Bethany and I, in partnership with Friends of Bethany, Wonderfully Made and Maranatha chapel, recently held a one day girls conference in San Diego, CA. We were joined with close to 3000 girls at this amazing event! Our goal was to remind young girls of their value and worth. My schedule has been so crazy, I have not had a lot of writing time! I thought you all might enjoy seeing what we have been up to and watching this incredible event first hand. Know you are loved and so precious to our Lord!! Click here to see the event: <a href=”http://player.piksel.com/player.php?p=gbg16w71&wmode=transparent&wmode=transparent” target=”_blank”>
Tag Archives: Changing lives
Waking up, there was a thickness that could not be escaped. Moment by moment, each breath was so painful. Full of confusion, despair and disappointment, each second seemed inescapable and hard. Drifting deep into the sheets, there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. The heaviness consumed the day and brought tears streaming down her face.
Why me, she thought…why do I have to live this life full of trial and pain? The very thing that brought identity, acceptance and purpose now drifts far away like the seas tide, taking with it her hope. In the dark hours, she contemplated the very life she was living. Feeling so lost in the emotions of it, she could see no end to the pain ahead. If this was the best life had, she no longer wanted to live it.
So often in the hardships we face, we too can find ourselves in this place. The dark abyss that often brings little hope. Those times where every breath we breathe hurts and we find little strength to keep going. It could be in a moment of awful news, loss of a loved one, the pain of divorce or a break up. It could be in the moment of confusion or loneliness. When that financial crisis comes at the worst time. It might be in the shape of a backstabbing word that cuts the soul. No matter what your moment was, we can all agree that this life can be extremely difficult. So what do we do in the dark hour? How do we find light in the dark tunnel and the strength to move forward?
As I met with a close friend the other day, she shared with me the darkness she had been facing. She told me she didn’t want to live any longer. She shared that this life had become too painful, and she could no longer take it. While she shared with me, it brought me back to a painful time in my own life. A time where I really didn’t feel there was a hope to keep living! A time where I felt as she did, that life handed me a bad hand and I felt like there was no point in living any longer. While she wept bitterly in my arms, I felt the Lord place it on my heart to share about the day I escaped my own suicide.
Right out of high school, I had what I thought would be my future all mapped out. I was to play water polo in college, study sports medicine and, like anyone, start living my life. Two weeks before I was to start college, I went to a beach house with some close friends for one last hurrah that summer. As I was walking down to the water to surf, I felt care free, not a worry in the world. The waves were good, the sun was shining it was truly a beautiful day!
As I went to duck dive under a wave, I was tossed backwards and landed on the back of my head on the bottom of the ocean. Immediately my face went numb and I thought I had broken my jaw. As I made my way back to the house in the hot sand, I had to keep putting my board down and stand on it for a few seconds to relieve my feet from the heat, then pick up the board and continue walking. I am not sure what happened by the time I got to the house, but the next thing I remember is being in the ambulance, headed to the hospital.
When I arrived, I remember being in a panic, not over any injury I might have incurred but over the fact that I did not want them to cut off my new rash guard (I was successful at saving it). I was taken into the x-ray room and waited for the doctors. The diagnosis at that time was that I had a sprained neck and was told I needed to take it easy. My neck felt really bad; kind of like a bobble head. That night I sat up all night in a chair, with the worst pain I had ever known. The next morning I was in a daze. My friends took me home, where I sat stiff at the end of my bed, waiting for my mom to come home from work.
The moment she walked in, our eyes locked and like any mom, she saw something was very wrong. She rushed me to another hospital, where I was called a miracle and told that I had a broken neck and back. It was so bad, they had no clue as to how I walked in there and told my mom that going that long with my neck broken the way I was, I should have been paralyzed. All I can remember in that moment was crying. Crying for so many reasons, but mostly because I knew this meant I would not be playing water polo.
The first few weeks seemed okay. I had everyone I knew coming to see me. That soon changed, as all my friends went off to school. One of the hardest moments was when my new water polo coach called me to go over the upcoming schedule and I had to tell her I would no longer be on the team due my accident. After that call, I was so sad. The days grew longer and when you are down and out, I believe you start to feel even more sorry for yourself. My life had never been easy; through the years I had to over come numerous obstacles life handed me. Abuse from my father, the pain of a broken home, and numerous surgeries from numerous illnesses I faced. As I replayed all these memories in my heard, I grew into a deep depression.
