Sunday, December 7, 2014

She Accepted Christ, But Was Never Discipled

Last night one of my best friends from high school passed away. She was 31 and leaves behind a 5 year old little boy. I sat numb as I read and reread the text message I had received that simply said "she is gone", the machines had been turned off and as much as I had prayed that the Lord would breath life back into her body and heal her on this earth, He chose to heal her in a different way. 

I found myself going back to years of memories from when we were teenagers. Of course not all of them would be considered good, as she and I both had our fair share of mishaps and bad choices growing up. We were both following after the wrong things, always ending up with the same result. Two broken girls, who just wanted to be loved and accepted but didn't understand we already were by a loving Heavenly Father.

Growing up Kendra and I were always the "big girls" of the group. We never had a size 2 waist, or the long volume filled hair that you could do anything with, or the cute clothes from all the popular stores, because we could never fit into those clothes. Our size connected us, we felt comfortable with each other and we helped each other more than we realized growing up. Oh how I wish I could back to those days and help us both to see the big picture we were missing. How our identity was never meant to be found in anything of this world, but in Christ alone. 

My sweet friend always struggled. For reasons I will keep to myself, she was always needing encouragement, never feeling good enough. The thing that always baffle me is the ones that usually need the encouragement are the ones who bring so much to others lives and don't even realize it. Kendra was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet. Her laugh was infectious and she would do anything for you if she could. She was a hard worker, someone who would set her mind to something and do it but always looking for approval from others because she just wanted to make people proud. She had so much love to give and after I got pregnant with Noah, she would often talk about one day having a baby of her own. 

No matter how busy life got we always met in October for a birthday lunch date. Our birthdays were 7 days apart, so I used to give her a hard time about me being 7 days older. It didn't matter if we hadn't seen each other in two days, two weeks or two months, we just took off right where we left off. I remember the day she texted me and asked me if she could come over to talk. She showed up on my porch with a look of shock/happiness on her face. She had just found out she was pregnant and hadn't told anyone yet. She was so excited yet so scared. By this time in our lives I had given my life to Christ and was on my faith journey of growing in the Lord. I knew in my heart that I needed to share the Gospel with Kendra. Over the next few months we began to talk about Jesus and why it was He came to earth and died for us. I bought her a bible and tabbed it for her and prayed that the Lord would work in her life. She went to church with me a few times and it appeared she was starting to "get it" a few weeks later we were sitting in church listening to the sermon and she began to cry, she looked at me and said she needed to walk up front and accept Christ. I will never forget that day as long as I live. I stood next to my friend crying, watching the congregation come up and hug her, welcoming her into the body of Christ. I just stood there thanking the Lord for what He was doing in my friend's life. 

Two weeks later Kendra was baptized, and then it happened, life happened and we found ourselves struggling to stay connected for a season. I was in nursing school, raising Noah, working and Kendra was dealing with a high risk pregnancy due to a lifetime battle with diabetes. We stayed connected over the next two years, I watched her mother her sweet boy with such love and adoration, celebrate his first birthday and go back to school and get her LPN. Next thing you know a few years had passed and we had merely texted here and there. Life was happening, I had moved to a different county and we simply stayed connected via texting and facebook. I could tell by what I saw on Facebook and what Kendra had shared with me through text that she wasn't going to church and she didn't have anyone in her life that was pouring into or disciplining her. She came over to my house one afternoon with her little boy who was about 3 at the time. She was stressed with relationship issues, money/work struggles and other life issues. Looking back I should have tried harder to get her back into church with me, I should have done more, but I didn't. Standing on my deck that summer day, laughing, crying and talking about life and the struggles she was dealing with. She left that day and said "text me so we can get together again, and don't forget our annual birthday dinner" That was the last time I saw my friend in person. 

As I sat on my couch last night crying after finding out she was gone, I found myself thinking to myself, how many times do we welcome someone into the body of Christ but never invest in that person's life? We rejoice with praise and thanksgiving at baptisms but do we invest and pour into those lives after the fact, or do we merely smile and say hello when we see a familiar face in passing trying to get to our usual seat, thinking to ourselves "I know I know that person from somewhere, but where" Do we step out of our comfort zone of grabbing lunch with the same crowd after church and invite someone to join us or even just grab lunch one on one with someone who we think may need someone to show we care? Kendra was a lot like me in the fact unless you were close to her, you never knew she was struggling. She always smiled. 

I can't stop thinking would Kendra's life had been any different if myself or others invested time into her, disciplining her, helping her grow in her walk with the Lord. I have heard it said that many teenagers leave the church once they go off to college. I feel like the same could be said for some new believers. I don't feel like the church is doing a good enough job taking our brothers and sisters who are mere babies in the faith and helping them grow, being there to answer questions or to even asking questions when we think they are struggling. Sometimes I think that the body is too scared to go after something that looks different then what they are used to. Meaning unwed mothers, ex cons, divorced people, those covered in tattoos, or even those who look normal on the outside but on the inside are crumbling. 

You see I match some of those descriptions, I was pregnant at 20 unmarried, I've been married and divorced, I have tattoos and on the outside I look pretty normal but there have been times when my smile is covering up a broken and shattered person on the inside, and I have never truly been discipled. I have taken bible studies at churches, I have grown in my walk with the Lord but I have never had people invest in my life and really try to get to know the real me. To some I am Sarah the nurse, to others I am Sarah, Noah and Isaiah's mom, I am a daughter, a sister and friend to all, but more than any of that I am a child of the King and up until a few years ago I struggled to accept that and in my heart I know my sweet friend did as well, until the very end. 

When tragic things happen, we are Christians tend to immediately go to Romans 8:28 where is says "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them" but do we ever think about what vs 29 says?  

"For God knew His people in advance and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters"

God knew Kendra's life would end yesterday. He knew the number of hairs on her head and He knew her heart, and that brings me comfort and hope that she is in the presence of her King, her Heavenly Daddy who loves her more than she could ever imagine. What I want to ask you and ask myself, are we doing enough for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we pouring into new believers, are we investing in new members of our church, are we praying and asking the Lord to show us someone in our own life who needs a friend or who needs someone to just be there. The church is filled with imperfect people, sinners saved by Grace. Are we showing the same Grace to those around us. Are we looking past the outside appearance and seeking the inside of a person, their heart and mind. Or are we clapping and saying "Praise the Lord" when someone accepts Christ and/or gets baptized but then continuing on in our own lives, surrounded by our friends we have so much in common with, our safe circle, forgetting about those who on the outside may look like they have it all together but on the inside they are broken and praying that someone, anyone would come say "hi, you want to grab a cup of coffee and just talk"


                                  "A friend loves at all times" Proverbs 17:17


Friday, December 5, 2014

Embracing The Season & Enjoying A Simple Christmas


I have spent the last week watching friends on social media post about the beginning of their Christmas traditions with their families. Elf on the Shelf, dressing up the kids in Christmas outfits and going to see Santa, visiting the town square and seeing all the buildings lit up, unwrapping a book every night to read before bed, building gingerbread houses, going to see The Nutcracker, riding the Christmas train and honestly these are all wonderful things that build precious memories with our kids. All of those things I have done myself in years past with Noah and Isaiah. This year though I am being forced to embrace the simplicity of Christmas. Before you say to yourself "who needs to be forced into that" Let me explain. Being a single mom I've always tried extra hard to ensure my kids had memories and experiences. I have never had the money to do yearly vacations, my kids have never been to Disney World or even seen the beach, so whenever I have been able to I have always tried to give them memories and traditions. This year looks very different for the boys and I. Our surrounding family is separated, There will be 5 empty seats at Christmas dinner, I'm working 12 hour days which makes for an exhausted Mommy most days on top of homeschooling, extra money for fun stuff is non-existent and here recently I found myself getting depressed at how I wasn't going to be able to provide my boys with everything I have in the past. (i.e. Christmas memories) That's where the Lord grabbed me out of my pit and reminded me of what I already knew. Don't you just love when the Lord does that :-) 

I may not be able to provide all that fun stuff for my boys this year but I can provide them with memories of sitting on the couch snuggled under a blanket, looking at our Christmas tree lit up while reading our Advent storybook and talking about the real reason we celebrate Christmas and how thankful we are for Jesus, because during times like this, where things are hard, we have hope in Jesus and we know everything will be okay. So while this year looks very different, I'm choosing to embrace this continued season of change for the boys and I and enjoying a simple Christmas this year. A Christmas where the best gift of all isn't found under the tree on Christmas morning, but is living inside of us all year long, all the days of our lives. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christ Overcomes Darkness

I really have no idea where to even start with this post. I'm not even sure why I am writing it. Actually yes I am, writing has always been a form of therapy for me, free therapy, lol I sit here and find myself praying as type, seeking the Lord with every word. I have no idea who reads this blog, if anyone does. Okay actually I do know of one person, Hi Care :-) Love you sister!!

