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.

The Year Of Me

The Year of Me.

This is what I titled this year. It sounds selfish, but it’s really not. It’s only been a year and a half since I almost died. By God’s grace, and only God’s grace, I’m standing here before you. I wished the process would move a whole lot faster, but like a wise friend once told me, “You almost died. You can’t except to bounce back to your same bubbly self so quickly.” It has been a year and a half. I think I should be all better. I think other people think I should be all better. They have less patience with me when I still have trouble getting my thoughts out, or when I walk slower. I guess mostly that is me transferring my impatience with the slow healing onto others.

I had ambitions before my accident that 2 years after college, I would have paid off my student loans and be getting ready to move overseas. I had it figured out that if things went as they were going, in 25 months I would be debt free and be financially able to support myself overseas. I guess God had different plans. I was living in Akron and then I had to move home. It just seemed like everything that was moving me forward closed down. And I even took a few steps back. Last year, after my accident—in the deepest part of recovery—I would never have considered going to Ukraine. There was just still a lot going on with me that I didn’t think traveling overseas as possible. God, though, kept opening doors, closing others and pushing me forward. I have no idea why but God seems to want me to go and isn’t just opening doors he’s flinging opening the doors and removing any barrier that I place in the hopes of slowing things down.

The year of me.

This year, I decided to pick one or two things and excel, rather than commit to a lot of things and not be able to follow through. I chose being a Jr. High youth group leader and being the nurse at Mansfield Christian. I think I did those well. The extra energy I did have was put into my healing—driving, swimming and managing my fatigue. I’ve seen God do some remarkable things already, and we are only halfway through 2018.

Also, in this journey, I’m striving to know Jesus more personally. John Eldredge writes, “What is missing in our Gospel reading—in our attempts to “read” what Jesus is saying and doing in own lives right now, this week—is his personality, undraped by religion”.

If you read the Gospels with an eye out for his personality, you realize that he’s playful, sassy, cunning, and fierce. You can kinda make sense of some of the things he does, because you know his personality. A couple things I have already learned in this year I’ve titled, “The Year of Me and Jesus”.

  • Jesus is creative and playful. I mean think about it. He made the wind, music and flying squirrels. How creative do you have to be to think up flying squirrels? Laughter is from God also. Think about the story of Abraham and Sarah. They were in their 90’s, and God told them to expect a child. Sarah laughed, and I’m sure Abraham joined in because it seemed impossible. They were old enough to be great-grandparents but God had a different plan for them. In the same way, Jesus was playful and loved laughter. In John 21, after he was buried, his disciples were fishing for hours and they caught nothing. Jesus sauntered out of the tomb and eventually onto the beach. He called out to them and suggested that they try to other side. They did, and the nets were teeming with fish. Jesus rose from the dead. He could have shouted, “It is me. I’m alive”, but instead he stands on the shoreline, hands in his pockets and asks, “Catch anything?” The story is made richer when you see the playfulness of Jesus.
  • Jesus is necessary for existence. “We need Jesus like we need oxygen. Like we need water. Like the branch needs the vine. Jesus is not merely a figure for devotions. He is the missing essence of your existence. Whether we know it or not, we are desperate for Jesus….To have Jesus, really have him, is to have the greatest treasure in all worlds. To have His life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness.” John Eldredge. Some days, I can’t get through the day without Jesus’ help. I won’t say I’m glad for my accident because my life won’t ever be the same as much as I wish for it, but I am thankful for this season because it brought forth a dependence on Jesus that I never had and probably wouldn’t have had if not for my accident.

We are about half way through 2018, and I’m already blown away by the doors God has opened and the adventures he will take me on. In the next half of the year, I’m praying to become closer to God and understand more of his personality. I continue to pray that God uses my story and continues to change my heart as I’m impacted by the wonderful people of Ukraine.

Waiting with Expectation

Expectation. That is the word I picked to define my year.

