Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love lost and found


We step into my studio after our date, and I hurry to my closet to get a sweater. He walks over with me and peers into the dark, cluttered space.
 
“What’s in that box?” He points to a white moving box on the top shelf next to a basket of blankets. I blush, and my heart thumps nervously.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Just stuff from when I planned my wedding.” I say it casually — carelessly — but he knows. “It’s not nothing,” he says, his voice full of understanding. “That box is full of significant things.”

We’re silent for a bit. I’m remembering how I would often take the box down in the months following my broken engagement. I would slowly unpack it, looking through receipts, lists, and a few wedding gifts that were somehow never returned. I would hold each item and remember how I had said yes to the man who had asked for my love, and how God had said, “No.” No to a husband; no to a family; no to a home of my own.

And in the following years he had said no to good health — to traveling, working full time, and continuing my seminary education. I often didn’t have the heart to ask for anything specific from God.

I sigh deeply and look over at my date. He smiles.

After he leaves, I ask God to direct our relationship. And then, timidly, I ask him to give me a husband one day.

For months my prayers are courageous and risky.

And then, one night, I’m driving home alone, and I’m single again. My date and I have decided to stop seeing each other. I’m relieved because God has answered my prayers for direction, but my shoulders are sagging. God has said no, again, to my boldest, most vulnerable prayer for a husband and family of my own.

The next day I’m reading the Sermon on the Mount, and I’m struck by Jesus’ words:

“Which of you,” he asks, “will give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or will give him a snake when he asks for fish? “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, then how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask?!”

I lean back in my chair, and I think about the ways God has shown us he keeps his word.
I think of the rains that flooded the earth, just like God said they would. I think of the baby that kicked in Sarah’s womb, just like God said it would.

I think of the water that gushed from a rock, the walls that crumbled from the blast of trumpets, the ravens that fed Elijah in the wilderness, and the Messiah who came to save the world.

It’s true: God is a promise-keeper. And in his Sermon on the Mount, he promises to give his children good gifts — the best gifts. And I’m his child, and here I am in my thirties and still single, and could it be that this alone-ness is … one of the best gifts?

But a husband, a family, a home — didn’t God create me to want these things? Would it be so bad for him to satisfy the wanting?

Now my mind is racing to the rhythm of David Crowder Band’s "How He Loves."  That one line is still in my head after a week of trying to sing something else:

“He is jealous for me.”

The Old and New Testaments affirm it: Yahweh has established a permanent, exclusive covenant with his people, and compared it to a marriage. He is the husband to his people; we are his bride.

He’s not insecure, or abusive, or envious for something that doesn’t belong to him. He wants relational faithfulness. He’s jealous for our love, the way a husband is jealous for his wife’s loyal affection.

He wants our whole hearts because he’s ultimately jealous for his glory. And the God of the Bible is most glorified when his people are most fully alive — when we experience truest intimacy, pleasure, belonging and wholeness, because this is what he intended for us. He knows we can only fully experience these things in him, so the best gift he gives us is Himself. But he cannot give Himself to us if our hearts are not alive to him, for a Lover never forces himself on his beloved.

And I think I know that marriage and a family would be the best possible way he could teach me to love him with my whole heart, so I can have more of his heart.

But the God of the Bible is a God who sees. He sees every thought we think and step we take. And he knows what will prompt our hearts to push further up and further in to his heart. He knows when marriage, children, health, and financial stability will push us toward him. He knows when singleness, barrenness, illness, and poverty will push us closer still. He knows that, often, it’s our wanting that leads our wandering hearts back to him.

And this knowing pulls me back. 

I close my Bible, let my lips pick up the words of "How He Loves," and then it hits me that my wedding box, and my recent break-up, and the loneliness that visits when the table is set for one are all proof of God’s jealous guardianship of me. And in my secret heart, I find myself smiling — a child quietly delighting in good gifts from her father.




This was originally posted in 2013 at Soulation. I've made a few revisions before posting it again here. 

