Saturday, February 25, 2017

Listening .....and then obedience

Sometimes it feels like God is far away.

It feels like things don't change and your heart still gets trampled the same way and your prayers are unanswered and life is hard.  I have felt that for a season in some areas in my life.

I decided to take this January as a month to be still.  To get quiet with God and let Him stir up my heart a bit.  (I am one who can go through the motions and not be listening....more like petitioning God and then moving on, not waiting or giving Him a chance to actually participate in our relationship sadly, and then wonder why he is feeling far away.)

As I sat with my Abba He poured in and loved me well.  He showed me the areas that I still was trying to negotiate my obedience, idols that I had set up, mostly my comfort, security and pride.  I felt Him calling me into unknown again, a place where He shows me more of who He is while I hang on and trust bc I don't know what the end of this path is. And to be honest, I still didn't want to follow, not because he hasn't proven himself faithful before, but because I didn't want to lose position and standing in people's eyes, because I know where and what to expect right now, because it is hard work to obediently look at my baggage and let God help me sort through it.

I just got home from Uganda.  Going on this trip for me was less about calling and more about an adventure, and chance to connect with a friend and a chance to serve alongside friends, but God's grace uses even a my mixed motivations to show up.   The retreat we served at, a place for us to bless others, turned into a blessing for me. A place of God showing up  through the fact that I was completely operating out of my weakness (therefore his strength) and through the stories and faith of the people I got the privilege to meet.  These people said yes to obedience and the cost was often so much greater than people's opinion of them or their pride.  Their lives are surrendered to God's next whisper to them.   So many times I listened to stories of their obedience and was moved to tears. But here's the thing: it turns out that people are people everywhere, in the US and Africa. They have the same exact struggles we do: worry, doubts, conflict in family and friendship, God feeling far away.....I also got the privilege of hearing these stories.  And through it all, on both sides of the globe, we serve the same big God who is singing over us a love song....a song that invites us to know His delight in us despite our struggle. He invites us to receive that love and then to give it away because He won't run out!

So now I am home wrestling in the middle of the night with what I am going to do with everything I have learned.  We get a short window here on earth....and am I going to use it to be comfortable or am I going to use it to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding?  God is so much more than my small understanding of Him and by saying yes to a passionate pursuit of Him whatever that may mean, may make me uncomfortable .....may make me different, may feel scary, but He is a God who invites me in with an offering of more love than I can imagine, grace beyond my wildest dreams, faithfulness to keep pursuing me even in my selfish wandering, Jesus...he invites me in with his son Jesus who made a way for me to know him more and more.

So I will not only listen, I will trust and obey and step into an unknown that God knows everything about already and look forward to what He is going to do.  Join me and remind me fellow travelers on the days I say this is lean in and keep trusting that God wants me to believe He is who He says He is and not my limited understanding of Him so far.

This prayer was one that the Holy Spirit used to stir up my complacent heart.  As I read it, I knew that I wasn't living completely surrendered.....

The Covenant Prayer by John Wesley

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to do what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
Let the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.


......may it continually be my prayer for days and years to come.

Friday, November 7, 2014


"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you will call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior."

The song I have sung and meant about 743.5 times (I am sure it was interrupted by littles a few times).   God has been leading me out to the waters and asking me to walk further than ankle deep....I know it.  He has been asking me how much I mean those words and I have been staying very safe close to the shore.   Mixing it occasionally with a few "brave" moments.   But what if I put myself out there.  What if I prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill me and I would trust him, instead of constantly thinking I will fail because I don't have what it takes.  Quite honestly, I don't.  But God's word is full of inadequate people taking God at his word and living boldly for him.  

What if we are STILL comfortable.  If we are stepping out safely.....what if God wants us to believe him for so much more than we feel safe believing him for.  Like a revival, for healing, for the ability to be confidential, to be able to love that unlovable person, to not be focused on ourselves.  If he asks us to do all these things....they are possible!! 

I cannot even comprehend your greatness.  Heal my heart, revive my soul...hold my hand as I step into the waters of the great unknown.  You are all I need.  MOVE God.  Blow, Holy Spirit, blow.  This world needs only you, I need you. Show me where the garden of my heart needs to be tended. Search my heart, test it and know my anxious thoughts.  I want to prune and grow! You are the great Healer, you are mighty, you said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains ......I have that much faith!!!!   I pray expectantly in Jesus name!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Can my fingers do this again.

My heart heals as I type/write the words that I didn't even know I was feeling.  It is a jumbled mess right now and there are so many things going through my crazy brain.  It is time to start writing again.

