The Year of the Vegetable Oil

I held the phone to my ear with my brother on the line, my hearing aid whistling as he asked, “So Sara, how ya doing with the reading?”

This is a common question from my brother. For the last year or so, he and I have been tag-teaming on reading the Bible through, though not necessarily reading together in the same place,we’ve held each other accountable through texts and conversations such as these.

“It’s been alright,” I paused, “I’m in Numbers. I guess i’m slowing down a little since last year.”

His concern was evident, “yeah I noticed. Why do you think that is?”

I sighed. “I don’t know. I was so alive and excited about the Word, but since Ciera’s death, I’ve just had a lot of doubts. I doubt His promises. I doubt His word. I doubt my understanding of it… I doubt so much.I know these are rookie doubts and they’re stupid since I intellectually know His promises all ring true no matter what.” I continued, “I don’t know if I subconsciously thought if I sought the Lord and prayed and pleaded and begged and obeyed, that she would be healed. I don’t know if that was subconscious or not, but…”

I sat there and expressed my deepest doubts. The things I’m struggling with most. I’ve had a million people tell me that she’s healed and in a better place. That just alienates me more. I’ve had people tell me that all things work for the good of those who love Him and in response i’ve wanted to punch them in the face and tell them “this is for your good”. I know the answers. I know the sermons. I know it backwards and forwards and still doubts plague me. I pick up His word and the temptation to just not be interested is there. I struggle through prayers but sometimes all I can get out is “Are You there? Do You hear me?” My prayers haven’t changed all that much since October 26, 2015.

You think the months would make it better and that time would heal wounds, but it’s like my brother said in our conversation, “Sara, it will take years. You and C had a Jonathan/David friendship. I bet David missed Jonathan until he went to the grave. You won’t ever get over it…” His words washed over me like water. Cleansing. Acknowledging. I won’t ever get over it. I breathed in relief.

He spoke truth over me and like songs they rang right through me to my soul, “You did seek Him in hoping she would be healed. I watched you and it’s been incredible. There’s nothing wrong with that, because we all do it. We are all human. We all seek God and hope that things will happen- we seek Him and want things from Him… It’s our nature.” Thankful to hear that the most private part of me- the fact that I begged God for her healing and He didn’t give it in the way I wanted. The temptation for me to quit was out in the open and acknowledged by another human who gave me grace encouraged me to give me grace too.

Tonight he reminded me to keep pressing on. I heard the urgency in his voice, “Sara, you have to keep reading the bible and praying because that’s what will get you through shit like this. Remember Hebrews 11? Remember Abraham? He went through all of that moving from place to place to receive God’s promise and died not having received it, but he still kept pressing on…”

I remembered… By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God…All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth… (Hebrews 11:8-10;13). 

His voice brought me back to the present, “they didn’t receive it in their lifetime, but God’s promises still rang true then, and they still ring true now. If C was here, she’d be by your side rooting for your faith, for you to hold on. Just like you guys used to do when you ran races! I bet she’s up there right now telling you how great it is up there and for you to hold on to His promises. They’re still true!”

“You know, Sara, this is going to sound stupid, but stick with me.” He continued, “I was watching Marcela (his wife) bake something the other day. She got a cup of vegetable oil and poured that in a bowl. Now by itself we wouldn’t drink vegetable oil for breakfast and call that good, but we put it in stuff when we bake.”
I laughed as he gave an illustration of telling someone he drank veggie oil for breakfast.

“Then she put a little bit of flour in it- Flour by itself is nasty, right?! Tasteless!” I giggled, knowing where he was going with this. “Then she put eggs in it- which aren’t too bad cooked- and raw– well…. Anyways, then she added chocolate chips and those are pretty good I can have some chocolate chips. She put it all together and put it in the oven and when she took it out it was delicious.”

I rolled my eyes and said “yeah”… Then he took an unexpected turn.

“Well, Sara. Some years are vegetable oil years. Right now, you are in the year of vegetable oil and it’s pretty terrible. Other years are flour years- and then you got some days that are like chocolate chips and those are pretty good. But in the end, God mixes all those years together and throws you in a pan and lights your ass on fire and.. well.. You end up with a masterpiece. You just gotta trust Him. It’s going to be okay. Remember Abraham. Remember the Greats- the ones who Trusted Him even when they never received their promises- not while they were alive. Remember.”

I leaned back and thought about Deuteronomy. I thought about the day that the Lord set before His people a choice and I could feel Him setting before me the same choice- “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.” (Deut 30:15). I feel a strong pull to death and destruction. And I feel a small tug to life and prosperity. I know the small tug is Truth. I know the small whisper is His. I know His voice. I know Him.

And I choose it. I will. I have to. He’s mine and I am His and with all my heart I choose life. I choose Him. I choose His promises even if I don’t see them- ever.

You have a choice too- You have life and death- prosperity and destruction. You have years of chocolate chips and veggie oil. Whether you’re in the best or the worst year- or whether you’re on fire… choose Him. Hold onto Him. Don’t let go. Don’t give up. He’s there.

 

If you made it to the end of this really long post- congrats. I miss you guys and have been struggling to put my thoughts into words- I hope to get back into blogging soon. I miss doing the weekly blogs. They are fun, but my soul needed the break. Hope you enjoyed! 

I Dream So Many Dreams…

Two weeks ago I stood speaking in front of a college Deaf Education class i’d been invited, welcoming questions from student after student. This isn’t the first time i’ve done this. I heard many of the same questions as I’d had before…

How did you pick up sign language so quickly?
Do you feel more comfortable in the Deaf or hearing world?
How much do you hear?
What hearing aid do you wear? And why?
Do you feel like your mainstream education helped or hurt your future?
What would you do if you could do it again? 

I smiled, with my answers ready. They were drawn from my experience, my opinions, and my life, they didn’t require much thought. But the next question caught me off guard.

So, What is your dream? 

“My dream? Like… For my future?” The class laughed at my question and quieted to hear my answer. I was so stunned by the question, I started to feel the silence rather than hear it. The crimson that rarely came started in my neck worked its way up to my ears and into my smile. I looked around.

“I don’t have one.” I said while humorously changing the topic evoking laughs from my audience.

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This exchange has been on my mind since. I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it. It plays in my mind and I think of all the things I could have said. But more than that, it brings me back to another quite equally haunting memory that I have of sitting in my former counselor’s office approximately 3 years ago and being asked to draw my future out on the dry erase board behind me.

I drew a stick person- me. And a school, graduation, then a job… and house.

Sara, he said, What about the people in your life? What about a spouse and children? 

“I don’t see that in my future, I don’t dream for that,” I replied.

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But none of that is true. None of it. And Yet, both exchanges haunt me. I’ve come to realize that speaking my dreams out loud- allowing myself to dream- scares me. Scares me so much so that I go to tell people that I have no dreams and I want no family, but today with this blogpost I wish to take those answers back. I’m taking them back. No. I’m not letting fear steal my future. I’m not letting Satan steal my dreams. What if the dreams I have are God’s dream? Better yet… what if, by speaking my dreams out loud (or writing them), God enables the people in my life to help them take shape and give them life?

Deuteronomy 30: 19 states that He has set before the Israelites death and life, blessings and curses and it is up to them to decide to choose life. Through speaking my dreams- my hopes- I think that is, in essence, speaking life rather than death over my future. And do I want life. I choose it.

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So what is my dream? What are my dreams? I don’t just have one- and they’re scary to voice because… I feel like they conflict with each other. What if none of them come to be and what if all of them come to be?  Both prospects are equally terrifying… and today that’s okay.

My dreams…

I want to attend seminary and spend too much money learning how to share the gospel. I want to make friends and enemies and pray for all of them. I want to hurt and wonder how i’ll make it the next year and then get to next year and be amazed at His glory. I want to learn and counsel women to be more godly, and counsel women who want nothing to do with God. I want to make friends and live life with them and step into their spaces and see who they are. I want to be there when they have children and get married and get cancer. I want to be there and show up in the most crucial times.

