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Showing posts from 2017

Body Image

I remember being 6 years old in my dance class. My mom walked out of the parent waiting area and offered me a sip of her Sprite. Two sips in I heard the teacher say from the front of the room, "That's enough. She doesn't need any more sweets. She's big enough." Some of the other girls snickered. After we finished our winter show later that month, I never went back to dance lessons again. 

I remember being 8 years old and my parents had friends over for dinner. The youngest was my age so upstairs we went to play. I sat on the edge of my bed while she ransacked my room. I told her she was being too rough with my stuff. She turned around, poked me in the stomach, and out of nowhere said,"Well at least I'm not chubby." I had no words for her statement but I spent the rest of the evening avoiding her by pretending to help in the kitchen. 

At 13 years old, my best guy friend told me that he would be interested in dating me if my legs were a little leaner an…

Beautiful Things

I grew up with a mom who loves beautiful things. Her room is a treasure trove of drawers lined with velvet boxes of sparkling things to wear, mirrored trays of delicious perfumes to dab on wrists, a bed of feathered pillows to sink into, and a walk-in closet lined neatly with every kind of shoe imaginable. Growing up with her was like growing up with a queen in a castle. 

As I grew into a teenager, a lot of the wonder of my mom's way of life began to lose its appeal. I saw how hard she worked to own all the things she wanted. I saw how much time it took to clean silver, and wool, and delicate hand-painted porcelain. And I started to feel that I wanted to spend my life doing other things with my time. 
My first experience with what I now know is called a minimalist lifestyle, was when I nannied for a toddler whose parents were missionaries. They slept on mattresses on the floor, had only one bowl, one cup, and a set of silverware for each person in the family, and they bought rice a…

Inspiration

There's a secretary desk in my dining room that has been waiting to be fixed and refinished for almost four years. For almost two years after I triumphantly found it on Craigslist, it sat completely untouched. It's been moved from house to house and room to room, waiting patiently. I finally started pulling it apart two winters ago and still haven't managed to paint all of it. Every day it looks sadly at me as I go about doing the rest of the urgent things on my to-do list. Every day it gets pushed back to the bottom of the list. I don't have enough time. I don't have enough energy. I don't have the right tools for the job. And yet deep inside I know I want to do this project and should do this project and will feel so much better once it's done and looking all pretty. 

Sadly, that desk isn't the only project I haven't finished. My daughter's baby shadow boxes, my vegetable garden, my first book, and don't even get me started on my wedding al…

Komorebi

Komorebi.
It is a Japanese word that translated means "sunlight filtered through the leaves of a tree."
A word that encompasses all the wonder and beauty of one of my most beloved images. 
In the spring, the leaves are new and bright green and the light that filters through them is fresh and vibrant and whispers promises of new things to come. 
In the summer, the green, filtered light is a rest from the heat and the bustle of life. 
In the fall, the chill in the air and the array of a thousand colors invite us to come and play and be a child again. 
In the winter, the cold breeze blows unhindered through the naked trees, but their absence gives an unhindered view of the layout of the land.
Komorebi in each season of nature is a symbol of a season of my own life. 
Not too long ago I was missing those leaves and missing that sun. Anxiety, insomnia, depression, and awful physical symptoms plagued me until some days I couldn't even get out of bed. It was winter in my life and the ch…

Praying For My Other Half

Something happened in one of our friend's lives recently that made me stop and consider how quickly life can change forever. It also made me realize that sometimes all that stands between our loved ones and a tragedy is our prayers. 
So my heart has been turning over the subject of prayer since then and most specifically prayer for my husband. It seems that I pray for everyone who asks-- close friends, strangers, and missions groups in far away countries. But my husband, the one human whom I share a child, a bed, and a life with, hardly gets any prayer attention. When he does, it's because I'm upset and am asking the Lord to change him. 
I want to change that. I want to become a woman who prays for the most important and probably longest relationship of my life. 
So I went online and found some other women who were also doing the same thing and found some resources to help me stay in prayer for my husband. 
The Better Mom blog has printable cards for 31 days of prayer for my …

Do What You Love

My husband and I took a much needed and very overdue vacation a couple weeks ago. It was just he and I and the rolling farmland of Amish country. 

