About Impact

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Enjoying simplicity

This holiday season has been far better than last year. For the most part, my birthday last year was a horrible day! While celebrating Christmas in Indy, the three of us girls didn't sleep in the same hotel room. Anna and Ryan weren't able to make it home for New Year's. There was also some tricky things going on in my own life. Simply put, there was a lot of adjusting that had to be done on my part and I wasn't handling it well.

There is still some adjusting this year. I was the only one able to come to Grandpa's with Mom and Dad. I'm the only one not married in the family. There will be no staff retreat for the first time in several years, which solidifies the fact even more that my time there is over. And though that makes things a little different it has been a fantastic holiday. I've had lots of time with AMAZING friends and even more to come. Both of my mom's brothers were able to come for Christmas day this year, the first time in many years!

The whole thing has been relaxing and very enjoyable. It is so nice to not have the drama and pain. It is funny how much more enjoyable the holidays are without all of that junk. Things are simple and refreshing. It is probably one of the greatest breaks I've had in a few years. Praise God for periods of rest before diving back into his work full force!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good day!

Today has been a pretty good day. School was a bit stressful but there is only a half-day left!!! I enjoyed a cup of coffee at Bella Vita and then went to New Community. I had the privilege to celebrate my good friend Jason's "ordination." I am so proud of him for being willing to take the step of faith and commit his life to serving in ministry. God has such huge things planned for him. Now I'm chilling with my friend Erin at her apartment. I love friends.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All of the Sudden...

When and how did life get so confusing?!

What am I going to do?

Sunday, December 17, 2006


This has been a fantastic weekend. You can read more about the birthday excitement here. Here are a few thoughts as I’ve done some reflecting. The first is that I’ve realized how spending time with people you care about is so important to me. This weekend I’ve had the chance to actually hang out with friends for more than just grabbing a rushed meal. I realized how much a really miss that. I love every minute I get to catch up with friends, but there is something even more exciting about setting aside a chunk of time and just being together. After one day of just hanging out I feel more encouraged and energized than I have in months. God seems to keep driving home this idea of being a body.

I’ve realized how blessed I am to have rubbed shoulders with so many incredible people in my life. Some of these people it was one day on a music tour when we performed at their church. Some it was working along side them for a few years in ministry. Some of them are friends that I don’t have the opportunity to see but have left a mark in my life. And some I see more often and each time I drive away thanking God he has placed them in my life. Today I’ve thought about random people I’ve met over the last few years that are reflections of Christ and it has challenged me to think about whether or not I have been reflecting Christ in the same way.

Mark talked this weekend about how things we do and say have an affect on those around us. Even the little things we don’t think about do. This weekend I was hanging out with some friends and one of them left without saying goodbye and I was crushed. I thought about it and told myself that that person probably didn’t even realize they did. (This is most likely the case!) But it still was disappointing to me. Such a tiny thing that doesn’t seem like a big deal was to me. Have I thought about how my behavior affects others? A couple weeks ago some pieces came together for me and I realized how a couple tiny choices I’ve made over the last couple years had deeply impacted a very close friend of mine. Those two small decisions conveyed something much larger to this friend and in a way I think I really disappointed him. It isn’t always a negative affect. This week I did one thing that seemed like an insignificant thing to me and found out later it completely changed an individual’s day and helped them face some tough things. Did I know that when I took the two seconds to do it? No. One action impacted someone else in ways I didn’t expect.

To sum it up, we are connected. Will we disappoint others? Yes. Will others disappoint us? Probably. Should this change how we treat each other? Only to challenge us to love more and reach out to everyone we cross paths with. Sure we will miss the mark at times but that is why God has given us grace. He will teach us how to love. We just have to allow him to do it and be willing to respond.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Middle of Nowhere

God, God...my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?

hmmm...sounds like me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Snow Day with C. S. Lewis

First of all the new profile picture is of me and my next door neighbor, Granny, I wrote about in a previous post. Isn't she so cute?! (***Edited 11:15 PM - I talked to my mom right before service tonight and she told me that she took a turn for the worse. My aunt (her daughter) is flying in from Missouri tomorrow and they will start her on "comfort medicine." If you could pray for her that would be great.)

We had a snow day yesterday. I enjoyed sleeping in but we really needed that rehearsal time. After sleeping in I decided not to clean my apartment or grade papers. I decided to just read something for the sake of reading. Since I’ve been attempting to reread The Chronicles of Narnia series for the last four years I decided to grab Prince Caspian. One thing I love about C. S. Lewis is that his most simple thoughts seem to have the most impact. I love some of his writings that are a little heavier but there is just as much value in the simple letters he wrote to all the children who loved his books. I forgot my copy of the book but I wanted to share a few thoughts from my reading today.

In this book the four children return to Narnia to find that hundreds, maybe thousands of years have past since they left. They end up going on a journey to help Prince Caspian. In the middle of the night Lucy wanders off and sees Aslan. She runs as fast as she can to meet him. After embracing him, she comments about how much bigger he is. He tells he is not bigger she is. Of course this is confusing to Lucy. Aslan explains, “The older you get the bigger I become.” WOW!!!

I was just commenting to Dr. Bob the other day that is seems like the older I get the more complicated following Christ becomes. And though that may be true, I am amazed at how much larger my God is now. The things he has done just in the past few weeks proves this. But even more so the relationship I have with him now reflects a much bigger God than a year ago. I can’t begin to explain or comprehend how big God is and to think that a year from now he will appear even bigger just blows my mind. How awesome is that?!

Later on in the conversation Lucy asks Aslan to forgive her for not leaving the others and following the first time she thought she saw him. She didn’t follow because she was afraid and didn’t know what would happen. I wish I had the book to share Aslan’s response, but I’ll have to put it in my words. Basically he says to her she could never have known what would happen if she would have followed and she never could have known what would have happened if she didn’t. The only way for her to know is to follow. Lucy stood in front of Aslan and wondered what her decision not to follow cost. But that wasn’t Aslan’s point. His point was what would Lucy do next time. And it wasn’t long before she was faced with that choice. Would she follow on her own or go with the group? Umm…

Ouch! That one hit pretty hard. So many times when I look back over the last few years I wonder, what would have happened if I would have done this or not done that. What if I would have went this direction instead of that. Who cares? It can’t be changed now. And the only way I’ll know what will happen is if I simply follow God’s lead. It sounds so easy but I make it so complicated. What will I do the next time I see God move? Will I follow when I hear him whisper “Sarah, come this way. Sarah, speak out. Sarah, love them.” Will I?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

God is up to something...

God is up to something. I have no clue what it is but God is up to something. This week I’ve been thinking about how I’ve been barely pulling myself along the journey that God has been taking me on over the last few years. I’ve been praising God that for the first time in years I’ve felt like I can start to get up and walk or at least crawl on the journey. I’ve finally started to experience glimpses of hope that haven’t vanished as quickly as they appeared. And I can’t help but feel like all of this is for a purpose, all of the pain and all of the healing. The last few days as I’ve been praying and talking with God, I feel like he is in the process of preparing me for something. All I know is that I want to stay faithful and be obedient no matter where God takes me or places me.

I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to have people help me. I like to figure it out myself. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout this journey is that God places people in our lives to love and support us. I have one friend who has been telling me over and over again that God is preparing me for something big. Every time he and I grab coffee or talk he tells me this. He always gets so excited when we talk about it and sometimes it drives me nuts. I’m falling apart and he is smiling, just waiting for God to make the move. I always understood what he meant, but now the understanding has moved to my heart and I can feel the same excitement he has.

So what happens now? Like Mark Beeson shared last weekend, you start where you are. Jason said something in a message that will probably stick with me for life. “It is always about being completely obedient right here, right now.” So I figure out what it means to love those around me right now. I pray that God would teach me to see them through his eyes and love them like he does. I learn who they are and how I can serve them. Of course this is much easier said than done.

