One Time Blind!

Had a great weekend this weekend speaking for the ladies of the Georgetown church. What a precious group of women. As usual, I'm sure I learned more than anyone there. What a blessing to be able to attend retreats on a regular basis! Besides the blessing of all of that, we saw this intriguing sight on the return trip:
If you can't fully make it out, that would be a toilet, with some sort of plant growing out of it, two beer bottles on the back of the seat, two flamingoes flanking the toilet, and I only got one of the family of wooden cut out skunks leading up to the toilet. If you look through the bushes back by the porch, you can almost make out that the house was painted black and white, like a prison uniform, almost (only on 3 sides -- for maximum curb appeal -- they didn't bother with the back wall. Do not ask how I know). You cannot see this stuff just anywhere.

I am still recovering, and working on an article due today. I returned just in time to go to a make-up soccer game for Riley postponed from last week's monsoonal rains while Ashley and I were in San Angelo for volleyball. So glad to see my boy growing and working so hard out there. He is really doing well and playing hard, and I was thankful I got to see him play since I missed a game yesterday.
While at the retreat, we saw several videos from the drama group, onetimeblind. I was VERY impressed and would love to share one of the things that really struck me:


Traveling Today

Say a prayer or six for all of us this weekend.

Coffee Group is headed to Central Texas, to share God's Amazing Freedom with the ladies of Georgetown. So, pray for our travels, pray for our talks, pray for the ladies there.

Pray for my family. I truly get weepy thinking of how grateful I am for Troy to take on all that he does for me to be able to do what I do. He knows what a blessing a weekend like this is to me, yet how labor intensive it is the week prior and how exhausted I am on my return. And he is precious and patient with it all, and is Dad-extraordinaire through it all. I'm just so thankful.

So pray for the Lord to bless them -- all is working out and Ashley will be with a friend most of the weekend. I told Riley that he and dad got to have 'man-weekend', so they could burp and scratch. He approved.

Thanks for the prayers. Mission report on Monday. Maybe. :-)


Celebrating All of It!

Today's the Day!

I turn 40!
Remember, last year I had a list of 39 things I had learned? I'm sure I've learned at least one more this year. Perhaps it's just to be reminded again of how blessed I am.

Today I will get up early, spend time with my Lord, and drive carpool.

I will go to the gym and workout with friends. We are uber-rebels because we talk in class.

I will be a PTA mom at lunch time and help out with a rewards system for the 8th graders, catching a glimpse of Ashley as she shuffles by.

This evening I am free of volleyball, but there is an athletics meeting, followed by Open House to meet all of the kids' teachers.

Somehow in there we have to fit in a soccer practice.

I think at some point today, another A Better View podcast will be posted.

Tomorrow, I leave with Coffee Group to go talk to women in central Texas about Amazing Freedom in Christ.

This may sound horrendous to you. It's pretty much all I have ever wanted to do in life: be a mom and wife, and help other women see Jesus in their every day. I simply can't believe that God picked me to live this life.
I wish someone had told me how many blessings come with 40. I think I would have gotten here sooner. The only thing that's missing from my day is a date with my man. We will have to schedule one for... 2012 looks good... :-)

If you have a little time on your hands today and want to know things about me and see pictures of me that only a lifelong friend can muster up, you've gotta check out Roxanne's post commemorating this day. Bless.


Where We Are

So, yesterday was a post I wrote 6 months ago, from the pit of fear. Palm-sweating, freak-out fear.

Where are we now? Overall, our financial statements look basically the same. But I am no longer crippled by fear.

Here's the deal (oh, stars, I hear God calling me to re-write a talk I've been working on for 4 weeks): God has set me free from that fear by reminding me of what He can do.

Long story about how it worked out, but we now have a new-to-us vehicle that runs every day, not just most days, and no car payment. God provided.

I did not get that job. Turns out someone I have come to REALLY enjoy that is new in town has that job. I'm so glad she does. Yet our family continues to eat. God has provided.

Remember that my husband was in a motorcycle accident, yet miraculously unscathed? Between the insurance money from that, some extra work I did in the spring, and a bonus for him at work, we paid cash for a frugal little vacation this summer that we desperately needed, and now have a hair more cushion in our emergency fund. God has provided.

So here we are. I have a very little freelance work coming in, and things are starting to pick up. Other things are going on to remind me that God is and has been faithful through it all. Things are still tight, yet God continues to provide.

One of the reasons I am happy to recount this is akin to Deuteronomy 11: 18,19

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

God reminded the Israelites to recount -- again and again -- what He had done for them so that they would always remember His faithful providence. He didn't need to them to do that for HIM -- God knew all He had done for the Israelites. The Israelites needed to be reminded so that they would always be reminded. Yet they forgot again and again. And i will forget again and again. May I never forget.

I also have been reminded on so many fronts, how amazingly blessed I truly am, not only financially. Of course, there was the motorcycle accident, as mentioned, that truly should have claimed my husband's life. I have worked and been around people and children who simply don't have what I do. Lately I have almost felt suffocated with the STUFF of my home, so choked am I with clutter that this family doesn't need. I truly am considering moving into a much smaller house. That would save us two-fold: smaller mortgage, less room for clutter and junk we don't need.

God hasn't done much to change my situation, but he has delivered me from the fear, time and again. He has given us plenty, time and again. Lately I have been mindful of a Proverb so difficult to pray:

“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9

Thank you, Lord, for providing my family with just enough, and for reminding me of your unfailing providence.


Do Not Fear

It's the Sunday after spring break.

Nope, don't check your calendar (or think that AISD can't do seasons). I'm writing this the Sunday after spring break, scheduling it to post exactly six months after I wrote it. I THINK the reason will be clear why I did such a crazy thing later.

I did share this post -- about Do Not Fear verses with you, saying it was for a later project. This is that project. I also recently tried to disspell the idea that I have it all together, and this should go a long way to that end!

Here's the deal.

I'm terrified.

All the time.

I'm very frightened.

Not one hour goes by that my fear doesn't seize me -- by the throat, stomach, or heart.

I give it to God only to take it right back.

What in heaven's name could possibly create such fear in me?

Well, money of course.

About this time last year (keeping in mind I'm writing this in March) I decided to walk away from a teaching job to try my hand at this writing business. Oh, I had grand plans and have made a little headway, but financially we are a bit of a mess.

Who would have had any idea the stock market would shrivel to 1/3 while unemployment climbs? Timing has never been my strong suit, and this has certainly been no exception.

Thankfully, at this moment, other than our mortgage, we have no debt. And we had a comfortable emergency fund built up that has been bled almost dry with various and sundry expenses.

We do own our vehicles, but the one I drive has needed repair after repair after repair. Our emergency fund is currently one major repair away from being done. Then I look at what else around our house is on the verge of breaking. What if the fence finally falls all the way over the same day the car completely dies? Our hot water heater has been on borrowed time since we moved in 7 years ago and we're very proud of the 17 years of service our washing machine has given us...

These are the things that roll around my head. It's the middle of the month. I look in my wallet and cannot imagine how the piddly few dollars in there will get us through. Then I get notice: "Youth group needs $10 on Wednesday!" "Camp deposits due!" "Trip money is due!" It's EVERYWHERE and I know it's only going to get worse as the end of school gets closer. I TRY not to bark at the people responsible for collecting that money, but it's CONSTANT.

And because you're reading this wondering, "Why didn't I know this at the time?" is one of the reasons we all think each other has it all together. The main reason I don't post this on my blog right now is because I feel called to be CONFESSIONAL about my fears and how I'm allowing them to control me -- and many of you would feel called to ACT and HELP. I am not asking for help -- not because I'm that prideful. If/ when the final shoe drops and we're totally out of repair money and out of car, we will have to seek help. I don't feel like God is calling me to humble myself to seek help in this situation.

I believe that God is calling me to trust in Him.

Believe me, my first instinct is to ask everyone I know to pray for me. But how much am I praying? My first instinct is to work harder, move faster, but I believe God is calling me to listen to Him.

Oh, 'lest you think that I believe God is calling me to sit in lotus prayer pose waiting for money to fall from the sky -- I have submitted an application to a job that I think I would enjoy. It's even a 40 hour/ week/ 50 weeks/ year job. NEVER had one of those. So I'm waiting to see where that goes -- and having a very hard time trusting. Remember that unemployment rate? Yeah, evidently I'm not exactly "one in a million", but I'm at least "one in a dozen" applying for this job.

Which is another reason I wanted to have this post six months after I wrote it. SOMETHING will have happened with our finances by now. We may have hit rock bottom and be in the process of losing our home. I may have gotten that job and worked all the way through summer. Maybe I signed a book deal this summer. Maybe Troy finally pulled all of his hair out from listening to me. Whatever. My life will be different. Better or worse, it will be where God takes us.

So I am going now to claim those verses. That is my first course of action. I want to look for other jobs -- writing and otherwise -- and many other things, but first and foremost I must claim that One who loves me more than I can ever understand has it totally in control.

