If You Have a Case of the Beths

Here’s a fact:

Social media is not real life.

This seems obvious, like me saying, “lemons are yellow and apples are red.” but we have a really hard time wrapping our brains around this.

I wonder sometimes what my life looks like to you. She is always going somewhere fun. Is she out of the country again? Wow, she seems to have a lot of friends. Her business seems really successful. Working for your mom must be a cake walk. Does she ever have a bad day?

I say this not to evoke pity, but to present us all with a dose of reality.

I feel like I’m traveling all the time, but I don’t have a home. I’m just circling the globe, waiting for my life to begin. I have amazing friends, but we are all in such different seasons, and most have gotten married, engaged, pregnant, into graduate school far away.. you name it. Everyone seems to be moving on with their lives, and I often feel like Beth in Little Women, happy for her sisters’ exploits, but feeling left behind nonetheless. Planning more bridal showers for weddings that aren’t yours, and listening to stories anout the amazing man who has swept you off your feet. So proud of that job you just landed in a big city, and feeling small for my part time job. So happy you are a new mom, and yet feeling so empty because that season feels so, so far away.

And I know, I know what you’re thinking. Your time will come! Enjoy this season while you’re not tied down! Travel before you have kids! etc. etc. etc….

But don’t you ever feel like that too? Like you’re scrolling through Instagram going, “if I see one post about how perfect her boyfriend is, I will throw my phone across this room.Or maybe you’re trying to conceive and all your friends seem to be having surprise babies so. dang. easily. Or perhaps you’re still working a job that feels small while your friends are posting pictures from their fancy looking desks and your retail job is nothing to stand up and  dance about.  Maybe you’re involved in ministry and your Facebook posts make it look like the ministry is thriving and you are full of the holy ghost, when in reality you’re suffering from depression and about to burn out.

I don’t know what season you are in or what season you would rather be in, but trust me when I tell you this: all those pictures you’re seeing aren’t the evidence of a perfect life. I need to pause here and clarify, because I hate it when people say, “you know, marriage is hard. kids are tough. it’s not all sunflowers and daisies like you see on Facebook.:” Yes. I get that! Duh! Life is hard; noted.

I’m saying we are all fighting our own battles.

The girl with the perfect relationship might be really struggling because she has a broken relationship with her dad.

The mom of the precious baby  girl may feel like she has no friends to walk through motherhood with her.

The lady with the fancy job may be in deep debt.

The ministry wife may be about to give up and leave everything.

The homeschooling mom of 7 you envy may be on the verge of putting  her kids in the dreaded public school.

We are all going through it, in one way or another.

In church yesterday, the pastor preached on the widow with the oil in 2 Kings 4. She didn’t feel  like she had anything to offer. She was focused on what she didn’t have, rather than what she did have. When she took the  precious oil she did have, God multiplied it and it fed not only her and her family, but her community as well.

So my question to us today is this. It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have. But if you focus on what you do have, you are postured to give, which is exactly what the enemy does not want.

What do I have?

The very great and high privilege of traveling often, and the opportunity to encourage others as I travel. I know younger girls I can pour into. I have friends I can serve as they prepare for marriage. I have a business I can use to sow into the kingdom! I have so much, and I  bet you do too!

Look at Beth: slight, frail, quiet… but I would  venture to say Beth was the sister who held her whole family together. You may see yourself as small, but I imagine the people in your life would disagree.

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“The secret of joy is Christ in me, not me in different circumstances.” -Elisabeth Elliot

How to Have Counter-Cultural Opinions Without Offending Anyone

How to Have Counter-Cultural Opinions Without Offending Anyone

This has been my struggle lately.

I look at the way the world is turning, and how seemingly concrete things like gender  and marriage and the right to life are being questioned like never before.

Sometimes I post my thoughts about certain issues, and ‘m really not trying to be controversial, I just really feel passionately that what I believe is true,  because of what the Word of God says.

Then, inevitably, I receive a whole heck of a lot of flack.

I’m narrow-minded. I’m intolerant. I’m sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-woman,  etc. I find myself becoming extremely befuddled. Since when did thinking marriage was between a man and woman become offensive?

Why am I losing friends because I believe the feminist movement is one of the worst movements to ever happen?

Why is modesty seen as ridiculous and enslaving to women?

Why is every other woman lauded for speaking up and “using her voice” but me?

Why have I lost so many friends because I believe in abstinence? Why are these very common-sense views so absolutely counter-cultural??

Why am I offending so many people by walking this road?

This is a look inside my head. This is me being so very sad  when I look into your eyes and  I see you telling me you are happy with your life choices, but I  know your eyes are telling me another story.

This is me feeling lonely and feeling unable to process my feelings because I fear I sound self -righteous or prudish.