One afternoon we were enjoying a drive when we rounded a corner on a hill. From behind an oak tree on my right emerged a gorgeous chestnut horse racing alongside us. In the golden light, I could see his powerful muscles under his sleek coat. He tossed his head back and forth making his mane dance in the breeze. He kicked his legs in joyful freedom. My breath caught in my throat. My lips mouthed a slow-motion "woooowwww." 

I don't know if it was the euphoria of being on vacation, or the magical rays of late afternoon sunshine, or the novelty of seeing animals (since I didn't grow up with any) but that moment is forever etched into my memory. What I felt seeing that beautiful, powerful creature playfully and freely doing what he was made to do filled me with such joy that there was nothing more I wanted to do but stand there a…

Put it in Writing

I celebrated my 33rd birthday last week. It was such a treat to get a slew of birthday cards in the mail. I absolutely love cards. When I was younger I kept every single one in boxes and had created more of a problem for myself than anticipated. In the spirit of the minimalist project I've started this year, I no longer keep my cards in boxes; I will enjoy them to the fullest but they will be tossed in a few weeks. But for now, they sit like colorful butterflies on my fridge, flapping their messages every time I walk by or open the door, reminding me of all those who have been thinking about me, taking time out of their busy lives to send me their well-wishes. 

The summer has been full of activity and I've had little time to invest in writing to others. But now school supplies are on sale and the weather is getting cooler, and I can feel my heart yearning to write. This yearning is for more than just typing on a screen; it's for colorful pens and paper and handwritten words…

Free from Guilt

A couple of friends and I have had conversations this week about the thing that seems to plague all women most of the time...guilt.

I feel guilty about standing my ground when I know I'm right. What if I hurt the other person's feelings? 
I feel guilty about honestly saying no when I don't want to do something.  What if I'm just being selfish?
I feel guilty about not attending every birthday or wedding I'm invited to. Or accepting every friend request on social media. Or volunteering for every empty spot on the church help list. 
I feel guilty about buying myself a new shirt. Or a new book. Because maybe that money could be used for something more important. 
I feel guilty for just wanting to be alone--a lot--instead of out partying it up with people. 
I feel guilty for sitting my kid in front of the TV for a few minutes while I write this. 
I feel guilty for just wanting a foot rub at the end of the day, and not a steamy evening of romance.

I feel guilty that I haven'…

Becoming a Woman

Every time I stretch for my workout... Every time I clean my home... Every time I make a chicken pot pie... Every time I send a thank you card...
...I remember the woman who introduced me to the skill in the first place.  And I smile. I have been made a stronger, deeper woman because of those women that have poured their love and life into me.
In one of my favorite books, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge explains how femininity cannot bestow masculinity. A young man without a father cannot grow to be a man just by watching mom or grandmom. A young man can only become a man by watching and learning from other men whether it's a biological father, family member, or mentor. 
I believe that femininity too cannot be bestowed by masculinity. No matter how much my daddy loved me and my professors and male pastors spoke into my life, my inner sense of worth and confidence in being a woman has come mostly from other women. Sadly, it's only in the past 8 years or so (because of issues with my own…

Seasons

My daughter, my dog, and I were walking in the woods today when we came to a spot that was familiar and stopped. I could just barely tell it was the same place we visited a couple of winters ago. Everything looked so different under the weight and shade of leaves, flowers, and berries. The water was bubbling and the air was alive with both humidity and bugs. This seemed worlds away from the still, barren cold we experienced on our first visit.

This moment reminded of the change of seasons in our own lives. On my own personal journey, my life looked very different a year ago. In fact, this very walk, in the heat and sun, for this long, would not have been possible. I was battling physical and mental symptoms of anxiety that had made even getting out of bed impossible on some days. What a transformation a year has made! I am not the same, nor will I ever be again. Much the same way this spot in nature is both familiar and strange during a different season. 

