Oh Hell No!

ohhellnocrossstitch

My best friend Kelly, made this for me.  It is sitting right by my kitchen sink so I will see it all the time.  I love it so much because the contrast between the pretty cross stitch and the saying is hilarious to me.  I am sorry if you think that Hell is cuss word but if you have been around me for any length of time you know that I have an affinity to pepper my speech with questionable words.  The fact of the matter is that my best friend made this for me because she knows that I am about to enter the ring for the fight of my life, again, and this is my catch phrase.

Friends, summer is all but over and the school year is about to begin.  The driving, the scheduling, the making of lunches, the signing of papers, the pep talks, the exhortations to look for the Lord even in the halls of high school.  The late night: “Hey mom, I need a (fill in the blank) for school tomorrow or the world will end, and Hey mom where is my (fill in the blank) I can’t leave without it!” The: “I need to go here and do this thing or my life as I know it will end!”  All of this is all about to commence.  Those are just the requests from my off spring, don’t even get me started on the things from the school, and PTA, and boosters.  This is the fight of my life y’all.

There is this voice inside of me that only knows one word….MORE.  It is the voice that says:

DO more

BE more

GET more

HAVE more

BE SEEN more

BE more POPULAR

GET YOUR KIDS IN more THINGS

MAKE YOUR KIDS more

STRIVE more

 

Or my other favorite voice….You are not enough!  It is the voice that says:

If you don’t do this you are not enough.

If you don’t have that you are not enough.

If you aren’t part of that you are not enough.

If you don’t say yes to that you are not enough.

 

The “more” voice and the “you are not enough” voice bully me all the time.  They try to talk me into being busy and hurried.  They try to talk me into feeling like I am not enough and that I am not doing enough.  They key into Facebook and whisper to me, “Look at them, they are doing all the things so much better and MORE perfect than you are.” They convince me that I am not doing all that I can for my family and for my friends.  They say, “You are worthless unless you are in all the things, at all the things, and doing all the things.”  They say if my life looks different from someone else’s that I am in the wrong, and I need to change.  They say that if I am not moving, I am lazy.  They say if I am not perfect, I am not loved and adored.  And guess what, those voices are LIARS and to them I say:

OH HELL NO!!!!

I have spent too much of my life imprisoned to these voices.  My flesh and satan would love to see me trapped there, but I AM FREE!!  It is the fight of my life to STAY FREE!!  So I must have this phrase at the ready.  I have to be brave and use my phrase when those voices start to bully me.  I have to stay in step with Jesus because that is where freedom resides.

So I see someone’s post on Facebook exclaiming that their kid is killing it at life because they made this team, or that club or whatever.  The more voice goes off, “Crap!  You better haul Sydney out of bed and get her signed up for (fill in the blank) because if you don’t she will end up being just a regular doctor and not a super powered doctor lawyer evangelizing missionary to orphaned children living in an unreached people group in a region of the world she discovered because Sydney should also be an explorer searching for unreached people.   Or the not enough voice goes off, “You the worst mother ever, Brock has done nothing but watch YouTube video’s about ants and Fortnight all summer, you have not challenged him in any STEM activities, or memorized bible verses, or taught him Spanish.”  And God help me if I see a post on Facebook about a weightloss story or some new way to fight wrinkles, that could put me in the bed for days!  I use to end up trapped in feeling like I needed to do more or that I am not enough.  That thought process lived out ended in me screaming at the kids to do more or be more and them feeling like they weren’t enough, and the cycle would start all over again in my kids.  In those feelings of not enough, depression sets in, and then hopelessness and then I would be lost.  NOT ANYMORE!

Now I say, OH HELL NO when those voices pop up.  I am free to congratulate other people on their successful lives without putting my life down.  I am able to see what makes my kids come alive and focus on that.  I am able to proclaim that we are enough just as we are not because of what we do but because we are loved by God.  And with God as my coach I am able to break the cycle of needing to do more and not feeling like I am enough.  With God’s Word I can focus on what is important to HIM and not what is important to the world.  What is important to God will always bring freedom, not feelings of needing to do more.  It is the fight of my life to stay free from those voices that want to tell me to do MORE or that I am NOT ENOUGH, but freedom is worth the fight!!  So I say, OH HELL NO!

