Sabbath Rest for The Cleft of the Rock

I am tired. I don't mean I need a nap. I mean I am weary to my bones. I have so much I want to tell you about what God is doing and working in my life and I simply cannot stop long enough to tell you. That in itself is a problem.

I realize that much of my problem comes from working through the holidays. I don't mean the work that every woman does through the holidays of cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, and entertaining, though I did some of that, as well. I also had deadlines and assignments that I worked on all through the holidays. I had one day that I let myself take completely "off" -- New Year's Day I piled in bed with books and Bibles and journals and the remote and stayed in my PJ's all day and loved it and grieved that it wasn't more.

I know for a fact that I am not the only woman on the planet that worked through the holidays, and I am very blessed that my work is as portable as my laptop. I've got a pretty good gig going here. However, the well of words and thoughts inside my head is dry for now. I have committed the critical error of forgetting that rest is as important to my work as the work.

I am shifting gears in life right now for a while and will have LOTS to tell you when I return. But until March 1, this blog will be on a little Sabbath rest. I'm sure I'll be wasting a little time on Facebook, and I might visit your blog, but these words need time to rejuvenate and refresh. Oh, and I haven't forgotten that I want to still talk about marriages. I haven't forgotten and Troy and I have been blessed to be invited into some hurting marriages and would be honored to pray with you wherever you are in yours.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

So, that's where I will be: with Jesus, finding rest for my soul. I will catch you back here in March and tell you all about it.


Good Things Out There

I've already posted this on Facebook, but I love this little guy so much.

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Marriage Monday: Invest in Your Marriage

Well, I'm back with apologies for my extended absence last week. I had some deadlines to meet before I left town with the youth of our church for Winterfest in Arlington. Very fun, very biblical, very challenging and encouraging. Knocked me for a loop for a little bit once I got back -- glad to have Monday to recover -- but so thankful that we went.

Today on Marriage Monday I will be speaking to all marriages -- in and out of crisis. Because investing in your marriage is something we all need to do. It can be a preventive or reparative measure, depending on where your marriage is, but we all need to invest in our marriage.

"Invest" can mean a whole list of things: time, money, emotion, energy, whatever. We seem to be short on all of those around here, so it would mean a lot to invest that toward a marriage.

Of course, "investing" can be as simple as a date night, or as extensive/ expensive as a week's vacation away, or an extended time in therapy (I'm not joking -- you may need either, and you can decide which you need the most). Therapy can be costly, but, again, it's an investment that is well worth your marriage.

Think about your television and all that goes to it: Netflix, cable, etc. You should spend at least as much time and money on your marriage as you do in front of the television and on the television, I think. You may even think so, too, and wish your spouse would do that. Well, if you have some leeway in your family's budget or money that is yours "for fun", make that your "date money" -- don't resent your spouse for not thinking of it, bless your spouse and think of it for them.

Dates or mini-vacations don't have to be expensive (TRUST me-- I am the queen of going cheap on this) the important thing is that you take the time to go be with your spouse. Swap babysitting with another couple and just go for ice cream if you have to, but have date time for you.

Beyond dates and time for you, I strongly encourage you to also spend time learning. I confess that I spent YEARS thinking that I had heard PLENTY on the subject of marriage (and, no doubt, I was blessed in my early years to hear a LOT on the subject) but God continues to humble me and reveal to me that there is always more to learn or a new way to think about an old adage.

There is no shortage of resources for learning about marriage: workshops, retreats, books, etc. I have several that I, personally, recommend (DISCLAIMER: some of these I recommend based on personal knowledge, and some of these I recommend based on the advice of others).

This week, in my very town, I will be attending Love and War with John and Stasi Eldredge, for instance. Tickets are AMAZINGLY reasonable and I hope that everyone in this area will be attending. If you aren't in this area, check here to see if the Eldredges will be coming to your area.

Lifeway also has a marriage retreat weekend in several cities throughout the country. I have not personally attended one, but they, too, seem VERY reasonably priced for the caliber of experts that are speaking -- with lunch included!