Sigh. 

What are you saying, Lord?

Many are saying, who can show us any good? Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord!

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for YOU, alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. –Psalm 4:6-8

I read this passage yesterday and immediately felt the Lord invite me to lie down and sleep in peace. Yes, I believe these principles to be the path to life, but my job is not to be God’s defense attorney. My job is to behold his face and allow him to shine upon me. I should be obedient to speak when He tells me to, but  never to hear my own voice.

My job is to love people with his love, not mine. My job is to walk the walk He has called me to, trusting he really does have the whole world in his hands. My job is to worship him in my everyday conversation, not worry about what people think about me.

You can’t hold counter cultural opinions without offending anyone. Jesus offended practically everyone. He is as counter-cultural as they come.

This should not be our goal. To be passive or tolerant or hesitant to take a stance.

Our goal is run daily to the Word of God, to be kind over being nice, to love each person individually, to be bold when he says jump, and to be still when he says wait.

It’s not about a blanket approach to the “lost,” it’s about stopping for the one, listening to the Holy Spirit, and resting in peace, knowing the battle is not ours, but God’s.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Go walk with God. Never compromise. Listen to his voice.  Live full of joy… and relax, already! This world is not our home!

 

xoxo

 

Sarah

I Came All the Way to Asia for This

I Came All the Way to Asia for This

I’ve been in the Philippines a few weeks now, so I thought it was time I shared a little bit about  my experiences in Asia Pacific.

First, a good  adventure is almost entirely at the mercy of who you are with. I’ve been to some pretty spectacular places, but the  view is made a thousand times more splendid when you are sharing it with who you love. I’m thankful to be sharing this trip with an incredible family. They have opened their homes and hearts to me and have provided me with an abundance of laughs and memories I will cherish for a lifetime. I recognize that it’s a very rare privilege to take a month off and travel to the other side of the planet at my age, and for that I thank my mother and my office manager and friend for covering my position and enabling me to have this experience. This has been such a gift to me and I don’t take for granted all the people who helped me get here.

IMG_5527Now, what have I been learning?

I come from a very small town full of wonderful people. It’s easy to become insulated in the safety of my community, my friends, my job, and my daily routine. The more you get comfortable, the less you see a reason to leave. I love traveling, but even for me, leaving for a month was a little difficult.

The week before I left, a very dear friend of mine was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident, and every piece of joy I felt was replaced with unimaginable sorrow. My friend was an only child and extremely close to his parents, and suddenly I was overcome with fear. What if something happened to me and I left my parents? Not only that but I was missing my friend’s funeral,  and I felt like the worst friend in the world. The night before I left I was tormented with guilt and sadness for going. What else would I miss while I was away? Even as my first plane soared into the sunrise, I could barely hold back the tears as I imagined how pointless this trip must be.

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It’s taken me a few weeks to be able to articulate this, but I don’t think this trip could have come at a better time. Yes, leaving means you will certainly miss things going on at home. Yes I wish I could have been at my friend’s funeral, yes, yes, yes, to all of the things you miss when you are away. But eventually you have to get to the point where your fear of staying is greater than your fear of leaving. 

If I had stayed, I would have missed exploring WW2 bomb shelters on Corregidor Island. I would have missed staying at an enchanting bed and breakfast right out of a book. I would have missed touring the  beginnings of a city in the Clark Freeport Zone. I am less afraid now, of missing the good things, because there are so many great things you can see when you release yourself from the confines of your comfort zone.

IMG_4959During my trip,  something has been brewing in my soul. As much I’m loving the life in Asia, eating way too many mangoes and drinking way too much coconut water, this place does not hold my heart. The culture and the language of Latin America do. For at least a season I want to be there! My heart is torn between my beloved South, the place I want to raise a family, and the place where I feel so alive, in Spanish speaking countries! 

I keep thinking it’s a phase and it will pass, but it doesn’t ever go away. You  know that thing you’re so passionate  about it keeps you up at night? You feel so alive when you are doing that thing, but something about devoting yourself entirely to it absolutely terrifies you? You are so scared of missing the will of God you stay put and wait for the writing on the wall before you take the big leap into the unknown?

Here’s a secret: most of the time you will not see the writing on the wall. Most of the time you will to activate this little thing called faith. It’s spelled R – I – S – K. God gave you two commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart soul mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.  Then he fashioned you and set you free with all your idiosyncrasies and passions and quirks, and I believe He is so excited to see how you will uniquely serve him on the earth.  Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from ever leaving your small town or chasing that God-given talent. Note: sometimes your small town is exactly where you need to be. 😉IMG_5290

Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been subconsciously or maybe even consciously staying put because I want someone to find me. My greatest desire in this life is to be a wife and mom, and I’m daily  terrified of doing or not doing something that will keep me from being right where I need to be to meet him or  be found by him. I’m by no means giving up, rather I’m choosing to place my trust in God rather than in the safety of my circumstances.

