefinite standstill as far as moving goes and trying not to get too discouraged, but I wouldn’t change the way it’s caused me to look at life for anything. In a way, it could be God’s way of blessing me, reminding me to appreciate things now while I have them and making the parting easier since I’ve had such a long time to contemplate all that moving would imply.

I’ve also completely run out of any funds I could use to finish/add some things to my list. And that’s completely fine. Because this blog has helped me learn how to discover the beauty in every moment, in every day, regardless of circumstances and certainly regardless of how much money I have (or don’t have) to supposedly “find” or “create” them.

Here’s just a few of the ways the “live like you’re moving tomorrow” mindset has benefited me so far:

I appreciate people more. 

This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s amazing how much more my calendar opened up for people and friends in my life once I thought about them not being just a call or drive away anymore. Life gets busy, and it’s personally easy for me to get lost in family obligations or the overwhelming need to get a blog post or article written so that hanging out with friends feels like just one more thing on the to-do list.

And not only that, I just plain appreciate people for who they are. Will I make other friends once we move? Well, I certainly hope so. But will they or could they take the place of the people who are important to me here? No. Definitely not.

Along with making more of an effort to see certain people, I’m also learning to express my appreciation of them more and letting them know what their friendship means to me, because who knows when the chance will come again?

Next to our relationship with God, people are the most important. Always. The second we start to lose sight of that is the second we’ve lost sight of what gives any true meaning to life at all.

I see more opportunities, and I take them. 

Good grief, did I realize how many opportunities and years I’d wasted once I sat down to even think about a Bucket List! I was amazed at all that was waiting for me–had been waiting for me–to discover all along. At what an adventure lay right outside my front door, and I didn’t have to travel to do it! Restaurants I’d never tried. Experiences I’d never had. Shops and places I’d never visited. Art classes I’d never taken. Scenery and sunsets I’d just been too busy to see. Goals I’d absentmindedly set, then moseyed along.

News flash: This is not life, people. I am not the adventurous sort by any stretch of the imagination, but living like I’m moving tomorrow has caused me to go outside of my comfort zone and risk just a little bit more than I used to. Dream a little bigger. Do a little bit more.

And for that, I am very thankful. I still have a long ways to go. But I do have to say that I am proud of myself for attempting some things that were a little scary for me at first, such as taking an art class, going on a hike, or hosting a book signing. Those might sound like little things to some, but for me they each marked a hurdle I’d stared at long and hard and finally got the courage to jump over. And pretty close together, too!

And surely if I can do that, I hope I can encourage you to face whatever hurdle has been standing in your way, too.

I love a little better.

Oh, that love thing. It’s the only thing of eternal significance and value.

And, oh, how often we take it for granted.

But when we have the right perspective, the little things stay little and the big stay big just like they’re supposed to do.

So you had a bad hair day. So what? What’s that next to your friend having that cancer scare recently and wondering if she’d even have hair in a couple month’s time?

So you can’t afford an iPad. At least you can afford dinner tonight. That’s more than can be said for the homeless guy right around the corner of your subdivision.

So you had an argument and got a little irritated. Yeah, that’ll happen. We all do stupid, sinful stuff. We’re human, and Prince Charming ain’t always gonna be so charming. Forgive him anyway.

My eyes have just been plain opened to the needs, the hurts, the people around me, every one of us stumbling around like sheep without a shepherd and each seeking the same thing. And I’ve lost all excuses not to do anything about it anymore. Because I’m not going to be here forever. And life is too short to waste.

You, me–we were placed here for such a time as this, and it’s time we started doing something about it.

Eventually I’ll move, and when I do, what will people say of me? How will they remember me? That I loved fully and well? That I reflected Jesus? Or that I hid behind my computer crafting stories and barely acknowledged them even when I did see them?

Oh, I hope not. I so desperately hope they see Jesus in me, because He’s the answer, the key to everything. I hope they see love. Because love above all is what lasts and what we’re all seeking after. And like one of my favorite quotes says: I hope that I can be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.

Because they are.

You are, dear reader. You are a somebody, and I hope this reaches you today and lets you know that you matter. That you have eternal significance and worth, right where you are, right at this moment. Even if you’re just in some sort of transitional phase right now like me, God has beauty and purpose for you even here.

You might not see it just yet, but isn’t that what makes it kind of fun, after all? Discovering the adventure as it unfolds, never knowing what’s coming around the corner like one of our favorite novels? And the best part of all about knowing Jesus is knowing that our future is already safe and secure, because we know the ending, and we know the Author.

And both of them are good. 

Make your one life count, my friend. You’re the only one who can.

Just Blessed

My parents and friends kept sneaking glances at me, worried, I knew, that I was disappointed at the few people trickling into the library. But I was too joyful to care, and kind of wanted to laugh more than anything else.