I remember starting this blog 4 years ago as a way of keeping track of my adoption. What a blessing it is to have a way to go back and revisit the amazing journey the Lord took me on to bring my sweet Isaiah home. Though I have been hit and miss the last two years (hello post adoption, nursing school craziness) I could never bring myself to take the blog down. I knew I wanted to keep writing but I knew the Lord would show me when it was time. Guess what............it's time :-)

Every year after the new year is rung in, the holidays are over, decorations are packed up, I find myself reflecting on the past year and anticipating what the Lord has in store for me in the coming year. It seems like for the past few years there have always been one or two big experiences that have grown me in my faith and allowed me to see the Lord in a way I hadn't before. In 2009 I went through a divorce, in 2010 I graduated LPN school and started the adoption process, in 2011 Noah and I moved in with my mom, sister and her kids into a lovely home the Lord provided as well as saw my sweet Isaiah's face for the first time when I got his referral, in 2012 I traveled to Ethiopia twice and brought my sweet boy home as well as suffered through a horrible health condition that the Lord later healed me of, in 2013 I started RN school and traveled to Haiti on a medical mission trip where I was rebaptised and rededicated my life to Jesus. When 2014 rolled around I was so excited. I knew I would be graduating nursing school and I couldn't wait, but you see 2014 was nothing like I could have ever expected. Truthfully this year, specifically the last 6 months have been some of the darkest times of my life. I have experienced a season of spiritual attack, brokenness, sadness and loss while also experiencing Jesus in a way that I have never experienced Him before.

Without sharing specifics because this story is not just mine to share, I have lost relationship with my sister, my niece and two nephews as well as now have a very strained relationship with my dad. I have almost lost my home, I experienced the worst financial crisis I could have ever imagined, one that I am still trying to dig myself out of, my truck has broken down numerous times, I failed my last quarter of nursing school which caused me to have to repeat a class and graduate 3 months late, causing me to lose a job that had been offered to me. After graduating the Lord blessed me with a job working as a RN in the ER of a local hospital but I soon lost that job because I failed my nursing boards. I have watched my oldest son sit and cry at the loss of contact with his cousins. My health has been strained due to stress and at times I have just sat and cried, not understanding why any of this has happened.

You know what though, you know the saying Jesus will meet you just where you are? Ya'll it is so true. He was there when I needed groceries but didn't know how I was going to afford them, He provided Kroger gift cards through friends, He was there when my power steering went out in my truck and it was going to cost over $600 to fix, He provided a guy from church who fixed it for free, He was there when I asked Him "why" He allowed me to fail my last quarter of school, He put a woman in my path that had also failed her last class, she didn't know Jesus and we had many opportunities to talk and I shared the Gospel with her, He was there when I failed my boards and lost my nursing job. He provided the money to allow me to retake my boards and He provided an LPN job for me while I study and prepare to retake the boards. He was there when I needed to get away from all the stress of everything and He provided a way for the boys and I to travel North for the weekend to spend time with one of my dear friends and her family, a refreshing weekend that my weary soul needed. He was there when the boys and I found ourselves in search of a new church to call home. He provided an incredible church home and body of believers that have loved us and welcomed us with open arms. He was there as I cried to Him that I needed help, to please help me. He sent me a community group of people that have not only become friends, but who I consider family. The woman in the group encourage me with scripture, prayer and encouraging text messages through out the week and the men are investing in my boys weekly, at times just by living out the Gospel to them and showing them how men of God are to live. My boys have met and formed sweet friendships with the kids at our church and community group and the Lord has shown me through a sweet friend who's husband passed away earlier this year, that my season of singleness has a purpose, and that purpose has been to come alongside my sweet friend and encourage her as she now finds herself a single momma to her three precious little ones. He was there when the bills were piled sky high and my bank account was in the negative. He provided those who wanted to come alongside me, giving of their time and some of their finances to help bring me out of the hole I had found myself in. Then there were the many nights where I laid in bed crying out to Him for comfort, peace and His presence. He was there, every single time, embracing me, loving me, laying specific scripture on my heart, and reminding me He had a purpose for my pain.

