Gratitude

“I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart,
    I’m writing the book on your wonders”- Psalm 9:1

I recently opened up my refrigerator and had a revelation.

Those that know me, know that I love food. I love to eat it, cook/bake it, look at it, talk about it, entertain guests with it, etc. I just love it. I thank God he gave us taste buds because otherwise it would be a chore just eating to survive. I am sad for those who are unable to enjoy food (ex: having worked with medically complex patients in the past, sometimes a feeding tube was necessary as they were unable to safely take food by mouth).

When I looked in the fridge at all my food, I realized something. How often are we thankful for it? We live in a country where all kinds of food are at our immediate disposal. Whatever you feel like getting, you can probably get (or make). Geez, I am grateful for this.

I began to thank God every time we got groceries. I wanted to posture my heart from a place of gratitude. I do not want to take anything for granted, even something as simple as food.

I realized something when I started doing this– I almost immediately became thankful for other things that I wasn’t thinking about on a day-to-day basis. Comfy bed? Check. A roof over my head? Check. Clothing to wear? Check. Wow. Aren’t we blessed?

As I continue on this life’s journey of wanting to know our Creator and His heart for mankind, I think gratitude is a major factor. When we are thankful, we are saying to ourselves and to God, that what we have is enough! Our eyes begin to open, and we are left with peaceful happiness. The world says you must strive, God says no! There is no striving in God’s kingdom. Rest, be still, and have gratitude. It is truly a beautiful thing.

Keep loving and learning (and Happy Thanksgiving!!)

Sarah 🙂

What do you think?

“As someone thinks within himself, so he is” – Proverbs 23:7

I believe the greatest battles we fight are waged within our minds.

What we think, we become. We can choose what we allow our minds to meditate on. The key word here is choose. It is your choice. Yes, you can decide right here and now, that you will make the conscious decision to think on things that are “pure, lovely, and of good report..”- Phil. 4:8.

When we allow negative thinking to overtake us, something happens. We become fearful, withdrawn, absent from the present, anxious… we allow our thoughts to overcome us and steal our peace. I have first-hand experience with this. Let me tell you a story.

When doctors discovered this year that my cholesteatoma had returned (a benign tumor/cyst that grows and acts like acid (eroding away important structures) in the mastoid and middle/inner ear–you can google for more info!) I immediately became fearful. My thoughts swirled. It had come back with a vengeance and was going to require another 3-4 hour surgery (my 5th operation) but this time it would be more serious (called a “canal wall down mastoidectomy”)– the drilling away of part of the temporal bone of the skull (to remove the mastoid process), removal of my hearing bones that were left (the cholesteatoma had ruined my prosthetic hearing bones as well as wrapped around and eroded away the protective covering of my facial nerve)..etc.. I was afraid.

During the time leading up to my surgery, I made a conscious effort to “hear” the thoughts within my mind. I listened, but as the fear-filled ideas swirled, I gently pushed them aside and replaced them with truth. I was re-wiring my brain to come into the surgery and recovery with positivity and love for my body, mind, and spirit. I soaked in scripture, worship music, and spoke kindly to myself. Even as they were wheeling me back to the OR on the stretcher, I had a bible verse written on a tiny piece of paper on my lap, to remind me that I was never alone and God would see me through, as he has time and time again.

Two months later and I am here, still in recovery, but feeling blessed. Day by day, I try my best to have gratitude, talking to myself as I would to my best friend. Even as I write this blog, I am still learning how to have life-giving thoughts about myself and situations. How can I fully engage and show love to others if I don’t love and care for myself? Self-care is not selfish, and part of my self-care is taking every thought captive. Recently I started imagining a room that I put my negative thoughts into. I lock the door behind me as I leave them.

We must try on a daily basis to think on things that give life, not death, to our bodies, minds, and spirits. We were not created to be a “negative Nancy”, but instead full of hope and expectation for good things to come our way.

What do you think?

Keep loving & learning!

Sarah

Hello neighbor

“Love your neighbor as yourself”- Mark 12:31

Do we even know our neighbors?

