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.

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

Where My Heart is at This Summer

It’s been a hard summer. God’s been working on a lot the past 8 weeks. And there are 5 more to go. That’s the scary part. I think the first 8 were just a warm up. Lots of changes. Lots of unexpected. Lots of I don’t know what the blank I’m doing anymore. Lots of I need people. And most importantly, lots of I need God.

I don’t really have much to say except scripture is where it is at. My dear friend, Sherri, has been sending me verses from all over the Word, and at the most random times, but they some how just seem to fit. Also people have been praying for me. And it has just recently been brought to my attention that people do this frequently. And I don’t know why but until this summer I didn’t think people did that for me. I just thought “I’ll be praying for you,” was the Southern version of “Wow, your life sucks.” Because a lot of the time, people say they will pray over you, but they don’t actually do it. You know? So when I found out from various people that they or others have been praying over me, it just kind of shocked me. I am humbled and I thank you if you are one of those people. Seriously. I can feel that you’re doing it. God has been whispering, “You aren’t alone.” There’s a lot going on, but the only thing left to say is I want you to read Isaiah 43. I’ll put pieces of it here and I encourage you to read it slowly. Just soak it in. I cry when I read it. Every time. It’s just where my heart is at this summer.

All enfaces are added by me.

Isaiah 43:

“But now, this is what the LORD says- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘ Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you,'” (vs. 1-4)

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you;” (vs. 5)

“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (vs. 7)

“I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.” (vs. 11)

“I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.” (vs. 15)

– 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.

{Guest Post} Salvation vs. Sanctification

Our guest blogger today is my very own Mommy! She is the CEO and founder of Focused Creative Energy, a published author in financial assistance (check out her book and E-book here), she is a mother of three, and a wonderful wife. Besides all of that she is also the leader of a small group at her local church, North Point Community Church. This post is about an experience she recently had with her group of girls!

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I am a leader of a group of 9th grade girls at our church, and a few weekends ago we went on an awesome retreat where we talked about our relationships with our friends.  On our retreat in October, we had talked about our relationships with God.  This is the conversation I had with my girls after that retreat:

On Saturday night after session, we talked a little bit about the difference between Salvation and Sanctification; and I said that there are two parts of your relationship with Christ.  The first, Salvation, is when you accept him as your Savior.  The second, Sanctification, is when you accept him as your King.  The process of Sanctification also means that, as you grow in your relationship with Him, you will look more like Christ.  More and more you will begin to be a reflection of Christ to the people around you.

In Mark 12:28-31 it says,

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Jesus told them of all the commandments that Moses had given them, there were two that were the most important: Loving God with all their strength, and Loving their neighbor as themselves.

SO….If all you do is concentrate on those two things: Loving God (point towards the sky) and Loving each other (point at your two best friends on either side of you), what does that make your reflection to the world look like?  Hopefully, you will see that it starts to make you look more like the cross and more of a reflection of Christ to the people in the world around you.

Blessings,

Kim Moog

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 (:

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

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.

Moments Like These.

I am walking up the stairs; my arms filled with toys and books and clutter from today’s activities. I am frustrated and tired of looking after children. I am tired of raising my voice and feeling unheard. “I am so over them.” I think to myself. I pause. I heard it. Just now, on the stairwell. I hold my breath. He has won me over in this moment. The feeling isn’t strong enough to be The Enemy himself, but merely one of his helpers. “Go away.” I say out loud. Owen passes by me with a confused look, but I ignore him. I cannot lose track of this one until I know it is gone. “Go away,” I repeat.

I think back through my day. It had been with me for most of it. Distracting me, negatively impacting me, doing all it knows how to keep me from clinging to the holiness of Christ. When I was washing dishes I began to sing praises, but then got distracted by the song on the radio. I went to take photos of the LORD’s painted flowers, but then Appa needed my attention. I wanted to play with Maren and embrace her like Christ embraces me, but I had too harsh of a headache. It had been succeeding all day. Until I noticed it while walking up these stairs. It caught my eye, if you will. Almost as if it had taken a break. I could only imagine it leaning against the railing and laughing to itself, “today was easy. She did most of the work.” I began to get frustrated. “Where is He?” I thought. “He is here too. Why can’t I feel Him?”

I take a deep breath.”Jesus.” It came out like a whisper. Eyes closed. Emotions drained. The softest of prayers.

His response is radiant. Immediately it is gone. It could not stay. Not after the power of His name was enforced. The peace of His presence overwhelms me and humbles me. “Forgive me Father. I have been away all day.” “My darling, I was here. While you washed the dishes and looked after the children. I washed you clean and took care of you. Moment by moment. I was there. Your heart drifted towards me only for this world to pull it away. Stay close, little one. The world is scary without me near. “I walk up the rest of the stairs, drop the clutter onto the ground, and curl up into my bed. It is moments like these I wish He was tangible. I know I would just snuggle into His large arms while He tightly pulled me into His chest. I would fall asleep in this peaceful moment. In Heaven I will have this joy, but for now I just imagine. I remember that tomorrow I will awaken and try again. Attempting to cling to Christ more than to this Earth. That HE is my awaiting treasure.

– Sarah (:

The Morning After.

Satan whispers, “It’s going to happen eventually. You never have been able to break your habits.” I believe him, because it appears to be true. I should have reminded myself that his is known for lying to get his way. I tell myself, with Satan’s evil encouragement, that I am too dirty and too ugly and undesirable to be wanted by anyone else. This is what I have come to think. My emotions are building and now I am crying. Crying because I don’t want to do this, but I think I can make it my escape. I cry out, “God I need this,” and he replies, “My beloved you only need me.” And then I say the words I regret the most, “Sometimes that’s not good enough.” I have hurt Him. Did He see this coming? Of course, He is the Almighty. Did he want to? Absolutely not. I can hear Him crying. It’s a soft, heart-breaking, cry. My mind shuts off, the argument is over. I cry as I pour my emotions into this empty pit. As everything comes to an end the tears don’t stop. I continue to cry and I hear His words with His intimate gentleness, “Beloved, when are you going to learn this will never satisfy you?” I cry myself to sleep as I turn His words over in my dreams.

This morning, I sit, determined to learn. Determined to reach for the thing I have never grasped. God be my teacher. Mold me.

I am Yours.

– Sarah