God’s Sovereignty–a housewife’s perspective.

Do you see what I did there?!?  I willingly called myself a housewife!!!  #GROWTH #IMGONNABESOHOLY #SUPERHUMBLE  Anyway,  if you remember a few weeks back I set out to write this post and then got waylaid by the whole, “Wait, being a housewife is not good enough,” thing.  Isn’t it funny how God works?  And by funny I mean not funny because He makes me look myself square in the eye and He asks me, “If you write about this I need you to really understand that your reluctance to step into being a housewife shows me that you actually do not understand my sovereignty.  So why don’t we have a rap session about that and then you can tell people what you learned.  PS.  It will hurt me more than it hurts you, but its going to hurt, remember the cross? PSS.  Remember how pruning is good?  PSSS.  I love you.”   Got it Lord, thanks.  Then in the unfolding I learned how the God of the universe is sovereign over everything from housewives to weather to galaxies to everything in betwixt.

First, I want to define God’s sovereignty.  I find that when you are talking about words in the bible people get really weird and think that normal grammatical rules don’t apply.  Really?  Our God is the God of order.  He for sure is going to apply proper grammar rules to his ALL POWERFUL WORD!!!!  Anyway, I used my super fancy Logos software and did a search for the word sovereign or sovereignty in the bible.  The word, or version of it is used 294 times in the bible.  When a word is used that much in the bible it is easy to define because you just see how it is used and what the context is and wham bam, you know what the definition is.  So collectively the definition is as follows:

sovereignty. The possession of ultimate authority and power. In political theory the state is often regarded as sovereign, while in theology, sovereignty is a characteristic of the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator, who governs the universe for his own purposes.

Evans, C. Stephen. Pocket dictionary of apologetics & philosophy of religion 2002 : 110. Print.

My understanding of His sovereignty comes from the fact that I believe God is the ultimate authority and power over the universe.  I believe that everything is under His control.  I don’t believe in chance, or karma.  If I have a flat tire, God is in control of that.  He decided I needed a flat tire.  If I hit every green light and arrive 5 minutes early to something, God is in control of that.  He decided I need to be early.  To believe this requires me to believe in a BIG GOD!  And He is a BIG GOD.  He tells us that all through the bible.

I realize this topic strikes up debates between differing groups of christians.  I take no part in that.  You can ask me all day long if I am a TULIP Calvinist, Arminian, a Three Pointer, or an Augustinian.  I will answer, “I love Jesus, and I am whatever He is so lets ask Him when we get there.”  I am pretty sure that is how Jesus will decide what softball team we are on in Heaven.  “Oh you are tulip, and also a 3rd baseman? Great, head over to field 3, your team is playing the 3 Pointers today.”  For now, He is clear in His word.  He is the sovereign authority over everything and His parting command was to love Him first, and love our neighbor as I love myself.  His parting commission was to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey the Lords commands.  I don’t know about you, but I am going to focus on that.

When I first became a Christian I did not understand God’s sovereignty at all.  I wanted to be on the path He made for me, I just didn’t know anything about God yet so I had no direction.  When I don’t know what to do I am really good at making stuff up.  I formulated in my mind an idea about Gods’ sovereignty that looked like this…..

I thought it was something you had to divine from the Lord.  I thought you had  one chance to get on the path and if you screwed up and made a wrong turn you were off the path.  I started to become hyper vigilant for a sign from the Lord.  I went so far as to ask other people, whom I thought were very holy, to pray about me joining a ministry to see if they “saw” me in the ministry or not.  Does anyone else get their theology from pop culture?  Sometimes I think my syncretism of pop culture and following the Lord is such a deficit then I remember, “Oh wait, I can always be used as a bad example.”

yellowbrickroad

The problem with trying to follow a path laid down by someone you don’t really know is that you have no idea what they are going to do or how they roll.  So the more vigilant I got about looking for signs and trying to stay on the path of God’s sovereignty the more I was convinced that I was off the path and not capable of seeing the signs.  It left me feeling like I had missed out and that I was lost.  I knew God was good, and I saw Him leading friends of mine to amazing things, but I was never sure enough to take a step because I could not see the yellow brick road.

So then, in His kindness, He saw me drowning in this and rescued me.  I was sitting in class one day and our Professor, Scot Keen, drew a long line across the dry erase board.  He said, “This is not how God’s Sovereignty works, you are not on tight rope, trying to keep your balance so you don’t fall off.”  I fully tuned in at this point because I was sure He was about to tell us where the yellow brick road started!  He said, “God’s sovereignty is like an ocean that you can never get out of.  You are in a boat and you can steer where you want to go, but you are always in the water no matter what.”  Does your brain hurt like mine does right now?  These are deep thoughts and our human brains have a hard time understanding this amazing idea.

ocean

God’s sovereignty is not a path or tight rope that I have to worry about staying on.  I am never ever out of sovereignty because He is in absolute control over everything.  I have the freedom to make choices.  I can go left, I can go right and I am always in God’s sovereignty because there is nothing out of His control.  He made it all (from galaxies to ants) and he controls it all (from seasons to traffic).  I can make a choice that doesn’t reflect my belief in God and I am still in the sovereignty of God.  I can make a choice that does reflect my belief in God and I am still in the sovereignty of God.  Good things happen to me because of His sovereignty and bad things happen to me because of his sovereignty.  I am never ever out of His sovereign control.  This is important and I want to come back to it later.

The problem with me thinking it was a path is that anytime I thought I was off the path I felt like God was not happy with me, and that I was lost.  Anytime something bad happened to me I thought it was God telling me I was not on the path.  Suddenly, I couldn’t move forward or backward or left or right for fear of being off the path.  This is not how it works, praise the Lord.  I was confusing sanctification (a $5 word for learning to walk with the Lord) with God’s sovereignty.  Nothing, no wrong decision, or wrong step can take you out of God’s sovereignty.  Also, who wants to believe in a God that can accidentally lose us?  “Where did Sarah go? She was right here on her way to the homeless shelter and then she went the wrong way and I lost her!  She must have seen a sale at Nordstrom’s.  Well, she was a cool chick, that’s too bad! She reminded me so much of Lara Croft Tomb Raider.  I wish I hadn’t lost her.”  That is not a very powerful God.

That is not the God I believe in.  The God I believe in is in control of all life.  There is no one who is so far gone that He can’t see them and work in their life.  This is so important because our bad decisions and bad things that happen make us believe that God has deserted us or is no longer with us.  The truth is that all the bad stuff is meant to drive you into His ever open arms.  It’s meant to show you that you are not in control but that God is in control.  Understanding that you can never get out of God’s sovereignty, no matter what you have done, no matter how unloveable you think you are, no matter how many drugs you have taken, no matter how many people you have hurt makes you finally take His offering of salvation.  And in his sovereignty He will never force you to love Him.  He wants you to love Him, He will use all your circumstances to show you how much you need him.  Through His son he made the way for us to not just be in the ocean of His sovereignty but be in His family and know Him personally.

Now as I walk through my day it is no longer a matter of divining His path for me,  it is living out my belief that He is in total control over everything that happens.  I believe that if I get a flat tire, God allowed it to happen and that He is still Good.  I believe that if plans change, God allowed it to happen and that He is still Good.  And so on, and so on.  Now, acting like I believe these things falls into that category of sanctification–and that is a story for another blog post.

 

Tillamoo, the faux unicorn.

If you have ever pushed a dog around in a doggie stroller you will not want to read this post.  This post is not for people who carry dogs in their purses.  If you understand that humans have dominion over animals and that sometimes things have to happen to keep the animals as healthy as possible, keep reading.  Don’t get me wrong I love animals.  If reincarnation was a thing I would love to come back as an animal of mine.

IMG_1020

Look at that sweet face.  This is Tillamoo.  We call her Tilla.  She is our most reasonable goat by far.  She is steady and no-nonsense.  She will straight head butt the other girls if they get squirrelly.  But she has an issue.

tilla'shorn – Version 2

Now listen I am not here for body shaming anyone.  But if she was going for the unicorn look she missed the mark!  This is called a scur.  It happens when a goat is disbudded as baby and it doesn’t quit get all the horn.  So this funky little horn grows all jacked up and was about the grow right into her eye.  So it had to come off.  I called the lady we bought them from and asked for help.  She said we had three options.  I could wait until she knocked if off on the fence, I could take her to the vet to have them sedate her and cut if off or I could use our hoof shears and cut it off myself.  I picked the last one.  I could tell you why the last one felt like the best decision, but that is an entire post of its own.  I’m sure the fact that I made that decision makes you thankful that I am in therapy.

So I put her in the milking stantion.  She already was wary because let us all remember that a few weeks ago was our first goat show and I had to body clip them.  Goats have to be body clipped to be shown, did you know that? Yeah, me neither.  Guess who has school everyday(Sydney), and guess who is home(Me).  So I got to do the body clipping.  We now know that you should use a 7.5mm blade.  We know that now because we clipped them with a 10mm blade and they looked like hairless goats.  Seriously picture a hairless cat, then imagine a goat looking like that.  So I don’t blame this sweet girl for wondering what was about to happen.

I surveyed this weird horn. I picked up the shears and made a little cut.  It bled like I had just slit her neck.  Plus she was highly offended by it.  They say these scurs have very little feeling and blood supply.  That is a LIE.  To make peace we both took a moment.  I gave her more food, she ate it.  I re-grouped and thought that maybe, to make it as quick as possible, I should use my tree trimmers.  I went and got them and as I was walking back to her something in me said that if she died from what I was about to do I did not want the explanation to Sydney to include, “I used the tree trimmers.”  So I went back to the hoof shears.

I’m gonna describe the next 5 minutes as this:

(talking to myself and Tilla)

“Ok, girl, 1..2..3…oh gosh I can’t do it.”

“Ok, 1….2…ugggh I feel sick, I’m so sorry Tilla.”

“Ok, 1…2…maybe I should just take you to the vet.  How much could it cost really?”

“OK, seriously, this is going to hurt for a second but it is for your own good, I promise, I’m so sorry.”

Then, I got my nerve.  1….2….3…..BBBAAAAAAAAHHHHH!  She let out one long BAH that broke my heart into a million pieces.  And of course it was bleeding.  It looked like a bad horror film.  I had a clean towel and I just held it there, applying pressure because I have 1st Aide training and I know you have to apply pressure.  I was also becoming more sick to my stomach.  She was becoming less and less impressed with me.

It did finally stop bleeding.  I put medicine on it and got ready to put her back in her stall.  I was not prepared for how she was going to RUN AWAY when I let her out of the milking stanchion.  These goats are like dogs, they never run from us because they know we are food dispensers.  Well as soon as she took off, the horn hole started bleeding again.  You know how that is, heart rate goes up,  wound starts bleeding again.  To get her back I had to let her sisters out and then round them all up.  Since she wanted to be with her sisters and her sisters were not mad at me, I was able to get them all back in the stall.

It took me 4 days to become friends with her again.  I had to spend a lot of time coaxing and wooing.  I had to pet her and sit with her.  I had to be a safe person that didn’t hurt her over and over again for her to trust me again. In those quiet times of trying to make this goat love me again, Jesus spoke to my heart.  He said, “How many times have you and I been here Sarah.”

Scripture says that Jesus is the vine and God the father is the gardener.  Check it out:

John 15: 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

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

What I see here is the parallel of God pruning me and me having to “prune” Tilla’s horn.  That horn was eventually going to affect her eye and vision and would be bad for her.  Even though it was good for her, it hurt! There are things that God as my Father has to prune from my life so that I can better follow Him.  When a pruning comes it hurts.  Tilla and I both run when the pain comes, even though the pain was for our own good.

If you think for one second walking with the Lord is going to be all butterflies and rainbows you are dead wrong.  There is pain.  When God prunes something it hurts. The cool thing is that when he prunes some thing and you get over the pain and see that he has ultimately made it possible for the to produce more fruit and be more free you are thankful for the pruning.  There are pruning that I have thought would kill me dead, and I ran from God.  Every time He woos me back to Him.

In the same way that I had to be close to Tilla while she was bleeding and applying pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding, God is so close to me in the pain.  When I am metaphorically bleeding He is so near to me, holding me keeping the pressure on the wound.  As the bleeding slows down He turns to wooing me back to himself.  He gives me space to question and be hurt and scared.  Ultimately He loves me back to life (as my friend Celine Dion says).  He holds my hand while I take my first steps to trust His goodness again.

I trimmed Tilla’s horn because I love her and I wanted her to be able to see for her whole life. And this is how I know that God can prune and love me at the same time.  Pruning comes because He loves me.  He is not uninvolved in my life, He is in me.  He sees when something in my life will ultimately cause me problems.  He intervenes and cuts it out before it cause me to be fruitless.  As I saw that goat run from me I saw how ridiculous I am for running from God.  With Tilla I was like, “How can you run from me?  I built you a barn, I buy you food, I bought you a really nice trailer to take you to shows, and I gave you half of the property to roam on!  How do you not get that I am just taking care of you?”  And as I thought those things I heard God say, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!!!”

My prayer is that I grow to trust God more and more.  That the pain of pruning drives me to the Lord and not away from Him.  That I grow to never question His goodness, but trust His goodness.  He is in this to grow me to be a beautiful fruit producer, not a goat with a faux unicorn horn.

IMG_1029

Sydney and the girls. (L-R Pepper, Bree and Tilla)

How do I get my ducks in a row?

I am not my best self right now.  I have tried to write an up beat, happy and fun story about how much I love my ducks.  Every time I sat down to write it, anger and complaining came out of my typing fingers.  I was like, “Girl, what is the deal, you have nothing to complain about!  Your cleaning ladies started this week!”  After some contemplation I realized it was because I was hungry.  We started a diet this week.  We totally cut out refined sugar and I realized that lack of refined sugar makes it hard for me to be a nice human.  I also should warn you that if you see me in public and you come up to me to offer your advice on dieting I will probably throat punch you.  That would not be a good thing to do on this weekend that we get to celebrate the fact that our sins have been paid for and our Savior has RISEN!  So lets agree not to go there.  Jesse and I decided to try Nutri System (you know, Marie Osmond advertises it.)  They send you all this miniature food and snacks and tell you it is a “meal.”  Jesse will probably lose 40 lbs and I will gain 12, but whatever, I’m super excited about it.  Let me get over the diet and tell you about my ducks.

My ducks.  We had no plans of raising ducks.  When we went to buy our chicks, there was one duck in the duck brooder.  His friends had been sold.  They tried to put him in with the chicks but they did not get along.  I looked at the sweet little duckling all alone peeping and I swear I could hear him singing:

“But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for me
For I am glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me!”
Because The Greatest Showman in my new favorite movie of all time, I had to take him. We named him Downton after my favorite TV show and the pun…(Downton, He is a duck covered in down, get it?)   He couldn’t help that he was a duck surrounded by chicks.  My plan was to just raise him with the chicks, I figured they would eventually get along.
babydownton

Look at him.  Oh my heart.  And so for a few weeks everybody was happy and I don’t think Downton knew he was any different from the chicks.  But as he grew the differences became bigger.  Like for instance how he loved the waterer.  The chicks got so offended by the fact that Downton would go in for a sip and end up splashing around in the water.  You have heard the saying, “mad as a wet hen.”  Well it is true, wet hens are not happy hens.  He was also a lot bigger!  I started to realize that duck and chickens are actually quite different and we needed to so something different for him.  So that is when this happened….

IMG_0989

This is Downton and “company” because at the time we did not know what he or she was.  Do you see Company there hiding behind Downton.  They were fast friends.  Sydney and I took dog crates, a water trough and some wood and made a duck habitat in my garage.  We had to make a ramp into the water trough so they could waddle in and out.  This is what the garage looked like…

IMG_0986

Am I a crazy person? Yes.  I love these little chicks we are raising.  The chickens and the ducks!  Once the ducks moved out the chickens became happy again.  Before I knew it they were ready to move to their awesome coop in the goat barn.  To say the ducks loved their habitat would be an understatement.  I don’t think there were happier ducklings ever!  They love to swim.  Sooner than I was ready for however, they were getting too big for the garage.  Our house has a cute little pond area in the back yard.  We turned it off during the winter but it occurred to me that this would be a perfect place for the ducks to grow up a little more.  So we put our thinking caps on and engineered a new area for them using the dog crates, some metal gate panels we had and dog igloo.  Check it out…

Also, Chip Gaines the corgi has decided that he ducks are his.  He loves them and keeps the other dogs away from them.  He sleeps by them, it is really cute.  Will he eventually eat them? I am not sure….

I will say ducks are not clean animals.  Their poop literally comes shooting out of their tail ends.  They have no decorum at all.  They “go” everywhere.  In the water, in the food, on the rocks.  I thought maybe they could stay right up here by the house forever, but that’s a no.  They are going to have to move down to the pond at some point.

In the last week we have realized that we have a boy and a girl.  We are calling them Downton and Cora.  I realize Grantham and Cora would be more true to the show but Downton is Downton now and we can’t change it.  I live in constant terror of them growing up and leaving, getting eaten by the giant alligator snapping turtle that lurks in the bottom of our pond or one of dogs getting them when Chip is not looking.  Putting that fear aside it is my joy in the morning to go out and see them swimming.  They quack at me when they see me.  They are the only ones on this property who will eat kale besides me.  They also love grapes.  They love eating in general, which is how this happened…

They have grown so much in just a month!  It is so fun to watch them, and interact with them.  Now we are getting ready for them to move down to pond.  I realize they may leave.  I realize I am not a mommy duck able to “get her ducks in a row.”  I think I have pretty thoroughly documented how I don’t have any ducks in a row in my life.  I have so enjoyed them for the last month.  I had no idea how fun they would be.  I really hope they stay.

Now going forward Jesse and I have decided we will probably get ducks every year.  Don’t for one second think he is not a party to this chaos.  Have we hired Tropical John from our church to build us a new and improved duck pond complete with a sloped entrance? YES!  Have we researched how to get rid of alligator snapping turtles? YES!  Are we insane? YES!  I really hope in a few weeks I can report that our sweet Downton and Cora are safe and living the good life in our pond (and that I have lost weight and have not murdered anyone due to hunger).  If not, I will need more therapy.

I’ll leave you with this sweet picture of them sleeping…

IMG_1059

Q: What do you call a housewife who doesn’t clean her own house? A: Sarah Griffith, Tomb Raider

laracroft.jpg

Well it has come to this.  After weeks of mulling over this pace of life stuff, begging God to write my schedule out for me so I know what He wants me to be doing, processing with my counselor, and talking Jesse’s ear off, I have had to make some decisions that have made me scared to death to write about it and put it out in the world.  But the point of all this is to record what Jesus is doing in my life.  And so I have to admit that I have hired a cleaning lady and Jesus still loves me anyway.  The biggest thing He is teaching me right now is I am more scared about people thinking I am worthless, than I am willing to be obedient to Him and what He is asking me to do.  That is why this is coming out on a Saturday instead of a Tuesday.  I have been trying to avoid writing about this all week, trying other topics, but this topic is the only one that has words right now.

You see, I found when my therapist said “I want you to write out your schedule, your real schedule, in real-time,” I started to see that what I was expecting of myself was not a realistic pace of life.  I have always thought of myself as Lara Croft Tomb Raider.  Not that new imposter Lara Croft, but the OG Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie).  Guns strapped to her legs, cheeky, smart, takes no crap, will straight up shoot you in the head, and can DO ALL THINGS.  Lara Croft does not worry about writing her schedule out because all her schedule would say everyday is:

Monday:  Kick Ass

Tuesday: Kick Ass

Wednesday:  Kick Ass

Thursday:  Kick Ass

Friday: Kick Ass

Saturday: Kick Ass

Sunday:  Go to Church and then Kick Ass

In my world, the real world, this kind of pace of life does not lead to good things.  This blasted anxiety cripples me when the pace of life reaches an unrealistic pace.  I become mean, I yell, I get paranoid, and I hurt the people I love when I am running at “kick ass” pace.  That’s how I know it is an unrealistic pace, because I can’t do the things that Jesus asks me to do.  More than anything I don’t want to be that ungentle, mean, impatient person anymore.  So, things have to change.  I had to prioritize what can get done by someone who is not Lara Croft in a normal week.  When I say I had to prioritize I mean I had to take every one of those priorities to the Lord in prayer.  I had to submit to what came up in that meditation with Him.  I had to talk to Jesse, admit how much I am struggling and ask him (gulp) how he thought I needed to prioritize things.  I had to ask all this and then I had to listen.  Which is good because people always say I am a really good listener, when I shut up long enough to hear them talk.

Here is what I came up with.  I’m hiring a cleaning lady.  I am scared to death to write that down and put it out in the world because I am terrified of people thinking I am worthless.  I am so scared you will think that I am lazy and just a well to do white woman with nothing to worry about except what to wear.  But Jesus is asking me to be patient and gentle and I can’t be patient and gentle with the pace of life I use to live.  Things have to change.  I have things that Jesus has put things on my heart to write, to study, and bible studies to teach.  I want to devote my time to that and not to my ridiculous cleaning schedule.  I will constantly deal with the guilt of not doing it myself.  I will have to remind myself that I am not worthless for hiring a cleaning lady.  I don’t know why God has blessed us with the resources to hire a cleaning lady, I just want to be thankful for it.  It would be so much easier to justify it if I worked outside of the house full-time.  If I had a full time job I would not hesitate to hire a cleaning lady.  I don’t and so I am a housewife who is hiring a cleaning lady, and I have to deal with it.

Guess who had a cleaning lady, Lara Croft.  Actually it was a guy, but you get the point.  People of the world, hear me now.  I am trying to stop living my life based on what you think of me.  I am going to try to live my life based on what God thinks of me.  I am almost 100% sure that God does not care if I hire a cleaning lady as long as I am not going into debt over it.  He is especially ok with it since my husband says he wants me to.  If I hire a cleaning lady and I tell you and you think that I am somehow less worthy because of it I don’t have to carry that around with me.  This is one of the crutches my anxiety leans on, “Do this because of what people think.”  I can’t live like that, its crushing me.  I have to become me, follower of Christ.  More worried about pleasing Him than the world.

I set out to write this post to tell you the following story, but of course it took 1000 words of back story to get here.

I called a cleaning company to get an estimate.  The lady on the phone told me she would like go over what they do during a cleaning before she scheduled the in home estimate.  Here is how the conversation went.  Her name is Linda.

Linda:  Mrs. Griffith the maids who work for us have all been trained and our cleaning comes with a guarantee, so if you are unhappy for any reason you call me and we will make it right.  We want you to be a long time customer.

Me:  Linda, that is so great.

Linda:  The ladies will come in and dust from ceiling to floor including the base boards.

Me: Really?

Linda: Yes ma’am.  They will be sure there are no cobwebs and they will vacuum out the window sills.

Me: Ok, (thinking to myself, shoot, I need to vacuum out the window sills before they come because I never do that.)

Linda:  They will vacuum your furniture, and all the floors.  Do you have dogs?

Me: (Shoot? Do I lie?  I don’t think I can hide them when the come over…..) Um, yes we have 3? Is that ok?

Linda: Oh yes!  We love dogs, and I just wanted to tell you that we will make sure and get all the dog hair from under your furniture too.

Me: Under the furniture?

Linda: Yes, except for things the ladies can’t move themselves.  Is that ok?

Me: Um, yes.  (Cuss word, now I have to vacuum under the furniture before they come)

Linda: The ladies will mop the tile and they will use Bona on the hardwoods.  Is that ok?

Me:  That is great.

Linda:  They will wipe down and polish all your appliances.

Me:  (lump forming in my throat)

Linda:  They will disinfect all bathrooms, and wash with soap and water all your counter tops.  (Hears sniffling on the other end of the line)  Are you there, Mrs. Griffith?

Me: (small) Yes

Linda:  Ok, great.  Well I wanted to let you know that they will also change your sheets for you if you leave the clean ones out on in your rooms.  They will also dust and clean all the ceiling fans and light……….(hears sobbing)  Ma’am are you ok?

Me: I-I-I’m fine.  (sob-sob) I-I’m so sorry Linda. (sob-sob) I have just been so stressed out about this. (sob-sob) Just to know that it will get done and I don’t have to do it, (sob-sob) is just so great.

Linda: Um, ok.  So do you want to set up the in home estimate?

Me: Yes, absolutely, when can you come. (sniff, sniff)

Linda:  We could have our estimator come tomorrow (pauses, talking to someone with the phone receiver covered) Actually Mrs. Griffith, my manager says he could come right now if you really need someone so urgently.

Me: (Laughing) Oh, no Linda, tomorrow is fine, I’m ok, I promise.  I swear I am not a crazy person.  I promise I am not weird, I’m just so relieved.

Linda:  Ok, I will schedule you for tomorrow.  I’m glad you called, sounds like you need some help.

Me:  Yes, Linda I need help.  (Girl, you have no idea how much help I need!)

 

 

I am the most patient person I know.

Seriously, I am so patient.  I love sitting in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru that is 100 cars long.  I love patiently sitting in my car waiting for my people to get all their stuff together and get in the car.  I love saying we are leaving at a certain time only to be delayed for some magical reason.  I love stopping to smell the roses.  I refuse to feel rushed or get flustered in an attempt to get something done quickly.  I have no ill will towards someone who delays me because they are doing something so charmingly ineptly.  Patiently sitting in traffic is one of my favorite pass times.  Lines, waiting rooms and ill-made plans are also favorites.  I am the most patient with my husband.  I love the pace at which he moves, and the pace at which he makes decisions.  Patience is my strong suit for sure.  It is my default and my go to.

youkeepusingthatword

Oh wait, did I say patience, I meant hurrying.  I am cracking myself up!  Just in case you are reading this and don’t actually know me, I could barely type all that above without laughing hysterically.  “Patient,” would not be a word used to describe me.

This weekend at church Pastor Doug taught on Ephesians 4: 1-6.  Check it out:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

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

My friend Ashley was sitting behind me and as soon as Pastor Doug read this passage I turned to her and said “We should go, let’s go get breakfast!”  I knew it would be one of those days in church when it feels like Pastor is talking directly to me and I wanted to escape with my friend who shares my affinity to avoid talking about words like “gentle, humble and patience.” Of course it is Jesus talking directly to me, not actually Pastor Doug.  This is how God’s word works.  It goes right to the heart and says “Oh, its Demo Day baby!”

You see in the passage above where it says “Always be humble and gentle.”  I read this and feel the impossibility of this command.  I didn’t use to.  In my baby christian days I read stuff like this and was like, “Oh ok, I can do that.”  I would be the most humble and gentle person you have ever seen for like 30 seconds, and then something would irritate me and all bets were off.  I have realized by now when these little gems where being handed out by the Lord, I was in the bathroom or something.  I did not get those particular gifts, I bring other things to the table like cuss words and yelling.

Now I read these words and realize my need for the Lord.  He is the one that exposes these parts of me that are not like Christ, and asks me to let His power loose to change me.  He says to me, “Sarah, you are not humble and gentle, but I AM.  If you will deny yourself and seek Me, I can live through you and you will start to reflect humbleness and gentleness to others.”  It takes me putting my own desires, my flesh, aside and choosing to live by the spirit.  The next part of the passage is “be patient with each other.”  Being patient comes after learning to be humble and gentle.

Patient, patient, patient.  Maybe if I type it enough I will understand it.  Here is what I do know.  I am not patient.  Unless you are using it in refer to someone being in a hospital.  Then I am very much a “patient.”  But something tells me that is not what God is talking about here.  Do you know how I know I am not patient?  Because my favorite word is “HURRY UP!”  Here are some of my favorite ways to use this word grouping.

HURRY UP, GET IN THE CAR!

HURRY UP, AND TELL ME WHAT WE ARE DOING!

HURRY UP!  WE ARE LATE!

HURRY UP AND MAKE THIS DECISION!

HURRY UP, COME ON, WE HAVE TO GO!

HURRY UP AND GET US A TABLE!

HURRY UP AND GET YOUR HOMEWORK DONE!

HURRY!

HURRY!

So let me tell you something really funny.  Guess what word my husband hates most in the world?  You guessed it, “hurry.”  This word is a cuss word in his book.  Nothing makes him shut down faster than someone hurrying him.  So as you can imagine this is a hot mess of me hurrying him and him freaking out on me to stop hurrying him.  It goes really well.  The more I walk with Jesus the more I see my hurried approach to life.  The more I become brave enough to look at myself in light of who Jesus is, the more empowered I become to say, “Sarah, where are you going in such a hurry?”

If I hurry my husband, guess who else I hurry?  Well, yes my kids, but I’m not talking about them.  (I’m not ready to talk about the fact that both of my kids had stutters because they felt so rushed to get a thought out.  Literally, the speech therapist said to me, “you have to slow down and look them in the face when they are trying to tell you something. Ouch.)  I am talking about the fact that I hurry God.  I am impatient with God.  I say things like, “God, hurry up and change Jesse so we can get things done faster.”  “God, hurry up and change me so I look like you.”  Guess who is not in a hurry because time does not bother Him?  That’s right God.

Pastor Doug defined patience as, “Gracious and loving waiting.”  Ashley and I should probably not sit by each other in church because we both laughed so loud at this.  Then Jesse looked over at me all smug and self-righteous and smiled at me.  Jerk.  Just kidding, I love him.

Gracious and loving waiting.  Gracious and loving waiting.  Gracious and loving waiting.  Does anyone else read that definition and start to look for a paper bag to breath in? This is just one more way God is going to teach me to stop trying to be patient and to start trusting Him to change me into someone who reflects His patience.  Yes it will hurt, yes it will be a challenge, yes I will try to do it in my own strength and fail.  The thrill of hope is that what if I could become patient.  What if I could be free of the frustration of a hurried life.  What if I could stop hurrying the people I love.  What if I could get off this hamster wheel that is “hurry?”  What if I could look myself in the face and say, “Why are you in such a hurry anyway? Where are you trying to get to so fast?” Well my friends, that sounds like a glorious way of living to me.  I love you Jesus, thank you for being humble and gentle, and thank you for promising to transform me into someone who relfects you.

Mommy Issues.

There is a lot of things happening around here!  Jesse and I went out-of-town together last Wednesday through Saturday.  This was the same week that our new chicks, and ducks came to the farm.  Ten inches of rain, muddy dog prints on the wood floor, possible flooding of my bedroom and worrying about where all this water was going to go was more than I could handle the last week.  Also this is a particularly hard time for me because of the whole “my therapist is trying to kill me thing” with the having to sit down and really look at what I have committed myself to and my “pace of life.” Incidentally,  the phrase “pace of life” in now considered a cuss word in my book, and anyone who knows me knows how careful I am to never use cuss words–said no one about me ever.  Check out this new shirt my friend Stacy made for me:

testjesus

Want this shirt?  Email Stacy at 2birdspartydecorandmore@gmail.com

I love this shirt.  It feels true of my feelings right now.  Sitting, thinking, and waiting for a problem or situation to sort its self out the way God wants it sorted out is way harder than just springing in to action and fixing something yourself.  All that to say, Jesus has not revealed to me what my “pace of life” looks like yet.  Not knowing this makes me a little, shall we say, on edge.  In the midst of all this, Jesse and I went out-of-town.  I didn’t feel like going anywhere, but we went.

 

My mom came in to help with the kids.  Y’all there are no words.  When I say she stepped up and made it happen, I mean it.  I was literally stumbling out-of-town.  Normally I would have flow charts, important numbers, directions, everything on lock.  Well I left her with 11 chicks, 2 ducks, 3 dogs (2 of which are puppies), 3 goats, a teenager and a pre-teen.  I basically said, “Here is what I think is happening, just keep everything alive, love you, bye!”  I’m not sure if I told the world yet but my mom is super human.  She is beast when it comes to getting stuff done.  For years we have called her the energizer bunny.  She never complains, she never says no, she just does it.  I have learned all my grit from her.  That is the only reason I could go out of town, because I knew she would just make it happen.

Having a mom like that is awesome.  It is also a really tough act to follow.  Her and I have talked for years about how I feel like I don’t live up to her.  I don’t work full-time, and keep house, and make dinner and do all the kid things like she did.  That is probably where a lot of my “housewife” issues come from.  Again, I get into trouble when I look to someone else to see if I am enough or doing enough.  Not from her making me feel bad, but just knowing what this woman has done in her lifetime.  When I say she just made stuff happen, I mean it.  She just did it.  If there was something I wanted to do, she made sure I did it.  I don’t know how.  It is her magic.

She reads my blog, of course, because I am her kid and she has too.  She knows I have been struggling with my schedule and my “pace of life”–there is that cuss word again. We talked about it when she was here.  It is hard to talk to her about “pace of life” because her “pace of life” is something I cannot adopt for my life.  I just mean that when I tell her things like, “I have to not do so much,” I think she must think, “You pansy, do you know what I have had to deal with in my life, do you know how much I had to do in one day just so our family would stay afloat?” You know what they say when you assume something–you make an ass out of u and me.  In reality when we talked about my “pace of life” she told me that she didn’t think I was being realistic about my cleaning schedule.  In my mind I heard what she said but I thought “Well you kept a clean house and worked full-time so why can I not keep a clean house.  You must think I can’t do it because I am not good enough.”  I didn’t say that of course but, I thought it.  So then this morning I found this on my desk:

revised scedule

I looked at this and had to sit down.  This super mom, this woman I can’t live up to, REVISED MY CLEANING SCHEDULE.  She took stuff off, and moved stuff around.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am not cleaning my house like this because God wants me to.  I am killing myself cleaning because I am trying to impress my mom.  I know this is true because when I saw that she thinks I am doing “enough” it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.  Hear me on this.  I PUT THAT WEIGHT THERE, NOT MY MOM.  I decided that I was going to live up to a fake standard I had set in my mind.  No one, mainly NOT God, told me to do this to myself.  Jesus used this to set me free of another thing I was trying to live up to.  Jesus, thank you.  I love you so much.  Thank you for always telling me the truth about things because where there is YOUR TRUTH there is freedom.  My fake truth brings bondage.

This is my weakness.  To be enough, to do enough to live up to a standard becomes my god.  This example is living up to my perception of my mom.  There are so many others and there will be so many more.  God is faithful to set me free of these.  He is the only reason I even know I am killing myself to live up to fake standards.  He shows me.  I have to respond.  Living my life trying to “be enough” is where this stupid schedule and “pace of life” came from.  Well, no more.  My prayer for myself is as follows:

Jesus, I can’t look to anyone else but you when I am looking for an example to live by.  Lord you are the one who says I am enough.  You say that I am everything I need to be because I believe in you.  Jesus continue to reveal to me the places where I have set up standards to make myself feel like I am enough.  Lord teach me that my “enough-ness” comes from you alone.  Help me remember that there is nothing I can do to impress you.  You only ask that I humble myself and follow you.  Lord help me to stop trying to impress humans.  Help me point them to You and not to me.  To your Name be all the glory, not to me.  Help me remember what Pastor Doug said this weekend, “You get 100% of the Glory Jesus, I have to practice throwing my trophies at your feet.”

Mom, I can’t express to you how much I love you.  Mainly because you don’t like that emotional stuff.  I love more than you can ever know.  I learn everyday how lucky I am that God gave me a mom like you.  God knew I would have to learn grit and faithfulness and how to finish strong.  Thank you for bailing me out over and over, not from real jail but from trouble I got myself into.  Mom, I want to stop competing with you and start being thankful for you.  I want to stop trying to live up to you and fill your shoes and just be thankful for how God made you, and be thankful for how God made me.  I am so thankful God gave me you.  I love you.

Happy Birthday Baby Boy.

 

meandbrock

Dear Brock,

Since this is how I have been celebrating the things that are going on in our life, this seems a fitting way to celebrate you and the fact that I am so thrilled you were born.  Brock, there is absolutely no way to tell you how much I love you.  The only litmus test you have is the fact that when I think you are going to get hurt I absolutely lose my mind and scream and yell at you to be careful.  This is because the thought of not having you as part of my day makes me hurt in a way that I never actually want to know.  The saving grace is that I know how much you love Jesus, and if you are not with me here on earth you will be with Jesus in heaven.  This realization has allowed me to let you walk out the door and go to school, camps, and vacations.  This realization has made it almost possible for me to watch you play lacrosse and not completely lose my mind, or murder any kids that push you on the field–almost.

The ache I feel as I watch you grow up and need me less and less, is in equal proportion to the joy I feel as I see you growing up into the coolest dude this world will ever know.  I know you will look at that and say, “mom, that is not a proper algebraic equation,” or some other form of nerd speak that I don’t get.  Buddy, there is nothing mathematic about how much I love you.  It is fierce and wild and makes me do crazy things like grab you by the front of your shirt, lift you off the ground, and scream at you because you almost ran out in front of a car.  It is also tender like the moments we sit on the couch and read together under a comfy quilt, silent and close.  You are not getting a perfect mama with me buddy, but you are getting a mama that loves you so much it hurts.

Little dude, God made you to love to be respected.  More than loved you want to be respected.  It’s just part of what makes guys, guys.   Buddy, one of the things I am learning as you grow up is how to not just love you like a mom loves her son, but to also respect you as the man you are growing up to be.  I want you to get use to hearing a woman respect you so that when a woman doesn’t respect you it seems odd to you.  (And God help that women if I am around because I have not been saved that long and I would not test the Jesus in me, if I were you girlfriend.)  So here is a list for you of all the things I respect about you buddy.

  1.  I respect the fact that you are not a follower of things just to impress people.  You know what you like, and you just do your thing.
  2. I respect the fact that you are so brilliant but you are not a jerk about it to people who don’t think on the same plane as you–mainly me.
  3. I respect that fact that you are always ready to learn something new.
  4. I respect the fact that you are kind.  You are not just nice to people you are KIND.  You display LOVING-KINDNESS, not just tolerance.
  5. I respect the fact that you are the one who started the family bible study in our house.  You are the one that came home from GRAPPLE and said, “We need to read two Proverbs everyday.”  And you harassed us enough that it has now become a family bible study every morning.  Your passion for God’s Word did that, buddy.  You changed our family dynamic.
  6. I respect the fact that you are an early riser.  Now this might be one that people call into question because I am also an early riser and I value rising early and think it is the best way to ward off laziness.  But none the less, I respect you for it.
  7. I respect the fact that you are the most contented person I know.  I respect this because I happen to carry around a lot of disconnectedness.  So to see someone get up everyday and go with the flow, and be happy no matter what is something that makes me have respect for you.
  8. I respect that fact that you do what Daddy and I ask you to do without any kind of flack.  You are such an obedient little dude and I respect that fact that you can humble yourself and do what we ask you to do.
  9. I respect how you love technology.  I respect that you just know how to do things on the computer.  I love how you know that you can make technology  in this world better.  I love how you come up with inventions that I know will change the world one day.
  10. I respect how you have allowed Daddy and I to guide you through how to use technology in a safe way.  I respect that you have heeded our warnings about pornography and predators, but you are not afraid, you are just prepared and vigilant.  Your future wife will love you for that.
  11. I respect that you are growing into a man right before my eyes but sometimes you still need your mama to love on you.
  12. I respect the fact that you don’t want me cheering louder than anyone else at Lacrosse but that you still look over to be sure I am there.

Dude, there is just so much about you that is amazing.  I love you so much, you are my favorite 11-year-old in the whole wide world.  And if I could give you a “pinch to grow and inch,” my pinch would be: Continue to pursue the Lord, Brock.  Life often times will make no sense without Jesus.  He is always with you and will guide you.  I have tried to make a special deal with Him to save you from all the pain in this world, but no luck buddy.  He will use pain to teach you about who He is and who you are.  As you pursue Him buddy, you will find a love even more fierce, wild, tender and strong than mine.  His love can sustain you for your entire life time, and then eternity.  Happy 11 th Birthday little dude, you are the coolest kid I know.

Love you always,

Mom

singinghappybirthday

 

My therapist is trying to kill me.

whataboutbob

I have realized that my therapist, Dana, who I have known and loved for years is trying to kill me.  She gave me the task of writing out my actual schedule this week as part of my processing through my anxiety.  So I did what any good patient does and went and bought the cutest calendar, and sat down to write it out.  The trick was I had to actually write out everything I have to do and include a realistic time frame to complete a task.  This murder is a slow one.  I sat down to do my schedule and did two days before I started feeling the chest pains.  I thought, “This is bad for my health,” and pushed it away.  You see I have three calendars.  In order to keep my sanity I don’t introduce those three calendars to each other.

My first calendar is used for propaganda.  It is to keep moral up around here.  This calendar is shared between all family members.  It is a compilation of everyone’s school deadlines, after school activities, sports, serving at church and appointments.  It is beautifully color coordinated, and even has alerts set up. This calendar lulls my family into a false sense of organization.  They can all look at the calendar and say, “Oh, we know exactly what is going on today, I love my life!”  But in reality this calendar only contains about 50% of the actual  payload for a week.  To keep my people from running away I need this calendar to sell to them that I am on top of things, they know what is coming and we are all in this together.

applecalendar

My second calendar is my cleaning and housework schedule.  As you remember I am just realizing I am a housewife.  With that realization I decided to attack the house work like it was my JOB (because, well it is).  This is the running to-do list to keep this house from looking like 4 people, 3 goats, 1 dog, and 2 puppies live here.  I know you will say, “But, Sarah, all those things do live there.”  I will say to you that a clean house is what separates us from the wild animals.  I will also say that if this house is not clean I WILL GO INSANE AND I WILL TAKE YOU WITH ME!!!!

cleaningcalendar

Then the third calendar.  This one is in my head.  This one contains the things I want to do.  Lunch with friends in downtown Rockwall, followed by shopping at some of the cute shops.  Doing Bible Studies, meeting people to discuss deep theological topics.  Manicure/pedicure/eyelash tinting.  Working out. Date nights with Jesse (Which is the reason for the previous grooming activities).  Collecting antiques to make my house feel like a home that Joanna Gaines would be proud of.  Planting a garden so I can feed my family off our own land.  Raising chickens.  Writing a blog, a book and anything else that needs writing.  This calendar lives somewhere between dreams and reality.  It is me with no time constraints, no constraints at all.  It is everything that feeds my spirit.  It’s dreams and aspirations but also things that I need to do because it makes life enjoyable.  Because let’s be honest, unless I decide to learn how to spin dog hair into yarn and get a thrill out of making dog hair knit sweaters, vacuuming dog hair will remain something I have to survive everyday.

