May 27, 2010

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

Life is full. I feel as if the past few days have been bursting with activities that have filled me with an enormous amount of joy. I have met many new people, laughed a lot, ate well, slept little, enjoyed beautiful Colorado (which will always feel like home), eaten my weight in chips and dip, connected, and spent hours watching Friday Night Lights.

Life is seeming to hurtle onwards. When it seemed as if June 15th was ages away, it is coming quickly now. I am at the 3 week mark, and those 3 weeks will be just as full as the last few days. And when I look at my parents and my sisters and my particular Denver buddy, it starts to become very clear that June 15th will most definitely break me.

I find that I am trying to rationalize and plan a lot. I'm trying to define my coming year, and to come up with the options at the end of it. It's as if I am writing my own life as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. And maybe life will be just like that. Or maybe there will be no choice, and there will only be clarity as to the only path I go down.

"Sarah, are you excited to leave?"

It's a question I get almost daily. My answer has changed a lot in the last few weeks. Yes, of course, absolutely, maybe, I'm not thinking about it, Hell no, what kind of question is that?

But if it weren't complex, then life wouldn't be full. If the answer isn't clear cut, then that sheds some perspective onto my current situation. I am happy, I have a full heart. My heart will be equally filled and emptied simultaneously. I am not longer viewing the coming year in such romanticized terms. Let us not forget what it means to leave.

But if it wasn't hard, if it wasn't painful, then would it be worth it? Isn't it better to live a full, heart-breaking life rather than an empty, protected one? We must love boldly. We must be brave and leave. We must be brave and stay. We must ask the Lord to make us uncomfortable in order to break us down and point us to what matters.

People are what matters. To those on either end, thank you for loving me unconditionally and pointing me to something greater than myself, which has manifested itself in the person of Jesus.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

May 22, 2010

baby steps

When I was in 8th grade, I decided I wanted to be a nurse. I'm not sure what did it. It was, perhaps, the conversation with my locker partner during a sleep over in which we were talking about what we never wanted to do with our lives.

My response: a nurse.

The voice in my head: too bad, you will be.

I don't know if you can call that the voice of God or the early manifestations of my stubborn attitude. Either way, 8 years later, I got the news. I got pinned, I graduated, I took my boards, and, this just in, I PASSED! Yesterday the man at REI asked me what I did. I said "I'm a nurse! Sort of."

No Sarah, you are a nurse. The state of Kansas and the NCSBN say so.

Anyways, I had a lot of excitement going into nursing school. I wanted to be a pediatric oncology nurse. Maybe labor and delivery. Maybe, if I was REALLY interested, an ER nurse.

I finished my first clinical with relief. I hated it. I hated clinicals with a fiery passion. It was nerve-wracking, and I always came out feeling very aware of how little I knew. It was sort of hopeless at times. After that year, I was a little lost, so I moved away from Kansas City to Washington for the summer. I came back reluctantly and started into what is known to be the hardest semester of nursing school.

On my second week of clinical in Adult Health, on the telemetry floor, my clinical instructor came and sat next to me. Our conversation went something like this:

"Sarah, I'm disappointed in your performance. I know you are capable of more than this. You could be a great nurse, and you aren't doing anything to challenge yourself. Do you even want to be here?"

"No. I don't. I hate nursing school. I don't really like clinicals."

"Well, you better find some motivation or get out of the program. Because with that attitude, you won't make it through. Figure it out."

A kick in the pants. A kick in the stomach. And it made me so angry that I set out to show him I could hate nursing school and make it through. Each week my paper work got better, he was more encouraging, and I walked out of that clinical a little smarter.

When I finished junior year and went to Haiti, I wasn't prepared for what was to come. But it was in those weeks that the transformation began, and it was in this place that the motivation took hold.

The clinic at MOH and the staff began to instill in me the motivation to continue through school.
The opportunity to change these dressings, a daily dressing change for this dear friend, gave me to motivation to be better.

