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New Life

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

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Isaiah 41:9b-10

"You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off"; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


Remember:

Butterflies are just beautiful. They flutter so freely, seemingly without a care in the world, to share their gorgeous colors with all of creation around them. Butterflies however, start out very different than when we see them flitting from flower to flower. They start off as a very hungry and not so pretty catapillar (yes, thank you Eric Carl for one of the best children books ever).


"Pop! Out of the egg came a very tiny and very hungry catapiller."


In the short five week lifespan of the butterfly, only about one to two weeks is spent in the beautiful state with the freedom to fly. Butterflies go through something called metamorphosis which is an English term derived from the Greek word, transformed; meaning to change completely in outward appearance.


Our lives, in a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ, are a lot like a butterflies life. We are not much but selfish consumers on our own; like a hungry catapillar eating up resources, attention, and glory for ourselves (everything and anything our flesh desires). If we believe who Jesus is and what He did for us, we can turn from our own selfish way to surrender to God's perfect plan for our lives. This will give us a new life, but before we can fly for Jesus and with Jesus, we must be transformed, just like the very hungry caterpillar.


Jesus does the transformation in our soul immediately, but it takes a while longer for that outside flesh to have a true metamorphosis. It won't be complete until the day Jesus returns.


1 Corinthians 15:52-55

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:


“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory?    

O death, where is your sting?”


Until then He's still working on us. We are in a chrysalis. It's protecting us and keeping us secure for His return, but it's also changing us from the inside out. It's molding us into better image bearers of Jesus Christ (a perfect and beautiful butterfly).



~ What places in your life can you see God still working on you?


The diagnosis from a severe diffuse axonal TBI, like I had, was very poor. Even if I did survive, the likely hood I would be any more than a vegetable for the rest of my life was very low. And bleeding in the very center of the Basal Ganglia was really bad, as it is the message tunnel through which the electrical signals in your brain send commands having to do with muscle control, emotions and understanding, and the release of neuro transmitters and endorphins that have to do with risk and reward and our fight or flight reflex. The sheering (ripping or lesions) on my frontal lobe were the areas related to my memory and communication functions. As the third day came and the bleeding continued, it was decided surgery would need to be done to stop the bleeding and relieve pressure to my Basal Ganglia. This meant drilling to the center of my brain and for sure leaving me with no future, but I might at least be alive.


And God's people prayed. I praise God for those prayers because when we humble ourselves, fall on our knees, and cry out to God, it doesn't change His mind about anything. It does however, give us the opportunity to see Him move mountains and how His mind is perfect and good in all things we would have never seen otherwise. God was about to show up and show off. My dad came to my room just before pre-op began and called my name one more time to see if there was any change. At his voice I gave a slight thumbs up, almost just a twitch. It was a reaction and it was enough to check the bleeding again before surgery. The bleeding had stopped and the pressure was coming down. Now... the damage done was permanent. You can't grow new brain cells once they have been destroyed, but this gave my family and friends hope.


I remained in a comatose state for the next two weeks and when I did wake up I was like a tiny and very hungry caterpillar... sort of. All 125 pound, five foot two inches (a petite but muscular build) of me had withered away. I was very confused about where I was and what had happened. The first thing I spoke of was my memory of Jesus holding my right hand and speaking to me.


"It's not time for you to come home yet. I have more for you to do. Do not be afraid. I will be with you every step of the way."


That was the only memory I had. I did know my name and who my parents were but that was about it. I had lost most of my long term memory (past memories growing up) and all of my short term memory (the ability to make and hold onto new memories). Now I would need specialists on a whole different level to hopefully give me some sort of quality of life. I was transferred to a local Brain Injury Rehabilitaion Center (BIRC) in Orlando, FL, where I would spend the next month in in-patient rehabilitation.


The first memory, actual full day memory I can think of now comes about 6 weeks after the accident. I have dream-like flashes of memories from a few days before this: like staring at a math page filled with simple multiplication and division problems. I really felt like Alice down the rabbit hole staring at the page in front of me. I knew those problems, I had the information in my head, but where? I couldn't find it. Where was it all? Then in another flash it was just there. I knew the problems and how to do them.


Another flash was of this guy, Jeff sitting on the edge of my hospital room bed and playing 8-bit Super Mario Brothers. I didn't remember who Jeff was but I recognized him and he became one of the first constants in my life. He came to visit each day and he brought the only thing with him that I did enjoy eating (hospital food leaves something to be desired), Barnum's Animal Crackers. I wasn't very "hungry," for a Very Hungry Catapillar. I remember being told to eat all the time, even by Jeff. The animal crackers was all I would eat.


Then there's a flash of one of my youth group leaders and her daughter from church who came to visit. We sat outside and talked. Her daughter showed me a beautiful ring her boyfriend had given her. She looked so happy she was glowing. The next flash was the same day of another visitor. Usually Jeff came, but not today. This was just a nice guy from church checking in on me. It was a long day with a lot of new information to take in. Everything was pretty overwhelming and at night my mind didn't want to shut down and rest. It wouldn't stop trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and it played some pretty mean tricks on me in the process.


