The blog looks pretty empty in the recent days. But have no fear! The month of October was dedicated to a series that appeared on a different page of my website. I spent the month writing little letters everyday to my little girls.
I'd love for you to check them out, share any that resonate with you, and let me know what you think. As I wrote, I realized my own heart needed to be reminded of the truths and lessons I so want my daughters to know. I hope you find encouragement in them!
It seems as though these times are covered in division. And I've been overwhelmed by it all.
While all sides of the political spectrum continue to hash out what is happening, so many things have come to light. And while our two main candidates were, to put it nicely, not very good, the truth is they reflected us in so many ways. Neither one forced the ideas and actions that have since risen up from the campaigns and election. They just have given them exposure. And in a way, we can be grateful. Because when things are hidden in the dark we can't deal with them. But now sins are being highlighted and coming into the light.
So now we can't offer excuses or claim ignorance. We simply cannot say racism doesn't exist or power doesn't corrupt or politicians aren't held to a double standard. Our candidates, the two main political parties, showed that lying, abortion, stereotyping, discrimination, double standards, racism, misogyny, power, islamophobia, sexual assault, corruption were all ok. That's why attacks because of race and religion and gender have skyrocketed in the past week. Hatred is at an all time high. We have to deal with the issues that have come to light. Now that so much is in the light, we can start the hard work of repentance, of radical adjustment.
We must remember Jesus isn't a Republican and He isn't a Democrat. And Christians can be either one. Actually, the vast majority of Christians aren't either one because most of the Church isn't made up of Americans. And part of the beauty of the Church, and of this country, is found in its diversity. It is such a good thing there is not a political party that completely aligns with Scripture and gospel values. If there was, people would worship the government and put their hope in the government rather than Jesus, even more than they already do.
So with everything going on and all the different responses to it all, we can know there is always hope. There is a better response than hate and anger and despair. There has to be.
And as the events of the past week have played out, four responses keep replaying in my mind.
I’m a processor. Whenever I get asked a question, whether of little importance or great, I need time to gather my thoughts. If I have to give an immediate answer I usually reply with some jumbled mess and then later on think of all the things I should have said, meant to say, and actually think.
I was reminded of this a few days ago. Combine my need-time-to-process-personality with past-due-date-pregnancy-hormones and you get a bit of a messy, awkward situation.
I've dealt with a lot of change throughout my life. And although I have learned to be pretty flexible and adaptable, I've always struggled with finality. I have to take time to process things. And I process them deeply.
Whether it's saying goodbye to a person or a place or a job or a season of life, I can't simply walk away with ease. Finality always brings with it a heaviness on my heart. Knowing something will be forever changed or different weighs strongly on me.
I woke up to more devastating news. And I'm heartbroken.
I'm heartbroken over the precious lives lost and for their grieving families.
I'm heartbroken over the ways horrible, violent actions of some will affect the good, needed progress being made by the majority.
I'm heartbroken over the comments I've already seen on social media that are unknowingly drenched in white privilege.
I'm simply heartbroken. And I don't know what to do. When I dwell on the violence, on the negativity, on the lack of even trying to understand on any side of any issue, I want to shut down. It can all easily and quickly paralyze me.
But when I shut off the news and social media, I can dwell on the gospel and on the truths of who God is and what He has promised, who He says I am and what He has called and equipped me to do.
So when I start to become paralyzed by fear and overwhelmed by grief and confusion, I have to start listing out some "but Gods."
I can't sleep. I can't think straight. I'm angry. I'm confused. I'm heartbroken. I'm sick to my stomach. I'm in tears. I'm so sad.
How are more precious lives traded in for hashtags?
How can this keep happening?
And how can people, white people, continue to justify? Continue to argue? Continue to ignorantly blame? Continue to respond completely insensitively?