This weekend Dr. Bob talked about seeing the lost as God does, as a treasure. I loved it and then I started thinking about the people I’m surrounded by. Many of them are the types of Christians that only love people who fit their idea of what a Christian is. They point fingers at all others and boost their own egos by reminding themselves what great Christians they are because they aren’t like everyone else. I’ll just be real honest with you it drives me absolutely insane. I get so angry and upset with how close-minded they are. They have missed the complete picture. Sometimes it is hard for me to love these people and be patient with them. Maybe it is because they are painting my God to be someone they aren’t or maybe it is because they jump down my back because I don’t fit their picture of a Christian.

The first step starts with those around me. Why does it seem so hard to do? I pray that God will give me patience and teach me to love more. And as I press on to love God more and those around me more the rest of the journey will continue to be an adventure.

Lord, even though the circumstances in life may never change, change me. Make me more like Jesus. That is all I ask.

Friday, November 24, 2006


It is expected that one must blog about the things he or she is thankful for every Thanksgiving. Of course I don’t really have a problem with that but it just saddens me that we aren’t more thankful throughout the year. This will be my attempt to meet this expectation. To name all the things I’m thankful in one post would be impossible so I’ve decided to write about some things I’ve been especially thankful for over the last few months.

BELLA VITA – Just like Winnie the Pooh has his thinking spot, Bella Vita has become mine. I’ve graded more papers there than anywhere else. There is nothing like a good cup of coffee by a fire while spending time with Jesus. Who cares if it is 45 minutes away!

MUSIC – This fall I’ve had the chance to play a lot more than I have in the past…horn, piano, trumpet, and other random instruments, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve also started writing music again. I gave it up for quite some time for varies reasons but it has been great to get back into it.

FAMILY – This is a given but let me tell you my family is AWESOME. They have been so supportive throughout all the changes and junk I’ve had to face the last few years. Listen we may be a wild and weird bunch but we kick butt. And just so you can enjoy part of the excitement at the Koutz house I’m going to end this blog with a couple of quotes from my niece and nephew.

FRIENDS – There have been a lot of changes in some of my friendships. I’ve had the chance to spent time with friends I don’t usually get to and have been blessed and encouraged by them. I’ve also been able to spend more time with a few of my closest friends. I was thinking about some of these friends last night and realized how much those relationships have grown since all of us first became friends. What a blessing!

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY – If I haven’t learned by now that God is sovereign then I’m never going to get it! And when I’m stubborn and tend not to believe it, God is patient with me and still loves me the same. I’m so glad that he is over all things and knows what is best for me because I definitely have no idea!

LITTLE THINGS – The little things in life such as duct tape, moccasins and cameras.

2006 Thanksgiving Quotes

First thing Taylor says to me when she gets in the house.
Taylor: Aunt Sarah, will you teach me how to play the flute today? (as she hands me her recorder!)

While leaving a message for my sister-in-law’s father…
Nicole: Say Happy Thanksgiving Grandpa
Logan: Happy…Happy…Happy Thhh…Thh…Happy Thh…Happy Cats!

Taylor was telling us her secret that daddy is number one in her heart and how he got there since he physically can’t fit in there, she explained it all to me and told me I could do the same thing.
Nicole: Sarah has to find a boyfriend first.
Taylor: No she doesn’t. She just needs a friend boy.

Logan: I like to drink, but only milk.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hard Relationships...

I had a great conversation today about relationships of many types. It was very thought provoking and challenging. As much as I love people and being around them, I don’t understand relationships. Over the last month I’ve come to realize this more and more. You would think that as we get older we would grow in our understanding of how relationships work. I, however, just seem to get more and more confused and realize more and more how much I don’t get about the whole subject.

To be honest it kind of frustrates me because no matter how hard I try I just don’t seem to get it. God created us as relational beings, yet something about letting my guard down and connecting with people seems so impossible. Past experience has shown me that when you do start to let that guard down it never ends well. I’m so afraid of being hurt by people that I end up missing huge chunks of friendships. In this conversation today I was made aware of how much more there is for me to learn about all of this. I fear I’ll never understand it and never learn how to give AND take from those around us.

This week I have been blessed to hang out with some of my favorite people and it saddens me to think that I might not be living up to the friend that God has called me to be. So I’ll keep praying that he slowly teach me what being a friend and having healthy relationships is all about.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Somedays it scares me to think were I might be if it weren't for close friends. I don't think I can thank God enough for friends. It makes me so sad to think there are so many people in the world that don't have friends. I want to find those people and give them a big hug.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


The last two-and-a-half years have been a very rocky journey and many days it seems like it will never turn around. Right before I left my apartment this evening to head to Granger I received some not so good news. That has been the way the last month has been, one hit after another. I knew Mark Waltz was going to be speaking on stress and worrying at New Community, so I knew God would have lots to say to me…and he did!

Many of Mark’s thoughts were reminders of things I’ve known but seem to have hidden away in the corners of my mind. One of those areas he talked about was trust. I’ve always despised the t-word. The t-word and I don’t get along very well. Mark challenged us to be honest with ourselves about what we really believe. I know that I have a hard time trusting, even trusting God. I know sometimes I just don’t do it. But tonight I realized just how much the “sometimes” affects the “all the time.”

Mark shared that sometimes when he sings the hymn “Tis So Sweet” he really sings, “I’m so glad I am learning to trust him. He also shared that sometimes he doesn’t sing the chorus because it really isn’t true. I was so glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who does that. I get so angry with myself that I can’t just simply trust him. I get frustrated that my head tells my heart to do it but my heart won’t. He then reminded us that it is a process. I finally realized God isn’t so caught up in the fact that I don’t always trust. God doesn’t ask me to have it all together. He just asks me to keep following. As I follow, I’ll learn to trust. What a huge relief!

I don’t see the circumstances in life turning around anytime soon. They may but they may not. Either way I have to keep following Christ and allow him to change my heart. He’ll teach me to trust and he’ll still love me when I don’t quite get it right.

Is there something that you need to be honest with yourself about? What do you REALLY believe?

Side note: Thank you Jeff and Amy for picking me up…again!

Today I...

Summing up today seems to work better in the form of a list

Today I...
paid my rent!!!
am behind schedule.
am tired and frustrated.
had to teach some tough topics.
discovered someone has put my scouring seminar to good use. Way to be Brenda!
started looking for a new home.
got hit with more bad news.
wished someone would have been there.
wished I knew what God is planning.
wonder if things will ever turn around.
can't wait for Christmas break!
long to be closer to friends.
feel forgotten and ignored.
wished I could go to La Senorita's with my brother.
am learning more about who I am and who God has called me to be.
am excited to go worship Jesus at GCC.
am living life.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Convincing myself…

I first met my dear friend Ashley while she was a camper at MCSC, then I became one of her youth ministers and then a roommate and fellow camp staff member. Now she is getting ready to decide what college she should attend. That is just weird. Earlier this afternoon she and I had an interesting conversation.

We were talking about how sometimes as Christians we convince ourselves that something we are doing or are going to do is the will of God, even when it may not be. I guess we just like having something concrete and not having to make the tough decisions. It really is much easier to just say I’m going to go to this college or I’m going to take this job so that we have a plan, rather than really being honest and seeking out what God truly wants for us. Sometimes God is gracious and still blesses the decisions we make. Other times it becomes very obvious we are running the opposite direction from where God is calling us.

I’ve been think about the times I’ve done this very thing. I’ve convinced myself it was where God wanted me, simply because it was easier than taking the steps of faith down an unlit path. Looking back at those times I thank him over and over for being gracious and forgiving my laziness and lack of faith. There have been times where God has taken my stubbornness and provided me with great opportunities to serve and be blessed by his people. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. But today it is the times that God has had to wait for me to admit I was avoiding the tough steps that are running through my head. I’m realizing more and more how hard it is for me trust and how much I miss out on when I’m too stubborn to do so.

