November has been a challenging month for me in so many ways, and I found myself riding a roller coaster of emotions as I faced each obstacle. I can’t seem to make sense of anything, but I’m still choosing to live each day with gratitude and thankfulness because I'm alive and kicking, and this time with more fervor and conviction to make the best of each new day. I've always been a passionate person (in a good and also not so good way), and when I was flooded with emotions in unexpected circumstances, I allowed them to get the best of me. I've had a long list of random and unusual experiences that really revealed how ugly uncontrolled emotions can get. That all changed after my almost fatal accident exactly one year ago. I discovered that my passion only needs to serve one purpose, and my emotions no longer need to lead to unpredictable behaviors and responses.
For too many years, I often played the victim role all too well, and it became a continuous pattern over and over again. I found myself thinking "Poor me", "Why does this happen to me?", and "What did I ever do to deserve this?" When I was a little girl, I was the biggest tomboy who always played sports with the boys, and my dad would often have to tell me, "Sarah, girls are not supposed to do that!" Well, one day at church I was chasing after some boys because they took something that belonged to a friend. Not long after, I hear glass shattering, and I stood there completely dumbfounded as blood was dripping down my wrist. I had pushed open the door using the glass portion of it instead of using the door handle, which of course I should've used. It became one of those "Boohoo, look at me", "It wasn't my fault, it was theirs!" moment.
As I got a little older (and I wish I could say wiser), I finally grew out of my tomboy stage and became a girly-girl who cared too much about hair, make-up, and clothes. I had always wanted to become a teacher one day, and I was finally living out my dream. Because of my passionate nature, I found myself working overtime night after night, and one day I was locked in and left with 2 choices: climb the towering fence in my high heels or call my principal to get me out. I went with the latter. So when it was finally winter break, my body was screaming for rest. I didn't listen. Couple days later, I found myself waking up in a pool of blood and crawling over to my parents’ door for help. I had passed out in the kitchen as I was getting a drink of water, and I ended up busting my chin, lips, and two front teeth. I looked hideous, and this time I was crying, "I'm gonna look ugly forever!"
And I got a little more older and still not wiser. Some friends wanted to participate in a bike-a-thon, and I was eager to join. We had started out in downtown LA, rode all the way out to Venice Beach, and started to make our way back to downtown. One of my friends got a little too close to my bike, and our bikes tangled and we both went flying off our bikes. He had scraped his elbow, and I ended up with a busted knee. Again, it became one of those "It's his fault my knee looks the way it does!" Bitterness grew in my heart as my wound became a keloid scar, and I went in for multiple treatments. I didn't need to go in for those treatments, but I wanted the doctors to do something about my protruding scar that wasn't healing properly. These incidents were a reflection of a person that responded to unfortunate circumstances with negativity, and I was choosing to wallow in them. I was in a place of darkness, and it was getting darker and darker.
Being stuck and drowning in negativity was not a fun place to be, and I’m beyond thankful that God rescued me from that place. But I had to choose to take the first step forward, and He did all the rest thereafter. The initial act of obedience led to my process of healing, growing, and restoring, so when I was faced with the most challenging experience of my life, I was given the opportunity to respond differently from my past.
On November 24, 2014, my friend Esther and I were on our way back home from Salvation Mountain, and unexpectedly we were t-boned by a big rig going 63 mph. By God’s grace, neither one of us have memory of the actual accident, and we both woke up in the car feeling disoriented. I was covered in blood with a broken nose, broken clavicle, and punctured lung, and thankfully my friend did not suffer any open wounds or broken bones. The car was totaled, and I had to be airlifted to the nearest trauma center. However, these were minor adversities knowing the severity of what should’ve been, and we thank God every day because our worst day turned out to be the most blessed and redemptive day of our lives. We are both walking miracles to show how real our Heavenly Father is, and we’re choosing to live a life of gratitude no matter the circumstance.
Life on earth has new meaning and purpose for me, which is to celebrate every moment…big or small, good or bad…thanking God for the opportunities of growth, change, and restoration. I am learning how to find joy even in the most challenging circumstances. When I find myself go down a path filled with complaints, criticisms, and even complacency, I have to look deep within and redirect my heart to a place of gratitude and thankfulness. My passionate heart now only serves the Heavenly Father up above, and it is His love and grace that saves me, realigns me, and keeps me rooted.
