Tag Archives: Christian

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

You’re a firework!

My Facebook feed this morning was full of pictures of fireworks.

I used to take pictures of fireworks too. There’s something about colors and sparks in the sky that makes us want to try and capture what we see. But I slowly began to realize that the images I grabbed – even the good ones – just didn’t work for me. They were static…lifeless…lacking a true reflection of what I had seen with my own two eyes.

Fireworks are meant to be experienced by being there – not by looking at pictures of them later. Even watching on TV is just not the same. It’s still a dim reflection of standing there, gaze fixed on the sky, smelling the smoke, hearing the bangs and watching the colors drift to the ground. Being there. In the moment. Just watching.

God is like that, too. Talking about God, listening to a sermon, hearing a story about how He works – none of it compares with being fully in His presence, beholding Him. When we still everything in our hearts and sit with Him. Where we stop trying to capture and take something from the experience and just enjoy His presence. It came at a pretty high cost after all.

You can faithfully perform all the duties of being a Christian and still miss out on experiencing God.

“He is as willing to be a living, bright, glorious Reality to us….Let us endeavor to learn the blessed secret of abiding ever in the secret of His Presence and of being hidden in His Pavilion.” (Secret of Guidance F.B. Meyer)

Many people know the Scripture – “Lo, I am with you always” and it is true. He is always with us if we’ve surrendered to Him. But our human eyes and ears and hearts can be dull and slow when it comes to recognizing God’s presence, His wisdom and His guidance. We cannot expect to rush in, send a hurried greeting to God, and then have everything we need dropped in our laps so that we can hurry away again. No. We don’t need things FROM Him. We need Him. We need Him desperately. 

So set aside the things of this world so you can fix your eyes on the beyond, on Christ. Don’t demand that He respond on your time schedule. Give up your checklist and hand over your heart. Be patient. Be persistent. Don’t give up and walk away and say “It’s not working.” Believe me, your obedience and faith in doing it will be changing you inwardly. Seek Him and don’t give up. He will answer You. Maybe not in the way you are expecting, but He will answer.

Start today. Start now. And don’t let a day go by where you do not sit with Him. He is the source of all.

Oh Lord, let your people be blessed anew with Your Presence. Help them to hear and see with new eyes and open their hearts to receive You afresh today. Your banner over us is love. Help us to know this. Amen

when’s the last time you did something crazy? or “why I entered the Nicholl”

Back in the beginning of 2012 the Lord told me that my word for this year was “courage.”

That is great and all, but the need for courage usually necessitates “scary things to be courageous about”. I’m already neck deep into that and most of it, well, I can’t talk about – yet. At some point I might be able to share what the last 8 weeks has been like. I feel like I’ve been stretched like taffy – it’s all good – but wow. So unexpected.

Kind of like God. He takes my breath away sometimes. And He’s taken my breath away over and over.

But when we glimpse just how big and amazing and awesome God is, we can start to believe for the crazy things. We stop getting tripped up by the impossible and instead just jump into the water and see what might happen. Even when the odds are stacked against us. God has been challenging me to pray bigger prayers. Crazy big prayers. And it’s been great. And exciting. But crazy big prayers are only one part of it. Sometimes we have to take a crazy step out of the boat, too.

So today I did something that – in my book – is just kind of crazy. I entered a screenwriting contest. Not just any screenwriting contest – The. Big. One. The granddaddy of them all. The Nicholl. You see, even though I’ve been writing screenplays for the past 8 years, I haven’t really had the opportunity to do anything with them. Screenplays are different than novels. I know what to do with them. Screenplays – well, they require far more money than I have to produce them. So I write and write and they are pretty little files on my computer.

The screenplay I just finished has been circling my heart for three long years. I love the story. And now I have a complete script. But what to do with it? I’ve been asking the Lord about whether or not to enter it somewhere (mostly because I don’t really have any other good ideas about what to do with it), but didn’t really hear anything. This morning as I sat out on my deck with the Lord, I began to look at all that God has already done. And I realized that my hesitancy was simply because I was afraid. It felt silly and ridiculous to even consider such a thing. I was afraid to fail. But fear is a very poor barometer to help decide what we should and shouldn’t do.

What exactly did I have to lose? Well, my fear.

Sometimes you just have to do something you’re afraid to do simply so you won’t be afraid anymore.

Yes, it’s a bit crazy. It is likely that more than 7,000 screenplays will be entered. That’s a crazy amount. But I still entered. I tried. And at the end of the day, I can be content with that.

Is there something crazy YOU should be doing?

Teens! Check out the Gideon!

The deadline is May 1st – so it’s time to get a move on and apply!

What is the Gideon?

It’s a Christian Media Arts Conference and Film festival held near Asheville, North Carolina August 11-16, 2012

Media Arts?

