Child praying
God’s Got This! The YES that Brings Hope
Sara Butt
A Note from the Editors: During the Christmas season the idea of gift giving is ever present. We asked Sara to share her story about an extraordinary gift she gave this past year. We think the lessons she’s learned will encourage you as you give to your children and others throughout the year.

It was a slow walk beside a large man down a long hall to a small cubicle that contained one hospital bed and a few mysterious machines.

The nurse asked why I was there. I guess after a whole year of wading through the donation process, they were checking one more time to make sure I wasn’t crazy and wouldn’t run away. “I’m here to give my left kidney to that big guy in the next room,” I said. I spoke it for the last time before it became a final reality. I felt at peace, happy, resolute, and yes, just a little weak, like it took some effort to force the words to actually make their decisive journey past my lips and into the common airspace after all.

The “big guy” in the next curtained-off room was James Clawson. James is married to Staci, who has been my best friend since the eighth grade. You know, that photographed-as-the dynamic-duo in all the yearbooks together, pulled all-nighters in college, knows-you-better-than-you-know-yourself, pick-up-right-where-you-left-off kind of friend sent straight from heaven.

Staci’s husband, James, has polycystic kidney disease and has been on critical dialysis treatments for several years while awaiting a life-saving transplant. Staci has been his rock and filled the gap with their two small children on all the nights he has been forced to be away from their family hooked up to dialysis machines. I am a friend who beat the odds and was chosen as the most viable candidate to give back to someone who has given selflessly to me over the years.

Staci is a teacher, and so am I. We both know the meaning of sacrifice. She has worked tirelessly to further her education as a reading specialist to help struggling children become successful while she juggles a family and supports a husband with a chronic kidney disease. As a homeschool mom, I know what it is, as well, to sacrifice dreams and wants of my own in order to conform my desires to God’s particular calling on my life and family. This homeschool journey has been full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, successes and failures, fear and faith. But just when I think I have a handle on who God is and who He wants me to be, He calls me to let out the hem of my trust, so that my faith can grow.

Staci and James Clawson when they were younger
Sara Butt, James Clawson and their family in the hospital

When the nurse called our names, James and I started our slow walk down the hall to the pre-op area together. He looked down on my small 5’4” frame and my gaze traveled up his 6’10” one toward the ceiling. He grabbed my hand as we walked through the open double doors toward the prep station, and I commented on how these doors were big enough that he didn’t even have to duck to go through them. He probably hates when people say things like that.

I held the gentle giant’s hand all the way down the hall, thinking that in any other life-threatening situation, it would probably be his own size and power that would protect him, but here, to save the life of the great, but helpless, man everything depended on the sacrifice of someone small and weak. During this season, I can’t help but think of Jesus coming as a baby to eventually save the world through such a greater sacrifice.

Knowing where the true power came from, James stopped and prayed for both of us and the surgeons and our families before we parted and headed for our separate prep tables.

How many times in my homeschool journey have I felt small and oh, so weak! The needs of multiple children, the demands of a household, the burden of responsibility, the gifts of service, and the battles of depression and anxiety often leave me feeling joyless and almost crushed by their weight. How does a mom continue putting one foot in front of the other?

Staci Butt and her family in the snow

What a precious reminder I received by going on this journey of organ donation. In our homeschool, I like to think I am in control. That with more effort, or better plans, or new curriculum, our path will be smooth and my children will be successful. But it doesn’t work that way, and I end up back in the same defeated pit. What a blessing for God to put me firmly in a situation where not one single thing was within my control! One of the most difficult parts of deciding to become a living donor is that there are many, many questions that cannot be answered. Will the surgery be successful? How will my life change? Could I have health problems down the road? There are many questions that simply don’t have answers. The only possible response was for me to say, “Yes, God, I will go with You where You want this to go.” And even this decision was not in my own strength, but by the grace of God.

Why don’t I have the same response in my family and homeschool? If I am truly abiding in Christ, continually walking by His side in His love, I should be able to give God the same “Yes!” and trust Him with the outcome. So often on my organ donation journey, Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5: 13-14 rang true, and they should bring a quiet to the chaos of my homeschool journey as well—“If we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us….” (ESV)

“But just when I think I have a handle on who God is and who He wants me to be, He calls me to let out the hem of my trust, so that my faith can grow.”

When my husband and mom were brought back before the transplant surgery, tears were starting to brim in their eyes. I had been calm and tearless to that point, but I was reminded that suffering would be shared by many while I slept through surgery for the next few hours. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was to leave my four daughters with my dad a few days before and drive away toward the Charlotte hospital, not knowing exactly when I would see them again. My usually strong and outgoing husband was pretty quiet. In his mind, once he left me on that table, there was nothing he could do to help me, to protect me, to carry me through, and it was all he could do to just hold my hand for a minute and then let it go. “God’s got this. He can do it. I have to obey,” I said, and he nodded. We were in this together. One more “I love you” and an “I’ll see you soon” and it was time.

God did have it. The transplant surgeons are excellent at what they do. Organ donation is by-and-large a very safe and successful process. Eight months later, I am fully recovered, and though James has experienced some bumps in the road, “Sydney the Kidney” is going strong and working hard in her new body, and Daniel and Katie have their daddy home at night, feeling better than he has in a long time.

The lessons learned and blessings felt along the road to that slow walk down the long hall are truly too numerous to count. I think our homeschool journey is much the same. It is not always a walk in the park. But it is often filled with love and laughter, smiles and sacrifice. And at the end of it is always hope. Abounding hope and abundant life. My prayer for your journey in the coming year is this: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV) Give God a “yes” and obey. He’s got this.

James Clawson and his family


ara Butt is a former elementary school teacher who left the teaching profession to become a stay-at-home mom to four beautiful daughters. She lives with her family in Dayton, Tennessee, where she assists her husband, Keath, in youth ministry, and homeschools her girls while developing curriculum for the Trail Guide to Learning series. Her heart is to inspire young people to become lifelong learners and discover their God-given passions and talents that will enable them to fulfill His plan for their lives. Her other loves include music, photography, reading, and learning something new.