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Far from what I once was, but not yet what I'm going to be

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Project Cure

Is this real life?

As many of you may know, I applied for an internship this summer to work in a hospital. I heard the news not too long ago that I received the position. This is LITERALLY a dream come true.

Tears of joy.

This internship, however, is different than what you might be thinking. I will be interning at a pediatric neurosurgery hospital in Uganda. That's Africa - for those of you who are geographically challenged ;)


The organization I am partnering with is called CURE International. CURE operates hospitals and programs in 27 countries and is the world leader in hydrocephalus treatment (I will be seeing a lot of this since I am interning at the neurosurgery hospital).

CURE's mission is to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. Patients do not get discharged without hearing the gospel. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Not only are the physical needs of the patients cared for, their spiritual and emotional needs are cared for as well.

"CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda (CURE Uganda) is a specialty teaching hospital that treats the neurosurgical needs of children, with an emphasis on hydrocephalus, neural tube defects, spina bifida, epilepsy and brain tumors. Located in Mbale, Uganda, it is Africa's leading hospital for the treatment of these conditions.

Since it opened in 2000, more than 8,900 surgeries have been performed at the CURE Uganda hospital. This life-saving care is available nowhere else in Uganda and is available to all, regardless of ability to pay.

Children suffering from physical disabilities like hydrocephalus in Uganda have little hope for a productive future. If they don't die, they will endure a lifetime of physical and mental problems as well as social isolation. Their families also often encounter similar rejection from their relatives and friends.

CURE Uganda is recognized as a global leader in the treatment of hydrocephalus. It developed and implemented a groundbreaking minimally invasive surgical procedure (endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization - ETV/CPC) that serves as a superior alternative to the more traditional method of inserting a shunt inside the head.

The hospital's prestigious CURE Hydrocephalus Surgeon Training Program attracts surgeons from all over the world, including countries like Bangladesh, the U.S., and Ghana. These surgeons spend three months at the hospital to learn the advanced surgery performed there and are then equipped to perform this surgery in their home country."
Meet Tom.
Hydrocephalus patient before treatment at CURE Uganda
Patient after treatment for hydrocephalus at CURE Uganda
**THIS IS THE SAME BOY**

"CURE Uganda has a holistic approach to its patient care, with an equal emphasis on physical and spiritual healing. The hospital has a highly trained team of counselors who are available to talk and pray with patients and their families.

To extend its reach beyond its central location, the hospital regularly sends out mobile clinics to remote areas of Uganda for follow-up care and to identify additional children for treatment."

I will do a 9 day medical outreach while I am in Uganda where I will go out into the remote areas of Uganda and into the surrounding villages around the hospital and insert IVs and do other awesome things I learn as an intern.

I am so blessed by this opportunity. The Lord laid medical missions in Africa on my heart long ago and He is faithful. I waited (not always patiently) and now the time has come.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and
rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for
yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

"I am the LORD that heals you." (Exodus 15:26)

XOXO

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Impact.

Coming home is never easy. It's never fun either.

But they say home is where the heart is. . . Well my heart is in a Guatemalan village 10,000 feet in the mountains. Does that make Guatemala home? Maybe I'm just a nomad. Lost and confused.

I returned from a 10 day trip to Guatemala. This was my second time and it was great. The first trip was life changing - the greatest trip of my life. This trip didn't disappoint. Still changed me. Still great! :)

There is something so special about your first time in a new place. The first time you meet the people there, taste the food, see the sights, get bit by the bugs. . .

HOWEVER, nothing can compare to returning to the same village and seeing the same children and people that I met last year. The second I stepped out of the van, my 9 year old friend, Ruth, RAN up to me and embraced me with all she had. You just can't describe those moments. It's moments like those that made this trip. Reconnecting with old friends. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the people you met a year earlier.  All that was going through my mind was "they remember."
My Ruth is the one in the light green jacket giggling to herself ;)
Oftentimes I come across people who question the impact of short term missions. Trust me, I get it. It used to be hard for me to hear these people out because I have such a heart for missions and have been on 5 trips myself. But I really do understand their concern. But it's the little moments like THAT - Ruth running up and embracing me with the biggest smile I've ever seen. Laughter in the air; music to my ears. They remember! We bring joy and encouragement to these people. We build relationships and love them like Jesus loves them.

