Sunday, May 24, 2015
In the quietness of this morning, I found myself pouring over a short book by R.C. Sproul called "Does Prayer Change Things?" (which is an excellent read by the way, I highly recommend it!) Through much of the book Sproul took apart the well known prayer acronym "A.C.T.S": Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication; all elements that God instructs us to include in our prayers to Him. While illustration after wise illustration was being made, this one really hit me hard.
"If God never grants us another glimpse of His glory in this life, if He never grants us another request, if He never gives us another gift from the abundance of His grace, we still would be obligated to spend the rest of our lives thanking Him for what He has already done. We have already been blessed enough to be moved daily to thanksgiving. Nevertheless, God continues to bless us."- R.C Sproul.
I have always, always been a striver by nature. For as long as I can remember, I have found it difficult to rest in the here and now. As my best friend recently stated to me "Sarah, right now is the greenest grass." In my flesh I will never be able to accept that statement, but by the power of the Holy Spirit I will be able to lay down my picnic blanket and dine on truth of Gods plan for my life.
After years of striving for some thing, I have now found myself striving more for the One, the Thing.
Sufficiency in Christ.
Finding my full satisfaction, joy and identity in Jesus Christ is what I've been striving for all along. I didn't realize it before now because I was too busy looking for something, waiting for something, changing something.
God forbid that I would journey through life looking for something to fill the hole, especially something that had "God" stamped on the front. God forbid that I would find myself in a place of familiarity with God that trumps His mystery and holiness.
Are you broken like I am? Are you striving like I have been? Take heart in knowing that you are not alone; that the Prince of Peace sees and knows the pain that you are feeling. He longs for you to find sufficiency in HIM.
Not a husband, not children, not a home, a career or enough material possessions that make you feel somewhat "secure" in a world that capitalizes on your insecurities.
May you find His all sufficient love to be all that you need; now and for always.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Darkness. The very word puts so many visuals into my head, most of which are not cheery ones. It tends to be difficult to see things in the dark. Stumbling over objects that will likely cause a person to trip and fall, trying to pull themselves up so that they can make their way to a source of light.
Evil is known to be dark, though Scripture specifically states that satan "masquerades as light" ( 2nd Corinthians 11:4). Evil things often happen in the shadows; selling of souls, human trafficking, pornography viewed by a loving husband after His wife goes to bed at night. Some people spend the entirety of their lives in sheer blackness, not knowing an alternative.
The same darkness that can cover evil is the same darkness that brings us closer to Christ. It was also the darkness that provided protection in the underground railroad for slaves making their way to freedom, and clearly the most beautiful of all Gods creation is knit together in the darkness of a mothers womb.
Recently, I have been in the dark. A combination of some changes I made in my personal health regimen and situational life circumstances hurled me into an all familiar pit of anxiety and depression. I felt like I was in a paranoid tunnel, unable to see beyond my current state of mind. I lost my desire to write and do anything that improved something. With my weaknesses staring me in the face every hour of the day, I felt just that; weak.
I decided a long time ago that if God was going to prompt me to minister to the hearts of people through writing, that that meant that I must be willing to be vulnerable. It is through our vulnerability that God orchestrates the matters of the heart. If we allow plastic to represent our relationship with Christ, we forget that we are fragile pottery that has the chance to be broken. I also hope that my vulnerability will inspire others, and some small change could be made somewhere. Maybe.
It is through our brokenness that God does His best work. It is through our weakness that we become strong.
I asked my best friend the other day if God wants us to be happy. "Of course!" was her cheerful answer. After thought, conversation and prayer, I came to the conclusion that our happiness is to be fully and completely that of Christ. If we profess to be submitted to Christ, that means that we trust Him to order our steps. We trust Him with our coming and goings; our doings, every aspect of our lives. That is where we are to find our happiness, not in the manner of how God chooses to bring about His plan.
The classic Spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" would not have it's power without the bush ("hide it under a bushel, no!") human breath or satan...all things which threaten to remove light.Without darkness there is no purpose for light. If light is all we had, there would be no appreciation for its radiance.
Maybe....just maybe.....God has allowed darkness to show us how much we need His light. In a world that seems to become darker with every day, we are called to be that flicker that everyone thought was gone. On those days where the light within us is seemingly snuffed out, it is the darkness of our soul and sin that compel us to reach for the Light.
May you find the courage to strike a match when you feel like you have struck out. May our Heavenly Father ignite you with hope that will light the hearts of those you come in contact with.
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." " -John 8:12
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Spring. Spring appears to be poking it's nose out of the winter ground, gracing us with temperatures in the high 60's, tiny little birds building nests for their tiny young, new babies being born (dressed in pink and blue onesies) and the later setting sun. All beautiful signatures of one of my favorite seasons of life.
If you have followed me on my blogging journey throughout the years, you will know that I often refer to the different stages of life as "seasons". To say the word "stage" in reference to something as vibrant and priceless as life is not only boring, but rather insulting! Seasons more accurately describe the visual of what we all go through. We all experience spring, summer, fall and winters, and what can make things difficult is that we don't always experience these seasons at the same time as the loved ones in our lives do. Pain can be the result of seeing a dear friend in her "spring" of life: marriage, a new home, babies- while you are in a cold, depressing winter of endless doctor appointments with no seemingly good news, a divorce or just lost hope in something you believed in. Winter wants to be happy for spring, and is happy for spring, but the truth of the matter is that Spring's happiness causes Winter pain, and Spring feels guilty, but then feels hurt that something so beautiful as being Spring can't be enjoyed by Winter. Thus, they part ways.
I've seen this so many times; I've experienced this so many times. Snow and petals just can't exist together. There may be many complicated reasons as to why this happens, but lately God has been impressing upon my heart the seriousness of putting down the seasonal telescope.
When a person looks through a telescope, all they can see is what is directly in front of them. It is black and narrow on either side, allowing you to focus in one an item that may be near or far away, but the focus is so strong that nothing else around you can be seen. Nothing else really matters in that moment.
As a newly married woman, I have become so convicted of the importance of stepping out of my season of life and into the ones of those I love.
God's loyalty and faithfulness isn't seasonal, so why should ours be?
Just because their aren't little Bolden's destroying a house yet doesn't mean that I can't offer to babysit for a couple who need a night out to reconnect or insist that she leave her children with a babysitter if she is wants to spend time with me, but just because you are a stay at home mom of toddlers and I work full time and come home to fur babies doesn't mean that I should not be invested in as a sister in Christ and friend.
Those of us who are young should not just invest in the young, but invest in the old. Those of us who are old should invest in the young.
I guarantee you that you have friends in your life who are going through a true winter season; depression threatening to take over their belief in God and His goodness.
Bring them Spring.
Spring, Winter needs Spring for hope, just as Spring needs Winter for staying humble and grounded.
Now, I know what you are thinking: what about Summer and Fall? It is forecasted to learn about them in future posts.
My prayer is that God will open your eyes and heart to all the seasons around you, no matter what season you may currently be in. It is when we develop a heart of service and seek to bring Christ to others that we begin to truly live. Every season has a purpose; what is yours?
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
It's been over three years since my life changed for good and for the better. It's been about five years since I told God "Yeah, there is no plan. Your plan is my plan, let thy will be done."
That prayer has led me across the United States into territory quite unknown. It started with a tiny house inhabited by an equally tiny, old southern lady in the mountains of Tennessee. I took care of her 247, and she fought dementia and made biscuits and fried chicken.
There has been so much that has happened since then. Things have happened to me and been experienced in the blink of an eye. I am now understanding on a personal level what it means that "the older you become, the more time flies." Sometimes I feel like the current events have not caught up with my soul, but here I am, a Minnesota woman who may never become "country" but lives in the south.
I have experienced culture shock before, have you? That out of body feeling where your senses are screaming "this isn't home!". I experienced it when I flew to Cambodia with a performing arts ministry after my High School graduation. I remember the thick, hot humidity, the sick, intense smell of incense and the fact that I was an outsider with my group coming into unknown territory. There was no good chocolate or coffee, and you had to squat for every single indoor and outdoor toilet. But it was beautiful in its own way, and after three weeks as we boarded the plane back to the US, I was hopeful for the day when I could visit again.
Living in the south has been a different kind of culture shock that tends to comes in waves. Sometimes I go to a Target or a grocery store and see and hear all kinds of people, making me feel less far away from what was. Other times I will go to places like my new job, which is a small yet busy family owned pharmacy where all my coworkers have been born and raised here, they talk like each other and know each other. The same goes for the guests that come through the doors. At a pharmacy, most everyone is a "regular", especially if you are over 65. The pharmacists have known these people for over 20 years; it's like a big family, and yet I feel adopted.
I answer the phone with my Midwestern voice, only to barely understand the thick, country accent on the other end. I continue to smile and try to hear all of the correct vowels in their names, but seem to fail nearly every time. And yet I know that God has called me here and will use me according to His will. I may not sound like them, but I love them, and I'm hopeful that they will learn to love me too, with all of my Midwestern "ism's".
I love the south, I truly do. I love country people, that's a fact. But to go from a land of "Minnesota Nice" to "Southern Hospitality" has been a bigger transition than what I every imagined. God used a little old southern woman to get me here, and a handsome, God-fearing mountain man to keep me here.
When we say "Lord, do with me as you will", He will do just that. I guarantee that you won't know what it looks like in that moment, but that moment will arrive faster than what you realize. As the scenery of my life continues to change, so do I. Isn't that what life really is? A massive set of changes that have taken place, will take or is taking place? Life is wild, but we serve a wild God who is truly out for an adventure, ready to see Himself glorified through our willingness.
Are you willing? Do you find yourself in the midst of "how did this happen?" or "how do I get out of this?". God is asking you to trust Him and hold on. He has asking you to surrender the reigns of your life and let Him lead. It may be into a territory where you feel so small, but remember He is SO big!
