Sunday, November 3, 2013

No Offense but...

Hello Dear Ones,
It's been a while, in fact I haven't really written since fall has begun, which is a little sad because so much has happened in my life and I have so many good things to say about the Season of Fall. Maybe I'll add that in for an "end of the year" post.

Anyways, moving on with the present post, I must say that I of all people love and hate those catchy, cliche phrases and sayings that everyone starts using.

Reasons why I love them:
1. I can whittily use them interchangeably and make people think I'm super funny.. (Les- be- honest, I am super funny.. ;) ) -P.S that's a "Pitch Perfect" reference

2. They're so easy to slip into casual conversation.

3. When other people use them properly they make me laugh, also making me think they're super funny.

Reasons Why I don't love them:
1. They soon become like an overplayed song on the radio and you start hearing the phrase used so often that you can't help but roll your eyes after the 855 millionth time of hearing it used in one week.

2. When used improperly it can be awkward for everyone involved in the conversation, no example needed..

3. If used with a person you don't know very well, especially when being sarcastic (which they usually are) you can come off as very mean, and not funny. Apologies in advance for the poor souls I've done this too.

This post really will end well, but I had to start with some background information on catchy phrases. I'm sure most of us remember the phrase, "No offense but,.." and then telling the person information about themselves that would actually be taken as pretty offensive, but using that conversation starter as if it would take away the sting from being told something offensive. We all know that one, right? Well, I was thinking about this phrase last night after having a really good, eye- opening conversation with my friend Aubri. Then I thought to myself, "what if people couldn't get personally offended?" "How much better would the world be? The church? How many more people would find the true healing that they need?" and here's the personal story that lead us there..

I previously had a group of friends that I spent a lot of time with, a while ago, and it was a mixed group of girls and guys and we all had a blast together. We would do things in large groups, we would hang out at school together, they made the last couple years of high school a great, memorable time for me. It was also nice because there was maybe one, or two, actual couples in this group of friends but the majority of us had a common knowledge that we were, "just friends" and that there was no pressure of being pursued, not feeling the same way, avoiding the opposite sex after an awkward "relationship defining conversation", etc. Well, this all changed when a young woman started spending time around our group, she had a reputation for being very flirtatious, but having little to no intentions for an actual relationship and I learned this very quickly when within a couple weeks she bounced from one male friend to another, because one happened to be more attractive then the other. So last night I found myself telling my friend Aubri about this girl, and going on about how awful she was as a person because she had so little regard for these young men that she led on and then left in the dirt, and how much she bothered me as a human being when Aubri said, "Man, that's how I was before I met Jesus, I can't even imagine how I would be now, had I not fallen in love with Him, and had he not changed my life." and silly me, wanting to continue complaining, started making excuses for why I should still be allowed to dislike this girl. Aubri then went on to say, "I wonder what she went through to make her behave like this, I wonder how she felt, and why she acted out towards other people like this. I'm not by any means excusing how she behaved, but did you ever find out why she acted like that?" in that moment I continued making excuses for why I felt the way I did about this person and the conversation ended moving forward to something else but later, before I fell asleep I found myself thinking about it. I'm sure it was God, because the realization of my faulty feelings started to hit me and change the way I've felt about this person for about 6 or 7 years now. I thought about how I really had not taken the time to know why this girl was acting this way and instead chose to take offense while, in retrospect, it had nothing to do with me. I realize now that had I taken that time and put myself aside, maybe we would still be in each others lives, maybe not, and I'm not dwelling on that relationship.  However, This makes me think of  couple God breathed verses to back this up; Romans 12: 14-15
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

and  Matthew 5: 43-45

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Please do not be confused, I am not saying that this means we need to completely overlook people's wrong behavior. The point I'm trying to make is that while we cannot continuously excuse other peoples wrong behavior, because otherwise they would never grow and be able to change, we need to fight hard against the offense that Satan puts in our hearts towards them and the faulty belief that we are "entitled" to have these feelings towards them.  How could I, a fellow sinner, hold such a dislike towards this girl just because she was sinning differently than me? I see now that I am called to love these people, to get to know them and pray for them instead of being offended with their behavior because I have absolutely no idea what they are going through. It brings me back to that cliche phrase that I keep seeing, "You don't know what someone else is going through, so be kind." or something to that effect, and it is so true. It is very rare that we can know the life of the people we come in contact with everyday and yet, the way we regard them can make such an impact on their lives.