Expectation (n.) a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

This year, I’m expecting to make tons of progress in my healing. I’m not even halfway through the season that the most healing will occur. This year, I have a lot of things I hope to see improve. I’m waiting on God to move drastically in my life. He has done amazing things in my life this past year. I’m waiting with expectation for Him. There’s a lot of unknown in my future but it’s kind of exciting because God is changing my dreams. I never thought I would consider rehab nursing, but it would be a good mix of my desire for nursing and my experience with my TBI.

Expectation goes hand in hand with the word I choose a couple of years ago.

Audacious.

I am not audacious. I lack courage. I shrink from things that God calls me to because I fear failure.

This year, I am turning over a new leaf. I choose to be recklessly brave in the pursuit of a living, loving, saving, sustaining, almighty God who shapes my heart.

I desire to be bold; sharing the gospel from my backyard to the ends of the earth.

I aspire to be gutsy; challenging myself to do things that make me uncomfortable.

I strive to be brave; living life with everything that I have.

I desire to wait with expectation for God to move while being audacious and stepping out of my comfort zone. This is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This year I will be fierce in my expectations of a living, loving God who hold my heart in His hands.

Thankfulness

Water and fallen leaves.

One is a life source, and the other is a dying object. The fallen leaves remind us that dying is sometimes beautiful. The combination of the two is striking.

This is the time where autumn is ending and winter is beginning. The days are getting shorter and colder. The days might be hard or getting more difficult, but God is here. Let Him into your suffering. He doesn’t often choose to erase it, but he helps you through it.

This year, I have so much to be thankful for. Probably the biggest things are my life and my health. I almost died last year so I’m thankful for every breath I take. I’m thankful I’m alive, but I wonder “why me?” I don’t know why I survived or why I was chosen to have these TBI repercussions, but I realize that life is not about me. My story points to a God that doesn’t always say no. Sometimes, he says yes—to our prayers, to our hopes and our desires.

We often focus on the “no’s”—the times when he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we desire. We hear, repeatedly, the trite phase “If God shuts a door, he opens a window”. We see broken dreams and unanswered prayers around every block. But, sometimes, God does choose to answer our prayers the way we imagine. Sometimes, God chooses to say “yes”. Let’s cling to those moments.

I’m thankful for the hardships because they allow me to cling closely to the One who creates my dreams.

So this season may be bittersweet, but you’re alive

Living and Breathing Audaciously.

My word of the year is audacious because it encompasses the idea of living both brave and free.

Audacious (adj.) means showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks; extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless; lively; unrestrained; uninhibited.

Recklessly brave.

Uninhibited.

Fearless.

Surprisingly bold risks.

Willingness.

These are the words that I want to define my year.

These are the words that I want to shape my thinking as I graduate and step out into the adult world.

AUDACIOUS.

That word holds so much because it challenges me to stop living in fear and to embrace the calling on my life.

I am not audacious. I lack courage. I shrink from things that God calls me to because I fear failure.

This year, I am turning over a new leaf. I choose to be recklessly brave in the pursuit of a living, loving, saving, sustaining, almighty God who shapes my heart.

I desire to be bold; sharing the gospel from my backyard to the ends of the earth.

I aspire to be gutsy; challenging myself to do things that make me uncomfortable.

I strive to be brave; living life with everything that I have.

Today, I choose to be audacious in my intentionality: talking to that person whom I do not particularly like.

Audacious in my spirituality; choosing to surrender those parts of myself that I hide from God because I think they are insignificant, or simply because I do not want to give up.

Fearless in the face of big decisions; choosing to listen to God’s leading as He directs my path through the unknown future.

Willing to step out in faith, even when the outcome requires messing up the comfortable life I am used to. Most of what I am called to does not come from being comfortable and safe.

Uninhibited by the desire to be someone else or to do something else, choosing instead to embrace where God has placed me.

I do not take to being brave, bold and fearless naturally.

My default setting is fear, even though God has proven himself more than capable of eradicating my fear with a single promise.

There is no formula to being audacious, brave and free.

It is an organic journey that requires me to trust in the One who moved mountains and parted seas.

Audacious because the One who called me to this journey set me exactly where he placed me.

Audacious because I follow a living, loving, saving, sustaining, almighty God.

Audacious because how else could I respond to the grace He extended as He took the nails for my sin?