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. 

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Right Here, Right Now

I’m just going to be 100% honest. I just got okay-deep in my soul-with being back in Mansfield.

In the first months after my accident, I fought God on several things and being back in Mansfield was one of them. I didn’t have a choice in moving back. My family and friends literally packed up my apartment and moved my stuff into my parent’s house while I was in the hospital. Granted, it was a special case in that I really couldn’t have taken care of myself. I couldn’t even walk by myself.

Nevertheless, I was mad at God.

I struggled to be content right here, right now, wishing I was anywhere but here. Last fall, I started this journey of being content recognizing that this is my corner of the world. I read Shannan Martin’s The Ministry of Ordinary Places last fall. This caught my eye. She writes, “God got busy shrinking the world as I knew it down to a pinhole, one solitary shaft of light. ‘The souls exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness,’ wrote Mary Oliver. Rather than feeling stuck in a problem-sodden world, I would never be able to fix, God was caring for my soul by pointing me towards my corner of it and asking me to believe it was enough”. That’s when I started to realize that instead of being upset at God for bringing me back, I needed to accept that he brought me back for a reason. He was asking me if this right here, right now would be enough. That challenged me. Was it enough? Could it be enough? If I were to stay in America, in Mansfield, Ohio, for the rest of my life, would that be enough? Would listening, loving, and pointing my small group girls toward God be enough? It’s not as extraordinary as helping starving orphans in Mexico or loving on kids in Africa. Would sacrificing sleep to love on a girl who may not know what that looks like be enough? I say I’m content and at peace with staying here-right here-indefinitely, but would that be enough?

It’s been a journey in getting to this place, and God has used several people to instill that into my head. I think the biggest one is the student God bought to MCS and my life. God put me right here, right now to let that sweet little boy not feel alone in that he isn’t the only one who has a traumatic brain injury. I am still blown away by God and how He orchestrated my being at the school at the exact time he started coming to the school. This solidified this idea that I’m right here, right now for a reason. So I don’t know what your story is: whether you aren’t working in the field you went to college for, or you may be in a different place than you thought you’d be, financially or physically. What I have learned in the past two years, I want to pass on to you:

 

  • You may not like where you are in life, but there are no coincidences with God. The situation may not be caused by God, but God can use that situation in others lives.
  • He brings people into your life and even takes them out for a reason.

 

 

A Heart for the Nations

I leave part of my heart in every country I’ve been. The Dominican Republic is no exception. Here are some things I learned about myself and God.

  • I need to remember to breathe.

This month has been full of good surprises, but my head has been spinning by all God’s been doing. The first part of the week was well spent in just sitting with God-simply sitting in the awesomeness of God’s movement. It was refreshing to revel in His glory rather then cower in fear. This season, I’ve learned a lot about rest but sometimes, I forget to actually practice it. This trip was like a breath of fresh air.

  • God is really good about pushing me out of my comfort zone, but also showing me that I am loved more than I could ever know.

One day towards the end of the trip I ended up stitching a goat’s ear. I had learned about sutures, but I had never done them in real life. Plus, my right hand doesn’t work as well. So when I was asked, I said yes but I was scared silly. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I accomplished it. That night was church, and God knew my soul needed baby cuddles. I ended up holding a child who fell asleep on me and at that moment, the world felt right.

  • Everyone has different gifts-you need to push yourself, but be willing to use your gifts for His glory.

We were doing several different projects this week, and I struggled with not being physically able to do all the manual labor that we did, but I had to realize my nurse skills and ability to remain calm under pressure came in handy time and time again. So I may not have concrete mixing abilities, but God gave me a quick mind and calm spirit. I just have to be open to letting God use my gifts instead of wishing I was someone else.

  • God always shows up-especially when you don’t expect Him to.

There were many times that God showed up whether it was impromptu relationship and life talks or a cool breeze on a particularly warm day.

God ALWAYS shows up. You just have eyes to see Him.

  • Sunsets on some dreams and sunrises on others is an aspect of God that I love.

It was in the Dominican 4 years ago that I first began to dream about studying genetic diseases as well as hemolytic diseases in underdeveloped countries. Dreams like researching hemolytic disorders and their testing to make them more accurate and accessible. This week that dream resurfaced, and I got a glimpse of what that could look like down the road. I don’t know how or if God will orchestrate it, but I’m starting to get excited about the possibility of this new adventure with Jesus whatever it will look like.

  • We don’t need to see the whole staircase to take a step.

It is definitely scary to take a step when we can’t see the whole road, but I think we’d be even more scared if we saw the outcome thinking we are insufficient and unprepared. It’s more about the journey and becoming more like Christ than the immediate destination.

Holding God’s Hand In The Darkness

Have you ever wondered what God was like?

I have. Many times.

Through this season, I’ve grown closer to God. I’ve clung to God when there was no one else to cling to. I’ve clung to the truths that have been engrained in me since I was a young child. I don’t how people go through hard times without God.

I’ve seen a different side of God these past couple of months. I’ve always known God loves me, but I truly have experienced His love in a new way. Suffering brings me to the arms of the One who holds my heart in His hands. He wipes my tears away, and meets me in the middle of my fears. He is not afraid of the mess of my life.

I can’t explain it, but God seems closer to me.  This situation is hard and heartbreaking. It will be a long time before I’m back to normal, if I get back to normal. I need Christ to get through the day. I simply need Christ. This God, the One that wraps me in His grace, seems to know what I’m thinking before I do. When I couldn’t find the words, He understood me. He hears my cries.

On my hard days, He wraps me up in His arms and stays close. He whispers, “I love every fiber of your being. I love every scar, every seeming imperfections”. I have seen God’s hand as he continued to push me out of my comfort zone and fill me with life—incredible blessings as I step out in faith. He is the Creator of the Universe. The God who painted the colors of the sunset, and who drew the freckles on my nose. The One who moved the mountains rock by rock and who designed the intricacies of the human body. The One who continually seeks my heart even when I am difficult. And He loves me.

During this hard season, where all my insecurities rose to the top of my soul, God romances my soul.

He seeks me as the lover of His heart. I am not perfect. I am learning to see myself as He sees me.

I am learning to let Him love me. I am learning to accept His love.