So my friends, I pray for you today and as you read this post that God would open your eyes and heart as he has mine, and that you would look past offense and see God's people as He sees them. That instead of casting curses, you would pray for their healing, that they would be made whole through a God who loves them and sent His only son to die for their freedom.

Until we meet again,Sarah

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paleo Eats: Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bowl

Hello Friends,
Let the Paleo recipe fest commence! I found this yummy recipe on the "PaleOMG" blog, to be honest I didn't follow her recipe at all really, aside from using some of the same ingredients, so I will still post the link to hers below but, this post is actually a rendition of my own. For those of you that know me I have been on a "Buffalo Sauce" kick lately and I cannot get enough of it so I am loving seeing these Paleo recipes that incorporate it!


1 chicken breast, thawed
2 medium- sized yellow squash
1/2 cup of Franks Red Hot Sauce (Buffalo style)
1/4 cup of coconut milk
4 Baby carrots (1/2 actual carrot would probably work)
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 of a medium sweet onion
1 TBSP Crisco shortening
1 1/2 TBSP Olive oil
Vegetable peeler (I used my potato peeler)

To begin mix 1/2 cup of hot sauce, I used Franks Buffalo but go for whatever you prefer,  and the 1/4 cup of coconut milk and pour over the raw chicken and place in the fridge to marinade, I did mine overnight but I'm sure an hour would work fine if you don't have all night.

Cut the ends off of the yellow squash and peel off the harder surface and discard. Start peeling off "linguine" sized strands of the squash and stop once you see the seeds start to show through. Set the squash aside.

Take out marinaded chicken, cut into cubes and place in non- stick pan and cook on the stove over medium heat until meat is white on the inside, about 8-10 minutes and turn every couple minutes to avoid burning the chicken on either side. While the chicken is cooking mince the garlic, carrots, and onion.

Once the chicken is cooked, set aside in separate bowl. Turn the heat down so that it is a higher simmer, if that makes sense. Pour 1/2 TBSP of olive oil into pan and add the carrot, garlic, and onion sautee these three ingredients for a few minutes until onion is see-through and starts to brown a little. Then add the yellow squash pasta to that pan with the extra 1 TBSP of olive oil and mix everything together, you'll want to let the squash cook/ sautee for about five minutes maybe longer depending on how soft you want it. Then add the chicken to the pan with the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together. Once the heat of the dish is to your preference dish up and enjoy!

Until next time,

This Earthly Body

Greetings Friends,
It's been a while! Since I've last written so much has happened but I'll try not to give you too much information overload ;).
1.     My amazing husband, Isaiah Lepper was recently promoted from the youth intern position and given the Job Title: Youth Venture Director over a teen center run through our church that is located on Boadway street in El Cajon. Youth Venture is an amazing ministry that has “teen centers” that cater to the youth of East County and my husband was blessed to call the Broadway Youth Venture home away from home when he was younger. He has been very blessed by the faithful volunteers of this ministry and he is very excited to be following God’s leading through Youth Venture! I’ll post the link below for more details.

2. After much prayer, counsel, and the Lord's leading I have decided to continue with my small- group girls as one of their leaders and I am following them into high- school ministry. So far it has been such a blessing, and getting to spend time with them and have small group meetings over summer has been wonderful.
         Now, for the bulk of my blog- post. Last week I took a trip to the doctor because of a nagging headache and feeling like I had a fever, with that said I actually made an appointment a couple months ago for the end of August to have her look into my hormones due to a long journey over the last year that I will share some of in a second. Anyways, I went to the doctor seeking relief for this awful headache and happened to mention that I meant to visit her a few weeks later, and something was brought up about my thyroid so she had me go to the lab within her office to have my blood tested, which I hate. Now, to go back in time some, slight TMI but, I started taking an oral birth control a few months before Isaiah and I got married. I was having horrible symptoms and felt like a 1st trimester pregnant woman 24/7, at that point I switched to a different birth control after being on the first a few months and within the first week of this new one I had thrown-up three times. This ridiculous experience thus brought that to an end and instead of trying out ten different types of birth control to find the "right one" and putting myself through a human guinea- pig trial we decided to go with alternative measures to prevent having kiddos for now. With that said I gained about 20lbs in this whole trial- and- error process, I don't doubt that some of that was "stressed out with wedding planning, finishing a degree, being incredibly busy" weight however, people constantly told me that I would shed the hormonal weight gained in no- time. Well, this did not happen and about 5-6 months later I found myself frustrated, hitting the gym 3-4 times a week, eating more healthy and struggling to lose a pound. I went to one doctor, who I am no longer with, and mentioned everything that had been going on and I was told that it must be my metabolism slowing down, that the first year of marriage commonly makes people gain weight, and that I need to exercise more due to working a desk- job. As a side note I will mention that I had been at a pretty consistent weight since I graduated high school about five years ago, I have worked a desk- job for three years now and the first two I barely gained weight, and until now I ate what I wanted and hadn’t exercised much in years..I digress. So, while some of what they said may be true, I won’t doubt them fully due to a lack of a physician’s degree in my hand, however I’d like to think that I know my body and the fact that it should not be rocket science to lose a few pounds. Any nutrition friendly friends, feel free to prove me wrong J. With that said after having my blood test results reviewed by my new doctor, I discovered that I have a high level of testosterone and my doctor wants me to get an ultrasound of my thyroid because she mentioned it feeling “enlarged” when she did a spot- check. So here I am, in the midst of a physical journey, hoping to either prove myself sane, or figure out where to go next. With that said, a dear friend that I went to San Diego Christian College with happens to coach for team Beach Body and encouraged me to purchase the “T- 25 workout series”, which involves doing the intense- cardio filled workout for 25 minutes a day, five days a week and clean eating at the same- time, which I started three weeks ago. This is what has lead me to start the “Paleo Diet”, which I am still currently doing now, and my doctor happened to suggest going on that diet to help- out with my high- testosterone levels so, what started as a clean eating regimen for the 60 days challenge may just become a lifestyle diet, with a few cheat meals throughout the process of course. For information about the Paleo Diet and the “Beach body Challenge” I’ll post some links below. Anyways, since starting this diet/ workout routine I have felt better, had more energy, and so far I’ve lost about seven pounds (maybe more due to weighing myself after eating lunch).
            All the while God has been showing me a lot but something that comes to mind now is 2 Corinthians 5:1-4  “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.[a] While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.”   This truth has encouraged me because, while I should probably not expect a crazy- slow metabolism now or for my body to start slowing down too much already (I’m only 22), in the coming years I know that this will happen. I know that the aging process is not always pretty and that pregnancy, which I hope to experience one day, does very different things to the body and so I may never have that “picture- perfect” bikini body, and that is all right with me because I don’t expect the perfect “body” until I get to heaven. However, at this point I do have personal goals, and a personal goal weight that I am striving for and I hope that my thyroid results, a healthier diet, and consistent exercise will help me with that as I have seen it work for others that I consider an encouragement (Bethany Haendle & Hannah Hems). So with a lot of help, prayer, encouragement, and love another portion of my journey has begun. Get ready for some yummy Paleo Recipes to hit the blog folks! :)

                    Some of my girls and I after "Spy- Hunt" up in Julian for High School Summer Camp, I was a spy so I dressed up like a "Ritzy Cat Lady"


Youth Venture- 

Until we meet again,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Foodie Frenzy Eats: Sweet Potato Burger

I found myself on "Pinterest" the other night pinning away, planning my dream home, studying 18 new ways to put my hair into a fancy ponytail, and learning how to "DIY" my entire life when I came across this beaut. of a recipe for yummy looking Sweet Potato Burgers. The picture included a "too- good- to- be- true" sweet potato patty covered in perfectly cut, crescent shaped avocado slices and the photographer used a lens so fine that the salt and pepper sprinkles seem to come to life before your very eyes. 

