Tag Archives: hope

The Gift of Gratefulness

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24 ​ (English Standard Version)

The holiday season and new year is the perfect time to pause and reflect on everything for which we have to be thankful. We have the opportunity to be surrounded by loved ones and enjoy time and fellowship with one another. The Lord has truly blessed us all with so much and given us the perfect gift; Jesus, who offers us a true and deep sense of peace and contentment. Peace and contentment can rise up in us through nature, or music or kind people. If we recognize these things as blessings it only takes a moment to accept his invitation to receive them and allow them to nurture us.

During this time, it can be so easy to get caught up with the busyness of traveling, buying gifts, and attending holiday gatherings; we can quickly lose sight of the true meaning of the Christmas season. When our focus is centralized on things we may not have, such as material items, a significant other, the perfect decorations or event schedules, our vision can be clouded of everything we do have. The craving and striving that cause discontent will feed feelings of disappointment and can cause us to feel abandoned and forgotten. Feeding this seed of discontentment will only create a deep and relentless hunger that can never be satisfied.

Shifting our focus to gratefulness definitely takes practice and a conscious effort. Try a personal test: one day, practice your grateful muscle by putting effort into noticing every blessing throughout the day – driving your car to work, meeting a friend for lunch, putting your coat on when you walk outside, receiving a smile from a stranger. It does take time and practice; but by being intentional, we can develop a more positive, grateful outlook. It starts with being grateful for what we do have in the present moment. All of the sudden something like “being able to breathe on your own” becomes very valuable.

Our prayer for you is that this season you will be surrounded by love and filled with joy! Blessings from our families to yours. 

-The Van Zandt and Saviers families

Purchase Flipped today! 

Giving and Thanks

Matthew 25: 21 “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.” The Message Bible

Our family has so much to be thankful for this year. Tommy has been on the receiving end of people willing to share their God given energy, intellect, talent or treasure for the benefit of his physical care. At the beginning of October, the community of Fayetteville and beyond, came together for Tommy’s Nite Out to raise money for his care giving. His injury requires that he has 24-hour care; if he is not able to stay at home with caregivers, he would need to live in a health facility. Needless to say, our family is beyond grateful that he is able to live at home. He gets up every day, and during the week goes to his office in Rogers. He may be severely disabled, but his attitude is abundantly able. Just ask anyone who spends time with him. He does not feel sorry for himself and is always asking how he can help.

In October we were invited to speak at Cross Church’s Summit Luncheon about Flipped! Triumph over Tragedy, Mark Saviers’ book recounting the aftermath of Tommy’s accident. Opportunities like this encourage us to continue pressing on. Our family is able to triumph over this tragedy because we have a sense of belonging to a greater purpose. These opportunities allow us to connect and communicate to others how God has walked with us through the past ten years.

We have observed that people who encourage and support others come from a place of abundance. An attitude of abundance results from believing that giving one’s time, talent, and resources in service to others has its own rewards. These actions as mentioned in the scripture above create a sense of belonging to a greater cause, a quiet satisfaction of a job well done, a partnership and a trust in the Creator of the world, that is a reward in and of itself. These actions create a heart filled with gratitude which is the fuel for an abundant mindset.

What in your life brings to you a sense of gratitude? Here are some things that come to mind: a beautiful autumn day in the Ozarks, observing a teenager helping his wobbly grandmother, a beloved pet lovingly looking at her “human,” a choir singing, the quiet and trust between loved ones, cuddling a baby.

Any time you feel like life is unfair, or challenges seem overwhelming and a sense of despair is clouding your vision, take a few moments to consider what you still have versus what you have lost. Gratitude can start with breathing: breathing is a gift, life is a gift, memories are a gift. You are a gift.

Happy Thanksgiving, we pray for an abundance in your mind, your heart, your life.

The Van Zandt/Saviers Family

The Gift of Surrender

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…”

Isaiah 61:3

The phrase “a new normal” has never worked for me. Nothing is normal when it comes to suffering. It doesn’t feel very “normal,” to have your life abruptly upended, to have unexpressed tears stuck in your throat and to see your future plans vanish. However, what I can accept is that with time and grace suffering can be a gift and a path to a life with purpose. It has been 9 and a half years since Tommy’s accident, and I am at the beginning of understanding what surrendering my will to God’s will really means.

Surrendering takes discipline, it takes prayer, it takes head and heart understanding of what surrender looks and feels like. Let’s start with the opposite of surrender, which is control. What does control look like?  Something like: it is my responsibility to make sure Tommy stays healthy. I need to have everything in order legally and financially so that I am not taken by surprise, or maybe I find myself preoccupied with the family’s health whether it be spiritual, emotional, or physical. Surrender looks like…OK all of these things are important and need to be considered. I will do my part to be wise and disciplined, praying for God’s guidance with the realization that I am not in charge of the outcome. It takes time and discipline to practice this mindset. What helps me and strengthens my faith is to look back and see how we have been cared for in every one of these areas in unexpected ways and most of the time without my help!