I can't bring myself to watch the videos. They will haunt me. I can't watch violence in movies, and I definitely can't handle watching actual lives be taken. But the thing is, I don't need to in order to know these men, these image bearers of God, were murdered. I have read enough to know they were brutally executed. And I remain confused as to how people explain away these horrific accounts, even after given the visual. I'm so confused as to how some of the people who swear to protect, get away with taking life in such a cruel and unjust way.
My heart seemed to be in a constant state of heaviness and ache last month. June displayed the depravity of man and the fallen world in all aspects. Disease and death and destruction affect nations, communities, families, and individuals. Tragedy continues to strike around the globe. Intense hardships and trials invade our homes. Shootings, terrorist attacks, poverty, political craziness, cancer, pain, addictions, assaults of every kind run rampant.
And my mind cannot turn it all off. My heart cannot handle it all. Between the tragedies themselves and the endless noise of the news and opinions of everyone on social media, my mind constantly tries to sort through the noise and my heart constantly grieves. Part of it is how I process things and part of it is my introvertedness. Sleep evades me, sometimes due to pregnancy and sometimes due to my mind racing. I have learned I am someone who feels things deeply. And I am often overwhelmed by the weight of it all.
But last month reminded me of the necessity of being in the Word. I cannot handle the weight of all the tragedies apart from the weight of the truth of the Word.
Father's Day is incredibly beautiful and incredibly needed. Fathers play such a crucial role as they nurture and love, provide and care for their families. They deserve to be celebrated, respected, appreciated. Father figures can come in many different forms: adoptive dad, uncle, mentor, foster dad, pastor, friend, cousin, stepdad, grandfather, father-in-law, expecting dad, and others. And today we cheer them all on and say, "Thank you."
But the reality is, today can be painful for many.
Some are mourning what was and others are mourning what has never been. Some are grieving the loss of fathers and others are grieving the title they long for and have yet been given. Some are dealing with deep wounds from what they didn't have and others are dealing with deep wounds from what was taken from them. Some have simply gone numb and have given up hope that this day can be good and others feel intense pain when this day comes around.
For whatever reason today is hard, know you are not alone. Know your pain and your grief and your heartache are real. Know you are not forgotten. Know you are loved.
And know there is hope.
At the end of 2015, I thought about the word I wanted to mark my 2016. I wanted a word for the year to lay claim to throughout and to refer back to on the discouraging days. And although that word was in clearly in front of me as 2016 approached, this is the first time I've announced it.
Uncertainties marched into 2015 with us, so my word for last year was able. I clung to the truths found in Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
We needed provision in every way--a job, a home, a church, friends, a car, furniture, community. All I could do, all we could do, was trust in the God who is able. We didn't know how He would provide, but we knew He would. And He did. In some ways it wasn't what we necessarily prayed for or wanted, but His provision is so good. I'll always look back to that year as a marker of my God who is able.
So as 2016 approached, I wanted to lay claim to it. As we thought about our photography business and my writing career and making friends and building community, the word that kept coming to mind was courage.
Last week our fridge decided to stop working. Every day it seemed to function less and less, and then it finally gave up. Thankfully, I had been putting off grocery shopping so we didn't have a stocked fridge or freezer. I'll be honest, it was hard to not worry (and continue to not worry) about how we would scrape a few hundred dollars together to get a new one. After searching around, we found an outlet store nearby that had one for a good price. And Spencer had a friend from work that offered to help him get it, so that saved his back and the extra delivery fee. But when those unexpected expenses come, I have to fight being anxious and worrying.
Although we found the least expensive one we could find, it was still a bit discouraging. And it's times like that, when finances seem to burden and cause anxiety that I lose sight of my Lord being provider.
I have noticed Katherine getting anxious at certain times. And instead of telling her that I'll always be there, I have started to tell her Jesus will always be with us and take care of us. He will always be with her and take care of her. And I have had to remind myself of that. When the bank account runs lows and we steward what we've been given the best we can, I can still trust in the Lord's provision. I may not know exactly how he will provide, but I know He is good and trustworthy.
What He says in Matthew 6:25-34, He means:
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.