Now, to be completely real, Isaiah and I have been on a sweet potato kick ever since eating a sweet potato taco entre at my sister Keary's house a couple weekend ago when my brother Kyle was in town visiting from Florida where he is in training to become a part of a special ops section of the Navy. A couple weeks ago Isaiah fried up some sweet potato, last week I cubed some (after discovering that cutting through a raw sweet potato is like cutting into a tree trunk, seriously) and baked them with some rosemary, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Needless to say, they were wonderful however, after discovering said sweet potato burger recipe on "Pinterest" I decided it was time to pull out the big guns.

I mainly went off of the recipe given on this blog I included the link to above however, to be a bit more specific when the original author says to "mash/ mix" everything together she doesn't mention her methods so, I'll let you know that I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the "beater" attachment to mix all of the ingredients together. I ended up using 1/2 cup of flour and a bit of regular bread crumbs to make the recipe thicker, and I used about two cups of Panko and 1/2 cup or so of dried coconut flakes to coat the sweet potato patties.

Unfortunately, the avocado we bought earlier this week still is not ripe yet so, I substituted Mango and Srirachi and used iceberg lettuce as my bun, I believe "In- and- Out" would call it "Protein Style". Let me just tell you that this recipe was fun to follow, and that the burgers tasted AMAZINGLY good and went great with a glass of apple juice!

That's all for tonight my friends, enjoy! Let me know if you try out the recipe yourself and make your own little additions.

Until we meet again,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Count Your Blessings.. Reflect..and then Count Them Again

Hello Friends,
            I know it's been a while, and I felt a deep desire to blog tonight. I often find myself thinking of different scenarios and happenings in my life that would be considered "blog- worthy” and they usually revolve around something that God is doing in my life. Since this theme of "Thankfulness" seems to be a recurring one I figured I'd run with it and pray that God uses it to speak to some of you as well.

            To start, about a month ago a dear friend of mine told me that she felt that God was going to bring me into a season on thankfulness. At the time this word for me seemed interesting, and my somewhat prideful heart may have deemed it a little out- of- place. However, as always God comes through with His perfect timing and I will admit that I am still in that season now as He reveals more of His true character in this area every day.  I am beginning to learn of thankfulness in an entirely new light that is different than I have ever seen it before. Generally when I think of thankfulness I often think of cliché phrases like, "Thank God for everything you have today because it could be gone tomorrow." or "What if tomorrow you were only left with what you thanked God for today?" Both well thought out phrases that make us think critically, and hopefully turn us to God in the midst of searching for how we truly feel when we consider the answer or in what predicament this would leave us however, I feel that there is an important bit missing. Each of these phrases focus on the gifts and not the giver, while God gives us great things to bless us and aid us in doing the work of His Kingdom, He does not want us to fall into that trap of taking our eyes off of Him and instead focusing on anything else. 1st Timothy 6: 6-9 says,  "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." For so long I based my thankfulness factor and how content I would allow myself to be on the "things" that I had or the people I surrounded myself with, and because of the great things that my Father has blessed me with it's hard not to.  Now, I know that we are called to be thankful for people and material possessions and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is necessary however, it is so important to recognize that our God is still so good and that we can still be completely content and walking in His will with or without all of these blessings. 

            Lately I have found myself feeling discontented with my job, to the point where I barely felt the motivation to get out of bed to go to work in the mornings. While my job is not the easiest and can definitely be demanding and trying at times I had not felt this way about work in a very long time, in fact I really enjoy my position for the most part and I was extremely excited when I was promoted into a leadership position a few months ago. Unfortunately a few things didn't turn out the way they expected them to and I allowed ungratefulness and dissatisfaction to creep in, which have blocked off my joy and left me feeling exhausted, sad, and constantly finding something to complain about. Also it was not a good time for me hormonally for me (yes, I said it) which added to the emotional roller coaster, just wanted to add that to avoid being diagnosed with depression. Even tonight when I got home, after not eating all day, which never helps, I was just irritable and ready to complain until Isaiah took my face in his hands and reminded me of his love for me and the fact that we are blessed in ways that we could have never imagined possible. 

