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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Problem with Confidence: The Journey, Part 2

Thanks for checking in on Part 2 of the the journey!  
If you haven't read Part 1, you can do so here!

You can bet that I was hitting my time with God in a big way.  I was spending more time reading and praying than ever.  I was begging God for clues that he had not, in fact, dropped me out of the back of his mind, but I felt like I was getting nowhere.  Looking back, I see that God was allowing my brokenness because it was priming me for what he was about to do.  The time I spent with him started out as my desperate pleas to for him to answer my prayers, but somewhere along the line it changed to desperate pleas that if he didn't answer anything, that he would just show up.  This was the most crucial, most broken spot for me to sit in.

It was here, in my brokenness, that I got hit by a two-by-four with this verse written on it (ok, not literally, but it was kind-of dramatic for me): 
We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.  It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God--2 Corinthians 3:4-5
When I read that verse, I saw how inverted my faith had been.  Until this point in my life, I had not had to question where I placed my confidence.  If you had asked me before, I would have surely said "God," and meant it.  However, reading Paul say that he was only confident in God's ability and nothing else really surprised me.  They key is that he was confident in nothing else.  This is where the small seed of understanding planted itself.

I had to get down to the most core part of myself.  No more self-talk, assuring myself that it would all turn up how I wanted it.  I saw my prayers for what they were--Begging God to give me the life I had pictured.  I desperately wanted things to fall into place, and those exact words, of asking for things to "fall into place" had riddled my prayer life.

However, when I read this verse, I saw exactly where I was placing my confidence: in situations.  I was saying to God and myself, "If only I could be here, I would be satisfied."  I was placing my hope of satisfaction in life on the contingency that God would show up in the ways I thought he should.  I could say that I felt slapped across the face and God said, "Duh.  Who do you think you are to give ME contingencies?" but that would be DEAD wrong.  All of this realization did come on strong, but it came on gently.  I did not feel disciplined or chastised, only very loved. 

That moment I could say to God things that I didn't even know needed to be said before:
I have confidence in who you are and your perfect plan, and nothing elseI don't have confidence in me--I have confidence in you in meI don't have confidence in my husband--I have confidence in you in my husband.  I don't have confidence in any plan, any recognition, or any promotion that the world gives us, no matter how bad or how good it looks.  In the deepest valley and on the highest mountain, I can feel the same satisfaction that I am yours and it is all part of your plan.

Feeling forgotten was no longer an issue, because that was the me that put my confidence in situations.  That feeling rested on the fact that my life did not look how I wanted it to.  This new understanding left no room for self-confidence or situation-confidence.  It only allowed for God-confidence. 

I know that this part was a bit longer than Part 1, so thank you for sticking it through!  I'm hoping that though my journey was completely personal, you are finding things that connect to your own journey.  If you do, please let me know in a comment, or you can email me at contact[at]sarahannrogers[dot]com.  I would love to hear about your journey, and I thank you for being real with me!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As of late, I have had an uncontrollable desire to nest (and no, I'm not even pregnant--don't you think you would know if I were?).  And when I say nest, I mean:  
"Dear Husband, I feel as if I need to spend some more money on our little home.  What?  Oh, no, it's not anything we need.  Just, you know, cute stuff for our walls.  What?  Oh, yes, I like the stuff already on our walls, I just want different stuff."
Now, even I know that it is a little unreasonable.  Just because I feel like nesting does not mean that my house is undecorated...  I just want to change it all!  Obviously, that's not happening anytime soon, because last time I checked, our budget does not have an unlimited "Nesting" category.

In an effort to recognize this and, in a sense, "count my blessings," I planned to do a post with pictures of the little things in my house that I already love and where I've already nested.  You know, because I'm always doing posts about what others need and that really is how we try to live our lives--recognizing how blessed we are and how much we can give.

I found TWO WHOLE THINGS to take pictures of!  That's good, right?  I mean, we are incredibly blessed, but my house is kind of messy (in my opinion), and so there wasn't much to photograph for today.

However, to stay true to my efforts, here are two small things that I do like in my little abode:
 These are hanging over my kitchen sink (which I could not get a picture of due to the dirty dishes).  And yes, they're fake plants.  So many people want to touch them to check.  Sorry that you must resist that urge.

