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Sabrina Gauer

Faith, Life & The Journey

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Travel

2017: In Review

“There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

 

A year changes a lot of things.

When you’re in it, you don’t see the subtle things that add up to the big picture, but wow, what a difference a year makes! And one of my favorite things is to write down the significant parts, and compare them to where I was in the past, and see not only how my life keeps moving forward, but also how the Creator’s hand paints a beautiful masterpiece through each moment.

I’m so grateful for this life.

Continue reading “2017: In Review”

The Day God Gave Me A Backpack

“I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten…” – Joel 2:25

The UPS package was sitting on my porch when I arrived home from work. It had been a stressful day, and the weighty feeling of frustration lay heavy on my heart. Everything seemed so uncertain lately; where I once felt absolute clarity and optimism had dulled its shine into a jumbled heap of ideas, dreams, and feeling too small to attain any of them.

My overachieving self-sufficiency was at a stand-still.

I lifted the box off the porch and walked into the house. I immediately saw a million things that needed to be done right away: dishes in the sink, sweeping, a basket of my unfolded clothing by the couch. The days were so chaotic that by the time I arrived home, all I ever wanted to do was mindlessly Netflix and chill.

Getting caught up in busywork, I forgot about the box for a while.

Finally, fingers pruney from the dishwater, I grabbed a knife and cut through the packing tape. I hadn’t ordered anything- or, if I had, I didn’t remember!- and was curious. And what was inside shocked me. A brand new backpack, filled with travel items and snacks for my upcoming trip, along with a few cards signed by children who were rooting for my health and wellness through cancer, and some travel money in an envelope from the organization that was sending me on the trip. Tears filled my eyes and I sat down on the floor, holding the card open in disbelief.

You see, this was so much more to me than a thoughtful gesture on their part.

This was the hand of God.

Cancer changed my life. Such an understatement, but truly the only way to express it. Taking my whole world, shaking me up, and setting me in an entirely new normal. It was an illness in my body, but it was also an attack on my spirit. I didn’t know what my life would be like if I could never speak or sing again. I didn’t know what I would do for a career. I didn’t know what people would think of me with scars and a speech impediment. Fear seemed to have a grip on my dreams. I didn’t know if I’d live long enough to see my 28th birthday.

I didn’t know. But God knew. 

Last summer, celebrating almost a full year of a cancer-free body, I was accepted for a fully paid trip to Montana for a whitewater kayaking adventure with First Descents. In my excitement and preparation, I had bought a brand new backpack. It was black, with multiple zippers and pockets. I had it in my bedroom, leaning against the wall, ready to be stuffed with travel items.

And it was one of the items stolen when my apartment was broken into, two months before the trip…yet another blow to my spirit.

So, here I was, months later, about to embark on a totally unexpected journey to Maui with Athletes 4 Cancer, and holding a beautiful gift from the Cassie Hines Shoes Foundation. What is probably standard procedure for them to send out to every travel scholarship recipient was such a sign to me that, yet again, God is listening and cares about every little detail.

He even cares about my backpack.

Fast-forward, I’m now back from Maui and processing the amazing trip I was blessed with; surfing, paddle boarding, swimming with sea turtles, hiking through bamboo forests and swimming under waterfalls, heart-to-hearts with people who were strangers only days before (ohana), laughing until our sides hurt, cheering on fellow warriors with tears in our eyes, feeling overwhelming peace, and watching God do some beautiful things in an incredible setting.

This concept of restoration and God’s grace just blows me away. Every time.

If He can surprise me in the small things, He’s more than able to do above and beyond all I could ask or imagine in the big things…

Blessed assurance.

 

How to Survive

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9

This past summer, I spent one beautiful, warm evening canoeing with my sister and a group from 13Thirty Cancer Connect on Canadice Lake. We learned a little about teamwork as we steered the boats around the water, enjoying the peaceful stillness in the lack of technology and city noise.

Our guide was a fascinating gentleman who owned an outdoor adventure business and traveled the world. As the evening was winding down, we had all pulled our canoes together in the middle of lake, and he was telling us a story from his recent trip to Mongolia. The idea of 13668897_10100125165185463_3233014408182058411_o“compassion as a lifestyle”- that the Mongolians help one another and serve one another daily, never asking for “please” or “thank you” – in fact, they don’t even have those words in their vocabulary- because it’s simply a way of life for them. If you see a need, you lend a hand without question.

Living a life of compassion in order to SURVIVE.

I’ve thought a lot about that story over the recent months, and especially during the tumultuous election we just had as a country. The riots and protesting, the greed, the hate speech from candidates trying to outdo one another to be the face of the currently most powerful country in the world, the division between families and friends, the way God’s name was dragged into everyone’s arguments for or against the candidates…

It was ugly. It’s still ugly. Between social media dictating our society as a whole (both young and old) and an entire generation growing up to be selfish, self-absorbed, and desensitized through an onslaught of images, media consumption, and a psychologically-driven need for more followers, likes, and views or else spiraling into depression over unattained “success” and “popularity”…

All I can think of is the story of the Mongolians reaching out to one another, sometimes without ever even knowing the person’s name. Without asking for justification as to whether or not they should help a stranger and his horse cross the river safely- even if he was American, and so far outside of their culture. Accepting the extra pair of hands when a nomadic family was packing up their yurt to move on to their next destination.

What if we tried living like that?

When is the last time you helped someone just because? Without the expectation of a “thank you”, without the need to validate yourself?

For the Mongolians, living a lifestyle of compassion is necessary for survival. As the passage in Matthew says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I have to believe that compassion, or the lack thereof, will make or break us as well. Compassion isn’t something created by protests or arguments or marches- although I completely agree in TRUE equality, and believe in freedom, and having an uncensored voice that reaches the higher powers that be.

But compassion is putting others before yourself. It’s seeing a need and doing what you can to lessen a burden, right where you are. If we all took care of our families and neighbors in this way- the world would be a much kinder place. It’s human nature to be selfish. But just as God has extended His grace, mercy, and compassion on us, our response in humbled gratefulness should be to show the same to others around us.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Change the world by making a difference right where you are.

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