Lord, teach me to trust you more. Help me tune into your voice and follow you wherever you lead. When I try to convince myself my ideas are your will, remind me you take the hard steps with me. I know in my head you will always bring me out of the valleys, but my heart can’t seem to handle the fact the path in front of me isn’t clear. Teach my heart to be willing to do whatever you call me to do. Give me a stronger passion for loving your people no matter where it is you place me to serve you. Simply put, God, make me more like Jesus.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Trapped in my head...

I don't exactly have the world's largest vocabulary, nor do I have a gift for putting thoughts into words. Lately this frustrates me more and more each day. There just don’t seem to be any words for the things I want to say. There is no way to explain to friends how thankful I am for them and how much I value their friendships. There is no way for me to share what a blessing they are in my life. There is no way for me to express how thankful I am that God knows what is best for me so I don’t have to try and figure it out on my own. There just doesn’t seem to be the right set of words I need to express how desperately I need more of him. Usually when there aren’t the right words available, there are always notes on a staff, but lately those seem to be in short supply as well. There are all of these thoughts in my head waiting to get out but they keep getting stuck. I feel trapped inside my own head. Some of you know that is a scary place to be!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sometimes you get hurt...

Sometimes hurt comes from places you don't expect.
Sometimes hurt comes when you don't expect it.
Sometimes hurt comes when it seems you can't handle one thing more.
Sometimes hurt comes because of the choices you've made.
Sometimes hurt comes when you have no choice.
Sometimes hurt creates so much doubt you don't know where to turn.
Sometimes hurt comes when you need grow.
Sometimes hurt leads you to where you need to be.
Sometimes you get hurt just one time.
Sometimes you get hurt several times in a row.
Sometimes you get hurt just a little bit.
Sometimes you get really hurt.
What do you do when that sometimes comes?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not why, but what.

Most days I don’t understand why God does things the way he does or allows some things to happen. One person experiencing the death of three people in one day. One person being betrayed by two friends. One person reliving pain that was from their past. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

But the question isn't why God, though I don't think it is wrong to ask that. Right now for me the question is "what?" What is it that God is trying to say to me and teach me. I love that God is teaching me so many things. There are so many thoughts and questions in my head, most of which I can’t seem to articulate. It is extremely overwhelming. Something big is coming. I can feel it. God prepare me for it and give me the ability to process it all.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

David's Friends

This weekend’s message was about David and his friends. Mark challenged us to think about similar friends in our lives and whom we could be friends to. Here are some examples of those friends in my life.

DAVID AND SAMUEL (1 Samuel 16:6-13)
Samuel spoke truth into David’s life and reminded him that God had given him a higher purpose. Janet Seeker would definitely be a Samuel in my life. She was my mentor my sophomore year at Bethel and was always reminding me of the gifts and talents God had given me. She challenged me to take the steps of faith I was afraid to take. If it weren’t for here I’m not sure I would have stepped out of the box and began to let God completely guide my steps. She was never willing to let me forget that God created me for a purpose and a life of complete surrender is where it starts.

DAVID AND JONATHAN (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:1-3, 30-33; John 15:13)
I have always loved the story of David and Jonathan, because it is a picture of the kind of friend I want to be, one that is constantly encouraging, serving, and supporting by others no matter what the circumstances. Without a doubt the Jonathan in my life is Jeff Myers. He has been there to encourage me through so of the toughest times in my life. He was there when I suddenly woke up one day and my entire world came crashing down. He was there when close friends hurt me. He has sat and cried with me during the hard times and laughed and rejoiced in the good times. I have no doubt in my mind that several of Jeff’s friends would say the same thing about him. This is the kind of friend I want to be.

DAVID AND NATHAN (2 Samuel 12:1-14)
Nathan took the bold steps of calling out the king, and pointing out ways he wasn’t living according to God’s will. Becky Gritton has been one of those people for me. I can remember several late night talks in the dorm or at her house, where she very honestly looks at me and calls me out on places where I have fallen short. I was thinking about just how often she has done that and realized that there has never been a time when one of those conversations have been unbearable. Of course they aren’t always pleasant, but they are filled with love. I know that Becky tells me the truth and holds me accountable because she cares about me. Some of those conversations have been major turning points in my life. I am truly blessed to have her as a friend and I thank God for her.

DAVID AND MEPHIBOSHETH (2 Samuel 4:4; 9:6-11)
This may be one of my favorite stories in 2 Samuel because I think it is a great picture of what God has called us to do. Mark talked about how Mephibosheth sat at the kings table because of his kindness and when David looked at Mephibosheth at every meal he was reminded that he was king because of the mercy of God. In the same way we are able to sit at the table of God because of His grace and mercy. While Mark was talking I immediately started thinking about my special needs student from Eastwood, but there were two other people from back home that stuck out as well. Chester Throop is from my home church and has Down syndrome. While I was in high school every week at church Chester would run up to me and give me a hug and tell me I was crazy. During church he would sit across the aisle from me and wave his hands during worship like he was directing the entire congregation. Another person that came to mind was Jason Keyser, who I grew up going to camp with at RLCA. He also has Down syndrome and I was always excited when he came to camp. Some of my favorite weeks were the ones where he was in our family group. He loved camp and was always so quick to encourage all of us in his group. I could spend hours with Chester or Jason because they simply love people. I miss them both.

Quote of the week:
“Too many of us are satisfied with making it to the table. Forgive us Lord. Remind us we have a higher calling of carrying others to the table." Mark Beeson

Friday, October 13, 2006

Reflections on "Meet with Me"

I’ve always enjoyed the song, Meet With Me, but never had a good reason why. Over the last few months the more I’ve sang it the more I like it. The last line of the verse says, “reveal yourself to me.” One of my prayers for the last few years has been that God would reveal himself to me. I know he is all around but many times I shut my eyes and close him out. Perhaps this is part of my reasoning. Lately, every time I sing the song, it seems to take on a whole new meaning.

I think this was in a service but it could have been in a random conversation, I’m not sure. Jason was sharing some thoughts recently about how all of us have these places in our hearts that we have filled with things other than God. This leaves us feeling empty, overwhelmed and various other feelings. Somehow in all of that this song came into the discussion and he mentioned that may be our prayer as we sing this song should be more than asking God to fill the body in which we are worshipping but rather those places in our hearts. Well put J.

Monday night Jason spoke about what happens when we feel like we are in the holding pattern of life. This pretty much sums up the last two-three years of my life. Then last night at New Community, Dr. Bob spoke about spiritual eyesight and over the last week or so I have spent time evaluating my perspective on where I’m at in life. This week has been a nightmare at work. Each day I walk into my room or the office another issue brought to my attention. Some are just annoying things here and there, while others are difficult and sticky situations. This means I haven’t slept much this week and haven’t always had a chance to eat lunch. Needless to say, it left me exhausted when I left school Thursday.

I’m not where I want to be in life, or should I say where it is I feel God is directing me. I know where I’m at right now is part of the process of getting to that place. That “holding pattern,” “time of preparation,” or whatever you wish to call it, is not easy by any means. Some days it seems like this stage will never end and I’ll be stuck where I am forever. Then as we sang this song the thought came to me. As I wait for God to take me to the next stage, he makes me stronger. The opportunities I have are ones where I can grow. The more I long for that place I want to get to, the more he draws me closer to him. I’m learning to trust and depend on him.

None of those things are as easy as it sounds. Singing those words and truly making that your prayer can be difficult. But I’ll wait and I’ll long and I’ll allow God to do his work. And in the process he will always meet me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Driving with the artist of the sky...

I’ve grown to love the drive home to Vestaburg and more recently the lengthy commute to civilization, aka Mishawaka. It isn’t unusual for those drives to become conversations with God. Over the last week the topic of conversation has been the beauty and creativity of God.

Last week I watched the sunrise in my rearview mirror while driving to school. They have been some of the most colorful ones I’ve seen. The vibrant colors all swirl together in such a way that it looks like a painter’s pallet. I’m convinced some of those colors will be seen only in sunrises. Crayola can try all they want but they will never be able to create a crayon with the same beautiful shades seen in those sunrises. What a privilege it is to see the sun come up over the horizon and feel it warm my car through the windows! God blows my mind.

On my way to work on Monday, the sun was nowhere to be seen in the morning sky. Sheets of water were pouring down causing large puddles to start forming over the streets. It was dark but when you could catch a glimpse of the clouds you could see numerous shades of dark blues and purples. This is my favorite kind of weather and the perfect way to start a Monday morning.

Later that afternoon I had to drive home for a doctor’s appointment. I drove a total of five hours home and back most of which consisted of thunderstorms. The drive back to Sister Lakes was the best. I only drove through rain for about ten minutes but the rest of the trip was a beautiful light display across the entire sky. Back in July Jeff and I attempted to go to the beach to watch fireworks. We got half way there and decided to turn around for a couple different reasons, a major one being the fact it was pouring. I was thinking about that trip. It was a great time hanging out and catching up with Jeff but not once did we take the time to look at the lightening and the beauty of it. Monday night all I could think was, “Wow! Who needs the Fourth of July?!” The shape of each bolt and the directions they flashed across the sky was never the same. It was absolutely amazing!

Over the course of the last few weeks, Ursa Major has been lowering in the northern horizon. As I was driving up the road last week, I felt as if I was going to drive right into the cup of the dipper. The sky was dark and each star was so clear and bright. Frequently when I get home I’ll stand out in the middle of the road or driveway and just stand in awe of the magnificence. I just can’t help stopping sometimes to stare up. I’ve decided it is a good thing I don’t have a sunroof because I would probably cause several accidents. But soon Ursa Major and Draco will slip away into the horizon indicating the change in seasons.

I used to always hate fall because it meant cold weather and snow where coming. However, the more I think about it this fall the closer I’m coming to deciding it is my favorite. My love the days when it isn’t hot and it isn’t cold. You can where jeans and a t-shirt and be comfortable or shorts and a hoodie. I love he smell of rain early in the morning. I love the changing of the leaves and the storms fall brings. The whole season is about change.

So as I’ve been telling God how amazing he is for all of this he has been sharing some things with me. He has been reminding me that fall is about tearing down so that new growth can happen. He has been reminding me that like the weather changes in fall change in life is unpredictable. It won’t be long before the few constellations I know will be gone as well as the leaves, and nice weather. Then the blah and cold of winter will be here to remind me that in the times God seems far away and there is no chance of feeling life again, God is in the process of reconciling his people. The snow that covers the ground and tress, while the sun is shining high in the sky reminds me although I can’t always see what God is doing, he is always healing and restoring me.

The seasons will continue to change and I’ll continue to drive. And I’ll continue to focus on the sky and talk with the artist who painted it for us to enjoy. I’ll continue to try and understand God’s ways and follow whether the understanding comes or not. Praise God for the changing of seasons and the incredible beauty of his creation. Thank you for changing me Lord.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New Community Thoughts

This week New Community was a child dedication and communion service. I have to confess I didn’t have a very good attitude about the evening. I’ve never really enjoyed child dedication services. As expected the place was packed with crying babies, small children making noise and parents embarrassed about it all. I’m sure Mark felt like he was screaming and having to talk over children all night. I thought, well Mark, welcome to the life of a teacher the first few weeks of school.

During the dedications where being done, they showed video images on the screens. They showed DB leaning down talking to a little girl and boy who were probably 4 or 5 years old. Everyone was smiling from ear to ear, including the parents as tears fell down their cheeks. Then God started to paint a small picture for me of how he could use each one of the children to further his kingdom some day. These children will some day be church leaders and the salt and light in their homes and places of work. The impact could be astonishing and here I was pretty much whining because I had to sit through the long process. How selfish I am?!

The truth is I wondered if those children seemed to understand something I had forgotten about. The trust they had in their parents and their innocence seemed to overshadow the fact that they were babies or too young to understand what was being said and done. I guess it just reminded me how we should be in our faith. Here I was coming to God complaining, thinking I wasn’t getting the type of corporate worship I needed. (Any suggestions or thoughts?)

God said, “No Sarah, what you need is a reminder that you are my child and your faith should be like that of these children. You have a classroom of students who need to be invested in just like these parents are going to invest in their children. Are you going to commit to investing in your students like your parents invested in you and all of these parents are committing to do?” As I approached communion that night I was humbled and ashamed I had raised myself to such a high place. Who was I to decide I was more important than celebrating the decision these parents were making? Again, God nailed it on the head.

I don’t really like teaching and had already said this school year was about investing in students. It wasn’t that I had lost that focus; it is more a matter of frustration. It has been hard to balance the teacher and youth pastor sides of things. In some classes I feel like have to play teacher so much the relationships will never develop. In other classes the relationships are there already and it is hard for me to focus on teaching the material because I just want to talk to them about life. The two biggest struggles I’ve decided about teaching in Christian schools is balancing the two roles and pushing students past mediocrity and complacency. And I don’t think there are easy solutions for either one.

Lord, forgive my selfishness, for thinking that I am higher than what I am. Be patient with me, for I find myself in that place far too often. Help me challenge these students to settle for nothing less than what you desire and demand from each of us. Start that lesson with me. Erase my selfish desires and unwillingness to push myself to the next level. Less of me and more of you...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 6

This summer I thought it would be such a great idea to share each week about one person who had been a blessing in my life this last spring. Well it has become more of a long stretched out process but this will be the last. So here it is…two in one! (Although only about two people actually read this.)

Sometimes encouragement comes from places we least expect it. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Wally and Stephanie over the last several years and over the last two years I have appreciate all of the advice and encouragement I’ve received from them.

When I started looking at grad schools, Wally was quick to share with me the right questions to ask and things to look for in different programs. Even though I decided not to go Emmanuel, like him, over the last several months of working on my last two distance learning classes he has encouraged me to push through the tough papers and impossible readings. I’m not sure I would have finished if it weren’t for him constantly asking me how it was going and telling me I didn’t have a choice but to keep plugging away.

This spring and summer I went through some pretty tough times and in every conversation Wally and I had he never once pointed fingers. He took the time to hear me tell my story and allowed me to ask him tough questions. He didn’t always have answers but just having someone listen was a huge help. On top of all of that it was an added blessing that he understood some of my struggles. He understood the pressures of grad school and trying to find a ministry position. He understood the stress that comes while living so close to your work and ministry. It is amazing the difference a listening ear or a simple word can make.

One of my favorite things about Christ is that he always has time for me and will always listen. He just wants to talk with me and listen to my frustrations. Wally has been that person for me many times since last winter and I am grateful for that. Thank you Wally for showing me Jesus!

DJ Olson is one of the most amazing people you will ever meet and one of the greatest bosses you will ever work for. This poor man has had to deal with me working for him the last six summers. Last spring when I was student teaching DJ was always encouraging me and helped me count down the days until it was over. After that was over and it was time to start the job search He always kept his hears open for positions and was willing to offer what little work he could so I could attempt to pay the bills. But the thing that will always stick in my mind is the fact that DJ is patient and always quick to do whatever he can to help.

This summer I had to make an incredibly hard decision to leave camp before the summer was over and move home with my parents. It was a very painful decision and one I wish never would have had to be made. Almost every week I was in DJ’s office talking through the junk and most of it had nothing to do with my job at camp. And each time instead throwing a bunch of solutions my way, he always asked what he could do to make life easier. He would go out of his way to do anything possible to help me or any other staff member. When the time came to tell him I had to leave he didn’t try to convince me to stay or tell me how awful I was for quitting. He again asked what he could do and told me that even though he didn’t like the fact I was leaving, he knew it was okay and I was making the right decision.

DJ has a very large heart and is always looking for ways to serve. Christ’s life was all about service. Christ went to great lengths to serve and help those around him. DJ does the exact same thing everyday. I know this because he has done it for me over and over again. Thank you DJ for going the second mile and showing me Jesus!

