I can’t think of anything to write about.

I literally have no idea what to write about.  However, all the experts say that when you are learning to write you have to just sit down and make yourself do it anyway.  They say that developing your writing style is about consistency.  I am nothing if not consistent.  It is my “time” to write and I am just typing whatever comes to my mind.  Maybe this will feel like a roller coaster and you will get a glimpse of what goes on in my head.  Thrilling and scary as heck.

It’s not that Jesus isn’t teaching me and showing up in all different ways.  He totally is!  I am writing a bible study right now on the book of Galatians and He is showing me so much it’s almost like I don’t even know where to start if I wanted to write about it here.  I’m gearing up and in the planning stages of teaching a bible study this summer which is just about the most fun thing in the world.  The kids get out of school in a week and a half.  May is almost over! I am also really tired and overwhelmed and don’t know what to write about.  Plus I spent most of my weekend watching the royal wedding, and am having to play catch up now.  So I am in this joyful, tired, overwhelmed, allergy ridden, anxious state of mind.  And in this frame of mind I find it hard to think of something to write about.

Right now I am listening to the nonrhythmic pounding of a new roof going on my house.  I feel like this could be some form torture.  I mean if they all hammered in sync with their music I feel like this could be the beginnings of a musical.  “Sarah Faces the Day,” by Rogers and Hammerstein.  BUT they do not hammer in sync.  They hammer at random times, from every direction.  Let’s say this has been a challenge to my anxious mind.  My daughters dog, Abby the Labby, is likewise tortured by the banging.  She is hanging out in the goat pen with the chickens and the goats.  The Corgi’s are out there too.  I’m not going to lie, I have gotten considerable joy out of these creatures trying to navigate being together.

The goats don’t want them in their pen because who rules the world? GOATS  The goats want to do what they want to do and they don’t want anyone on their turf or in their food.  Now the Corgi’s are herding dogs.  So a herders going to herd.  This fly’s with goats for exactly 0 seconds before they turn around to head but the Corgi’s.  Then everyone runs back to their corners to come up with a new strategy.  When the Corgi’s get bored with the goats they go and see what the chickens are doing.  I think the Corgi’s feel super bad ass because the chickens run from them every single time.  This also never gets old, but the Corgi’s have to take a nap about every 30 minutes.  I think it is because their legs are only like 3 inches long.  Abby spends her time worrying about what is happening at he house.  She eats her feelings by snacking all day on the goat droppings.  Think of it as chocolate for dogs.

The ducks.  They come running up from the pond anytime they see a human outside of our house because they believe all humans carry kale around in their pockets.  So about every hour or so I have to chase them back to the pond for their own safety.  Also, they are super fat ducks that might make a good dinner for someone, if you know what I mean, and I don’t want someone to slip them into their truck.  Our General Contractor knows the only thing I really care about is the ducks and I told him to tell everyone who comes on this property to watch out for them.  He said he has nightmares about having to tell me someone ran over a duck.  Rightly so, don’t mess with my ducks.

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My sweet daughter got me this T-shirt for mother’s day.

I am about to have to go shower to take Sydney to the Orthodontist.  I never let them miss school for doctor’s appointments but its the second to last week of school and I am tired of fighting the appointment schedulers.  I also appreciate the schools sending out emails asking for the parents help to maintain discipline in the schools as we approach summer.  Listen, my heart is with the teachers for sure.  I really think school should end after the STAAR test is over, but no one listens to me.  It’s all I can do to get these kids up and into the school building to be counted present.  I am normally such an inspirational speaker in the morning.  This comes with the territory if you are morning person like me.  I’m all “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and “the best preparation for tomorrow is what you do today!”  But right now the inspiration has left me.  I’m actually sleeping in until 6 am right now.(my friends are gasping right now because I usually get up at 4:45)  I don’t even know myself anymore.  I’m like “I don’t care if you want to go, you have to go or I get arrested, goodbye”  We go get Sonic drinks everyday after school just so they will have to slurp their straw and not complain about their day.  So basically we are winning around here.

Well I have done about all I can do here.  I’m sorry if you read this because you are probably in a bad mood now because of all my inspirational talk.  I had nothing to write about and yet still wrote 1000 words.  I guess the experts are right, you just have to do it. Here’s hoping we all make it to the finish line.  I’m holding on to the fact that my best most inspirational self will resurface in August, at back to school time.  I will leave you with a picture of a Gizmo the swimming corgi and my fat ducks, Downton and Cora.

May–a.k.a The Mom Olympics

Do you know why they put Mother’s Day in May?  So that the moms would not pack up and run away halfway through the month of May.  Seriously, I do not get it.  This month trips me up every year.  No matter how much I plan and prepare by the time this month rolls around the wheels have long since fallen off around here.  This month is full of obstacles waiting to trip me up.  I fully know they are coming and yet it still requires bandwidth to overcome them.  I am writing them down this year so that maybe next year they will be lessened.

