Category Archives: Life & Faith
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.
I’m angry. I’m angry at ISIS.
I feel hate towards them. I hate what they’re doing to the world. I hate that they murder and rape and torture and ruin lives and families and homes. I want them to go away and stop hurting people. I want them stopped.
And I open my Bible and the Lord says,
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
But how Lord? How do I love a group of people who hate and murder and rape and torture others? How do I love ISIS?
And the Lord gently leads me to this first thing: pray for them.
It is an act of love to pray for my enemies.
“When I got saved and I was told my mentor to start reading by the book of Matthew, start with the book of Matthew, when I got to reading to Matthew 5:43 and 44, where the Word of God says, “[You have heard it said] love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your neighbors and pray for those who persecute you.” Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.
It shocked me and I knew the Lord was speaking to me. I jumped out of my seat and I screamed so loud saying, “No way! Lord, I will never love them.”
I know what He was saying to me. Love the Jews. I was giving all the excuses for the Lord, why I will not love them. They took my house. They killed my people. They’re still persecuting us. And after I got tired talking, the Lord started speaking to me in my ear saying, ‘They have done more than that to Me, but I still love them.'” -Tass Saada, author of The Mind of Terror (You can listen to Mr. Saada and hear his story on Focus on the Family radio here.)
God loves the leaders of ISIS, each one of the them. And if we want to see change, we must get on our knees for them. We must pray for the leaders of ISIS.
If you’re not sure how to pray, pray this:
Lord, help me to see the individuals of ISIS as beloved by you, as those created in your image and worthy of your healing and transformative power. I pray for these ISIS leaders that they would have a revelation of Jesus, that their eyes would be opened and they would turn to You. I pray you would speak to them personally, intimately, in their dreams or through friends or through a prophetic utterance from someone. You know all the deep places of their hearts; you know the wounds, the histories, the anger, the hurt. Would you speak to them in those places? Would you show them who you are, and how much you love them. Please choose them, bring them to an understanding of your love. Lift the veil from their eyes that they would see you. And please Lord, give them a tenderness for the people they are hurting; soften their hearts; let them see. I pray they would repent and reject terror. I pray, that like Paul, they would have a Damascus-like experience and turn fully to you, and begin to lead others to love and follow you. I ask this in your name Jesus, Amen.
As you pray daily for these leaders (in the car, as you wake up, as you go to sleep – whenever they come to mind), you can begin praying for their families, those they influence, and however else the Spirit leads.
We are not helpless, and we are certainly not hopeless. We fight with words and groans, and we have an advocate that is working on behalf of our prayers. And that advocate, Jesus Christ, changes hearts. So pray pray pray.
Pray and act. Click HERE to tangibly help those who have been victimized by ISIS.
This is Dawntoya, my only black friend, and by friend, I mean I’m still getting to know her because she doesn’t even live near me. But, on our way to Thailand, we had some wonderful conversations on race. Also, I need more diversity in my life.
Well, we’ve had quite a week here in America (I mean, more than a week, but this week I’m finally starting to pay more attention).
These events are just the new ones in a long line of shootings that have caused a community of people to feel unheard.
I’m finally listening. And what I’m hearing/learning is this: We have a problem. So I want to get quiet and listen and learn so that I can love. And so that I can teach my children how to love well. For the past few days I’ve been thinking and praying and talking with friends and reading up on race in America. I want to understand. I want to be someone who is willing to get uncomfortable in order to lean in to a perspective I’ve never had. I’m seeing disparity between black voices and white voices all over, and I want to understand it; I don’t want to ignore it. I want to say, “Teach me.” Or better yet, “I will take the initiative to learn so I can understand, so I can love and be on the side of justice when necessary.”
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” -James Baldwin
I’m going to go ahead and preface this right now by saying if you have all this race stuff figured out, ignore this post. I do not have it figured it out. I thought I knew a lot more than I did, but the truth is, I don’t know.
If you want to learn along with me, I’ve gathered some resources and you can check them out below.
Here are the questions I’m asking as I read and listen to these perspectives: Could this be true? Is it possible I don’t have clarity on some of these issues that I thought I had? If this is true, what does it mean? How can I go forward? How can I love? These are my questions.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34
Start with this —-> Senator Tim Scott (R) Delivers Talk on Race
Next, this —-> What is systemic racism?
A conversation about systemic racism from two Christian men. Once you get past the intro, this conversation gets real, and WHOA, the stats. Excellent and so helpful. Please, please listen.
“I think if you’re a white person or person in the majority and want to understand the perspective of many minorities, you’ve got to know the ins and outs of systemic racism.”
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31
Begin watching this —-> O.J.: Made in America (This really helped me to understand the O.J. verdict, for right or wrong. And yes, it makes sense to watch it in light of where our country is at right now.) Sidenote: There is a poignant moment in the documentary where a white news man is talking about how obvious a certain argument for the prosecution seemed to him, until his black co-worker shared how offensive the argument was (and she explained why), and he said, “This is why it is so important to have diversity in the workplace.” It was a big “Aha” moment for me.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
“Rather than being reactive, Onwuchekwa encourages people to be proactive—initiating conversations, seeking clarity, desiring others’ perspective. In short, he says, the ideal posture should be that of a student.”
Skin in the Game (Andy Stanley interviews two African American men race and what’s happening in our country)
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
After the speaker explains what he does for a living, challenging injustice (he goes on to list all the things he’s working towards), Rosa Parks says to him, “That’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.” And her friend leans over to him and says, “That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.”
An important read on what racism really is: “That is racism. Once you let yourself see it, it’s there all the time.” (some language)
Books on My Reading List:
On Twitter? Here are some black voices to follow:
“We want Justice. We want the country we love to treat us equally. What we DON’T want is violence and bloodshed of any person.” –Derek Minor
“When the world looks at the world and says “What’s going on?” The answer is clear. Sin is going on. Pain, injustice, violence, hatred, and death are going on all around us. And yet, when the church responds to what’s going on we also remind the world that in Jesus Christ —Grace is going on. Mercy is going on.” –Tony Carter
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Black Lives Matter does not mean “black lives matter only.” It means “black lives matter too.” It’s a contextualized statement, like saying “children’s lives matter.” That doesn’t mean adult lives don’t matter. But in a culture that demeans and disparages them, we understand we have to say forthrightly and particularly that children’s lives matter. In the face of a historic and contemporary context that has uniquely disparaged black life as not worth valuing or protecting in the same way as others, they are saying black lives matter just as much as every other life. Ironically, saying “Black Lives Matter” is really a contextualized way of saying, “All Lives Matter.”” –Mika Edmondson
“Church: Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray.” –Humble Beast
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”
I didn’t sleep through the night for seven years.
Those were the years of babies and toddlers and someone at some point was always awake or needed something or had a bad dream or threw up. This was life.
When my children got a bit older, a miracle happened: they all started sleeping through the night AND they started sleeping in (HANG IN THERE MOMS OF LITTLE ONES!). Which meant, I got to sleep through the night and I got to sleep in. You better believe I made up for those seven years by enjoying that sleep in time (and by sleep in, I mean 7:30/8:30-ish).
Those seven years I was in a fog. I was used to the fog though, so it wasn’t terrible, I was just tired all the time. I went to the doctor once to tell him I thought something was wrong with me because I was always so exhausted, and after a few questions he asked like, “How old are your kids? Are you still getting up in the middle of the night?” Etc., it was obvious that I was actually just tired from mothering.
Me in 2009 with a baby and two toddlers
After some good sleep-ins, I decided I wanted to be that person that got up early, spent time with Lord, and got stuff done before my kids got up. At one point last Spring I even started getting up around 4:30am to go workout. I always believed there was something special about getting up while it was still dark and enjoying some quite hours to myself; there is something peaceful about it. Plus, there are so many books on how getting up early is what all the successful people do. HUSTLE, they say. JUST DO IT, they say. YOU’LL GET SO MUCH MORE DONE, they say. So I did. I worked on getting up early. In fact, I spent 6 months getting up around 6am as a life experiment. I’m glad I did it. But you know what I learned?
I’m more tired when I get up early. I don’t get more done. I always need a nap.
Turns out, I function better when I sleep in a little bit. I’m happier. I don’t need a nap. I’m not exhausted all day. And? I’m more successful when I don’t get up early.
And here’s what I know about success:
Success for me is not feeling crummy and tired all day. It’s being kind. It’s doing the things I want to get done during my day, whether that’s writing or cleaning or visiting a friend or homeschooling my kiddos well and without being cranky. When I get up early, life is a foggy mess. I’m cranky, I’m tired, I get less done (because I’m cranky and tired), and I’m not the kindest person. And it doesn’t matter if I go to bed earlier. Speaking of which, my husband HATES when I go to bed early. He likes to stay up and he wants me to stay up with him. If I stay up, I definitely can’t get up early. I know this about myself. My husband has the amazing super-natural ability to stay up late and get up early. I do not have that super power.
ALL TO SAY… it’s okay to not be a ninja 5am-er. Maybe you’re a ninja 9am-er, or 10pm-er, or never because you’re just so tired and so WHATEVER. No ninja. That’s okay too.
The point is, don’t think you have to get up early to be successful. Everyone is different! God made it so. Embrace who you are, do what you gotta do, define success, and then? Onward!
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And I’m at The Better Mom talking about how I don’t want to be a “good” homemaker anymore. Read it HERE.