And... I think frequently of my friend Donna who says, "If you have problems that money can solve, then you don't really have problems." In my heart I know that -- yet I panic.

Where we are, 6 months later, tomorrow...


Good Things Out There

LOTS of Good Things Out There, and I'm finally stopping long enough to round them back up. I think I finally have a system. Kind of.

Julie set up a tutorial (of sorts -- more of a 'point us to others' tutorials') for all kinds of bloggy goodness that I want to know how to do. Now I need a bootleg copy of Photoshop for this one project. Oh, I KID, internet police!

Deana wrote this wonderful blog post about community in Christ. If you don't understand why people 'go to church' or if you can 'be a Christian and not go to church' -- you may want to read this. Very well said, Deana.

I have, in a very short amount of time, grown to love and cherish each of the other 3 individuals working on the 'A Better View' podcast. I am blessed and challenged by each of them and their way of thinking and living. One of my co-hosts, Amanda, wrote an article that explained how her perspective toward one person from the Bible changed when she found herself walking the same road. Read Amanda's heart-wrenching article here.

Many of you know that last year, Steven Curtis Chapman faced a parent's unthinkable horror when his little girl died. Like the amazing artist he is, he has poured out his grief, longings, and questions into a beautiful song.

If you would like to add your 'Good Thing' button to your blog, copy the code into an 'HTML' box on your sidebar:


Wake the Kids, Phone the Numbers

Mark Your Calendars, Friends!

The members of A Better View have been asked to join a video chat show Monday morning, 8:30 CST. If you are around and available, PLEASE pop over and join us here, at Madre Minutes on, Monday morning. If nothing else, you will FINALLY get to SEE the 3 'podcast divas' (is that what we settled on?) that yak your ear off on A Better View each week.

Meet you there!


I shall henceforth simply refer to the college kids as 'enthusiastic drivers'. Love it.
And the Smileys? It seems most of us are left-to-right smilers, as well it should be. Jana, join us here in this millenium. We will all smile with you -- with our faces AND our keyboards. Nathaniel, THANK YOU for that link -- I had tried those Emojicons before, but couldn't find the current 'secret code'. How fun are those??? Too bad for you, non iPhone users... :-)

I believe I have decided that I am allergic to the ACU library. Sorry I didn't realize this while I was in college -- it would have provided me with all manner of excuses. The last two Wednesdays I have spent 1.5 to 2 hours in there working on a project, then spent the rest of Wednesday, and most of Thursday convinced I was sick with a cold. Now I'm guessing it's some form of book allergy. Seriously. What will I think of next?

I am doing many different little things that needed to be done -- lots of odds and ends that needed to be wrapped up. Coffee Group is traveling next week, so I am finishing up my talk. Helping Troy with a website for his business. Link when we get the website functional.

While you are helping with the mundane thoughts of this world, the folks over at A Better View need your help. As you may/may not know, we are doing a weekly podcast. A round-table type discussion with 3 women, kept on track (and professionally edited) by our producer, Steve. So Steve goes to introduce us, and always stumbles over... "Here are the... hosts? stars? of our show?" What are we? Talk goddesses?

What does one call the 3 women who sit and yak into their computers wondering if anyone other than the dog in the next room can hear it? Podcast divas? Give it your best shot. Would love a family-friendly name for us!


Can You Tell?

Um, I'm just now figuring out this 'back to school' business. Can you tell?

And of course, there's the school week of carpool which means go to school at 8 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. (athletics). Then there's the school week of non-carpool which means only going to school at 3:30 p.m. I drive a lot.

So, in trying not to drive TOO much, on days that I 'leave the house anyway' (gym, Meals on Wheels, other appointments) I pretty much take my laptop, stay where I am, and don't come home until I've done my 3:30 school run. So I'm still figuring out when blogging fits in there. And the grocery store. Sweeping the floors just DON'T fit in there. Laundry I'm actually getting done. It's a work in progress, as you can tell.

I spend much of my time on the ACU campus, because 2 of my 'already out' days take me there. A college campus is so interesting. Here is what I am learning:
** If I lived over here, I would not like college students nearly as much as I do, primarily because of their driving habits.
** Yes, I am remembering that I used to be one and used to drive just like that. It still annoys me.
** They all look 12.
** If you don't have a pair of gladiator-type sandals, you are SO. OUT.
** I do not have a pair of gladiator sandals. I have cute sandals with bows.
** ACU could easily freeze tuition prices for the next 10 years if they didn't strive to refrigerate the interior of buildings in August. I've seen the professors. They will really survive if they sweat off a few pounds. And those that don't have a few pounds to sweat off? Are freezing, too.
** Texting and walking is just as dangerous as texting and driving. Watch. Where. You. Are. Going. People.

