Why I Always Want More

There have been moments in time that I have wished…no I have yearned for someone to say out loud the words that I desperately thought I needed to hear.  Inwardly I begged, pleaded with the person to just say them.  I thought that if he/she finally said these words, then they would be true. 

I had one of those moments today. I desperately needed to be told something.  Once again, my insides secretly pleaded with that person to say the words.  Somehow I believed that this person knew how much I needed to hear them but was just not saying them out of spite or selfishness.  I think deep down I knew that wasn’t really true, but I struggled anyway.

I tried taking my plea to God.  I didn’t have the guts to actually ask God to make this person say the words, but throughout the day, I sure thought it. Then suddenly, this evening, I felt as if I was transported back to the bedroom I had grown up in.  I was 15 years old again, and I was lying on my bed reading my Bible.  I was really reading it for the first time on my own, and I had just stumbled upon Galatians 1:10.  Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

I remember stopping to read it again and again…almost 10 times I read it that afternoon.  I quickly scribbled it into my journal and before the day was over, I had it memorized.  Even then I knew that my greatest struggle was my inherent need for man’s approval.  My identity was tied to what I thought others believed me to be.

Now here I was almost 20 years later, still caught up in the same struggle.  Sure I now KNOW that my identity can only be found in Christ.  Sure, I don’t quite care about EVERYONE’s approval like I once did.  But I still battle.  I still want certain people in my life to believe and think and SAY certain things about me and to me.  Deep down I still wrestle with the belief that these things are only true about me if someone else says it and believes it too. 

But clearly God’s Word says that I am to seek God’s approval.  I am His servant not man’s.  So why do I long for man’s words to make me feel like I am enough…like I am beautiful or skinny or wanted or talented or creative or whatever else I am struggling with on that particular day?

Recently I spoke with a friend about the significance of our names.  We were discussing about the fact that in Biblical times and for many generations following, parents chose the name for their children based on their identity and destiny.  Names were completely tied up with purpose. 

I have always had a love/hate relationship with my particular name.  I like my name, but I hated that I was always one of many Sara’s.  It just reinforced my complex of feeling completely and totally ordinary.  I even joked when we were talking about names and their meanings about how the name “Sara” signified “princess.”  I sarcastically said, “Oh yes my destiny is to be a princess!” and then I let out a laugh like it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.

My friend quietly but poignantly asked, “But what if you did live like you were a princess?  What if you lived your life truly as if you were the daughter of the King?  Because isn’t that what you are?”

Why had I never thought of it before then?  I am a princess because I am a daughter of the One True King. 

I can try and will man to say what I need to hear all day long. I can inwardly plead and beg him to say aloud what I desperately think I need to hear, so I can feel worthy and wanted and a plethora of other things.  Or I can start believing today what God says to be true about me.  I can live my life as if I am chosen and called and ordained and loved and beautiful and holy and wanted. 

We can spend our whole lives waiting for people to treat us like we think we should be treated or tell us what we think we deserve to hear or love us the way our hearts long to be loved…

Or we can chose today…right in this moment to start living and walking and BELIEVING that God has given us grace when we deserved condemnation.  We have a God that lavishly loves us and chooses us. 

When I wait for man to do what only God can do, I am saying really that I do care more about man than I care about God. I am saying that I value man’s thoughts and opinions of me more than I value God’s.  I am saying that my identity rests in man rather than in God, and I will always come up disappointed. I will never measure up to man’s yardstick because I was never meant to.   

If our lives are to make any kind of lasting imprint and impact on this ever-darkening world, then we are going to have to buck up a little.  We are going to have to get tougher skins.  This doesn’t mean that we have cold and hardened hearts.  It means that we stop allowing the enemy to use even the ones closest to us as daggers to our hearts.  We set ourselves up for defeat when we constantly ask our loved ones and friends and bosses and neighbors and even our children to be what only God can be for us. 

You don’t need man’s approval if you already have God’s.  Your worth is not found in man’s opinion of you. 

You are loved.  You are chosen.  You are beautiful.  You are known.  You are wanted.  You are lovely.  You are called. 

You are all of these things single, married, skinny, fat, employed, unemployed, successful, unsuccessful, young, old.  You are these things because God says you are.  Those of us that have surrendered our lives to Christ have everything we need in Him already.  Let’s stop asking man to give us more.


Be All that You Can Be

If there is one thing my generation has heard over and over again, it’s that we need to “reach for the stars.” Anything is possible for us, and “we need to be all that we can be.” Born to the mega generation of Baby Boomers, our parents made the effort from the early days in our cribs to make sure we knew that we could achieve big things in life.  Being a primarily “working class” generation, many of our parents started setting aside college funds before they even began setting aside money for their 401ks. They wanted big things for us, and they worked hard to do their part in setting us up for success. 

I can still remember my 5th grade graduation party.  A local newscaster came and gave us our classic “you can do anything” speech.  We all felt so privileged because not only was this pretty broadcaster giving us the speech, but also throughout it, she reminded us, no less than a dozen times, that we were “the” graduating class.  We were going to graduate high school in the year 2000, and that somehow made us even more special than any class before us or after us. 

I am reluctant to admit that I sucked up every one of those motivational speeches like they were each meant for me and me alone.  I believed every single time my parents told me that I was special and unique and that I was going to do big things in this world. 

In the deepest crevices of my heart, I believed that I was going to do something extraordinary in this life.  My name may be ordinary but I sure wasn’t going to be!

And that is what I was constantly on a mission to do.

Somehow, though, along the way, I equated doing something extraordinary with being extraordinary.  And the only way I was possibly ever going to BE extraordinary was to either be the very best at something or do something no one else had done before me.

I certainly didn’t feel like I was the prettiest so that was out of the running (Refer to Baring It All to read more about that journey).  I played both softball and basketball competitively from an early age, but once I got to high school, I realized that while I had talent, I was never going to be the best at that either.  I was active in theater but I couldn’t sing and my acting abilities were sub-par at best, so I wasn’t going to be any kind of star there.  I graduated with a perfect 4.0 from high school but once I got to college I realized that while I probably had above-average intelligence, I certainly wasn’t the smartest girl in my school let alone in any one of my given classes even.  I am embarrassed to admit that I even tried desperately to be in the “in” group of Christians…the ones leading all the chapels and discipleship groups.  I thought surely I could be of use there.  But, I always found myself on the sidelines.

Once I graduated from college and moved to Guatemala, deep down I thought I maybe had found that one elusive thing that would make me extraordinary finally…I was going to make a difference in this world and “save” the lives of these poor, orphaned children.

While this most certainly wasn’t the reason I moved to Guatemala, I am ashamed to admit that there was a part of me that wanted to believe this would make me special. 

Unfortunately as with everything else, I quickly discovered that I wasn’t any kind of superstar “missionary.”  I struggled with the language (and still do at times).  I often times felt weary and didn’t spend regular time in prayer and fellowship with the Lord.  I am WAY more introverted than I ever realized so I get stressed after a long day with people and there are weeks every now and again that I sometimes don’t even want to leave my house. 

My job most often consists of administrative work, and while I am organized and like administrative stuff to a certain extent, it’s not like I am overwhelmed with passion for it.

Over the years, I stood back and watched as some of my other co-laborers here in Guatemala were achieving incredible, almost impossible feats, and I was and am utterly amazed by what they have done and continue to do.  I have one friend that is on the front lines of getting international and national laws changed on behalf of children and their families.  Another friend works daily with families whose children have been removed from their homes and helps them take steps towards restoration and reconciliation.    Others are working with the terminally ill and providing comfort for children in their last hours on earth.

I watch these folks, and I stand there with my mouth open. I feel proud to call them friends.

But, I want to tell you something honestly.

As the years have gone by, I have felt like a failure too.  I have believed the lies that say I am not enough and what I contribute daily is so incredibly insignificant.  Added to these lies, I have watched as my generation has now lifted up bible teachers and writers and even bloggers to new heights.  We say we don’t adore them or even worship them, but we certainly at times use them as our bar for measuring our own successes.

Deep in my heart my 2 greatest dreams for my life were to write and to teach.  And as I used others’ success as my measuring stick, I came up short every single time.

My own self-absorption coupled with years of being told that “anything was possible” and that I had “to be the best I could be” turned me into a woman who constantly believed she wasn’t enough and hadn’t achieved enough.  Sure I had mostly overcome the battle of believing my worth was found in my physical appearance, but really as I stood back examining my life up close, I realized that I just replaced that battle with a new one. I believed that my value, my worth, and my purpose even was found and measured by how much I had accomplished and how “extraordinary” my life was. 

I saw others doing mighty, big, amazing, life-altering things, and while I did applaud them and cheer them on, I also allowed the enemy to use these things to twist my own thinking.  My life suddenly seemed too small.  My contributions were way too insignificant. 

It’s maddening really.

And it makes me angry.

I feel furor inside that I let the enemy poison me with these lies.

Our parents didn’t work themselves ill so that we could just pout and sit on the sidelines saying, “Poor me.  I am not enough.  My life isn’t enough.” 

That’s ridiculous.  While I don’t think they believed our worth was found in what we accomplished, they did believe that we should have every opportunity to dream.  They did push us to think outside of the box and to want more than maybe they even wanted for themselves.  And we dishonor their efforts every time we say that the life we are living isn’t enough.

Let me tell you something friend.  You are enough because God says you are.  He made you.  He created you. He loves you.  Your life is enough because He gave you life. 

I believe in a BIG, MIGHTY God that calls us over and over to put our feet into the Jordan River and trust that He will part the waters.  I believe that He can and does use us to do impossible things for Him and His Kingdom.

But I refuse to believe that He uses the same measuring stick that we use with ourselves and with one another. 

He wants our OBEDIENCE. He wants our hearts.  He wants to be enough for us.

My life is extraordinary because an extraordinary God lavishly loves me. 

And I am extraordinary because that extraordinary God has called me and set me apart for His kingdom and for His purposes. 

It has to stop.  All of this comparing. All of this measuring.  All of this stuff that says we aren’t enough.

Do not give into that lie one more moment of one more day.  Because every time you do, you waste that moment.  You waste it. 

There are real people out there in this world with real hurts that need someone that is willing to forgo the platform and willing to wash their feet.  This world doesn’t need more microphones; it needs more dirty hands.  It needs folks that no longer care if they are remembered or if they were even extraordinary.  It needs people that will stop looking for the spotlight and start looking for ways to be a good neighbor and friend. 

God won’t love you more because you did something bigger or better than everyone else.  There isn’t some sort of prize for the biggest stage.

He just wants us to be all in wherever we are and whatever He asks of us today, tomorrow, and every day that He decides to give us breath after that.

And lastly, I want to leave you with this one little nugget…

We are all meant for fellowship and community.  God wired us to need one another.  You won’t find community under the heat of a spotlight.  You will find it at your dinner table.  You will find it sitting in your lawn chairs with your neighbors in front of your house.  You will find it cleaning up a scrap and kissing an ouchie.  You will find it when you decide that your life is enough because God gave it to you.

Let’s let loving each other well be what makes us extraordinary and enough for once.


When We Realize They Aren't Our Own

It happened the first time just over a year ago.  I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I just thought it was sweet and that it was one of those moments in time that I would always look back on with fondness.

It had been three straight days of rain in a time that was technically not considered “rainy season” yet.  While opening her curtains that morning, her daddy said, How strange to be having all this rain right now.  Something weird must be going on.  I bet Jesus is coming soon.”

He then kind of smiled and left the room to wake up her brother.

She however shot straight up and looked me in the eye with glee and excitement written all over her face, “Jesus is coming today! Oh I am so excited Jesus is coming today!”

She hopped out of bed and rushed to change her clothes.

I quietly followed her and tried to think of the best way to explain what her Papi was trying to say. 

You mean he isn’t going to come today then?” she whispered. I could see the tears starting to puddle.

“I don’t know sweet girl.  None of us know when He is coming again.  We just have to be ready when He does. Papi just meant that since we don’t usually have this much rain this time of year that maybe it is a sign that He is coming soon,” I tried to explain.

“Well I really wish he could come today.  I really would love to show him my room and have him play with my dolls with me.”

All I could do was hug her close. I didn’t want to break her excitement, and truly I didn’t know what else to say anyway.  The tears were at the brink of my own eyes as they were.

I hadn’t really thought about that today too much until recently.  Like many beautiful moments in life, as time passes, these moments get muddled in with all the new ones.  We don’t really forget. They just don’t sit right there in the front like they do when they have just happened.

But last night as I tucked my sweet girl into her bed, the tears stung my eyes once again as I stroked her hair and prayed softly over her.  I remembered that moment again, but this time a new emotion was raging war in my heart….an emotion that has been waging often over the last few weeks.

We have a nighttime routine of reading the Jesus Story Bible together and praying as a family every night before the kids go to bed.  Papi and I take turns reading in Spanish and English and the kids each pick different people to pray over and for each evening.  It is a special time, sometimes very reverent and other times filled with my youngest talking incessantly about poop (a side-effect of life spent potty training these days).

Lately, my sweet girl often leans over to me as she listens to her Papi read and asks gently when she is finally going to get to see Jesus.  She tells me how desperate she is to see His face and spend time with Him.  Usually, I just kiss her cheek and tell her that someday we will all get to see Him in heaven and that we can be so thankful that He lives in our hearts and that we can speak to Him at any time or day.

But then the requests have gotten more frequent.

And last night I felt almost broken over it.  This morning my tear-stung eyes aren’t much better.

I pleaded with God last night. 

Oh Father please don’t let this mean you are going to take her soon.  Please don’t take her.  I don’t want to face life without my girl.  I am so thankful for her heart for you but please give me more years with her.  Please let me get to watch her grow.”

I have been begging Him really.  I have watched far too many families grieve the loss of their children, and selfishly, I don’t want to be one of those families.  But for some reason knowing my daughter yearns so greatly to be with Jesus makes me feel like I am going to lose her.

I confessed to the Lord my brokenness.  I know I am wrong in my heart to want my child to want to be here rather than with Him.  But, I can’t help it.  I am a mama, and I love my girl.

But as always God is faithful.  He is so gentle with me. He knows my fragile state.  I can almost feel His whispers today.

“My sweet daughter, Sara, I know you love your girl.  I do too.  You can trust me with her life. You can trust me.”

And then I was reminded of a prayer I prayed for this beautiful, sassy, spirited, gentle, loving girl of mine on her 5th birthday.  I was on my way to church to share with a group about our work here in Guatemala.  I was eager to get there and get back home as we had a full afternoon planned of a Frozen extravaganza for the birthday girl. 

I started praying for her.  I asked the Lord for lots of things but after I uttered the words, “Heavenly Father I ask you for her health and protection and for many years for her life. I ask you to keep her safe.” I just stopped. I had much more I wanted to say but after I spoke those particular phrases, I couldn’t go on.  Tears started to stream down my face, I confessed to the Lord, “God she is yours.  You have given her to me, and I am so ever grateful. I love being her mama so very much. I want many, many more years with her. I want you to grant her good health. I want you to keep her safe and protected and free from pain and harm.  But more than I want all of those things for her, I want her to love you with all of her heart. I want her life to be surrendered to You. I want her to love You and want You more than she wants anything this world has to offer.”

I don’t know what God has planned for my sweet daughter. I have no idea what her future holds. I have no idea if she will live to be an old lady much like my great-grandmother or not.  And as much as sometimes I feel that squeeze around my heart thinking about what life would ever look like without that girl of mine, I know that those words I prayed for her on her 5th birthday are still true today.

I want my girl to love Jesus more than anything this world has to offer…and even more than she loves her life.

God is challenging me to pray big things for my kids.  And I don’t mean big things as in things relating to prosperity here on earth. I am referring to praying big heavenly things.  I don’t want to settle for my kids having much here on earth when it is what they are storing up for eternity that matters.  I don’t want my kids to have everything in the world except for the thing that counts most. 

I want my kids to passionately and fully love God with their whole hearts. I want them to be a light in this ever-growing dark world.  I want them to be like that cool breeze on a hot summer’s day or the glowing sun on a cold, blistery morning. 

That means I have to surrender them.  I have to trust my Jesus with their lives and their futures.  I can’t hold too tight. I have to love them with all I have and lead them well…and cherish every moment, but I must never forget to Whom they belong.

And lastly I must confess that my daughter’s excitement for Jesus has convicted me that I so often choose this world over my Lord.  I want what this world offers more than what He does. 

May I too never forget to Whom I belong….


Oaks of Righteousness

I am so over the political trash talking and bashing that has come with this election.  I actually am a person that really enjoys political discussions.  I get super excited about voting, and I try to really do my homework ahead of time so that I make thoughtful, wise decisions when I am in that little booth. 

But this year, I am so, so over it.   

I am guessing many of you are too.

It’s all becoming so personal.   Friends, family, co-workers, classmates, etc. are deciding not to speak to one another based on how they are voting.  It’s ridiculous really.

What I find so disturbing is the way I was seeing folks interact with one another.  People are being so hateful with each other.  I keep observing name-calling, bullying, threatening.  People’s morals and beliefs are being called into question.   I could go on, but if you are on social media at all, you know what I am talking about. 

And for what?  Because I don’t like your candidate? 

Have we really lost our minds?

Listen, I am all for our political rights.  I am all for campaigning for our favorite candidates.  I think peaceful protests can be a powerful tool in producing change.  I am totally in favor of you voicing your opinion loudly or quietly about the candidates.  I think it is totally fine if you want to post things on your Facebook page in favor of a particular candidate or even against a particular candidate. What a privilege to live in a country that we can do that! 

What concerns me is that I feel like these freedoms are exactly what are slowing destroying us. 

I want you to ask yourself a question…who are the people in your life that have had the greatest impact on you?

Your parents? Your friends?  A teacher maybe?  A next door neighbor?  A pastor?

 Or was it the President?  Or even a famous Christian leader?

I am far less scared of who will be our next President than I am of the fact that we have forgotten how change and impact truly happens.

We think that only folks with large platforms or positions of power can have any lasting impact on our world.  We think that our voices and our actions don’t have any real value.  We treat actors and singers and even pastors or Christian bloggers as if they are saviors.  We obsess about every word that comes out of their mouths, yet we are totally oblivious to the way we often spew hate towards our neighbor.  We judge, we criticize, we gossip, we slander, and we hate. 

This scares me more than the next President.

My problem isn’t that I don’t think these elections matter.  Of course they do.  We should be wise in our choices, especially when that person will hold the highest elected office in our country.

But when are we going to decide that it matters more what I am doing everyday than it does who is standing on the highest platform or in the greatest position of power? 

I can tell you with certainty that the people that have had the greatest impact on my life were not people in positions of power.  Some of the people who have had the greatest influence on my life are my parents, my grandma, my youth minister Nick, my Sunday School teacher Kathy, my youth intern Becky, my college roommate Mimi, my oldest friends Krista and Shawna, my spiritual mentor Paula, my kindred spirit Grace, my English teacher Mrs. Youngs, my beloved friends David and Andrea, my husband. This is a very, very condensed list of just a handful of people that have encouraged me in my journey.  They have challenged me. They have supported me.  They have pushed me.  These are the ones that have propelled me towards change.

And not a single one of them is famous. None of them have a huge platform or are in positions of great power.

They are folks who decided that I matter.  My life mattered.  They chose to walk through the hard parts of life with me.  They wiped my tears.  They helped carry me when I felt like I couldn’t go on.  They pushed me when I wanted to give up. They took the time to teach me not just with their words but with their actions and with their lives. 

When I was 18 years old, God gave me a word so clear and so precise that it has been my life’s mission ever since. I carry these words like a beautiful locket around my neck.  In all that I do, I try to bring it back to these verses.

Isaiah 61:1-4
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.”

Can you imagine how our homes, our communities, our cities, our country, our WORLD would look if we all started living more like this?

What would happen if we started “proclaiming good news to the poor and binding up the brokenhearted” instead of bullying and brow-beating one another over our political affiliations?

How different would things look if we started “providing for those who grieve, and bestowing upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes" instead of shutting ourselves in our houses and cutting ourselves off from our neighbors?

Can you imagine the change we would see if we were “rebuilding and renewing the ruined cities and restoring the places that have been devastated for generations” instead of pretending that this is the government's problem alone and blaming these communities for their demise?

For my family and me, at least, I want us to be known as “oaks of righteousness.”  Even if our names and our faces are long forgotten, I want us to leave imprints in the way we love and in the way we serve those in our community. 

I don't care if God ever gives us any kind of position, platform, or power, as long as He grants us the wisdom and strength to display for all to see His great splendor.

 We have a little over 8 months until the next Presidential elections.  I urge you to not get sucked into the madness of the name-calling and bullying.  Choose a different path.  Choose a different way.  Remember that you have the opportunity to have a greater impact on your neighbor, your family, and your friends than the President of the United States ever will.  You can choose to stand in the gap for the broken, the hurting, the sick, the poor…the least of these. 

Be the change that you desperately long to see in this world. 

You don’t need position, power, or platform to do it.

The greatest leader in the world was the one who spent His days washing feet, embracing the dirty and broken, healing the lame, and walking with the outcast. He should be our model always.


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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and over...so please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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