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Seashells by the Seashore

When I was a kid my mom would get up extra early while we were on vacation. It would baffle this kid who would sleep until she was dragged out of bed screaming. She would tell me about her seashell hunting early, before others were able to snatch the all up. She even asked me each year if I would join her. 

Slowly over the years I have found myself collecting them each time we vacation. Getting a handful as I walk in the mornings, another handful as I play in the water with my nephews. I’ve got a rather large quantity now that I sit out each summer in a vase. 

Seashell picking is a rather unique and very individualized affair as each person chooses often a particular type or color, some seeking whole shells in their full form. I watched as my youngest nephew picked them the other night while we were out for a walk on the beach. He was picking based solely on what his perspective granted him in defining beauty. He would get so excited finding one that was “perfect” in his mind. He had two pocketfuls of the perfect shells to bring back by the time we were done. 

As I have found shells, I am realizing I gravitate toward the broken, the imperfect and the strewn about. I like the ones with rough edges and are mostly just pieces of a bigger shell long destroyed by the waves, people, things… Those pieces have survived, they’ve born out their duty and now lay on the sands of a beach on display. Showing the world they have arrived at a destination, beaten up and broken but still present. They’ve learned to grow ridges to protect what is carried inside, to weather the conditions of their environment and still be a piece of beauty to behold. 

The shells tell a story that I find myself drawn to as they bring hope and joy that even in the sea, you can emerge in pieces but at your landing spot. For someone to discover, to find beauty in, to see hope, and to bring joy. That someone is out there early today on the hunt specifically for you and what you have to bring to their life. Someone is seeking you for the perfectness that you are to them, so they can carry you close and carry you home. There’s even someone who is looking for you today that sees the broken state, the pieces this life has cast you into and desires your story and what you bring to this life. 

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The No H Summer

For a very long time there has been a very real stigma attached to singles. We have to have someone in order to enjoy life. You have to have someone in order to own a home, to choose a life of fulfillment, to be content. It’s about the outward presence of another in order to be living life. 

I have come to realize in the last year to find contentment is to be joyful in spite of circumstance, to choose a perspective that is not my own but one in which God colors my life. It’s to surround yourself with women and men who are the picture of life and love. It’s to fall in love with a contented life that isn’t bound by a boyfriend or spouse. It’s loving fully this glory which is set before me, walking confidently and with dignity through it in every moment. 

As I referred to in a post just days ago, a life isn’t defined by a marital status. I do believe you must be an example though for others, in coming out of something you have endured with heartache and hurt, in joy and triumph. So this summer I am choosing the theme of the #noHsummer for my life.  (My name is also spelled without an h and something I throughout my days as well)  

Follow along this summer on my social media and right here on the blog as I share the adventures of being a no H Sara that has no H (husband) and what life looks like in that. What joy and fun and adventure awaits if we stop waiting for Him to send us someone and instead we live this life He has gifted us with abandon. 

I Wonder

DSCN2329I love photography. I am not that great at it, but I absolutely love taking photos. Spending hours looking through them, finding ones that just grab at what my heart was saying in a moment. Sometimes you will catch me, if you are with me, staring up at angles or tree branches. It’s because I find myself in constant awe of the beauty of life.

Truly.

Like the photo above, I sat in a courtyard a few weeks ago just staring at the corner of this mansion in awe of the beauty of the day. Of the hands that made it, and the minds which were inspired to create it. It’s set against the contrast of a beautiful sky which the Maker swept His hand across. This photo, of what some would call a simple awning of a building, capture the awe of wonder for me.

DSCN2355“We get so preoccupied with ourselves, the words we speak, the plans and projects we conceive that we become immune to the glory of creation.”-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

DSCN2446That captures so eloquently what I believe we are losing in life. We are losing wonder. What it means to wonder. What it means to be in awe. Even in our most based state, we lose it in ourselves because we are living into our flesh. It’s a preoccupation that is as old as the fall. It’s something we have to work against daily.

It is choosing to see the weeds and know they are good too. Knowing they serve as a reminder to us of a life lived in preoccupation, a life that needs to slow and be in wonder of Him more. It’s choosing awe in the face of mundane. It’s seeing wonder despite our schedules, our busyness. It’s pausing even for a moment to appreciate His work.

DSCN2401It’s asking Him for more wonder, and knowing He gives it freely.

An Extrovert Goes to Small Group

I am an extrovert by nature. I like to talk and engage people. I really like hearing other people’s stories, their lives…I think about that when I am in a group often. How I can facilitate others shining or sharing. How can I care about them deeper and encourage them further?

You wouldn’t know it though as often I am making dumb jokes or a fool of myself. But that’s who I am, and how I choose to welcome others into my life in order to be in their lives.

Six months ago I stepped out to get involved in a small group community at the church I am now regular attending. For someone who is single (because that’s the perspective I am an expert at, ;)) it’s a scary thing to venture out into a new small group. Navigating new people and new group dynamics is often incredibly nerve-wracking, even for an extrovert like me.

Here I sit months later, the morning after our last get together before summer break, thinking how much these women are such integral pieces of my life, and my week. They have prayed during one of the hardest springs of my life. We have learned from one another, and I have grown so much thanks to their insight and sharing. I didn’t really realize until I was making the short drive home from our dinner last night that these women are some of the most amazing, talented and Christ-like women I have ever met…and I can call them friends now.

small-group-BI think back to going my first night, worrying how things would go, if I would be welcomed into an already established group, and seeking deeper engagement in the Word with women in similar circumstances of life. God has a way of providing if we are but faithful to step out. You’d think after leading a small group while I was in Knoxville that I would know that already, but He surprises over and over again, and I love that about Him.