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers (August 9th)
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox (August 15th)
Part 3: Nellie "Granny" Hubbard (August 20th)
Part 4: Eric and Mary Christian (August 21st)
Part 5: Jason Miller (September 3rd)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Many lessons...

I watched Patch Adams tonight. I hadn’t seen the movie in a long time but knew it would be a good one to watch while I was working on the GCS music handbook. (Yea, we might not have any curriculum and very little music, but we will have a handbook!) It was much more emotional for me than I expected.

There is so much to take away from this movie. At least for me there was. While Patch is in the psychiatric hospital he meets a gentleman who teaches him to look past the problem and focus on the solution. I was immediately reminded of how God has taken me all sorts of places I never wanted to go in order to get me where he wants me. God sees the solution and it is so easy for me to focus only on the problem. I’m learning and getting better at remembering there are steps to get to the end that aren’t always enjoyable.

I love Patch’s heart for people. He is an extraordinary example of what it means to love people. He didn’t care who the person was; he wanted to get to know them. He didn’t want to know all about their illness or all these facts about them; he wanted to know the individual. I think that is how it is with God. For one he wants us to know HIM not ABOUT him. I know I get caught up in the study of God that I just know all this information about him but forget about the actual person of Christ. Make sense? Also God looks at us like Patch looks at people. He doesn’t see how we are damaged, but he sees the ones he created. That is the type of person I want to be.

I’ve been asking God to help me forgive and love people that have hurt me. It seems to me I’m able to do it to a certain extent, yet there is still this corner that is broken and bruised. I think the problem lies in the fact that I’m still learning how to let God heal me. So many lessons to learn and so much growth to happen. Praise God he isn’t finished with me yet and he isn’t giving up!!!!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 5

I know I said earlier this summer I was going to write about a few people who have been great examples of Christ over the last five or six months and now it is past the few point. Oh well…deal with it! I’ve been packing and writing papers all day so I’m going to write about something more exciting. But first why is it we always have lists in groups of ten? What if I wanted to do 7 or 17?

Jason has been a good friend of mine for quite some time. We use to spend much more time together than we do these days, mostly because we were involved in the same ministries and groups at Bethel. Now I look forward to the occasional 30-second hello and a quick hug on a Thursday night after church. Many times it is the short, simple conversations with J that become the most meaningful. I decided to go with the list method this time. So...

Ten Things I Appreciate About Jason (like normal, in no particular order!)
1. I can go months without talking to him, then go grab coffee with him and it is like we just hung out yesterday.
2. J and I have had several disagreements in the past but I usually end up walking away from those disagreements learning several things from him and he usually forgets them.
3. He is a genius!
4. He won’t let me lie to myself and kicks my butt when I try.
5. He doesn’t mind that I always ask to pray when a bunch of us are hanging out together AND he’ll let me.
6. He isn’t afraid to take huge leaps of faith that don’t always make sense to those around him. Since I struggle to take small steps, I admire him greatly for that.
7. He has introduced me to several great coffee shops...and coffee itself.
8. He shows up at the most random times with words of encouragement.
9. He is always reminding me the importance of taking care of myself.
10. I’m always surprised at how well he knows me. Or maybe I should say I’m always surprised how much we are alike. He seems to be able to articulate all the thoughts in my head far better than I can. Usually this happens before I get a chance to even try and explain it to him. Honestly, sometimes it drives me nuts!

Earlier this year there was one of those moments. We met for coffee to catch up on life before the craziness of camp hit. It had been a long time since we had spent anytime together. He started asking me about life but pretty much answered each question for me. How he knows this stuff, I don’t know!! But it is always so refreshing to know that someone else understands, at least to some extent. That conversation became a major part of the encouragement I needed to start the summer.

And several times throughout the summer he was a great source of encouragement. I know God has great plans for Jason and I’m excited to see what they are. Thanks, Jason, for encouraging me and showing me Jesus.

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers (August 9th)
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox (August 15th)
Part 3: Nellie "Granny" Hubbard (August 20th)
Part 4: Eric and Mary Christian (August 21st) - I just added a new picture from camp!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Guarding Hearts...

Earlier this year on my xanga I posted some reflections from a message I heard on guarding your heart and the hearts of others. I’ve been wrestling with this for the last two or three days, so I went back to my notes from the message. Here are few ideas that still stick out to me:
--There is an obligation to guard others’ hearts.
--We protect our bodies but do we protect the heart of the matter?
--You treat things differently once you discover it has worth.

I’m not really sure what it means to guard the hearts of others, but I do think it is something we should be doing. After all we are a body, created to walk with each other in our journey. I think it includes an aspect of accountability. If I know someone is putting him/herself in a situation where his/her heart is at risk, I should lovingly express my concern. And as a sister in Christ, I should be very intentional about not putting those around me in those situations. Does that make since? Is that what it means to guard someone else’s heart?

There are a couple situations where friends of mine aren’t guarding their hearts and definitely not the hearts of those around them. In one situation an individual is continually allowing things to happen that aren’t healthy for others involved, or them for that matter. I know this person has had people mention things about it, but he/she just doesn’t seem to get it. I’ve even made a comment a couple times and all I get back are these excuses that supposedly justifies things.

This has been weighing pretty heavy on me all day. My heart aches because I know what is coming down the road. It has happened before…more than once. In the end everyone involved will lose and it is going to be painful. I don’t understand why you would willingly put someone in a place where you know they are just going to get hurt. Do I need to draw diagram, paint a picture or just be more intentional and blunt about it?

I can’t help but cry about it all. I hate crying! I hate seeing people hurt. I hate knowing that it all could be avoided but not having any way to change it. I hate the sometimes you have to just wait for people to learn things the hard way. It infuriates me that the whole thing is happening because it is stupid. And I hate the ignorance card that keeps getting played. The only thing I know I can do is pray. I don’t hate praying and praying is what I am going to do!

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this idea of guarding each other’s hearts, so feel free to share!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Look out...

Life just went from hard to extremely difficult.

Lord, give me strength to make it through the next 16 days.
To hold on to your promises and soak up your truth.
Give me endurance and patience.
Remind me you are in control and your ways are higher than mine.
Keep me focused on what is truly important.
You are good and I know you will see me through.

And if it isn't too big of a problem, help me run on only a few hours of sleep!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Over a cup of coffee...

I'm currently enjoying my weekly visit to Bella Vita's in Granger. They are playing some fantastic jazz right now. Here is what is on my mind...

For you have been called to live in freedom--not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 6:13

I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling over the last month, which has give me plenty of time to pray, think, process and all that jazz. Within the last 48 hours or so, all of that has lead to a few discoveries about myself, friends, Christ, well just about every aspect of life. Some things have clicked and I understand them more clearly. I love the feeling you get when that happens over and over again in a short period of time.

I don’t really remember when I added the above verse to the top my xanga site, but I remember how I had that verse in my thoughts day and night. It didn’t seem like there was enough time in the day to meditate and chew on it. I don’t recall what was happening in my life at the time, but just this week the verse has returned to the front of my mind. Freedom…freedom to serve one another in love…wow!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been blessed with the opportunity to hang out with several friends that I normally don’t get to see. Many of these opportunities have been spur of the moment with very little planning ahead. If you know me at all, you know that isn’t really the way I work. However I wouldn’t give up any of the time I’ve spend with friends just because it wasn’t planned ahead. I wish I could explain how much of a blessing those times have been. Who would have thought a 20-minute drive or five-minute conversation could have such an impact?

Those times have helped me remember the freedom that we are called to live in with each other. When you make it a priority to build the relationships in your life and love others you experience that freedom. It isn’t like I have forgotten the importance of serving each other in love or even forgotten to do it. I guess I forgot about letting others do the same for me. I don’t know why that is so hard for me, but I struggle with it often. But the truth is that when you allow others to serve you, you experience that freedom as well. We are called to live in freedom! It isn’t just for a few people, and it isn’t a life to be lived alone. Everyone is called to that same freedom and to live it together. Amazing!