Another area I have had to practice surrendering is accepting how much my life has changed. This is so hard, but God’s grace is sufficient even for this. What has helped me is to look at the lives of people in scripture that God used to bring Him glory. You can also find inspiring stories in the media of people who have turned pain into purpose.  A scripture story that resonates with me is Moses, an outsider in his own family, born an Israelite and raised in Pharoah’s household. His anger at the way the Israelite slaves were being treated got so out of control that he murdered an Egyptian. Talk about a life being Flipped! But God had compassion and a plan for Moses. Moses went from walking the halls of a palace to tending sheep for forty years! Moses had to learn the gift of surrendering his will and his life over to God. The result of this forty-year surrendering was a humble man who reluctantly agreed to lead the Israelites from slavery to freedom. During this trek through the wilderness God gave the Israelites daily manna or bread to sustain them. This daily reliance upon God’s provision is also found in the new testament when Jesus taught us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread.”  The message here is that we can trust God to take care of our needs, but we need to turn to him daily with faith and thanksgiving.

What if suffering and wilderness experiences are a path to relying on God? What if relying on God builds our faith, transforming anxiety and fear into strength? What if, once strengthened through God’s grace we are willing to step out of our comfort zone and participate in the relieving of the suffering of others? What if we stop thinking that hard times, disappointments, or flipped lives are a punishment? What if we accept all of life as a gift and appreciate even the hard times as an opportunity to become a vessel for God’s glory and not our own? I have found in my own life that the pretense of self-sufficiency tends to lead to pride, judgement and fear. I am beginning to see that through surrender and God’s grace there is a depth to life through meaningful connection, healing, purpose and peace. I would not have chosen this path for our family. However, I am eternally grateful for what I have learned so far, and I have hope that ashes will be transformed into an internal and eternal beauty for the glory of God, who DID choose to suffer and surrender for my sake and for yours.

From my heart to yours,


Deep Dive

“Who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble” Isaiah 63:13

Like many of you I was overcome with joy when I heard the news that the young Thai soccer players and their coach were rescued from being trapped in a cave. Their environment was becoming more and more hazardous for their health, and their chances for being rescued were getting smaller by the hour. The situation was so dangerous for the boys and the divers that one expert diver died when he ran out of oxygen on his way out of the cave. Their rescue was meticulously planned and executed. Expert divers prepared the players for the harrowing journey out, they were surrounded by the divers as they swam out of the cave, they were given medicine to calm them and a rope to guide them.

I can relate to aspects of this scenario, can you? Maybe we find our lives “flipped” from following our own curiosity that has led us deep into a dark cave where we become trapped. Maybe our circumstances are so scary that we are required to dive deep into the unknown and trust when we can’t see ahead; finding that we neither have the strength nor the ability to solve our own problems. Even writing this blog is one of those scenarios for me, not life- threatening mind you, but scary nonetheless. Putting my thoughts out to the public knowing I am neither a writer by training nor an expert on scripture creates apprehension in me. However, I choose to act because my faith experience has shown me that I am not alone, I have an expert rescuer guiding me. This expert is available to all of us. This expert is God, Jesus the son, was willing to give His own life to save ours. God, the Holy Spirit, who builds our trust by encouraging us, teaching and preparing us, and calming us. God, the father, nourishes us with food and oxygen, hems us in so that we feel secure, gives us a rope (scripture, family, community) to hang onto; and then leads the way out or through our circumstances. Furthermore, we have access to God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, at all times and in all places. He will never leave and go home. God will not make us follow Him, He knows that it is crucial that it is our choice to believe in Him. It is our choice to surrender to Him, and to trust and to follow Him.

All humans struggle with this choice to surrender, trust and follow. We are by nature “strong willed” because we want to be in control. It is scary to literally put our lives into another person’s hands, because we know human experts are limited, as we saw with the expert diver who was overcome by his natural limitations. Perhaps we have experienced authority figures who were not gentle, patient, or forgiving. But what if we put our trust in a God who knows us intimately, who, if we choose Him, will forgive our weaknesses and strengthen us? An all knowing eternal expert, triune God, who desires for us to accept Him so we can live with Him forever once our natural limits are reached on this earth.

Faith takes practice and discipline, and many times my “strong will” gets in the way of experiencing His influence in my life. However, when I do choose to surrender to Him, trust Him and follow His direction the result is that I am less likely to feel anxious or sad. His faithful provision gives me hope that He will continue to do so in the future, encouraging friends help me to see that what I am going through, with His help, benefits others and strengthens me. Furthermore, His comfort through scripture and prayer provides relief from the false notion that I have to rely totally on myself or other limited human beings.

It does not take a crisis in our lives to bring us to the point of choosing to lay down our will to follow God’s will for us. He wants us to know Him so we can begin to see that He is loving and trustworthy, no matter our circumstances past, present and future. He does not promise that following Him will be easy, but He does promise that we will never be alone. Even if our vision is limited and we can’t feel him; He will give us a rope and He is on the other end, leading us to eternal life with Him.

Reflecting on a year of shock, survival, sacrifice, and surrender

The Saviers and Van Zandt families (minus one of our sons) about a year and a half after Tommy got home from the hospital.

I cannot help but reflect on how we would have never been able to envision that nine years after the worst day of our lives, Mark’s cathartic journaling of his experiences the first year after Tommy’s accident, would launch a book and a website centered around the worst year of our life.

We launched the site last week and Wednesday, the book Flipped went on sale. As Tommy’s wife, I will periodically be recounting my experiences through the stages of triumph over tragedy throughout the last nine years. This particular blog is about my experience of shock in the first stage of this tragedy.


The worst day of our lives

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