Successes…

I haven’t posted in some time as I have been processing the stages of grief and I have been consciously aware that my emotions could have gotten the best of me if I let them control my writing. Each week at church I have been contemplating what I would write, but I could not focus on writing a new topic because my thoughts were preoccupied. Until the past few weeks anyway.

Right now has been a several week series titled Home Run Life, where baseball has been a metaphor for scoring in life. Start at home plate, win with God; run to first, win within; run to second, win with others; run to third, success; and score at home, again win with God. We have only gotten to 2nd base as of now reflecting on how we must first win with God and win within ourselves before we can win with others and have success. As I have been reflecting I can say that I have been seeing this play out. This has not been a short journey for me.

I recently received a compliment that I have seemed happy lately. That I am for sure of, it is true; but I of course still contemplated and wondered…what am I putting out there that is different, what are other people seeing that is different from a year, two, three years ago.  I wondered, could it be that I have been focused on my health and exercise; which had really raised my self-esteem? Then I heard the first sermon on Home Run Life, and I went, uh duh, light bulb moment…. I have been back at church for the past year. While God was never absent from my life, this past year I have been “winning with God” and truly focused on myself so that I can have the capacity to love others. To really be the way I want to be with my husband, kids, friends, family. And I can say it has been a progressively great year and it is getting better. Full of promises and the potential to be living the life we really want to have, more simple, secure, family oriented and fun filled. I will admit this reference to a home run life is just one example where I have seen or am seeing this play out, and it is a slightly more materialistic of an example as it does revolve around career success and a little more financial stability. I can truly say though I am at a point in my life that it will not be squandered, underappreciated or taken for granted. I want what to me, seems like basic things to come from financial stability, to not stress over monthly bills, get my kids a college education and give them experiences in different cultures. I want a smaller house not a bigger house, I want less expenses and more of a God filled life, filled with family and friends. To me that is SUCCESS!!

Just Jump!!!

Each Sunday seems to have direct meaning to some area of my life. Of course, I think if we are all introspective and look for meaning in things each and every part of our days can be a learning experience. With God empowering us on Sunday mornings, for me those mornings are some of the most meaningful connections I make.

We were led by a story of the disciples crossing the sea of Galilea and Peter asking Jesus to tell him to come to him, Peter then took a step of faith and walked across the water to Jesus. This story was a demonstration of what it means to have faith, to take risks in life to follow God. That taking those risks and following God leads us to the divine. 

I can say that in the past I have for sure jumped in and took risks. I have always been one to put my faith in God to get us through tough times, most often the struggles in the past have been financially. Today I realized even more connections of where that faith and jump has led me.  I jumped into a career that seemed to be pulling at me and just felt like the right move for me, that God was calling me there. With that however, meant a pay cut, a part time job and really, little room for advancement. But I knew I needed to do it and looking back I can see how God has provided for us through that time. And now, finally leading us to more financial security as we have entered our 30’s.  With the storms I have been faced with recently I made more connections today of how God has led me to this path. I was led to working in a career with addictions, I was taken into a path to learn empathy for situations I could not relate to, I developed a passion for what I do and with learning how addiction has impacted my family I feel this is the path I needed to be on to get through the storm I am facing. Had I not jumped into this career and trusted God, I may have sunk in this storm. As much as I know about addiction and how it impacts families, I can picture myself going down another path had I not had the supports in place that I do, had I not learned about addiction as I have. 

“We lose sight of Jesus and begin to sink.”- Pastor R. 

I can see times where I could have started to sink; I am always thankful that I have never fully lost sight of God. This statement could lead me to a spiral of what if’s, what if I didn’t learn about addiction, what if I had learned about the impact it has had for my family when I was much younger, what if I didn’t have supports in place or a loving husband, what if I had ever experimented with substances – where would that have left me. Fortunately I feel God has put me where I need to be and I don’t dwell on the what if’s. I feel blessed to be where I am at in my life because I never understand why one person’s journey is harder than anothers. I agree with Pastor R this morning when he said “the best decision we can make is to go, go and follow Jesus!” We need to “Just Jump!”

