6 months down, a lifetime to go.

Now I still have so much to learn about marriage and about Sean, but we’ve made it halfway through year one and we started our journey in the throes of a pandemic. Here are a few things that I’ve learned in the hardest and best 6 months:

  • Marriage is a commitment-A promise to someone else. It’s promising that the other person will always be the first priority in your life. It’s promising that his happiness is valued. 
  • Marriage is a collaboration-rather than a compromise. A friend once told me that in compromises one person usually lose something but in a collaboration both parties work together to a common end. I think that’s true. Both parties are often more satisfied with the end result.
  • Marriage is an endless sleepover with my favorite person. I look forward to coming home and seeing Sean and curling up next to him. I think someday I’ll get over it (but I really hope not).
  • Grand gestures are nice but it’s the little things that truly mean a lot. Flowers and candy are always appreciated by me but it’s more about the gentle way he holds me when my emotions are fragile or the way he waits till I wake up in the afternoon to mow the lawn.
  • Loving well means you need to learn the other person’s love language. 
  • Communication never goes out of style.
  • Love is a choice-even when the feelings are there.
  • It’s not all about a wedding, but marriage does deserve to be celebrated. 

So here we are: 6 months down, a lifetime to go, and a whole lot more to learn and fail at the first time. Sean is my favorite person and I can’t imagine doing this marriage thing without him by my side. Marriage is hard but worth it nonetheless.

Grace, upon Grace, upon Grace

Can I be honest?

I’ve been in a dark place. I didn’t want to admit that because life is seemingly good. I married my favorite person. I bought a house. We got a cat. I love my job (most of the time). I talk to/see my best friend on the regular. Life is good.

But hard.

They don’t tell you that even though you live together now, being on opposite schedules mean, you may not see much of your favorite person. 

Adulting is a lot of work-and you have to do the work even when you don’t feel like it.

Sean thinks so differently than I do, which in most cases it’s good because I’m glad he hasn’t experienced the same trauma I have.

PTSD stinks. I mean, you do the work. You’re able to stand on your own two feet again. You have a steady job and relationship. You think you’re good then WHAM. PTSD hits you upside the head and knocks you down. 

Depression makes you feel less than because it’s all of a sudden hard to get out of bed and find motivation to do even the simplest tasks.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that changed the way we do everything. 

Oh and add to it the guilt of not being okay when it appears that you should be happy. It stinks.

All in all, I’ve been managing with the help of trusted individuals and God. But I decided that I couldn’t process it by myself, so I started therapy again. It was with the same counselor that say me though the mire the first time so she’s familiar with my defense mechanisms. Only two sessions in and it wrecked me.

I finally put a name to the feelings of loss I was feeling after everything. I was preparing for everything to get ripped out from under me. What? Life was good and I was preparing for the worst.  After that session, I had to do the hard and exhausting work of sitting with all the emotions. Now that I’ve sat with them, felt them fiercely, and given them room to breathe, I can do the even harder work of changing my thoughts. 

Here’s to not being okay, but I’m in a better place than I was yesterday. Here’s to giving myself grace when my traumatized self hurts the people I love. I have broken pieces but I’m doing the hard work of letting Jesus patch me together like only He can.

Year 26 and counting…

I LOVE birthdays. I don’t view it as another year older but rather as another year you survived.

I LOVE birthdays and I value reflection so every year I look back on the year and see all that God has done. 

This year on the eve of my birthday, I’m spending the moments reflecting on how far God has brought me.

  • I found my person. I don’t believe that there is only one person destined for you but rather a person who you choose to run beside you in life. 26 was full of plenty of high moments as I got engaged and married to my best friend who, for some reason, loves me, quirks and all.
  • You can’t have highs without lows. 26 was privy to some of the highest highs as well as some of the lowest lows as I navigated what it means to be an empath nurse. I get the privilege of entering into some of the hardest and best moments of people’s lives. I don’t take that honor lightly.
  • Friendship is precious and needs to be treasured. There are those people who entered your life unexpectedly. Life is hard. Hold those people close and check in on them occasionally. It’s the hard and holy moments that matters.
  • No matter how bad it gets, you can rest in the simple fact that you have a Father who loves you more than you can ever know.
  • Do not plan your life out according to a time table. You never know when life will throw a curve ball at you.
  • Self-awareness is underrated and undervalued as a skill.
  • Be yourself. Those who care, don’t matter and those who matter, don’t care.