I want to meet someone and love him. Really love him. I want to love him enough to suffer with him for the rest of my life and let myself be held and protected by him. I want the anger and frustration of him not doing what I want him to do and the tears when he expresses his frustration of what i’m not doing with me! I want the excitement when I know he’s coming home. I want to roll my eyes at stupid jokes and get annoyed when he wants to watch sports. I want to pull out the scriptures with him and blush when he reads what we know as Proverbs 31 to me… Eshet Chayil- The woman of Valor! I want to give him high fives… even though sometimes they will land on his face (I’m just kidding…) I want to be silly and play hooky from work and eat pancakes in bed and giggle. I want to spend hours laboring in the kitchen for Shabbat dinners with candles on the table. I want to see tears in his eyes when I give him gifts and love when I give forgiveness. I want us to be angry and passionate. I want to slam doors and open hearts and be a mess and then be put back together in Him- the ultimate Him (Yeshua). I want it all.

I want to bear his children and give them his name. I want to pray for each child as it grows in me and be angry that he didn’t bring chocolate home. I want to feel his frustration and work it out with words and love. My dream is to be kind to him, because love is kind. I want to sing psalms by his bedside… and jokingly curse him in labor with laugher that bubbles up. I want a quiver full of arrows. I want the dirty house and the messy windows. I want the small fingerprints and the sleepless nights, the kind of sleepless night when something so little poops so much you both wonder how it’s possible- and then laugh together. I want the angry tears when he tells me I need to do more and be more and the love when I realize he’s right. I want to see his children grow and learn and fall and be clumsy. I want to pull back a head full of tiny curls and wonder what I was thinking when I wanted children and then laugh. I want the smiles and the frustration. The tears and the laughter. I want family.

I want to move across the country and live on a farm. I want to own sheep. Because they’re cute and because i know nothing about them- and i’m silly. I want to milk cows in the morning and feed them in the afternoon  and wonder why my trees are dying in the backyard. I want sore hands and a warm heart and a tired body. I want Watson to be a farm dog. For at least a little while. I want to smile as I wake up before the sun and smile when I go to bed long after it’s sunk. I want to stay up too late writing poetry and get up too early to cook. I want to be tired and refreshed. Work hard and relax. I want to own a house. A house that I can invite guests to and serve as a haven for young mothers with no husbands. I want to be plan B when plan A doesn’t work and plan C is abortion. I want to cook breakfast for young mothers and give them advice on how to raise children- even though I don’t know what i’m doing with my own. I want to clasp their hands in mine and wipe their tears and then go in the other room and ask the Lord what He was thinking when He asked me to do this… because i’m so inadequate.

My dream is to spend time in the middle east and hand out clothes to those who don’t have clothes and wrap women in Hijab who are lacking and wanting. I want to see the hands of refugees and wipe their faces. I want to wash feet and clothes down by the river. I want to respect and love and serve. I want to hurt. I want to be comfortable and uncomfortable and so comfortable that it makes me uncomfortable. I want to share Jesus with everyone who will listen and love those who spit in my face- like Amy Carmichael. I want to do more than hand out bibles, I want to BE Him and live Him. I want to cook meals and clean houses. I want to teach children- deaf children. Learn new sign languages. Learn new things.

I want to cry for want of home and smile for want of home. I want to be dirty, but have no shower. And be clean and give my shower. And finally go Home.

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Some of these things many never come true. Some of these things may turn into someone else’s dream. All of these things are unrealistic and romanticized and ridiculously realistic all at the same time. I cannot do all of these things, but I can dream them. I can dream them and when someone asks me what my dreams are I can choose one dream and divulge. All of these dreams are mine, but not all of these dreams are God’s. The most common phrase in my list of dreams is “I want”… My hope and prayer is that these “wants” become fewer and fewer and His Want becomes more and more…

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease” 

 

The Call of God On My Life

I went to church yesterday and heard a sermon about the Call of God on our lives. That’s not unusual for me, but what is unusual is I lay awake last night for hours, not being able to sleep, thinking about this sermon. Here were the main points I got from it, after listening to it again today. Italicized are my notes.

The call of God is From God (Jeremiah 1:4-9)

It flows and begins with God- He reveals Himself- then reveals His Will.

I only know His will for my Life as a byproduct of Knowing God.

Eternal Life is to Know God (John 17:3)

You have value because the God of Creation knows you before you were born and created- His knowledge is supernatural (psalm 119).

