Category Archives: Life & Faith
We were at Burger King because my kids like Whoppers and it was baseball season and it was just EASY.
I reached over to the nice lady handing me our food and my sweet, precious, delight of a child took hold of the skin UNDER MY ARM. You know the place, where triceps are supposed to be. The dangling place. The place that has names I shall not refer to as to not offend. THAT PLACE. She squeezed it, and then she jiggled it. With her sweet little fingers SHE JIGGLED MY ARM LIKE IT WAS JELLO.
Let’s take a moment.
Okay. So she did that and I said, “Could you please not do that?”
She took her hand away from the place. We moved on.
So here’s the thing: my bits are changing.
I am growing out my gray hair (which, by the way, I reserve the right to change my mind about at any moment). I am realizing that I am going to have to make peace with the thigh dimples because I have no Jillian Michaels abilities in me. At all. I called to cancel my gym membership the other day and the lady was all, “You’ve only been a member three months.” Nice try shaming me lady. I LIFTED 20 POUND WEIGHTS AND MAYBE SPRAINED MY WRIST IN THE PROCESS. I’m on medical leave. Anyway.
The dimples aren’t going anywhere.
My wrist hurts from lifting a dumbbell, (Lord, help me).
I’m not going to starve myself (goodbye metabolism).
And while I’m watching my sugar intake and eating more smoothies and salads, there are times I just want some wings and beer in bed with my husband.
Here’s the point: It’s okay to age.
Read the rest over at (in)courage today!
I remember at a conference a woman saying that she felt God’s pleasure when she blogged.
Another friend felt it when she ran, which is of course is like the famous Christian missionary and olympian, Eric Liddell.
But I, I didn’t know what it meant. I asked God for it, to understand it, to feel it, to know it. I tried to manufacture it, you know, thinking maybe it was when I mothered my children or homeschooled or wrote, but the truth is, I didn’t feel God’s pleasure in the way I think others were meaning it.
I couldn’t define it or hold it or figure it out. Maybe it was just words, this pleasure of God, and maybe Him being pleased with me as His daughter was what it was. Or something like that.
But today, today I felt what I can only describe as God’s pleasure, His love over me, just because it pleases Him to see me pleased. I’m botching it up here, because I can’t quite explain what I’m trying to say, but He gave me a gift today and I felt His pleasure in the giving of it. I think I especially felt His pleasure because I didn’t deserve the gift; I’m not worthy of it. And yet He is so kind and so merciful and so happy to give, just because He likes to give His children good gifts.
I was excitedly talking to a friend about the gift and he said, “You’re giving me delight in your delight.”
Yes, that’s it. That’s what I think it means to feel the pleasure of God: to feel His delight over you in your delight.
I told my husband about feeling God’s pleasure and he told me he felt God’s pleasure this year for the first time, and it had to do with doing woodworking projects that delighted him. He felt God’s delight in his delight.
And it’s awesome.
Just as a father takes delight in seeing delight in his daughter, this is how God sees us; our joy makes Him happy.
I make Him smile, and so do you.
Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that just the best?
My prayer for you today is that you would experience the pleasure of God, personally and intimately and overwhelmingly. He loves you. He takes delight in you.
Can you feel it?
I feel like I should tell you that I have decided to grow my hair out.
And by “grow my hair out” I mean the gray parts, which apparently are at 50%.
50 freaking % of my hair is gray.
I know, you think I’m crazy. I think I’m crazy too.
But I do have a reason and it all began last week in Portland.
My literary agent’s wife was going to be picking me up from the airport, and you know how you have a picture in your mind about how someone is going to look? Well I pictured her as a blonde. I don’t know why, I just did. So when she picked me up I noticed that she wasn’t a blonde, but rather a gray; her hair was ALL gray. And you know what my first thought was? “Why?! Why does she have gray hair? Doesn’t know about hair salons? She’s beautiful, why has she let herself go?”
Yep, those were my first thoughts. I know, gross. But that’s what they were.
Now, you know how when something is not what you seemed and then you have some thoughts and then you become obsessed and neurotic with said thoughts and become obnoxious to other people about them? Yea, that was me with her and the gray hair situation. I couldn’t get it off my mind. And, because I obviously can’t help myself, I asked her about her gray hair. I asked her when she grew it out and why. She told me she grew her out when she was 45, and she said it like it was no thing, like gray hair was normal. Which we all know IS NOT NORMAL unless you’re 60 or 80. Everyone dyes their hair, and by everyone of course I mean women because men don’t seem to have to/want to. Whatever. Anyway, back to this beautiful woman with gray hair who was totally confident, and obviously totally crazy.
But she wasn’t. She wasn’t crazy.
And I couldn’t stop thinking about gray hair and why my immediate thoughts about gray hair were always mixed with “letting yourself go” and “old” and “I’m not going down like that.” I was so judgy about women who had gray hair. I mean, I’m paying nearly $120 every two-three months to take care of business because of the 50% situation.
I started talking to her more about her gray hair, and I’m pretty certain I got quite annoying because at one point, while we were cutting vegetables, I said, “I’m making a much bigger deal about this than it is, aren’t I?” And she just said, “Yes.”
I was making a big deal out of gray hair. Why? I asked God, and of course, when you ask God about a thing He may answer the thing in a way you weren’t prepared for. And that’s just what a happened as I was standing and taking in the worship music on a Sunday morning in Portland.
You are afraid.
You are afraid if you have gray hair you won’t be desired anymore.
You won’t be taken seriously.
No one will want to work with you.
You will be embarrassed.
You will look old and like you let yourself go.
At the heart of it all, you’re afraid of not being wanted.
But the thing is, you already are.
And there it was, fear of not being wanted and the truth that I already am.
In that moment of realization I also felt an intimate voice in my spirit letting me know there was freedom either way, freedom to dye my hair or let it grow out. But perhaps, if I let it grow out, I might find a deeper identity in Christ instead of in how I looked and how deeply I listened to and relied on my fears.
I’ve decided on door number two.
I’m going for it.
Now, you should know that I’m still going to pluck my chin hairs, and I still want to look nice, and wear makeup, and maybe even put on some false eye lashes sometimes. But my hair? It will be 50% gray. So if you see me in person, just know I won’t look like my pictures online. The lovely blondish-brown will be gone. But hopefully you’ll see something that wasn’t there before. Perhaps you’ll see a woman a little freer in who she is in Christ, confident in His love for her and that being wanted by Him is, truly, enough.
With love and a root line, Sarah Mae
A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.
(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.