Friday, December 17, 2010

Colonial Christmas

My family lived in Yorktown, Virginia, the home of the British Army surrender in the Revolutionary War, for four years throughout my middle and most of high school years. I think it's safe to say, all four of us fell in love with the rich history, beautiful landscapes, proximity to the ocean (we lived on a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay), and the four seasons! One of our most favorite places, though, is about 30 minutes north of Yorktown, a perfectly preserved look into American history: Colonial Williamsburg.

Williamsburg is one of my most favorite places on earth as it is steeped with amazing history and very fond family memories. And my most favorite time to attend is Christmas. Williamsburg encapsulates the coziness and family-focus of Christmas better than any place I have been. I'm sure there are places that rival it's Christmas beauty and fun, but it's certainly a favorite for me and was our Christmas home for three of our four years in Virginia.

This week, it's snowing in the Tidewater area which makes me want to go even more! I loved when it snowed in Virginia, so am definitely jealous of those folks today! In any case, I'm here in Dallas where there is no snow in sight and you can easily walk outside sans coat. So instead, I thought I'd share a few images from this Christmas wonderland. I hope you enjoy! And if you ever have the opportunity to have a Colonial Christmas, do it. It's fabulous.

The decorations in Williamsburg are all colonial-style made from fruit and foliage. They are amazingly beautiful!

One of my favorite traditions was to get a cup of wassail with cinnamon and a gingerbread cake. Although a poor image, the above picture is exactly how the cakes look! The wassail was typically served in a paper cup if you bought one while walking on the street

King's Arm Tavern was our host for Christmas dinner for several years. We thoroughly enjoyed having a traditional colonial-style Christmas dinner! Triple yum.

Christmas Eve we always went up for the firing of the Christmas guns and the lighting of the tree. The fife and drum corp would march in, they'd shoot off the guns, and everyone shouted "hazza!"
I mean seriously, gorgeous!
This is the iconic image of Williamsburg, the Governor's Palace

And this is a book on how to make your own Williamsburg Christmas decorations! Yes, I have it. No, I did not buy it. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crazy Busy!

Today has been one of those days where I have so many things on my must do list that are all equally important and a multitude of emails flooding in that I needed to take a minute break to resort my brain. Sometimes I get too rattled and wind up in a tizzy, so have learned those situations require a few minutes away from the work to think about something else. So of course that something else today is the work!

Back in August, one of my accounts left the agency. I had worked on this account for over three years and it was a substantial piece of business. It was most definitely an insane account, but they only advertised three times a year so the insanity was somewhat contained. Plus, it was one account so we could always ask the client to prioritize their "must haves", which we did frequently. After this account left, rather than fill it with another equally-sized one, I was given multiple smaller accounts (smaller in budgets) to fill it. I'm definitely thankful for a change of pace, new learning experiences, and an expanded list of my already diverse client experience, but I must say I'm overwhelmed. And these changes came in the midst of hard personal things, which always happens, right? :)

I now have:
1. 10 accounts - my historical high was four; also seven of those are currently active, five in planning season
2. Four group directors - previously had two, three of these current four are new for me
3. Four new planners - two are right out of school and two are new to the agency and each have very different styles, understanding, and need to be trained differently
4. Seven brand management teams

It is definitely a challenge and I'm continually navigating the best way to get things done while also managing my teams, but am thankful for new experiences. I will also be thankful for a respite over Christmas to empty my mind and rest with the fam.

Okay, now back to it so I can finish my 10 item must do on 12/15 list! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Little Light of Mine

I had to share this as I've never seen it on TV. Each December, our agency has an internal voting for the best creative for the year. Last year, my favorite (and the year's winner!) was for Salvation Army and once again, my favorite for the year is the Salvation Army.

Anyway, I watched it three times for it's so good. My favorite is the guy with only two teeth singing at the top of his lungs (they cast creative from actual people served by the Salvation Army).

The Salvation Army has solid purpose to do the most good for the sake of Jesus Christ. Enjoy.

A Boyfriend for Christmas

Last night Katie and I watched my favorite of the cheesy, made-for-TV Christmas movies, A Boyfriend for Christmas. And then we decided it's too bad we didn't ask Santa for a boyfriend on year instead of Barbie like Holly did, as maybe he'd bring us one this year. *Sigh*
I also watched White Christmas, one of my favorites, while cleaning/organizing/working on Christmas things. And without fail, the "what do you do with a general when he stops being a general" song brought tears to my eyes as it always does. I guess it's because of my dad and granddaddy.
Happy Christmas movie season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Elle est une petite bebe!

Bring on the sparkles, princesses, pink, and all things girly for new Baby Franks is a GIRL! Yep, my brother will be surrounded with more glittery, girliness and I'm sure McKenzie will teach her all the ways of princesses and barbie.

She is looking fabulously healthy and weighing in at 12oz (which means nothing to me...) and is set to make her way into the world on or around April 28th. Apparently she has a name, but Adam and Heather are keeping it under wraps for now. I'm sure it'll be perfect!

Bring on the girly baby sewing. I'm going to have to show some restraint, I have so many ideas... :)

Thank you, Lord, for this most precious blessing. We are thankful for the life you are knitting together and are praying now for you to save her and use her in mighty ways for your glory. Blessed to be her aunt.

Turning Around Annoyance

To be quite frank, today I'm annoyed. Some things are pretty minor, but since there are some bigger annoyances, too, they seem to be magnified. In the span of the past few days, the following has occurred:

1. I learned that my upstairs neighbor asked the landlord to wait to fix the leak in her daughter's shower that has been creating a royally disgusting mess in mine for two+ weeks until after their Christmas party on Saturday. Mind you I haven't been able to use it in this time frame. Seriously? A party? Ugh...