We were then asked “what are you needing to take the risk in yet? The risk to tust and follow Jesus.” One thing in my life I am most contemplating with is my career and the long term path of finances, stability, getting a masters, do I need more money, should I be content? I mean after all I know God led me to this path, so if he put me here should I be content? I finally thought of this a new way today, that maybe I had to “just jump” to get the knowledge I needed, to learn the empathy I needed, to find the supports I needed to get me through this personal storm. But, maybe in the long run I can still take another path, that God may stear me somewhere else, that I may need to “just jump” again when the time comes, even if I am afraid. That maybe I need to “just jump”more when it comes to facing things head on, especially conflict, because I can definitely shy away from conflict. I mean it is very uncomfortable. 

Whatever we are doing in life, if we are following Jesus and not just mimicking the motions, we should be jumping. Jumping all in and trusting the path God takes us in.

Just Jump!!

Personal Storms!

“Do we wonder if Jesus cares if we drown? When we are forced with a crash of change, do we maintain faith? Who hides the storm in their lives? You’re in the storm for his purposes.”- Pastor R.

These questions were very powerful for me. “Do I ever wonder if Jesus cares if I drown?” That one I can answer confidently, no, I always have trust and faith that he will keep me safe, that their is a purpose for what crosses my path in life. I know he won’t let me drown, if I drown in my turmoils, that is on me, that would be me rejecting him.

“When we are forced with a crash of change, do we maintain faith?” Do I maintain faith when my life appears to be crashing, when my world seems to be turned upside down, or even just hitting lots of pot holes along the road? Yes, I feel that I do. I may feel hurt, sadness, anger, betrayal, devastation, but I am always thankful that I know I have support to get through any situation that comes my way. At this point in my life I can say yes; I hope I can always say yes. 

“Who hides the storm in their lives?” My hand shot up in response to this faster than I anticipated. It was a spontaneous response, with no attempt to hold back my answer to that one. I thought, I for sure hide the storms in my life. Right now the storm is huge, and for the most part I put on a good face, continue with each day and my life goes on. After a few minutes something stuck out to me “You are in the storm with his presence!”- Pastor R. I love moments in life when I have the ah ha moments, when I feel enlightened because I realize or learn something new about myself. It is a very reassuring and calming feeling. This was one of them, I intially was struggling with the fact that I hide my storms, but at this moment I realized, maybe for a brief period I hide my storms, or maybe just to some people, but really for the most part I realized I am not hiding my storms, I am in them with his presence, his presence is still radiating through me. He is guiding me, keeping me strong, comforting me. Sometimes when people know I am going through a lot, like recently, I get looks that kind of ask “if you’re in a storm, why are you smiling, why do you look okay?”  I know that often people may be confused by my optimism, my ability to push through, to keep smiling and going forward. I also know it can be hard to describe, I mean I really can’t describe it, but in spite of things that happen, I still find myself feeling at peace, all because God is by my side. He not only provides me with his comfort, he has provided me with amazing friendships for support, a community of support and my faith that he is shaping me for the next twist in my path. 

“You’re in the storm for his purposes!” That next twist in my path, that next crash of change, sudden uproot of everyhing I know, they all have purposes. I may not always know in that moment what it is, but I can look back at my life and I can say that of the different bumps I have hit along the way, they have all had a direct influence on who I’ve become and where I have currently landed. I am realizing even now how amazing God is that he can guide us in a way and put us where he wants us. I chose a Bachelors degree in Pyschology for many reasons, one being that it is very vague. I have many different interests and I wanted many doors open to me. When I graduated I began job searching and I’ll be honest, there were some very appealing things about the job I accepted, that I knew I wanted to do. But other things came with the job that would have not been my first thought of a career or where I would belong. Looking back at my life and the situations and experiences I have had, all give me many strengths for my career. For the career that God clearly led me to, I have weathered my storms for his purpose and I am confident that I am continuing to live his purpose.
One final question we pondered which I think is one people often find themselves asking, is “did he cause the storm or allow it?” My only response to this is…. Does it matter? We grow from it, it is for his purposes!

