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

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

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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Digging Deeper Roots

I wake up in a cold sweat with a tear-stained face. 3 AM is becoming more and more familiar. Anxiety has started camping out along the river banks of my stream of thought and his double-decker RV isn’t leaving any room for Peace & Calm to take a vacation. So what’s a girl to do? I can’t exactly wake up the roommates for a midnight chat; none of us get enough sleep as it is. So I do the only thing I can comprehend to do. I write.

As I scratch line after line into my small notebook by the light of the low-lit lamp in the living room, a woman’s words haunt me “You want to be an author?” “What are you going to do if you don’t become an author?” At the time, I kindly replied that I hoped to go to seminary and potentially serve in a church or in Young Life, but now at 3 AM the only thing that can come to the forefront of my mind is “I have no FREAKING idea.” Can’t a girl  turn 20 without the weight of the entire world being thrown on her shoulders? Last time I checked, I was just trying to pass World Civ 261!

The clock rolls around to about 4:15 AM and Anxiety is still setting up camp. He’s got the fire going and I swear he just invited Fear and Anger over so they can all roast marshmallows. This is getting ridiculous. My journaling begins to fade into what looks more like my prayers. Sweet Jesus, I whisper, what am I supposed to do? Where is your will in all of this? How am I supposed to become this successful and adventures woman of faith when I am too dang scared of graduation day. School is safe. School is good. I can handle school. But life?! You want me to start preparing for life?? But HOW?

Anxiety begins to subside. In the midst of my prayers I can grab onto the hope of Jesus. I begin to see the sunrise and decide I need to try and catch a couple more hours of sleep. As I head to bed I realize I have no idea what lies in the days ahead. But I do know I believe in a God that can do immeasurably more {Ephesians 3:20}, and I believe that same God is a faithful God {1 Cor 1:9}, and I believe that He is all-knowing {1 John 3:19-20}. So as I pull up the sheets I pray, Holy Spirit cling to me and hold tight because trees dig deeper roots in the midst of a storm, and I want to be rooted in Your will.

– Sarah.

The Next Step.

If you missed it, you need to start this post by reading my previous post, The Morning After.

Last week I wrote about my experience with sin, for me it was a specific sin, but I hoped to make it relatable to anyone’s personal sin. I hope you found a way to relate it to your life, because sin is something we all have in common. I think it is interesting that I had the highest ratings in my year and a half of blogging on the day I wrote about the most simplest fact. We all sin. My second highest post viewed is this one which again, discusses sin. My mother, after I called her to tell her my high ratings, said, “I think you hit a social nerve.” And that’s when it hit me… No one talks about sin anymore! 

We all sit in these social circles of success, wealth, careers, degrees, experience, networking, etc. where we are all expected to put on these masks: Nothing is wrong, Nothing has ever been wrong, and Nothing will ever go wrong. But WHY? Why do we do this to ourselves?! If we are honest, we know, NO BODY lives like that! It’s impossible. Things happen. People make mistakes. HELLO, we are human!

So then two days after I write about sin, I go have coffee with two lovely girls. It started off as a casual coffee date, but God turned it into us tearing down each others walls. Sin comes out, TRUTH comes out, and for the first time it’s OK to admit to having sin. We learned that we shared heart break, we all dealt with similar struggles, and the burdens we carry we no longer have to carry alone. That night, I lay down in my bed, and just took a deep breath, because I am no longer alone on this journey.

Two days after that, I find myself having a heart-to-heart with a friend who doesn’t like heart-to-hearts. It came at a coincidental time, when both of us could have been doing lots of other things. But all of a sudden,  I openly admit to my imperfectness, and she generously and lovingly reciprocates. Both of us have trust issues. For her, she grew up in a house that breeds trust issues, for me, I trusted people until I got burned by my entire high school, family, and friends. But God put the two of us in a room, where we were comfortable, and it almost seemed casual, to bring up the dark spots in our past.

I have memorized a piece of James and it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” – James 1:2-3

This is SUPPOSED to happen. God has placed us here, not so that life was easy, but so that the people around us could walk us through it. This generation is so twisted in our ways of hiding our failures and exploiting our success. Yes, I hope we take joy in one another’s successes, but I hope even more we give encouragement and love in other’s times of trouble.

I encourage you, to talk about it. I’m here to listen, my contact info, is on the right side of this screen. Send me an email, message me on facebook, call me, do what you gotta do. Find a friend, a good friend. And say “Hey, I need to talk,” because friends, this walk isn’t meant to be taken alone. The time has come when you let someone help you, for Heaven’s sake, be vulnerable! Be honest, with everybody and with yourself, and admit that you’re imperfect. It’s hard. It’s REALLY hard, but it’s amazing what God can do when we let Him bring the light into our darkness.

– Sarah (:

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Holy Mornings.

