Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Going Down the Slide

So here I am. What was "on the horizon" is definitely standing right in front of me. What I was so excited about in the first place is finally beginning to hit me. I am moving to a new community, I am starting a new job and I will be finishing my degree.

Upon recent events I have decided that I am a very courageous woman. I have pursued many different life experiences, which include surviving the metro traffic in Chicago. Instead of making what most people would consider small accomplishments, I do things like board a plane to Cambodia , and pursue a new language 1o hours away from home. And before every single experience like this, the same thing happens.

I freeze.

People will say things like "Wow, aren't you nervous?" and I'll smile, give a small chuckle and say " Oh goodness, no! I'm so excited!" and I think to myself "Man, people just don't know how to live ". There was also a time when I thought that staying in one place for longer then a year was almost unbearable, not to mention totally "life sucking" and boring. When I got my first full time, "big girl" job, I loved the idea of working 8:30-4, but hated the feeling of being "committed" and "stuck". It took me awhile to really be o.k. with giving up my gypsy lifestyle, but I've come to the conclusion that I think that gypsy quality of mine is a permanent thing, coming and going in different ways and at different times. I knew that my time in Hutchinson was going to be short, because I only had a year left to finish my degree. I knew that soon after I graduated, I would be moving again, maybe to a place where it is sunny and warm, calling Bingo on a beach.

I wish I could say that I'm excited about this new job. I wish I could say that I can't wait to move and get a new start for 2o10, but the fact is ladies and gentleman, I'm a little bit scared. I know that things are going to be o.k., that it is going to be a great experience, a "defining moment in my life", if you will....but right now, I am scared.

I remember this feeling the day before I flew to California to join the Continentals, a performing arts ministry. I watched an entire season of "Dr.Quinn, Medicine Woman" that I had bought with some Christmas bonus money from one of my jobs. I laid on the couch in my p.j's and ate chocolate ice cream. I remember distinctively how I cried at the episode "The Circus" an episode where a circus entertainer and her daughter come to Colorado Springs, and the circus act ends up being all the townspeople. Colleen ( Michaela's daughter) was assigned to the tight rope. Before the big event, she got cold feet and decided not to walk the tight rope. But of coarse she ended up gaining the courage to actually do it, and it was at this point in the episode that I cried. It was then that I realized that my unknown experience is a tight rope, and I'm about to walk on it. I don't know how it's going to feel, whether or not I will fall or who is going to be down there to catch me if I do fall. But I did know one thing: I had to walk that tight rope.

Have you ever found yourself in a place like that? A place where you are so scared, and yet you know deep down in your heart that you have to do this? You know that God has allowed everything to fall into place in His perfect timing, and yet you still roll into a little ball and shut yourself out from the world, because that is something that you have control over.

Maybe that is why I find inspiration in characters like Anne from "Anne of Green Gables", Christy from "Christy" and the beloved "Michaela Quinn: Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman". All of these women overcame the odds, all of these women didn't allow fear to get the best of them. They took risks, lived vibrantly, loved deeply and remained true to themselves.

Today while I was on the phone with my mom, she reminded me of the "Themed analogy of my life" that she tells me every time I find myself facing change and the unknown.

When I was a little girl, we lived in a little apartment complex that had a play ground in the back. The play ground had one of those old aluminum slides, and I refused to go down it. My younger brother Lucas, however, didn't think twice about the aftermath of the slide, but went down it multiple times. According to the story, I had to watch Lucas go down the slide several times before I decided to give it a try. Once I did go down the slide, my mom couldn't get me off of it!

That childhood story has helped me understand myself better, especially when it comes to facing change and the unknown. I won't "go down that slide" unless I can see that the results will be safe. But the truth is, life isn't safe. So much of my life has been spent being in fear. Fear of driving, fear of failing, fear of dating, fear fear fear fear fear. I think that one of the reasons God allows me to go through these adventures in life is to increase my trust in Him and to accept that life isn't safe. If you spend your life avoiding pain, heartache and embarrassment, you won't really live.

So my friends... Go down that slide! And soon I'll take my own advice. I'm getting there...and when I do, I know that I will fall into the arms of my Savior, and in those arms, I am safe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Chapter Unfolds...

It amazes me how quickly life happens.

So far, this year has been an intense whirl wind. I have been so consumed with going to school, working and surviving as a "big girl in a big girl world" ( O.k... so that old song "I'm a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World" just popped into my head) that I haven't had time to really process life as it's happening. Now that I am home for Christmas and snowed in due to an intense blizzard that is sweeping the Midwest, I have had some time to process the most recent changes and events that are now officially off of the horizon and standing right in front of me.

Let me give a quick recap on the years events. In August I moved to Hutchinson, MN. to complete my Associates degree as an Activity Director for geriatric settings. Last week I completed the semester and will be finished with my seasonal job at Target on January 1st. This next semester is my last semester before obtaining my degree, and a huge piece of it will be my internship. After very little thought, I realized that it was be literally impossible for me to successfully complete 18 credit hours of coursework, work full time and do a minimum of 25 hours of internship. With that reality in mind, I worked to secure an internship at two nursing home facilities in Fairmont, with the intent to move back home. With that being the plan, I focused on the tasks at hand and put that on the "mental shelf".
About 3 weeks ago, my instructor told me she had some good news. Ready to hear any good news as I was in the midst of battling financial fear and stress, I listened intently. A former student of hers had contacted her to see if she had any students that would be able to fulfill an Activity Director position at a brand new facility in Cannon Falls, MN.

My teacher Julie recommended me ( A huge honor!) to this former student of hers. To make a long story short, about 3 weeks later she called me and we set up an interview for Tuesday, the 22nd. I tootled my way over to the interview in Cannon Falls, GPS in tow, relying fully upon the technology of a machine to bring me to my new destiny. After braving some city traffic ( I HATE metro driving) and reminding myself at least 5 times that I am a "Strong, confident woman" ( A typical mantra that I say to myself when I think I'm going to die in metro traffic) I pulled into Cannon Falls. Cannon Falls is such a charming, sweet town. It is smaller then Hutchinson, and maybe about the same size as Fairmont, but it's just plain charming. 

The facility that I'll be working for is called "Twin Rivers Senior Campus". For all of you who are not knowledgeable in geriatric terms, a "campus" is a senior facility in which several levels of geriatric needs are offered in one place. The needs that are met on this campus are assisted living, independent apartments and memory care ( dementia unit).Twin Rivers is brand new, and it is HUGE. After I parked my car in the underground heated parking lot, the receptionist buzzed me in to what can only be described as "The Ritz Hotel for Senior Citizens". Beautiful, bright color schemes encompassed the walls and decor, creating a truly "right at home" feel; the furthest thing from an institutionalized nursing home or senior center.

After a campus tour, the interview took place. During the interview I literally watched and listened to the Lord visually and verbally connect everything that He has made me as a woman of Him, my past experiences in activities and customer service jobs, in addition to the adversity that I experienced with difficult co-workers who didn't "get" the field and worked very hard to keep things the way they are, rejecting any change; especially anybody who brought change and a fresh perspective. Every answer that I gave to the women who interviewed me were the answers that they were looking for, and every question I had for them was answered clearly and honestly.

 I left the interview feeling as if this was going to happen, but I also was willing to accept any curve ball that God might throw my way. Later that night they called me offering me the job and I accepted! As of the 2nd week of January, I will be the very first Activity Director/Volunteer Coordinator of Twin Rivers Senior Campus! Just typing those words makes me excited, but anxious all at the same time. To be given such a responsibility is truly an honor, but to remain confident while undertaking this responsibility will be entirely another manner. However, I know that without a shadow of a doubt that this IS my element. 

Working with seniors and plugging in my creative and interpersonal skills is just as natural to me as singing on stage, using a microphone. Here are my responsibilities:

  • Create and produce the weekly and monthly activity calendar
  • Participate in PR for the facility, reaching out to the community to find volunteers and resources for the department
  • Doing activities for the residents, and creating resources and plans for nurses aids and families to conduct activities on a more consistent basis
  • Managing the department's budget and supplies
  • Plan outings for residents
So now that I have the job, the moving part is going to come really quickly. On November 30th I gave my land lord at my current apartment my 60 day notice. I have my apartment secured until the end of January, but my plan is to move into an apartment by the week that school starts.Now the question is, where do I move to?

I did my footwork and found a place that seemed to fit the bill. However, during my interview, it was mentioned that I might be able to rent an apartment in the facility. I approached this idea further, and they are willing to rent me out one of their brand new apartments for $600 a month. This includes all utilities, heat, water, Internet, cable, laundry facilities IN my apartment and heated underground parking. Not to mention the the fact that I won't have to pay for gas to get to and from work, put miles on my car that is barely hanging on and won't have to deal with weather. The reasoning behind living in the facility ( other then all the wonderful elements listed above) is because they are starting my position at 30 hours a week, with the hope that it will turn into a full time position dependent upon the growth of the campus. Because of this fact, they were very understanding in the predicament of finding an apartment that won't make me commit to a one year lease. I can't wait to post pictures of this apartment! It's the most beautiful apartment I've ever seen in my life. Spacious, granite counter tops and finished wood cupboards, floor to ceiling windows, tons of storage space. It seems too good to be true.

Isn't God good?

Yesterday over a fabulous cup of Starbucks coffee with my mom ( which we all know makes coffee better.. the people we have the coffee with) my mom gently reminded me that just two years ago at this time in the year I was struggling hard core, trying to let go, and let God lead me to the next place. My job at Carlson Craft's didn't work out, my dreams of pursuing music ministry fell through and my attempt at Sign Language Interpretation didn't go as planned either. I was struggling with depression, lost and very much afraid. Now two years later, not only has He uncovered a passion and a deep love for this field, but He has shown His faithfulness in my life in a way that has turned my life around. My life is living proof that if we let go of what WE want for our lives and trust that what God wants for our lives is so much more fulfilling, beautiful things happen. It's that adventure... that sense of knowing that we aren't alone and that our lives aren't our own. I have been given the privilege to give of myself in love and ministry for this population, using all of the gifts, strengths and experience that I possess.

My prayer is that all of you who read this will at some point in your lives understand and see themselves as being strategically placed on this earth with a beautiful and divine purpose to further His kingdom. And I further pray that you will be able to let go and trust the Lord to lead you on your adventure. In a sense, isn't that what the Virgin Mary did? She left everything that she ever knew and gave up whatever hopes and desires she had to fulfill God's plan and purpose for her life.

Merry Christmas everyone! May you be reminded that you, like Mary and Joseph, have a divine purpose on this earth. A purpose that can only be discovered when you let God be the compass of your adventure.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Singing on a Breaking Branch

Last October, I had the privilege of attending a "Women of Faith" conference in St. Paul, MN. If any of you have never attended one of these, I highly recommend investing in this weekend! It was the 3rd one I've been to, and I am always amazed at how God uses those women to inspire me, help me examine my life and to learn something new, or be reminded of an old concept that has suddenly taken on a new form.

Sheila Walsh is one of the speakers in the ministry, as well as an accomplished author and vocalist. Her newest book to be added to her God breathed inspired library is "Let Go". The title spoke to me when I saw the book on the sales table, being surrounded by the scurry of a large group of women, dropping their money for all the resources that were available. I always have told myself that if there was a book that I wanted, then I would wait to buy it on or Ebay for half the price, but every time I forget that little thing I told myself.

I started to read it right after the conference, but it got pushed aside as I forged my way through the semester course work. Last night I had a terrible nightmare that lasted almost the entire night. One of those nightmares that continued even after I had woken up and gave myself that little pep talk that "this is only a night mare, it isn't real".

After I woke up this morning, I decided that I needed to heed the call of Jesus, and submit myself to Him. Do you ever find yourself in a place of pure resistance of spending time with God? You exhaust your resources of relationships, entertainment, food, etc. and when you are not distracted from the pain that you are experiencing, or the anxiety that is mounting in your spirit, THEN you turn to God? I'm ashamed to admit that I am one of those people. I usually like to start my quiet times by reading a set of devotions, and/or a Christian life book. After I made my coffee, I snuggled up into my bed again, ready to lay it out on the table.

Because this is a blog and not my own personal diary, I will not divulge everything that took place between God and I; However, I will tell you that I once again experienced the joy of letting it all go; working my way through the pain, the anxiety, the confusion, and the hurt that I have experienced from other people.Here is a quote that I read in one of the chapters that sent a shiver down my spine.

" Let us be like a bird for a moment perched
On a frail branch while he sings;
Though he feels it bend, yet he sings his song,
knowing that he has wings."
-Victor Hugo

How often have you felt like a little bird perched on a branch, and yet you felt that branch was about to break? Did you actually feel as if you had a song to sing? How often have we been that bird, and forgotten that we had wings to help us fly if the branch really did break? 
So many things happen in life that seem to clip our wings, making us unable to fly. I know that there have been so many moments in my life where I had forgotten that I cannot fly on my own. And yet I would try, so many times, only to be reminded that it is Jesus who is our wings. And when we know we have wings, then we have the peace to sing. 

Oh to have a peace to sing when we feel that branch breaking. Do you have that peace? I know that I don't. I know that in my humanness, every time I feel that branch breaking, my song turns into utter fear. I worry about how it is all going to work out.... I worry about not having enough, when all along, Jesus IS enough.
Jesus IS enough.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How Rude! What a Seasonal Target Cashier Wants You to Know

Alright, it's finally happened. This "fast, fun and friendly" Target cashier is nearing holiday burn out! Have any of you read that section in Readers Digest about "things (fill in the occupation) want you to know"? Well, here is the seasonal cashier of a Target store's version and my 2 cents!
Things A Seasonal Target Cashier would like you to know:

