16 December 2008

more to Christmas

finale, originally uploaded by sarahleia.

so have you ever had so many thoughts in your head that you just could not get anything out? i feel like that lately, i sound like that lately. i have thoughts about Christmas and what presents to buy, a burning desire for all of us to be more positive and thankful and "green", lingering thoughts about the election and the upcoming inauguration, stress about work, the economy and how to pay the bills, and even thoughts about color and issues of white and black that i face everyday at work. all of these are just running around in my head as if i had to figure them all out at once. i can't even keep them quiet long enough to read a chapter in a book. i suppose that is why i need to blog. perhaps i should not have let it go this long.

so why do we get so busy this time of year? why do things get so out of control, so out of focus? why are we always so stressed? what is really going on? am i stressed about Christmas or is Christmas just one more thing on my list? i went to see the trans siberian orchestra's Christmas concert on sunday evening at the verizon center. it was amazing. there was just something about it when they played their "O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night." it gripped my heart and moved my soul. i know that sounds dramatic but it really was. it moved me as if i was standing there worshiping even though the others around me in the suite were drinking and having a good time and not at all in that mind set. i was able to have the same moment with God there that i had at the Christmas production at church the night before when i watched the wise men bring gifts to Jesus at the manger. the orchestra is amazing. i don't know if they are all born again or living to use their gifts for His glory, but they are only as good as they are because of Him and He will use them even when they are not aware of it. the presence of God can be anywhere, anytime, especially around this holiday season. so whether the lights are flashing, the violinist is flying across the platform, and there is fire shooting out of the stage or if there is only a simple manger with a single star shining above it, God is here and there is more to the message.

so why do we have such a hard time seeing it? why do we get so caught up in all the hustle and bustle if He really is all around and can use anything to speak to us? it is because we are not looking, our eyes and ears are not open. we are too busy worrying about the lights and the fireworks to notice the manger. the lights and the fireworks are great, like i said, He can use it all, He gave it to us. but we have to be able to see the manger beyond them, we can't get caught up in them. we can't get caught up in the shopping or the decorating or even the production at church that is all about Jesus. we have to have an open heart so that when he wants that moment to count, we are open to it. when we least expect it, in the middle of a party or in your car or at the mall, you have to be open to Him. i don't think i went to that concert thinking i would have a worship experience. but as i was feeling the music and began to sing the words in my head and really thought about what they meant to me, my soul swelled and Jesus met me there, just for a moment.

so what is the point, what is the more, what is the message? i hope that we can all know the true Jesus of Christmas this year. the Jesus that meets us where we are, in any moment and brings peace to our stress and provides in our time of need. we are all so busy and stressed with our lives right now, not just about Christmas, and He simply wants to remind us that He came and He is here. i hope that we don't get so caught up in all of Christmas that we forget to see Him in others and share what we have of Him with those that need it. it is a simple message and one that we hear probably every Christmas. but think about it a little differently this year, not as if we are being scolded again for what we did not do, but being reminded to look for more, more that we have been given for Christmas. this is a time when Jesus came to add love, peace, and joy to our lives. it is all around us, He came, He is here, this is Christmas.

23 November 2008

more cheer, more happiness, more hope

so i haven't written in a while. i've been sick and stressed and just so busy trying to keep up with life that has seemed to run away from me. most days i have just been working all day, out in the field and then in front of my computer as soon as i get home until late in the evening and then i am so exhausted i head straight to bed. it is not a very glamorous life. and even more so lately, it seems that things have just been out of my control in almost every aspect of my life. but in the midst of all of that, as i was decorating for christmas yesterday, i found myself being able to be very thankful for the small gifts i am given during the day, not necessarily of monetary value, but just the little things that make me happy, the things that lift my spirits. sometimes they come directly from a friend or they are just something i notice, but God knows the desires of our hearts right down to the little things we enjoy and He knows just when we need a lift. it is from those little things that i get my hope back. not from the gifts themselves, because that would not last, but the brief cheer and happiness they bring is usually enough to bring me out of my stressful state, even just for a moment, long enough to remember the true joy that i have that brings me hope for each new day. He can be seen in those little things no matter how trivial, ordinary, silly, or simple. He knows what we need and sometimes that is only something small to remind us to look to Him. those things are all around us in this world and the people we come in contact with.

so i started this list a very long time ago. it is a list of the things that make me happy and i decided i would share it with you. as you will see, it is about people, His creation, and simple things, all things i enjoy and things that remind me of joy and hope.

