Having a Great Deal to Do

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I am a perfectionist who has recently relapsed. Constantly striving for others’ approval. Continuously spending exhausting amounts of time and energy trying to reach the next rung on the ladder of success.  And persistently racing towards the next goal, only to reach it and find a lack of satisfaction.

And you know what? It’s not worth it!

I’m the first to admit that I am a “yes” person… But it’s my own, undue pressure that has forced me into my current state of frustration and exhaustion. I read the other day that the definition of busy is: having a great deal to do.

Doesn’t that sound about right?

Sherri says, “sometimes life just gets in the way.” And that frustrates me.

Can’t it all seem a bit meaningless at times?

The answer is yes. But if you’re anything like me, who believes that God is a faithful, loving, detail-oriented God… then we are safe to believe He wouldn’t let us go without meaning. (Psalms 86:15, Deuteronomy 7:9, & 2 Timothy 1:9-10) So then I am forced to ask the question… what IS the meaning? And am I missing it?

In a conversation with a dear friend tonight, I realized that it was all inward. The past year and a half has been focused completely on me. How is SARAH doing? How is SARAH growing? achieving? measuring up?

I bet that’s why it all seems meaningless.

What if we each chose to focus outward instead? How are my sisters growing? How can I help my employees achieve? How can I support my friends in their careers/passions/hobbies? How can I encourage John in his work/relationships/goals? What if I chose to make it all about them?

Not so meaningless anymore.

Isn’t that what God called us to do? To love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt 22:49)?

And if loving myself for the past year and a half has looked like giving every ounce of time and energy to reach my goals and dreams… then shouldn’t I spend my days giving my time and energy to helping those around me reach their goals and dreams? Wouldn’t that be better?

So that’s my challenge to you (and to me) this week. Go have a great deal to do like the overachiever, perfectionist, you are. But this week… make it about them. Stop in the middle of your great deal to do, and pay attention to the people around you. Talk with them and ask them how you can serve them. After all, even Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matt 20:28).

Chase after their great deal to do with them. I’ll be here next week to hear how it went.

-Sarah

Enough

I will finally be enough – I think I shocked myself with my own raw emotion as I wrote the last line of my journal.

How long had it been since I was honest with myself about my own insecurity? [Here’s a hint… A while.] So what could I do now that I had exposed my subconscious and uprooted my denial? And how did I get here?

For me, it all started with my New Year’s resolutions. Y’all, I love myself a good New Year’s resolution, or maybe 20. New Year is a time where you get to wipe the slate clean. Life hands you a do-over. You have a personal year-end review where you’re the only one who knows if you passed or failed. You can go out and purchase a new calendar, and write your own terms and conditions! It’s amazing!

But for me—and for any other honest perfectionist out there—New Year is a time to nit-pick every single flaw you have and tell yourself you will overcome it by this time next year. I spend hours taking a personal inventory of what did or didn’t happen in the past 365 days, and how THIS YEAR will be the year I finally change. THIS YEAR will be different!

So here it is… January 24, 2016… 24 days into my laundry list of resolutions. And you know what? This year I would say I’ve actually done a pretty good job of sticking to them! I’m getting out of debt; I am losing the weight; I am getting back into running, etc. But something struck me today… EVEN if this year really is the year. EVEN if I were to somehow fix every habitual flaw… I will NOT finally be enough. And here is why…

I will never be worthy of the cross. No matter my efforts, no matter my faults, and no matter my changes… the only thing that sustains me is Jesus Christ. He chooses me, every day, exactly as I am. He created the thought of me, all that I am, and all that I will be, before time began. And He made me anyway!

Therefore I have to ask… who am I to think that my worth will increase as my weight decreases, and how dare I forget the weight of the cross? Who am I to place my value in the number in my bank account, and how foolish am I to concern myself with any other price than the one He paid for me? And who am I to think people will one-day envy my athleticism, and how arrogant am I to hope for anyone’s attention if it doesn’t point his or her eyes toward Christ?

So, dear sisters and brothers, as January comes to a rapid close, I encourage you to remember not who you are, but who made you. Because you, like me, have infinite and eternal value through Christ. HE is enough. So keep running, keep saving, and keep losing weight. But don’t mistake your resolution for your worth, because you are worth infinitely more than you can imagine!

Love,

Sarah

Effortlessly-Insignificant Night

When I pull up my blog’s home page, I realize it’s been 104 days since my last blog post. Maybe you’ve noticed; maybe not.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, or even that I haven’t tried. It’s just that I don’t know how. It seems anything significant enough to share loses all significance in comparison to my last several posts. I wrote about the loss of my grandfather. I wrote about others less fortunate than myself, and the loss of little man. All fresh wounds this holiday season. There are Christmas tables all around the world with one less chair at them this year.

I lost three loved ones in 2015, and I have comforted multiple others  who parted with a relative or friend. What could I possibly write about that could come after such a loss?

But after some reflection and good conversation with multiple good-hearted people, it dawned on me that life is full of what appears to be insignificant moments. But if you stop and think about it, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

God intricately designed the birth of a baby boy who would one day save the world. But His birth was in a seemingly-insignificant town, from a seemingly-insignificant mother, on an effortlessly-insignificant night. When we focus only on the big picture we see that “God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son,” (John 3:16). But, when we study the story of our savior’s birth, we find a detailed God. A mighty God that chose to reflect Himself in even the most “insignificant” ways. He went as far as choosing an “insignificant” shepherd boy to rule His nation. And from this “insignificant” bloodline would come the savior of the world.  “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot- Yes. A new branch bearing fruit from the old root,” (Isaiah 11:1).

