Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waving Adieu to 2014

I love New Years. New starts, memories, lessons learned. In short…hope and purpose. Two of my favorite things. This year has been insanely difficult. From school to work, to letting go of old dreams in pursuit of new ones, this year has probably been one of the strangest I have ever experienced.
The Bible says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. So, that's what this post is for.
This year has brought new meaning to the Bible's promise that "His strength is made perfect in weakness." I have never felt so weak in my life. As I fell in love with my sweet second niece this year I realized I have never felt so vulnerable either. From hearing B's sweet voice call me "Mama," to holding EK when she reached for me, I felt a part of my heart awaken that I thought long dead…the desire for motherhood.
From seeing the beautiful marriage that my brother and sister-in-law share and finding a place of safety in their home, my heart begin to thaw. And this thawing brought with it, fear. What was happening to me? I always felt more comfortable alone. And all of the sudden…God brought new longing, a longing for community…family…
Asking my parents for help, my brothers for hugs, my sister-in-law for prayer. Jesus for guidance.
So many things have happened this year. Things that made my soul scream "Unfair!" My body has bruises from falls I didn't even know I took. My heart has wounds I don't even understand. And the old lies the enemy used to whisper don't work anymore, so he has come up with new ones. New lies that sting, new battles.  This year has brought a lot of dark.
Here's the wonderful thing about being vulnerable…I still win.
Trust is a choice. Life is a choice. A wonderful, confusing, so worth it, choice.
I told a dear friend of mine yesterday that I had never been so emotional in my life to which she said "Welcome to being human."
And it hit me. Up until this year my life has been lived in "Self-protection" mode. To be safe, I had to not feel, not want, not dream, not mourn. In no way was I allowed to be vulnerable. But, this year? This year was different. So many things have happened that in my past would have made me shut down.  The loss of a job I really wanted, the continuous loop of struggle that is CP, the letting go of old friendships, the living in a fallen world.  But this year? This year I have been vulnerable, emotional, teary, lonely, and every single second of it has been worth it, so worth it.
As I talked to my brother yesterday he checked to see how I was handling all these emotions (a new thing for me), and I said "It stinks, but even though I feel weak, I know I'm stronger than I think." He said, "That in itself shows how far you have come." And I have. I'm farther, deeper, stronger, and more purposeful than I ever dreamed I would be.
I'm ready to say goodbye 2014. But, I'm confident that 2015 will bring with it new dreams, new purpose, new friendships, and the fulfillment of age old promises. Because 2014 has taught me how to be vulnerable. 2014 taught me that life really does glitter when you choose it in the dark. I have made a lot of choices I wasn't confident in, but the one choice I will never regret, is life. A life spent believing in the Truth. Because though I have changed in 2014, He never does.

Bring on 2015!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When God Hurts My Feelings -Choosing to Dream

This post is one of my more raw moments so if you don't want to read it, feel free to ignore the fact you came across it. I've been really wounded lately, so wounded I have not wanted to write because my heart has been angry, defensive, playing the victim, and about ten other unflattering adjectives. This past semester has been pretty awful in some ways, and pretty incredible in others. This has been a time of growth and I have hated every minute of it.
The only way I know how to convey what I have been feeling is to say that God hurt my feelings. That seems so wrong because He is God and He knows what's best, but my heart doesn't feel that way. I have been railing at Him because it feels like every time I dream, my dreams come crashing down around me, so down deep I don't want to dream because it hurts.
What it boils down to is that I don't get what I want. Selfish I know, but sometimes I want what I want more than I want what He wants to give me.
I didn't get a job I really wanted, CP has taken a lot from me lately, and relationally I haven't wanted to be around anyone because I am not a whole lot of fun right now. Walking around campus shortly after all of this happened I heard the Holy Spirit whisper one word, "Carmina." When you don't trust Me, remember her." 3 years ago when I went to Africa for the first time I walked into a room full of babies my heart was resentful I couldn't hold and I met a tall, willowy, grinning 10 year old who had feet like mine who instantly lit up at the realization that someone was a part of her world, even world's apart. I had been nervous that having CP would disqualify me from truly being able to give anything to the people of Africa, but one look at sweet Carmina showed me that CP was why I went to Africa in the first place. I knew then the truth of Romans 8:28 that "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him." And I do love Him. I love Him so much, I have realized that the more you love someone, the more potential they have to wound you. I just have to remember that He knows best.
Having said that, I knew that if God didn't open the job door I was supposed to go back to Mozambique long term this summer. But my heart was still so heavy that it didn't matter, I hurt too badly to think about doing what He wanted me to do.
I started to work on a research paper dealing with the stereotypical ways authors deal with women with disabilities in literature. Most authors usually promote a victim mentality that just ticks me off. So, as I railed against this author for making this character weak and victimized, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper, "Isn't that what you are doing?" It was said in such a gentle way, I couldn't do anything but acknowledge its truth.
I have been playing the victim and completely ignored the fact that I have a choice. I can choose to listen to the lies of the enemy who tells me that I am not going anywhere, that Jesus doesn't really love me, and that my life will be marked by dreams turned into nightmares. Or, I can choose to be the victor Jesus made me to be. I can choose to mourn what is unfair, cry when I need to, and then be strong. The point is when I cry, I can give into the lies, or I can run into the arms of Truth.
On the heels of this realization (Note the REAL in this moment), I went to work the Beltway Missions Coffee shop to begin to raise funds for Moz this year. I look down and see the girl that I am working this shift with is also going to Mozambique. Not only is she going, but a girl whom I love, who I found out is her best friend is going as well. As we began to talk about Africa I realized something. Jesus was saying "No" to the job dream, so He could say "Yes" to the Africa dream. My heart has always loved Mozambique. Now, I finally have the blessing of both the Lord, and my parents' to spend an entire 2-3 months investing in the people there, especially my girl. :). My heart is still in pain about some things, but I am learning to believe in His "Yes" for my life instead of the enemy's. When God hurts my feelings I have a choice. I can choose to believe that His feelings for me, His desires for me, and His love for me run deeper than any lie the enemy chooses to whisper. And today, that is the choice I make. I will choose life. I will choose Him. And I will choose to dream, because "He will give me above and beyond what I can ask for or imagine."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Meeting Myself: The Journey Out of Dysfunction

Jesus and I have been on a journey the past few years that I finally thought I should try to put into words. It wasn't until recently that I could look in the mirror and see an honest reflection. Much like a dear friend of mine, many parts of being a girl frustrated me. My hair never looked the way I wanted it too, I can't do my nails and 90% of the time putting on my make-up just sounds exhausting, especially because it never looks the way I want it to. On top of all of this I have to be very selective jewelry wise because I have a hard time with clasps. Some of my favorite pieces sit in my jewelry box because I can't put them on without help (or take them off for that matter).

While I am having this tell-all, I may as well say, I also don't fit the girl mold in the standard view of wife and motherhood. I don't cook (and the thought of trying to learn is in no way appealing). I Struggle with a Capital S with cleaning, and even though I love the way my house looks with candles I can't light a match.

But my "girl wounds" went (and sometimes still go) much deeper than that. Sometimes allowing my feminine heart to express itself is a battle because I am tired. I am tired of shaky hands, broken feet, and having to analyze each outfit on a 1-10 scale of "Do it yourselfness" that will tell me if it is a worthy purchase. But most of all, I am tired of lies.

Lies that once caused me to live in dysfunction.

I am tired of that little voice in my head that says I will never be "girly enough" because my hair is too short, my feet are hideous, and I have to hold on to someone or something 85% of the time I walk because my body is too tired to keep up with my heart. And down deep, hidden where I never want anyone to see is the worst whisper of all, "No man will ever want to put up with that." So, I get up every day already tired from the lies of the day before. I am tired of being fearful of wanting wife and motherhood because of all of the things I can't do.

Because looking in the mirror used to be nothing but pain at the thought that all I saw was ugly, I gave up on ever truly expressing who I saw.

But, lately, I just keep feeling like Jesus is introducing me to myself. And boy is it fun (and slightly scary). I am learning that it is safe to express being a girl. I am learning that the dysfunction I once lived in doesn't have to be my normal.

I am learning my new normal. My new normal is asking my mom to make longer jewelry out of the clasps I can't do. My new normal is glitter eyeshadow (which makes me feel girly no matter what). My new normal is leather pants and glitter tops, skirts and tutus and tights scarves and boots. My new normal is finding the "self" Jesus made me to express and figuring out the most creative way to do that. My new normal is being okay with shedding tears and mourning, but sitting in Jesus's arms while I do so.

My new normal is electric candles and Scentsys. It is taking breaks between cleaning to sit and "be" for a little bit. My new normal is changing Ellie's diaper, and reading Berkley stories, and remembering when she calls me "Mama" in her mind it may just be a game, but to me it is the Holy Spirit calling forth new identity.

My new normal is dreaming even in the fear.

My new normal can look in the mirror even on difficult days and remember that glitter is a choice.

My new normal is how it was supposed to be all along. My new normal is Jesus giving me the glitter He always wanted me to have. My new normal is living in His glorious presence.

My new normal is straight up glitter, even when it's dark.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Scars I Intend To Keep: Where "When You Choose Life In the Dark It Glitters" Came From

I have scars all over my body
from falls and surgeries,
dumb decisions and accidents
but the scars I am most proud of
are the ones no one can see.

They used to be something I was ashamed of
like labels I lugged around.
"Depressed, anxious, disabled
Useless, Hopeless, Good for nothing,
Going Nowhere" And in the dark I heard the enemy scream
You were never meant to live."

And I had no idea
how to tell people what I felt
because I was scared that all of his screams
were true.

So like a warrior I went to battle
until I just couldn't fight anymore,
And I felt a different voice whisper
"I've been waiting here, to fight for you the whole time,"
But the screams were too loud
and I didn't listen.

Until I went to Mercy Ministries
Because the screams had gotten so loud
I could feel myself giving up.

And I cried in the dark and prayed
"Please, if You really do want me to live,
if You really do love me, come
Come, and meet with me.