  • I have a very small amount of space to bag your items, so when your cart is empty, please put the bagged items back in your cart. I know staring into space is enjoyable, and that you probably need that extra time to think about what you are making for dinner or where you are going to buy gas for your car, but I am graded on the speed of my transactions.... and the 3 people behind you would probably appreciate it too.
  • Please do not talk on your cell phone when you come through the lane. I know that you don't know me and you probably don't care to chit chat for a few minutes, but I am a human being,and when you choose to completely ignore me as you go through the line and do not as so much make any eye contact with me, I feel absolutely offended.
  • When I am bagging your completely heavy, bulky toys, please hold the bag open for me so I don't spend 15 seconds trying to hold the bag open and get the toy in at the same time. Doing this is just polite.
  • If you have a checking account, please use your debit card. When you write your checks, it takes at least 3 more minutes by the time you write it, it goes through my system, and then I have to swipe your ID, which usually takes you about 2 more minutes on an average to find.
  • When your check or credit card is not accepted into our system, it is not my fault or the fault of Target. It means there is something wrong with your account. Yelling at me and threatening to leave all your items for me to put away is not going to fix the problem, but it will take up your precious energy and piss off the people behind you.
  • We need to keep the hangers on the clothing items. It would be so great if you'd take a few seconds taking the hangers off before you purchase the items. This saves a lot of time, especially if you are planning on clothing your family 12.
  • If you have 4 twelve packs of the same kind of pop, they don't all need to go on the conveyor belt. Give me one of them, and I'll scan it 4 times. It's as simple as that.
  • I do run out of change and bags from time to time, and there are times when I can't obtain those items exactly when I need them. Your patience would be appreciated in moments like these.
  • Please do not put your cash and coupons on the conveyor belt. The chances of them getting eaten by the belt are great. And no, I cannot rescue your 50 cent coupon. It's gone forever.
  • For all you coupon clippers: I am happy to help save you money with your coupons, but please give them to me BEFORE the transaction starts, so that when I need to find out how much one item is to get the 2nd one free, I can do so right away. Also, sending your child in another line to use the gift card that you obtained from your previous purchase that you were informed to NOT use in that purchase, is shady. What are you teaching your children? Not good.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Post Semester Update and Ramblings

It is 2:15 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, and I, Sarah Ardella Green, am lying on my bed in my P.J.'s.... dreading the fact that in about an hour, I need to "get with the program" and get geared up for a fantastic night of "fun, fast and friendly" work at Target.

Last night at 5:30 p.m., I submitted my very last assignment of the semester! To celebrate, I drove to our local Chinese buffet and ordered takeout, something that I RARELY do. I am very pleased to announce that for $12.95, I have enough fried rice and orange chicken to last me at least three meals. :) I love seeing my money stretch, especially when it is the the form of Chinese food.I am so grateful that the semester is over. 

On my way home from the coffee shop last night, I was telling my mom that this was probably the hardest semester of college in my life thus far. The coursework in my first year of college was incredibly more difficult then this semester, but I did not have the reality of balancing a nearly full time job, 16 credits and living on my own, with everything that "living on your own" entails. I am proud of myself!  Last night in an effort to sort through the gazillion thoughts that have been running through my head for the past couple months, I decided to start to reorganize my closest, and pitch and throw away assignments from the semester. I was pretty close to hanging up all of my graded "A" projects on my fridge, totally willing to toot my own horn.

I am in awe at God and His faithfulness in my life, as well as of the people in my life. I am also always in shock that after all these years, it still doesn't take very much to throw me on my knees in anxiety, struggling to trust God for the next steps. Why do we do this? He has shown us time and time again that He is faithful, and will provide and deliver His children; and yet here I am again, struggling to "Let go, and let God".

A few weeks ago my instructor informed me that she had some really good news. Grateful for any good news and an ounce of seeing "the big picture", I listened intently. A former student of hers who is the marketing director of a brand new assisted living/independent living/memory care campus in Cannon Falls, MN. had contacted Julie to see if she had any students that would be a good match for an Activity Director's position. Julie recommended me to her, even making the flattering comment that she "wishes she could clone me". To make a long story short ( which if anybody knows me well, this is an incredibly difficult thing for me to do) I have an interview scheduled with this woman on Dec. 22nd at 11:30.

The campus is brand new, and they don't even have an activities department yet. The amazing thing about this possibility is that I will have the opportunity to build an activities department from the ground up, with supervision from a woman who has taken the same classes I have and has worked as an Activity Director. The thought of being given a responsibility SO huge is daunting and a little scary, but incredibly exciting! I can't wait to spread my wings in this field, applying my passion and everything that I have learned. The other cool part about this opportunity is that it would double as my internship (a paid internship!), which was the reason that I had to move out of my apartment in Hutchinson, because I couldn't afford to do a minimum of 25 hours a week of internship, 18 credits and work full time in order to live here.

It seems like this is what God wants, that this is the next step on the journey. If it isn't what He wants, then I'm headed back to Fairmont for the semester, completing my internship at two nursing homes in town. I'm struggling to let this one go, as I wait for more information. It is so easy to get anxious and worrisome about this situation, but every time I even think about getting scared, I literally hear God's voice in my spirit " Sarah, are you going to trust me, or are you going to trust what you see in front of you? Trust me Sarah, I love you."

In my humanness and struggle to constantly trust God with everything in my life, I can't help but wonder how Mary felt around this time; pregnant with the Son of God, married to a man who she hardly knew and fleeing from her country, and SO young. Was she afraid? Probably. But did she allow her fear to prevent her from fulfilling God's plan for her life? Absolutely not.

