Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Melt down

I feel like I am generally a pretty tough person. I have moved a lot, seen a lot, done quite a bit and have learned slowly to take it all in stride (more or less). 2013 was full of some pretty significant life changes - I moved back to the US from some time in Uganda, prepared for marriage while working at a military clinic, got married, moved to NYC, started a new job, found a new church, started ministry in a way I never had before, etc. With D by my side I feel I weathered it pretty well. ...... until about a week ago. ha! 

We went to see our family the weekend before and after christmas (since I worked the week of christmas). The time was super and it was such a treat to see everyone. I think getting out of the noise and the busy and the stress of the past few months was almost not a good thing. I was reminded that there is a world outside of what we are called to that is, well, easier. I got really frustrated, really irritable, and fantastically despondent. I was rather fun to be around (thank God for a man who loves me even when I can't stand myself!). This sudden funk has been confusing and frustrating. What is my problem!?!  

Well, then it hit me..... The challenge with spending family time in short bursts is  that other things tend to fall to the wayside during that time. Exercise, healthy eating habits, and... God time to name a few. During times of change, transition, or just general life stress, time spent plugging into Jesus is sooooooo vital. He is the one who gives life; gives love; gives perspective. Without him we have nothing. We are nothing. Yes, we may be able to coast by for a bit and not notice too much but eventually it will catch up with us. This is particularly true for me. My job is very demanding and tears are a not too rare an occurrence. The city is busy and, although often fun in its stimulation, it can be exhausting without one even realizing it.     

For me now, I need Jesus more than ever to be everything that I clearly cannot be on my own. When I have spent time away from him I'm often wary of jumping back in again. It sounds tiring and demanding. [yup, my heart is more ugly than I would ever want to admit] I know that with God he will call me to love those who are hard to love, to give more than I want to give, and to live with a different mindset. Really though..... living with him is way better than living without him. He makes things worth it, even the tough things. There really is beauty with Christ in the struggle. I will never be enough and that is the point-- HE is Enough.  May this year be one of resting in the chaos and seeing God in the middle of it. To allow Him to lead my heart beside still waters and quiet my soul. To be everything especially when I'm nothing. 

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

meaning lost

I really enjoy using fun adjectives to describe things. It keeps me more engaged in my day to day and it throws people off sometimes, which I must admit I enjoy. The problem is that over time my use of words like 'fabulous' or 'splendid' or 'peachy' lose their meaning. I forget the power of them and others do as well. They become just as generic as 'fine' or 'good', the very words I tried to hard to avoid. 

The small group that I am in has been going through a study and part of the lesson this past week went through adjectives to describe God: Good. Great. Glorious. Gracious. These words have the potential for significant meaning and huge implications in our lives. The reality is that they don't really mean much anymore. Just like certain verses in the Bible, we hear them so often that we zone out and miss out on so much. God, our God, is HUGE, and POWERFUL, and ALL KNOWING, and HOLY and JUST  and PERFECT. He sent his child, the depth of this sacrifice only a parent can understand, to die a brutal death while he watched so that we could have life. forever.    

Not only do words lose their meaning, seasons do as well. We know the Bible story of a little baby Jesus in a manger with animals. It's cute, but that is often as deep as it goes. It's so easy to get caught up in the flow of the holiday chaos and totally miss the GINORMOUS significance of what we are celebrating (or at least should be celebrating). Every year I have great intentions to do December differently, to be more advent minded, to focus on Christ more and the other stuff less. Days fly by and suddenly I realize that I'm just where I was before. Thankfully there is still time this year to reorder everything and let the words of the gospel penetrate into my heart the way they should. 

I want to challenge you: The next few weeks take some time to be intentional. slow. down. Like Mary, sit at the feet of Christ and let him reveal who he is and what he has done for you in a new, powerful way. Listen to the words of the gospels and even christmas carols (the old, real, hymn-like carols). We can recite them without thought, but many are rich. Let our hearts be focused on humility and praise this month, and always; seeking Jesus like the wise men. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

musings

work is stressful. understatement. way more overwhelming than i ever expected and i feel sooooo out of my element. i don't feel smart enough or fast enough or really anything enough. sometimes that is EXACTLY where God wants us to be though. in fact, life can be sweetest in those moments of complete incompetence. when we are empty and realize that we are empty God can fill us to overflowing and do his best work. [the trick is for us to recognize this and give him room to fill us]