And down He came
in all His glorious glitter.
With David Crowder's "How He Loves"
And parent sibling field trips to Build A Bear,
and the stinky paper mill smell of Monroe Louisiana,

He came and He held me
while I cried about the lost little girl
buried beneath all of the lies.
The little girl who dreamed of
He came and whispered with a grin,
"I SO want you to Choose Life."
So, slowly, hesitantly, like a little girl learning to walk for the first time I did,
I chose life.
And every day I choose life.

And in His heartbeat
I found out that
Life glitters,
in the arms of my daddy,
the truth in love of my mama,
the hugs of my brothers
and the calm of my sister.
He glitters in my sister-in-law's friendship
and my nieces joy to see me.

He glitters in my scars.
The labels that left their mark
have become His mark of redemption
"Chosen, Meant for Abundant Life
Made for something special, Held,
And most importantly
And nothing will ever separate me from Him.

He glitters in falls and crooked feet and torn shoes.
He glitters in tears and memories. He glitters because He gave me a choice.
And I chose life.
He brought more glitter than I ever dreamed possible.
But the awesome thing about glitter is that
it's better in the dark.
So my only prayer for these scars
is that they mirror His.
Because when you choose Life in the dark
He glitters
and it is everything you ever wanted
all because He lay down His life for mine,
and whispered "Choose Life."
And that day in the dark of Calvary
It glittered.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

12 Lessons I Have Learned From Ellie Kate: In Honor of Her First Birthday

My sweet second niece is 1 today. It has made me reflective all day long.  In honor of her precious life I wanted to write a blog that she can read when she is older, so she will know that she was loved and wanted from the very start-and her little life already changed mine.

1. "There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear." Little girl, I was so afraid that CP would mean that both of my nieces would struggle with the reality of what having a disabled aunt would look like. But, then you came along and the first time I held you I just knew that you would love no matter what - and all the sudden I wasn't afraid to give you my heart, because I knew that even though human love is flawed - Jesus would give both of us the grace to love unconditionally.

2. There is a right way and a wrong way to put on a diaper, and you were SO gracious to let me "practice" on you.

3. I am not the only "wobbly" walker in the Turner family. :)

4. Even the smallest things can be funny. You never cease to make me smile because you delight in the small things.

5. "Let no one look down on you because you are young." You may be tiny but sweet girl you already change lives just by being alive.

6. Every time you reach to me so trustingly for help I know that it doesn't matter what I "can't" do because we all have something to offer each other.

7. When you hold my hand and we wobble together I know that it really isn't about the destination, it's about the incredible people doing life with you. When we are both wobbly it's because sometimes keeping perfect balance is boring.

8. I call you EllieLight because when I prayed over you before you were born I felt like Jesus told me that you would be a light to all who knew you. I think words give life. The Bible talks of calling that which is not as though it were, and I have seen a light in you that proves this to be true. You are a light and always will be.

9.  You are one blessed little sister. When you fight with BerkleyLove (and you will) remember she loves you and no one has your back like siblings. Believe me, I am your daddy's little sister and we fought A LOT but I ALWAYS knew he loved me. And it's fun to be the little one sometimes. You get to let B get in trouble first sometimes.

10. Jesus has plans for you that you can't even imagine. I hope you dream big because His dreams are always bigger. You were a dream I didn't even know I had until I got to call you niece.

11. You make me so happy I chose life because I know that Jesus has a special plan for our relationship and choosing life means I get to watch you grow into the amazing Christ follower I know you will be.

12. B showed me that I wanted to a mama one day. You showed me that I am capable of being one. I am so blessed by the way that you are so patient when I don't always know what to do. You were my first solo bottle feeding experience, my first diaper change, my first "get out of the crib because mama is gone win," and my first solo "baby" sitting experience. You always smile at me and it's like Jesus is saying "This is a battle you can win Sarah." You are everything I never knew I always wanted.

You and B have all my loves. You are my special light.

I love you!

Aunt Sarah

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What Sarah Must Have Felt- The Laying Down of Isaac

"So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” Gen. 18:12

The older I get the more identify with my Biblical namesake. She had given up on ever being truly happy. The one thing she longed for, the one thing that in Biblical times would have deemed her a "blessed woman" had eluded her. And now, years after giving up hope Jesus began to promise her Isaac. 

At Mercy I felt that same cynical laughter rising up in me. After 19 years of feeling guilty about CP, and being convinced that I was meant to be depressed and anxious my whole life, hearing Jesus whisper His promises, it felt like He was making a joke at my expense. When I left, I was terrified that the promises He had given me would go up like smoke. 

After 9 more months of waiting she finally held that sweet, crying baby in her arms. She got to watch him grow up. And, like any mama, she probably made plans. He would be a leader like his daddy. That little laugh he had was just like hers. And he had a destiny, she just knew it. 

Fast-forward 4 years post-Mercy and this "Happy Isaac planning" phase is exactly where I have been.  I love my life. I love it to the point that I have literally cried happy tears, I didn't even know that was possible. I love that Berkley comes knocking on my door and asks me to play. I love that I can go to school confident that I am smart enough to be there. I love that I am proud of who I am, and have no fear in letting my big brother and daddy take care of me. I love that when my little brother tells me he loves me I have no problem believing it. I love that I have a community of women in my life. I love that my sister-in-law has taught me that being a wife and mom does not mean sacrificing your role in the kingdom. I love that Ellie Kate has been nothing but joy for me from the start, and the quiet fears I had when I first became an aunt are nearly silenced. I love being alive, when for so long I felt like I was just existing. 