 

Fame! I wann live forever!

Do you remember the song “Fame?”  The lyrics go like this…..

I feel it comin’ together
People will see me and cry, fame
I’m gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame, fame
I’m gonna live forever
Baby, remember my name
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Irene Cara spoke to baby Sarah’s heart in the 80’s.  Fame and the also popular theme song to Flashdance, “What a feeling!” were theme songs to my life.  Title tracks, that lead me to create plays, performances and sing for anyone that would sit still long enough to watch me.  Being in front of a crowd was the best thing in the world to baby Sarah.  I wanted to light up the sky like a flame!
To change gears a bit, did you ever have God teach you something that you did not want to admit to people because it made you look really foolish and bad? No, just me?  It does not help that one of my spiritual gifts is messing up so bad that it cannot be ignored or swept under the rug.  What can I say, I am larger than life, I wanna light up the sky like a flame!  Also it is embarrassing to admit but I seem to be the last to know about my screw ups.  Like, every one saw it coming but me.  It’s just a shot in the dark here but maybe that is because I am too busy worrying about people remembering my name?  So join me on this tale of woe, as I explain to you what God taught me about fame.
God is smart.  He knew that He had to get me interested in church enough to keep me coming back so eventually I would hear the gospel and be saved.  I am super glad He woo’s each of us in the exact perfect way to get our attention.  Mine was seeing the worship team at church for the first time.  I never knew God was ok with bands, this was a revelation!  My friend Autumn invited me to church and was on the worship team.  I remember distinctly baby Sarah standing up and shouting inside me, “Fame!  I wanna live forever!”  when I saw the microphones, instruments and band members.  A thought was born in my mind, “I wonder if they would let me sing?”  I wasn’t even a believer yet!  But that thought took hold.  I did keep going to church and did eventually get saved a month later.  It saved my life, literally.
I did join the worship team.  Baby Christian Sarah was on fire for the Lord.  I wanted to be in everything to do with God.  I wanted more and more of Him.  Baby Christian Sarah and Baby Fame Sarah joined hands and skipped all the way to the first worship set I got to lead.  It was the best thing in the world.  I found something that really gave me life in a time when things were falling apart. (See blog post on marriage)  However, something started to happen inside of me.  Baby Christian Sarah loved singing praises to the Lord no matter what.  Baby Fame Sarah wanted more of the spotlight for herself, and the war between the new Sarah and the old Sarah was started.
If I have duped you into believing I am a perfect christian please read no further because you opinion of me will be dashed.  The point of this blog is to be a real Christian trying to follow Christ and to record what He is doing in my life. This lesson changed the trajectory of my life, so this was a big thing for me.
Here’s what started to happen.  I would lead worship, and when the set was over I expected people to say did a great job.  If they didn’t I was wounded.  The schedule would come out and I would be angry that I was only leading once a month.  How could people remember my name if they only saw me once a month?  I would be jealous of other female singers if I thought they were better than me.  I would be angry with the worship pastor for not letting me lead a song.  I would ask my husband if he could hear me to be sure that my microphone was turned up enough.  I would move heaven and earth and put my family aside to say yes to a worship gig.  Basically, I had to be up there, I had to be heard, I had to have the spotlight.
Here is where the conflict happens.  Do you see that list above.  It can be broken down to  these simple fruits of the flesh:

Galatians 5: 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

I have underlined for you the ones that I was fostering while I was trying to lead worship.  Time after time I would stand up to lead God’s people in praises to Him and all the while I would be sowing fruit of the flesh.  For sure God still used my worship because He is so big that He can use this wretch to reach other people no matter where my heart is.  The struggle became bigger and bigger the more I learned what the fruit of the Spirit are. (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) I was convicted by the Spirit that I was sowing to my own flesh.  I could see that I was causing dissention on the team.  I could see that I was hurting our worship pastor (who happens also to be my best friends husband, there by hurting that relationship too.)  I didn’t know what to do or how to stop, and I had been leading worship for so long I felt like I could not tell people that I was struggling in these ways.

