School Nursing and Little Humans

So I’ve been a school nurse for about a year. It wasn’t anywhere in my plans, but God knew I needed this in this season. Here are a few things I have learned on this journey so far.

  1. Littles are honest and unbiased. They don’t care who you are, and they love you unconditionally. I had one girl just come in my room for a hug. It’s moments like those when I’m reminded of the soft hearts of littles and fact that they need nurturing on all fronts.
  2. Just because it’s not what you pictured yourself doing doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. At the beginning of the school year, I sat in my office, hearing all the hopeful voices, and I felt deep down in my spirit that this was where I was meant to be. It was nothing like I pictured a year ago. This was the perfect job for right now because it allowed me to still practice nursing without all the stimulus and fast pace of hospital nursing. It gave me lots of little successes that boosted my self esteem rather then tear it down with everything I knew I used to be able to do and now can’t.
  3. Never underestimate the power of a smile and listening ear. Half the time, littles are in my office for a short span of time, but they just need to know someone is listening and cares. I treat their pressing ailment and send them back to class with the option that if they can’t do it, they can always come back to the clinic. Often knowing they have that option reassures them, and they are good for the day. Sometimes, the older humans just need someone to smile at them and tell them everything is going to be alright.
  4. Littles give the best hugs. I definitely think in this season of my life, I needed to hear that I’m needed and wanted. After something traumatic happens, you start to doubt yourself and wonder if you’re still a valuable member of society. Being at MCS showed me that I’m still valued as a human being and nurse. My opinion is still wanted and unique. I may not know everything, but I’ll learn. Recently, I had a birthday, and I was sung to by 3 different classes. It made me feel so loved by this community—this community of littles and teachers that know and love me fiercely. My heart simply melts every time I hear a little voice say “Miss Walthour”, see those bashful smiles, or receive those timid hugs.

Yes, it’s definitely not as fast paced as hospital nursing, but just as impactful on lives.

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When God Says No

As christians, we offer the cliche, “If God shuts a door, He opens a window.” This is true, but how do you keep going in the meantime? How do you wrestle with the fact that God said no to this seemingly good thing? How do you still manage to believe that God’s plan is still good?

These are some of questions that have been rattling around in my head. How do we handle the fact that all of our dreams come crashing to a stop? How do we reconcile that with a good God? I don’t have a theological answer for you. All I have is my own musings and things people have said to me, so take it with a grain of salt and research this for yourself.

I was watching a video clip by Inky Johnson. If you’re like me and had no idea who this person is, he is a former football player who was 8 games away from the NFL draft when his world was rocked. In a normal tackle in a game, he ended his football career at the University of Tennessee with an injury that permanently paralyzed his right arm. Johnson went on to study psychology and is now a motivational speaker at schools, community centers and ceremonies throughout the United States. He stresses multiple times, how important the process is, not simply the product that you have in your life.

Right after my accident, I wished it never happened—that my life would go back to the way it was before because it was good. I wished that my scars would disappear because I was embarrassed by them—they looked weird. Now though, I don’t wish the accident never happened because I’m a stronger person because of it. I’m more empathetic towards people, and I’m a better nurse because I actually have been there. I have a crazy and incredible story of how God saved me. I’m no longer embarrassed by my scars when people notice them, rather I’m kinda proud of them. They are physical signs that I survived something meant to break me. I wish they would be a little less obvious but they are talking points. When someone asked what happened, I can tell God’s story.

So I don’t really know what to do immediately after God says no to something that could have been good. To be completely honest, I’m still wrestling with that. Some days I’m perfectly capable of seeing the good things that have come out of this season, and other days, I wallow in my pity party because I look at others, and they have the life I could have and would have been living. I do know this though, in time, God sometimes reveals why He took us down that detour. We just stand there, simply in awe that God would use a terrible thing like an accident and turn it into a part of His bigger story of redemption.

I’m in awe of God, and how He would use someone as insignificant as me to show His glory though.

This is God’s story, and I’m just the lucky one that gets to tell it.