Then God asked Abraham to lay Isaac down. Sarah was not naive, she had to have suspicions that God meant for Isaac to be the sacrifice, and she was not promised His release from that responsibility. She knew, and she let Abraham go, taking her heart with him. She may have begged God for a sacrifice to take his place, but she let him go, knowing that might not happen. Abraham and Isaac took a journey. The time between God asking Abraham and Sarah to lay Isaac down, and actually making it to the altar was not overnight. She had to keep a willing heart over a period of time. 

This year has been incredible, which is why when I felt Jesus begin to nudge me to lay some things down, I didn't know if I was strong enough. I feel Him calling me out of Abilene at some point in the near future. Here's the ironic part - that is all I have ever wanted, and now, I don't know if I am strong enough to leave this little slice of peace I have found. 

Here's the even more vulnerable part, I want a family of my own, and it is all my brother and sister-in law's fault, (and maybe a little bit God's...). A year ago I started to pray that God would make me want the things He wanted for me. He did. He took away my love of singleness and made me fall in love with my nieces, and the beautiful marriage my brother and his wife have. It frustrated me to no end. And now, I feel Jesus is asking me to lay that down as well. He was asking me the other day, "If you were single forever, what then?" And I thought, "Then it's just You and me, and the women I feel so called to minister to. I have this one place Lord. that I would love to minister in." "And, what if that is not what I have for you?" "Well then, God, I guess You'll have to change my heart all over again, and help me to let that dream go." 

Sarah didn't know the end of the story, she didn't know Jesus was going to provide the ram so she didn't have to lay down that which she felt promised. She had to have a heart that loved Jesus enough to give up her dreams for His. 

And that's where I am. I don't know the end of the story. But I know this, if it is just me and Jesus forever, I am going to be okay. And even though I am on the verge of tears thinking that now, now, that I finally love it here, Jesus is calling me away, I am strong enough to leave no matter what the timeline is. 

And more than anything else I'm thinking, Jesus has my heart. Every part of it. He has been so good to me throughout the entire journey and He knows where we are going. He knows the end of my story. 

Sarah lived a blessed life because she let Isaac go with Abraham. 

And I let my Isaac go with Jesus. Jesus is walking away with my heart. But somehow, I know I can trust Him with it. 

Here's to the end of my story, whatever it may be. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Letting Her Go

Dear Little Girl

I remember you like it was yesterday, packing brown boxes with all of the things you would need,
Terrified because dorm life didn't appeal to you in the least.
I remember the lime green comforter and bright blue pillows you picked because inside you felt black.
And even though you couldn't control it, at least outside you could have some color in your life.

I remember all of the nights you couldn't sleep because you were terrified you wouldn't be able to get out of bed again the next morning.
I remember all of the classes you skipped because they seemed pointless when you had no intention of living a long life.
Lost little girl
I remember you.

I remember all the lies.
That had just enough truth
to become reality.
I remember letting go of love
In pursuit of lust
because that was all that you were worthy of.

Sometimes, you are still inside me
Begging me to remember the fear
and the phone calls
the hair dye
and the discontent.
Doing anything
to become someone else.

More than anything I remember the words.
All of the words spewed forth
Hate. Death. Sickness.
And I cringe.
Breaking agreement even now with who I told you you were.

And I'm sorry little girl
But I have to let you go.

You are not who I am now.
You are not who I was ever meant to be.
Here, we part ways.
Even though it may be a long journey before we fully turn from the other.

Little girl, you are becoming EXACTLY who Jesus meant you to be.
You do not have to be afraid anymore. You will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord.
You are strong and courageous and do not turn back from battles.
You only have to be still the Lord will fight for you.

Precious little girl I'm sorry for all the times I told you
you were not worth living for
because the truth is
Jesus died because you were so incredibly, undeniably worth it.

But in the midst of loving Him,
I have to let you go.
There is really no room for the dysfunctional part you played
In our relationship.

So here little girl I put off the old you
and walk in the freedom of becoming me
and when your voice in my mind causes old fears
I'm telling you now little girl,
perfect love casts out fear
and I am perfectly loved.

Here's to you little girl
And the woman you were meant to become.
I am not who I once was
But Jesus is who He always was.

Here's to you little girl,
One important word

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Truth About Recovering From a Past With Depression: The Valley of the Shadow

I am writing this post because I want to honor the words of a dear sister and friend Mandie who was so open about her struggles of a life in recovery. I am so honored by the way she lives her life. I do not really want to write this but I have no desire to keep in the dark what is so desperate for light. 

I sat on the floor of my apartment this week with two dear friends of mine and said 3 words I never wanted to say again. "I'm falling apart." After going through treatment for depression I vowed to never be truly sad again because I was afraid of where that sadness might take me. 
Because down deep where it matters sometimes I feel like I am depression. I am meant to be sad. 