            A few hours later God continued to work on my heart. While leaving and driving home from the grocery store tonight God brought a couple things to my attention; First of all, as I was checking out I realized that I forgot my coupon and this sweet, older Scottish woman who regularly works night shifts, happened to notice my "Almond- Joy" coffee creamer and mentioned that she wanted to bring some home to her daughter in Scotland, where she would be going in a couple weeks. I laughed and agreed that the creamer was amazing and encourage her to bring back a couple boxes and then continue checking out only to realize that I had forgotten our fantastic "Fresh- and- Easy" coupons. As usual she generously offered up some of the coupons she had gathered throughout her shift that she often offers to "stranded regulars" and then moved on to help another customer. As I was leaving I made sure to wish her well on her trip to visit family and she mentioned that she was actually going back for ten days to attend her mothers funeral and my heart broke, I wished her well and told her that my husband (Isaiah) and I would be praying for her and that we would see her in a couple weeks. Once I got into the car and got ready to drive home I noticed a man with his van parked in the far end of the parking lot, as he got out of the sliding van door in his pajamas, he soon got back in and gave his dog a chance to get out and stretch his legs and the dog seemed to sit there waiting on the man expectantly. Now, I had noticed the van there when I first arrived so I have reason to believe that this man and his dog were living in the van. As I found myself praying for this man and the woman at the grocery store I felt an overwhelming sense of "gratefulness" and God's love come over my heart and all of my "problems" seemed to wash away and become extremely insignificant. Here I was driving my new car home with a back seat full of groceries, to a home that I get to live in with my incredible husband. I thought about how blessed I am to be with a man who serves me and is constantly leading me and encouraging me to be more like Jesus and who consistently reminds me of how blessed we are and of the grace that God has for us. 

           But then I switched my thoughts to the opposite end of the spectrum, which attributes to the earlier portion of this post, "What if God decided to take everything away?"  If He really wanted to, He could take away my car, our home, the means to buy the groceries, and even my husband (which can be a legitimate fear for a wife) and He would still be good, and still have a great purpose for my life. I know this is true by His word through the story of Job, a man who had everything; the big family, many animals, crops, property and he was so wealthy and his family so blessed that his sons and daughters were "feasting and drinking wine" (Job 1:13a) together when they were taken away. Job was also described as a "blameless and upright man" (Job 1:1b), which is more than many of us can claim, and yet God allowed Satan to take away everything he had and even physically afflict him as long as it did not end in death as a means of testing Job and refining him, making him even greater in the process.  When Job heard about the death of his children, which followed his livestock and crops being destroyed he cried out and said, "“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.[c] The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” God allowed Job to be afflicted because He knew Job's heart, and in the end Job was blessed and given even more than he had to begin with. 

          For those of you going through a season of trials be encouraged, the Lord knows your heart and if you should fall He will have grace in abundance for you, should you continue to obey and walk with Him. For those of you also in a season of "Thankfulness" or "Gratefulness" may you see with the eyes of the Lord as He reveals himself to you, and to everyone  may you be encouraged by Jeremiah 29:11, which says "11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God bless you all and goodnight. 

Until we meet again,

Did I mention that on Monday, June 10th I am celebrating my 1 Year Wedding Anniversary with that incredible husband of mine?!?!

  Just a tease of what is to come on a date closer to our anniversary. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Beginnings- As The Crow Flies