#1 The End of Year Award Ceremonies.  First, let me say that my kids are amazing.  They are the coolest, smartest and funniest people I know.  I don’t know how we got such amazing kids because we have done nothing but made life hard for these little people and they rise from the ashes like Phoenix’s.  I have no worries about the fact that these kids of mine will change the world….until you put me in an awards ceremony.  Then I get all nervous and worried that I have not pushed them hard enough or I have somehow failed them because they did not get the “Texas All State Best Student in the History of the World Award.”  I panic when I see someone’s kid has made some amazing team, or made it to State, or got elected president.  From the vantage point of my front porch where I am writing this I now that this is stupid.  I know that we don’t have to get every award and I know that my kids love the Lord.  But then I find myself in an Award Ceremony and realize I am actually contemplating stealing some poor kids trophy and I have to stop and remember, “Oh Crap! May got me again!”

#2  The Morning Routine.  I am my best mom self in August.  I pack lunches for the kids that would make any vegan, keto, or organicky person take note.  I include encouraging notes.  I pray for my kids as I am putting their lunches together.  We study the bible together over breakfast.  We pray as a family and everyone sets out on the day ready to conquer the world, until May.  May makes the school lunches of “Chicken corn dogs” look really good.  I find myself saying to the kids, “You love chicken corn dogs, we use to have them all the time!” This is a really hard thing to say as you are throwing up in your mouth at the thought of chicken corndogs.  Bible Study time sounds more like, “Did you read your bible? Where is your bible?”  Prayer time sounds more like, “Get the freak out of my house and go to school!”  Then to have a morning like that and then end up in a stupid award ceremony–GOOD LORD, MAY GOT YOU AGAIN!

#3 Field Day, the day of satan.  Seriously, I think satan invented this.  He was deceiving Eve in the garden and after the curses were handed out, and they were all walking way he whispered to Eve again and said, “You think childbirth will be bad, wait until you have to live through a field day.”  Seriously, schools of Texas, PTA’s of Texas, and teachers of Texas if you are doing field day on my behalf, STOP right now!  I want teachers to get to the summer as soon as possible.  They are all sending out SOS right now because the kids have checked out!  Lets clip field day from the calendar and start summer a day early.   To be sure field day for kindergarten is fun.  But hang 5 years on that and the landscape is vastly different.  You are gazing out at group of kids who are unsure if they really need deodorant yet (that is a YES), who are all arms and legs and clumsy, who are LOUD and full of sugar, and who have checked out because May makes us forget that we are not actually animals but in fact human beings capable of higher thought.  It is two clicks away from a mob.  Do the kids love it, FOR SURE!  Is it my nightmare, FOR SURE!  Every year my kids talk me into coming to field day.  “Mom, I want you there, field day just isn’t field day without you.”  And I go.  And at some point I am reduced to covering my ears because of the cacophony, closing my eyes because someone is going to fall and get really hurt and plugging my nose because of the stench.  I crawl to my car when I am finally released and I realize, “DANG IT, MAY GOT ME AGAIN!”

But in this all God is still teaching me and doing things to make me remember what is really important to Him.  He knows this month is a battle field for me and He loves me so much that he doesn’t just leave me to fend for myself in the darkness of May.  Our theme for VBS this year is “Flipped.”  Ashley says our focus is to teach the kids (and me) that God’s kingdom is flipped from the way the world thinks.  The last if first and the first is last in God’s kingdom.  I am doing crafts for VBS.  One of the craft preparations I have to do is trace, “The last if first and the first is last” and “Jesus is our King” 200 times.  Do not think for one second Jesus did not know what He is doing there.  You know what will happen?  I will be sitting in an award ceremony and all these feelings will come up about my kids not being first and getting the award and He will remind me, “The last is first and the first is last.”  It will be fresh on my mind because of all the tracing. (note: I have a bunch of craft volunteers to help me so I will not actually be tracing all 200 myself but for the purpose of illustration I just put 200. Get off my back its May.)

To future Sarah: the only way to survive May is to look for those things that trip you up and line them up with scripture.  It takes a lot of bandwidth for sure.  But it is the Good Fight.  You have to fight for your focus to be on the Lord or else it is on everyone else’s Instagram, FB and awards.  That does not bring life to your family, but focusing on the Lord does.  The pile of so-called failures that you are left with at the end of the month mean nothing to the Lord.  The fact that you sold chicken corn dogs to your kids is not an eternal problem.  The fact that y’all did not have a scholarly sit down bible study does not mean that y’all don’t love the Lord.  The fact that you don’t love field day does not mean I don’t love your family.  You will survive May or you will die trying.  It for sure feels like the mom olympics, but future Sarah, keep going because it is worth it.

If you are a fellow mom olympian I pray for you to remember you are doing enough.  Your kids are great (they might need deodorant though).  Your family is focused on getting to summer not chicken corn dogs.  And hold on to this, your kids won’t remember half of what you think they will.  June is 15 days away……

 

 

Lessons from Kindergarten Sunday School.

God speaks to me in the most random ways.  I think He does that so I don’t get use to Him teaching me in any one way.  He is like, “Sarah, watch out I’m gonna teach you something here at this lacrosse game.  Hey girl, there is a lesson waiting for you in the grocery store.”  This is why I have to be on the look out, because He will use every opportunity and every circumstance to teach me who He is.  This weekend I was teaching the Kindergarten class, and boom, there He was.

