Who I Became is Not Who I Thought I’d Be

 The Best Laid Plans

Who I Became is Not Who I Thought I'd Be

Who I Became is not Who I Thought I'd Be

When I was a Senior in high school I had my entire life planned down to the smallest detail. I never considered anything would derail me from where I knew my future would take me.

What I hadn’t considered was how much people change after eighteen.

The things I thought were important seventeen years ago are no longer even a consideration.

I’ve experienced what real life is like, and let me tell you, teen me had no idea.

There was one other thing I hadn’t counted on when I was busy making plans for my future.

Our Heavenly Father.

I hadn’t counted on His plans.

At eighteen I had very little knowledge of who He really was, I didn’t realize He was the Great Designer of my future, or that He would use my experiences (the good and the bad) to guide me where He knew I needed to be.

The young girl who dreamed of a life full of adventure; one filled with police work and military service, as far away from the Pacific Northwest as she could get, would never have expected to be someone so completely different.

I Became Someone Different than I Thought I'd Be

Turns out God knew who I was even before I did.

His Plans are Greater than Mine

As I spend another rainy day less than thirty miles away from my childhood home, I watch as my nine year old daughter changes before my eyes.

Here’s a secret: when I was making my plans, she wasn’t on the checklist.

For that matter, neither was my husband or my other two children.

Yet, here we are.

I’m an adult, a follower of Christ, and a homeschooling mother. That’s a long way from where I thought I wanted to be.

You’re Never Too Old

Who I Became is not Who I Thought I'd Be

No matter how old you are, or what your plans are, you should take a moment to consider where God is guiding you.

He doesn’t always make the signs neon and flashing. Sometimes they’re small and easily missed. There might even be signs you won’t recognize until years later when you’re looking back on the decisions you made that led you to where you are.

We’re human, and we’re given freedom of choice. That’s why we make plans, and dream of the future. Just don’t be too hard on yourself if one day you realize you’re somewhere completely different than you ever thought possible.

Instead of asking yourself ‘what if’, look to God and say, ‘thank you’. Your journey isn’t over yet, it’s more important to keep your eyes on the path before you than the path behind you.

Trust Him

Who I Became is Not Who I Thought I'd Be

He loves you.

He loves me.

One day the path we’re on will lead us to stand beside Him, and on that day, every step and stumble will make sense, and we’ll know we’ve achieved every worthy plan and goal.

Who I’ve become, and who I will become, are not who I thought I’d be.

That’s okay.

In fact, that is perfect.

I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

Where has the path you’re on taken you?

Blessings,

Sare Signature

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SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard.

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard

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Living in the Pacific Northwest is Hard

Almost four years ago my little family and I returned to the Pacific Northwest. This relocation has been a struggle for several reasons, but one of the biggest struggles we’ve had to deal with is my ongoing battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder–SAD. Although the struggle didn’t start out as hard as I expected it to be, it has recently gotten worse.

I spent four years living in the desert, a place where it was sunny almost every day. On those rare occasions when it wasn’t, every part of me knew it. Those days were miserable for me, and made me grateful for each and every sunny day.

I also realized how blessed I was to no longer be living in the PNW.

The LORD had other plans for my little family though, and one day we packed up and headed back to the trees and mountains I’d grown up around. The PNW is beautiful. There is no denying that, but to be beautiful it spends quite a bit of time gray and dreary. For someone who needs the sunshine to be mellow and happy, the trade-off comes at a high price.

Summer Makes Me Come Alive

Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is just the right amount of breeze rustling the trees. Spring is here, and summer is approaching. I’ll be honest and say summer makes me come alive.

The past few months have been hard for me. Our family thrives on schedules and routines because, when it comes to me living in a state that spends close to six months a year with little sunshine, routines help me to not completely become a hermit. It also keeps the SAD from getting so out of control that I end up becoming a shadow of myself.

Sadly, this year those schedules and routines haven’t helped as much as they have in the past.

Making the Connection

I can’t really lock down when this ongoing battle became noticeable;  when the depression started interfering with my life. All I know is one day I realized I’d started putting off going places. I’d started finding reasons to not leave the house–to excuse myself and my family from social events because they felt like obligations–and that feeling stressed me out.

During the winter months I struggled with this a lot. Since the loss of my father and the suffocating feeling I had from the bleakness of the weather, I found myself leaving my home less and less. I’ve stepped away from several things I enjoyed doing, because I couldn’t convince myself the recovery time it would take me afterward was worth it.

The only things I’ve managed to maintain throughout this time are things directly involved with my children. No matter how hard it is for me, I don’t want to let them down. They enjoy their time at AWANA and Classical Conversations community day.  It wasn’t (and isn’t) their fault that I have a hard time functioning without glorious sunshine.

I’m Worried Too

My husband worries about me, and my friends worry about me. They’re afraid I’m not just going to become a hermit, but a full-fledged shut in.

If I’m honest, I’m worried about that as well.

You see, I love my church, but when this suffocating sensation turns to panic at the thought of leaving my home Sunday morning and facing people, I know there is reason to be concerned.

Today, I’m feeling great, and that knowledge can lull me into a false sense of security. It can cause me to forget the way I feel when it isn’t sunny and beautiful.

Sunlight therapy isn’t enough (though, I highly recommend adding it if you suffer from SAD!), and neither is the medication I gave in and started taking four years ago.

I need God to help me through this, the same way I need Him in every aspect of my life.

Blessings, 

Sare Signature

What I Remember: Tea with My Father

What I Remember: Tea With My Father--Memories are a wonderful thing to hold onto when your loved ones are no longer with you. A nice cup of Irish Breakfast Tea helps me to remember rainy mornings with my dad.

Today is my father’s birthday. He’s no longer here to celebrate it, but each year on this day, I still say a prayer and send him a wish. It’s quiet, and it’s ours.

Memories Can Be Sweet

When I was in junior high and high school, my father and I would get up early in the morning, before either of us had to leave for the day, and we’d drink Irish Breakfast tea in the quiet kitchen. Living in the PNW meant waking up to complete darkness and rain streaking the windows. Tea was a perfect accessory to strengthen our resolve to leave the house.

tea_hot_hands

Even today I enjoy Irish Breakfast Tea

It was a calming ritual that made even the worst days a little easier to deal with. That short amount of time was always a wonderful experience, especially considering neither my father nor I were morning people.

The pang of my father’s absence still lingers in my heart; sometimes more poignant than others. This morning was one of those moments where sweet memories I hadn’t thought of in years flooded my heart. I found it fitting that they came to me while spending time with my Heavenly Father, and drinking my morning cup of Irish Breakfast tea.

Memories Help Us Grow

Though my father is no longer physically with me, and we haven’t shared the early morning silence of a rain-soaked morning since I graduated from high school, those moments led to the moment I had this morning. Everything we experience in life leaves a mark on us, whether good or bad. These experiences with my father leave me with the desire to make similar memories with my children.

Remember today to embrace the good moments, even amid the chaos and pain of living life in this fallen world. God doesn’t promise it will be easy, but He does promise it will be worth it.

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When I Was A Perfect Parent

I once was a perfect parent. Before I had children of my own.

When I was a Perfect Parent

I Was a Perfect Parent

As a teenager, one who obviously knew it all, I believed I would be a certain way as an adult. I was one of those people who believed I knew how to handle whatever life had in store for me. This included parenting.

*Insert slightly insane laughter here*

There is a meme floating around the internet that states: “I was a perfect parent. Then I had children.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly accurate. Too many people (me included) believe they’ve got it all figured out–life, fitness, parenting, their make-up; only to have reality kick them solidly in the solar plexus. My old friend, Reality likes to remind me of its presence regularly.

When I was still a perfect parent–living under my parents’ roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn’t keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I’d understand them, and treat them with “respect”.

I’m sure God chuckled at my plans. My parents did.

When I was still a perfect parent--living under my parents' roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn't keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I'd understand them, and treat them with

Before the birth of my youngest my niece and I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the Puget Sound. The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the seagulls were begging scraps of our lunches, and it was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle we’d been dealing with for the last few months. Taking a few moments to enjoy the beauty the LORD has created, and to truly appreciate it helped to relax my anxious heart.

It also helped me to understand something about myself.

I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, teen me would spend a lot of time rolling her eyes at adult me. I might have thought my parents were strict, but they were nothing compared to how I am as a parent. Part of this stems from a moderate battle with anxiety, but not all of it. Simply put, my priorities have changed, as have my views.

God is the Perfect Parent

God has blessed us with three beautiful children, not to be perfect parents, but to teach them and train them up in what is righteous. Much to their dismay, that includes horrors like sweeping, making their beds, and cleaning bathrooms, and picking up toys. It also requires them to spend time with us, to not put their friends above the LORD or their family, and to forgive each other when we stumble.

Something else that comes along with this is the amount of freedom we allow our children to have. Our eldest is only nine, and regardless of how my husband and I were raised the world is a much different place today than it was twenty years ago. Yes, she can play outside without constant supervision, but there are rules that have to be followed, and consequences if those rules are ignored. This is a relatively new freedom for her, and I still have several bad moments where I want to keep her in the house away from any chance of getting hit by a speeding car (see, anxiety). I’m taking it a day at a time, and maybe I’ll be more relaxed when they’re visiting me in the retirement home.

The point is, there are no perfect parents on Earth, except God, and of course those who have never had children. We as a society (especially women) spend so much time judging the merits of one person over another that we seem to forget we’re all just stumbling along doing the best we can. Have some people lost their way? Yes, but that isn’t for us to judge. There are people in this world who have been called to help those who have fallen. Instead of casting blame and pointing fingers, it’s time for us to come together and build each other up, and to raise our own children with love, compassion, and grace.

 

2017: Listen

In December of each year, I prayerfully focus on what word will be my focus during the upcoming year. Each year this single word keeps me focused, not on myself, but on God’s will for me. This year, that word is LISTEN. It’s such a small word. Just six letters, but it will be a tool during the next twelve months to help me focus on the LORD.

Each day when I wake up, I’ll pray He will use it to teach me, to guide me through the day. This one little word will be a reminder each day–not only to listen to Him, but to listen to my body and to those around me. This year is a time to truly listen to Him, to be silent so I can really hear His words. It is a time for less talking and more listening.

I’m blessed to have the  love of the LORD, and to get this time to worship Him through this One Word.

Blessings,

Sare

You’re Never Alone

In case you’re feeling terribly alone today, please realize you’re not. The LORD is with you. He has been with you since before you took your first breath. He never leaves you or forgets you. Those are human failures, and Our LORD doesn’t fail.

Be peaceful today, dear friends, and let His wonderful light shine through you.

Blessings, Sare

Joy?

Since my word for 2016 is Joy, I’ve spent more than an average amount of time contemplating what Joy is, and why I need to focus on these particular three letters.

While there are several good words out there I could learn from during the next twelve months (Love, Forgiveness, Understanding, Patience, etc.), they’re not the ones chosen.

Joy.

Such a small word, yet one with so much power behind it.

What is Joy? Is it just a word, a feeling, an action? Are we naturally born with it, or is it something that has to be learned? What does it feel like?

Will Joy teach my heart to feel lighter when it physically feels so heavy? Will it bring a smile to my face when I want to cry? Will it change who I am so drastically that I’ll look in the mirror and wonder who the glowing, happy, smiling person is?

For these first eight days of 2016, I’ve taken stock of each moment throughout the day to see where the Joy might be. Sometimes it seems to be obvious (I say seems to be, because honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever truly noticed Joy the way others have); other times I question if I should consider that first bite of chocolate chip cookie as something worthy of such a powerful word.

I have ended up with a lot of questions.

Is there a gauge for measuring Joy? Is there a wrong way? A right way? Does it come from the inside only, or from outside forces as well? Is it hereditary? Can I share it with others? Once I have it, does it stay with me forever, or do I need to keep searching for it?

As this week comes to a close, I rest my questions at God’s feet. I’m sure throughout the year He will answer several of the questions, while helping me grow and change.

My prayer is that the LORD will use Joy to help me strengthen my relationships, not just with my own family, but with those who are still searching for answers only He can give.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness , peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 

–Romans 14:17

 

Sare