Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happily Ever After: A Short Story of God's Grace In A Year

2016.... How do you sum up a year that has been so crazy? With a series of one line snippets that you hope do justice to the heartbreak (and beauty) of one year.

Girl decides to visit Nigeria after having her heart stretched in pain and fear beyond what she thought she could handle.
Girl teaches English to a series of children and realizes she could spend the rest of her life happy in Africa
God asks girl on the plane ride home if she is willing to surrender everything, and if she could have anything what would it be?
Girl answers "Yes, but I would really love to fall in love. But, I am wonderful with Africa.
Making plans to move, girl surrenders her heart one last time.
Girl's sweet favorite person slowly starts to lose her battle with earthly life versus eternal life.
Boy moves to Albany...turns Girl's world upside down...
DQ chicken and Vanilla Cream Dr. Pepper's never tasted so good.
God laughs.
Boy brings flowers.
Girl tells favorite person she is dating boy.
Favorite person tells girl she is going to marry boy.
God laughs.
Girl freaks out.
Boy tells girl "I love you."
Girl tells boy "I love you too"
Girl's favorite person joins Jesus forever after.
Boy gets down on one knee and asks Girl to be his wife.
Girl says "Yes! Finally!"
Girl is overwhelmed by God's goodness (And a little scared)
God smiles.
Boy and Girl plan a wedding while deciding to live happily ever after

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Reaping The Harvest: The Seeds I Never Expected To Grow

Over the course of my life I have planted many seeds, some I am proud of, and others I would rather forget. For years my harvest was one of dysfunction, disbelief and pain because I let the enemy come in and steal any good seed someone planted in me.

If someone called me beautiful, my mind instantly went to the scars on my body. If someone wanted to be my friend my mind instantly went to all of the things that made me a burden, If I read my Bible my mind took over and my heart disengaged.

Until the day I sat in front of a counselor at Mercy, and broke. My mouth said all of the things I was afraid to verbalize about myself. The "truth" I had been living in so long had culminated in a desperate desire to end my life. She asked me if I was willing to speak the Bible's truth over myself even if I didn't believe it at first.

Thus began a journey that has never ended - a journey that wove a story I never saw coming. Slowly, whisperingly, haltingly in front of a mirror I spouted the Truth that I knew Jesus promised, "I am beautiful. I have something unique to offer my family. God will bring a man into my life who loves me like He does. I will trust God to give me a hope and a future."

And miracle of miracles, I began to believe it. So when Berkley wanted to play "wife girl" because she knew I would be a wife one day, I felt my heart begin to thaw. And when Ellie was so confident I could be a good mama when we played babies, I felt faith where fear used to dwell. And when I began to fall in love all I could think is, "He made me for these moments." "He is good, faithful. and true."

And when fear creeps in I choose to speak Truth because I am already seeing the fruit of a harvest I never saw coming
And I am reminded He is the giver of all good gifts and I will allow myself to sow that which He has given me to plant.
And I hear His heart beat and I know He is looking at all He made and declaring it good.
And that is more than enough.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Power of a Life Well Lived: A Tribute to My Aunt Mary

Three months ago my Aunt Mary died. I cannot believe this earth has been without my feisty favorite for three months. I don't remember so constantly missing someone at any point.This time of grief has probably been one of the most difficult things I have ever faced. Louie Bodies took her memory, her understanding, her body...but never her soul, the person she was still shined in all she did.

To the end she wanted me to read her Bible out loud to her, she wasn't a fan of my "crazy hats," and she refused to "rob God" by not giving tithes...even at 80 years old, that woman had her priorities straight. And my favorite part? Even while she was dying, she ran her race well. I learned more from her in those last months than I have anyone else in my entire life.

I learned the value of time. I learned what it meant to be present in the moment because you never know what memories you make that you never want to forget.  And we dreamed and dreamed about bodies free of pain, mansions big enough to fit all of the people you loved, and we talked about the "Cloud of Witnesses" spoken of in Hebrews because I firmly believe she sees all of the things that would make her happy in my race even if she's cheering me on from heaven.

