Tension/waiting causes me searing abdominal pain.

Lots of changes to the Sarah Griffith Blog! We will have an official launch soon, but for now I could not wait to write about the searing abdominal pain!

This is probably shocking to you but I don’t deal with tension or waiting very well. I mean usually I am so even keeled and gentle. (Can I get an amen?!?!) In the last two weeks however we have been dealing with tension and waiting around here and it made me realize that walking in those two things is not good for my digestion. On the plus side I have not been able to eat a whole lot so it has really helped with my weight loss. This weekend at church Doug talked about how we have to learn to trust God. He told us God puts us in situations so that we get to learn to trust Him. I am really feeling that right now.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you the details because it’s not my story to tell. So I will talk in generalities. Not to be secretive but to allow God to work these things out without me putting it on blast to everyone. (Do the young people still say “on blast?” Did they ever say “on blast?” I’m saying “on blast” I don’t care) Anywho, the point is we as a family are immersed in waiting and tension around here and it is very hard to deal with. I asked myself this morning if I was allowing these circumstances to teach me to trust God or if I was handling them in my own understanding. The presence of searing abdominal pain is a sign that I might be relying on myself. Just a guess.

But this is where I find out who God really is. I get to see His character revealed and I get to line my character up to it. I realize how much I need to discipline myself to trust God and not try to solve my own problems with my own thinking. My dean in bible school use to say that you have to stop “chewing the dog bone.” Meaning I am prone to get a thought in my head and chew it and chew it and chew it until it is disgusting. But God, is waiting right there for me to turn the thoughts over to him. God is holding out his hand say, “I love you, you can trust me.” Instead of chewing I start saying to myself…..

Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;

Isaiah 41: 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

And I start saying NO to myself when I want to call someone and complain about my circumstances. I want to call someone because It feels good to have someone commiserate with me. But all I am doing is chewing that bone and spreading my tension around to other people. I will confess that so many times in the last week I picked up my phone to call Kelly and say, “Oh my gosh you are not going to believe what is going on.” Or to call Ashley to say, “Can you believe how bad this is, can you believe we are having to deal with this?” And what was the result? More angry feelings, more fear, more chaos, more abdominal pain. And I drug Ashley and Kelly into that too. On the flip side of that when I take that to the Lord instead and say, “Lord I am not happy with the waiting and this tension and this gastric upset but I know you are still good, forgive me for not trusting you,” my peace is restored. I learn to say no to my flesh that wants to get all up in arms. And I stay right with God, because yes my friends, chewing the bone, calling other people to complain, all of that is proof of not trusting the Lord, also know as SIN!

The truth bubbles up to the surface. God is not doing this to annoy me or to give me more contemplative time in my bathroom. He is doing it to say, “Hey sister, you are not fully trusting me with this situation.” He wants me to learn about how much He loves me and how He is working these things out for my good. He wants me to trust that He loves Laycie and Kohen and desires to keep them safe more than I can ever comprehend. He wants me to know that HE IS GOD. Not me. He wants me to trust that when I am experiencing searing abdominal pain it is likely that I have forgotten who is actually God.

In closing, God is writing a very cool story here in our house. The middlemarch is glorious right now and full of miraculous things. I cannot wait for you to here the story someday from the young woman who is walking it out right now. I have tears in my eyes as I think about all the ways God has shown up to show her He is everything she will ever need. I love you Lord, thank you for letting me be a small part of this story.

Introducing: Sojourn House!

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This is one of those exciting weeks when something that was born in our minds years ago is coming to fruition.  Let me tell you the story.

A few years ago, after having been saved by Jesus, Jesse and I packed up our life and went to Bible School at Ethnos 360 (Nee: New Tribes Bible Institute).  We were no longer content with not know what the bible said about who God was and what we were supposed to do with new Christian life.  Off we went.

At Ethnos we were exposed to what it would look like to be an oversea’s missionary.  They would bring missionaries who were serving with Ethnos in to tell us about what their lives were like in the villages they were serving in.  Without going into all the nitty-gritty lets just say it is hard to carve out life amongst non american, non believing, non english speaking people who don’t really understand why you white people have come into their town.  Don’t for a second belive the people who say, “Oh, just leave those peaceful tribal people alone, they are up there singing Kumbaya, living off the land, untouched by greed or envy.”  WRONGO!!!  They are broken people just like us in need of the security that you get from knowing who God is and that He loves you so much He sent His son to earth to pay for your sin so that you could have a relationship with Him forever.  If I am being totally honest what these missionaries have to deal with makes this germ-a-phob, order loving, Target shopping loving, clean freak want to head for the hills saying, “Jesus, who?  I do not know the name you speak of?”

But we as believers can’t do that, can we?  We are all given the commission to go and make disciples of all the world.  We see that God loves the world and we are His chosen ambassadors.  The work that these missionaries are doing deep in the jungles, the villages, the cities where no one knows the name of Jesus is the most important part of this Christian life we live.  In fact it is the last command given to us by Jesus.  This weekend at Church Doug said that our mission field is brokenness.  Friends, there is not truer statement of fact.  Brokenness is all around us here in Texas and reaches to the ends of the earth.  We all have brokenness in us wherever we happen to live.  We are all here to tell people Jesus is the answer for brokenness.  We are all missionaries.  My mission field happens to be inside my house with the people who live here and act very tribal sometimes.  My mission field is the lacrosse field, the elementary school, the high school and all the stops I make in between–I’m looking at you Sonic workers!

Since I know where my mission field is, what then is my part in this great commission to people who have never heard overseas?  Well friends that is where Sojourn House comes in.  Did you hear that smacking sound?  That was my father in law reading this post and realizing that yet again I have turned a business venture into something that falls under the “charity” category and not the “gain” catagory.  What can I say Curtis?  I have never made any money on any business deal so if you are surprised it really is your own fault I think.  (See years of Horse Business documentation for further proof)  Jesse and I set out to buy a house that we could turn into a missionary retreat/VRBO/Guest House. Overseas Missionary’s have to come home every once in a while to raise support, rest and be filled up.  Otherwise they cannot keep doing what they are doing and someone else will have to go–gulp!  So really this is just a selfish endeavor to keep them on the mission field and me off of it.

This idea was hatched when we would come home from the BI on vacations.  Having sold our house and all our stuff we had to stay with family and friends.  When in the Dallas area we would stay with our friends the Stewart’s.  Now to be perfectly clear there was no more fun time then when the Griffith’s took over the Stewart’s living room, lovingly renamed the “Second Master.”  So much love and life took place there.  With only one draw back.  The Stewart’s keep their thermostat….in Texas……in the summer…..with 9 people living there at 80 degree’s.  Now in a perfect world the Griffith’s would keep a thermostat humming right around 68-70.  I am for sure not trying to implicate anyone but somehow the thermostat would get turned down to a balmy 75 or so, only to be turned up when ever Cheryl walked by and exclaimed, “No wonder I am so cold!”  And in our sweaty discussions at night about how insane people must be to possess refrigerated air and not use it to the best of it’s ability, the thought of  Sojourn House was born.  A place where people are free to set the thermostat wherever they want it.

We started praying, started saving and told Jeff Stewart, of the aforementioned house that is 80 degrees all the time, to keep his Realtor eyes open for a house.  And this summer we finally found one.  It has been so fun putting it together.  I also have to give a huge shout out to Laycie because I enlisted her help and she really stepped up to the plate.  I got to spend time getting to know the little mama who lives with us.  I got to see her work hard putting a house together for people she didn’t even know.  I realized she has a very sweet heart and a very good sense of style!  Plus all the time with Kohen.  There is no more perfect baby in the world, but before I go into another 900 words about him let me wrap this up.

Sojourn House is up and running.  I have prayed while I was there making beds, washing and preparing things that it would be a place of rest for the traveler.  (That is what Sojourn means, traveler.)  All over scripture God says that we glorify Him when we care for His workers.  We are all travelers, moving through this world, ready to go to our real home, that is in heaven with our Father.  Now, I better wrap this up before I break into a Carrie Underwood song……

Living Room

  Kitchen

Kitchen

  Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

  Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

  Bunkroom

Bunkroom

  Laycie’s Handiwork!

Laycie’s Handiwork!

  Backyard and that shed has my name on it for a writing studio.

Backyard and that shed has my name on it for a writing studio.

Middlemarch

Hey listen, I am never one to brag about how great I am (I am exactly the kind to brag about how great I am), but I read a book that has 80 chapters.  This is no small thing since the first book that I actually read for real was Harry Potter.  Books prior to that were skimmed for book report purposes.  So this 80 chapter monster is titled, “Middlemarch.”  The best way to describe this book is that it is a study of provincial life.  That is just a fancy way to say a study of ordinary life.  This topic of an ordinary life has surfaced for me because God is teaching me that in this ordinary life of mine is where the miraculous is happening.  As I stopped telling God to give me a super sexy famous christian life, He started showing me that the “Middlemarch” is where the cool Jesus freaks are.

So what do I mean by Middlemarch?  It has taken me two years to flesh that out.  I could write 10,000 words on all the appointments with Dana (my counselor), books, podcasts, and time in the bible that got me thinking this way.  (Just a few, “The Glorious in the Mundane Podcast, by Christy Nockles, specifically Season 1,  Unseen by Sara Hagerty, the Book of Ruth, and the Book of Galatians.)  Dana was actually the one who pointed me to Middlemarch.  She said, “What you are doing is your Middlemarch,” and told me about the book.  So essentially for me it is letting go of this idea that in order to matter to God I have to be out there effecting His kingdom in some super visual miraculous way.  It is letting go of making sure people see me doing God’s work.  It is letting go of getting praise from other people for what I am doing.  It is learning that God sees me.  God’s only design for me is that I will glorify Him with my life.  It is stopping myself from doing all the things for God, and making myself yield to God and what He puts before me even if I don’t really want it.  It is 1 million choices everyday that honor God, and 1 million denials of my flesh everyday.  Everyday. Everyday.  That is my Middlemarch, my study of ordinary life, that is actually extraordinary.

Here is whats start to surface in this Middlemarch of mine.  I see God working in my life and fruit of the Spirit starting to surface.  I see that in situations where the norm is for me to get angry, stressed and yell, I don’t.  I see the norm shift to peace and love.  I see a husband who never really wanted a lot of responsibility, choose to step into a roll that requires a lot of responsibility.  I see that husband learn to rely on God and trust Him, where before he would try to escape.  I see a young woman who has made choices that don’t honor God, start to make choices that do honor God.  I see a young woman who was afraid to make those choices start to have moments of the greatest bravery I may have ever seen in my life.  I see a young man afraid to make friends, trust God and put himself out there and join a Dungeons and Dragon group. (You may think this has other complications but lets just stick to the making friends part of this.)  I see a High School freshman make tough choices to be able to walk out her faith in High School even though it means that she might not be doing all the things the popular kids are doing.  The more I learn of God the more I think these are the things that He will high 5 us for.

This Middlemarch life flies in the face of everything my flesh says.  My flesh says, “God is only impressed with people who are really out there suffering for the Lord.”  My flesh says, “God is only in the super flashy miracles.”  My flesh says, “What are you going to have to show for your life if all you do is laundry and cook dinner and raise some kids and stay married.”  But God, He says in His word that the day in and day out honoring of Him is where it’s at.  In the life of the disciples I see this, just following Jesus day in and day out.  Allowing Him to teach them, encouraging each other, messing up, and being restored.  I see this in the churches that Paul writes to after Christ’s death.  The heart stopping, in your face miracles had ceased.  Paul was encouraging them to live the life that honors God day in and day out.  How many moms went to the temple to hear the reading of Paul’s letter; having just cleaned up after a meal, told kids to get their sandals on because they were going to the temple come hell or high water, shooed the goats back out to the pasture; and then were encouraged by the words of Paul to keep on living for Christ no matter what, and to be transformed!  So many woman whose day in and day out life actually made a huge impact on the kingdom, because they were just doing the Middlemarch.  This is a life changing shift in thinking for me, a miracle as it were.  I am so thankful to the Lord for freeing me up to see and giving me a front row seat to watch the miracles happening in my Middlemarch.

I Specifically Told You Not to Have the Baby While I Was at My Family Reunion

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People just don’t listen when I tell them things.  The night we landed, got settled and went to bed in Michigan I got the call letting me know that sweet Laycie was being induced due to preeclampsia and baby Kohen was on the way, eventhough the last thing I said to her before we went to the airport was, “Do not have that baby while I am gone!” Can I tell what it does to a total control freak to know all of this is going on outside my reach?  Did I check to see if there were any flights home asap? YES!  Did I weigh how mad my family would be if I was a no-show? YES! In the end I couldn’t leave and baby Kohen came into the world without my being there, shocking I know.

Before I tell you how perfect Kohen is, let me give you some highlights from my trip to Michigan.  I got to see my dean from bible school.  I pray you have someone like her in your life.  We spent a fast and furious 18 hours together.  We talked about what had gone on in the last year.  We talked about what we learned about the Lord in the last year.  We talked about the future and what we hoped for.  Sometimes God knits people together because He knows they need each other and I felt that so keenly during my time with Lisa.  As my kids say, “I want to be Lisa Hatton when I grow up, I just love her!”  No truer statement has ever been said.  I love you to pieces.  Thank you for being you and allowing me to me with you.  And yes, I’d love a cup of coffee with you.  We also got to run over to Ethnos 360 BI to see our old stomping ground.  It was so fun to say a quick hello to some of our professors, deans and some dear friends.

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From there the kids and I went up to Grand Rapids where we got to celebrate my Grandpa’s 85th SURPRISE birthday with the entire Berridge side of the family, save for one cousin who is stationed in England.  That is sad because he is my grandparents favorite grandchild.  But they made do with the rest of us.  Listen, we are not mad, we have all made peace with the fact that Mark is the favorite.  We are all fine.  Really we are.  We had a great time at the party.  My dad and Aunt Teri sang tunes that were my grandpa’s favorite.  My dad, my mom, aunt Teri and our friend Doug are now known as the “Reunion Band.”  I love to see my dad sing. You can just see that he loves it.  It was really cool to see. Plus they sang “You are my Sunshine,”  which is the song my grandma always sang to me, and her and I sat and sang it together.  You have no idea how glad I was to surprise them with our visit because I am pretty sure she wrote me off since we didn’t visit this summer.  I could not tell her that we were coming to surprise them obviously, so I had to live through 5 months of comments like, “Well I hope I live long enough to see those kids of yours again someday.”  Ouch, Yes you will Grandma, and we took you to Olga’s for lunch so now we are all square.

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The day after the Birthday party we had “Berridge Day.”  What is that you may ask?  Well is was a day that included The Kid Olympics, bowling, and a Wine Tasting Contest.  It was so much fun unless you talked during the Kid Olympics game explanation, then you got on the wrong side of Aunt Teri.  As I watched Aunt Teri carry out the Kid Olympics I was warmed in my heart because I thought, “Oh, I am just like her.  I come from a powerful long line of managing organizer Type A personalities.  We will keep this family together.”  The fact that we have pictures at all from the party or Berridge day is all down to Aunt Teri’s planning.  Hats off to you Aunt Teri, you had to do a lot of wrangling but the weekend was a success.  The best part was getting to taste wine and talk to my cousins, many of whom I have not seen in years, and holding all the babies.  Everyone had a baby but me because mine was being born in Texas.


Oh, baby Kohen.  I don’t even have the words.  What a blessing he has been to us.  Laycie has blown us away with how she has handled motherhood.  I have to say, no part of this has been what I would call “easy” for her.  She has had to navigate lots of drama, disappointment, scary things like your baby being in the NICU, leaving the hospital without your baby, going back to the hospital to bond with your baby, and through it all she just keeps going forward.  He’s almost a week old and they are finally settled in here at the house together and we could not be more excited for them to land here.  And let’s be honest, God knew what He was doing keeping me 1700 miles away.  I would have been a total wreck with worry about Laycie and the baby if I was here and having to live through all of that in real-time.  It was bad enough having to call Ashley 47 times an hour asking, “What is happening now?”  The first picture is Ashley and Jesse bringing the carseat up to the hospital…..guess who is absent from that picture? (me) The second is Ashley holding Kohen’s hand in the NICU sent to me with caption….”He said I am already his favorite.”  NOPE!


Baby Kohen has all the Griffith’s at his beck and call.  He squeaks we all say, “AWWW!”  He cries and we all rush to his side.  Sydney has begged me to stay home from school so she can soak him up.  Brock is mildly amused by him, but honestly a little scared of how tiny he is.  Jesse is talking in baby voices and cooing all the time.  He looks for reasons to “work from home.” And me?  Oh, I’m fine.  I am totally cool, totally nonplussed.  I can take him or leave him.  And if you believe that I have some ocean front property in Arizona I will sell you.  There is no end to my joy of having this baby here.  Yeah, I have returned no phone calls,  I have something like 300 emails to get to, I don’t care.  Right now he is sitting right next to me because he kept his mama up all night and we thought she should go nap and leave us alone.  So thankful to have a baby in this house again.  As baby’s go, this one is PERFECT!

We Were Fine Until I Had to Move My Stuff...

The big news around here is that the Griffith’s have a new roommate.  Meet Laycie.

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She reached out to my friend Ashley’s ministry, Selah Creek, because she needed a place to stay.  Ashley send out the call for help.  In a way that only God does things, after I saw Ashley’s post about it, the thought of Laycie moving in here would not leave me or Jesse alone.  One day Jesse just said, “Sarah, I think she needs to move in here.” I agreed.  To be honest the part that really took a hold of my heart is that Laycie is going to have a baby.  I love the thought of having a baby in the house again because if you know me at all you know how I love babies!  Sydney and Brock also love babies so when we told them that Laycie might move in, they were so excited.

We arranged to all meet so we could see if this would work.  I mean I can’t imagine someone not being in love with how I run my house or how I cook or how I do life, but stranger things have happened.  (Just for context think of the term “bossy pants”)  I was also worried that I would meet Laycie and it would all be wrong.  Let us not forget that I lived in a building for two years with a bunch of 20 year olds.  I knew what I was potentially getting myself into, and all the bad stuff that sometimes accompanies 20 year olds.

But then we met her.  Oh my gosh, not to be weird but I fell in love with her.  Standing before me was this bright young woman who just wanted to do right by her sweet baby.  She was willing to do what we asked her to do and gushed over how excited she was that the baby would have his own space.  I was just so blown away at how she faced what was before her, moving in with complete strangers, with a positve outlook.  She was open and honest when we asked questions.  Her confidence is impressive and you get the feeling that no matter what comes her way she is going to work it out.  She has a smile that is infectious.  You just want to love on her.  Plus she is bringing a baby into the world that will live at my house.  I can think of no one I like more right now.  To quote Jesse, “We were unsure of saying yes to having her move in until we met her, then it was a no brainer.  She is supposed to be here with us.”

The kids are doing great with it too.  You can see Sydney look at Laycie with that sweet look of awe.  Like she realizes, “Oh girl, you have gone before me into the halls of high school, share your knowledge of how to survive.”  And Syd and I have a thing for babies, so that won her over.  Other than the fact that Laycie does not share Brock’s affinity for Cinnamon Toaster Strudel, he is totally cool with her too.  Laycie brought Cinnamon Roll Dessert Pizza home a few days ago there by cementing their devotion to her because their mother would never get that for them.

Allow me to back up a bit, to before she moved in.  We were all so excited and everyone was helping to make preparations.  I got right to work.  This is where I can let my Type A, organized, label making, energized self free to run.  And I was fine, really I was.  I sorted and moved and cleaned out the stuff the was in the two rooms we were giving to Laycie.  I was even fine when the army of helpers came to move furniture from one place to another.  However, when it was all said and done and I walked into my bedroom–which was the place I decided to store all the stuff I moved out of the two bedrooms–I nearly fainted.  There was so much crap to orgainzed and get rid of and move to new locations.  I’m not sure if I have made it clear on this blog that I LIKE A CLEAN AND ORGAINZED HOUSE.  So it was all fun and games until I actually had to make room for Laycie and the baby to move in.

I see God at work here.  I hope you do too.  It is so easy to say YES when God puts something on my heart.  It makes so much sense to say YES and make people happy and feel like I am doing something good.  The learning comes when my YES actually costs me something and I have to make room for my YES.  When I actually have to say no to myself so I can follow through on my YES, I see just exactly how my flesh does not want to have any restrictions or denials.  I am so keenly aware of the struggle Paul talks about in Romans.  He says, (I’ll paraphrase), “I want to do what is right but as soon as I want do right, my flesh talks me out of it.”  I can feel that.  I am so glad to report that I fought that battle and won.  My room is back to normal and all it took was some “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” to keep me laughing through it all.

And another thing, as my grandpa would say, I have learned about making room for people that God brings you to love.  You have to make room physically, but also mentally and spiritually.  Just like God made room for us to be his adopted children sharing Christ’s inheiratance,  I have to make room to love His people.  So this ties into the “Oh hell no,”  post from last week.  I have had to say no to things so I can make room to love Laycie.  I had to clear out my junk so she had space to make herself at home here and I had to clear out time so I can be here for her if she needs me.  And I may have already made her promise that I get some baby time.  If I had said yes to all the things that come my way I would not have time for my family let alone a new person living with us.

No doubt that more blog post will come out of our new adventure.  I can’t wait to hold the baby.  I love watching Laycie set up his room.  Gosh, as a mama it takes you right back to when you were going to be a mom for the first time.   I remember not feeling ready to have the baby until the nursery was set up.  We would covet your prayers for our new journey.  No doubt we will get on each others nerves, and have to wade through conflict (my favorite! said me never!).

Even with all that, these lyrics come to mind:

And through it all, through it all, My eyes are on You, And through it all, through it all, It is well, And through it all, through it all, My eyes are on You, And it is well with me.

He started this journey, and made it all happen and He will walk us through this.  It is well.

Oh Hell No!

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

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

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

DO more

BE more

GET more

HAVE more

BE SEEN more

BE more POPULAR

GET YOUR KIDS IN more THINGS

MAKE YOUR KIDS more

STRIVE more

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

OH HELL NO!!!!

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

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

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

FAME! I wanna live forever!!

Do you remember the song "Fame?"  The lyrics go like this.....

I feel it comin' together
People will see me and cry, fame
I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame, fame
I'm gonna live forever
Baby, remember my name
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Remember, remember, remember, remember

Irene Cara spoke to baby Sarah's heart in the 80's.  Fame and the also popular theme song to Flashdance, "What a feeling!" were theme songs to my life.  Title tracks, that lead me to create plays, performances and sing for anyone that would sit still long enough to watch me.  Being in front of a crowd was the best thing in the world to baby Sarah.  I wanted to light up the sky like a flame!

To change gears a bit, did you ever have God teach you something that you did not want to admit to people because it made you look really foolish and bad? No, just me?  It does not help that one of my spiritual gifts is messing up so bad that it cannot be ignored or swept under the rug.  What can I say, I am larger than life, I wanna light up the sky like a flame!  Also it is embarrassing to admit but I seem to be the last to know about my screw ups.  Like, every one saw it coming but me.  It's just a shot in the dark here but maybe that is because I am too busy worrying about people remembering my name?  So join me on this tale of woe, as I explain to you what God taught me about fame.

God is smart.  He knew that He had to get me interested in church enough to keep me coming back so eventually I would hear the gospel and be saved.  I am super glad He woo's each of us in the exact perfect way to get our attention.  Mine was seeing the worship team at church for the first time.  I never knew God was ok with bands, this was a revelation!  My friend Autumn invited me to church and was on the worship team.  I remember distinctly baby Sarah standing up and shouting inside me, "Fame!  I wanna live forever!"  when I saw the microphones, instruments and band members.  A thought was born in my mind, "I wonder if they would let me sing?"  I wasn't even a believer yet!  But that thought took hold.  I did keep going to church and did eventually get saved a month later.  It saved my life, literally.

I did join the worship team.  Baby Christian Sarah was on fire for the Lord.  I wanted to be in everything to do with God.  I wanted more and more of Him.  Baby Christian Sarah and Baby Fame Sarah joined hands and skipped all the way to the first worship set I got to lead.  It was the best thing in the world.  I found something that really gave me life in a time when things were falling apart. (See blog post on marriage)  However, something started to happen inside of me.  Baby Christian Sarah loved singing praises to the Lord no matter what.  Baby Fame Sarah wanted more of the spotlight for herself, and the war between the new Sarah and the old Sarah was started.

If I have duped you into believing I am a perfect christian please read no further because you opinion of me will be dashed.  The point of this blog is to be a real Christian trying to follow Christ and to record what He is doing in my life. This lesson changed the trajectory of my life, so this was a big thing for me.

Here's what started to happen.  I would lead worship, and when the set was over I expected people to say did a great job.  If they didn't I was wounded.  The schedule would come out and I would be angry that I was only leading once a month.  How could people remember my name if they only saw me once a month?  I would be jealous of other female singers if I thought they were better than me.  I would be angry with the worship pastor for not letting me lead a song.  I would ask my husband if he could hear me to be sure that my microphone was turned up enough.  I would move heaven and earth and put my family aside to say yes to a worship gig.  Basically, I had to be up there, I had to be heard, I had to have the spotlight.

Here is where the conflict happens.  Do you see that list above.  It can be broken down to  these simple fruits of the flesh:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sydney, You Are the Coolest 14 Year Old I Know.

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Dear Sydney,

How are you 14 years old today?  It really is shocking at how fast time goes by us.  I can still remember the way it felt when you fell asleep on my shoulder when you were a baby.  I can remember vividly the fist time you ate a chicken taco, and the joy that washed over your face when you realized there was something beyond baby food.  I remember how you walked into pre-school like you owned the place, threw a passing glance over your shoulder at me and started to play.  I also remember the deepest, fiercest love bubble out of my heart when I saw your face for the first time.

For sure you have had to ride a roller coaster in your short time hear on earth.  I often wish I could have shielded you from the pain you felt when me and daddy split up, or from all the times you had to witness me having a crazy panic attack.  But then I see how real the Lord is to you and I am reminded that for all the pain you felt you also got to feel the restoration.  You got to see God restore me and daddy’s relationship right before your eyes.  You have also gotten to witness a very imperfect mom try to do life in a way that honors God, and not in a way that causes everyone to run and hide from her.  And those miracles that happened right within our walls Sydney? Those are special from God just for you.  And that is why He is so real to you.  If you had to feel some pain to get there, I am ok with that.  (And by ok, I mean not ok, wishing I could wash you memory of all the boneheaded things I have done, and changing your memories to include a mother that was perfect, but remember I’m still a work in process.)

I absolutely love that you have been saying all week, “I can’t wait to read my birthday blog post.”  Do you have any idea how happy that makes me?  I love that our family culture now includes this blog.  So, your birthday post is going to be about how cool you are.  You know when I tell you that you are the coolest person I know and you say, “No, I’m not, I am not cool at all…”  Well I am about to prove you wrong today.  The following is a list I have compiled over the last month of things that make you the coolest person I know.  And listen, I have been the coolest person I know for quite sometime so the fact that you unseated me is quit a feat, and makes you super cool.  Ready?

  1.  You are cool because you fight for Daddy and I to go on a date night.  I love that when you sense me and daddy getting annoyed with each other you stop everything and tell us to go out together.  You are gift to us, because I don’t know any kids that fight for their parents marriage like you do.  You are fierce.

  2. You are cool because you listen to 70’s rock.  I loved the look on your guitar teachers face when you told him that is what you wanted to learn to play.  You are the real deal in a world of fake music, and cheap hooks.

  3. You are cool because you learned the Hamilton sound track in 30 days.  A person that loves 70’s rock and the Hamilton sound track is so cool!

  4. You are cool because when you love something you are all in.  There is no “on the fence” with you.  That is legit because God will use that to His advantage.

  5. You are cool because your Birkenstock, t-shirt, short’s game is on point, on fleek, 2 legit to quit.  In a world of exposed butts, you choose to keep yours under wraps.  Thats good because no dude worth having wants his girl walking around with her butt hanging out of her shorts.

  6. You are cool because you know where your worth comes from.  You know it is not your cup size or pants size, it is because you were created by the God Himself, special for this day and age.

  7. You are cool because you will do what it takes to share your faith with your friends.

  8. You are cool because you love animals.

  9. You are cool because you already know you are going to parlay your love of animals in to a job.

  10. You are cool because you already know how you are going to use your job as a vet to help people.

  11. You are cool because in a world of Texas Tech Grads, you boldly declare that you are going to vet school at A&M.  (I will never wear maroon, no matter how cool you are.)

  12. You are a cool friend.  I will never forget the day you got in the car after tennis tryouts and said, “It went fine, but I didn’t get a chance to show off my skills because I wanted to help my friend who has never played tennis do well.”  I was all, “WTHECK? This is your chance to make the team, why would you do that?”  Then God pointed out to me that you were acting more Godly in that moment than I was.  Thanks for that lesson in how to be a cool friend.

  13. You are cool because you love Chick fil a.  You are totally devoted and loyal.  I hope you work there so you can support your habit of eating there all three meals a day.

  14. You are the coolest student I know.  The way you don’t love the school aspect of school but you buckle down and get your stuff done resulting in straight A’s is the coolest.  You have a fierce endurance that the Lord will use because guess what?  Life is about doing things you don’t really want to do.

14 year old girl, we are so lucky to call you ours.  You are my favorite part of the day.  I love to watch you and see you grow.  I happen to think you are absolutely perfect just the way you are.  As you enter your high school years the world will encourage you to conform and live for the low lying fruit.  Don’t go there girl.  You have so much more to offer.  And as our friend Christy Nockles says:

Hey there beautiful one, you there shining with glory

Would you let your heart hear, if I sang about you

Did you know that every fairy tale you love

They have borrowed your story

Of a maiden so lovely, and a hero so true

 

It’s just that this world is hollow

And it wants to swallow

Any memory of who you really are

Always remember to never forget

When you look in the mirror, the answer is yes

Yes you are pure as gold, yes you are beautiful

So always remember to never forget

Today we gave you your birthday present and I will never get tired of watching this video…….






 

And also this one of you telling your BFF that she is going with us to Hamilton….

 

 

Sydney you are the coolest person I know.  I just love you to pieces.  I love that you are excited to go to see Hamilton but even more excited that Lexi gets to go with us.  You have such a sweet and kind heart.  I hope when life kicks you around you come back to this list and remember how cool you are.  I am your biggest fan!

Love, mom. (and dad helped too.)

Fruit of the Flesh or Fruit of the Spirit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Anniversary!! Can We Go to the City Dump?

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Well 16 years of marriage looks like this:  We got up yesterday morning and gave each other a good morning kiss, wished each other a happy anniversary, had some coffee and then loaded up our trailer full of farm trash and headed to the dump.

Have you ever been to dump?  Don’t laugh at me but I have never been to a real live operating dump.  Did you know that archeologists look for the city dump first and foremost when they discover a new dig site?  They say it is because you can tell so much about a culture based on their trash.  This also means that since the dawn of time we as humans knew that you had to have a separate place to put your trash.  Do you know why?  Because trash is gross.  I have a whole new respect for our trash disposal system.  I also understand why trash “strikes” are so debilitating for city’s.  I’m like, “Dudes of the city counsel, pay them whatever they want because they have the power to set us into a dirty anarchy.”

On my anniversary every year I always reflect on where we have come from and I am always so thankful that we made it another year and we didn’t give up.  We almost did give up and only because Jesus got a hold of our hearts, are we still married.  As we drove to the dump it occurred to me that marriage maintenance is like a trip to the dump.  There is a-lot of messy stinky garbage that we bring into our marriages and if you don’t take it to the dump it stays in your house and festers and stinks everything up until you can’t stand the smell anymore and you want out.

I will say this, someone who has been married 16 years has no business giving marriage advice to anyone because 16 years still falls under that, “we are still working out the right way to put the toilet paper on the holder, which way is the right way to load the dishwasher, and who is going to get the mail everyday.”  Also I make a point to never make declarations of “Here is how to make a marriage work” because that crap will come back and bite you in the butt faster than anything else!  Me saying “To make a marriage work you have to respect your husband,” equals me coming home to find my husband cutting hole in the drywall with his Dremel Tool to test my resolve to respect him.  No thanks.  But I did have some thoughts about stuff I had to take the dump so they would not stink up my marriage.

  1. Take your expectations to the dump:  I expect him to treat me like a Disney prince treats a Disney princess.  I expect him to know that he hurt my feelings by not knowing I expect him to be home for dinner at 6.  I expect him to to know the exact right thing to say every single time I ask him a question.  Expectations are the root of most of my disappointment.  Assumptions and expectations are not what a good marriage is built on.  Communication is what good marriages needs.  If I have the thought, “How do you not know that I wanted you to do that?”  I know I have an expectation that needs to go to the dump.

  2. Take talking bad about your husband to other women to the dump:  This is the breeding ground for critical and disrespectful feelings toward your husband.   Don’t join in when women start ripping their husbands apart.  Don’t say “I just have to vent.”  Take that crap to the dump.  Those words will sit with you and fester and you will start to notice all the things that drive you nuts about your man.  If you need help, or to talk through something do it with a woman who will point you toward Jesus, not man hating.

  3. Don’t even think about divorce, take that word to the dump:  I let this word creep in a few years ago and guess what happened?  I finally got so mad a Jesse that I kicked him out.  Thankfully God restored our marriage and we got back together.  That word will create a space in your mind that is an escape hatch.  Marriage is no joke and hard work but it is worth it to the end, don’t hit eject.  Get that word out of your house.  I thank God everyday for the fact that I didn’t follow through with my divorce.  I would have missed this amazing guy that I am married to now.  God can fix it, I promised.

  4. Giving only “whats left” to your husband? Take that to the dump:  You know what was crazy in my marriage?  When I started putting Jesse before the kids, friends and hobbies I found out I actually really liked him.  When I didn’t have time for him he became a guy who lived in my room with me and didn’t put the toilet paper on the holder the right way.  When I started working on making sure he knew I preferred him to everything else he showed up for our relationship.  When he knew I really needed him he started to care about what was going on with finances, house stuff, kid stuff.  When I put the kids back in their rightful place below him, they started to respect him too.  It’s a beautiful thing.  He should get my best, not my left overs.  Remember, kids will leave, husbands are for life.

It is really so worth all the hard work.  I am so much more in love with Jesse today than I was the first day of our honeymoon.  I think on July 21 st, 16 years ago I was mad at him because all he wanted to do was sleep in.  I was like “who sleeps in?  You have to break into the day and grab ahold life it’s already 5:30 am!”  Well guess who was sleeping in on this July 21st, that’s right Jesse.  It turns out people do sleep in.  Being married to a morning person was one of those expectations that had to go to the dump.

All joking aside though, Happy Anniversary Jes.  I’m so glad we are still together.  I love our life and our marriage.  You are my perfect guy.  I’m proud of you and proud to be your wife.  You are exactly the right person for me.  I thank God for you.

