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

Still

You said I was your favorite Sarah and that would never change.

Am I still?

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We promised to go on a bear hunt, and to catch all of the Indians on Cherokee Trail.

Will we still?

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You played even after your mind couldn’t remember the words. Your hands still new the strings.

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We watched baseball games, begging you to cheer for the winning team. You always would.

Will you still?

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Your voice went lower than I could ever attempt in the first refrain of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Does it still?

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Your hands clapped after every single one of my choir performances, cello recitals, and graduations.

Will they still?

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Sneaking extra pieces of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving was always our favorite part.

Is it still?

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You promised to love me until time stood still.

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Is time still?

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!

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

Grateful.

Life moves quickly. That’s what I remember thinking on my 21st birthday last week. It moves quickly and keeps moving quickly. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good, and that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

If you didn’t know this about me, I journal. I write in a notebook starting on my birthday and I keep writing until either it fills up and I start another or it’s my birthday again. I like getting  a fresh start. Opening the first page and physically beginning a new chapter. Last year on my birthday I purchased this journal:

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And I am truly blessed to say that I found joy this year. Through trial and through blessing, Jesus has been there. There is a joy I cannot explain and cannot contain that comes from Him. And for that I am grateful. I have learned the art of being thankful. Especially for the little things. I was given this sweet gift from my dear friend Katie:

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It’s an awesome way to see where Jesus spoils you. Because trust me friends, He does! After realizing how truly blessed I am, I cannot help but think what a wonderful year and life I have! I am not saying there aren’t bad times. I’m not even saying there are easy times. But Jesus is good to me. And I just felt I needed to share that with you today. I have had more sentimental thoughts, I have wanted to write probably a lot more ‘profound’ opinions. I have even wanted to share some pretty hysterical stories and videos. But I just felt I needed to stop and say. “I’m grateful.” So here we are….

I got a second dog. “What?! She’s crazy!! You can’t do that…” I know…. But I did. And she is wonderful and she makes everything ten times better. I don’t have to defend my decision, but she is adorable and you will love her too. Her name is Wendy.

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Besides Wendy and Lucy. I have learned a lot about myself. I have realized how much I truly love flowers. And Laura was sweet enough to send me some on my birthday…

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I am beyond blessed to be a member of Sigma Phi Lambda. This year the girls in Phi Lamb have challenged me, blessed me, held me accountable, and showered me with love that I didn’t deserve. And as of last night, I was initiated as the President for the 2014 – 2015 school year. And believe me when I say, it is my honor.

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Alexandra. I have to say I am thankful for her, because Jesus was good to me when He gave me her. It wasn’t that He hasn’t blessed me with 100 thousand other people who love me too, but this year, specifically this semester, she has been there. He placed her in moments and gave her wise words. He blessed us with good conversation and for quiet moments. And I just needed to say so so THANKFUL for her.

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And lastly I am thankful for the gospel. Jesus has met me here when I needed Him most. People reminded me of the good news when I had almost forgotten it. And if it were not for the sweet truth of Jesus, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So here’s to a new year and to the blessings Jesus has given me!

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Cheers! – 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.

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

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

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 (:

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

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 (: