Grace

I write about what makes me uncomfortable.  I write about what challenges me as a woman, a wife, a Christian, a neighbor, and a friend.  I like to include it all. There are far too many voices out in this world, that smooth over how hard life really is at times.  I have always felt that when I speak on my challenges and struggles, others feel permission to say, “me too, and I have been struggling too.” 

Push down the walls.  They are not helping you.  They do keep you hidden, they may hide your hurt and your struggles, but they also hide your beauty and your heart.  And often, they prevent healing.

It is scary being brave and it is vulnerable to speak on your weaknesses.  But who would I be if I just kept it all in?  God has given me a voice, and I choose to use my voice for Him.

I am no saint.  Let me say that loud and clear.  I am a woman who chooses to follow Jesus, and I am grateful every day that He loves me knowing all my weaknesses and struggles and temptations, and that He has grace for me every time I mess up. There was once a time in my life where I thought I would achieve this place in adulthood, where temptation and weakness no longer bother me.  I have since realized that humans will always have weakness, and that is why we need Jesus and his grace.

I yell.  And I hate that I yell when I am frustrated and angry.  Sometimes it is more of a very loud voice and sometimes it is full blown yelling.  I have been working on my anger since I was in my young twenties.  Now almost in mid-thirties, I have realized that this may be an area in my life that I will always have to work on and work to control.  This is where I cling to the verse, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”-2 Corinthians 12:9.  I believe this is the point!  If I could master all my weaknesses on my own, I would not need God in my life. But I do need God, and I need Him daily.

“The fact that God’s power is displayed in our weaknesses should give us courage and hope.  As we recognize our limitations, we will depend more on God for our effectiveness rather than our own energy, effort or talent.  Our limitations not only help develop Christian character but also deepen our worship, because in admitting our weaknesses, we affirm God’s strength.”1

I will continue to strive to be the woman God wants me to be.  I try daily to read my Bible.  Sometimes it is a few verses and sometimes it is a few chapters.  Some days I am deeply inspired, and some days I simply show up because I have chosen that my relationship with God is worth it, whether or not I feel like it in that moment.

When I mess up, I will continue to seek God’s grace and forgiveness.  And if that means apologizing to the people in my life be it family, friends, coworkers or customer service workers then I will.  I want my community to see that humility is as important as strength.  Recognizing when I have made a mistake, and humbling myself and choosing to go and apologize and ask forgiveness. 

To me, this is strength. It is way easier to be proud and ignore. It takes integrity and strength to admit when you have messed up, made a mistake, and hurt someone.

References:

1- NLT application study Bible, pg. 1849, 1996.

Ten years a mother!

Ten years ago I became a mother for the first time.

Ten years ago life as I knew it turned upside down and inside out and then flipped a few more times when we welcomed our first daughter home from the hospital.  I was thrust into a new role.  Nothing was the same. Life took on a new shape. 

My identity changed.  I was a nurse on a surgical and obstetrical unit. I was finally settling into my career.  I had told myself that I would continue on in my education and career.  I would settle into my permanent position on my unit.  And I was happy and content with my decision.

Three days later, my period was late and with great shock, my pregnancy test showed a positive result.  I remember the moment.  I went white and all the colour drained out of me, then it all rose back up and I became flushed and hot.  My husband and I hadn’t quite been married for 4 months yet.  He was still finishing his university degree and we had grand plans to travel the world starting with the trip to Europe we were planning.

My husband saw my face, I was about to burst into tears, nothing about this was planned.  I was shocked.  I had not planned on becoming a mother.   Dreaming of children and motherhood had not ever crossed my mind.  I had recently recovered from a two year eating disorder and was finally enjoying a happy, normal life.  And I loved my life.  I loved my job and cooking for my husband and having a home to take care of.  I was so happy, this was not a part of the plan.  Matt took me in his arms and told me everything was going to be Ok.  He hugged and held me and I cried. 

I cried because I was shocked and caught off guard.  I cried because I did not know anything about children and I did not feel ready for this. I cried because this meant no Europe trip.  I cried because I was so happy with my life the way it was, and I did not want change.  I had not seen this coming.

By the next evening, my mind and heart started to change.  I was going to be a mother.  I remember my husband and I looking at each other and this new excitement bubbling up and we were smiling at each other. 

Matt was going to be a father.

I was going to be a mother.

From that moment on, life and plans took a whole new direction; and it was good.

We welcomed our daughter Summer home in October 2009.  Matt cried when he saw Summer for the first time, and my heart swelled with so much love and appreciation for my husband and our new little family.

That moment was almost ten years ago today.  Today my daughter nervously and excitedly took the bus to middle school, starting a new adventure both for her and for me and for her younger sisters.