Hello Friends,
 I know, I know, I changed the name of my blog and I promise that this will not be like the constant profile picture change that some of you who have stuck around longer had to endure back in my high school days. But that kept things interesting, right? ;)
             Anyways, I realized after getting used to this whole blogging thing that I wanted a blog name that was a little more visual friendly than the long quote that I had. I find it funny to think back on the time when I first heard the phrase, “As the crow flies” and that some of you reading this won’t even know what that means, don’t worry I didn’t either at one point.  I was at my grandparents house in Temecula and my grandma was telling me how to get somewhere, *disclaimer* my grandma is the queen of using idioms that were often used back in the day such as, “Run like sixty.”, “Cat got your tongue”, and she is known for being able to quote old wives tales as though she helped create them.  Getting back to my story, my grandma mentioned how long it took to get somewhere “as the crow flies”, which instantly had me interested and would not have been helpful when traveling by car. The phrase, “as the crow flies” is the amount of time it takes to get somewhere without any obstacles in the way. According to the online dictionary this phrase is listed as, “the distance between two places is measured as a straight line.”
            Now, I think just about anyone can agree that there are very few places we can go in life where the road is a straight line with no traffic, no distractions, no accidents, or anything unplanned that comes up along the way. I will be the first one to say that I have very little tolerance for traffic, accidents, and distractions in general and I tend to see them as a waste of time, just a couple weeks ago it took me an extra 45 minutes to get to work and I found myself thinking, “Ugh, with that extra time I could have slept in, stopped by Starbucks, taken more time getting ready, gotten to work earlier;” the possibilities were endless. But the voice of the Lord stopped me mid- thought and said, “I want you to pray, pray for these people, intercede on their behalf, pray for the accidents.” And that definitely got my attention, as the Lord always does when I find myself getting too wrapped up in my plans, my schedule, my day, my everything for that matter. The Word of the Lord rings true in Proverbs 16:9 which says “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” So I found myself praying for these people that I did not know and that accidents that I would soon see the scattered remains of, I prayed that they would experience little to no pain, and the comfort of the Lord and that He would spare them. As I got about 30 minutes into the painfully slow traffic and confused drivers trying to figure out how to turn three lanes into one I saw three cars totaled on the side of the road and one partially detached at the roof of the car, signifying the use of the jaws of life and at this moment I knew that God was using my prayers, and probably those of many more of his children on the road that day who were inconvenienced by the traffic, and late commutes to work.
            When thinking of this traffic situation I thought of other times in my life where I felt so inconvenienced before realizing that I was being used by God, or times where I overlooked an opportunity because it wasn’t convenient for me or because I thought I had something “more important” to do. Linda Hoffman shared a dream that she had at a women’s leadership/discipleship group that I attend and the dream was that she was heading to a wedding and knew that she had to stop at a jeweler to get some fine jewels for the bride and groom on the way to the wedding so, she made sure to set out early to have time to get the jewels and get to the wedding a little early. As she found herself making her way to the ceremony from the jeweler’s shop she ran into a confused looking wedding guest who could not find the jeweler’s shop so Linda took the time to walk them over to the location, then as she started making her way back to the ceremony she found herself continuously being stopped by other guests asking her for directions and assistance. Naturally she started getting annoyed with all of these unprepared people and told herself that she would just walk right by the next person who needed direction and she found God telling her that these people that she would have just passed up are His precious jewels, and that by serving them she was directly serving Him. This story reached my very core and I asked myself, “How often do I look past certain people, or disregard those that the Lord has put before me to fulfill my own prerogative?” Just a couple weeks ago someone had come up to say “Hello” to me at our college group and I practically ran her over on my way to greet someone else, barely even seeing her in front of me, literally. I found myself realizing specifically that all these people are important to Jesus as thought they were His only child, even if they come up to the pulpit every Sunday with the same prayer request, or sing off- key during worship, or don’t take the extra time to do what is required of them, or are a little behind the learning curve. Then I went even further to realize that if I want to strive to live and act like Jesus, then I need to love these people, and at times be willing to drop everything for them as He would abandon 99 sheep to reach out and save one who had strayed from the heard. Instead of seeing these people as “distractions” or “obstacles” to deal with I am learning to see my interactions with them as divine appointments or the end point that Jesus was trying to bring me to, and so far it has been incredible to see where Jesus wants to lead me. So friends, I pray over all of you reading this that Jesus will reveal the areas, or people in your life that are opportunities waiting to happen, someone that you can truly represent the hands and feet of Jesus towards, and please share your findings to bless and encourage others! Until next time loved ones.
<3 Sarah

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Comforting Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

        As I sit here on my couch drinking my Cinnamon Apple tea I can't help but notice the aches in my back and shoulders from kneeling on the ground, digging through boxes that have remained at my Grandma Natalie's condo for the last five years. All the while finding many items, or as I like to think, treasures that I swore I would never see again. Treasures from the days of old that still seem to hold attachment, memories, times almost in another life. While digging there were a few different categories that I considered the different objects to be a part of those that were important and that I couldn't bare to part with, those that easily made their way to the trash, and those items that I had to ask myself a few times whether or not I would ever really use them or even consider them once I put them back into storage. In fact, while rummaging through some different boxes out in the garage my grandma decided to stay out there organizing and keeping em company and when explaining her method of getting rid of things said, "If I've gone without it or forgot about it for the last twenty- years, then why would I stick it in storage again only to find it twenty- years later?"

