Follow Me.

Recently, I was studying Mark 1.  In this section, Jesus is calling the fishermen to be his disciples. Mark 1:17 states, “ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It struck me because God’s simple command is to follow him, right here, right now. I think we make it complicated in our romanticizing of missions and “going”. We figure if you receive “the call”, you have to be going somewhere exotic to tell people about Jesus. That aspect of the call is honest more exciting, but what about the community you are placed in? The people in your scope of influence? Don’t they need Jesus also? Why are they seemingly sidelined in the hopes of the more extraordinary option of going to say Africa and “saving” people?

I’m guilty of this-oh so guilty.

Growing up, my life was missions so I glorified it in my own mind. I wouldn’t have ever said that I glorified the nomadic lifestyle of living and loving people different than me in a different culture, but I think the fact that I choose nursing because it was the quickest way to get me out of America speaks for itself. I thought God could use me better in Africa or South America. In saying that, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that overseas missions isn’t important. I’m saying be careful about glorifying overseas missions in your own heart and loving on littles in a different country when you would overlook them if they were in your own city. I’m saying the people in Mansfield are hurting and need Jesus just as much as the people in Abuja, Nigeria.

I really had to wrestle with that because, after my accident, I really believed God took overseas missions off the table. I was mad at God because it wasn’t like my plans were wrong-they were glorifying God. I shook my fists at God, thinking and shouting, “Why? My goal was to make your name known.”  Last year, I had the opportunity to go to Ukraine and this past spring, I went to the Dominican Republic. Those were neat opportunities, but through them, I realized that I’m content right here, right now. God was changing my heart to follow Him not a dream of overseas missions. I don’t know when it happened, but God was changing my heart to see that the people here need to know the love of Jesus-that they are more loved than they would ever know-just as much if not more than the littles in Africa.

Maybe cross-cultural missions long-term is still in my future someday-I truly hope it is deep down-but right now, I truly am okay here. I never thought I would hear myself say that, but in the depths of my soul, I truly am content being here-right here-and loving the people God brings into my life. The occasional trip to the Dominican or wherever God leads is food for my soul, but this is my corner of the world right now.    God is doing big things in little Mansfield, Ohio and He’s simply asking me to “Follow Him.” So if you need me, I’ll be here, in my corner of the world, simply loving people as Jesus would.

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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.

 

 

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.

5 Things You May Or Not Know About Brain Injuries

March is brain injury awareness month

Did you know that mTBI is often referred to as a “silent epidemic”?

It’s profoundly misunderstood, even inside the medical field. Here are a few things I’ve learned as I’ve been engulfed in traumatic brain injury world.

 

  • Brain injuries are like fingerprints-the same but different.

 

There’s something to be said about how diverse the brain is. It would depend on what part of the brain was affected. Most TBI’s have a combination of the inability to focus, speech difficulty, problems with memory-short or long term-, difficulty walking, slurred speech, and balance issues. I know every TBI is different, but the first time I went to my TBI support group, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my difficulty with my brain. There were certain things that people would say that I thought, “Me too! I thought I was just weird for doing that or thinking that!”.

 

  • We have good days and bad days, just like everyone else.

 

We have good brain days and bad brain days. Often, but not exclusively, bad brain days happen when there are certain factors present, like fatigue, dehydration, high blood sugar, overstimulation, and low blood sugar. It often takes a lot longer to recoup after one of these events. I’m often surprised that I can do one thing one day and the next day I struggle with the very same thing. There is a lot of factors that play into my wellbeing and if even one of those factors is a smidgen off, it will affect the whole event. I’ve learned to take advantage of good days and give myself (and others lol) grace on bad days. I also have to listen to my body because it often will tell me what it needs.

 

  • We are not our disability. We are individuals who have a TBI, but it doesn’t define us.

 

This took me the longest time to realize. I felt like I needed to explain why I was so different-weird if we are being honest. Now, I’m better able understand that yes, I have a TBI, but I’m so much more than that. I get overwhelmed, hangry, unfocused and at times, irritable, but I’ve learned how to manage it while not always blaming my TBI.  Everything I go through is affected by my TBI, but not solely because of my TBI. Some of it is just because I’m a 20 something trying to figure out how this whole adulting thing works.

 

  • We are still trying to figure ourselves out-even if our injury happened decades ago.

 

When I first went to my support group, I was amazed by how many people there were whose injury had occurred over 15 years ago. They are still figuring out the new person that their injury made them to be. It’s not a simple fix but a lifetime process of discovering who they are. Recovery, then, is a mental switch from constantly looking back to constantly looking forward to the adventure their TBI journey will take them-the good and the bad.

 

  • TBI survivors are literally some of the strongest people you’ll ever meet because they have overcome and are overcoming something that was meant to destroy them.