From my heart to yours #5:
As November approaches year after year, most of us are reminded to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. However, I believe if we practiced the act of gratitude and declared words of thankfulness in all seasons, we can walk with an extra bounce in our step and the goodness we carry can overflow into those around us. What are some practical ways you can continually practice gratitude especially during those stormy nights or dry seasons? Maybe you can wake up each morning declaring “Thank you for a good day!” even before your day has started, or maybe you can turn to someone and simply thank them for being in your life, or maybe you can start a gratitude journal that keeps records of all the things you’re thankful for. I’m always looking for creative ways to practice gratitude to renew my mind and heart, and sharing my story with each of you is definitely one way I’m uncomfortably yet passionately walking that out. Thank you to all my friends, family, and blog readers for taking the time to hear my story and for encouraging me to keep sharing! Starting a blog surfaced a lot of fears I needed to overcome, and I’m thankful that in my weakness, I find strength in my Father up above.
I was reminded today how quickly time flies by and not a second or moment should ever go wasted. Exactly a year ago today, God called you to go up and sit alongside Him in Heaven, and you are dearly missed by so many. Whenever I think of you, I am always challenged to live my life to the fullest because that was exactly what you did and you did it so well! When I looked up at the sky and clearly saw with my own two eyes what a beautiful day it was, I couldn’t understand why my spirit felt so burdened and heavy today. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly and a cool breeze brushed up against my face, but I couldn’t shake off the weariness lingering in the air. I continued to pray throughout the day and asked the Father to reveal what this unexplainable feeling was.
As I spoke with different people throughout the day, I started to gather some idea of what it could be. However, I was still left confused. Then later in the evening some of your friends and our family had a small get together to celebrate our memories of you, and we all laughed and cried together sharing all of our unique stories. When your memorial gathering ended, I started walking the streets of Pasadena still feeling the same heaviness. Then suddenly, a man named Bob, who was comfortably sitting on the sidewalk, gently interrupted me. “Have a good one” was all he said, and I just walked right past him. But something in me knew I needed to turn around and talk to him. After a little bit of “Should I… or shouldn’t I…” I decided to take a moment and hear his story. From a simple conversation, a short walk to the nearest restaurant, and a time of prayer, I learned that Bob loves the Lord SO MUCH! In the eyes of the world, he may not have any possessions to show his worth, but he clearly knew his self-worth because of his GREAT FAITH in God. He knew he was a beloved son of the Father up above and nothing can steal that away from him. Bob may not have riches here on this earth, but it was so clear he is going to be one of the richest men up in heaven!!!
After the unexpected divine appointment, I was driving home and suddenly found myself weeping all the way home. All the heaviness I felt throughout the day was now streaming down my face, and the only thing running through my mind was… “Man, this is so hard! Life is so hard!” That’s when it dawned on me that I was feeling the burden of our Heavenly Father. He mourns for our souls day and night because He loves us so much and wants the best for each and every one of us. The BEST is right in front of us, and all we need to do is receive the eternal gift He has placed in our hands, but we often choose to replace it with instant gratification, fluff, pride, fear, loneliness; things that either cloud our mind of the REAL prize up in Heaven or darken our soul with lies told by the enemy. And for some of us who have received the eternal gift become so consumed with our day to day (work, school, family, friends, marriage, kids and so on) that we forget to simply love even our worst enemy, find joy even in the mist of our struggles, be patient with the person that cuts us off on the fwy, find peace even in chaos, be kind to a stranger on the street, and extend grace to those who offend us.
Bob is a perfect example of someone who simply has faith and trust in the Lord even when worldly possessions were taken away. There was no blame or shame weighing him down. He was thankful the Lord provided for him each day. TIME IS PRECIOUS & LIFE IS SO SHORT! And looking back, I now know you knew that...really knew it! Because you lived it with so much joy and passion and with no regret. We will never know when our possessions will be taken away or when we will be called to join you and the Father in heaven. And today was such a great reminder to me that we cannot aimlessly live our lives. We need to live it with GREAT PURPOSE…with CLEAR VISION!!!
Thank you for having been an amazing cousin when you walked this earth, and thank you for continuing to watch over me during my good days and especially my bad ones! You are so loved and you have left a colorful imprint on so many lives. Give God a high-five for me :).
From my heart to yours #3:
It’s easy to get caught up with things and be distracted by the busyness of life, but lets remember to take a moment, actually take many moments, to reflect on our actions. Are we making compromises when we should be living life with integrity? Are we passing judgment on others when we should be loving them because we are just as messed up as they are? Are we pointing fingers at others when we should humbly serve and help one another? Are we being lazy when we should be fighting the good fight because let’s face it…we live in a tough world? I am definitely guilty of falling short more often than I would like, but because of God’s grace I am able to redirect my focus and renew my mind each and every day. As I stumble along the way and make some mistakes here and there, I’m choosing to live this short life with a PURPOSE to love without discrimination and with a MISSION to empower others to discover their true nature and beauty. What is your vision and are you willing to persevere even during the most trying times?
I'm using this space to simply share the meaningful things that burn my heart and the random things that run through my mind. Simply desiring more vulnerability and authenticity in my life.