We had a sermon in church today on James 1:27. "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  That's what we're doing in this village. THAT is what short term missions is all about.

If you read my posts from last year's trip or talked to me at all, you may remember that last year we laid the block for the church in the village. We built the first story. Finished all the block work. I was so excited to see how much further they had gotten in a year's time. I was saddened to see there was little to no progress on the church since our last day in the village last year. This also solidifies my belief that we are making an impact. WE are building this church in Guatemala. Literally building the church.
Working hard on the re-bar
This year we did all of the re-bar work for them to lay the ceiling of the first story/floor of the second story and begin to build up. Re-bar work is very tedious and time consuming. It was so awesome to see how excited and overjoyed all of the people in the village were just to have us there. Our presence lit up their faces. Their smiles are so bright and bring tears to my eyes. I've never seen such beautiful smiles.

I know that we made a difference being there. We made a difference in the village physically by building the church building. We made a difference in the church spiritually by helping build the church body and bringing believers to their community. We made a difference personally by continuing relationships that were made and built last year. Not only is this village being impacted, but so am I. I can't help but be impacted by their joy, excitement, and unconditional love for everyone around them. They have nothing but are more than content. They are so generous. I definitely learn from them each time I interact - language barriers don't stop love and joy. Some things are universal.
Their smiles are more beautiful than anything I've seen.
Their laughter is music to my ears.

XOXO

Friday, April 19, 2013

May Angels Lead You In . . .

As some of you may know, right now myself and a lot of people close to me are mourning the loss of a woman so dear to my heart. Connie Williams. I shared a facebook status about her passing yesterday and it was a very difficult day. I woke up to the news of her death. What a wake up call - literally a wake up call.

Bear with me as this is LITERALLY the hardest thing I've ever written.

Mrs. Williams was a teacher at Phoenix Christian at the time of her passing. She was at camp with her 5th grade students when she suffered a heart attack and died minutes later - away from her 3 sons and husband.

Let me tell you about my morning yesterday. I woke up to my phone ringing. It was my mom. I answered. The voice on the other end of the line was shaking and clearly holding back tears. Her words were "Mrs. Williams just had a heart attack. I don't know how she's doing, but please pray! She's at camp in Prescott with her 5th graders right now." *Hang up.* 

"God," I said, "You're in control. I know she'll be okay. Please. Please."

11 minutes later my phone rang again but I didn't hear it. I missed the most important call of my life thus far. How could I do that at such a crucial time? What was SO important? UGH. When I did get to my phone I saw a text. Two words. Never in my life did I think that two words could break my heart, my spirit, my day all at once. But those two words did. "She died," those two words said.

But I couldn't believe it. No tears came. This wasn't real life. It couldn't be. She was too young, too full of life and joy and love and Jesus! She had 3 kids and a husband! She was a teacher of 5th grade students at Phoenix Christian. A HUGE part of my child and adolescent life. Played a major role in my church. So loved by many. How could this be? No - she's not gone. This isn't real. It can't be. I won't believe it.

All day this was my thought process. It wasn't until last night that it hit me. Hard. The tears came. The memories came. The questions came. The heartbreak and the bitter pain came.

Mrs. Williams was a beacon of light around Phoenix Christian and around Bethany Bible Church. I never had her as a teacher, and she STILL had that much of an impact on me. I just wrote a toast for a wedding in October and I mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Williams in it! She and her husband have been a support in every mission trip effort I've been a part of. They have always cheered me on in all my sports. She always encouraged me in my academics when I was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. She always inspired me to keep going when I felt like giving up. Her laugh and her smile were so infectious. She was a lover. She was an incredible wife and mother - such a family woman. The kind of woman I want to be when I have a family someday.