I even went to a convention with Beth Moore and Christy Nockles and submitted a question because no body knew me there.  I asked Christy, “If you struggle with not being put on the schedule, not leading songs, and submitting to the worship leader should you still lead worship or should you step down?”  There were 900 questions submitted and out of all of them she pick MINE!  FAME!  I’m gonna live forever!  Just kidding!  But seriously she did pick mine so don’t ever tell me God is not pursing me and trying to teach me.  Her answer was amazing.  She said, “We have all struggled with being the background singer.  I have been in places where I did not lead songs and was just the background vocals.  The problem comes with the motive. If you are leading worship to lead God’s people into God’s presence, you are fine.  If you are leading them to lead them into your presence then you will continue to struggle.  If you can’t get your flesh under control it would be healthier to step back for a bit.”  My heart sank when I heard those words.  I think somewhere inside I knew that was what was coming but I was stuck in the “I lead worship, that is who I am,” mentality.  What would happen to me if i didn’t lead worship.  Who would see baby Sarah performing????? Oh right!  You would God.

I wish my tale ended with me coming home from that conference and stepping down to allow time for spiritual growth.  But no, alas my gifting includes screwing up so big that everyone knows about it.  We are coming up on a year since my, uh, “breakdown?”  (See “I can’t get around writing about this blog post.”)  I tried to lead worship a few more months after the conference.  I buckled down and demanded my mind and heart to produce fruit of the Spirit.  The problem with that is I can’t produce that fruit.  I can only produce the other fruit of the flesh.  I needed time to work with God and to be transformed, but I was scared to death to let go of worship because it felt like who I was.  But in a small moment of bravery, I was able to muster the trust in my Good Good Father required to take the leap necessary to step down.  If I am being totally honest the conversation with my worship leader was more of a “you can’t fire me I quit” kind of moment but who is keeping score?  Certainly not me, that is not a fruit of the Spirit.

And so there I was, not a worship leader anymore.  The good news is I had so much emotional stuff to deal with at that time I didn’t notice not having it on my schedule.  Until I showed up and church and was not on stage.  It was humbling.  It was hard.  It was humiliating.  I dreaded the, “how come you are not leading worship?” conversations.  Mercifully, God arranged for me to have to have an ovary out at the same time so that was an easy answer.  He is kind that way. (HaHa) And so the journey began of me not leading worship.

I feel like after a tale like that I should switch fonts so you know how much God has changed my heart.  I don’t feel up to the task to adequately explain the sifting that has occurred.  Let me say it this way:  stepping down from worship is the best thing I ever did.  Here’s why…..

I learned that what baby Sarah needed to know is that she is seen by the Almighty God and that being seen by Him fills up that need to be famous.  That my “non-lighting up the sky life” is the exact plan he has for me right now.  And that is right where I need to be.

I learned that when you are involved in something and you cause dissension, you stifle the growth of that ministry.   It has been humbling but also the greatest gift to see the worship team at my church grow into a healthy vibrant team full of all different talents and voices and styles.  I literally gush over them I love them so much.  I went from a worship leader to the biggest groupie, only because of God leading me.  For sure I still struggle with not being “on the team.”  It feels like I got left behind sometimes, but that is just to old self wondering if I am being left out.  I am trying not to believe that lie.  It’s a process.

I also learned that if you are involved in something and it causes dissension in your home, you have to let that go because God is more interested in your home being unified than any ministry opportunity you might have.

I learned that relationships are more important than any worship gig or ministry.  I am thankful for God’s reconciliation of the relationships I almost lost because of my pursuit of FAME.  These are the people I do life with, I laugh with and I cry with. They are more important to me than everyone remembering my name.

I learned that I could write a blog, as it were.  When I cleared out the mental space to sit with the Lord and let Him guide me instead of pursing FAME, I was directed to start writing stuff down.  First, for myself, then for my family and friends and then for this blog.  Who knew I could write something worth reading?  Certainly not me, but I can say it is the most fun and creative part of my day right now.   I had to take that leap of faith first, I had to trust Him.  Do I struggle with the thought that “maybe I will become famous because of this blog!”  No, of course not ever, that thought never enters my mind…and everyone laughed and laughed.  Of course it does!  I have to constantly fight against the lie that I have to be famous, and remind myself that I have one job and that is to make JESUS FAMOUS.