~Breathe deeply the peace that can only come from a small baby in a manger. Trust God in the way that a young virgin did so many years ago. ~

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Gift of Peace Wrapped Up in the Form of a Tiny Country Church

It has been far too long since I have come to this quiet corner of my world to reflect and document my current season of life. So much has happened, and I feel quite old by making the statement "Where has the year gone?", but the truth is that I am quite in shock and awe at how fast this year has ended.Once the semester is over and my brain isn't littered and filled to the brim with text book information and deadlines, I will reflect more on the recent events of my life. But for now, I felt it necessary to blog about a beautiful experience that I had tonight.

At the beginning of this semester I joined the Ridgewater College Choir. I joined on volunteer status, viewing it as an opportunity to meet new people and a place to plug in my musical gift. It didn't take long for me to feel as if maybe I had made the wrong choice in joining this choir. Out of all 6 of the sopranos in my section, at least half of them were ( and still are) completely tone deaf, with at least 2 of them being tone deaf AND shrill. Come to find out, most of the people in the choir have never been apart of a choir and have never really sung before.

Having been involved in musical opportunities since I was a little girl, I have had my fair share of vocal training. I should also note that I have a very sensitive ear when it comes to sounds; pitches, tones and inflections of people's voices are very important to me. Being aware of this fact, it was extremely difficult for me to demonstrate patience when we would review the same simple cord at least three times and still sing it wrong or when I would be trying to sight read and learn a difficult cord, hearing the exact opposite in my ear at all times.

Throughout this experience, the Lord has humbled me in so many ways. Unbeknownst to me in the beginning, He had a plan to use me in the lives of some of those choir members. Hurting individuals who are unwed, 18 year old mothers, alcoholics on parole from jail, debilitating insecurities, a practicing paganist. These are all facts that I learned about each of these individuals. It was then that I realized that this wasn't about me singing, but this was about me becoming part of a bigger plan; a plan that I may never fully see, but know that without a shadow of a doubt that God has (and is) using me in the big picture.

Tonight the choir sang at a tiny little country church seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. Other then the Deaf church that I went to as an ASL student, this church was the tiniest church I had ever stepped foot in. The congregation couldn't have been more than 100, as it only had about 10 pews in the sanctuary. The women of the church made and served an incredible, nourishing hot meal of several different soups, a variety of sandwiches, crackers, cheese and desserts.

After we ate, the choir crowded together near the altar to do the performance. The church was decorated beautifully with lights, and a tall Christmas tree off to the side of the sanctuary. While starting our first number, I realized that this is what Christmas is really about. A small, simple, humble church that opens their doors to a college choir in an effort to bless and minister to us. As we sang "Silent Night" a tear rolled down my cheek as I was reminded what Christmas is really about.
The last couple of months have been some of the most challenging months of my life. It has been a struggle to learn how to balance 16 credits and a nearly full time job, with everything else that life throws in on the side. It has been very hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you have looming deadlines, little sleep, money troubles and bouts of loneliness to contend with. But tonight, just for a small time, everything was still. I could feel the Holy Spirit waving His hand of peace over every single person in that room as the notes that were sung many times before suddenly had a different sound, which was not a coincidence.

May you feel God's peace during this Christmas season. May you feel and choose to seek a peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace that allows you to feel, understand and know deep in your heart that God's timing is perfect and the love that He has for His children is available for the taking.

Friday, November 6, 2009


It is a Friday morning, and I'm just about ready to fill my mug with the 1/4 amount of coffee left in the pot. It is amazing how much comfort a small routine like drinking a cup of peppermint mocha flavored coffee can be.

So much has happened in the past month, and it has happened so quickly. I have often thought that I need to write this all down so that it leaves my brain and lands on some other format. I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of living alone is the fact that I have less opportunities to verbally process the events of the day, week, month, etc. I've been a "verbal processor" since I was a little girl. Internalizing thoughts, feelings and ideas was something that I really didn't understand how to do, and that fact remains true today. I remember how I would have dozens of spiral notebooks, filled with short stories and poems. It was my refuge in the chaos of my life. Funny how we come back to those things, isn't it?

If I could choose a theme for this season of my life, it would be a combination of two concepts. Those two concepts are "brokenness" and "trust". Putting them together in a sentence would look like this " In my brokenness, I learn to trust God".

Yes, that's it. Never before have I felt so keenly aware that I am need in of something greater than the world, and even greater then my personal strength. Daily I am reminded by my low bank account, my aching back from bending over a scanner about 35 hours a week, the insane amount of homework that continues to pile up and the loneliness of living alone and working towards a goal. Somewhere in my humanness I think that it is up to me; that to be successful is completely up to me. And when I am not successful, that is a direct reflection of who I am as a person, which is also known as a "failure". 

Something that God has revealed to me during this time in Hutchinson is that I have believed too many lies, for too long. Oh sure, I was able to identify some of the obvious ones that have plagued my life from little on, lies that I had given a name to. But in my vulnerabilities, in my pain, those lies took on a whole new look and new ones were discovered.