 

Do you sink in your failures?

Two weeks I ago I sat down at church and during the first prayer I was flooded with blessed emotions. The prayer was reflecting “living like Jesus.”My flood of positive emotions was contentment, joy, humbleness, that I feel I am living like Jesus. Of course not perfectly, but my goal this year has to been to radiate. I can say I feel this working through me, I am happy on the path I am on and I continue to focus on radiating each day. 

The sermon focused on “it’s not fair.” Pastor R challenged us by asking “do you sink in your failures?” I am blanking thinking on this, I do not know what I would even consider failures. To me I don’t feel that I set myself up for failure, I don’t put myself in situations for failure. So maybe that means I don’t take enough risks, maybe it means I play to safe, or maybe it’s that I look at all situations on a constant changing path, with twists and turns, learning moments, but no failures, maybe I have faith that God will lead me where I need to go and without a few falls my path wouldn’t change. I’m thinking it’s most likely the later; actually I know it is.  Even in my past I don’t look at things with regret, I embrace things and how they have made me who I am. They are a part of my journey, my journey of following Jesus. Which means I may be tried, challenged, let down, I may make mistakes, struggle with moving forward at times, but all of those moments are experiences I have had, they affect how I percieve the world, they create empathy for others, they allow me to cherish what I have. So I am confident I can answer no, I don’t think that I sink in my failures, at least not for the significant life events I can think of. But, who knows what the future may hold; hopefully if I find myself sinking, this sermon will flood my memory and lift me up. 

A big part of avoiding the “it’s not fair”trap is accepting our situation, accepting what we can and cannot control and keep our eyes focused on our greater purpose. Pastor R said “what does what somebody else have, have to do with us, we follow Jesus.” Exactly!!! I know that this mentality, belief, perspective, that it may not be easy. It may be easier said than done; in order to live this we may need to reflect on who we are, why we feel and react to things the way we do, we may need some therapy to figure these things out, a friend to bounce ideas off of, a shoulder to cry on. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to get to the place in life that we just don’t care about what others have. I have learned to embrace what I have, cherish it, and to be present in each moment, with my kids, husband, family, friends.

Would you give it up for Jesus?

“What is one thing you love?”- Pastor Ryan.

 I always feel like these are trick questions because the obvious answer it seems we should give is God, but of course there is always more being saught than such a simple answer. I of course, could not just think of one thing, my mind raced with things I love: God, family, husband, kids, friends, yoga, exercise, nutrition, my current achievement of a size 4, outdoors, women’s radiant dance fitness class, my career, my church…….. Yes I know, some of these are heartfelt and things close to my heart, some are more materialistic, worldly, maybe a little vain to some. But, they are honest responses. 

Now, “would you give it up to follow Jesus?” – Pastor Ryan

Um…. would I give these things up to follow Jesus? I feel like I instantly fell into the trap because my natural response was to protect the things I love. I honestly can say the things I love, to me is part of following Jesus; these are things I feel God has made important in my life based on my strengths and characteristics, they are things I feel I do with God as the underlying factor. I know that loving my new size 4 body may not seem like having God at its core, but I started my journey of weight loss to be healthy, to care for the body that God has given me, to respect it and honestly have some self control when it comes to all of the food placed in front of us that many indulge on with little regard to the cost it can have on our health. I am also very aware of how becoming obsessed with exercise and my looks could be detrimental; and there are times I need to keep myself in check, making sure I am not putting exercise above all other responsibilities and being sure I am balancing it in my life. Overall I feel I do a good job at balancing all areas of my life. But, if I were given an ultimatum could I walk away from my family, well I can honestly say probably not. I know it may seem like making justifications, but I do not feel God would ask me to up and leave my small children, I do not see how that would be serving God. Now at the same time, would I do anything to protect them, especially for a greater purpose in life? Of course, but I feel they would be on that journey with me. 