Lately my understanding of joy is changing. My understanding of suffering and sacrifice is changing. Gosh, may I never revert back to my old ways. Joy has nothing to do with happiness. I feel most of us at least can mentally agree with this.... It's deeper, more steadfast and so much less circumstantial. Joy is most complete when God is doing his God thing and we get to be on the front lines to watch and/or participate. It's not because we are getting what we want or are personally being awesome, but because we see God's majesty and glory shine. So. freaking. awesome. We so often don't realize the gift this is, or actually even seek to find God in this way. We are comfortable. We take God in comfortable doses- not enough to change us, but enough to keep us feeling 'safe'. We go to church, we do the 'right' things more or less, we pray sometimes. We feel safe with our 'fire insurance' from hell and we think that is enough.   Friends, there is SO MUCH MORE to God and life with him. Life just begins when we accept Jesus's gift of life though his sacrifice for our sins, it doesn't end there at all.  Now he may call us to things that are not what we have in mind for ourselves. He may ask us to give up things that we enjoy. He may demand more of our time.    our finances.   our energy.   our resources.  It may look like 'sacrifice' or 'suffering' in the eyes of the world. It may make others think that you are a little bit (or a lot) crazy. It may be a little scary or overwhelming at times. It may not work on paper.  It may be the most amazing thing you have ever done in your life and you might just see God in ways you never imagined. The best thing?!? It may not feel as much like sacrifice when you realize the steadfast joy of God is enough and that we are not here to feel comfortable, but rather to life for his glory. 



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thoughtful Thursdays




So much going on as of late…. The beginning of the month I started my new job and I am ever so thankful for it. Not gonna lie though, it’s a good deal more overwhelming than I anticipated. Bronx hospital medicine isn’t like family practice. Not. At. All.  The best way I can describe it would be to say that it’s a mix between African medicine and US medicine.  The population is very poor and underserved. I can count on one hand the number of patients I have with private insurance. The hospital is literally busting at the seams, therefore patients who won’t die that day are placed on gurneys in the hallways, and those who are lucky enough to get a room share it with one or two or three other patients. We joke sometimes that their next strategy will be to add bunk beds! There is also a significantly higher number of patients that present with AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, hepatitis, etc. 

Along with this, comes a great deal of death and loss. Rare, good, days are the ones where none of the patients under my care die on my shift. This is not my first experience with patient death, but it is never fun or particularly easy. Somehow it has bothered me a bit more lately. During my time with the Lord, I have tried to figure out why I have felt more unsettled about it as of late and this is what I have concluded:


1.     We live in America and therefore think we are invincible. Nothing is fair about unnecessary death in third world countries, but it somehow feels more acceptable and normal. As a young, fit individual I assume that my days will be numerous and I won’t have to face death or loss anytime soon. Truth is, I have seen people of all ages pass and not always with much warning or time to prepare. We are so much more fragile than we think… (Ironically Daniel and I are reading through Job in our Bible reading plan now too….ha)

2.     There is a bit of a God-complex that comes with medicine. It’s not always overt, but our job is to keep people alive. Guess what though?!?  people die even despite our best efforts… This lesson doesn’t just apply to medicine though. None of us can ‘save the world’ – whatever that looks like to you. We are not as good as we think we are.

3.     In God, and only God, we live and move and have our being. Now we may not harbor cancer or some other horrid, fatal disease right now, but without God providing our next breath or heartbeat we are done.

4.     What in the world are we doing?!?!  Do we live with an eternal perspective and a sense of urgency? What is the purpose of our lives? Who do we need to talk to about Jesus but are holding back from because we are scared? What if they don’t get another day? If we really believe that this gospel stuff is real, we are called to make disciples, to share, to go, to make much of Christ with whatever time we are given here. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoughtful Thursdays

Community:

Let me begin with a little story.... once upon a time, not to long ago, a boy and a girl were taking out the trash. In their eagerness, they forgot that the doors in their apartment lock automatically. Soon they found themselves trapped outside in the dark with nothing- no shoes, coat, phone, keys, money, etc. For several hours they waited, hoping that someone from their complex would come along to let them back in. After over 3 hours, they decided that they should break into their own place via the window AC unit the poor boy spent hours installing that day. Prior to the break-in, the couple got to know their quirky old neighbor named Ron. Ron is the eyes and ears of the block. For hours, he will keep sit in a chair on the stoop in front of his apartment and watch the world go by. He has done it for years. Well, in typical gossip style, he had to share the story of "the silly kids who had to break into their own place" with anyone willing to listen the following day. The person he shared it with happened to go to the church the couple had visited and wanted to meet them anyway....    the rest.... is divine history

Daniel and I have prayed that God would provide us with community and divine appointments here in NY. What he has dropped in our laps is beyond what we imagined! We knew from the get-go that our apartment was meant for hosting. It's much bigger than most (in the city) and has a layout conducive for guests. The problem? Neither of us are naturals in hospitality nor do we have the natural gift of striking up random convos with strangers. God figured he would help us out through our neighbors.  All we had to do is open our doors and God has brought in people.... I have never seen the Acts church style community played out so beautifully before. 'Family dinners' are becoming a nearly weekly occurrence now :) It's a place for young and old, seeker, cynic and saved to gather and do life. awesome! Since then i've worked on reaching out more (we can't just mooch off our friends in terms of inviting people) and have had some super discussions with neighbors -- God is moving big time!

