Monday, February 18, 2013

Letters to my life: health

Dear sweaty, burn-inducing Workouts,

You're one of my favorite things. Right up there with symphonies, sunsets, and Spanish-speaking countries.


Sore Sarah

Dear Matt. P.,

Do you remember the day our college track team sprinted hill repeats until almost all of us collapsed and then barfed? (Oh wait. That was every day.) And do you remember how it sort of felt like we were on the brink of death after that workout? And do you remember how I didn't barf because I was having a rare asthma attack? And do you remember how you were leaning over the gutter, dizzy and exhausted, when you realized I was having an attack? And do you remember how you sprinted down that 300-meter hill, got my inhaler, and sprinted up again to get it to me? That required superhuman strength.

I was remembering that this week. It made me smile.


Still-smiling Sarah

Dear February,

You've been a magical month. Since that first day you took over time-keeping for January, I've felt better than I've felt in years. Like, 100% HEALTHY better. 



And-I-just-keep-pinching-my-healthy-self Sarah

Dear healthy Body,

I love you, and I've missed you, and I love you, and I've missed you, and I love you, and I've missed you, and I love you times one million zillion.



Dear Jesus,

I wish I could throw my arms around you, and rest my head on your chest, and whisper thanks in your ear. But instead I'll just whisper 'thank you,' from where I sit, for this month of health, and I'll look forward to a big ol' bear hug in heaven.


Your Sarah

Dear Apple Tree,

My pies and I miss you.


Darn-you-termites Sarah

Dear Friend who suggested we go on a motorcycle tour of Australia next winter,

Um, heck. yes.


Packing-my-leather-now Sarah

Dear Readers,

Let's laugh together, okay?

You ready? Here goes:


Didn't that feel good?


I-like-laughing-with-you Sarah

Dear Orange County Horizons,

I never tire of you.


Wide-eyed-with-wonder Sarah

© by scj

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Instructions for what to do should you happen to drive past a lemon grove

1. Pull over immediately, and park.

2. Climb out of the car, close your eyes, and inhale.

3. Smile.

4. Jump.

5. Twirl.

And twirl.

And twirl.

6. When the world has stopped spinning, thank God that you just twirled in a lemon grove whilst wearing 4-inch heels and, somehow, did not sprain your ankles.

7. Bump noses with a lemon. Everyone knows you're supposed to bump noses with lemons in lemon groves.

8. Walk to the top of the hill in the middle of the lemon grove and ask a kind stranger to take a picture of you with the hills in the background.

9. Then ask him if he'd please, if it's not too much trouble, maybe take a picture of you with Catalina Island in the background?

10. When he complies with gusto, thank him. And when he is suddenly possessed with an urgent desire to document your lemon grove adventure more thoroughly than you ever dreamed of documenting it — when he leads you hither and thither, up stairs and down stairs, and round and round the gazebo, all the while snap-snap-snapping away — pose your little heart out.

11. When he thinks trying to capture a silhouette shot is a good idea, strike your very best silhouette statue pose.

12. When he suggests assuming a Charlie's Angel's pose, go for it, baby.

13. When you see the Charlie's Angel's photo later, make a mental note to practice that pose at home in your bathroom mirror. Alone.

14. And when the eager photographer suggests an arm-in-the-air diva look, give it your best shot.

Because it may turn out to be the coolest shot of the whole shoot.

15. Thank the helpful stranger-photographer, hop in the car, and speed off into the sunset.

© by scj

Monday, February 11, 2013

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 broken up. 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 nearing thirty 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 Testament affirms 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 lover is jealous for his wife’s undivided affection.
He wants our whole hearts because he’s ultimately jealous for his glory. And the God of Israel 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 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 heartso that I can have more of his heart.

But the God of Israel 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.
© by scj

Monday, February 4, 2013

Letters to my life: Dancing

Dear Woman at church who thought I was 17, and advised me to consider going to Biola University after graduation,

Thank you for forgetting to wear your glasses today. It made me feel guh-reat.


In-fact-let's-all-always-forget-to-wear-our-glasses Sarah

Dear Hyphen,

How would I sign these letters without you?


The-possibilities-are-endless-thanks-to-you Sarah

Dear Apple Inc.,

Today I realized I needed to go to the store to stock up on Candy Cane Lane tea before the Christmas season is over. Then I noticed my iPhone says it's February.

You might want to have your tech guys fix the calendar app. It's clearly not working correctly.


Good-thing-you've-got-me-to-advise-you Sarah

Dear Ladies, and Gentlemen with ponytails,

A coconut oil hair mask is your new best friend. Seriously. Go try it.


'I-whip-my-hair-back-and-forth' Sarah

Dear aforementioned Gentlemen,

Your ponytail is hot. Keep it. The answer is always keep it. 


Let's-whip-our-hair-back-and-forth-together Sarah

Dear Readers who are skeptical of male ponytails,

Are you skeptical now?


Not-with-Colin-Farrell-in-the-house-you-aren't!! Sarah

Dear Life,

I like you.



Dear God,

When I get to heaven, one of the first things I want to do is watch Joni Eareckson-Tada dance.


And-then-maybe-you-and-I-and-the-rest-of-heaven-can-dance-with-her? Sarah

© by scj