A Wife Loved Like The Church

Funny, how life changes. Just like that. How things go up or down, in a single breath. I suppose that’s what life changing events are. Events that alter the course of everything.

Jonathan got a job.

Did you read that?

Jonathan got a job!

He started working this past week for Cisco. From home. Like, as in, he works in the other room. A-maz-ing. Seriously. And such a huge answer to prayer. Not only did God provide the best job, He provided the best job that allows us to stay connected as a family.

I just can’t get over it.

Not just the job part, really. I mean, that does completely blow me away. But, honestly, deep down, I can’t get over just how much God loves me. The past 9 months have been hard. Seriously, hard. I’ve wept. I’ve been lower than I thought possible. Life has felt like too much, felt too damn hard. I’ve failed repeatedly. I’ve hit rock bottom on many, many levels.

Yet, there, at the end, at the bottom, in the worst possible times, there He was. Whispering “I love you. You, Sarah, are Mine. I will stop at nothing to save you, to sanctify you. I, the God of All, love you, the woman with nothing.

Time and again, He’s shown His crazy love for me. Through my friends (oh, precious friends, you’ll never truly understand how you did more than I could ever repay), through His Word, through the church He gave me. It’s humbling to know that you are so loved, so cherished, so desired.

And part of it is terrifying. Terrifying that I’ll give my heart away to someone (or something) other than my beautiful, wonderful Jesus. But, (and what a strong word that is) BUT, He has sealed my heart. Even when I am prone to wonder, prone to leave the God I love, His love is strong enough to cover and seal me to Himself.

It’s a story worth repeating. And repeating. His love is strong enough. His love is everlasting. His love redeems. His love sets right. His love saves.

Here is by far my favorite hymn (sung by one of my favorite bands). My favorite lyric is ::

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

 

Repeat the story. Repeat it over and over again. His love. His love. HIS LOVE.

Five years ago today, a joy and a light came into my life that forever changed me :: Hannah Michelle was born.

Hannah Day 1

Hannah Party

Dear Hannah (aka, Sissy, Hannah Banana, Hannah Bear, Michelle, Hanners),

Sweet, beautiful, wonderful daughter, your joy and light are contagious. Your laughter and love for those around you is incredible. I hope I can be more like you.  Hannah, I can’t begin to ever put into words how much you are loved. By me, by your daddy, by your sister, your brother. Even Jack is over the moon for you. Your sense of humor cracks me up. You always know just what to say and when to say. And while you are still saying “fambily” at age 5, I love all your Hannah-isms. My personal favorite is when you call mineral water “Cinnamon water”. You’ve never met a stranger and find a new best friend every time you play. You have the most laid back, go-with-the-follow attitude that meshes perfectly with this crazy fambily that God put you in.

I’m always challenged by your desire to know the ends and outs of people’s lives and hearts. You want to know why people love, why people hurt, why people are who they are. And you aren’t afraid to ask. I love that about you. My prayer for you is that you stay open and warm to everyone. That you continue to always see the value in God’s creatures and that the fierceness with which you love your family, you will love others. I pray that you know and deeply understand how much Jesus loves you. That you feel the sacrifice that He was for you, and that you have a strong and deep relationship with Him.

Sweet girl, I love you. Thank you for letting me be your mama.

Love you, love you, love you,

Mama

This past Friday, we received a blow. After praying and praying for a yes, God gave us a no.

I’m not even gonna front – it was hard. Gut wrenching, faith questioning hard.

Over the last seven months, I’ve had numerous people tell me how strong we are. How courageous our faith is. How brave we have been. Wanna know what? It doesn’t feel like that. It feels like I’m on a boat in the middle of a storm. It feels like my feet are on sinking ground. It feels like I’ve been tossed around, beaten down, nearly broken. So, it’s tough to hear people say those words “strong, courageous, brave” because if they only knew. If they only knew how tired I am. How weak I feel. How done I’ve become.

Those are all the things I feel. The tough, dark, hard things. But they are just feelings.