I learned about the value of touch. While her memory eroded, holding her hand brought a sense of the Holy Spirit I have never experienced in silence. Sometimes at the end of life, you realize words don't really matter, pictures don't do those moments justice - all that matters is that you are there with the people you love, holding them, and loving them for whatever time you are given.

I learned the power of living a life with no regrets. The last thing I said to her was "I love you. You can go to heaven now, I'll meet you there later. (I may have also promised to be feisty enough for the both of us :)." Since she passed, I make sure the last thing I say to my parents and D before leaving them (or any family member) is I love you.

I also learned just how much I LOVE being an aunt. I try to invest in B and EK the way she invested in me so that they will know that they are someone's favorite.

I cry a lot. I rock in her rocking chair and sometimes pretend like tomorrow I'll get to hold her hand all over again. I sing a lot of hymns. But I don't regret a thing. Losing her was the most painful thing for my heart, but even knowing the pain I know now, I would do it all again because loving her and learning from her was one of the greatest privileges I have ever been given.

Here's to my Aunt Mary. I miss her daily but the glitter she left is with me always. And she taught me lessons I will never forget.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Healing I Never Needed: A Family Calling

Both my brother and my father preached in the last few months, and the topic of CP came up. They talked about how they prayed for healing, and longed for me to know what life in a body free of pain from CP felt like. As I listened to them I realized, thanks to the way my family approached CP, I never needed to be healed...that was never a genuine desire on my part.

As I prayed about that, I realized it was because the Jesus that my family mirrored in their approach to CP was never small. He never had to do anything to convince me He was loving, He was faithful, He was God. I can genuinely say, whatever Jesus plan is regarding my life with CP I have never been more thankful for my family's approach to life with a disability.

My mama made me strong. She made me do everything that everyone else did. She is the reason I button buttons, put my socks on, live independently, battle courageously. From her, I learned CP is never an excuse to be a victim.

My daddy made me dream. He always told me I could do all things through Christ. He fought for my identity when it was lost in depression, and death. He fought even when I didn't want him too. From my daddy, I learned the importance of speaking identity into those areas people are ashamed of, and running the race instead of running away.

My brother taught me to fight for what's right. From Geoff, I learned to remember I was meant to win. I learned never to let others determine what I was capable of. I learned CP was a positive part of my identity, not a negative.

My sister taught me the value of beauty in all things, but especially being different. From Emily, I learned the beauty of embracing myself and everything that that involves. She taught me women are beautiful when they embrace each aspect of their flaws.

My brother Landon, taught me that I was valuable. No matter what the world says about disabilities Landon never let me doubt that CP was a unique and valuable aspect of who I was and the people who were meant to be a part of my life would embrace and love that/

And thanks to all of these things, the physical healing my family longed for was never a need for me. My heart never broke over being physically different thanks to CP. I needed healing in a lot of emotional ways, but I never doubted that Jesus didn't have to heal me physically to be present in my life. He was there. He was there every time I fell and my brothers picked me up. He was there every time my sister did my make up. And He was definitely there when my parents forced me to dream in a world so full of nightmares.

And thanks to those aspects of my identity so wooed to life by my family they removed the need for a healing I never even knew I was supposed to need, and I will be forever thankful.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Know Your Value: A Life of Risk and the Lessons I Have Learned From My Aunts

Three words have been echoing in my mind all week, "Know Your Value." After a rough few days my boyfriend very patiently told me I had to know my value if I was going to do the things, and be the person God called me to be. Yet, I found myself nearly incapacitated by fear of what may happen.

For those who don't know, my precious Aunt Tina had a stroke last week. The doctors were not sure what was going to happen and the ER doctor has called what happened with my aunt a miracle. She is walking, and doing all of the everyday tasks on her own.

Before I knew she was going to be okay I had one reaction: Utter fear (with a healthy dose of angry nausea thrown in). I had just recently said "See You Later" to my Aunt Mary, I sure wasn't ready to do it again. And, mistrust began to spew from my mouth, "I can't do this! I can't! I need my Aunt Tina the same way I always have: I need her to laugh with me, and chat with me and make fun of Uncle Robby with me, and most of all I need her to remind me the way only she can of what childlike faith (which she has in abundance) looks like because somewhere in the past 8 years I had forgotten. Somewhere along the way I had bought into the lie that Jesus only had painful plans for me.

