Thursday, October 1, 2015

It Matters

I've been thinking a lot about encouragement lately.  About how we all need it.  About those who give it freely.  And about those who...don't. 

I received a card in the mail the other day.  Written inside were a few short sentences of encouragement.  Nothing lavish or over the top.  Just simple sentences letting us know they appreciated how God is using us.  And it was one of those moments that hit me me hard.  Like crying outside the post office, hard.  Because it was just so sweet of them to send it.  

And apparently I needed it.  That's how encouragement is.  We all need it.  And we all need to give it.  

Maybe it's harsh to say this, but *oh well* I think most people think they are a fountain, when in fact they more often act like a drain.  Me included.

Some people definitely have the spiritual gift of encouragement.  This lady that sent the card, it's her gift.  It is.  

For others of us, we need to work at it a little.  We need to say the nice thing out loud.  I like to just think it.  Because thinking it in my head still seems like a nice thing to do.  But it needs to come out of my head and go into their heart for it to matter.  

Over the past several years I've learned a few things about encouragement.  One, is that in ministry & life, you will spend a great deal of time just encouraging people.  Over and over and over.  Like a cheerleader...only without the pom poms and short skirt.  Sometimes it will make a difference.  And sometimes it won't.  Cheerleaders don't control the outcome of the game.  They just cheer their little hearts out regardless.

I wasn't quite prepared for that.  I have sort of the exact opposite of a cheerleader personality.  In fact, "not a cheerleader" is on my long list of "Things I'm Not: Why Did God Call Me to be the  Wife of a Pastor?" 

And God, as usual, shows me He's not limited by what I'm not.  It's Him in me.  And so He prompts, and He prompts and He prompts some more.  And I write the email, or the text, or make the phone call.  And tell people *out loud* what I'm already thinking in my head.  Because I  need to hear it as much as they do. 

There's a phrase I find myself saying often when encouraging people: "It matters."  Whatever they are doing, whatever they are struggling with, whoever they matters.  It was only recently that I realized that part of the reason I'm saying it all the time is because in a way, I'm saying it to myself.  When I tell them it matters, I'm reminding my own heart that it matters.

Cheer somebody on today.  Say the nice thing.  Everyone needs some encouragement.  Let them know it matters.  You can do it.  *insert toe touch*  (just kidding, I can't even bend over and touch my toes, let alone jump in the air and do it.  But you get the idea.)

(all images obtained via pinterest, I have no idea who the copyright belongs to, but it's not me)

Friday, September 25, 2015


The beginning of this month marked T E N years of ministry for us here in Tiny Town.  

A decade.

So much life has happened in ten years.  I can hardly wrap my head and heart around it.  

I've tried over and over to at least compose a post in my head about the past decade.  But I seem to get so far, and then decide that's not something I want to share.  And then I start from a new angle, and end up at the same point.  A bullet-point list of all I've learned seemed totally do-able.  But nothing.  And so I wait for the words to come.  And wait and wait and wait.  

This morning an Internet friend (Tracy) posted a link to a Beth Moore article and as I read it, I suddenly knew what the writers block was.  Me.

"The most basic one-word synonym for “disciple” is “learner.” Maybe you need to know today what I’ve needed to know so many days: learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way.
Or the excruciating way.
Or the embarrassing way.
Or the exasperating way.
Or the explosive, expensive or excessively long way.
If it attached you to the Teacher, if it marked you with Him and caused you at all to imitate Him, that’s the beating heart of discipleship."

I am overwhelmed with what God has done in me, this past decade.  Not through me, or because of me, but in me.  

And here's what God made me realize this morning:  "Learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way."

Early on in ministry, I would have defined "success" for myself as not failing.  I mean, I wouldn't have said that out-loud, but in my head, that would have at least been part of the definition.  In order to succeed, I needed to get most things right in most situations.  I'm the pastor's wife after all.   It only makes logical sense.  And I am, after all, l o g i c a l.  And I operated under this unspoken expectation of mine for many years.  

But God is different.  He works inside and outside of the logical.  

He took my "most things right in most situations" mentality and flipped it on me.   And I wondered why God would go and make a mess of things that I had WORKED SO HARD AT NOT MAKING A MESS OF?!?  And then the mess settled, and it became clear.  Sometimes a mess is required to make room for better.

And I learned something that I should have known logically, but didn't know practically.  God is glorified in the mess.  And He changes me in the mess.  In my mess.  I don't have to get it right all the time.  And it's in my failures that I grow in Him.  And that's all He really desires from me.  To grow closer to Him.  Everything else is an overflow from that.  I knew this to be true of other people, but my expectation for myself in my position had been different.  *God is not limited by me not getting it right all the time.*

Can I tell you something?  If you have a pastors wife in you life...let her mess up.  Allow her to disappoint you.   It's for your good, and your church's good.  When she doesn't say the thing you need to hear.  When she's not the friend you want or her for that.  Because she's as messed up as you are.  And when you can see her that way, you give her freedom to grow into who God wants her to be.  And it's likely not what you want her to be...or what she wants to be (ha!) but it is most definitely what God wants.  I am thankful for people that have loved me in my messy.  