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The Chicken Run

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

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

 

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

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

My thoughts are like the chicken run.

My plans are like the chicken run.

My comfort zone is the chicken run.

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

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

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

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

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

Sojourn Farm: Where Dinosaurs Still Roam the Earth

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WHAT THE HELL??? Did you know this was a real thing?  This is an alligator snapping turtle.  I believe they originate in HELL!!! This type of turtle got one of our sweet ducks this week.  How do I know it was this resident of Hell that got her?  Because I saw the jerk eating her!!!  It was all very traumatic and I am so sad that our female duck was eaten.

When I saw her laying out in the water I knew it was bad.  Mostly because our ducks don’t go in the pond.  They are love to stand on the shore line and root around in the mud for bugs.  Downton never goes in the water and Cora only goes deep enough to float. They are more into pools and water troughs and things they can see the bottom of.  I made Sydney row out in a kayak and retrieve her body.  Somebody asked me yesterday, “You made Sydney row out there knowing that turtle was in there?”  My answer is, “Yes, yes I did.”  Don’t judge my parenting.  The ducks are my favorite animals and I was not going to leave Cora out there for that dinosaur to eat all day long at his leisure.  It’s not like I made Sydney swim out to get her body.  She had a very sturdy kayak from Costco.  We are not dealing with JAWS here.  As she paddled out I literally thought to myself, “I have my Dave Ramsey Emergency Account fully funded and I will spend every dime of that to save her if there is any chance.”  Well, God heard that and when Sydney finally made it to shore it was clear that there was no chance.  That bastard turtle reached out of the water and snapped her neck.  At least she didn’t suffer but I have a message for the turtle…..

Change “Mandarin” to “Alligator Snapping Turtle”






And another one….. Change “my father” to “my sweet Cora.”


 

I don’t know what Jurassic Park movie you escaped from but your time is up dude.  I have friends with guns, dynamite and one friend that said she would watch the pond from a dear stand…the point is we are coming for you.  Did you enjoy your Duck a la’orange because that was your last meal.

Anyway, the fall out from this loss was one very sad little buddy who had lost his wife.  We comforted him with Kale and a swim in the water trough.  I was ready to hope in the car and drive to Tyler to pick up some ducklings I found on Craig’s List so he would not be lonely.  Jesse put the kabash on that with the point of, “Don’t you think we need to get rid of that turtle first?  I mean otherwise we are just feeding it.”  Right, good point.  And this is why the Lord put us together.  It broke my heart to see him all alone in his little duck hut eating bugs.  I know that animals don’t feel things like us.  I was ready to walk out of Jurassic World when they animated the dinosaur to look like he had a tear rolling down his face.  (Come on!  Reptiles have to lick their eyeballs to keep them moist!)  But when I saw Downton out there calling for her my heart broke.  Also I was so sad that we wouldn’t have anymore duck eggs.  My whole Egg slogan is “Sojourn Farm Fresh Eggs: Every Dozen includes a luck duck egg.” (Credit to my dad for that slogan)  Now we would have to start all over again.

But then, the morning after her death, there was a duck egg in the duck hut!  Now, I had not had any coffee yet so I wasn’t thinking clearly, but my mind went to, “Oh my gosh, she is back from the dead!”  Then I went to, “Oh I bet its a rogue chicken egg.”  I asked Syd if there were any chickens in the Duck Hut when she fed, and she said no.  So then I started to ponder everything I knew about my Jumbo Pekin Male Duck named Downton…..

Side bar, I have a Batchelor’s of science in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Animal Science from Texas Tech University.  I took two poultry classes.  I had to sex poultry in that class.  So why I did not actually check Downton’s sex, is beyond me.  All I can say is that he acted like a dude, he was dude sized and I caught him “on top” of her twice.  Now if living in this day and age has taught me anything it’s that you cannot assume someones gender by the traditional context clues.  Here I was gender profiling Downton.

So as it turns out, Downton is just a bossy, butch, big-boned lady who likes to assert her dominance by jumping on other ducks.  Sydney looked up a video on how to sex Pekin’s just to be doublely sure.  So now our slogan still works because Downtinina is still laying an egg everyday.  I have apologized profusely for congratulating Cora on here egg laying ability this whole time when it was Downinique the whole time!  She also has recovered from losing her “friend.”  She still goes down the shore of the pond like her and Cora use to do, but Downanna has never gone in the water.  We use to tease her about that, turns out she knew something we did know.  We are working on feminizing her name.  The problem is she already comes to Downton.  So that is a whole mess, but I don’t know how to fix it yet.

We are really sad to lose Cora.  And we really are going to have to do something about that dinosaur because I don’t want him getting our swimming Corgi.  Not sure what the plan is for sure, but that pond eco system has gone unchecked long enough.  If we have learned anything from the Jurassic movies it’s that messing with nature is always a good idea.  I’m sure there will be more blogs posts about it.  For now, we are just thrilled that we still get a duck egg everyday.

We Are Officially a FARM!

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We have an EGG!!!  With the discovery of this EGG Sojourn Farm is officially a farm.  (Dad, stop calling it a petting zoo!)  Now, there was some confusion as to who this egg belongs to.  This egg came into the world amidst animal habitat confusion and many animal complaints.  Here are the facts.  This egg was found in the duck hut.  So you would think we could assume it was a duck egg.  Not so fast.  About two days before this egg showed up, the chickens claimed the duck hut as their own, the ducks claimed the back yard as their own, the big goats claimed the barn as their own, and the baby goats claimed the living room as their own, and the dogs were hiding in Sydney’s room.  The humans who live here were left to pick up the pieces.

With the discovery of the egg, I decided to try to let everyone sort this out.  But the next day things got worse.  I found two eggs in the duck hut.  Downton and I also had to chase the chickens out of the duck hut that night.  They had really started to stake a claim.  I put all my Poultry 101 class knowledge to work.  (I majored in animal science for two years, until we had to slaughter cattle I was all in.)  I figured the chickens had out grown their coup.  I don’t mean to body shame anyone here but our coup says it can fit 12 chickens.  Ah-hem, our chickens must be super-sized because they stopped fitting in the coup a few weeks ago.  We tried to make the best of it and put a roosting bench outside in their scratching pen.  The problem with chickens is that, well, they are chicken.  They are scared of everything and only feel safe at night when they are all together up off the ground.  They were telling us that they were unsatisfied with their house by taking over the duck hut. Saturday morning we set out to rectify the situation.

We took the duck hut, which is actually a dog kennel and moved it into the barn where the original chicken coup was.  We (Jesse) re-engineered the door out to the scratching pen so they could get their chubby rumps in and out easily.  Now the scratching pen is more of a vestibule at this point because they are in there long enough to yell at me in the morning to let them out.  Once free, they roam the whole property like they own the place.   They do have a scratching pen though, in case I have to keep them locked up.  I can’t imaging the chicken profanity that would cause.