Lately there are the questions and my constant prayers.  They seemed to be intertwined.   Why? and thank you,...... twisted together like one of those twizzlers that you can pull apart.  (I know, candy as a visual....)   

Since my last blog so much life has happened.  SO MUCH LIFE.  I am more and more aware lately that every single day and minute is a gift whether it feels good or it feels awful....and God is increasingly opening my eyes to what I am doing, and not doing, with that gift. 

There is unspeakable joy and deep sadness, unknowns and happy moments wrapped up in the weeks.  But the thing that God keeps showing me over and over and over is that He is constant, that He is faithful and that He is holding me in the palm of his hands.   I can't keep from praising his goodness in my life despite my questions.

So maybe the twizzler is here to stay ....and I need to quit being frustrated by the question and keep on heading to the place where my soul finds rest.

    O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.    I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory    Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.     I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.    My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.     On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.     Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Is the running metaphor overused? Oh well. Let's run it ladies!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:1-2

Saturday morning I was training for a race that I am planning to run.  It was a long one, so I had lots of time to think.  (Those of you who know me well are probably laughing because you know I already think too much.  So, maybe I should say, time to think clearly.  :) )  As I got to about the half way point I was ready to quit.  The hills were feeling longer and steeper and no one would know if I decided to walk.  So, I slowed down and started to walk.  It felt good for a second, I had given up.  So, I gave myself a pep talk: "Sarah, you have been training for this and you can do's gonna hurt until the end, but it's worth it." 

Picked up one foot and then the other and up the hill I went.   I got to the top and then I got to go down.  Ahhhhh!  Down.  Now, that was worth it....until I got to the next one.  But the next one was different because I remembered the joy of sticking to it and reaching the top last time. 

God works in our lives this way.   Doesn't he?  When we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus, he writes our story and perfects our faith by bringing us to the bottom of the hill saying climb with me.  And while we climb the Holy Spirit helps us throw off the stuff, the everything that hinders and sin that entangles.  With his help we put one foot in front of the other and we throw off that stuff, (pride, fear, comparison, not loving our neighbor......)  and we chose the joy and freedom he set before us because he endured the cross.

We can say no though.  We can choose not to climb the hill, turn around or just sit down and not go because throwing off what entangles us is hard.  Or maybe we are just comfortable the way things are.  It is 'working' why change it?  This is my biggest hang up.  Sometimes life is not comfortable or working, but is predictable and I feel like I can control the outcome.  I like control.  I like it a lot more than I even realized.  I am crying out "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"   Because belief, I am learning, is not a feeling it is a choice. 

So, I sat down to write why you should come to IF: Local at Providence CRC and this is what came out instead.   I can't  decide if the IF conference was a climbing experience for me or a soaring down the other side of the hill experience.  It was both I guess.  The Spirit was so present there that I cried the minute I walked through the doors. (Seriously, ask the girls I went with.)  Jennie Allen started by saying something about feeling like she and the leaders of IF blew a dog whistle and people came running.  We didn't know what IF was all about and neither did they really.  She knew that God was calling her to gather and equip women.  Asking the tough questions together, like what is holding us back and what are our gifts and are we good enough?

At IF I heard this:  God is calling us. He is calling us to run our race with our eyes fixed on him.  We get to cry out "JESUS!" when we feel like we want to turn around or sit down and say no.  We are not capable or able to walk, let alone run up our hill without him.   Doing the hills without him I have found is pointless.  And honestly, when I get to the next one I do get to remember his faithfulness from the last climb so it is still hard, but somehow sweeter.

If you choose to come to IF at Providence, you will get to hear that message too.  You will also have time to sit and figure out a few things about yourself in the process.  Good things, great things...and things that are entangling you.

Some of you don't need this experience, that's ok.  But I am praying that if God is tugging your heart strings with even a little curiosity, you will consider it.  It grew me.  Jesus met me there.  I will never regret it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If Gathering

So many people cannot wait to hear about the If:Gathering Conference I just attended with friends....and I am sitting at home the past 24 hours or so elated about the weekend because how can you NOT be when you have been in a place where God's presence was so obviously with us, but still struggling to put words to the emotions I felt and the amazing time it was.

Going into If people asked me what it was.  Honestly, I didn't really know.  They didn't give many details and I didn't care.  I just wanted to be there.

For the last 2 years or so, life has been different for me.  I decided I wanted Jesus to be a priority in my life, not just someone I talked about on Sunday or when it came up in a conversation that was easy to include him in.  I knew that my story was incomplete without him.  So I started my 'research'. 
I loved him the best I could spending time in His word and talking to him.  He started to heal my heart that was very broken from listening to Satan's lies for a very long time.  