The nightstand in the guest bedroom.  It's nothing special, but I love Paris and hydrangeas.  So, just kidding, it is something special.

Hey, I never said that this was a decorating blog.  It clearly is not!  But "nesting" has been SO overwhelming my thought life lately, and I thought it might be something you guys think about, too!  If it is, how do you control the URGE?

Tomorrow, we're back to the new blog series on My Journey.  
To catch up on part 1, read yesterday's post.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Forgotten - The Journey, Part 1

This is a series of blog posts chronicling my journey over the past year.  I'm doing it in parts because I have so much to say about all that God has done in my life, but I want it to be painstakingly real, and that's going to take quite a bit of space.
Welcome to Part 1 of my journey.


My biggest struggle over the last year has been feeling as if God had forgotten me.  I never questioned if he was God or if I should obey him; I just thought that somehow, I had fallen out of the back of his mind.  Maybe I was low on his list.  I saw people taking the next steps in life and wondered why it seemed God had put our lives on hold.  I was so incredibly confused as to why people around me seemed to have the direction they'd prayed for.  I had prayed too, daily, for God to do in my life what he was doing in theirs.
You could have told me that those people had issues and questions with God's plan for their own lives, too, but that wouldn't have helped.  See, I didn't want anyone else to suffer.  I was so overwhelmingly happy for those around me, and I never wished that they would "not have" because I felt like God was withholding from me.  It was not envy that was eating me up... it was the loneliness of confusion.
I was desperate.  I was caught in the middle of so wanting to submit my life to God's will no matter what it looked like, and railing against God for not giving me answers--for not writing on the wall when we would be able to move forward with our lives. 
Whenever I would open up, people would give me the worst advice.  They were all telling me what to do, how I needed to approach God--all things I was pretty aware of already.  I was writing down Bible verses about not questioning God and how his thoughts were higher than ours.  I started to see God as cold and uncaring--I just needed to follow him because he said so.  I found no comfort, which I realize is what I needed most.  I was not doubting God's power, and I was not falling away from trusting in him; I was just emotionally exhausted.


For today, I'll just leave you with a hint that my journey from feeling forgotten into God's perfect peace has something to do with verses like this:
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you....
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
--Isaiah 43:2,13

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bite Me!

I woke up extra early this morning because I had lots of work to get done.  I didn't get but five hours of sleep last night, and that is not the best thing for me.
I want to shout to the world: "Beware!  Don't cross me!  I may either start crying or not be very nice!"
Instead, though, I'd like to be bitten.  And no, not in that gross, twinkly vampire way.

It seems that when I'm most tired and most vulnerable, somebody or some situation takes a bite out of me.  My prayer today is that when (not if- I'm really tired, so I know that for today, it will happen) I get bitten, I taste sweet.  I hope that Jesus in me comes out instead of the tired me because she's not very attractive and she's just not that nice.
Thank God for his Spirit that replaces our ugly inner selves.  I am thankful today for my exhaustion, for in my weakness, I can rely on his fruit instead of my own.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. -Galatians 5:22-23

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Command: Rejoicing

Here, Paul isn't just pleading us to be happy.  He's not just saying, when things are going well, indulge!  Look for the blessings!  Be joyous when you can find something that makes you smile!
Instead, what he is commanding us to do is to CHOOSE to rejoice.  In tiredness, in busyness, and even when life goes the complete opposite way that we would choose.  Through rocky relationships, through changes we don't expect, in heartbreak.
Paul even says it twice.  Rejoice.  
Notice, however, that Paul doesn't say, "Work your best to be happy!" or, "If this doesn't come easily, you're not a Christian!"
Instead, he tells us to rejoice in the Lord, and always, at that.  We are to make the choice to find our joy, our confidence, and our drive in our God.  When all else seems to fail, we can rest in the arms of Jesus, and that is cause for rejoicing.  When tragedy occurs, we know our God is infinitely good, and we can choose to find meaning in that.  When everything is going well, our root of happiness should still be our God instead of our circumstance.  Only then will we not be rocked when something changes or doesn't go our way.