In this season, God has been working out a lot in my heart concerning community and the lost. Reaching out can be scary. Meeting neighbors and putting yourself out there takes effort. It's what we are called to do though. We are called to love our neighbor and make disciples. We can't use personality or fear as an excuse. Be available. I dare you. Live open and let God do his thing. Let's be the church!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughtful Thursdays

God has been doing so much lately... heart stuff. hard stuff. someday maybe i'll learn to welcome his heart digging more gracefully. it has slowly been sifting out to a few major themes:

1. vocation:

I used to resent this word. It sounds so stuffy and formal. God bless you friends who are catholic, but the thought of assigning 'vocation' to things makes me a little crabby, especially things like 'being a wife' or someday (far off) being a 'mommy.' In retrospect, the resentment was mostly a product of my personal pride. I have tempered my goals some over the years but part of me still wants to save the world. I want to do 'big' things. Home/family-based ministry is important, but I never gave it as much value as it's due. This past month I have been essentially without a 'job' as I await hospital privileges. That has left me floundering a bit and doing little things like babysitting (which by the way is not little... precocious 8yr olds are hard work!!) I have been convicted a bit about my attitude though and the true value in things like being a wife. My ministry is now to my husband; to be a wife that loves, supports, encourages, and does things that seem menial (cooking, cleaning, etc) out of love and joy. We give it so little attention or value in society, but it's so important.

2. identity:

Isn't this a forever lesson?!? Each time God brings it up, it's to a deeper level. He is so gentle, so willing to lead and guide me, but gosh if I'm not one of his most stubborn creatures!! My struggle with identity piggy-backs the vocation issue... I am my own worst enemy in this area. I want to provide; to go; to do; to fix; to help; to serve.....pretty much to be "practically perfect in every way" (thanks mary poppins).....I hold expectations for myself that far exceed anything anyone would ever hold me to. what about just being? God keeps placing me in positions of holding... where he has given me a job but forces me to wait for it to begin. (clearly i'm kind of a dense child) I think it's to teach me that even when i'm not trying to save the world, I am worth it. God is crazy about us even when we aren't doing. Obviously his grace is not simply a get out of jail card that allows us to do whatever we want or to be lazy, but so often we don't believe that his grace is enough in and of itself. I am loved. Not because of what I do or don't do, but because God has chosen to love me.

3. grace: 

It seems the logical apex for my trifecta of life headings as of late. God is one of grace. Infinite grace. I fail, intentionally or unintentionally over and over and over and over. There is nothing that I can do to earn it. No amount of goodness will outdo my sinfulness. I also cannot come close to repaying God by doing good things. Goodness I try though. When I fail, I not only deny God's grace I refuse to give myself grace. So foolish. By doing this I rob myself of the greatest gift ever given and, in essence, throw it back in God's face.


I have not learned all of these lessons.... they are still very much a work in progress. The blessing is that God is one of patience. He longs for us to be more like him and will work through these things with us. What an incredible God we serve!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fab Five

One of my goals is to get more regular with this blogging business... We have been a little busy with moving/setting up/unpacking/organizing/painting/etc but it has been so much fun! I have decided to condense the mass of information you desire into five updates/highlights/favorites for you to enjoy


1. Work

As many of you know, God provided me with a job at a NY hospital two days before our wedding. The credentialing process is arduous and it appears that it may not be complete until mid october (but pray that a miracle happens tuesday!!) I am a bit of a workaholic by nature and God has been teaching me a ton about myself and what I get identity from through these uncomfortable waiting seasons. May He be glorified as I wait. 


2. Desiring God



This is a great book by John Piper that takes forever to read if you really want to process it, but it's really good!! My prayer is that I will learn to delight in the Lord and allow him to be enough, especially in this holding time. 


3. Television Debut




Daniel and I were on TV twice in one day next week!! Teacher's College had their 125th anniversary celebration last week and stormed the today show garnering our first TV appearance. Later that day we were chosen for main level seating for America's Got Talent and were apparently on quite a few times :) If the job doesn't work out perhaps I can become a TV personality!


4. New Diet - gluten and dairy free

For years I have struggled with tummy issues (mainly reflux) and have tried everything. About a month and a half ago, with the insistence of a good friend, I decided to try a drastic diet change. Let's preface this by saying that sarah is a chronic carbaholic. For years I would eat bland carbs as a way to unsuccessfully combat the reflux. Well, sadly for me, the diet is working :) haha. (I am thankful that I feel better when I don't cheat though) Thus begins the new adventure of finding things that both D and I can enjoy.  


5. my crock pot! 


I'm being totally pinterest nerdy and trying the whole freezer-crokpot meal planning thing. So far so successful! Crock pots are a gift from God!!