So, for anyone struggling with insignificance… maybe in your day to day… or maybe in your “big picture,” remember your God is mighty and powerful, but don’t forget how intricate and detailed He is too.

And if you lost a loved one this year, I pray for extra Christmas cheer for you. It is what he or she would have wanted for you. Celebrate life… the life of our Savior, and the life of your loved one.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All. – Sarah

Still

You said I was your favorite Sarah and that would never change.

Am I still?

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We promised to go on a bear hunt, and to catch all of the Indians on Cherokee Trail.

Will we still?

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You played even after your mind couldn’t remember the words. Your hands still new the strings.

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We watched baseball games, begging you to cheer for the winning team. You always would.

Will you still?

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Your voice went lower than I could ever attempt in the first refrain of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Does it still?

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Your hands clapped after every single one of my choir performances, cello recitals, and graduations.

Will they still?

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Sneaking extra pieces of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving was always our favorite part.

Is it still?

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You promised to love me until time stood still.

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Is time still?

Here and Now

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The bathroom hasn’t been cleaned, my dogs haven’t been played with, and the ten job applications on my desk haven’t been filled out. These are a few of my worries today. I become overwhelmed as my to-do list reaches page 3 of my miniature notepad. To-do lists simplify things. They help me prioritize and strategize. What is the path of least resistance? Which order is the most efficient and time-preserving? Deep breath, I write #1 next to getting the oil changed and #2 next to dropping off the dry cleaning. The list continues.

As I prepare for my errands, my mother and I strike up a conversation about being comfortable and playing it safe in the game of life. Aren’t my problems small in the grand scheme of things? Wouldn’t people all around the world or even in the south side of Atlanta trade places with me this very moment? How blessed I am to walk this path. How loved I am by those around me!

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Jesus, what are real problems? My little sister is in Honduras today, holding the hands of a baby girl who doesn’t have clean water and who can’t afford to go to school. Are those real problems Jesus? You promised rivers of eternal life to those who drank from your cup [John 4 & 7]. My blog friend, Ellie, tells stories of starving children with no clothes or parents in Zimbabwe. And, LORD, you named yourself the bread of life promising we would never hunger again [John 6]. So, Jesus, what are the problems you called us to charge first into battle for? If you have provided for their earthly needs, should I then not concern myself with their soul’s needs? Should I not spend every ounce of energy I have on pointing people’s hearts towards you?

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Is someone undoubtedly aware of the Holy and Living God because of how I loved and served them today? Does someone feel the love of Jesus because I lived today?

I cannot just drop everything and move across the globe today. My time has not yet come. I have been called to this place and to this life. So my only hope is to take comfort in my Savior. But that doesn’t mean I am useless to the kingdom of God.  I can pray for Jesus to send His hands and feet to the lost. And in my here and now I can live out the gospel. Because, Christ commanded we go and make disciples of all nations [Matt 28,] and all nations still includes my piece of North Atlanta.

Not Ready for No

Dear Jesus,

Sometimes your answers look like “no.” But Jesus, how am I expected to accept your final answer when your no means watching a 9 year old die? I just can’t. I’m back on my knees for a re-do, a double-check, a miracle. Shuffle the deck if you have to, because I am not in the business of burying 9 year olds. His mom and dad didn’t sign up for this. He has a 12 year old sister and an 8 year old little brother! Jesus, they don’t deserve the short straw. They’ve been fighting this war far too long Jesus. They’ve been fighting a war since little man was born, and God we aren’t done with him yet. They weren’t done teaching him games or mathematics or the best way to sneak a cookie from the cookie jar. I am begging you Jesus, not today.

And LORD we have been begging for a new heart for our fighter, which means we have been consequently begging for a child to lose a heart. And Jesus I begged for that to not be the answer. Because our little man needs a heart, but so does the little man it would come from. And there are prayer warriors, family members, and loved ones surrounding that little heart too. And Jesus that’s not fair!

No one should have to bury their child. It’s not right to build, fill, close, or lower tiny caskets. It’s barely “ok” to do it to a big casket, but Jesus it’s a LITTLE ONE.

But Jesus now our fighter’s brain stopped responding. And mom and dad are losing hope. The doctor’s came and told us that our fighter is too weak for a new little heart. So they’re giving the little heart to another little body. Jesus WHY ARE LITTLE BODIES HURTING?!?!?! They haven’t had time to damage their bodies themselves. They aren’t weakened by substances or age or worry or heartache. They are tiny bodies that should play double-dutch and eat ice cream and hold hands with friends.

So Jesus I’m lost. We all are. He lost brain function, now the heart donor, and all other medical answers. All we have left is to hope on you, and Jesus you are sovereign and good and faithful, And I know that your will is far greater than mine. So I trust you. And if I am honest I am just not ready for your “no.”