But I am. I am sad. I am sad that I'm in Abilene at 25 years old just beginning my Master's degree when all I have ever wanted was to leave. I'm sad that I am walking through life without a spouse because for the first time ever I see the value in having one. 

I'm sad that my body makes everything so ridiculously difficult. I'm sad that I held Berkley for the first time standing up today and was only able to do so because I was in the pool. 

I'm sad that freedom in daily life comes at the price of consistent, constant battle for many of my dear sisters. 

I'm sad that I have to use an undependable bus system to get anywhere, and I'm sad that I buy into the lie sometimes that because of Cerebral Palsy my dreams will never come true. 

My friend Mandie puts it beautifully when she says "I'm envious of your lives friends, I want what you have." 
I don't want to want these things. I don't want the shadow that my heart feels when it remembers the little girl who so desperately wanted things to come easily just once. 

But like Mandie, I choose life. I choose to know that tears are safe, and sad things (even CP things) are temporary. 
I choose the arms of Jesus over the numbness of television and silence and thoughts from the enemy. 
I choose to think of what I have accomplished rather than of how far I have to go. 
I choose to be okay with grief. 
I choose to remember how far I have come and acknowledge that I am NO LONGER bound by depression just because I'm sad sometimes. 
I choose to believe that I am capable of stability and joy in every day. 
I choose to remember that it's okay to need people.
I choose to remember the price Jesus paid for my freedom
And even in the Valley of the Shadow I choose to remember that the one whom Jesus sets free is free indeed. 
I choose life. 
I choose battle because the victory Jesus has for me will be greater than any grief. 

In Redeeming Love Angel asks Hosea while God is putting him through all of the battles he is facing and he tells her "It's because I'm not yet strong enough for what is to come." 

Heartbreaking battles come with incredible victories. And all of the most painful losses result in some of the most incredible gains. Every good story comes with grief. I choose the victory. I choose the gain. I choose the story. 
I choose life. I choose me. I choose Jesus. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Because I'm Scared I Choose Life: The Truth About the Comfort Zone

I'm writing this post because I'm scared, and Jesus has not given me a spirit of fear. Physically, I have not been feeling well, and it scares me because my heart remembers a time when I wondered what was wrong with me that Jesus would not heal me. The little girl inside of me who felt guilty about Cerebral Palsy has taken a new twist of the enemy's knife the past few months.

If Jesus would not heal me from Cerebral Palsy, then how can I trust that He does not want bad things for me? How am I supposed to trust that His will for me is not sickness? As the enemy began to whisper this lie to the scarred part of my heart I began to experience debilitating fear. I love my Father, but there is a wounded little girl inside of me scared to trust Him.

I leave for Africa in 6 days, and for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I'm scared to go. The enemy keeps whispering to me that my body is not ready to make such a trip when I feel so weak. I haven't been able to sleep and I have been experiencing warfare on every front lately. I needed to write this post because I need people out there to know, I am scared. BUT, I choose to remember who my Father is.

He is the Giver of EVERY GOOD and PERFECT gift.
He DOES NOT give a spirit of fear but of POWER, LOVE, and a SOUND MIND.
He is the AUTHOR of LIFE and He has GOOD PLANS for me, NOT harmful plans.
He is LOVE. Real love. Forever love. Can't live without it, dancing under the stars, quiet whispers in the dark love.

I need to remember who I am in Him.
I am HEALED by His stripes. I am STRONG because my power is MADE PERFECT in weakness. I AM HIS. I am PROTECTED by His angels because I am CALLED by HIS name. I am SAFE because HE is stronger than any fiery dart the enemy throws at me.  HIS WILL for me is NOT one of fear. sickness, doubt or death because He is the giver of ALL GOOD things and He has called me.


Today I break agreement with the spirit of fear and I choose to trust my Father. I lay down and sleep in peace because my mind is stayed on Him. My body will function EXACTLY the way He made it to and no form of fear, oppression or sickness comes near my dwelling.
Today I walk in LIFE and I "do it afraid"
And, 4 days from now I "go to the nations and make disciples in the name of Jesus."

I choose trust even when my heart and body whisper otherwise. I choose life. I choose peace.
I place all my bets on one name
Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 16, 2014

When I Think of Egypt: May My Heart Not Turn Back

"Our father's refused to obey Him, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt." Acts 7:39

My heart is like the Israelites. When things get difficult, or a new battle begins, or I sin and forget to call on Jesus my heart thinks "If only…"

If only I were somewhere else, if only my body were different. If only Jesus would call me away from here. If only I could start over. My mind knows what it is to be a daughter, but my heart remembers being a slave.

A slave to my emotions, a slave to bitterness, a slave to the numbing
of television and isolation.

My heart remembers the taskmaster of emotional dependence
and tears and pleas and begging
for someone to take me away from here.

My heart remembers the seducing voice
of a prince promising me his kingdom
if only I would bow down.

And my fear said
"Better a slave in an enemy's house,
than a daughter in a King's house,
I don't deserve to be loved."

When I think of Egypt
I think of dorm rooms
and desperate text messages
and the resistant "peace" of knowing I was in control.