After I sat feeling rushed with emotions on having to sacrifice the things I love for God and thinking, of course God knows not all people could drop everything to follow him, he did make us sinners, we are imperfect and he knows that. But then, Pastor Ryan went on to further explain what he really wanted us to sit with, and that is “are we holding all of those things we love loosly and holding on to God tightly?”  For me I felt relief that I could honeslty answer yes. I answer yes because I have worked very hard to let go of control and to be okay with change; to be open to the path God may lead me on. That means that if I felt God was leading me to another location, my family would move; if God took me down another career path, I would go; if God changed my life that I could not continue my nutrition and exercise routine, I would find another way (seriously that would be hard to give up though because I feel so healthy), but the point is … I truly feel that I have worked very hard to put God first and to allow my life to adjust and flow where he leads it. In all of the chaos that comes my way, I hold onto my relationship with God to lead me through it. 

I am not sure how many people could agree with how they hold the things they love, loosly or tightly. And I can say that, I have not always been at a point in my life I could have made sacrifices for God. The idea of leaving home and moving away used to terrify me; I have actually done that and honestly feel like it is one thing I have failed at. I went away for my freshman year of college and came running back, homesick, and not able to tackle something new, someplace new. I do not regret the path I took, but parts of me would have loved to experience college and young adulthood with more confidence and more open to possibilty. I could not always imagine the possibility of my world being turned upside down for any reason; but now, I feel that if God gave me challenges that were life alterning, I would be able to conquer them because I put God first and hold him tightly. 

Jesus, above it all, beyond it all, greater than it all! 

Quality of life with ADD/ADHD

My family is one that takes a lot of energy, which thankfully we have a lot of. My husband has ADHD and as our boys started school it seemed inevitable, and it was for our two older boys, now 9 and 8. As a mom trying to function with hyperactive, impulsive, easily bored, strong willed, very busy boys, I read and studied everything on ADHD, everything relating to BOYS! It wasn’t even until sometime this past year that I read an article on what it looks like in women, starting from childhood. 

This article nailed my childhood to a tee. The more I learned, I will say I have self diagnosed myself also with some form of ADD/ADHD. This was a realization that my whole family is filled with a challenge. To me though it is a gift, yes there are so many struggles that come with it, but so many strengths also. 

At one point in time I can say our quality of family life sucked, it was horrible, miserable. Everything was frustrating, keeping up on things was a nightmare because the moment I caught up to one thing my kids had demolished another within seconds. Add to that constant boredom, leading to impulsive misbehavior and impulsive verbal reactions with 3 boys that feed off each other….. constant fighting, yelling and refusal to cooperate…. yup, quality of life was surviving. Constant survival mode.

I look back on those days and realize how my every action was to survive; of course there were great moments, love, snuggles and hugs, but overall the stress outweighed the positive. I am now a parent who is proud to say our house thrives on medications, I see many articles that praise medication, judge it, question it. And the decision to have medication be a part of my children’s treatment was not easy, but it got to a point that I realized my kids’ quality of life was not great. They were always in trouble and for what? For being impulsive! I can say it is a blessing, it has not solved all things, it takes a lot of work to parent my children, a lot of patience, love, kindness and respect. But I have realized lately how many amazing moments I have in my home, I realize how pleasant my house is, the boys are respectful, they can focus, they play together and I have “me” time that I cherish daily. 