The Art of Being Still

I have a tendency to worry and let my mind wander to all the impossible scenarios. I want to have control over every area so I my mind does not appear to stop. I worry about what people think about me. I worry about what is going to happen next. I worry about whether any change is the right thing for me right now. I have struggled recently with worry because of my accident. I worry that, even though everything fell into place rather quickly, the other shoe would drop. I worry that I am not enough–that I’m less than because my brain injury. I simply worry.

Be still.

Be still and know that I am God.

In all my worries and fears, God spoke this truth over me.

Be still and know that I am God.

I am not the one that can change the world. God changes the world. God can change the world through me. I can only be a useful vessel if I am willing to let go of my worries, my fears and my plans, and sit still before the Lord.

God wants me to understand that who He created me to be so that I can fulfill the purpose that He has for my life. I cannot understand who I am in Christ if I spend my energy worrying about what people think about me, or fearing that I am not enough.

Fear and worry is a handicap that keeps me from embracing who I am and what I can do. Fear holds me back from taking those steps of faith that could lead to great adventures for the Creator of the universe.

I realized recently that I have been feeding my worries and fears. I had been subconsciously encouraging the lies that I am not enough. This hurt me.

I was believing the lies and letting Satan get a foothold into my dreams. He was halting my progress because I was more focused on myself and my insecurities that I could not focus on God. I was being selfish because my focus was on me. What would happen to me? Would people like me? Would I be good enough? Would I be likeable?

My mother confronted me about my attitude. At first, I was frustrated. Didn’t she see that I was just worried? I was not being selfish, rather I just wanted people to like me. After a while, mainly after I moved to Washington, D.C for 2 months, I began to see the wisdom in what she was saying.

If I wanted people to like me, I needed to put them first. I needed to find ways that I could bless the people that I am around. People like others who bless them. People who are positive and uplifting. People who think about the needs of others first. I was getting so wrapped up in myself, my worries and my fears. I began to notice during my first week in my internship that the more I focused on blessing others, the less I thought about my fears. The less I needed to be liked. I could be who God created me to be, without worrying what people would think.

Be still and know that I am God.

When I get wrapped up in myself, I forget to quiet my mind and look at God. God is the Creator of the universe, yet he values my time spent with Him. Just like any other relationship, if I am spending too much time focused on myself, I can’t give a lot of time to the other person. I have to step back and realize that being still and spending time with God was going to be very important in my battle against the worries and the fears. I need to fill my mind with the truths of who God is and who He created me to be if I wanted to be free. My prayer for the beginning of this journey is to keep this phrase in my head so that I can remember to be still and know that He is God.

Accepting the New Me

Isn’t it crazy how after a mission trip or something like that, we are no longer the same person we were, but we embrace that change. After something traumatic, we change, but we push against it. We want the “old us” back.

Why is that?

I think it’s because in one situation we put ourselves in a situation where change is an option. We don’t consciously choose to change, but we know change is a possibility. We see things and are impacted by people where there’s no turning back. There’s no chance to unlearn the things we have been through.

In the other, we have no control.

Zero. Zilch.

This change in our personality is forced upon us. In my case, I never saw it coming. I’m a different person, but I’m still Sara. If that sounds confusing, it’s because I haven’t really quite figured it out myself yet. My TBI changed me, not only because of the trauma of it, but because it changed the actual chemistry of my brain. I didn’t have a choice to not change. I’m still trying to tread the the line of trying hard to be the old me, or give up completely.

I have a choice—I can choose to fight against the change or I can choose to accept the new me. I’m still struggling with actually accepting the new me. It’s not easy to encounter things I used to be able to do, but now can’t. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance trying to be as close to 100% as I can, but also embrace the new me. This new person who gets overwhelmed easily—that can’t handle loud noises or flashing lights.

There may be things that I can’t do as well as I could, but there are also things that I can do better now. I’m still working on figuring those out. For now, I’m going to try not to fight against the changes. I’m going to embrace the new me.

One thing I do know is that I’ve never been more sure of God’s love for me.

There are days where His love is the only thing that gets me through the day.

There are moments where I hold on to the phase by Lysa TerKeurst: God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God.