I could never have foreseen how much motherhood would change me, and change me for the better.  Sitting here and reflecting on my past ten years is almost overwhelming and yet beautiful.  The largest theme is how I went from living for myself to living for my family.  Every day is about getting them up and dressed and fed; making sure they are clean and have clean clothes.  Making sure their needs are being met, physically, emotionally and spiritually; instilling love and morals and values into their hearts and lives.  From cleaning up after them, to teaching them to clean up after themselves, teaching them to cook and bake, teaching them to love others around them as Jesus calls us to love others.  The moment I found out I was pregnant I was called to the awe-inspiring yet relentless journey of motherhood.

I once read a quote from an unknown source, “Echoes of your voice will be heard through all eternity.”  This quote has always stayed with me.  The words I speak over my children, they will one day speak to their children and to their children and to those children.  Your words have power.  Today is my first time in ten years that I will not have children at home with me.  My oldest entered middle school, my middle daughter entered grade three and my baby entered grade one. 

Knowing my words have power in my daughters’ lives, I spoke prayers of blessing over each of them separately last night and this morning.  Before my Lord and Saviour, I surrendered each of my daughters into His capable hands for this school year.  I prayed blessings of courage and love, and acceptance and kindness and safety over them.  I affirmed each of my daughters that they are loved by God and loved by their father and me.  I affirmed that they are beautiful on the inside and on the outside, that they are strong and that no matter where they go, God goes with them.  I affirmed that no matter how much they are afraid, God will be beside them and they can pray to him for strength and courage.

As mothers, we can speak love and courage and kindness into our children.  As a believer, I will speak God’s blessing and promises over my children.

What anchors you?

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“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

What anchors you?

One thing is certain, we need an anchor.

Life is so uncertain.  One moment life is figured out and definite; the next moment you are stumbling in the dark.

What is your anchor?

I have lived my life without an anchor.  Well I should back up a bit.  I have been raised knowing God as my Lord and Saviour.  My faith was sure.  I knew who I was and where I was going.  I had an anchor in my life, The Anchor.

But then rough waters came.  I was in college and I no longer wanted an anchor.  I wanted freedom.  Freedom from rules, freedom from the restrictions my anchor gave me.  I hated being tied down.  I had been raised knowing the security of my Anchor.  But I did not want to be the good girl anymore.  I wanted to be the fun girl.  I wanted to live life on my own terms. No more rules.  No more restrictions.

I look back with such clarity on this moment.  I made a decision.  This was not a slow fade away from my faith.  This was an “I am done with my faith” moment.   I cut the rope that attached me to my anchor, the anchor being Christ.

I told God I was done.  If this was Christian living, I wanted no part of it.  I was sitting in my office when I made the decision.  But in my mind, I envision myself on a boat that is anchored.  And I take a knife and I cut the rope and I leave the anchor behind.  I immediately start to drift away, and I smile because I think I am free.

In that moment, I picture the face of Jesus.  He is sad.  But He lets me go; because Jesus never forces us to love Him or choose Him.  It is our choice.  He desires a relationship with us, but we have to choose that.

Cutting free of my anchor was the worst decision I ever made.  I drifted out to deep sea and faced the roughest waters. My life spiraled downward.  I made such poor decisions.  And before I knew it, I felt like I was drowning; drowning in regret and shame and lies. My journey which had started so hopeful was now dark and lonely and hopelessly lost.  My addiction to bulimia led me to lie to everyone I knew and hide from the ones I trusted and loved because I lived in shame.   I coped with my loneliness by partying.  But when the music faded and the party was over, I was still alone and lost, drifting in open waters.

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I finally saw my life for what it was.  I saw where my decision had led me.  I was not freeIt was a lie.  I was addicted to a life I hated and I needed help.  I needed my Anchor.

On my knees, alone I asked Jesus to help me. 

It was the first time I had prayed in over a year and a half.

I experienced God’s grace and forgiveness in a way I had never before.  I did not deserve it.  I chose to leave.  I chose to do life my own way.  I chose the decisions that made me happy, instead of what I knew to be right and wrong.  And even with all of that, God forgave me.  The feeling was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  My life was burdened with so much regret.  When I asked God to forgive me, with a heart that was in anguish, I felt the heavy weight of so much regret and shame lift and I was free.

Freedom was not leaving the anchor.  Freedom was choosing the Anchor.

So my deep love and respect for anchors continues.  It is my reminder that Christ is my Anchor.  He anchors my life, my marriage, my parenting.  He anchors my decisions.  When I start to drift, my anchor stops me and I do not drift out to open waters, but I remain firmly attached to the God who loves me deeply and strongly.

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What 33 taught me

As I turn a year older today, I am taking a moment to reflect on this past year. When I stop and really look back, I can see the challenges and the growth.

What 33 taught me:

You have to choose the life you want.

That doesn’t mean we get to choose all the circumstances life throws at us, but we do get to choose our actions and our thoughts. We get to choose what we spend our time and energy on. We get the choice to make our life better or worse by the actions we choose.

We get the choice to forgive and forget and move on.

We get the choice to wake up and show up.

One thing my job is continuously reminding me is that time is precious. Our days are precious. We take them for granted. Every day that we get is a gift.

Our thoughts take our energy and time. Make sure your thoughts are worth it; and if they aren’t, you have the power to change them.

My girls asked me recently what my motto was. I thought about it, and one that came to mind, one I write about often is:

“If it’s worth it, it’s not easy.”

Change is hard, growth is hard, overcoming addictions and bad habits are hard, working on relationships can be very hard, even pursing good, positive change can be hard when our default is to take the path of least resistance. The good and the great things do not come easy.

33 has been a year of personal growth and learning. I thank God for it, I thank Him for seeing me through it and I look forward to seeing what 34 has in store for me. Here’s to many more strong cups of coffee and days well spent!

Love, Sarah

Real

As I sit here and write, I think about lifestyle blogs, and fitness blogs. Catchy and trendy, sometimes I think about writing about those topics. Heck I even think about cooking blogs. That one tempts me less, even though I can endlessly watch those videos where they are quickly pouring ingredients in a bowl and voila! A fabulous meal or delectable dessert. How many people ACTUALLY make the recipes they watch?

I think about these blogs, and I know writing about them would be simpler, way less vulnerable. Today’s hot outfit or the perfect chest and triceps workout is for sure easier to talk about than ones personal failures as a woman and mother.

But this is not the narrative I have chosen. I have done this with intention. The most moving and life challenging pieces I have read, are not trendy, but rather they are raw and real. They do not inspire me to want to travel to an up and coming destination. They have inspired me to be a better human. They have reminded me that weakness is real; that I will fail and yet I will succeed. I will fall but I do not have to stay down. That’s it’s Ok to not be Ok every second of the day. They have given me permission to put the walls down and work on being seen for who I am and as I am.

This is why I write about authenticity. And Faith. There is enough fake in our world. No one needs to be told 5 ways to a perfect body (direct internal transition is “5 more ways that I will never measure up”). We need to be told 5 ways I am enough. We need to be reminded that we are not perfect, that we do not need to have it all together, that perfectly edited social media pictures do not show real life! That it is ok to take a breath and cry. Heck ugly cry! It feels so much better when we let our guard down and be who we were meant to be.

Real.

Authentic.

Unedited.

Cheers to the women who have gone before me and given me permission to be real. I have gladly taken the torch and will pass it on.

The struggle with contentment

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Over a year ago I was having a conversation with a friend while we were walking.  We were talking about a certain fashion label and how much we loved their jackets.  Our conversation ended up with us both admitting that no matter how much we had, we always want more.  We were talking about wanting more stuff. New furniture, designer hand bags, new clothes, etc.

This candid conversation has always stayed with me.  It exposed a part of my heart.  An insatiable desire for more. I am incredibly blessed; I have more than most.  And yet, I find my heart wandering into discontentment and a desire for more.

Allowing my heart to be discontent is a dangerous thing, because where does it end?

Discontent with my appearance?

Discontent with my stuff?

Discontent with friendships? 

How about discontent with my marriage? 

It is easy to recognize the danger when you are looking at it from a removed situation.  The problem is not my things, the problem is my heart.

After the conversation with my friend, I did some soul searching.  I most certainly did not want to become a woman who always needed more.  I recognized that my life was great and that what I had to work on was choosing to be content and see that what I have is great; and not allow my heart to always see what I want or think I should have.    

How do I combat my moments of discontentment? I purposefully and intentionally thank my God daily for all that I have.  I choose to see the blessings that I have, and not the things that I do not have.  I choose to see the good in my life and have a heart of gratitude to my God.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Philippians 4:6,7.

I have come to realize that this instruction is in the Bible because it is so easy to be discontent; to default to a heart that is selfish and greedy instead of thankful and grateful.   We must seek our God with a heart of gratitude for all the good if we are to overcome our discontentment.   This is an action that takes intention, work and practice.

“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything, I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13.

You have a choice to make. You can choose to want more. Or you can choose to take a step back and see all the blessings in your life.

Try it. Right now I want you to list 10 things you are grateful for. Thank God for each of those 10 things. And each time you catch yourself with a heart of discontentment, make a choice to replace it with 5 things you are grateful for. Do that each time. And slowly that heart of discontentment starts to change to that of gratitude. And I promise, you will be much more pleasant to be around when you choose to see the good in your life.

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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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