by Alexandra U.

I ended the first part of my I Made Lemonade story when I was 8 years old and my father got remarried. Life continued on, though with a large hole where my mother had been. My family learned to survive without her, as hard as it was. We all changed a little bit, some of us a lot. Yet, as hard as it was, and as long as it took, we did move on. I did all the right things a pre-teen is supposed to do. I got saved and was baptized at my local church, I went to church camp every year, and I continued to go to church every Sunday. I started going to a private Christian school when I was in the 3rd grade. On the outside, I had it together.

Leaving that Christian school in the 6th grade was probably the beginning of my journey away from Christ. It didn’t happen all at once. It was so gradual I couldn’t even see it. Satan likes to trick us like that. By the time I got to high school, I was a completely different person. I still believed and I still went to church every Sunday, but something in me had changed; not for the better. I started to party and hung out with an older crowd. I was still maintaining my 4.0 at school, still held many leadership positions, as well as 2 part time jobs, cared for and exercised livestock at home, and exercised and competed on 2 rodeo horses. To me, this meant I was doing everything right.

When I graduated from high school, I went to a college on the other side of the state (Fort Hays State University) from my hometown. I had no family out there, no close friends. Two guys in my graduating class went to school there as well, but we didn’t really run in the same circles. I was on the rodeo team, so I was busy taking care of my horse, and was gone frequently on the weekends competing. None of my family lived close by, and because of my horse and the long drive, I rarely made it home. My life journey took me further and further from Christ. I never stepped foot in a church the entire year and a half I went to college there.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard anything about rodeo teams, but they like to party. A lot. And this was the only crowd I hung out with day after day, night after night. Little by little, I started to give in. Before I knew it, I woke up one day, a sophomore in college, and realized I had drifted so far from God I couldn’t see Him anymore. He wasn’t evident in any of my actions, my words, my thoughts. Even though I knew I needed Him desperately, and needed a drastic change in the way I was living my life, I just kept getting sucked back in. My crowd of friends was a persuasive one, and I loved them. They were great people, with great hearts. I just wasn’t strong enough to hang out with them and stay true to Jesus.

I remember sitting in my room one night, grabbing a notebook, and pouring my heart out to God on that piece of paper; begging Him to save me, begging Him to somehow keep me from ruining my life irrevocably. 2 weeks later, on February 13, 2011, I was lying in a coma, having suffered a Diffuse Axonal Injury, which is one of the worst types of brain injuries you can have. My horse had fallen with me after having a heart attack, and landed on top of me on the frozen February ground. Doctors gave me a 10% chance to wake up, and a 3% chance to function normally if I did wake up. I was in a coma for 15 days and in a rehab hospital for 4 months.

During my time in the hospital, I had to relearn EVERYTHING; how to swallow, how to walk, how to hold a conversation, how to get my muscles to function properly. It was a frustrating and trying time. However, I don’t give up easily. And I could feel the Lord by my side, pushing me on through it all. Never once did I feel alone or abandoned. The Lord gave me a great support system. I had friends and family through it all. Even after I had turned my back on Him, He never gave up on me. He had answered my desperate pleas to get me out in such a drastic and effective way, I could do nothing but sit back and watch what He had planned. And what a show it was.

I was released from the hospital in June of 2011. I lived with my parents for 8 months, completing more outpatient therapy and waiting on God to show me what to do next. In February of 2012, only a little after the one year anniversary of my accident, I moved to Texas. Through an old pastor friend and a lot of help from God, I found my roommate, Taylor. With Taylor’s help, I found a church I loved immediately. How different Denton was from Hays already. That summer, I took my first college class at a junior college nearby. After hearing from doctor’s how severe my injury was, I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to learn the same; that I wouldn’t be that same straight A student. Yet, God saw me through my fears and I completed the class with a 98%.

In January of 2013, I enrolled as a part time student at the University of North Texas. I have been there ever since. With the exception of that first semester, I have been a full time student and have made the dean’s list every semester. Last semester, I was given the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland, studying at the University of Ulster. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and one I give full credit to God for. I will graduate in December with my Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Management. When God decides to make lemonade, He does it big.