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Being convicted and assured 
to pursue the career that 
I am called to.

I have been asked "what I want to be when I grow up" since say, oh I was 4 years old. I have replied everything from a farmer, to a marine biologist, to my mom's least personal favorite- a cashier at City Market.

Around 15 I started telling people that I wanted to be a nurse practioner, and that answer stayed with me throughout high school. I had life easy when I was a senior in high school- when I had to write an essay on "describe your career goals" bam, I had no problem. It was undergrad for my BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), work for two years, go back to grad school for a MNP (Masters in Nurse Practitioning).

4 years later, at the ripe old age of 19, all of a sudden my career path has not seemed so clear. 

School started on August 23, 2010 with a new clinical student orientation (I was accepted into the Beth-El College of Nursing & Health Sciences in June 2010). Between learning what to expect for our 17 credit hours of class, and all the supplies we had to have within the week, along with immunizations, drug tests, and background checks.... I began to get overwhelmed like I'd never been before.  

All of a sudden I could barely sleep at night because I was lying away wondering...

Do I reallly want to be a nurse?                                                  

Is this really what I want to do with my life?

Should I go to med school? (Yes, way more expensive, but it has always been my #2 choice)

Why am I even in nursing school?                                          

Am I doing this for job security or because I really want to be in the field of nursing?

Basically it boiled down to....

Do I really want to be in nursing school? Because if I don't, I need to get out now.

 I tossed and turned at night, felt restless during the day, and in general lacked internal peace.

This past summer (taking care of my 92-year old Grandma) had already caused me to question nursing school. Now I was in "real" nursing school, eating, thinking, and breathing nursing (not to mention spending several hundred extra dollars) and I only began questioning my career choice more and more.

Then one night, it all changed....

Per usual for a Friday night, I was at theMILL which is basically a huuuuuge youth group for college kids and 20-somethings. We were singing the song "Counting on God" (good ole' Desperation song right there!) and all of a sudden I had a vivid flashback: I was sitting at a table in the Durango High School Counseling office where I sat as a 15-year old flipping through book of different career choices. I got to the "N" section and found myself in a profession called "Nurse Practitioner". I started reading up on it, and became intrigued by everything the profession had to offer. It was that very day that I decided that I wanted to do that with my life. I vividly remember that day, and the Lord brought it back to me as I sat contemplating a major change 4 years later in a seat at New Life Church. 

Immediately after that vivid memory of when I had decided to become a nurse practitioner  I heard God in my heart, almost like I have never heard him before. What I heard was...

"Sarah, you are here for a reason. You are supposed to be in nursing school. I brought you to Colorado Springs, I brought you to the Beth-El College of Nursing. Your pain and struggles during nursing school are going to be for the benefit of others. You are in nursing school not only to help others, but more importantly to glorify my name. Every experience, trial, and triumph are all just going to be steps in becoming the nurse you're supposed to be. I planted this dream in your heart 4 years ago, and yes it will be hard, but yes I have brought you here...for such a time as this."

Since that night, I have not once questioned my goal of being a nurse because God has assured me that he wants me here. I can sleep at night (literally) and the peace that only He gives (John 14:27) fills me. My Father in heaven has CONVICTED me that I am once again in the right place at the right time.

My God is stronger than me. He brought me here by the power of His hand, and He will keep me here through His grace. He will guide my steps and lead my way.

Whatever you're doing at this stage in your life, God has placed you there for such a time as this. He has brought you to where you are by the power of His hand, and He is doing great things through you. Keep in mind:

"I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."- Romans 9:17 (NIV)

God is working through you, don't ever doubt it. Be convicted, be reassured. You are here... for such a time as this.

Extreme Planning

So, a couple weeks ago something sad happened to me. I bought a planner... during the summer. The sadder thing? I actually use it.

I thought summer was a time to be free and not plan and just fly "by the seat of my pants" as I usually do. If you knew me in high school you would remember the planner that I kept that planned out my day down to the very hour from 6 or 7 am to at least 6 or 7 pm.

If you knew me in college you'd say, "Sarah? What planner?" Or as my friend once put it kindly, "Sarah, sometimes getting you to plan stuff is harder than pulling teeth."