This week I have spent loving on her I have gotten all of those things. She has laughed with me. chatted with me, and we have both teased Robby. As I have watched her the past few days the sheer number of lies I have believed has become clear to me:

"God has only painful plans for me. I am not capable of anything good. If I am never going to be a mom I will not matter." But sitting in the room with her today Truth slammed into me the way only
He can.

Our God is a God of details: I am certified to teach English as a Second Language. I have been able to use those skills to help Tina relearn what a powerful force her words are.
My whole life I have always had such a special relationship with each of my aunts. God has always drawn me to want to invest in them. As I prayed about all that has happened with my aunts recently I heard the Lord whisper, "Even if you never get to be a mom, you will be the aunt that changes B and EK's lives.

Due to my lack of physical healing from CP I have always struggled with the miraculous side of physical healing: One look at Tina has shown me this week that the physically miraculous is not only possible, it's a side of God I need to value more.

Our God is a GOOD God. And as Tina and Robby thanked me for using the skills that I enjoy to help someone I adore it hit me, aunts change lives. My aunts have always changed mine. And I told Tina "If anyone knows how to fight to relearn things, it's me. We can do this together. We have always been close, this just adds a new level to our closeness." And I realized: From CP to English as a Second Language, from Mercy to now, Jesus has directed my steps and even though I still have moments of fear I choose to trust He will continue to do so. Because, we are in this together.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Stories No One Tells: The Miracles that Don't Happen The Way We Expect

This week I have been bombarded with memories and images I would rather forget. Tearstained pillows, pill bottles beckoning my name, wooing me with the simplicity it takes to breathe one's final breath, and hate, so much hate for the little girl inside of me that had no idea what a life without dysfunction looked like. A little girl who felt like she had the whole world on her shoulders and had let it down in it's entirety.

I found my heart heavy with one question: Why do I remember it like it just happened when I have been walking in 5 years of glorious hard fought freedom? And as I thought through it I realized there are two reasons:
The Lord wants me to tell the stories no one else tells, the truths that come when He comes in the most unexpected way.
You can only change the world when your heart breaks right alongside His.

There was a time in my life when because Jesus did not come in a miraculous way and take away the pain in my body, and the memories in my mind I thought He didn't do miracles for me, but He did. Sometimes miracles come in sacrifice. Miracles come when you put it all on the line, everything you ever wanted and He gives you so much more. But most of all, miracles come when you allow His presence to come in whatever way He wants.

For me, my miracles sometimes come in the things that I once hated most.

CP. Yes, Cerebral Palsy has rapidly become one of the biggest miracles God worked in my life. He took something that robbed me of the life I thought I always wanted and used it to show me the incredible life He wanted to give me instead.

I fully believe that if Jesus wanted my feet to run He could heal me and I could run a marathon tomorrow, but maybe healing isn't the miracle He wants to perform.

Maybe the miracle comes in quietly, so I have to pay attention.

Maybe the miracle comes when my nieces learn to see differences as a blessing, a way to help instead of a burden the way I always feared they might.
Maybe the miracle comes in knowing even if I am sore tomorrow He still has a plan.
Maybe the miracle comes when I board the bus and get to talk to the lady on dialysis about who my Jesus is.
Maybe the miracle comes in the life I am living, instead of the life I thought I wanted.

There are still miracles I long for that are not happening the way I wish they would. But here is what I am confident in: Jesus loves me. And He is there in the heartbreak. And He is faithful, and His pen writes the stories no one tells...the stories with a happily forever after ever every soul dreams of:
And I will rest in that

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Me Before You: A Complete Misuse of a Glorious Idea

'I went to see "Me Before You" with Derick and it aroused a righteous anger in me so deep I have to come out publicly and say some things.

For those unfamiliar with the plot Me Before You features a disabled romantic lead  (his disability came later in life) who falls in love with a girl and opts to end his own life because he remembers her life with a perfect body (life before her) and has decided his disability makes his life not worth living. He opts to surrender his power of attorney and take his life in the end.

