Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Attitude Adjustment

So back in January, my brother's sweet girl friend invited me to participate in a group going through the book study on Biblical womanhood entitled Miss Perfect by Karin Conlee. For a plethora of reasons I won't go into right now, I did not want to participate. However, suffice it to say, the Holy Spirit prodded my stubborn heart into committing, and the study has been wrecking me--in the best way possible. (If you read this, thanks, L!!) I don't have time right now-- in less than 72 hours we'll be boarding a plane with 17 students to Ireland, Wales, England, and Paris for 11 days (craziness!) and I've got laundry to the ceiling and stacks of papers to grade--to list all of the ways that God has been revealing Himself as I have read and studied and journaled. BUT, as I just finished a lesson, I had to stop and scratch out a few thoughts here--if for no other reason than to serve as reminder for my own heart and head which quite frequently struggle with amnesia selfish short-sightedness.

So, here are the scriptures, thoughts, and commentary (by Karin Conlee) that have me wonderstruck, deeply convicted, and with God's help, progressing more towards the likeness of His Son.

- I need to act first and trust my feelings to catch up.
- I should have an attitude good enough to bless others.
- Luke 6:27-28 (AMP) "But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred, Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you]."
- My approach to others should be one of empathy and compassion rather than authority and pride.
- If we are waiting on circumstances to be right for us to have a good attitude, we never will.
- To me, one of the most beautiful passages in all of scripture.
{Luke 12:22-40 (ESV)}

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[b] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his[c] kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 “Stay dressed for action[d] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants[e] whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he[f] would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

- Seeking His Kingdom allows me to have His perspective and thus a different--better--attitude.
Praying this "attitude adjustment" infiltrates every area of my life--especially my marriage and my work. And I'm sure there will be no shortage of opportunities for the Lord to teach me just how gracious and patient He desires for me to be as we navigate multiple airports, hotels, bus rides, and new cultures with a band of energetic teenagers, some of whom have never even flown before! :) But what a privilege I have. To travel with my husband and an amazing colleague (and friend!) with some truly awesome kids to some incredible places. And every moment is an opportunity to shine Jesus. To bless others. Because my attitude--it's all about perspective, right?

All's Grace,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This is Christmas: Partnering for Permanency

Merry Christmas Eve, y'all! You may already be en route to Grandmother's house or frantically preparing to host Christmas festivities in your own home, but I pray you'll take a few moments to stop. To breath deep. To grasp the BIGNESS of this season. Maybe reading this will help?
So it’s here. The lights, the trees, the music, the parties and family dinners, the shopping and the gifts. These symbols are the so-called staples of the American Christmas scene, and they seem to ever increasingly blur the connection between Christmas and that dirty Bethlehem feed trough that was graced with our Creator God in the smooth, pink skin of a baby.
It seems so long ago and far away, doesn’t it? And really, was that “holy night” that big of a deal? [...] (Click the ellipsis to continue reading.)
I'm so thankful for the work God is doing through The Forsaken Children to bring the permanency of His love to the precious hearts of children in Ethiopia. And thank you, TFC, for giving me the opportunity to spill a little "ink."

image via

All's Grace,


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just One Thing

Don't you wish sometimes you had just one thing on which to focus? I have been wishing that A LOT lately. These past couple of months, my mind and heart and schedule and to-do list has been so crammed full. I can't seem to get ahead, and I can't remember anything. I mean, I've questioned my sanity on more than several occasions recently. (I'm sure my husband is giving a foot stompin' "Amen!" that statement.) But is this hurried, task-oriented existence what Jesus has called me to? Maybe you're wondering that, too?

The answer to that question came last week, as the Lord vividly reminded me of a precious, and at the time, shocking, scene from my time in Ethiopia this summer. Let me introduce you to Nega... 
I wish everyone could get to know Nega.
Nega is the director of TFC’s on the ground efforts in Ethiopia. Honestly, I’ve only “known” him for a short while— the only time I’ve been around him and seen him in action was for a short week this summer while on my first trip to Ethiopia. But, wow. This man never seems...
 Nega and Sarah

You can click the ellipsis above to read more if you'd like.

This was the last of the three posts I originally was scheduled to write for TFC. (If you missed the first two, click here and here.) I am so thankful to Joe and the rest of the amazing TFC staff for extending me the sweet opportunity to share on their blog these past three months. And I'm so excited and beyond grateful to have been given an "open invitation" to continue writing for TFC. That invitation is such a blessing as I enjoy writing and teach English/writing every day, but don't often have/take time to write much outside of that. 

I ramble on pages (screens) to help me make sense of stuff. And maybe occasionally the Lord will use my rambling to help you navigate this life, too. Or maybe just give you a good laugh as you thank Him that you're not quite as messed up and nerdy as me. :)

Praying that you and I will intentionally slow down to make sure we don't miss knowing our Savior and loving those around us.

All's Grace,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Best Grilled Chicken Ever

We have never ever gotten grilled chicken right. I've used tons of different seasoning concoctions and various marinades, store-bought and homemade, and we've never been impressed. And Paul will admit when it comes to chicken, he usually didn't quite get the whole grilling process right. So between the two of us, chicken on the grill was relatively flavorless and dry, at best.

