Archives for December 2016

Live Given {2017 One Word} {A Giveaway!}

When the new year approaches, most of us can’t help ourselves: we reflect on what has been and look forward to what might be. Me included. I love setting up my planner and writing in a new journal. 

But, this year’s been different. Little did I know, God began moving me toward the new year in August…

I am driving as my friend checks her email…

“I’ve not been reading Ann Voskamp’s blog lately, but listen to the one I just opened,” she says.

The summer I turned 40 — I felt a whole new kind of broken. Turns out what can happen when you’re halfway through your life, you wonder if you’ve found a truly meaningful way through your life?

What can happen is you would give nearly everything for more time just to get more right, less wrong. You can change — change into someone who’s begun embracing a love so large it broke her heart all over again in a thousand aching places, a woman who surprises you by longing to meet the world’s suffering with her own, because she knows that wounds can heal wounds.  

You can find out your heart is exploding and love and suffering are kin in ways we may not want to admit.

Honestly, what happened is — I didn’t quite know the way to put all these broken pieces back into place. And maybe that was the point?

Maybe — maybe instead of trying to put all the broken pieces of your life together again — maybe there’s deeper peace in reaching out to give those broken pieces away?

That’s what I had done. Instead of trying to put the pieces of my brokenness back together again, I began to give the pieces of my broken heart away though I didn’t know how, and I didn’t often want to even—didn’t even know what it truly meant. And I got it all wrong—in countless ways.

As I sat in the summer of age 40, these were my questions too. I’d like more time to get less wrong and more right. I mourn the relationships left in shambles. And in the midst of this, I find myself feeling just Ann described: completely broken for this world, longing to meet the world’s suffering with my own.

I wouldn’t read Ann’s book until October, but these words lingered…the question she asks became the one I ask:

What do you do with this one broken heart? This one broken life?

Because I did NOT want another program, diet plan, or Bible study. Not another self-help, how-to-get-better book. Instead of feeling anxious about what to do or follow next, I wanted peace…Jesus.

It sounds so simple. If I were reading this, I might say, “Oh goodness, the Jesus card.” {Eye roll.}

But, what God began in my heart with an August blog post, He continued in so many ways. A retreat in August when God spoke Isaiah 58 to me. When He showed me that silence and Sabbath are gifts. A prayer time in Honduras when a missionary humbly shared the futility of striving and list making and worrying. Want more Jesus, she said. Just follow after Him; He takes care of the rest.

And then the book from the blog post arrives on my doorstep in early October: The Broken Way. Page after page – highlighted, underlined, noted, and cross referenced with His word. A message resonating so deeply in my heart that I can barely speak of it…

For God so loves that He gave…Is there any word more power than giving? Thanksgiving. Forgiving. Care-giving. Life-giving. Everything that matters in living comes down to giving. (p. 67)

Our loves are formed by our daily habits. Our loves are formed by our daily liturgies. We are made into what we make habits…The self is ultimately never really sacrificed in giving, but our real self is ultimately found. In the sacrificial giving of ourselves, we give ourselves back our real selves, the self we were made to be – blessed to bless, given to givenness, loved to love…

Jesus said, ‘Whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Jesus risked himself on me. How can I not risk my life on you? You may not love me back. You may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, and drive the shards into my soul – but this is not the part that matters…What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone…

I am what I love and I will love like Jesus, because of Jesus, through the strength of Jesus. I will love when I’m not loved back. I will love when I’m hurt and disappointed and betrayed and inconvenienced and rejected. I simply will love, no expectations, no conditions, no demands. Love is not always agreement with someone, but it always sacrifice for someone…

Love defies logic and keeps on loving when it makes no sense because that is that love does.

Giving away the heart – heals the heart. (pgs. 118-120)

As I read these words, chapter after chapter, one phrase becomes God’s answer to every prayer I pray: Live Given.

Losing weight, saving money, reconciling relationships, extending forgiveness, embracing silence and Sabbath, serving His people…the answer to each prayer? Live Given.

Give away the extra food and money saved. Give away gifts and money each month for His glory. Give away your comfort; be inconvenienced; placed others before self; give away time on self for time with Me. Give away your abilities and talents and time to serve others.

Live a life given away for Me.

So, I wrote my kiddos a Christmas poem and a letter. From Haiti to Honduras to Cambodia to Syria; to our church and community; to one another –  it’s our year to Live Given.

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And when I doubt and think, “what do I have to give? As a single mom with a tight budget and busy schedule, what can I “afford” to give away? How will this work?”

God sends a reminder through my pastor’s wife through one verse: The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1

Sarah, you lack nothing. In me, you already have the abundance necessary to live given.