If none of this appeals to you, consider a simple book study. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas would be first on my list. Gather friends or a small group around you and go through the book together. Or, if you have the opportunity to go to an event where Gary Thomas is speaking, by all means go.

You may be just FIRED UP to go, yet thinking, "Oh, s/he would NEVER go for it... s/he would think it is stupid/ too expensive/ waste of time/ name a reason."

Don't assume your spouse's feelings before you have communicated your own feelings to your spouse.

If you have had conversations in the past that lead you to believe that this conversation may not go well, start by taking your desires before the Lord (Psalm 37:4). After you have prayed about it, tell your spouse: "This event is really important to me to understand you better. Do you have any interest in going?" If yes, then super and start making arrangements. If no, then drop it -- and you have to decide if going alone will build up more resentment for you or you will be able to lay that aside and benefit from the lessons there.

Don't waste time being hurt or resentful that your spouse won't take the lead in any of this. There may be any of a million reasons for that, and if you are a Christian, you are coming at marriage as serving your spouse. How can you serve your spouse? Serve your spouse by taking him/her on a date. Serve your spouse by learning all that you can about how to serve him/ her better. Serve your spouse by knowing and loving God the Father above all so that His love can spill over onto your spouse, also.

Spend your time, money, and energy on your marriage. Invest in your marriage. The dividends are so rewarding.


Good Things Out There

Things like this make me wish I was handy. How clever is this picture frame/ folding table?

Wow. This hammered me about pride. Just three questions. Where can I post them?

Train up a child...

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Finally Giving Daisy Chain Away!

Well, yesterday got completely away from me. I had a job interview -- my 2nd with that organization. It went okay, I guess. Aren't job interviews weird? I met with more people and that was good. I got, "Thank you. We'll be in touch." Whatever that means.

If I get the job (part-time) I'll tell you all about what it will be. If I don't, there isn't much point in bringing it up. Keeping a little quiet about the organization, hoping not to lose a job before I get it, you know?

So I am finally giving away my book. The suspense has been painful, I'm sure! :-)

Here is my name-drawer, showing you how grueling the task was (please ignore the Santas on top of the box of Christmas ornaments. We most certainly do NOT have Santas and Christmas ornaments out on January 13th):

Here is my bucket of names, that looks suspiciously like this bucket of names (it's a new picture, I promise, it just looks identical).

And finally, here is my name-drawer, also modeling the chosen name: (don't worry, Donna, I won't send you the germ-filled name with the book).
Congratulations to Donna!
If you didn't win THIS TIME-- never fear! I have more book give-aways coming. Oh, P.S. if you live in my town, you are welcome to borrow my copy of "Daisy Chain"!

In my Bible reading I am to Leviticus, which is NOT for the weak-stomached. Blech. I read through it praying, "Lord, I KNOW you kept this in here for a reason, and may I learn from it, but EW!"

However, I did get tickled at this passage. If I were an Israelite, this would happen to my house:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like mildew in my house.’ The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mildew, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean. After this the priest is to go in and inspect the house. He is to examine the mildew on the walls, and if it has greenish or reddish depressions that appear to be deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest shall go out the doorway of the house and close it up for seven days. On the seventh day the priest shall return to inspect the house. If the mildew has spread on the walls, he is to order that the contaminated stones be torn out and thrown into an unclean place outside the town. He must have all the inside walls of the house scraped and the material that is scraped off dumped into an unclean place outside the town.

Then they are to take other stones to replace these and take new clay and plaster the house.
“If the mildew reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mildew has spread in the house, it is a destructive mildew; the house is unclean.

It must be torn down—its stones, timbers and all the plaster—and taken out of the town to an unclean place.
“Anyone who goes into the house while it is closed up will be unclean till evening.

Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash his clothes. Leviticus 14:33-47

More book reviews, possible give-away at the end of this week! Happy Wednesday!


Marriage Monday: In Times of Crisis

First, let me tell you that I forgot to have the drawing for the book last night. I will take care of that this evening or this afternoon and post the winner tomorrow. My apologies for drawing this out. Good luck to all those who entered.

Now that I said I would address real marriage issues here each week, my question is, "where to begin"? Do I speak to marriages already in crisis and what they can do, or do I speak to all marriages about how to prevent getting in crisis?

This week I opted for going with speaking to marriages in crisis since they are, in fact, in crisis and may need the most immediate attention.

So. Where to begin? I honestly don't know, and I will throw one item out and let you think on that and ponder that before I go on next week.

One of the things that I did right in trying to put my marriage back together was to open up and seek counsel from godly friends who were committed to their own marriages (so I suspected they would be eager to see me put my marriage back together, as well).

I had more than one divorced woman offer to counsel with me and pray with me and I refused, to be honest. I was kind -- I thanked them for their offer and let them know if I needed them, I would let them know, but I knew that I didn't plan to talk to someone who wasn't where I wanted to end up. I have since talked to several of those women and know that they wouldn't have advised me to leave Troy, but I didn't know that at the time (our marriage crisis came when we were VERY new in town and I didn't know anyone or their story very well).

You will be able to find anyone to advise you to do ANYTHING in this day and age: change the locks before he gets home, throw his belongings on the lawn, you name it. Be selective about who you seek counsel from, but do seek counsel.

Please remember that scripture refers to Satan as a 'prowling lion' and lions seek to separate the prey from the herd. Once you have been isolated and separated, Satan has a much easier time convincing you of his lies.

Obviously, to seek counsel from other people, you have to confess to someone that your marriage is in trouble. That was HARD and very humbling for me, but I knew that it was necessary for my marriage to survive. Our marriage therapist (something else we did right that I will discuss later) advised me, "Pray that God reveal to you a friend that you can discuss this with." From that prayer, Coffee Group was born, but that's really a story for another day. Point is, I got way more than just one friend, and I got my marriage prayed over, prayed through, and finally restored.

If more of us would open up and lean on one or two friends and say, "We are really having a tough time right now -- would you be praying for us?" then, in time, the person you confide in would be able to say, "You know, Sarah and Troy went through that. Maybe they would be able to talk to you or pray with you." But no one will know your struggles -- or your victory!! -- if you don't open up to others.

If you are not in marriage crisis right now, there are two things you can do: 1)be praying for marriages that are. As I have started writing this series, more and more marriages have been revealed to me that need our prayers. Just pray. 2)Be a trustworthy friend. When someone needs to talk to you about their struggling marriage, do not immediately wonder who you can tell, but wonder how quickly you can get to your knees. Struggling marriages do not need the rumor mill to add fuel to the fire, they need listening ears and godly wisdom to be reminded of the covenant they have with each other.

May God bless your marriage!


Good Things Out There

A VERY good thing is that my friend, Mindy, is pregnant! YAY! and congratulations! and prayers for healthy baby and safe delivery, et. al. However, I was unaware that she and her husband had been trying for some time to get pregnant, and she pointed her readers to this awesome post about how silent the Bible seems to be about infertility. My own "struggle" with infertility was that Troy and I seemed to be able to get pregnant by washing our undies together while those around us cried out to God to give them a baby. I have learned much of what not to say from them. I love what Josh says: quit asking married couples: "So, when are y'all going to have kids" (and why do people start asking that at the wedding reception anyway...?) You have no idea what wounds it may re-open.

Soapbox put away.

If you know my brother -- shoot, even if you don't -- go check out his new website for his business. Not only does the website look great, but he is amazingly talented. Because not only will the music he and his wife play at your wedding sound really good, but he designed that website, as well. Yeah, he and I don't know which one of us was adopted from the gypsies, but we cannot be from the same parents.

WARNING: This is NOT good news, but it's good information to have, especially for those of you who rely on nutritional information from restaurants for your New Year's weight loss plan. Seems you may need to figure in much more "wiggle room" if you want some wiggle room in your jeans.

Again... not necessarily good news, unless you are planning on giving up sodas this year. This should definitely help. If you still want to drink sodas, do not read this.

This is yet another piece of video genius from my church. It's about a year and a half old, but it makes me laugh so much. Enjoy.

Don't forget!! You have until 6 p.m. CST Sunday to leave a comment here to enter to win a free book. And you want this book!

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What Say You?

In my opinion, (and, since this is my blog, my opinion is right, of course) Potato Soup is simply potato soup -- there is no cheese in potato soup! (to the phrase-ology of "there's no crying in baseball!") There may be grated cheese ATOP potato soup, as you might garnish a baked potato, but say it with me, "There is no cheese in potato soup!" I have learned to ask at restaurants: "What is your potato soup like: does it have cheese in it?" I generally get, "Oh, yes! Very cheesy!" Well, I don't want it!

Huge diversion: Colt McCoy. Awesome dude, no question. There was some discussion that he came out of Thursday's game somewhat hurt to save his shoulder for a potential NFL draft. I am all about Colt McCoy, the guy and think he lives up to all the college football AND nice guy hype he has been dealt. However, NFL draft material? I don't follow closely enough to really know, of course, but is he even big enough/ tall enough? Just don't know. This is yet another great blog about Colt and his family being the real deal. Colt's grandpa worked at a camp that I came to out at ACU when I was about 5th grade and Colt's uncle helped with it. All very nice and godly people.

Potato soup: cheesy or not?
Colt McCoy: NFL material or not?


Book Review: Daisy Chain

Last summer at SheSpeaks I had the opportunity to not only sit at the feet of Mary DeMuth in a class, but I had the opportunity to receive her novel "Daisy Chain" -- a signed copy! -- for agreeing to read it and tell you what I thought about it! Well, how hard is that?

Sadly, when I returned from the conference, our family turned around and left on vacation and by the time I got back the book had gotten put.... who knows where and forgotten. A few weeks ago I signed up to receive the next book in that series -- again, FOR FREE!!, if I would just tell you what I thought about it -- so I decided that I should know what I thought of the first one!

I dug it out for my trip to Louisiana at Christmas. Truth in advertising: when I went to Mary's class, I received another free copy that I gave to Ashley to read while I was also reading. She stayed ahead of me the whole time. She is so funny. Ashley is my child who, EVERY YEAR, tries to convince us that it is family tradition to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. It isn't, but it has now become tradition for her to try to convince us that it is.

Ashley couldn't stand that I didn't know all she did about what was going on in the book. "Where are you now? Can you believe that guy? I don't like this guy at all..." We were both enthralled and could hardly wait for the next page/ chapter to unfold.

"Daisy Chain" is set in Defiance, Texas. The main character is a 14 year old boy, Jed, who I now love dearly and want to adopt. Jed's best friend, Daisy, goes missing in the first few chapters of the book, leaving Jed with plenty of guilt and to face his father's abusive fury. There are so many quality characters in this book that you will find yourself in at least one of them. I love when a book -- or even TV show or movie, honestly -- is like real life in that it not only establishes one or two characters, but an entire community. That is what "Daisy Chain" did -- we got to know quite a bit of Defiance -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the lovely. Just like your town has.

Years ago, I asked my former Children's Literature teacher for book recommendations for Ashley -- specifically if there were any Christian books she would recommend. She shook her head sadly and said, "Like adult Christian fiction, most of it is just so bad..." And as I thought about what little I had tried to read, I realized she was so very, very right. Mary DeMuth is finally taking that label off of Christian fiction and giving us quality fiction to read with real characters struggling with real life and real Christianity.

I HIGHLY recommend Daisy Chain. It has some difficult subjects in it, but nothing I would describe as graphic or gruesome. As I said, I let my 14 year old daughter read it, who is an avid reader and has read many mature books. It gave us opportunity to discuss people who are real in their Christianity and those who are not and where we plan to land on that spectrum. I even called Denise and said, "You have to use this for book club!" Yeah, you need to read it!