His calling on you is based on the Grace of God- Not on your performance- My value is based on the fact that God knew me before He made me and set me apart and is committed to seeing His call fulfilled in my life. Not for acceptance and performance- we work because God Called us. 

Our calling is to know Him first, and make His Name known in the world. 1 Peter 2:9

God has called us to proclaim His excellences to a dark, dark world. 

His call is: Eternal, meaningful, purposeful, and…Personal
It’s to proclaim the name of Christ. 

Progressive Call- the only time when you arrive is when you get to heaven. 

He calls me to himself, by himself and for himself. We cannot compartmentalize His call. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Lord implies Master over everything. It’s an inclusive call. 

Because God’s called me, I need to live different. It impacts unity with others in the spirit… We grow spiritually (individually and corporately), grow in newness,  in Ephesians 4. The first relationship he applies it to is marriage….

“walk worthy of your calling” 

Happy is not part of God’s Call: Holy Is. Consecration.

Highest Calling we can have is the Call of God.

The Call of God always demands a response.  

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So I know I have answered His call in one way: I have accepted His salvation and Lordship over my life. I have tried very hard to NOT compartmentalize my life and keep parts away from Him. I have tried to completely surrender.

But beyond that, what’s my response? I accept His Lordship and then just sit in church and enjoy speeches every week? I accept His Lordship and then volunteer every now and then? I accept His Lordship and lead worship as He’s called me to?

According to the sermon, according to the word, the Call of God is progressive. Progressive. To me, that means the call of God doesn’t just require a one-time response of accepting His call to salvation and surrender and Lordship, but it also requires us to respond continually.

How am I continually responding? What am I doing? Am I living my life as He would want me or am I stagnant because He’s called me to do something and i’ve refused to respond? What response is He demanding from me? What am I doing with my time? My money? My energy? What am I doing?

I ask myself this often. Most often I ask myself the question in my car or when I’m cleaning and honestly the question is often mingled with tears. What am I even doing? What difference am I making? Am I where He wants me to be or am I here because i’m comfortable? Am I here because i’m afraid? Am I here because of my unbelief? Am I here because I don’t trust Him enough to not let me slip back into my old habits? Am I here because I don’t trust His transforming Glory? 

And I ask. Question after question. Day after day. Tear after tear falls. And I wrestle. I wrestle with how I can bring Him glory in my home. I wrestle with how I can bring Him glory in my job. I wrestle with how am I passing His word onto another generation? I wrestle with how am I loving? Who am I loving? What am I doing? I wrestle with the line between thinking I could work better with a partner and seeing singleness as an OPPORTUNITY. I wrestle and wrestle.

It takes great faith for me to believe that God has a calling on my life. I wrestled last night, mainly because I did not believe His word and I did not believe the sermon. I had to fight my inner flesh that wants to roll my eyes, walk away from that sermon and shirk responsibility given to by the Almighty God who made me in His image. I have to consistently fight inward lies I have believed for so long: that I cannot leave a legacy, that I am not special or different from anyone else and the Lord has not called me to do any great work for His purpose.

But shirking that responsibility, believing those inward lies, that’s the first step to foolishly spreading damnation over my entire life and wasting a life formed by His hands, because the Call of God is not even about me.

The call of God is not about me! My life is not about me! My life is about Him! His call begins with Him, ends with Him, and flows to, from, and through him. It begins with His death and ends with his resurrection! The Call of God is about God!

And if I could just get my head up long enough to gaze on His beauty and His purpose and His plan… then I could see that. I could see what His call is about.

His call on my life is about Jesus. Jesus is my call. Jesus. Yeshua.

If others knew that the call of God was a call to come and die. A call to die, then rise…. A call to the One who made them…. It would change so much.

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Post-triathlon musings, memories, pictures… St Jude.

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to post an update. I am currently in Rochester, NY at a conference and have found it hard to get some downtime. This blog is my reward for meeting 3 very big goals tonight. (yes, I write to reward myself from writing…)

On Friday, as you all know if you read my last post, I left for Miami and had a little bump in the road getting started. I finally arrived in Miami around 1 am, got a cab to the hotel, and went to check in. At my check in they said the computers were down so there were no keys for the rooms. For that reason, I had to have an escort to my room and have someone unlock the door and lock it behind me. That was interesting.

I slept really well Friday night, woke up Saturday morning just in time for the Swim clinic.

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I was nervous about the ocean swim before the swim clinic began but once I met a few people there and we all swam in the ocean together like a team, I felt a lot better. After the swim clinic, I headed across the beach to the transition area to pick up my rented bike, set up for Sunday and pick up my registration packet.

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So while I set up, I met many people. I met a girl from Brazil, a guy from England, and people from Miami beach who were doing the Triathlon along with me! They were all so nice. I suppose I had a lost puppy look when I was setting up my transition because people approached me to welcome me “Oh, I see this is your first! Don’t forget to enjoy it! You’ll never have a first again, you’ll always be chasing this high”… I got something to that effect repeatedly… I thought to myself: this HIGH? I just hope I don’t die out there... Especially when I asked for advice and was told “don’t forget to enjoy it! You’ll never get this again!”

I was especially nervous about the biking, given my awesome balancing skills (ha! thanks, Meniere’s disease!) and my lack of practice due to weather (thank you, indoor bike machine!) I was most nervous about the bike. What other people considered the easy part is my greatest fear… Biking 20 miles and breaking my skull along the way… because i planned to finish whether I broke something or not. No matter what, the kids at St Jude deserve a finish!

My prerace meal:

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So, the morning of the race I woke up and ate some very non-nutritional food because it’s what I had with me. I was very nervous so I put my tattoos on (we have to temporarily tattoo our numbers on ourselves so they can identify us during each event), put my clothes on, grabbed my to-go bag and headed to transition.

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I tried to follow the directions the best I could. The timing chip was a Velcro on our left ankle, it felt REALLY weird to swim in. I’m glad I took a dip before the race started just to get a feel!

When I got to the start line we were let out to the ocean in waves. First, waves of gender, then age group, then 4 by 4. The girl next to me became my friend in 5 minutes after we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Hi i’m Sara! Who are you?
J: I’m jasmine! Nice to meet you!
M: Is this your first time? It’s my first time!
J: Yes! I’m nervous!
M: You come here with someone?
J: No, alone.
M: ME TOO! Everyone keeps calling me brave but i’m terrified
J: ME TOO! I just hope i don’t die out there, but people keep telling me to enjoy it… We’ll never get another first…

Anyways, Jasmine became my best friend, we even posed for picture at the start line, seconds before jumping in the water and the photographer tragically cut my face off.

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Here’s me posing again:

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The swim was my favorite part. I loved it. It took me double time because we were swimming against the current. I only got kicked a couple of times and I’m pretty sure I kicked someone when we were at the last 100 meters, but I wanted to get to the biking part!

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So as we came out the water, we ran straight from the beach to the transition area where our bikes were set up. It took me 8 minutes to transition from the swim to the bike. This was an ENTIRELY Ridiculously long transition. I’m not quite sure what took me so long. I was a little disoriented from the transitioning from the waves to the land, but I was fine. I took a GU, put my helmet on, my shoes, and walked my bike to the road.

I won’t lie, friends. the biking was pretty rough. I was banking that Florida is FLAT, but it didn’t occur to me that bridges are not flat. Over the 20 mile bike ride, there were 8 bridges. EIGHT. Eight very tall bridges. Very curvy, hilly bridges. I saw other bikers walk their bikes up the bridges but I refused.

The kids at st jude want to ride their bikes up bridges, so I rode mine.

About 10 miles in, my butt really started hurting because that seat is horrible! At one point I tried to drink water, but my water bottle fell on the ground so I had to stop every time I wanted water- That slowed me down a little bit, but it didn’t make me lose my smile.

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At one point the biking became so difficult and I had been passed by so many people that I remembered that during my training I have worked on memorizing Psalm 27. So for about 15 minutes I quoted Psalm 27 to myself by memory again and again.

My favorite lines are
“Though and army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid, 
Though a war breaks out against me STILL I am confident..
I have asked one thing of the Lord, It is what I desire:
To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” 

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I made it through though. It took me 1 hour and 30 minutes.