Lie number 1: " Your best is never good enough"
Lie number 2: " You are ultimately alone"
Lie number 3: " You will never understand what it means to rely upon and love a man"
Lie number 4: " You are not strong enough"
Lie number 5: " You will never truly be taken care of"

I'm sure that there are other ones that haven't been identified yet, but these are the ones that God so graciously unveiled to me. I have also come to the conclusion that remaining humble and broken on a consistent basis is the key to allowing God to reveal Himself to you."Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


On my drives from Hutchinson to Fairmont, I have found that that hour and forty-five minutes of solitude has been an opportune time to really pour my heart out to God. I have quickly discovered that this new season of life hasn't been very conducive to my need to verbally process life events. Those drives have given me that opportunity to verbally speak what is on my heart, and running around in my mind.

On more then one occasion, God has given me visuals of specific things to help me understand how He is working in my life. Lately that visual has been a tapestry. With a tapestry, everything starts small, using colors and textures that initially don't make much sense. Some pieces are so ugly to the human eye, where others are bright and beautiful, smooth as silk. I've never made a tapestry before, but I can imagine that the process isn't as structured and methodical as making a quilt is, but rather more of a rhythm, tying in all the pieces to create something beautiful.

Recently God has revealed to me pieces of the tapestry in my life. We all go through seasons of life where things don't make sense. The color doesn't coordinate with the rest of the pieces, and you can't imagine how that color is going to compliment a beautiful tapestry. Similar to the pain and brokenness that we experience in different times of our lives. Only God can take something so painful and broken, and turn it into something truly breathtaking.

The weaver continues to weave, eventually turning the pieces into a pattern. I am beginning to see a small piece of that pattern in my life. I'm beginning to see how God is "connecting the dots" with past, present and future. I'm so grateful that God is willing to give us small peeks of our life's tapestry.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Living Life is Risky Business

The other night in the midst of some discouragement that I was facing, my best friend Al gave me this inspiring little ditty that has helped me view the positive and negative experiences of life in a new way.

"To laugh is to RISK appearing the fool
To weep is to RISK appearing sentimental
To reach out to others is to RISK involvement
To expose feelings is to RISK exposing your true self
To love is to RISK not being loved in return
To live is to RISK dying
To hope is to RISK despair
To try is to RISK failure
But RISKS must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to do nothing.The person who RISKS nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.Chained by his attitudes, he is a slave, he forfeited his freedom.Only the person who RISKS can be free."

"Only the person who risks can be free." I read and re-read that line, as the truth of that sentence poured into my spirit. I never used to view myself as being one of those "risk takers". I don't really break the speed limit (o.k., no more than 5 miles over the limit), I've never attempted "risky" behavior in my adolescence, like smoking, doing drugs or consuming alcohol. As a child I never climbed a tree, because I was afraid that I would fall. I always dodged opportunities that would show me to be a failure in some way or another.

However, after reading that little ditty, it dawned on me: I am a risk taker. I have put myself out there countless times to different people for different reasons, I have overcome physical fears, like driving in metro traffic downtown Chicago, in my tiny little metro sandwiched between two very large semi's, saying "The Lord's Prayer" the whole way through. I have often confidently exposed my personal feelings about someone or something, risking that I may lose something, or worse, someone. I have traveled to different places for different experiences, taking the risk of being alone physically, in my thoughts, and in my decisions. And hope...boy do I know what it means to have hope, and risk despair. But the concept of hope is the only real way to manage what comes our way.

Wouldn't you say the greatest risk taker of all time is Jesus? Granted, He is the Son of God, so He had immunity to the falls of humanity, but wouldn't you say that giving your life in a sacrificial death, crucified on a cross, is risky business? The risk in and of itself was that even though He was doing this for all the people of the world, He also knew that not all the people of the world would receive that gift. But He took the risk anyways, and thank goodness He did.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Willingness like Mary

In my first blog post, I mentioned that I am doing a Beth Moore Bible study entitled "90 Days with Jesus". I finished day 3 yesterday, and day 3 really got me thinking.
Day 3 focused on the passages in Luke where God comes to Mary, and tells her that she has been chosen out of all the women in the world to carry and deliver His son. Beth made a comment that many times in the Bible, reactions and detailed verbal responses are not often given; many times we interpret just how that person felt or what they said in a certain situation. Not so with Mary. Mary's story always amazes me, humbles me. She led such a simple, quiet life, full of tradition, and probably not very much personal choice. I'm sure she didn't have a lot of dreams like young girls have now, because there weren't many options laid before them. To be properly married and to aid in carrying on her husband's name by bearing him children was the destiny of a young woman during that time.
What strikes me about Mary, and touches me deeply, is her willingness to obey God, even when she didn't have all of the details. The angel Gabriel gave her limited information. He didn't tell her where the baby was going to be born, and when, and what would happen after that. He didn't give her any advice as to how to handle the rejection of her family and friends, not to mention the embarrassment of telling her fiance that she indeed was pregnant. So much was at risk, and yet scripture depicts this humble, beautiful young woman who responds with a sentence that in turn humbles my heart:
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said". (Luke 1:36)
So often I get caught up in not knowing all the details. Sometimes I wish that God would send an angel to speak verbally to me, because there are days in which I can't hear the voice of God through His word, journaling, conversations with other people, and church attendance. In my humanness the multiple voices of this world threaten to be louder then His, sometimes to a point where I can't distinguish if it is really His voice after all. But that my friends, is where our willingness comes in. We must be willing to rid ourselves of the other voices that try to shout above his.... voices that disguise themselves as relationships, addictions, the media, false prophets, pain and regret. We must be willing to accept our present circumstances, and be at peace with the fact that we don't have all the details, because we don't NEED all the details.
Some details would be really nice to have. Details like:

  • "Ok God, I need a job, details please?!"
  • "It would be really nice to know if you will indeed bless me with a spouse, details please?!"
  • I would really like to know if it would be worth my time and energy to raise money for a missions trip, details please?!"
  • "It would be really nice to know if my mother is going to make it through this operation, details please?!"
  • " This individual is so hurtful, but I know there is a reason why she is. Details please?!
  • "Alright God, I would really like to know how I'm going to make my mortgage this month. Details please?!"
I'm sure that you could add additional questions to that list. But the point is, we don't need to know. If we don't have those details, we don't need them. What we do need is faith. Faith that not only is God a God of details, but that His timing is perfect. Faith that no matter what happens in life, God has His paint brush on the canvas of our lives, creating something beautiful out of pain and uncertainty. Take hold of that promise friends. My prayer for all who read this is that you will have a willingness like Mary to accept the unknown, without all the details.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"It's a jungle out there!"

Wow, am I on a blogging roll today! This one isn't as deep or soul searching as the previous one I posted today, but I felt that it is definitely "post worthy".While chatting with my dear friend Tessa about the dynamics of joining Eharmony, and some current male drama that has occurred outside of the site, I came up with another great word picture:

Me: "Tessa, it's a jungle out there!"

Tessa: "Sarah, I think that is your theme phrase for the year"

Me: "Yeah, it's like I'm walking through a dark jungle, pulling back large, green leaves, occasionally stumbling about some tree roots, looking for my Tarzan...but all I run into are monkeys, you can't very well have a relationship with a monkey, can you? They can't communicate in English, and possibly meet your needs like a Tarzan can."

Tessa: (a long strand of laughter) "Sarah, that's a good one!"

Totally "post worthy".

Jesus: the grown-up at the other side of the pool

I visited my family in Fairmont for a few days this weekend, in hopes that it would restore me emotionally and spiritually for the weeks ahead. It was a short visit, but I was grateful for the random conversations, the hugs and the morning coffee on the front porch in our PJ's.

Last night before we went to bed, my mom and I were discussing how hard things are right now for the both of us. She just started a job as a Speech Pathologist at a High School, is commuting two days a week to continue getting her masters, not to mention dealing with "Nazi" cockroaches that won't die (she not so affectionately named a large one "Heinrich"), is still getting situated into her new home, in addition to being a single parent to two very teenage girls. As for me, being in my lovely transitional period of moving to Hutchinson, trying to develop a structured schedule, battling loneliness, financial fear and the burden of continuing to look for more work, as the waitress job that I received is not giving me the hours that I need.

My mother and I are both very visual learners; we could tackle anything with a good word picture. So as I laid by her side, hand in hand as my head rested on her shoulder, we came up with the following word picture:

Right now, we are in a very large swimming pool. There is no shallow end, no "kiddy"pool, just 11 feet deep and deeper. We've got our little "floaties" on, the floaties representing whatever means that God has blessed us with to continue to stay afloat: financial aid, the support of family and good friends, the concept of hope, faith and love. Now Jesus is the "grown up" on the other side of the pool, sending reassuring verbal messages like " You can do it!" " Don't worry darling, I won't let you drown!", " You are almost there, keep up the good work".... you get the picture.

Where would we be without Jesus? The thought sends shivers down my spine. When will we truly understand that we in our own strength, cannot do this life on our own? When will we take hold of the promises that He will never leave NOR forsake us? Fear so often tries to get a grip on me, pulling me under like a tidal wave. All any of us has to go on is our past experiences, the messages that those experiences have given us. But, just because those past experiences caused you sink a bit, doesn't mean we have to tread water out of fear that we won't ever make it to the grown-up on the other side of the pool.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A "Rosie the Riveter" moment #1

I think that there are many ways to view being single, but one of the more uplifting views would have to be summed up in one word: adventure.

What, I ask you, would be more adventurous then getting on your hands and knees, and craning your neck in just the right position to unscrew the pipe on your sink, in order to find and demolish whatever is plugging up the sink drain? If you had asked me that question last night as the greasy, food saturated, stinky water spit ALL over me and the floor, I would have told you that this my friends, is adventure at it's finest! Along with learning how to fix clogs in sinks ( thanks Gary and YouTube!) I have had a new found interest in learning as much as I can about cars, and how to do simple repairs by myself.