A week ago, I was pinned. As we walked across the stage to be pinned and prayed over, the man who once told me to find some motivation or get out of the program read my thank you. My final thank you went to the young man whose legs are pictured above - because without him and without the clinic, I would not have finished.

And now, with the incredible gift of my education, I hope I can begin to use it in the ways in which the Lord would have me. May He establish the work of our hands.

May 19, 2010


I began my journey in nursing school fearful. I walked into my first day of clinical terrified, but the night before I read a passage that stuck with me when I was afraid, in all things little and large. I said it before clinicals, I said it before tests, I said it before I got off the plane in Haiti. And tonight I speak and pray it again: prepared to use it tomorrow as ammunition against the one who comes to discourage and destroy.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have anxious heart,
"Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God will come with a vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you."
- Isaiah 35:3-4

The Lord has made everything for its purpose.

May 17, 2010

qualms and calms

The marathon is coming into the final lap.

I finished finals on Wednesday morning. I spent the next few days saying goodbyes. Thursday evening my family arrived, Friday was packing day, and Friday night was Nursing Pinning.

Saturday I woke up after a fitful night of a few hours of sleep to a pounding head, a sore throat, and sinuses that decided to drip constantly. But on with the cap and gown, into the rainy morning, Baccalaureate, Walk around the Quad, and Graduation. Got the fake diploma, ate some pizza with friends and family, packed the cars, and bought some Afrin to clear out my sinuses so I could breath and sleep.

Sunday morning comes, and it was time to say goodbye to the family. Time to say goodbye to the nephews. Time to say goodbye to Redeemer. Time to say goodbye to Kansas City, and to the home of seven years.

I got hit by a deer just over the Colorado border. Welcome home Sarah!

We unloaded the car, I fell into bed, and the doctor gave me some steroids to decrease the inflammation in my throat, ears, sinuses, nose, and lungs this morning. Booyah!

And studying! Study, test, review, test again. Move on and repeat. It's almost over.

In the meantime I will cling to this photo, perfectly encapsulating the joy that I felt at the end of this weekend.

It was hard to leave Kansas City, and it was so good to come home. It was hard to say goodbye to Micah and Tyler and Jeremy and Ashley, the remainder of the Kansas City Parsons, and it was so good to walk into the house to be greeted by my dad and sister. It is so hard to know that the last step has finished, yet the anticipation of the next step is beginning to build, quietly and surely. But in this moment, in these moments, I hope I will continue to stop and thank the Lord for his mercy, for His kindness in lavishing such a loving community around me. For granting me a supportive family, ever-present friends, and a future that does not scare me.

May we continue on.

May 1, 2010

On August 27 I said goodbye to Haiti. This was my last view of the most beloved place that morning.
I remember the rise of pain in my chest as I sat on the electrical box with some of the security guards and interpreters, watching the truck come to pick me up. I remember the relief when it was Billy and Costa in the truck, as they would be the perfect people to escort me into the city. I remember looking at the team, laughing away at their breakfast table. It just didn't seem right. They just didn't get it. How could they not look at this sunrise and have their heart break? And why weren't they broken? Why was I the only one who seemed to feel such an incredible weight of despair?

I left pained, but not so much with leaving as with returning. I carried home a heaviness that will never go away completely. I carried home a broken heart. And the Lord, in His way, rebuilt me. He put me back together, scarred but stronger.

It wasn't so much about poverty. Poverty definitely was the catalyst, but it wasn't the reason I returned ripped apart. It was because my world was shattered, and everything that made sense about my life didn't really fit anymore. It was because who I was before looked different from the person returning. And the Lord wasn't going to let me go back to that life - because who I was on the other side was more of who He wanted to see.

Today I began to anticipate my return. I feel like the Lord has been so good in reminding me to "be here" while I am here, and be there when I get there. But for a few minutes today I remembered the smell and the feeling of falling asleep in the hot air and the refreshment of waking up with the sun cresting those mountains, once again reminded of how this life I live has nothing to do with me.

He makes, and is making, all things new.