When I finally hopped off my bike my knees buckled but I caught myself and ran my bike back to transition. I grabbed some Stingers and headed off for the run. 4 miles. The run wouldn’t have been so bad but it was around 10:00, so by that point it was 85 degrees or so. Hot. Humid. Sun shining down. Trees were there on the run to block the breeze and provide NO shade. I wanted to chop them down (i’m sorry, trees). The heat made me angry and determined, I stuffed stinger after stinger in my mouth and plunged forward.

Around mile 3 I got a second wind, the kind where you forget you’re running and you just keep on. You pass people and things and see right through them. The endorphins pump, the adrenaline is going, and.. you’re almost to the finish line…. (the crowd in my mind went wild…)
Yes. The crowd went wild until i hit a half mile from the finish line and found myself running through SAND. Whoever put shifting non-packed sand at the end of a triathlon needs a brain scan. But the girl next to me, my same age (our ages were on our legs)…started to pass me.

So I got mad and gave it a final kick. I crossed. I crossed. I ran accross the finish line. I saw people waiving St Jude signs and cheering! “GO ST. JUDE HERO! GO GO! GO GO!”

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And I made it. I made it…

photo 1Medal selfie.

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but you know who really deserves the cheers? You guys do. Do you know why?

Because up until the morning of my race you were fantastic donators. You guys raised $2,770. YOU surpassed the required goal by $1,770. YOU did this. YOU won a much bigger race than I did, because giving to St Jude so that kids can swim and bike and run.. and hopefully one day memorize scripture to help them get through their life challenges…

Because of you, a child can live.

Because of you. a family will have groceries.

Because of you, they have housing.

Because of your giving.

Because of YOU.

Thank you. Thank you.

 

With Him I am Able.

I stood at the front of the church after service packing up the computer and answering the all too familiar question again…
“So now that you’re graduated with your master’s degree… What are you going to do?”

I graduated at the beginning of May. May 8, to be precise. I graduated without a job lined up even though i’ve been applying since December. December. I thought that surely I would have had a couple of offers by now! Surely I won’t be graduating with nothing!

But I did. I am. I’m here. I started applying to retail jobs last week. Just in case. You know? I had nightmares about this happening 6 months ago and turns out, it’s not the worse thing in the world. I’m alive and my needs are met and my parents are patient. And so am I. For the most part. Sort. of.

“So I guess the question is, out of all the options you have, what do you really want to do?” her voice brought me out of my thoughts.

What do I want to do? I stared down at the computer I was putting away. Trying to keep a poker face. I looked up at her earnestly. “This. I want to do this! If I could worship for the rest of my life just like this. I would.”

I interpret/sign the music at church every now and then. I love it. I feel alive. I know WHO He is… and I know who I am and I know what He did for me while I’m singing to him. It’s all clear up there. I want that clarity. I want that worship. all the time. Every moment. Worship.  Worship.

Worship.

Driving home that night I kept thinking about that word and went back to each time I had truly worshiped. My mind floated back to various situations, circumstances, songs, moments, days, weeks, months and years… And I landed on a very vivid memory. One that I would dare say was probably the most worshipful time of my entire life.

And music wasn’t involved. Signing wasn’t involved. No one was really involved in that particular moment but me. Me and Him. That’s it.

It was the most painful part of my life and the part full of the most worship. The most memorable worship.

It was close to three years ago now… maybe 2.5…I had not been following the Lord. I had been doing my own things. I hadn’t even bothered going to church. I didn’t even know if I believed the Bible and if I didn’t believe the Bible why would I want to follow it? So I didn’t. I did my own thing completely. And I was in secret. Avoiding people. Avoiding things. Avoiding church. Avoiding God. Not sleeping. Not being alone. Not being still or quiet. Constantly going. Constantly studying to show myself that even without God I could make good grades. I could still succeed. I still believed in Him. I just didn’t know if I believed in Him the same way that I did before when everything was so much more simple, because I believed that at that time, my way was right. It felt right. How could it have been wrong? I trusted my feelings, i trusted my mentors, my friends, myself. I looked into other religions for another way to worship where I could accept myself and accept a god.

I only found myself. I was my religion.

My church family at the time found out. They pulled me aside. Several times. Not just once, but several times over several months. With each time they pulled me aside, the more in my way I became. The more miserable I became. The less I slept. The less I ate. Or maybe the more I ate, I don’t know anymore.

