Tag Archives: faith

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.

 

just b r e a t h e

It’s been quite a hiatus. My apologies. Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say.

Valleys can be like that. Where you are just focused in walking and living and breathing.

But I found a fabulous book that is helping me have peace in the valley. It’s causing me to dig deep and allow God to strengthen me to wait on Him alone. (Andrew Murray – Waiting on God – 99 cents on the Kindle – Go. Read. Now.)

The more we tuck in with God and allow His Word to teach us and guide us, the more I realize how absolutely frantic we humans can be! We want to DO something NOW. We have  no idea what it is to “wait on God” or what that even looks like. But oh,how essential, how absolutely vital it is to wait on Him because if you believe the Scriptures are true (I do!) then “without Him, we can do nothing”. (see John 15:5).

So while these last few months have been challenging and difficult in so many ways, I am grateful. Grateful that it’s driven me deeper. I joked with someone recently that God has pruned me back to the point that I am just a little nub. It’s not really funny. Pruning can be painful. And some of it really has been. But I do know the One who holds the pruning shears. And I am learning to trust Him more and more and more…

So read this book with me. I’m halfway through but I will be reading it again and again. Chewing on the deep truths that are contained there. And keeping my heart focused on Who He Is. Not on what swirls around me.

Andrew Murray – Waiting on God.

I’ll wait.

~Sarah~

 

I’m a dance mom!

A few years back, we spent a year in the world of competitive cheerleading when my littlest girl was 6. She was too young to try out for stage plays and the kid was simply born to perform. That combined with her size and athletic skill, well, cheerleading was a good fit.

We had no idea what we were getting into. It was a whole new world. And on top of that my daughter’s tiny size meant that she was a flyer. Little kids lifting my kid high above their heads was enough to make me hold my breath and deal with fear in brand new ways. All. Year. Long.

We did one year in cheerleading and then she switched over to stage performance. A lot less scary and a lot less expensive so I had no complaints!

Then this past year they got the opportunity to join a dance team. Once again, I had no idea what I was really getting into. Except this time, I had Dance Moms! Gave me kind of a peek into the world. A crazy, scary peek, but a peek nonetheless. Full confession? I’m totally addicted to the show. I could do without some of the high drama, language and smack talk – but the dancing!!! I love watching the dancing.

Being involved in musical theater for so long, all my kids have had the opportunity to dance. But being able to take classes has been limited because of their other activities and sports. So we took a dive in. The water has been pretty shallow this year. Only 2 competitions. But since this weekend is our first one, well, it’s all I can think about.

Interesting facts:

I had to sew.

There are sequins all over my house.

I am pretty sure I am overpacking.

I can’t wait to see my kids on stage. It never gets old watching them use their gifts and talents for the Lord.

Because at the end of the day, I just want them to do their best – for the audience of One. It’s kind of cool that I get a front row seat. I find it a privilege that I get to help these beautiful children grow and learn and become – for Him.

And I am grateful.

 

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?

Story Drunk

For the past week, I’ve been bingeing – on a story, that is. It’s a story that has been rolling around in my head for three long years! Yes, for three years I’ve been thinking about these characters, this story, this town, to the point that they are so real I feel like I’ve been there, met them and fallen in love.

The other day I was writing and looked up and realized that I had to go pick up the kids from school. Yanking myself from the story was strange and disorienting and the only way to describe it was that I felt “story drunk”.

Maybe some of you know what I mean.

But the story I am writing is one I know I was meant to tell. It’s my passion project. And I finally feel ready to write it. While I have over 100 pages of the novel completed, I have put everything in reverse and instead – I am writing the screenplay of this story.

Which as all writers know, is even crazier than simply writing the novel. (Selling a novel is easy compared to producing a movie!)

But I can’t help it. This is the project I am supposed to be working on so I am out in my field, planting and sowing and watering. Sometimes you just have to obey God. Even if you don’t understand why. Even if you don’t know what it’s all going to look like.

Even if it seems crazy.