I remember one day telling the Lord, “If this is the best you have for me and my life, I am over living it.” I was at a place where I just saw no end in sight. I really was ready to just give up! I remember seeing a Bible on the nightstand next to me (by no mistake from my praying Mom, who I am sure, left it there). I grabbed it almost in one last attempt to hear something. I said, “God, if you are real and are here, I need you to speak to me, if not, I’m done.” I opened the Bible up, I had no clue to where. I just opened it and saw one verse in red writing. It seemed almost to jump out at me. It was 2 Cor.12:9, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
That verse definitely spoke to me. As I read on, I found myself captivated by the next words. Paul went on to talk about that because God’s great grace was so sufficient, he would boast in all the trials of life, knowing that in his weakness, God was working in him strength. I felt like the Lord allowed me to come to this place of brokenness so I, like Paul, would see that God was with me always. I felt like the Lord said, “Sarah, if you give Me your life, I will bring purpose to all your pain. I will use it to bless others and to show Myself faithful to you. That day was a life changing day for me. It was in those words of comfort, I found a reason to live. I really believe I was forever different after that moment. I no longer lived in light of the trials, hardships and pain but in light of the cross.
Suicide is a very heavy topic and I deal with it all the time in the ministry I have. You see, if we are only looking at the dark hours we are in, there can be little hope ahead. It is the lie of Satan himself that says you are not loved or important. The lie that says you are all alone or your life was a mistake. He desires nothing more than to leave us in our depravity, without hope. Suicide is such a horrible thing that leaves the world robbed of all you have to offer it.
Your life is so important and has so much purpose. God has placed you here to do something amazing and great for Him. I think of Jeremiah 1: 5 where God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” You see God is telling Jeremiah that before he was even born, He knew him. Before Jeremiah lived one day on this earth God had a plan for him. There was a purpose for Jeremiah’s life, just as there is a purpose for your life. “I know, I know,” the inner voice is saying, “but this is to Jeremiah, not to me; God had a plan for Jeremiah’s life, but not mine.” LIES!!!!! You are here for a specific purpose… what that is, I am not sure, but guess what, God does! This verse is not just for Jeremiah but for you and me today!
Ephesians 2:10 say’s, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Workmanship is translated “masterpiece.” You are God’s masterpiece, His best creation. God thought through to make you as this masterpiece because there are things He wants you to do. He created you to do something amazing, that no one else can do. You were made specifically with a purpose in mind. YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE!!
So with that, what do we do? We trust God. We get in the Bible to fight off the lies with the truth. We grab ahold of God’s promises and walk in them. I would have missed out on the blessing of God using me to lead others to Christ. The people God has allowed me to impact for His kingdom has blown me away. I would not have realized His purpose for my life, if I had selfishly taken the “easy” way out. Today, I would not change any part of my life. Seeing all that the Lord had in store has brought complete peace to all the storms I faced and continue to face. God has given me so many opportunities and has faithfully brought purpose through the pain. If you are in a dark place and need help, know there is help! Any of the following organizations are available to you to offer you help and an ear to listen. You are loved by me and more importantly, you are loved by God! Only He can turn our ashes to beauty.
Isaiah 61:3 “To give them beauty for ashes,The oil of joy for mourning,The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;That they may be called trees of righteousness,The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
I recently found myself doing, as so many in the world do, accusing God of the injustices this world has. Being one who normally goes to bat for Christ, I now sat on the side of the age old question…”If God is a God of love, why does He allow….?” I’ve heard this question far too often and have attempted to, on many occasions, answer it with some sort of theological answer. I was so bothered by what I saw this summer, I too accused Christ of injustice.
I took a small group of kids on a missions trip to Mexico in July. This was not a new thing, as I have led such trips yearly, and most recently in October of 2012. Some of my kids were so moved while on that trip, that they wanted to go back this summer. It was their passionate, steadfast desire that led us to move forward with the July trip. There were moments we thought about cancelling the trip, like when we saw the price of airline tickets to fly from Hawaii to the mainland and we questioned our ability to raise the money. But the kids persisted, feeling more assured each day that we were to go. It is a great thing to see the faith of the youth, who are not worried, nor question God’s ability to provide. And provide He did!
As Americans, anytime we go into Mexico, we are broken by the poverty that lies beyond the fence dividing the two countries. It is a great thing for young people to see just how good they have it living in the U.S. We were eager to see how God would use us on this trip. Within a day it was clear it would be a powerful trip! We went to visit an orphanage that we have been helping over the past few years. They were not expecting us; therefore we were able to see the needs they had in the rawest form. So often, as Americans, we come to meet the needs of others in the most gluttonous ways. What I mean by that is, we bring toys, clothes and candy with excited smiles to bless the little ones. That’s good to want to bless those in need, except when you see that the young ones most basic needs aren’t even being met. It changes your perspective!
We hurried out of our vans. I was holding a large box of granola bars that I couldn’t wait to give to the little kids. They all ran at me as if they had not eaten in days. Two and three year olds were begging me for food. I could not pass them out quick enough. As I looked down at these little beaming eyes, I couldn’t help but notice the filth they were covered in. Dripping noses and raw sores on the faces, diapers that had not been change for days and clothes that reeked of human waist. Little ones pulling on every side of me begging me for more. Many were extremely sick and clung to members of our team. We couldn’t carry enough of them! Within minutes they would fall asleep in our arms; maybe the only place they felt safe. The older kids were sneaking bars in their pockets, trying ever so hard to steal a bag of bars to go hide for later…truly so heartbreaking.