Her heart was so big and full. There really are no words to describe this incredible woman of God. And though those of us left here on earth have sadness and pain and holes in our hearts because an angel has been taken from us to sit at the side of God, we know she is no longer in pain. We know she is happier than ever and there are no more tears for her. We know there is a reason for everything and that God has a plan. We know that God can turn anything into good and we know that even the ugliest situations can be made beautiful in Him.

Mr. Williams says that she is dancing with Jesus right now . . . And I believe it :)

Jason Mraz says, "Music is our best medicine in a time of healing, as it is also our greatest weapon in the war against unhappiness.."

So I leave you with lyrics from some different songs, because my own words are not enough.
This is for you Mrs. Williams. We love you. You will never be forgotten.

"There's no one in town I know
You gave us some place to go.
I never said thank you for that.
I thought I might get one more chance.
What would you think of me now,
so lucky, so strong, so proud?
I never said thank you for that,
now I'll never have a chance.
May angels lead you in.
And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
On sleepless roads the sleepless go.
May angels lead you in."
Jimmy Eat World - Hear You Me

"When all is said and done
And I'm looking back upon this race I've run
And when my heart gives in
I know you'll be beside me precious friend
It's just the same from the beginning to the end
When all is said and done
And if I lose my way
And I wander down this open road for days
And if the sun should fall
And the dancing we once did becomes a crawl
Let the memories move like shadows on the wall
If I lose my way
When I'm coming home
And I walk across the bridge of death alone
I will fix my eyes on the one who's waiting at the other side
It's my old friend with countless others there beside
When I'm coming home
When all is said and done
And I'm looking back upon this race I've run
And when my heart gives in
I know you'll be beside me precious friend
It's just the same from the beginning to the end
When all is said and done"
Tyrone Wells - When All Is Said And Done

"Beyond the door there's peace I'm sure
And I know there'll be no more tears in heaven"
Eric Clapton - If I Saw You In Heaven

XOXO

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mission Minded 2013


Dearest friends and family,

As you may know, I spent some time last summer doing mission work in Guatemala.  I was blessed by the Lord in ways that transformed my life and made me mission-minded.  This trip truly changed my life.  I saw for the first time what love really means.  I experienced medical missions for the first time – a dream come true for me!  I fell in love with a country and its people: GUATEMALA.

This summer I will return.  Guatemala is number four in the world for starvation and malnutrition.  I will be working alongside Doctor Gomez in a medical clinic, as well as loving the community and helping out with water purification projects.  My team and I will be digging wells and educating the public on how to minimize infection and the little things to do in order to remain healthy.

Being a part of a medical mission has always been a dream of mine; something the Lord laid on my heart years ago.  More recently, this dream has exploded inside of me.  I am so excited to see what the Lord does in and through me during this trip.  I cannot wait to learn even more from Dr. Gomez this time around and be the Lord’s healing hands in Guatemala!

I am going with a team of 8 people from Bethany Bible Church and we leave Thursday, June 13 and return Saturday, June 22.  We need your help in this mission!  We can’t do it without you.  I ask that you would pray for my team as we prepare for this trip and prepare our hearts and minds for the work we will be doing in Guatemala.  Each team member is to raise $2,075.  If you can’t give financially, please pray; prayer is so, so powerful.  But if you can give financially, know that your money is going to a great cause and that we are ever so thankful for your gift.

XOXO

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

FIGHTER.

WATCH THIS.


This is why I do what I do every day.  This is why I study medicine.  The past couple weeks have given me multiple panic attacks and breakdowns - even made me question my path at one point.  This video was EXACTLY what I needed.  I thank the Lord for showing this video to me in my "career path crisis" as I like to call it. (I knew I wanted to stick with medicine - just wasn't sure about what branch)

Funniest part is, Dr. Gregory White is my inspiration to work in Pediatric Orthopedics. He's in this video.  I.LOVE.THAT.MAN.  His love for his patients and his job is so infectious.  Seeing him in this video was literally like God saying "Cara, you're meant for this.  I called you to do this for a reason.  I never said it was going to be easy.  Nothing worth doing is ever easy.  You're trying to do it in your own strength; and that's why I let you fall.  Lean on me.  Only I can get you through this storm."