Here's what I've learned.  Successful ministry is not about the church always getting it right.  Or the pastor and his wife being the right people.  It's about disappointing each other and living and loving through it!  When a church can do that, God is glorified...and the impossible becomes possible through the unleashing of His power.  

I am so thankful for the people in our tiny church that have loved us through our learning/failing/loving process and who continue to walk this journey of faith with us.  I'm sure there are times when they've wondered if better options were out there.  I've wondered that for them.  But that's the beauty in it.  The coming and working together that would otherwise be impossible if not for God. 

It is a blessing to have been loved well these past ten years.  My prayer is that He continues to help me to love Him, and love others.  It's that simple.  All the good....that's Him.

John 13:35English Standard Version (ESV)

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stained Glass

A week or so ago, Ben and I had the chance to see one of my favorite bands, Rend Collective, live.  Normally, I'm not a huge fan of concerts because: People.  My loathing of crowds usually trumps all.  But this time they were playing in a smaller venue with balcony seating...which = my idea of a good time.

So we bought tickets the night before (procrastinators) and went out on a school night.  

Rend Collective was fantastic.  Seriously great.  And they played some of my favorite songs right off the bat, so now they have my heart forever.  

And yes, I bought a (grown up version) poster and taped it to my wall.  Near the living room.  One is never too old for a poster.


There was a guy that opened for Rend Collective, and his name was Jon Guerra.  I had never heard him before, but really fell in love with his music.

I imagine that there's pressure being the opening act for a band.  You're the little guy, playing first, and you know the crowd paid for tickets to see the other band.  Basically.  But as he sang, his music ministered to my soul.  Deeply.  And if I met him (and his lovely wife that sang with him) I would tell them that being the opening-act...well, it's a big deal.  It impacts.  God uses the big guys.  And the little guys.  

I'm always a fan of the little guys.  The underdogs.  The less known.  It might be why I love my church church so much.  

One of my favorite songs he sang was called Stained Glass.  And so I have to share.  

Stained glass explained:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


My husband is the romantic in this house.  He has always been the romantic in our relationship, which dates back to me being 15 and him being 17.  So, it's been awhile.  

I'm way to boring and realistic to be romantic.  My brain just doesn't bend that way.  Instead, it bends towards sarcasm and practicality.  *what a lucky guy*

He wrote me poems, and letters, and brought me flowers.   And he never let my head-shaking and eye-rolling and smirky-smile deter him.  Because that's who he is.  He's goofy, and romantic, and willing to be opposite.  Which is part of what has always made me drawn to him.  Pretty admirable qualities.  

This morning, I woke up to post-it notes on all sorts of objects all over the house.  Quirky little notes.  He leaves me notes fairly often, but today was excessive enough that our boys noticed.

As the boys (14, almost 13, and 10) funneled down the stairs this morning, they couldn't help but notice the yellow post-its.  They laughed and *mocked* a little, but before I knew it they were scrounging around the house gathering all MY notes.  Reading them aloud, and smiling.  Oh the smiling.  

One boy, my sarcastic one, said "Mom, you should do this for Dad" and all of us laughed.  Because they know me.  The thought of me doing it is literally laughable.  

Then that same boy said, "Dad leaves me notes sometimes."  And the others piped in with similar stories.  Notes in their trappers, lunch boxes, electronics.  

And we love those notes.

The youngest boy collected all the notes, and hung them in the door-way.  He even managed to find the one that I *thought* I had snagged before they saw it, because: Semi-inappropriate.  HA.  Cue the grossed-out snickering of boys.

It's funny how some little post-its can make such an impact.  And I won't be surprised at all someday, when they do the very same thing for their wives.  I just hope they have some snickering boys around when they do it. ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Getting Junk Done

I have had a couple things change my life lately.  For real.  And by "lately" I mean within the past couple of weeks.  

So I'm going to share with you, because maybe they will change your life too.  Or not.  Whatever.  

The first is an app that my Genius-Friend-Heather told me about over iced coffees.  Good things come over iced coffees.  It's called 

Chore Monster.

So I linked to the website, but I actually got it in the app store (free) and use it from my phone.  The kids use it from their kindle/ipad/etc.  It's super easy to set up, and seriously...the 10 year old and even the 12 year old are ASKING TO DO MORE CHORES.  I'm not even kidding.  

