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 :)