It is refreshing and fulfilling and energizing and a gazillion other things. Are you living in that freedom? If not, what is holding you back? If you are, don’t forget the joy that comes in sharing that freedom.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's Jeffrey's Fault

I’m not really sure why Jeff thought it would be a good idea to tag me with this. Maybe it is because he knows it would be a challenge for me to come up with answers for some of these. Maybe he did it because he thinks I have nothing else but studying to do. Or maybe it is just because he is a just punk!

According to YOUR personal opinion, answer these questions...

ONE of your Favorite Movie MOMENTS of All Time: The scene in “Bruce Almighty” where Bruce is kneeling in the middle of the road crying out to God.

ONE of the Greatest Episodes of what TV show ever: I don’t watch much TV, but one of my favorite Simpsons moments is when they are imagining the end of the world. There are all sorts of funny comments that are made as the town is burning and there are floods other places.

One movie that made you LAUGH out loud many times: I don’t know why it is so hard for me to think of a movie that fits this category. "Tommy Boy" might work.

ONE TV show that you wish you could be on: This may sound silly but Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Really it is just because I wish I was talented enough to go around and help rebuild houses for people that could really use the help. What an awesome opportunity that would be to share Jesus!

ONE of your Favorite SONGS of all time: “So What” by Miles Davis

ONE song you wish YOU wrote: “Hard to Get” by Rich Mullins

ONE of the GREATEST movies that NOBODY has seen: What kind of question is this?! If I’ve seen it that means half of America as already seen it twice! “A Mighty Wind” directed by Christopher Guest

ONE song that truly MOVES you: “All that I Can Say” by David Crowder

ONE movie that truly MOVED you: Dead Poet’s Society

ONE MOVIE that you cried at: Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound”

MOST PLAYED song on your IPOD to date: Actually this surprised me “Lonely People” by Jars of Clay. I guess that is what happens when you listen to your iPod on random so much!

ONE MOVIE that you love that would SUPRISE others to know: “Meet Joe Black” I guess this isn’t suppose to be my type of movie.

ONE SONG that you know ALL the lyrics to: Probably the most surprising one would be “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles thanks to a student teacher I had in high school.

ONE SONG that NEVER gets old: “Lord Reign in Me” by Brenton Brown As often as this song has been used in worship services, I still get excited every time I hear it.

ONE SONG the moved you to TEARS: “Elegia” from Christopher Rouse’s Flute Concerto

The MOST RECENT song you purchased/downloaded: “My Jesus” Todd Agnew

ONE BOOK that you would suggest to ANYONE: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst

ONE BOOK the changed your life: “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning

Well since Jeffrey has started this little trend, I guess I’ll take some folks as well. So Kelly Bontrager, Ashley Davison, Kari Kinder, Dana Metzger and Rob Schwartz have at it!

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 4

I was going to wait until next week to write another post about some of the people that have encouraged me over the last few months and have been great examples of Christ. However, I changed my mind after attending a going away party for my friends Eric, Mary and Caleb. I didn’t really consider it a goodbye since I know I’ll stay in touch with them and probably see them again before too long. It just makes me kind of sad because they were the only friends I have here at home other than my family.

(Eric is in the yellow shirt on the right!)

I first remember meeting Eric while he was working at a church in Holland, MI. I don’t remember ever meeting Mary until they came to St. Louis. I know I did before that but I don’t seem to remember it. Over the last few years it has been a privilege to get to know both Eric and Mary and serving with them at Michiana Christian Service Camp. As a staff we look forward to Deeper Life week because our friends are there and we know that we will be challenged.

During the off-season Eric comes several times to the camp for retreats. Over this last year I’ve looked forward to Eric coming because he has been so encouraging. He has been teaching me how to ask the right questions and how to be honest about the answers. He has also encouraged me to keep pushing forward and not give up. He understands how easy it is for me to be cynical at times, but he never makes me feel like I'm less of a Christian or person because of it. Instead he reminds me to trust and allow God to heal past wounds. There have been numerous words of encouragement shared at just the right time with just the right words.

During Deeper Life week you don’t always see a lot of Mary and that is because she is off praying somewhere. Her part of the week is to pray, pray and pray some more. I am amazed and challenged by her desire to spend an entire week devoted to praying specifically for that ministry. And I know that is something that she does on a regular basis. I don’t know Mary as well as I know Eric but I’ve enjoyed getting to know her more over the last few years. Prayer is a powerful thing and I love and respect the passion that Mary has.

I will miss being able to see them every week at St. Louis, but I know the adventures and plans God has for them at Macomb are going to be incredible. It has been amazing to see how all of this has unfolded. I pray that God will continue to enlarge their vision of him and continue to use them to reach out to those around them. I know how thankful I am that they have been a part of my life. God has so much more in store for them! Thank you for showing me Jesus my friends.

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers (August 9th)
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox (August 15th)
Part 3: Nellie "Granny" Hubard (August 20th)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Living Example of Jesus, Part 3

I know I said I was going to post some of my thoughts from my lesson on the “sanctuary” you’ll have to wait a little longer for that. I’m sure you are on the edge of your seats. Sorry I don’t have a picture for this post. I thought I had one from Lois’s wedding but I don’t.

Last night I went to one of our local nursing homes to visit Granny, our next door neighbor, who just moved in there this week. She really isn’t my grandma but I’ve called her Granny for as long as I can remember. In fact when I was little I actually thought that was here real name. She is 94 years old but you would never know it. She is independent and has just recently started having

Growing up Granny always let us kids play in her big garden (if she hadn’t planted it that summer) or back yard. We were allowed to come get her croquet set out of her garage whenever we wanted without asking. She use to work at a store in the town next too us, and every once in awhile bring back candy for us from work. Since my dad’s twin brother married Granny’s daughter, Granny would always let us come over and spend time with our cousins when they came to visit.

As my mom and I said in Granny’s room visiting with her last night she shared lots of stories with us. Granny always has stories about just about anything and anybody. She has been in Vestaburg for a long time and knows its history well. But her stories seemed a little different last night. She was telling us about all the food they are given at each meal and how many snacks they get a day. She said their helpings are so large one bowl could feed ten people. It upset her how much food they waste there and even more upset that it was because of government rules and regulations that require them to give so much food. She then told us about how many starving people there are and she had to throw food away because she couldn’t eat it all. She was not impressed to say the least.

She told us about her grouchy roommate and how all Granny can do is laugh at her because she is so ridiculous. She told us she was going to keep talking to her roommate even if her roommate didn’t like it. And she was going to laugh when she said mean things because it was just silly. She said her roommate just needed someone to be nice to her. I’m not sure I could be that loving. I was annoyed with her roommate and I was only there about ten minutes.

She then told us the story of her very cute teddy bear a woman from our church had brought her. It was a fairly expensive teddy bear and Granny wasn’t really happy when she found out. She told us over and over again how nice she thought that was and how much she loved the bear, but she didn’t think it was right someone would spend that kind of money on a teddy bear for her. Mom explained that it was this woman’s ministry to do that sort of thing. Granny quickly said, “I know but the church needs it more than I do. I can get by without a bear. They church could really use that money.”

It didn’t seem to matter to Granny at all that she was in a nursing home. I know she isn’t really happy about it but she had such a great attitude. She talked only about the things she liked and how she was happy there. Just a couple months ago she said she refused to go but now she has been focusing on the positive and still is putting others before herself. When I’m 94 years old I hope I’m loving people and focusing on others just as much as Granny is now. Thank you Granny for showing me Jesus!

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers (August 9th)
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox (August 15th)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 2

I know I said I wasn’t going to write the next part of this until after I got back from South Carolina but I changed my mind. I need to write something that isn’t about the Nicene problem, weltanshauug, or humanism. (Yea, your guess is as good as mine!)

I decided to write about both Michael and Jeannette at the same time instead of doing two separate entries, although there is enough stories to share that I could write two very lengthy posts. These are two of the most incredible people you will ever meet. Their marriage is a great witness of Christ’s love and their understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ is evident in their everyday lives. As long as I’ve known these guys they have been encouraging me in my ministry, challenging in my walk with Christ and been there to meet any need I may have.