The problem with introducing these three calendars is that these three calendars can’t live in the same time space continuum.  And I think this is what Dana knew when she asked me to write this down.  I think she knows that my anxiety stems partly from living in this delusion that when “Things slow down, I will do__________.”  What I have realized in the last few months is that life will never “slow down.”  Life keeps spinning and things keep needing to be done, and these darn dogs keep making more fur coats.  I realized what Dana was after when I looked at my three calendars converged into one,  I can’t do this calendar, and I don’t want to live out this calendar.  This pace is what got me into trouble in the first place.

realcalendar

So no, she is not trying to kill me.  Of course I am kidding.  She is trying to get me to be realistic about what can be done by one person in one day.  This past fall my break neck speed, saying yes to everything and my harassing myself to do more left me ill and a captive to anxiety.  I could not do anything anymore.  It was a time out.  Was it God ordained, Yes.  Was He being mean? No.  He was being loving and kind and telling me, “Daughter, no one told you to work this hard at life except your own pride.”  This break down led me to call my old friend Dana and say, “I need help, I’m going crazy.”  And she said the most amazing thing to me, that I will never forget.  She said, “Sarah, there is nothing wrong with you, this is what you have done to try to cope with life and God is asking you to find a new, godly way to cope.”  Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever heard?  Maybe she is not a slow murderess.

So introducing the three calendars is about learning to approach life in a new way.  It is about looking at the time I have available and making my schedule reflect what is important to me.  It is about letting go of delusions about doing things when life slows down.  It is about my relationship with God more than anything else.  I want my schedule to reflect my love for Him.  I would love to say that I have already figured out what my new calendar looks like but I haven’t.  I’m still having chest pains looking at this beast.  I’m screaming for a cleaning lady, a cook, a gardener and good chauffeur, but my budget will not allow me to hire a “staff” to help me live out this calendar.  However, I am gently reminded that I don’t have to figure the new calendar out today.  This is good news because looking at this thing makes me want to lay on the couch with a bowl of potato chips, chocolate of any kind, a cheeseburger and fries and Netflix.  I have to lay it on the altar before the Lord and ask Him to show me what is important to Him.  This is what being a living sacrifice means.  It means setting my expectations and desires aside. It’s saying, “God, I hate seeing dog hair on the floor, I hate that I don’t get to sit and write all day, but Lord, I will set those aside and do what you want me to do.”  Then, as Dana keeps telling me, “You sit with it, you leave room to think it over and don’t try to fix anything.”  Wait, maybe she is trying to kill me.

I am Sarah Griffith and I am a housewife.

 

1950s-housewife

Oh man, I was typing out this A.M.A.Z.I.N.G blog post about hermeneutics and how to interpret the bible correctly.  I titled it “Hermeneutics Brought to you by a Housewife.”  The problem was I couldn’t bring myself to type out “housewife.” I can’t put “housewife,” no one will take that seriously.  I have to communicate that I have studied this and got an A.  I have to communicate that I have a handle on this or else people will just laugh. So I searched for other words….amateur bible student, professional bible student, Texas Tech grad, and nothing seemed right because, guess what, I am a housewife. As I sat there staring at the screen I thought, “Well, Jesus, I guess we better press-on into this, because this seems likely to be a problem.”  So here’s what happened this week:

I realized that I am a housewife.  I realized when people ask me, “What do you do?”  I either say, “I am just a housewife.” Or I make up a slightly more sexy title if it is someone I am trying to impress.  For example: “Oh, my husband and I just got back from bible school and we are open to whatever God has for us.”  The problem with that answer is that Jesus has already told us what He has for us, I just am not totally in love with what He has for me.  I am totally in love with what he has for Jesse.  I am totally in love with what he has for my friends from bible school.  I am totally in love with what he has for all my friends that I do life with.  So I had to ask myself, why?  Why is this hard for me to admit, live, thrive at and be proud of.

First, before I go any further I have to acknowledge that my kids and my hubs read this.  And I want to say, there is no one I would rather be than your mom and your wife.  This is not about me not loving being a mom.  This is not about me not loving and caring for our family.  This is not about me not loving picking up your belongings for the 4 trillionth time this week–well, maybe it is.  The fact is, I have already settled this question.  I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am where God wants me and I love our life.  Watching Jesse grow into the leader of this family and watching my kids grow to love Jesus is my joy in life.  Running this house is my jam.  Setting food down in front of you that you actually like is so fun for me.  Fifth grade math I could live without, but time spent with y’all doing homework is the best time.  What I am asking is why is it hard for me to tell people this is my job title?  Why do I feel like that is not enough in the world?  Why do I feel like I should be a housewife along with something else?

So I did press into this with Jesus this week.  I asked why I feel like a housewife is not enough.  I committed to praying about it, I meditated on it, I poked at it, and I looked down into the grossness of it.  And do you know why I did this with Jesus?  Because any thoughts that make me feel less-than, or not worthy, or that God is not pleased with me are lies that have taken hold.  Lies that take hold keep me from living in the freedom Jesus has provided for me.  And that is crap, and I am not living in bondage anymore.  So when I come across something like this it is a full-stop, and sit with Jesus and get the truth in and lies out.

I have to start with truth because obviously I can’t alway trust that my feeling are right or truth.  So what does the Word say about my job title in life?  What does it say about doing the job The Lord has given you to do on earth?  Here are some notable verses that came to my mind:

1 Corinthians 12: 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

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

So my take-away from this scripture is that there are many parts to a working body.  Not everybody can do the same thing.  There are some super sexy jobs and then there are some more behind the scenes jobs.  So if I am a foot and I look at a hand and think, “That hand is super useful and loved by everyone, and I am just a foot,” I am actually telling God He did not put me in the right spot. This scripture clearly says in verse 18 that God has put each part just where He wants it.  Now, I know God is perfect so telling Him he made a mistake would be called a sin.  The end. No way around it.


Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

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

This scripture is preceded by an essay on the Pillars of Faith that the Jews could model themselves after because of their faith.  The Jews that this letter was written to were about to deny Christ and go back to worshiping with the pharisees.  So the point of this letter was to encourage them to stay strong in their race despite their circumstances.  What stands out to me is “run the race God has set before us.”  God gives us a race to run, so to speak, in this life on earth.  We should run and stay focused, not letting sin trip us up.  You know, the sin like telling God He made me the wrong body part in the body….or something like that.


Ephesians 2: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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

What stands out to me here is that salvation is a gift from God.  I don’t get credit toward salvation based on what I do.  So if I don’t do another thing for the rest of my life except watch Netflix, God still gives me salvation because of my belief in Jesus. (Calm down, I know we stand before Him and give an account for how we spent our time here, and no, I don’t want to say to my Savior–Dude! I am all caught up on Grey’s Anatomy!)  Our salvation is God’s masterpiece, we are a new creation when we believe in Jesus.  And get this, the whole point is so we can do the good things God planned for us long ago.  God has a plan for my life that he laid out long ago.  And when I disagree with my lot in life I am telling that perfect God that He made a mistake, again, which He didn’t because He is perfect, which comes back around to that sin of telling God he is wrong, again.

And that is where it jumped off the page at me.  This is a submission issue, not a job title issue.  This is me looking up at the potter and saying, “You did not make me for the right thing, and you did not make me the right way.”  DANG IT!!!  It just keeps coming down to submission for me, and my lack of it.  I can submit to the race laid out before me or I can jump the white line on the track, tell God He is wrong, and try to run someone else’s race.  That is why I have a hard time telling people I am a housewife.  Somewhere along the way I believed the lie that the race set before me is not good enough, and that God must have gotten it wrong.

So how do I know God wants me to be a housewife right now?  How do I know that this is my race for right now? (I say right now because eventually these little people in my house might leave and go have families of their own, then my race might be different.)  Here are some practical tell-tale signs.  One: I am married and my husband wants me to stay home and take care of our house and family.  Two: I have two kids that need a cook, maid, spiritual coach, taxi driver and tutor (thank you Google, you make me look like a genius).  Three:  Nothing else I try to title myself with brings peace to my life, it brings strife.  Four: This is hard to qualify with words because I don’t like to say “follow your feelings,” but in my gut, I know this is the race He has laid out for me.  This is what He knows will grow Me into a person who looks more like Him.  This is the whole point of the race, to get to know Him more.  And I want to stress–This is not your race, this is mine.  Yours is different than mine.  Both of our races are perfect, because God made them.  Don’t fall into the ditch of thinking you have to run my race.

Ok, so then I had to ask myself:

Do you believe that God is perfect? YES!

Do you believe that He has currently set a race before you called “housewife?”  YES!

Do you want to do what God has asked you to do? YES!

Do you want to become more like Christ? YES!

Do you know that the only person who you have to worry about pleasing is Jesus? YES–Wait, do I really know that?  No I don’t, because if I really knew that I would have no problem telling anyone who asks, I am a housewife.  And there it is, the ugly truth.  I worry more about other people thinking I am awesome, than I do about pleasing Jesus.  What pleases Jesus is my submission to His plan for my life.

So why?  Why do I have a hard time with this?  I think it is because at some point in my life I decided that being a housewife was not enough for someone to do with their life.  I wanted to be a housewife, a horse trainer, an olympian, and a business owner. I decided that if I was “just a housewife” I wouldn’t be taken seriously.  I thought, only busy people are taken seriously.  I wouldn’t be seen by the everyone as a world-changer.  People would look at me as if I was just a housewife and think I am a joke. I wanted to be something.  I wanted people to look at me and say “Wow, she has it all.  Perfect husband, perfect kids, awesome horses, gold medal, and she is making money hand over fist!

rosietheriviter

So I took this wrong-thinking into my Christian life with me.  I looked around and saw pillars of faith, KILLING IT for Jesus.  I was like, well I better figure out how to kill it for Jesus too!  Jesus can’t just want me to be a housewife, I mean this is not 1950!  He wants me to be a bible student, a missionary, a bible-study leader, a worship leader, be on staff at a church, raise my children into pillars of faith, and have a marriage that reflects Christ’s relationship with the church. Hey listen, I read all about the Proverbs 31 woman.  I turned that proverb into a checklist and I set out to nail it.  People would look at me and think, “GOOD GOD IN HEAVEN! That girl loves the Lord! People just look at her and get saved!”

Then I took that wrong-thinking even further.  I decided that if you were not doing “all the things” and “leading all the things” for Jesus you were not a good Christian.  I decided that just being faithful in my role as a housewife was not enough for God.  I needed to do more for Him.  I need to pursue more for Him.  I decided if I was not suffering for Jesus, I was not truly living the Christian life.  I wanted Jesus to be pleased with me.  I knew that He could only be pleased with someone who was going full-bore, full-tilt, 100 mph for Him.

But then I remembered this little jewel:

Romans 12: 1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

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

The wrongness of my thinking jumps off the page at me.  “Give your bodies to God”–don’t tell Him what to do with your body.  “Let them [your bodies] be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him”–giving yourself to Him is worshipful, not telling him what you will do for him.  Don’t follow the world, let God change you into a new person by changing the way you think.  “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Denying His will for you is not good and pleasing and perfect, its wrong.  And it all comes back to submission to God, my friends.  That is what giving your body as living sacrifice means.  It means give yourself to Him, don’t tell Him what you want to do for Him.  Oh Jesus, thank you for freeing me from this thinking.

I will confess, in the last two years God has really shown me my lack of submission to Him.  I confess that I will probably always be a person that wants more to do, and wants to strive and strain and have a long to-do list.  I have fought with Jesus over what my lot in life is.  I have declared and decided and pushed my way into things that were never mine in the first place.  How do I know I was pursuing things that  weren’t mine?  Because it produced disunity in the body of Christ, instead of unity.  Let me give you some examples.

I pursued being a straight-A bible scholar–almost to the detriment of my marriage.

I pursued being on staff at my church–almost to the detriment of my relationship with my Pastor, his wife, and other staff members, like my own husband.

I pursued being a kick-ass worship leader–almost to the detriment of my friendship with our worship leader and his wife.

I pursued being a bible-study teacher–almost to the detriment of my sanity and the welfare of my family.

Am I proud of my behavior?  No, of course not.  Am I embarrassed that I behaved this way? YES!  Do I wish all the people in my life that I have hurt could just forget what I did?  Oh my gosh, that would be the best!  Am I thankful for God’s grace and His ability to bring reconciliation to relationships–YES!  Do I wish He had made me submissive?–YES!  Just kidding! He did not make a mistake, remember? Did I expect Him to teach me about another area of un-submission to Him through typing out the word housewife? No–but I am glad He did because I already have more freedom.

So what now?  What happens when my wrong-thinking is exposed and I have to change?  Well, simply, I let God change me.  He is not wrong, I am.  I know that this is not a job or title issue it is a heart issue.  I know myself well enough to know if I was any of those things from above, I would still look at someone else and say, “Well they are cooler than me, their job is more important than mine.”  It’s not about the race, it’s about my lack of submission.

The problem with my wrong-thinking is that it leads me to rely on myself to serve God and to decide for myself how I will serve God.  In the end that points people who look at me to see me, and not Jesus.  That is not living out that scripture from above which tells us to let God transform you.  The problem with my wrong-thinking is that when I decide there is something I should be doing for God, I will do whatever it takes to get it done, instead of waiting on God’s timing.  The problem with my wrong thinking is it makes me want to call myself something other than housewife because I think other parts of the body are cooler than me.  My pride desperately wants you to think I am cool, that you should listen to me and know I am not a joke.  Well, pride and submission can’t exist together.  And I am sorry but I love God more than any of you reading this.  God wants me to say, “I am a housewife because this is the race God has laid out in front of me.”

So, I am Sarah Griffith, a -gulp- housewife.  That 1950’s wife and Rosie The Riveter are both part of my make-up.  I dare you to ask me if I lay around all day and watch soap operas–you will walk away with a fat lip.  I may have been accountable to some wrong thinking, but I would not test my response to this yet.  I am learning how to be honoring of this job because I am love of the God who gave it to me.  Do I still struggle with wanting people to take me seriously? Yes! Do I still want to start every conversation with, “You should think I am cool because of ________________?”  Yes!  But God, is teaching me something.  The God that lives in me is more powerful, smarter and cooler than anything I could do in my own power.  People are attracted to the God in me, not the pride in me.  This God that made the universe also has a race for me, Sarah Griffith, to run and He just wants me to submit to Him, thats it.

What I learned about Jesus from the 1971 Mustang.

I am on a church camp high this week.  Jesus has been moving so clearly in my life that insufferable Jesus Freak Sarah is bubbling right under the surface this week.  I mean He showed up this week in personal ways, just for me, to show me He is fully present.  This Savior blows me away.  I can say things to Him like, “Are you here? Do you really see me?” and He answers me every time.  I am struck by how dumb this question is.  The clay pot made by the potter, looking up at the potter saying, “Are you here? Do you see me?”  The potter could say, “Dude, do you feel my hands around you molding you and shaping you?  Who do you think is doing that?  You dumb pot.”  But Jesus, the potter says, “Yes, pot, I am here, I have my hands around you and I am molding you, searching you for areas that need my attention,  I will never let you go because I made you and I am delighted with what I made, I also love to bless you!”  GGGAAHHHH! His word tells us this is true.  The Creator of the universe is the same person who is grooming me to look more like Jesus.  It makes me want to write down what He has done in me this week.

The week started with Jesse and I kicking off our first week of leading Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  This class is so special to us because it is the same one that we went through 6 years ago when we were in financial crisis.  As any good Christian wife does, I pray “God help me to respect Jesse the way you want me to.  Make him impressive to me, so I can be impressed by him the way You impress me, Lord.”  And HE DID.  Where I have had to micro-manage this class before to make sure everything would go off without a hitch, now stands a man who said, “Lady, I got this under control, get off my job.”  As always my first response to this was super holy and Godly, and I said something like, “yeah right, we’ll see about that.” But God worked on my thought process and asked me to pray for Jesse instead of critique him.  That is hard for me because critiquing Jesse is my spiritual gift.  But I tried, and I was encouraged by Jesus every step of the way.  In the end, I watched my husband start that class with a confidence I have never seen in him before.  He knew what he was going to say, was comfortable in front of the class, and funny (which I put a very high value on.)  I stood there humbled and amazed at what God has done in this man.  And I thanked God for him.  Did you hear me? I THANKED GOD IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT CLASS FOR THE MAN HE IS GROWING JESSE INTO.  I am so struck by this because when we first did this class I was not thankful for this husband of mine.  The fact that we have lived through our financial crisis and are able to lead other people though it is truly a miracle.  The fact that my heart can be thankful we went through all that is proof that God is real for sure.  Here is a brief history of Sarah and Jesse and money–a Greek tragedy.

So here’s the deal.  There is no reason why Jesse and I should have ever had money trouble.  We were blessed with a fully functioning portfolio that, placed in the proper hands, would have sustained a family for a lifetime.  We have parents who taught us how to be responsible. We took the MC Hammer route instead. (MC Hammer is a rapper that became rich really fast, spent it all and then had to declare bankruptcy.)  The reason we had money trouble is because we were two selfish people with no other desire when it came to money except to spend it.  And spend it we did.  We kept up with the Joneses, who we didn’t even know, but we were keeping up with them.  We were buying things, experiences, horses, cars, and crap to try to find what only God could give us.  I have mentioned before about that gaping hole in my chest. Well one attempt to fill that hole, meant only to be filled by God, was to fill it by spending money.  We were totally ill-equipped to manage the legacy that had been placed into our greedy hands.  I will give you a very unbiased picture of what happened–It was all Jesse’s fault.  Just kidding! If you have taken a Dave Ramsey class with us, you know I am the actual spender, Jesse is the saver, but lets just hold onto the fact that we were both to blame.  As it turns out, money problems could touch us…….(watch the video)

See what I did there? I crack myself up.  And yes, I can do that whole rap and dance, just ask me.

As God does, he used our circumstances to finally draw us to him.  Wanting more things, and making more and more purchases leaves you with one problem, no money left.  “No money left” hit us hard.  With no plan and jobs that didn’t pay us enough to sustain our spending, loans, and lifestyle, we hit rock bottom.  Our rock bottom did what it should do.  It made us change, and though we did not know it at the time, it was drawing us closer to the Lord.  For the first time ever we had to look at each other and decide how to solve the problem we had gotten ourselves into.  Our first step was to get help.  We had to take a family bail-out just so we didn’t lose our house.  We had to hire a financial planner to teach us what in the world to do to get out of the red.  Our only option was a major change and major fire sale. We had to sell everything that we could.  Cars, horse, house, barn, truck, trailer, crap, toys, clothes, shoes, and tools.  Essentially the lifestyle we had become accustomed to was over.  It was change, or live off our family for the rest of our lives.  So where there was a fancy house over in the fancy part of town, now there was a rental house on the affordable side of town.  Where there were fancy new cars, there were used cars.  Where there was excess, there was now a budget.  And this girl had to learn to make dinner so we could eat something other than mac-n-cheese, because the budget did not allow for eating out.

God used all of that to woo us to Him.  If we had not moved to the “affordable” side of town, I would not have met Autumn, who invited me to church, where eventually I got saved.  If I did not sell my barn, I would not have made the one hour commute to the barn in Aubrey allowing me to hear Dave Ramsey on the radio for the first time. Dave Ramsey told me that God had something to say about how I spend money.  If Jesse and I didn’t have to finally work together we would have continued to live separate lives using money as our companions.  If we had not had all the money stripped away we would have never realized that the money wasn’t the problem, we were.  Those are just a few examples of how God used our circumstances to get us to know Him.  The biggest one being that money was our god instead of Jesus.  We trusted money to save us, not God.  We trusted money to fill the gaping hole, not God.  We trusted money to make us happy and feel loved, not God.  This sweet Savior was not ok with us continuing to ignore Him.  He furiously ran us down, until we had to make a choice.  Love Jesus, or love money.  By some miracle of God we trusted Him and started to release our grip on money.  It took us 5 years to undo what we had done to ourselves.  It took being humiliated, and talked about as “the people who lost all their money” by supposed friends.  It took being crushed by our choices, to get us to finally do this money thing God’s way.

Because I am trying to get to a point, I will skip ahead to us attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for the first time.  For the first time we had a plan for money and how to spend it.  For the first time we were not using money to make us happy.  I say for the first time because it would take us starting the Dave Ramsey program THREE times before it actually stuck.  Sin nature would rear up every time.  A mix of budget summits, pie charts, intense negotiations, “I’m right!, No I’m right!”, finger-pointing, and intentionally blowing the budget ended up leading us to several false starts.  The flesh dies hard, sometimes it takes us down.  We had to see that rock bottom coming at us again to finally buckle down, be grown ups and submit to what God says about how to spend money.  We were getting to know the Lord and learning to start to trust Him in this area.  He encouraged us with little victories.  Those victories taught us to keep saying no to our flesh and to keep saying yes to God.

daveramseyismyhomeboy

daveramseypic

So on this side of financial freedom it is important to us to lead these classes so other people are free too.  Money is not a good master, Jesus is a good master.  Debt is a slave driver that will have no mercy on you.  We are so blown away that people actually sign up for these classes because we know how hard it is to take that step.  We are also fully aware of our short-comings and realize only Jesus would use us to tell people about money.  He uses the most jacked up people because they know how badly they messed up with money.  This week when we started another class, we had the sweetest reminder of His faithfulness.