I learned that God is going to keep putting up in front of people and ask me to serve Him and not them.  Meaning just stepping down from worship does not fix the sin nature inside of me.  He keeps bringing me opportunities where baby Sarah could easily dust off her dress up clothes, make a stage and demand a captive audience.  I still harbor plans to run off and try out for the VOICE.  That need to be seen by people rears its ugly head, but each time I confess it, He reminds me that He sees me and that is what matters.  He has a job for me to do, it is making HIM FAMOUS, not me.

These lessons seem so obvious when I write them down.  Like, duh, of course you wanted to be famous and saw the worship team as your ticket to fame and stardom.  When you are in it though, and when you are afraid to let go because you are scared of what is next, well, there is where you meet with Jesus.  He says to your heart,  “Let go, I am enough, I will get you through it.”  On this side of the sifting I am sad that it took me so long to trust Him, only because I am so free now.  I spent so much time in bondage to fear.  So fellow sojourner, whoever you are, read this and be convinced to take that leap of faith so that the fruit you produce is of the Spirit and brings you freedom!

Fruit of the flesh or Fruit of the Spirit?

Right now in my life I am preparing to teach the last day of the Galatians bible study we did this summer at my church.  I had no idea at the beginning of this study how much I would end up loving the book of Galatians.  With all things that have to do with God, He put in front of me the exact truth I need at the exact time in my life that I could learn from it.  I love that about Him.  He is such a BOSS!

The book of Galatians is the most concise explanation of how the Old Testament relates to us, the Church.  I love how in the book of Galatians Paul tells us we are children of Abraham, who believed God and was counted righteous.  So by showing us that OUR righteousness comes ALSO by faith, because we are children of Abraham.  Paul shows that God did not call us children of Moses on purpose to prove that salvation comes by faith and not works.  It just flipping blows my mind how God systematically shows us that.  Do you know why He has to show us that?  Because we want to work for our salvation instead of accepting the free gift of salvation from Jesus.  Why do we want to work for it?  Because then we don’t have to admit that we are hopeless sinners in need of that free gift–but that is a blog post for another time.

Anyway, Galatians proves that salvation is a free gift from God and that making ourselves look religious or holy will NOT MAKE US RIGHT WITH GOD.  You must believe in the free gift of salvation from Jesus to be right with God.  Without that you are simply looking the part on the outside but the inside is still a dirty unrighteous mess.  When we accept this free gift of salvation and stop working for it we are FREED up to love God the way He intended us to.  Then as we develop this relationship with God we are FILLED up so that we can love others they way He wants us to.  Once Paul proves that salvation comes by faith alone, he moves into what in the world we do after that.

In Galatians chapter 5 he talks about fruit of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit.  Check it out in the Message Version of the bible, it really makes it come alive:

Galatians 19-23a  It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

 This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

I mean, what in the world.  When I read the fruits of the flesh I was knocked to my knees because “stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; a brutal temper; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival,” could be used to describe me on my Wikipedia page.  Or it will be what the narrator says about me on a true crime show where there was no survivors because I finally lost it.  Or it will be something that Kelly, Cheryl or Ashley will say when they are interviewed about me for a 20/20 story about that girl who thought she was Lara Croft Tomb Raider, but finally ended up on a clock tower screaming about how “Lara Croft doesn’t do dishes or laundry!!!!”  I just feel like that list might actually characterize my day-to-day life.  And that scares me because that means I am living by my flesh.

But God also includes the list of the Fruit of the Spirit in this section too.  Anybody read that and throw up your hands and say, “We I’m toast!”  Or maybe you are like me and when I read that list the first time, as a new Christian, I was like, “Oh, ok I got this!  I can do these things!”  That is the, uh, WRONG ANSWER!  “I’m toast,” is more appropriate because it shows that you know you are not capable of manufacturing these kinds of fruit.  I am capable of manufacturing this kind of fruit for exactly as long as no one pisses me off.  (I’m looking at you guy at the harbor who yelled at me cuz you thought I was going to run you over.  Do you know how lucky you are that Jesus saved me?  You better thank Him because He is the only reason I did not get out of my car and throat punch you and then run you over for real!  Anyway, moving on….)  And here is the greatest news in all the land, besides that Jesus paid for my sin, I DON’T HAVE TO MANUFACTURE THIS FRUIT!!!

