Monday, February 17, 2014

sense of humor

My stories are always complicated.
And this is one of those stories where I have to wonder about God's sense of humor.
Like if He was kinda just hanging out watching us run around like crazy people, just waiting to see when we'd look up.

Some of you may know that Andrew and I have wanted to move back into downtown Tucson for the better part of a year (maybe about two months after we signed another year lease on our current house, ha).
We lived there when we were first married (Barrio Viejo, to be exact) so we know what its like and really enjoyed it. (just thought I'd clear that one up in case you were thinking we were crazy for wanting to live there; we are crazy, but maybe not the ways you were thinking.)

Andrew especially loves to be in the center of where the action is and most of our weekends (and sometimes week days) we end up down there anyhow.
We didn't really want to rush into it and wanted to take our time to find a really nice place that would allow us to do the things we are both passionate about.

We have a year lease on our current place that we signed in March, 3 years ago.
So near the beginning of January we decided to give our landlords some notice and asked about going month to month (just in case we needed more time to find a place).
We were really hoping to move into this place our friend's landlord was fixing up (someone had lived in it for a while so it needs some work; we still hadn't even seen the place but I was hopeful) but didn't know exactly when it would be done so we were thinking we'd have that option to wait if we needed.


Through a complicated combination of texts, voicemails, and some pretty poor communication on the part of our landlords, they took away the option of going month to month - so that meant we would have to find a place by March, period.
We found this out about the middle of January.
I basically still had all my eggs in the basket of this dreamy, cute place that was being fixed up by our friend's landlord and really thought that would work out.


We were finally able to go see it. It was amazing.
Fabulous bones, very hisotrical and so much potential...

But it wouldn't be done until April...
Or after.

You woulda thought God had told me there was no more Christmas.
I was crushed.
All my dreaming of living in this place, all my planning to move into downtown -
Not looking at all like I had envisioned.

Now we were about a month away from being homeless.
This was also days before I was planning to attend the IF:Gathering, which meant most of my weekend would be taken up there.
(*if* (haha) you don't know what I'm talking about I'll cover that later)
I seriously considered not going just so that I could look at more places to live.
I really didn't want to give up most of my weekend.
But I knew God had something to tell me.
So I listened and decided to still go.

God really got my attention that weekend.
There were many things I need to hear, but one of them was just to obey and trust God had a plan.
And His ways are NOT my ways.
I knew I needed to had a different perspective on this process.
And God definitely gave me one.
I let go of my wants and allowed God to give me peace.

For a couple days we earnestly looked for other options.
We had looked before but nothing was grabbing our attention.
It continued to be so.
Kinda like we were living the premise of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.
Too small, too this, that, too... whatever.

It came down to this plan:
Rent a small studio in downtown, going month to month, put most of our stuff in storage, and then keep looking for places and keep praying that God had a plan.
So, I've been packing with that in mind.
All the while, Andrew has been overwhelmingly busy with design work, I've been leading music for church the last couple of Sundays, and we both got sick this weekend.
Can't help but laugh at how crazy this month has been for us.
And even in the midst of it all, God has truly given me a supernatural ability to appreciate this time.
This sweet, crazy, busy time that we have got to trust He's got us in.

Curve ball.

We both stayed home sick today - weird but it happened.
Coughing and headachy as I am, I've been trying to pack little by little.
Right when we stat down to eat, Andrew gets a text from our landlords -

The tenants they lined up have backed out and they are offering to let us go month to month.

(insert crazed, confused, dumfounded look here)

Say, what???

Needless to say we kinda jumped on the chance to reduce our stress level by a couple notches and gladly called them back to say we would take them up on that offer.

It has been an interesting lesson God has been teaching us here.
This was what I had planned all along on my own - having enough time to look and find a place we really can see ourselves in for a while and pray through what that could look like.

But this time around -
This time, I am certain God is in control of this story.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

made for another world

Good conversations happen over food.
It's just a fact.

Back in January we went out to breakfast with our friends.
We can pretty much talk about anything and everything with these people -
We've been through life together.
We love them.

We got on the subject of careers and life purpose.
It was so interesting because we had an interesting mix of personalities in the mix -
Some of us are dreamy, wanderlusting, adventure seeking, spontaneous-to-the-max types -
Some of us are kinda caught between the dreamy and the practical side of things -
Some of us are very driven by responsibility, perseverance and just plan 'ol "get 'er done" mentality.

It was so good to hear what each of us had to say on the subject because it is truly important to understand where others are coming from.
I love that I'm apart of a community that instils this value - it is so encouraging!

So... naturally, when I got home...
I turned into a big hot mess.
I started weeping.
(its not uncommon for me to cry, of course, but this was a pretty big one)
Now, mind you, this was a couple months after I'd had some really tough wrestling with my sin in the areas of perfection (read more about that here) and found some healing and repentance there.
Clearly there was still something there I hadn't dealt with fully.

Why am I always looking forward to the next best thing?
Why do I tell myself, if you can just get through these next couple of days you'll be okay -
Why have I found myself always looking forward to something else -
Only to find that when I'm in that "perfect" time - it feels... empty...?
Less than I imaged?
Not as great as I thought it would be?

Have I lived my whole life like this?
Yeah... I think I have.

I'm reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote that pretty much hits the hammer on the nail:

image found here

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

-Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) 

Words I've probably heard over a hundred times in my life.
I grew up in church, so I should have taken them to heart, right?

I have had my fingers clasped so tight around this world that its been almost impossible for me to think about another one.
Just another example of using my God given beautiful gifts in ways He did not intend.

I love beautiful things.
I love to make beautiful things.
I love to be around beautiful things.
Objects, people, places... things.
All temporary.
Except the people.
They aren't temporary beings.
They are eternal.
But I've been focusing on their exteriors, what they can do, what they can do for me, how successful them seem to be -
All which is temporary.
(Judge, much, Sarah?)

Now, their interiors... their soul, their worth as an image-bearer -
those are eternal.
I've been focusing on all the things that don't matter!
(that's not to say I always missed the important things and completely overlooked others, but I think I have more often that I care to admit)

This place we live in, this place isn't the be all, end all.
Heaven is.
I can't find any lasting pleasure here because its not to be found here.

But the relationships I make here -
Those are important.
Those mean something.
Those last.

And then, above all that still -
Jesus is the reason I can even love those people.
Jesus is why any of that stuff can matter.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I have a problem with writing blog posts and not posting them.

I wrote most of this post back in September.
I don't know why I didn't post it.
Maybe because I knew God wasn't done working in my heart.
But more on that later...


So, I wrote this post about 10 months ago.

Boy, if I'd only know I had just scratched the surface of that disgusting scab -
(Yeah, that's right, I work for doctors who deal with gross, oozy, unrelenting wounds and I'm not afraid of using that visual... because it is that gross and so was my pride.)

I guess God had another time frame in mind for me to fully process that sin. (boy, this has taken/is taking me a long time to learn)

Since that time I've been leading musical worship and co-leading a community group with my husband for a year.
That year has shown to be very illuminating in the area of my perfectionism.

Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm a perfectionist.
Big time.

It finally came time for me to truly see the blood and the puss and the infection that had been growing under what I thought was being put together and in control of my life.

If I might describe a little of what my thoughts looked like for a good part of my late adolescent and adult life, it would be something like this:

"I've finally got it all, and I like it:

I still need to get better at ______.
I still need to work on ______.
I still need to get the upper hand in ______.
I still haven't figured ______ out yet, but I will someday..."

This was the result of believing lies about where my identity comes from and what my own selfish and insecure ego was concocting.

I twisted my God-given giftings into something that would fuel the engine of pride and lust for more.
It was a heavy, heavy burden that I carried.
I knew Jesus was my Savior, I knew Jesus died for my sins -
But I was quite blinded by pride... to the point of not being able to see them for what they were:

When I first learned about insecurity, I thought most of mine was just insecurity presented to me through circumstances: "This person said something to me when I was younger. That person did this to me and that's why I am the way I am. I felt this way when I was in middle school so I've been carrying around that burden ever since."

Even if some of this is true, I hadn't realized how going through that made me want to get the upper hand... Made me want to feel like I was the better person, like I was the one who overcame that junk and that I should be praised for it.

Let me tell you something, girls... It's really easy to hide behind a personality like mine and pretend like everything is okay. It's really easy to seem aloof, play off that I'm tired or need some "alone time" even when everything inside of me was crying out for someone to really listen and understand, but being so afraid of someone knowing that darkness inside me that they wouldn't really like me if they knew.

Well, I started to find that once I was asked to help lead people, God started pulling a lot of weeds. Weeds I didn't know where there. Weeds that were choking the beautiful flowers eager to bloom.

Sometime in July and August, with some help with dear friends to help me process, I came clean with God about the ugliness in my heart.
Confessing my doubt, my sin, my selfish people pleasing, my unquenchable thirst to be the best...
for holding on the idea that some day I would somehow achieve perfection by my own doing...
for thinking that I needed to somehow do something on my own to earn God's approval or even more, the approval of the people I look up to...

And then Jesus reminded me:

I knew what I was doing when I made you. 
I had a specific plan for you.

You are no more and no less than you are supposed to be.
There's nothing you can/need to do to change that.

And let me tell you... I felt so... light... for one of the first times in my life.

So much of my anxiety over leading music was lifted.
So much of my need to be perfect was subsided, because of Jesus.


Looking back on this now, I do know that God continued revealing more of my continual sin after this. Even though I'd found a lot of freedom in one or two areas, there were still some I'd held on to.
Really, the one thing I was still unable to see was how much love I was holding back from Jesus.
And how much love I was refusing to accept from Him.

I'll write more about that in another post.
But, one thing is certain, friends -

I sure do love Jesus.