This car.  This car is just a car.  But this car represents a time when we did not know God.  This car is one of the things that got sold off in the great fire sale.  This car was Jesse’s dream car.  He drove it in parades (that is why it has City Bank on the side), he worked on it, he dreamed of things he would do to it and with it.  We originally bought it at The Cattle Barron’s Ball in Lubbock.  Jesse let me bid on it, so naturally I spent too much on it because that was my super power then.  During the great-sell off we knew we owed Jesse’s mom money for some horse stalls she gave us for my barn.  We called her and asked if she would take the mustang instead, and she said yes.  Little did we know that the real reason she did that was to hang on to it so someday Jesse could have it back. Those are the kind of things awesome moms do. Little did we know God had a plan for it too. At the time we were just thrilled we had settled another debt, we didn’t care why she wanted it.

This week, the same week we started another Dave Ramsey class, we got this car back.  You can’t tell me that is not the Lord.  You can’t tell me that God is not all over that to encourage us.  You can’t tell me that God does not love to bless His children in the sweetest most personal ways.  Once this car was a tool we used to settle a debt, now it is a reminder of God’s faithfulness.  God promises to meet our every need.  We didn’t know that because we trusted money to meet our every need.  As we got to know the Lord we learned to put money in its place, a resource God will use in our lives to bring Him Glory.  Nothing more, nothing less.  We had to start living by God’s principles for money.  As we said no to our desire to trust money to meet our needs and asked God to meet our needs we crawled toward financial freedom.  We are at place right now where we are free of debt and have a place to put a project car like this.  That is a MIRACLE.  Hear me when I say I am not patting us on the back.  I am giving Jesus a high-five for rescuing us!  We had to let go of this car to get it back in a way that brings God glory. Even the way it got here is a blessing.

When we were in Lubbock for Johnny’s funeral I caught Jesse and Brock out in my Mother in law’s garage looking over the mustang.  They talked almost all the way to Sweetwater about what they would do to the mustang if they had it back.  It was an “if” conversation for sure.  Then Jesse talked for some time about how Johnny left the legacy of how to build things with Jesse, and Jesse wanted to leave that same legacy with Brock.  He wanted to teach our kids the importance of pursing you passion and letting God use it for His glory.  That planted a seed in my heart.  You see, I am the best wife in the world.  Seriously I should win an award.  I decided that I would try to buy this car back from my Mother in law for my guys for Valentines day.  I was able to make this decision because we are finally in a position where Jesse could have a project car again. I called my mother in law a week later and asked if I could buy it back.  That’s when God started to show off.  I say he started to show off because my mother in law’s response was, “Sarah, that has alway’s been Jesse’s car and you don’t have to buy it back from me.”  What?!? Then as we started to discuss how to get it here, she decided to just bring it down here to us.  WHAT?!? So I don’t even have to go to Lubbock to get it?  My mother in law is amazing, yes, but God used her to bless us beyond measure.  So Monday afternoon this beauty showed up.  As the best wife in the world I was so excited to see how Jesse reacted.  He couldn’t even talk, He just said, “How did you do that, and how much did it cost?”  He is a saver to his core.  Maybe it’s because I am a girl, maybe it’s because of my flare for drama, but it is not just a car anymore.

mustangonthetrailer

Where there used to be a car, bought to try to fill a hole, there is a car where a father and son will get to work to make it run, driveable and cool.  A father will pass on to his son the skills he is passionate about.  Most importantly a father will teach his son that this car represents a time when he did not trust the Lord, and then a time when he did trust the Lord and the Lord blessed him.  He will tell his son that making a car work can be a skill God will use to bless someone, and making a car cool can tip over into worshiping the car.  These are all lessons Jesse has learned, and lived out.  As a fellow believer in Christ I love to see Jesus bless Jesse and encourage him in this personal way.  As someone who has struggled with materialism it is cool to see God say, “It’s not the stuff, it’s the heart posture, stay focused on Me, and have fun with this car.”  For me I look at this car and see God’s faithfulness to us.  He promised us that if we would trust Him he would meet all our needs.  That is the understatement of the century.  If we trust Him we enter into the sweetest relationship in the universe.  The Good, Good Father, meets our needs but also blesses us in such personal ways.  The Creator of the universe cared that we were worshiping money and not Him and pursued us to teach us that Jesus is better.

Jesus is better.  I read a book this week that is centered around that theme.  It is “If You Only Knew,” by Jamie Ivey.  Even that book was a personal blessing for me because she talks about how to live in a vulnerable way.  Moments that have led me to think this blog is a joke were washed away because God used her story to encourage me to keep writing about what God is doing in my life.  Telling people what God has done, taught and lead us through brings God glory.  Even writing about how we have done things wrong, but Jesus is right, brings God glory.  And the tears come, because Jesus is better.  I cry because He shows me His loving-kindness when I look back.  When I see where we were and where we have come from.  When I look up and see that I am married to a Godly man who loves the Lord enough to stand up to me and say, “Lady, I got this, back off!” When I look up and see that money doesn’t have any control over me anymore.  When I look up and see that I get to use what God has given us to bless other people.  Jesus is better, just like Jamie says in her book.  Jesus is so much better.  We didn’t get ourselves out of financial trouble, Jesus saved us.  We don’t live generously becasue we are so great, we live generously becasue Jesus changed our hearts.  I don’t write this blog because I need more attention, I write it so that Jesus gets more attention in my life.  Jesus is better.

ifyouonlyknew

 

 

The gaping hole in my chest.

I am absolutely cracking up right now as I revise this again for the 3rd time.  I wrote this last week, re-read it and decided it would offend too many people.  I revised it, neutered it and was left with a partial story that only reflected half of what God has taught me about this subject.  I didn’t have time to send it to my editor (Jesse) so I just saved it and was going to send it today.  Then we went to church on Sunday.  Now, I’m mature enough to know that the whole church service was not just for me, but let me just tell you that the whole church service was just for me!  We went over Ephesians 2:19-22.  Pastor Doug made the point that our foundation is built on the truth of God, not on our feelings.  Can I just say how much I love that Pastor Doug is bold enough to always tell us the truth?  No matter how uncomfortable it makes him, he knows the truth is what will really change us. Now what does that all that have to do with me?  Well, writing down that feelings are not what I base my life on is what I took out of the original post.  And I, in that church service on Sunday gulped, because I always do that when God shows me that HE IS REALLY WATCHING ME AND GUIDING ME, and then I remembered that I am not writing these things down to make friends with anyone, I am writing them down to keep track of what God is doing in my life.  So here is the real story.

Yes, I have a gaping hole in my chest.  I don’t like to talk about it, in fact I like to just keep it covered up, and I try to ignore it.  It is there though, and I have tried to manage it for years as it just kept getting deeper and deeper.  As with anything I write about you know there will be a back story!

As a kid my anxiety lead me to try to control as much of my life as I could.  What I could plan, I would, and where I couldn’t plan, I would fight for power or control of the situation.  This mainly fell to my little brother. I’m so sorry bro, I know I was awful to you.  Please accept my spoiling of your kids as payment for my transgressions.  Also I took you to the arcade for your birthday, what else do you want from me? Plus I toughened you up so you could serve in the military and I never got a thank you note from you.  It also fell on my mom.  Listen, there have been conversations with her where I just say, “mom, I’m so sorry for the years I was 16-21.”  I was a psycho to her.  She truly is a saint for not murdering me.  I don’t think the authorities would have prosecuted her, especially after they talked to my brother.   I would imagine she has had some satisfaction as she watches me try to navigate the teen years with Sydney.  My parents did something amazing though when I was 13.  They got me into horses.  I was able to really focus my energy on horses and it was a really great outlet for me.  But the anxiety had to go somewhere.  It could not be ignored, it could only be stuffed down the gaping hole in my chest.

In High School I turned to drinking and partying and chasing boys.  I took on the, “Well, at least the drinking and partying numbs the anxiousness, and the boys make me feel good about myself” mentality.  Thank the Lord in heaven that High School is only 4 years long because no one would survive that place if it was any longer.  My high school years were the first time I felt and understood what I call my “gaping hole in my chest.”  No, I do not have an actual gaping hole in my chest.  I mean that I started to feel this emptiness, a sort of missing part of who I was.  This gaping hole was the unrest or lack of peace that kept me searching for something to fill it with, to give me peace.  It was the place I stuffed all the anxiety, disappointment and pain that one gather’s during that awful time called high school.

Then college.  Oh, Texas Tech how I love you to my core.  You were freedom and my stomping ground.  You, beloved Tech, where I learned about roommates who drive you nuts, financial aid lines, admission lines, food lines, and meat judging.  My time at Tech I think has been slightly romanticized in my mind, but none the less it was an amazing time for me.  And the exams, God help us all, the exams.  My kryptonite.  Give me a project to do, a paper I can buy off the internet, but not 4 exams for a final grade.  The anxiety that this caused me lead to some of the most horrific panic attacks.  I would stuff all this down that gaping hole and then eventually there was a kind of volcanic explosion.  It’s like my stomach said, “Oh no, you are not stuffing all that down here!” And it rejected it with some force.  There are only so many volcanic reactions to stress your body can handle.  My roommates knew something was wrong, or that I was crazy and told me to go to the med center at Tech. Up to that point I had always suffered with panic attacks, albeit not volcanic ones,  but never knew what they were.  The medical center at Tech helped me understand and treat them.  They said, “plenty of sleep,” (right, the bars don’t open until 10), “eat right and drink lots of water,” (sure thing, Zima is 90% water), and “make sure you set aside plenty of time to study so you won’t have to cram,” (right, let’s not get crazy now). This is when I learned how to “manage” my anxiety.

Managing anxiety came in the form of lovely new pill called Zoloft.  It was a blessing, I think, because it allowed me to finish school  and get my degree in Agricultural Economics.  Now, I only graduated with a 2.4 gpa, but I did graduate.  That is what matters.  Remember that gaping hole in my chest?  Well the Zoloft made me feel that hole less and less.  It also allowed me to think, “You know what self, I bet when you get this degree, that hole will close up finally.”  Guess what, it didn’t.  The hole just became bigger when graduation did not satisfy that hole.  However, the good news was this cowboy had caught my eye, we were getting married and just knew that marriage is what that hole needed.

