Friday, April 27, 2012

Dear Future Me,

Dear Future Sarah,

College was the most formative time of your life. It grew, challenged and shaped you into the person you are today. It has also prepared you for the next chapter in your life: your career. Never forget the extremely late nights you spent studying classes such as Business Law, Intermediate Macro and Insurance. Don’t forget writing on until the wee hours of the night and eventually winning a scholarship that would define your senior year. Do not let the smell of ergs, sweat or the rhythmic sounds of oars on the water be just a faint memory. Let them linger in the back of your mind with each new challenge you face.

While you reflect on the pain, remember your successes too. Remember how thrilled you were to put away your map of Sevilla one day and walked out the door knowing exactly where you needed to go. How scared you were to let go of the need to constantly translate from Spanish to English in Dr. Hazzard's Conversational Spanish class. When you did, though, you took your Spanish to new heights. The rush you felt dancing with your friends at Homecoming junior year when everyone else around you was drunk and oblivious. To utilizing that new found confidence to effectively communicate and teach people Spanish to starting up conversations with random strangers. In 2010, it didn’t matter if you spoke to someone new in English or Spanish, what mattered was that you got to know them. The determination you had all throughout the summer and fall of 2011 to never give up or give in. And lastly, but most importantly, the flood of relief that swept over you when you crossed the stage and received your diploma. Remember that where you are right now, a college graduate, is what you so earnestly dreamed of being the moment you set your foot onto the JU campus on August 22nd, 2007, over four years ago.

All of the things that you have experienced and the education you received are a privilege. As you make the transition to starting a career in your gap year, do not take anything for granted. Always show up early, dress for the job you want, stay ahead of your competition, always be willing to learn and do not get discouraged. You may have to start a a job that you may not like to eventually obtain the job of your dreams.

Think highly of yourself and as a Daughter of the King, but never for a second think you have arrived. There is always something new to learn, somewhere new to go and someone who knows more than you. With God at your side and Spain on your mind, you will excel in everything beyond your wildest dreams. And soon Spain will be a reality once again.

Love, Sarah

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I realize the large gap between my last post and this one...these transitions have been keeping me busier than I thought they would. Well, I am resolving to post twice a month at minimum for the remaining months in 2012. Though my college graduation was four months ago, I feel that so many more things have happened in my life. In fact, a lot of big things, both good and bad, have happened since Spring 2009.

Catarina was Sarah's name in Spanish class. We had 3 out of 4 HS Spanish classes together and we also went on a mission trip to Mexico together back in June 2007.

This particular post is dedicated to a friend I lost in a car accident three years ago. I set aside time the morning of the anniversary to go to the beach and reflect on her life. I wrote a memorial to her on a small slip of paper, taped it to a pen and left it there buried in the sand. The purpose of this was not to immortalize or glorify her death, but simply just a way for me to remember her and say goodbye. It didn't matter if one person or 100 people saw it, the waves swept it out to sea or that no one saw it at all. What mattered was that I had written it and it was out there in the world. Something personal from me to her. I express myself best through written words (Spanish in particular) so it was very therapeutic to do that and write the following:

March 23rd, 2012

What a privilege it is to be 23 years old and a college graduate. Not everyone gets the chance to watch year after year pass by while continuing to live, learn and grow here on this earth. Life is short, so laugh often and love as much as you can. Sarah Tipps taught me that through her life, short and sweet that it was. Though three years have passed since her accident, I still cannot comprehend that she is gone. That she is now in heaven. I am fully confident that she has passed on from this world to be with our Lord, praising Him with song and dance without ceasing, day and night. Although in celestial terms only a few moments have passed, in all actuality it feels the same way here on Earth.

I also cannot wrap my mind around how quickly time has flown since 2009. Three years ago at that point, I felt that 2012--the year after our graduation dates--was way far off as well. I can only imagine how I will feel once 20 years pass from the date of her accident. I suppose I will make room for other memories and people in my heart, but there will never be a friend quite like her, who influenced my life the way she did.

I will never understand much less grasp why God chose to take her up to heaven on this day three short years ago. Maybe I am not supposed to figure out in this life the reason why and just trust that ultimately God knows what He is doing. He has a plan and purpose for all of this—including the pain we have all suffered from losing her. It’s one thing to write all of this down and another to truly believe it, but I am doing my best each day to do so.

I don’t want to nearly break down every time I think of how that sweet girl got into a car accident, didn’t survive and will never be coming back. How she will not be here on Earth to face life’s challenges with me. That’s why I do not dwell on the tragedy but instead live my life the way Sarah would—eager to face each day with a smile on her face. Though Sarah seemed to portray herself publically as shy and reserved—she was really a bubbly person who loved to laugh and take risks. Time spent with her was never boring, though she often claimed the opposite.

There is so much I still want to tell her—-rowing, España, living in Jacksonville, mission trips, tutoring, future plans and so much more. Heaven on earth to me is in the form of Spain, but I cannot even begin to fathom the place where she is now and how glorious it must be. I cling to the promise that one day we will be reunited again and that alone gives each day a silver lining.