Wednesday, July 2, 2014


"I'm back." The final words of the Lord of the Rings and my first words to return to blogging (for now, at least)!

The word that's been ping-ponging around in my head recently is "simplicity." Simple, huh? Haha.  Simplicity is anything but easy for me, though.  I have the gift of making things way harder than they need to be.  School, cooking, people, leadership, etc.  My relationship with Jesus doesn't escape this complexity either.  I continuously find myself falling into the trap of thinking, "I need to do this/I need to do that," before I stop myself and say, "Whoa, Sarah, hold UP. What does God actually want from me?"  And that's when I realize I get so busy doing for God that I quit being with Him which is what I believe He really wants from me.

In Psalm 46:10 the Lord says, "Be still, and know that I am God."  That is deceptively simple. Be still, oh that's easy enough...WRONG. It's so hard to be still when 5 billion other things flood my head. But God is asking me to spend time with Him in solitude and simplicity in order to know Him more intimately.

And at camp this summer, I was struck with the simplicity of the Gospel. I'm not saying that in a patronizing way but more in the way of amazement. I make following Jesus so complicated most of the time by getting wrapped up in theological issues and concerning myself with the state of others' salvation when Jesus is there the whole time saying, "Look, that's my business, girl, and here's what I'm really saying to you: stop for a minute and remember that I hold the whole world in my hand."

There's a joy that simplicity offers, too, and I've lost sight of that for a long time now.  But today I was sitting outside the Student Union Building on campus, and this group of close to fifteen little boys walked past my table.  They probably ranged in age from 7 to 10 and some of them were throwing around the F-word like a hot potato and another one was singing "turn down for what." But there was one boy who was walking behind the rest of them, and he kept starting and stopping and crouching and jumping around.  I had no idea what was going on with this kid until I realized he was chasing a grasshopper! Literally, he was totally consumed with his mission of getting this bug. The grasshopper kept flying off, but the little guy was always right behind it. Finally, I witnessed the precious moment of realization that his entire group was so far out in front of him - his chubby cheeks perfectly framed his humongous eyes and he sprinted off, his waterbottle banging against his knees.

In those minutes, this little boy reminded me of what it's like to enjoy something without worrying about what everyone else thought - that to have fun, I don't need all the bells and whistles, just a grasshopper and a warm summer day.  I can go on an adventure in my own city - I don't have to be halfway across the world.  I can sit with God - I don't have to journal constantly or read 10 books about Christianity at once.  That in the end, predestination and old earth/new earth debates pale in comparison to the fact that Jesus Christ came to this planet, died for my sins and your sins, and then conquered death and rose again because He loves us extravagantly and was grace-full enough to provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

I want to live simply.  I want to simply live.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


You could label this as a bit of nonfiction.  I felt compelled to write it this morning after seeing a picture of Notre Dame.  I guess it's just a small reflection on my experience a year and a half ago.

When I first saw Notre Dame, it was like a dream.  This place I've heard of all my life actually growing from the plot of land immediately in front of me.  Beautiful and striking.  Massive yet refined.  Abby and I walked around for a while inside - I can only describe it as "overwhelming."  Overwhelming in a way only Paris could overwhelm me as I soon came to find out.  That city - even more specifically that square surrounding Notre Dame - changed my life.  How cliche, I know.  Honestly, though, I find it fitting that I turned 20 in that city, leaving my teens in a whirlwind and for the first time really feeling like an adult.  I left Paris with a burden of fear for the life of my best friend in the world, but also armed with the knowledge of my ability for resourcefulness and awash with the love and kindness of family, friends, and strangers.

I see the front facade of Notre Dame in that picture above and remember so clearly staring at it through a taxi window with a hopelessness I'd never before encountered, a loneliness I'd never before known.  Dad and I went back to the church together after Phil and Kathryn left Paris.  I wanted him to see it so badly, I wanted to share my love for this church with him, and I was so mad when he was too distracted to see it for the first time as I had seen it.  Who was I mad at though?  I'm not totally sure, even now.  I don't think I was mad at anyone.  It just hurt inside to know that my dad, who in any other circumstance would have been in absolute awe of this wonder of the world, had to duck outside of the church to answer a phone call about my sister needing another surgery.  We grabbed McDonald's ('Murica) and went back to the hospital that night, barely mentioning Notre Dame.

I believe it was in the church that second time that I became aware of my dad's intense distress.  The whole time I'd been talking on the phone with him before he got to Paris, he was this infallible rock, finding me places to stay, encouraging me, praying with me.  I was so absorbed by own fear, my own survival instinct that I hadn't stopped to consider that my dad - the man who has only ever cared, loved, and provided most excellently for his family - was being forced to stand back and simply watch as doctors worked to help Abby.  Abby, normally the embodiment of vivacity and health, was weak and pale and as scared as the rest of us.  In Paris, I saw my dad weep for the first time.  But in Paris, I also saw so clearly a Father's love for His children.

If I ever see Notre Dame again in real life - and I pray I do - I wonder what I'll do and what I'll feel.  Is it dramatic to think about this?  Most likely, but let's be real, I am a drama queen.  I think I want to go inside, sit in the pews, and pour out thankfulness to God for His faithfulness and His provision, thanking Him that Abby is skiing and running and teaching and laughing and living.  Thank Him that thinking of Paris now, although my heart still pounds anxiously sometimes, mostly just makes me think of my family, of love, of relief, and of a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


That title is a word.  And if you don't understand the reference, I am crying.  I beg you, go watch Princess Bride.

Anyway, I feel like in the words of Hugh Grant from Love Actually, "Love is all around."  Even more specifically, marriage - or talk of marriage - is all around.  So I'm jotting down some of my ideas of late.  If you don't agree with me - cool.  If you do agree - cool.  This is just what I think, formulated from reading the Bible and listening to those who are older and wiser than I am.

One thing that has always confused me about "finding Mr. (or Mrs.) Right" is the "checklist."  I have read many of these articles where people write about "things-to-look-for-must-have-walk-away-if-this-isn't-present" characteristics, as if they are on a list simply waiting to be checked off.  Now, don't get me wrong, I totally understand and agree with having standards or "non-negotiables" when looking for a future spouse.  I am not going to marry some Joe-Shmoe off the street because, yeesh, nobody's perfect and might as well, right?  No way.  Not what I'm saying at all.  Obviously, there are traits we're each going to be attracted to and looking for in a future spouse.  But what I'm trying to say is, if I'm waiting for the man who perfectly represents every characteristic I've ever dreamed up, a man who has a perfect relationship with Christ, the perfect man for me, I'm going to be waiting for a REALLY long time.  Tim Keller and his wife wrote a book about marriage (The Meaning of Marriage) where they discuss how people nowadays often look for a spouse that is a finished statue rather than a block of marble to grow and be shaped with.  Marriage - heck, LIFE - is a growing process:  God chisels us through experiences and relationships.

 I love this article (also by Tim Keller)  It talks about how basically we marry strangers.  Marriage is not a magical spell that makes things peachy-keen.  It takes loads of hard work and self-denial to grow together instead of apart.  So I guess for me, the important thing here isn't the checklist, it's finding someone who says, "Yep, I love Jesus more than I love you, Sarah, and I know I'm not perfect so let's do the best we can together to grow to be more like Christ.  Sorry I haven't read all of Tolkien's works and sorry I am [insert character flaw here]."  And then I'll say, "Hey man, that's okay, I'm not perfect either. In fact, I yell a lot when people suck at merging and I'm too competitive, but thanks for liking me even though I'm not a very good representation of a Proverbs 31 woman - will you help me pursue that?  Thanks, you're great."  Or something like that...haha.

Second, there's this article that went viral called something like "23 better things to do than get married before you're 23."  I thought I was going to be really excited about this girl's point of view because she talks a lot about traveling - one of my favorite things to do - but my first clue that I disagreed with her was when she advised me to date two people at once and see how long it takes for that to blow up in my face.  Ummm, I think I'll pass.  My second major disagreement with her is that I have some really great friends who are getting married or have gotten married before 23, and as far as I can tell, they are not shackled in a life of misery and stagnation as she seems to imply will happen if you stand at the altar before your twenty-third year and denounce any shred of independence you may have in favor of settling down with the person holding your hands across from you. Okay, okay, I'm exaggerating.  But this girl seems to me to be quite anti-marriage.  I'll let you read it for yourself ( if you'd like - it's really not all bad!  My major point here is that marriage isn't - or shouldn't - be a straight-jacket.  I don't think God intends for marriage to be boring or complacent.  In fact, if we're to grow together and in trust of God, new experiences and adventures (i.e. traveling, having children, etc.) are probably some of the best ways to do that.  Hard work (think: marriage) can be fun if done with a best friend (think: spouse).  It makes me sad that this girl thinks marriage is the end of the adventure rather than the start of a new one.

Finally, and this one is really important to me, marriage is not the start of "true life."  I see this so often, especially in Christians, and I have been so guilty of this thought process, too!  Sometimes it's easy to think, "When I get married, then my life will begin."  Or substitute graduation, getting a job, getting a house, having money, etc., for marriage.  It all revolves around this idea that life is on hold until I get to this certain mile-marker.  The way I see it, my real life began when I started walking with Christ.  And maybe you come from a different standpoint, but I really feel this principle holds true across belief systems:  stop waiting around and pining after a certain point in life because the point in life you're at now is slipping past you!  Enjoy where you're at, be content with the present, the future will come soon enough.

To all my married/engaged friends reading this:  You rock!  You can do it!  Enjoy life!
To all my single friends reading this:  You rock!  You can do it!  Enjoy life!

Peace and blessings, y'all :)

Friday, December 27, 2013


I'm not going all elemental on you with these titles. Promise. It's just the way it worked out.

Dad suggested I read through John over the break, and since he is utterly wise, I'm doing as he said.  So far it's been great, and I'm only to chapter 4.  I got to one of my very favorite verses this morning, John 3:8.  Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus and He says, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

First off, isn't that beautiful?  Just take a minute and reread that verse and think of the wind.  So it is with the Spirit.  Second, I found out some cool information while researching deeper into this passage.  In the Greek language, the same word is used for "wind" and "spirit": pneuma.  The term evolved from a description of an elemental, vital, dynamic wind or breath into a more specific breath blowing from the invisible realms...more of a reference to the Holy Spirit of the Lord as it is used 345 times in the New Testament of the Bible.  This breath of life is the Spirit that gives us new life in Christ.  I love that these words are interchangeable.  They are dynamic, moving as the air around us.

This idea of movement is extremely applicable to the Christian life.  God never calls us to be stagnant.  We are to continuously grow and learn in Him, going wherever He may call, wherever His Spirit (this wind John is talking about) takes us.  Hillsong United has a song dealing with exactly this issue.  If you haven't heard "Oceans" here's the link It's totally worth listening to the whole thing, trust me.

But the chorus of this song is what I really want to focus on:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Wow.  Yes.  This is my prayer because I'm so afraid of the unknown.  I'm afraid of the future, of not having hard and fast plans, of not being assured of anything other than that my Savior is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Which is enough.  Lord, let it be enough.  It takes me to John 3:30 when John the Baptist says of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease."  The more that I allow Jesus to fill me up, the less room for me and my selfish desires and sinful nature there is.  The more clearly am I able to shine forth the light of Jesus because it's not fogged up by all the junk of moi.

So Spirit lead me where I have never been before, wherever I may be called.  Take me deeper.  I hear the wind, the breath of life God sends to me as the Holy Ghost, and I will follow though I might not know where I'm going.  Honestly, this prayer scares me.  But it also reminds me of the Chronicles of Narnia when Mr. Beaver responds like this to Lucy asking if Aslan is safe:  "Safe?  Who said anything about safe?  'Course he isn't safe.  But he's good.  He's the King, I tell you."  Amen.  God is good.  He is always good.

The wind is blowing.  The Spirit is leading.  Aslan is on the move.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


"Now I see fire inside the mountain, I see fire burning the trees.  And I see fire hollowing souls, and I see fire, blood in the breeze.  And I hope that you remember me."

That's the chorus to the song Ed Sheeran wrote for the credits of the new Hobbit movie that was just released. The song is beautiful - lyrically genius for all of my fellow Tolkien nerds out there - and it's acoustic Ed at his best. But beyond those aspects, I've been weirdly affected by this song. I can't stop listening to it, and I couldn't figure out why until today, which is why I'm finally blogging after approximately 7 months. Haha, oops. This seems to be a pattern...

For those of you who haven't seen the newest installment of Peter Jackson's (loosely-based on the actual book -_-) Hobbit trilogy, the second movie ends with Smaug leaving the mountain and heading to Laketown (that's not a spoiler, I promise). And Bilbo climbs up onto this rock, looking after the dragon and says, "What have we done?"  I loved that ending despite my complaining about other portions of the film.  I love it because there's this promise of fire, death, destruction, and Bilbo realizes he and the dwarves are responsible for a large portion of what's to come, good and bad. "What have we done?" I find myself asking that question in my own life - "what have I done?"  Hindsight is always 20/20, and I wish so often for a time machine to go back and change things I say and do in the past.

And this is where Ed's lyrics come in, at the end of the chorus:  "And I hope that you remember me."  Through all of the things I do and all of the experiences and happenings in this world, that is my prayer. "God, please remember me."  Honesty hour:  I felt distant from God for a large portion of this semester.  Just like the dwarves headed back to Erebor, I saw fire inside the mountain, I saw burning trees, I saw blood in the breeze.  And I kept asking myself where God was in it.  "Do you remember me, Jesus??" It became less of a prayer and more of a question.  I started doubting God's love and goodness, despite His obvious provision in my life.

In the past weeks, though (I think finishing the semester had a lot to do with the timing...), God started to soften my heart again. He revealed great kindness to me through my friends here in Albuquerque. He quieted my soul.  He reminded me that even when I am faithless, He is faithful because He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). He showed me that when I look back, aghast - questioning like Bilbo, "What have I done?" - that He is bigger than that, He is in the fire and the bloody breeze.  He showed me that not only does He remember me always, He consistently works on my behalf.

I still don't get this world.  I never will. I don't understand the death, the sadness, the suffering.  Why do good people get taken from this world too soon?  Why are beautiful young children torn from life in these horrific school shootings? Why must war continue and my friends and my friends' family members be called upon to put themselves in harms' way? A lot of my time is taken up by this sort of worry. But today I read George Whitefield's sermon entitled "Contemplating Christmas."  He says, "Let your time be spent in thinking and talking of the love of Jesus, who was incarnate for us, who was born of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem us from the wrath to come."  I'm trying to refocus now, fixing my eyes on the love of Jesus, asking the Holy Spirit to convict me, to teach me, to guide me.  Allowing the love of Christ and the miracle of His birth to mold my heart this Christmas especially.

It's going to take time, that's for sure, but my pastor directed us to Revelation this past Sunday, and spoke on Revelation 1:17-18 where Jesus says, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades."  Now here's the spoiler alert: Jesus wins. In fact, He already won. There's fire in the mountain because the devil hates defeat, but Jesus holds the keys. And Jesus Christ leaves us with this truth: "Fear not. I remember you. Always."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Last night, we wrapped up our semester-long discussion on the fruits of the Spirit here at the Mission.  Each of us shared the particular fruit(s) we feel that God is really calling us to cultivate and work on in our lives.  Throughout the entire conversation, the word integrity kept coming to my mind.  And last night, I was thinking of integrity with its more typical definition: characterized by soundness of an honest character.  We should honestly pursue and manifest the fruits in our lives in a dedicated manner.

And then God (as He often does) hit me with integrity again this morning but in a different way.  I'm reading the book of Titus right now, and Titus 2:7-8 says, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."  Let me give a little context: this verse is set in a passage talking about how to instruct young men.  I think, however, these are great verses to apply to everyone at all times.

Anyway, being who I am, I looked up integrity in the dictionary, and I found another great definition.  Integrity is also the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.  So cool!  In Titus, then, God - through Paul - is commanding us to be wholly devoted in order to teach in an honorable way.  Wholly devoted to what?  To Jesus Christ.  If our entire beings, our whole selves undiminished by outside distractions and dirt, are directed toward God and dedicated to Him, there will be nothing bad to say about us - our opposition will have no foothold to slander us.  We will be characterized by integrity.

Also in that definition, I'm drawn to the word undiminished.  Why?  Because it reminds me of something from Tolkien's work.  We can laugh together because I'm a nerd.  HAHA.  But for real.  Let me give you a quick summary of part of The Silmarillion.  This book, which is a history of the beginning times of Middle-earth, revolves around the making, losing, and quest to recover the Silmarils, these crystal jewels that captured the light of the two trees of Valinor (the trees were the lights of the world before the Sun and the Moon were created).  Tolkien describes them as shining with the "radiance of white flame."  These things are bright, man, so bright one eventually becomes a star!  Anyway, Melkor, the really bad devilish character of The Silmarillion, steals the Silmarils from the Elves and takes them to his dungeon fortress where he sets them in his crown.  Now everything about Melkor is dark and smoky - not a lot of light penetrates his kingdom.  But when several of the characters venture into Melkor's halls to steal back the Silmarils, there the jewels are, shining through the darkness, undiminished.  Even in the devil's dungeons, the Silmarils are unsullied - their light cannot be quenched.

I want to strive to have that kind of integrity of character:  wholly dedicating my entire self to the pursuit of Christ, undiminished by satan's attempts, shining for all to see because Jesus, my Savior, is the light of the world.  Forget diamonds, Rihanna, I wanna shine bright like a Silmaril!

Peace and blessings, y'all :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

#LoveDoes: Three

This chapter is awesome.  Bob talks about meeting Ryan, a young guy who is ready to propose to his girlfriend and keeps asking Bob (a stranger to Ryan but owner of the house Ryan would like to use to propose to his girl) for help in his engagement plans.  Anyway, since Bob is a boss, he ends up helping Ryan, and Ryan proposes in a scene complete with Coast Guard water cannons. WHAT? I'm going to be happy if I just don't get proposed to over the phone!

Bob makes an important point through Ryan's story, though.  He talks about living our lives in an "engaged" manner, going after love like Ryan did - a love that is audacious, whimsical, strategic, and contagious.  Bob says this engaged way of living is about "going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light" (p. 24). And when we live our lives in this state of excited, extraordinary love that we find through Jesus, love will multiply; it's contagious, so we'll infect others with this desire to live and love radically.

I really like that word "audacious."  I was pretty sure I knew what it meant, but I looked it up in the dictionary anyway, and I found an alternative definition that is so awesome.  Audacious can mean "extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive." Now I'm challenged by this definition - how can I love audaciously? How can I modify my love with that adverb? How can I think outside the box and love people in ways that they've never been loved before?  Let me know if you have ideas.  I'll keep you updated with anything I come up with.  But seriously. Let's pursue this!

Bob closes in talking about how Ryan's love emulated the love Jesus talks about, "a love that never grows tired or is completely finished finding ways to fully express itself" (p. 24).  I think it also emulates the love that Jesus demonstrated here on Earth. Jesus was audacious.  He loved without restriction to prior ideas, choosing to eat dinner with prostitutes and tax collectors instead of the "respectable" members of society.  He was the first person to love others so incredibly radically.  But guess what?  He doesn't have to be the last! As Christians, we are to strive to be Christ-like so let's seek out ways to love audaciously, ways to love with whimsy, ways to love strategically, and ways to love contagiously. Let's love like Ryan did, and, more importantly, let's love like Jesus.

Peace and blessings, y'all!