 Don't get me wrong... I in no way want to take on the a "feminist" attitude, because frankly, it would be far more enjoyable and satisfying to watch a man that I love fix stupid things like drains and toilets, because it is those very acts of love that I treasure in men. I love giving opportunities for men to feel "needed", and let me tell you, are they ever! That feminist notion of " Who needs men when we can do it better ourselves?" goes against everything that I believe to be true about the talents and strengths that men and women bring to the drawing board. However, after removing two of the most disgusting forms of crap I've ever seen ( almost lost my stomach) I am sad to report that the drain is still clogged, and will definitely need one of those contraptions called a "snake". I'm going to call in the land lord on that one.

As empowering as these experiences are, it is such a beautiful reminder to never forget to be in prayer for that man who will fix my sink, my car, my toilet and maybe kill an occasional bat. Lord bless him.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Unexpected Blessing

Right now I am sitting in a chic coffee shop downtown Hutch, in my super cute brown Mary Jane heels, clickity clacking on my new keyboard, feeling VERY grown-up. (Yes, I know that I'm a nerd, but I had to share this nerdy moment in some form!)

Right after I "doctored" up my cup of french roast java, I went to find a place to plug in. The only outlet available was next to a very kind looking woman, who offered to switch chairs with me. To make a long story short, she is a Christian, and not only offered her presence to me, but invited me to her church, gave me a job lead as a paraprofessional at a local elementary school, and invited me to a Tuesday morning women's Bible study called " Chick Chat". I am so humbled and blessed by how God intervenes in doubt. Yesterday I spent a majority of the day in fear. Fear of finances, fear of the unknown, and wondering if I should have stayed in Fairmont. At my previous job and living scenario, it was comfortable. My day to day routine was for the most part predictable, but never boring. My family was there to meet my social needs, and then right before I left for Hutch, I met a wonderful group of friends. 

With the turn of the page comes a completely new chapter, full of so many variables that are completely out of my control. In tears last night I asked God to forgive my unbelief, and my resistance to wanting to give up control to Him. Why do I hang on till the last second? I've been here SO many times, that you'd think I would have learned a thing or too. But you know what? Once I surrender that control, the peace that I receive makes it all worth it.

~ May you learn to surrender every fear, anxiety, dream, ambition,thought and action to the One who will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding.~

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Turn of the Page, a Change of Season.

Welcome to my "little corner of the world". :) I am truly excited to have a space in which I can express my creativity, write my way through specific concepts, and keep in touch with loved ones. I would like to give a shout out to my friend Jennifer Gregar, who has inspired me to be more diligent about documenting and sharing my life experiences. Thanks Jen!

Well, today I am approaching week number three of my new adventure(AKA Hutchinson, Mn.) I moved here to pursue and finish my Associates degree in Activity Directing for geriatric settings. It will only take me a year to finish the degree, so I view this adventure as being quite temporary; but, you know how God works! For all I know, I could end up living here for the rest of my life. You just never know! There is a huge part of me that is excited for the unknown, but there is an equal sized part of me that is struggling to just let it all go,and let God take over. It is such a fine line, isn't it friends? To do what you can do to be available, work hard, pursue opportunities, etc., but to put that all in the hands of the One who is in control of it all. I can confidently say that that will be a life long work of art, taking on many different forms as life goes along. Maybe one of the reasons that I decided to join the blogging world is because I have had considerable time in my thoughts, as everything is new,and I don't really know anyone quite yet.

I've been very blessed to have made a contact with a couple at the local Evangelical Free church; an associate pastor and his wife. They have been so kind to me, inviting me to a homemade dinner, surprising me with a gift card and some Gerbera daisies, but most of all, they have been in faithful prayer for me. I also have been in awe at how God has put His fingerprints on different people and situations upon my arrival. The "Cultures in the Workplace" class I'm taking has awakened my life long passion of learning about other cultures, people, religions, etc., and the thought has once again entered into my brain to pursue American Sign Language interpreting after this activity director educational experience. I have started working at Jake's Pizza as a waitress, which has been a good experience so far. In a way it feels like I'm going back in time, since the last time I worked at Jake's I was in High School, going through some of the most difficult years of my life. I forgot how much I like waitressing! I enjoy meeting new people, and making them feel comfortable. I really hope that the business picks up though! Tips can be wonderful, but when you have 40 tickets on a Friday night, tips aren't that promising.

A few days ago I penned the last page of my prayer journal. Every time that happens, I read some entries from the very beginning of that journal. I found myself in tears as I reminisced on the difficult times that the Lord saw me through, and on how much I've learned about myself and my relationship with Jesus. Many of the prayers in that journal still apply today, but instead of looking at them as "unanswered" I've chosen to view them as part of the tapestry of my life. Weaving one little piece at a time with each prayer being considered, but needing to be "put on hold" for the right place in the tapestry.

Well, how's that for a first blog post?! I can't guarantee that they will never be this long again, but I anticipate that they won't be on a normal basis. Before I go, I want to leave you with a quote that I just love:

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
~Anne of Green Gables~