And then it happened. I went to meet one of the “church people”, as I called them, for coffee to explain myself and a recent facebook post I had posted that had offended them all. I thought “If she has the balls to ask me to go to coffee and wants an explanation instead of judging me, then she deserves that explanation” So I went. 

And they all were there. Not just her but all them church people. And they sat me down in love. With Love. With tears. With grief. They shared their heart with me. They wanted to see how I was doing. They cared about me. They want whats best for me. They pray for me. If I decided to come back to Jesus they would be there. The entire time.

And I sat there with tears spilling down my face angry. Pissed off angry. Not just angry but… infuriated. Seething. How COULD they? How could they surprise me? My self righteousness built up walls of defense around my heart. My pride. Mine. My thoughts. My actions. Mine. Mine My. I. I…. I.

Then one said “If you come back to church. If you come back to Jesus… we will sit with you. We will grieve with you. We will cry with you. Walk you through it. You are our sister, our daughter, our friend. We love you. You are not alone. You don’t have to do it alone.”

And I cracked. I wanted to hear that. I wanted her hug. I wanted that support. I wanted out.

I said “thank you.” still angry. And I got it my car and drove off.

As I drove back to where I was staying, I cracked more. So deep to the core that I heard a sound come out of me that i’d never heard before. And I cried. I wailed. I screamed “WHY? WHY GOD? WHY? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I DON’T UNDERSTAND… I don’t Want to understand…” But I understood. And in that moment. Between those tears. Between the snot. Between the loss and the hurt. Between those moments of wailing. Between the screams. In my hoarse whispering voice, I knew what I had to do and I surrendered. I surrendered and there I was.

In worship.

The most painful, raw, excruciating, pure worship of my life.

Surrender.

Worship.

Surrender.

Sacrifice.

Worship. 

Brokenness. 

Those words… are not that different from each other.

 

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17. 

 

So that’s worship.

What do I want to do for the rest of my life, you ask?

Surrender my will to His. Continually come back to a place of broken repentance. continually wail out the name of “Jesus”. Continue humbling myself and my will. Continue to deny my emotions, because emotions LIE! Continue to move forward to Him and look back and remember what He’s done for me. He forgives me. He forgave me. He’s forgiven. He loves me… he died for me just to know me.

He surrendered His will so I could have the strength to surrender mine.

 

That’s what I want to do forever.

Surrender.

If that means I stay in Knoxville, I will.
If that means I move. I will.
Work retail. I will.

Work a job I don’t want. ill try… hehe.

I want to stand at the alter with my empty hands lifted to Him in all painful, joyful, beautiful and broken times of life and say
“oh Lord, I will”.

 

Help me do that, because I cannot alone… that’s why He died… so that I can with Him. With Him I can… WIth Him I am able.

With Him.

 

9 Mile Lessons.

I’m taking a break from homework to write this blog post. I don’t understand why I am taking a break from WRITING to WRITE, but I am. Plus, I miss you guys.

For the past few days I have been eating non-stop. It’s all fruit and veggies and protein bars, but it feels so out of control… and I can’t seem to help it. I’m supposed to be in a wedding in a couple of weeks. I hope the dress still fits…

This was floating around on facebook yesterday. I’m pretty sure I feel like the last pink Omnomnomnomivore…. RAWR!!

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Anyways, All jokes aside…

I had a really tough run yesterday. I struggled whether or not to write about it because I was bummed and I really don’t want to revisit it. However, after thinking more about it, instead of just putting it out of my mind, I realized that I learned some really valuable lessons yesterday that could be of use to you guys.  Or at least I can write about and this post can serve as a reminder to me the lessons that I learned.

Yesterday was my “long run” day. I have been really pushing myself the last three weeks to make it to crossfit and do at least ONE two-a-day workout a week that includes crossfit in the morning and running in the afternoon. My feet have been feeling great, my shoulder (from a past injury) hasn’t been giving me problems. I’ve been taking rest days when I need to and increasing my protein intake. I realized a couple of weeks ago how LITTLE protein I eat, so i’ve been trying to cook more and add it back into my diet. With that said, this weekend I took two rest days because i was busy and because my legs had been sore all week from pushing myself. So I rested and got up monday morning to 90% chance of rain and a 9 mile run. I dressed, put my fuel belt on and interlaced my raincoat with my fuel belt. When I got to the greenway, I took my hearing aid off and left my phone in the car because it was pretty windy and the sky was pretty dark. It felt like the sky would burst at any moment.