Ever since I decided to follow Christ, I have always prayed that my life would reflect more of Him and less of me. I wanted people to see my life and see our Great Savior, Jesus Christ. I wanted people to see how the light of Christ overcomes any amount of darkness we could ever experience. Through salvation our lives are transformed, we begin to see ourselves as God sees us. Dead in our sins, but alive in Christ, redeemed, restored and loved by a Mighty God who loved us so much that He gave His one and only son so that we could spend eternity with Him forever in Heaven. The Lord has been so kind these last few months in how He has cared for the boys and I and at times has left me speechless (which if you know me, you know that doesn't happen often) at just how much He is in the details of my life, big and small. The biggest blessing from this season has been the numerous times my Father in Heaven has been glorified through my suffering. I have been told so many times recently through face to face conversations, text messages and Facebook messages how my strength and faith through turmoil has encouraged someone, caused someone to look at themselves and realize how they don't rely enough on the Lord. I have been told that people don't know how I have made it through, and that has allowed me to tell of my Great Savior and how without Him and the hope I have in Him, I would surely be in a corner crying but, because the battle has already been won on the Cross I can walk in faith toward the future, knowing that even though I have no idea what the future holds, I know WHO holds my future and that gives me the peace that surpasses anything I will endure on this earth and what a JOY it is to know that through my suffering, Jesus is being glorified.

I'll leave you with one of many encouraging words that have ministered to me these last few months..........."One of the best things you can do to worship God is simply to accept where you are and what He's doing for you RIGHT NOW" ~ Priscilla Shirer

Psalm 27 "I remain confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord"

Stay tuned ya'll, the Lord is slowly giving me words to say and I can't wait to see what He does through this little ole blog of mine :-) Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!
Monday, September 22, 2014

End Of A Season

I can't believe I am really typing these words, but yes ya'll I am FINISHED with nursing school. Woohoo, Praise the Lord, He is SO GOOD!!! When I started this journey back in January 2013 I had no idea what I was getting myself into. RN school is CRAZY ya'll and yes there were many nights I either went without sleep, drank more coffee than the average human should, felt like I was losing my mind and put way too much Mommy guilt on myself for not seeing my boys as much as I would have liked, but just as the Lord tells us, there is a time and season for everything and I am so thankful that season of life is finished, over, never to return again :-) I have SO much to blog about. Some stuff I want to blog just to remember, some awesome God moments, a lot of reflection and some rough stuff I have been dealing with the last few months. I never want my blog to come off as sunshine and lollipops because trust me that isn't my life, my life is crazy most of the time but then again who said following Jesus would be boring? Stay tuned friends........
Monday, December 30, 2013

Starting Over..........

If you are one of the 5 people who actually read this silly blog of mine you know that this year I have been a super stinky blogger, lol I have gone back and forth trying to decide if I should keep attempting to blog or if I should just say good bye to it all together? Every time I think about it, I am reminded how thankful I am to have documented Isaiah's adoption journey and that makes me want to continue blogging, to continue documenting our lives, to have something to look back on and be reminded that through this crazy thing called life, God is always faithful. So along with some other changes I am making for 2014, consistent blogging is one of them. I have "met" such sweet friends through the blog world and my life is definitely richer because of each of them. I am still toying with the idea of making this private, but for now it will remain public. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready because I have been quiet for way too long and I am excited for the next chapter of this journey as I choose to find JOY along the way, every day!!

" I look up to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth. He will not let you stumble, the one who watches over you will not slumber." Psalm 121:1-3

 
Friday, September 6, 2013

5 On Friday


Today I'm linking up with 5 on Friday :-)