The lesson for the day was “The Terrible Lie,” from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  I got everyone to sit down on the carpet for story time.  I was thinking, “Man I am going to read this with such gusto these kids are all gonna be saved and want to get baptized.”  But, that was not the case because pretty quickly into the story God was knocking at my hearts door and I forgot to read with salvation producing gusto.

 

This part of the story is a retelling of the fall of man.  How satan deceived Eve, and Adam was led by his wife into sin.  From that time every human born is born a sinner in need of salvation.  Don’t believe me? Have you ever met a toddler hell-bent on getting his way? Exhibit A: a sinner from birth.  I love the bible because from the fall of man, the entire story is the story of how God redeemed His beloved creation.

This story is you know, shall we say, dumbed down for kids to understand.  Or as it turns out, put into words that an almost 40-year-old can understand.  Take a look at this:

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I was so struck by these words.  I have always understood that Satan was attacking God’s character with his questions, but until I read this I never really understood the heart of the issue.  He is getting her to question God’s love for her.  I had to go back and look at the big pants, adult, grown up, scholarly text to compare it.

Genesis 3: 1-7

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

As I follow the conversation here I see that satan is trying to get her to see that God is holding something good from her.  Satan is throwing ulterior motives out there.  The true motive was to protect Adam and Eve and test their faith.  Satan is saying, “How can you love and trust someone who is just trying to stop you from being as good as they are?  He doesn’t really love you, he just wants you to be lesser than him.”  And Eve bought it.  And so did Adam.

In the storybook bible it say’s that the snake’s words hissed into her ear and sunk down into her heart, like poison. When I read that I had like a moment where my life flashed before my eyes.  All the moments that I believed these words and they sunk down into my heart like poison.  My mouth dropped open, and I got choked up.  I looked up to see 10 little faces, and my own kids, Brock and Sydney, looking at me.  I wanted to scream, “Don’t believe satan little children!  He is such a liar.  He will kill you and take your life.  He will destroy everything you hold dear!”  I restrained myself and made a mental note to leave children’s books to other more kindhearted people.  So we soldiered on.  To this:

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Good God in heaven.  I can’t wait to talk to Dana, my counselor today and tell her I have figured out what my problem is and I don’t need anymore therapy! (To which everyone who knows me says, don’t cancel your future appointments yet.) Whenever the going gets tough, instead of trusting God’s word, I believe a lie that was born in the garden: God doesn’t love me.  It’s so simple and yet so profound.  The ENTIRE bible is about how God loves me and yet I trade 66 books of the bible for one lie that happens in the first book.  The crazy thing is I didn’t even know the depth at which I struggled with this until reading this book to some cutie pie kindergarteners.  This is at the heart of every conflict, every freak out, every committing to something to impress God and people, every attempt to feel worthy, every attempt to make God love me more.  I believe this lie and so I act like God doesn’t love and that I have to earn His love.

I have to come back to His word.  His word, the bible is true when my beliefs or feelings are not.  My mind is being renewed by the word of God.  In this process of renewing I have to line my beliefs and thoughts up with scripture.  If my thoughts are different then the word, I AM WRONG, not God.  That is the heart of submission friends, my favorite thing. (If I say that enough it will come true.)  Check out the following scripture:

Romans 8:38

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Romans 5:5

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:8

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

John 3:16

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

Understanding that He loves me is so important because it is what motivates me to follow Him and do what He asks me to.  If I don’t know He loves me than I am nothing more that a performing hippo in heals trying to impress God to earn His love.  Guess what, that gets old real fast.  Responding and doing things because He loves me is empowered by the Holy Spirit, that does not get old, ever, Yes and Amen!

One more thought.  IF God wanted performing hippo’s in heals, He would not have had to send His Son to the Cross to die for the sins of the world.  If we could somehow earn His favor and Love then satan was right in the garden, God doesn’t love us, we do have to earn it.  But He DID send Jesus to the cross.  He DOES love us.  He WANTS you to believe in His word and live like you are loved by the creator of all the heavens and the earth.  I want that for myself.  I want to live believing the 66 books of the bible that talk about how much God loves me, and NOT believing one stupid lie from dumb snake.

Girls Trip 2018, Yes and Amen!

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I’m not sure if I can even do this justice but I just got back from the most amazing trip.  Me and my besties went to Austin for the Happy Hour Live event with Jamie Ivey.  She has a podcast I love to listen to called The Happy Hour and she wrote a book we all love called If You Only Knew.  Anyway it was the perfect opportunity to load up and head out.  Leaving Rockwall turned out to be harrowing as we had torrential rain and the possibility of hail.  Do you think that is going to stop us?  NO!  Plus I was driving Jesse’s truck so why do I care if it gets hit with hail.  Pictured below are my friends Kelly (passenger seat), Cheryl (behind me), and Ashley (behind the passenger seat).