The truth is this ::

God is still God.

God is still good.

God is still faithful.

God is still merciful.

God is still provider.

God is still my Father.

My heart doesn’t always believe those things. My heart tells me all is lost, hope is gone. Yet, Truth prevails. And Truth tells me that I am loved, cherished, cared for, and blessed.

It’s not always easy to trust Truth when you’re feeling weak. In fact, sometimes it feels like a broken record “God is good, God is better, God is bigger”. A broken record that you tune out for a while, only to listen for a moment, before you tune it out again. But it’s always there, that Truth. Always there telling me “Wait. Trust.”

So friends, as I wait, as I trust, know that it’s not me who is strong. It’s not me who is courageous. It’s not me who is brave. No, Sarah is none of those things. But, the One who dwells within me is. He is all those things and more. He is the giver of life. He is the One worthy of praise. He is ruler and king.

When the end of my life comes, when I meet my Savior face to face, never will I say “Well that was pretty crappy of you Jesus.” No, instead I will rejoice. I will rejoice that He sought me, that He used me, that He shaped me and molded me. And I will remember the Truth ::

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8

He Is

Posted on: April 11, 2014

I sincerely wish that we had news to share that was “exciting” or allowed others to rejoice along with us in triumph. But I can’t. Our situation hasn’t changed, our lives are still up in the air.

But, over the course of these last few months God has taught me more than I can fully unpack at one time. Yet, I want to try to give you an update. I want to give God glory.

Romans 4:20 says

No unbelief made him [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.

As I sit here and reflect on all the ways that God has preserved us, cared for us, comforted us, loved us, I am moved to tears. Y’all, we serve a good, good God. I seriously forget that sometimes. I forget how amazing He is just because He Is. Not because He gives us things, not because we feel happy (or feel anything for that matter), but because HE IS. He is faithful. He is merciful. He is all-knowing. He is our source of comfort, our provider, our rock and our fortress. He is true to Himself. He is our God and our Father. HE IS.

God deserves every bit of glory in our lives. He deserves to be praised when we wake and when we go to sleep. He deserves to hold the highest position in our lives, in our thoughts, in our hearts, because HE IS.

He is a God whose grace is sufficient.

He is a God who called/who chose/who claimed me for His own.

He is a God whose blood was shed.

He is a God who rescued.

He is a God fully worthy of every moment of my life.

When I compare myself to God, I see I am weak, I am faithless, I am wrathful, I am a sinking ship.

But….

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  

1 Corinthians 12:9

In our suffering, in our weakness, in the darkness that covers us, God isn’t telling us to fend for ourselves, fight our own battles. No, He is whispering into our hearts – “My grace is sufficient for you.”

He is sufficient.

So friends, if there is one way to sum up all that I have learned in the past six months, it is simply that HE IS.

 

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Have you ever had words forming in your head, in your heart, only for them to get stuck? They just can’t move through your fingers, through to paper. I feel like that is where I have been for months.

Stuck.

I looked up stuck in the dictionary. It is the past tense of stick, which means to hold, cleave, or cling; to remain persistently or permanently.

I have to ask myself, “what am I clinging to? what am I refusing to let go?”. When the words won’t come, when what I am thinking or feeling just won’t release. What keeps me stuck?

Often I wonder if I’m afraid to feel all the feelings. Those feelings of pain, anger, fear. Those feelings of joy, happiness, relief. Afraid of the bad because it hurts so. Yet afraid of the good because it is so fleeting.

But what growth do I have if I stay stuck? Even if unstuck means pain, at least I’m moving.

So bare with me as I attempt to get unstuck. As I attempt over the next few weeks to let the words flow. They are sure to be confused, to be jumbled, as they unstick and move out of the muck. But move they must.

Do you want to know a secret? I love New Year’s resolutions. While I front by calling them pretty ridiculous, deep down I really love them, sorta like watching Hart of Dixie. It’s the idea of setting a new course, of improving yourself no matter how small, that is really exciting to me. 