It just struck me as funny. Disappointment was the last thing on my mind when I was sitting in the very middle of a dream.

My mind went back to that day in 6th grade when Mrs. Scharnes handed me back my paper with an effusive, “You need to send this into Chicken Soup for the Soul!”

Really? Send my little story into a major publication at 12? I was just hoping for an A. Maybe even an A+, if I was lucky. I knew she liked me and all, but that seemed a little crazy even for a Literacy teacher. But her confidence in me was honoring, and I think that’s when the seed was planted.

That seed that said, “Hey, maybe I could have some of my writing published one day.”

Touched by an Angel Book CoverI honestly forgot about it though. Until the day 11 years later when I got the acceptance e-mail telling me that my mom and I’s story “Breath of the Heavenly” would be 1 of the 101 included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel.

Oh, my Lord. I breathed. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this chance to share Your story. Thank you for answering a little girl’s dreams. 

I hadn’t even believed this moment would come at 12! Who but God could have orchestrated this moment?

Not to mention the story had already been butchered, edited, and rejected more times than I cared to count.

But here it was at last, finally at home and resting in the books stacked across from me. The books that were available in bookstores and libraries all across the U.S. for others to read, a bigger publication than I’d probably ever imagined it being able to reach.

I cannot believe I’m sitting here right now, I thought. Ever since I’d first been published in another Chicken Soup for the Soul compilation and found out that they allowed you to buy the books at a discounted rate for re-sell and charitable purposes, I’d wanted to host a book signing for the private school I’d graduated from. It might not be possible for me to personally write a check to a school that had given me so much and helped me grow as a writer, but through a book signing, maybe it could be.

Now here I was, doing exactly that. Yet another answered prayer.

But the biggest honor of all? The thing that brought tears to my eyes? God is using me and my writing. Me! Oh, Lord, thank you! How good you are! How gracious and kind! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share your glory and comfort and love with others through the gift of writing you’ve given me. Thank you for answering the prayer I’ve prayed since I was little to use my writing to bless others and to be used by you at all. Is there any greater honor than to be able to speak for you and bear witness to all the amazing things you’ve done in my life? Thank you so much for this opportunity. For dreams coming true. 

It wasn’t a huge crowd that showed up to the signing, that’s true. But it didn’t matter. None of this was about me, which was why I think it struck me as a little bit funny seeing the concern on my friends and family’s faces. None of this was even remotely about me! Just the Lord and His goodness. I had no illusions that my signature would mean anything to anyone, nor do I care if it ever does. As long as we sold all the books for the school and our story could touch even one, that’s all I needed or wanted. And I knew we would sell every single book, because that’s what I’d prayed. Every book plus a little bit more, I’d prayed.

And how many did we sell? Every single copy of the book we had, plus one more. God is pretty literal it seems when it comes to prayers. 😉

Still, I was blown away when I looked into the box at the end of the night and realized we had only the precise amount of books left over that were needed for online orders.

30 books. Exactly 30 ordered.

You can’t tell me that’s coincidence! I had to use my ten complimentary copies just to make sure everyone got a book. And to think I’d almost ordered 40 before talking myself out of that by how impractical and unrealistic a number that was.

And all in my own hometown! It was an amazing memory to be able to have in Colorado, and it was such a privilege to be able to give back even a little bit to a community that has shaped so much of who I am. It wasn’t officially on this Bucket List, but I am so thankful it found its way there anyways. I am so proud of where I come from, and am still so humbled and honored by God’s grace in making any of it possible.

The overall point I learned again though was this: stop drawing boundary lines for God. If He’s for it, who can be against it? If He’s laid it on your heart now, why not pursue it now? He can work through even the most unlikely of people or circumstances. Something I’ve heard since I was small, but had life beat out of me for a bit as some dreams crumbled around me. But there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. Both a time to build, and a time to tear down. A time for dreams to come true, and a time for dreams not to… right now, at least. But it’s His promise to make everything beautiful in its time, and I have very much found this to be true.

Though it would take much too long to go into all of the details, suffice it to say the book signing really shouldn’t have happened. First to get into the book at all. Then to try and plan the whole thing within just a week. That’s only one week’s worth of advertising and letting people know that it was even happening at all. Then to sell every single copy of the book we had, plus one. (A copy of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul compilation I was published in.) We even made it onto the front page of a local newspaper after missing our first chance to be able to advertise the book signing! From beginning to end, God’s hand was everywhere, and the night ended for me feeling above and beyond “just blessed.”

Chase after The Mercy King, and you’re bound to get caught up in some beautiful surprises along the way. I love that about Him! 🙂

Please don’t give up on your dreams, dear hearts.

You might miss out on sitting in the very midst of one otherwise.

(Find a video interview with me and the library manager here, learn more about the book here, or look through the online photo album here.)

Book Signing