As D and I sat in that theater processing the movie my only emotion was one of being TICKED OFF.

How DARE society promote a view of life that says if your body isn't perfect, and you have a disability life is worthless. I spent too many years believing that lie, I am not going to pretend that it's okay for the rest of society to promote it as "truth."

Having said that, let me tell you about my life WITH a disability and the WONDERFUL aspect of having my own palsy prince.

We have bus drivers that are like family, I know all of their kids names.
We win every time we do laundry, every time we cook together (Cough "he cooks" cough)
We win every time we are together just because it means we have learned the VALUE of dependence.
We have a blast getting places on his "hot wheels" and every time I fall, I laugh a little because we always make such an incredible entrance.

My heart breaks a little that the world has come so far that they would look at my life and my love and think I have the right to take my own life, or that I would want to. NO ONE has that right.

Yes, my boyfriend and I have it a little bit more difficult than someone with the "perfect body" that is apparently so desirable. Yes, we are awkward and imperfect and loud and wobbly. YES. And you know what?

I would not change a single thing for all of the "perfect" in the world because we are palsy perfect and it is wonderful.
I chose life. And, my Jesus made me exactly as He meant to.
Me Before You made one fatal mistake: They overlooked the beauty of a life that someone actually fought for.
I fought because my life means something. I fought for these moments I am experiencing with Derick. And he fights for me too. And Jesus fought for both of us. And if you choose to overlook the beauty of the choice and the fight you lose.

Here's to being perfectly imperfect and enjoying every moment of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When The World Said No

So many times in my life the world has told me "No!" And not "No," like "This is what's best for you." No, like "We don't think you are enough. Searching the root of insecurity in my heart, I realized my insecurity of my ability does not stem from myself any longer, it stems from the messages of the world around me.

My heart has ached for days with no way for me to find the root. You see, I am not depressed. Not even a little. I am joyful and at peace for the first time in years, and it's not because everything is perfect. It's not. It's just because I have seen Jesus in so many ways.

And I realized my heart aches not for who I am, but for who I used to be. The young, broken woman who over and over and over and over heard
"We don't think you can do this," when it came to my dreams.
"We don't want you on our team" when all I wanted was to play with everyone else.
"We don't know how to let you in our world" when all I wanted was to see a place that loved me for me.

As I prayed about all of the closed doors, all of the tears, and the misunderstood reality of life with a disability I heard one thing very clearly:
Jesus is there even in the "No's!"
"No. You aren't meant to do what they expect. You are meant to do more than they ever expected because that is why I made you."
"No. You aren't meant to fit in on a team, you were meant to be part of a Body where you have a specific job, one just for you. Crooked feet and all."
"No. You weren't meant to be part of this world. It's just temporary."
But most importantly He let the world say No
So He could tell me
Yes. You were meant to be this happy.
Yes. You were meant for family.
Yes. You were meant for friends.
Yes. You were meant to dream bigger.
Yes. You were meant to be Mine.
So don't take it too hard when they say "No!" Because I say

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Decisons, Dry Bones and Delight

A loose poem follows the verse:

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

If I had to pick one aspect of the Old Testament that mirrored the way the Lord calls me forth it would be this verse...

I have been lied to, cheated, and "put a hit out on" by an enemy who I thought spoke truth.
6 years ago I heard a sweet voice, His voice saying "Sarah, come forth." Upon His wooing, I sat up and made a choice...
I chose life.
And He won.

From the dust of Mozambique to the encouraging whelm of Haiti,
The glitters of Nigeria, to the precious sisters in Abilene,
The falls in Albany, the tears everywhere, I chose life
And He breathed forth a Plan
My heart beat
And He won

Dry bones, familiar bones,
His bones
Hung on a cross
Buried in a grave
Brought from death into life
That He call forth my bones
He rose again
And brought me with Him
And He won.