There are moments when I get frustrated with myself and my limitations, but God chooses those moments to show me that I’m more loved than I would ever know.

Brainaversary

In 8 days, it will be a year. December 17, 2016, my life changed. In a moment, life can change drastically. I almost died. I should have died, but I didn’t. I’m alive. That’s a great thing. I wake up every morning and take a deep breath because often we take being alive for granted.

I have a lot of emotions coursing through my body: grief because of what life could have been, happiness because I’m alive and fear because I’m unsure about what’s next.

This is a weird anniversary to celebrate. It’s a day that I don’t really want to remember. This year has truly been bittersweet- to the very essence of the word. There have been times I don’t want to remember-bitter and hard moments, but there have been some sweet moments. Times, I want to capture in my mind and lock away in my heart.

Here are some of the things, I’ve learned about myself and God though this season.

  1. I am loved

I am deeply loved by God. This has, hands down, been the hardest season of my life thus far, but I see God’s hand in everything. The fact that I’m not dead is a miracle. I choose to see everything, not as coincidence, but as God saying, “You are loved more than you can ever know “.

I am deeply loved by people. When something like this happens, you truly know who your friends are. My family and I have been overwhelmed by the love people have shown us. We ultimately saw the body of Christ working as it was created to work as people from all over the world prayed for me.

2. It’s okay to not be okay.

I don’t have to have everything all together at any given moment. I probably won’t have anything all together, but that’s okay. It’s exhausting to put on a face that’s everything is okay. Sometimes, it is good,but sometimes, I miss my old life. I miss the old me. During those moments, God sits with me in the mess. It’s okay to grieve that, but it’s not okay to wallow in it.

3. Life is bigger than just me

This summer, I went to Seattle with some friends. Looking at the mountains, I realized the bigness of God. That is part of what He is teaching me lately. When I focus on all my problems, they tend to overwhelm me. When I looked at the mountains, I pictured my problems that big and God scooping them up in His hands. My soul was able to breathe because the pressure was off me. God had control. I knew that, but it finally sunk into my soul. My life was just a blimp in the radar of eternity and His plan of redemption. God cares more about my growth than my comfort.

4. I can’t ruin God’s plan

“If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my friend, are not that powerful.” Lisa Bevere

This is not how I saw my life going a year ago. This is a detour. I may have gotten off the path of “my plan” because of the car accident, but I feel pretty strongly that this where I’m supposed to be. I have no doubt that the road I was on before my accident was God’s plan. The thing about detours is that they are inconvenient and time consuming, but you still end up at your destination. Life is different now, but I’m still on the road to my destiny.

So in 8 days, I’m celebrating my brainaversary-the day God chose to spare my life. I survived with a new brain so I’m celebrating a year of recovery and a year with the new me.

Daring to Hope 

As many of you may know, I’m on the launch team for Katie Davis Majors’ new book, Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful, that comes out October 3rd. I loved Kisses from Katie, so when I heard about this opportunity, I jumped on it. I spent the first 12 years of my life as a missionary kid, so Africa is my heart’s home.
This book couldn’t have come at a better time. Almost a year ago, my life changed drastically. I was in a car accident and almost died. Due to a brain injury, my life will never be the same. I wrestled a lot with God about His goodness and will. There are times where I didn’t see much good only hard things. Katie Davis Majors wrestles with many of the same questions swirling around in my brain.
Is God really good? Does He really love us? What do you do when God doesn’t show up in the way that you asked Him to?

These are questions that plague me. 

I wrestle with God, like Jacob with the angel. I pound my fists against His chest, crying “Why me? Why does everyone else’s life seem like they’re falling into place and mine looks like a mess? Why am I suffering, I have been a good person?” When I’m in the pits of despair, I wonder if God sees me. If He sees, how hard I am working. How much courage, just getting through the day, is taking? I grieve for who I was and the dreams I had. I wonder if God is even there.

Oftentimes, in the dry, hard places, when we don’t have a clue what God is doing, or even if He is there, He is drawing us to Himself the way He always intended.