After leaving that day I was so sad, broken and disappointed. No young child should ever be faced to live in those conditions. We went and bought a ton of diapers and food to bring back with us. When we revisited the orphanage, the kids were so grateful to see us and once again they clung to us. When given an opportunity to love these little ones, you forget about any stench that accompanies them. You embrace them and flood their little faces with kisses. I held a very sick little boy (maybe a year and a half old) in my arms. Covered in dirt and so sad. I took baby wipe after baby wipe to clean his little face and hands. I then got a cup of water to try and hydrate him. The moments following still make me weep like a baby. Within seconds I was surrounded by toddlers begging me for “aqua” (water). They would take the cup of water and gulp it down as if it was the only drink they had in days. They were fighting each other for sips, I couldn’t keep the cup full. I also couldn’t hold back the tears that quickly turned into anger.
How can a God of love allow this to happen? How can these little kids be left to live like this? This is unjust and wrong! There are so many injustices in the world, so many heartbreaking sights and so much pain. If God is all loving, why does he allow this to be the case?
A week later I was visiting my uncle who in the past year was diagnosed with cancer. He is a man of faith, but I wouldn’t say that he passionately pursued the cross. A while back my aunt and I were talking on the phone and she shared how there was a bit of a somber feel in the house. “Unk” was feeling down and she asked me to pray for him. I encouraged her to play worship music in the house. I began praying for God to bring him a unexplainable peace in this time.
When I saw my uncle, I was blown away by his new found passion and love for God. He was on fire. I could see a difference in him. He was sharing a story with me about sharing his faith with a random guy in Nordstrom. One day after one of his treatments, my aunt needed to grab a couple things. My uncle went along and sat on a sofa in the store while my aunt did her shopping. There was a man a bit older than him, sitting in a chair next to him. As they began to talk, my uncle brought up Christ. This old man said, “I use to have faith and believe in God, but not anymore.” My uncle asked, “why not?” The man said, “Well, because I don’t see how a God of love could allow innocent people in Africa to die!” My uncle went on to say, “Sir, I don’t understand why bad things happen; however, I know God is faithful and loving and his heart breaks for the evil in the world too.” My uncle then said, “Sarah, what would you have said?”
That question was still being a very raw topic in my heart, I looked at my uncle and said “you responded perfectly.” I began to share with him about accusing God for all the evil I was seeing in Mexico, as these children begged me for basic needs. You see the hurts of this world should anger us enough to do something about it. I must say though, that as I questioned God that day, I felt Him speak very loudly to me. “Sarah, I have you here to quench their thirst, so give them water until they thirst no more. Instead of seeing the injustice, see My heart and be My hands and feet to them today.”
As believers, we are to be the shadow of Christ. We are to be a reflection of Him to the world around us. The most unfortunate thing is much of the church is not being obedient to respond to the calling of those in need. We sit ever so comfortably seeing the needs and hurting people, but often don’t do anything about it. A Christian is supposed to be Christ like. He met the needs of those while He walked this earth and left us with the Great Commission.
To go a step further, believers and unbelievers alike sit on our high thrones blurting out accusations about God when we ourselves do nothing about the world’s situation. We act as if we have a better way or act so high and mighty that we say it’s God’s fault. It is not Gods fault, we are not all-knowing and all-seeing. We have no clue how many people God sends out to meet the needs of others. We can not see how many (like we almost did), that sense the call but don’t go. Instead of responding to the tug on our hearts to go, we have a list of oppositions or requirements vs responding to the needs of others. This summer, had we, as leaders, not heard the call placed on our high schools students hearts, or had we not believed, with their faith, that God would make a way; had we not lived as sacrificially as they did, to give of our summer, we would have missed the opportunity to quench the thirst of nearly 100 kids that day.
Had my uncle not ever faced cancer, he might not have ever known the joy of passionately pursuing the cross. Without that passion he might not have been in Nordstrom that day, nor had the ability to restore the faith of one who once believed. God knows what He is doing. Don’t think for one second that His heart does not break for those who have need, and even more so for all those who have been called in some way, shape or form, but never go. It is not an issue of God failing, but us failing to follow the call.
I have recently been so burdened to share this huge lesson that I have learned from this experience. My encouragement to you, dear reader, is to go out and make a difference today in one life. It doesn’t take big bucks, big faith or a big name. It takes a willingness of one to quench the thirst of those put daily in our paths.
The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. HIS UNDERSTANDING IS UNSEARCHABLE . He gives POWER to the WEAK, And to those who have no might He increases strength.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.