  • driving my car, no traffic, especially with other vdubs
  • riding with jeremiah, especially on a nice day, windows down (being driven by someone who knows how after driving myself around in traffic all day/all week long)
  • washing my car, having a clean car
  • laying under the stars
  • hearing the right song at just the right time
  • reading to children
  • finding the perfect gift
  • being at the beach
  • pedicures
  • studying, learning, science and experiments, reading science books, watching Myth Busters
  • graduations (and seeing people reach goals)
  • capturing the perfect photograph, this is fun to play with as well to find other good photos
  • being taken out on a date whether surprised or planned but having him do the decision making, ie. being taken out
  • campfires, toasting marshmallows
  • puppies
  • babies and children laughing
  • shoe shopping
  • breakfast food anytime of the day
  • slowing down with a friend in the middle of a busy day for lunch, coffee, or just a walk/talk
  • soft socks in winter
  • christmas decorations, lights, candles, red ornaments, and holiday smells
  • snow
  • miracles and seeing people doing genuinely nice things, big or small
  • having time with God outside under a tree on a beautiful day
  • naps on a rainy day, laying around watching movies
  • fireworks
  • having a creative project turn out just the way you pictured it in your mind
  • traditions among families
i hope that this helps to remind you of the little things in your life that can bring more happiness and hope to your day.

10 November 2008

more to what we do

i have worked at many jobs since my first position at the Jigger Shop in eleventh grade; everything from giving bra fittings and changing window displays to binding books, folding jeans, serving coffee, and caring for the most precious boys. but none of these jobs have given me the opportunity to touch so many families as my job as a family counselor. it is what i am called to do. it is the purpose i was given. in Romans 12:2 paul says, "don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. then you will know what God wants you to do..." this is what we do as counselors. we help families see things differently and then live up to their God given potential.

so i really didn't want to get up and go to work this morning. i don't want to go to work this week. it is going to be a busy one. so often, almost every day, i get discouraged about the paperwork and other little things that i need to do. i begin to think, why do i have to spend so much time doing all of this when i could be out there really helping people? when i get overwhelmed with the paperwork or the time i've wasted sitting in rush hour traffic i lose sight of the purpose of what i am doing. i become burnt out. why do i need to help all of these people when i have trouble in my own heart and pressure in my own life?

the truth is that we are all called to touch lives no matter what our job happens to be. we do this by living our lives with excellence, by doing things as if we are doing them directly for God himself. doing the little things in our jobs that we hate and doing them well is all part of living our lives with excellence. it is our worship. in doing this we can touch others when they see the passion and dedication in our lives, when they see that we do not simply work at a job but live to worship Him in all that we do, when they see that there is more to it.

i am having a hard time finding the right words to express just exactly how i feel. there are no words to express the passion that i feel for living our lives with excellence and passion to touch others, to show them the joy that we have when He has filled our lives. the point is, no matter what we do, whether sweeping floors, selling perfume, changing oil, or counseling families, we should do it, and all that goes with it, as worship to our God. it is up to each of us to figure out how we touch others in each of our jobs.

"for i live in eager expectation and hope that i will never do anything that causes me shame, but that i will always be bold for Christ... and that my life will always honor Christ... for to me living is for Christ..." (Philippians 1:20, 21)

for all of my friends that are feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and maybe even wishing to be gone from all of this, i am praying for you. it is not always easy to stay calm and motivated every day. sometimes we just need to yell, cry, hit something, or just get away from it all. so do that, get it out with a friend, slack off for a moment, or take a little vacation, look into a new job if you need to, but then remember this...the life God gives is greater than any challenge of the mind or emotions. His strength is more powerful than the demands on our endurance to pull through trials and deserts. we are going to make it with His help and for that we can rejoice in Him in all we are doing in each moment.

