Friday, October 31, 2014

thank you

Day 31 of 

31 days down.  It's over.  I did it.  My heart and mind feel lighter having poured out so much this past month.  I am so glad I took that step out, the action of writing and sharing.  I pray it encouraged someone, but regardless it surely encouraged me.  Thinking and walking through the whole path again is helpful because it reminds me of where I stand now and who I have been abiding in because if not for Him I'd be way back at the beginning or lost on a lonesome road somewhere in between.

If you are reading this, thank you for visiting and spending some of your not so free time, if your life is anything like mine, reading these words.  If you are reading this and read any of the 30 days previous, seriously thank you for entering in to my story for a moment.  If you actually finished the whole list of 31 ramblings from this very non professional writer, WOW, you might be the only one but I am thankful for you and pray you saw Christ in between the lines.

This little space was created specifically for this purpose.  To share for 31 days about the journey God has taken me through, to learn how to cling to Him better.  I don't know if anything else will show up on this little space in the interwebs.  I pray it will.  I pray I will continue to share what God is doing in my life in this little corner.  Even if it's only for me.  Even if it's only so I can see His faithfulness in my own life and the lives of those around me.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3)

Until then cling to the God of hope and

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

verses of hope

Day 30 of 

There is nothing in scripture that is not useful in your life (2 Tim 3:16), but there are definitely seasons we go through where we are combing the word for specific things to meet our present need.

  Because God is awesome and sovereign over all, our pastor had started a HOPE theme a month before the bomb.  As the year went by, the messages went hand in hand with many of the things we were learning as we walked our narrow road, not because he was using our lives as a stairway to writing sermons, but because when you talk about Hope it integrates every story and every life no matter the person or situation.

In the beginning of the Hope theme, our weekly bulletin had a list of scriptures to help us explore hope.  I spent the next few months looking each of them up, writing them in 'the' journal, and praying about how they each on their own needed to be assimilated into my daily thinking.

I want to share the references with you now in case you would like to spend time looking some or all of them up on your own.  I also want to encourage you to consider doing a word study of your own if you are in a season of searching for scripture to speak to a certain need, or asking someone else to do one with you.  Consider doing one even if you aren't.  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

Ezra 10:2                                         Matthew 12:21
                                         Psalm 9:18                                       Acts 2:26
                                         Psalm 33:17, 18, 22                         Acts 26:6
                                         Psalm 39;7                                       Romans 4:18
                                         Psalm 42:4, 11                                 Romans 5:1-5
                                         Psalm 62:10                                     1 Corinthians 9:10
                                         Psalm 65:5                                       1 Corinthians 13:13
                                         Psalm 119:43, 49, 74, 114               1 Corinthians 15:19
                                         Psalm 147:11                                   2 Corinthians 1;7, 10
                                         Proverbs 13:12                                 2 Corinthians 3:12
                                         Proverbs 23:18                                 Galatians 5:5
                                         Proverbs 26:12                                 Ephesians 1:12, 18
                                         Isaiah 20:5, 6                                    Ephesians 2:12, 13
                                         Jeremiah 14:22                                 Colossians 1:5, 23, 27 
                                         Jeremiah  17:13                                1 Thessalonians 1:3
                                         Jeremiah 23:16                                 1 Thessalonians 2:19
                                         Jeremiah 29;11                                 1 Thessalonians 4:13
                                         Jeremiah 31:17                                 1 Thessalonians 5:8
                                         Lamentations 3:21-29                       2 Thessalonians 2:16
                                         Hosea 2:15                                        1 Timothy 1:1
                                         Jonah 2;8                                           1 Timothy 5:5
                                                                                                   1 Timothy 6:17
                                                                                                   Titus 2:13
                                                                                                   Hebrews 3;6
                                                                                                   Hebrews 6:11, 18, 19
                                                                                                   Hebrews 10:23
                                                                                                   1 Peter 1;3, 13, 21
                                                                                                   1 Peter 3:15
                                                                                                   1 John 3:3  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

end and beginning

Day 29 of

It's been a little over a year since the bomb blew up.  I waited patiently for the year mark because once it passed it meant I would have gone through everything at least once.  On the anniversary of different days, different experiences, different hardships, and different memories that we had walked through I will have the ability to say God brought me through it last year and He'll keep doing it this time around.

It blows my mind how many things God has taught me, truths He has tattooed on my heart.  It blows my mind still that there are so many more to go, and humbles me to know that I am so dear to Him that those truths will never stop coming.  It has no dependency on me and what I've accomplished, but everything on who He is and how much He loves and cherishes.

I am not the same person, and wasn't that His goal all along?  To rid me of myself so He could fill me completely with Himself.  To mold me as my Potter, to enhance me with His character, as the author of my story.  Won't He still continue to do so throughout my life?  That is a great and resounding yes.

Before it all blew up, my goal was to live steadily.  No see-saws for me, no ma'am, keep me in the middle where it's safe and comfy.  Now, I know that comfort was false, it was nothing but hiding.  It's in the peaks and valleys where you find true comfort, because those are the times you need it, and our Comforter is the only place to find it.

We ended a year of wisdom, a year of trauma, a year of growth, a year of restoration and renewal.  We are beginning another phase.  One I don't know, one that has been written since before time began but not yet acted out.  I have hope though.  I cling to the God of Hope.  He will remain faithful, remain comforting, remain loving, remain strong.  He will simply and always remain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

our renewal

Day 28 of

This is a repost I wrote on our family blog to tell about the surprise renewal my husband planned for us and just to give you a warning, this is going to be a LONG post. The next few, many, paragraphs is an attempt to do justice the amazingness that was Saturday, May 31, 2014.  I already know that my words will not be enough.  If I was a better writer maybe I could come close, but there will be no way I have the vocabulary or ability to explain what my heart felt when I crested a hill and saw a dream come to life.

It had been a difficult year to this point and if you count the time leading up to September of 2013 it adds up to a long road past. But all of these things are part of my story and as much as I don't understand at times the whys of what God does, I think about something a favorite singer/songwriter/author, Andrew Peterson, said, God is the author of my story and he knows who I will be at the end of it.  Therefore he will take me through trials and joys needed to mold me into the person I need to be when my story is done.  Such a beautiful thought when you think of the big picture.

Because of these things and because Zach wants and knows how to love me better than anyone walking this Earth, he planned the most beautiful surprise and loving earthly gift I have ever and probably will ever receive.  At the end of that day he said his one goal was for me to know how much I am loved mainly because he knows this is one of my greatest struggles.  There's a good chance I will struggle with it again, the knowing that I am truly loved, because let's face it Satan has a good idea of where to get us.  However, for now and forever I will have this day to look back on to see that I am loved by Zach, my family, my amazing friends and church community but most of all, holy and dearly loved by the One who gave all these things to me.  

The "Big" day

Saturday started normally, or at least what I thought of as normal but it was all part of a master well thought out plan.  My parents were in town to stay with us for a couple days before they drove to Virginia for their hiking vacation.  I was woken up way too early, made breakfast for the boys, and watched our normal morning shows of MLB Whip Around and Curious George.  School had just ended for us all and Rebekah, a friend who moved away last fall, was in town for the weekend so a group of girls were getting together for lunch and a nails date.  Rebekah came to get me under the ruse of wanting to spend some extra time together in the car before we met up with everyone.  Obviously that was a big fat lie but hopefully there was truth in there as well ;)

Lunch was great.  We went to a new smoothie and sandwich place and just chatted about whatever girls chat about when they finally get a chance to hang out.  We headed over to get our nails done and had an awesome time laughing and talking across the room as the six of us sat there with our feet in bubbly water.  There's a good chance we annoyed everyone else there but sometimes that just needs to happen.  Zach had told me a couple days before that he was taking me on a surprise trip for a couple days for our anniversary so I was telling them about that as well.  Looking back it's amazing how skillful these ladies are at giving up no information.

On the way to take me home Rebekah said she forgot her wallet at Grace's the day before when she cut her hair so we were going to stop by "real quick" so she could pick it up.  So after hugging everyone goodbye and hearing many "have a great trip" we headed out to go "pick up a wallet."  I was standing in the living room waiting for Grace to finish giving her a tour of whatever when Morgan comes walking in the kitchen followed by Leslie and then Lisa.  Grace and Rebekah came back in the living room and I was just staring at them trying to figure out why the heck they came back too.


I'm pretty sure the first words after we have a surprise for you was Lisa saying oh my gosh I'm so glad this is finally here it was killing me.

I was informed that I needed to not worry, the boys were fine and I was to relax because this was the kick off to our anniversary trip.  I needed to spend the afternoon with the girls, get ready and then later Zach was going to come pick me up for dinner and a 10th anniversary sunset photoshoot.

For the next threeish hours they showed me three different dresses that Zach, with their help, had picked out and had fun bossing me around while I tried on different dress, shoe and jewelry combinations.  Bless my husband's heart he had thought of pretty much everything including my entire jewelry drawer that he just took out of my dresser and put in the car.  I ended up choosing this awesome white eyelet dress from Anthropologie because it fit the best and let's face it, it was from Anthropologie and I wasn't sure if I'd ever have another opportunity to get a dress from there.  They are not cheap!

After the dress was picked, Grace did my hair and make up and she's seriously just amazingly skilled.  I loved it all.  In between the getting ready and waiting there was more fun talk, a little drinking and some crossfit games watching.  Don't all girls do that together?

I was pretty excited and nervous the entire afternoon.  Suspense pretty much is the worst thing for me so the waiting for Zach had me in a very first date butterfly mode and I had a feeling there was still something I was not being told.   Shortly before Zach got there it started thundering and pouring and I asked Leslie if she thought Zach was freaking out over the rain.  The looks that passed between them all were not ones of confidence.

Zach showed up around 5:30 and I just sat on the couch as our five chaperones demanded that he come to the door to get me.  We took a couple of cute pictures and they loaded all the stuff in that Zach had lugged over earlier back into his car.  I hugged everyone good bye...again.   and headed out with my hubs who was looking all handsome in some khakis and a white shirt while I was dressed in a white dress.  I'm pretty sure that I commented on the fact that we matched and looked a little ridiculous but that since he looked hot it was ok.

We went to dinner at Las Flores and in the midst of him being a little anxious and checking his phone literally every five seconds to look at the weather, had a fun time.  We got their super yummy house margaritas, chips and dip and split a quesadilla and talked.  I have NO CLUE what we talked about.  Like seriously I remember none of it.  My stomach was in knots trying to figure out if there was anything else going on and he just alternated in between looking at my phone and telling me I was gorgeous.  Shortly before we left an older lady came up to our table to tell my my ring was beautiful and congratulations.  HA!  We did totally look like we had just gotten married in our all white and me done up like it was prom.  We just told her thank you :)

He said he had found a cool place in Covington to take pictures and had rented a nice lens for Reilly who was going to do the photoshoot.  She is a wonderful and talented young lady who goes to church with us and helped us with our family photoshoot last fall.  She also happens to be an amazing babysitter.  We passed a car dealership and then all of a sudden he off roads it up this hill on the way to a field and I saw Reilly standing at the top.  I couldn't believe he had made a 15 year old wait in a field in the rain by herself just so we could get pictures taken.

When we got out of the car he looked at me and said that there was a little more to the surprise then I thought.  That's when I saw a person crawling behind a hay bale and I got really confused.  I wish I could remember his exact words, but they were along the line of He knows we had talked about a vow renewal at some point but didn't want to stress me out with details, so he just planned one himself.  Then we walked a few more feet up the hill and all of a sudden I saw a white arbor in the middle of a beautiful field and rows upon rows of people.  Leslie later said that I squealed which doesn't surprise me. I just started crying and walking and looking.  I kept spotting more friends who had come from in town and out of town, both of our families who had driven from Alabama, south and north Georgia, and South Carolina, and our sweet boys all dressed up in their khakis and white shirts.

The closer I got the more people I could see and randomly started waving and crying some more.  Then I heard the music that was playing and saw Mike and Lindsay, our previous worship leader and dear friends, singing one of his songs that we absolutely love called I love you still.  As I walked down the aisle with Zach and the boys I was stopped by Rebekah, Morgan, Leslie, Lisa, my mom and Zach's mom in turn to hand me daisies that became a bouquet.  At one point someone handed me a tissue which was sorely needed.

We made our way to the front and Dave began our ceremony.   It was beautifully specific to
us.  Seven of our couple friends did readings of some of our favorite verses.  Those truths have been such an integral part of my last year.

Colossians 3:12-14 (Zach & Lisa)
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

Colossians 3:15-17(Matt & Dara Lynn)
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 15:4-5, 9 (Ryan & Morgan)
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

1 John 4:7-9, 16-19 (Donovon & Grace)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 

1 John 4:16-19(Jeff & Rebekah)

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Psalm 139:1-2, 13-14, 23-24 (Brit & Lisa)
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
   you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
   Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting!

Revelation 21:2-5  (Matt & Leslie)
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

After Katie and Jered sang Abide with me, one of my absolute favorite hymns, Dave gave his message which I am planning on writing up and posting separately at some point because it was encouraging and dripping with Truths that we all need to hear.  Then Zach shared with me his renewed vows...

Sarah, 10 years ago we made vows to God, and promises to each other. And time and time again, I failed those promises. And then I got lost. I lost sight of your love, and the love of God. But after all that, you love me still. You were the constant one, never wavering, never giving up. You have exemplified the love of Christ more than anyone, and for that I am eternally thankful. And now, He is making all things new in us. God brought us together, and he’s not done with us yet.

So in humble reliance on God’s grace, I promise to seek the Lord first in my life. Not you. Not anything else. I promise to build you up with compassionate acts, produced by an inner disposition that only comes from God. I will cherish you and pursue you, encourage you, and assume the best in you. I will honor you and respect your thoughts, and try to never use my elder voice. I will always be exhilarated with your love, your beauty, and your gracious heart. I will serve you humbly, fold clothes with you, and will always sweep the floors. I will desire you and none other. I promise to be committed to you, stay alongside you, and walk with you for the rest of our lives. I give you all of me, a broken man, trusting that the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

His words and humility melted my heart and I just stared with my tearful smile so thankful.  Next in the ceremony Zach gave me a new band to go with my rings.  It's gorgeous and glittery and makes the female inside me smile.  It's a beautiful white gold band with ten diamonds inlaid in it to represent our ten years together.  One of my favorite parts came next.  Since I obviously didn't know about the renewal I couldn't write any vows, but over the sound system they played the vows I said on our original wedding day.  It was such a sweet moment listening to the voice of my pastor growing up and the voice of a little 22 year old girl I barely recognized.  

We prayed together while Lindsay sang my hands down favorite song of Mike's.  Psalm 27  

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; 
Of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against my life,
When my enemies and foes attack my soul,
Though an army raise against me,
Though a war rage within me,
Even then will I be confident in Him.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
This is what I seek, This is what I need;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord,
All of the days of my life.

To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,
And to see him in the place his glory dwells;
For in the day of trouble, I am safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his arms.

To end, Zach and I went to the middle of the aisle while everyone surrounded us and prayed.  My dad, Zach's dad, Ames, Matt Rieger, Matt Cardoza and Dave all prayed aloud for us.  Then standing in a field surrounded by people we love, we shared our first renewed kiss. 

Dave ended with the benediction that Zach's dad always uses.

Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.

I thought that was the end but as soon as I asked if I got to talk to everyone now they told me that there was a party at the Rieger's house that we all got to go to.  Of course I couldn't wait to give out hugs and talk so we did a little of that before we finally got around to that sunset anniversary photoshoot.  

The rest of the evening is somewhat of a blur.  Dara Lynn, Kayla and their husbands did an amazing job decorating her house.  There were flowers, tiki torches, white lights and delicious desserts.  There were laughs and smiles, sharing of secret plans, more hugs, pictures and just an overwhelming sense of joy and peace.  

I will never remember all the details of this day, but I will never forget the feeling it brought.  There was nothing I would have changed about the day from the location to the people to the music to the decorations.  It was literally a dream come true and there are not enough thanks in the world for not only the people who worked to make it happen but also the ones who just came to be a part of it all.  

To Zach, Dave, Leslie (and Matt), Lisa, Grace, Morgan (and Ryan), Rebekah(and Jeff), Kayla, Dara, Matt, Alex, Ames, Donovon, Brit and Lisa, Mike, Lindsay, Adam (the manager of the field), Mary, Magda, Gina and Bailey (for the yummy desserts), Reilly (photographer) and Eric, my parents (for helping with the boys), Jered (video) and Katie, and our family and friends for knowing and not giving up the secret.  I hope that I can one day do something just brings you just a little bit of the joy that you all brought me!

Monday, October 27, 2014

i am his

Day 27 of 

Even though I had been assured that our bomb was not my fault, even though I believed it wholeheartedly, I knew I needed to learn something about myself in this process.  I knew God was not bringing me through this just for my husband to be broken and search himself.   I didn't just want to walk the road with him, I needed to walk the road.  I needed to come out on the other side different as well.  I needed to come out on the other side better, more beautiful, because He turns our brokenness into beauty, He makes all things beautiful. (Ecc. 3:11)   He does everything for His glory. So what about me needed to show His glory as well?

One day, a lengthy car ride conversation led to thinking, and thinking led to writing, and writing led to a moment of clarity that showed me exactly what one of the biggest things was that I needed to learn.  It was seriously one of those moments where the last piece of the puzzle fell into place and I could finally see the whole picture.  In a moment I began to understand myself more than I ever had.  The whys and whats of my thoughts, decisions, struggles, etc.  Obviously, it didn't completely fix me. I'm not a perfect woman who never struggles with this anymore.  It did however give it a name and now with that name I can identify it when that struggle comes.  That in itself makes a world of difference!

Zach and I were chatting about what keeps us from focusing on the Kingdom, and what are our biggest struggles that occupy our minds instead.  As we were talking, I got out my handy dandy notebook and started listing my biggest struggles. Here's what I came up with:

 being liked
 getting it all done (by myself)
 making sure everyone is ok
 not concentrating on my own sin, needs, struggles, etc.
 needing to appear ok
getting frustrated when my plans get changed
being right
hearing criticism

The next words out of my mouth were "I have some identity issues."  For as long as I can remember I have struggled with what people thought of me, but I never realized how sinful that was and how much it affected my relationships.  I have always been a 'good girl'.  The one who always followed directions, did what was expected, didn't want to make waves by disagreeing, followed instead of leading, letting others walk over me for fear that standing up would cause hurt feelings.  I tried to be so many different things because I didn't understand who I was supposed to be.  I have been His child for 20+ years but in that amount of time I didn't truly understand what being a child of God really meant.  My identity was so wrapped up in what I thought of myself and what other people thought of me, when it should have come from God alone.

Because of this, I usually never acted, I almost always reacted.  Instead of thinking I could change a situation I was in, I adapted to it, trying to "make the best of it."  I very often looked at whatever was happening and tried to figure out on my own what the "right" thing to do was, and then did that.

 Sometimes it worked and it would be great, but sometimes it didn't and I would immediately blame myself for not doing whatever it was the "right" way, and made a mental note to not do whatever that was again so that I could make sure everything was "ok."  Basically I created these rules inside my head that I needed to live up to, set the standards for my behavior and reactions, and set my own punishments or consequences in my head for when I failed to do so.  I lived a life of self righteousness because I lacked the knowledge of my identity in Christ.  I didn't know who I was in Him, therefore didn't know how to live life in His righteousness and not my own.

Christ came to fulfill the law, period. If I am in Him, then all I need is to live through the righteousness He had, because no amount of trying on my own part can fulfill it.  I needed to truly understand that when I act in any way, "good" intentions or not, but ignore what Christ did for me, I am telling Him that He is not good enough and that I could do it better.  Bitter pills to swallow at first but the most freeing thing for my heart and soul.

In one of many journals I have an ongoing list of identity verses.  Words of God that tell me exactly who I am because I am His.

I am holy and dearly loved (Col. 3:12). I am forgiven, holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4).  I am adopted and have every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).  I can never be separated from His love (Rom. 8:35-39).  I will find grace and mercy in time of need (Heb 4:16).  I am His work of art (Eph 2:10)  

My identity is in Christ.  My identity is based on His works and not my own.  I can cling to the Hope I am given, and when I fail to do so I have full assurance that my God is still clinging to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

song of hope

Day 26 of

Every Sunday throughout this challenge I will be sharing one of the many songs that encouraged me during the last year.  Please read these words and if you can find it to listen to and let it speak to your heart as well!!

Love Never Fails
Ellie Holcomb

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love doesn't wait to cross over to the other side
Well it's worth never giving up
It's worth holding on

Love never fails
And that's a promise
Love never fails
Help me believe it

Help me to trust that this is truth
Help me to love like You do
Oh, Lord help me to live like
Love never fails

Love doesn't strut
It is not proud
Love will make sure to seek others out
Love doesn't try to keep the score
It sides with forgiveness

Love never fails
And that's a promise
Love never fails
Help me believe it

Help me to trust that this is truth
Help me to love like You do
Oh, Lord help me to live like
Love never fails

Love has eyes that see your pain
Love will never run away
It holds out hope
It holds out trust
Love will always be enough

Love never fails
And that's a promise
Love never fails
Help me believe it

Help me to trust that this is true
Help me to love just like You do
Oh, Lord help me to live like
Love never fails

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Day 25 of 

He never leaves us nor forsakes us.  It's seriously true.  I've been sharing about my past year and how God taught me to cling tighter to Him than ever.  Tighter to the Hope He provides.  Even when everything seems to be blowing up around you.  Not only do we have Him and His Son and The Holy Spirit, but we have things right here with us in arms' reach that help us cling to Him as well.  I shared about reading His Word.  I shared about communicating with Him in prayer.  I shared about writing it all down,  in however OCD way you may do it.  Today I share about community.

We were created to long for something other than ourselves.  We were created to share our thoughts and hearts, our time and space, our burdens and our joys with others because two are better than one...if they fall one will lift up their fellow.  (Ecc. 4:9)

One of my favorite stories in the bible is in the book of Mark.  Jesus was speaking at someone's home and a few men brought their friend, who was paralyzed, to the house because they knew Jesus could heal him.  When they got there, the home was so crowded they couldn't get near it.  Instead of giving up, they crawled on top of the roof, cut a hole in it and lowered their friend inside.
There are multiple things you can get from this story, but the one I am focusing on is the man's relationship with his friends.  It's not just that this man had awesome friends.  Because seriously, let's face it, those are some dedicated bros!  This man had awesome friends because they took him straight to Jesus.  They loved him so much that they risked a lot (embarrassment, injury, rejection, the repercussions of ruining someone's home) to take him to the only one that mattered.  They pointed him straight to Jesus.  That is a community!

When we seek out people to be in community with, we often try way too hard to find those who have similar interests, those who look 'cool' and would be fun to go out with, or those who always tell us we're justified in whatever feelings we have and pat us on the back and say it'll be ok no matter what the situation.  While most of those qualities are fine and fun to have, they don't mean much in regards to real gospel community. The most important, question is, will they point us to Jesus?  When we need it most, will they cut a hole in the roof and lower us down to the only one who can help?

 The great thing is the closer we get to God, the more we are satisfied in the lord alone, the better we are at being a friend.  When you are filling up your spiritual life with Christ instead of using friendships to take what you need, you begin going into those relationships with a mindset to give what others need.  You are there to serve, not be served. To be a light.  When all those around you are doing this same thing, a beautiful representation of the gospel takes place.

I know it isn't easy to reach out past doubts and insecurities, past fears and assumptions, to become part of other people's lives.  My own fears and doubts have affected my relationships for the majority of my life, even when it was obvious that people were right there by my side. Satan would use those doubts to tell me I was unloved or unwanted.  If you are one of those people I am praying for you to find community.  There is no minimum for community relationships and there's also no cap.  I am praying for at least one person to come into your life that can love you enough to point you to Christ.  I am praying for me to love others enough to point them to Christ as well.  Whether there's 3 of you or thirty, I am praying we can stir one another up to love and good works.  (Heb. 10:24)

I can't end today without saying one thing.  I love the community God has given me.  I love the people He gave us to walk along side us during these hard times,  to give encouragement and ask the tough questions, to share time, conversation and hugs, to talk about nothing or talk about everything.  Whether it was taking me to goodwill to rid myself of items that brought difficult memories,  adding 30 lb med ball slams to a workout to get out aggression,  sitting and talking over countless bowls of cheese dip, sending prayer and comfort through text,  or creating a space to hang out and talk about all the other parts of life because this bomb did not define me, my community showed me Hope and pointed me closer to He who gives it. 

**if you're interested in reading more about being intentional about gospel community my friend has dedicated her 31 days to that subject.  It's good stuff!

Friday, October 24, 2014

write it down

Day 24 of

In the back of my memories I very vaguely remember owning a diary.  There's a good chance it was either Lisa Frank or one of the many Sanrio friends.  Hello Kitty may be the main one now but back in the day she had a whole host of cute little animal friends you could choose from.  There's a chance I wrote in said diary at least once, maybe more, but I guarantee it contained nothing of importance.  Not even some good teenage angst that would provide a good laugh years down the road.  

I wish I knew back then the importance of telling your story.  Because now, 20 plus years later, I have no idea what most of my thoughts and feelings were as I went through life.  There are quite a few things that stick out, but they are the big joys or big sorrows that were burned into my memory because of their importance at the time.  I honestly still have that problem as an adult, but now I blame children.  I shared with my friend and pastor's wife, a few months after having my 3rd boy that my brain didn't seem to have returned out of pregnancy mode.  Her encouraging response, "Yeah it's not going to.  This is the new you.  Embrace it!"  She was 100% right!

We all have a story and God will use your story for your good and His glory.  That, at some point, might mean you need to share your story with another who needs it.  It's hard to tell a story that you don't remember, so right now you need to write it down.

During our first post bomb counseling session our pastor encouraged Zach and I to each get a notebook and write down everything.  Everything we were thinking.  Everything we were feeling.  Everything we were learning.  Everything.  This journal became a close companion as I began pouring out my heart on pages and learning to process through writing.

Writing things down is still a big part of my life, and I am realizing that even though I didn't get it during my younger years, it has been a big thing for me the majority of adulthood.  While I'm sure one notebook is enough, I counted the other day and realized I have 8.  I don't mean 8 that I have filled and had to start another, I mean 8 going on all at the same time for all different reasons.  I'm a little OCD.  My sister doesn't like the food on her plate to touch, I don't like the thoughts in my journals to mix.  Just to name them all quickly I have a daily prayer notebook, a bible study notebook, a 1000 gifts notebook, a sermon notebook, a last year's sermons notebook that I reference frequently, "THE" journal I have been talking about that I reference frequently and add notes to, a new journal, and a really cute yellow monogrammed moleskin that contains my identity verses and the 'creme de la creme' of quotes and scripture.  But like I said I'm seriously a little crazy when it comes to organization so don't assume this is the best way to do it!!

Journaling is not a command from God and is not quite on the same importance level as the other two items in this mini series of things that help us cling to hope, reading His Word, and conversing with Him through prayer.   It is still a very tangible thing that helped me cling to the Hope that God was providing through our situation.  That journal does not just contain my ramblings and feelings.  It contains those scriptures that leapt off the pages as I poured through His Word.  It contains prayers written through tears as I was mining my heart and laying it all down.  It contains the idols I could see in my own life and needed to destroy.  It contains the joys of getting over the next hurdle.  It contains the story of first year of healing and it shows the road I was taken on and it glows with the faithfulness of My Father.  

When I look back through it I see Hope.  I see the promises He gave before the beginning of time being fulfilled in my life.  When I see that Hope it encourages me to continue to cling.