This took me YEARS to figure out, but it’s so true. Just simply be yourself. I’m still figuring it out. I’m just me. I’m not perfect by any means, but I’m working to embrace my shortcomings and be myself. 

Here’s a snippet of what God has done in my life this year-may there be many more adventures with God as He takes me on the grandest journey.

Things COVID-19 has Taught Me

So about 5 days ago, I was diagnosed with Covid. It has been a wild ride so far but God used this time to slow me down and spend sweet time with him. Here are a few things that have been ruminating in my soul as I have been quarantined by myself with God.

  • Thankfulness changes your mentality. 

It is easy to be in this situation and be woe is me. Yes, I have covid and yes, I must spend most of my time quarantined by myself to protect my family, but it could be so much worse. When I switched my mindset, I was grateful for things instead of living in the muck of my sorrows.

  • Rest in Jesus is vital and worthwhile.

           I have been going and going for a while. I think Jesus saw that and used this opportunity to slow me down (albeit very quickly). He knew I could not sustain that for too much longer. I am using this time to grow closer to Jesus and figure out what he wants from me. If you need me in the next few days, I will either be asleep or reading my Bible or listening to books on tape.

  •  People are needed. 

           The worst part is that not only am I feeling crummy, but I am also physically alone. I knew this before, but I am an outgoing introvert. It means that I like my alone time, but I like people as well. For me that has been the hardest part of this. I never lacked compassion but now I have empathy for what people go through. I was lucky (and fingers crossed I stay lucky) in being able to stay at home and not in the hospital. I can only imagine how alone people feel. People are needed, and not just in a pandemic. So, check in with that new mama, or friend you have not heard from in a while. Check in with your people. Oftentimes, you will find that you needed it just as much as they did.

These are just a few things that God is teaching me through this, and He is not through yet. Final thought: this is real. I am one of the lucky ones. I was as careful as I could be, and I still got it. Looking back, I would not have changed anything that was potentially questionable. So, since the community is now the frontline, please, wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance, and stay home. Yes, most people survive with mild symptoms, but it can be detrimental and deadly to some.

Mental Health and Self Care

In this season of quarantine and COVID-19, tensions are high and mental health is often ignored and forgotten. People are isolated, scared and lonely. Here are few tips to care for yourself and others in the midst of chaos.

  • Simply being kind to others is significant in this day and age. You never know what someone else is going though. 
  • Recognize that life is stressful for everyone so in turn take care of yourself mentally as well as physically. 
  • As a human, simply take notice of things and people around you, and simply see people. 
  • When life gets overwhelming, simply take a deep breath and take life 5 minutes at a time.
  • Therapy is a good-sometimes necessary-thing and shouldn’t be shameful. Therapy was the best thing that happened to me and I still go to therapy, from time to time, when life gets overwhelming.
  • Sometimes even medications are necessary and shouldn’t be shameful. Do we look down upon people that take medication for diabetes or blood pressure? It’s the same thing for your brain.

Mental Health is Health and we should keep the conversation going. 

Social isolation, Self-care, and Birthdays

My birthday is in 4 days and it’s a bit of a downer. I have to grow up and pay for my own insurance (I’m not intending to sound privileged but that’s the current reality of my life and it’s not the hardest thing or worst thing). The world is also shut down so there’s that.

Anyways, I turn 26 in 4 days, and here are a few things I’ve learned in the midst of a global pandemic.

 

  • Life is not all sunshine and roses and that’s ok.

 

Life is a mix of rainy days and sunshine. You can’t have one without the other. If you choose to fixate only on the good days and ignore the bad, then you are deluding yourself. But if you focus on only the bad, then you are also deluding yourself. What’s that saying, ‘Not every day is good, but there is good in every day”. Or something like that. Bottom line. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Life is not always ok, but it rarely ever stays there.

 

  • People matter. 

 

Yes, the correct term is social distancing but for some people, it turns into social isolation. Just be aware that some people aren’t quarantined with the ones they love so social distancing means they have very little social interaction. Reach out to the people you know. Write a note. Let them know that they aren’t forgotten in the midst of this.

 

  • You can’t choose the cards you’ve been dealt, but you can choose what you do with that.

