A Broken Mother’s Day

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A Broken Mother’s Day

To all the women who experience this day hurting and broken and alone.

To all the women who parent alone with an absent spouse and carry all the weight of raising your children by yourself.

To the single mothers who day in and day out get out of bed and serve your families because love drives you to show up.

To all the women who do not have a mother or mother figures in your life.

To all the mothers who do not have men who celebrate them, to all the mothers who do not get to feel appreciated or valued or told how good of a job you are doing, today I celebrate you.

You women are the everyday heroes because no matter how tired and exhausted and hurt and unappreciated you feel, you keep showing up, keep serving your family even though you cry from the loneliness and tiredness when no one watches.  I see you and today I celebrate you.

To all the women who grew up with or have absent mothers who are alcoholics and drug addicted, and you choose to break the cycle and not repeat history, I celebrate you.

To the women who kept their babies even when the voices around you told you not to and now you are a mother, I celebrate you.

To my own mother who has overcome so much brokenness and adversary and has become the strong woman she is today—she broke the cycle and she showed up every day—today I celebrate you.

Motherhood-the hardest journey you will ever venture on. It breaks you and reshapes you. There are tears of frustration and exhaustion, tears of joy and celebration. It is the hardest, yet the most beautiful and worthy journey. To all the mothers that choose daily to show up and keep going, today is your day, and I celebrate you.

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Hope in the midst of hopelessness

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I have been challenged in my own life lately. I often realize that as I work on growth in my personal life as a Christian, the more the growth, the greater the resistance.

The more I see positive change, the bigger the problems I have to deal with.  It often feels like a tug-a-war.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”Eph 6:12

Does that not make you uncomfortable?

It certainly makes me uncomfortable.  It explains the tug-a-war; the good versus evil.  It explains the push-back when there is positive growth in my faith.  It is not always easy to talk about evil and sin, but whether or not we are willing to see evil for what it is, does not change the fact that it is indeed real and a powerful force.  Fundamental to the Christian faith, is acknowledging that evil and sin is real.  It would be hopeless if it stopped there.  Watch national news for one day, and you get a very clear picture of the broken, sinfulness of humanity.

But it does not stop there.

In the depths of despair and hopelessness, Jesus won.  He defeated death and sin and brokenness and despair.  Light shone through the darkness.  There is power in our God, you just have to believe that He died for you and your sin and brokenness, and believe and accept that He is the One and Only God, and that once this life is over, that you will be with Him in heaven.  There is hope and there is purpose to your life. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins.” Romans 3:22-24

All this gives meaning to life.  In the midst of a dark, broken, sinful and hurting world we can have hope, healing and meaning.  In my college days, I turned my back on my faith.  I did it willingly and purposefully.  I was done with God and church and faith and Christians and I wanted nothing to do with any of it.  My life spiraled downward and these became the darkest years of my life.  My life came to a place where I no longer recognized who I was.  My life was once so full of hope and purpose, was now broken and lonely and controlled by addiction and lies.

Call it divine clarity, but God allowed me to see myself and what I had become.  I remember that day with perfect clarity. 

And I hated it.

I hated who I had let myself become.  In the absence of God, I made horrible decisions for myself.

If my story ended here, it would be hopeless.   But it does not.

For the first time in years, I got on my knees and prayed.  I do not always pray on my knees, but in that moment, it felt right.  I cried out to God.  I asked forgiveness for my decisions that led me to this hopeless place.  I apologized for all the bad choices I made, all the lies, all of it. 

And I experienced God’s grace in the most profound way, possibly the most profound way I have truly felt God in my life.

I did not deserve His forgiveness.  I had done so much wrong. And yet God forgave me.  He forgave all of it.  The weight of my past that I was carrying around with me every day was suffocating.  And in that moment of truth, of me admitting my brokenness and sin, I felt the heaviness and weight of my sin lift and disappear.  The shame was gone.  I could physically breathe easier.

That is grace.  God’s grace. And it is available to anyone who asks.

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Choosing Vulnerability

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I write about vulnerability and about being brave and choosing to go first.

Vulnerability is my heart.

I write about vulnerability because I am passionate about it.  I have found such a deep rooted joy come out of choosing to be vulnerable, of choosing to let myself be seen even when the outcome is unknown and scary.

