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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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.

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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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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

God’s Garden

I view my relationship with God much the way I imagine the relationship between a gardener and their beautiful garden. I say imagine, because honestly most of my life I’ve had a black thumb and couldn’t keep a cactus alive. Recently though, I’ve managed to care for a bamboo plant and an aloe plant. Much to my joy and amazement they’re both thriving. I see these plants as a direct representation of my growth with the LORD. The more I grow and thrive, the more my plants seem to as well.

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Now, I’m assuming any good gardener would know something about pruning their flowers (I haven’t gotten to this stage with my own plants, and I probably should since the Aloe has multiplied and outgrown its home). As a glorious and blooming flower in God’s garden, I’ve been pruned on several occasions. Many of those times I didn’t even realize happened until much later. A few of them, however, were painful.

When I was in high school, I had my whole life planned out to the very last detail. There was no question in my mind about who I was, where I was going, and who I would be in the future.

Do I even need to say that God was in no way involved with these plans? No, I didn’t think so.

I joined the National Guard at seventeen with the intention of the U.S. government paying my way to a degree in Criminal Justice. I was going to be the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department, and I was going to make a difference in the world.

Fast forward a dozen or so years to this moment, and laugh with me.

Between the year 2000 and 2015 the LORD did some serious pruning to this little flower. Not only did the National Guard and I part ways early on, but so did my plans of being a homicide detective (let alone the youngest one). Not only did God cut away those plans, but he made a few more snips to dreams and experiences that at seventeen I hadn’t even thought of.

When I was in my early twenties my high school sweetheart and I divorced in a less than amicable fashion. Snip. Before I had time to truly come to grips with the knowledge that I had become a statistic, I was devastated by the loss of my son. Snip. This was a turning point in my life. A turning point that at the time looked like it was leading me down a dark and dangerous path. Snip. Snip.

People grieve in different ways. Some turn to God, some turn to counseling, and some turn to other more destructive means.

I was the latter.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Isaiah 30:15-18

Looking back at my choices brings me powerful guilt and shame. It makes me wonder how God could ever have forgiven me, or for that matter how those choices shaped me into the person I am today.

The answer is easy to know, but not always easy to accept.

God loves me (and each and every one of you). All those painful moments, those late nights, those heartaches, and bad choices; the destructive actions, the selfishness and bitterness, the hate and anger, and the reveling in sin and discord those were little bits of me that needed to be snipped away so I could grow into a healthy, happy, and God-honoring woman.

“How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!'” Isaiah 30:19-22

I’m not a homicide detective, the U.S. government didn’t pay for my degree (in fact I’m not quite finished with my Journalism degree yet, and it’s likely I’ll be paying it off until my children graduate college), I don’t live in Los Angeles, nor do I have any desire to EVER live there, unless that is where the LORD sends me; and if I’m making a difference in the world it is through the raising of my children to be good people who love the LORD and help those who need help.

Every day God continues to prune me. Each day I grow a little brighter, a little healthier, and a little stronger, because the LORD is snipping away the old parts to make room for new growth. I am a beautiful flower in the LORD’s garden, and I wouldn’t wish it any other way.

In what ways has God shaped you?

May the LORD bless you,

Sare

Loss

On December 30, a dear friend of my niece’s went home to the LORD. She was a young woman with plans and dreams. She was a new mom with a little boy about the same age as my own son. Her loss was as unexpected to her family as it was to my niece. Although I didn’t know her personally I’d like to take a moment to pray for those affected by her loss.

Please, join me in praying for her family and loved ones.

Heavenly Father,

May her family and loved ones find peace in Your Greatness. May their hearts be filled with happy memories of her love and laughter. May her son grow up hearing wonderful stories of her love for him. LORD I ask that you comfort her family and friends while they grieve and help them to find solid ground once again.

Amen.

Sare

Falling Behind

I’ve fallen behind on chronicling my walk of Faith, not because it isn’t important to me–it truly is. The last several weeks have been crazy, busy, and emotionally draining.

My father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, so we’ve been going through the steps to start treatment. There has been a lot of prayers coming from me in recent days, but there are truly times when I’m not sure I’m as good and faithful as I should be.

I’m never sure if I’m leading my children to the LORD or if they’re just along for the ride. I’m not sure if my actions are showing the changes the LORD is making in me, or if it is only something I see. Each and every day, I give the day to Him and ask that He blesses me and opens my heart to His word. To allow His light to shine through me so others may find His grace.

Each day I read about Christians who are making a difference in the world, and I wonder if there is more I should be doing. I’ve been active in my church, but as the days go by I wonder if I’ve taken on more than I should have, and if being involved in so many things is truly what the LORD had planned for me.

My daughter and I have slowly merged onto the Homeschool Highway. We’re reviewing the things she ‘learned’ in first grade. In most things I’m very grateful to her first grade teacher. We’ll be going full swing as soon as I’m sure we’ve got a good footing. This is a new adventure, and with everything else going on, it has made for some really stressful and scary moments.

I don’t often second guess myself, even before I realized our Heavenly Father was with me, but there have been days when I’ve had to send my kiddos to their rooms so I could have ten minutes to re-center myself with His word. There has been many, many moments of asking God if He was certain this was His path for me. Am I really doing the best thing for everyone?

So far, we’re still with it, and until the time when God opens a different door for us, it’s where we will stay.

May God Bless You and Keep You,

Sare

 

Walking in the Desert with Jesus

Reading about Jesus' time spent in the desert, and how without fail He stood up to Satan and his promises of glory and power, has made me even more grateful to be a daughter living in the New Testament Times.

Our LORD, Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting in the desert. Something some might think He didn’t need to do. For instance, if I were to walk a mile in His sandals, and I knew I only had a few years to get my work done, I’m not sure I would have taken the time to go out into the desert alone. I would most likely have been trying to find all the right people to make things happen. I’d be out there putting up “Help Wanted” fliers, and searching out my Disciples–possibly eating as many chocolate cookies and cakes dipped in chocolate, and served with a side of chocolate, as I possibly could.

This of course, is just one of an unimaginable number of reasons why Jesus is Jesus, and I’m just a daughter trying to live my life in a way that would be worthy of His grace.

He went out into that desert because he was “led by the Spirit” (Matthew 4:1). It didn’t matter that He was on a time crunch, or that He already knew what His future held. He followed the Spirit, straight into 40 days and nights of hunger, only to be met on the other side by the slick serpent, Satan (now you try saying that ten times fast).

Reading about Jesus’ time spent in the desert, and how without fail He stood up to Satan and his promises of glory and power, has made me even more grateful to be a daughter living in the New Testament Times.

I’ve been doing some thinking on this, especially after Pastor R asked if anyone had been led to the desert, and what happened from it. At the time, I didn’t really have an answer. Especially since, I have never gone a week without food, never mind five weeks (and yes, I’ve got a tendency to be a little too literal. Something God is helping me with). I’ve realized though, that I do have an answer. Several, actually.

Being new to this walk, I don’t always see the proverbial forest for the trees. I don’t always see what is right in front of me. Not until much later, when, while doing what must be my 4,000th weighted elevator squat, the answer smacks me between the eyes.

Before my little family moved back to the PNW, we lived in a tiny little town in the high desert of Southern California. This place was often referred to as Satan’s Arm Pit. Not to be confused with Satan’s Butthole, Death Valley. This town was desolate, dirty, and lonely. The buildings were run down and the locals were mostly consumed by their need for Meth or whatever other drug they could put into their already ravaged bodies.

The four years we spent in that particular desert, were what I credit as my saving grace. They were my time of fasting. We had been placed there for a reason. I hadn’t heard the actual command to go there. I hadn’t even realized we were being led there. We went because that is where the Marine Corps sent us.

It was while we were there I realized something was missing from my life. There was a huge gaping abyss inside me that nothing seemed to be filling. I was thirsty, but I didn’t know for what. The day we found out we were heading back to the place I’d run from nine years ago (hello, liquid sunshine and evergreen trees), was the day a light went on inside my heart. That thing I was missing. That thing that would fill the black void inside me. It wasn’t a thing. It was a greatness, a joy, a forgiveness. It was God.

Obviously, I hadn’t been listening. God had sent my husband and I into a real desert, because I’m incredibly good a denial and God must have realized a figurative desert wasn’t going to be enough. I’d been blocking all His little nudges, all His taps on my shoulder. He needed me in that desert so that the blinders would fall off. It was that desert that led me to this path.

So yes, I’ve been in a desert. I walked that desert and came out the other side. I’m stronger for it, just like Jesus was.

We’ve all got our personal deserts to go through, just remember while you’re walking along those scorching dunes of sand, you’re not alone. You’ve been led there, and God would never leave you alone to navigate alone.

Blessings and Love,

Sare