 

This goes both ways. You can’t choose the negative things that happen to you-like in my case a car accident that changed my life. But you also can’t choose the good things that happen-like me not dying. You choose-positively or negatively-what to do with what you’ve been handed. You are not a victim of your circumstances, but rather acknowledge them for what they are and move on from that.

 

  • Self-care is uber important.

 

A lot of people, past me included, think they have life together, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to have it all together all the time. What a relief! I need to take care of myself. I’m learning that lesson again and again. I had the mentality that getting all better meant that I would have infinite energy and would be able to everything I used to. I was wrong. The idea in my head of how much energy I had is probably exaggerated and if it was right, it was honestly only a matter of time before I crashed in life. I probably was lucky I literally crashed my car. Just kidding, but in reality, I’ve learned a lot about listening to my body and resting so I can be the best version of myself. Self-care is offering people you love the best of you rather than the leftover parts of you.

 

  • Light always comes after dark.

 

It’s tempting to think this-the way the world is right now-will never end. But It will end, someday. The sun never ceases to rise again.

 

  • Yes, it can stink to celebrate my birthday in the midst of a lockdown, but the people closest to me are findings ways to still make me feel loved and cherished. Plus, it’s a cliche but I’ll seriously never take another birthday for granted because I truly am blessed to be alive today.

 

These are just a few thought about the state of the world and birthdays is social distancing. Thanks for listening to my thoughts and do your part to help this end soon.

Airplanes and other flying things

There is just something about taking off in an airplane.

There’s nothing quite like take-off.

You feel the momentum mounting under the souls of your feet. 

The plane starts to speed up, the energy building up and then you feel it take off from the ground and start to soar. That’s how I feel like these last six to eight months with God were. Here’s a few things that God has been indwelling in my heart recently with my move to hospital nursing, the Dominican Republic, and the pandemic.

 

  • God is here. He’s in the breeze and the rain. He’s in the quiet moments. He’s still there even though you think He’s absent. He’s there in the midst of chaos offering a nugget of peace if we choose to cling to Him. In some of the darkest moments and some the lightest recently, I recognized that God is still there even though I can’t see Him.
  • Smiles are the same in any language. Recently, I went to the Dominican Republic. We ran a clinic. I know a little bit of Spanish, but it warmed my heart that I could communicate God’s love simply through a smile as I was taking the person to see the doctor. God’s love abounds in those who allow it to permeate through them. I hope I am the hands and feet of Jesus in my daily life not just of mission trips to the DR.
  • Never underestimate the power of a well-placed kind word. We are all stressed out to the max-especially since the pandemic. We are all afraid of the unknown and then our bent is to lash out because we are afraid. In that case, a kind word means so much more because every word surrounding that is angry, fearful words. When people are hurting, a kind word is like a lifeline of hope. Be that lifeline of hope.
  • It’s okay to not be okay. I feel like this is a lesson I learn time and time again. I just recently had to deal with this mentality. I was coming back from the DR and I got a migraine. It knocked me down for a little while and I realized that I need people in my life. I need people to bring me food when I’m not feeling well enough to go to the cafeteria to eat. I don’t have to have it all together all the time-but I need to accept that I’m not okay all the time. God holds me up in those times and surrounds me with people that hold my arms up.
  • Those who say they can and they can’t are both right. There’s a fine line between accepting limitations and just sitting on my butt and complaining. A year ago, I chose to sit on my butt and accept where I was then, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be dating the love of my life and I wouldn’t be loving on little and bigger humans at the hospital. It took a lot of brave small steps to get me to when I am today, but I think if I didn’t have people reinforcing the idea that I can do it. I couldn’t do it without them.

PRESENT

I’ve participated in the OneWord movement for a couple years. The idea is to prayerfully find a word that is to be the focus of the next twelve months. 

My word for 2020 is PRESENT.

Present (adj) means: now existing or in progress, being in view or at hand and existing in something mentioned or under consideration.

My hope for this year is that I learn to be present right where I am. Over the last 3 years, I’ve learned how to be brave, how to live in expectation, and finally how to put my anchor down exactly where I am. In the past 3 ½ years post-college, God has gone over and beyond my wildest dreams. He has burst and continued to burst out of the box I place him in. 

This year, I want to be present in my life-my work, my small group of girls, my family. 

This year, I want to future elaborate on the idea of putting my anchor down and become present-smell the roses so to speak.