24 October 2008

more joy, more purpose

the times I spent with my friends from church during my high school years were some of the best times of my life. i think back and sometimes i wish i could go back to those days when i'm sitting around on a the weekend after a long week of work. things were so much simpler. then again, we thought there was so much drama. it is difficult being a teenager when you are in it. when you grow up, problems like what classes to take or who likes who in the youth group or if you will have a date to prom seem very trivial. at that time, however, they were the world. summers were filled with fun, camps, the beach, car washes, bang ball, pranking, sleepovers, and just hanging out. these days, the summers seem very much like the rest of the year. we may have a week of vacation but all the other days are just regular. we worry about problems like how to pay the bills and if our lives are filled with purpose. and that is just it, that is the "more."

the struggle then is to find ways to enjoy life now, to enjoy the work we do, to see purpose in it, and to be in the will of God, not to get bogged down in all of the problems we face day to day. if we can find the "more," the hidden joy in the things we do or even the little things we haven't been doing that we need to add into our day, we do not have to live off of the joys of the past, which fade away. life can be so good minus the troubles we face. i'm glad that i have the memories of my years in youth group and all of the lessons i learned. i am also glad that i am living my life now surrounded by people that encourage me to fulfill my purpose and to live every moment with fullness.

to CrossPower, i miss you all and hope you are finding your way. thank you rev for guiding and teaching us and giving us a place to be teenagers looking for the real purpose.

23 October 2008

more to being special

we all struggle at some point with the idea of being special. we all desire to feel that we are special in a way that makes us better in others' eyes. yet there are also those who are labeled special in a way that makes them feel less in others' eyes. people come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of different abilities and disabilities--some are slim, and some are more voluptuous; others are gorgeous, ugly, inferior, strong, weak, ditsy, or nerdy. some of us have experienced rape, disease, abuse, betrayal, heartbreak and loss, poverty, tragedies of all kinds--but these things are not what make us special.

the way we look and the things that have happened to us do not define us. God made us all and this simple fact makes every one of us special. our lack of something or our possession of something is irrelevant to who we are in Christ. we tend to view ourselves through others' eyes and question if there is something wrong with ourselves. tragically, we can go through our lives believing lies and that we are simply the girl that has been raped, the guy that gets beat by his dad, or the person with the deformity or disease, that these traumas are what make us special. we become hard, avoiding new relationships, afraid of taking risks or being wrong, getting hurt easily, kicking ourselves over every little mistake, because we've been conditioned to believe that we, of all people, do not have the right to be imperfect. we feel that we are looked down upon because of our imperfections, that they make us less than what God made us to be. but there is more to this.

we need to get to the place where we can stop hiding behind the facade of having it all together and enjoy being ourselves. we are children of God and nothing should make us feel or act less special than this. we are special because of the good He put in us, not the horrible things that have happened to us. we need to tell someone, forgive someone, do what we need to do to heal, soak up every lesson we can learn, and move on, allowing it to make us stronger, tougher, more able to help others and use the abilities God has given us. it is about being tough, not hard.

(inspired by The Wounded Spirit by Frank Peretti, check it out in my books)

me and my blog

i am a perfectionist in so many ways (although you will note i do not like to use capital letters). i have a very busy life. i have very passionate, wandering thoughts. all of these things make an interesting recipe for blogging. i love to write and express my thoughts but i have little time and when i do i want them to come out perfect. however, with little time, it becomes impossible to get my passionate message out just the way i want. so i am learning that blogging is not so much about the perfection of the writing but just simply expressing the message and getting it out there for others to read and hopefully get something from it. this is my hope from this blog, that it will not be another column that complains about the economy or gossips about celebrities or even talks about what shoes to wear (even though i love shoes!). i hope that when reading this blog we all realize there is more to this...there is more to life than the bad things that happen, there are little things out there to cheer us up in the day, there are people around us that we can lean on and that need us, there is a God that loves us and we live and breathe for with every moment.

so, i am projecting that in this blog there will be a variety of subjects. there will be days when i write about the little things that got me through the day and the way i see the world. there will be other times when i write about a tragic day and my search for the "more." i may start out with posting some old writings from my myspace (for those that are not "friends"). but i hope in reading this you will enjoy it and that in seeing my ups and downs we can remember there is more to this.