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Now here is the thing.  You know I have to be honest about the trip right?  Well the first thing that happened was Ashley ripped this door off the track.  Like literally.  Pulled it right off.  Which started a phenomenon know as, “Don’t let Ashely open doors.”  She somehow broke like 4 separate doors in all this weekend.  I’m not sure what is wrong with her.  Is it like a hulk thing?  Is it a frustration thing?  I don’t know.  We took care of opening all doors.

Next was dinner on a beautiful patio with my beautiful friends.   I just love them.  I also love my new top knot situation that we all agreed is good for me.  It is also good because I can live with my bangs if I don’t have to deal with them everyday.   I should pause and mention that I was the cruise director on this trip.  I planned every minute of the trip because by spiritual gifting is bossiness.  As it turns out this is a good thing because these jokers are ALL babies of their families.  Everyone knows younger siblings can’t plan anything.  I’m not sure if they liked all my plans because I never asked I just said, “Get dressed!” or “We are leaving at such and such time.”  Cruise directors don’t ask you what you want to do, they tell you what to do so you have a good time.  The end.

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For sure we must discuss the bat.  We were enjoying our lovely fancy-ish dinner in the heart of the hill country when out of no where, I mean NO WHERE, this bat does a fly by and perches on the wall right by our table.  Now Ashley and I pride ourselves on our animal understanding.  We know that if there are sayings associated with animals you pay attention to them, because that saying came from some experience someone had with that animal.  You know what saying is associated with bats?  I’m quoting Ashley here: “Ever heard of the saying, Bat Out of Hell?”  That’s right folks, bats for sure come from Hell.  So guess what.  Ashley and I are not going to fall victim to that flying rodent.  We swiftly put our menu’s over our heads to protect our hair and brains.  The other two are acting all PETA like.  “Oh, stop, he is so cute.  Why are y’all so scared of a bat?”  Now, I would give one of my children to have a picture of this situation, but sadly I don’t have one because I was defending my life from Dracula.  I am certain the wait staff at restaurant does.  If you see a picture of 2 women with menu’s on their heads on someones social media let me know.  All that to say, I yelled enough that Satan’s spawn flew away, back to hell.

The next day we got to enjoy the spa area of the hotel.  It was just what we needed.  It was still raining so we got to sit in the covered area and watch it rain for a long time.  It was quiet and peaceful and we all thanked God because He knew exactly what our hearts needed that morning.  We praised Him because He always knows what we need.

That night was the Happy Hour Live Event.  First off, my friend Kelly designed these shirts we are wearing.  Y’all, she is so talented.  She nailed us to a T.  We all try to live with a Yes and Amen kind of posture toward God.  I think it is beautiful.  It has to be said also that before the 4 of us left she sent them to another friend of ours, Stacy, who makes T-shrits and she printed them up for us.

When we first got into the event there was a photo booth.  I had to include the pictures of our time in the photo booth because never in the history of all photo booths have there been 4 women less clued into the timer on the photo booth.  I kept yelling, “Make sure you can see your shirt!”  Not until the end did we succeed.  In the trying, we look like we are trying to touch things that should not be grabbed at a Christian event…….Kelly, what are you doing to Cheryl???!!!!  After making quite an entrance we got to meet Jamie Ivey.

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Oh meeting Jamie Ivey.  Here is the thing.  I just love her.  Listening to her podcast helped me learn what it was like to be aChristian woman who loves Jesus, walk the Christian life after I got home from Bible School.  When I got home from Bible School all I wanted to talk about was the Millennial Kingdom, the Hypostatic Union, and the Dispensations of God.  Now, for sure these are my still things I totally geek out over, but she helped me learn that you can have a relationship with Christ and still be free to laugh, buy hair products and talk about Jesus all the time.   So did I share all this with her?  No!  I have had some bad experiences with meeting people I admire. We don’t have to go into them, but I was determined not to come home with a restraining order to my name.  So as soon as I felt the tears well up, I stopped myself and said the only thing that came to mind…”Ashley is rebellious because I keep telling her to show her shirt and she won’t!”  WHAT IN THE WORLD!  I was like Baby in Dirty Dancing, “I carried a watermelon.”  Oh my gosh.  I’m so embarrassed.  Then because I really wanted to communicate to her that I love her I am rubbing her back in all these photo’s.   So yeah, I totally nailed meeting her.

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After the event we went back to the hotel and found a nice spot on the patio to talk and eat some snacks.  I also made them make a goal that they wanted to work toward this year.  I told them we would all commit to pray for each others goals and on our next girls trip we would see what had happened.  Now, I can’t tell you the goals because what happens on the girls trip stays on the girls trip, but I can tell you that my friends are totally bad asses.  We all want to see the Lord move and do crazy big things in our lives.  It was a time where we got to share all the emotions and all the feels.  All the things we were really struggling with.  For me one of them is desperately wanting to be on the Happy Hour Podcast so I can tell Jamie Ivey I am not a weirdo but super cool and love Jesus.  But I digress because we decided I needed to move on.   My heart was over- flowing because I am so thankful they are in my life.  Here is why…

Ashley:  I see you Ashley, running after the Lord.  I see you holding your life up to scripture and rooting out the things that don’t line up.  I see your heart for women who need support.  I see your heart for Selah Creek.  I love your determination and your drive to get’er done.  I also love that you always, always have my back.  If you could see yourself through my eyes you would see a women who is passionate about the Lord, her husband, her family and teen moms who need support.  Girl, I love you and somewhere between 90’s rap and Proverbs 31 is you.  My life is better because you are in it, and I am thankful for you.

