Here and Now

todopix

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.

Emmanuel: Where Imperfections Meet Redemption

Emmanuel: Where Imperfections Meet Redemption

I wrote in my journal this morning,

Jesus I feel so defeated today. I feel hopeless. I feel like I’ve lost before I even started. I don’t feel like I can do anything. I feel like everything is too much, too overwhelming, too hard. I am not good enough.

Ellie Holcomb, one of my favorite artists of all time, opened her concert last week by saying,

Hey y’all, I’m Ellie Holcomb, and I am a recovering perfectionist.

Isn’t she just beautifully honest? And isn’t that just so delicately true about all of us? At least I know it is true for me. But as I was writing I stopped and began to sing these two songs:

I Need You by Matt Maher & Walk With Me by Jesus Culture

And then my heart was reminded:

LORD, THIS is my problem. I try to do it alone. I try to be what I am not: independent! My pride gets in the way Elohim*!! I am so sorry. Christmas is about how the world that was so fatally ill needed a savior, REQUIRED A SAVIOR!! So You, El Oseh Phela**, sweet, merciful, and Holy God, you blessed this world with one.

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Jesus came. He left Heaven, so magnificent and so perfect, and entered this world. He joined us in the mess – in the wanna-be-holiness. He met us in our too-full-for-others-lives in a barely manageable manger. The Angels rejoiced and the Kings declared that Emmanuel had come. God was, and is, with us!

So my Jesus, who doesn’t expect perfection, let my imperfections bless You. Thank you for coming and for saving us! May my successes honor You. And may all I do Glorify the Greatest Gift of All, You.

– Sarah

*Elohim, meaning God, Prominent One
**El Oseh Phela – meaning God Who Works Wonders

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

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

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 (:

Hope on the Horizon.

Here is real-life author moment… my post today is titled this because I think it sounded really cool. Lol. In all seriousness though, the Hope is already here. On the Horizon are all of the blessings and lessons that I am hopeful for.

Anyways….. I want to start my though process on the fact that 10 years (and now one day) ago, there was an attack on the United States as a whole. That our country was placed under in a circumstance that we had never had to face before. And whether every citizen had voted for George W. or whether barely anyone did….. We united ourselves under our President. And together we mourned this great loss. And while it was a loss of loved ones here, it was a gain of loved ones in Heaven. While it was a loss of mental stability for even just a moment, it was a gain of a lifetime of reality. While it was a loss of two towers that crumbled to the earth like brown sugar while baking cookies, it was a gain of a memorial that will mean more to this country than possibly any other land mark. We gained. We hoped. And we prayed…. together.

I gained this inspiration from Andy Stanley, the senior paster at North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia. So thank you Andy. To watch the sermon on this, click here and then select part 4. (This message may not be available until Monday evening. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Secondly I want to talk about the hope that Christ gave me this week. Where he allowed me to see it…. was in the comfort of John.

This is us in downtown Chattanooga this weekend with his sister Maria, whom I love. But the reason I say this is because He leads me. His wisdom is astounding and His courage is remarkable. As I cried this evening for several reasons, leaving John, having to go back to UT, missing home, him leaving for Spain, etc… I was completely frazzled. All of a sudden he took his hands. His loving, callused, gentle, hands and placed my wet face in his as he prayed. It was overwhelming. He cried and I cried harder. He hurt because I hurt. And he was being 100% sincere. He allows my Daddy to hold my wet, tear-stained, face in His hands while He gives me hope and peace and comfort of the blessings He knows are to come. John prayed with the strength, and courage that I needed him to have because I had all of a sudden become too weak.

On my drive home I reflected on the weekend. On my time with John, and on 9/11. It was approaching midnight and the day of supposed-to-be-doom was almost over. And all I could keep thinking about was how so many people GAINED hope on this day. That so many people had been blessed with the opportunity to remember the importance (or dare I say, the lack of) in this world. That we are called to be at this place, at this time, because the Almighty declares it so. That His plan is so far greater than ours. At a moment of supposed-to-be-weakness, the Untied States became One Nation Under God. We gave United an entirely new meaning. And we looked up, towards God, with the trust that His plan shames all others. Our country did this 10 years ago, and John did this for me tonight. What a lesson to remember.

Thank you John.

– Sarah (: