tea balls loose tea
encouragement, Joy, Loss, My Walk, Relationships, The Fallen World, Wisdom

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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encouragement, help, Joy, My One Word, My Walk, Relationships, Scripture Memorization, Wisdom

Joy During the Darkness

Each day the media gives us detailed accounts of how dark and broken our world is. Whether you get your ‘news’ from television news reports, printed newspapers and magazines, or social media–you’re being bombarded with doom and gloom. The worst minutes of strangers’ lives are plastered, shared, and argued over. There is so much heartache, and no answers or solutions coming from the people participating in the often lengthy and irrelevant comment section. Everyone has an opinion, and while we are entitled to an opinion, shouldn’t we think before stating it?

Yes, this should be obvious to everyone, but so often it isn’t. These actions can’t be laid at the feet of the unbeliever either, but rest at the dusty soles of each person. I’ve seen loudly proclaiming Christians tear people down in the guise of fellowship just as I’ve seen athiests and agnostics do it.

God created all of us, and our job is to share His gospel with others. This doesn’t mean we’re supposed to browbeat unbelievers or malign their name. Our world is currupt enough without turning our faith into a tool of corruption. When we do that, when we use Jesus as a way to bully others, we aren’t doing His works, we’re doing Satan’s.

Instead of pointing out the faults of each other maybe we, as Christians, could spread around some joy.
That’s the amazing thing about Jesus. He brings joy. People loved Him and followed Him. They were willing to give up their material possessions and their careers to join Him. They were willing to give up their lives to follow in His footsteps, to spread His teachings. This didn’t happen because He condemed each person He came in contact with. It happened because He not only had joy–even through His trials, He was joy. He was and is the light.

You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.
2 Samuel 22:29

During the last eight months I’ve focused on joy. Not just the word, but all that it signifies, and so far I’ve realized one very important thing. Even in the darkness that has been covering our world, there is still joy. There is still light. God is still here, with us. During each and every trial, during every painful experience, He is beside us.

That’s joy.
Knowing that this world is temporary, that the life we live on this earth isn’t the best there is, that’s joy.

Instead of pointing out the faults of everyone and adding to the darkness, choose to add light to the world. Choose to add JOY.

This day is holy to our LORD. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

Blessings,

Sare

Faith, help, journalism, Joy, My One Word, My Walk, Relationships, The Fallen World, Wisdom

I’m Trusting in Him

Today, social media is blowing up yet again about the death of a man and the ensuing riots in the Milwaukee community. Everyone has an opinion; some with first-hand knowledge, and others (like myself) who have only heard about it through various news sites and blog posts.

What concerns me most about the posts, aren’t the facts behind the event (a man with previous criminal experience pointing a loaded gun at a Law Enforcement Officer), but the way the narrative is framed. Our society automatically adds in the race of each of the involved parties, then for added effect we’ll throw in a few derogatory terms such as “thug” or “pig”.

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:8

Suddenly entire communities go on the defensive. There is no understanding or steps taken to create change. What there is instead is division. Communities aren’t coming together to talk things through in a calm and useful way; hatred is spewed from the mouths of angry citizens. Families are attacked by strangers, while simultaneously attacking others. Our words have power, and with the ease of access to outlets the internet and social media have given us, the more powerful those words become.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

Twenty years ago, an officer may have shot someone, regardless of race, during the course of their day; if you lived on the other side of the country or the world, the probability was you’d never hear about it. The reach of words and emotions didn’t extend that far. The power wasn’t that great. Today, someone in another country can’t eat dinner without the rest of the world having access to it. People become famous off of digitally recording actions most of the world would be embarrassed by. We are a world where reality television has become an idol. We live in a time that equates fame with money and an extravagant lifestyle–religious and non-religious alike. Helping people has become another money-making empire, and is too often done as a tax write off than out of any true desire to change the circumstances of those in need.

We are broken. We’ve been broken longer than anyone reading this has been alive. We’ve been broken since Adam and Eve made their choice and disobeyed God. We’ve continued to walk a sinful and deadly path since Cain killed Abel.

No amount of police shaming or race shaming is going to fix what is wrong with our world. Neither will stereotyping, race-baiting, or hash-tagging. Truthfully, the color of a person’s skin is the least of our worries. Sin doesn’t care what color our skin is, it simply looks for a chink in our armor. We don’t need other countries to destroy us, they just have to sit back and wait for us to destroy ourselves–to allow sin to destroy us, one choice at a time.

The truth is, there is no easy answer to this. We are only human. Weak and sinful; we crave the joys of the world more than those of our forever home, and because of that, we’ll never understand why we witness our country, and on a larger scale, our world, falling apart. As a Christian, my heart clings to faith. Faith in My God who knows what happens tomorrow. Who knows where this is all going, and which person or community the lesson is for.

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Ephesians 1:11

Maybe it’s for me, or you, or someone none of us have met. I don’t know, but I do know one thing: I’m trusting in Him.

Blessings, Sare

encouragement, help, Joy, My Walk, Relationships, Wisdom

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

encouragement, Faith, help, My Walk, Relationships, Wisdom

Hashtag This.

The world is falling apart around us, and the news is overzealously covering it, social media has once again elected itself judge, jury and executioner; and God hasn’t just been forgotten, he has been turned into a disease too many people want to be vaccinated against.

Humanity’s problem isn’t guns, or even racism. Humanity’s problem is that we’ve lost sight of God. We’ve got a problem with humanity itself. Our collective moral compass has slowly lost its way, and we are navigating into even more turbulant waters. As a people we’re being divided. Everyone is taking sides, and they’ve made catchy “hashtags” to show their solidarity and commitment to their cause.

#blacklivesmmatter
#alllivesmatter
#bluelivesmatter
#policelivesmatter

God created us all. Each and every one of us. He knew this world was going to mess up again. He set His rescue plan in motion thousands of years ago, because He knew what was coming, and He wanted to make sure He protected us. We are weak, we are sinners, we are human, and He still loves us. Even while we’re destroying each other out of some misguided attempt to prove God doesn’t exist, that we’re the masters of our own futures, He’s protecting us.

With our human eyes, ears, and emotions, it might not seem like God is doing a great job with protection detail, but that’s the thing about God. He sees things in a way we could never imagine. He is our Creator, and there is not one person on this Earth that could ever love us as much as He does.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. –John 14:27

This battle we’re fighting right now, it needs to end; we’re wasting our time. This battle has already been won, and here’s a spoiler, our Heavenly Father was victorious.

Trust in Him.  He’s got this covered.

Now, where’s the hashtag for that?

Blessings, Sare

encouragement, Joy, My One Word, My Walk, Relationships, Wisdom

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

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