This year I set out to stop wearing makeup. Weird, right? I mean, why makeup? Because I’m an odd duck like that and do really bizarre things. Actually, the full story is – I found myself unwilling to leave the house without makeup on. I’d do it, mostly because it’s not always feasible (8 am school drop off is just too dang early sometimes, ya know?) and who actually puts make up on to go running? Still given the choice I didn’t leave home without wearing at least coverup. What better way to break a habit than to give it up completely? I’m extreme like that. In fact, our family calls it “being Atwood”, since being extreme runs on my side of the family.

So when I felt this little makeup demon rise up inside me, I knew I had my 2014 resolution – The Year I Stopped Wearing Makeup.

Now, in all fairness, I’ve not sworn off makeup completely – mostly because I just can’t (or rather just don’t want to). Here are my two makeup rules ::

1. Only wear mascara and lipstick - I can remember my mom telling me that all the makeup a woman ever needed was mascara and lipstick. Who knows why, but I figured there has to be some deep, philosophical reason. Or, maybe my mom just knows that mascara makes our genetically light eyelashes look normal and lipstick is always a good idea. So I made the rule that I can wear mascara and lipstick anytime. Funny enough, out of sheer laziness I actually haven’t been wearing either one lately.

2. Special occasions - Now, this one could have some loose interpretation, but here’s how I define it – Any major event that calls for me to look more dressed up than usual (think special date night or large group event, but not just a typical date or GNO). So far, I’ve only had one special occasion earlier this month when I did in fact wear makeup.

A good three weeks in, and I’ve found that the less makeup I wear, the prettier I feel and the more self confidence I have – ironic, huh? Though, truthfully, when my face broke out like a teenaged girl for certain *cough* reasons *cough* (thanks for that part of the curse, Eve) I found myself longing for makeup. I felt awkward and silly with all those pimples covering my cheeks for the world to see. Good thing I have Invisalign braces and not traditional braces. Things woulda been real bad then, am I right?! 

And just so the whole world can see, here’s me sans makeup ::

Makeup Free Selfie #nofilter

Makeup Free Selfie #mascaraonly #nofilter

What’s the strangest/funniest/weirdest New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made?

Wednesday I started my first paying job since Julia was born.

The story is one that has been woven together by God. Truly and completely. I have pieced together how it all happened, seeing the story through different eyes. It’s all quite amazing when you hear it and realize how God orchestrated every little detail.

In December, I contacted the director of Hannah and Joseph’s preschool to ask about any job opportunities teaching. She wasn’t aware of anything but promised to keep me updated if something became available. At the same time in December, Sharon, Hannah’s co-teacher from last year, felt the Lord tugging at her heart to step down from teaching to focus on her family’s new ministry at church.

In January, the director emailed asking if I would be interested in subbing. At the same time in January, Sharon informed the school of her decision to focus on her family’s ministry. While sad (because Sharon is an amazing teacher with a warm, loving heart), everyone knew Sharon was doing what was best.

When I went in for my interview for subbing, I had been praying that a teaching position would be open. So when I was informed one had opened, I was thrilled. I wasn’t given much information, just the age range of the students. When I got home, I told Jonathan that while I had no idea of which classroom I might be in, I really hoped it was with Hannah’s other teacher from last year, Pam. I had gotten to know Pam well during Hannah’s time in her class and had just fallen in love with her. 

The next week I met with the director. She told me a bit more about the role and the classroom. I jokingly shared my hope of working with Pam, when she told me… The co-teacher position was indeed with Pam.

Funny, how something that seems so insignificant in the “big world” means so much to me. How God, even in the small things, is providing, is comforting, is showing how deeply He cares. How He laid it on Sharon’s heart to move in a different direction. How Sharon’s obedience to God opened up a position for me, with the teacher I hoped to lead alongside. How the classroom I’m in, already feels like home.

There are times when you get to see a glimpse of your story unfolding. How each step lead you to where you are. How each detail has been covered, each loose end tied up.

While this new job may seem small to others, it is ever so big to me.

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