16 November 2011

Beauty from Tragedy

In honor of TJ Sommers, I wore my softball jersey to college. I miss this young man as he has inspired me in countless ways.

June 18, 2009 seemed like just another day- another day of softball for the Bethany team. The excitement and intense energy of each player consumed the field as the game began. At the crack of a bat, in center field, TJ Sommers ran as hard as he could and dove for a fly ball that was coming towards him when he collided with another player. To this day we don’t know exactly what he hit; the freak accident violently fractured his skull in three places as he lost consciousness.
“TJ was severely injured today and was rushed to the emergency room; his brain is rapidly swelling and his skull fractured. I need to go see him”, were the words my dad told me on June 18, 2009. TJ and my dad were teammates for many years; I grew up watching him play. Watching TJ play was beyond exciting as he gave absolutely everything he had for his one love- softball. Every game he played with such aggressiveness and passion; one thing about TJ is that he always gave more than his best in every game with no exceptions. I watched in admiration as he stole bases and dove effortlessly across the dirt; a part of me wanted to do the same- to feel the wind in my hair as I run and the adrenaline pumping as my body hits the ground after diving head first. The adrenaline rush seems to last forever and keeps me in the “zone”; fear is absent and nonexistent as soon as the game starts. The memories I have of watching him play will exist forever in my mind; he inspired me, even as a little girl, to compete with aggressiveness and to give all of myself for the team; he showed me that one person can make a difference. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
In the hospital, after two days of constant tests and life support, TJ left his loving and sorrowful family on Earth to enter into the arms of his Creator; I believe he left this world and entered into Heaven giving his all without holding anything back as he dove into Heaven. He literally gave all he had for his Maker and his example inspires others, at least me, to be the best that I can be; with God my best is far greater than 100%!! After his death, according to his will, his organs were removed to be distributed to those who were desperate; he gave hope to the hopeless as parts of TJ are living in other humans today and keeping them alive as he shared with them the gift of life. He no longer needed his organs since he would receive a brand new body in Heaven; so why let his organs go to waste? For as long as I knew TJ, the word that best described him was selfless; he was the image of God Himself and I thank God every day for His presence which is made so real through other people. I still miss TJ and at times am brought to my knees in surrender after shedding many tears of questioning “why”, penetrating to my heart. Every time I step foot onto the softball field I see the relentless competitor TJ was and am inspired.
“Three strikes, you’re out” are the most dreaded words in softball. The reason I know this is because I grew up around softball; my dad competed in softball leagues ever since I can remember and we traveled to softball tournaments to watch his team compete for the trophy; I remember sitting in the bleachers watching the competitiveness of each game and intensity of each moment. My twin sister and I were my dad’s personal cheerleaders; every time the ball came near him we screamed and shouted- the excitement radiating throughout the field! My dad was my hero- the person I admired and longed to be like. What I loved most about him was the energy he brought to each game by giving ALL he had; no matter if the game looked hopeless he continued to do anything he could to turn the game around. Something else I learned was to not be afraid to get “down and dirty”; if you’re not dirty you’re not really playing!! This quote personifies exactly what I mean: “A softball player is a girl who, once steps onto the field, is transformed from ‘daddy’s-little-girl’ into a fierce, unrelenting competitor who will stop at nothing to win a game; characteristically with dirt all across her face, ratted sweaty hair, bloody knees, and dirt stained socks and uniform.” Now, I know my mom was not fond of this idea since she had to wash the clothes; it was quite a chore to try and get those stained, torn, and muddy clothes clean! Watching each game inspired me to always give my all- my utmost best in every situation no matter what the cost.
                To me, there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a softball tournament: sunshine and dirt, blood and sweat, uniforms and cleats, friendship and rivalry, adrenaline and intensity, and of course, diving! The feeling which overcomes my body when I enter this place is beyond description and gives me a confidence I never knew I had. I witnessed true teamwork which is a rare yet beautiful thing; softball is like the human body in that it takes all of the parts to work together in order to make a successful team. Homeostasis requires all body parts to be healthy; when one part suffers the rest will eventually do likewise, making no role insignificant. What struck me the most was how the team rooted for each other; unhealthy competition between team mates was replaced with encouragement of all kinds. This was the true image of God being made known on the softball field; God can truly use anyone anywhere for His glory. Everywhere we go we are witnesses for Christ; people are watching our every move we make even at a softball game.
Softball and sports in general will always be a part of me- however, I have found that they DON’T define me; in fact, nothing of this world defines me. My value is found in Christ alone- He is my Refuge and my Strength. For so long I looked to the things of this world to define me; however, I have surrendered my plans for my life to God which is a very painful process as what I thought was best for me and my wildest dreams were not at all in line with God’s plans. I’ve realized that on my own I am nothing and my plans and dreams are meaningless; however, when I surrender to God, the unthinkable happens- dreams I could NEVER even begin to imagine become reality; my God is insane and I LOVE Him! 