I set out on my run, I was stringing two frequently run trails together to make 9 miles. Four miles into the run, my right foot started hurting. I thought it was my plantar fasciitis again so I stopped and stretched it and walked on it. When I walked I felt fine, so I picked up my pace and kept running. I stopped and walked periodically to walk off the pain. By the time 4.5 miles came, I had almost 5 miles left to go back to my car. I was second guessing myself. The pain was so bad there was no “running my doubt into the ground” because the ground was shoving my doubt right back into me with every strike of the pavement.

I went to the pocket I usually carry my phone in and remembered, as a drop of rain fell and hit my forearm, that I didn’t bring my phone. Oh crap, I thought. 5 miles back to the car, what am I going to do? I walked/hobbled ran another mile or so. The pain was so intense that I stopped and sat down in the middle of the trail with my shoe off, massaging my foot. I looked around the trail and saw a mcdonalds at the top of the hill. I could go call someone!! I thought…and then it suddenly occurred to me…I don’t have anyone’s number memorized. The only number I know by heart is my mother’s number and she’s 12 hours away in Louisiana.

There was only one option.

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Except the “keep running” option didn’t look as pretty as this picture and it was more like “keep walking/limping/moving”. I was so angry at myself for not thinking to bring my phone. What was I THINKING?! Why i didn’t I put it in a ziplock bag and keep it in my rain jacket?? am I NUTS?! I felt insane, but a different kind of insane than the kind i feel at crossfit. Today I felt insane insane. Like for real. Who doesn’t memorize phone numbers?! That’s like MEGA Important!

When I put my shoe on and stood back up, nausea hit me. I groaned. I have to make it 4 more miles. I started running until I couldn’t anymore and then walking a few minutes and continuing that method while stopping and stretching my foot out every so often.

By mile 7, I was in so much pain that I reached on my side and pulled out my water from my fuel belt. As I tilted my head back to drink, I felt sweat drip to the back of my neck. My face felt flushed. The water went into my mouth and got caught in my throat. I couldn’t swallow. I stopped walking and put all the pressure on my good foot, water came trickling/spraying out of my nose. Pain radiated from my foot. Tears burned my eyes. I tried to choke what water I could get down. I tried to pep-talk myself Go Sara. You can keep going. You can make it back to the car. You can do it. I tried to breathe.

Needless to say, I made it back to my car. Alive. My foot is sore and achy today. My whole body sort of hurts. I can move my foot and even walk on it, but i feel like when i put pressure on it, i’m afraid to hurt like it did yesterday, so i’ve just not been using it much. I also have a doctor appointment for Friday. I’m super excited about this because I am nervous about having a stress fracture in my foot. That would be 6 weeks without running… and the St Judes race is in late April. I don’t have 6 weeks to quit running… but health does come first.

So let’s overview of what I learned:

  • Always bring your cell phone.
  • Memorize at least two numbers from Knoxville, Numbers form Louisiana won’t help. 
  • In the past, I usually make my route to where I pass my car at least once in the middle of my route so If I need anything, I can get it. I’m never usually  more than 2 or 3 miles from my car. I will continue to use this method from now on. 
  • Next time THINK about calling a taxi or cab. that never occurred to me until after the fact. I had cash with me. I keep cash in my fuelbelt in case i’m stuck and need a drink or a snack. I should have thought to call a cab. 
  • Always let someone know where I’m going. 
  • The fact that I have to take my hearing aid out for sweaty, long runs and rainy runs makes me nervous and wish I had a running dog for a partner… I’ve almost been trampled by cyclists. Do any other hard of hearing/deaf people experience this or have ways/methods to make sure safety is first?

 

This felt a lot like a failure… yes I did run my 9 miles. it took me 1 hour and 45 mins, but i didn’t run it safely. I didn’t run it with my safety-first rule. This was really disappointing to me. We have to remember though that it’s a setback. Setbacks and Failures are different.

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