Do you see there where it says, “But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard….”  “When we live God’s way,” means that we are living in that freedom that comes from the free gift of salvation.  We are not working for Him, to impress Him or to get into heaven.  We are simply learning about who He is from His word, talking to Him in prayer and experiencing this world through His eyes.  When we live that way HE MAKES THE FRUIT APPEAR!

The section we are doing this week in Galatians is Chapter 6 is a beautiful challenge to sow into the Spirit instead of the flesh.  I want to write more about that next time.  I am making a concerted effort to keep these posts around 1000 words because I know my friends and family have other things to do besides read 8000 words from me.  And let me just say too, if you read these, THANK YOU!!  I am tickled to death that you are reading things that I write.  It is the highlight of my day to hear that you connected with something I wrote or that I made you laugh.  Thank you for encouraging me to write more, I have a lot of words, but none that will cover how precious your kind words are to me.   I pray that my words point you to Jesus.

The Chicken Run

Here I am again observing behavior in my animals that reminds me of my own real life issues.

These chickens.   Please enjoy this video.  (Also lets give a round of applause to Jesse for helping me with this video.  He was on his way to work and I said, “Please! I need you to open the door so I can video the chickens today!  It will take two minutes!  I promise!”  Well, he changed shoes and headed to the barn only to be met with the fact that the dogs were fighting over a dead rat that Gizmo killed.  It is hard to get a kill away from them, but you learn to do it or else you see that rat again at 2 AM because they are throwing it up on your bedroom floor.  Can I get an AMEN? So the whole video-ing thing took longer than two minutes, sorry honey!)

 

Ok so, my point is this.  These chickens squawk at me while I am letting my sweet duck out, while I am feeding the baby goats, and they squawk at me while I am feeding the big goats.  They use their most impressive voices and puff out there chest all in an attempt to intimidate me into opening their coop first.  To which I say, “You are not the boss of me and until you can use kind words you will be last to get let out.”  To which they say, “SQUAWK!” because they don’t care that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.  They are geared up, jockeying for position and biting each other to get out the door first.  Then, when I finally open the door,  OFF THEY RUN!  I was watching them a few days ago and just wondered where are they going in such a rush?  They don’t have a plan or direction they just follow each other and run.  They are just “in a hurry to get things done,” like Alabama sings about.  And then you know WHO whispered in my ear, “weren’t you just praying about feeling rushed, and you didn’t know why?”

Oh my gosh, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My natural bent is to be like the chickens.  Just running with no direction.  No real destination but dammit I’m making good time.

My thoughts are like the chicken run.

My plans are like the chicken run.

My comfort zone is the chicken run.

“Just go, just get it done, faster, more stuff, business, don’t stop,” are what makes up the chorus of my theme song, in my natural state of being.

But Jesus, Jesus comes in and gets in the way of my chicken run and says, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”  “My daughter, you cannot walk in the Spirit and do the chicken run. A fruit of the spirit is self-control, and another is peace, when I see you running the chicken race you look like you are walking in the flesh because I see selfish ambitions, jealousies and bursts of wrath from you, turn around and follow me back to walking in the Spirit because that is a safer place for you.”  Over and over again He reminds me of this.  Over and over again I have gotten lost in the flesh that tells me go faster, work harder, fight more, get ahead of everyone else, and over and over he gets in my way and looks me in the eyes and says, “Stop being a chicken running for no reason, you are a daughter of the King, not a chicken.”

And so, I try to go back to walking in the Spirit.  And I try to capture the thoughts that tell me “hurry up!”  In fact, in God’s humor, or in His good Mercy He gave me a husband who can’t stand to be told “HURRY UP!”  And just to be sure I got the joke, He gave me two kids who actually freeze up when you shout, “HURRY UP!”  (Side note: both of my kids had to have speech intervention because of stuttering.  And BOTH speech pathologists said, “Mrs. Griffith, they don’t start stuttering until you get here.  You HAVE to stop when they are talking to you and look them in the face, otherwise they feel too hurried to get the words out. Got it, thanks!)