“As I gazed at the rainbow, God whispered to me a deep truth. There is so much beauty to be found in a wound that is healed, in an unlikely friendship that is forged. There is much beauty to be found when the one we have nursed for hours and prayed for many more is healed and restored, or when the child we have faithfully advised and prayed for turns back to the Truth or any other happy ending. But there is also beauty to be found in sitting and praying by the bedside of an ill friend and holding her hand just before she slips away and looks into the face of Jesus. There is beauty to be found in the desperate and many-times-repeated unanswered prayers that have time and again ushered us to His feet. There is beauty to be found in a life poured out in faithfulness and obedience, no matter the circumstance. There is beauty to be found in the unlikely places, but in so many cases, we must be facing the storm to see it. Often, to behold this beauty, to be reminded of God’s promises in such a tangible way, we must turn toward, not away from, the darkness.” Katie Davis Majors  

This book has wrecked my ideas of God and brokenness. Sometimes, God chooses not to answer our prayers the way we want. It’s hard to trust God. It’s even harder to trust in His perfect timing. We often want what we want right now.

Often, He meets us in our mess and even in our doubts and says wait. It takes a lot of bravery to hope that God will say yes, but He might say no. It’s okay to be broken. This world is messy. Tragedy happens, unspeakable things occur, hearts break, but God’s not done with us yet.

 “He uses the bending and the breaking and the dying to prepare the harvest, to prepare more for us. We reach high to the Son and He comes down and pulls us closer. We lift our heads to Him in awe and we know that there might be hard the corner but we can look expectantly even to the bowing and the breaking, even the death of all we have planned, because we know in Him there will always be more” Katie Davis Majors 

So we dare to hope because God has shown His faithfulness. We see God’s provision. He hears our cries. He weeps for us and our suffering. He walks beside us in the midst of hardships. We dare to hope because He is still on the throne.

Choose Joy

I lost my joy. I am not ashamed to admit it.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that I wouldn’t return to floor nursing as soon as I thought. I could push to return, but it wouldn’t be smart to rush my healing. It hit me hard.

Like really hard.

I picture floor nursing as normal. That, in my head, was the defining factor of being a nurse. That’s what everyone I graduated with is doing. However twisted or false the thought was, I thought floor nursing makes someone a nurse. I hadn’t even been a nurse, a floor nurse, for 6 months.

I lost the will to fight. I thought, “If I can’t be normal, why even try.”

The only reason I made it this far was that I was a fighter. If I couldn’t do something, I would try again until I got it. I was determined.

So when I lost the will to fight, I got more irritable and grumpy. I used the word “stuck” in reference to staying in Mansfield. I lost my joy.

I wrote things because I know I used to believe it or I should believe it, but I didn’t. I hoped by writing them, they would sink into my heart.

I keep saying I won’t be normal again. I wasn’t normal before my accident. I grew up in Africa so that makes me different. Normal is overrated anyway. I won’t be the same Sara I was before my accident, but I’m still Sara. I may have different strengths and hardships, that is inevitable, but I’m alive. I am still making progress. My rehab doctor says it takes about two years for the brain to fully heal.

I’m only 6 months into a 24 months period. I have made a ton of progress, but I still have a long way to go.  

Today, I decided to fight. I gained back my will to fight. My brother says, “Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are both right”. If I have the attitude that I won’t do it, then I won’t return to floor nursing. And maybe I won’t return, but at least I’ll go down fighting.

So I’ve decided to choose joy. Joy is not happiness. Joy is not an emotion, it’s a choice. Joy is believing that God is in control and that God is good. It is to base your joy on something that is eternal.

I choose joy. I’ve decided to get my joy back.

Especially when it’s hard, I need to choose joy. It will not always be easy to choose joy. It is easier to sit in my bed, moping about the fact that I won’t return to floor nursing as fast as I hoped. But, that is not beneficial to me or the people around me.

That doesn’t mean I’m always happy. This is definitely not how I pictured my life going. There are plenty of times where I yell at God, and wondering why me.

I choose joy because regardless of how I feel, I know that God is good. I just lost sight of that for a moment.

Even when it feels so far away, I choose joy.