– Sarah

For When You Think You Can Do It All

This morning I woke up to feeling like my To-Do List is too long, my Dream List is too impossible, and my Can’t Do List is too large. This morning I woke up wanting to return my new found independence as a recent college graduate. Now that school is over, wasn’t this my big moment? Wasn’t this the time where I proved to the world, my family, and to myself that my college degree was worth every ounce of debt I now proudly hold?  After all, look at me now…

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Since graduation, I’ve spent most of my time and money feeding the social butterfly I neglected while hibernating in the library for the past four years. When I’m not socializing I have about 5 half-thought-out inventions or business plans that will surely take me to the top. And when I’m not becoming the next Bill Gates, I am finding holes in my schedule for workout plans and self-help books that people have been subtly or not so subtly buying for me since I graduated high school. I’m an adult now!

So while I’m acting like I enjoy myself and am responsibly becoming the adult I was always meant to be, why do I feel this way? Why do I still feel like I am drowning in the mere hopes of a successful future? Maybe doing it all isn’t the solution.

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I have so much going on- all good things from the outside looking in- that my overflowing schedule, agenda, and spending flood onto other aspects of my life- maybe even aspects or people who didn’t ask for it. I want to give my time and money and energy to those who need help, friends or strangers, but I can’t give them something I have already spent. Maybe trying to do it ALL is the problem; maybe I am just expected to do what I can.

So what if I stopped doing it all and just did some? Does life have to be all or nothing? I would like to argue that life can be fulfilling with just some. What if I spent some of my time and saved some of it for when a friend calls unexpectedly? Or maybe I spend some of my money and saved some of it for when my dreams actually need funding… or for when a friend’s card gets declined at dinner. (Because let’s be real… I’ve been the friend whose card gets declined on more than one friend date.) Maybe I work hard towards some of my dreams, the prioritized dreams, and channel my energy into making each one important and successful on its own timing? Then with my big shiny dream sitting on my shelf I can move onto some other dreams. Doesn’t having it all at a slower pace mean peace?

IMG_0788I vote for some right now and all eventually over all the stress of all right now. I hope you will too.

Cheers to doing some things well and saying “not right now” to others, because after all… look at me now!

– Sarah

Dear Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, I love you

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source: https://syriaupdate.wordpress.com/tag/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi/

It’s not what you think, but I meant what I said. So if, by the one millionth of a trillionth of a chance, that Mr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ever does read this blog post, I love you, along with the other ISIS leaders. As a fellow sinner and a fellow seeker of truth, I just need you to know that I care about you.

For all the people who may read this who AREN’T the current leader of ISIS, we can take hope in my message to him. So please keep reading and hear my heart.

Over the past several weeks God has really broken my heart for the people affected by the ISIS attacks. It’s just unimaginable. Truly. Almost 300 Christians have been taken captive. As I start to unravel that number and those people’s lives and their stories, the pain inside me just gets worse. And then I think about their families and the mothers who fear for their children. I’m just in awe of how this can be happening, and even more so that Americans are so dismissive about it.

I feel helpless for these victims, but my heart is broken even more for the oppressors. They are so far from Jesus, but yet so convinced they are right. And I am only slowly coming to terms with praying for them. I’m called to love them. The man who ordered the shots to be fired at those 21 Christians in orange… He and I have equity in the cross. I can’t take back his claim in the real estate of grace, just because I see him as less than me. Instead I am called to remind him of his shares. To remind him of the Son of Man who loves him and paid his debts. And he doesn’t have to do anything – good or bad – out of fear or out of joy – he just gets it freely! I admit that I am still working through praying for him and loving him… It isn’t easy… Everything inside of me screams condemn him. Crucify him! But these thoughts eerily echo the world Jesus walked on… This is how I know it’s wrong.

So while trying to wrap my brain around this man and this organization and the state of the captures, and for that matter the world, I reached out to two sweet friends. One beautiful and wise friend offered me this comfort: Even Jesus had to say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” She reminded me to pray for lack of finances and leaders for ISIS. She told me to cry out for the souls in power not only in America, but in other political groups and counties, and in ISIS. May their souls be saved by the true King.

Then another woman, just as wise and just as beautiful, told me that my eyes have been opened to what breaks the heart of God. And what more could a girl like me ask for? To peer into the despair of my Creator and to fight against what I believe is wrong.

It’s my joy to serve Him… These words pour onto my journal page and I think (Do I mean that?) I don’t get to take it back… Then similar thoughts swarm me as I sing, “Heal my heart and make it clean/Open up my eyes to the things unseen/Show me how to love like you have loved me./Break my heart for what breaks yours/Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause.”

So now I stand before you (well figuratively) as a sister in Christ, as a friend, as a lover of people, and I beg you to pray with me. Pray for Christ’s redemption; pray for the release of these captives; pray for peace in the Middle East; pray for hope to reach the leaders of ISIS; pray that funding stops reaching them; pray for the eyes of those involved to be opened and for them to recognize how far they have turned from Truth.

BUT THEN, pray for the body of Christ to have open arms towards these ISIS leaders and followers. Pray for us to love them like Christ first loved us. Pray for Christians to forgive them and rejoice with them, for they were once lost and there is hope for them to be found.

And pray for a man who needs prayer as equally as the rest of us do. Because after everything is said and done, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and you and I are all sinners in need of a savior. And maybe, just maybe, one day he will agree with me on that. But even if he doesn’t, we can love him through it. And rumor has it he likes football, and that’s something we can all agree on.

– Sarah

What Pinterest didn’t teach me about being a bridesmaid.