Oh sweet Jesse.  Do you think he knew at that point that he was marrying someone who had Olympic level anxiety and a gaping hole in her chest?  Do you think he knew that she expected him to solve the anxiety problem and fill that hole?  No, he did not.  Because in that moment he was thinking, “You complete me” and I was thinking, “You complete me” (damn you Jerry McGuire, for putting that thought in our heads), and in the end neither of us completed anything and we wound up with two broken halves.  I can remember when I woke up from that “honeymoon” stage and realized that the hole was still there.  The disappointment I felt when I realized marriage had not filled the hole, but made the hole even bigger and deeper.  So I looked for something else to ease, cover up and deal with that hole.

engagment-pics.jpg

This is where we take a big left turn. I jumped fully-clothed into the deep end of the homeopathic, chakra-aligning, aura-sensing, crystal-carrying, herb, guided-meditation, Reiki-practicing, house-smudging pool.  Remember I am someone who, when I do something, I jump in feet first, full-tilt, 100 mph.  I studied, I researched, I went to classes and I practiced everything I learned that might help fill this hole.  I decided I was out of alignment with the universe and I had to get myself cleansed of all the bad energy that got me off-balance in the first place.  Poor Jesse, pray for him.  I drug him into it too.  I would mix up tinctures for him, encourage him to realign his chakras and made him carry different crystals in his pockets.  I also feng shui-ed our house and barn.  Then I smudged them with a special sage I bought in New Mexico.  I would have loved to know what the horses thought about all that.  I imagine it was something like, “Look at the crazy broad lighting that hay on fire.  Does she think that will make us do what she says?  Has she been smoking that hay?”  I got more and more involved in these practices and just thought the better I got at them the more relief I would feel.  I spent several years studying these practices.  I was getting in tune with my feelings.  If it didn’t feel good, I didn’t do it.  If it felt good, I would do it.  I started to let my feelings and my heart guide me.  The problem is that the deeper I got into this way of living, the worse I felt.  After a few very scary experiences trying to “connect” with the universe, and a few shyster’s that took a lot of money from me, I was left disappointed.  Guess what, that hole just got bigger and bigger.

After that disappointment, I just threw myself head-long into my horse career.  I felt like this was my purpose and I needed to get this done and be the best.  I went to California, bought an imported horse from Germany, and I started to go to shows all the time to build a name for myself.  Libero is a dream horse.  I literally won all the awards you can win in Texas on him except for one.  He is a great horse, and I’m happy to say living a very nice retired life with his girlfriend at my friend’s house here in Rockwall.  When it was all said and done, I still had that hole.  So my heart said, “buy another horse, even better than Libero!”  So I did, and soon after had to put him down because of a birth defect.  In the end, I was left disappointed again, and very sad.  That hole was even bigger.

IMG_0042

In the midst of the horse situation I decided I needed to have kids.  Nothing fixes a situation like having kids.  I mean, they make a family a family right?  WRONG!  But my heart said. “go for it!” I found out that kids are terrorists who work for some sort of underground group until they are a least 4 years old.  It’s not until then that you can get a rational thought to come out of them.  God makes them cute so you don’t realize you are actually a hostage in a hostile situation with no one to come rescue you.  All of you who say, “Oh, you will miss it, it goes by so fast,” let me respond by saying it doesn’t go fast enough!  And every time you said that to me I thought to myself, “I don’t know how I will miss this at all, I just want to survive it.” Of course some part of that is true, and what I miss now is the little babies who looked up at you cooed and loved you because they could do nothing for themselves.  Little do you know at the time that those sweet infants drink a certain amount of milk and turn into toddlers who work for terrorists. It’s like gremlins, but way worse.  They don’t just come out and kill you, they kill you slowly over time—4 years to be exact.  When you finally think that you are literally going to die, they look up at you and say something rational for the first time and your hope in life is restored.  But then they do the most heinous thing possible, they start to grow up.  They start to have their own thoughts and things they want to do.  They don’t need you anymore like they once did.  And you feel your heart start to break into pieces because you realized there is nothing for it, they will leave you some day.  Or worse, they might never leave because you did not do your job of raising them.  After Jesse’s edit of this post he feels that I come off a little “anti-kid” in this paragraph.  Please know that I am not anti-kid, but I am anti-kid if you are having a kid to fix the gaping hole in your chest.  Now that I know the Lord I wish I could have a million kids because I would find so much joy in parenting a toddler now as a believer.  Trying to raise kids with that gaping hole was really hard, and I do miss it, and I do wish I could do it again.  All I am trying to communicate here is that kids did not fix the hole.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I went into survival mode because there was no other ideas to fill the hole.  In the midst of pre-school, PTA, Region 9 Dressage championships, counseling, money problems and marriage problems I just shut it all down.  I sought anything that would numb that gaping hole.  I turned to legal drugs and smoking.  I say legal drugs only because my Doctor prescribed them, in the end I was doing the same thing anyone who is seeking recreational drugs is doing—numbing out.  I smoked like they were going to stop making cigarettes.  It didn’t help that most horse people smoked too.  The anxiety was still there but I just stopped myself from feeling anything. I stopped myself from feeling good, bad or other.  I was just there, going thought the motions of the American dream.

Here is the hard truth that I learned.  No matter what I thought would fill it, no matter what I did would fix it, no matter what new things I tied, no matter what “next goal” I achieved, no matter what my feelings told me, that gaping hole just got bigger and bigger.  The size of it alone was so scary I didn’t even want to look down into it because I was afraid of what was there.  Every time I put my trust in someone or something and was disappointed, that disappointment led to the bottom of that hole getting deeper and deeper.  The good news is that the hole served a purpose.  It drove me to the end of myself.  It drove me to throw my hands up and say I can’t fix, fill or hide this hole anymore.  I had to stop trusting my feelings and find the one thing that wouldn’t disappoint me.  I believe we all have this hole in us.  I believe that we, as God’s creation, were given this hole for the very reason that it will eventually bring us to the end of us trying to fix it.  It brings us to the end of trying to understand this life without God at the center of it.  We either surrender to the truth that God is the one who can fix us or we give up entirely.  You see, what God taught me is that the gaping hole I was feeling in my chest was made by me trying to build my life on my feelings.

All these feelings I have, that I follow because I believe I know what will make life better, are actually lies.  I would put all my hopes in them and give it the ol’ college try and eventually I was left disappointed, again.  Do you feel yourself say, “If I can just get to this point, everything will be better.”  Or do you look at someone else and say, “If I could be ___________ like her, I would be happy.”  Do you buy in over and over to the “next big thing?”  Let me say, I have been there too.  I wish I could have the money back from the times I got fully on board with something that I hoped would have filled that gaping hole.  If I can put this bug in your ear and tell you, I have been to the bottom of that thought process, it will disappoint.  I will admit that all this disappointment has made me a little cynical about things that make promises. The only answer is Jesus.  I have tried to cover that gaping hole in my chest with everything I could think of, everything I felt was right,  and every time I took that covering off, there was that gaping hole, even deeper than the last time I looked at it.  The thing with Jesus is he doesn’t cover that hole, he fills it.

My feelings, husband, my kids, my money, my stuff, my horses, my friends, my social status, my home and my ability to align my chakras all left that hole a little bigger when I trusted them to make it all better.  And then this savior, this Jesus came in and started to pour himself into that gaping hole.  I started to feel full, whole.  For the fist time ever I started feeling a stability that I had never felt before.  I had somewhere to put that anxiety, someone to give it to who could actually do something with it.  I had someone to talk to when I was losing it.  He didn’t tell me “Here is how you fix it, try this.” He said, “You can’t fix it, believe in me.”  He told me, “Just because you feel this way does not mean it is true, I am truth, trust me.  Is it an easy life with Jesus? No, it is not.  It takes me sitting down and studying my bible even though I don’t want to.  Filling that gaping hole takes me denying myself, saying no to feelings that don’t line up with what Jesus says, and saying no to my desire to satisfy my own needs, and following Jesus.  And of course, I can’t just decide to do these things.  It can only happen when I have a relationship with Jesus and He empowers me to do these things.  Without that relationship I would never willingly read my bible!  The reward, though, oh my gosh the reward!  The stability, the fullness, the wholeness I get to walk in now makes all that pain worth it.  Do you feel a gaping hole?  I pray you will let Jesus fill it.

thecross

My blogging injury

Well I guess I can officially call myself a blogger since I have written 8 blog posts in the last month.  Wordpress is very encouraging because they give you these little badges that say “You made it to 10 followers!” and “You have 5 likes!”  As I have discussed at length, I love winning things, so this feels very productive to me.  However, I woke up yesterday morning with my first blogging injury.

When I got up my lower eyelid on my right eye was twitching.  Just a little bit, jumping around here and there.  It was annoying but not too bad.  Then as the day went on I was convinced it was turning into Parkinson’s disease.  I’m not diminishing Parkinson’s, it is one of my biggest fears to come down with that and I’m constantly on the look out for tremors.  We drove home from Lubbock yesterday and I tried not strain my eye at all.  Luckily for me Jesse loves to drive so he drove all the way home.  Jesse convinced me that with a good night sleep in our bed it would be fine in the morning.

Well, it wasn’t.  This morning it was really spazzing.  It was to the point that when Jesse saw me he was like, “You are freaking me out, are you possessed?”  I called my eye doctor and he got me right in.  Jesse said, “Get out of here you look like Clint Eastwood giving me the evil eye.” So I hit the road, preparing myself, as any good hypochondriac does, for the impending eye removal surgery, and what kind of eye patch I would wear.

Well as it turns out it is not a big deal at all.  It is called blepharospasm.  It is caused by eye strain, stress, caffeine and computer screens—which pretty much describes the last month for me.  He also said that I need—gulp—readers.  To which I replied, “Oh, I have those, I got them at the grocery store.”  He said, “You are beyond what they sell at the grocery store.”  This is what 39 years old looks like.  What happens at 40 because I am running out of parts to remove and apparently I will be blind as bat.

All that to say, I’m not sure when I will learn to pace myself better.  I just know that I have discovered that I love to write about what God is doing in my life and what he is teaching me.  I think the Lord will always have to give me a steadying “Whoa” when I get going with something.  He made me passionate so I can pour myself out on these pages, but He also taught to me to listen to Him.  (This time in the form of a spazzing eye twitch.)  Just a reminder to say, “Sarah, you don’t have to write all the things in the first month, we have a life time to record these things.”  And in the end I get one more lesson in submitting to the Lord.  And I will try—this post is only 500 words! That’s almost like a tweet for me!