Category Archives: who are you becoming?

drinking and vulnerability

beer_10Hannah Graham is missing.

She’s a student at UVA. Went to a party. Got drunk. Got grabbed by someone and she’s been missing ever since. My heart hurts for her family. She didn’t deserve that. No one deserves to have something horrible happen to them…

But…

But…

I cannot hear about a tragedy like this without also running through the scenarios of “How Do I Avoid This Happening To Me Or Someone I Love”.

I think it’s a normal reaction…which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about drinking.

I lived 18 years of my life without Jesus. Which means I did drink and I have been drunk and I have made many poor decisions as a result of those things. The drinking I did when I was a teen was not because I loved alcohol. It was because I had an emotional hole inside of me that drinking and being foolish made me forget for a little while. I am so thankful that there were no such things as cell phone cameras or social media to instantly capture my stupidity and let it live forever on the Internet. (thankyouJesus)

I don’t drink now, at all. And this is not because I have some theological post to stand on. I don’t like alcohol. And I don’t like “losing my filter”. That “filter” keeps me from saying and doing things that are unwise, unhealthy and/or unkind. I speak too freely, and if you remember a little scripture about how no one can tame the tongue…

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:4-5)

Seriously. The tongue is what is loosened when you drink. But that tongue loosening also brings with it this “muddy head” where you lose your power of decision making. This can mean everything from sleeping with someone to taking your clothes off to getting in a car to drinking too much to being kidnapped and killed.

Drinking puts woman at risk. Physically and emotionally.

Obviously, with Hannah’s case – we are looking at one extreme end of what could happen. But there are a thousand other things that can go wrong when you are impaired.

The Internet is full of a thousand forgotten stories and many have one thing in common – the girl was drunk.

There’s this one: a girl is raped and photos of the rape spread online. the guys thought it was funny to take advantage of the drunk girl.

And this one: a girl almost freezes to death because she passed out outside after her “friends” dropped her off at home.

And this one: a girl was assaulted by multiple boys and was documented on social media.

And for every one of the reports online, there are dozens that go unreported. Girls who wake up the next morning and can’t remember what they did or who they did it with. Countless girls who won’t talk about what happened to them until many years later at a therapy session because they are struggling with their relationships.

This is not emotionally healthy behavior. Let me repeat that. This is not emotionally healthy behavior.

Sorry to go all “Matt Walsh” on you, but I have a few opinions on the party line that our kids are (horribly and deceptively) told.

1 – “Kids Will Party” – Deal with it.

Yes they will. I am not in denial about that. But I don’t think that the kids who get blitzed at parties as regular recreation are the kind that have any kind of stellar future ahead of them anyway. CERTAIN kids will party. But those are not the role models we should be offering. There was a huge disconnect between the “partiers” and “non-partiers” at my college – and I contend, everywhere.

I came to college planing to party and was found by Jesus instead. And suddenly, my colleges goals changed. Partying lost it’s appeal. I didn’t quit because I felt like Jesus told me not to do it. I quit because I was finally whole – and didn’t crave it. I had purpose. I was fulfilled. And I believed there was something better for me.

And I’d say those things are the common denominator that separated the partiers from the non-partiers.

2 – Drink safely/Have a buddy

This is pretty much the “kids will drink anyway so as long as they do it safely…” idea. Which is pretty much hogwash, if you ask me. Have you ever tried to talk a drunk person into being reasonable and not doing something stupid? It’s kind of like trying to convince your cat to do the dishes. The mere idea that girls can safely get blitzed is flat out wrong. If you’re blitzed, your brain isn’t working correctly. It’s why we don’t allow people to drink and drive. If you’re blitzed, then you are at the mercy of the people around you. Many of which you don’t know. And having one sober person in your group is like putting one person in charge of herding cats. Basically a fruitless effort. A sober person usually cannot convince a drunk person of anything meaningful.

Getting blitzed puts you at risk. You can try to mitigate the risk, but you will not remove it, because your thoughts, emotions and brain function are completely compromised. And yes, it’s unfortunate that girls are at an increased risk. We can complain about it, but it won’t change that fact.

3 – Drinking is fun!!

I was mostly a fun drunk. I made people laugh. I got the attention I craved. I laughed a lot because everything was hilarious. For a few hours. Alcohol is a drug that makes you forget the reality of your life for a little bit. That’s why people are such heavy users of alcohol.

But the ones laughing the loudest in public, are usually also the ones who cry the longest in private.

Because no matter how many times you get drunk, it only “works” for a little while.

4 – Drinking is normal

I think this is the biggest lie of all. I had a blast in college – without getting blitzed. Just because drinking happens doesn’t make it normal and good and healthy. I could say that about a lot of things in culture today. Plenty of people smoke, do drugs, make money through prostitution (do you even realize how many girls get sucked into this world??), rob convenience stores, cheat …All of these things happen regularly in the culture. The kind of drinking that happens in college happens no where else. And the people that never grow out of that lifestyle, never emotionally mature and are essentially “stuck”. Drinking is only normal if the “partiers” are the only people who you choose to hang out with. You become like those you spend your time with. When I stopped hanging out with the partiers, I quickly got a whole new perspective. A perspective that was full of hope and purpose. One where I had a life ahead of me that I was willing to protect.

5 – Partying is a symptom of a deep emotional need.

When people engage in behaviors that are detrimental or destructive, they can usually all be linked back to a void they are trying to fill inside of them (This is Psych 101 people). This is a simplified statement, but it’s true. People who regularly party and get so drunk that they cannot function are not emotionally healthy people. Raise your standard of role models. Find people who you truly look up to and aspire to be like. If you do that, I doubt you’ll find any of those role models at a local frat party.

And here’s a confession – when I drank heavily, I was at a place in my life where I didn’t really care if I lived or died because I had nothing to live for. It’s different than feeling suicidal. It’s this difficult emotional place where you throw caution to the wind and do incredibly stupid or risky things because you don’t care. Does that fit everyone who gets blitzed? Of course not! But I bet you’ve seen girls just like that… Those are the girls I’m talking to. It’s those girls who I want to convince that there is a better way.

The answer, I believe, is not found in educating girls on how to drink safely or have sex safely.

It’s in educating girls about these facts:

You are deeply loved by God.

You are inherently valuable.

You have a purpose to fulfill in this life.

God wants to heal you and fix all of your broken places. But you have to let Him.

If you get this – deep in your heart – you won’t want to drink. Period. Not like that. You’ll have a higher purpose in everything you do. You’ll want to protect your heart, your mind, and your body because you know your own value and worth.

my two cents

~sarah~

Pray with me for Hannah’s family – and for the tireless workers who continue to search to bring her home. #notonemoregirl

hibernation

sometimes God calls us away.

sometimes He hides us in a place where we are alone with Him. Nothing to distract us from the sole purpose of seeking, knocking, asking.

these places can be dry and dusty.

but they are essential.

not fun.

not something you long for.

but critical to some unseen purpose that is beyond our comprehension.

to those in the wilderness, I wave at you.

you are not alone.

 

super-secret project

I’m working on a super-secret project right now!

I really have no reason for keeping the super-secret project (hereafter referred to as the SSP) super-secret. Except that I feel like I’m supposed to. It’s like a cake in the oven. If you pull it out too soon (LOOK! I’m baking a cake!!) then it will fall flat because it wasn’t ready to come out of the oven. And even if you stick it back in it won’t bake properly. I seriously can’t wait to announce it (at some unknown point in the future).

Okay, I’ll quit talking about things I can’t talk about and instead talk about…

Your super-secret project.

Yep. The last few weeks have made it glaringly real to me that God is at work in unseen ways. I mean, I know that. I’m just hyper-aware that He’s only sharing bits and pieces of info about what He’s up to. We are His super-secret project. He is at work in the quiet places to mold us and shape us and prepare us for . . . well . . . we may not really know what He is preparing us for. But He does. He knows what the super-secret project (YOU!)  is supposed to become. What you are supposed to do.

It’s something great. And it’s something designed specifically for you.

But some people jump out of the oven before they’re fully-baked. (totally just made myself laugh because I could write several blog posts about half-baked….never mind…I’ll be good…)

I have been in a strange and bizarre season of my life with God for 15 months now. I remember the day it started. And it hasn’t let up. But as hard as it’s been – I’ve learned a lot. But apparently I’m not done with bizarre season cause I’m still in it.

Maybe you’re in a hard season so I’ll share with you two of things I have been praying for and reminding myself of every day:

1 – Lord, keep me here in this place with You until you take out of me what must be taken out and put into me what must be put into me.

In other words – as hard a season might be – there is a purpose for it. If you pop out too soon, you’ll just end up having to go through something else to learn the thing you must learn. I’d rather just stay put until God says that it’s finished.

2 – Lord, help me to learn what I must learn.

We have to be open to learning. We have to be willing and able to step back from something stupid or painful or hurtful and focus on God and find out what He wants us to learn from it. And when we keep our focus on Him, it’s easier to walk in love and forgiveness. To keep His Word. To learn His ways.

You are a super-secret project-in-progress. Be excited about that, but be focused on learning all you can about God through His Word and spending time with Him in prayer and fellowship. Because that’s where all the really great stuff happens anyway.

~Sarah~

what are you waiting for?

People do a lot of talking. Lots of it. Just look at twitter. And blogs. People have lots to say. I totally understand that (speaking as one with both a twitter and a blog) but you probably also notice that some days I just don’t post. That’s because I have nothing to say! At least nothing to say that I think is worth bothering you with. I do at least try not to waste my time…and yours.

But I read this article today and it resonated – mostly because I’ve been hearing this from God in several different ways lately.

I think I’ve been waiting. And not the good kind.

The good kind is waiting on God. I grew up with a Dad who was a “go out there and do big things” kind of person but the trouble was that he did those things apart from God. We absolutely do need to “pursue” and “press in” – but towards God – not some goal or dream. He is the the One we should be pursuing. There is a place for our earnestness – and that’s in the hands of God. We don’t hold our tomorrows. He does. How are we supposed to know what our lives will look like in five year? Or ten years? We really can’t. Only He can. So by pressing into Him – knowing Him more deeply – only then can we be led by the Holy Spirit into what He has for us.

We will not get there by default.

Now I realize that statement delves into theology a bit and I don’t claim to be any kind of theologian. I am just a girl who loves and follows Jesus. But nevertheless, I believe it to be true.

Yes – God is absolutely sovereign and nothing can “mess up” His plans. But we can also “fail to attain” all that He has for us. We can miss God’s best for us. And that should scare us. It should scare us towards Him. You see, the default for humans is to follow the flesh and the Bible is pretty clear that the flesh doesn’t profit us anything (John 6:63). Paul talks about it as “rubbish” (Phil 3:8).

We don’t know anything. We must wait on Him so that we will know the truth (the words of life! His spirit!).

Waiting must be our posture, but there is a bad kind of waiting. The kind that I find myself slipping into on occasion.

It’s the kind of waiting that is waiting for some circumstance to change at the expense of today.

We should not be waiting around for something to change because while we wait on Him, we have something we are supposed to do today. What are you supposed to do today? Where are you supposed to spend your time and energy – today? You don’t have to worry about tomorrow or next week or next year or anything because if you can press into Him and find out what God’s desire is for you today – then you’ll be on the right path to get to tomorrow, next week, and next year.

Sometimes the “thing” we are supposed to do is a bit scary. That’s okay too. because you’re never alone in it.

Never.

So here’s to scary things, today and the One who holds it all.
~Sarah~

puppies & the art of patience

 

Meet Belle. Belle is a puppy. She’s quite young. And quite cute. This is good. Being super cute is very helpful for the people in her life who walk around with Resolve and paper towels within arm’s reach. All. Day. Long.

Belle is having difficulty with the whole “where to go potty” thing. She understands about half of it – when she is taken outside she knows exactly what to do and she is rewarded with love and attention and treats.

The problem comes with the other half of the equation “where NOT to go potty”. This is the side she has not yet mastered. She has not discovered that she can ask to go outside when she has to go.

What this means for her humans is that they are on potty watch. All. Day. Long. Taking her outside at various intervals so that she can go potty where she is supposed to go potty. The humans are at her mercy as they cajole and talk in tones usually reserved only for infants as they try to explain “go here!” “not here!”

It is exhausting for the humans.

And this is why her cuteness is a valuable asset. The humans keep doing this week after week, hoping that at some point, the spark of understanding will break through her impossibly cute head.

And all of this makes this human wonder –

How patient has God had to be with me?