 
© by scj


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Discipline of Doodling

My dear friends,

I just tried writing a post about all of the change I'm experiencing in this new season — about how it's thrilling and invigorating and overwhelming all at once — but I couldn't do it. I've not been able to write much about spirituality and discipleship the last two years because I've just been too sick; and now, as I'm healing, I feel like I need time to step back and survey all of the renovative work God has been doing before I do the hard work of writing about it. So instead of finishing my post, I'll just tell you that I am delighted to be stepping into a season of radical change, but I'm also scared. I have to preach truth to myself a lot in order to combat the fear.

Lately, I've embraced what I call "The Discipline of Doodling" as a means of preaching truth to myself.

Here's what I do:

I pick a verse or quote that encourages and challenges me, and then I doodle it.


I carefully write it in fun letters, and I doodle pictures around it, and I spend all the time that takes meditating on the truth on the page.



 
When I'm done, I post the doodle somewhere in my room so I'm regularly reminded of its message.



It's proving to be a wonderfully life-giving spiritual discipline.


If you want to try the spiritual discipline of doodling, HERE are the pens I use.

And if want some doodling inspiration, HERE is a book that may help you.


Happy Sunday (and happy doodling!), sweet friends of mine.

I'm cheering for you.

-Sarah




© by scj

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hullo!

My friends!

It's been awhile since we've been together in this space, and I've missed you! Much has happened since my last post.

Last month, I bid farewell to my sweet little Roo and the cold Washington winter, and I returned to sunny southern California.

Oh Roo, how I miss you!!



As I've settled back into life here, I've been encouraged by continued limbic system retraining victories. I'm preparing to create a video answering the specific questions many of you have about limbic system retraining, but in the meantime, here's a quick update:

I am SO happy to be exercising more frequently and vigorously than I have in a long time. I take long walks and have regular solo bedroom dance parties, and best of all, I'm taking ballet lessons! I've always wanted to learn ballet, and when a former student who is a ballet teacher offered to give me private lessons, I jumped at the opportunity.

I'm trying to spend as much time as possible outside, so we moved our lessons to one of my favorite places in the whole world: the track!


We've found hurdles are very helpful when learning plies!

This ballet opportunity makes me feel so cared for by God

As my body heals, I've also been able to engage in more social activity, and I've found my rest increasingly more restful.

I continue to enjoy getting to know the professors and students in my PhD program
The beach is one of my favorite places of rest

If you are on the fence about trying limbic system retraining (DNRS), I'm hopeful that the video I'm working on gives you the information you need to feel confident to try it. God is using DNRS to heal what I thought was un-healable, and I am delighted to be getting my life back, bit by bit.

If you have any questions about DNRS, please shoot me an email. I'm happy to help you however I can.

For those of you who continue to pray for me: thank you. What faithful warriors you have been and continue to be on this journey with me.

Much love to you all!

I'm cheering for you,

Sarah

© by scj

Friday, January 13, 2017

Maple Syrup Snow Candy Recipe

On Wednesday we woke up to over a foot of snow.

We are glorying in all the beauty.


Roo has never seen this much snow before and loves sniffing, digging, and bounding across the yard. The snow is up to her neck, so her bounding looks more like bouncing (she's our Kanga-Roo), and it is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.


I am also delighted to report that I enjoyed a major limbic system retraining victory after the snow fell:


I went cross country skiing!

We all did, actually.


It was much easier than walking anywhere.

A few months ago I got motion sickness just turning my head, rolling over in bed, or walking across the room, so it was wild to be gliding across the snow and feeling fine.

The second day we skied it was much icier.


Much, much icier.

So icy that I took a hard fall on my tailbone.

The fall seemed to have caused some whiplash, and since then my body has been in a bit of a tizzy that feels like a flare-up in my chronic symptoms. So, I've decided to cozy up with Anne of Green Gables and some maple syrup snow candy for the rest of the afternoon.

If you've ever read the Little House on the Prairie series, then you may remember that in Little House in the Big Woods Laura enjoys maple syrup snow candy at her grandmother's house. I first made this candy after reading the book as a kid and was so excited to make it today.

It's super easy (and delicious!), and I've posted the step-by-step recipe below for those of you with snow outside your window.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
2 TB butter (optional)
A pinch of sea or pink Himalayan salt

Instructions:

1. Put the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.


2. Boil for a few minutes until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage or 235 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you who have a candy thermometer.