0290Being a bridesmaid is much more of a commitment than it first seems. But in the excitement and in the midst of all the cuteness, when your close friend “pops the question,” you don’t have a choice but to squeal and jump up and down! You get to stand by her on one of the most important days of her life!! How COULD you say no?! Who would WANT to?!

But I’ve now been a bridesmaid twice, and the thing I’ve learned the most is that being a bridesmaid doesn’t stop when your bestie says, “I Do” That’s just the beginning.

Now sure, picking out dresses and colors and flowers and center pieces are all part of the fun. (Don’t get me wrong… I have four wedding boards on Pinterest and they are organized and color-coded and could put yours to shame.) But your bride asked you to stand by her for a reason; and I believe, when you stand by her on her big day you are committing to stand by her and for her in these four ways:

  1. 10274101_10152453505524468_1427201419336202402_nYou promised to stand up for her marriage. This means when things aren’t all dandelions and roses, you’ve committed to be the friend that reminds her of her promise. You remind her of her vows, and that marriage can’t always be a honeymoon. You comfort her and love her, but you remain standing for the covenant that she maybe can’t in that moment.
  1. You promised to stand up for her husband. You defend him when she’s forgotten to or when others aren’t. I’m not saying every girl gets upset and let’s loose on her hubby’s flaws. But I am saying everybody has to vent every once in a while. And when she calls you, you give her a judgment-free space to talk things out, but you keep her accountable for her words towards her man, because he deserves that. Sometimes a bridesmaid can be the only one to remind a bride of that.
  1. 10419621_798049943539057_3612648532637235069_nYou promised to stand by her. When life throws a curveball, accidental or not, explainable or not, you stand with her. This is the best part. Life is hard, and her husband can’t always be the super hero. It’s not even his fault why life got hard. But sometimes, a gal just needs her friends. So don’t lose touch just because she’s got bigger commitments now. She loves you and needs you, and if we are honest, you need her too.
  1. image1You promised to stand in prayer with her. For her marriage; for her husband; for her; for their future family; and for her extended family. When the preacher man looked out into the crowd and asked for any objections, and you didn’t oppose, that meant you were for them. That meant you lifted them up as a blessing from God, and would always support them. And if I’ve learned anything about friendships, it’s that prayer can be the best comfort you can offer.

So to Katie and Melanie, I love you and I hope you’ve already known I stood for you in these ways. And to Laura, and now Lisa, I raise my glasses to you and your fiancés. I love y’all!

Emmanuel: Where Imperfections Meet Redemption

Emmanuel: Where Imperfections Meet Redemption

I wrote in my journal this morning,

Jesus I feel so defeated today. I feel hopeless. I feel like I’ve lost before I even started. I don’t feel like I can do anything. I feel like everything is too much, too overwhelming, too hard. I am not good enough.

Ellie Holcomb, one of my favorite artists of all time, opened her concert last week by saying,

Hey y’all, I’m Ellie Holcomb, and I am a recovering perfectionist.

Isn’t she just beautifully honest? And isn’t that just so delicately true about all of us? At least I know it is true for me. But as I was writing I stopped and began to sing these two songs:

I Need You by Matt Maher & Walk With Me by Jesus Culture

And then my heart was reminded:

LORD, THIS is my problem. I try to do it alone. I try to be what I am not: independent! My pride gets in the way Elohim*!! I am so sorry. Christmas is about how the world that was so fatally ill needed a savior, REQUIRED A SAVIOR!! So You, El Oseh Phela**, sweet, merciful, and Holy God, you blessed this world with one.

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Jesus came. He left Heaven, so magnificent and so perfect, and entered this world. He joined us in the mess – in the wanna-be-holiness. He met us in our too-full-for-others-lives in a barely manageable manger. The Angels rejoiced and the Kings declared that Emmanuel had come. God was, and is, with us!

So my Jesus, who doesn’t expect perfection, let my imperfections bless You. Thank you for coming and for saving us! May my successes honor You. And may all I do Glorify the Greatest Gift of All, You.

– Sarah

*Elohim, meaning God, Prominent One
**El Oseh Phela – meaning God Who Works Wonders

Injustice isn’t always Black and White

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First things first, I don’t have a political agenda. So please read my words and hear my heart. Because my heart hurts for a lot of reasons. Thanksgiving is usually one of my favorite times of the year. I love being around family and I love watching ordinary people stop and appreciate their ordinary lives. There is just something magical about it! But this year things were different. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful or that my family wasn’t as wonderful as always or that my 3rd pumpkin pie wasn’t as delicious as the first. (Let me emphasize that yes I meant pie not piece of pie… #noshame). But this week I remembered the world was broken and ever since I haven’t stopped mourning it.

While news anchors across the country have spent the past several weeks discussing the death of Michael Brown and the intent behind Officer Darren Wilson’s bullets, the rest of the world has somehow lost focus on the rest of the world. Now I am just a 21 year old girl who doesn’t pick up the newspaper until planes hit buildings or politicians run for office. I also don’t turn on the local news unless I might see a friend on the TV. So let’s all take a DEEP BREATH and remember I’m a southern girl with a big heart who has no intention of upsetting anyone with my opinion. But this is not the only injustice of the world that deserves our attention. IN FACT I think it is about time we allow Mrs. Brown to mourn her son in peace. And it’s time we let Mrs. Wilson rest well instead of worrying about her life, her husband’s life, or her future baby’s life. Let’s talk about other injustices.

