Category Archives: Life & Faith
(There’s a giveaway at the end of this post, so make sure to read to the end!)
I was the boyfriend girl.
Meaning, I was always wrapped up in a guy and never made time for deep friendships with girls. Which is a major bummer because I missed out on the friendships you always hear about, the great high school and college friends who “always will be.”
Sure, I had a couple friends, but we all went separate ways for the most part, and then I got married, and then I had kids, and then…who has time for friendship when you’re exhausted and barely making it. I probably needed friendship the most in my desperate years, but it was those years I just couldn’t seem to find the energy to find or make new friends. First it was the boyfriends, then kids, then just plain exhaustion. So, I decided I was a loner. I wasn’t any good at friendships and maybe I just didn’t really need them. I was fine. Really.
But I wasn’t. I had no idea how important and wonderful and good life-giving friendships were.
Until my mid-30’s. In my mid-30’s I met my dearest friends.
And not only do I now have these beautiful, life-giving friendships, I am learning how to be a good friend. The fact is, I’ve not always been one. I’m not a natural at friendship, which is weird, I know, but true.
Maybe you struggle with finding friends or being a friend, or maybe you think you don’t need friends. Maybe you’re just worn out and can’t even muster the strength to work at friendship. I hear you. But let me offer this: If you don’t make the effort for friendship, here are some things you might miss out on:
You might miss the encouragement your soul needs to keep on. My friends know me so well, they know when to call or text or vox and send Scripture or encouraging words or drop off a coffee or take my kids. My friends fill a place in my soul that I never even knew I needed. I would be missing a great gift if I stayed in my “loner” thinking.
You might miss really fun girl nights out. One of my favorite things to do with my friends is head out once every couple of months to a restaurant and eat lots of bread and salad and drink wine and laugh and cry and have wonderful conversations with my friends. These nights refresh my heart and help me to keep on in the dailyness of life.
You might miss knowing you’re not alone. Knowing that my friends go through similar struggles as I do is comforting; we can comfort each other and share how God has helped and what He’s doing and what works and “here’s some chocolate, it’s been that kind of week.” I also know when I’m feeling in the depths, I can call on my friends and they will rally and lift me up, as I will do for them. My husband is my best friend and my greatest supporter, but my girlfriends are a lifeline that is so sacred and special to me.
You might miss knowing you’re loved even at your worst. Real friends love you anyway…they love you, tell you the truth, walk with your through the dark times, and never condemn you. They listen. They are honest but kind. Their arms are wide open. This is the grace of kindred friendship: that you are loved even at your worst.
You might miss out on growing in faith and loving God more. My dearest friends teach me so much. Their love for God is inspiring, and I come away from them wanting to know and love God more. They sharpen me, teach me, and through their struggles and faithful obedience to God, I am encouraged to keep on.
Now maybe you know this, maybe you are desperate for friendship and want to make friends but aren’t sure how or where or what to do. Here are some thoughts for you:
First of all, friendship is like dating…you don’t give up just because the first (or second or third) doesn’t work out (tweet that). You’re not going to have chemistry with everyone, and that’s okay. Stay open.
Second, ask God. Ask God for good, true friendships. Back to the dating analogy for a moment, in the book Little Women, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You need only one… if he’s the right one.” I feel like this about friendship. You don’t need scores of friends, one good friend is worth gold (think of Anne and Diana). If you get to have two or three dear friends, well that’s just extra grace. Ask God for a kindred friend.
Make the effort. Yes, friendship takes effort to develop, but soon it becomes natural and sweet. My dearest friends are those I can let down with, be myself, and not have to worry about pretense. My friend Amy always says, “No eggshells!” You don’t have to feel like you’re walking on egg shells with good friends, and I love that. But even after the work and you’ve settled into a friendship, you’ve still got to work to love well, because it’s easy to let friendship just be. It’s important to keep caring, to do the work of writing down birthdays and dropping off a coffee now and then, writing a note telling your friends what they mean to you, or saying, “Let me take your kiddos so you can get a break.” Friendship, like marriage, like life, takes work and care. But it’s so worth the effort. So make the effort to invite that woman from church over for coffee. Make the effort to get together with that other mom from your child’s dance class. Make the effort to go to the dinner you were invited to even though you’re born weary. Every time I feel too tired to go see a friend, I’m always refreshed after; I never regret it. Make the effort.
I didn’t always have these beautiful friendships. Maybe you’re in that place right now, praying and hoping for kindred friendship. Don’t give up.
Today, to encourage you, I want to tell you about Craving Connection, a book that is not only a lovely offering about friendship, but has challenges to help you make and become a better friend.
Craving Connection is a book that will take you on a journey and offer you real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to:
- Embrace the desire God has given each of us for connection
- Invest in meaningful relationships, right where God has you
- Become the friend you wish you had
The book is by the (in)courage community writers, and they invite you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.
Giveaway and FUN
Now for some fun. First of all, if you want to learn more and/or buy the book, check out cravingconnectionsbook.com.
Second, head to your local bookstore where you might find a Starbucks gift card tucked into the book so you and a friend can have coffee together, thanks to (in)courage.
Lancaster, PA people, I’VE GOT YOU COVERED. Head to your local B & N or Lifeway and you’ll find a little somethin’. 😉
To win 1 of 3 copies I’m giving away, just fill out the form below! Contest open to U.S. residents. I will pick the winner TOMORROW at 9pm EST! GOOD “LUCK”!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER! The winners are…
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastics 4:9-10
Here’s to the gift of friendship!
Love, Sarah Mae
Thank you so much B & H for sponsoring this post. Such a gift to be able to offer this book to those who are hungry for kindred friendship.
I feel like I am in the golden age of parenting.
My kids are 7, 9, and 11 and they are not only a delight to be around, but they are so moldable and teachable and willing to listen and learn and yet still cuddle. They haven’t reached an age where they are pulling away from me (I hope this never happens), and yet they aren’t so little I can’t hold their attention for more than a few minutes. I am loving parenting right now.
I love watching their personalities come out and how they interact with the world.
I love that I get to be on the front lines with them as we navigate their fears, strengths, weaknesses, and all the tangles of life.
There are hard, crazy days for sure, but overall, right now, we are in a sweet spot. And I’m going to take advantage of that with all I’ve got.
I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility and joy in teaching my children about truth and grace and the God who gave His life so that we may be free and holy and new.
Here are some ways I’m filling the treasure chests of their soul with goodness and beauty and truth:
Get the Word In
I don’t make my children read the Bible, although I do encourage them to do it. What I do do however is have a morning time with them in the living room where we go over spiritual truths and then I read from the Bible.
Currently we are using The-Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New, but not as a quick read. On a white board I write out the spiritual truth from the page we’re on and we memorize it. We don’t go on until we all have it memorized. We began in September and we only have these four done:
God always was and always will be.
God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
God created everything out of nothing at all.
God is all-powerful.
We also work on a simple Scripture to memorize and we don’t move on until everyone has it. IMPORTANT SIDE-NOTE: If you’re anything like me, you might get discouraged reading about Scripture memory and your kids. I read blogs where moms have their kids memorize whole Psalms or portions of Scripture and then I feel like a failure as a mom and a teacher. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. Do what works for your family. If short, simple Scriptures are what you do right now, than do that. We are memorizing one-sentence Scriptures at this point and it is good.
And then I read to them right from the Bible. This morning we read and talked about John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…he world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”
I’m also doing this wonderful devotional with my oldest daughter.
Read Classic Christian Allegories
We are currently reading the modern-language version of The Pilgrim’s Progress. We began first though with reading a children’s version called, The Dangerous Journey, which is beautiful and interesting and my son in particular loved it (and still does). Now that we’re reading the “grown-up” version, my kids open The Dangerous Journey book up to follow along with the pictures (which are fantastic and not all cartoonish).
We have read Hinds’ Feet on High Places (the children’s version), we’re currently listening to A Wrinkle in Time (which the second half of is blowing my mind and also reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ The Hideous Strength), and when they get to be teens they will have to read C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy (which is profound and fantastic beyond words).
SIDE-NOTE: I never heard of or read any of these books growing up, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t either and are feeling like you don’t know where to begin. I was not raised a Christian and I am learning right along with my kids, which has been a wonder. If you feel lost over resources or what to read or where to begin, begin with the resources I’m mentioning. Just start with one thing.
Tell the Story of Our Lives
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
The story of our lives is a testimony to our God.
I will never forget when Jesus changed my life.
I was at a Christian retreat my Freshman year of college and a speaker asked this question: “What would you do if Jesus walked into the room right now?”
Sitting there as 19 year old confused girl and baby believer, I thought “I would hide.”
If Jesus came into the room, I would hide. I would go and bend down behind one of the worn couches and make sure He couldn’t see me. Because He wouldn’t want to see me. He, being holy and good, and me being filthy and having done awful things. I was not clean. I was dirty. A holy God shouldn’t see a dirty girl.
I shared my thoughts with the small group I had been put in, thinking they were obvious and made sense, and someone from the group spoke life to me:
“You wouldn’t have to hide,” she said. “Jesus knows everything you’ve done and everything you’re going to do and He loves you anyway. If He were to come into this room, He would embrace you and put His hands on your face and call you ‘daughter’.”
That night changed everything.
All of us who know Him have cried out to Him and He turned to us…He saw us and listened and inclined to us because He loves us so. And when we bend a knee to Him, He lifts us out of our pits, out of our sin and muck and He gives us a rock to stand on – Jesus Christ. We get steady on a firm foundation. And then He puts a new song in our mouth; one of praise and not lament. We say, “This is what the Lord has done! He is so good and so kind and I am no longer alone. I belong. I am loved. I am His daughter. He makes me new!” And people see and they hear and their hearts get tender and put their trust in Him.
This is the story, the human story, of how God changes the world through changing one person. This is how a flame catches until there is a fire ablaze for Him.
And that fire touches the very people God has put in our care: our children.
My kids hear the stories of what God has done in our lives. We tell of Him and where we were and what He’s done. We talk about our muck and our sin and how Jesus alone takes our sin to the cross so that we are now holy and righteous before Him.
The truth is that there is sin in all of us. It’s a part of our human DNA, and we can’t get it out or make it better, but He makes a way. We can’t bleed it out, so He bled for us that we would be new and have new DNA, holy DNA.
We tell our children that everyone of us will die, and then face the judgement of our holy, good, gentle, just, tender God, and we will give an account because we have all sinned. But if we know Him, if we have believed in Him and received Him as our everything and given our lives to Him in full trust, than we become His children and He gives us life to the full. We will never be condemned and instead He will change us from the inside out with gentleness and care if we are humble and submit to His molding. What a good God we have!
So tell them. Tell your children the stories of what God has done. And when you’re in the middle of a story, in the middle of a storm, tell them to hang because God won’t leave or forsake His children, not ever.
Give Meaningful (but still fun) Entertainment
I cannot tell you how grateful I am for creators like Phil Vischer and the whole team at JellyTelly.
They have managed to get truth and theological concepts into kids through fun characters and stories, and my kids love them! They are funny and clever and so enjoyable. And the library is stacked with not just fun shows, but resources that help me teach my kids Biblical concepts. Just take a look at some of the options:
My kids love 3-2-1 Penguins, The Last Chance Detectives, Hermie and Wormie (OH MY WORD THE MEMORIES OF WHEN THEY WERE LITTLES!), Clive and Ian, Davey and Goliath, Hillsong Kids, and The Sugar Creek Gang, and we are still exploring! I personally love the series, “Why Do We Call It Christmas?” Mature theological truth about all things Christmas. I promise YOU will learn right along with your children.
“JellyTelly is a partner for parents in our media-drenched culture. It provides safe screen time for kids, but more than that – it allows kids to enter a media world where God is real and His Word is true. It can be a powerful tool for parents and kids to spend time together watching and learning, and then talking about Jesus and their faith.” -Phil Vischer
I choose only a few paid subscriptions to be a part of, and JellyTelly is one of them. Because for only $4.99 a month I have access to tons of wonderful, helpful, entertaining resources and movies and shows for my kids that I don’t have to worry about. Also, the five-minute devos are awesome. I can teach my kids what a prophet is, how God is redeemer and protector, what we can learn from Adam, and more in just 5 minutes.
To get a week free (try it out, you’ll be glad you did), or to go ahead and subscribe for only $4.99, just head HERE!
My dear friend and mentor Sally Clarkson always says, “If you don’t have biblical conviction, you will go the way of the culture.” As Christians, as lovers and followers of Jesus (who is God), we hold fast to our faith no matter what comes down the pike. We believe because we have been changed, because His Word is true and good and He is true and good. And this we pass onto our children, this faith that we pray they take on for themselves.
I will do everything I can to fill my children with the truth. I can’t save them, but I can lead them and teach them. And I will. I will use His Word and His tracing of my life and the stories and good books and good entertainment while I can. I encourage you to keep on doing the same. As I’m sure you are.
Keep on out there. You are doing good, faithful work.
Love, Sarah Mae
With much thanks to the wonderful folks at JellyTelly for sponsoring this post. You all are impacting lives for His Kingdom and I am grateful.
There are affiliate posts in this post. See my disclosure policy here.
Every time I speak and share my story, women come up to me afterwards and tell me their abortion stories, and then they tell me how they’ve never told anyone. I have had 70 year old women tell me they’ve never told.
So here’s what I want to do: If you’ve ever had an abortion and have never processed through it or told your story, and you want to tell it, tell me. Email me at sarahmaewrites (at) gmail.com. I will read it and I will sit with you in it, holding space for you and praying for you.
I want to offer you a safe place to share your story and get it out of you. There is something in the writing of our story that offers some freedom. It doesn’t replace counseling, which I highly recommend for post-abortive women, but it does offer a valuable form of processing and releasing. I want to see you free, and this might be a start.
Abortion is complicated and heart-wrenching and confusing. Many women who have had abortions just aren’t even sure how to face it or process it. If you feel that way, you are not alone.
If you need to tell, I’ll listen.
Love to you, Sarah Mae
Any unkind comments will be deleted.
My friend Amy is an angel.
Really, I’m convinced of it. She is also one of my kindred friends. She lifts me up when I’m down, she brings me flowers and comfort foods, she brought me lavender for my moms burial, and she is always sending me voxes or texts to encourage me. I’m telling you, God sent her to me to teach me how to be slow and steady, accept gentleness, receive grace, and keep on. She is absolutely dear to me.
And she teaches me things too, like not to should on myself. You know, I should…I should…I should…
“Don’t should on yourself” she says.
When I speak lies about myself she rubs my arm and says, “Shhhhhhhh-ut up” in that perfect Mississippi accent. She told me her mama used to do that to her.
So today I’m passing on two pieces of advice to you, from my angel friend:
1.) Don’t Should on Yourself
2.) Shhhhhhhh…ut up (When the lies try to speak)
My neighbor came to pick up her daughter the other night. “Hi!” I said.
“Hi, how are you?” She said? “I’m alright, you?” “Good.”
And so it goes, “Good”, “Fine”, “Alright.”
Nothing wrong with saying the easy surface thing because who has time for the truth?
But I took a walk today and I thought, I don’t want to say the surface thing anymore. It’s boring and it doesn’t give any opportunity for grace or relating or freedom to be vulnerable and let someone else be vulnerable.
So, this is what I’m going to start saying:
How are you?
“I’m okay, things have been pretty good lately. Still dealing with marriage intimacy issues, waiting for God to bind up that mess. Better than it used to be. I’m up many nights with anxiety, fretting over my kids – “am I doing enough? Am I praying for them enough? Time is running out for me to teach them!” Still battling the comparison monster, you know, not feeling good enough, equipped, smart enough, etc. I was feeling depressed on Tuesday, couldn’t get out of my chair. Everything felt dark. Those days come every now and then. I cry over my mom sometimes, the grief just hits me and I’m not interested in stuffing it, so it just is. I actually cried in front of the neighborhood kids the other day as I was writing about her. I figure if anything they’ll see normal grief and maybe have a story to tell about their emotional neighbor one day. I make for a good memoir for someone.
But the thing is, I really am okay, today, right now. I know God will deal with this stuff. I know that tomorrow I might face something hellish. Sometimes life just hurts and I just have to sit in it, the pain. It comes and goes. I’m not fighting it, just sitting with it. “Here God, do something with this. I’ll wait. I love you. I trust you.” Most of the time I think I trust God. Sometimes I cry out and wonder, “are you even there?'”
That’s a lot of words. Maybe I’ll just say, “Okay and not okay. Life is painful and weird.”
Maybe my neighbor or the nice lady at the church desk doesn’t have time to hear all that truth, but that’s okay, I’ll say it anyway because maybe it will loosen something in her. Maybe it will show her that it’s okay to be “not fine” and to just be in the tangle of life and still be okay. Painfully, vulnerably, okay.
How are you today? Let me know in the comments and you’ll be entered to win this “World’s Okayest Mom” shirt.
Love to you,
P.S. It’s okay if you’re also feeling awesome today. Those days are my favorite.