I live my life in seasons. What…

All I Need

"All I Need is You, Jesus!"

I used to sing it passionately in church. I used to pray it fervently in my quiet times.

But I don't believe it anymore.

Yep. That's right. Jesus is not all I need.

Before I get stoned to death for heresy, let me explain. 

By saying, "Jesus is not all I need," I'm not saying "I don't need Jesus." I'm not saying that I've lost faith in Him. I'm not saying that I don't need Him first and foremost. I am saying that Scripture shows that this "All I need is You" culture was not the Lord's intent.

Even in Eden, the first man was lonely. He had unhindered, face-to-face contact with the Creator, and he was lonely! There was no sin, no shame, no ugliness of any kind, and he was lonely! He was so lonely, that the Lord in his compassion said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." And then when He created the first woman, He told them to "be fruitf…

Giveaway Week!

Having lived in Ohio for about 3 years now, I have learned to embrace the peace and quiet that cold, snowy winters bring. My daughter and I have loved long walks through the quiet woods and crystal clear nights to watch the stars. But we've also enjoyed being indoors more, sipping on broth and tea, catching up on movies, and doing more craft projects.

One of my favorite things to do now on a quiet Saturday morning is turn on some worship or a podcast and color. There is something so comforting about coloring because it takes me back to a simpler time of childhood memories. I love that coloring isn't just for kids anymore. There are so many adult coloring books out there now and they are all beautiful!

Scripture coloring books with tear-out pages and extras like bookmarks and cards to color are my favorite! When I'm done with a picture, I can send it to a friend in a card or hang it on my mirror or fridge to inspire me throughout the week.

This is why I'm so excited to…

Beauty

I was reminded this week that I have a unique beauty that only I can give to the world as a woman and as an individual. It reminded me of this post I wrote 3 years ago...

I walk by her at the front desk every morning. A very put-together, no-nonsense woman. I'm very intimidated by her and usually try to avoid eye-contact.

Until today.
I don't normally use the first-floor ladies room, but this morning the one upstairs was full and so was my bladder, so I ran downstairs and as I walked into the ladies room, so did she. 
I asked her how her morning was going, and what ensued was a conversation about life, love, and loss. She explained how she had moved from Virginia not too long ago to be closer to her elderly parents. Just days after she had moved in, her Daddy passed away. She described sitting by his side and laying her head on his head as he took his final breaths. Now she went home every afternoon to take care of her mom who is a stroke victim. 
I was speechless. I could see the …

Everything I Thought I Knew

Relationship magazines, advertisements for women, submission talks in church, modesty talks in youth group, and my mother's and grandmother's own views about men and their own broken relationships...I brought all these lessons with me into my marriage, ready to be the greatest wife ever! But I have been disappointed by some of this advice and I've had to relearn a few things along the way. 

1) As long as you're a good cook and keep a clean home, your husband will be happy. (Ok, there's sex too, but I'll talk about it later)  A few dirty dishes, which to me are the end of the world, aren't even on my husband's radar. He'd rather me sit with him and watch a movie or work on a project together.

2) You're too fat, you forgot to shave, your tan lines are showing, your breasts are too small, your butt is too big, your hair is too flat. It was absolutely terrifying to stand naked in front of my husband for the first time-- for the first hundred times. It…

Celebrating With Our First Giveaway!