This spring has shown me just exactly why doing life in the context of a small group (life group/community group/whatever you call it now) is so vital to our relationship with Him. He desires community for us to live in, to work in, to play in, and to grow in. The weeks I had to miss because of an appointment or illness, I knew I’d be missing these godly women sharing their hearts and what He’s speaking to them on…and I knew for me, I’d be missing this community He so graciously brought me.

As we broke for summer last night, it felt bittersweet as we have one woman getting married this summer (yay!!!) and another preparing for a two-year mission journey in Germany (yay!!!). Life will happen to all of us this summer, adventures await, new opportunities and deeper relationships. I am excited to see how He works in us this summer, and know that we are a group text away from getting together for movie nights or burritos.

This community. These women. Our God.

It’s amazing what He will do for extroverted introverts and introverted extroverts alike when we are faithful to engage in life outside of ourselves. Outside of what we know and what we do. How He will use us and others in such a dynamic way that when we turn around, we aren’t sure how we ever lived fully without this in our lives.

This extrovert today is thankful she went to the Christmas party five months ago and chose to be intentional about community. I encourage you to do the same.

More Than

I make God rather small the majority of the time.

I believe my God doesn’t want to hear about my worries and troubles. He has far bigger things to concern Himself with across the globe. They are often petty and ridiculous, so I save Him the trouble of even listening.

Because let’s be honest, conflict with a friend or woes of single life pale in comparison to the conflicts in Iraq. To the earthquake in Nepal. To those suffering and grieving in life. I feel like I am doing Him a favor by not pestering Him with my heart’s cries. And I figured He appreciates me for that.

That right there is where I, and I think many of us, get it all wrong. I am taking my perceptions of God, with my limited understanding and my own experiences of life, and placing them on Him as characteristics and ability to time manage. He’s the omnipotent, omnipresent Abba Father.

He’s Daddy.

The God who wants to hear everything, who knows our inmost being and still wants to hear from us. He calls us to abide in Him, and what happens when you abide? You continue without fading or being lost. You are fully in Him, casting it all upon Him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6,7

That means I have to humble my opinions, experiences and thoughts. I have to put those down and thinking God doesn’t care about my anxieties because they don’t seem important in the grand scheme. Because He is more than I think He is. He is more thanĀ  my limited understanding as a human, He is more than words can describe. He is so much more than anything I have ever experience.

So today I come boldly before that throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) to talk with Him. To share, and to listen. To be in Him, without fading or being lost. Because I want to share with Him what is weighing on me, as well as the joys. I want to cast of this thought that I can handle things up to this point when He wants it all.

Take a moment today to unburden your heart, even the small things, the things which you may deem petty or minor. Let Him take on the anxieties and cares of your heart. I am learning, ever so slowly, that He wants to hear from His child. He wants to be with me and have me trust Him fully to share every thing about my life, my mind and my heart. It’s not about Him already knowing, it’s about me faithfully trusting He is more than.


This song from Danny Gokey was what got my heart and mind pushing beyond the boundaries of limited thinking to see Him as more than.

Reinventing Definitions

In sixth grade I was placed in the honors program at my school. They called us gifted, but I believe it was more along the lines of showing boredom in the classroom so they wanted to push us harder. I appreciate that looking back as it ignited within me a deeper longing to discover more about who I was as a person.

One part of the honors curriculum was preparing to take the PSAT and learning 500 words and their definitions. These were SAT-level words which we had to know multiple definitions for, their correct spelling as well as their use in language. It was an arduous task but one that I thrived in completing. It’s in my genes, having a mother who transcribed for doctors for more than 45 years. I was fascinated with meanings and usages of words.

I learned through that process one word can have an array of meanings, especially in context and usage. For many of us we try to make one word define us entirely, putting us in a box or living into one conformed meaning. In reality our lives, who we are and what we are created to be requires multiple words that have complex definitions and applications.

I used to let the term SINGLE put me in a box. I used to let it define me by how others interpreted it, wrote on it, used it and applied it. Quickly I was living their definition of SINGLE and not my own. I let it tell me that being SINGLE meant I was constantly kept from enjoying life. That I was to commit to long hours at my job. That I was to pine away and be okay with missing out on things because of my marital status.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-17-at-9.38.14-PM-576x284My marital status does not define me. Not solely. It is in fact way down on the descriptors of who I am, what I am, the person I am living into and desire to be. There’s been a dramatic shift in my perceptions and my living when I stopped allowing others define me (in so many ways beyond just the one I am touching on here). Most importantly I realized that SINGLE isn’t a means of defiance on relationships, nor is it a stigma to be attached to a person, nor is it a binding agent segregating a population of individuals to be “lesser than” others who are not SINGLE.

For me when I now mark SINGLE in boxes the definition is more in tune with the verb form use of the word for me: choosing someone from a group for special treatment. It is not a definition of me. Of the person I am. It is an action. Because for me, and what I hope is true for you too, is that we stop being defined and start defining. We put action to our lives, to our words, to our hearts. We reinvent the definitions that have locked us in, kept us out, or shamed us into a box.

May we start living out what we desire for our lives, what we were created to be…only then can we decide what words define us.