 

  • Celebrate the little joys.

 

Stop and smell the roses. Life is not all about the stuff you can accomplish and how much you can do. You miss a lot if you simply live life for the fast pace. You miss out on the sunrises and sunsets, the smiles of kids’ faces, and the smell of the ground before it rains. Life is more than the business of life. It’s about the moments between. 

 

  • Listen more graciously.

 

Listen to just listen, not simply listen to respond. Sometimes, people just simply need someone to listen to them. They don’t need someone to fix it, but to acknowledge that it’s hard. They just need to know that they are seen and loved.

 

  • Listen to my body.

 

It sounds weird to acknowledge that sometimes I sleep for 14 hours. One way I can be present in my life is to listen to my body so I can be the best me. I can’t be truly present if my brain isn’t clear. If I need to sleep for 14 hours so be it. If I crave chocolate, then I’ll eat it. The best thing for my brain and body is to balance rest and exercise.

 

  • Develop and savor little rituals.

 

Being present in the moment includes developing little rituals like waking up early to have coffee and spend one on one time with Jesus. These rituals help ground one to a place and people who you include in those rituals. 

 

  • Put down my phone.

 

I want to be remembered for more than just my presence on social media. I want to be remembered for my smiles and hugs and my encouraging words. I want to be remembered for my presence in my life and my dear friends’ lives.

Here’s to living and learning how to be present in my life and others.

 

 

 

 

 

12.17.2016

3 years.

This season is emotional. As the anniversary of my almost death-my life change-comes close I’m just a mess of emotions.

Let me just be honest.

Today was great but I was an emotional mess this afternoon-it was irrational.

BUT GOD.

ABBA-my favorite name for God-knew that I needed cocooned in His arms. He knew that I needed my small group of girls hugs. He knew that I needed Him.

I’ve learned a lot throughout my life, but here are just a few nuggets that, as the 17th roles around, feels a little more applicable.

 

  • God is “ABBA”.

 

The reason why I love this name of God so much is that I love the picture it brings to my mind. A picture of God standing with open arms as I run towards Him. He catches me and picks me up while twirling me around and around. I love that picture. A picture of a God that rules the world yet cares about the littlest thing that is bothering me. 

 

  • People can hurt you, but just because they can, all of them won’t.

 

This one is a lesson I’m still processing through. Throughout my life, letting people in has always been a struggle. I mean letting people into my core-the core of who Sara is. I have layers like an onion, and I learned the lesson of transparency without vulnerability. Let me explain that. I learned how to peel back enough that people were convinced that I was transparent but there was no real risk of me getting hurt. I worked through that and finally made progress and let a few people in. Then the accident happened, and I’m back at square one. I lost myself and figured that I was “too much” for someone to love. A person simultaneously proved that I was worth investing in and crushed my idea that I would ever find love. Then, enter God. God brought a certain person into my life as a friend and I was skittish. I liked him but I figured he would leave. I didn’t want to let him in, because I was afraid of the mess I would be if he did leave. We were friends and then he wormed his way into my heart. He was there. He stayed and who knows what the future holds, but he has taught me that it is possible to open your heart again. I love him for that simple fact and who he is. In opening your heart, there’s always the risk of hurt, but just because they can, doesn’t mean they will.

 

  • Nothing-no person-is a coincidence.

 

I don’t believe anything is a coincidence. I don’t believe that I was hired at MCS of a whim. I believe that I was there for a specific reason. I don’t believe God brought people in and took people out of my life for a reason. Each person I’ve interacted with over the years has shaped me into who I am today for better or for worse. 

 

  • My story is about more than just me.

 

My story while it directly impacts my day to day life, is not simply about me.  This life is about more than my happiness. It’s about God’s redemption of ALL humanity. If God uses me and my story to fulfill his purposes, then all the trauma will be worth it.

 

  • God is not afraid of emotions.

 

If I have learned anything in the past three years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay for a while, but I can’t stay there. I can’t pitch my tent in the mire and live there. I can visit there. There have been times that I pop right out of the hole, and there have been times where I have needed my brother or parents to give me a swift kick to the bottom (metaphorically) to propel me out of the hole. Love isn’t simply codling but love is telling someone the truth with grace. Two years ago, I hit rock bottom. Life didn’t look anything like I thought it would, and I dug myself a house down in the mire and was planning on staying there indefinitely. 