What very few people know is that despite my lack of immediate planning (especially this past year), I am great at extreme planning. Sure, I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow, or even in an hour or two. But if you ask me what I'm going to do when I'm exactly 25, I'd have an answer for you. Because I did have my life planned out for the next 10 years. Yup, 10 years.

As of the beginning of this summer I had my life planned out from exactly 18 to 28. Not details of course, but the general idea of the big things I wanted to happen.

18-22 I would be at UCCS finishing my undergraduate degree in nursing. 23 and 24 I would be working as a nurse, preferably spending at least one of those years overseas with an organization like Doctors Without Borders. 25 and 26 I would go back to graduate school to earn my Master's degree so I could become a family nurse practitioner. 27 and 28 I would work as a nurse practitioner, kind of get in a little bit of my career in before having kids. And somewhere during that time I'd meet the man of my dreams and get married at 28 or 29.

Yep, so that was the plan.

Which I told my Dad at the beginning of this past summer. And he just started laughing, a reaction that may be a little similar to my Heavenly Father's reaction. He asked me "Sarah, do you really think your life is going to go exactly like that? Exactly how you've planned it?" And well, no, I realize that my 10 year plan is probably not realistic. I have everything planned out, but who knows what God has planned for me in the next 10 years? Who will I meet? Where will I go? What will I do?

And that feeling of uncertainty drives me nuts. I panicked a little bit at the beginning of this summer when I was talking to my (earthly) Dad. Sometimes, I just wish that everything would go my way, because even though it may not be a great plan, at least I'd know what's coming up next. But then again, if I'm so focused on my own idea of how my life should go, how many great things am I going to miss out on that God has planned for me?

And this is where the take home message comes in. I was praying about this whole situation at the beginning of the summer- you know, planning my life for the next 10 years. What I call "extreme planning". And one morning, God just told it to me straight- the answer that I'd needed.

He said:

"Sarah, the only plan you need to have for the next 10 years, or even the rest of your life, is to love me with all your heart , soul, and mind, and to search after me with everything in you.

Be prepared for the moments to come, but live and enjoy the moments you are now given."

Sure, it's still hard for me to be completely at peace about what's going on in the next 10 years because, despite popular belief, I am a planner and I don't like uncertainty. But now I'm focusing on one thing at a time. If I get to be nurse practitioner by the age of 26, great, if not, well that's okay too. If i get married earlier than 28 or 29, well that'll be wonderful as well. If I get to go overseas at 23 or 24, awesome, if I don't well I hope one day I'll get to. In the meantime, I'm focusing on living my life and loving my Lord... one day at a time.

So go out and love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. Search for His face with everything in you. And remember...

Be prepared for the moments to come, but live and enjoy the moments you are now given.

Summer 2010

“For Such A Time As This”- Esther 4:14

This passage in the Bible is spoken by Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, telling her to be brave and stand up for her people (the Jews, because God has placed her in her position of Queen “for such a time as this.” God placed Esther in her position at exactly the right time, because if she hadn’t have been there, her entire people would have been wiped out.

This verse was first introduced me through the song “For Such a Time as This” by Wayne Watson and it has become my true desire to seek the place where my heavenly Father wants me “for such a time as this.”

After realizing that Sudan was placed on my heart, but not for this summer, I struggled. I asked God why so many months of seeming preparation to go to Sudan had turned out fruitless because once again I was stuck in my little hippy hometown. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my summer; all I knew is that I didn’t want to waste it. I struggled as I saw many of my friends embarking on their own missions trips to all corners of the world, and I asked, “Why not me, Lord?” After awhile, I decided to begin focusing on who God is (something that theMILL in Colorado Springs had been talking about before I left for home), instead of searching for specific answers as to what to do with my summer. In doing this, my answer came.

I was praying for God’s will for my summer and on my 19th birthday my heavenly Father told me (as written down in my journal for that day):

Instead of always just looking for answers, just get to know me. In knowing me, my will, will become evident.

And as I have sought the face of my Lord exploring qualities from faithfulness to patience to creativity, He has revealed precisely why I was meant to be in Durango, Colorado instead of Yei, Sudan for summer of 2010. After a long summer I clearly see that God’s answer for my summer was not a denial, rather it was a delay. A delay in which God has taught me that he has placed me in the perfect spot… for such a time as this.