So before I go get lost again in this beautiful story, I thought I’d pop in and say hello – and see what crazy thing God is having YOU do these days:-)

~Sarah~

on a migraine watch

a migraine watch is not a fun thing to be doing but it’s necessary for those of us who suffer with those beasts. People who have “headaches” really don’t understand the difference between a bad headache and a migraine – and they are very different. I get both, so I know.

I got my first migraine at 16 years old while I was working at a little bagel shop at the beach. I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t see correctly and had this strange light passing through my vision field, making it impossible to see the register. At first, nothing hurt, just this strange thing in my vision. But within an hour I was slumped over in pain. The Lutheran pastor who regularly got bagel and coffee at the shop walked me back to the boarding house where I lived and I slept…till the next day.

When I met Jesus in college, people began to pray for me to be healed. I appreciated every prayer. I still pray to be healed.

But I have had Christians accuse me that my migraines are my fault – not enough faith, my own sin, a sign of spiritual immaturity, or that my great-great grandfather did something that opened a door to satan.

Yeah.

I’ve pretty much heard it all.

And I’ve heard it all when it comes to advice. For some reason, well-meaning people will tell me things or suggest things that they think I don’t already know. I do whatever I can to keep them from happening, but that doesn’t mean I’m always successful. I can’t drink aspartame at all (which includes pretty much every diet cola). When I get a migraine, the first thing I do is look over the last few days to see if anything has changed. Sometimes nothing has. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to why I got one. But as a migraine-sufferer, I at least try to figure it out.

I had a run-in with the Sobe drinks last fall. I grabbed one at a convenience store one day and scanned the list of ingredients. No aspartame. But a bunch of  other ingredients I didn’t recognize. It was a yummy drink and found a case at the wholesale club and was thrilled to find something new to drink. Then the first migraine hit. A few days later another…then another. the only change had been those sobe drinks so I stopped drinking them and the migraines disappeared. No more Sobe for me.

On Saturday afternoon, I drank something new and yesterday afternoon, I got a migraine while driving home (terrible time to get one btw). So because I introduced something new to my diet, I have to wonder if it’s the cause. There was a lot of glare on the road and since that can also trigger migraines, I don’t know what’s to blame — yet.

The only way to know for sure is to drink another one. And see what happens. That is SUCH a scary thing to do. Drink or eat the possible trigger to learn whether or not it’s a trigger — by setting myself up for a migraine. That’s what I call a migraine watch. But it’s the only way to know…

I figured there were a bunch of you who know exactly what I’m talking about…so I thought I’d share:-)

whatever is lovely

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I love this scripture and I often refer to it when I discover my mind has wandered into territory unbecoming to a Christian. (Usually occurs when driving and someone fails to use a turn signal…but I digress…)

But while we are supposed to focus on the pure and lovely, the Bible contains some hard things at times. Things that we sometimes like to gloss over. Like every parent who picks out Noah’s Ark for their kid’s bedroom. All the pretty animals and the fatherly Noah on top of the wood ark in pretty pastel colors. I’ve never seen a bedroom that contains the other part of that story – you know, the part where God wiped out all mankind in the flood waters. Nope – there are never pictures of all the drowning people. We have a tremendous capacity to ignore what we don’t like. Or don’t understand. But this can give us a false view of God. God is love – but He is also holy. God is merciful – but He is also just. We can’t accept the love and the mercy without accepting the holiness and the justice.

This has all sorts of ramifications. As a writer, I’ve encountered this when it comes to language. Five of my novels are published by a Christian publisher. Even though there was no bad language, I still had one word in one of the manuscripts that was removed and changed – and I didn’t know till the book was published. And I’m not even going to tell you the word because I am sure there will be people who hate that word AND use that word in equal numbers and it’s not worth debating about.

And I like pointing you to people who have said it better than I could anyway:-)

I was directed to this article by Steven James – and I like how he shares his thoughts about the Bible and words. The Bible is a truly amazing book – a book that tells us about God and invites us to interact with Him as the living Word. But the Bible is raw. Gritty. Honest.

Anyhow – I encourage you to read the article yourself and see what you think.

~Sarah~

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~

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…