I miss TJ terribly, especially during softball season, but I know that one day in the future I will be able to give him a huge hug in Heaven; maybe we can play softball together!! ;)

09 November 2011


It is November and over 60 degrees out- this is what I call beautiful!! No snow!! Driving coatless with my windows down in November; God’s ways of romancing me are so unexpected! (If you want to know what I mean by being romanced by the King/my Father/my Lover read the book Captivating by John & Stasi Eldridge).  Now, I’m going to tell you about the present and work backwards; life is so exciting that I don’t have the time to write multiple times a week!!
Well, today was full of random excitement and spur of the moment decisions- story of my recovery!! I LOVE the unexpectedness and craziness of life! Chemistry class was even emptier than last week; Sunday was the official drop date so our classroom is very bare. I miss the atmosphere of a big group in which I don’t have to answer all of the questions aloud since there are so many other dominating voices! With less than twenty students, I was left answering the majority of the questions which was an extremely awkward change; I’m not a fan of answering questions aloud since I’m always afraid I’ll say the wrong thing & embarrass myself in front of everyone!  After Chemistry I went to my Nursing class; we waited for ten minutes or so before finding out it was cancelled for the week! Today the blood mobile came to college; I wasn’t exactly anticipating donating a pint of blood, but God made it pretty obvious to me that I should- why not save lives during my hour or so break?! So, I went ahead and donated & in a record seven minutes, I might add! ;)
On Sunday we had communion; oh how I adore my church family!! This past week was full of repentance and starting anew which for me was much needed! The past couple of weeks have been extremely stressful for me; my college semester is wrapping up and I’ve been faced with a lot of decisions. I’m very much a perfectionist which only added to the stress! I’ve been expecting myself to earn straight A’s since I thought that was the only way to get into the nursing program next Fall; God showed me that I was putting WAYYY too much pressure on myself and that I just needed to place my life into His hands. As easy as it sounds, for me it is the opposite! I still possess a lot of competitiveness and perfectionism which I’m trying my hardest to let go of!! Surrender is such a moment by moment struggle for me! On Wednesday night my youth group was having a worship service and I felt God calling me earlier in the day to go; once the time finally arrived to go I was worn out from Biology class going late and really battled with staying at home since I’m not a fan of being late!! God brought me to church, however and I will never regret going! I experienced an amazing moving of God’s spirit; it was a miraculous and powerful night- exactly what I needed to renew my strength!! I surrendered all of my worries over to God & asked for prayer; prayer is such a mighty weapon against the enemy! I cannot put into words the ever increasing relief I felt from stress; I no longer feared what to do and God gave me the courage to step out into the dark and make vital decisions affecting my future; the power of prayer should not be overlooked! I experienced the unconditional love of the body of believers; the atmosphere was filled with encouragement, humbleness and peace. I was reminded that God is my top priority and that I can’t go through life on my own but I need a body of people surrounding me. Anorexia does NOT agree with this as it tells me the lie that if I isolate myself I will be happiest; life truly is a battle but I now have the weapons necessary to defeat the enemy and his lies!
I cannot explain to you the burden that was lifted off of my shoulders from surrendering to God; I as well as everyone else am a victim of the devil’s evil schemes- he truly does creep in gradually and unexpectedly. However, he’s already lost; no matter how many times I fall down God is willing to pick me back up to VICTORY!
In Wednesday’s lab we performed EKG’s- a very familiar process to me due to many hospital stays and near death experiences. We’re learning about the heart, which I find fascinating because my own was once being eaten away at by my own body for survival due to malnutrition.  I am learning about so many familiar medical terms in which I have previously been diagnosed with; every day God shows me how truly dead I almost was but He chose to protect me for a reason I don’t yet know; He is not finished with me yet.
On Sunday I was asked to share a short testimony about what God is doing in my own life, so I agreed. Here’s what God called me to say: “Tonight I want to share with you a little glimpse of what God has done and is continuing to do in my life. One thing God has been showing me throughout my life is to totally depend on Him and trust Him with my life.
There was a time when I hated God’s plan for my life and became angry towards Him. Three years ago when I found out I had to have a spinal fusion I resented God’s seemingly hopeless and disturbing plan. Why would He take sports away from me: my pride and joy; my calling to life; the one thing I excelled at?! Why me and why now?! I tried for so long to make my own dreams for my future come true- to find my own purpose besides Him. I remember sitting in the waiting room during my second week post-surgery checkup, when my dad told me I should be a nurse. I told him, ‘No way! That is the last thing I want to do and would enjoy!!’ The hospital was the last place I wanted to work- doctors were my enemy and medicine was a battlefield. I told God I’d go anywhere but the medical field; I wanted to have nothing to do with doctors as they were only there, I thought, to make me look weak and to point out imperfection.
After a long battle of running from God’s plan, I finally surrendered my own dreams and desires and accepted my future as a nurse. After I returned from Remuda Ranch I began volunteering at ACH; I found a new happiness and joy which came from serving others and being content with where God had me. I’ve been volunteering there for well over two years now, and strangely I can’t imagine myself anywhere else- it’s become almost like a second home to me. A couple of months ago I was asked to run the surgery desk at ACH; let’s just say that God is using my own experiences to comfort others going through the same or similar struggles- who are scared and hurting. I’ve gotten the chance to encourage many families who are in the same place I was three years ago; the doctors predictions are TRUE as I am now playing sports again and am able to live an active an healthy life. It’s amazing to share with them the hope that is possible and to encourage them to keep on running the race. God has used my own experiences to comfort others who are hurting but may think we have nothing in common- one thing we share is pain! I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and to want to give up! Another thing I’ve experienced is a change of heart in the way I see doctors; I’m now privileged to form relationships between doctors and to see them for who they really are; who were once my enemies are now my ‘friends’.
I’m currently following God’s calling into nursing. I am in college for nursing – the one thing I said I’d never do!!  God has been teaching me to totally depend on Him- this is not an easy road as there are only fifty students accepted to the program annually. Surrender has had to become a continual process for me; to realize that my life is not my own and to surrender my plans and ambitions- everything to Him! My future is in the hands of the King!!”