Brené Brown says it well,

“I’m not going to bullshit you, vulnerability is hard and it’s scary and it feels dangerous.  But it’s not as hard, scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves, “What if I would have shown up?  What if I would have said “I love you”? What if I would have got on the [diving] block?

Show up.

Be seen.

Answer the call to courage because you’re worth it.

Answer the call to be brave”– Brené Brown

How do you start?

For me, it all comes down to a choice.

There was a time in my adult life where I was lonely. Having had a shaky past, getting married and soon having three young daughters all close in age, left me lonely and longing for meaningful connections in my life.

“We are neurobiologically hardwired for connection with people. In the absence of love, belonging and connection there is always suffering.”– Brené Brown.

I had a choice to make, either continue being lonely without the connections I desperately needed or be vulnerable and put myself out there and meet new people, share my story and pursue connections.

It was not easy. Some friendships fizzled out. Sometimes I was hurt quite bad by how humans can act. But you know what? I now have an incredible circle of women in my life who are there for me no matter what. We laugh so hard we cry and sometimes snort. We cry together when there is hard stuff, we hug, we encourage each other. I would not have these women if I had not chosen to be vulnerable, and put myself out there.

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You will get hurt putting yourself out there, choosing to be vulnerable. There will be tears and heartache. But you know what? There will also be incredible joy. And life is so much more beautiful when joy shines in.

I always tell my three young daughters that nothing of value in life comes easy. The things in life that matter the most, take work and time and intentional choices of vulnerability and courage.

Crushing goals

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2 years ago I wrote “Dare to Dream.”

Today I write about Crushing goals!

Two years ago I was unhappy.  Not like “having a bad day” unhappy.   I was deeply, emotionally unhappy.  I was missing joy in my life.  I was missing creativity.  I wasn’t sure who I was anymore or how exactly I had ended up at that point in my life where I just felt unmotivated, unhappy and uninspired.

I was a Christian, couldn’t I just pray this away? 

No. It wasn’t that simple.

Yes I was a Christian.  Yes my faith was real.  But I was still in a rut.  And no matter how much I prayed I still had to find a way to climb out of that rut.

I had recently quit my job as an agency nurse.  I had a crazy immune reaction that put me in the ER for days and the medication I had to be on for the following weeks caused me to gain 20lbs!  And to top that all off, my back locked up causing me to need intense chiropractic treatment and muscle relaxers just to cope with the pain.  I was a hot mess, and an emotional train wreck.

I remember praying one day, “God, help me lose 5 lbs.”

I wasn’t expecting an answer so quickly, but I very quickly heard that still, small voice say, “No Sarah, I am not going to do that for you. That’s not how I work.”

I was a bit offended and caught off guard. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how self-centered that prayer was.  God is not a genie granting me my wishes.  If I wanted to change, I was going to have to take a hard, deep look at my life and make a plan.

God didn’t want me to lose 5 pounds! He wanted me to stop looking for a quick fix and to start taking care of my body.  He wanted me to stop making bad decisions and to start caring for myself. I knew something had to change, I didn’t know how just yet, but I was determined that I was going to change no matter what.

This is the part where my goals first were created.  You see, deep down we all have goals, ideas of what we think our lives should look like, might one day hopefully look like.  But what we lack is a plan.  I got out a pen and a journal (I have about 5 at any given time that I write in) and I did something that scared me.  I dared to dream and I dared to write my dreams down.

What if I failed?

What if my goals didn’t work out?

Well, I figured at the very worst, I would still be in the same miserable spot I was in.  At the very best I would succeed. Either way, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So I wrote out goals and made them real. I dated my pages so that I could not forget. I was scared to dream big.

I wanted career fulfillment.

I wanted to lose the weight I gained and to have a healthy lifestyle day in and day out.

I wanted to be fun again.

I wanted to have fun again.

I wanted to write.

As a working mother of 3 girls, it is very easy to lose yourself and your identity in the daily chaos of real life and raising a family. The chores and to-do lists really never end.  You need to take time re-evaluate and set a course for your life that you want to travel on.

Today, 2 years later I had that moment of realization. That moment where I realized that the very goals I have been working on for the last two years are my daily life now.  The dreams that I wrote down on paper two years ago and was scared to even say out loud for fear of failure have come true.