So here I am sitting in the Philippines (watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), planning and dreaming of a future in Latin America.

What’s the gist? You will never do anything or go anywhere as long as your excuses are bigger than your faith. And sometimes we  have to trust God that no matter what corner  of the earth we may find ourselves on, He hears our prayers and knows the desires  of our hearts.

 

That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for reading, friends.

 

Adios.

 

It’s Possible to Walk Away from God While Listening to Bethel

It’s Possible to Walk Away from God While Listening to Bethel

It is entirely possibly to walk away from God while  singing worship songs and leading ministries and discipling other people.

Just ask me.

It’s possible to be in the midst of the presence of God while simultaneously wishing very terrible things on the the person next to you.

It’s possible to have Bethel playing in the background while you yell at your husband.

It’s possible to look up from your Beth Moore book and lose your temper with your four year old.

It’s possible to walk out of  church gossiping about the intimate details  of someone’s failed relationship.

We can do all the right things and be further from God than a bona fide heathen. 

Every day, it seems I am a paradox. Striving to be godly  one minute and the next using foul language and talking  trash. I’m at a critical point though. God is saying to me, with all the love in his heart, “How badly do you want me, Sarah? Because you will never go the places you want to go in your relationship with me while you’re allowing yourself to live a life that’s only partly holy.”

He’s saying, “Dear girl, I want all of you.”

I want your conversations, seasoned with grace, minus the gossip.

I want your thought life. I want you to be consumed with loving me and loving people, so that fleshly outbursts are no longer your go-to’s.

I want your confidence. So that you aren’t trying to please other people with your clothing choices, you are striving to please me and honor me.

I want your morning coffee time, so I’m at the center of your heart as you begin your day.

I want you, all of you, all the time. 

I’m at a crossroads, friends, and maybe you are too. These are crazy days we are living in, and we can’t afford to have one foot in righteousness and one foot in the world. We can’t afford to be lukewarm anymore. The world needs hope, and we know who the hope giver is, and we take Jesus and all he has done for us for granted.

Jesus wants our whole hearts. We can read all the devotionals in the world and still be a class A jerk. You know it and I know it.

I don’t want to be that person though. I want to be the same girl everywhere, in every conversation. I want to be sensitive to other people, quick to listen and slow to speak.

I’m tired of wanting the things of God more than I want God himself.

He paid a high price for us, and we busy ourself with trivial things  and we wonder why are not fulfilled.

You, oh, God, have been our dwelling place throughout every generation. Forgive me for allowing sin to creep into my life and become louder than your voice. Let my life song sing of you again. Let me shine for you again. Let me not rationalize sin anymore. Let my life be different because I know you.

 In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

ephesians 4

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

The Only News Worth Sharing in 2017

The Only News Worth Sharing in 2017

Ever since the inauguration, I’ve been writing a blog post in my head. About our nation, about faith, about what it looks like to be a  woman in 2017, about the rights of the unborn and the tough calls presidents have to make.

Like so many of you,  I have  a lot of feelings. I have several things to say about each of those topics, and I can back those opinions up with facts and statistics and personal experience.

But every time I sit down to tell you how I really feel about the women’s march or the most recent executive order, I pause, and laugh to myself, because I might as well be a three year old trying to explain physics. I can’t possibly even begin to have an educated discussion about the refugee crisis because all I am fed is a constant diet of propaganda and biases from other three year olds. We don’t know what this decision means ultimately or why the president felt this was the best course of action.

We didn’t have breakfast at the White House this morning with all Trump’s men. We don’t know way more than we will ever know. But yet we posit ourselves as enlightened experts and make grandiose claims about the future of liberty as we know it.

I wasn’t at the Women’s March. I saw plenty of pictures and heard several speeches I desperately wish I could un-hear, but I wasn’t there. I wasn’t inside the mind of a woman who’s been brutally sexually abused and who  has never seen a godly man to help her believe they do exist. I wasn’t walking beside the girl who had an abortion, looking for acceptance and maybe even atonement. I can speculate on their intentions and I can psycho analyze their motives, but I am not in relationship with them. They don’t know me.

I did not wake up in a Syrian refugee camp this morning. I did not fear for my life, even once today. I literally have no idea what it’s like to feel hopeless. I have not wept the tears of a mother who has lost not one, not two, but three of her children to the violent hands of a nation she carries in the very words with which she identifies herself with.

I say this not to beg out of the responsibility we have as human beings to love, honor and care for one another. I say this not to absolve myself of the need to advocate for the unborn, the orphan and the widow. I say this because we are all making a lot of noise and it’s not producing any good.