You drank clean water today. Over 1 billion people do not have access to clean water. (tivawater.com) And while they can’t seem to access clean water and are dying from it about every few seconds, I personally took a 15 minute shower today. And when the water got cold I had the nerve to complain about it.

You wore clean clothes today. You probably used your clean water in the past week (ok, ok… you got me… two weeks) and washed your name brand clothing. The shirt on your back cost a minimum of $5. Unless you bought it at goodwill. Which you probably only did out of a fad, not out of need. And then you maybe even wore a rain jacket or wind breaker to protect yourself from this winter weather. You have at least two pairs of shoes in your closet. I want to punch myself in the face, because I went Black Friday shopping and bought three pairs of shoes and shampoo that cost me $20 a bottle.

You ate food today. “There [is] an estimated 868 million people who are undernourished and more than 100 million children under age five who are undernourished and underweight.” – bread.org This is a reality that hit home for me. I call my parents crying because I am eating Ramen or Campbell’s soup again… Again. Fist to Face.

You aren’t an indentured servant or sex slave. Besides the gospel this is probably what I am most passionate about. That there are over 27 million slaves in the world. (enditmovement.com) Which is the most in HISTORY people!! And yet I can’t seem to get 27 college students to stand with me on the pedestrian walk to represent one million slaves each. But SOMEHOW people are willing to shut down Cumberland Ave for almost two hours today in protest over the Ferguson case… (again please hear my frustration towards the lack of attention to the rest of the world, not towards the attention Mr. Brown or Mr. Wilson have received.)

I could keep going. I could talk about the home you went into, the bed you slept in, the medicine you consumed, and more. But I won’t. Instead I would just urge you to remember that injustices aren’t always loud, but they are definitely prevalent. That the “inhumanity” exists just as much in the face in the mirror as it does the face on the front page.

– Sarah

It’s My Own Funeral

photo credit: www.london.anglican.org/life/funerals/
photo credit: www.london.anglican.org/life/funerals/

Today something happened that I didn’t think ever would. I mentally attended my own funeral. I didn’t really expect to ever attend my own service, as anyone can understand why, but something happened in church that I can’t explain.

Greg, the pastor, briefly discussed how when we put our purpose for life into other things, other people, money, etc. that we can never truly understand what the concept of salvation looks like. And I began to brush over Greg’s words. I’ve heard it all before: No one can serve two masters. (Matt 6:24)

Greg continued, that once we, as Christ-seekers, understand salvation that it would be absolutely impossible to remain who we are. And again, the “good little Christian girl,” began pulling passages from memory rather than allowing myself to be convicted by his words.

But then I recalled Galatians 2:20, a verse I have heard over and over, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live…” and Greg’s words meshed with the Word. My life was hung on a cross and put to rest. My ideals, my hopes, my plans, my everything. I have laid it all down in order to bear the cross, the gospel, the truth. Yet, I was still clinging to my old hopes and my old dreams. The desires of my own heart were not of Christ, but of me. This doesn’t mean that what I hope for in life and what I seek are bad; in fact I have no doubt that Christ wants these things for me! BUT I am not sure that my hope has ever been found in Christ alone.

I cling to the hope of one day being a wife, an author, a mother. I make dreams and plans to travel the world, to own a non-profit, and to potentially alter the way the secular world views Christian writing. BUT are these things of Christ? If or when any of these things never come true where would my hope be truly found? convicted.

So, I laid my life to rest. After years of laying down the bad, the guilt, the shame, and the regret. After years of Jesus so graciously taking all of those cups from me. I am now ready and able to give Him the good, the hopes, the aspirations, the desires.

Christ, Lover of my Soul and the Author of Time, You are it. Change me for Your better and make my life of You. Make Your dreams my dreams, and make Your life my life. I will seek You and the rest will come Lord, and when You give and take away I will still seek You. I will still honor You and praise You. For you are indeed good, all the time.

– Sarah

Friends, have you experienced the blessing of both giving Christ your burdens and also your blessings? I’d love to hear your story below!

6 Reasons Your Life Sucks Right Now

photo credit: heartofthematteronline.com
photo credit: heartofthematteronline.com

Now, that is a pretty bold statement. Maybe you’re even thinking, “my life doesn’t suck right now.” And if it doesn’t I’m happy for you! But if it does, if you’re in that moment between ‘can’t’ and ‘even.’ Know that you aren’t alone. Because Homegirl over here knows exactly what that feels like. Here’s the thing though. In order to narrow down exactly what is causing your life to suck we need to start with the facts.

1. Your job. Let’s start with the worst thing that ever happened to mankind. Making us get jobs and earn money to buy things. Does it even make sense that we have to spend time and energy making someone else money? Why can’t nice things just be given to us? AMIRIGHT?

2. Your significant other. Don’t even get me started. If you’ve got one, ask yourself, do I need one? If you don’t have one – maybe that’s why your life sucks. No matter what Facebook says your status is, I’ve got one word: REEVALUATE.

3. Your family. Can they just stop hounding you about when you are coming home? Can they not just give you money when you need it and send you care packages? Like what is the point of even calling home if all you’re going to hear is how much they miss you and how they have surprises waiting? ANN-OY-ING.