As a matter of fact, as mentioned, I even have one to give away. Daisy Chain is set in stifling summer. Texas is currently frozen solid. So, think to summer. Tell me about what you would do this weekend if it were the end of July or beginning of August. OR tell me about your favorite summer shoes (there are several things in "Daisy Chain" that make me think about summertime and what it does to our feet). Each person that comments before Sunday, January 10 at 6 p.m. will be entered in the drawing for the book. (I'll use a fancy random drawing like so).


Fourteen Today

It was about noon on a bitterly cold Sunday. I remember standing at the sink, spotless except for the one glass I had been drinking out of. Troy went through the nesting phase, but I never did. The periodic pain in my belly and back were telling me that this rolling and active little girl was ready to make an appearance, but I wasn't ready. My feet were rooted to the floor of the kitchen, but Troy stood with the back door open, holding my bag, waving me out.

One tear rolled down my cheek, entirely too small to hold all the fear it carried. Yes, I was scared of what it would take to bring this child into the world, but I was scared of what to do with her once she got here.

Ashley is so different from me that it has been frustrating at times, but I've learned along with her. She was the child leading the way among the crowds at church, friends with young and old, all colors, but not desiring the spotlight at all. She cried any time anyone sang "Happy Birthday" to her (and for a while, cried any time any one sang "Happy Birthday" at all, for fear that they were singing it to her) and wouldn't sing in her pre-school program -- rather, cried. When she wanted to claim her Lord in baptism, she was ready, ready, READY -- but wanted NO ONE around.

She has a gift of compassion and love I envy. She wants to help everyone, she hurts to see anyone hurt. She is gentle and kind -- but DO NOT get in her way on the basketball court! She becomes a fierce competitor there and has no tolerance for teammates that don't work hard and carry their own weight.

She has been a gift from the Lord and the most gracious gift a new mother could have been given: a forgiving, loving blessing that turned into a lovely, precious young lady despite the many mistakes and flaws of her mother. I am so thankful for my Ashley and pray many blessings on her today, her fourteenth birthday!


Marriage Monday on Wednesday

Before Christmas when I told you all about my friend Dana losing her husband I mentioned that when he first became ill it was the year that Troy and I fought to put our marriage back together. I had MANY people message me privately about that statement. Some asking, "Okay, tell me how you did it..." and another person or two simply saying, "Good for you for fighting the fight."

One person that mentioned it to me said, "You should write about that on your blog...!" Please don't throw stones at the poor person -- they haven't known me long and don't know that many of you have heard ad nauseum about this very subject. But it did make me realize that not everyone has heard my story, and I wanted to be a little more intentional about using my blog to share some things I learned along the way.

So I would like to take some regular time this year to do just that -- share some things here on the blog that I regularly share with others privately. I don't mind people knowing where I've been, and I would LOVE for other people to be able to learn from where I've been. However, some of the road I've been on wasn't mine alone and I won't share every last detail here. But I can tell you enough to tell you that Troy and I looked each other in the eye and wondered if we would still be married the next month, much less the next year. And I can tell you that only God's grace and mercy could not only repair a marriage as broken as ours, but redeem it to the point that it is now.

*Truth in advertising disclaimer* We've had a GREAT last year, but for whatever reason the holidays were hard on our marriage. We're not in the best place EVER at this precise moment in time, but because of where we've been, I know that we have the tools to get back there. It's not all rainbows and lollipops in a redeemed marriage, but it has a different feel to it than a marriage that is just ... hanging on.

I had planned to start this today, then I listened to an AMAZING podcast yesterday on marriage that I would recommend to anyone -- in crisis or not. Even in my redeemed state, it led me to understand some things about my marriage that brought tears to my eyes and a repentant heart about what I have expected from Troy in the past.