I started counseling to figure out a few of my hang ups and what made me tick. In the process I discovered that because I couldn't love myself, I couldn't believe anyone else really loved me either....including Jesus.  (Sounds bizarre right?!  Like if I believed the Bible was true and he DIED for me, how could I not believe he loved me.)   That day he showed me His love and everything I believed no longer felt like words on a page that sounded good...they became the LIVING word of God. 

Spending time on my knees and in His presence was now my most life giving activity.  I feel incredibly blessed to FEEL him when I spend time with him and to get to know him that way. 

But in the month or two before If I was feeling burnt out, let down and sick of trying so hard.  I was wondering why I couldn't be content as a mom, wife, friend....what big thing was I supposed to be doing for kingdom work.  Obviously I must be missing something because I hadn't been called to move to a third world country, feed the homeless or adopt a baby.  Was I really doing my part??  What was my passion? 

There were so many great speakers and amazing topics.  I will never forget any of them and I keep listening over and over, but I felt like God had one thing he wanted me to bring home specifically: 

He has invited me to BE with him to do life with him.  He wants to be my friend.  He LOVES me, all of me, the REAL me! (One of my favorite friends said that to me once and I loved it...she can only love the real me because He does too. ;))  The real me is not pretty's just a yucky as the next gal. 

You see, I had been using him as needed and resenting him when he wasn't.  I inserted him in my facebook statuses because I needed a lift, and I brought him along when I hung out with hurting friends because he is the ultimate healer.  I brought him to Bible Study and into conversations that were convenient.  I said I trusted him, but was angry about things out of my control.  I wasn't ok with him being God in those areas. I wasn't letting him love the REAL me...just the part I wanted and wasn't trying to hide.  I wasn't walking along side Him and better yet I wasn't letting him carry me when the burden was too much on my own.  I was just handing over the reigns once in a while when it felt good to let Him be God. Ultimately, I still wanted to be my own god...and honestly, there are moments where I still do because it seems more 'predictable'. 

While we were there this all came over me in a moment.  And it had to be during Jen Hatmaker of my personal faves!  I was having trouble breathing it was so heavy on my chest.  It was time to off I went....(hopefully Jen and I can still be buds even though I ditched her speaking!)  I wept and prayed and repented.  It was not pretty, but while I did God calmed my heart again.

He said, "Sarah, walk with me, BE with me, TRUST me.  You can because I will fill you and equip you to do the yucky stuff if you'll just let me.  And not because you are feeding the homeless and moving to Africa, but because I LOVE you!  Let your actions be the natural consequence of your love affair with me."  

Is this ridiculous simple stuff??  LIKE DUH Sarah!?  You had to go all the way to AUSTIN for THAT?!   Well, apparently yes.   Sometimes we just need a timeout from life to figure out where our snag is this moment.   (If you don't ever need that, just lie to me and say you do...:) )

I have lots of dreams that came from this experience (this may have to be another blog maybe in the comments you'll have to tell me what you want to hear about most), but the most important thing for me was coming home with the truth "Oh! How He Loves Me." Not 'Oh how he loves what I am doing or saying or acting or feeling.  Just how he loves me(period).   And I cannot wait for my RELATIONSHIP with him to change the world I am living in right now, however big or small that may be.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

new year

The more I learn, the more I feel the strong desire to be authentic.  To be me.  I don't wanna be this girl to those people and that girl to others, I wanna be more than that, I want to be me...and I want me to be a girl that is nuts about Jesus Christ, becoming more like him, devoted no matter what to trusting what he says.  I can't give him anything more than my life and my heart, so why am I holding pieces back when he promises that it is safe to let them go; that weak stuff that he can use for His good bc he is strong. 

My heart yearns for complete surreneder, not only for me, but the people all around me.  Praying for clarity where my heart aches for that this year.  Show me Father, your will for me and my life.  Pour into me so I can pour into others.  But help me always remember that without you, I have nothing to give. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Great is thy faithfulness

Sometimes after a spiritual high and an intimate encounter with Jesus comes a day that you are just holding onto His promises and trusting God is there even when you don't feel him......looking over my notes and being reminded to "REMEMBER" where God has ALWAYS been faithful in my life......

I am NOT posting this to be a downer, so don't read between the lines, like I so easily tend to do. Just as a transparent daughter of the king...doing life on earth and eagerly awaiting his return...

So glad I made my choice to trust God no matter what and that because of that Satan has to flee at the sound of Jesus name.

A day crying out for Jesus is not a bad day after all.