I worked with Michael at Harris Prairie Church of Christ. When we first talked about hiring someone to help Jason out with the college ministry and Sunday services we knew there was a need but were very skeptical about bringing someone on board. We didn’t want to hire someone who was going to take over and change everything. However, it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with both of them. It was a great fit and Michael brought more than we could have asked for.

I worked under Michael as a part of the Hunger (college ministry) leadership team and served on the worship teams. Then became his intern, which was a phenomenal experience. And that internship changed to a youth position and Michael still continued to encourage and help me along the way. I’ve learned so much about ministry from him. He has been my mentor in ministry and willing to help me at anytime, whether it is by talking through things, lending a hand when he really doesn’t want to or just hooking me up with good resources.

Outside of ministry the number of things I’ve learned from him are endless. There have been several conversations about music and music technology. Everything I know about the Simpsons I learned from him most likely. My favorites are the random bits of information that have surprisingly come in handy quite often. The guy is a genius but I’ve never felt like I couldn’t talk to him because of it. I love that.

Jeannette and I bonded over several meals together. With her crazy schedule at law school it made it hard to find time to hang out but it never really stopped us. We would talk about all sorts of things in life such as politics, education, church, ministry, friendships, life in general and numerous other things. I loved being able to talk through things with her that I couldn’t with others. She was always quick to encourage and point out the positive sides of things when I would get down.

One of the major lessons I’ve learned from Jeannette is the importance and loving and caring for everyone, regardless of who they are. She has such a huge heart for the people that get overlooked or pushed aside. You could find her at church having conversations with individuals that most people struggle to connect with. She may not have been at able to be around the church as much as others but she was a vital part of the Hunger ministry that I think most people never noticed. She has a very clear understanding that the body of Christ is to love, care for and protect each other. What better way to teach that then by living it out!

The last year or so that they lived in South Bend, Michael spent a lot of time with Jeff. We use to give them a hard time about it, but that gave Jeannette and I opportunities to hang out. I’ve appreciated her willingness to always make sure that things were going well and make sure there wasn’t anything I needed.

Both Michael and Jeannette are some of the most generous people I’ve met. They offered me a place to live when I was temporarily homeless. They invited me over to their house to eat several times. They are always giving my time, which I know is a valuable thing. Both of them will randomly call me just to see how life is or just sent me an e-mail. Both of them are full of wisdom and I have been truly blessed to have such amazing friends like them. Whether they are in South Bend or Portland or Dayton I always know they are just a phone call away. Thank you my friends for being fantastic and showing me Jesus!

(In case you are confused, Part 1 was a couple posts ago. There have been a couple since then.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

From the sky...

**Here are some thoughts from my flight to South Carolina.**

Friday, August 11, 2006 – 12:00 NOON
I think I fell in love with the sky today, which doesn’t come as too big of a surprise to me. I could lie outside and watch the stars for hours and hours if time allowed. On a nice day, lying on the grass and watching the clouds is wonderful. I’ve always loved Rich Mullins’ song “Pictures in the Sky.” When my sisters and I were little we would get extension cords and run them out to the back yard so we could listen to that album while we ran through the sprinkler. We would cue up that song and then lie on our towels and watch the clouds while singing along. When the song was over we would rewind and start again. Now I’m actually flying through a cloud.

A few weeks ago as I watched a crop-duster swoop down over the cornfields, I decided I wanted a red plane like in the movie The Kid so I could go flying through the clouds whenever I wanted. There was a small private plane that took off right before we did and it reminded how awesome I thought that would be. I started to get a really excited about our take-off.

The pilot then told us that we were number one for take off. He said it as if we were on the best plane out that day and every other plane was jealous. (It really was kind of humorous.) The pilot turned onto the runway and lined up the nose of the plane down the wide centerline. My favorite part of flying that brief moment after the plane gets on the runway and before the engines start get louder. The roar of the engines starts to build and the plane lunges forward. The plane builds speed and off into the air you fly. I love it!

I love flying over towns that I’m familiar with because I can see the places I know from a new perspective. South Bend was no different. The East Race was beautiful and I noticed how amazing some of the architecture was on buildings I’ve driven by several times. As we climbed in altitude, more and more clouds surrounded us. Now I look out my window as we fly over a thick, smooth blanket of white, I’m speechless. Breath-taking.

Something about the sky always puts me in a contemplative mood. I get more thinking done in five minutes on the basketball court with the stars than I do sitting at my desk deep in study. I think I like the sky because it is endless. I’ll never be able to grasp how large it really is. Every time I think about God and his creativity one word always comes to mind, HUGE!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Thoughts on camp...

Here is a little about my trip to Niles. The wedding was great. The camp staff definitely made their presence known. We did the wave when Tabitha and Ryan came to dismiss our row and then we sang the hula song to them and made them do the hula at their reception.

My cabin/team, the sharks, at 2nd grade camp was awesome. There are many stories I could share but I’m just going to tell you about one of the girls in my cabin. Kiara doesn’t go to church very often. She was uneasy with all of this camp stuff but quickly forgot about that. She was a riot, full of energy. Our theme was Finding Jesus: An Underwater Adventure, just like Finding Nemo, and we asked the kids at our first gathering to be thinking about where they could find Jesus while they were at camp. That night in our cabin I asked the girls to answer that question so the could be looking the next day. She started to get a little uncomfortable again but answered, “Under the sea.” As I laid in bed praying for each of the girls, I prayed that if nothing else happened while she was at camp that she would have a good time and start to hunger for the fun and excitement that comes with learning about Christ. At our last big meeting together three campers were chosen to come on stage and share one thing they learned about Jesus. With a big smile on her face she firmly answered, “Jesus is FUN!” I couldn’t have been more excited at that point.

If Kiara remembers only that from a camp and if she is the only camper who remembers anything I would still feel like the camp was a complete success. Our goal as faculty and staff is to share Jesus with campers and that is exactly what happened. To see how much her attitude towards things changed in that one day was incredible. As we walked back to the cabin to check out I asked the girls where they found Jesus during the day. Kiara’s answer was at the pool. She may not go to church again for three months but the Holy Spirit has begun to work and he knows what he is doing!

Camp has been on my mind all day. On a brief study break I ran across the xanga site of one of my 4th and 5th grade campers from Rock Lake. Then my niece showed me the blog of one of her camp friends. This girl used to live in Vestaburg and she was in the 1st grade Sunday School class I use to teach when I was in high school. My niece and I looked at the pictures from camp her friend had posted online. I had to call and talk to DJ (the director a MCSC) about some things for one of my classes and we ended up talking about 2nd grade camp and family camp. As we were hanging up I started to cry. I knew I would miss being at camp but I had no idea it would be this hard. I wish I were rich so I could volunteer at camp all year and still be able to live. I think there must be something in the water at Michiana.

I'm frustrated that things turned out the way they did. Since I've been home I've been able to sleep at night and I've not had a single nightmare. The first night I was in Niles I tossed and turned all night. And I woke up from a horrible nightmare. It just doesn't make sense to me. I wish this lesson would hurry up and be over. Michiana will never be the same to me now. Hopefully someday I'll be able to go back without feeling so bad about it all. But I'm not sure that is possible because the things that trigger the memories good and bad, will be there for a long time. It is often our fondest memories that cause the deepest pain.

God, if you decided to explain why you are taking me a different direction or even what that direction is, I would be completely okay with that. In case you were wondering!

Living Examples of Jesus, Part Two will be back after South Carolina.

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 1

First of all, I know it is late and I know I just had surgery and have a ton of things going on in the next couple of weeks but I can’t sleep. I’m completely exhausted. I was studying late tonight and I’ve tried to sleep but it isn’t working. So I thought I would share a few things. After all I've been writing papers all day so this should make me tired because those sure did!