As I take time to reflect, it is clear to see that it was not an easy journey.  There were tears and growing pains.  When I fell down, I refused to stay down; for I knew that if I didn’t get up and keep pushing forward, I would remain miserable and nothing would change.

I fulfilled my 10 year dream of becoming an ER nurse.  I am almost at my 1 year mark in the ER.  I am also working 12hr day and night shifts.  Something I simply thought I wasn’t strong enough to do.  And to take it one step farther, I have lost the 20 lbs and working out 4 times a week is a normal and natural part of my life; one that my family has come to embrace and join me.  We eat so much healthier than we used to. 

I am so proud of all the changes that have taken place.  All the small, daily decisions towards my goals have added up to an awesome outcome. 

If you look at your life and are uninspired, don’t give up! I have been there, its a hard place to be in. I challenge you, take a deep look. Ask yourself what you want your life to look life. What do you want your life story to say? And don’t stop there. Get a pen and paper, and give life to the dreams and goals that are deep down. Big or small, just start somewhere.

Pray for God to give you wisdom and direction on how to start making positive changes in your life. And pray for the audacious courage and determination to follow through on your goals and dreams.

Crushing my fitness goals one workout at a time.

If you do nothing, you will be sitting in the exact same spot one year from now. Don’t waste a year.

Dare to dream again

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Dare to dream again

Once upon a time we were all dreamers. 

From childhood we have been created to dream.  We dream of being astronauts, firefighters, scientists and ballet dancers.  We dream of being superheroes, world changers and race car drivers.

Our dreams were big, larger than life but vivid and to our childhood selves, attainable.

Dreams are beautiful, our soul is inspired, imagination and creativity are ignited.  Passion to achieve our dreams drives us onward.

As I walk around my messy house, stepping over abandoned toys, books and papers left by my children, a large part of me feels that dreams and creativity died a long time ago.  My days seem filled with tasks, chores and quite honestly, there isn’t a lot of energy left to spend on the pursuit of dreams. 

I was recently reading a book directed to mothers, and it asked “What are your dreams?”  And it challenged the reader to write down 3 or 4 dreams on paper.

I must have dreams, this should be fun.

So I thought about it.

And I thought about it.

And I thought about it and blank!

Nothing. 

I could not even think of one.  Not one.

Does watching Netflix and eating a peaceful snack at the end of an exhausting day count as a dream?!…because then maybe I had one.

Or maybe have my children clean up after themselves, then I would have two dreams.

But in all seriousness, this really shook me.

When did my dreams die?  Did my creativity die too?

I used to be such a carefree soul.  I wholeheartedly believed any dream was achievable.

Did the craziness and business of motherhood do this?

Maybe the very act of becoming a mother, of learning to ‘day in and day out’  selflessly serve your family and the very constant needs of little ones,  causes our dreams to fade away.

Maybe it’s the fact that motherhood, or adulthood changes us so much that we put the notion of perusing dreams away, dismiss it as ridiculous and no longer practical.

In a lot of ways I hardly recognize my 22-year old self and can almost laugh at her dreams. Ten years later, I dare say I am much wiser and stable.  Jetting off to a new country on a whim in pursuit of adventure is not as important to me as it once seemed.  Maybe maintaining a stable, thriving environment for my family is my dream?  I just do not always recognize the beauty in the mundane.

My God and my family are hands-down my absolute priority and I never want that to change.

But, I want to carve out space to dream again.

In my own life, in my day to day, I want to incorporate creativity, aspirations and dreaming.

I want to bring creative energy into friendships and relationships.  I want to be surrounded by people who encourage and inspire and support dreams, alongside with accountability to speak up when maybe a dream is misguided.

So, I took a journal and a pen (old fashioned here, I love putting ink on paper), and over the course of 2 weeks, I thought, pondered, searched, scribbled out and re-wrote down some dreams of mine.

So I will pass on the same question to you, what are your dreams?

I encourage you to write on paper, your top 3 dreams.

We come alive when we are creative.

I challenge you to find some creativity in yourself.

We are capable of so much more then we think we are.  Sometimes we need to be reminded, encouraged or perhaps given permission to dream big.