~For such a time as this… The Lord has made me the caretaker for my 92-year old Grandmother while my family tries to find a new caretaker for when I leave (her previous caretaker had a stroke right before I moved back to Durango). Being her caretaker has been incredibly difficult, but also very rewarding. Each day I pray for the patience and compassion that my heavenly Father has shown me. But this is hard when my Grandma won’t eat anything I feed her—and I mean anything. I watch as she lost 8 pounds in two weeks, and struggled with the frustration I had in knowing it wasn’t my fault, but at the same time wishing I could do something about it. Taking care of her has made me question my career plans—am I really cut out to be a nurse? Sometimes I don’t think I have what it takes to be a compassionate and caring nurse, but it has also taught me to be easier on myself—there will be times I lose my patience, but at the heart of the matter I love my Grandma dearly and realize I only get frustrated because I care so much about her. She was one of the best nurses this part of the world has ever seen—I take her to her doctor’s appointments only to have the current nurse respond, “Oh that’s Blanche?! She was a great nurse!”

 She is my hero, and one of the main reasons I am studying to be a nurse. I have realized that this summer I was given the opportunity to take care of an incredibly needy soul right here in my hometown; a soul that has taken care of others her whole life. I have been given the incredible privilege to be the one spending the most time with her in her last days, and I know that when it comes time to say goodbye, memories of this summer will stay with me for the rest of my life.

~For such a time as this… the Lord has led me to go back to my old youth group, The Well, to be a youth leader for the summer. It was incredibly difficult at first—the pastor was new, the atmosphere was new, and I only knew a small fraction of the kids. I’m fairly outgoing when I get to know people, my overall shy nature makes it a little difficult for me to adjust in new situations. About 3 weeks after I’d been leading, there was a bonfire and this was a true turning point. It gave me the opportunity to go up and introduce myself to kids and interact with them in a more relaxed atmosphere. From then on, youth group was something I looked forward to (as I always had), and I even began meeting one-on-one with one of the young girls I’d met. Being given the privilege to go to youth group and just worship with teenagers and people in places that I had once been, was just amazing. I had the opportunity to work with them as we cleaned up the local skate park, play with them on game nights, but most importantly pray for them. I only have a couple weeks left, and I will be sad to go, but I am incredibly thankful for Jesus allowing me to still be a part of a place that so dearly helped me in my walk with God in high school.

~For such a time as this… the Lord has given me two young girls, Carly and Angela, to teach piano lessons to. This will be my 3rd year teaching lessons and it never gets old. Teaching others something you’re passionate about (like the piano), and sharing the gift of music is something I hope to be able to do forever. The smiles of these 6-year old girls and their enthusiasm to learn a new instrument has renewed the childlike spirit within me, and once again reminded me to live life as though everything is a miracle.

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~For such a time as this… the Lord has given me a summer to learn more about what has been placed on my heart—Sudan. I realize now, how uneducated and unprepared I would have been if I had gone to Sudan this summer. After reading book after book and novel after novel and watching report after report on the conflicts going on in Sudan, I have, at best, a rudimentary knowledge of what is going on in this African country. In my reading I have realized that there are so many unsettled vengeances, and underlying religious and political conflicts that it will take a true miracle of God for there to be even a semblance of peace in that nation. An old Sudanese proverb says, “When he made Sudan, God laughed.” This expresses the hopelessness that people in the country feel, and I realize that when I do go, it won’t be to change their circumstances. I will go instead to give them their health and hope to deal with the circumstances they have been born into. I don’t know if I realized this at the beginning of the summer, and once again the Lord knew what he was doing when he told me to stay in Durango.

~For such a time as this… I am given the opportunity to write to troops fighting overseas. I am finally able to do something for my heroes who lay down their lives for me each and every day just so I can sit here and write this in freedom.

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~For such a time as this… I’ve been given experiences that show me the beauty of being in a relationship, but also the joy and happiness found in this season of singleness.

~For such a time as this... I have been reminded to treasure my family for their unconditional love and support, and I truly have learned that those who mind don't matter, and that those who matter don't mind.

Isaiah, Jacob, me, my mom, my dad

For such a time as this… God has placed me in my hometown to do small works and experience seemingly small things. But through these small things his will has been shown, and I have never been more in love with a loving, forgiving, compassionate, and faithful god.