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I'm not a big "Christmas" kind of girl, but one of my favorite Christmas themed traditions/movies is "The Muppets Christmas Carol". I have watched it nearly every year since I was a child, with this year being no exception. One of the things that I love about movies and literature that are beloved all through your life, is that you discover and learn different things as you become older. This year I heard the narrator of the Christmas Carol say something that lands in that exact category.
"Scrooge loved the darkness, because darkness was cheap."
This phrase has been rolling around in my brain all day, trying to put meaning to these words. I have never thought of darkness as being cheap, but in fact it actually is. I think about how my grandma would harp on me for keeping the lights on when they were not in use, because of how expensive the electric bill would be. I also think about how things that are of dark nature in this world are typically done in the actual darkness, and yet have an expensive price at the end.
I also have been thinking about what we are willing to give up to not have light. That the light that we shine as Christians can appear to have an expense to those who are living in darkness; it's something that they want, but darkness is so much cheaper. Now let me make this more personal. Let us think about the light that we are willing to forfeit in order to live in the comfort of our own darkness.
Our sins, bad habits, fears and anxieties.
Tomorrow night my husband and I are going to go to a traditional Christmas Eve candle light service. Now granted, there are many beautiful things to be experienced in this world, but on the top of my personal list would be the candle light service at Christmas Eve. What better way to celebrate the birth of the light of the world, than with candles that light up a dark room? What better way to remember the birthday of our Savior than with old hymns that warm the hearts with truth such as "Prince of Peace" and "the darkness had felt it's worth"?
We no longer have to live in darkness my friends! Take this truth to heart this Christmas in the midst of all of the unwrapping of gifts, annoying relatives, long car rides and hours of Christmas movies.
Jesus is the light of the world. His death came at such an expensive price for a person with such cheap worth as myself. The Light gives us our worth.
Monday, December 8, 2014
This simple word emits many images. Some people think of an actual house, while others think of mom, dad and fresh baked bread, sitting on the front porch and raking leaves in the front yard.
This word also emits many emotions. For some the emotions are happy, fulfilling and encouraging, while for others they are sad, bittersweet, angry, confused, discouraged and apathetic.
It is no secret that the holidays stress and capitalize on home. Classic Christmas melodies are filled with what home should be, and that Christmas simply isn't Christmas without being home.
For many, "home" is emotionally distant and unkind. Home is out of reach, being thousands and thousands of miles away. The physical home could be in the process of being sold, leaving it's former tenants scrambling around boxes and eating on paper plates. For some home is their car, because they simply have no other place for its rightful name.
I find it ironic that baby Jesus wasn't born in a comfortable home, but in a manager shared with livestock. Shortly after the birth of the King, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus and fled to Egypt for safety, not being sure what home is or what it would look like.
They had but one truth to cling to: home is where Jesus is.
And where is He?
For those who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior, we have a home in His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us; a promise that the very tiny Prince of Peace babe came into this dark world to shed light and hope for its inhabitants.
He is in the heart of servants who are spreading this message of hope from the pulpit and all the way across the world through a missionary who has learned to speak another language.
He is in the face of a brand new baby, and in the tears of those who know their loved one has gone home to be with Jesus.
You see, there may be "no place like home for the holidays" but the truth is that there is no place like home than in the arms of Jesus Christ. Our physical home will change and sometimes even disappoint, but our home in Christ never will. The door is never locked and the candles in the window are always lit, leading you to your home in Him.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Driving along highway 25 this afternoon, I found myself consciously making an effort to make sure my attitude was positive and in top notch condition for whatever awaited me at my shift in retail. It seemed like I was behind every slow poke in North Carolina, as well as every garbage truck or utility vehicle, which was just adding to the challenge of achieving a positive attitude upon entering the doors of the Christmas retail games at the mall.
About half way there, the classic Christmas song "Breath of Heaven" ( made popular by vocalist Amy Grant in the 1980's and 90's) came on the radio. I have always, always loved the message that that song brings; Mary's song. There is so much beautiful truth woven into the lyrics, but this time a specific phrase rose above the others.
"But I offer all I am, for the mercy of your plan."
The Christmas season as we know it makes me sad. It is so full of everything that you can obtain, should obtain or don't obtain. It is often more about the way your house is decorated, getting a sale on butter for Christmas desserts or finding that perfect gift than it is about offering all that you are to Jesus Christ. Although these elements of the season aren't wrong, it is clear that the world gives Christmas a focus that is so out of focus.
For the Christian, this season is a time to celebrate and rejoice in the coming of a tiny baby King; a baby who brought hope and still brings hope to a dark and scary world. At the very least we can make an effort to ponder what it means to offer all that we are.
This is not a plea to burn out, but to burn with Christ's love in such a way that offering that light to those around us will be unavoidable. In a world whose pain and lack of hope is drowning in consumerism, perfectionism and self, we can hold our little candles of Christ hope and trust that the illumination is brighter than we can see.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."-Matthew 5:16