  Every year on Labor Day our church a HUGE community outreach called Family Palooza. It is one big carnival for free :-) They have games, petting zoo's, pony rides, bounce houses/slides, inflatable water slides, face painting, music, train rides and lots more!! My boys had a blast. Isaiah went down most of the water slides just like big brother, lol the child loves water and thought he was big stuff doing what his big brother was doing.
Since I spend most of my time studying (and since I am currently living by Dave Ramsey and his envelope system) I decided to take advantage of $5 movie Tuesday and kids eat free at McAllisters and treat my boys to a movie and dinner :-) Noah has been begging me to go see Planes! I have to say it was a really cute movie and Isaiah shocked me with his reacting to the movie. He didn't move the entire time it was playing. It was so cute, every time he saw a plane he would yell "momma plane, plane" He go so excited. Both boys really enjoyed it :-)
Keeping it real, nursing school is draining me :-( I know I am right where the Lord wants me and I know He has me in school for a reason, but boy is it hard. I keep telling myself it will be worth it and it will be over soon, but seriously, ugh!! I am still trying to convince Isaiah that my Med Surge book is not a bible, lol
This season of nursing school has been especially hard these last 3 months. The class load has been extremely heavy, I failed my first two exams and have spent the entire quarter trying to pull my grades up to passing. I have really struggled with my time with the Lord this quarter. I don't sleep near the normal amount a person should and I stay frazzled with trying to study and retain all the information. From the moment I wake up I am going with either school, the boys, house/mommy duties or all of the above at one time! I keep telling myself this is a season, but not being able to get my designated quite time with the Lord every morning is really getting to me.
So it appears that I have a birthday coming up soon?? Yes, the big 3-0 is right around the corner and I am honestly not sure how I feel about it? On one hand it's just another day so no big deal, but at the same time I have been doing some major reflecting on the last 10 years of my life lately and am realizing all the amazing things the Lord has done in my life. The ways he has protected me when I didn't ask for it or think I needed it, the ways He has showered me with grace and mercy when I didn't deserve it and how He has used so many trials and road blocks to build stepping stones to where I am now and for where He is taking me. Stay tuned, I think a "I'm turning 30" post is in the making, lol
Monday, September 2, 2013

Confused

The thing about following the Lord is sometimes is can come with confusion. The weird thing is our God is not a God of confusion, yet tonight I am confused? Let me preface this with I am writing this post more for myself then anything. I hope to look back on tonight's post and see what the Lord was doing and preparing me for. You see, most people who enroll in nursing school have a goal in mind. They want to graduate, get a job at some big hospital, they have a specialty in mind that they want to work in, such as labor and delivery or pediatrics. They set their minds to it and get it done. All that is great and that was actually my mind set in 2009 when I enrolled in nursing school the first time to get my LPN, but then I graduated in 2010 and over the next 3 years the Lord would do something in my life that was completely unexpected.........He broke me..........

As ashamed as I am to admit before I graduated in 2010 all I thought about was me. Where was I going to work, how much money would I make, would I like the job I got, would I get to work with pediatrics, which is where my heart is? Then the Lord lead me to international adoption and blessed me with my sweet IZ and during that process He took me to Ethiopia twice, where He showed me things that will never leave my heart or my mind. Traveling to Ethiopia wasn't just about seeing where my son came from so I could tell him stories when he got older. It was about seeing the brokenness that sin has caused, seeing that beautiful place through the eyes of our Creator. It's been almost 18 months since I was there and I miss it terribly. I recently had the opportunity to go back for a week and had to decline due to finances. Oh how my heart wants to go back. 

This friends is where I get confused? Why did the Lord bring me back to nursing school? In November of 2012 I lost my nursing job very unexpectedly. I prayed, seeking His guidance and while I applied for other jobs, I also applied to nursing school because something in my heart told me it was time to go back and get my RN. Every job I applied for ended with a denial letter but every step in the process of applying for school was going very smoothly and next thing I know I received my acceptance letter in the mail. Okay God, I hear ya!!

So this past January I began the 15 month journey to get my RN. Am I doing it because I wanted to? Um negative. Am I doing it because the Lord made it clear this is the path He wants me on right now? You better believe it! I have learned that even when we don't want to, even when we think what is being asked of us is a little crazy, as His children we are to be obedient and trust in His plans, which are always far better than our own. 

So here I am, in the end of my 3rd quarter (three more to go, if Lord willing I pass this one I'm currently in) and I sit anxiously awaiting to see what the Lord is going to do with my nursing once I graduate? Medical missions? A job here in town? A move out of state, out of the country? I don't know, but I do know that He holds my future and for that I am forever thankful. So I will continue to push through the long nights, the lack of sleep, the stress, even the confusion, trusting in my God who is much bigger than my little simple mind. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight."     ~   Proverbs 3:5-6