Some books speak straight to your heart, echoing your own stories and struggles, and You are Free by Rebekah Lyons is one of those for me. There are so many things Rebekah shares about her life and thoughts that resonated with me. This book met me at just the right time. From Ann Voskamp's foreword to the heartfelt acknowledgements to the quotes throughout the book introducing each chapter, You are Free shares this significant, life-altering message from Jesus of freedom given to us in Galatians five.
To the mamas giving their bodies and emotions, days and nights to caring for children: You are displaying the gospel to the world as you give yourself for someone else's life, and it is nothing short of a beautiful miracle.
To the dads dedicated to intentionally raising their children: You are showing the world the love of the Father and how sacred life is by the way you provide and protect and love and serve.
To the ones who were crushed by a positive pregnancy test: You do not have to believe the lie that your life is over because another began, because it is actually the unplanned that gives way to something supernatural; and even though the unplanned is scary and daunting you do not face it alone, and in the midst of the hard unplanned something so beautiful blooms.
To the ones who have given their children up for adoption: Few know the weight of the sacrifice you made, but you chose the unbelievably courageous way; and that courage and that sacrifice is one of beauty and hope and remarkable love that reflects the One who is love Himself and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
To the ones who have had an abortion: You are loved by the One that took every ounce of sin and shame you bear on Himself when He died on the cross and with His resurrection from the dead He declared there is no condemnation for those found in Him; and you are welcomed by His Church because we are all saved by grace alone.
To the ones who are in the depths of postpartum depression: When the questions and guilt and darkness floods your mind, and you know the truth but can't seem to find the light or any way to celebrate life, you are not alone; and the One that holds the universe together is holding you and will not let go, and He will break through the darkness with His presence.
To the singles, the foster-parents, the churches, the social workers, the health care workers, and others caring for children and parents in your communities: You are heroes; and you're sacrificial care that is often unseen and under-appreciated and misrepresented is seen by the Lord, and your tear-filled prayers are heard by Him; He is with you on the tiring days and the long nights, and the trials you face in this hard work will be rewarded in the life to come.
To the ones who don't yet understand the gravity of this issue of life: Every single one of us was once like you and dedicated to choosing the lives we wanted, but God is rich in mercy and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and incredibly patient; and He graciously has given us the chance to choose a better way, a way dedicated choosing to follow Jesus who offers a life more abundant than you can imagine, a life filled with hope and joy and peace and freedom.
To the ones who march under the banner of pro-life: May we never lose sight of the souls behind this subject; may we speak words of truth that are saturated with grace and love and hope; may we pray for mercy and forgiveness for us all and for hearts and eyes to be opened; may we grieve the lives lost yesterday and support the ones struggling today; may people be drawn to the gospel because of the way we fight with gentleness and kindness and generosity; may we show that we value every life at every stage of life from every nation on Earth; may we not grow weary in this sacred work and never stop speaking for those that can't speak for themselves; may we show the world that the life that is dependent on another is incredibly valued life; may their be consistency in our message, urgency in our prayers, and compassion in our voices; and may we declare with our words and our actions and our lives that every single life bears the image of God and is radically loved by Him.
I'll be honest. When I first heard about the She Reads Truth Bible studies and app a few years ago, I didn't jump on board. I was hesitant because it just seemed like the cool new thing to get involved in. But I was wrong. It wasn't until this past year that I truly learned about the ministry and hearts behind it. And I'm so glad I did.
She Reads Truth is grounded in solid theology and a desire for women to open up their Bibles and dive deep into the Word. It is not a new fad to get women less connected in real life and more connected online, but it is in fact a beautiful tool to get women engaged in the eternal Word and the eternal God revealed in it and speaking with it. I am grateful for the ministry of She Reads Truth and the dedication they have to providing Bible studies filled with the truth of the gospel and constantly pointing to Jesus.
So when I heard the lovely ladies behind She Reads Truth were releasing a book, I was quite excited! I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the book, but once I started reading I couldn't stop.
I turned 29 at the beginning of December. Mix all the emotions of that with all the thoughts that go into entering into a new year, as well as being someone who takes time to process things, and here I am finally bringing all my thoughts and emotions to some sort of summary. I need time to appreciate the holidays, process the previous year, and think about what lies ahead. So, we are nine days into the new year and I'm finally collecting those thoughts and emotions into goals, resolutions, one word, a direction (whatever semantics you like...I kind of think they aren't too different).
I am pretty excited to be in the final year of my twenties, and I am pretty convinced my thirties are going to be great. I know hard things will happen and trials will come, but I also know what I've already gone through has prepared me for whatever I will face. And the me that I am now is much more mature and much less insecure, much more focused on grace and much less focused on striving than the me I was when I walked into my twenties. I really am a different person. (And praise Jesus for that!)
As I thought about what I'd like to focus on and accomplish this year, the same theme kept coming to my heart and mind.
Isaiah 7:13-14 “And he said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
What amazing news. Surely this announcement would bring joy. God declared His coming. God would dwell among His people. God would fulfill His promise. God would no longer remain silent.
But joy does not walk alone.
Just as we can’t have hope without darkness and peace without turmoil, the Advent season reminds us we cannot have joy without suffering.
As the cold comes and the Advent season is upon us, I began to think back over the past couple months. We welcomed into our arms our sweet little Claire in September, and so this fall has been a journey into all things new as a family of four. Its been hard, but its been sacred. The Lord has been so gracious and kind in this new season. And in looking back I've seen the four reminders my heart needed to hear.
There's a reason why Ann Voskamp only has a few books out: she completely pours her heart onto each and every page. And that takes courage and bravery, vulnerability and humility. It takes dedication to waiting for the write message to display itself on the page and the right time to release it to the world.
Ann's first book, One Thousand Gifts, left a profound impact on me; it instilled in me a sense of living with gratitude that I didn't have before. And her Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, spurred me on to a deeper focus on Jesus during the Christmas season through the lens of biblical theology, by seeing Jesus in every story of the Bible leading up to His birth. So when I heard she had a new book coming out, I was quite eager to dive in with full anticipation that it would enrich my Christian journey.
While One Thousand Gifts was all about eucharisteo, The Broken Way is all about koinonia. It looks into the act of communion, the brokenness and sharing that comes after the thanksgiving, the communion we can have with our Savior and the communion we can have with others. Ann wastes no time inviting the reader into her own brokenness as the very first sentence reveals her past struggle with self-harm. And from that first sentence to the last she shares stories from her life and lessons from Scripture that will definitely encourage, help, and comfort any reader.
Your inbox and social media accounts are probably overwhelmed with organizations asking for your financial support as the end of the year approaches and as today is deemed Giving Tuesday.
So I wanted to try to help by sharing a few of my favorite ministries in one place for you to be aware of, pray for, and consider financially supporting, not just today but in the days and months ahead.
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.
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.