How often has He patiently guided and encouraged and taught as He waits for me to understand what He is asking of me?

How many of many mistakes have been wiped away by a God who is impossibly in love with me?

Oh, how great, how wonderful, how amazing is Jesus…

lady in waiting

We are all in waiting. We are all waiting for that next bend in the road*. Waiting for that next big thing. It’s a natural desire but one that is a bit of a trap. The question “what are you waiting for” isn’t really the best question.

“Who” are you waiting for?

Life changes constantly and yet there is only one constant. The great I AM. I hear from so many young women who write – feeling desperate and lonely and full of longing to be loved and adored. They wonder why God doesn’t answer their prayers. They wonder why God “doesn’t work”. They wonder why God doesn’t “do something.”

These letters are so hard. You can hear the pain. You can see the tears between the words. And yet the answer is not what they want to hear. The truth is, God can and does work in powerful and amazing ways. But the way He works can look far different than what we want. He is way more interested in our hearts and our character than He is on our circumstance. He has the perspective of eternity that we lack.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

Our faith is more precious than gold. Our faith – in Him. Not in some change of circumstance. Not in some guy or girl. Not in some job. Or some house. Or some goal. But Him. Trusting that even if injustice prevails for a season, God is still in control. Trusting that He has a plan for us that is good. That He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. And that He loves us more than we can ever imagine.

The kind of faith that says, “It doesn’t matter whether you say yes or no to ________, I will serve you and trust you with all of my heart.”

How do we get there? Get your eyes off the circumstance and focus on Him. Spend time devouring His Word. Spend time in worship. Pour your heart out to Him in prayer. But then say, “But not my will – but Your will be done.”

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

I’m praying for you today.

~Sarah~

*can you name the movie? “There’s no bend in my road.”

virginity, abstinence and the lost art of denial

Many times I come to this blog after reading something that compels me to want to comment. Maybe get on a soapbox. And occasionally shout from the rooftops.

Today is a rooftop day.

My friend Mary shared this quote on her blog*:

“Eighty-two percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the last year. Even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, 76 percent of evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is morally wrong.”

Sex is meant to be shared with a husband and wife. Period. But if I just quoted a couple of scriptures, it would probably make some just shrug their shoulders. Let me just say that if you call yourself a Christian, what the Bible says should matter. Not just a few scriptures taken out of context. Not just a couple of memory verses. But the Bible as a whole. The story the Bible tells us of the nature of man, the nature of sin and God’s plan for redemption. The whole thing should matter.  If it doesn’t matter all that much, then maybe….just maybe…you haven’t fully surrendered to God in the first place.

The Bible is not simply a list of suggestions for good living. It is a manual for life that shows you how to overcome the war inside of you. Yes – there is a war inside of you – and it’s talked about regularly through the Scriptures. It’s the war between the flesh and the spirit. The new man and the old man.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Deny himself. Deny himself from engaging in the pleasures of the flesh. From engaging in sin. When we deny our flesh, our spirit is able to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit. We can focus in on how He is shaping and molding us – changing us. And we must be changed. We are not “okay” in any sense of that word. We are fallen. We are sinful. And we need a Savior because we cannot change on our own.

Sex is pleasurable. Many sins are. How do you think people get addicted to drugs or end up drinking alcohol or eating too much food? Engaging in the sin gives them pleasure – but only short-term pleasure. That is sin’s greatest lie. The pleasure we gain from sin is fleeting and ends so quickly that just like an addict, we keep going back for more.We become a slave to sin. We end up serving sin – and not God.

When we get mad or fight against God or get frustrated with the “rules” – well, we are missing the point entirely. Everything that God asks us NOT to do, is for the pure reason of keeping us in relationships with Him. Sin separates us from Him. Sin makes us deaf and blind to what He wants to do to shape us. When we deny our flesh, we are then able to follow Him instead.

Saying no to sex is not going to be easy. It’s hard! And our bodies are designed by God to want it when we engage in certain behaviors. But if you’re not married. You absolutely should be saying no to sex. I don’t know anyone who regrets being a virgin on their wedding night, but I know plenty who regret NOT being a virgin on their wedding night.

If you’re serious about saying no to sex – and you should be – then you need a battle plan. You need to know – beyond any shadow of doubt – that you will be tempted to have sex. And you will be shocked at how convincing the arguments your flesh will give you to try to convince you to sin.

