Driving on the road, from sea to shining sea, gives one time to think. Reflect. Witness. Dream. Wide open spaces do something for the soul. They awaken.
The lessons we have learned this past year have only been graced upon us through faith. It’s nothing we have done, except surrender—and accept what we cannot control.
Our stops along the way have been inspirational and encouraging. Most of them have been centered around Creation. There is nothing more humbling than witnessing the good Lord’s fingerprints on this earth.
This next stop was different. Waco, Texas.
Over the past 5 years, there have been real life stories that have inspired us. Chip and Joanna Gaines, HGTV “Fixer Upper” stars, are one of those motivational stories.
Starting from scratch, with nothing but vision, this God-fearing couple worked hard, became pioneers, and blazed trails. They did what most wouldn’t.
They acted on their dreams.
And so for a late birthday treat, we stopped at their Magnolia Silos in Waco Texas.
An abandoned cotton seed mill in a rough neighborhood, a place that had been forgotten, became a massive vision to this pioneer couple.
To the average eye, this property held no interest. Zero vision. To the Gaines, it became the birth place of their next entrepreneurial adventure.
Chip and Joanna Gaines, though I have never met you, your vision of pioneering forward inspires me. You can see what others do not. You put faith into action and are examples to us all that when we are obedient to HIM, great things will follow.
All in HIS timing.
Though the noise and commotion was hard on Derek, he came with me!
I was like a kid in a candy shop.
Even Snickerdoodle could shop.
And I got my birthday cupcake. It was the best cupcake of my life.
As we continued our journey onward, inching our way state to state, short brief stops inspired us most. To stretch our legs, we stopped at antique stores. A great passion we have always had is to sift through items from the past. Antique stores are museums to us. One store stood out from all the rest. It wasn’t the items in the store, but the soul behind the counter.
A cute, petite grandma, with a heart the size of Texas, openly shared story after story of her life. Her husband of 53 years had just passed away a few months earlier. Her grief-stricken eyes were a glimpse into her soul and her love for the Lord poured out of her. She had no doubt she would be reunited with her husband one day in heaven.
This couple had turned their love and passion into a business. Together they worked side-by-side their entire marriage. Though she was at a loss without him, she carried on through faith.
She fell in love with Gavin and, after spending sometime with him, she assured us that in today’s world, we were raising him well. She fought hard for her local public schools to keep the “Pledge of Allegiance” in the schools and the right to pray with students. I don’t know how many schools still honor the pledge or pray, but something tells me there are very few schools left.
I know one thing: I want to be like her when I grow up. Stand proud for GOD.
Through long hours and exhausting days we continued to travel across this great nation. Pulling into truck stops and rest areas to sleep, I learned the next life lesson.
There are two types of uncomfortable.
Dark alleys with someone following you is not the uncomfortable feeling you want.
Blazing new trails that could lead to discovery, success, innovation, service, and humility is also very uncomfortable.
Trail blazing is uncomfortable.
The unknown is uncomfortable.
Being uncomfortable—in the right setting—is being a pioneer.
Chose wisely what to be uncomfortable about.
Don’t fight it. Embrace it.
Our next lesson was on self pity-days. Anytime I hear Christmas music, tears streamed down my face. This is our second Christmas with no home, decorations, or family traditions. It pierces my heart. The season of Christmas felt like a reminder of what we don’t have. Dec. 7th marked the one year since we sold our home.
However, it was the exact same day that the Kohl’s cashier gave me the link to the Dr. Oz show, which led us to the doctor who diagnosed Derek. A beautiful reminder that when you jump, God jumps out ahead of you. You can never out jump HIM. I dare you to try it. Image what you could accomplish.
Derek has a journey ahead of him. Though his SSCD symptoms have greatly improved, we are still seeing the effects of all the damage that has been done. We have had moments of grieving all he has been through, and mourning the loss of his old life.
A dear mentor called Derek and gave him this advice. It’s okay to have one really downer day, but don’t let it go on for two days in a row. Call someone.
Same for you. In this world of social media, we somehow have been brain wash that we have to be and look perfect. Life is the furthest thing from perfect. Every single one of you reading this has hardships that are chronic, everyday challenges you have no choice but to face. If you don’t yet, they are coming. None of us are spared.
Hear’s the good news. You don’t have to fight the fight. Someone else has for you. Your job is to have blind faith and believe.
We rolled into Florida, safely, without any problems.
Thousands of miles and not one incident. Thank you, Jesus.
Just as we set up camp, another camper rolled in, took a corner a bit short, and ran into a truck.
When the driver came out, he was devastated. He been driving for five years with his wife around the whole country and never had one accident. This was their last stop. They were going to sell their camper and live in a house again next week.
They taught me to never get too comfortable.
The reality is our almost-five-year journey has been hard. I wouldn’t wish anyone to suffer like my Derek has. I wouldn’t wish anyone to have to witness and fight for it like I have. But when you are a pioneer, you learn to not compare. Or care what others think.
Derek is getting wonderful care in Florida with Dr. Michelle Massa and Dr. John Li. He is in great hands. I continue to work hard, remembering a promise I made to God. In one of my many long talks with HIM during Derek’s surgery, I promised God that if Derek made it through, I would publish my first book with many more to follow.
I have a promise to keep.
I have learned to take care of me again. I listen to Christmas music and tears now roll down my face because of the real meaning of Christmas.
The birth of our Savior of the world.
Our encouragement to all of you, no matter what you are facing, is to blast Christmas music. If you can’t listen to it loudly like Derek, listen quietly.
And dance, even if you have to tiptoe.
Go. Get uncomfortable. We did.
Just drove from Sea to Shining Sea.
Sarah Hein the Pioneer