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: Sarah Rachel Hill
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.”
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
Love, such a powerful word, action and desire. It alone can transcend all wrongs this world could ever know. Universally we all long for love, every human who has breath, needs love to survive. If you have ever traveled to a third world country and spent time in orphanages, you would see the prevalent need children have for love. Since they lack so much of it, they can’t be hugged or held enough!Love,in and of itself, can change even the bleakest of hours. Mentioned three hundred and ten times in the Bible, it is the most powerful message Christ not only displayed at the cross, but commanded us to imitate when He called us to follow Him.
Never did Christ force Himself upon us. Instead, He patiently stands at the door of our hearts knocking, waiting, yearning for us to respond. To allow Him to come in and transform our once hopeless, empty hearts and lives. Hopeless because of a world shattered by sin, hate and hurt. A world deceived by the deceiver himself, stripped of peace and purity. Hundreds of years ago voices rang in unison saying, “We don’t need a Savior, we don’t need Him, we don’t want Him, we make our own choices, we have a better way.” Even today, we mimic those same voices, desiring to silence the voice of Christ. The result is a world gripped with hopelessness.
As believers, we hold fast to the faith of our Lord Jesus. We should see in the midst of hurt and pain that we are never without hope. We can stand firm on the truths of Christ and when given an opportunity to display Him to the world, we should do so. No greater joy or purpose have I found in my own life then when traveling and sharing the hope I have within with others. In doing that, I find the greatest fire, purpose and joy. When sharing tears with the hurting and reminding them their life is not a mistake; and in the midst of a trying time their life is not over.
A couple of weeks ago the US came to the gripping reality that we are not immune to terrorist attacks on our homeland. I watched in horror the tragic events at the Boston Marathon unfolding on my television. My heart immediately broke for the victims and their families. As a believer, all I could think is we have to do something. We have to reach out somehow. I’m on the Board of Friends of Bethany, a non-profit foundation founded by Bethany Hamilton, to reach out to victims of shark attacks, as well as other traumatic amputees. As we became increasingly aware of how many victims lost limbs, we knew we needed to offer Hope in some way. As I shared in my last blog, God made us very aware we were to go there.
As our team, which included Tom Hamilton, Bethany’s dad, Mike Coots, another board member who lost a leg in shark attack, and me, headed to Boston, it was a step of faith for us to go. Since security was very high, no one was being granted access to the victims. We weren’t sure how the doors would open, but we knew we needed to walk forward in complete faith and trust that God would open them.
Upon arrival, we went to every hospital where victims were. We talked to the liaisons of the hospitals sharing about who we were and why we were there. We walked away from those meetings pretty discouraged. Everyone we met at the hospitals were very kind, but they weren’t allowing anyone in; we grew weary, second guessing if we would get in to see anyone. The voices of defeat were on the forefront of our hearts, trying to evoke fear and discouragement. Our hotel faced the same street, on which the bombs exploded, literally steps away for the actual sight. There was such a somber feel all around the area. That coupled with all the media, there was no way to escape the constant reminders of what had happened days earlier. People lacked hope and now, we as believers who came to offer hope, were forgetting to hold fast to that hope. You see we were forgetting that God is the one who opens doors. He is faithful at all times, even in a world who wants to silence Him.
That evening at the hotel I sat in my room praying for the victims and their families. I was praying for God to continue to lead our footsteps as He had lead us all the way to Boston. Then the most amazing thing happened. At 9pm my phone began ringing with calls from doctors and hospital administrators sharing how they were excited we were there and were working on getting us in to see the victims. Then I had family members of victims calling, inviting us to come visit their family members who had lost limbs in the bombing. I was on the phone until midnight with people, yes midnight! God, in those hours put together a schedule to go in and bring His hope to these families. I couldn’t sleep all night. I was blown away yet again by His faithfulness.
The next morning, we found ourselves getting through security and in the ICU waiting room, waiting to see a mother and daughter who were sharing a room together. Both were majorly effected by the bombs. As they were finishing their therapy, the trauma team came in to talk to us. When they heard about who we were and why we came, I saw God begin to use us to minister to the medical team as well. I guess we forget about the heaviness they too are facing seeing all of these people who had lost so much. We were able to give them t-shirts and Soul Surfer DVD’s. They were so full of joy and excitement. They began saying, “Oh you have to see this person, and you have to meet that person.” They started going to other family members on that floor telling them about us. It was unbelievable! People began coming in to see us and talking with us and we were able to give them gifts and Aloha (love) from Hawaii. After hearing our story, they began to realize there is Hope and that they will get through this.
There was a dad who came into the ICU unit and he looked so broken. His daughter had lost her leg and they were fighting to save her other leg. His son-in-law had lost his leg too. In the craziness that transpired after the bombing, they were sent to separate hospitals and hadn’t been together since. As he shared his heart, he began asking us questions and you could see his spirit being renewed. He got silent for a moment and then looked to Tom, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “You know exactly how I am feeling right now.” Tom’s eyes filled with tears as well and he said, “Yes, I do.” At that moment I could remember all the pain I saw in Tom’s eyes while Bethany laid in the hospital. Now God was bring purpose through that pain he had felt years ago. After all he had faced, God had painstakingly prepared him for this very moment. Tom was able to offer the hope he had in Christ to this hurting father. Father to father, tear to tear.
