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.

Loving your Neighbors and Other Expressions of God’s Goodness.

“It is a gift to have a body that holds our soul here on earth, with a heart that beats and air that

moves through our lungs. It’s a gift to be able to come to God with our prayers. It’s a gift to do the

things that give us joy. It’s a gift to have opportunities to love our neighbors. We live an incarnational

life on purpose. God designed it that way. By our very design we have limitations. We can fight them

or accept them.”

Alexandra Kuykendall

I was just thinking the other day about God’s goodness.

Tonight, I was blown away by God’s goodness. Honestly, if you asked me a year ago, if I would be living Mansfield by my choice, dating the love of my life and working at a hospital

in direct patient care, I would have laughed in your face.

I did laugh in my brothers face when he mentioned something about me returning to the hospital setting.

I honestly figured that was long gone as well as the hopes that anyone would be able to love me and my

broken (albeit slowly put back together brain and “Sara”). But God in his goodness put me back together

piece by piece and placed someone in my life that could handle my put together self with grace.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but right now, I can honestly say that God is good. A year and a

half ago, I struggled with believing-truly believing-that statement.

God is good.

God has a good plan for me.

I couldn’t see it. Sometimes, I honestly wondered why He saved me.

BUT GOD!

He has burst out of every box that I tried to put Him in. 

I have been so blessed by the unit and people in the hospital God has placed me with.

The man in my life who graciously deals with my schedule and loves my healing brain.

My small group girls and leaders God has put in my life to mold me more like himself.

The sunsets and sunrises where God shows His glory after a long day or long night.

So here I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God and realizing that God is not asking me to change

the world. He is simply asking me to love my neighbor-the people He has chosen to put in my sphere of

influence. Here I’ll be, simply loving my corner of the world. 

Behold Our God

Behold Our God.

 

To be honest, we sang this song this morning.

I was undone. 

I pictured God-the Creator of the Universe-seated on His throne in all its grandeur, but still caring about my small, minuscule dream to return to hospital nursing.

I pictured how blown away and astonished the disciples were to see Jesus standing in front of them after 3 days before they had seen him broken and beaten, hanging on the cross.

Overwhelmed, I sang “You will reign forever (Let Your glory fill the earth)” 

I was overwhelmed by God in that oftentimes, I show up to the throne room with a list of requests and petitions.

 

“God, can you……”

“If you love me, you’ll….”

“God, please,….”

 

I forget to simply just let Him be God. I was overwhelmed this morning-to the point of tears-realizing that even though the past couple weeks were hard, God had in grand ways answered all the prayers of my soul-even the ones I dared not utter out loud.

He opened (and continues to open) doors for me to go back to hospital nursing.

He brought someone into my life to calm my anxious soul and who pursues me with such grace and patience. This special person encourages my seemingly crazy thoughts and pursuits as I strive to figure out this new Sara that he loves.

He showed me my corner of the world and made me realize that Mansfield needs Him just as much as the places I’d dreamed of. He didn’t take them off the table, but rather He changed my heart and eyes to see Him in the seemingly mundane.

This is the God that I worship. 

This God who is seated grandly on His throne in heaven, but still cares about the seemingly minuscule desires of my heart.

This God-who is Creator of the Universe-deserves to simply be beheld in all His glory.

Behold our God seated on His throne

Come, let us adore Him

Behold our King! Nothing can compare

Come, let us adore Him!

 

This is something I was reminded to make time for. Time to just bask in the awesomeness of God. Time to sit at His feet and worship Him for all the things He has done and will do.

If you need me, I’ll be over here overwhelmed by the goodness of God. I’ll be over here beholding my God who as done over and beyond what I prayed and wished for.

You, love, are Enough.

Hey! You matter!

Right here and right now. 

You are enough.

You are a child of God and that makes you enough.

Not your GPA. Not your size. Not your abilities. Not that guy or that girl.

You are enough.

Social media has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. It feeds into this comparison trap we as humans fall into.

 I’m not as tiny as her. I’m not as muscular as him. My relationship isn’t as perfect as theirs. I can’t sing as well as her. She has my dream job. Her house is clean. She has perfect well-behaved kids. 

The thing about comparison is that you are comparing tomatoes and potatoes. Your story is yours and yours alone. No one else has the exact same experiences as you.

Think about science experiments. There are variables that affect the outcome of these experiments. If you change the variable, you change the course of the experiment. It’s the same way with life. There are so many variables that change the story-siblings, family, childhood home/country, DNA. Add to that the simple fact that people only post the good moments-the sweet moments, the well-behaved moments-not the messy, disgruntled, I-still-choose-you-even-through-we-don’t-agree-on-this moments. 