My Heart

“…For such a time as this.”- Esther 4:14

I first heard the Wayne Watson song “For Such A Time As This” when watching a Touched By an Angel episode that talked a little bit about Darfur in the Sudan. I first saw this episode when I was only 10 or 11 years old, and even then this episode brought me, the non-crier, to tears. Almost a decade later I realized that this scene struck a chord in me that I am just now beginning to realize is a part of my heart.

As many of you may or may not know, I ran my first marathon on May 1, 2010. I ran this race to accomplish my goal of running a marathon before I turned 21, but more importantly I ran this race to raise awareness and funds for a mission trip to Southern Sudan in summer of 2010. Yet here I write this from my small hometown in Durango, Colorado instead of Yei, Sudan. Let me explain.

I can’t even remember the first time my heart was struck by Sudan. My family and I have been to Voice of the Martyrs Conferences since I was a child. These conferences have talks after talks and workshop after workshop all centered on praying for and learning about nations around the world that are persecuted—China, Vietnam, Colombia, Sudan, and dozens others. When I was 8 years old I remember packaging up toys, coloring books, and Bible verses for kids in Vietnam. When I was a teenager I began sitting in on the adult sessions. Through the years, among all the stories and all the people that I heard from, the stories about Sudan are the clearest in my mind. And as a 10 year old, I replayed the Touched by an Angel episode over and over again with the words “for such a time as this” echoing in my head. And in the fall of 2009, I was suddenly awakened with a burning desire to learn about, pray for, and work in Sudan. I thought that “for such a time as this” I was placed on this earth to go and serve in Sudan. I immediately searched for organizations that sent people to Sudan—many on the Internet, small and big, and of course a prominent organization—Youth With A Mission or YWAM as its commonly known.

I began corresponding with someone from YWAM about possibly going over to their base in South Sudan and working in a small medical clinic they have there. I explained to the man that I am a nursing student, but my knowledge of medicine is rudimentary at best. He assured me that I knew more than most civilians and that my medical background (of a whole year) would be helpful. It seemed as though I was indeed at the right spot at the right time, so I began starting to brainstorm fundraising ideas.

During this time I was running dozens of miles a week in preparation for my marathon. Towards the end of my training, the shortest amount I was running was 5 miles, and the longest run I would run would be 21 miles. These runs gave me literal hours to well just run and… run. I began taking a prayer list with me on my runs. I listened to my ipod on training runs and every time a new song came on it would either remind me of someone or something—For Such a Time As This came on and it was my reminder to pray for Sudan. Decades of civil war, genocide, and political and religious unrest has led to the death of millions in the largest country on the African continent. The hundreds of miles I logged in my training was the best opportunity I could have had to spend time praying for my family, friends, mentors, but especially Sudan.

By the time the morning of my marathon rolled around, I barely had 3 small donations and was beginning to question if I’d heard the Lord right in wanting me to run this race. As I ran mile one, mile five, mile ten, and it became evident that I hadn’t heard the Lord wrong. I had prayed for a nation I barely knew about (but had been trying to learn about), for a people I didn’t know, and for peace in a country where I didn’t understand the war. The fact that my training had given me months to pray for this nation, made this marathon worth it. I had shared with many people my desire to run this race for this country, hoping to simply raise a little bit of awareness of the Sudanese struggle. I knew that I would only finish 26.2 miles with the help of my Savior and that regardless of whether or not I had pledges or not, the glory would be given to him.

I finished my marathon in 4:48, the 20th female out of 51 runners. But long after the nearly 5 hour race was over, the purpose I ran the race still lingered. I needed at least $3,000 to get to Sudan, and I had about $200. Not to mention I had applied for a passport in early March only to check its’ delivery status in mid-April. According to the report it had been delivered to my post office box at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs dorms at the end of March—I hadn’t seen a trace of it. After weeks of haggling with the mailroom at UCCS, the local post office, and even going to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs I got my answer: “There’s nothing we can do, it’s out of our hands. Your passport was either lost or stolen, all you can do is apply for another one.” I was frustrated—not only did I have to go through the hassle of reapplying, I would have to fill out extra paperwork explaining that it was either lost or stolen, and have to pay all the fees again (over $100). There went the donations I had.

I had finished my finals and was now back in Durango for the summer still trying to figure out a way to go to Sudan, or if it was the Lord’s will for me to go this summer. My Dad and I argued for two hours or more nearly every day about the situation. He was fearful that because they recently had elections (in April 2010) that the tension that is constantly underlying the Sudan would come to the forefront and make it an even more volatile and dangerous country than it already is.

