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

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

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

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!

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.

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

Broken.

Shoot Shoot Shoot Shoot Shoot! [I’m going to be really honest. This wasn’t the word I yelled about 45 minutes ago, but let’s all just roll with it.]

The past three weeks have been about all I can handle emotionally, physically, mentally, psychologically, or whatever other fancy term you want to throw up there. The past three weeks have been freaking terrible. I’m tired. I’m emotionally drained. And my spirit just doesn’t feel like it can take anything else right now. The nannying life has been great. It’s just “everything else” that I am dealing with.

So why does it still surprise me that late at night, when I am all alone, and I just feel straight up defeated,  Satan began to creep into my thoughts? He began knocking on the protective walls of my mind and it was like the soldiers had all fallen asleep. My protectors of my fortress were so quickly taken by surprise. I will give them credit they have been fighting hard the past couple of weeks. But that’s exactly how a battle is won. Isn’t it? The enemy beats you and beats you and beats you down until you can’t take it anymore and then they come in for the final blow. The Enemy doesn’t sit back and say “Oh wait guys, she looks really really tired, she needs a break. Let’s pack up and come back tomorrow.” NO!! The Deceiver, like any good attacker, does the opposite. He keeps hounding and pounding and pushing and pulling until your mind cannot take it any longer. Then he takes a deep breath, pulls back for momentum and thrusts himself forward for the final blow.

Yesterday evening was bad too. But I had had enough to strength to pray for protection. I had called out the name of Jesus, my protector, the lover of my soul, the Almighty One. That He would stand for me when I no longer could. That he would place armies of angels around me in order to get me through the night. And Praise the Holy One. The One Who’s Reign Shall Never End, He did!! What a mercy. What a blessing. How GOOD my God is to me. But then again tonight Satan came crawling back, the way he is used to doing. He strikes like a snake at my mental process. Derailing my train of thought before it can get to Jesus. As he strikes again my mental strongholds failed. I truly watched them give up. It was like my mind said “We just can’t Sarah, you’re too tired for this today.” And the wall came crumbling down. It had been such a long battle. But again I failed. And once the fight is over Satan doesn’t help you clean up the mess. He doesn’t comfort like Emet Elohim Emet does. He doesn’t heal like Yahweh Rophey does. He doesn’t help and fix like Adonai does. He leaves.

After the disaster of the night. The broken child that I am remains. Nothing else. No one else. Just the mess that I was, am, and will be. But there is hope, because unlike the Evil One. My Beloved helps the broken.

Taped to my closet door is Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So tomorrow I will begin again. With renewed hope. Attempting to take on another day in this dark dark world. With the purpose of shining a light so someone else can have this hope that I have. This joy that heals. This love that claims you and makes you whole.

– Sarah

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.

But What About Jesus?

So my last blog post was right after my birthday. And it breaks my heart to realize I have written five or six drafts since then, but this is the first moment I was able to take a deep breath and actually write. I have still been writing, but not necessarily the way I love. I’m the head of the blog for a non-profit organization called Speak Now. I’ve talked about it several times here, but if you haven’t had the time. CHECK. IT. OUT. I love the heart of the organization and the cause and everything. Mommy and I take turns posting on the site. Our posts go up twice a week, and I’m gonna be real. You don’t want to miss out. Here’s the link: SPEAK NOW.

My only issue is that I can’t talk about Jesus on the blog. Ellie Coburn, who is a good friend and the CEO and Founder of Speak Now (and only 17. My WORD this gal is awesome!!) is a Christian and I know her heart seeks after the Lord, but she believes we can’t encourage women while preaching about Jesus too because it scares off a lot of our followers. And I see her reasoning and respect that decision. It’s not a coincidence though that almost all of our board of representatives are Christ followers. Jesus is working here. So if you wouldn’t mind, join me in prayer that my secular words can reach out to these souls and show them Jesus.

And this kind of brings me to what is most heavily on my heart these days. The prayer I have so repeatedly prayed and the ache in my soul just keeps asking… WHERE. IS. JESUS?? I do not doubt The Almighty One and I don’t question The Author of Time, but this world is just so lost and so empty. I feel like my actions over this school year have been so of the flesh, and not of my God. So in humble conviction I hit my knees whispering… Where is Jesus??

I looked around my school’s campus as the school year came to a close and just asked… What is all this for if not for Jesus?

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Looking through this building and through the bustle of the backpacks and said… But why are we working if not for Jesus?

