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 failure...so 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,


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oh, Praise Him.

I just began a devotional in my Bible app by "She Reads Truth" on prayer. Woah. Just letting these passages sink in this morning. So thankful for the beauty of The Word and convicting reminder. He is worthy of my praise and His goodness should be continually on my lips. 

1 Chronicles 16:7-36

English Standard Version (ESV)

Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.

David's Song of Thanks

Oh give thanks to the Lord;call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
13 O offspring of Israel his servant,
    children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

14 He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
15 Remember his covenant forever,
    the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
16 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
    his sworn promise to Isaac,
17 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
    to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
18 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan,
    as your portion for an inheritance.”

19 When you were few in number,
    of little account, andsojourners in it,
20 wandering from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another people,
21 he allowed no one to oppress them;
    he rebuked kings on their account,
22 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
    do my prophets no harm!”

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be fearedabove all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
30     tremble before him, all the earth;
    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
    and let them say among the nations, “The Lordreigns!”
32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

35 Say also:

“Save us, O God of our salvation,
    and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”

Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.

Psalm 100

English Standard Version (ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100 Make a joyful noise to theLord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, andwe are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

My view from the plane on the way to Ethiopia in June.
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