When I think of Egypt,
I think of people being Moses
and calling me out
while I mocked them
and fell apart.

My Egypt smelled like hair dye and junk food
trying to cover the dying little girl inside
and felt like West Texas wind
blowing me to dust
because I had nothing worth living for.

My Egypt still feels more real
than the Promised Land
I am so close too.
Because I have seen the pillar of fire
and find Holy Spirit

My Promised Land journey looks like
Running from the Pharaoh of self-destruction and lies
while they scream at me to come back, weapons at the ready.

And as the sea parts
I see a cloud of witnesses cheering me on
I see a place of my own
and a family
proud to call me their own.
I see women cheering me on
and authority over a pharaoh I never dreamed I would have.
I see a land for my glorious possession
And I think
"Please just take my heart
and keep me.
Don't let me turn back.

And when the desert
makes me feel like I am headed nowhere
I see the Pillar of Fire saying
"Come this way, I've got you,
I know your heart, I love you."
I promise
And that is the Promise
I will wait 40 years for.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Because Sometimes Loving Jesus Isn't Pretty

Jesus and I have had a ROUGH couple of months. Seriously, it has been awhile since I was this frustrated with someone. I love Jesus. So much. But sometimes things in my life wound me. Sometimes they don’t make sense. Sometimes I ugly cry into my pillow when no one is listening and sometimes I yell (and usually when I’m this frustrated I sin), it’s my way of saying “Look! I can do what I want to do!”
            Coming back to HSU after Mercy was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and staying to get my Master’s was harder still. My heart is not here. It beats to be somewhere else. My body is my worst enemy. So many of the things I long for are impossible thanks to Cerebral Palsy. I find myself in a constant war between faith and acceptance and it sucks.
            I keep begging the Lord to call me out of Abilene (and heal my body) and He does not. When I was crying today something hit me though. When I became a Christian I accepted the reality that He lay down His life for me, and I surrendered my life to Him. I am not my own. I was bought with a price.
            The reality is my life is His and I love Him and He loves me, no matter what this world brings. No matter what, when I made the commitment to Jesus I became His, and He became mine. So yes, I’m still hurt. Yes, I would do anything to be pretty much anywhere else, and yes sometimes I dream of what I would do if CP weren’t a factor in my life But I choose Jesus. I choose to let Him cry with me. I choose to let Him deal with my stubbornness. And while my body imprisons me I choose to echo the cry of Paul “11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

I don’t know why He doesn’t heal me. But I know Him – and I today I choose Him.
I don’t super enjoy the path He has me on, but today I choose life because He gave His life so that I would choose mine.
He knows the plans He has for me and no matter what my life looks like
He loves me with ALL that He is and He will give me the desires of my heart
because His heart is for me. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Learning to Love Life Abundant: Lessons I Have Learned From My Nieces

My life is at a place I NEVER dreamed it would be. Jesus loves me used to be a song that I sang, or a phrase that I occasionally saw on bumper stickers. But in my mind He didn't love me- He loved the face that I put on for everyone else. He didn't want to bless me because I was a mistake, an anomaly, something He pitied but didn't love. Depression, frustration and condemnation were my normal.  Ultimately, I gave Him nothing so He couldn't love me. But true love is unconditional, eternal and truthful. True love is real.  True love restores things you didn't even know you lost.

I was terrified to go back to Hardin-Simmons after Mercy because to me it symbolized failure, tears, and pain. When I step foot on campus now I am helping other struggling students find their voices, I am  confident in my ability to do my schoolwork, and do it well, and I am able to be happy because the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I was also afraid that since I was a mistake my nieces would never love me because they would see my CP and know Jesus didn't care. Now-I am utterly and completely repentant that I could have at any point doubted the love of my Jesus-regardless of CP. My nieces see me for me. And they love me CP and all.

I was praying about how overwhelmed I felt at all this love and told the Lord "I don't understand why you keep blessing me, I don't deserve it. I sin, I question You, in spite of all You have done for me sometimes I don't trust You-How can You love me? How can all this joy be my normal?

And He brought a picture to my mind,  a picture of two precious girls. Berkley and Ellie Kate. These girls have my whole heart, EVERY . SINGLE. PART. of it. And-they have done nothing to get it outside of being born. As soon as they were here, they had it. All of it! And I wanted to give them gifts and smile with them and cry with them and play with them and hold them solely because they were here-and they were themselves.

And I felt Jesus say "THAT is how I love you. You have My whole heart just because you're you. I want to play with you and hold you and cry with you and give you gifts solely because I love you with all that I AM-you cannot undo My love for you, nor do I have to have a reason to love you. I love you because you are Mine. I bless you because I AM love not because you do something to earn it.
Most of all remember this-this is your new normal because I am above all else for you. I am Good and you are Mine. I love you.

And I have never been more thankful for my nieces.

Monday, March 17, 2014

An Open Letter To Parents

1 Corinthians 13:11
"When I was a child I thought like a child, I spoke like a child I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me."

