What Do You Do When You Feel Like You Can’t Do Anything? (A break in the blog break for good reason)

I had a post all ready in my head about praying when there is nothing else to do. When there are girls being kidnapped and taken into jungles, and planes being shot down, and ISIS killing and raping and marking.

All we can do is pray, right? And we should be. We can’t throw money at evil. We can only get on our knees and pray, pray, pray.

But today, there is something else we can actually do. And yes, it involves money.

Hear me out?

God says we are to love our neighbors and our enemies. For Jeremy Courtney and his family and his organization, he is trying desperately to love both by providing Iraqi children with life-saving heart surgeries. Yes, there are kids here in the U.S. who need help, and for that matter, there are problems all around the world, and don’t we know it. Don’t we know it because we are overwhelmed by all the suffering and the evil. But today, right now, ISIS is going door-to-door marking the homes of Christians with this symbol:

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Even in the midst of this horror, the Preemptive Love Organization is still providing heart surgeries to Iraqi children. They are practically and wildly loving their neighbors and their enemies by going after their hearts, literally. This, from Jeremy:

“The rapid advance of ISIS eliminated our ability to serve children in certain parts of the country. But there’s hope. Our highest impact program is still saving children from all corners of Iraq. Today we need your help. The violence across the country has made our work more important than ever as displaced families continue to seek lifesaving surgeries for their children. For many, our doctors are their only option.

Preemptive Love is looking to provide 120 more surgeries between now and the end of the year, Lord willing. Each surgery costs $250. 

Friends, will you help? It’s a big ask, but here it is: They need to raise $30,000 right now.

If you’re willing to help, please, please do it today. You can CLICK HERE to donate.

If you’re still with me, please keep reading…

The Mission of Preemptive Love

To eradicate the backlog of Iraqi children
waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery
in pursuit of peace between communities at odds.

The Heart

I want to share some of the heart behind Preemptive Love from Jeremy Courtney’s book, Preemptive Love:

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“I no longer accept the zero-sum worldview that says we cannot simultaneously be on the side of the Democrats and Republicans; Americans, Israelis, and Iranians; Jews and Palestinians; Sunnis and Shias; Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. I choose them all. I don’t lean left or right. I lean in. I lean forward, because that’s where love lives.”

“Of these thousands of children whose lives we would save, some would one day carry the scars on their chest to law school and on to the halls of parliament, where a new story of preemptive love would be told and the people of Iraq would turn over a new page with the people of Israel…”

“Preemptive love originates in the heart of God. The one who made the universe and holds everything in it-the one to whom Muslims, Christians, and Jews are all ostensibly pointing-is the first and the last enemy lover. And in the end, it is not our love that overcomes hate at all. It is God’s. And preemptive love is not just something God does as a one-off transaction. Preemptive love is who God is, constantly overcoming our hateful rebellion and our lesser passions that belie the self-interest we suppose ourselves to be pursuing…when we accept God’s preemptive love, that Christ makes all things new, we quit playing by everyone else’s rules and pursue a long, risky journey with the God who loves his enemies-even enemies like you and me…we don’t need power to live in peace. Because even though fear, hatred, and violence conspire to unmake the world, preemptive love unmakes violence.

History

Some context of the Chemical Warfare that Has Led to So Many Heart Defects in Iraqi Children

From the book, Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time:

“On March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein’s military dropped chemical weapons on the seventy thousand residents of Halabja. Five thousand people died instantly. Anther twenty thousand people were seriously injured and directly exposed to the chemical weapons. Kurds still see rates of birth defects and cancers that rival that of Hiroshima…

It is a widely held notion that Saddam’s chemical attacks-including the less famous ones at Penjwin and Haj Umran that preceded Halabja-were mostly about creating unfathomable terror in revolutionary Kurds and the Iranian military with whom Iraq was officially at war…

The year would continue with Saddam Hussein perpetration further chemical attacks around Bahdinan…later in the Bazi Gorge, where nearly three thousand were gassed, killed, and ultimately burned. Seventy-seven villages were gassed in this August campaing alone. THis went on until October…

As thousands of families continued to suffer after effects of the poison gas, as babies were spontaneously aborted or delivered prematurely, and as countless children were diagnosed with heart and other birth defects, it became increasingly clear that the death toll from Saddam’s chemical warfare could not be strictly limited to the 1980′s…

When the this news reached geneticist Dr. Christine Gosden, she traveled to the area to conduct research on the soil and the symptoms of the still-living population. Even though she arrived in 1998-ten years after the bulk of the attacks-her work revealed the presences of mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, tabun, and VX…

…She said…”What I found was far worse than anything I had suspected…I found that there was also a total lack of access to pediatric surgery to repair the major heart defects…”

Help

Maybe you only have $5 to give, or maybe you have $250, which will cover one surgery. Maybe you have $1000, or 10,000, and maybe today, right now, you can help those very real kiddos in Iraq who need to fix the holes in their hearts. If you can help, please, please do. To donate, please CLICK HERE.

Nasiriyah-Diptic

Love, SM

Preemptive Love FAQ

What’s Happening Now with the Iraq Crisis?

The book: Preemptive Love (HIGHLY recommend) Affiliate Link.

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My Year Off – An Update and Two Announcements

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Mmmm…sweet potato cake with my dear friend Logan who came to visit!

Most of you know that I have taken the year off blogging and public ministry. Today I thought I’d offer a little update, and then share with you two little happenings, if you will.

First, the update.

Time off has been WONDERFUL.

Glorious, I tell you.

I have been really enjoying my family, my home, my neighbors, and private writing.

But mostly, I have come to see this time as a time of centering. I needed to pretty much quit everything in order to get centered and clear. I’m only four months into my year off, but I can tell you that it is the best thing I could have done. No regrets!

If you feel like you’re going under, or you’re burned out, or you’re not able to give your kiddos the mama they need, I strongly urge you to consider stepping back and getting quiet. I know from experience it can take a long time just to get to a place where you can actually stop for awhile. There are jobs and commitments and on and on it goes. But if you can, or if you’re willing to ask the Lord to help you get to a less stressful place, a more unstuck, “I-want-to-enjoy-my-life-and-my-family-and-not-regret-my-life” place, it’s worth the time and sacrifice.

I am tickled with all the freedom I have right now. Bliss.

But I love writing, and I look forward to the day when I begin here again. :)

Okay, now for those announcements!

First up…

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe is now an audio book! WOO HOO!

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This means that if you’re the mama who can’t get a break to read, you can just listen to it while you do what you do!

You can get it at Christian Audio, Audible, Amazon, or wherever audio books are sold!

2nd Announcement…

I am once again a part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! My contribution this year is the Discipleship & Discipline eCoursemy Christmas eBook, More Than Candy, and a brand new resource for those who purchase the bundle through me (a gift for all you sweet readers who keep coming back). Keep scrolling down to learn more. You can get those and a slew of other incredible resources for a ridiculous deal.

BigBookBundle

With 78 ebooks, 2 eCourses, 2 audio files, and 2 printable packs PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products (like a free art print, DaySpring greeting cards, and more), this bundle is a steal.

This bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, April 23 to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, April 28th.

Okay, now you know!

Love to you all!

SM

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

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The Hidden Years

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Me with my Ella girl

A year for sure.

Maybe longer. Maybe 10.

My sweet Ella will turn 18 in 10 years.

My boy will be 16, and my Care will be nearly 15. I will be 43.

These are the years I have to teach, train, influence, and disciple my babies. And once these years are gone, they’re gone. I will never get them back.

See, I don’t just want to get by in mothering; I want to mother with clarity and intention, seeking to raise Kingdom-minded children who will, Lord willing, go into the world with strength, and courage, and integrity, and faithfulness and a resolve to be light wherever God leads them. This doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work and time. And I don’t want to miss my chance.

Here’s what I’m saying: I quit.

I quit the public life for awhile.

I had a dream this past weekend, and in it I was yelling at my children, and then crying out of guilt, and then my daughter walked away. And the feeling was that it was too late, and I felt the full weight of regret all over. And it hurt bad. I woke up terrified that that dream was a future feeling I would have if I didn’t change course.

And so this is about faith and obedience and the offer of a gift.

Over the weekend I heard Sally talk about the “hidden years” where she did the work and raised her kids before God used her publicly. Something about that phrase, “the hidden years” stuck with me.

I think hidden years are a gift from God where we can privately grow in faithfulness, integrity and wisdom in preparation for the years where we will have opportunity to teach and influence others. Sally said to me years ago, “We need women who are willing to do the work in their homes, raising their children now so they have something to say later.” This isn’t about working women or stay-at-home moms, it’s about doing the hard work of teaching and training and growing so that we have something of substance to say and teach later. I hear wisdom in that statement, and I want it.

I want to teach and influence and encourage moms one day, but I don’t just want to relate with them, I want to have something of substance to offer them that will help them practically. I want to be a woman of integrity who will speak from the experience of a mom who did the hard work of bringing up her children with intention and faithfulness.

I just don’t want to compromise.

There are so many voices out there that will give permission to compromise in motherhood, and it is alluring and it sounds really good, but I can’t. I am all in to go after my children’s hearts and their behavior. I want to love them practically; I want them to have me available.

I also see a wisdom principle for those who will teach found in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 -

“He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)…”

Yes, this scripture is out of context as it’s about an overseer or elder in the church. But the principle as I see is that someone who will be influencing and teaching others should have their own home in order. It has to do with integrity and faithfulness.

My home is not in order. Oh, it’s not bad, but my kiddos are little and are in the training years and I have much work to do (plus I homeschool); I cannot be distracted. This is my life, and my kids lives, and how they will interact with the world (I want them to make an impact!). Raising my children well is really important to me. I know there are no guarantees on how they will turn out, but I don’t want to look back on my life one day and know that I didn’t give it my all.

Jesus discipled 12 men day in and day out; he taught them and loved them and did life with them. He has modeled for me what I can do for my children.

Also, this is my calling. I am 100% called to be a mom, and so I want to walk fully and faithfully into my calling. And when I do that, when I mother well (albeit quite imperfectly) I lay my head down at night and experience peace instead of regret or guilt. It is the best feeling ever.

Okay, so does that mean that I can’t write? I don’t think that’s what it means, and I’m not interested in telling others what they should or shouldn’t do. God has offered me, I believe, the opportunity to have the hidden years. I believe He has also asked me to stop writing publicly for a season, and so this is obedience.

That season is at least a year.

And that’s really hard for me, because I love being here and writing and encouraging you all as you encourage me in return. However, my hands are up and this is faith. I trust God with my life and my words and everything. Truth be told, I’m really looking forward to seeking His face more intimately this year as I pursue Him and His Word more diligently.

I will continue to write privately, and I do have a book coming out April 2015, called, “Unregrettable” (published by Tyndale). It’s about waking up to your own life and really living it, and not regretting it (so fitting right now!). The book is about a journey I embarked on to get unstuck and enjoy my life. It has been a delight to write and I look forward to sharing it with you. If you want to be notified when the book is available, you can click HERE to subscribe to this blog as I will post about it when it is available. I’ll also be updating my Facebook page from to time.

Well ya’ll, I guess that’s it.

Thank you for being faithful readers and encouragers to me. You all are a gift.

See you in a year (or 10).

Love,

Sarah Mae

Recommended (these are my favorite parenting books):

The Mission of Motherhood

The Ministry of Motherhood

Heartfelt Discipline

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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How to Enjoy Life When You Feel So Guilty (Or, How I’ve Kicked Guilt to the Curb)

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I used to feel guilty all the time.

Mainly, mother guilt.

But I’ve had wife guilt, house-cleaning guilt, homeschooling guilt, eating guilt, and a slew of other “guilts”, if you will. In fact, I would say that for most of my adult years I’ve lived in a perpetual state of guilt. The, “I’m-not-doing-enough, I-keep-failing, I’ll-never-get-it-together” kinds of guilt.

It’s a plague, really.

A plague I have not only allowed, but invited.

I’ve let the guilt in to do it’s dirty work, to make me feel worthless, to keep me down; to keep me looking down instead of up.

Up.

And there it is, the trick of that slimy, slithering devil, always tempting us, teasing us, encouraging us want to look down, down, down. Down to our weaknesses. Down to our struggles. And right on Down to him. He wants us bent in his direction, not free and wide-open, head back, gazing up.

Oh sure, there is a built-in guilt that is good and of God and that shows us the way when we forget His goodness and we try out our own…our own way. But I’m talking about the guilt of constant self-critique, of always feeling like a mess, like a wreck, like a fraud. Like someone who lives in fear that she will damage her children and will never get intimacy right or who still has clothes piled up in crevices of her bedroom.

And all may be so, but that is not the place for guilt. That is human, and personality and quirks and bents and strengths and weaknesses wrapped up in a flesh that will struggle until that glorious day when the struggle will be gone.

Be free.

You’re never going to get “it” right on this earth, except the right that accepts the pure, wondrous grace of God…and keeps walking by faith, looking…

up.

Keep your eyes on Him, sisters. Let go of that guilt so you can really start living. You’re not meant to wear those guilt shackles. You’re meant to live free.

He gives the freedom, and it’s the only real kind.

Now go! No more guilt for living out your human. You’ve got a God who is willing to live inside you, to guide you and comfort you, and He is perfect. Perfect intertwined with human…intertwined with you (if you are in relationship Him). God, He is so kind.

So look up, be free, and

live.

Love, Sarah Mae

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time to Be Neurotic

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Me two years ago sending in my first signed book contract

I was going through some old posts of mine, and as I read them I thought, “These are pretty good.”

Now before you think I’m being arrogant or some such thing, let me tell you that I struggle deeply with feeling like a fraud as a writer.

I fight and squirm when I have to write, and I’ve all but convinced myself that I have no business writing. So when I tell you that I said to myself that I actually like some of the things I’ve written, it’s kind of a big deal to me. It tells me, maybe I can write, maybe it doesn’t matter what I think so much as that I get out of my own way, keep my eyes on purposes of the kingdom, and just keep on writing. Ain’t nobody got time to be neurotic. It’s a self-disease, this constant critiquing of self.

Read the rest of this post at (in)courage.

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