Today is a gift.

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Not even one week out of my junior year of college, and still super busy.

There is so much to be thinking about and planning for. Studying for my certification exams, scheduling when to take them, visiting student teaching co-ops, getting clearances renewed, finding a gift for my mom’s birthday (which is next weekend, by the way), organizing all of the crap that I brought home from school, planning a short-term mission trip for the summer, finishing curriculum for the summer camp that I’ll be visiting on aforementioned mission trip, getting engaged (?!), planning weekend getaways, and working 2 jobs.

There’s honestly probably a million other things I’m forgetting.Life is busy, people!

Amongst the business and running from here to there, I’m finding it hard to focus. I’m avoiding what’s in front of my face and looking forward to getting to the “good parts.”

The problem is, though, that I have a lingering feeling that I’m wrong. Yes, our Lord does promise us a prosperous future […plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11] but that doesn’t give us permission to neglect the gift of today.

I’ve taken some time this morning to look into how to go about being more present, here’s what I came up with:

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him- for this is his lot.

James 4:13-15 Now listen you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on our business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you should say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.”

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As a wise professor of mine says that the time that we spend outside of school with our families is more important than the time we spend toiling away on academics because, “soon, there will be too many empty chairs at our tables.” Every time that I hear him say that, it makes me a little panicky to think that one day too soon the people that I love will be taken from me. It puts it into perspective for me- the idea of being more present, and how important it is that I strive to do that.

Worrying about what is ahead isn’t going to make me get there any faster, and neither is pining for it.

I guess what I’m suggesting is that we all try to take each day as it comes, do what we can with it, and enjoy it while it lasts.

Today is a gift- that’s why they call it the present. (cheesy, I know, sorry.)

#summergoals

Just parts. Not whole.

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Driving home from work today I was pondering the attraction that two humans can have for each other. And I was thinking about how interesting it is that God made us have these unique and passionate desires and how sad it is that we mistake them for something that they’re not.

I guess what I’m tiptoeing around talking about is the difference between love and lust. There’s one quote from the movie Love and Honor that I kind of took some encouragement in for a while, as strange as that is. Liam Hemsworth says to his pal and fellow solider in Vietnam Austin Stowell who is heartsick over a girl at home, that “…there are a million other girls out there with the same parts in all the same places.”

His friend replies, “But there is only one Jane.”

Yes, this girl was a semblance of parts that are in reality, not all that unique or special. But to him, they made up the whole that was Jane and that was his whole world.

I guess I found encouragement in that quote because while I was going through a rough time, I kept thinking that I hadn’t just broken up with the only guy that there was in the world. There were still plenty and they were generally all alike in the ‘important ways.’

Now I have a pretty different perspective on that whole thing. I was thinking about what really sets me apart from the rest of the girls on the planet and to be honest, I couldn’t come up with a whole lot of special uniqueness. So I started thinking, if there isn’t anything special about this body or particular life, what do I have to offer? And then I realized that that’s where God comes in.

Surely, for one guy out there, it’s not going to be about the parts that I have but the whole that I am. I think that’s how two people know when they’re right for each other because suddenly all of the little things matter less and the big things matter more. When you crave soul connections more than physical ones. That’s magical.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense here, but this really was a bit of a revelation for me.

Surprises

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One of the most beautiful and frustrating things that I have come across in life is a surprise. The bad kind of surprises can range anywhere from- surprise! a bird pooped on your head, or surprise! you’ve overdrawn your checking account, or surprise! he’s actually not Mr. Right. The good kind of surprises (which are my favorite ever) are things like- surprise! you left $5 in your pocket the last time you wore these pants. Or, surprise! you actually got an A in your Child Development class, or, surprise! a new, interesting person arrives on the scene.

Over the course of the past year, I moved out of the house of my childhood and into a college dorm. I was living with one of my best friends and ended up making two more. Because of these girls I laughed so hard that I nearly peed- on multiple occasions. They were there for me when all I could do was sit on my bed and cry. They were always up for an adventure but they also understood that there are some nights when you just need to put on sweatpants, eat brownie from a mug, and watch a movie with Leo DiCaprio in it. I am infinitely grateful for the time that I was blessed to spend with these beautiful ladies. They are full of wonderful surprises.

I was also surprised by my own strength. I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to be the person that I want to be. My circumstances may not always be favorable but I serve a God that always has my best interest in His favor and with that Truth, I feel unstoppable. If there is anything that I learned this semester is that sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way, but God always provides for our needs and He is always good- even when there is nothing good in us.

I was surprised to find the semester coming to a close. It doesn’t seem possible. Didn’t I just get moved in and settled last week? Time has certainly passed me by at the speed of light but I really can’t complain. Time heals a lot of wounds and brings with that healing the opportunity for new beginnings.

Change is scary and some adventures are daunting. But after seeing what God can do with my brokenness, my craziness, and my stupidity, it makes me really excited for the next chapter of this book.

God knows it will be full of surprises…

Real talk.

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I sound like a broken record. But I’m that girl. That girl that has to do her own thing and make her own decisions regardless of how questionable they might be. You might say that I don’t have to make shitty choices. But actually, I’m convinced that’s how I learn best. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people that learn things the hard way.

And on top of that, I’m a slow learner. Not only does it take one experience to teach me something, but I usually have to repeat it, enlarging the damage that I’m creating until I’ve dug myself a neat little hole that I can’t possibly climb out of without some serious tribulation.

And it is in the climbing out that the learning happens. I look around and I’m confused about how I got into this predicament in the first place.

When I finally get myself into the light again, on solid ground, I take a look at myself and realize that something has changed. Maybe it’s not dramatic but it’s definitely different. You can never come out unscathed.

That’s the sucky part. Learning via experience hurts- yourself and other people that matter to you. So what’s a girl to do when she wants to love people and be loved but doesn’t want to hurt them? From what I’ve learned so far, you just have to do it. You just have to love and make mistakes and learn from them. I read this super awesome quote in a Thought Catalog article the other day and it sums up my conclusions:

 I will keep telling the story of me making mistakes and eventually being real to myself, of me being strong and not afraid to move on, of me being human, being young, being a reckless loser, wanting something I can’t have, realizing I don’t need it, accepting the past, learning to respect myself and believing in something that’s just right for me out there. After all, that’s what life is about, isn’t it?

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 So that’s it. I’ve learned that I’m a doubter. I wish I could take Truth and instantly accept it but instead I have to put myself through trails and put that Truth to the test. Thankfully though, God is faithful and always draws me back in. He meets me where I am with grace and forgiveness and shows me the way back to solid ground. Sometimes I wonder why I was created this way but I’m starting to embrace it because the lessons that I learn are convicting but powerful ones.

And I’m always thankful for a good lesson because that means I’m moving forward. And there’s really no better place to go.

Why I want to be a teacher.

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I have spent 14 of the last 48 hours with 13, 7-8 year olds. For some people, the idea of that makes them want to pull out their hairs one by one. But it makes me smile from ear to ear. 🙂

I feel so blessed in my life to feel so certain of my calling. I’m still working out the kinks but teaching is definitely in my future. Every time I do a field experience it confirms what I already know and inspires me more to pursue my dream.

I do love children. They make my day every day that I get to spend with them. They say the most hilarious things, have the most compassionate hearts, are anxious to learn, eager to please, and are excitedly energetic about everything. And call me a sap if you want, but they always have that little gleam in their eyes. The sign of innocence and wonder. I adore it. They make it so easy to love them.

Teaching is so much more than a calling to love children because, let’s be honest, just about anyone can do that. But, as it is with life, there are always going to be those students that aren’t as easy to love. This is where even the best teachers may fail. Students fall through the cracks and get pushed aside.

I think that the calling of a teacher is to love her students. As we know, loving someone means having “a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” (another C.S. Lewis quote) But really, loving someone is a practice that takes dedication and prayerful meditation. That is a tough thing to do when you come across someone that just really rubs you the wrong way. Or when you have a student that prevents you from getting through even half of your lesson. Or who distracts and antagonizes everyone around him so that they can’t get any work done…

Anyway, I’m so pumped to be a teacher because I believe in education and it’s ability to help students reach their full potential. I believe in the impact that one caring adult can have in a child’s life. I believe in the innocent and precious faces of my students.

I can’t wait to be a part of their learning!

God’s Will vs. My Will… The battle continues

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“But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to?”

That right there^^ Yea, I feel that.

Sometimes I feel like I am in a constant battle. A battle where I tell God my desires and He takes them under consideration and says, “Okay Sarah, but what about this instead?” So I sigh and say, “Alrighty then God, if that’s what you say.”

But gee, what kind of a Christian am I? Should it really be that big of a deal for me to spend an extra hour talking to a friend when I know I should be studying? Should it really be that big of a deal for me to give a little extra money to a needy cause? Should it really be that big of a deal for me to give up 7 weeks of my summer to an organization that needs teachers? I say no! That’s not a big deal. That’s called sacrifice. And it’s not anywhere near what my Savior did for me. And it’s basically the bare minimum of what I should be doing.

BUT sometimes I just don’t want to have to do the right thing. I don’t want to have to tell the boy no- I like his attention. I don’t want to listen to my parents. I don’t want to have to have it together all the time. I don’t always want to dress and act like I should- I want to go out and party and make mistakes and ‘live’. I don’t want to have to be smart about how I spend my money- I want to splurge.

Okay, there is a point to my whining here so bear with me. God is working in me. I know that because of how confused I feel. I know it because sometimes it hurts. But there are moments when I catch a small small glimpse of what He’s doing in my life and wow- it’s going to be pretty beautiful from the looks of it.

I guess the point of this post was to let you know that you don’t have to be perfect to be a Christian or to be a follower of Jesus. His disciples weren’t the most upstanding. They were slow learners, selfish, inattentive and doubtful. Those adjectives all describe me. I know a lot of people who could attest to being the same way. But God doesn’t need a whole lot to work with. Give Him a little faith and He’ll take care of the rest.

I guess we can expect it to hurt because sometimes the Truth does that. And I guess we can expect to be confused because God’s ways are much too high for us to even comprehend. Kind of like how I feel when I look at Algebra x 5,000.

If you feel like you’re struggling to live your faith daily, to rid yourself of doubt, to comprehend God’s will for you, to be unselfish in your desires and actions… You’re not alone. You’re among friends.

Control.

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Sarah’s latest revelation, comin’ atcha…

I’m a little bit of a control freak. Anyone who knows me knows that. And I think deep down even the most laid back person you know has a control freak inside of them.

I did not come to this revelation on my own, nor do I think I ever would have. But there’s this thing I do in my life when I make a decision and it’s called worry about everyone else and pretend like my decisions have momentous impact on their lives.

Newsflash to me: I’m responsible for me, not them. AND I’m not that important. My decisions don’t control their actions.

I guess I just agonize about my decisions because I feel responsible for other’s well being. I feel like I need to show them what’s right, do what’s best for everyone. How ironic considering how often I do things wrong and don’t even do what’s best for myself.

I cannot choose the path that someone must take. I can’t decide what God’s will is for them. In fact, when I do, I’m letting the little god inside of me take over and then can’t do whatever it is that God is willing me to do.

Ultimately, I can only seek God’s will for my life and make decisions that further it. And when I don’t, it’s no one’s fault but my own. Maybe when I do things wrong, I help lead someone astray. But maybe I’m not the boss of them. Maybe when I do something right and preach about it to someone I positively influence them. But maybe it’s not in my power to control their actions.

I am in no way saying that we ought not to take responsibility for our actions. Not at all. We are responsible for our own self-control. I am saying that we are not responsible for the actions of  others.

I guess it goes back to that thing people always say about teens, that they’re not as big a deal as they think they are.

I’m not in control. You’re not in control. God is in control.

I need to be reminded of this every. single. day. Because I really ride the struggle bus on this one, friends.