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.

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.

School Nursing: It’s all about the ice pack

This is coming on the end of my second year as a school nurse and oh what a year!

Here are a few things I learned in two years of being a school nurse.

  • Ice packs fix almost anything. I didn’t believe this but it’s true. Ice packs seem to be a magic fix.

I think what it boils down to is the littles just need to feel like something is being done and what better

way than to put ice on it.

  • Care is holistic. I’m not just there to fix upset stomachs, but to help in other areas. Physical

needs are a priority, but emotional and spiritual needs are also important. All aspects are interconnected.

If a little is upset about something at home, more chances than not, I’ll probably see them sometime that

day with an upset stomach. Sometimes all they need is a hug and to know that someone cares. The key

is time. If I perceive that they need a little TLC and have time to give them, I often give it to them with

regards to the teachers’ schedule.

  • Littles say the bluntest, sweetest things. They have no reservations when it comes to

asking things. I had one little ask me if I was married. I said no. She asked if I was planning on

getting married. I responded with, “that’s the plan eventually”. Her response was, “Tomorrow?”

I just internally laughed because she asked it with such a straight face. They’re not afraid to say

it like it is. They are also not ones to mince compliments so if they say “you’re the best “, they

mean it.

  • Sometimes, seasons are designed to push you but also let you heal. This season came when I

needed it the most. It allowed me to take the focus off myself and my problems for a while. I may not

have been able to fix my TBI on a grand scale but a littles stomachache or headache while working

on myself in different areas. I grew in SO many areas these past two years. It definitely pushed me out of

my comfort zone-in that it was like nothing I’ve ever done but it was also comfortable in that it was at my

alma mater.

  • 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 but it was nothing like I pictured 2 years

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 success that boosted my

self-esteem.

  • Never underestimate the power of a smile and listening ear. Half the time, littles are in my

office for a minor 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 come

back to the clinic. Often knowing they have that option reassures them, and they are good for the

day.

  • 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. Recently, I saw a little outside of school, and she smiled shyly and waved. 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.

Anchors and Roots

This idea of roots has been a topic of thought for years. Growing up, the idea of putting down roots was appealing. I was jealous of my friends who had lived in the same house, the same city, and with the same people.

The idea of staying in the same place was comforting (in theory).

The idea of staying vs. going has been a constant thought in my head. I argue with God over the logical nature of putting in roots, desiring to be a wanderer, not a stationary figure.

God challenges me back.

What is so wrong with staying put for the time being? What is wrong with putting down roots and allowing people to know you? Truly know the Sara I created you to be.

This is my corner of the world right here, right now

Recently, I wrestled with the idea of putting down roots here, because it seemed scary. I then discovered the idea of anchors.

Sailors use anchors to keep them in one location for the time being and then when they’re done, they pull up anchor and move on.

That’s a lot less scary than the idea of roots. I choose “anchor” as my word for the year. So far, I’m thriving is putting my anchor down here.

  • I’m loving my small group girls and enjoying watching them grow into the women God created them to be.
  • The little humans at school fill my happiness bucket with their soft smiles and energetic hugs.
  • The Starbucks Barista knows my name and my typical order.  

A friend and I were talking the other day about roots, and we realized that we put roots into people rather than places. I realized that was true in my life. After my accident, I had no problem remembering people, but places where a little fuzzy or not there at all. I was thinking about that.

What if I put roots into people and anchors into places?

That’s an interesting thought. You leave places, but people are just a phone call away. These a few people like my family that whenever they call, I drop everything and pick up the phone and I know they would do the same.

So here I am, figuring out how to put my anchor down in Mansfield. Here I am. Figuring how to put roots into my family, my boyfriend and my close friends. Here’s me, living my best life right here, right now and seeing  God move in big and small ways.

Your Will, Your Way

“You have come so far. You have learned to let go of what was not good for you. You have learned to step out of the boundaries of your worries, believing that in time, it all would be woven together beautifully. It has not been an easy road, but it has opened your eyes to all of the possibilities of what this life could be, even in your uncertainty.”
-MHN

Graduating from college, I had a plan for my life. A typical conversation between God and I consisted of me telling Him what I wanted His will to be for my life ranging from who I wanted to date and potentially marry to where I wanted Him to call me. It was His will, my way. That didn’t quite work out for me. 29 months ago, my world was turned upside down. My life plan completely changed…

Shortly after my accident, I was thankful God saved my life, but I couldn’t see how this life could possibly be good. I fought with God on how this life could possibly be His will. Those were some dark days, but GOD, in His mercy, used the messiness of my story in Ukraine. Then, looking back, I could see how He has redeemed my story for His glory.

More recently, I was amazed again by how God loves each and every one of us. (I really should stop being amazed by how God uses the worst time if my life for his glory.) One of the students at the school received a brain injury when he was little. I was giving him his medication, and I just offhandedly mentioned that I take the same medication that he does. I received a message for his mom saying that she thinks he finally realized that he’s not alone.

I was blown away by God.

God didn’t cause my accident, but He loved that boy enough to place me at the school to help him not feel alone. When I look back on the last 29 months, I can see a lot of those “coincidences” or “God moments”.

Given the multitude of “God moments” recently, I have realized that my story isn’t over.  I was ecstatic about anchoring myself to Mansfield, my family, my boyfriend, and my friends.

Then, the Dominican Republic happened.

I felt, more than once, confirmation of the fact that missions are in my life plan in some capacity. I mean, I got to stitch up a goat. Besides the fact that I got to stitch up a goat, which is a first for me, I used my right hand. My right hand is the hand I still have trouble with, but it was further confirmation that my story is far from over. My nurse life is far from over.

As I’m processing this, I don’t know that God would have moved so swiftly in getting me an opportunity for a medical/surgical fellowship at OhioHealth here if he intended me to move to the DR. Also, God is a good father, so he wouldn’t have given me confirmation of my dream of overseas missions if He didn’t intend that to be part of my story.

So here I am, learning to hold my plans loosely and trusting that the One who holds my heart has plans to honor the dreams He has instilled in my heart. Here I am, learning to anchor myself to the people that mean a lot to me right here. Here’s to me, striving and thriving, as I learn to live life with God in the drivers seat-His Will, His Way.

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.