We then took the original chicken coup and moved it over to the other side of the barn.  We turned it into the new duck hut.  We had to entice them with something good because they really love the back yard.  I don’t know if you are familiar with ducks but they are way more messy than dogs, so I don’t want them in the backyard around the pool.  Jesse cut a hole in the barn wall to make a way from them to have the coup and a little scratching pen.  We also had to engineer a way for Downton to keep the chickens out of his pen.  Downton totally remembers when he and the chickens lived together as chicks.  He just wanted to be friends and the chickens shunned him because of his big feet.  So now he and his wife have nothing to do with them.  We are working on loving your neighbor around here.  We also needed to keep them separated so we could solve the mystery of the eggs.

A side note on Downton and Cora.  They have a huge pond that they could live in and swim in.  When they were younger we moved them down to the water’s edge with a sub par duck enclosure.  A raccoon broke in and attacked them.  Downton defended Cora valiantly but lost a few feathers and bled like he lost a wing.  Sweet Cora must have been in the raccoon’s mouth or something because she had a huge puncture wound in her chest.  I wasn’t sure if they would survive, but they did!  The residual effect is that they do not like to be very far from the back yard.  They do not swim in the pond.  They splash around in the water hose.

Don’t ever question what kind of life the animals around here have.  I dance around all day making sure everyone is emotionally groovy.  I will not have ducks in my backyard pool area.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  I have goats in my house for goodness sake!


Now everyone’s house’s look like this…. 

 Chickens new nesting boxes.

Chickens new nesting boxes.

 Chickens roosting bars.

Chickens roosting bars.

 New duck hut.

New duck hut.

 New duck outside space.

New duck outside space.

And finally everyone is singing my praises again.  The chickens are happy as clams. (There you go Jonathan, that saying just works!)  The ducks are slightly confused but love their new house.  It is right under the night-light so it always has bugs in it.  And now the mystery of the eggs is solved…..

dun dun da….

It is a duck egg!!!  Cora is laying an egg everyday for us!  I’m trying to come up with a marketing slogan for this.  “Sojourn Farm Eggs: Every dozen includes a duck for luck!”  I don’t know, but I crack myself up coming up with stuff like this.  I’m so thrilled because this means, not only that she did not get permanently injured in her attack, but also that we might get little ducklings in the spring!  If I see her or him start sitting on a pile of eggs I will stop taking them away from her.

They are delicious!  (I had to try them first before anyone else around here because they were unsure.)

At the time of writing this we have had two random chicken eggs.  I think their little layers are just getting revved up.  The new problem is that they lay them wherever they want.  With the move they are all jacked up and confused.  Supposedly if you put ceramic eggs in the nesting boxes they will “get the point.”  I crack up thinking about what goes through a chickens mind the first time they lay an egg.  “Look what just came out of my butt?!?!?”

I just love our little farm.  I love caring for the animals, even though I complain about it.  I love learning to be flexible and thinking outside the box to fix problems.  I love learning what they need to thrive.  I love what the Lord is teaching me out here.  He is everywhere in all these little creations.  More to come on that later.  For now, just know we are officially a farm, and I’m so thrilled with it!

Happy Birthday to My Main Squeeze, An Open Letter.

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Dear Jesse,

You turned 41 years old on Monday.  I’m so thrilled to celebrate your birthday.  Don’t worry, I am not at all concerned about the fact that I married such an older man.  41 looks so good on you!  Babe, in the midst of life, and my spiritual gift of being critical of you it may come across that I am not totally over the moon in love with you, or that I don’t get on my knees everyday and thank God we are together, but trust me, I love you more everyday, and I am so thankful for you.  I decided a good way to show you how grateful I am for you would be to come up with 41 things that I love, admire, and like about you.  I added like because as I typed 41 I thought, well that is a long list I better put like just in case I run out.  Now I will warn you, some of these you may read and think, “Is that a compliment or a roast?”  In those moments I will refer you to the 101 times you have “complimented” me by saying something like, “Yeah, I love those shoes they look like something Jesus would wear,”  or “Yeah that dress looks good, it looks like a couch.”  So let’s get started:

  1.  I love the way you love Jesus.

  2. I love the way you love me, and would do anything to be sure I am not feeling any stress at all.  (I do suspect that your devotion to this is more about your well-being than mine)

  3. I love the dad you are to Brock and Sydney, they hit the dad jackpot with you!

  4. I love that you hid behind “all those are Sarah’s animals” but I find you out with the dogs, chickens, ducks and goats more than anyone else.  It says something about the tenderness of your heart that you love animals.

  5. I love that I can let you sleep in on Saturdays, make sure no one wakes you up, and with that one day of sleeping in, you are a new man.  It is your recharge for the week.

  6. I love how mad at me you were when I told you I was kidnapping you this week to take you out-of-town for your birthday.  I love that you were so mad because you did not want to miss the first Monday Man Night at church because you were the one who organized it and you wanted to be there to be sure it all went off without a hitch.  It makes me proud of you when you take ownership of stuff, it means you give a damn.

  7. I love that when you take a shirt off a hanger you hang the empty hangers with all the other empty hangers in your closet.  This makes if very easy for me to put your clothes away.

  8. I love that you love cars, all cars; remote, muscle, fast n furious type, trucks and minivans.  But don’t every try to buy me a minivan again.  Lara Croft Tomb Raider does not drive a minivan.

  9. I love that your car is always so clean but your desk looks like the zombie apocalypse went by.

  10. I love how I have learned that it takes you two hours to wake up.  I now know that I can talk to you after 8AM and you will be sweet Jesse, before that you are jerk Jesse.

  11. I love how you thanked me the other day for asking the waiter to sit us outside because we needed to be away from the busy, crowded, kid filled restaurant.  I got your back babe, I know you don’t do crowds, I will protect your introverted soul.

  12. I love that you told me this birthday get away was your perfect birthday party.  Just you and me, and the quiet, with no schedule.  (Just a side note, that is not my perfect birthday please refer to Ashley, Kelly and Cheryl for more info)

  13. I love watching you fight for structure in your life.

  14. I love watching you try to figure out how to love the Lord, serve in ministry and find time to work on cars, fix up your shop and build and R/C track.

  15. I love that you ask yourself 100 questions before taking a step forward.  I will admit that I did not use to love this about you, but in the years we have been living life together I see how your meticulous planning has saved us from many train wrecks.

  16. I love how you approach money, budgets and family business.  You do it with ease because you know it all comes from God anyway.

  17. I love that saving money is more fun to you than going to Groovy’s and getting a new Umgee shirt.  I love that for you, but not so much for me.

  18. I love that you are always in the moment, always.

  19. I love that you never tell me no, but you say, “Did we budget for that?” or “Lets sit down and plan out how we would do that.”  These are also things I did not love about you for a while but now I see the value in them.

  20. I love that no matter the situation, the crisis, the problem you have a gadget in your backpack specifically for that problem.

  21. I love the mystery that is your backpack.  Is it Marry Poppins’ carpet bag or is it Pandora’s box.  I don’t know.  All I know is that it rides in the car with you buckled in like a baby.

  22. I love that you are always researching how to do things on You Tube, especially when you could have your own You Tube channel on how to do things.

  23. I love that when you got the job of Building Maintenance Man at church you literally came alive.

  24. I love your heart for our church.

  25. I love that you make sure everything is all set up and ready so that people have the best church experience they can have.  Example: Filling in the gap in the worship center doors so that the sound from the lobby doesn’t interfere with service.