I bought myself a coffee mug with the words “dream big” on it. It is to be my reminder in my day to day to incorporate life, colour, creativity and dreams into my beloved chaos.

I wrote this two years ago on my previous blog.

Balancing

I love handstands and headstands. I’m fascinated by them. They constantly challenge me. There is this element of strength and precision that I am always striving to improve on.

My goal is to handstand tall, aligned and balanced. But if I do not make constant corrections–shifting my weight, flexing my abs, pointing my toes, broadening my hand grips–I will fall over. This is Christian living. If I do not constantly refocus on Christ daily, I lose balance and I fall. This is a lesson I have been learning in my own life.

My intentions start good, great even! They are strong. But I tend to drift and if I’m not careful, my good intentions become blurry and out of focus. This is where I realize that I took my eyes off Jesus.

So I get back to my Bible and journal and I pray and I read and I refocus and strive for balance

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Have you ever run a race? I have. I have run a few 10K races. Running to finish the race is hard, tedious work. If your eyes are not fixed on a goal, you will quit. If you do not have a strong focus, the exhaustion will become the loudest voice you hear. This is the same with life.

There is a reason Paul tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus! It’s hard work. If you do not set your focus, you will wonder off course and lose your way.

Handstands and running races both require constant, intentional effort and exertion. Same with following Jesus. The moment you take your eyes off the goal, is when you lose balance and fall.

Set your focus!

Act on it

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I have recently read through the Book of Acts.  This book brings me awe.  It humbled me, challenged me, and taught me.  It brought me to tears more than a few times.  It depicts a radical faith, one that I can only strive to have. It’s a story of one man taking on the ancient world with a big story, the story of Christ.

One thing struck me.  God works in unexpected ways that are way bigger than anything we could imagine or foresee.  To give you a bit of background, Paul was a Roman citizen and an expert Jew, highly trained.  He was a Christian hater and torturer.   This very same man, who after meeting God on a road in a radical way, turned his life around and spent his life telling everyone everywhere about the hope of Christ.  Wow.  Just wow!

God is just as powerful and awesome today. We can choose to serve and believe in the same Lord.  This great story doesn’t end here.

Paul was beaten, jailed, threatened, disowned, rejected, shipwrecked, stood trials from Jerusalem to traveling to Rome from false accusations, and yet he never wavered.  He stood strong. He refused to give up.  He refused to back down, even in the face of death.

How God works can sure be ironic at times, and yet so effective.  God works in the unexpected. Paul had to stand trial for his faith more than once. And what did he choose to do at these trials?  This radical man chose to tell entire courtrooms of powerful and influential people of his day about his conversion story from a radical Christian-torturer to becoming a radical follower of Jesus.  He witnessed to entire rooms of prominent people. This infuriated the crowds of accusers.  The Jewish people plotted to kill him.

But being born a Roman citizen gave him a very unique vantage point.  Not just any one could mess with him.  Being a Roman citizen gave him access to Roman law.  A Roman citizen could not be punished until being guilty of a crime.  So Paul appears before a Roman Governor, and shares his same story.  But they cannot find him guilty.  And he appears again before a King with all his prominent men and military officers, and shares his story again.  And once that is inconclusive, Paul appeals to Caesar and is sent to Rome where he spends the next 2 years freely sharing the Good news of Christ.

See the irony in this all?  The more he stood firm in what he believed and spoke truth, the grander the audiences God gave him to speak in front of. He was able to witness to the most influential people in the ancient world at that time.  He shared God’s story with sincerity and passionate conviction.  The Jews in Jerusalem falsely accused him hoping to get him sentenced to death.  Instead they set the stage for Paul to share his story on an even larger and grander scale than anyone could have imagined.  God had a plan, and Paul trusted God to fulfill that plan even when Paul did not see how that would happen.

What faith!  What an example he left us. 

I challenge you to live out your faith in a big way.  We are not all given grand stages on which to proclaim God’s story, but we definitely can proclaim it.  Live with so much integrity that your life tells a story.  Take the road less traveled. Reach out and love your neighbors, your co-workers, your family, your friends, even those difficult people that seem impossible.  Show love in a world of haters.  Choose to walk by faith in a fact-based world.  Choose to forgive when you have been hurt.  Be the person who you always wish you had in your life. 

You will never regret taking the high road in life.