Cheryl:  I see you Cheryl, staring down fear and following God’s call.  Good Lord, I love how kind and loving you are.  When I need someone to feel something with me and tell me they are sorry for whatever it is, I call you.  Nothing about what you are doing right now is safe or guaranteed, and yet you go on anyway.  I wish you could see yourself through my eyes because you would see what an encouragement you are to me.  Your drive to seek the Lord and bless others is amazing.  You are the most non-judgemental person I have ever encountered.  The way you love people right where they are at is amazing to me.  I am so thankful for you, thank you for loving me well.

Kelly:  I see you Kelly, your weary body running after freedom.  Not to be dramatic but I think of the dear panting for the refreshing stream of the Lord when I think of the journey you are on.  You will not be quenched with lesser things, you are running after the ONE who will give you rest.  If you could see yourself through my eyes you would see a woman rooting out the slave-masters that don’t give life and a woman passionate about loving others well.  And because I am on a similar journey I thank God in heaven we get to do it together.  Your servant’s heart is amazing to me.  Your nature to let others go first, to serve others is inspiring to me. (I know I make fun of you for it, but its only because I am jealous of your willingness to take 2nd place.)  All this in one person AND I get to teach women’s bible studies with you!! What a gift from God you are to me.  I love you, girl.

And an alpaca.  This is what was funny with this though.  Ashley and Kelly ran back to the room for something when we were at the spa.   They came back and said, “There is an emu in the lobby!” I said really?  And Emu?  Why?  They said, “Don’t know, this guy was leading it around and you could get a picture with it.”  Then they said, “You, know its got a lot of hair and stuff.”  I was like, “Do you mean a Llama?”  They said, “Oh, yeah, it was a Llama.”  When I saw it myself I knew it was an alpaca but who likes a know-it-all, right?  Good call girls.  One is a bird and one is a four-legged creature with hair.  But whatever.  Later, Kelly and Cheryl got a pic with the Emu/Alpaca.

itsanemu

And just like that it was time to pack up and go.  We had so much fun, we always do.  It is so kind of the Lord to give us friends.  Godly friends, to encourage you and point you back to the Lord when you lose your way.  To encourage you to choose love and not anger.  To enourage you to be yourself and not try to impress others.  To encourage you to run after the Lord.  I get so much from these ladies.  They all pour into me.  Do you ever feel like you could never repay someone for their kindness, yep, me too.  Thats how I feel about them.

Here is what I hope for you, who ever is reading this.  I hope you have friends like this.  I hope you have people around you that know Jesus and His truth.  I hope they tell you that truth when you need it.  I hope you invest in them too.  Godly friendships are so important.

Here’s how they start.  Go to your local church.  Get involved in something.  Every church needs volunteers.  (Check out the child care, every church needs grade school teachers because kids are just like puppies, after they turn 1-year-old, no body wants to deal with them because they lose their cuteness.)  Invest in people.  If you meet someone you hit it off with ask them to coffee.  Take your time, get to know people slowly.  It takes time to open up and share yourself.  It takes courage to share the good, bad and ugly about yourself.  There is freedom in relationships when you are really real with a godly friend.  Beware of the fast friend, friendship takes time and commitment.  Beware of people who don’t point you to Jesus.

If you already have Godly friends be sure your friends can speak truth to you.  With a personality like mine, people can not want to say hard things to me because of my affinity to throat punch and walk away.  I have to be wise and submit (my favorite word) to things they need to say to me.  They have to feel comfortable and like they can say stuff to me.  Why? Because we all need someone to tell us if they think we are off base on something.  God created us this way.  I am expert at seeing other people’s sin, but when I look at myself I think I’m doing pretty darn well.  So does it piss me off when these girls call me out on something? Yes!  But I am learning that this is one of the ways God protects me from myself.  Iron sharpens Iron remember?  It can’t be one-sided either.  They have to want to have truth spoken to them and you have to want to have truth spoken to you.  It goes both ways or one of you is not really in it to grow in the Lord.  Without these people in my life I would not be where I am with Lord because He has used them to grow me.  Thankful heart and very thankful girl to have these ladies in my life.  Here’s to many more Girls Trips…….

 

I don’t want to be a leech, but leeching is all I know.

Last weekend, like the one before the one that just happened, we went up to Missouri to see our friends graduate from the Ethnos 360 Missionary Training Center.  We spent two years with these wonderful people, back in 2014-2016, at Ethnos 360 Bible institute and then we came back here to Rockwall and they went on to be super badass missionaries in training.  (I’m totally fine with it, and am not feeling like I should go off and be Lara Croft, Evangelical Missionary) (And if you don’t buy that I am ok with it, don’t worry I have a counseling appointment on Tuesday, and Dana will straighten me out.)  Anyway, it was so fun to see everyone.  Jesus is always working in my heart because the commencement speaker said something that has “stuck” with me ever since.