      As I continued going through the many boxes and bags it occurred to me that I was continually finding items that I had specifically thought of recently such as, my Yearbook from my senior year in high school, a banana nut candle; that has never been burned because I thought that if I burned it before that the scent would go away forever, and a book called,  "Always Sisters" to name a few. Now for some of you who have incredible memories, you're thinking, "Yes, so what of it?" And that is just it, I do not have an incredible memory and I haven't for years. I can barely remember birthdays, movie plots, and even names at times (unless I know you personally of course). So therefore, it is a wonder that I am able to remember specific objects, although these objects held onto dear memories for me. My senior year yearbook has a message written to me from my high school psychology teacher, Mr. McCarthy, who happened to be one of my favorite teachers because of the way that he encouraged me and was always cheering me up regardless of some of the stupid corners that I had backed myself into, he is part of the reason that I majored in psychology (aside from my desire to listen to and serve people) and when I went back to visit him a couple years after I graduated to tell him so he said, "Oh man, you must really be nuts, but good luck kid." At the end of his yearbook message he wrote "Live long and prosper". The banana- but candle probably helped spark an somewhat abnormal love that I have for candles, and scents in general, I know that as people we are generally drawn to something that peaks one of our senses and to many people smell can help take them back to memories and they can relate with those scents. Finally my "Always Sisters" book, it's interesting that I still remember bits and pieces of the stories that my mom would read to my sister Emily and I when we were younger and I can't remember the specific sisters but I remember one story where the sisters were so close and then one got very sick and she ended up passing away, that story made me cry when I was younger as I tried to comprehend the pain that the sister felt over losing her best friend and now as I write this my perspective is completely different. Yes, I lost my sister to cancer when she was 10 1/2 years old, and yes it was a very painful experience, I have no desire to mask those truths. However, over the years God has shown me the way to let go of her, trusting that she is now in His hands and with Him and that our parting is only temporary. The process of healing and learning God's truths is still happening and has been such a breath of fresh air and a comfort.

       Finally after three hours of rummaging, discarding, and pondering different areas of my past I found myself driving, trunk full, down the road that lead me to where I am today (literally). For many years I lived, worked, and went to school in El Cajon. When leaving my grandmas I took the road Madison, which lead me past my old high school, my first college, the road that leads up to Crest (where I grew up, in the house that my parents still live in). As I drove past Granite Hills High School I found myself asking, "God, where has my life gone?"  Here I am driving past the place I couldn't wait to get out of when I was in it, and now I'm really wondering why I was in such a hurry? Don't get me wrong, I have been living such a blessed life and I definitely would not trade it for high school again. My point is that so often we find ourselves in a place that we cannot wait to get out of, but when we look back we start to see the good and the fond memories, even if they are few. We start to realize that it really wasn't that bad, it just seemed like it in the moment.

      It may sounds silly using the cliche "Time moves faster the older you get." or feeling so far ahead in my years considering that I am only 22 however, God had an answer for me and he brought up the verse James 4:14, which says, "14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." Ah yes, I am a vapor, my life on earth is not meant to last forever and eventually my time here will come to an end, am I really doing everything that I should be with it?

    Amazing that so often we get caught up int he moment, troubled over the smallest things when our life is but a vapor, disappearing at any time, and yet so many of us live as though we have all of the time in the world. We pass up golden opportunities, we put off a command from God, we get lazy and apathetic thinking that our open doors will remain open, and we miss out on all of the adventure and blessings that have been placed before us! My friends, do not miss out on what is waiting for you!  "An opportunity has an expiration date" as our Pastor Mark Hoffman says. So what will you choose to do? Will you take hold of the opportunities given to you? Are you currently doing so, then press on friend! Persistence is key, as Paul said in Philippians 3:14 "14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Sorry for the tangent, this matter has been a subject of importance to me and I myself feel the need to step it up and to take full advantage of the time that God has given me on this earth. Anyways, good night to all and be blessed my friends and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rejoice with those who Rejoice

The last couple weeks have been filled with blessings, really exciting blessings, and while my life is incredible and The Lord has continually revealed Himself to me and has been blessing my marriage, my job, and my life in general the majority of the blessings I recall are those I have seen others showered with. On March 19th my friends Sarah and Jesse Eslinger gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Verity Victoria Eslinger, if potosi me I will post her picture and you will see perfection. Last Sunday Isaiah and I were blessed to be apart of a birthday party for our friend Derrek Cardinale, and a great surprise took place when he asked Britney Kelly to be his wife, and we are so excited for their wedding when it comes!! It has been so encouraging and joyful to get to celebrate with our friends and see God bless them through their obedience and their walks with Him.

Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
How incredible is it that The Lord gives us relationship with one another that we are able to feel their excitement and joy in an ecstatic situation or feel their pain when they are grieving?

Now friends, let me give a disclaimer to those of you who are seeing these exciting events and life changes and asking, "why not me?" Because there are some of you out there asking, why am I not married? Why can't I have children? Why won't you give me ______ job, why won't _____ date me, etc. before I share where I am now, let me share where I've been. During the year before Isaiah and I got engaged, I wanted to be engaged/ married so badly and for those of you that no me well I made it very clear that this was something I yearned for. During that year there was setbacks, roadblocks, and opposition at times that made me think it would be five years before engagement was even in the picture. It didn't help that some of my best friends got engaged during that time, making me feel as though I was behind the curve or that I was getting cheated out of something. I gave in to the lie that I wasn't enough and that God did not have an adequate plan for my life and goodness, was I wrong. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the L ord , 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Friends, this is not an empty promise nor is it only applicable for some people. God truly has a great plan for your life, this is a promise that He makes and when we walk with Him and keep relationship with Him we see this "future and a hope" unfold regardless of the hardship and trials we come to face.

Anyways, to wrap it up, it is exciting to see where The Lord has brought me in the last year and the fact that I can now see others joy and truly rejoice and celebrate with them. Seeing that He has brought my heart to a new place of gratefulness that I have to pray that He will protect from the spirit of selfishness and self-pity each day. Even looking back at that point in my life I am able to see the many blessings and times where The Lord was truly gracious and good to me, some that I didn't even recognize at the time. I pray for those of you who are reading this that you will trust that the Lords timing is perfect and know that His intention is to bless you and give you a life that will bless His kingdom and you the most.

Blessings friends. :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Finding Beauty in Everything

The past couple weeks have been a blur full of trials, challenges, big choices, loss, and so much more. It seems like everything that went on in the last couple weeks would normally take place over the span of a few months. A friend that I have know for many years who had been battling cancer had a point where he was no longer battling cancer and was able to start living life cancer- free then about five years later or so a different form of cancer came back and to top it all off this cancer was caused from the radiation therapy that was administered to him to battle the first round of cancer. Over the years since he was re- diagnosed he has gone through surgeries, had a portion of his skull removed, and continue battling cancer. After having his last surgery he passed away a couple weeks ago. In the midst of everything chaotic, busy, and at times insane I have continually been reminded of God's goodness. Now, that is not to say that every bad or disheartening thing has turned into something good or that anything has been reversed but it is to say that in the midst of the storm my God, my Rock has been very faithful and graceful to me. But that is not to say that there has not been some fear and anxiety along the way. I am reminded of the apostles who would react in fear in the face of hopeless seeming situations as they did when a storm came upon their boat and they had fear because instead of instantly calming the sea, Jesus slept;
Mark 4: 36-41 "36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” 

Verse 38-39 definitely reminds me of myself at times, when things get chaotic and everything seems to be stacking up against me it's easy to get nervous and wonder when exactly God is planning on showing up. Yet, even when I become a bit of a mess God is always so gracious in the way that He takes care of everything all the while reassuring me and reminding me that He is good and faithful. I love the way that the New Revised Standard Version says, "Peace, be still." I am sure that God has said that to me many times and in many different situations. He is always so gracious and speaks so tenderly and shows me bits of his beauty in everything. If possible I am going to include pictures from a trip that my husband and I took with his dad’s side out to Tucson, Arizona to spend some time with Grandma Suzie. We had the opportunity to visit a Botanical/ Butterfly Garden, which was actually a few little gardens within the property and they were so beautiful and filled with life. Enjoy loved ones.