02 November 2011

In His Hands

These past couple of weeks has been beyond chaotic! Midterm week is insane and almost OVER!! It’s hard for me to grasp that I only have less than six weeks left to go before my first full semester is completed! I am so relieved! I already have my second semester scheduled and ready to go; what a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders!
          I apologize for not socializing more; if I could I would be everywhere at once!! The classes I am taking are very intense; not unmanageable because my God is in control and is guiding me – He has taken the pressure off of myself and laid it on Himself which is beyond my comprehension! It’s hard for me to not try to take control of my grades especially with acceptance into the Nursing program being so extremely competitive; I have to remind myself CONSTANTLY to lay it into God’s hands which is beyond difficult to do since it’s something I feel so passionately about. God is teaching me so many things which are beyond my comprehension!
          My nose has basically been in my books these past couple of weeks; I’ve been trying to remind myself that all I can give is my best and the rest is up to God. I absolutely adore my Structure and Function class; every class leaves me intrigued and wanting to know more! The human body is beyond fascinating! I love all of my classes except for my Chemistry class; as I said before it is extremely intense- we started out with 60 and now down to less than 20! I am extremely disappointed to see so many of my friends who were with me to now be dropping this class; it’s going to be so extremely different with the small amount that’s left and I’m going to miss each and every one of them! In all honesty, I myself have considered dropping this class because of the competitiveness of GPA in the nursing program; I know I worry WAYYY too much about getting into the program by trying to have a “perfect” GPA which is impossible on my own and utterly exhausting! I was beyond disappointed with my grade in Chemistry as I wanted to get straight A’s; God has shown me and continues to show me that my future is NOT in my own hands! I am my own worst enemy!!
          Well, Courtney comes home soon and I can’t wait to go pick her up! The house is beyond amazing as the presence of God can be felt before you even open the doors; it’s so powerful and love radiates from every corner! She is in good hands, yet I miss her- a part of me is missing and can’t wait for her to come home so we can spend time together! How selfish, I know; I am an imperfect and sinful human being just like everyone else! The world DESERVES to know Courtney- the amazing woman I am beyond honored to call my twin! I can’t wait for a COMPLETE Christmas on Thanksgiving in just a couple of weeks; God is way too good! Please continue to keep Courtney and I in your prayers as we seek to follow Christ’s guidance in our lives in separate areas; God’s ways are incredible as Courtney is going across the world to follow God yet she is still close to me- in my heart! She will ALWAYS be a part of me and nothing will ever tear us apart! God’s ways are not our own ways, I’ve learned through experience!!