Medications do not solve everything, they are not magical pills that create perfectly functioning children; but in my experience they allow my children the ability to learn, to be guided and to have the opportunity to thrive in school and ponder their actions before it’s too late. For my husband and myself we have learned our strengths and weaknesses and have learned how to use them to our benefit. We do not use medications ourselves, but I know the option would never be off the table. I have come to find yoga and mindfulness to be very beneficial. Which is ironic because mastering mindfulness when I am inattentive, well, let’s just say they do not go hand in hand. It was a lot of hard work, but it has really paid off. 
I was recently complimented on my ability to multitask, I believe the words were along the line of “she is a superhero, she will make you feel lazy.” Which was a reference to how much I can accomplish with my time. And I do take pride in my ability to be a mom, attentive wife and love my career. I have found that organization is key and to not have more things in my home than necessary. I love to clean which uses up my plentiful amounts of energy in a postive way and I take time to myself to not get caught up in becoming anxious by the constant go, go, go. I am truly blessed to have found balance in my family with ADHD. I see other families struggle so much, and of course all people are different in their experiences and how they handle things, but I hope that my family scenario can offer many hope that families can thrive with ADHD.  

Avoidance….Is There Such a Thing When Following God

What great adventure have you been on? This was the opening line last Sunday. And, I found it very interesting that while I cherish motherhood more than anything, I mean it once defined me, but I began to think of vacations and my bucketlist of places my husband and I have went on and places we want to go. Thinking of being a wife and mother did cross my mind, but it floated right through my thoughts as quickly as it came. I think this portrays quit well the phase of life I am in.  Motherhood did once define me, which in some ways was fabulous, but at the same time, it defined me because I lost myself at one point, I didn’t know who I was without my children. Now, I am Sarah, a confident woman with interests, a career, friends and best of all a very loving husband and 3 amazing boys with unique characteristics and traits. Being a mother now rounds out who I am, I am a healthier mother because it no longer defines me.   

Asking us to ponder our greatest adventure led to asking us to ponder our adventure, our journey with God! I can definitely say I have had a great journey with God, of course with any relationship, also some ups and downs. While reflecting on our journey with God the big statement that hit home for me, right now in my life especially was,

“The thing you’ve been avoiding, Jesus will walk you right into the middle of it!”- Pastor Ryan

Uh yup, for sure, that is my life right now. A few weeks ago Jesus brought the sermon topic of addiction into my life, which resulted in learning new things about my family, which were eye opening, I went through so many emotions including, sadness, anger, surprise, the feeling of “of course, it all makes sense now,” reasurrance of God leading me to my career of working in addiction. One thing is for sure, I can say that Jesus walks me through my life, guiding me at the right times, showing me things I need to know and walking me not just into them, but through them, radiating stronger because of it. 

I really had to think about what thing I avoid, because I am quite an outgoing person, I stir things up, seek things out, I don’t do well with keeping things in because it eats at me and I know it is so unhealthy to keep things bottled up. So what do I avoid? Family conlict and tension…….. for me family conflict is very uncomfortable, which I have also realized why.  Which is the first step to overcoming it, if I know why family conflict is so uncomfortable I can understand it and work through it. For all of the great aspects of my family, one downside is that we are not the super sharing of our emotions type of family. I used to think we were, but I realized it is more for the happy, comfortable feelings, not things that we struggle with or feelings that cause conflict. Those feelings are bottled up, brushed off, or if they are brought up are quickly redirected. 

With learning how addiction has impacted my family I have already had my feelings dismissed, brushed off and ignored. It is quite painful and makes me naturally want to continue to avoid family conflict. The sermon was so reassuring though, Pastor Ryan said “when we address the thing we’ve been avoiding, people experience the kingdom of God. When you address this, it will change you.”These words were so powerful to me because God brought me to this revelation and I know God will help me through it and grow from it. I feel this is an opportunity to take a relationship that I have struggled with in my family to a new level, to grow closer and start to really connect at a deeper level. But, in order to do this, I will need to face family conflict head on, I will need to be very uncomfortable, stir up feelings and I can imagine having people angry at me. Thankfully for me, I know how to have healthy relationships, and I know that I cannot control other peoples feelings, those feelings are on them, not me; but I can offer support, enouragement and guidance. 

One thing I know right now is that whatever is put in my path, when I am walking alongside God, I know I can overcome. I have confidence confronting the emotions I am feeling, address the secrets we keep and standing up for myself and others because Jesus led me here and I know he will walk me through it, not just into it.