Andy Stanley, of the Northpoint Church, has a podcast series on iTunes entitled 'iMarriage.' It's 3 lessons long. I've only heard the first one so far, but it was really good and I highly recommend it. (sorry, but I don't know how to link directly to things in iTunes: you can find it here under the 'Destinations' link)

What got my attention -- and cracked me up -- was that Stanley started out the lesson by saying that when a woman says to a man "We need to talk about our marriage..." (or tried to get him to come to that sermon) he hears it the same way she would hear him say "Have you heard that sound the car is making?"

She just wants to turn up the radio and ignore the sound the car is making! (Oh, yeah, he's been riding in the car with me!) She figures if the car is still running, why worry about what sound it's making? He figures if the marriage is still running, why talk about it? (Oh, yeah, he's been at our house, too!)

Well, I am living proof that if you turn up the radio too long on your car, the back wheels will fall slap off (didn't happen, but it was on its way according to my mechanic -- but I still wanted to turn up the radio). And if you leave a marriage be without checking on it, the wheels of your marriage will fall slap off (did happen -- awful, painful, can't even tell you...) and that is much harder to recover from. You can trade in your car, and some people try to trade in a marriage, but once the wheels fall off either one, trade-in value is greatly decreased.

This year I will tell you some of the things I did right to get my marriage back together, and I will share with you a few of the 3 million things I did wrong to get me in the spot where it needed to be put back together. Until I get to more practical topics, please just know that you aren't the only person who has ever felt lonely in a marriage, or wondered if you married the wrong person, or wondered if it was even worth sticking together. Trust me on this: it is absolutely, completely 100% worth it. I will explain why later.

Know that I am praying for marriages -- even if you don't comment, even if I don't know your name. I am praying for marriages that are hurting, and even marriages that are simply ... there. God can redeem those marriages and use them for Him.

Today I am posting Marriage Monday on Wednesday, joining Sheila Gregoire for Wifey Wednesday. She has some really down-to-earth great topics, starting with sex today!


Good Things Out There

Okay, y'all, this is everything I have been longing to say. Now, I would have said it nicer, but not nearly as funny. If some words trip you up on spelling, go check this out. Hilarious, and very, very necessary.

Roxanne posted one of my favorite musicians and songs. Did you know that we had a blue moon on New Year's Eve?

Trey is a consistent warrior for godly marriages. He has some great guidelines for husbands, and in turn great guidelines for wives.

I can't embed my favorite video, but you need to go see it. Twelve years ago today my friends Brian and Dana got married. One month ago today Brian took his last breath on this earth. Here is a video of Dana's very eloquent talk at Brian's funeral. It's about 10 minutes long, but worth your time.

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Happy New Year!

I have successfully spent this day doing basically nothing and loved every second of it. I started my day with Bibles and journals and notebooks and digressed into blog reading, internet perusing, and TV flipping. Did you know that you can carve abs in bed? Home shopping network says you can... Troy said not to consider it, but I thought about it.

I really hoped my day of doing nothing would rest me up and lead me to really want to get busy tomorrow -- putting away Christmas, organizing, decluttering, what have you. Not so much. I would like another day or seven of doing nothing.

I have just been completely out of sorts this holiday season. Don't know exactly what it is, but I wasn't ready for Christmas, I don't feel as rested as I usually do coming out of the holidays, therefore I am not very ready to greet 2010 (though I am almost 22 hours into it) and be all exuberant about plans or goals about it.

I've been reading writing blogs that tell me how or why I need to be making goals for my writing. And I haven't yet. And I know that to aim at nothing you'll hit it every time, right? But I am just without enough gumption to make a year-long goal for my writing. Maybe I will start with monthly goals and see how that works.

So, I have no plans, dreams, or goals for the whole of 2010 yet. Other than to have all of my Christmas decorations put away by the end of the weekend. And a pedicure with my daughter for her birthday sometime next week. Other than that, I'm aimless.

So... speak to me: what are your goals/ hopes/ dreams? I've heard some good ones on Facebook.
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