Filmmaking, Acting, Graphic novels, Comedy and Screenwriting!

Who’s it for?

The conference is designed for adults that are working in the Media Arts and all of the classes are taught by professionals.

What about teens?

We have a special Intern program for Teens between 16-18 to come and take part in this spectacular conference. This allows teens to attend without bringing a parent/guardian (this makes it way cheaper!)

Would you make a great Gideon Clash Intern? Are you…

  • a teen who is actively working in and/or pursuing training in the media arts?
  • a teen who can interact well with a team and work in group settings?
  • a teen who can interact with professionals in a respectful way?
  • a teen who is eager to learn, eager to help and eager to take advantage of all that Gideon has to offer?
  • a teen who is responsible and organized enough to manage the pre-conference interactions as well as the conference requirements?

Why come?

Let’s face it – getting real hands-on training in filmmaking and other media arts is hard to do! At the Gideon, Interns get to interact with Christian professionals who are actively working in the Media Arts. In 2011, our interns got to help shoot a music video and produce a short film! We are excited about what’s in store for 2012! You won’t find anything else like it!

What do we do?

Gideon Interns get to take full advantage of all the course offerings at the Gideon Conference (the Intern Directors help guide you through the week!) But Interns get special perks! Like getting to eat meals with the faculty, giving them a chance to ask a lot of questions and learn from these working professionals. Our interns help out in classes giving them a front row seat to all the action.

Got more questions? Feel free to contact me! My friend Vonda and I have been directing the Intern Program for four years!! And yes! I’ll be there this August!

Check out our website to learn more and apply today!

Don’t wait! The deadline is May 1st – but you can do it!

totally unfamous is totally available on Kindle!

Last week I was very quiet because I was working to get my verse novel ready for the Kindle. Many hours and tears later, it’s finally available!

I really love this novel. I wrote it primarily because I was hearing from so many readers that wanted to know more about Beka. Well, I was actually interested in writing about Lucy – Beka’s younger sister. Totally Unfamous takes place about three years after the Becoming Beka series ends. It’s written as a novel-in-verse – which means that lucy’s voice is a bit different – but she has a voice all her own.

The cover!

Here is the description:

Totally Unfamous is a contemporary novel-in-verse about Lucy Madison, a 17 year old gymnast who is struggling to cope with a changing family and a past that haunts her. When Lucy meets Ben, she finds herself cautious and scared at the idea of any kind of relationship. But the longer it goes on, the more entwined her heart becomes and she becomes stuck – unable to move forward anywhere in her life. Lucy must face her troubles in the gym, at home and in her past if she is ever to find a hope for the future.

Intended for ages 13 and up.

Thanks for letting me share – and if you know others who might be interested – can you share it with them as well? I’d appreciate it quite a lot:-)

~Sarah~

 

 

Giving at Christmas – when a donation is the perfect gift

I know many believers will often give a donation to a charity in lieu of a gift. It’s a blessing to everyone involved and reminds us that as we shop and wrap (because I do love giving gifts!), that donation giving is a great gift idea as well.

Many of the more well-known causes are the go-to charities for people. You can “buy” a cow for a village, donate money for water or any number of things and all of the causes are wonderful. But today I’d like to take a few minutes to share with you about a charity you might not be aware of.

E3 Kids International is a non-profit charity that partners with communities overseas. They help provide money and materials so that community leaders can equip and educate the orphaned and impoverished youth in their area. These aren’t Americans coming in to take over – instead, E3 offers support to the community itself.

One of their partner schools – Royal Kids School – is located in Kenya.

“Ngao and Grace Mazira are the founders and directors of Mikindani Royal Kids School. Since the school´s beginnings the Maziras have envisioned showing children the love of God, with a view to raising up future leaders. Under the Maziras´ leadership, Royal Kids School is a living, vibrant example of God´s compassion to the surrounding community in Mombasa.”

 

E3 comes alongside to help with funds for water, books, computers, food, buildings, libraries and teachers. That’s a lot of stuff that’s needed!

As E3 grows, they will be able to help other African schools raise new leaders that will help transform their communities. There are a number of ways to give. You can give a one-time or recurring donation that you can designate to go to the projects you care about. You can sponsor students to help pay for their school, clothing and food. Anyway you choose, 90% of what you give goes to directly to those in need.

E3’s mission is this:

We believe in the power of education to transform lives and communities.  We strive to equip, empower, and educate impoverished youth in developing countries.  We believe in the exponential growth that results from investing in individual children and schools.  We are committed to investing in the education of children, because once they are empowered and are equipped with the necessary skills, free from the physical and emotional trap of poverty, they will continue to positively impact their communities.

In a time where there are so many causes and so many needs, then consider E3 Kids as you ponder that hard-to-buy-for person on your Christmas list. It’s a gift that gives across the miles and sows into a new generation of leaders. You can even stay up to date with pictures of students, their building projects and everything that is happening. So read about E3, get involved and give a donation today!

 

Christmas shopping list: Great books for tween and teen girls

Books! Yes, I was one of those kids who really enjoyed finding books under the Christmas tree and since I am regularly asked for recommendations about books, I thought I’d post some ideas for you while you still have time to order!

A little-known secret: The books on the shelves of your local Christian store represents only a small portion of what’s available. You can shop online at Amazon or Christianbook.com or any online retailer. I am a fan of actual bookstores and it kills me to see them closing – yet I also know most of what I recommend cannot be found on the shelves. Can’t fix that, unfortunately.

So we’ll start with girls! (I’ll list some boy ideas tomorrow!)

For tween & teen girls:

Get this magazine for the girls in your life!

Susie Magazine
A yearly subscription makes a great gift that you can send to the teen girls in your life – content is appropriate for ages 12 and up, but I know middle schoolers will enjoy it as well. In each issue of SUSIE Mag, she’ll receive life-changing stories about faith, fashion, guys, friendship, music and more. And as a member of our online community, she’ll be part of a sisterhood of girls who are joining hands and standing tall for what’s right.

Subscribe today:
• Call 888-81SUSIE
• Online at www.SUSIEMag.com

 

Contemporary Fiction for ages 12 and up:

The Becoming Beka series

I don’t talk a lot about my own books on here because it’s weird and I don’t like hawking my stuff. But I’ll make a brief exception here because I still regularly get mail from readers who have just discovered these series and have fallen in love with Beka and her story.  So if you know and love a girl aged 12 and up, then consider this series:-)  You can read more about the Becoming Beka series here.

Buy Beka On Amazon

Jenny B. Jones

Jenny has several series out for teen girls including “A Charmed Life” and “In-Between” and several stand-alones that teen girls will love. Check out Jenny’s Website for all her book titles.

Stephanie Morrill

Check out Steph’s series “The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt” at her website.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

For the girls in your life who adore the sci-fi/fantasy genre better than contemporary, then check out:

Lisa Tawn Bergren

Lisa’s “River of Time” series is a teen time travel trilogy that lands two teens in medieval Italy. For more info, check out her website!

Jill Williamson

You can get a hot-off-the-press novel with Jill’s latest sci-fi/suspense called Replication.

Travis Thrasher

Might want to also check out the Solitary Tales series from Travis!

Historical/Amish Fiction

Wendy Lawton

If you know an 8-12 year old who loves historical fiction, have you discovered The Daughters of the Faith series by Wendy Lawton? I love all her books, and there’s quite a few in this series about real girls in history whose faith affected their lives.

Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim’s Katy Lambright series, likely good for both teens and tweens, follows a Mennonite girl named Katy

There are lots more but this should get you started!! Chime in if there’s something you’ve loved and maybe that will help someone find that perfect something!

~Sarah~

screenwriting & Act One

This is my favorite combination. My mug filled with coffee and my Mac to write on. Writing is like breathing for me. It is something I do both because I am compelled to, and because it brings joy. Oh, that’s not to say there aren’t tears (oh, there are tears) and frustrations and sorrows. My writing journey has been long, occasionally painful and worth every step.

I learned about Act One Program’s Writing for Hollywood summer writing intensive from a friend when I was just beginning to write professionally. Over the next couple years, I had two teen novels published (with Moody Publishers) and three more contracted. But I couldn’t shake the desire to write for the screen. Act One’s writing program was usually held in LA but every so often they hold one “away” and I discovered they would be in Washington D.C. the summer of 2004. It seemed so out of reach but I applied anyway.

And I was rejected.

I was shocked by the rejection because I felt so strongly that I was supposed to be there. When I told my friend about the rejection, she promptly made some phone calls and convinced them to give me a spot in the class.

It wasn’t easy. We had to hire a full-time babysitter for my children. I had an awful commute. (Those of you who have ever commuted to D.C. know what I mean). It cost a lot of money.

And yet…

That month changed my life. Every day that I arrived in class I sat down feeling profoundly grateful that God allowed me to be there. I soaked in everything. And I learned. So. Much. Yes, I learned about screenwriting. But I also learned about myself. About what it was to be an artist who loves the Lord. And about how beautiful and varied the faith community truly is.

And that’s what is on my mind today as I sip out of this mug (that I received at our closing banquet) and continue to write my fifth screenplay. It’s an adaptation to my newest YA (my 6th novel) that I just signed a publishing contract for. I love the story. I think it could be an amazing movie. And I love re-imagining the story for the screen.

I can’t worry about how impossible it is to make a movie. All I can do is be obedient each day. And for me, that is to just do my part. So with my heart full of gratitude, I’m off to write…

~Sarah~