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

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

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!

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.

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.

Walk like a child. Talk like a child.

As I am tired, sunburned, and frustrated I find myself in the backyard looking through the fencing on this summer night.

 The day has been long and it is just now reaching 8:00. How can the day already be long? The to-do list is barely dented into and the kids still have too much energy. But here I am, taking a deep breath, before I go back to work. The children need me.

My emotional turmoil continues as I make my way back inside. I find that Nicky is crying. Sweet Nicholas only 11 years old. I hear him. He is in the living room. He thinks he is alone. Maren walks into the kitchen and I whisper, “Where is Nicky?” And she says, “He is hiding because you made him sad.” Her words smack me across the face as I realize that I have been selfish. In my own world. Only focused on my own emotions. Here I am frustrated and hurt, but Nicky has emotions too. Sweet, childish, innocent, emotions. I go into the living room to find him, I whisper that I am so sorry I hurt him and that I hope he can find it in his heart to forgive me. He doesn’t remove the blanket from over his head but he squeaks out, “Ok.” I can hear the resistance in his voice so I sit for a few minutes waiting for the air to clear. Surely enough, it does. A few more minutes go by and he pulls off the blanket and sniffles, “Can we build a fort in the basement?” “Sure.” I reply with a smile.

If only I could be like a child again. If only I didn’t have the adult-like mind that holds grudges. If only I didn’t judge people’s characters simply because they have hurt my feelings once. If only I could be more like….. Nicky. One of the last people I would ever wish to be like. I silently laugh to the irony of it all. I have to be more like a child. I have to forgive the people that have hurt me and move on. If only I had learned this lesson a couple hours earlier, I would have saved myself an entire afternoon of bitterness.

So now I must go, because Nicky and I are building a fort. Rebuilding our trust in one another, and I am secretly sneaking him the candy that I had grounded him from in the first place.

So friends. Be like Nicky. Let that grudge go.

– Sarah (: