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

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!

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

Here’s My May-athon.

Wow. It’s May 31. Dang I am getting old. I can’t believe it’s been an entire month sense I last blogged. I can’t believe this month of my life has not been exposed, not written about, not thought through. I need clarity people! Anyways, I guess I will start with the basics.

I moved out. scary thought that I am no longer a freshman in college. sad thought that I don’t live with my awesome roomies, and I live back in good ole Marietta.

Next was Matt and Lauren’s wedding. My cousin was married earlier this May and it was a joy to see him marry the love of his life who has been around for quite a while. We all adore Lauren, and honestly SHE is his better half! (:

After that I came back with a few days to recover before the guests started arriving for my baptism! I GOT BAPTIZED Y’ALL!

FINALLY!!

If you want to watch my testimony video and me getting baptized check it out here!

God’s love washed over me and took my sin away. It didn’t save me. Jesus Christ saved me. But it symbolizes what He did for me!

Then there were a couple days that gave me a chance to put my life in order. Unpack my dorm stuff, clean my room, and try to get into a summer routine. But soon came this monday, MEMORIAL DAY. We have several veterans in this family and it was awesome to get to celebrate this holiday with them. We took my grandpa, a WWII vet all the way from Knoxville down to the Atlanta Braves stadium where he had an awesome time at the game! This picture is us giving kicks and fist pumps so that I could send it into Today’s Letters (one of my favorite blogs. Check them out!)

And this week I have been taking things slow. Sleeping until noon. Doing lots of crafts including making ‘Merica shorts, flower pens, picture frame art, t-shirt blankets, writing letters to old friends, and working on some books (writing and Reading of course.)

 Hope your May-athon was as good as mine! See you in June!

- Sarah (:

The Break of Spring. Mmmmmmm (:

Today is my first day back at school since Spring Break. Possibly the worst day ever. (Thank you Sarah for being a Drama Queen.) If it wasn’t bad enough that I had to wake up early and spend a whole day in class, I woke up and in a rush of throwing all my things together I spilled hot coffee all over me and my poor roomie’s stuff. (And when I say hot cup of coffee, I am talking like the sweet sound of the Keurig making my coffee for me finishes, I reach over to pick up the cup, and instead I knocked it over, FULL.) ANYWAYS… not the point of this blog.

Spring Break started at 0700 at Micaela’s house where we all loaded up our things and began the long drive from Knoxville to Orange Beach, AL.

We then get to the condo and spent the next 5 days Relaxing. Resting. Not thinking about school. So glorious.

[Laura showing off our room!]

[Micaela and Laura walking the beach, this is the view from our room.]

[Laura and I got burned. But hey, we still had fun.]

[The burn was worth it, I got my chaco tan back!]

So after the exciting beach adventures I went and spent the rest of spring break in Atlanta with my fam. It was really nice to be at home and play with Demi and hang out with Nanny boo, Mom, and Dad. But the best part of all of Spring Break was that I got a new car!! Whoooooo!!

Now for those of you who were adoring fans of Annabell (The Mazda)… may she rest in peace… it was hard to get over her death and we are so sad. But her temporary replacement, Susanne (the Sebring convertible), was wonderful. Even though she was getting up in her old age she served me well. I just had to carry a quart of oil, a gallon of gas, and a gallon of water with me at all times. But she got me through the hardest semester of my life! I will always owe her that. But after my parents’ loving decision to get me a new car my Dad and I picked out my new man… Sebastian!! He is wonderful. He is a Lexus GS300 and he’s AWESOME.

So for spring break I learned what it meant to rest. To really stop and pause and rejoice in the life God has given me. AND I learned that God opens and closes doors according to His plan, but there is a peace that can be found in accepting that truth. He will give you the desires of your heart. Gosh. It’s been a good couple of days… now back to the books.

Tata!

- Sarah (:

Mmmm feelin’ good.

I think there are moments when God encompasses you with peace, comfort, hope, stability, and joy because He is rising you up out of the darkness, despair, dirt, and brokenness that you have been sitting in for quite sometime. I almost never thought this day would come. This breathe of fresh air. This moment of stillness. But it has arrived. My God is faithful.

This past week has began with so much darkness it was overbearing. But with a cry out for help and the power of prayer my Father’s strength is upon me. I almost feel like I am in this bubble that makes me untouchable. God’s Mighty Power was washed over me and I have content in His plan for me. Family has surrounded me and friends cling to me. I am not alone.

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” – 2 Timothy 4:17-18

Two songs that I want you to listen to… I have heard both one hundred times before, but I noticed the words for the first time this week. God delivers us from evil (Matthew 6:13). He is faithful.

- Sarah (:

Life as I Currently Know It.

Well… simply because of how my life has played out I have not written in quite some time. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to and it’s not that I couldn’t. It’s just that sometimes my lack of writing can express my emotion more than when I do write. And that’s ok. Because my favorite part of my blog is that it’s mine. I get to make the rules. So it’s time to summarize the past month:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I pray God gave you the gift you needed the most. Whether it was rest or love or hope. I can reassure you that when Jesus was born God delivered the most important package you will ever receive.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! It’s 2012… DANG. I will be 19 this year. That means I am almost 2 decades old. That also means I’m supposedly on my way to full adulthood and life gets harder. That’s scary. But I pray your New Years celebrations were filled with joy. Mine were spent with my cousins on my Daddy’s side of the family. It was really fun and very much needed for my soul.

If you read my last post. I am in a much better place. God is faithful at all hours of the night. When I am lonely and heart broken He is there. He brings healing in the kindest and most unexpected places.

PASSION 2012 happened. I wish you had been there. And I am saying that to every person that reads this. Because it was amazing. God works in MIGHTY ways. I will start by saying that if you do not know what Passion is, it is a conference for college students that is hosted by Louie Giglio and a large team of other Christian role models. If you want to learn more go here. This year we were in the Georgia Dome with 45,000 students. I used to think I was alone in my faith. God showed me just how wrong I was. Also we raised awareness for human slavery. If you didn’t know… there are 27 million people enslaved in the world right now. 27 million. That is the largest number in all of history. We raised over 3 million dollars in funds to help bring awareness and deal with the sex trafficking, child labor, and forced labor victims around the world. I am now more anxious then ever before to join my YWAM team to help take care of this issue personally. It is awful. It is disgusting. And I will fight for as long as I can and as hard as I can to stop it. Someone MUST stand up for the people chained to the floor.

I went on a cruise. It was so much fun. My family and our close friend Kayla went on a 5 day cruise to the Bahamas! We set sail last week and are getting home tonight. I am more sunburned than tan and more stuffed than I have been in a long time. Seriously. The food is so good. #ChocolateMeltingCake it’s SOOO good. I made a fort in the trunk of my Dad’s lexus in order to be comfortable on the long drive, but hey… it was worth it! (: It was nice to rest and relax and prepare myself for the semester ahead…

[Savannah and Me right before we left port]

Speaking of this next semester. School began. I missed the first few days due to the cruise. But I am back at UT and ready to show them what I am really made of . Without the distractions of last semester I am prepared to be the student I know I can be and the student I like to be. Remember I was the little girl that could read before Kindergarten… I like school. So this school year should be better and I am excited to be a Tennessee Vol.

May God’s peace be upon you and may your heart be content in the place that God has put you. He has reasons that only He knows. Trust in Him.

P.S. I fell in love with Gungor over the cruise. I’ve loved a couple of their songs for a while. But my heart was reborn in their music. Look them up.

- Sarah (:

What’s New?

Let’s start with the stuff everyone wants to know…. the update on the entire Australia situation. Yesterday morning I did in fact receive a confirmation email informing me that I have been accepted for the Not For Sale DTS. I immediately had a follow-up email asking for me to call them ASAP to discuss finances and legalities. I called her and after a long conversation she and I came to the conclusion that due to number of students at the school, my personal struggles and need of healing, and the financial numbers on my end it is better for me to attend a school that begins later in the year. There was talk about the school in April, but that would put me in the middle of the semester, or the school in July, but that would put me on a Ship which is not the DTS that I had applied for or feel called to be on. So it only came down to one solution the Not For Sale DTS that leaves NEXT January. January 27, 2013. I have been accepted to the program and officially enrolled. So WOW! It looks like God has other ideas for me. But in the end I AM GOING TO AUSTRALIA!

I am excited, but I have to admit I am a little discouraged. I have been looking forward to an opportunity like this for so long that it hurts to be told I need to wait. But everything is in God’s timing. After all, he is the Author of Time.

I am now returning to UTK this January. So I will be back in my dorm with my sweet roomies and taking another jab at being a college student. I am strong and I know that when I set my mind to something God will give me the strength that I need. He is faithful.

Besides all of this… being home has been good. I have spent a lot of time with my family. A lot of time with my great friends, and some time alone. It’s all been good, much needed, healing. I have picked up knitting again and I love it. I have gotten the chance to read a lot more. Also I have become addicted to the show Friends. I have watched them before but now I am on a non-stop-marathon (currently in Season 5… yes I did start at Season 1). Photos will be posted soon but here is a preview…

Well that is all the updates I have. Keep everything in your prayers!! Please!! It is much appreciated.

- Sarah (:

To Grandmother’s House We Go.

My Grandmother is the most beautiful woman I know. She is physically beautiful, especially for her age, but it’s her heart that makes her stunning. She lovingly, willingly, and joyfully provides for her giant family without one complaint. She is overjoyed to see anyone walk through her front door and she bakes the most delicious goodies in case someone who stops by is hungry. The woman can’t say a mean comment to save her life, and she doesn’t think she is funny, BUT she is!! I love her.

These are my grandparents celebrating 54 years of marriage back in August!

She is the perfect example of a servant’s heart. She is submissive to her husband at every moment in her life. And she loves her children even when they don’t deserve it.

How I desire to be like her. Wow. If I was submissive and understanding of the plan my God has made for me… my life would be completely different. I seek a Christ-like heart like Grandma’s and a child-like faith at “29″ years old. Isn’t she beautiful?

She is just a lovely reminder of how relying on God pays off. Surely there is a special place in heaven for a woman of faith like her. I love you Grandma!!! Thank you for being such a light and role model in such a dark place.

- Sarah (:

The Love of My Father’s Arms.

Well where to begin?? The past 4 days have been insane. I will start by saying that I left the Napolitano’s home early on Saturday morning and took the long drive back to Atlanta. On the way home I picked up some very important people in my life. The first being, Laura, my older sister. It was good to be with family again. God was sweet to me and gave me her to love on me when I so desperately missed home. Second was John, God gave me John’s encouragement to make it the last 2 hours of the 10 hour drive. I needed him there. We stopped and had dinner at John’s house so I got the honor of meeting his parents, whom I now love, and Mrs. Hoffman loved me well by making me beef stroganoff. It’s my favorite dish that my mother makes and it tasted just like home!!

This weekend consisted of: late night talks with John, my boy friend and one of my best friends, 4 hour visits to Chick-fil-a, new keurig and lots of Donut Shop coffee, birthday parties for my grandparents, bonfires, guitar playing, loud singing, shopping at walgreens, and so much more. But two very big events that I wanted to mention were…

1) Family photos. My family of 5 went to a studio after church on Sunday and had pictures taken because this is a momentous time in our lives. I start college next week. Laura enlisted in the Navy recently, Savannah will begin 8th grade this fall, my family recently moved to Atlanta, my Dad is still enjoying Work Oasis, and my Mom should be moving to Atlanta soon to finally reunite the fam. This picture we are sitting in age order for the daughters and it’s the one we all loved the most…..

This picture reminds me of so so many things. It reminds me of home. something all of a sudden I seem to miss more and more. I wish I had appreciated it more while I loved there. It reminds me of family. We love and support each other in all we do. It reminds me of God’s love for us. That he just wraps us in His arms and doesn’t ever let go. It reminds me of a magazine…. and the Moogs should be the cov. “and by cov. I mean cover. hahahaha”

2) Dorm rooms. My family and John moved me into my dorm at UT yesterday. It’s a hott mess that’s no where near being as organized as I desire. But I am working on it more later today. I live in South Carrick. This picture is of Kristin (my suite mate) and I standing in all the mess just watching our families carry in all of our ridiculous amounts of stuff. And by OUR ridiculous amounts of stuff… I really mean MY ridiculous amounts of stuff. I am pretty sure my pile of things could have eaten Kristin and Claire’s piles in one bite. YIKES!

I need to make a shout out to my parents. The 2 of them seriously saved my life and loved me so so well as they helped me move into my dorm…. THANK YOU MOM AND DAD! I love you!!

I will be sure to upload more pictures of the dorm once it’s all finished so you guys can celebrate with me this new chapter of my life!! John and I finished getting the majority of everything somewhat organized around 3 am. last night but then I realized I had kept a guy in the dorms WAY past curfew…. yikes. not a good way to start off with my RA’s. oh well…. he did such a good job. He slept like a baby wrapped up in all my blankets hahaha…. so cute……

- Sarah (: the college kid.