The Greatest Author of It All

It wasn’t a particularly chilly night, but the way we were snuggled together on the bench next under the moonlight, one summer’s night, someone certainly would have assumed we were cold.  We were just young and in love.  We were huddled close making plans and dreaming of all that we were sure was going to someday be.

“How many kids should we have?” he asked me.

“4 or 6.  I don’t like uneven numbers.  Someone always gets left out.  But if we can, I really hope we have 6,” I said.

“Me too!  I always wanted 4 or 6 too, but I hope we have 6.”

“6 kids.  That will make us a family of 8.  We definitely will need a big car!” I exclaimed.

“We can have whatever kind of car you want,” he whispered.


I have thought of that night so many times over the last 10 years.  I have wondered and asked God if this could ever really be true.  My circumstances, my reality told me often that the answer may in fact be no.  We barely have enough money to support the 3 we already have.  We lead a large ministry that consumes a lot of our time and energy, leaving us little for our crew at home.  Pregnancy is hard on my body, and my age tells me that it would probably only get harder if we had more.  Adoption is definitely in our hearts (I have already dreamed on many different occasions of a sweet little 1 year old girl that I believe someday is going to be ours), but the reality of the law means that as directors of a ministry like ours we are unable to adopt. 

The reasons are many. 

But the fact of the matter is, for a long time I was real frustrated with God about this.  I felt that he was ignoring our dreams…ignoring our prayers and pleas.  And the day of reckoning finally arrive a couple of months ago.  I kind of just “had it out with God” so to speak.  I let Him have it.  I cried (literally and figuratively) out to Him to give me an answer…to show me why?  Hadn’t I already given up enough dreams on this journey?  Hadn’t He already asked enough of me?  Couldn’t He just do this one thing for me?  Was that really so much to ask?

I didn’t hear God audibly that morning.  Like so many other moments similar to this one, I eventually just got back up off of my knees, washed my face, and carried on with the rest of my day.  I didn’t have an answer, but I did feel better having said it. 

Something happened, though, after that day. 

For starters, I realized that God already gave me 6 kids.  And I am ashamed to say I didn’t see that before.  “My girls” as I called them…my beautiful young adult girls, while I called them “daughters of the heart,” deep down I knew they really belonged to someone else.  Eventually they would leave me.  While not perfect circumstances or families, they still had aunts or uncles or cousins or brothers or sisters that were theirs.  I didn’t want to hang on too tight because the day might come that they weren’t going to need me or even want me to play such an active part in their lives anymore.  I could call them daughters but maybe they weren’t really wanting or even needing a mom.  My home may not be what they really considered deep in their hearts to be their “home.”

But then I started to really see them…not just glance at them or just take notice of their presence.  No, I really started to see them.  And, what I saw was that they not only still needed me to be their Mama, they wanted me to be too.  I didn’t just dream of someday being Mama to 6, I already WAS one.  No, it may not be how I had imagined.  It wasn’t how I had planned.  I didn’t get the privilege of carrying them in my womb or rocking them to sleep as babies.  I didn’t see their first steps or hear their first words.  I don’t have baby books filled with all their firsts. 

What I do have, though, is the gift of having been able to watch them grow from young girls into beautiful young women.  I know their stories.  I have wiped their tears.  I have laughed until I cried with them.  We have cooked together, we have exercised together, we have watched movies together, we have pigged out on Taco Bell together, and we have played soccer together.  They have cooked Mother’s Day breakfast for me.  They have surprised me with my favorite treats.  They have stepped in to help me when I thought I couldn’t go on.  They have left encouraging notes on days that I was sad.  They have seen me and loved me just as I am, and I have seen them and loved them just as they are. 

How could I have ever asked for more?  How could I have been so blind not to see? 

Sometimes God’s gifts don’t look exactly like we pictured.  Sometimes our lives have gone a path that is so far from the one we originally thought that we would take that it is hard to know if we are even on the right one.  Sometimes the dreams we spent so many hours planning and imagining aren’t the dreams God has for us. 

I imagined Christmas cards being sent out each year with my husband and I surrounded by 6 beautiful children in matching outfits.  I imagined rooms with bunk beds as siblings shared secrets and toys and dreams.  I imagined someday being a grandma of so many grandkids that we needed 3 “kids tables” to accommodate them all.  I imagined holidays with my brood coming home to visit with their spouses and children and my house being filled with so much fun and laughter as we were all stuffed into rooms and living rooms. 

But this life I am living right now, even though it isn’t anything like I pictured, and sometimes its so hard I wonder why God ever thought I was up to the challenge of it all…even besides all those things, I don’t think I could ever trade it. 

My house is always full of laughter and food and fun.  The door is quite literally almost always open.  There are so many people running and in and out of it most days that I am certain I am going to lose my marbles.  My OCD tendency to want to have everything clean and orderly has had to go through some serious shock therapy. 

Life isn’t always neat and tidy.  Dreams don’t always come true.  Marriage is way harder than in the movies.  Parenting can often leave one feeling like a version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Ministry isn’t for the weary.  We don’t always get that perfect job.  Money may always be tight.  Our house may never look like those on HGTV and our food may never taste like the Pioneer Woman cooked it.

And that really is okay. 

It’s okay. 

Once we are able to just mourn what could have been and look towards what is, we often find that what we DO have is pretty amazing all by itself.  Sure we may still keep dreaming.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I still long to believe that the beautiful brown-skinned, brown-eyed, black haired darling girl that has filled my dreams so many nights, is still going to call me Mama one day. 

And if it does happen, that just means God far-exceeded what even Hubs and I planned and dreamed all those moons ago.

I read this today from one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time called Unseen by Sara Hagerty.  She writes,

“In all these experiences, it was if God were the parent in my dream, the one slowly shaping my life from orphan to daughter.  You don’t see it all like I do.  I know what’s best ---- I know you best.  The story you want, though not bad, isn’t the story I have for you.  Will you let me write your story?’ This is the invitation God offers in the winters of my soul.  An invitation to trust that my story is His story….”

Are we willing to let God write our story?  Are we willing to trust that even when things look so different than what we planned that it doesn’t mean the story isn’t good?  Are we finally going to surrender one of things we treasure most of all: our dreams? 

If we truly believe God is Master and Creator of it all, then we also have to believe that He is the greatest Author of all too.  We have to believe that His pen is much more powerful than ours.  We have to trust that what He imagines and dreams doesn’t just stay in the “What Could Be, “ it becomes the “What Is.”

And it is good.  It is so very, very good.


When You Find Out You Are a Little Bit of a Narcissist Too

Once in a great while, we have a moment in our life that somewhere deep in our hearts, we know is going to mark every minute and every second that comes after that one.  To the people around us, it may seem just like any other moment in time.

But for you, you know it is different. You know that you are going to be different and that life because of that moment is going to be different.

I am not talking about the death of someone we love or the achievement we worked years to obtain.  I am not even talking about marriage or babies or divorces or promotions.

I am talking about the moment that sneaks up on you out of nowhere but changes you so profoundly that you can recall even decades later exactly where you were sitting and how the room smelled and who was present. 

I have had maybe 6 of these moments in my life.  My first one was when I was only 6 years old, and I can still recount it to you in detail.

Recently I had another one.  It has been about 5 months since it happened, and I have maybe shared it with 3 other people beyond the ones that were present in the moment.   This is unusual because all the other times I have experienced something similar, my first reaction was to tell everyone close to me.  I am usually pretty jealous with the most intimate details of my life, but in these cases, the impact was so deep that I couldn’t help but want to share it with every one important in my life!

This time it’s been a slow burn.  I have been chewing on it, meditating on it, praying about it, and just trying to understand the weight of it.  I don’t want it to just be a moment. I want it to be a transformation, and I want that transformation to happen from the inside out without a lot of fanfare along the way.  I don’t want to talk big.  I want to do the heavy lifting to make it a reality.

Today, though, I want to share a little, teeny part of that experience.  It is very personal, so the details shall remain cloudy.  But, my hope is that maybe, just maybe, it can bring some freedom for fellow friends walking around with the same chains.


It was almost 5 months ago.  We were going through some pretty big changes on all fronts as a family.  We were experiencing changes in our home, changes in our ministry, and even changes in our own perspectives and beliefs.  Again, it wasn’t something we were really talking about.  But it was a season of genuinely seeking God’s will for our future and seeking healing, restoration, and forgiveness in every single area of our lives.  We were good.  Our family was good.  All was good, but we knew that God wanted more of us and for us, and we desperately wanted to be ready to receive whatever that was going to be.

This meant that in some areas we were also asking for some help.  We had been around the block long enough to know that wise counsel and accountability is essential for any Christian truly desiring to grow and mature in their faith.  It was during one of these types of meetings with another couple that the wife suddenly (and quite powerfully if I might add) said, “Sara the root of all of these struggles is comparison.  I am not sure how long it has been going on, but I am guessing for decades.  It is robbing so much from you, and the time has come for it to end.”

I first just stared at her speechless, but she and her husband are powerful intercessors, so they immediately began praying over me.  My husband tucked my hand into his and these 3 individuals spoke, declared, and prayed over me in a way that I had never experienced in my whole life. 

I wept. Then I wept some more.  And finally, there was no where else for all the snot and tears to go, so I composed myself (mostly anyway) and just silently listened and prayed little words in my heart.

There is so much more to this story, but the point of me wanting to share a piece of it today is because as I have processed through the 3 and half decades of my life these last few months, I can see so clearly that in fact the greatest chain I have been wearing, my greatest liability if you will, has been my incessant need to compare myself in EVERY SINGLE area of my life to those around me.

I still have yet to identify exactly how or when it started but my first clear memory of it was from first grade.  My family moved that year, so I was starting a new school and began life in a new neighborhood.  It was the first time I can remember thinking I wasn’t quite up to par…I was still a little too shy and awkward.  I was smart but not the smartest in my class.  I had friends but not very many.  And somewhere around then, deep down I guess I came to terms with always being stuck somewhere in the middle of everything…smart but the smartest, cute but not the prettiest, fast but not the fastest, a good athlete but not the best one, likeable but not the favorite. 

   ( Pictures of me from First Grade)

And the thing about my comparison habit is that it was much more inconspicuous than flat out insecurity or low self esteem.  I was fairly confident in my middle of the road status, so for the most part, I just learned to adapt.  I had great friends.  I was still at the top of my class academically.  I played competitive softball. I was class President.  I was active in my youth group at church.  I even dated some. But deep down, I was constantly sizing up everyone else around me, and in one way or another, I always found myself coming up short. 


(Pictures from High School) 

This didn’t mean I was judging those or criticizing those around me.  Far from it actually.  I was genuinely just making comparative notes about myself next to them.

The thing is, though, I had no idea this was happening.  I was absolutely blind to it.  It was such an integral part of my norm that I was 100% oblivious to it. 

But I can tell you with absolute certainty that for 30 years it was holding me back.  It was stealing from me.  It was more than just a thorn in my side.  It had left me disabled.  I was not functioning at my full capacity.

“Look how beautiful she is! She doesn’t even have to try.  No wonder he likes her and not me.”

“Did you see her homerun last night?  I am always going to just be a solid base hitter…first or second in the lineup.  Faithful but never that exciting.”

“I love theater.  It is such a rush being up there on stage.  But I can’t sing, so I never could be a real stage actress. She has the whole package.”

“She has so many friends.  Everyone loves her.  She makes them laugh and is a good listener.  When she is around guys, they are practically drooling just watching her talk.”

“Chubby.  That is all I will ever be.  I will never have a body that looks like hers.  And she has had 5 kids!”

“My Spanish is horrendous next to hers.  She can speak it so eloquently.  And she drives all over Guatemala!  I have to stay in my 10 kilometer radius, or I get lost.”

“ I love listening to her teach the Bible.  She knows everything.  She never stumbles over her words like I do when I try.”

“What an amazing Mom.  She is so patient and kind and creative!  Oh my goodness I can’t even remember to sign their agendas.  And I am supposed to be a teacher!”

“She is beautiful.  I know she liked my husband at one time.  I bet she would have been a better wife than me.  At the very least she would have been a prettier one.”

“I want to write.  I love writing, but my words never come out as eloquently as hers do.  My words won’t ever have any kind of impact.”

These are just a few of the thoughts that at one time or another have run through my head…and not just once or twice.  They were constantly there, and little by little they were ruining all that was good in my life. 


Because when we are convinced that someone else is always doing it better, we eventually just stop trying.  We start just going through the motions.  Slowly our passion fades.  We get stuck in ruts.  We start fighting with our loved ones over ridiculous things we have invented in our minds.  We become more insecure and jealous.  We stop celebrating others and start lending our tongues to criticism and judgment.  Everything becomes a chore.  We lose our vision for the future and our joy in the present.

Folks it’s an ugly path.  Nevertheless, it was one that I was taking for more years than I would like to admit. 

And now that my eyes have been opened, I can see that it is a path that so many are still walking on right this moment. 

Let me tell you right now before you go any farther that it is a trap.  It is a trap that will rob, steal, and destroy all that you love most in this world.  It is subtle.  It is easy to miss the signs or chalk it up to “girls just being girls.”  But it is shrewd. It won’t stop until you decide you have had enough of it.

Until 5 months ago, I would have told you I was a fairly normal, stable, evolving person.  I was certain I had a good handle on my strengths and weaknesses.  I could see progress and growth in my life.  I could clearly identify low points and high points, but through them all, I could see maturity.  I knew that I was a good mom and wife and even most of the time missionary.  I wasn’t a bad person.  I could look in the mirror and think “Oh I look pretty today.” I was genuine in my relationships and had long ago stopped trying to be something I wasn’t.  I thought for the most part I had accepted who I was and made peace with both the things I liked and didn’t like about myself.

But what I didn’t realize is that a very strong, deep root had taken up residence many decades ago, and until I was willing to see it for what it was, I had no hope of really living my life and my calling to the fullest.  Every relationship was being poisoned in a way by this root, and every opportunity was only half-experienced because of this root.

No more though.  Once I realized it.  Once I called it by its name, then little by little I started digging that sucker up.   

What sweet freedom I am enjoying because of it.  

Oh I still have my moments.  Recently I had a huge setback, but I didn’t let it ruin all the hard work I have done up until now.  And in the end, in that particular instance, I realized how my comparison habit also could be a great hindrance to me being able to see people for who they really are.  I get stuck on that one area of their lives that makes me feel like I could never measure up, and I miss the hurt and pain that lies right there on their surface, begging someone to care. 

Comparison is a form of narcissism.  Plain and Simple. It makes us the center of the narrative  instead of God.  It makes us walk around with glasses that are not only tainted but were never supposed to be worn in the first place.

In the end, I want my story to reflect a God that is big and powerful and amazing and great and awe inspiring and deserving of all the glory and honor.  I want my life to make a difference not just today but for eternity.  I want to be able to celebrate others but also be able to celebrate God’s work in me too!

If God is the Author and Creator, what business do I have taking notes on His work?  What an insane waste of time and energy.  We were meant for more.  We were made for more.   

But it’s not too late.  Even if this has been the chain you have been dragging around for years, you have the keys to take unlock it. 

Choose More.

(Ridiculous Selfie at the beach from a few weeks ago, but it was the first time in a LONG time that I was just rocking my swimsuit without worrying about what the other ladies at the pool looked like or how I may have not measured up to them.  So it was a big moment for me!)


The Field of My Own


Oh how I love them.  I’ve never been one to dream about living in a mansion, but I sure have dreamed of having a beautiful library with a large, overstuffed chair in the corner by the fireplace.  I dreamed of this place where I would do all my deep thinking and go on all my best adventures and have all my favorite conversations.

But even despite my perfect little library, I have managed to read 11 books so far this year.  My goal was 12, one each month, but despite the chaotic nature of this year so far, books have been my little oasis, my way of retreating and unwinding. 

While I like a good variety, every so often I read a book that changes me.  Like the most unexpected sunset after a rainy or cloudy day, once a while, I stumble on a book that stays with me long after I close the last page.  I will find myself daydreaming in the shower or thinking of these characters and the futures that author left to my imagination. I will shut my eyes at night and in the space of a few minutes, I find myself swept into their world and their struggles.  The very first time this happened to me was after reading Number the Stars in 7th grade.  Never in my life had I read a book that grieved me as this one did.  It opened up a whole world to me that I had only briefly heard about from school teachers. But, that was just the beginning.  I had yet to step into a Brave New World or know the boys that were once known as the Lord of the Flies.  I hadn’t yet felt the indignation of Scout while reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  I didn’t know the power of jealousy until the world of Othello.   I hadn’t yet wept through Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.   I didn’t know how much I would mourn Beth from Little Women. I had yet to read the stories of men like Jim Elliot or Dietrich Bonheoffer or Brother Yun or women like Corrie Ten Boom or Harriet Tubman or Dr. Helen Roseveare or Amy Carmichael. These are just a few of the books and people that have stayed with me…books and people that have changed me and challenged me and inspired me. 

Over the weekend, though, I finished another one to add to this list.  The book was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  The story itself is not a true story, however, it is loosely based on true situations and people from WWII, and while so much of what I read on these pages was not necessarily new, I found myself thinking about Vianne and Isabelle long after I closed the pages of their story.  I have read some reviewers say that Hannah over-sentimentalizes the gravity of the situations her characters struggle through, but I didn’t find this to be true at all.  I found in Vianne and Isabelle women who confronted me and dared me to see beyond my own vision for my life and my family and even for myself.  Vianne constantly believed and said out loud that she wasn’t brave or strong, and yet her story captivated me to the point that I had to ask myself if I would have willingly done what she did…if I would have willingly risked all that she risked.

But Vianne and Isabelle like so many of the other heroes and heroines from my other books forced me to look at myself in the mirror and ask how much I would really be willing to risk in the face of darkness.  I like to pretend I am so strong and brave, but really I know that deep down I am still so very scared and worried. 

I want to dream of adventure, but most times I am too afraid to actually taste it.

I want to imagine myself brave, but usually when the time comes, I am paralyzed with fear and prefer to keep my head down, focused on the path before me.

I want to show my kids that what we do matters and that we do have the power to bring hope and change and good to the lives of others, but then I get scared of what that will cost them and I change my mind.

At one point, one of the main characters in The Nightingale says of her son, “I pause, knowing how he will feel when he gets this message, how it will upset him.  That’s because I have let him think I am weak all these years…He watched me stand on the sidelines of his life instead of showing him the field of my own. This is my fault.  It’s no wonder he loves a version of me that is incomplete.”

So I have been asking myself the same question over and over again this last week.

“Sara, what are you so afraid of?”

Maybe you aren’t like me, but if I really stop and take time to evaluate so much of my life, I can see that fear is often the thing dictating what I am doing and saying the most. 

“What if it’s too hard? What if he/she thinks I am weak or that my ideas are stupid?  What if I mess up?  What if this whole thing comes crashing down?  What if they don’t want us anymore?  What if we lose our house?  What if we lose our jobs?  What if my kids get sick?  What if I get sick?  What if we don’t have enough money? What if our marriage can’t survive it? What if? What If? What If?”

I could keep going with all the hundreds of other questions we internally ask ourselves each day.  I could mention the times that these questions cause us to take a detour from the direction deep down we want to go…or even more importantly, the direction God wants us to go.   But you know, just as I do, that we are giving way too much weight to these “What If’s?” We are allowing them too much space, and they are literally STEALING from us…robbing from us moments, experiences, love, pain, joy, grief, heroism, change, transformation, growth, and most of all they are stealing from us a life on the field instead of on the sidelines.

The book opened with this line:

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

How will we ever know what we are really made of if we are always too afraid to go onto the field and play?

How will we know our strength and capabilities, if we never even suit up for the battle?

I know you are scared. I am scared too.  Sometimes I look at this world around me with all of its hurt and pain and darkness, and I get real scared.  I get scared that I will never be able to do enough, so then I just convince myself that the risk is too great, so why bother?

But my friends…there are so many, right in this very moment in time, that aren’t living with the luxury of turning a blind eye to all this darkness. They are living in the middle of hell-holes all over this world, begging, pleading, asking someone to be brave enough to bring some light their darkness and help rescue them.

Vianne didn’t know she was brave because she never had to be.  She lived with the luxury of a husband who loved and protected her, in a small town in France where life was sunny and beautiful and safe.  She was forced to watch that all change in a matter of months, and in turn, she found the strength to do things and take risks that she never could have imagined.

War showed her who she really was.

Most of us are living on the outskirts of the war…those battles that are taking lives and destroying families.  We see it but only as if it were a movie on a screen.  We see it, we may even mourn it for a brief second, but then we turn it off and move on. 

But these books I have read, both fictional and true, I don’t want to shut their pages and pretend that the stories they tell are only meant for my personal entertainment.  No I want their words to absorb into my head and soak into my heart so that they produce change.

I don’t want to wait until I am forced into the war to suit up for battle.

I want to stop living on the outskirts. I want to stop holding on so tight to all that I hold dear.  I want my kids to see a Mama who is willing to take risks and sacrifice for those that need us.

I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that all that they have…all that is good and beautiful and right and true…is only for them.  I don’t want them to feel threatened when others want to taste these things too.  Instead I want my children to be the first in line to pour all of these things out for them. 

I want them to know that being brave doesn’t mean we aren’t scared.  It means that despite being scared, we press on.  We suit up.  We go in.  We feel that at any point our legs will decide to collapse under the weight of what we are being asked to do, but we continue walking anyway.

This doesn’t mean we are careless or stupid or ignorant of the risk.  It means that knowing FULLY what we are being asked to do, we trust that our God goes before us in the battle anyway.  He is the holder and giver of the light.  We are just allowing Him to use us as His beacons of Hope.

We are brave and yet scared.  We are strong and yet unsure.  We go yet we aren’t sure where.  We love and yet we are at times rejected.  We stay even when we want to run. 

We are light to those that are in the darkness.


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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 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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