During the commencement he said something like, “Don’t be a leech needing approval from everyone around you, you can’t be a blessing to people if you need approval from them.  Don’t be a leech, be a blessing.”  Oh my gosh.  That kicked my brain into overdrive.  I was like, “Oh, my gosh, YES!  I want to bless people I don’t want them to have to approve of me in order to feel good.”  And then he went on to talk about the difficulties these amazing families would be facing going to plant a church in another culture, and how there is so much urgency because people are dying without being at peace with God.  You start talking like that to me and before you know it I’m loading my evangelical guns, packing my all terrain vehicle and forwarding my mail to the jungle.  But then a thought popped up…..

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I thought of all the people who would congratulate me for being such a kick ass missionary.  Then I saw that leech.  I realized I would not be going out into the field to save lost souls, I would go because of the approval I would get.  And when you realize that you are willing to live in a jungle because you want the approval of people it would bring, you realize leeching is all you know.  Bouncing from one person to the next getting their stamp of approval is all I know.  It is my litmus test for how my life is going.  Everyone approves of Sarah, Sarah is doing good.  Someone is upset with Sarah, Sarah changes heaven and earth to make that person approve of her.

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For sure, being a military brat I needed this skill to make friends.  It’s hard to make friends if you bound into a room and say, “I’m Sarah, like me or die.”  But somewhere along the way, it became the only thing.  And now Jesus says, “Hey girl, that is bondage, lets sift that out of here so you can be a blessing to people.”  He is beginning to free up my head space to look for the truth here.  Here is some truth I know from God’s word.

Galatians 1: 10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

Holy truth bomb batman!  Do you see that there?  IF pleasing people is the goal than being Christ’s servant will not be an option!  What???  If I continue down this path of needing to approved by people than I can’t be a servant of Christ.  If there is one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt its that I want to be on Christ’s team.  Why? Because He continually sets me free of things that hold me hostage, like needing approval.  Why can’t I try to please people and Christ?  Take a look:

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.

19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

Whoa! Mic drop Jesus!  You see, when I start to love Jesus I start to look less and less like my old self.  You know the one, smoking 1 pack a day, cussing, drinking, cheating people, lying to people, hating her husband, not being a good mother, and generally rebeling against everything…oh wait that wasn’t you too?  Whatever, before Jesus we are all jacked up.  Anyway, the point is when you throw your lot in with Jesus you have to you start to become like Him! And there by, we are no longer part of the unbelieving world. So I would surmise from this, if I love Christ, but I am also welcomed by everyone in my life, believers and non-believers, whose approval am I really seeking?  For me, It’s opening myself up to this truth and saying, “Ok, Jesus, you warned me, I love you more than anything else, so I want to give up seeking man’s approval.”  And so when I am in a situation that the world is totally ok with, but Jesus is not, I seek Jesus’ approval and not the approval of the people around me.  Which makes people mad because they don’t want to deal with a Jesus Freak.

(*Disclaimer–There is a generation running around living by the motto, “I’m gonna be me no matter who it offends and who it makes mad because I have to be true to myself.  This is NOT the kind of “kicking people approval to the curb” kind of attitude we should approach this topic with.  Jesus loves everyone and we should too.  Going around trying to piss people off is not Jesus’ jam, he was trying to save them, they rejected him.)

What if I could really just live my life only seeking God’s approval.  What if I could stop leeching and be blessing to people I love.  What if wearing God’s approval draws people in more than me trying to be pleasing in my own limited human way.  What if I could tap into a the power of God and really live a life of freedom?  What if I could teach my own daughter to live for God’s approval and not the approval of dumb teenagers?  Well, my friends, that is exactly the journey I am on.  This journey is made possible by the Holy Spirit who points out things in me that are not Christ-like, and points me instead to Christ.  This journey is made possible by Jesus Christ who is the savior of the world and the payment for the sin of world even though the world hated Him. This journey is made possible by God the Father who loves me more than anything and has the power to really change me and set me free.  I’m running toward that freedom.  I love you Lord.

You can’t hold pom-poms if there is a cattle prod in your hands.

I don’t want to brag but my bible study group and I basically solved all marriage problems this week.  I have been thinking about our discussion ever since then and decided that it was my duty to share our discovery with everyone.

If you ever needed confirmation that God has a sense of humor, here is your proof: I am leading a bible study on submission.  (When you stop laughing at how funny that is, please continue reading.)  But God, in his infinite wisdom, has me leading a group of women through a book called “Touching Godliness” by K.P Yohannan.  It is not just on submission in marriage, it is on submission to God Himself.  Once we have yielded to God, submission to His delegated authorities flows from there.  I have fully documented the fact that God had to change my heart where submission was concerned because in my book that word was about the worst cuss word I could think of.  And God, to really be sure I understand it, has me leading other women though this book.