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I earned straight A’s this semester making my sophomore year GPA a 4.0 ——> Praise the Great Lion of Judah! But what are all my efforts for if not for Jesus? Why do I study so diligently about meaningless pieces of history or write essays about forgotten pieces of literature instead of studying and writing about the gospel. isn’t THAT the story that needs to be told and told again?

So for now, I will just keep on keeping on. Seeking His Goodness in this world of sin and darkness. Attempting to be a beacon of light in this dark and empty place.

A Christmas to Remember

The lights were dark in the sanctuary. Candles were aflame in various parts of the room, and the pastor called forward all who had been saved, came back to Christ, or had been baptized this past year. I don’t like alter calls and I do not like walking to the front of a church when you feel like the world is looking at you. And in that moment, fear took over me. I whispered to Mom if I should walk to the front. After all, I was baptized in May of this year. The moment was overwhelming. She replied, “You can if you want to,” and without thinking my feet began to carry me. They took me down the stairs as tears streamed down my face and I sang “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”… The tears started rushing even harder. “I am not faithful,” I thought. “Not even close. After all I’ve done. After every mistake. I am the least of these.” None of these people should be looking at me or the small light that shined oh so brightly in the terribly dark room. But something inside me made me desire the light. My maternal instincts made me clasp my hand around the flame, not daring to let it burn out. I walked back across the room and up the stairs to my seat with my family. The whole time allowing the tears to pour and the light to shine.

Because that is what Christmas is all about. The people of the world were so UNDESERVING of a Savior. So UNPREPARED. So UNWORTHY. Yet God sent His Son. He sent HIS ONLY SON knowing we would hate Him. The children He loved Oh so VERY much, would reject His most precious gift to us. So we stand once a year, in a large sanctuary, and the Elders pass out candles, and we all sing, and we all remember the little babe. We remember the humble mother, the doubtful father, the dirty stable, and the UNPREDICTABLE, IMPOSSIBLE, yet REMARKABLE birth of the baby who came to save the world.

This Christmas I encourage you to remember. Remember the gift that came. And to remember how much love God MUST have for us, in order to give us His Son. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases, and the Happiest of New Years.

– Sarah (:

P.S. If you missed my Baptism video. Here’s the link!

Divine Instances of Vulnerability

Over the past several years I have come to realize that God creates within us divine instances of vulnerability for His purpose. A Divine Instance of Vulnerability is when a person is so consumed with the mightiness of God in a mere second of ultimate realness that they are quite literally overwhelmed. The only way such an instance can occur is by the person practically getting taken by surprise by the Lord Himself. You see, you cannot prepare your heart for such an instance. It just happens. You are taken aback in awe of the Mighty One, because He is loving enough to desire such a closeness with you that He will demand it from your very being. In the end, the LORD sought out your heart and purposefully grabbed hold of its nakedness at the perfect moment to influence your life and your relationship with Him exactly as He has intended it to be from the very beginning of time.

– Sarah (:

I’m Not an Olympian

There are strong women in the world and women empowerment is something that has always been strongly on my heart. Especially since I recently joined the Speak Now team (more of this to come.) Our society encourages and demands women to be independent and strong and brave. The Olympics finished tonight and America had hundreds of strong female athletes take to their skill and show the world they were the strongest they could be and they claimed gold medal after gold medal after gold medal. And I can tell you I am so proud of these women it’s not even funny. #TeamUSA

But I want to ask the question that has brought me to my knees this evening. Is it so wrong to be weak? Is it socially unacceptable to “not be ok?” People ask “How are you?” Do they WANT me to explain that my heart is aching, it is being torn in two by the people I love the most, that my heart and mind battle it out hour after hour as I try to ignore the yelling of my soul so that I can continue with my day to day activities? Is it OK to cry in front of others? Openly? Honestly? Even if you KNOW what you are about to say is going to be rejected by 95% of the population in front of you? How does a woman handle such an emotion?

So I guess what I am trying to say is that for most of my life I take pride in being the super woman. I go to extreme lengths to make everyone proud but today I will not. Tonight I am going to admit that I am not always strong. I’m not always the best. And I most certainly do not have the emotional strength of an Olympian.

– Sarah

Surrendering

I haven’t written in a while, and I am not sure why. I think it’s because I lack things to say, or there is too much to say that I don’t know how to say it.

