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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Your Grace is Enough.

First I need to give a shout out to the beautiful Megan Lange and her amazing talents behind a camera… she took the photo that is the new background image on my blog. Feel free to click the tab at the top that says Background Photo to see a better view of this photo and for links to all of her contact info if you ever need an amazing photographer or you want to know more about her!

The next thing I will say is that grace was redefined this week for me. I have learned a new meaning to a word that was already so dear to me. Jesus used a real-life example to humble me and remind me that I will always be at the mercy of the King and at the foot of the cross His Son died on.

Let me take you back to Monday night. 3:00a.m. (I guess that now means Tuesday morning) you would have found me in the 4th floor study room of South Carrick pouring over my Economics class notes studying hard, as I had been all week long. I stayed up the majority of the night and finally called it quits at 3:30am. I set my alarm, crawled into bed, and fell asleep wihin a matter of seconds.

At 11:38a.m. the following morning I woke up. I looked at my watch only to be in complete shock. I had slept through my exam. I literally didn’t believe my eyes. (YES I did attempt to close them and reopen them just hoping and praying I had mad a 10 turn into an 11 due to drowsiness). But as you suspected, my eyes were working just fine. I had slept through an exam that I HAD to get a good grade on in order to save myself from failing out of Economics 201. It was all over. I called my mother and told her I was quitting college that I didn’t have any other choice because I couldn’t withdraw from the class and if I failed my GPA was ruined. I literally felt hopeless.

Right then my roommate, the wonderful Claire Dodson, walked in and by the grace of God she helped me and cared for me and convinced me to go down and talk to my teacher. I got dressed as she walked with me all the way to Alumni Memorial all the while encouraging me on what to say to my proffeser. I thought it was all over. No way was this teacher just going to hand me a second chance. Out of a class of 608… why would she give a second thought of the one student who couldn’t manage to set her alarm… I walked in the door and my professor took one look at me. She smiled and said, “Sarah I noticed you weren’t here.” I began to cry. The fight against the tears were over. “Mrs. B I am so so sorry!” She patted my arm and said, “These things happen. Go to my office, stop and get a drink of water, and I will be over shortly to give you the exam.” And that was it. I walked out of the classroom. Hugged Claire and then went over to her office where I proceeded to take the exam and get an 86.

Unconditional Grace. No questions asked, no hesitation, simply love and understanding that everyone makes mistakes. Our God gives us this. He knows all and yet He desires to intimately be with us to the point where He does not desire for our sin to separate us from closeness with Him. Instead without asking questions and without doubting His children, He simply takes the blame and pulls us in closer saying “These things happen.” How beautiful and reassuring His love is. If only there were more people in the world that could love the way Christ did…. If every student, teacher, parent, politician, and friend loved with unconditional grace the way Jesus did (and how Mrs. B so beautifully reflected) think of how much better off we would all be. Amazing. Awe-struck Amazement.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

Sit in this peace with me for a while.

– Sarah (: