encouragement, God's Beauty, help, My One Word, My Walk, Wisdom

New Year 2016: 366 Days of Blessings

This is the first time in months I’ve had any desire to write. I fell off the blogging wagon, and when I fall off something I don’t just slip off. Instead I’m as graceful as a ballerina with two left feet and a club leg. I swan dive off that wagon, get my toe caught on the edge and end up belly flopping down a rocky embankment, landing with a gooey splash in the slimy remnants of a paper mill’s runoff.

It takes talent.

The last several months have all kind of run together. There haven’t been individual 24-hour days, but what seemed to be 336-hour days. This made blogging a vague and distant memory for me.

I can’t say the past few months were bad, things just weren’t as bright or obvious to me as they had been. It could have been my SAD acting up, or it could have been the rapidly changing events in my personal and family life.

2015 was definitely a challenge. There were days when I felt tested beyond what I could handle, but during those days I turned to the LORD, and remembered to breathe again.

Rinse and Repeat.

A year ago I shared what word I would prayerfully focus my life on during the 365 days of 2015. That word, Fellowship, showed me things about myself I didn’t know, and brought me happiness as well as some discomfort. God used that word to change me from the inside out. Not all of those changes came easily or without frustration, but they came when I needed them and have made me a better(if not slightly more exhausted) person.

2016 is a brand new year. This time with 366 days (Hello, Leap Year!) to look for and experience the blessings the LORD has planned for each one of us.

This year, the LORD has put the word, JOY, on my heart. With the sadness of my father’s passing last year, there were times when looking for the joy in things seemed foreign. 2016 is the year where through prayer, worship, and study I will search out and learn from all the Joy available in my life. I will embrace the feeling, share the light, and remember even during the darkest hours of the longest night, the Joy of our Savior is there for me to grab hold of.

Take a few moments today and prayerfully ask the LORD to guide you to a word that will change your focus this year. May the LORD bless you and yours this year.

 

Sare

“May the God of hope fill you with all Joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

 

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college, education, encouragement, Faith, Fellowship, help, journalism, My One Word, My Walk, volunteering, Wisdom, Working

Eviction: Comfort Zone!

An ideal day in my world very rarely includes anyone other than my husband and children. I’ve never been comfortable being in front of a group of people, or really putting myself out there, because ‘out there’ is a very judgmental place. Why then, do I hear the faint pounding on the door of my comfort zone as the local sheriff places the notice to vacate?

I can’t help but wonder how long I have before the bars I so carefully installed are removed from my windows.

For months now I’ve struggled to hear God’s words. The knowledge he was speaking to me didn’t change the silence in my heart. Then, last month while I was working on my Sex Trafficking article for class, I heard a faint whisper. I felt a spark, a slow burn. The LORD is speaking to my heart. I can’t tell just yet what he is guiding me to do, but I have an idea where I’m supposed to begin.

I’m being educated in journalism, a calling I’ve felt for the majority of my adult life, but I’ve struggled to know what I am meant to do with it. I’ve become disillusioned by the SECULAR media, both print and cable, and know I don’t want to work in a field with a moral compass that often doesn’t point to true North.

What does that leave me with? It leaves me with God. It leaves me with the words He gives to me, and the opportunities He provides for me. I want my words to guide people to Him, to His light, and His glory.

Even if that means I am evicted from my Comfort Zone.

I ask you all, dear readers, to add a quick prayer for this journey–that I may have the opportunity to share His love with others through the written word–or whatever other medium He chooses for me.

May the LORD be with you each day,

Sare

Blessings, Sare

help, Loss, My Walk, Relationships

SOLD!

Recently my mother sold the house where I grew up. This may not seem like a big deal, and months ago when she made the decision it wasn’t. Unfortunately, like with many events in my life, the true feelings didn’t become noticeable until much later.

Suddenly, today, my heart is breaking all over again.

The house–a mere pile of wood, cement, and nails– where my father and I discussed books over tea in the cool and quiet of the (always partially finished) basement, belongs to someone else.

No matter where I went, or what happened in my life, that man-made structure with forest surrounding it was my constant. I knew it would always be there, and I’d always have a place to return to.

The house already looks different. My mother, sister, and brother, have spent countless hours updating it, fixing it, and making it perfect for the new family to live in. The basement (which is finally finished) isn’t my father’s anymore. His books no longer line the walls, his cat no longer curls up in his chair, and his tea and teacups are no longer on the mini-fridge.

I know it doesn’t make sense, but knowing the house will no longer be the place I call home, feels like the death of my father all over again.

My mother doesn’t need that large of a house, and she’s already purchased her new home. One where she will undoubtedly be happier, and where she can make new memories. It’s funny how I can be happy for her while I still feel like I’m being buried alive by my own sorrow.

Today, turning to the LORD hasn’t been as spiritually lifting as it usually is. Instead of answers I have more questions. Instead of peace, I have unstoppable tears.

Good thing He is stronger than my doubts. His love is deeper than my sorrow, and I know that even though things aren’t clean and clear at this moment, tomorrow is another day, and He will still be there, offering His peace, joy, and comfort.

May God’s light shine on you today, and every day.

encouragement, Faith, God's Beauty, Homeschooling, Loss, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, Wisdom

Father’s Day and Healing

Three days ago we scattered my father’s ashes in the Puget Sound. A place he’d always loved. The week leading up to the memorial was rough and emotions ran high with everyone. I wanted nothing more than to forget about the whole thing and keep my father’s ashes on my shelf, because as soon as they were removed from their place of honor, lonliness enveloped me. He’d been there since February, a constant companion in my home. It was time to let him go, but I wasn’t sure I was ready.

At the approximate time the sun would have been setting, had the rain not decided to join our tears, we said a final goodbye to the man who had taught us so many things. There was laughter amidst the inappropriate humor my father was so used to from my sister Rae, and me. As she shared her memories, it occured to me that my father was a wonderfully flawed person. He swore, he drank, he was selfish, and was always impatient. I realized much of my personality came from him. Many of my strengths and many of my weaknesses were nurtured and ingrained at his knee. My father made many mistakes in his life, but one thing he did that wasn’t a mistake, was loving his children inspite of our differences, and sometimes because of them.

With that knowledge, it was important to remind myself that we all grieve differently, and that emotions are strong factors in the way we react to situations. That night wasn’t about who we were, it was about who he was. There was no right or wrong way to memorialize him. Whether it was drinking a bottle of wine in his memory as the rain poured down, or closing off from others and holding inside whatever emotion was burning the heart. We needed to set aside our various differences, ignore the typical family dynamic and just be there for one last moment with the man who had raised us in the only way he knew how.

After the others left, I sat on the bench beside the water with my dear friend. We watched otters play in the current, and I cried. Big, ugly, body wracking tears. For months there had been a pain inside my heart that couldn’t seem to heal. It was like a splinter left just beneath the surface, and it was festering as the days went on. I didn’t realize it, even as I sat there, that the healing had finally began. For the months since my father passed, I was in a holding pattern, not really grieving, but not really healing either.

Three days before Father’s Day, the proverbial splinter was finally removed, the wound cleaned, and my body and soul could really begin to heal.

When Sunday arrived I was leary of attending church. It was my first Father’s Day without my Dad. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was concerned I’d break down and not be able to stop. In fact, I almost decided not to go, to stay home and be safe from the emotions, smiles, and warm wishes of others.

Instead, I prayed.

Then I put on my big girl pants and joined my family in church.

It was a wonderful day. The words were exactly what I needed to hear, and my heart didn’t ache. For the first time in months I didn’t feel like I would get blown away in a stiff breeze, or shatter like glass. I felt free. With the scattering of my Father’s ashes, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. My Father is truly at peace now, and even though I might not be completely there yet, I am on my way. My heart is light and I am filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit.

Life moves on and changes, much like the tides of the sea.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy and may you forever be at rest in the place you loved best.

Sare

encouragement, Faith, Fellowship, My One Word, My Walk, Relationships, Wisdom

I’m Struggling

I knew when I started this journey it wasn’t going to be easy, but somehow I didn’t expect it to be quite so difficult either. My love and Faith in God isn’t wavering–it’s growing deeper and stronger– but I’m floundering. For every step in the right direction I take, I seem to take a hundred steps back the way I came. I don’t want to be the person I was. I didn’t like her much then, and I’m really not a fan of her now.

Why is this change so hard?

The struggle to be a better person, a nicer person, a more caring person it is real. Being selfish is easier. Being selfish is what I’ve always known. In my heart I can see myself going out of my way for others, joining groups to help the needy, being available to help at a moments notice, and always giving of myself. The reality is nothing like that.

My reality has me shying away from groups, and anything that takes me out of my comfortable and set routine. Where I was drawn to be involved a year ago, now I find myself pulling away, putting up invisible boundaries and refusing to cross them.

I want to be able to minister to others, to share my testimony, but I don’t know how. Do I even have a testimony anymore? Can someone as selfish, angry, and negative as I seem to be, really have a joyful testimony of our LORD to share with others?  I’m at a loss for what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m desperate and feeling lost and lonely. I turn to the LORD at every crossing, worship Him with gladness, but still I feel like I’m sinking deeper into some dark void, and I don’t know how to get out.

This year’s One Word is Fellowship– a word I know I’m supposed to learn from. The LORD has a plan, and I just don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’m failing Him. Four months into the year, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t done a whole lot in moving forward with Fellowship, it almost feels like I’m running away from it instead.

Again, I feel like I’m in that dark pit.

Prayers would be appreciated.

Sare

college, Crafting, debt, education, encouragement, Faith, Homeschooling, journalism, My Walk, Working

Changes in Life

Each new day that dawns brings changes, whether we notice these changes or not doesn’t make them less important. Not every change is HUGE. Not every change makes you stand up and take notice.

Every once in a while, though, a change (or even several) will occur that makes a HUGE and noticeable difference in your life. This year has already been a year of changes, and not all of them have been positive in their nature, even if they have led to positive things.

While each of these major life changes are important to who I am as a person, some of them deserve their own blog post, so I won’t include them here. Today, though, I want to focus on two things that have added a positive spin to my chaotic life.

Not long ago my husband and I contemplated purchasing a home, but as we began the process we quickly realized my student loans were going to be a huge (like $72,000 huge) hurdle. This led to our first aha moment. Even though this wasn’t really a positive thing for us, and it was a huge  disappointment, it came to be a huge blessing.

I started praying for something to come up that would help me use my soon to be finished degree and help me to pay down the student loans before they’re due.

This led to wonderful change number one.

A wonderful opportunity to help service members, veterans, and their spouses was introduced to me, and I have been able to join the team as a freelance writer; creating professional resumes and bios for these members as they transition to life in the civilian world. It has already proved to be exciting, educational, and although not exactly what I had expected, is pretty perfect for me.

The second amazing change to occur happened by chance. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw an announcement about Usborne Books and More. I’d heard of them in passing before, but had never really taken the time to look into them. This time, it felt like there was a tap on my shoulder nudging me to check it out.

It didn’t take me long to realize this was something I could truly get behind. As a book worm with a family of avid readers, I’ve always been a huge proponent of engaging children and adults with good books instead of video games. Joining the Usborne Books and More team definitely fits well with my family. I’m excited that these opportunities came just when I needed them to, and I’m so thankful to have the ability to remain home with my children while I work toward paying off those student loans.

encouragement, Faith, Fellowship, Motherhood, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, The Kiddos, Wisdom

Working Through It

The past few weeks have been hard. Events I’d like to have control over, but don’t, brought my father’s death back to the forefront of my mind, and my emotions are raw. These emotions seem to be reflected back at me through my daughter as well. She is such an amazingly strong and loving little lady, but I see the sadness lurking behind her eyes. While she is happier now than she was a few months ago, I still see the shadows that dim her happiness.

It concerns me that I see in her a child trying to take control of her surroundings. So much like me, only far too young to have those responsibilities. I do everything I can to remind her to be a kid, to keep her focused on things more positive than the random emotions tearing at my own heart.

We’re working through it.

God’s working through us.

I know there is a reason to all this, and I have faith that in the end it will all be for the better. Until that time I do what I can to keep the balance. I workout to strengthen my body for God’s work, and I spend time with Him daily. I turn to Him in thanksgiving as well as for strength.

Some days are easier than others. There are great days, and then there are days when I’d rather never get out of bed again. On those days even sunshine doesn’t seem as bright, and I am reminded just how imperfect I really am.

I’m thankful that God loves me anyway.

So, together, God, my daughter, and I will work through it.

Together.