Even when so much doesn't make sense
When people you love get sick for no reason,
Those you invest in can't discover their true name,
He calls them by name,
From death into life.
He chose me, and you
And it is glorious to choose Him
And even if He hasn't won yet..
He will
And dry bones
Will be dry no more

Saturday, February 20, 2016

From the Point of View of the Palsy's: The Adventures You Never Planned on Having

If life with a disability has taught me anything it is that sometimes the most unexpected things can turn into the grandest adventures. Life with CP cannot be planned, explained, or enjoyed unless you quickly learn not to "Carpe Diem" but to seize the moment, not the day. I've learned each moment deserves to be experienced no matter what the emotion is. I have fully embraced sadness, determination, consequence, adventure, adversity...all in the pursuit of my decision to live life and life abundant - but the emotion I am experiencing now? The crazy "Once Upon A Time" so many people write about. The undeniable mocking that used to spout from my mouth can come out no longer.... The LifeTime movie network has nothing on real life.

I've had many people acknowledge that they have never seen me this happy. *Blushes*
So here's what I've learned from this journey so far:

Dating someone who also has a disability is nothing short of perfect, no matter how palsied it looks to the rest of the world.
Adventures on your own are fun. Adventures with someone else are glorious.
I don't know anything about anything...but it sure is fun to learn.

I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm insanely happy. I'm growing. But most of all I am doing what I chose to do 5 years ago, looking at life with CP, looking at all the exhaustion, all the scars, all the surgeries and sore hands and stiff feet, and knowing that even with all the "I can'ts," there is one thing I can do...choose life, in all the dark, all the light, all the glitter. And I can choose me. I can choose risk. I can choose real. I can choose the life Jesus died for me to have.

So often lately there have been moments I never expected to have. For those that know me they know it's because I planned to die young. I didn't think life was worth it, that Jesus had good plans for me, or that anyone or anything was worth living for. The past month and a half have taught me a few things.

I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. My sweet homeschooler who is like my mini me has challenged me a lot this month...but she will dream the dreams and live them the way she is meant to...when she learns to surrender.

I have more friends, more laughs, more tears, and more real than I have ever dreamed of....

But most of all....

I am worth a happily ever after. And I will pursue that (and the crazy guy in my life who makes me want that) with all that I am. Because that is what Jesus wants for me "to live happily ever after." And He writes better stories than any Disney producer ever could.

And that's life from the point of view of 
The Palsy's 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Spiritual Children, Pain & Purpose

Around a year ago I started a new job homeschooling our pastor's daughter...I had no idea how that would change my life. In so many ways, our hearts echo each other in pain, beauty, glory and purpose. This year has been one of the most painful, most poignant, most adventurous I have ever experienced.
I have had my heart broken, have started picking up the pieces, have been to Haiti and Nigeria, Austin and Lubbock
And each moment memories have surfaced...memories I would rather forget. Memories of dreams turning into nightmares, stress fractures, pillows wet with tears, and so many days I wanted to give up. Days where the only thing that sounded good was going to bed and never getting up. The heartbroken girl whose life didn't seem worth living sometimes sneaks into my mirror reminding me of all the things I would rather forget.
Sometimes it's hard to remember what I am fighting for. I was having just such a moment the other day when Z asked me, "Sarah, do you think you went through CP,  all of your suicidal and depressed moments so that you could understand other people's heartbreak? Do you think He did that so that I could be like your spiritual child?"
And I said, "No, but I do think Jesus works all things together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."
And the more that I reflected on the time I have spent with her, the more I realized how many heartbroken people I have held in the past year. And in a strange way, I am comfortable in the things most people don't want to face.
And I know that if Jesus has chosen to use CP to give me that gift then even in my most heartbreaking experiences that's okay. I wouldn't trade all of the tears, hugs, questions, and disagreements I have had with my sweet Z for anything.
I have been surrounded by many things lately that remind me that life is a choice. And the one thing I am confident in this year is that heartbreak and all: I have lived. And even if all I do is live, even in that the Satan loses.
He has stolen, killed, and destroyed so many things, but I know that Jesus is here to pick up the pieces. 5 years ago I chose life, and no part of me regrets that. I suppose I am writing this post to say: Here is to 2016, whatever it brings. I choose life, and in that Satan, you lose.
And also I am so thankful for Zoe :)