I didn't have a thermometer, so after the mixture had boiled for a few minutes, I drizzled a bit of it into a glass of cold water. It formed a soft ball upon hitting the water, so I knew it was ready.

3. Once the mixture is ready, take it outside and pour it into a clean bed of snow. Be sure to wear your boots while you're cookin' so you can make a mad dash outside when the mixture is ready!




I recommend you use a rubber spatula to coax the mixture into the snow in bigger ribbons than the ones I made, since the thin ribbons can be hard to fish out of the snow. 

You could also pack snow into a pie pan and bring it inside for this step.


4. After you've finished pouring your candy, it is ready to eat!


And boy oh boy is it GOOD.


I hope you are all having a lovely Friday!

Cheering for you, Home Skillets,

Sarah





© by scj

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy News

It snowed again this weekend.


This is the snowiest winter this area has had in awhile, and we are loving it.

We love watching the snow fall from our cozy perches by the fire place, but we especially love going on walks in the snow.

My brother and his wife stopped by for a bowl of soup just as the snow started to fall, and they left my mom and me a note on their way out.


Roo likes it too! She gets cold, though, so my mom has devised a way to make one of her wool vests fit Roo. The fitting process involves lots of safety pins and is not unlike fitting a cloth diaper to a newborn baby.



The vest tags! 😂

My mom is nothing if not resourceful.

A related side note: Roo went through heat recently — apparently small dogs go into heat at a pretty young age — and my mom fashioned diapers for her out of old underwear. Watching Roo trot around the house in those "diapers" was one of the delights of my life.

Roo adores my resourceful mom.


They are BFFs.

Oh Roo-berry, you are the apple of our eyes, the sauce on our spaghetti, the peanut to our butter. We love you, as is evidenced by our suffocating snuggles and excessive doting, and we are wondering how you will do when Baby Jackson is born...

Yep, that's right: My brother, Aaron, and his wife, Natasha, are having a BABY, due in June, 2017!!!!!!

This week, Baby J is the size of a white onion. We are fresh out of white onions, so we found a yellow onion that looked like a white onion, and we marveled at how fast Baby J is growing.


If you've been reading my blog for awhile, then you know my brother met his wife on their college track team. He was a dual sport athlete at their university — he played soccer and was a sprinter on the track team — and she was a world-class heptathlete. After graduating from college, Natasha went on to compete on the world stage, and she trained for years at the Olympic training Center in Calgary, Canada. Her goal was to compete in the 2016 summer Olympics for Canada. Unfortunately, her years of training were riddled with frustrating, incapacitating injuries that interfered with her Olympic dreams, and it was with peace and hope for a new season of life that she retired from track and field last year.

We are all excited about what this next season holds for her and Aaron.

She and my brother announced their pregnancy on Facebook with this sweet video, accompanied by the caption: "Aaron and I collaborated on a design project together. It's not your average Nike ad..."

video
(This video format may not be compatible with your mobile device).

You guys, I think I am going to adore auntie life. And my parents. Well, they are over the moon about being grandparents.

They've already started buying baby clothes, starting with this onesie:

Photo taken from Pinterest


Baby Jackson, you are the perfect addition to our clan and we love you already.



Hopeful, grace-filled Monday, my friends.

I'm cheering for ya!

-SJ






© by scj

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hope

I never used to think about hope much, but now I know: hope is jasmine winding its way through your insides, climbing into your most intimate parts, filling the empty spaces with the fragrance of spring.

When you are sick for years and years, your hope of health shrivels and droops until it is nothing more than a few black, spindly stems. When this happens, it is easiest to let hope die, but you mustn't.

You must coax your hope back to life with the water and air of imagination. You must imagine you are climbing Half Dome, or learning to surf, or hosting a tea party, or running in the rain, and you must imagine you are doing it all with ease. Do this daily, and with time you will notice your hope has sprouted the tiniest waxy, green leaves. One day it will bear fragrant blossoms again.

For months I've been working to cultivate hope by imagining myself exploring Portland with my siblings, a cup of tea in hand and the neurological firestorm at bay. And you guys, today I did it, just exactly the way I imagined.

It was wondrous.







© by scj