You can set up rewards, short term and/or long term.  When they do a chore, it sends you a message and you can approve the chore if they actually did it.  The amazing thing is, it has taken out all the nagging that was previously involved in our chore life.  I don't know if it's because it's easy to use, or fun, or motivating because they can see the numbers, but dude.  It works.  Also, our house is clean.  And the van is clean.  And the yard and garage are pretty decent too because my kids are apparently highly motivated by sugary treats and REWARDS.  

Lucy is 5, and I help her navigate it on my phone.  I made one of her chores "Staying in Bed when you are tucked in so that Mommy doesn't lose her mind."  And this week:  stayed in bed.  *hallelujah*   

This little app has made us all like each other better.  And things are clean.  Happily Ever After.

The other thing that has changed my life is Clean Mama.  

I first found her on Instagram as cleanmama.  She has chores broken down into the simplest of routines.  And on Instagram she puts a cute little reminder out each day about what she's doing.  I followed her all winter and spring, without ever actually joining in on her process.  Because sometimes (mostly all the time) I like the idea of being really organized, while actually just being a procrastinator.   

But a month or so ago I printed off one of her free lists, and then after staring at it for a couple weeks, I actually started it.  

It's the best thing ever for me.  

I'm kind of a cleaner.  Junk all over makes me feel claustrophobic and so I'm constantly picking up.  But my brain is squirrel-ish and I get distracted easily, so no one task ever felt completely done, even though I was working on stuff allll the live long day.  Clean Mama's simple system and easy list keeps me on track and my squirrel-brain has decided it's totally do-able.  

Here's a simple breakdown, but check out her website because she explains it better and in more detail.  And it works, I swear.

Mondays- bathrooms (but not floors, because that's on Thursdays)
Tuesday - Dust
Wednesday - vacuum all floors, top to bottom
Thursday - Wash hard floors
Friday- Catch up on stuff
Saturday - Towels and Sheets 

It's kept me on task, and helped me do some of the stuff that I usually put off for so long that when I do have to do it, it's super disgusting and makes me want to scream.  (the boys bathroom, for instance)  This week when I did the bathroom, it wasn't so bad.  I mean still gross...but whatever.

With the kids doing chores, and Clean Mama's system, I feel like things are manageable.  Not perfect, but good enough.  And that helps. A ton.

And for the record, I don't work outside the home.  Kudos to the Mom's who do.  You're amazing.  And deserve a cleaning lady.  So my recommendation for you, is Chore Monster and a cleaning lady.  Because that's what I would do. ;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


My Sophomore-in-high school-self was pretty sure she was going to be one of the cool parents someday.  You know the ones.  The parents that didn't ask a bazillion questions about where you were going and what you were doing or what you might do or who might be there.  The cool ones who just trusted you. Just let you do your thing.  

I was going to be one of those parents that didn't need their kid to check-in all the time, and I certainly wasn't going to be nosy about all the details of every situation they encountered.  

Because I would be cool. And fun.  Obviously.

But the thing about Sophomores, and teenagers in general, is that they're sort of *morons*.  Even the smart ones.  They're all operating at varying degrees of the moronic-condition.  It's not even their fault.  Their brains are not done growing, and they don't have the life experience or maturity to make fully rational choices all of the time.  They think they do.  But they don't.  And then hormones.

Me (sophomore) and Ben (senior).  Good kids...but technically morons yet at that stage in life.

Twenty one years later...

Don't let the nose-ring fool you.  I am neither cool nor fun (by teenager standards).  Sophomore-Sarah turned into the "lame mom."  And not just the default lame mom, but the proud-of-it, no-denying-it lame mom.  Watching, stalking, listening, guarding, questioning.  Because wisdom comes with age.  And wiser-me knows that I have great kids.  I do.  But given the right circumstances, even great kids can end up making stupid choices.  So it's my job, as the lame-mom, to help walk them through their moronic-journey.  

Not to shelter them completely.  And not to keep them from making mistakes.  But to guard them, and teach them, and protect they can grow out of their moronic condition.  

My kids are only at the Jr. High teen stage.  But I can already spot the cool parents.  The fun ones.  The ones that get to say yes to the things that I'm saying "no way in..." to.  And that's when it dawned on me.  A little part of me still wants to be the cool kid, the one who just says yes.  But the bigger part of me, is totally at peace being the fun-hater.  Especially when girls are involved. Where my boys are concerned, all girls should just assume I said no.  ;)

Sophomore-Sarah would think she's totally lame.  But 37-year-old-Sarah understands that lame means awesome.  So to all the lame-awesome mama's out there, telling your young teenagers NO to stuff that 14 year old's don't need to be doing:  High Five.  Let's unite in our lame-awesomeness.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's Just a Nose

Let's catch up.  A little, anyways.  And by a *little* I mean the longest post on a nose piercing EVAH.  It's for documentation.  *preserving memories for the next generation*   

In January our Ladies Bible Study did What Love Is by Kelly Minter.  I've been a part of a lot of Bible studies, and this one ranks at the top for me.  Deep and practical and just plain amazing.  I learned so much.  