So, I want to begin 2017 with giving! Thanks to Blog About, I have a copy of The Broken Way and The Broken Way Bible study and DVD to give away! You can enter by commenting on this blog, commenting on the Facebook post, or sharing this post on Facebook. I’d love to hear your “theme” or “one word” for 2017!

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Happy New Year!


Thanks to Stephanie Alton from Blog About and Tara Brown from Givingtons for coordinating the purchase of 144 The Broken Way books for missionaries living and serving in Honduras. Without you, we would have never been able to deliver those books in time.

 

Our Christmas Poem {Live Given 2017}

Live Given

Christmas Poem 2016

My poem this year is different

Perhaps not as funny or bright,

Because I know in our hearts

we’d like to see wrongs made right.

We see Aleppo and refugees

Looking for room at the inn,

But no one even offers a stable,

And it frustrates us to no end.

How can we help? What can we do?

We ask ourselves everyday.

But then we make no real move

To seek Him, sacrifice, and pray.

So may this year be a bit different,

My hope is we move into action!

We will seek to love and give

To every group and faction

I know it’s easier to stay at home

And not work toward justice for others,

But Jesus didn’t call us to comfort

He called us to love our brother

What will this look like?  How will we afford it?

These answers I do not know.

But I do know when we ask Jesus

The answers He will surely show.

We don’t have to do it on our own-

Jesus has never worked that way.

We have to seek his strength and guidance

As we go throughout each day.

His word says to find your life you’ll lose it,

To seek and you will find.

To knock and the door will open to you-

That it’s always good to be kind.

We’ll call this living given –

Living life focused less on me.

And I bet at the end of this year

Our hearts will feel more free.

So as we go about our days

And live life following Him,

May we always be most aware

Of how we can cut and trim.

Our time, our cents, our talents

All can be used for His glory;

I hope the ways in which we live given

Become the central part of our story.

I think we are up to this mighty call

Or God would not lay it on my heart;

And perhaps today is the day

That we commit to this with a start

On the tree you’ll find Daniella-

A picture for each of you.

And our 2017 of living given

Will begin with giving her new-

A new chance at life in Honduras

With education, food, and clothes.

We will be her biggest fans and sponsors,

Loving her from her head to her toes.

In my heart I know one thing for sure

That gifts are nice and fun;

But the greatest gift I can give you both

Is the gift of God’s only son.

And Jesus commands his disciples

In three very specific ways:

To deny self, take up our cross, and follow

For every single one of our days.

So here goes this journey, little ones!

Disciples we will be

Denying, taking up, and following

All to show our love and give glory to Thee.

Remember the Signs {even at Christmas}

But, first, remember, remember, remember…” C.S. Lewis

I open the book and see this quote. I have seen it before.

But as Christmas draws near, remembering grows harder. Sometimes my memories of Christmas before divorce and before my dad’s death bring a smile. More often they bring tears. Sometimes I just want life as it used to be with little kiddos who wake up early on Christmas morning to rip open presents and a  Dad who gathers wrapping paper and stuffs it into trash bags before we can even get our box open. (I swear he threw away gifts accidentally!)

When the remembering causes an ache, why bother?

I write this question and the Spirit whispers…because of the signs.

The signs. I know what this is. It’s the rest of this remember, remember, remember quote.

In the Chronicles of Narnia (The Silver Chair), Jill is off to rescue the Prince, but before she descends off the mountain and into the valley, Aslan tells her to remember…

But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.

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When you rise up and when you lie down, say the signs to yourself.

Why bother?

Because here on the mountain we can all see so clearly: the air is clear, our minds are clear. We feel close to Him. We hear, see, and feel Him ever so clearly as our eyes look upon the expanse of His kingdom. Our hearts overflow, and we know He is a good, good Father.

And we must remember the signs – these times on the mountain.

Why bother?

Because when we descend to the valley, the air thickens – the pressure, stress, inadequacy, and hurt rise to the surface as the fog envelopes us, making us self-focused.  We struggle to see further, to find the signs, to hear His voice, to feel his presence.  If we don’t remember the signs, we pay attention only to the suffering and brokenness instead of the Savior.

So, I remember, remember, remember the signs. Every promise from His word. Every adventure with my dad. Every moment with my children.  Because when I follow the signs – His signs – they all point to a Savior. I see His hand in every hurt…every happiness. And I am grateful for every single moment.

PS I LOVE CHRISTMAS! And I LOVE GIFT GIVING!  So, next week I’ll be giving two gifts on the blog thanks to the lovely ladies at Blog About: a copy of The Broken Way  and a copy of The Broken Way study guide and DVD! See you next week!