Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why We Need To Live Intentionally

Hey Friend,
If you haven't guessed already, I am a lover and studier of words.  Let me preface this post by saying that every year I choose a word that is my watch word - my litmus test with which I measure my actions.  My word for 2014 has been "intentionally", as in I want to live life intentionally.
Intentionally (adverb) meaning deliberately, on purpose, by design, consciously or willfully.
I recently returned from a trip to Pittsburgh.  It was a gorgeous trip up and back through the mountains of West Virginia.  With every bend around the statuesque mountains, we were greeted with an even grander display of God's glory at its best.  Brilliant hues of yellow, orange and red set the hills on fire in the sunlight.  It was, quite simply, breathtaking.  Part of me wanted to fumble for my phone to catch this sight on camera.  My husband knew better and he calmly said, "Bev, leave the phone alone and just take in the sights."  Smart man, my husband, he knows how to live intentionally.
Along with visiting family and taking a walk down memory lane, the driving purpose of our visit was to attend our 35th high school reunion.  This would be the first one we'd be attending as husband and wife. 
As one would expect, you knew which banquet room was ours because you could hear the laughter and chatter from a mile away.  Needless to say we were greeted with hugs and squeals and congratulatory handshakes.  It was great fun recounting "our story" of reconnecting after all these years and our courtship. We all regaled each other with tales of high school hi jinx, stories of fun, love, angst, navigating the awkward road toward adulthood.  We caught up on the years gone by and shared stories of our grown children.  It was a perfect evening...almost.
My husband and I were sitting at the dinner table with 70's and 80's tunes wafting in the background.  A continuous slide show off to one side was flashing fun and fond memories until the picture of the cute, blond-haired girl holding her books and flashing a bright smile caught my eye.  Immediately I felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach.  Hot tears welled up in my eyes and I could hear the roar of laughter still going on around me as the air seemed to disappear from the room.  I literally couldn't breath. It was a surreal experience.  My mind flashed back to when I had gotten the news on the phone.
The girl in the picture - the one wearing the bow blouse and meticulously hand-sewn jumper was my best friend from high school.  My BFF, my buddy, my share the depths of our hearts friend.  Just months before, she had traveled from NYC to be with us at our wedding.  Her smile still lit up a room.  Her vivaciousness and zeal for life were still oozing from her.  Her sincere enthusiasm in sharing our joy could not have been more apparent.  I talked with Cindy longer than anyone at our wedding ceremony and I now know why.  In just a few short weeks after our wedding, Cindy collapsed and died of cardiac arrest.
Cindy knew and helped to teach me to live life intentionally.  Diagnosed at an early age with heart disease, she didn't take any moment for granted.  Having been brought back to life a few times, she didn't take this frail thing we call life for granted.  She lived it to the full.  She took time to ask questions and truly wait for, and listen to, the answers.  She loved life and didn't want to miss a moment of it. 
Even before her first episode, I have such fond memories of Cindy as we stuck like glue to each other as the often mocked "goody two shoes" on the cheerleading squad in high school.  Even back then we took our faith and our friendship seriously.  In college, we would visit each other and have long conversations over coffee and dance the night away in the dance clubs.  We'd fix each other up on dates and then laugh about the horrendous experience afterwards. 
Perhaps my fondest memory of my spunky friend is when we were supposed to be going to the Harvard Business School Ball in Boston.  My date, just a little chauvinistic, was running late and shoved his tuxedo shirt in my face and asked me to iron it.  Cindy could see the vein in my forehead about to burst, but calmly whispered in my ear, "Just iron the d__n shirt and then we'll get to the ball and ditch these two bozos!!"  And, that's just what we did and had a ball dancing the night away with the guys without dates for the evening.   
This same spunky gal also sent me journal entries as she and her wonderful husband Patrick traveled half way around the world to China and were volunteering their time in a Chinese orphanage.  This particular orphanage was home to the "least of these"...beautiful babies with moderate to severe birth defects.  I could tell by Cindy's letters that she was particularly smitten by this one tiny baby girl - a girl whose spunk (not unlike Cindy's) had enabled her to beat the odds of survival.  This little one with almond eyes and a precious smile lived life with a purpose. 
I was not surprised that after jumping through every hoop imaginable and cutting through all sorts of red tape, Cindy and her husband were going to adopt little Norma Xian ('Xi 'Xi) who was named after Cindy's deceased mom.  To say that Cindy was over the moon in love with this little girl was at best an understatement.  I could tell by the pictures that she would send me that my friend was living life on purpose and with intention...cherishing every moment she had with her precious little girl. 
Cindy lived life consciously, willfully and by design.  She didn't take a single blessing for granted.  Though I will not see my beloved friend until we dance together in Heaven, I know that every moment of her life here on earth was lived with purpose. 
To live life intentionally was a rare and precious gift that she gave me.  
I think of Cindy often when I am caught letting life aimlessly slip away.  I am reminded that we don't know how much time we are given and so we need to live life to the fullest.  We need to love how Christ loved.  We need to share the message of Jesus' love with family and friends and strangers alike.  
We need to live life intentionally...
Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (Psalm 90:12)
But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.  (Mark 13:32)
Lord, let me live life like my friend Cindy did - not knowing the day nor the hour that I may leave this earth.  Instead, let me look around, seize life and live each moment intentionally. Amen.
How is God calling you to live life more intentionally?  Will you be kind enough to share?
In His love,
This post written in loving memory of my forever friend Cindy Klaja McLaughlin.
ps.  Don't forget to subscribe to my blog in the month of October in order to be entered in a drawing to win prizes that speak to the heart.     