That's sort of a side note for you.  Ha.  Anyways.  This was one of our larger groups of ladies.  14 in all.  So at the beginning of each night of study, we would open with a little "get to know you" kind of question.  Totally random.  I think one of the questions was "What is something we'd be surprised to know about you."  It was interesting, let me tell you.  

I had trouble coming up with something to tell the group because frankly, I tell them a lot about me...because I talk too much (about myself) when I feel awkward in a group that I'm leading.  Super annoying.  I think I eventually blurted out that I had always wanted to get my nose pierced but that I probably couldn't because of church-y stuff and church-y people.  *whatever that means*

I think that I thought they would all agree with me.  But they didn't.  They totally encouraged me to do it.  They are wild and crazy:  Obviously.*cough*

And that's where it took root.  The truth is, that many times before I had thought about getting it pierced,  and prayed about it and just never got the "go-ahead" from God.  Because timing.  

This time when I began to pray about it again, and talk to Ben about it (because if I did it, it was his problem too ;)  And this time, it was a total go-for-it.  And I panicked a little.  Doubted that it realllly was OK to do it.  Had visions of church members firing Ben because of his heathen wife. *exaggerate much?*   After about a month of this on-going debate in my head, it was as if God said to me, "I gave you the OK, STOP ASKING IF IT'S REALLY OK!"  He's always loving and firm with me.

By this time it was the end of February, and on a Saturday night our Ladies Bible Study all went out for dinner.  Two of the ladies, who already had their nose's pierced decided we should get mine done after dinner.  Of course they did.  So after dinner, most of the ladies went down to a local coffee shop and we headed to the piercer and told them we'd meet them for coffee when we finished.  

Because this is the stuff you do with your Ladies Bible Study, right?!?  

The first place we got to was already booked-full for the night.  It's in a college town, apparently all the college kids get pierced on weekends.  They talked me into trying the tattoo parlor, because obviously they were skilled with needles.  


As we walked up to the door, a man (with a completely tattooed FACE) locked us out.  It wasn't meant to be.

We settled for coffee.

But Monday morning, (Ben's day off), he drove me to the Piercer and a few minutes was done.  

Side note:  The gal who pierced it, had several piercings.  I tried to make small-talk because *hello, I do that when I'm nervous and I'm awkward* but she was not amused.  At one point I said something about how it really shouldn't hurt me so much, I mean I'd birthed four kids.  She replied with, "You'd think."  I probably told her I was a pastor's wife too.  I'm sure she cared.

Afterwards we went out for burgers and then went grocery shopping, like we do every Monday.  I tried to act all normal, but dude.  I had a little fake-diamond IN MY NOSE!  I felt awesome.  Not gonna lie.

First Day

By the time Sunday rolled around, I was getting pretty used to having it.  I psyched myself up as I walked the 27 steps over to church.  This would be the first time all the non-facebooker's would see it.  

And none of them noticed it.  Or at least they didn't act like they noticed it.  All my fretting and worry and...nothing. 

The one outspoken older fella finally noticed it a couple weeks later.  He just laughed and gave me a thumbs-up.  He also suggested I not put anything "huge" in it, and requested I not get a tattoo.  Heh.  No problem.

Life with a nose piercing was good.  Until I accidentally pulled it out with a cotton ball while applying toner to my face.  I tried shoving it back through to no avail.  *owie owie owie*  I ended up driving straight to the piercer and they put in a new one like it was easy peasy.  It turns out, it's easier when you know what you're doing.

After that trauma, I developed the cursed nose-bump.  A tiny little wretched red bump next to the piercing.  You can google it.  Ha.  I did...and tried every remedy under the heavens to get rid of it.  Soak it with sea salt, crushed aspirin, saline, leaving it alone, blah blah blah.  None of it worked.  Ben and my friends kept reassuring me that they didn't even notice it.  I am surrounded by liars.  *smile*

And then finally, on IG, I saw someone that had to switch to a 18k gold one because their body was reacting to the metal.  So I caved and ordered a $45 teeny tiny gold stud for my nose.  Because: Desperate.  And also: More money than I've ever spent on earrings.

It came, I put it in myself, and within a week the bump healed.  HEALED.  

And now I love it.  It's part of me.  My friends told me it gives me some street cred.  So I guess I'm sorta legit now.  Or something.

My brother, who's 11 years younger than me, jokingly called me a rebel.  I laughed, because of the story I just wrote above.  Piercing my nose may be one of the least rebellious things I've done.  He was pretty happy about it though, because he had gotten a tattoo about a year before and had been dreading telling my mom.  He figured if she could handle my nose, then she could handle his tattoo.  He was right.  

But at least mine is not permanent - Said The Responsible Older Sister.

The End.

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