Today my heart is overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed by wants versus needs, and my frustrations of wanting to be an adult, but then an immediate counter emotion of wanting to be little, the desires of my heart are struggling, and God’s will is prevailing.

How do I become my own person while I am wrapped up in what everyone else wants for my life?

How do I make wise decisions without compromising my freedom?

How do I enjoy life while planning years of non-stop hard work in front of me?

And How do I reach for my dreams while life seems to be getting in the way?

This is the heaviness of my heart. This is how I feel. I think back to a year ago. I was sitting on this bed, in this sweet family’s house, looking at my life and what I would make it…. It looks nothing like what it was a year ago. A YEAR AGO. How quickly things change. It is remarkable. I do not understand.

So I sit in this room, down the hall I hear Kim playing the Passion Conference CD that I gave her, and I hear Chris Tomlin’s voice resounding the truth I must cling to.

We are laying down, our weapons now,

We raise our white flag,

We surrender all to you,

All for YOU.

So sing with me, and let God take your life. It’s a struggle for someone as prideful as me, but how can we not? He is just so good. Life is moving too quickly… Like seriously… It’s AUGUST. So friends I encourage you to listen to this song and take it to heart. It brings me tears, especially since it takes me back to Passion where there were 45,000 of us singing from the deepest of our hearts.

Raising my flag. – Sarah

Getting Older

So the thought has entered my head several times over the past couple of weeks and I don’t really know what to make of it.

I am getting older.

My friends and I discussed our thoughts and emotions behind abortion, the Chick fil a debate, the election, taxes, ROTH IRAs, school funding, student loans, wedding budgets, and all these other things. THIS IS WHAT OLD PEOPLE TALK ABOUT. I am discussing how to start my own business and how to get a book published and what agencies look for and if it is smarter to take out loans now and begin building my ROTH IRA or whatever. I discuss interest rates and losing weight. I talk about Paleo foods and heart rate and blood pressure. I talk about the shooting in Aurora and airline prices.

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? I listen to adults talk about how quickly their children grow up. I am here to say that the children are FREAKING OUT about how quickly we grow up.

Why am I not discussing how cute Andrew looked in The Amazing Spider Man? Or watching Grey’s Anatomy re-runs? Or sitting and coloring in a coloring book with my little sister. HOW did this happen? Why am I WORRIED? Children don’t worry. I listen to Maren and Nicky argue about which wizard is the best on a specific video game and I simply envy it. They have no idea I am listening and they have no idea how jealous I am or what I would give to be that little again.

So today I sit. In the shocking realization that I am not little anymore. I have been waiting for this feeling probably since my 18th birthday. But today was the day that I cried because all I wanted to play outside with no shoes on. I don’t want to floss or take vitamins or research tax information. I want to eat cookies. LOTS of cookies. And milk. I want the kitchen to be a mess and let someone else deal with it. And more importantly I want to sing. I want to stand on the back porch with my arms open wide and just sing. I’ll sing anything my heart desires from One Direction to Jesus songs. Just let me sit, sing, and be carefree for one more day. Let me be little.

– Sarah

Worth it.

I sit alone in my bedroom. The kids have been tucked into bed and the lights are off in the house. Everything within me is dying to just go to bed. After the long day of visitors and large dogs and a terribly beating workout I find my eyelids getting heavier by the moment. But in the quiet I hear Him. He calls to me. Not begging, but requesting my attention be turned to Him. In this moment I have to decide. Am I going to spend time with Him? After a long pause, I decide I will gather my strength and sit with the LORD. I just pray I don’t fall asleep.

My prayer begins and I am speechless. What do you say to the Man who made it all? Where do you begin? I thank Him for the many things I never deserve. Listing them one by one. Then I open my bible to the Psalms. I find myself eye-to-eye with Psalm 111. “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them… The works of His hands are faithful and just… He provided the redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever – holy and awesome is His name.…”

I reach verse 9 where these bolded words are written and I think to myself. HOW could I NOT sit in the presence of the Mighty King?! HOW could I DOUBT that His time with me is SO IMPORTANT and SO WORTH IT. WHY would I EVER pass up this opportunity? … But yet I do. More often than I would like to admit. The day goes by and my heart had wondered.

My Mother has often reminded me, “If you feel distant from God remind yourself who moved.

So in this moment folks. I ask you to remember the holiness and the majesty of our God. If today was a day you weren’t willing to sit and be still. I am reminding you. It’s worth it.