These kids inspire me.  I hope they inspire you too.  They are true fighters!  But you can be a fighter too.

XOXO

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm Still Looking Up

This week's been hard. Really really hard. Nothing crazy or horrible or scary or depressing happened - it just wasn't my week (and it's not even over).

I'm not a person to stress. Like at all. I'm such a chill "don't worry, be happy", "every little thing is gonna be alright" kind of person. I'm not one to worry or be overwhelmed.

But when I do stress and feel overwhelmed, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO OR HOW TO HANDLE IT. I'm seriously the worst at it.
There has only been one other time in my life when I felt this stressed and overwhelmed - my senior year of high school. And if you know my story, you know that was the worst medical/health year of my life. I pretty much spent the year at Phoenix Children's. Everything that could possibly go wrong with my health DID go wrong. And what did the doctors say the causes were of ALL of my conditions? STRESS.
(But more on that another time.)

Looking back, even though that was the worst year of my life - it was the BEST year of my life. I went through a lot. A LOT. Countless hospital and doctor visits, the loss of my great grandfather, a break-up (HA!), senior year, choosing a college, being senior class president. IT WAS A LOT.

But that year was the closest I've ever been to the Lord.

After that year, when everything seemed to settle down and life became "normal" again, I found myself not feeling as close to the Lord as I had in the tough times. And I hated that. I wanted to feel Him that close to me all the time. I didn't want to be one of those circumstantial Christians who calls out to God only when I need Him. I know I need Him ALL the time.


People called me crazy when I told them that I missed the days of my senior year. Because even though I faced huge obstacles, terrifying situations, painful losses, and life-altering days, I had true joy. Joy that came from the Lord. I had joy and love and hope and I felt Him carrying me through every waking moment.

I miss that.

This week took me back to that place. A place of pain and stress, brokenness and a sense of being overwhelmed. YEP my Pre-Med major has caught up to me. I'm really struggling. Going to tutoring for the first time ever. Spending HOURS on homework and studying. I've never had to do that. But it's necessary and I know that.

I want to be one of those people who (after graduating from PA school) looks back and says "I always knew I could do it. I believed in myself the whole way through and never doubted. Never once did I think of giving up."

But I'm not that person.

I've never been a quitter. And I'm not going to start now. But this week hit me like a ton of bricks. The desire to give up overwhelmed me like never before. I just wanted to quit. "I can't do this" was all that was crossing my mind. I couldn't help but cry. (Really, Cara?! Over school?!) It sounds stupid and ridiculous; but I'm struggling. I'm trying really hard and just not succeeding. That's never happened to me.

Now is the time that I have truly realized the definition of drive and determination. Two things I need to hold onto.

However, in my stress and pain, brokenness and sense of being overwhelmed, I'm crying out to the only One who can comfort me and help me through it. He never fails me. Never once did He leave me. He never will.

And like my roommate is constantly reminding me,
I'm not the only one feeling this way. I WILL get through this. I WILL succeed - by HIS strength, not my own.

XOXO

Friday, January 25, 2013

Even When The Skies Get Rough.

This post is a little continuation of the last. We all know I LOVE Jason Mraz. Yeah yeah yeah. And I'm sure we've all heard his hit single "I Won't Give Up" and you think "oh what a sweet, cute love song."

No.

It's so much more than that. HE'S so much more than a sappy love song writer. This man is real and raw and honest. I love how he pours his heart out describing the process of writing "I Won't Give Up."

He admits feeling alone and depressed, even though he's "got it all." He watched all of his dreams come true. He was catapulted into fame and fortune, success and the spotlight - but he's realized that's not what makes the heart happy.