So, with those deep thoughts to launch you on this abbreviated week, I leave you with one ponderous thought: which direction do you emoticon? Facebook has opened up a whole new world of emoticons to me. First I have to be tolerant of my right-wing and left-wing political friends, then I have to figure out if people are smiling or frowning when they (:

So, let's take a poll. Make a smiley for me. Do you include a nose? Just your average oh, hey, I'm smiling.

Here is mine: :-) Nose and all. And I am right-handed. Does that make a difference?

Show me a smiley!


Social Media, Sarah's Thoughts

First, let me say that because I implicitly trust my marketing twin, Donny, I reduced the size of my video yesterday. He said that it was too big for the column and driving him crazy. He's a website guy -- I trust him. However, when I pulled it up on Safari, it looked muy bueno over here. But, again, because I trust Donny, I did precisely what he said and now it is a tiny little box on my Safari, but I hope it fits on his computer... :-)

P.S. (Donny, why are you Twin #2? Did you lose an arm wrestling match with Randy? Inquiring minds...)

So, yeah. Social media. It's everywhere. And if you want to: start a ministry, sell a book, launch an idea, or simply take a poll of people, you had better get on board and be on social media, too. And I am 'cause I want to do most of these things -- usually all on the same day, then I get overwhelmed and need a nap, but you get the idea.

Granted, using these things effectively (along with your time) requires discipline, and that's where the hard part comes in. It is SOOOoooooo easy to get on facebook, start chatting or looking at pictures, and before you know it, you are looking at 76 pictures of someone's vacation -- that isn't even your facebook friend and you don't even know anybody in the pictures. Oh, yes, I've done that too many times to count.

It is after some of those time-squandering moments that I want to dismantle all accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and become a monk (can women be monks?) to the technology world. I'm sure the twitching would subside in time... Throwing the baby out with the bath water, if you will.

It was in this 'going to be a technology monk' frame of mind recently that I decided to take a deep breath, step back, and evaluate social media in my life. How has it impacted my life recently and/ or have I impacted anyone else's life using social media? So... besides simply telling you how much I love watching my kids play sports or that I'm going to go workout, here are some ways social media has impacted/ affected my life recently:

** Introduced me to a group of people that I am now starting a ministry with.

** Allows me to peek into my children's lives and hear them interact with their friends.

** Given me the support of fellow writers and speakers I met at She Speaks.

** Got my husband within a hair's breadth of losing his job (long story, not blog fodder).

** Same situation, showed my husband folks who were willing to support him with or without a job.

** Let me reach out to a young lady discussing ending her life. Don't THINK she was serious, but I wasn't going to take the chance. Would you?

** Challenges me to listen to others' point of view instead of shouting my own.

** Was able to see my daughter reach out to a teammate whose facebook status was: "I think I need to be going to church." Guess who came with us to church last Sunday?

** Gave me help on an article.

** Lets me know about good businesses in town -- and bad.

... and on and on. After reading Crazy Love, I have really tried to think 'eternally minded' and wondered if facebook and Twitter fit in there. If you read through that list, you can see that they do. However, the temptation is to be the pharisee (and I certainly can see how my happy little list makes me look like one) and spend way more time updating your status about gooey Jesus love than actually getting out and living messy Jesus love.

So, in short, (don't people always say 'in short' when it's waaaaay too late to make it short?? :-) social media is like the rest of the world: there are pros and cons, good and bad, and God can use it all. I'm trying to look for the eternity opportunities on social media.

One person that has inspired me is John Dobbs. I know he seeks out ways to find local people on Twitter and Facebook so that he can connect with them and find out their needs -- prayer needs, physical needs, whatever. However they may need that messy Jesus love.

So, what about you? Do you Tweet? Are you on facebook? Do you think it's useless and time-wasting? Or a new way to minister? Or a new way to get in trouble? What do you think?


Social Media Revolution

I know many of you have already seen this video, but it is really true about the way our culture is shifting in the way we communicate. We are no longer forced to buy what Hollywood and advertisers say we MUST buy, we are able to listen to what our friends are buying based on social media. For instance, anyone in Abilene seen Junk-It mentioned on Facebook recently? I saw 4 different people RAVE about it in a week -- and each time, someone made a comment and ask for directions.

Tomorrow I have more thoughts (I KNOW! Two thoughts in the same week! Get OUT!) about social media and what it means to me, personally and my ministry and witness.

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