Today, I'm choosing to rejoice.  I'm not rejoicing in my cute house or the beautiful weather or even in my incredible blessing of a husband.
I'm rejoicing because my God is.  I'm rejoicing because He exists and He is good.  Today, and every day, that is enough for me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I need an excuse...

I'm crazy busy.  Not that this would surprise any of you, but I am.  I desperately need an excuse to stop what I'm doing and work on something fun.
If I had free time this week, I would make these:
Aren't they gorgeous?  Where would I hang them, you ask?  I have no idea!  I have no little girl to decorate a room for.  I don't think my guests would thank me for putting it in the living room, either.  But I just can't get over them.

Also, if I had the free time, I would make these fabric hoops (preferably with different colors, even though yellow and gray are to die for)...
I found this while looking for a baby shower I'm planning for my friend Chelsie.  A post on that will be coming soon.

Lastly, in my free time, I would use it to catch up on some of my favorite people's blogs, like Cait's or Lauren's.  If you have some free time, you should do so as well!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Faith Blogs

Recently, I joined a website called Faith Blogs.  I encourage you to go look at all of the wonderful blogs that are up.  I'm so grateful to be part of such a lovely community!
Sorry I've been gone for so long!  I'm going to make an effort to be here every day this week!  Thank you all for being some of my favorite people!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I lost my heart in Mexico

I grew up part-time on the border of Texas and Mexico, and we spent 99% of our summers there traveling around the country.  I hated Laredo, Texas, but I loved everything in Mexico.  The culture, the people, their expressiveness and their loveliness, all of it.  When we first moved back to SC, I would smile at every Mexican I saw and just feel as if they should know my heart!  I wanted to hug each and every one of them because they reminded me of home.

Last weekend, Billy and I went out to the neighborhood we visit each month.  We take a team people out there and usually just play with the kids and befriend the adults.  The neighborhood we visit is made up of mostly poor American families, but a couple of Mexican families are peppered into the mix, though we don't often see them when we go out there.  This time, however, we got to meet the sweetest little nine-year-old girl.  She was actually born in the US, but her parents were Mexican.  I had the privilege of talking to her and her mom for quite some time, and I felt my heart start to beat again in a way it hadn't in a long time.  There is just something so special and gentle about that culture... not to mention this particular story they were telling me - it would break anybody's heart.

The little girl started off by telling me that they were so excited to live in this neighborhood now because the last two places they'd lived had rats... big ones, she said, showing me with her hands spread wide.  I simply nodded past the lump in my throat.

Then, I talked to the mom.  She immediately told me that her husband was in jail, and had been for nine months.  She speaks absolutely no English and her only income is babysitting for other Mexican families.  I could only imagine how little they were paying her.  I asked if I could pray with her, and she just started crying.  Of course, I prayed in English, and she couldn't even understand, yet she was so grateful. 
I asked them if they needed anything, and all she asked for were napkins.  She was almost shy about it, as if afraid to ask for too much.  I walked her over to our car because I knew we'd brought a few rolls of paper towels with us.  I opened the trunk and saw that we had a few more things - water bottles, trash bags, and paper plates.  I asked her if she would like them, and she kept nodding, eyes growing larger and larger.  We found a shopping cart sitting around (don't ask me why), and Billy hauled the stuff into the cart and we walked it down to her house.

When we got there, she proudly opened her door so that we could bring everything inside.  What I saw there just broke my heart.  It was almost identical to some of the poorest situations I'd seen in actual Mexico.  Somehow, though, with honest pride, she had put up lacy window-coverings and things were nicely folded and noticeably cleaned.

I walked away from her house feeling desperately overwhelmed.  We have been going out to this neighborhood once a month for over a year now, and I had never felt this emotionally attached this quickly.  The hugs I got from the mother and little girl were whole and sincere and just brought tears to my eyes.  They revived the piece of me that I'd left in Mexico years and years ago.

I wish I could tell you that we were doing all we could to help.  I mean, we are, but I feel as if it is not enough, because, frankly, it's not.  Nothing we can do will release her husband from jail and get him a job stable enough to support them.  We cannot move them from where they are.  We can only love on them, which I promise we will.  I will just have to settle with that, knowing that it's just not enough, trusting God that his heart beats for them even more than mine.