Mr. Rogers had it right. No, I’m not talking about his questionable (but comfortable)sense of style or the imaginary land of puppets that lived in his house. I’m talking about how he truly embodied a friendly neighbor. He was kind, caring, compassionate, and always wanted to learn more about his neighbors– What were they up to? How did they live? What were their interests? Celebrating diversity! He cared enough about the people around him to inquire, and learn about them as a person.

I think we are missing out on this in today’s society. Hey, I’m not perfect either, and there have been many times when my neighbors wave at me (and of course I wave back) but I feel no urgency to step out and walk a few feet to actually speak to them, and ask how their day is going or what is new in their lives.

I recently had a kind neighbor offer to stain my deck for me (free of charge–but requested some homemade desserts-lol). He began to tell me about our other neighbor across the street, who just last month lost her daughter to cancer. She is older and not in the best health herself, and is now responsible for her grandson and granddaughter. I had no idea. And I felt bad.

I am going to cook a meal for my grieving neighbor, and offer my condolences for her loss. Can I help her in any way? I can ask. I have only met her once–but I’ve learned that nobody usually refuses free food (me being at the top of that list).

I think this sense of community can start in our own backyards. Can we stop avoiding our neighbors and step out and simply say hello? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We never know what people are going through. Not only that, but the second highest commandment in the Bible is to love your neighbor, just as you love yourself. So, right behind loving God with your whole heart is…loving your neighbor.

How can you show love to your neighbor today? (Maybe bring in their trash can, mow their lawn, offer an ear to listen…you decide!) I will work on this too and take my own advice, as we continue to learn together on this life journey.

Keep loving & learning! 🙂

Sarah

Will love continue when the walk becomes a crawl?

“A friend loves at all times…” – Proverbs 17:17

Let me be brutally honest for a minute. I have had some health struggles over the last year. A Lyme diagnosis, recurrent cholesteatoma, vestibular migraines, depression, anxiety…just things I’ve had to work through–but I do not claim them for my life! God is not blind to what I’ve been dealing with, and each day I am learning how to trust Him more and more. I can’t see Him, but I feel His love enveloping me and His sweet presence comforting me. Praising Him through my struggles has been massive.

Throughout this season I’ve been in, there have been many times when I’ve wondered: Will people keep on loving me? Or will they get tired of walking with me through the stormy days? Will they love me when the walk becomes a crawl?

I’ve had so many beautiful people that have come alongside me– to see me through the day-to-day, sometimes moment-by-moment, struggles.

I have had to learn to let go of things I have no control of. I have had to learn to be more open and honest with people. I have had to learn to sit and rest. I have had to learn to love myself more, and learn what self care looks like for me.

I have had to learn to let people in.

We really never know what others are going through. Sometimes, even the people closest to us won’t share their struggles for fear of being rejected, being looked down upon, or feeling like a burden.

If you know someone who is walking through the wilderness, just be there for them. No judgement, no criticism. Healing is not linear, and everyone has the right to heal in their own time.

The Bible says that Jesus came so we may have ABUNDANT life. This is a good reminder that even when we are walking through a dark time, we can be reminded that there is beauty in every day, if we choose to see it. Having abundant life is a promise from God, we must take hold of His promises that are true.

Do you know someone who is struggling in some way? Love them through it. Be there for them. And remind them that this will pass. God keeps his promises.

Keep loving and learning!

Sarah

Beauty in the breakdown

“God is within her, she will not fall.”- Psalm 46:5

We have all had to walk through difficult times in our lives. Some seasons seem to last longer than we’d like– but we must keep on pressing forward (what other choice do we have?) and look to God for our peace, wisdom, and clarity. Never giving up, and never surrendering to the lie that life will never be good again.

There can be such beauty in the breakdown. When we fall, when we cease to see things in an eternal perspective, and when we just feel like giving up– there is still hope. Beautiful things can come from broken places, as we heal and grow, we can choose to bloom–expectant of wonderful things that will come to us. It’s all about perspective.