4. Your living arrangement. Between dirty dishes and smelly pets (maybe even smelly roommates.) I could write a novel on this. You cannot handle the dirty laundry or even thought of scrubbing a toilet one more time. Next time you have to replace the toilet paper roll just go ahead and move out. GOOD RIDDENS.

5. Your school. If the #BIGORANGESCREW isn’t truer than the gospel than nothing is. I don’t know where you are in your education, but I promise you that if you are still chasing down a diploma of some sort you might as well stop now. The only thing your school wants from you is more money. They could care less if you graduate, let alone in 4 years. Move back home with mom & dad and get a job at the local market. They’ve been saying they miss you anyways and the cookies on isle 4 aren’t half bad.

6. Your schedule. You never have time for anything. You don’t get to have fun. All you do is work, work, work. And when you’re not working you’re doing something else you stupidly agreed to sign up for. Can’t the world just understand that you haven’t had a pedi in over 3 months? And the last time you didn’t have anything on your schedule it was because you were grounded. Even typing this is giving me anxiety. TICK-TOCK.

So there you have it. Get rid of those 6 things and you’ve got yourself a care-free life!

OR we could all stop for a second and start seeing the real problem. The only similarity in these 6 things…. Is YOU. So maybe it is time for a YOU adjustment? Maybe there isn’t a job problem or a family/relationship problem. Maybe, just maybe there is a heart problem. I can’t answer that question for you, but that is definitely what I found this morning as I started letting my heart harden towards the above things in my life. I was angry at everything and everyone around me. But the only thing all those things had in common was BEING AROUND ME.

Ann Voskamp says. “Anger is contagious – so is grace.” Maybe the person you’re actually angry at is you? Maybe you just need to give yourself some grace. It’s ok. I won’t tell.

My prayer for you this week is that you can love yourself well. Love who you are in this season of life. Give grace to yourself and your surroundings. Jesus made you for such a time as this. {Esther 4:14} Don’t wake up in 5 years and realize your sucky life could have been the life of your dreams. Tell the people in your life that they matter to you. Be grateful for your opportunities and experiences. Spend some time in the Word – actually stop rushing for even 15 minutes. I dare you, just for one day, to seek joy in Jesus and see if it makes a difference.

 

– Sarah

5 years and Counting!

5 years. Really? It’s been that long?

June 6th, 2009 at 10:32 AM. I will always remember that moment. I received a phone call from my older sister telling me that my mother had been in a bike accident. We didn’t know much else except that she was being flown to UT Medical in a helicopter. When we got off the phone I fell to the feet of Jesus for the first time in my whole life. He pulled me close and reminded me that while I was so hopeless and helpless He wasn’t. My life was impacted in so many ways that day. And for that I am grateful.

Mom, I am grateful for you who were before the accident. I had an amazing childhood filled with a safe environment to grow and challenge things. Thank you for always encouraging me to try new things even if that meant eating cooked spinach and tomatoes at dinner. I am grateful for your support as I hit middle school and again as high school began to mold me. And most importantly you taught me to be me and chase after my dreams.

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I am also grateful for June 6th and what happened after. We grew as a family and learned that God moves in mysterious ways. You were strong as you relearned absolutely everything from basic math and how to tell time to what hobbies you now enjoyed. That was hard. I can’t imagine what you were going through, but as a whole family it was hard. But I am definitely grateful. It taught me to love everyone as if it was the last time I would see them. How to say sorry and how to forgive quickly. It taught me to treat strangers with respect because I couldn’t possibly imagine what they were going through. And it taught me that Jesus is the only constant thing in my life. He has been, is, and always will be Sovereign.

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Lastly I am grateful for today. We talked today! I know I don’t always call as often as I should and I know I try to be independent, but I can’t imagine life without you. There was a moment when I thought I would have to. But God blessed me by letting you stick around. Once when you and I were talking you told me, “I could have died, but I didn’t. Now I have to figure out why I am still here. What should I be living for?” And Mommy I am still not sure we know your purpose yet, but I do know that if we keep looking to Jesus we will figure it out. If I have learned anything it is that he is faithful. I love you.

And Jesus, it’s been 5 long years since I accepted you as my Lord and Savior. I realized you were my only Hope. Thank you for continuously reminding me that you were and still are my only hope, my only joy, and my only reason. The past 5 years have brought more shame, worry, doubt, and fear than ever before, but because of YOU I have never felt more peace, understanding, encouragement, or love. You are why I live and breathe. My prayer is that my actions live up to these words. I love you.

Oh Holy Week

This?

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THIS is what Holy Week looks like?

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A hot mess with a side of ratchet? Can anyone else relate?… And if you think this looks bad, you are just lucky I can’t capture my emotions or my thoughts in a photo to share. After all, my outsides are almost always a reflection of my insides.

But maybe it is more than the pile of clothing I feel necessary to try on each day before work. Maybe it is more than the stacks of to-do lists that seem to replenish faster than I can complete them. Maybe, just MAYBE, this week is more than finals and weddings and flash cards.

I thought to myself as I was getting ready this morning, ‘This week Satan has had all hands on deck. With the chaos and the worry and the doubt and the high emotions. Of all weeks, he couldn’t give me a break this week? This precious week?’

And then Jesus met me.

He reminded me that I do not have fluctuating value. I am not the stock market. My worth was permanently made known on the cross. A completed to do list, or folded laundry pile, or cleared off kitchen table CANNOT add to me.