When we entered the room of the mother and daughter, we couldn’t help but hurt for them. The mother had lost both legs in the bombing and the daughter had almost bled to death after shrapnel came close to severing her main artery. The doctors were fighting to save her leg as well. They were familiar with Bethany’s movie and the daughter had really looked up to Bethany’s story. Mike, having lost a limb himself, was able to encourage the mother and shared with her how she can live a full life. This would not keep her down. The mother saw some shell bracelets I was wearing and she lit up. She said, “That’s something I can do. I love shells and have collected them for years. I could make jewelry out of them.” It reminded me of when Bethany had lost her arm and she was wondering what she would do with her life. I remember her telling me one morning in the hospital, “Sarah, maybe I’ll be a pro soccer player, or photographer.” “Maybe,” I replied, “but Bethany, God gave you a gift in your surfing, and just because you lost your arm, doesn’t mean He took that gift away.” You see in the greatest moments of despair, we are never without hope. I took those bracelets off my hand and gave one to that mother and daughter. I told the mother after she makes some of her own jewelry, she could send me something. I wanted her to remember that there was something she could and would do in her future.
We saw that in every footstep we took while in Boston that they were directed by the Lord. The next day, Tom flew home. Mike and I had one more day and we were sure God would open more doors. The night before, I received an email from a young girl who had seen the movie and recognized me. She found my email address and wrote me. She was born without a hand and had looked up to Bethany and me. She asked if there was any way we could meet up. We made plans to meet that next day. Her mom and her met me at Starbucks, and she was so sweet. She had been dealing with a bad infection and the doctors weren’t sure what it was (that’s why she was at the hospital). Her mom shared how she had been very down and discouraged by it. Her mom began crying and said, “I felt like her meeting you was a sign from God that she needed encouragement.” We shared for an hour and I walked away feeling like I was the encouraged one. I thought, “God, if this was what You had for me today, I’m so blessed, but if You have more, please lead us to what You have.
I then received a call from a girl whose sister lost her leg. The sister was extremely depressed and refused to see anyone. Finally she encouraged her to allow us to come to see her. We took a taxi to go see her. Once we cleared security, the guy who was representing the young lady stopped us and said, “No photos,” which we totally understood. We didn’t want to commercialize what they had gone through. When we went in, this sweet lady looked like the weight of the world was on her shoulders. We began sharing with her and after a few moments she saw Mike’s prosthetic and invited us to sit. She began asking him all kinds of questions. You see Mike had lost the same leg in the same place as she had. It was so amazing to see how she opened up. We were able to talk to her for an hour. By the end of the conversation, she was saying she wanted to run the marathon next year. She went from not knowing if she would or could do anything, to seeing and dreaming big. I told her if she runs it, I would run it with her. We invited her to come to Kauai and spend time there to heal. She told us we didn’t have to invite her twice and she would come. As we walked away from that room Mike said, “Sarah, can I hug you.” As we hugged, he said, “I will never be the same, I am forever changed.” Mike was experiencing the hope and purpose he had in being able to share with others through what he had faced.
The great question seems to be, if there is a God then why… ? I don’t have the answer to all the whys! I’ve never had all the why’s answered in my own life. The truth is, when we come through tragedy, heartache and pain, we forever see things differently. For me, I choose to live with a Hope and a purpose. To surrender all to Jesus and see Him use my story as His story to the World. I am humbled and blessed to do so! I have never walked away from the opportunities He has given me, radically changed. He is faithful and sovereign. Just because there is bad in the world, doesn’t mean He is an unloving God. No, quite the opposite. He loves us so much, that he is always available to you and I. There is no certain way to have access to Him, except through Jesus Christ. The beauty of God is, we come to Him just as we are and He is there! His arms are open wide to you and me. I love that!! Just as I am, flaws and all. He makes all things beautiful.
I want to close with this last story. We had shirts made and after going around and passing them out, we had a few left over. On our last day there, they had opened up the street where the bombs had gone off to the public. Mike asked if we should go give the shirts to the police and first responders on the streets. I thought is was a great idea, so we walked down the street giving out shirts and talking with police officers, firemen and swat team members. They were so blessed and honored that we would give them shirts. It was an exchange of thank you’s back and forth. Us thanking them for all they had done and them thanking us for coming to Boston. It was amazing to see so much love and it made me realize this is what the church should be doing. Going out, sharing the love of Christ. Making His voice shout loudly to the World that He is there, He is not dead. He is alive and wants to make us alive in Him.
We had a girl come up to Mike crying, and said, “You’re walking already!” We smiled and had to gently let her down, sharing that Mike did not lose his leg in the bombing. As she learned why we were there, she cried all the more. You see the world can’t grasp that God is so loving and He would prompt the hearts of a few to go the distance and be His hands and feet on the ground. May we all be willing to be out there, and in doing so, we will experience life in its fullness. Thank you to all who prayed and supported us. You made this trip possible. We can’t all go, but we can all have a part. No one part is of more value than the other. Every part is so important to make it all work out.