When I was growing up, I had a mental picture of what I thought life would look like. There were no hard times, no struggles– only blissful happiness, rainbows, and sunshine. I was unaware of the curve balls that life would throw at me.

Learning to be at peace through hard times is a challenge, but it is absolutely possible. Let go, and let God hold you. We have no idea what these difficult seasons are preparing us for.

Letting others in, and allowing yourself to be honest and open, is very healing. You may be helping someone else heal by sharing your own experiences. Who can you reach out to today and help by sharing your personal journey?

Keep loving and learning 🙂

Sarah


Proud

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”- Proverbs 16:24

I am happily (finally) almost finished with my Bachelor of Science degree (Behavior and Occupation Studies, minoring in Psychology). I have done it all online through the University of Cincinnati, who offers a program designed specifically for working COTAs (Occupational Therapy Assistants).

Has anyone told you recently that they are proud of you? It makes you feel empowered, lifts you up, and makes you want to continue to work hard and pursue your goals. Some people think the world is going to ‘hell in a handbasket’. I like to think otherwise. There is still so much good happening all around us, every day, if we choose to see it.

I wanted to shine a spotlight on a particularly special professor, who I happen to have this current (and last) semester, in a Cognition and Learning (Psychology) class– Dr. Tillman.

If you’ve ever been in an online learning environment, you know how disconnected you can feel at times. Never seeing anyone face-to-face and learning materials on your own can be a challenge. It’s easy to get lost in the masses of students who take online courses each semester. Even if you are in a classroom setting, sometimes you may feel like just another face in the crowd.

At the beginning of the semester as I was working through going into all the posts, syllabi, and becoming acquainted with the courses, I got a sense of feeling overwhelmed (which is typical for me at the beginning of each semester). I’ve also been going through some personally challenging times, so I was just feeling the weight of it all. I scrolled through the Cognition and Learning materials, and came across a video posted by Dr. Tillman entitled ‘Proud’. In the 1 minute 19 second video, I was immediately, completely and happily uplifted. I was surprised to see myself becoming a bit teary-eyed.

Dr. Tillman simply said in his video: “I want to tell you something- I am proud of you.” Although we had never met, those words hit me like a ton of bricks. This professor, whom I’d never met, is sincerely expressing that he is proud of me. He goes on to say: “You’re here, and that means you’ve overcome a lot.” And.. that we have done something right. And.. that our success means a great deal to him.

Up until this point, I had only had one other professor say she was proud of us. It made me want to work harder in her class, do my absolute best (not just for her, but for myself). The same has been true for Dr. Tillman’s class. Whenever I’m completing an assignment, or studying for a quiz or test, I hear his voice in my head saying “I’m proud of you.” What a wonderful gift to give your students. Affirming for them that they are important and worthy of praise. Thank YOU Dr. Tillman. I will never forget it.

How beautiful it is to be able to uplift one another. Sometimes we have difficulty expressing it to others, due to pride or other issues (that are usually our own problems we need to work out within ourselves). Who can you encourage today? 🙂

Keep loving and learning!

Sarah

Speaking life: Loving yourself and others

When you hear the term ‘speaking life’–what comes to your mind?

“Above all, love each other deeply…” 1 Peter 4:8

To me, speaking life literally means to uplift one another, without ceasing, no matter what we are walking through ourselves (which can be challenging).
Proverbs 18:21 states that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Let that sink in for a moment. We can choose today, and every day, to speak GOOD things into existence.
While we are working on loving others, we must never forget to also love and cherish ourselves. If we do not love our self, how can we truly love others?
Try this today: Say out loud “Today is going to be a wonderful day. No matter how I feel, I know that I am loved, cherished, worthy, talented, beautiful, smart, kind, etc.” But the catch here is: you truly must believe it.
Our feelings about ourselves are not always true reflections of who we actually are. Our feelings change so much, and if you’re like me, we can be our own worst critic! Trust that changing your thoughts takes time, energy, and self-love. But you can do it.
The creator of the universe loves me, and you. He actually calls you by name, and has the hairs on your head numbered. And that in itself is enough.
Keep loving and learning!!
-Sarah