Jason realizes there is SO much more to life than money and fame. He's real with his followers and admits to even considering taking his own life at one point. After understanding this is was not the answer, he traveled the world and truly lived life. He learned the meaning of family, love, happiness. He grew into a more spiritual person and has come to believe that there is a greater being out there looking over all of us.

He may not be a "Christian" but even he knows that this isn't all an accident. Even he knows that humans are designed to search the universe for someone or something to fill the void in our hearts that no amount of money or fame or success can fill.

This song means so much to me. When I listen to it, I don't think about Allie and Noah in "The Notebook" and dream of a love like that. No. I think about my life, my dreams, my relationship with the Lord and with dear friends. I WON'T GIVE UP. Not on life, not on my dreams, not on my relationship with the Lord, and not on relationships with dear friends.

Life gets hard. Things change. But love is a choice. You're not always "feelin it." You have to wake up each day and choose love. You have to know that love conquers. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love is not proud or rude. It does not envy or boast. Love is slow to anger. Love is forgiveness.

I choose to love you. For all that you are and all that you have been. I choose to love you despite your weaknesses, your flaws, your sin - past, present, and future.

I choose love.

And I will never give up on love. God has never given up on me. And He's never given up on you. He will never give up on you in the future. Even when the skies get rough, He's giving us all of His love. I want to emulate His love for me and pour it out onto others.

No, it's not always going to be easy. It's going to be really hard sometimes. You're going to get angry. You're going to get hurt. But only one thing can release you of that pain and anger - LOVE.

I'm a lover. And I will NEVER give up on love. I will NEVER give up on you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Won't Give Up

I Won't Give Up - by Jason Mraz (click this link!)

Please watch this video and see the true beauty and meaning behind this amazing song.

Ask yourself, "Who am I BEING right now? Who am I being by not powerfully choosing which direction I want to go?"

I find myself asking this question constantly. I hate making decisions. I'm terrible at it and it's uncomfortable. I really just don't like it.

I know what I want out of life, but when it comes to certain situations, I just really hate making decisions.

I spent tonight with a couple good friends talking about this concept. The three of us are all in the same boat about a certain topic in our lives right now. We had no idea the other two were feeling the exact same way. It was so refreshing and comforting to know that I'm not alone in this. I'm not alone in this struggle in my head and my heart.

They have the same thoughts. They have the same fears. They have the same doubts.

But who am I being by not powerfully choosing which direction I want to go?

This is my dream. And I won't give up. Even when the skies get rough. I'm giving it all my love. I'm still looking up.

XOXO

Monday, January 14, 2013

You can ALWAYS come back home

This song means so much to me. More than you know. The words are so powerful and so beautiful. They ring true for me - and they're true for you too.

93 Million Miles (<Click this link!) by Jason Mraz. Do yourself a favor and watch this video. Listen to the words and soak it all up.


"93 million miles from the Sun, people get ready get ready,
'cause here it comes it’s a light, a beautiful light, over the horizon into our eyes
Oh, my my how beautiful, oh my beautiful mother
She told me, "Son in life you’re gonna go far, and if you do it right you’ll love where you are
Just know, that wherever you go, you can always come home"

Ohh…

240 thousand miles from the Moon, we’ve come a long way to belong here,
To share this view of the night, a glorious night, over the horizon is another bright sky
Oh, my my how beautiful, oh my irrefutable father,
He told me, "Son sometimes it may seem dark, but the absence of the light is a necessary part.
Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home"

Ohh…

You can always come back…back…

Every road is a slippery slope
There is always a hand that you can hold on to.
Looking deeper through the telescope
You can see that your home’s inside of you.

Just know, that wherever you go, no you’re never alone, you will always get back home

Ohh…

Ohh…

93 million miles from the Sun, people get ready get ready,
'cause here it comes it’s a light, a beautiful light, over the horizon into our eyes…"

You can ALWAYS come back home. You're never too far gone.

XOXO