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So in some amazing organic way, the discussion from last week landed on how hard submission is in marriage, shocking I know!  How when husbands let you down, or drop the ball, we immediately want to control the situation.  We talked about how God is asking us to submit to our husbands not because they are more qualified to lead than we are, but because God ordained that they lead.  I’m guessing it has something to do with growing us to be more Christ-like because I find women will naturally lead and men will naturally not lead, and God is in the business of having us fight against our natural bent. (See Genesis 3) Anyway a comment was made about how the more we nag, boss and order our guys around the more they will shrink back and let us take control.  Conversely, the more we cheer them on the more they will want to step up and lead.  Then out of no where, by friend says they best line I have ever heard that sums up the struggle we all face:

You can’t hold pom-poms if there is a cattle prod in your hands.

I could go on for 7000 words to prove to you all the ways this is true.  And you know I could.  But let me say it this way.  I see this truth everyday in my life.  If I criticize Jesse for something, and tell him how he could do it better, I see my guy shrink back.  If I cheer for him,  see him step up.  Here is the truth.  I spent a lot of time thinking Jesse was not as good as I was.  I spent a lot of time fixing him.  I spent a lot of time showing him he was an idiot.  I spent a lot of time thinking I knew the Lord more than Jesse did.  I spent a lot of time thinking I would be better off with out Jesse. And you know what I ended up with?  A kid.  A husband that had lost the will to lead his family.   But God, He intervened in our life.  He saved me and started to teach me what it looks like to submit to the Lord.  Submission to the Lord included submission to His delegated authorities and that includes Jesse.  It is a process for sure.  We do not get it right, evidenced by the fact that just last night Jesse stood at one end of the room and yelled, “You are being disrespectful!”, to which I replied, “Well you are being unloving!” It’s a process.  But when I stop worrying about if Jesse is qualified to lead our family and start to see him as someone put there by God to lead me I start to root for him.  When I cheer for him I start to see him want to lead.  When I step out of the way I start to see him step in to the leadership role.  As much as I have to step down from leadership, Jesse has to step up.  This makes us both have to rely on the Lord.  Without Him, and his ordained roles, it’s just a free for all of who is more qualified and who is more right.  Who really wins in those fights?

I really try to stay away from out right challenges here on the old blog.  Mostly because I can turn into a bible thumping, fire and brimstone preacher from Footloose complete with finger pointed at everyone else faster than you can say, “Now you gotta cut loose…”  What can I say?  Being bossy is my spiritual gifting.  But I will challenge all of us, me included to put the cattle prod down, and pick up the pom-poms.  Your husband is a grown ass man and does not need you to tell him how to do stuff.  Did I just say that? I’m totally gonna block Jesse from this post so he doesn’t know I actually know this stuff.  You know what our husbands need?  Someone telling them that we believe in them, that we know they can do anything.  Do you find it hard to say that?  Do you see the list of ways they have let you down, and pile of things that you believe will never get done and find it hard to believe in him?  Let me make it easier for you. Do you believe in God? Do you believe he is the all-powerful creator of the universe?  Good! Me too!  Guess what is not too much work for God, your husband!  Give it to God to work on.  You do you boo! (a quote from my friend Ashley) You work on submitting to God, and cheering for your husband.  Here is your money back guarantee, If you cheer for him, he will rise to the occasion, if you criticize him he will become another child you have to raise.  Ask me how I know.  Much love to you sisters, this is where God can become really real in your life, if you will let him.

 

How youth sports expose my sin–even I was surprised!

I have several friends who won’t even go to sporting events with me because I am a little intense.  I am not sure what comes out in me but it is a total focus and desire to see my players do well.  I have never been a “win at all cost” person. I am a “I want everyone to feel like they did well and feel proud of themselves,” person.  However there for sure is there for sure is a winner and a loser in my book.  When my kids started to play sports of course I jumped in and coached every thing they played.  There is a huge shortage of people who feel enough confidence in themselves to stand in front of a group of 4 year olds and lead them to victory–I AM YOUR GIRL!!  Jesse was always a little worried about my intensity.  I believe he may have googled “defense attorney” from the side lines a time or two.  Not because I was in danger of getting arrested for child abuse but because I was in danger of murdering an adult.  If you and I are at the same sporting event and you are critically critiquing your child from the sidelines and possibly hurting their self esteem…watch your back as you leave said sporting event because I will probably be trying to run you over.  (side note from my soap box: Your kid needs to hear that you think they are the best one on the field, that they are great, and that you are proud of them.  The end.  Don’t coach from the sideline–go be a coach if that is your bent–or you might get run over by me.  Just trying to keep you safe.) Listen, I am fully aware that a command from Jesus is “Do not run people over with your car,” and I fully want to follow Jesus but I would not test my resolve in this area just yet.  Now, do I occasionally have to remind Brock to stop dancing and focus on the game, yes, but I alway compliment his groove thing afterward.

I am fully aware of my tendencies.  So when I go to sporting events I pray to the Lord that He will keep my mouth shut for me and that I will reflect Christ to those around me.  And not the table flipping Jesus, but the sermon on the mount Jesus.  My kids are older now so I don’t coach anymore because once you get past 6 years old you actually need a coach that has some training.  So, I have my fan chair and my spirit wear and I kill it from the cheering section.  Sometimes my kids tell me I cheer too loud, sometimes my friends stop sitting with me, but I am there as the morale booster and I approach that job with Lara Croft, tomb raider skills!