To Parents,

Of Littles: I see all the diapers that you change, the noses that you blow, the stories that you tell and the tea parties that you have-drinking water and eating soggy goldfish and pretending it's the best stuff you have ever tasted. I see you fast forwarding through the scary parts of Disney movies and making your kid eat his vegetables even when he throws them at you. I just want to say I know it can be a thankless job but those moments shape your child in ways nothing else will. I'm not a parent yet. but I hope when I am, I'm like you-doing the jobs only love can do.

Of Elementary Schoolers: I see all the math homework you stay up late working on, all the labels you save up for science class and all the times you force your kid to read for AR. I see the way you want to protect them from the bullies in the playground, the insecurity they feel when they have to give a presentation in front of their peers, I see the battle of letting your kid go-and I just want you to know, secretly? They want to stay little forever too.

Of Teenagers: God bless you! This time of life is hard for EVERYONE. I see you enforcing a curfew for your kid even though they swear they don't need one. I see you telling your little girl her prom dress is too short, and your little boy that he actually has to pay for his own gas. I see you fighting for your child's identity in a way even they are unaware of. I see you struggling to know which battles are worth fighting and which ones to let go. I just want you to know that someday they will see that real love draws boundaries and they will love you for having the Love that did just that. Then all those "I hate you" moments will hurt them as much as they hurt you. I'm sorry for all the hormonal moments that they say things they will regret 10 minutes later. I thank you for being there for your kid when no one else wants to be-because you know they have millions of voices telling them who to be and your voice will be the loudest.

Of Adults: You did it! They live independently, go to school on their own, pay their own bills…and they couldn't have done any of it without you. You are still the voice in their head reminding them what standards are. You are still their constant cheerleader, and one of the most honest people in their lives. But most importantly, you are still needed. They need your "I love you's, I'm proud of you's, and your bragging to your friends. In many ways, you are still their yardstick. Thank you for always believing they were going to change the world.

To My Parents: Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it. We made it through 2 body casts, so many surgeries, and therapists and tears, and shoes with holes. I'm so sorry for all the times I wasn't grateful for the battles you were fighting for me, not against me like I thought. Thank you for all the times I forgot to say it. Thank you for letting me call you every day, for not making it scary to ask for advice, for never letting me forget that "I can do all things through Christ." Thank you for helping me choose life when death wouldn't leave me alone. Thank you for looking to your Father when you didn't have all the answers.

I stand for all of your children when I say:
We will become the men and women we were meant to be because you were there fighting and believing and loving even when we didn't deserve it. Thank you, for everything.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Eucatastrophe of Dependence

Isaiah 43L19

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

The word "Eucatastrophe" literally translated means "beautiful disaster."

My biggest struggle in life is the reality that I will always be dependent on someone else if I am going to live the life Jesus has called me to.

The little girl in me rebelled against this.
No help! Never! I wanted to do everything
All. By. Myself.
I resented my parents, family, and friends for trying to help me because I resented the weakness in me
that demanded help.
I despised my feet for leaving me
helpless, hurting
I hated the idea of marriage because it meant
someone would have to be there
for me
the rest of my life
when I didn't have anything to give back.
I could feel myself
melting down
Ending it all seemed like
the only choice.
Then I felt Jesus wooing me
and I thought as long as I have Him
I won't need anyone else.
But He said
"It is not good for you to be alone."
And I felt the stirrings
of disaster.
Because I didn't understand
what true Love meant.
Until my niece needed help crossing the street
and I knew
I would hold her hand
and never let go
it was an honor to
be needed.
I didn't know what it meant to be truly Loved
until one of my friends cut my meat
because I can't,
and another let me lean on him
because I am always on the verge of losing my balance,
and another gives me rides everywhere
because I don't drive
and she doesn't like to arrive anywhere alone.
Then I realized
it is an honor
to be needy
because in being needy
you discover what it is
to be loved.
And I finally knew
that maybe this dependence
was a Eucatastrophe
a beautiful disaster
meant to show
true love
doesn't see flaws
they see opportunities
to be there
for the loved.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Being Wooed In the Wilderness

I am in a new season which always causes me to reflect.

14“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achore a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.

Hosea 2:14-16

My eyes had scales that wouldn’t fall off
I wandered around alone, longing just once
for silence.
But the voices
the loud, mocking, embarrassing condemning
never shutting up voices
refused to stop.
They were my constant companions
I stumbled when they said I was worthless
cried myself into exhaustion when I couldn’t sleep
because I saw the girl they saw,
With hands that didn’t work, feet that didn’t cooperate
poison to all who knew her
because her words were
I heard His quiet voice
“Come away with me,
My love,
Come away.”
But I ran
toward my tormentors
because the Truth
was a mirror whose reflection I was not ready for.
As I ran, He was relentless, redeeming, jealous
because I was settling for all the “less than” that
death was telling me was all I was good for.
As He pursued I noticed something I had never enjoyed before,
And in that silence He spoke
“Look at the desolation, the wilderness.”
And my heart broke.
Because all was bitter,
but He promised Manna
and He provides
each day it’s own
Grace sufficient
And I know I’ve come this far
because He held me, wooing and whispering
the whole time
making my desolation
my safe way home. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What I Never Understood About Purity: What Single Women Need to Know

Song of Solomon 2:7 "I charge you do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires."