The crisp air of fall swished around me as I walked to my class yesterday morning. It was a hectic start to the day when I was rushed and overwhelmed due to my lack of preperation for English 101. The beauty of fall escaped me and I rushed past the falling leaves and hugged my jacket closer as I ran to class. What a sad realization. That I allowed such an opportunity to glorify and praise God to go on by. I am ashamed of just how many moments like this I can think of…. not giving Jesus enough praise, not expressing my gratitude well enough or often enough, never taking the time to pause and be still in the business of life. [TANGENT] This is something I am striving towards and chasing after….. learning the concept of being still. pray for me. [END TANGENT]

When class was all said and done I had time to spare before the next class and all I wanted to do was rest. This weekend was amazing but exhausting. Also I had had a late night and the bed just looked so comfy! While in my room I was hit with a realization: I was being attacked in the mind. Satan was feeding me unnecessary and sinful thoughts. I started to question and allow my curiosity to get the best of me (this is exactly what the enemy was waiting for). He jumped at me from more than one angle and I was becoming overwhelmed within a matter of seconds. I considered giving-in to the desires of my heart rather than obeying the commands I know I am required to follow. I realized that indeed, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” – Ephesians 6″12.But then My God Almighty was triumphent! He comforted me and held me close. Christ spoke through loving words of wisdom from John (he is so wise for being his age!) And my God chased after my heart, in these few moments, He won my soul over and protected me from the evil and sin that is in me. He protected me and freed me from the horrible enslavement I used to live in. He ridded my sin and kept me intimately close to His light, knowing full well that I will again slip from the perfection of His kingdom that day. But my God is a pursuer. He is the ultimate fighter not even allowing death to be the end of his pursuit for me.

How holy is He? How lucky am I? My God is so good!

– Sarah (:

You are Mine.

Let’s be honest….. I will call out the elephant in the room…..college is hard. There, I said it. The curriculum is trippled in half the time. The teachers don’t really care. You sit in a sea of faces of 300 where no one will ever learn your name. And you have no money in your bank account. Why have I been looking forward to this for the past 5 years?? I don’t even know. But when all of that is all overwhelming enough, I remember… this wasn’t my choice. I don’t even want to be at UT. [older post]. So why am I here??

On the verge of tears as I write my thoughts… I want to be home in my bed in Georgia. I want to have home cooked meals made by my parents. I want my bedroom to still look like a beach…. I don’t want to do this on my own.

Then the quiet whispers begin, “Darling, I’m here.” Now the flood gates open and the tears begin to fall.

“Jesus, what am I to do??” Why am I here??”

“Come here my dear. It will all be ok. You were made for this.”

“But, but, but, what about John going to Spain? What about tuition being due September 30th? What about my giant essay due on Friday??”

“Sarah recall Isaiah 43:1. Tell it to me.”

“But now, this is what the LORD says— He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1′”

“Exactly. You are mine. Why would I not take care of you? My darling Sarah Rachelle, listen to me. YOU ARE MINE.”

Alone in my dorm I cry because of the truth my God has restored in me. I am HIS. A daughter of the King. Flesh of the creator. His plan will be fulfilled. This is not a mistake…. Praise God for having patience with His little ones.

This song played on my iphone after I had finished my devo and I was getting ready for class… and I think it fits perfectly with this moment.

Another way God gave me comfort was my small group. Allison Yoakley is my leader and the 14 girls are girls I am hoping to grow and relate to in Christ. We are going to study the book of Mark. I’m really excited about this because it’s the only gospel I have yet to study!

If you think about it. Pray for me. Pray for this group of girls. Pray for the University of Tennessee… we need it.

Tell me how you have been comforted recently by our God.

– Sarah (:

Me, My Faith, and I

Me, My Faith, and I is a poem I wrote almost3 years ago and is still very real to me. While I have grown as a daughter of Christ, recently I have had to discover the reality of life getting harder. As I do my best to adapt to my life style and the new world around me (recently moved to ATL), I have learned that sometimes choosing my Faith is easier said than done. My heart and emotions sway as I still attempt to hold strong to the truths of Christ’s love for me! But i know He is a patient and loving God that will Bless my determination.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5:6

Me, My Faith, and I

To call faith a roller coaster ride,
Is to undermine its impact.
The strength of a teenager’s faith,
Is like a very doubt-able fact.

Those with faith try to understand,
We want the shack on the rock.
But our actions turn out looking,
Like a boat tied to a dock.

I know I am not alone in this,
This feeling of deep confusion.
I just know I am over it,
I want my heart to make a decision.

I want to represent my Father,
Make the Lord proud.
I want to stand and proclaim Him,
In front of an enormous crowd.

I am simply sixteen,
And ignorant I am sure.
But I feel forgotten and lost,
I’m on the wrong side of the door.

At church I praise and sing,
To the best of my ability.
And still my heart does question,
My tempered soul’s morality.

So today I proclaim, my friends,
I know my imperfections.
I recognize my faults,
And my mislead direction.

Today I ask you to acknowledge,
That I really do try!
But we are taking it day by day,
Me, my faith, and I.