But a couple of weekends ago we decided to give it another go, and it turned out SO SO good--both flavorful and tender/juicy. Props to my hubs for mastering the grill. I googled "easy grilled chicken marinade" and stumbled across this one. I followed the recipe pretty closely except for proportions (I basically halved everything) because it was just the two of us. Here's what we did...


1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon each of thyme, oregano, rosemary, and crumbled bay leaf
1 tablespoon mustard (I used Woeber's Sweet & Spicy)
1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder (I might have used fresh minced garlic & dried minced onion; I honestly can't remember. Probably doesn't make a huge difference either way.)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, each about 6 ounces

Place everything but the chicken in a ziploc bag; shake to combine well. Then add chicken breasts and shake to coat evenly.

Grill for about 4 minutes per side (internal temperature should be 165 degrees F.)

Granted, this is certainly not a lovely photo of a nicely styled plate. Good thing this isn't a "food blog." :)
I sure hope it wasn't a one-hit-wonder! We plan to try it again soon! Let me know what you think if you try it, too!

All's grace,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

When Your Feelings Get Loud

Caution: I'm fixin' to be real and raw here, y'all. I'm sharing because maybe one of you who happens to read this can relate? And find comfort in the Truth?

Lately, I've been listening to my feelings. Listening to them way too much. Listening to them whisper--and sometimes scream--things like...

I don't feel like praying.

I don't feel like speaking kindly to my husband. I feel like letting my tongue lash out.

I don't feel like being in community. Rather I feel exhausted/overwhelmed and just want to be alone.

I feel inadequate and insecure. As a wife, a teacher, a friend.

I feel like a many things I should be doing but never get done.

I don't feel like spending time in God's Word.

I feel like I just simply can't handle going through the same thing for a fourth time in four years.

I feel like I'm suffocating in dreams that are put on hold.

I feel trapped in toxic, self-centered thoughts.

I feel like God must be tired of me and my faithlessness by now.

The list could go on.

Obviously, there are some major red flags in that list. Red flags that signify my mind and heart are eaten up with lies and ultimately, are right where Satan wants them to be.

Deep down, I know most of the time my feelings are lying. Why, then, do I allow myself to listen to my feelings and feed my mind and heart the lies that only perpetuate the noxious cycle? I'm sure there are lots of reasons, but the two that come to my mind are these: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9) and "Satan comes only to kill, steal, and destroy" (John 10:10).

So while I mentioned that I haven't felt like being in community lately, this morning, I wrestled myself to church--or rather the Holy Spirit wouldn't take "No!" for an answer. Jesus is relentless like that. I punched my feelings in the face (Thanks, Jon Acuff, for the analogy.), and how thankful I am that I did. The lesson in our Connect Group (Sunday School) and the message in corporate worship couldn't have been more perfect.

I was reminded of some staggering, although familiar, Truths--Truths that are dynamite to the lies I've been wallowing in.

- I have been "sprinkled with His blood" (1 Peter 1:2). How great a price the Father paid for me, even while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8)! I can rest in His incredible demonstration of love: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). These verses reassure me that when I feel inadequate, insecure, like a failure, like He's tired of me, I can know it's a lie because my value and God's love for me is not tied to my performance--my accomplishments or my failures. Praise God that His love and mercy is independent of me!

- God's Word transforms my mind (Romans 12:1-2). My feelings have become so loud lately because I have let God's word become so quiet. Like I said, I haven't felt like reading my Bible or praying, so there have been days when I just flat out haven't done it and days when I have but my attitude has been so disgusting I might as well not have. But you know what? God's Word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). His Word is powerful. Those lying feelings I've been meditating on cannot stand up against the truth of His Word. And what goes into my mind and heart is what rule it and is what will come out of my mouth.

So today I'm choosing to let His Word be loud. Psalm 119 is a great place to start.

 (vs. 24) Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.

 (vs. 93) I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

 (vs. 111) Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.

 (vs. 114) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

And I'm blaring one of my favorite, old hymns.

Standing on the Promises
by Russell K. Carter   
Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God. 

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
List’ning every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

Praying that if you've been listening to your feelings lately that you'll start now saturating yourself in His Truths. 

Lamentations 3:22-23

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for His compassions never fail. 

 They are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.

All's grace,


Thursday, August 29, 2013

the ESPYs + Ethiopia + Royal Genealogy

This month I've been blessed to share again a little more about my time in Ethiopia this past June and how it's ruined me for the ordinary, making me ever more conscious of my purpose as an ambassador for Christ. Below is a snippet from my post over at The Forsaken Children. 
The story of Robin’s valiant fight against breast cancer and an ensuing severe blood disease in addition to coping with the death of her mother brought the tearful audience to its feet. And I have to admit the fact that this incredible lady is a fellow Mississippi girl made my heart swell with pride just a little.
BUT what really rapt my attention and admiration was her bold faith in God and her conviction to follow her mother’s advice: “Make your mess your message.”
That phrase is a poignant reminder to me of what God does for us when he redeems us – He transforms our messy, broken, sin-eaten lives into His message of restoration, hope, and future glory.
While in Ethiopia this June, I saw...
You can click the ellipsis above to read more.

I hope you are experiencing the reality of His transformational love today!  

All's grace,


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