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Oh my heart, look at his cuteness.  This was in 2011.  

So that is why I was so shocked at myself this weekend when I sat contemplating how much jail time I would get if I throat punched someone.  For sure this is not about the other person at all.  This is not a tell all about how bad they are, because in reality this dude is not bad at all, probably.  This is about how shocked I was at how quickly I gave up the Lord and wanted to take justice into my own hands.  My husband is an assistant coach on Brock’s team.  He is one of many coaches.  This guy, whom I wanted to throat punch was being very critical of the coaching of a game.  I would like to say that I walked up to this dude calmly and gently to discuss the matter, but I did not.  Something snapped in me when he was critical of my husband.  I went full on warrior mode, and “Oh, no you didn’t, HOLD MY WEAVE!”  And I don’t even have a weave.  The irony in all this I am so super critical of Jesse all the time that you would think someone being critical of him would not faze me in the slightest.  For some reason I want the job alone, and no one else gets to do it.  Now, I did not actually say anything to this guy at all.  This war was fought in my mind and then played out passive aggressively.

And so, the fall out.  I feel like this is one of those movies that we watched in middle school about how to handle situations we would face.  You remember those.  It went like this:

Narrator:  Now lets see how Sally will handle the situation when someone offers her drugs….

Bad drug person: “Hey kid, you want some drugs?”

Sally: I just say NO to drugs.

Narrator:  Good job Sally!  She will go on to do great things with her life, and be president.  Now lets see how Sarah will handle this situation.

Bad drug person:  “Hey kid, you want some drugs?”

Sarah:  “Hell yeah, and give me all your money too.  Oh, and I am taking all your drug inventory and your car.  Thank you bad drug person.”

Narrator:  Well, this is an example of what happens when you don’t say no to drugs.  Sarah will go on to live a life of crime.  She will be in and out of jail and she will never be president.  She will always be used as a bad example.

So the correct response for me in this situation would be to butt out and mind my own business and let my husband and the other coaches handle the situation.  And I probably could have prayed for the guy and in that God would have changed my heart toward him and maybe even made it possible for me to share my faith with him someday.  But NOOOOOOO……

No, I sat there fuming, plotting revenge.  I thought up ways to chew this guy out and condemn him in front of everyone.  I judged him to be someone in total rejection of the Lord and I would take him out for the Lord.  I quit the team 4 times in my mind.  I cursed the day we ever joined and I cursed the day that Jesse agreed to help the team.  I crucified this dude for daring to critique my husband who so selflessly gives his time to the team while his wife complains every time he has to leave for practice or a game.  I was not in control of my mind at all, it was a free for all.

But wait there’s more!  Not content with fighting this battle by myself I texted my BFF’s to let them know of the possibility of me going to jail, and could they come get me.  I rallied their support of my plight.  In effect, including them in my sin.  And when that did not quench my lust for revenge, I moved in on the other team moms.  I went and sat in the stands and told them what I had heard.  They were of course out raged and rallied around me too.  Now, my sin was not just my own, but I had a posse to join me.  I had defamed this guy, because of what he had done to my husband, to all the people around me.  Now to be sure, these bystanders did not know what I was doing, mostly because I did not know what I was doing at the time.  I just felt really mad and angry and sought relief in others agreeing with me.  I did not know the extent of my sin until this morning when the Lord made this the reading for April 16th in my One Year bible.  Check in out:

Luke 18: 9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

In essence when I read this today my heart broke for the fact that I identified as the Pharisee.  I thanked God this weekend that I was not “as bad” as that guy, when in actuality my sin was worse.  My sin of putting myself above this guy caused me to rally support of my superiority.  I lead others into sin with me.  I got a committee together that made me feel right and better than him and the whole time God was saying, “You might think you are justified in your actions but you stand before me unjustified in this particular sin.”  And in the end, in His kindness, God humbled me.

It is so good to be humbled, pruned and corrected even thought it hurts.  The restoration that will come and the opportunity for me to stand before those people and say I was wrong will reflect God to them.  To humble myself and put them before me will break down my pride a little more.  The shock I feel at my sin will point me to stop being a pharisee and be the tax collector, begging God for mercy.  At least those last four sentences will be what I am preaching to myself today, because in all honestly my mind knows its true but my flesh wants nothing to do with any of that.  And that is all I can do right now is believe God, believe I sinned and trust Him to change my heart in it all.  Even as I write this the guilt and the shame dissipate and I become more free.  The anger and the need for revenge is placed in the hands of the one who can actually do something about it and not make it worse.  Jesus, Thank You for always restoring me.  Thank you that you are not surprised by my sin, but that you know its coming.  Jesus thank you for loving me right where I am and that my failures don’t change the way you love me.

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Anybody else relieve that I did not become a dance mom?  I think Sydney could see the writing on the wall and she wanted no part of having a crazy dance mom.