There was just so much in my mind going on. It all felt so heavy. I didn't feel real. The present all felt like a dream I was having. My past memories is where I was and that place was enough to handle all on it's own. I was real there. I was playing with my sister, Dianna, and brother, Brian in the front of our trailer. We had the hose on and were making a mud pie feast. Then I was sad because my sister was gone and I missed her.


Next I was angry and coloring on walls that were not my own with crayons. Then I was crying in repentance and under grace as I realized my sin cost Jesus His life. I was so sorry and wanted to turn from my way to Him, only Him, my God, my Savior, and my Lord. I wanted to be His because He loved me. My parents were broken now that my sister was gone and I was alone. I felt alone, but not with Him. He gave His life to be with me and I trusted Him.


He held me in His hand and protected me and I could go to Him when I felt alone or scared, and I did. In the dark at night, when I heard Mom, Dad, and lots of tears; He held me. In the secret place, where evil took me away from the others and dud things that scared me and made me sick to my stomach; I closed my eyes tight and my Jesus held me. At the new house we moved to, when we heard arguing and gunshots from the house next door and me and Brian huddled in a ball together as dad called the police; He held me. At different schools, making different friends, loving my new baby brother, (Michael) and looking after him always, learning my love for music and playing the flute for my Savior, going to different churches, being called unkind things, seeing what the world said was pretty and not pretty, popular and not popular, and never feeling good enough or brave enough, or loved; He held me.


That's where I was, and whatever was going on in front of me felt like a dream. I felt like I was in a cocoon and only saw glimpses of what was going on. I couldn't handle now until I had recovered my memories from then. And in the process He was always before me and over me and behind me. He was faithful to pull me through and make me new. His banner over me was love and now I was ready to see the new life in front of me. It was time to come out of my chrysalis, or at least move into the next phase of growing in the chrysalis.


The thing about cocoons is that they are not easy or fun, and growing in them is painful. Transformation is never easy. Well that first full day memory I had, coming back to the reality of the present, was not fun but it was very painful. Possibly one of the most humiliating things I've ever experienced in my life. I was leaving the hospital to drive home with Mom. All of the sudden it hit me and I turned to my mom in disbelief and disgust at myself.



~What is the most embarrassing time in your life you can think of? What did you do in response to your feelings?



"Mom! I'm not engaged! I can't believe I thought that! That's crazy!

But I remember knowing I was. Yesterday I knew it. I mean, I was sure. I don't even know this guy and I thought I was engaged to him. It was like a real memory. Why? How? What am I going to do? I'm so embarrassed!!!"


My mom comforted me and explained I had just gotten confused in making since of things. Lots of people had come to visit and the stories they shared with me got all mixed up in my head. She told me no one would hold it against me and not to feel bad. Hahaha, not feel bad? I didn't feel bad. I felt mortified!

Then I asked the hard question. So how many people did I tell this mix up to? She explained I told everyone, but they all understood that I was just mixing some things up as my memory was returning.


"Oh, and in two days they are having a praise testimony service at church and they would love for you to come and share what God has done."


I was the last one still in the hospital and they waited to do the service so I could be a part of it.


I was all about sharing what God did in my life, but there was no way I was going to get in front of anyone who knew me or didn't know me and say anything. Not with the humiliating realization hanging over me. At 17 years old, returning to life couldn't be more scary. I wanted to go home and curl in a ball under my covers, my new cocoon, never to emerge again. I wanted back in the safe place, where I didn't have to be in the present. I wanted to stay in the place of safety I remembered; with Jesus holding my right hand and telling me He would never leave me nor forsake me and that He would uphold me with His righteous right hand.


And now came a crisis of belief for me. I had the chance to proclaim God and the miracle He had done in saving me when I should have been a vegetable. I could share the testimony I had been praying for and surrendering to, or I could curl up in a ball and refuse to face the great humiliating unknown. I believed God is who He says He is. He had shown me up close and personal and I had a hope to hang onto that I wanted others to know too. I knew if I beleieved it than I needed to stand up and do what He called me to do through Him and for Him. And so the real growing was about to begin. Not the easy peasy walking around the track, while your talking to friends, and not caring about how long it takes, but the hard core running a marathon to save your life kind of growing. The growing that brings new life the way Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians.


2 Corinthians 4:7-12

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.


My chrysalis was about to start pressing, perplexing, melting, and shaping my broken pieces into something new. I would keep my eyes on my Jesus and step forward in His strength even if all eyes were looking at me and laughing at me. Hope in Him is worth living for and I wanted all the world to know. I would push back the fear and walk in faith. Overcoming in life does not mean having no fear. Overcoming is pressing on to do the thing you are most afraid of by trusting Him one step at a time to be your strength where you are weak. In this too, He held me. He promised He will never leave me and His promises are true.


Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

~Have you had a crisis of belief in your life? How did your response reveal what you believe about God?



Our full transformation won't be until Jesus returns in the twinkling of an eye. No one knows when that will be, but until then He is transforming us to look more like Him. We can seek to prove that perfect will of God in our lives by renewing our mind, through knowing Him more and loving Him more. In a relationship with Him we can be transformed to show His beautiful truth in our lives. Be brave and courageous. Step forward when He calls and your life will be so much more than you could ever imagine on your own.





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