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Beautifully Flawed 2023 Del Mar, CA

Celebrating 10 years of retreats has brought me on a journey of all that the Lord has done in that time and even before it all started. I remember many years ago laying in a hospital bed with a broken neck and back and truly feeling life as I knew it was over. It was not an easy life already, but here I laid in what seemed to be complete hopelessness, and there was nothing I had to look forward to. As my mind was flooded by all life had dealt so far, I felt the grip of despair come over me. I was at a crossroads in my hospital bed that day. I could either get bitter, or get better.

I called out to the Lord in that moment, not with a faith-filled prayer, but a heart’s cry of not understanding why life had looked as it did for me. I had gone through so much in 17 years, and this new thing felt like it was too much. As I conversed with the Lord, I remember asking for the Lord to speak to me. I just needed to know He was there with me, even through all the hard things I had lived through thus far. It was a simple cry, heard by an all-loving God. As I opened my Bible in that hospital bed, I opened up to a page that had only one verse in red writing from 2 Corinthians 12:9:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

At that moment, the floodgates of peace came to me, and I truly felt the Lord speaking to me that although I had gone through a lot, if I would just trust Him with the things I did not understand — the hard things— He would use them in my life. It would not mean that I had the answer to my question, “why”, but I would see Him bring purpose to that question. It was at that moment I chose to get better; I prayed that day, asking God to use all the things I had gone through in life so far for His good— I would trust the pain to Him.

Fast forward a couple years later, I would be sitting in a hospital room with Bethany Hamilton whose life at that moment had been turned upside down by an unexpected tragedy. I could understand the mindset she was facing, the questions of what her life ahead would look like, and looking for the opportunity to trust God in the midst of adversity. I remember thinking as I sat next to her hospital bed that God had given me an opportunity to use the hard things I had faced to speak into the life of another.

Bethany Hamilton and Sarah Hill, Beautifully Flawed Foundation Executive Director, in the hospital back in 2003 right after Bethany lost her arm in the shark attack.

Over the years, the Lord had really worked a lot of healing in my life, and I learned to share my story with others. I learned to talk about the insecurities I had because my body was full of scars from so many surgeries. As I was given more opportunities to go and share with others, I created a talk called Beautifully Flawed — I would share with other girls about those scars, and how I felt God challenged me to no longer be ashamed of those scars. I remember Bethany coming to me with the idea of a retreat for others who faced limb difference, and she asked if she could use the name of that talk, Beautifully Flawed.

The first retreat I could see how God had brought that prayer full circle all these years later. I remember girls coming to the retreat so timid, unsure of what their life was going to look like in the future. We have a saying at Beautifully Flawed— it’s the filler we see between a prayer and a miracle, just as God changes the page from tragedy to triumph— and it’s “But God.” “But God” saw what He was doing, and how He was working. When we feel hopeless, He is still writing our story.

In our 10th year of retreats, one of the most beautiful “But God,” stories came from Andrea, a quad amputee who lost her limbs during COVID due to sepsis. What was an already hard season for so many of us, became almost unbearable for her. I remember when she came to her first retreat, she was in so much need of a community who could sympathize with, and care for her. I remember her first day at the retreat, we got her walking stairs with her new prosthetic legs, and she was par for the core from that moment on. In just a few days’ time at the retreat, God had begun to remind her that He wasn’t done with her, He was still working in her life.

We had Andrea back last year knowing there was still healing needing to be done. I remember her being so excited to show me how much stronger she was as she got out of the car to walk to me with the biggest smile. I also remember that she had a lot of complications with her prosthetic legs that year, which kept breaking on her when walking, challenging her mobility. What she did not know is that we were gifting her with a brand new, modern mobility chair at the retreat, to help aid in her accessibility. I loved seeing that no matter what complications she faced at that retreat because of her prosthetics, she chose joy every day.

A couple months later she shared with me how things had shifted and she was going through a really hard time, and feeling weighed down by anxiety and depression. She has faced so much and the waves of emotions can be really raw at times. We began praying for her at the organization, asking God to get her through the hard season she was in. I remember when she reached out to come to our 2023 retreat, I was elated that she applied again. This year, we had three quad amputees at the retreat, and Andrea being the most seasoned one, quickly became the source of strength for the other two. Andrea shined at the retreat, showing the other girls how she overcame the hard things in the gym, how she was able to get out in the water to surf, and shared her tips and tricks of making life work. She had come full circle in her own story and was now seeing God use her to help others along in their journeys. When facing a question about how to do something, the other girls would ask Andrea how she did it, and she gracefully showed them. It was so empowering to see. I watched her come into her own as she helped the other two throughout the entire retreat!

I share all this because I am often blown away by all God is at work doing. If we do not opt to look at the answered prayers and the “But God” moments, we can easily become overwhelmed by circumstances. Over the past 10 years, we have seen miracles happen, and have been so amazed by all God had ahead, even as we walked in the thick of it. We could not write these stories without the hope we have received to overcome the hard things. He is such a faithful God and as we look forward to 2024, we look forward to all the ways we can see God at work. I ask that you consider partnering with us, and helping us to make our year end financial goal of $70,000 by December 31st. You can make a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.

Thank you faithfully praying, generously giving, and passionately sharing the heart and mission of Beautifully Flawed Foundation to your communities.

Aloha,

Sarah Hill
Executive Director
Beautifully Flawed Foundation

Mahalo to Our 2023 Retreat Sponsors!

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