Hello, sweet readers!
I have loved getting to know each of you on the blog and FB page! A big thank you to each of you for helping us reach 100 likes on our FB page. It may seem like such a small accomplishment, but it's huge for this girl who never dreamed she'd be writing for anyone else other than herself. So thank you again! 
I'm giving away a small gift from one of my favorite shops (and one I'm excited to be an affiliate for!), The Daily Grace Co. So head on over to our FB page and comment for a chance to win! 
Enter the giveaway here: Marriage Is Not For Wimps Facebook Page
Much love, Sarah 

Back to the Future

“We are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Yesterday morning I was writing a recommendation for a friend who is going to start working on his doctorate soon. I was blown away by how much time has passed since we were college classmates. We are now both married and live on different coasts. And while I'm proud of what he has accomplished and excited about where I am in my life as well, part of me longs to go back to our college days. Back to the days when studying was the biggest worry in our lives. Back when we served the poor on our missions trips and fed the hungry on Friday nights. Back when we naively thought we were invincible and were going to single-handedly save the world. 
I finished the email, pressed the “send” button, and turned to get on with my day.
Later, the same feelings of longing washed over me again. This time as I was putting away the tiny onesies and socks Lydia had worn in those first few precious days she…

No More Hide and Seek

I'm a pretty even-keeled person, but once in a while, something will happen that will trigger and then override my usually polite self.

My husband says I let things build up and then one silly little thing will set me off. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. For instance, when I feel peopled-out (meaning it's been several days since I've had any time to myself) and my daughter, or an acquaintance, or my mom asks me to do something for them, I explode. Okay, so it's more like I implode. I don't kick and scream.  I shut down. I cry. I lock myself away and refuse to see anyone. 
Through my husband pointing this out to me, the Lord has been teaching me to be aware of my emotions, and more importantly to submit my emotions to Him. It's been a lesson in trusting the Lord with my most vulnerable self. He is teaching me to run to Him even when I don't feel like it. And that is very hard to do for this "I'll figure it out myself" person…

Becoming Me

A few years ago, I came to the realization that I was a Christian, a writer, a worshipper, and an outdoor lover long before I was a wife. And while my role of wife is an important one, it's not my only identity. I had at first been so caught up in attending to all my husband's needs and following his dreams, that I had neglected my own. I was burned out and bitter. It was mentors and writers, like Sheila Wray Gregoire, who inspired me to balance my identity as "Sarah: the writer, the Jesus follower, and the outdoor lover" with "Sarah: the wife." This blog is just one result of that balance.

I am super excited to now be partnering with Sheila and her team! She's the author of the book, The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex. (Check out my affiliate link below.) Her articles have both challenged and encouraged me. She has more to say on the topic of being a "perfect Christian wife" in her article:

I Am Not Just a Christian Wife, I Am a Christian

Brave

Oak paneling. Leather chairs. Sweet pipe smoke intermingled with the richness of men's cologne. The sound of raspy voices sharing stories and the occasional deep-voiced laugh. Somewhere in my mind, there is a memory of a place like this. A place my dad used to go when I was a child and I used to love to follow. A place whose very walls could tell stories of danger, and romance, and heroism. It's a place where you could breathe in the very essence of masculinity and camaraderie. I felt small (in a good way). I felt safe. I felt brave.

When we were courting, I used to feel that same way with my husband. Everything he did was amazing, and there was nothing he couldn't do. But too often I've allowed life to suck the wonder out of our relationship. What happened? Where did the danger, and romance, and heroism go?

It is still there, but I have failed to see it. I have forgotten how to see the knight in shining armor, and only see the knight who leaves his armor on the floor an…

Through New Eyes

Over the last few years, we have had many new friends over to our house for dinner or games. It always pleasantly surprises me when they comment on something that has all but become invisible to me. They ask me about where that picture was taken, or who painted that piece, or where did we get that desk, and as I tell them the funny or sweet story behind each object I realize what a rich and wonderful marriage we have had. 
My husband and I have moved so many times in our short marriage, that we have had to leave behind anything that isn't useful or sentimental. And we've had days when we could barely buy a gallon of milk, much less buy a new piece of furniture. So our home has become a fun, albeit eclectic collection of curbside finds and going-away gifts. Even as I sit in my dining room writing this, I can see easily see a dozen things that have been given to us or made by us. They are a constant reminder of how much we are loved and how many memories we've made together.