What I have learned is that walking in the Spirit is not the absence of “things to do.”  If it was as easy as “do-less-stuff” everyone would do that.  (one more side note:  You know what my most hated phrase is?  “Stop doing so much stuff!”  Oh my gosh, thank you, you just solved all my problems!  Why didn’t I think of that?  I’ll just sit here and do less stuff, but can you do me a favor?  When my head blows up from my anxiety will you mop up the floor?  Because we have already established that we don’t need to let the dogs eat things like that.  Great, thank you.)

Walking in the Spirit is this beautiful dance of learning how to just be with God and let Him direct your steps.  Now some people are going to read that and go, “Oh really? It must be nice to just let the wind blow you one way or another, but I have a job and responsibilities and things I have to do.  But that is exactly what I mean.  It is this awareness in your daily life of the Spirit.  I am learning that when I have that feeling of “Hurry up!” that is when I look to the Lord.  I say to Him, “Lord I don’t want to do the chicken run, help me re-center and not just be running for no reason.”  I do this over and over and over.  I am turning into a “hurry up” detective in my own life.  I am starting to become repulsed by being in a hurry.  I as myself, “Am I running the chicken race here?” That is all Jesus prompting me, and teaching me how to get out of the chicken race.  The schedule has not changed but the heart has.  And when the heart changes that makes all the difference.  Say no the chicken race!  SQUAWK!!!

I survived May…..almost.

LAST DAY OF MAY!!!!  I feel like the “Eye of the Tiger” should be playing all day today!  Brock is already at school and Sydney is headed out the door in like 20 minutes FOR THEIR LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!  Last week I could not think of what to write about and still came up with 1000 words–no one who does life with me is surprised by that.  My friend Jeff calls these my “manuscripts” not blog posts–whatever, I have all the feelings and lots of words, and I just SURVIVED MAY, so buckle up buttercup I have some words to use!

First my daughter tried out for the A Cappella group at school called “Walk the Line.”  Am I living out Pitch Perfect dreams through her? YES YES YES!!! Was I more nervous for her than I was at any of my own auditions ever?  YES!!  But listen, my baby went in there, stood up in front of the judges, a bunch of high schoolers, a bunch of middle schoolers and SLAYED IT!!!!  I could not have been more proud of that girl.  I know what it cost that little body to move her feet, one in front of the other, to stand in front of the judges.  I know she took hold of the microphone even though  her hand was shaking.  I know she forced her body to sing, even though she wanted to simultaneously throw up and pass out.  I wanted to stand up and yell at the judges: “Do you have any idea how much she practiced this?” I wanted to grab them and say:  “Do you know what that just cost her?”  But I didn’t.  I just cried.  I cried because I was so proud of her.  I was so thankful to the Lord that she has this amazing voice and that He has been prompting her to step out of her comfort zone.  And I cried because I knew if she made the group I would be the best freaking A Ca Mom this town has ever seen.

WELL GUESS WHAT?????  She made it!!!!  There are two groups.  Walk the Line is the Varsity group and Sting is the JV group.  Sydney made the JV group. Now the choir teacher told us specifically not to call them that, but she is not my boss and will probably never read this.   (and if you do please don’t kick Sydney off for the sins of her mother) Sting will not be competing and will be doing a lot of community stuff.  I could not think of anything better for my girl.  To learn and get comfortable in a non-competitive atmosphere will be great for her.  It will also give me time to get my A Ca mom game going strong.

And in the midst of all the fun, and watching my girl walk through all the emotions and fear, I thanked God.  I did!  Because its moments like this that she and God develop a relationship that is all their own.  Every stinking time He shows up when she needs Him, she trusts Him a little more.  Every time she faces her fear and tells her flesh NO, she learns what He is made of.  It was the most precious thing in May for sure.  Capped off by this, as we are getting into the car Sydney says,  “Well that was totally a God thing because I could not have gotten through that if he hadn’t been with me.  I just wanted to throw up, but suddenly, when I started singing I was fine and I knew I would still go to heaven even if I messed up, so what do I care about making it if I am going to heaven.  Jesus loves me anyway.”  AND SHE LOOKED OVER AT HER MOM TO SEE HER RESPONSE AND REALIZED HER MOM HAD DIED BECAUSE HER DAUGHTER FIGURED OUT AT 13 WHAT IT TOOK HER 40 YEARS TO LEARN.