But we’re planning on getting married

I know he/she is the one

It’s okay because I love him/her

It’s not that big a deal

When God says “no” and we go ahead and say “yes” anyway – we’ve already lost the battle. And denying ourselves? Well, that’s not just about sex. The Christian life is about laying down our desires, and choosing God’s desires for us instead. Saying no to sex – well, it’s just practice for all the times you’ll have to say no to something you want in order to live the life God has for you.

We humans often have many big dreams and desires. But God’s desires for us are far better, far greater, and far more than we could have ever imagined. But to get to His desires – we must be willing and able to say no to our own.

We can’t afford to be apathetic about sin and we can’t afford to be apathetic about following God.

I guess that’s enough ranting for a Friday, eh?

~sarah~

 

*Mary’s blog

now that’s a bad t-shirt

“I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me”

Really? REALLY? In 2011, this is what we’d like young girls to proclaim to the world? I’m appalled as a woman. I’m appalled as a mom to three bright, amazing girls of my own.

Shame on you JC Penney.

When I learned of this shirt on Twitter and began this post this morning, I was able to scroll through all of the T-shirts in this line at the JC Penney site. I just went to find the direct link so that you could go look for yourself and JC Penney has already taken them down!! It’s amazing what some speaking up can do.

I’m not much of an activist, and I wouldn’t be complaining about this on the blog if there weren’t some way to respond. I’m glad the shirt is already down. But still: you can Go here to sign the petition so that JC Penney can hear what you think about this. Maybe next time they sit around deciding what to put in their store for young girls they’ll think twice before giving them harmful messages that degrade them.

~Sarah~

 

off to school

This week I’ve seen many Facebook good-byes as people head off to college. When I went away to school I couldn’t wait to go. I even tried out for a sports team just so I could check into my dorm a few days earlier*. Going away to college changed my life – literally. I met Jesus at college. But I have heard some startling statistics about young people who go away to college and walk away from the faith. There are probably as many reasons for that as there are people – everyone is unique.

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)

Our faith is not something that we can neglect, ever. We have to continue to pursue God each and every day. Too many – and this isn’t just college students – think we can go off to church once a week and that’s enough to keep us spiritually strong. It’s just not. So if you’re going off to college, go with God. Make a plan on how you will stay connected to Him every day. And stick to it. God knows everything about you. He knows your strengths, your weaknesses, and what He has prepared for you to do since before time began. That’s something you can trust.

How will you connect with Him one on one? When will you do this each day?

How will you study His Word? On your own? Join a Bible Study? Work through a book?

How will you connect with other Christians? On-campus ministries? Local churches?

Every campus has lots of options to help you stay spiritually strong – no matter whether you attend a large state university or a private Christian college. Make your faith walk a priority.

~Sarah~

* You would know how hilarious and pathetic this was if you knew how completely un-athletic I was. I eventually conceded that I’d never be a jock – just a theater geek.

being brave

I’ve mentioned in multiple posts about the unexpected life upheaval I had many months ago and as I look back it’s been kind of interesting and beautiful how God has worked during this time. I’ve had opportunities I never would have had if I had stayed in that place I was. I’ve written two books and a screenplay. I am at work on several other projects. It’s comforting to know that even when life looks fuzzy, God is still at work and we remain in His hands.

For that, I am grateful.

But over the last month I have felt the stirring of God to step out onto the water once again. If that’s you Lord, bid me come. And He says Come! I never want to go anywhere unless it’s the Lord’s leading. That’s a good place to be, but that sometimes makes me too…hesitant. The very fact that I know the stirring and passion I feel is one that I am incapable of doing without the strength and guidance of the Lord tells me that this is not where I want to be – it’s where God is calling me. To a place where I must keep my eyes completely fixed on Him. In faith. In the full knowledge that through Him – all things are possible – even the impossible.

‘Cause to be honest, it all looks impossible. Kinda like looking at the top of Mount Everest. But I suppose most things, when looked at with our human eyes, can look that way. But that is not the way of faith. The way of faith is following Jesus. Bravely.

Nichole Nordeman has an older song called Brave that speaks of this place.

Step out onto the water. The only place to be is right next to Him.