BUT GOD. 

God in his grace-oh sweet grace-didn’t let me camp there. He put people in my life to give me that swift kick in the butt that I needed, Oh it was hard. There were lots of tears as I lamented what was and could have been. I wrestled with insecurity, I made molehills into mountains, and I surrendered into God’s will. I’m not perfect at this in any means. I still am not quite there yet, but at least I’m not still where I was.

I don’t know what your story is-who has hurt you, what trauma has happened to you-but I do know that there is an ‘abba’ who loves you more than you could ever know. Here’s to believing that God has got this.

Things The Past 3 Years Have Taught Me

In 23 days, it will be 3 years since I almost died. December 17th will always be a bittersweet day. On one hand, it’s a day that I survived, but on the other, it’s a day that my life changed. Here are a few things that life and my brain injury have taught me in the past 3 years.

  • You only live-and die-once. 

This moment, right here, right now, is the only moment you are guaranteed. You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow so kiss your spouse, spend time with your siblings and friends, put down your phone and show your family you care.

  • You can do anything-within reason-that you put your mind to.

God was gracious in letting me recover so well, but it wasn’t without tears and attitude (Sorry to my family for all the tears. Thanks for putting up with my pity parties but not letting me stay in my funk). 3 years ago, I honestly couldn’t (didn’t) imagine the way my life has turned out. And I don’t say that to receive applause or for anyone to think I am awesome. I simply say it to 1) show how awesome God is in allowing me the privilege of carrying this testimony of His grace and love and 2) show what determination and hard work culminate in. I could have and almost did give up on my life being any semblance of what I had pictured it being. My brother has a list a mile long of things I said I would never be able to do again. The top of the list is working as an acute care nurse in a hospital. With my hard work, and it was hard, I was able to return to the hospital. Honestly, it was harder than nursing school, because I was constantly frustrated as I had to relearn things I had already learned a couple of years ago while dealing with migraines, needing TONS more rest, and hands not doing what my brain is telling them. All in all, I didn’t know what my outcome would be or what I could do until I tried. Never give up.

  • There are many paths to take. Don’t compare your path to anyone else.

I learn this lesson time and time again. Maybe you are 20 with your dream job or maybe life happened and you are still working toward it. Maybe you married the love of your life at 19, or maybe you are still waiting for the knight to come rescue you. There is no right path in regards to destiny. It’s not like you took a wrong turn somewhere and your life is ruined now as a result. Your story is your story, It honestly does not matter what anyone else’s story is, but someone needs you and your story.

  • Rest is necessary and good.

Im very bad at resting well. I’ve gotten better at it simply because I cannot function without rest in my life. I go go go,  then I hit a wall and am dead to the world for 24 hours. I’ve learned the benefit of a well placed “no” as hard as it is. I’ve learned that there are different kinds of rest that are beneficial for different moments. Rest could look like watching a movie with Sean, or it could look like taking a hike in nature. Rest doesn’t always mean sleep but I’ll be honest and say that I hate that I need more of it now.

  • Sometimes it’s crucial and needed to simply take life one day at a time.

If you look at the big picture, you can get paralyzed in fear and end up doing nothing, I know this happens to me more than I would like. I’ve learned through the last couple of years that oftentimes I can just focus on the next 5 minutes and then the next 5 minutes etc. That way I get through the day and accomplish something small instead of simple standing frozen.

  • Some times the best man is the one that is right there-offering friendship-as you pick yourself up and dust yourself off. 

I am a romantic but I am not one to believe in love at first sight or the right one. I just know that from my experience it doesn’t happen that way. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that as a rule it doesn’t/couldn’t happen, I’m just saying that in my case there is something to be said about someone who values my friendship which was all I could offer at the time. I was picking myself up and rediscovering who Sara was and if I even loved who I was. There was this guy that I shot down simply because I could not imagine someone else understanding my brain. Honestly, at that time, I didn’t even understand my brain. To this day, I do not know how he understands/loves my broken and repaired brain, but somehow, I guess, through being friends, I let him into my brain a little and he was willing to learn the kookiness that comes with a brain injury-knowing who you are, but not really recognizing the person that woke up from the injury. He gets me, I get him and I love him for it.

Here are just a few things among the many things that the last couple of years have taught me.