  26. I love that you are so worried about Doug being hot on Sunday that you actually go up there on Saturday and early Sunday morning to make sure the thermostats are set.

  27. I love that it drives you crazy that you can’t get the church cold enough for 11:30 service.  It means you give a damn.  I love that you care.

  28. I love the way you talk to service guys on the phone.  You are so kind and caring even-though I am sitting next to you yelling, “NO IT CANNOT WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW TELL THEM TO GET THEIR ASS HERE NOW.”  That is most likely why people prefer to deal with you and not me.  Whatever, I have other gifts.

  29. I love the way you care about maintaining our house.  It reminds me of Papa Johnny.

  30. I love that you told me the other day, “Doug is going to have to bury me in the church because I am never leaving Cornerstone.  I don’t care if I have a job there or not, I’m still working there.”  I love that you love our church that much.

  31. I love that I got this text from Ashley after VBS:

    “Btw your husband was a total gift to me today too. He literally pushed a broom and took out trash all day. I love the way he serves! He just shows up and fills holes. Such a gift to me. Make sure he knows that. Didn’t know if that would be weird for me to tell him ”

  32. I love that you will do any job for any one even if it is taking out the trash.

  33. I love that you come home all the time and say, “Hey I heard _______ talking and he needs money to go on his mission trip, I think we should give it to him, where is the check book,” or “I was talking to _________ today and they need a car but I don’t want them to go into debt, lets help them out.”  You have become the most generous person I know.

  34. I love that you come from a banking family and you hate debt–YOU ARE SUCH A REBEL!!!

  35. I love that we share a love for all things Dave Ramsey.

  36. I love how you would pour yourself out to get people out of debt.

  37. I love how you have this ability to get people to do stuff without them even knowing you were insisting they do it.

  38. I love how much you love the people who come to our Dave Ramsey Classes.

  39. I secretly love that you tell me you are not scared of me anymore.  I love that you stand up to me.  Just don’t let’s get carried away with all that.

  40. I love that we share a love of all things Texas Tech and that you let me devote a whole room to Tech in our house.  Lord please be with the Red Raiders today as they play in the College World Series.  (And please be with the football team this year, cuz where were you last year?)

  41. I love you, just you.  Everything you are, all your idiosyncrasies, your introvertedness, your love of beef jerky, your love of Weird Al Yankovic, your love of the 80’s, your love of 80’s hair bands, and your love of  meaningless trivia.  I love all of it.  I’m so grateful you are mine.

Looky there, 41 things I love about you and I didn’t have to use “like” at all.  I love you Jesse Griffith, you are my favorite part of the day.  I wish you could see yourself through my eyes because you would be so impressed with yourself.  You have no reason to doubt yourself or to question yourself.  You are the bomb. com to me.  I love you babe.  Happy Birthday!!

Love from our much younger wife,

Sarah

Well, It's Twins!

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Introducing Cumulonimbus and Altostratus.  Nimba, the white one, and Alta, the dark one, for short.  They are twin two-week old Nigerian dwarf X Pygmy goats.  To say they have over taken our lives around here would be exactly accurate.  We are drunk on baby goats up in here.  They have to be bottle fed, take naps, and are living in our laundry room unless they are outside in the play pen. 

There just is nothing like these little things. So why do we have these cutie pie little twins?  I’ll tell you!  Sydney got all A honor roll and I was trying to come up with a good celebration gift for her.  Also Jesse’s birthday is on June 18th and I needed a gift for him.  Now let me be honest.  I have been accused by my best friend that possibly gifting Jesse with a pygmy goat would fall under the “I wanted a pygmy goat and so I got you one for your birthday,” category.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am just the best gift giver ever.  Jesse loves his goat.  (For all of you Jesse lovers out there, I did get him something else and I am taking him on a trip so shut up he is fine.)  These little cuties were born on Saturday, June 2nd.  I could have brought them home that week but I knew if Sydney saw them before she left for summer camp she would not go to summer camp.  She got home yesterday and we surprised her.  She was surprised to say the least and she has not left them alone since she got home except when we made her go to bed last night.

I am having flash backs to when I had my human babies.  My freezer is full of (goat)milk, there are bottle warmers on the counter and bottles in the dish drainer.  They eat on a schedule just like human babies and when they get hungry they go hunting for nipples.  They also make the cutest sounds.  It is too hot for them to be outside all the time so they take breaks in the dog crate I have in the laundry room.  However, they will be wondering around the house in no time at all because we got doggie diapers for them last night.  We have become “those” goat people.  (*update: in the midst of writing this blog the doggie diapers got put on the goats.  Because of certian anatomical differances that I will not take the time to explain, the diapers do not work for goats.  Sydney is lamenting this fact and is currently searching for information on goat diapers.  The babies are in the laundry room until then.)

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But also in all this cuteness I am reminded of our Good, Good Father.  In His word he compares us with sheep.  Now I’ll be honest, I don’t see much difference between sheep and goats.  There is a diffrence because at Tractor Supply there is milk replacer for lambs and a totally different bag of mild replacer for kids.  I don’t think the difference is big enough not to make the leap that sheep and goats act the same way.  So just for illustration sake lets say they are the same.  God compares us to sheep and says that he will leave the 99 in the heard to find the one that is lost.  He runs us down to bring us back to the safety of His herd.  He also calls Himself the Gentle Shepard that tends to the flock.  He says He is the Watchmen that stays at the gate protecting the herd. All these things come to life for me as I care for these little girls.  They are weak and helpless just like me.  Without me caring for them and feeding them they would die.  It’s the same predicament I am in without Jesus.

John 10: 7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

8“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

9“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

 11“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

12“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

13“He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

14“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

15even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

16“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock withone shepherd.

17“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

18“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. Print.

Really I sit in a position right now where I am just so grateful to God that we have property where we can keep goats.  Mostly because it causes this above portion of scripture to come alive for me.  Part of me loves to call myself a shepherd because it helps me identify with a small part of who Jesus is.  But as I watch and interact with these little cuties I see how uphill Jesus’ battle is to keep me focused on Him.  They are such “know it all’s” and “I want to jump up on that dangerous thing,” kind of animals.  And guess what? I do the same stupid kind of goat things.  Jesus is powerful enough to save me from myself.  I am only powerful enough to manage the carnage, and hope they don’t jump out of their play pen.  Thank you Jesus for always keeping me in the fold and leading me to greener pastures.  I love you Lord.


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Prepare to be inundated with pictures of these cuties.  This is what summer 2018 will revolve around!  I am sure there will be many “lessons from the baby goats!”

I survived May...almost.

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

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

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

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

THE END

BUT NOT REALLY…..

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

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

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

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

I can't think of anything to write about.

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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May—a.k.a. The Mom Olympics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons From Kindergarten Sunday School

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

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

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

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


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

Genesis 3: 1-7

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

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

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

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

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


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

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

Romans 8:38 

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

Romans 5:5 

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

Romans 5:8 

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

John 3:16 

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

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

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

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

Girl's Trip 2018, Yes and Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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