Weeds

weeds

Weeds.

I have weeds growing in my garden.

I don’t want them there. Despite my best efforts to defeat them, they grow up effortlessly from the soil as if that is where they are meant to be.

I have plowed them under the earth a time or two, still they come back. I have used man made tools to dig them from the soil, still more grow. I have sprayed them with poison, yet they live. I have plucked them from the moist ground with my very hands, and somehow, they return, as if there is nothing I can do to prevent them.

Some are large, tall, deep rooted into the ground. They have been ignored far too long because I am too tired, or too busy, or the weather is not quite right. They begin to take over, stealing the nourishment intended for my crop, slowly killing the good fruit which was meant to harvest.

Some are small, sneaky. They seem harmless initially, but they too will grow to steal what was planned to be good.

I have weeds in my garden. The funny thing is my heart, much like my garden often grows weeds.

Weeds.

Some are small, starting out as a little bad habit, a negative thought, just a slight lack of trust in my Savior. You know nothing “major”, nothing “life altering”.

But, when left untouched they grow up, just like the weeds in my garden. They will take over. They slowly entangle themselves with the good fruit, stealing their nourishment, and snuffing out anything good that was left. And suddenly all that’s left is weeds.

As hard as I try to control them, to kill them, to plow them underneath the surface where no one can see, they will still be there; a part of my broken self, my broken journey.

Yet, as I watch the weeds in my garden, untouched, slowly killing my good harvest, I am reminded that I must be responsible to combat the weeds in my heart.

My hard heartedness, selfishness, anger, lack of forgiveness, discontentment, lust, greed, gossip….. the list could go on. They are all weeds that I must intentionally attend to. I must not let them grow up and take over the good that God is trying to do in me.

You must not either. This is my plea for you to look at your heart. What weeds have you ignored for too long? What small thing are you allowing to grow?

Today, you can take care of it, with God’s help. He is good at plucking weeds.

Psalm 139: 23-24 “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

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The Struggle: Being Redeemed & Still Broken

*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the final post in a series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be. To start with the first post in this series, click here. *

1

I am caught in a dilemma. A dilemma where I hear one thing, yet see another. A predicament in which I read truth, but it feels as if truth lies to me. I contradict my truth each day as I happen upon life. And then, I am left wondering what truth is.

God’s Word is STILL truth. But, sometimes it feels distant, not because it is un-relatable, but because those truths and those promises in their fullness have not yet come to be.

I know God’s glory, His plan, His redemption- it is there, but as I reach out for more I cannot grasp it with my feeble fingers.

Finding the balance, I think that’s where I am. I’m finding the balance of being redeemed and still being so broken.

I’m finding the balance of being free, and still at times being held captive.

I’m finding the balance of being righteous, but still so tainted.

The balance of being God’s child, and still walking around as this imperfect human.

The balance of choosing victory, but still struggling.

I believe His truth. I cling to His promises. Still I must understand I will not fully see them come to be until I reach the other side of eternity.

My body will still be broken, to some extent, but I HOPE for the future when it is whole.

My heart will still fail me, I will sin, I will screw up, but I HOPE for the day when sin no longer plagues my heart.

My mind will struggle, I will have hardship, heartbreak, frustrations, but I HOPE for the day when there are no more sorrows, no more struggles.

Eternity is going to be great! So, as I strive, and I try to overcome my struggles; I still cling to His truth. But, more than anything I cling to this hope, the hope of a future glory that is awaiting me through Him.

Colossians 1:27 “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you, the hope of glory.”

Speaking Truth to My Struggle

truth

*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the 4th post in a 6 post series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be. To start with the first post in this series, click here. *

Truth. What even is the truth? In the midst of this struggle sometimes the lines of truth seem blurred.

You see, as I’ve mentioned before, my struggle is one of heart and mind.

It begins as a thought, one that is usually a lie. That thought turns into a feeling, an emotion that can overwhelm. And, eventually in my heart and mind, that initial lie becomes a truth.

I must remind myself that my thoughts, my feelings, they are NOT my reality. My emotions often deceive me. I cannot rely on them as my source of truth. BUT, I do have one source of truth that I can rely on, and so I must read it, I must speak it, I must believe it, EVEN when I don’t “feel” it.

My truth is God’s word. My truth is His promise.

I must cling to that, otherwise I am left wondering, finding my own truth, which in fact is not likely truth at all.

My jealousy tells me that I deserve more out of life, more money, more power, and more satisfaction. BUT the truth is I am deserving of death, and only gain life through the grace of my Savior. The truth is I have SO many good things, and every good and perfect gift is from my Father in Heaven.

My pride tells me that God has forsaken me; He has no plan. If He did I would already be doing BIG things. BUT, the truth is my ways are not His ways. I do not understand His ways or His timing, but He is God, He is in control, and He has a perfect plan for my life, even in the broken places.

My guilt tells me I am worthless; I have failed too often. I have let too many down. I feel shame. BUT, the truth is I am righteous in the sight of my Father. My dirty mess is washed white as snow through Christ blood and I AM redeemed.

My lowliness cries out that I have no value, I am unnecessary, I am a screw up. But the truth is I am fearfully, wonderfully, and intentionally designed by a Creator who knows the very hairs on my head, and again, He has a plan.

My brokenness says I am too broken. BUT the truth is God is making me new with each struggle, each day, each moment.

It is difficult for me to fully put into words the things I have felt or thought, the places I have allowed myself to wander in the midst of darkness.

BUT, today I speak truth, over and over, and over again. I speak it when I believe it, and I speak it when I don’t. I speak it when it feels right, and when it feels the farthest thing from true. I speak it day and night; in my prayers, to my children, under my breathe. I speak it as a reminder. I speak it as a battle cry. I speak it because it brings me back to life. TRUTH.

Today, find God’s truth and speak it to your struggle. I dare you.

Romans 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

With love,

Sarah

Struggling: Choosing to Fight

 

*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the 3rd post in a 6 post series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be. To start with the first post in the series, click here. *

a choice

Today is a new day.

And, today I… you…WE have a choice to make.

We can choose to stay where we are at. We can choose to be defeated by whatever it is that we are struggling with.

We can choose to wallow in our own pity party, blaming ourselves, then blaming God, then blaming others. Because as much as this pity party stinks, sometimes it feels easier just to stay here.

We can throw our hands up in the air as if we have no control over our current circumstances, as if we have no choice at all. We can be defeated.

I know we can do this because many days now I have.

Many days I have allowed my world to be defined by my struggle. It becomes me. And, it will continue to do so, unless I make a different choice.

SO, today, I choose to fight.

I choose to fight step by step, breathe by breathe to get out of this place where I currently am.

With my fists flailing in the air, I will fight to be who God has called me to be. I will fight to overcome the struggles that consume me. Like a boxer in a ring I will look my struggle in the face today, acknowledging that it is a part of my day, but giving it no more credit than that.

And, if I am to throw my arms up helplessly in the air once more, it will only be in a surrender cry to my Savior because I realize that as I make this decision, He will fight with me, for me.

Today, and every day hereafter, I will make a conscious choice. Because I cannot afford to stay here in the midst of my pride, in the midst of my jealousy and discontentment, in the midst of my lack of faith, in the midst of the enemies lies. I must get out of here!

Today, I WILL fight.

Will you make the choice to fight today?

Ephesians 6:10-11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

My Secret Sin

bird

*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the 2nd post in a 6 post series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be. Click here to read the 1st post. *

We are all messed up. 

Some of you may be alcoholics. You are addicts. You have an unhealthy relationship with food, or with gambling, or with your sexuality. People see it. They undoubtedly see the affects of your choices. They watch as your struggle with alcohol overtakes your life, your job, your family. They observe as your drug poisons your body; your appearance is deteriorating. They view the unhealthy results of your struggle.

You couldn’t hide it even if you wanted to. You wear your struggle upon your sleeve, and the world knows.

They know you are struggling. They know you are messed up.

We are all messed up.

I, too, am messed up.

But what about me? What about the sin that is written ever across my heart, but is rarely seen upon my face, rarely observed by those around me?

I could keep it hidden forever, letting it eat away at me.

I could pretend. After all, it is easy to put on a smile, a fake face. It is easy to just say “good, I’m doing good” in a passing conversation.

I can put on my makeup and my nicest of clothes, but God sees my heart, and nothing I can put on outwardly will change the struggle that is taking place in there.

My struggle is hidden, and few see it.

I am a white washed tomb.

It is easier to simply pretend that I don’t struggle at all, and for some reason (totally unfathomable to me) people believe it.

But, what good does it do for me to pretend? And, what good does it do for you to pretend? We MUST stop this pretending.

As I struggle in secret I make a choice to tell the world, not the whole world at first. I tell my friends, the ones I trust. The ones who know truth. The ones who will help pray me through this place.

And, as I walk through this place I begin to tell more people. I begin to let others see me struggle.

This is another step in the right direction. I choose to unveil my hiding, so that I may have help, so that I must be accountable, so that I no longer feel alone.

What struggle are you facing today? Could I encourage you to share your struggle with a trusted friend, one who will speak truth into your life as you walk through this trying time, these difficult emotions, or that habit you know is not honoring the Lord?

There is truth to the saying, “the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem.”

I have a problem, actually a whole list of them. My guess is that you do too. Let’s walk this journey together, my friend. You are not alone.

Thank God that He washes us clean in the midst of our filthy mess. Thank God that through Him we are righteous, even in the midst of our white washed moments.

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

Yes, I’m Struggling

struggle

*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the first post in a 6 post series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be.*

Struggle. I’ve been struggling. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally. For hours, and days, and even some weeks now.

Yes, me, the one who stands in front of a church to lead praise to my God.

Yes, me, the one who gets to stay home with babies and play in the yard throughout the day.

 Yes, me, the one who writes about Jesus and all that He is doing, the one who talks about His power, and His healing, and the way He alone satisfies.

Yes, me, the one who has been going to church since before I can even remember.

I am struggling. Today the struggle is lingering. A feeling deep in my gut, a sickness in my stomach.

The struggle overwhelms me throughout the day, and as darkness falls, and I lay alone in the silence it begins to overtake me.

Most days my struggle pours out through my eyes, leaving only traces of tears down my worn cheeks. And, as I stand in the kitchen, while the tears pour out and the supper is making, and I count my blessing, the struggle is still there. Like a burden I cannot get rid of, a weight upon my weak shoulders.

And, sadly, I have been ashamed to speak, mostly because I cannot find the words. Afraid to write, wondering, What will people think of me? Will they see me differently? Will they treat me differently. I am embarrassed to struggle.

How ridiculously silly is that? Who am I to be embarrassed of struggling? After all, I am only human.

You too are human. You too struggle.

Why do I feel like I must pretend to have it all together? I don’t. I can’t.

I feel broken. SO incredibly broken, and I am. Maybe this is God’s way of reminding me how broken I am. Maybe I need to be here so I can need him even greater.

I feel all alone, and yet I know I am not. And you friend, are not alone either.

As these feeling over take my heart each day, I go into battle. Many days I lose, in and of myself. The lies win. The hurt wins. The enemy wins. But only for a day.

The truth is while I feel very hopeless in this rut, I know I have hope

While I feel very lonely, I know I am not alone.

While I feel like no one knows me or sees me, I know the Creator of this Universe is looking down on me with love.

While I feel defeated, I know He has already won this battle.

My God is real and He is big and He is personal. He paid His very life to save me, to love me, to cleanse me. And, that is why it’s OK for me to struggle. It’s OK for you to struggle. Because we are human. Because my God has paid the price for the struggle I face today. Because I cannot do this on my own, and if I could then I would not need Him.

I am struggling. And, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed or afraid to say it.

Take heart my friends, in the midst of your struggle; you are just like the rest of us, broken, messed up, struggling, and so desperately in need of a Savior. Cling to Him today.

John 16: 33 ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

With Love,

Sarah

Being a Child: When I Doubt, and Reason, and Question God

 

 

childMy 3 year old daughter holds to this belief very strongly. This belief that there is indeed a “Pond Monster” inhabiting the pond on our property. If you were to speak with her about our pond on any given day, she would undoubtedly educate you on this specific monster. She would tell you that the monster stays deep down in the pond, and this monster will not hurt you UNLESS you get into the pond without mommy or daddy. She would tell you that this pond monster grabs children and pulls them under, but is scared of adults, and therefore one can safely swim or fish in the pond as long as an adult is present.

You see, we live on a piece of land that has a fairly large pond backing up directly to the back door of our home. This pond is just a quick walk from where we spend our days, mere seconds.  As parents with small children the idea of this can indeed be terrifying, so we had to come up with a plan. A plan to keep our small children away from the water, to avoid the danger that this pond could be.

When we first moved into this home, Riley was young. She could not yet comprehend the danger of “drowning”, BUT, even in her young years, she had already been introduced to the scary that is monsters.

Therefore, the “pond monster” entered the picture. The monster of death, of drowning, of never seeing my mommy and daddy again. The monster that keeps little girls and boys, never to return them.

We told her this to protect her. So, did we fudge the truth a little? Kinda.

We changed the truth into terms she could comprehend anyways.

But, here’s the point. Riley believed our words, without question. Without hesitation, she took what we told her and in her mind it is concrete truth.

I’m not sure that even a master debater would be able to talk her out of this belief.

She has the faith of a child. Naivety, you could call it.

She looks at us, as her parents, and she believes our words. She doesn’t need to see the monster. She doesn’t need to feel its grip before she can fully have faith that it is true. It just is.

Now, if I were to tell you as an adult, the exact same story, you would likely not believe me. You would think, and you would reason, and you would find many concepts that would allow you to push my story aside as simply fiction. And, fiction indeed it is.

BUT, I wonder how often my Heavenly Father whispers down a truth from heaven, and I think my way out of it.

I wonder how often He warns me of danger that is ahead, but I question His words, and as a result I must feel the clench of that danger before I believe His truth.

I wonder how often He has shown me a direction to go, but in my human mind, I had to reason myself out of His direction and into my own.

There is one MAJOR difference between myself, and My God. He is perfect.  He does not twist the truth. He does not lie. It seems then that it would be easy to believe His words, to have faith in His ways. But, so often I lack it.

So often, I lead myself into my own ways, rather than following His. So often, I think, well, God doesn’t understand my situation, so I know what He said, BUT….

If only I could have the faith of a child- it would be only for my better. An unquestioning, unwavering belief that my Father has my best interest in mind; an undoubting trust in His truth, His words, His leading. 

Lord, give me that faith, that I might hear your word and undoubtedly believe your truth today.

Psalm 23: 1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

 

Why My Husband is NOT My Everything

Photo by Sarah Randolph Photography

Photo by Sarah Randolph Photography

“You are my everything, ” the card simply read those four little words. What a sweet sentiment! I thought little of the true meaning behind those words and quickly added a few sentiments of my own followed by my signature.

The card was well spoken and kind, but it wasn’t until later that I looked at the words and pondered what they really meant. And, as I pondered those words I realized that I couldn’t possible REALLY mean them, not in their fullness.

My husband is a extremely big part of my life. He owns my heart as much as any one person possibly could! My world in many ways is directly reliant and intertwined with his. He is the Father of my children. He is the one who carries the financial responsibility for our family. We work alongside of one another to build our home, our family, and our future.

There is very little in my life that he is not in some way a part of.

However, that being said, my husband is NOT my everything.

I don’t want him to be. And, he should also sincerely hope that he is not.

Because the thing is, my husband is a human, and my guess is your spouse probably is as well! Like all humans, he is broken. He doesn’t work quite like he would have back in that original garden. He is not perfect.

The reality is I cannot count on my husband to fulfill me, not fully.

He cannot be the one I look to at the end of the day to wipe away all my worries and fix all my stress.

My husband is not THE ONE who makes me happy, not him solely.

And, though my husband knows me well, he does not know me fully. He does not understand me fully.

I cannot count on him to meet all of my needs each day.

Because if I do, many days I will be disappointed. If I rely on him to fill my emptiness, and fulfill all my needs, I will be left hopeless. Always wanting more. Always let down by his humanity.

There have been times in my marriage that I looked to my husband to be my everything, and I was sorely disappointed.

Because, I tried to make him my God, and he is not God.

No matter how GREAT of a guy he is, no matter how often he goes out of his way to make me happy, or to meet my expectations, he is still human. He will still fall short.

ONLY my God can be my everything. He is the one who never fails me. He is the one who never forsakes me, not once. He is the one who can fill me and fulfill me. The one who’s love never waivers, never fails. He is the one whose’ bad days do not lead him to anger with me, and whose opinion of me is not waivered by even my worst moments.  He is the one who carries my burdens. The only one who could ever know me fully, and understand  this heart of mine that He created.

God has blessed me with a husband, a companion, a friend who walks with me on this journey. The one who I become one with. BUT, when I try to make that man my everything, I lose hope, because he cannot be.

So, do yourself and your spouse a favor, choose NOT to make them your’ everything!

Choose to let God be your’ everything and then you can enjoy your spouse even when they don’t meet your expectations, even when they forget that anniversary, or say those unkind words, or find themselves lost in the midst of their own brokenness.

God is still there, being EVERYTHING you could possibly need!

Psalm 118:8 “ It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Who Am I? The Journey of Nothing and Everything

 

Alone

Who am I? A question my heart often wonders these days.

As I sit on my overstuffed sofa, staring into the darkness of evening, reflecting on my day, I wonder, who am I?

When I run into that acquaintance at the grocery store, “What are you doing these days?” they politely ask.  “Just being mom” I say with a smile; an important job, still, I wonder, who am I?

As I fill out that questionnaire with the simple phrase “describe yourself”, I ponder, and I grapple for words, and once more I wonder, who am I?

The thing is we are all searching for the answer to this question. We are all seeking to fill that incomplete feeling. But, for most of my life I have filled it. I filled it up with my achievements, my accomplishments, and the title that came before my name.

And, those things became who I was.

But, now here I am, in this season of my life where I desperately want to achieve, I desperately want to accomplish, and it’s as if the Lord gently whispers, “Be still my child.”

In this place where I am waiting and watching for God to show me what BIG thing I am to do next, and He reminds me that sometimes His calling is humble and lowly, and sometimes I must die to my own desires so that I can more fully live for his.

Here I am, where there is no longer a title attached to my name, there is not a reward given out at the end of the day or the month or the year for the mom who did the most dishes, or cleaned the most messes, or held on to her patience the longest. I cannot turn in a list of my accomplishments each day to receive praise from my boss, and most days no one even knows what it is I actually accomplished, including myself.

Here I am, no longer the honor roll student, or the class president; no longer the MVP or the team captain. Here I am, no longer the “most likely to succeed” or the lead solo. I am no longer a member of student council or a valuable employee, or a college athlete. I am just me, Sarah. That’s it.

And, to be honest, it often feels like an aimless place to be. I don’t know how to be here because for as long as I can remember I was striving to outdo, to achieve more, to receive that next accolade from my coach, or my  teacher, or my parents.

For years I have allowed myself to be defined by my achievements, NOT that those achievements alone were wrong or un-godly. BUT, because I was defined by them, I did not have to look solely to the Lord to define me.

All along I have been a Child of God,  but it seems that was just another ribbon to attach to my badge, another trophy to place on my dresser. In my heart, it did not stand alone.

The sad part is, while I was defined by what I achieved, I was never satisfied by them. Never. Not for one second, because at the end of the day, even all those medals, and awards, and accolades could not satisfy the empty place in my soul. The insecurities of who I am could not be quenched by my own earnings.

For the last months and weeks, I have wondered, “What am I to do? Who am I to be?” Now, I realize, at least for this moment, I must do nothing. I must achieve nothing.

Here I am on this journey of nothing and EVERYTHING at the same time.

Because what He achieved that day on the cross, what He accomplished when He paid my debt so that He could fill my void- THAT is enough. THAT is everything. When He defined me by calling me to be His child- THAT is when my insecurity could be quenched once and for all. In Him alone.

Being His child is not another accomplishment to add to the list, because it is not MY accomplishment. And, unlike all that I have achieved, what He did never falls short.

I belong to the Lord- may my heart find satisfaction simply in that truth.

I am His- may that be everything.

1 John 1:3 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

With love,

Just Sarah

Stepping Back & Finding Beauty

Snapshot 1 Lurking in the shadows of the dimly lit hall, I stood, peeking around the corner into the dining room. That’s where I saw it. At first glance it was the norm, but as I stood back for a minute, I saw beauty. There was my life taking place right before my eyes.

Just moments earlier, I found myself entangled in the stress and frustration of everyday life; the bills that needed to be paid, and the house that once more needed to be picked up, and the kids who also had an endless list of needs to be met. It engulfed my heart. And, there in the midst of my drowning, my voice was raised, and my temper was short.

Just moments earlier, I had given my husband a piece of my mind. I had left the room because the weariness of my heart was overwhelming me. My life, these hours, and days, and weeks, it felt hard. It felt overtaking. It felt exhausting. It felt like too much.

And, because I was entangled in the too much, I lost sight of the SO much.

I was lost amidst the winding roads of self pity. I was wandering down the dangerous path of discontentment. My vision had only one focus, the negative. I saw disobedient children, and an ungrateful husband, a dirty house, and an empty bank account. And, it didn’t really matter if those were true realities or not. That is what I saw. That is what I felt.

But, there was SO much more taking place. My life is SO much more.

As I glanced around the corner and just stood back to observe, it was as if the Lord moved back the blinders that once hindered my vision.

I saw a husband, who was in the kitchen, helping to prepare the dinner that we would soon eat, the food that we never lack. The sound of music danced into my ears as I observed my kids, two healthy, beautiful kids. They twirled and danced about, dragging their daddy onto the dance floor a time or two. Their smiles and giggles melted away the hardness in my heart.  I saw a home, a safe place. I saw love, and hope. Hope that broke through and gave life once more.

It was as if stepping back allowed me to take a snap shot of my life, like the black and white photos of a family slide show. I pictured the memories that were being made, the family that was being built, and I treasured this picture in my heart.

So, I have started stepping back more often. Just watching.  Watching this life unfold. Taking snap shots of the beauty that so often eludes me amidst the days that feel hard.

My challenge to you? Step back, my friend. Look at your life. Even amidst the most difficult, the most frustrating, the most overwhelming moments, there is beauty. He is redeeming the moments. He is making the broken places new. He is creating beauty even when your heart is ugly. He is working.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

With Love,

Sarah