He reminded me that I am an individual. That from my fingerprints to my sense of humor. I am special. My outward appearance or comparison to others’ successes DOES NOT make me any less unique.

He reminded me that I am blessed. Blessed with two pups I get to call my own. Blessed with a nephew I can’t wait to squeeze. Blessed with a car that moves forward. Blessed with 80+ girls that asked me to lead them. And Blessed by words that come in the sweetest of moments.

He reminded me that He is my hope. That I need nothing but Him. I should desire nothing but Him. And that His sacrifice will always be the greatest love story of all time.

So. I hope your Holy Week was a WHOLE LOT more holy than mine; but if it was a WHOLE LOT messier than you expected, there is good news. This week is HOLY because of a God who is HOLY. So there is still time to forget all of the other stuff and to remember the HOLINESS of CHRIST and what He did for you.

Remember that because of Him, because of what happened during Holy week, you are valued, unique, and blessed. And most importantly you can have hope.

Grateful.

Life moves quickly. That’s what I remember thinking on my 21st birthday last week. It moves quickly and keeps moving quickly. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good, and that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

If you didn’t know this about me, I journal. I write in a notebook starting on my birthday and I keep writing until either it fills up and I start another or it’s my birthday again. I like getting  a fresh start. Opening the first page and physically beginning a new chapter. Last year on my birthday I purchased this journal:

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And I am truly blessed to say that I found joy this year. Through trial and through blessing, Jesus has been there. There is a joy I cannot explain and cannot contain that comes from Him. And for that I am grateful. I have learned the art of being thankful. Especially for the little things. I was given this sweet gift from my dear friend Katie:

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It’s an awesome way to see where Jesus spoils you. Because trust me friends, He does! After realizing how truly blessed I am, I cannot help but think what a wonderful year and life I have! I am not saying there aren’t bad times. I’m not even saying there are easy times. But Jesus is good to me. And I just felt I needed to share that with you today. I have had more sentimental thoughts, I have wanted to write probably a lot more ‘profound’ opinions. I have even wanted to share some pretty hysterical stories and videos. But I just felt I needed to stop and say. “I’m grateful.” So here we are….

I got a second dog. “What?! She’s crazy!! You can’t do that…” I know…. But I did. And she is wonderful and she makes everything ten times better. I don’t have to defend my decision, but she is adorable and you will love her too. Her name is Wendy.

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Besides Wendy and Lucy. I have learned a lot about myself. I have realized how much I truly love flowers. And Laura was sweet enough to send me some on my birthday…

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I am beyond blessed to be a member of Sigma Phi Lambda. This year the girls in Phi Lamb have challenged me, blessed me, held me accountable, and showered me with love that I didn’t deserve. And as of last night, I was initiated as the President for the 2014 – 2015 school year. And believe me when I say, it is my honor.

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Alexandra. I have to say I am thankful for her, because Jesus was good to me when He gave me her. It wasn’t that He hasn’t blessed me with 100 thousand other people who love me too, but this year, specifically this semester, she has been there. He placed her in moments and gave her wise words. He blessed us with good conversation and for quiet moments. And I just needed to say so so THANKFUL for her.

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And lastly I am thankful for the gospel. Jesus has met me here when I needed Him most. People reminded me of the good news when I had almost forgotten it. And if it were not for the sweet truth of Jesus, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So here’s to a new year and to the blessings Jesus has given me!

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Cheers! – Sarah

 

 

When the Ends Don’t Meet

At the beginning of February I moved into a one-bedroom apartment right downtown. I live alone. Well, actually I don’t live alone. I live with Lucy, my Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Here she is snuggling with me on Saturday morning.

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But besides Lucy it is just me. It’s fun to have a house to myself where everything is exactly how I want it and the responsibility is all mine, but other times it can be lonely. There are moments where I don’t want it to be all mine. The dirty dishes and the laundry can’t be blamed on anyone else. The bills that are adding up and the groceries that are disappearing can only be the result of one person: Me.

Ouch. That kind of stings. Nothing will make you reevaluate yourself like the consequences of living with yourself.

I don’t think I have ever learned more about who Sarah is, in such a short amount of time. But what happens when I don’t like what I see? What if all I see in my reflection is the girl who can’t afford a hair cut and the bags under her eyes that carry the weight of life. Then what?

2 Corinthians 12:9 reads My grace is sufficient for you.

But when it isn’t enough, then what? Grace doesn’t pay bills. Grace doesn’t make the ends meet. Grace doesn’t finish the homework, or take the exams, or answer the phone calls.

it continues, My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.

So if His grace is sufficient, then can He come place peace in the middle of the deadlines of tomorrow and today? Can He set comfort and wisdom in between my paycheck and the bills? Or replace the tired and lonely silence of my apartment with His calming and omnipotent presence? And be the gap between the ends that don’t meet? Jesus, you told me you are with me. You told me to not be dismayed.

I then can recall different passages. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds, I feed them. Are you not more valuable than the they are? Cast all of your anxiety on me, because I care for you. Be still and I will fight for you.

So, I was still. And He came. And when He came He brought peace. He showed me how to show myself mercy. How to see more than the messes and how to look past the puppy accidents. He taught me to love the girl in the mirror and to respect the deadlines that life brings. He helped me remember that life is more than bills, but it’s also more than sweet tea at lunch time. And He pulled the depression out of me like pulling weeds from a garden. And then He planted himself in the spaces. He filled in the space where the ends don’t meet with redemption.