I was struggling with a passage in Matthew that I had studied in my Bible Study earlier in the year that says: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” (Matthew 10:37). I also struggled with the fact that they are my parents, of course they’re not going to want me to go to one of the most dangerous third-world countries in the world today. They were fearful for my safety and well-being but they’re my parents—they had to be. On the other hand, I also knew that my parents are strong Christians and that their wisdom and advice was not something to be brushed off lightly—maybe they were the Lord’s way of telling me “not now”.

The morning of May 21, 2010 I sat outside my house as the sun rose and I prayed earnestly for the Lord to show me his will for my summer—I had to make a concrete decision one way or the other within the next week or so. My journal entry from that morning is word for word what’s written below:

Dear Lord, I am seeking your will in whether I go to Sudan this summer or not. I don’t know where to turn for answers anymore. Please just give me a sign, an answer, but mostly peace about my summer.

I needed a clear sign, and I needed one soon. That day I planned to go visit my old high school, and say hi to old teachers and friends. I had my list of teachers to go and visit (mostly history teachers, a math teacher, my old choir director, and my former tennis coach). Lo and behold I walked in and all of the teachers I’d wanted to see minus my choir director were all in the same room, and they invited me in to join them. After talking about their kids and classes and how excited they were for summer, they asked me about my summer plans. Here we go, I thought, once again I have to explain how I want to go to Sudan but I’m still stuck here in measly Durango, Colorado. I told them about my marathon and how I’d trained to earn funds to go to South Sudan to work in a YWAM medical clinic but how I currently had no funds, no passport, and no clear answer as to whether I was even supposed to go. A couple of the teachers were Christian, a couple were not—I now realize that this opportune meeting of all my teachers had given me the opportunity to share my heart and once again raise a little bit of awareness about Sudan. One of my favorite history teachers, Mr. Logan, was a pastor before he was a teacher. I had openly shared about my faith with him when I was in high school, and he had often encouraged me not only in my schoolwork, but in everything I’d strived to in my personal life as well. He’s a strong Christian man, but at the same time he is a smart man with knowledge of the world’s and its happenings. Because of this I trusted (and still trust) his opinion almost more than anyone I know.

As I explained my desire to go to Sudan, he began to tell me, “Sarah, I understand your desire and I admire your heart for that nation. But it is incredibly incredibly dangerous right now.” Now, I had heard that before. I tell people I want to go to Sudan and immediately their response is, “Oh that’s so dangerous!” But this statement and warning is coming from people who can barely tell me what continent Sudan is on or point it out on a map. Mr. Logan, I knew, could easily point it out on a map, and undoubtedly had a greater understanding of the country’s politics and war than I had. At the same time he was a Christian and understands the importance of missions and the need to follow where God has called us. He continued to tell me that within the past week he had talked to a friend of his who had been working with a team in Southern Sudan—and was currently trying to get out because of increasing violence stemming off from the election that had happened in April. His words sunk deep into my core. He understood my desire to follow God’s will, but he also understood how dangerous it was at the time because he is one of the most knowledgeable men I know in the area of world politics. I thanked him, said goodbye to my teachers.

I went to the park that afternoon and just lay on the ground mulling over the events of the past several months, things Mr. Logan had said to me, Bible verses I’d read, and conversations with my Dad. Something that my Dad had told me weeks earlier in one of our arguments popped into my head, “Sarah, the Lord gave Moses the desire to take his people to the Promised Land. He placed a strong desire in his heart, but was it granted the next summer? No, he had to wait 40 years before his desire was fulfilled, and in those 40 years more things happened and more lessons were learned than he could have ever imagined.” All of a sudden this truth that my Dad had spoken resounded in my heart. God did give me this desire and dream, and he will fulfill it, but like anything else he will fulfill it in his timeline, not mine.

I then remembered the prayer I had prayed that morning asking the Lord for a sign. And of all days I’d gone to talk to my high school teachers, with one of them being Mr. Logan. All of a sudden it seemed clear as day—Sudan was placed on my heart by heavenly Father but he had sent my Dad, Mr. Logan, and someone to randomly take my passport to show me that, yes I am called to Sudan.

But for such a time as this (summer 2010), I was called to stay in Durango, Colorado.

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