THE END

BUT NOT REALLY…..

I also wanted to record that I survived two award ceremonies with minimal feelings of “Not Doing Enough.”  I don’t know, maybe I became a little more mature in the last year.  I just sat there remembering how I am committed to becoming the mom that does life in a God honoring way.  In order for me to be the mom that is not screaming profanity at my children we have to have a “slower than most of Rockwall pace.” That translates into saying no to myself a lot.  I got so run down last week from the month of saying no to myself.  Telling myself NO to food I wanted to eat, NO things I wanted to buy, NO to things I wanted to do, NO to friends I wanted to help, and NO Netflix that needed bingeing.  Telling myself NO wears me out!  However, if I don’t say NO enough I turn into screaming profanity mom and disrespectful wife.  Also, I am an extrovert living with a bunch of introverts that need down time to re-coup.  That means saying NO to always running around doing stuff so they can rest.  Becoming a mom that my kids don’t have to survive is more important to me than anything else.  I know that now.  Everyday I get a tiny bit closer to not turning to rage to cope with stress.  I hate how many times in the last month I have unloaded on them and had to go back and say, “I am so sorry I yelled at you, I was mad about something else and I took it out on you.”  Pride stops me from apologizing because it tells me, “You are right, how dare they, look at all you do for them!” But I did it because Jesus wants me to, and He is more important to me than my pride.  As I walk with Jesus day after day and learn to be in control of my feelings, I will be able to stop myself before I unload, but not yet.  The month of May brought out the worst in me and it humbled me and made me realized I have made progress, but there is still a long way to go.  I just keep telling the kids that I will pay for their therapy.

I have also realized this month that the fight of my life will be to stay focused on the Lord.  I surprised myself this month at how quickly the Bible gets buried under paperwork on my desk.  I believe myself to be someone who is in love with God’s Word and I am often shocked when people say they think God’s word is boring or they don’t understand it.  I’m all, “Are you kidding! It’s alive, its life changing, it’s how you know who God is!!!”  I self righteously think, “Man, I could not go a day without reading God’s Word.”  This month I hate to admit that there were several days that my Bible got left on my desk without being opened.  It shocked me.  My self-righteousness came to roost, so to speak.  I was humbled and realized that this is no joke.  I shut down communication between me and the Lord for several days because I was “too busy.”  I use quotes around “too busy” becasue I find it funny that I used that as my excuse.  If I am too busy to read His word it’s because I have not said NO to enough stuff!!!!  But God, in His loving-kindness is always running down the lost sheep.  His word says He would leave the 99 to find the 1 who had strayed and gotten lost.  At church this weekend I heard this quote, “Base your choices on what God’s Word says, that way  you are thinking like God and not thinking like man.”  I was like, “Oh heck yeah!! That is so good!”  God gently whispered, “How do you think like me if you think you don’t need to be in My Word everyday.”  Oh, right, sorry Lord.  In order to be the mom that doesn’t scream profanity at her kids, to be a respectful wife, to teach bible studies to other women, and to over come depression and anxiety I have to be transformed by God’s Word.  The way that I do that is to read God’s Word, that’s it!  As easy as that!  Except it’s not easy, it’s the fight of my life.

I have had to sit myself down and say, “Self, you are super ready to get on Insta and FB, but you are reluctant to pick up your Bible.  That just shows me that Flesh Self has taken over Spirit Self and we can’t function like that.”  I have had to repent and ask God to help me focused on Him.  I can actually ask God for that!!! Isn’t that cool?  He know’s that I have to battle my flesh in order to sit down and read His word so He tells me to ask for help from Him!  My flesh doesn’t want to be exposed to God’s word because Flesh Self doesn’t like to have change and God’s word will transform me to be more like Jesus.  Flesh Self say’s “No thanks, I just want more of everything!”  Saying no to self, although it wears me out is where the battle is won.  Reading God’s Word teaches me to think like Him and not to let my feeling run the show.

So by, by May.  You were the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  By, by school year and hello summer! I have so many things I want to write about and I am hoping that summer means lots of time to write!!!

 

 

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:

evewonders

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:

Goddoesntloveme

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.