A Happy New Christmas

This year has flown by, as I feel I say every year, but honestly this is one for the books.

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I wake up on Christmas morning, not to the usual squeals of Savannah and myself ready for Christmas. (We continue our childhood tradition of sleeping in the same bed on Christmas Eve.) Instead, I wake up to the sound of a crying baby. He wails for my older sister Laura, his mother, for his instantaneous needs. I offer to help as I can see the exhaustion on her face through her new mother glow. I change his diaper and then begin to rock him out of loving desperation for silence. But as I rock him I cannot help but think to myself how beautiful a brand new baby looks on Christmas morning. And he isn’t just beautiful because he is a baby or because he is new, but because he is mine. I rock him and dream of all the plans I hope for him. Plans for hope and a future.

Mary must have felt this way. Don’t you think? In all of her fear and all of her rejection, she sat at the early hours of the morning holding the most beautiful, new Baby in all of history. She rocked her Son out of desperation for sleep and silence and warmth. She rocked Him with the hope of what He could become. Ironically, she had no idea what her Son came to do, what He had to do, and who He would become. I imagine she hoped for a simple life, a good life, and He would give her the world, except for a simple life. He was going to make her watch Him sacrifice Himself without understanding. She knew His divine identity but yet he portrayed  only humaneness on the cross. He made her mourn His death for 3 days, which must have felt like an eternity, before His unexpected resurrection.

But just as my sister gave Hunter life and she and I can hope for him, and just as Mary gave Jesus life and she hoped for Him; Jesus gives you the chance at life that He hopes for you. {I would say, don’t you think? but I know.}

He created your inmost being, He knit you together in your mother’s womb. And He planned it all out so that He could not only make you and give you Life, but He could hope for you, give up everything for you, and give you more than you can imagine.

Friends, I would be ruining your Christmas if I did not offer you this gift. This gift that was given to you freely. You don’t have to take it, just like every gift, you can choose to leave it on the table. But speaking from experience, there is no greater gift you will ever receive!

– Sarah

P.S. I got a new puppy and a new baby for Christmas. and this is what the night shift looks like…

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Dear Daddy,

Dear Daddy,

Thanks for being my biggest fan, my push to be better, my hope for tomorrow, and my best friend.

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Thanks for being a Godly figure in my life and in others’ lives.

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Thanks for giving me high expectations for how a man should treat his wife and run a household.

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Thanks for your love even in my darkest hours and your  praises in my best hours.

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Thanks for being a professional cookie maker, the nicest flat-tire changer, and the best rough-houser I know.

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With only the utmost respect and adoration a daughter can have,

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I. love. you. Dad! Happy Birthday!

– Sarah

Who Am I?

In my Communication Studies 312 – Interpersonal Communication class, my professor asked us to define “the self.” He went on to explain that “the self” is merely how we answer the question “This is Who I Am.” or “I am __________________.” Theorists go on to argue that one cannot define “the self” without first gaining self-awareness (awareness of one’s self), self-esteem (one’s personal value of one’s self), and self-concept (one’s understanding of how one is viewed).

As I am listening to my professor ask these deep questions at 10 in the morning, I just cannot help but wonder how do I answer this question? How does anyone really answer this question?  And how do we know if we are “right?” So I made a list of who I am:

– Jesus follower   – friend   – sister   – daughter    – employee   – writer   – sinner

– deep thinker   – rusher   – wanter   – seeker   – lover   – helper    – someone who cares

– student    – crier    – laugher    – doer    – hard worker    – soon-to-be aunt    – dreamer

– goal setter   – someone who holds onto hope    – reader    – adventurer    – beginner

– crafter    – wedding admirer    – talker    – texter    – depender of the love of Jesus

School is going well. I am a junior and every single time I say that I am still shocked that I made it this far. And it gives me hope that I can finish. That I can complete possibly the largest milestone in my young adult life. It makes me excited to think about that day! But for now, I am a junior and I am still asking the hard questions like “Who Am I?” or “Who Do I Want to Be?” and my fear is that I won’t ever know. My fear is that I will turn 30 or 40 or 70 or 90 and still be asking “Who Am I?” “Why Am I Here?” “Why did God choose to let me live and let my sisters’ friends die?” “Why am I the one who woke up breathing so normally and went about my morning routine so effortlessly?” “Why am I so blessed??” “WHY?” I. DON’T. DESERVE. THIS. GOOD. LIFE. But Jesus so lovingly, LOVINGLY gave it to me. He chose the cross and He endured a debt that cannot be paid back. We just have to accept it fully and humbly. But then how can we not ask, “But LORD! What can I do for you?” I am a slave to the love of Jesus!! How can I NOT chose Him? Seek Him? Desire Him? Abandon ALL ELSE for Him?

Friends, I dare you to ask the question “Who Am I?” and place that answer at the feet of Jesus. Is that the answer He wants you to have? Is that what He planned for you? Is that where He has placed you, or have you placed yourself there? Did you ask Him to be there?

I don’t have everything figured out. In fact, I am not even sure I have anything figured out. But I can tell you, the only way any of us are going to be happy is if our answer to “Who Am I?” matches Jesus’ answer to “Who is She?” or “Who is He?”

– Sarah