 

 

You-Yes, You-Are Known, Seen and Loved.

You-yes, you-are known, seen and loved.

I was thinking about this simple fact this weekend.

Known.

Verb. Meaning “have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.

Seen.

Verb. Meaning “be or become aware of something from observation or from a written or other visual source.”

Loved.

Verb. Meaning “like or enjoy very much”.

You, regardless of what you have done or who you are, are known to the very depths of your soul and loved by the Creator of the Universe.

I think about the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. He didn’t listen to his father, squandered all his money, and severely grieved his father’s soul, but his father knew all that he’d done and STILL welcomed him back with open arms.

God does that with us. He pulls us into His arms and welcomes us home-even after we have tremendously grieved Him.

In the same way, God knows, sees, and loves us, we need to know, see, and love others. I listened to Angie Smith at IF gathering this weekend. She compared faith to solitaire. In Solitaire, you have to start with an ace. What’s the ace of our faith?

Love.

It has to be love. That’s the foundation. Everything else is based on that. If you throw down a five or seven, it won’t work and no one will listen. If you start with the ace though, everything else falls into place. It can be still be challenging at times, but you’ll keep building on the ace. It’s the same way with faith. Love comes first.

Can you honestly say you love everyone regardless of political views, sexual preferences, and religious views?

Love comes first.

You won’t argue anyone into heaven, but if you start with love, and see them, I mean really see them flaws and all, you give them a glimpse of how the Heavenly Father loves them unconditionally.

Throw the ace.

You won’t regret it.

Anchor

Anchor: a reliable or principal support

: something that serves to hold an object firmly.

This is my primary word for 2019, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one.

The other word that goes hand in hand with “anchor” is “content”. The two words

together fit what I desire for this next year. Recently, I was challenged that I’m exactly

where God wants me and that He has put people in my life that are meant to be there.

When I think of “anchor”, I think of a ship’s anchor. The thing about that is the anchor locks

the ship down temporarily. It stabilizes it for the time being so the sailors can do what they need to.

When it’s done in that part of the ocean, it pulls up anchor and sets sail again.

This is how I view this year. It’s not a coincidence that I’m back in Mansfield. I don’t know how long

I will be anchored here, but I’m (for the first time) excited to put down roots in the corner of th world

God has placed me in. It warms my soul that the barista at the local coffee shop knows my name.

That I can see the littles outside of school and they get excited that they saw me. Here’s a few practical

things to help me stay anchored and content in my corner of the world.

  • Be present-truly present-right where I am.

If I’m at school, I’ll be all at school-my mind won’t be focused on what’s next. This exact moment in

time will come around again, so I need to give my all to the littles and teachers. If I’m with my small

group, I need to be all with them. Wherever I am, I need to be all there so I can put down roots

effectively. Multi-tasking is nice, but sometimes people want/need your full attention. I never want

anybody to feel less of a priority because they don’t have my full attention.

  • Uncertainty is alright.

I want to have everything figured out now. I want to know everything that could possibly go wrong

and have a backup plan in case it does. I rarely take chances because I don’t know the ending. If I

desire to put down roots and anchor myself here for the time being, I have to embrace the

uncertainty-of a job, of dating, of figuring out this season. I have some control over those things, but

nothing will ever be without uncertainty. I need to stop living in fear of uncertainty, and learn to see the

possibilities laid out in front of me. Just learn to take it one day at a time.

  • Take opportunities as they come.

When I was viewing everything as temporary, I turned down a lot of opportunities because I didn’t

want to commit to something when I only planned on staying here temporarily. Now that I’m working

and looking to put down roots, the opportunities are not as scary. I’m figuring out more of my place

in the world.

  • Be intentional with the people God has placed in my circle of influence.

Part of being anchored and putting down roots is the people alongside you. God has called me to this

place and put people in my life. I desire as I learn to be content to be intentional with those walking to my

left or right. Even those walking the journey behind me have a story to tell, they just need someone to listen.

Honestly, I’m thinking of my small group girls. I saw one at church today. Her face brightened up with a huge

smile when she saw me. God placed me as a leader in her life. I’m not able to be a faithful leader in her life

and the lives of the other girls without the strength of God.

9 Things I Desire for 2019

A new year brings a new beginning and a fresh start. As this New Year begins, I am starting to think

about what I want for this New Year. What do I want this year to be about?  As I prayed about what I want

for this year, two words came to mind: content and anchor. These words have played a part in my journey

during this past year, and I believe they have a role to play in the year coming up.

