Oh Holy Week

This?

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THIS is what Holy Week looks like?

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A hot mess with a side of ratchet? Can anyone else relate?… And if you think this looks bad, you are just lucky I can’t capture my emotions or my thoughts in a photo to share. After all, my outsides are almost always a reflection of my insides.

But maybe it is more than the pile of clothing I feel necessary to try on each day before work. Maybe it is more than the stacks of to-do lists that seem to replenish faster than I can complete them. Maybe, just MAYBE, this week is more than finals and weddings and flash cards.

I thought to myself as I was getting ready this morning, ‘This week Satan has had all hands on deck. With the chaos and the worry and the doubt and the high emotions. Of all weeks, he couldn’t give me a break this week? This precious week?’

And then Jesus met me.

He reminded me that I do not have fluctuating value. I am not the stock market. My worth was permanently made known on the cross. A completed to do list, or folded laundry pile, or cleared off kitchen table CANNOT add to me.

He reminded me that I am an individual. That from my fingerprints to my sense of humor. I am special. My outward appearance or comparison to others’ successes DOES NOT make me any less unique.

He reminded me that I am blessed. Blessed with two pups I get to call my own. Blessed with a nephew I can’t wait to squeeze. Blessed with a car that moves forward. Blessed with 80+ girls that asked me to lead them. And Blessed by words that come in the sweetest of moments.

He reminded me that He is my hope. That I need nothing but Him. I should desire nothing but Him. And that His sacrifice will always be the greatest love story of all time.

So. I hope your Holy Week was a WHOLE LOT more holy than mine; but if it was a WHOLE LOT messier than you expected, there is good news. This week is HOLY because of a God who is HOLY. So there is still time to forget all of the other stuff and to remember the HOLINESS of CHRIST and what He did for you.

Remember that because of Him, because of what happened during Holy week, you are valued, unique, and blessed. And most importantly you can have hope.

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.

A Happy New Christmas

This year has flown by, as I feel I say every year, but honestly this is one for the books.

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I wake up on Christmas morning, not to the usual squeals of Savannah and myself ready for Christmas. (We continue our childhood tradition of sleeping in the same bed on Christmas Eve.) Instead, I wake up to the sound of a crying baby. He wails for my older sister Laura, his mother, for his instantaneous needs. I offer to help as I can see the exhaustion on her face through her new mother glow. I change his diaper and then begin to rock him out of loving desperation for silence. But as I rock him I cannot help but think to myself how beautiful a brand new baby looks on Christmas morning. And he isn’t just beautiful because he is a baby or because he is new, but because he is mine. I rock him and dream of all the plans I hope for him. Plans for hope and a future.

Mary must have felt this way. Don’t you think? In all of her fear and all of her rejection, she sat at the early hours of the morning holding the most beautiful, new Baby in all of history. She rocked her Son out of desperation for sleep and silence and warmth. She rocked Him with the hope of what He could become. Ironically, she had no idea what her Son came to do, what He had to do, and who He would become. I imagine she hoped for a simple life, a good life, and He would give her the world, except for a simple life. He was going to make her watch Him sacrifice Himself without understanding. She knew His divine identity but yet he portrayed  only humaneness on the cross. He made her mourn His death for 3 days, which must have felt like an eternity, before His unexpected resurrection.

But just as my sister gave Hunter life and she and I can hope for him, and just as Mary gave Jesus life and she hoped for Him; Jesus gives you the chance at life that He hopes for you. {I would say, don’t you think? but I know.}

He created your inmost being, He knit you together in your mother’s womb. And He planned it all out so that He could not only make you and give you Life, but He could hope for you, give up everything for you, and give you more than you can imagine.

Friends, I would be ruining your Christmas if I did not offer you this gift. This gift that was given to you freely. You don’t have to take it, just like every gift, you can choose to leave it on the table. But speaking from experience, there is no greater gift you will ever receive!

- Sarah

P.S. I got a new puppy and a new baby for Christmas. and this is what the night shift looks like…

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Dear Daddy,

Dear Daddy,

Thanks for being my biggest fan, my push to be better, my hope for tomorrow, and my best friend.

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Thanks for being a Godly figure in my life and in others’ lives.

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Thanks for giving me high expectations for how a man should treat his wife and run a household.

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Thanks for your love even in my darkest hours and your  praises in my best hours.

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Thanks for being a professional cookie maker, the nicest flat-tire changer, and the best rough-houser I know.

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With only the utmost respect and adoration a daughter can have,

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I. love. you. Dad! Happy Birthday!

- Sarah

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

Life Lately {June addition}

So Life Lately has been a little crazy. Also, looking back on a lot of my blog posts recently they have been super deep and vulnerable and emotional and all that jazz. And that is great and I always think my writing is most real when I am in the zone like that, but there are days when I just need to talk about the good things going on. So here it goes.

Saying y’all. Like a lot. The kids I nanny have pointed out to me that I average about 15 y’alls a day. WHAT?!? #Southern

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Saying Holy ______ Batman! This is something the kids have taught me to say. It’s funny. And can be really witty if you play your cards right. My favorite so far is “Holy Did Nicky Just Wet His Pants Batman?” Check out this video for some examples!

Playing games with boys. Now this sounds weird, and potentially inappropriate, but I promise it 100% isn’t. I have always been a girlie girl, and I’ve pretty much always only had girl friends, but this summer I dared myself to learn to hang out with the 2 boys I nanny and actually play with them. I have learned that I am terrible at: football, Mario Kart, and watching scary movies. I have learned I am good at: wrestling, winning fart contests, and making inappropriate jokes. Here’s to being a boy!

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Asking for Prayer. And this isn’t me trying to be all like “look at me, I pray and need prayer, blah blah blah.” But this is me saying HOLY PRAYING ROCKS, BATMAN!! I have been praying probably more than I ever have before. And honestly I think prayer reaps prayer. It has taught me to be honest, sincere, and connected to Christ in a way I never have before. I have always prayed, but I think this summer was meant to teach me the disciplines of prayer and what the power of prayer can look like in a person’s life. I have also seen the benefits of being vulnerable to ask for others to pray over you. As I make some hard decision in the next upcoming months, it’s been awesome to see the community of people join with me in these decisions, all because I asked them to. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty sweet.

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And lastly, I would say graphic design. I’m all about it. It rocks. It brings out the creative juices in me and it let’s me feel super artsy. (And apparently it’s the hipster thing to do, so surprise surprise I am loving it.) I made these 2 things & I’m super proud of them. Even if they’re simple to everyone else, they were hard for me, but I am loving the chance to learn new things. The BIY chart I made one for every week for the rest of the year & the button on the right is for a Speak Now event this July! It is broadcast on my blog along with many other women’s!! (:

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I hope y’all enjoying the simple things in your life this week!

‘ Til next time – 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.