2. Two buttons on my favorite Ugg boots cracked this morning and a piece broke off of one of them. They're not in warranty anymore, so I'm hoping I can figure out a way to fix it. Thankfully they're the inside buttons...

3. I was late to work. No, not past 8:29:59, but arrived right as they were shutting the door for Wednesday Morning Meeting. And one of my new planners was presenting...

4. I'm currently dealing with a GIANT error on the part of a former TRG employee. I'm really, really hoping our print negotiating supervisor can get us out of it or else it'll be bad with the client...

5. I learned some incredibly sad news about a situation in one of my girls' families which just breaks my heart, particularly as we try to love her and one of my other girls in the midst of an excruciating family situation, too.

6. I got a new account today that, as of yesterday, was handled by the boyfriend of one of my other bosses who was let go. I didn't know him and don't know her well (she's a new boss), but I just feel awkward and sad for them.

7. My car has been starting strangely since it got colder. It's annoying me as I'm nervous for something worse but crossing my fingers it's just cold. I mean, the car is German, it shouldn't get sad at temperatures in the 30s!

And so now, I'm letting it go and recognizing that each of these issues, big and small, are not a surprise to God and WILL ultimately be used for good, regardless of how they turn out today or tomorrow. For I'm striving to know the Lord your God is God; he is THE faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9

And I'm turning the annoyance into JOY. Joy in the above affirmation and in the good things I do see today; things such as:

1. Finding out if I'll have a niece or nephew...TODAY!!

2. Thankfulness that both of my precious girls in the midst of hard things refused to go at it alone and chose to tell me and eventually the entire small group.

3. Fun pink Christmas trees!



4. Peppermint coffee in my snazzy Christmas mug

5. And we still have cinnamon and chocolaaaaaaaaaaaate!!!!


Thank you, Lord, for helping me turn mourning into dancing. Annoyance into joy. Frustrations into praises. And for this most beautiful season celebrating the birth of salvation and ultimate love.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cutie Patootie

Dear Cuties,

You are my most favorite Christmastime fruity treat. I love your citrusy sweetness and the ease with which you can be peeled. You are small enough to tuck inside my bag for an afternoon pick-me-up or to fit within the toe of a Christmas stocking hanging on the mantel for a present-opening snack. Thanks for quenching my Monday lunchtime sweet tooth; I look forward to many more days of enjoyment during this most festive season.

Welcome back. I've missed you.

Fondly,
Sarah

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thaaaaanksgiving!!!!!

In 7 minutes I will be leaving the office and making the trek down to good ole San Antone. The weather will be warmer than I'd like, but I'll just pretend there's a nip in the air and dress accordingly. Regardless, I'm super duper excited to see my parents, who I haven't seen since MAY! And the rest of the fam of course.

I'm in charge of the table decorations which, although not on the level of Caryn fabulousness, I think will be festive. I'm also going to try my hand at learning my Mema's famous mashed potatoes and my mom's famous apple pie! Thankfully my mom will also be making a pie, otherwise we'd likely end up with a Friends-like incident. You know the one when Rachel screws up the trifle: "first there's a layer of lady fingers, then there's a layer of jam, then beef sauteed with peas and onions..." Hoping I don't somehow mix something crazy in the mashed potatoes...

So here's hoping you all have a gobbley good turkey day full of scrumptous food, people you love and who love you, and praises to the One who gave it all! I'll be sure to take pictures of my domesticated attempts!

And fingers crossed for no traffic for me...eek! :)

What is Discipleship?

This is a question that has been swirling around in my head these last few weeks. Why, might you ask? Well, I’ve realized that what I once thought it was, I now know it is not; it’s so much more. I used to think it was fairly flat and one dimensional and consisted of the “must dos” of the faith: read your Bible (check), go to church (check), prep and lead small group (check), give some of your money to the poor (check), share the gospel (check), and squeeze in some check-in time with the small group girls (check). Notice how my original thoughts were all centered around a check list of dos? Not that these elements are bad, but somewhere along the way of the past five+ years, God obliterated this view of discipleship and started building a new one. One that consists of pain at times (as shattered dreams and changed hearts sometimes bring pain), but insanely more joy that makes the pain completely worth it and it's so much fun! And one that doesn’t necessarily look a certain way, but is fluid and shifts based on the Lord’s direction.

So here is what I know today about discipleship (from my experience):

1. Discipleship isn’t simply leading a small group, it’s daily spending personal time with the Lord to know and allow him to change you, and then asking him to use you to ignite hearts and souls for him

2. Discipleship isn’t about walking the road alone, it’s about living in community yourself so you in turn can teach and lead others

3. Discipleship isn’t loving or serving with the expectation of a response or even a thank you, it’s knowing that all the time, sweat, and tears is for a greater good and a greater reward

4. Discipleship isn’t putting in an hour a week, it’s investing countless hours with a group of sometimes crazy middle/high school girls with the intention of helping them feel known and loved

5. Discipleship isn’t trying to convince anyone into following a list of dos and don’ts, it’s praying earnestly for God to change hearts and build into each girl a unique heart for only him

6. Discipleship isn’t skirting the hard things and being afraid of how a wavering girl may respond, it’s being committed to Truth and loving a girl in ruins so much that sometimes it leads her to despise you

7. Discipleship isn’t keeping quiet about your deepest, darkest demons out of shame or fear, it’s humbly sharing, praying that the Lord will not return your authenticity void, and reveling in the way that he uses it for his good

8. Discipleship isn’t avoiding the girls who are sometimes hard to love, it’s recognizing each one is precious and worthy of love, and knowing God will work through each one uniquely

9. Discipleship isn’t giving up on a wandering child, it’s praying earnestly for her heart to return to him and celebrating the tiniest step of surrender

10. Discipleship isn’t being serious all of the time, it’s about fun, joy, goofiness, and playing because God created and desires us to have fun, too!

11. Discipleship isn’t being selfish with your time, it’s availing yourself for a girl who needs to share or cry or simply to receive a hug

12. Discipleship isn’t about our comfort, our praise, our glory, it’s about bringing glory to the name of the Lord.

Ultimately, discipleship isn’t about us, it’s solely about God’s purposes. The road isn’t for the weary or the faint hearted, it’s for the one who admits she is weak and requires her Savior’s strength when times get tough and who praises God's name when things are easier and fun.

And it is so worth it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pillows & Mockingjays & Uggs Oh My!


Today, even thought the forecast is in the 60s, I bit the bullet and wore my Uggs! Why? Because I wanted to. Plus, lots of people have busted out boots and such. I did pair them with a half-sleeved dress so as to not look like an eskimo in the 60 degree weather. Regardless, they make me very happy!

Stop the phone and pick up this book! I'm fully hooked to the series. So much so that, even though a friend offered to let be borrow the third and final book, I couldn't wait so ran out to get it yesterday since I had a coupon! I love good books.
I will say, don't judge it by the back description. When the plot is explained, it sounds crazy. But I promise, it's really good.

Woo hoo for learning new sewing skills! Here is my pillow from my CityCraft class. I learned how to make custom bias tape, custom cording (and to attach it!), inserting an invisible zipper, which all let to the above pillow! I have a bunch of old pillow forms at home, so think I'll try my hand at some more pillows for my bedroom once the Christmas crafting is complete. Thinking fun trim and some embroidery next time...
And finally, I'm ALMOST done with Christmas shopping! One present left to get. Now, I still have a few things to finish making, but all-in-all, doing pretty dang well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Navigator

A week ago, I picked up this book. I’d never heard of it and yet when browsing the shelves of Barnes & Noble looking for something to study, was drawn to the beauty of the cover (yes, I judge books by their covers). I picked it up and, after reading the back and flipping through, decided it could help. See, it’s a retranslation of the Psalms with the goal to celebrate the beauty and truth of the Bible, creating an experience to recapture and reignite hearts and souls for the Lord. The group has translated multiple books in the New Testament, too, but I only saw the Psalms and also felt like it would be ideal given the nature of that book. Side note: this translation is not intended for deep, inductive study; it’s purely meant as another tool to enhance God’s word. The Ecclesia Bible Society used a combination of scholars, poets, artists, and writers to translate the Psalms.

Anyway, yesterday I was reading Psalm 31 and verse 3 particularly jumped out at me. One of the descriptors used to describe God was navigator. I kept reading and re-reading that verse as it says for the sake of God’s name, he is my guide, comfort, and navigator. For the sake of his name he cannot leave me floundering. And the use of navigator stirs in me many more images, thoughts, and understanding that it probably does the average person. Why? Because my dad is a navigator.
For the better part of my dad’s career in the Air Force, he worked as a navigator in the massive plane, the B-52 (also known as the Buff). So, unlike some who may breeze past the word or just think of the goofy kid in the 80s flick Flight of the Navigator, I have a personal connection to the meaning. A navigator is a crucial member of a flight team. They literally navigate the plane from point A to point B but they are also responsible for navigating the bombs. On top of that, my dad is a kind, gentle, yet incredibly strong man.

So I just sat and stared at that verse for a while as I thought about what it meant in terms of describing an aspect of the Lord’s character. Obviously the Lord navigates the path of our lives. But I thought about the other aspect of a navigators job, using radars and such to find, target, and take down enemies from the sky. God doesn’t simply direct our paths, my path, he fights for me. Sometimes I don’t see it as, like the B-52, it can come stealthily, but he does fight. And, although I don’t completely understand heaven and am struggling with aspects of it right now, I know the ultimate fight has already been done. This life will not have a surprise ending, no matter what I may think or feel.

I won’t say I’m without fear, but I am striving to trust my navigator. To know and trust that he is greater than my earthly dad and continuously fights for me, even when I sleep. So today I’ll end with a few pictures of the lovely B-52 (including one from right after my dad’s last flight; yes he’s wet…it’s tradition) interspersed with reminders of how the Lord fights for me.

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:13

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. Deuteronomy 3:22


One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. Joshua 23:10

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hosea

To those who know me well and live in community with me day-to-day, this is no earth-shattering news. I’ve been struggling lately with believing God’s words, promises, everything really. I don’t know exactly where this came from as I was walking closely with him one day and almost the next day nothing made sense. One day I relished the depth of his word that spoke into my heart and the next I felt as though I were reading some distant, complicated novel. I suppose this may be a common occurrence to some, but it was very strange to me as I couldn’t figure out why whereas other times I’ve felt distant from the Lord, I understood where it was coming from. Pretty much since that day I’ve shifted between apathy (or at least wanting to be apathetic) to longing for previous days to feeling like I failed in some way. Last week at community, one of the girls reminded me that although I feel differently about the Lord, he is not any different today than he has been ever. I'm trying to grasp that.

Anyway, that’s a high-level look at where I’ve been, so hopefully it’ll make more sense in where I’m going today.

As I mentioned, one of the albums I’ve been listening to fairly non-stop lately is Jacob and Lily. They’re an obscure Canadian band that I ran across on iTunes several years ago, and I was immediately drawn to the raw, imperfections in the sound combined with descriptively deep lyrics. While literally every song is a favorite, I have a particular affection for Hosea. It’s a song about the book Hosea in the Bible which, although odd, is one of my most favorite books. It’s a little hard to explain why, except I see parallels to my own life (well except the prostitute part...)

So rather than attempt to place words to what I’m thinking/feeling, I’ll simply share to passages; the first from the song and the second from the King James version (random translation, I know, but I liked it best for this) of Hosea. For whatever reason, they gave me a glimmer of hope that I can get back on the road and will again feel connected to the Lord.

But your heart is wild and your eyes they wander, why do I miss you? And it’s a fast steep slope that I’m on, don’t know where this started, what went wrong. it’s a fast steep slope that I’m on. Carry me through the fire into the deepest part of the river.

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. Hosea 14:4-7

Monday, November 8, 2010

Little of This and That

Confession #2 (and a little more serious, I suppose).
There are days when I want to be a mom so badly it hurts. Interestingly, they aren’t days when I’m around other folks’ kids, it’s typically when an idea pops into my mind related to parenting or fun kid-related things; ideas to bring joy and fun into daily life. Things that, while can be tweaked for kids that aren’t yours, would be more sweet and meaningful if they were. These days I sort of shove the ideas aside as dwelling on them brings forth emotions/thoughts that I just don’t want to deal with. Not in a stuffing manner, simply because dwelling on them would be futile and more damaging than reminding myself I don’t have children. Maybe someday I’ll be able to pull them from the recesses of my mind and put to use. But today, I will refocus my thinking to something relevant for today’s lifestage.

In other news, I’m taking my first ever CityCraft class tonight. Realistically, I’ve sort of figured out how to do the things in the class, but have a feeling I’m either doing them incorrectly or inefficiently so decided to put my birthday gift to use and take a class. I’m excited to have something different to do and possibly meet some new folks, even if it is just for the class this week and next (it’s two weeks long). And at least I’ll have one project started and finished by next Monday as my mind is reeling with Christmas ideas, making me a tad overwhelmed that I'll finish any of them. Thankfully I’ve almost finished all immediate family gifts; just have a few finishing touches for McKenzie’s, one piece left for Heather and Adam, and basically finished with my parents.

And finally, I stumbled across a new artist (at least new to me) last week. Her name is Mindy Gledhill and I’ve fallen in love with her album Anchor. It’s quite different from the typical music I listen to in that it’s a little more soft and airy, but I love her lyrics. There’s something whimsical and magical about them. And it’s happy-sounding. Aside from that, I’ve also been listening to Brooke Fraser’s new album, Jacob and Lilly (betcha never heard of them!), some Damien Rice, my jazz standard friends (Sinatra, Holliday, Fitzgerald, Armstrong, Martin), Shane and Shane’s new one, and a little musical joyousness (Sound of Music, Annie, South Pacific, get the picture). Quite the eclectic mix, eh? Oh well. It’s the sounds of fall 2010.

Oh and in case you’re wildly curious about the challenges. Sorry. I just haven’t felt up to sharing the first week’s with the cyber world; they’ve been much more personally challenging than outwardly interesting. Maybe this week. Today’s is the CityCraft class, even though that may be cheating a little since I signed up for it in October… Eh, whatever.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Undies With Flying Power

Confession: Sometimes I get crazy ideas that really make me laugh. Especially when I let my child-like imagination take over. Maybe someday I won't care what anyone thinks and will write them down as a story. In the meantime, they give me lots of giggles. And I'll leave you with this picture to pontificate and let your inner, imaginative child run rampant. Enjoy!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 1, 2010

Taylor Swift...in Lubbock?

Dress made by my Momma. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

This is in Strasbourg, France...isn't it all purty Christmasy?!

My body has decided it’s Christmastime. And who can argue with that, right?

Explanation.

Turns out my sickness of the week is a viral infection. Wednesday night I noticed a weird red spot on both of my legs. I thought it was strange, but chalked it up to dry skin (or a little internet diagnosis, but I’ll spare you on that one…). Then Thursday morning I noticed my back, tummy, and arms were covered with these same spots. I convinced myself said internet diagnosis must have gotten out of control and doused myself in my heavy-duty, dyshidrosis lotion attempting to remove the spots. I mentioned it to my mom, who then urged me to see the doctor knowing it could be related to my sickness, such as scarlet fever or something. I was perfectly happy to avoid a doctor visit as I’m pretty sure my doctor thinks I’m a wee bit nuts based on the plethora of bizarro diseases/issues I’ve had.

Nonetheless, I decided to listen to my mom and my doctor squeezed me in yesterday afternoon. Yep, mom was right. I have a particular viral infection that creates a non-contagious rash. Thankfully it’s all coverable and won’t spread to my face. Sadly there's no way to cure it since it's a virus so it has to run its course and it may or may not hurt/itch soon (fingers crossed it stays dormant!!). But my favorite part is the pattern this rash creates on a person’s back, including mine, is a Christmas tree!

Therein lies why my body is starting to celebrate Christmas.

I will say, I won’t miss this October and the surplus of incidences. Bring on my second favorite month of the year, November! (In case you’re curious, December is my favorite. I generally like all months of Ber, with each building to the bestest one).

One funny doctor's office visit adventure, I swear there was a couple in the waiting room on a first date. It was a little awkward listening to them converse and they talked loudly. All I have to say is, I certainly would not find a doctor’s waiting room a stellar first date…

And finally, it’s a little weird today. All student ministry folks are prepping to head to the Hideaway retreat and I’m not joining. I’ve been every year, but considering we really only have one and a half girls going (one girl is heading there tomorrow) and I need some rest time, it’s for the best. But it’s still weird since it’s senior year. I plan to squelch that weirdness with a whole lot of creativity, though. Gotta get started on Christmas presents since my body says it's time! :)

So have a happy Halloween and an early merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Month of Challenges

This week, I got sick. Not the end of the world, I know, but it came at an obnoxious time as it collided with a month of hard things. Realistically, that’s probably why I was more susceptible to sickness as my lovely dyshidrosis also decided this week would be a good time to flare up, but nonetheless, obnoxious. Although I’m not a 100%, I’m feeling better today, which is good. And I am thankful to have had two solid days of pretty much just sleeping knowing I have good teams at work who gladly pitched-in when I was under the weather.

Anyway, that’s not the purpose of today’s post. Over the past few days (well, excluding the sick days), I’ve been thinking about a few things. The first is a saying my college creativity professor said quite frequently (yes, I took a creativity class in college…it was for my major): some people die when they’re 25 but aren’t buried until they’re 75. The second is how to relish the beauty of each day as I’ve realized the majority of our lives is full of the day-to-day mundane, so obviously God wants us to use those moments to bring him glory and to be thankful for those, not just the weekends or big things. The last is an inspiration from an incredibly creative mom who I don’t know, but adore following her blog. Although most of her entries are child-related, they burst with fun and creativity and I love seeing how she inspires imagination in each day (side note: I fully recognize that a blog only shows one side of her life, but that is the side I’m inspired by :)).

So, the combination of these things brought me to an idea, one that both excites and terrifies me. For the month of November, I’m committing to doing something each day that challenges me. Now, since that’s a little on the ambiguous side, I had to create a few rules:

1. Each day, I have to implore the Lord to lead me in the day’s challenge as I ultimately want whatever it may be to be about him and richen my relationship with him
Yes, some of these challenges will be fun, but God created fun so I know that blesses him!
2. The challenge can be big (such as bungee jumping, which will not happen…) or small (such as trying a new recipe)
3. The challenge can take different forms: it could be physical, emotional, creative, spiritual
4. I cannot do the exact same challenge more than once in the 30 days
I.e. I cannot try a new recipe two days; however, if it’s spiritual, having a hard conversation or sharing Christ with two different people does count (don’t ask me why, but it does :))

The purpose of this month of challenges, in my mind at least, is to see the beauty in and learn to better walk each day with purpose as opposed to “saving it up” for the big stuff (events, weekends, retreats, vacations, what-have-you).

I’d like to blog about each day, but realistically that may not happen. So I’ll blog as often as I can.

Friday, October 22, 2010

In Paradise

Today my aunt, Ulrike, went to be with Jesus after fighting the evil disease of cancer for over two years.

You may be thinking, Ulrike is a different name. Well, it is in America, but Ulrike grew up in Bremen, Germany. She married my mom’s older brother, Blair. They have three precious girls: Bonnie and Anna who are in college, and Georgia, a junior in high school. They are three exceptionally intelligent, creative, talented, and spirited girls who are very obviously the joys of Ulrike’s life. They also all speak German, which is super cool! I remember when they were little and when they got into trouble, Ulrike would reprimand them in German and often they would respond in English, “no Mama!” which always left me curious what they had done!

Much of my memories with Ulrike center around games! It didn’t matter if we were at Mammy and Granddaddy’s house or somewhere else, my family spent hours sitting around the table, laughing and playing countless hours of games. From Rummikub to cards to my brother’s goofy childhood game, Omega Virus. Ulrike is wicked smart (she taught high school math!) and used her smarts in combination with her seemingly quiet spirit to be sneaky and kick everyone’s tail, even if one of my cousin’s or my brother cheated… :)

Ulrike is also incredibly talented, always creating, sewing, and knitting the most beautiful things. My freshman year in college she gave me a super creative and fun Christmas gift. It was a college survival kit complete with ramen noodles, a little laundry money, a calling card (do they even make those anymore?), hot chocolate, and a few other college necessities. It was so fun and the thought she put into it always touched my heart.

But most of all, Ulrike loves deeply and serves fervently. She is one of the kindest, humblest, servant-hearted women I have ever known. Her life most definitely exudes the Proverbs 31 woman.

We are thankful the Lord gave her these two years. I know she is in Paradise now, out of pain and hurt, but I know Blair and her girls especially, are grieving the loss of their wife and Mama.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. Job 1:21

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blurry Blob Baby

Meet my newest niece or nephew! To be honest, he/she looks more like a blurry blob than a baby to me, but I'm most definitely not trained in the sonogram viewing. Baby is 12 weeks old, due in April right around Easter! We'll find out if McKenzie has a little brother or sister on December 1st...just in time for a little Christmas present for the little one! (yes, I know giving a Christmas present to an unborn baby may seem bizarre, but I'm a present-giving lover and already have some ideas in the ole brain...just need to know boy or girl!)

My brother is convinced the baby is a boy. And that he is giving the antler sign for the Rangers in this picture. He has also already decided that he will follow in his big sister's footsteps (who's five mind you...) and become a Red Raider. McKenzie can be the masked rider and Baby Boy can play football. Yes, he's officially out of control. And you can bet your bottom dollor baby will get something with a little orange in it... ;)

All that to say, I'm excited to meet the little one in what will likely be a few short months. And seeing him/her for the first time, even if the picture does look like a blurry blob, was a sweet gift for our family today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Invitation to the Thirsty

Isaiah 55

1 "Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.

4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of the peoples.

5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,
because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor."

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Les Chansons Francaises

Aujourd'hui est un jour de musique francaise ou je peux etre perdu dans la beaute de la langue. Ceci est ma chanson francaise preferree. Elle est tres belle.

Translation: Today is a French music day where I can get lost in the beauty of the language. This is my favorite French song. It is beautiful.


Coeur de Pirate Comme des enfants from Dare To Care Records on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Katie K

I have the quite possibly the funniest roommate ever. Part of the reason she's so funny, is she doesn't realize how funny she is, so everything comes out humbly.
As I've said before, our upstairs neighbors can be a little on the loud side, often leaving us reminiscing about the blissful quiet we experienced last year when it was vacant. Since it wouldn't be appropriate for us to give them walking lessons or burst upstairs when they're yelling at each other (it's a teenage girl and her mom...), we've taken to joking about the noise.
Last night, Katie had the hilariously brilliant idea to start our own screaming match to maybe show them how loud they are. I thought she was joking and told her I'm not really a screamer, unless we ran across a gross roach or something, but she wasn't having it. For the next minute, any time Katie wanted to say something to me, she screamed it and I simply laughed.
Sadly, I don't think it helped as there were trolls marching upstairs this morning. Regardless, it made for some Monday laughs, and we all need those.
Oh KK, blessed to have you as a roommate and friend.
PS for those of you who are curious by the intro picture, she's teaching us a dance move. Yes, Katie can not only speak ghetto, but she's a darn good ghetto dancer... :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

How Much Do You Hate Someone?

Yes, I know that's a heavy title for a blog, but it is a question that has circled around my mind for the past week or so; maybe more, I can't remember when I heard it asked. I've thought about it, but until last night the weight of this question and the realization of how much I've missed it have not sunk in.

This question was asked by an atheist in a random video shown during a sermon. I don't know the context for this random man's videos, if he just likes to film himself or if he has some sort of internet show. I don't even remember his name, but I remember his question. Essentially he was sharing a story about a man he encountered who gave him a bible and told him about Jesus. The point of his video was that if those of us who profess to know and follow Christ really believe his message, why are we not telling people? If we believe Jesus' words, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6, why are we not sharing with everyone we meet? Why do we keep quiet? How much do we have to hate someone not to tell them about the saving grace of Jesus, the only way to the Father, the only way to escape the horrors of hell? How much do we have to hate them?

Last night I skipped shoreline just to have a little break, but it ended up being huge. First, I flipped on the TV for background noise and came across a documentary on Showtime called Red Light. It was about trafficking in Cambodia. It was not visually graphic, but the even sheltered descriptions of what these 12, 13, and 14 year old girls and boys had been through was unbelievable, and it was obvious they left out a lot. The weight of this issue and how it has stirred my heart deserves another post, so I'll get on to my point with how this relates.

There was a young girl named, Sokhu who was rescued through the strength of her sister. As Sokhu talked, there was no light in her eyes; she almost looked like a lifeless girl opening her mouth to allow sound to escape. Her sister was on fire, seeking justice for her little sister and desperately trying to restore life in her. They showed Sokhu at some form of religious ritual in an attempt to free her from the pain and the shame (her village blamed her for her experience, though she was sold to the brothel against her will by a neighbor who kidnapped her). It was obviously not working and in the end, Sokhu returned willingly to the brothel as she didn't know what else to do. Her sister is now married with a family, but still desperately looking for Sokhu. I suddenly felt compelled to pray for this family, to pray that they will meet someone who knows Jesus, the only person who can free her from this dark world of bondage, and can love them by sharing him with them. I know there are many followers of Christ reaching into this dark world today in Cambodia.

Then a little while later I got an email update about my aunt who is battling the horrendous disease of cancer and hit by the truth that our life really is a vapor. The combination of these two battles against evil hit me in a huge way. I tried to watch Brothers & Sisters with my roommate, Katie, but found my mind distracted. I went to bed with a heavy heart and honestly didn't sleep very well. I then woke up this morning feeling almost sick and have continually fought back tears as the realization of how much I have missed it slowly weighed on me.

Jesus' message is clear. And the purpose of my life is clear:

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

So the question becomes, why is his truth constantly on my lips? Why am I hiding the treasure that I hold? I mean, when I read a good book or see a good movie, I'm so quick to share with others. How much more good and valuable is this news, this treasure, this saving grace? How important is the weight of a soul? I think the answer is I am paralyzed by fear because I wonder if Jesus will show up, if he will provide if I'm persecuted. I don't fully believe in the weight of hell and the value of a soul, and that I am God's plan A when it comes to saving the nations. He uses us. So instead, I hide behind the fact that evangelism is not one of my spiritual gifts, regardless of the truth that I am called to it; that it's the purpose of my life.

And realizing all of this makes me feel sick, for I cannot continue in this manner. I'm at a crossroads of sorts, one in which I chose to jump-in and truly pray for the Spirit to show up and give me boldness to share with the multitude of people who I meet who don't know the saving grace of Jesus, or I can continue down a path of cowardness.

I will not lie, I'm terrified that Jesus will abandon me, but that's against his character and against his word, and I know that to be true. I'm tired of living a monotonous life of mediocrity and am ready to fully dive in to the adventurous life that Jesus holds and so desperately wants to give me. I'm glad I don't walk alone; I walk in the power of the Spirit of the Creator of the universe, who lives inside me. Oh Spirit, guide me and help me be brave.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Like a Child

I don't know this woman from Eve, but follow her blog and found this story so powerful. I love how much we can learn from the simple nature of children and how they easily distinguish when things are not right.

In other realms, I'm obsessed with Brooke Fraser's new song. It makes me want to jump up and dance around. I read in one place that it's a Kiwi song, but I don't know if that's true. Regardless, it's certainly peppy and I can't wait to hear the rest of her new album releasing October 12th.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall!!

Goodbye summer and hello fall!! In case you weren't aware, today is the official first day of the greatest season of the whole year!! Although it's sadly still ridiculously hot, I thought I'd share a few pictures to bring in the essence of the season and get you in the mood.

The first two are from my favorite fall (and Christmas for that matter) destination, Williamsburg!

The second is a picture of the greatest fall drink; yes folks, it's BETTER than Pumpkin Spice Latte, I just can't get it anymore. It's Williamsburg's wassail that they begin selling in fall through Christmas. They always stuck a cinnamon stick in it, just adding to the loveliness. I found a recipe for it online while searching for a picture, so I'm going to try and see if I can whip it up! Won't be the same drinking here as opposed to strolling through the streets of Williamsburg, but I'll take what I can get.

These last two pictures are random places. I'm pretending the last one is of the Colonial Parkway in Virginia as I couldn't find a good picture of it. It actually does look similar except it's not an asphalt road.



I also have a deep affection for fall clothes, football, coats and scarves, the chill in the air, the slightly grey skies, the smells, pumpkins, the crunch of leaves, and pretty much everything you can attribute to the season. So bring on Billie Holliday crooning Autumn in New York, throw on your favorite scarf, grab a fall drink, and let's do a fall dance! Now if only the temperatures would listen...
What's your favorite part about fall?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life Through the Lens of Seinfeld

I sometimes think aspects of my life would make a really good Seinfeld episode. I mean, the show already captured quite a few of my bizarro pet peeves/experiences such as muffin tops (I always eat them upside down), flip your dog’s ear over!, the soft talker, Master of the House getting stuck in your head… In light of the hard days I’ve had, there have been some would-be incredibly frustrating incidences that I’ve been able to make more amusing by imaging how Jerry, Kramer, George, and Elaine would handle them. Always leads to a smile.

Situation 1
I am an incredibly hard sleeper and it’s near-impossible to wake me up when I’m deep in sleep. I’ve slept through hurricane-force winds blowing my bedroom window in and only waking up when I was wet, fire alarms, etc. When I went to college, my parents were actually worried I would have trouble waking up so I slowly had to train myself to hear and wake up to my alarm. I now set four, different sounding alarms and wake up very quickly as I hate the sound! Part of my hard sleeping is the trusty built-in earplug.

Okay, now you have the stage set…Sunday night, hard asleep. But then I suddenly am woken by a loud bang at which I shoot up in bed and sort of flail my arms about. I’m sure that in and of itself was comical should someone have seen me. At first I think it must be close to wake-up time since I woke up so easily and know 8th grade girl living above me is a loud one, particularly in the morning. But then I notice I still feel exhausted so I click my phone and it’s 2am!! The banging continues, and it literally sounds like said 8th grader is bowling in her room. Maybe with some trolls. Seriously?

What would Elaine do in this situation? I’m envisioning something reminiscent to the episode when her neighbor leaves town with his alarm on and his cat without food. Kramer’s meat slicer was introduced to quiet the starving cat…

Situation 2
Background again. My mom is Grammar Queen extraordinaire and continually cut us off mid-sentence to correct a grammar error and always edited our reports or presentations. I have countless memories of her stopping me saying “ly?” or “you went to the store with I?” or “you like went to school?” It was definitely obnoxious at times and something we still joke with my mom about, but all-in-all, these grammar correcting antics shaped my brother and me into better communicators, which we’re grateful for. Along with this, I know I am a decent writer. Of course I have lots of room for growth (i.e. I can get wordy…), but know this is an area I am skilled and love to do!

Stage set… So yesterday I sent a reminder to the media group for our Wednesday Morning Meeting presentation today in which I said “join us for the first team presentation with Matt, Ashley, Colleen, and me.” There was a little more to it, but that’s the gist. A little while later I get an email from a person in media who is very high up that just said “and I.” Oh no, enters Sarah’s ridiculous grammar neuroses. I knew my sentence structure was correct, yet wanted to be teachable so forwarded the note to my mom and a proofer here. Both confirmed I was correct and the proofer suggested I correct this person. However, I wasn’t super comfortable with that and didn’t know if it would be beneficial as she is a superior; my boss agreed so I deleted it and didn’t respond. But my pride is annoyed as the email was pretty snarky and I was right! God is teaching me to let it go…

I think this situation would include George as he obsesses over random things to the point of personal embarrassment.

So there you have it. Yes, it’s quite ridiculous that I’m amusing myself by envisioning how random situations would exist in the world of television. Next up, a Friends episode, and we all know how much I love those six buds...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Being Carried

Today I feel as though I'm drowning. To be honest, I've felt this way for a few weeks, but haven't exactly known what to do about it, so I've attempted to just push through it.

There is too much going on...
Too much work
Too many hurt people
Too much poverty
Too much brokenness
Too much swirling around in my head
Too much to do
Too much I'm undisciplined at
Too much to keep track of

I really should be working now, but I needed a minute. A minute to breathe and think, so I thought I'd write it out as that sometimes helps me.

I was just asked to take on another account. In theory, I should be pleased that I was given another, but this is the fourth account added to my plate in the past month, and it is overwhelming. On top of that, another formerly dormant account is now incredibly active, I have Wednesday Morning Meeting #2 this week, have a new group director with a different style to work with, and feel like I'm doing a horrendous job managing the planners who help me. I also feel guilty that I'm not thinking of new things strategically for the account I've now had the longest, and they have asked for more of that. I know it will all work out as all things do, but right now, I can't even pick what to start with, how to prioritize, and what to do.

I am also overwhelmed by my desire to serve more deeply, yet feeling guilty that I don't know how or when I'll be able to fit that in. I went to West Dallas Saturday morning to serve, spending the morning cleaning out former drug houses that will be converted to rehabilitation houses. This area is five miles from my house. That much poverty is FIVE miles away. I knew it, but seeing it was so strange. Picking up gobs of cold medicine and razor blades amidst a broken down, nasty, holes-in-the-floor house was eye opening. There is so much poverty in this world. So much slavery. So much brokenness.

And then I'm overwhelmed by my own attempts to be disciplined financially, yet continually being slammed with obnoxious medical, car, and other bills. Yet I know I still can do more, do I have the courage?

And then my girls, my precious girls applying for college. And my community, wanting to grow in accountability but not knowing how.

Other things are also swirling in my head and overwhelming me. Things that I won't share here, but fill my thoughts and heart and leave me with more questions than answers.

It's all too much.

So right now I am clinging to God's word. Clinging to the truth that as I carry my cross, he carries me. That he will never give me too much to handle apart from him. Today I'm walking with hands open, asking for help, for I don't know what to do, but I know he does and I know he won't leave me alone.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's the Little Things

Yesterday was a really bad day. Thankfully, through some funny stories from my roommate, much of the frustration bled away by the end of the night. Then bright and early this morning one aspect of yesterday's rough day jumped right out at me. I felt deflated, frustrated, hurt, and like I'd rather go back to sleep than face the day. I sat with my coffee and breakfast staring at my Bible not sure what I was even reading. Then, a truth that one of my sweet friends so frequently it's almost become her mantra popped into my mind.

God is sovereign.

I started praying that, knowing he knew about my days and wouldn't allow anything to destroy me or my relationship with him. I was still hurt, but kept repeating said mantra in my mind.

I got in the car to head to work and realized how tired I still was. We didn't have enough coffee for another cup and I didn't have time to brew another. And I HATE our coffee at work, it tastes like burnt something and we only have powdered creamer...yuck. I decided to swing into Starbucks for the $1.50 brew (or whatever it costs).

But to my most wonderful surprise PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES ARE BACK!!!! This is my most favorite drink in the whole world ever. Even though it's pricier than I planned, I couldn't pass it up. I was so excited to get my hands on the burnt orange, spicy goodness!


I thanked God for a simple gift and what these drinks represent. Yes, I recognize it's just a cup of fancy coffee, but to me it represents the beginning of my favorite time of the whole year. It's the start of a new season. This simple drink reminded me God is sovereign and cares deeply about my bad days for "he who began a GOOD work in me will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
Now, I will have to exercise great discipline as I can easily go crazy with the pumpkin since it is my favorite. :) But for today, I say thank you most holy Lord for using a seemingly dumb thing to remind me of how much you love us. And thank you for creating the yumminess that is pumpkin spice lattes and giving me the means to enjoy every once in a while, and for the beautiful season that is to come.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
And I now give you permission to poke fun of my love for the pumpkin. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Seniors

Today my sweet small group girls begin their last year in high school. I can hardly believe how quickly these last five years have passed and fervently expect great things this year.

I was blessed yesterday to have lots of encouragement and reflection from the Lord. The sermon at church centered around making disciples and at leader’s meeting I looked out at the crowd of leaders and thought how strange this ministry has changed from the days of meeting at Braun’s house. Yet I was greatly encouraged to think through the ministry I’ve been blessed to take part in and to know what these leaders have in store if they continue to press into the Lord and give beyond what they think they have.

Braun also shared about how God would use this ministry to change us. How incredibly true. I started five years ago, ready to make a commitment and yet timid and full of unresolved hurts/sins. Through many women in this ministry, God began to soften my heart and change me in ways I could hardly have dreamed. While I have a lifetime to continue changing, he has given me a new pair of eyes and a renewed heart to see his Word and pour myself out for others. He truly does fill us up immeasurably more than we could have dreamed as we pour ourselves out for him.

After leader’s meeting I spent time working on my small group curriculum. I read the all familiar 2 Timothy with fresh eyes as I understood the heart with which Paul wrote to his young disciple, Timothy. My heart was beating so fast as I prayed then and this morning for God to continue to expand my vision for my dear girls, and to expand their visions for their lives beyond just the worldly concerns. I pray they will know they carry a good deposit in them, a gift of God, a prize worth protecting and sharing with everyone they encounter. I have committed myself to them for the rest of our earthly lives into eternity and greatly look forward to seeing the radical, unfathomable ways God uses them.

Although Paul was writing from a place of knowing his life was soon coming to an end, I thought about his words in chapter 4:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

In Leviticus 23:9-14, the drink offering is given as the Israelites give their first fruits to the Lord. It wasn’t simply a cup of water poured on an altar, it was a portion of their harvest, the first part, poured out as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. They gave this offering before doing anything else with the harvest, requiring their trust in the Lord to provide, especially in years of bad harvest, so it hurt. In these years, I have had times of doubt and questioning what impact I was making, wondering if these girls were getting it. By God’s grace alone, I persisted. In his strength, I’ve had hard discussions, cried when their hearts were broken, lifted up prayers pleading for the ones who were straying, served when I felt like complete junk, led when I was exhausted, and loved until my heart felt as though it would burst from my chest. I don’t say this as a “yay for me” one bit. I say it as I see so clearly the strength of the Spirit shining through me. When I was oh so weak and literally couldn’t pull myself from my bed, the Lord gave me the ability to love, serve, and be faithful through his Spirit, his Word, and his people.

I am zealous for this year, for preparing to pass the torch, for challenging my girls in one of the most selfish times of their lives to live selflessly. And although I am asked often what I’ll do when they graduate and have thoughts myself, will not discuss them as I do not want anything to take my eyes and focus from the opportunities I have to serve these amazingly influential girls today. What a blessing to serve; what joy pouring yourself out like a drink offering brings.

Here are a few pictures over the years. It's amazing how tiny they were back in middle school!!














Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cinq a la Piscine et L'Ecole

This picture makes me laugh. A lot. Although at first glance you may think it's of a snotty teenage girl, it's not. It's my funny little five year old niece, McKenzie. My sister in-law, Heather, wasn't sure what she was doing, but with Kenz, who knows. She's a silly one!

McKenzie starts kindergarten soon and I can barely believe it. She's so big!! Below is a picture of her in my birthday present (thankfully it fits!). I don't know why, but corduroy jumpers are the opitome of kindergarten girls' attire to me. And of course, since it's Kenzie, she has princess hands. :)

Yay for the sweet big girl!