  1. Hi Bev,

    This post made me cry good tears, (actually all tears are good), What a beautiful friend, and what precious memories.....what a wonderful husband for this good marriage as Jesus intended.....what a legacy you both have lived and left behind.......

    This post has made me think about if I do live life intentionally, friendship with God and man, family, hurting people, listening, using the talents God gave me, living knowing all things are sifted through God's hand, the seasons, etc. Because my life is so stressful now, and no two days schedule is the same, and I am tired and crabby, I can feel the need to ask myself, am I fighting what is going on around me, for good? or for what I think is good, or what I want because it is easier?

    In some ways, I am, hot chocolate with my little David and enjoying the chocolate mustache on his upper lip, snuggling with books and talking about the pictures, when Dalton has had a bad day at school, talking to him about it and working to redirect his behavior, talking to my son Jonathan on his way home from work, reading the Word after a meal with the boys and praying with them. Noticing hurting people as my church service instead of going into the service, and because Christ has been in our midst, we both feel refreshed when this young mother has a special needs child. I've lived that lonely road of the struggle and being misunderstood and judged by those who don't live it. This mom and I both have hope.

    But, much of my day just feels like trying to get my son to work on time, get Dalton to school on time with the carpool, and pick him up on time, school conferences and meetings, counselor appointments, volunteer time for school, my class I facilitate, disciplining, trying to find a time to date my husband, managing a home, I find I am not thinking of eternity very often, just get through my day.

    My boys are into everything, and it is me trying to keep the chaos down to minimum. I found out they both have sensory processing disorder, which explains a lot, now very obviously, and at this point is also a matter of more appointments to help them, and more school appointments. This feels like a merry-go-round of what intentionality?

    I don't know if I am making sense....I know what I am trying to say, and I'm not finding the words. Thank you for this post, it has me thinking.....



  2. Hi Bev,

    We just got back from our adoption counselor. I realize I have been in survival mode from severe lack of sleep, and just the stress of the chaos with two boys. So, good stuff, I am going to be less hard on myself, and still do what I can. And she has ideas of how to help our boys and us get more sleep. Things I would not have thought of on my own. Good stuff.



  3. Hi Joanne,
    I echo your adoption counselor's advice to be gentle with yourself!!! You HAVE been in survival mode and if your basic needs "like getting sleep" are not being met, well you aren't going to have much left in your tank to give. I would also preface this post by saying that everyone's "living intentionally" is going to look different based on our season or stage in life. Though you and I are roughly the same age, you are having to deal with two very lively little boys every day. Your "living intentionally" may look more like just aiming to be present with them in their daily lives and praying that you don't run out of steam before they do!! I greatly admire what you are doing and you are most definitely living intentionally by loving them with Christ's love and being a directional arrow pointing them to God. Trust God to "fill in the cracks" when you feel like you've fallen short. Your boys know that they are loved and that is VERY, very good stuff indeed!
    Love and ((hugs)) to you my friend,

  4. This story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, Bev. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, but I'm also glad that she taught you a life changing lesson. Sending hugs your way, friend. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  5. Abby,
    It always does my heart good to see/read you in the comments. Thank you for your care and concern...please pray for my friend's husband and little girl...My friend did make a big impact on my life and I am so grateful that God put me in her path!! I learned a lot from how Cindy lived her life. Unfortunately, with love there can also be great pain.
    ((Hugs)) back to you,

  6. Hi Bev. I was so pleased to have you visit my blog today. I see you all the time an incourage. Thanks for sharing your story about your friend Cindy. Life is a gift, let's not take it for granted.

    1. Betsy,
      I'm so glad I stopped by and I plan to do so in the future! It's always fun to connect with another blogger in this great big blogosphere :) Thank you for popping by my are always welcome here!

  7. Bev, I remember you sharing about your dear friend after your wedding. You share beautifully here a testimony to friendship and the value of living a life with intention. I also loved the part about your husband gently nudging you to put your phone away. Reflects how we really need others in this thing we called life. So glad you have that special man by your side. Sending hugs your way. Love you much. xoxo

  8. Beth,
    I so miss my friend! And, yes, I am so fortunate to have this wonderful man in my life who gently reminds me to put down my camera and just be intentional in the moment :) Sharing in your joy of you basking in your husband's return!! Looking forward to your big "announcement"!!
    Love and ((hugs)) friend,


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