I'm trying to spend a little time each day reflecting on different parts of my life, trying to evaluate where I really am and where it is God is taking me. I'm hoping to discover a bigger picture of this season of my life. I am looking at the patterns I've found in the lessons God has been teaching me and the ways he has revealed himself.

The most recent topic of reflection is relationships. Today I've been thinking about several key relationships in my life. I've been thinking about the impact they've had on mine and whether I've been impacting others in the same way. I've been wondering if I've been the friend that God has called me to be. Am I noticing the opportunities to be Jesus to others? And when I do notice those open doors, am I walking through them and loving God's people? I'm praying that God will teach me to love more and be more compassionate towards his people.

As a result of my pondering today I've decided that I will write a little something about some of the people who have really impacted me in the last six months. People that I think have been living examples of Jesus and are making a difference for the kingdom. They won't appear in any order. Like my thinking it will be rather random. There is no way I would ever be able to write about everyone. These are a just few that stick out and most likely they are people who have kicked my butt in the process.

Jeffrey happens to be one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world. He is one of the brightest and most hilarious people I have ever met. When I think of Jeff I think of fun, honesty, and faithfulness. Here’s why.

Jeffrey is one fun kid. One summer I had Tuesday mornings off at the camp. I would drive down, meet Jeff at Harris Prairie, where he was working at the time, and we would head to Wendy’s for lunch. That quickly became a tradition that we did pretty regularly until just recently. These are some of my favorite memories with Jeff because we are real with each other. We can admit that we aren’t perfect and share our frustrations without the other one judging. However, sometimes it can become a contest to see who can pray better, who can throw out the most insults, or who can say the meanest things. I’ve never won a contest, yet I always am in a better mood afterwards. Go figure! Usually it is because I’ve laughed so hard. I can’t spend more than two minutes with Jeff without laughing. You can find several scriptures that talk about Jesus spending time with other people over a meal. I strongly believe that they laughed at many of those meals. I’m pretty sure Jesus was on funny guy. One thing I’ve learned from Jeff is that God gave us life and he wants us to enjoy it. It isn’t supposed to be a rigid planned out schedule that can’t be changed. Who knew?!

Jeffrey is honest, but always out of love. Jeff isn’t known for being “Mr. Serious,” but he knows there is a time and a place for it. He is never afraid to call things like they are. He might not ever share those thoughts with you, but when he does he doesn’t water down the truth. I’ve never had someone be so blunt and up front with telling me the things I don’t want to hear or calling me out on my mistakes. I have never walked away from those conversations feeling hurt or like any less of a person. Along with all of the hard truths comes love and encouragement. It isn’t very often you can be lectured by someone and then say, “Thanks! That was encouraging.” I think that is exactly how the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery felt when they walked away from their conversations with Christ.

Jeffrey has been there every time I’ve need him and even when I didn’t know I needed him. This summer Jeff has taken the term “faithful friend” to a whole new level. He’s been one of my closest friends since we met, but we have never been the type of friends that call each other when something goes wrong at 1:30 in the morning. I never thought I would call him at that time of night and definitely never in tears. (I hate crying and don’t do it often especially in front of people.) This summer Jeff became that person many times, one week a couple days in a row. He didn’t once complain or joke about me crying. He was always honest, encouraging and willing to listen. Doing the inconvenient things and going the extra mile to make my life easier and make sure I was okay wasn’t something I asked him to do or expected him to do. He just did it like it was nothing. That is the kind of attitude I think Paul was referring to when he told the church in Philippi to have an attitude that was like Christ’s. Christ wasn’t selfish. He humbled himself and put others first.

I thank God everyday for Jeff and friends like him. And I pray that everyone can have people like that in their lives. I pray that God will keep teaching me to live a life that radiates his glory. Thank you Jeffrey for showing me Jesus.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thoughts on puzzle pieces...

My second summer working at Michiana Christian Service Camp the staff spent a lot of time talking about puzzles and how each of us are like a piece. Our unofficial theme for the summer was about looking at the big picture. As a staff we learned about looking past ourselves and our piece to see how others around us connect to our piece and how all the pieces together are the body. Together all the pieces reveal the body of Christ. When all the pieces are in place the true beauty of the kingdom he created can be seen. It was challenging.

Today I came down to the camp for Tabi and Ryan’s wedding, two staff members. I walked out of the Peasley’s house and headed towards Kelly's when I noticed the smell of the air. I don’t know if anyone else here has ever noticed but the air at camp has a unique smell, especially in the evenings. I walked down the driveway and took in as many long sniffs as I could. I love that smell and I smiled as I was reminded how much I love this place. But my mood changed quickly because I’m not here anymore. There are a few reasons for that, none of which are bad, but it still makes me sad.

All of that happened in just a few short seconds and just about as quickly as they passed I learned something new about puzzles. The road to discovering that my time at camp has come to an end has been a long and hard one. It has been so hard to see God take me in a direction completely different from this ministry that I love so much. At first I thought there was something wrong with me and my puzzle piece was broken. I thought maybe God’s picture for the camp was changing and I wasn’t needed in the picture. But tonight I thought of this.

What if the big picture really is the body of Christ made up of different sections, which are different ministries? What if the overall picture doesn’t change? What if what changes are the pieces? As God molds each of us, what if he changes our shape to fit different parts of the puzzle at different times? For the last six summers maybe my piece has the right colors and lines and is shaped just the right way to fit into the section of MCSC. Maybe now, as I’ve grown, my piece has different colors and lines. Maybe my piece is shaped a little differently and now belongs to a different section of the puzzle. Nothing or no one is broken…just changing. The great thing about this is that it is still the same puzzle, the same body living for and serving the same Lord.

I write this and tell myself, “Duh Sarah! You already knew all of this.” But tonight it just makes more sense and hits home and is far more comforting. I’ve known my time at camp is over but I wasn’t ready for it to come so soon. And honestly I've just not been ready to let go of it. I'm still working on that. But when you look at it this way hope becomes more evident. Now the goal is to keep seeking after Christ and figure out where my piece now belongs. South Carolina…Indiana…California…Vestaburg (please not there Jesus!) I don’t know yet, but when I find out you better believe I’m moving there.

What color is your puzzle piece? What lines and figures are on it? What is it shaped like? What ministry is it that God could be molding you to be the perfect puzzle place for this season in your life?

Friday, July 28, 2006

I got it!

Believe it or not I think I'm actually starting to figure out this blogspot bit. I don't really know what I'll write her but I'm kind of digging this thing. Maybe it is because no one really knows about it. Maybe it is because it is challenging and I like a good challenge. Speaking of a good challenge I should get back to that lecture. Blah!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Small Town Culture Shock...

Small Town Culture Shock…

There are some things I have forgotten about life in a small town and my temporary move home has jogged my memory. Let me share a few with you.

- Driving to the closest Wal-Mart is a big deal.
- Driving to the closest Meijer is inconvenient and out of the way.
- Not having power for several days isn’t really that big of a deal.
- You are unable to rent some of last year’s most popular films because no one has heard of them.
- If you can’t get everything at the same store it isn’t worth it.
- Some big guy from the county decided it would be a good idea to put in a sewer system that will cost $8000 per unit and thinks people will love the idea. (for perspective: School – over 100 units and Camp – over 80 units)
- The only thing to do here is thinking, but most people don’t know how.
- Everything is over priced at the grocery store, including locally grown produce!
- Ear protection is required for self check-out lanes.

I’m not making this stuff up my friends. I wanted to get ice cream the other day and it ended up being this HUGE deal. I’ve been painting with my dad to help pay the bills and all I do while I work is think. Then I come home and have to study and by the end of the day my brain is tired. This much thinking could be hazardous to my health! I went grocery shopping with my mom and the self check-out lane literally screams out the price of every item to you. My ears hurt after the third item. BUT…

Vestaburg does have wireless high speed internet! Eat that Niles!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New blog?

New blog?
I think I have decided to start posting some thoughts here. But then perhaps I won't.