I am not qualified to talk about most of the things I talk about. Honestly, I just like to debate sometimes. I don’t know how to help all the innocent Syrians. I can’t adequately convey true womanhood so you can really get it and see yourself the ay God sees you. I can’t undo your abortion and I can’t even adopt all the children.

But here is what I can do:

I can offer to help someone today.

I can research worthy organizations and send money to help people who are already helping the people I cannot reach on my own.

I can continue to educate myself on what’s going on in the world, but without the hope of fixing everyone’s problems and making the world right again.

I can advocate for  the unborn in my words, but most importantly in how I respond to situations that produce abortion and how I treat other people. I want to see a day where abortion is unthinkable.

I can speak about women and children and love and what God is teaching me, but not so I can convince you my way is better.

I can open my Bible today. I can seek the only One who has the answers to all our longings and questions. He is the only one who can heal trauma, give hope, restore dignity, and bring restoration. If our Facebook posts don’t end with Him being the answer and his grace being the guide and his word being the truth, then we are just a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.

Jesus Christ is the only news worth sharing in 2017.

Oh, God, forgive me for my self centered logic and my black and white judgment calls. You are the only one who heals, who knows us intimately. Help me to see people the way you do, and point them to you, not just with my words, but with my life.

If I commit myself to this way of life, I surmise I will be much too busy to engage in social media disputes with people I haven’t seen in five years.

1 CORINTHIANS 13

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

 

Who Really Wins Today

Who Really Wins Today

Today is an historic day! Today we continue the American tradition of electing our President, our leader. Today, we uphold the values of a democratic republic and the process of the electoral college. Today, Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States of America.

But other than that, not much changes.

You and me, we’re still the same. We’re getting up at the same time, going to the same jobs, coming home to the same people.  We are Americans. We have a distinct responsibility as citizens of this great nation. We are under the authority of our president, but ultimately, our responsibility  is to self-govern.

Our Founding Fathers dedicated their lives to the American experiment, that men from all nations could unite on principle, not blood. This was unprecedented. Who had ever heard of a country united by hard work, self-government and religious freedom? Who had ever thought you could be an American because you decided you were willing to undertake that great task and reap that great harvest of freedom?

Donald Trump is our president and I am praying for favor to surround him and for this to be an incredible presidency, but friends, the government is not in charge of our destinies. This would defeat the point of being American.

Every morning when you wake up, you are in charge of making America great again. You are committed to working hard for your wages, you are committed to serve others, you are committed to candid religious discussions and you are responsible for making your country a haven and not a trap.

If you rejoice today-fantastic. Don’t grow weary in doing good.  There is much work to be done.

If you mourn today, turn your focus to what you can do for your country, rather than what your country has done to you.

Donald Trump may have won the election, but we are the real winners. We wake up in a free country, free to work and learn and pray every single day. And Trump can’t keep it that way. Only we the people can as we love and pray and serve and give.

We are blessed to be here, blessed to be American citizens, and shame on us if we sit feebly on the sidelines and expect others to pave our way. It is our responsibility to work harder than ever before to make this country great.

 

Let’s get to work.

 

For more on the responsibilities of being an American citizen, Read this book:

No More New Year’s Resolutions 

Yesterday my sister said something so profound, it shaped how I  will approach 2017. 

For many of us, 2016 was full of transition and change and surprises and maybe even loss or death. A lot has happened in the last 365 days. My whole life looks quite different than it did this day last year. Consequently, the prospect of a new  beginning is invigorating and inspiring. 

What are my New Years resolutions? Starting January 1st, what’s going to be different? How will this year be better?

I was broaching this topic last night in the car with my sister as we drove back to her house from my brother’s house from celebrating Christmas. My sister kind of rolled her eyes and said “there’s nothing special about a new year. It’s just another day.”

Wait what?! I thought the first day of the year was somehow exalted above the other days, set apart, holy. 

She begged to differ. She said, “Sarah, every day can be a new year. You can decide to change at any point in the year. We use a calendar to mark the days, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Every day is a new day and a new year if we want it to be.”

It reminds me of a verse in Lamentations:”His mercies are new every morning!” Every day we wake up on this green earth is a gift and an opportunity to start fresh. Every day is a chance to be better. How freeing!!

I don’t have to wait until January to make my resolutions and I don’t have to  beat myself up in February when I haven’t accomplished all my life goals! 

Today is the day I will give my all toward a better life. 

I will love well today. I’ll work on my book today. I’ll build my business today. I’ll spend time with family today. And then tomorrow I’ll do it all again, relishing each moment and thanking God for his gift of Himself, which we open every day!
So forget New Years resolutions. How about new day  resolutions?;)