For the first time in probably forever I desire to put down roots temporarily and be content in my corner of

the world. I desire to anchor myself to family and friends as well as anchor myself to God. I made a list of

things that desire for the year ahead as I incorporate these words into my life. I am not talking about New

Year’s Resolutions. We tend to think that we will not complete our resolutions. They are normally just stated

to help us feel good about our plans for the New Year. The idea behind what I want out of this year is growth

and adventure. I want these items to contribute to how I interact with others and God.

  • Cross at least one item off of my bucket list.

Life is meant for good friends and great adventures. The adventures of this new year comes from

taking chances, stepping out of my comfort zone. In the spirit of continuing to be brave, I desire to

take new adventures and check things off of my bucket list. Sometimes you have to allow yourself

to pursue the things that you want, even if it just to say you did. I checked things off this year like

visiting a new country, but there’s more I desire to check off.

  • Make new friends and deepen friendships.

2018 overflowed with new friendships, and I want 2019 to expand those relationships and make

new friends throughout my adventures.  Charles Swindoll writes, “I cannot even imagine where I

would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face

it, friends make life a lot more fun”.  I do not know where I would be without the amazing friends I have

and the ones I made this year. There is a moment when you meet someone and something clicks. You

become friends, and they impact your life in ways you never thought of. This year I strive to be more

vulnerable with the friends in my life. Inviting the people I love into my heart and life.

  • Embrace the life of freedom-this life of more-that I have been given.

As a child of God, I have been given freedom. I am no longer a slave to fear, perfection, and insecurity.

I can embrace life with an attitude of freedom because Christ had given me life. Freedom from fear

and insecurity is something that I have been wrestling with over the past year. This year, I am choosing

to live in that freedom and embrace the Creator of the Universe.

  • Learn to make each moment, good or bad, count-and be content where I am.

The thing about living a brave and free life is that I want to make every moment count. I do not want to

look back on this year and regret the passed moments and missed opportunities. I desire to look back

on my year and say, “Wow. What a year!” because of the relationships I made and the moments that I

allowed myself to live, I mean, truly live. I want to live life to the fullest, as I take step out of my shadow

and be brave with my decisions. I’ve allowed myself to anchor myself to here and now. The small

moments matter. The smiles. The breezes. The quiet. These little moments like holding hands, reading

a book for fun, the reassurance that I am heading on the right path.  These moments are not flashy

moments, but rather they creep up into your life.

  • Be intentional with the people in my life.

As I deepen my relationships, I want to reach out to the people around me. As I am intentional with my

conversations, I can invest in people’s lives. At the end of the day, accomplishments are amazing, and

material possessions are nice, but relationships are the only things that we can take with us to Heaven.

People matter.

  • Spend more time discovering who God is.

This new year is a new opportunity to spend time discovering the Creator of the Universe and me. My

relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life. I desire to spend more time intentionally

getting to know God and allowing him to love me. To love the places in my heart where my deepest

insecurities and hopes lie.  Beth Moore writes, “May God remind us daily—no matter what kind of

obstacles we face—that we are loved and empowered by the One who brought the universe into

existence with the mere sound of His voice. Nothing is impossible for Him”. As I get to know God

and delve into His word, He continues to love and empower me. He pushes me out of my comfort

zone into places that I never thought about, but that are so incredibly better than I could have planned.

  • Figure out what makes me tick, what I feel passionate about and delve further into it.

As I bravely and vulnerably surrender my time to Lord, He begins to show me glimpses of the woman

he created me to be. I bravely try new things, develop new habits as I discover new interests. As I

celebrate my twenties, I desire to use my time this year to discover new passions and bravely

explore the place these passions interact with my life. Whether it is volunteering at a free clinic,

helping with an afterschool program, or raising money for a cause halfway across the world, I desire

for this year to be a defining year of me interacting with the lesser known passions and desires in my heart.

I desire to continue to figure out this new Sara and who God is shaping me to be.

  • Cry unashamedly.

Crying signifies vulnerability, and I hate being vulnerable, truly vulnerable. This year, as I bravely become more

vulnerable with the people around me, I give myself the freedom to cry. Not emotionally crying all the time, but

to cry when I need to cry without being ashamed of tears. Sometimes, being strong means not holding back the

tears but letting them fall.

  • Worry less about what people think.

I have a tendency to be reserved and cautious because I am afraid of what others think of me. I

selfishly think that they care about every little thing I do. The reality is that as I live in freedom I

shake off the perceptions of other and the expectations I place on myself. The only expectations

that matter are God’s. I am pretty, smart, awkward, quirky, organized, vivacious, entertaining,

outspoken, and introverted. I am fiercely loyal to my friends. I have an obsession with colored pens

and planners. I love reading. I am learning to accept myself exactly as God created me quirks and

all.

2018 was a year to remember, but here’s to more adventures with God in 2019 as I investigate my

corner of the world.