You, my dear, are enough just the way you are-simply because Christ says so.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” –Psalm 139:13-16

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

God has something for you that only you can do-not that girl you follow on Instagram who seems to have her life together-only you. I say “seems” because 9 times out 10 that is simply just the good moments she is posting. You aren’t seeing the whole picture but she is probably just as lost in life as you are. People probably think by looking at my social media that I have my life together (even though I try to be as honest and vulnerable as I can), but I definitely don’t. I may have a smidgen of my life together at any one point but it changes daily. The moral of the story is that God has a purpose for the experience you have and the place you are placed, even the people that He puts into your life.  

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I’ll get off my soapbox, but before I leave, imagine us having coffee together. I’m sitting across the table for you, a steaming cup of liquid goodness in my hands. I look you straight in the eyes and utter these words:

“You, love, are enough. Regardless of where you have been, what you’ve done, or even who you are. You are enough and loved. You are loved more than you could ever know by the Creator of the universe. He died for you.”

Remember that as you approach this week.

You are enough. You are loved.

Prayers, Praises, and Pleas

Prayer. What does that mean?

The dictionary defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship”.

Often times, prayer is just a conversation with the Creator of the universe who humbles Himself to talk to you.

Have you ever thought about that? 

It’s really and truly remarkable that this powerful and wonderful Creator wants to have a relationship with you and with me.

Often times when I am in the pits of despair I don’t have the words to pray. Right after the accident, I couldn’t pray out loud because I was so grateful to God for saving me. I would start crying before I uttered the first words. I wasn’t ever able to collect my thoughts together, but I knew that Jesus knew.

HE KNEW.

He knew how hard it was to relearn everything. He knew how grateful I was for life, but how disappointed I felt about life not turning out my way.

He knew the depression, the joy, the relief, the anger and the vast array of emotions that floated through my head.

Even when things are going well, sometimes I can’t collect my thoughts. When things started moving fast towards this job at OhioHealth, my brain was spinning with all God was doing. While I didn’t have the words to put to my thoughts, Jesus knew.

He knew how overwhelmed I was about this chance. He knew the disbelief I felt because I had taken acute care off the table in my mind. He knew the paralyzing fear I felt about possibly failing.

HE KNEW.

How often do we not pray because the request seems too vast, too impossible, or too mundane? I’ve learned in the past 3 years to make room for prayer even if I don’t have words. The simple act of praising and spending time in the presence of the One who comforts me is enough. Albeit, if I have words, then I present them to God. If I don’t, I simply know that He knows and that comforts me.

Here I am, challenging you to join me in making room for the Creator of the universe in my mundane life. Let me encourage you that He knows your hurt, your heartbreak, your fears, your joys, and your excitements.

4 Things to Learn in Waiting.

Seasons. Blooming. Waiting. Growing.

These are words that have been pressing on my soul in these past months. 

 

“Your fear of the unknown has spoken so many things over you, but it has never spoken anything true. It has only led you into places that only lead to deeper fears, so how could it ever be a voice that you can trust? I hope that you can beyond to trust something greater, beyond your fears. I hope you can trust that Love is greater than any fear, no matter how hard it has been to see how Love is present here. Your fear of the unknown may continue to speak loudly, but may you always remember, it holds no truth, and it surely does not define you. Love speaks louder. Love always speaks louder.”

-Morgan Harper Nichols

 

I read this today, and it spoke to the very depths of my soul. I’m entering a new season with this fellowship, and it’s bringing all my insecurities and fears to the surface.

The past couple of months have been a season of waiting-waiting for God to move in certain areas. In this season-this waiting, striving, and thriving season, here are a few things that I’ve learned.

 

  • Jesus is enough. Jesus is enough to meet all your needs if you let Him. This is something I had to learn the hard way. After a pretty stressful day of thing after thing not working out, I was looking to my boyfriend and friends to fill that need when I should have been looking to Jesus. It’s not fair to them to expect them to meet those needs when they can’t meet it in totality. It just leaves me feeling let down and upset because it seems like they don’t care but in reality, they just don’t have the energy to meet my emotional needs. Jesus does. “God won’t let you down; He won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.” Deu.31:8MSG
  • Waiting doesn’t mean you are stagnant. Waiting on God to move in a certain area means that you may not be moving in that area, but what about the other areas? In my case, I was waiting for God to move in the job front, I eventually figured out that I had more time to put roots into people and my anchor down into this place that was quickly becoming home. I started being more intentional with the people God had placed into my sphere of influence.
  • Rest is a needed skill. Making time for rest is a needed habit to cultivate into your life. If one can learn to instill this habit into their life now, then later when life picks up speed, it would be easier to maintain because the habit has already been established. It only takes two weeks for an ongoing decision to become a habit. 
  • Invest in your growth. This is a perfect time to read that book you have always been wanting to read or pick that hobby you’ve been dying to learn. This is a carved out and designated time to invest in yourself and growth.

 

So if you need me in the next couple of days, I’ll be relishing this time I have and learning to trust God in the midst of this unknown season.