I was blessed to grow up in an environment that encouraged purity and abstinence, and as much as I value who I was a result of that. I never understood why it mattered. In high school I never wanted to get married so honestly purity just seemed like "no big deal." I saw no need to walk in purity (even in the small things) because one of the main reasons purity was focused on was because "the bride wore white" and I had no desire to walk down the aisle.  I have never had sex, but that does not mean that somewhere along the line I did not compromise the purity values I had grown up with, and the price I paid was higher than anything I have ever experienced.

I think purity is a must have value, especially in today's culture which paints such a false picture of physical relationships, making it seem like you walk away totally put together, totally in control, and with no regrets. I think one mistake the church makes is not focusing on why purity matters. It is painted in such black and white terms "Don't have sex, don't cross the line, leave room for Jesus." YES please do, but let me tell you why. Please ladies, let me tell you why it matters. Let me tell you what I wish someone had told me.

I wish someone had told me, When you open ANY physical door at all (handholding, kissing  making out sending a sext) you instantly give away a part of yourself you are NEVER getting back. Every time you see that man all you are thinking about is that part of yourself he will always know, the secret Victoria never kept, the woman you were before you knew that man...even if you marry that man I can guarantee you some part of you still feels lost.

I wish someone had told me the innocent belief you had in fairy tales will lose its luster the instant your prince turns out to be a toad. I wish someone had told me about the gnawing, never-ending guilt the enemy attempts to attack you with, and the way it feels like you will never be good enough for another relationship because you feel like so much useless garbage.

I wish someone had told me that even though there is forgiveness and grace and a perfect plan, forgiving yourself for compromise is a process that will take years. I wish someone had told me about the way you lose trust in yourself and in others the instant you realize you have "arouse and awoken love" in a way it was never meant to be awoken.

I wish someone had told me purity matters not only because you may want to get married someday, but because when you give away those parts of yourself you are cheating yourself out of the woman Jesus made you to be,  you are losing the sweet sense of clean that every woman deserves to feel.

MOST IMPORTANTLY I wish someone had told me when you arouse and awaken love when it is not time it turns being in a relationship-or being single into a NIGHTMARE because you are always fighting desires that have one place and one place only-the marriage covenant.

I also wish I could be there for those women (who like me) have seen part of themselves tainted and scarred. I want to wrap my arms around you and tell you, you are not alone. There is redemption and restoration, and when you need to vent about a lack of faith in the fairy tale you totally can because there are other women in the church who know the pain of compromise.

I wish I had clung to the truth of scripture that Jesus loves perfectly, and His love casts out fear When I struggle to not settle because I feel like "good enough" is all I will ever deserve I choose to remember that Jesus will give me the desires of my heart. When I hear the enemy scream guilt and condemnation and dirty hurtful lies I choose to believe in grace. I choose love, I choose restoration. I choose Jesus.

And He chooses me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What I Want People to Know About My Father: My Journey to Honest Healing

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40.
Mark 5:34 "Daughter, go in peace for your faith has healed you." 

More than anything I've ever been given, a realization of Jesus love is the most precious gift I could give anyone else. 
A few years ago I made a vow to myself to be content in who I was, to cease questioning why I had a disability, and to just live life content with that. 
I spent the years before that going to all the prayer meetings, laying in bed at night begging Jesus to take CP away and crying with guilt when nothing happened. 

Hear me, I love Jesus so much, but CP has always seemed like a gaping wound I didn't know what to do with, the "elephant in the room" if you will. So, I thought I would make it easier on Him (and me) by ignoring it. I didn't pray for healing. I didn't do much of anything. I just tried to convince myself that I was totally fine with everything it meant for my life. 

I learned how to be thankful for CP but that didn't mean that the wounded part lost its power. 

I keep feeling Jesus tell me "Sarah, just be honest..." So here is me unfiltered 

Here is my confession I AM ABSOLUTELY !00% NOT OK WITH CP. I am not okay with the looks, the scars, the falls, the way I have to make future decisions based on what my physical body says I can't do. I'm. not. ok. 

And admitting that is glorious. 

It is glorious because it means that my faith has already healed me. My faith has healed me from any unresolved bitterness, need to lie, or compulsive guilt complex. It is glorious because it means I trust my Father. 
I trust Him enough to pray for healing (and let others pray too) and know that if that nothing happens it is because He still has more for me to do.
I trust Him enough to make all of my dreams come true in spite of CP.

You know what else? It frees me to be me. To be sad with Him, to love Him and let Him love me. I don't know anyone that I love as much as I love my Jesus because He makes me ok with dealing with CP. He makes the falls seem funny rather than embarrassing, the limp seem special rather than awkward, and the looks seem like it's just because I'm that awesome (or, rather, HE is that awesome in me).

I want people to know how I really feel about CP because it is in acknowledging the weak and sad part of me that they know the beauty of my Father. It acknowledges the lovely release of my Father from having to do anything more than what He has already done to make me want to follow Him solely because I trust Him.

So, next time someone wants to pray for me that Jesus would take away CP, this is my way of saying, have at it! I'm genuinely content with whatever Jesus wants to do-and that is healing in and of itself.