White As Snow
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."-Isaiah 1:18

May
19

SURPRISE! I have a new blog. It’s not completely ready for viewing but I’ll unleash it anyway.

You can read my newest post here: http://sarah-footprintsinthesand.blogspot.com/

Goodbye WordPress, Hello Blogger!

God Bless,

Sarah

Mar
21

1 year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. 31,536,000 seconds.

I started off writing this entry because I haven’t had a seizure in a year. Today is my one-year anniversary of being seizure-free. It’s a huge accomplishment, one I’m very blessed to celebrate for the first time in over 3 years. But this isn’t about me. And, after writing this and reading it over, I think that there’s a deeper message than the one I’ve even presented. It’s not an argument. It’s a fact. It’s a miracle.

Whatever way you look at it, one year is a long time. One year can change you. In those 365 days, there is no doubt that there will be bad days. But, more than likely, there will be a lot of good ones too. People usually remember the bad days rather than the good days even though the bad days are typically more rare than the good days. It’s just the way we are.

525,600 minutes. Some of those minutes will be spent in anger, fighting, crying, screaming, etc. Some of those minutes will be spent in silence or in sleep (about 175,200 minutes if you average 8 hours of sleep/night, not including naps). Some of those minutes will be spent in laughter and happiness and joy. Some minutes will be spent driving or traveling or going somewhere. Some minutes will be spent eating. Some minutes will be spent watching TV. (If you’re an American, these minutes can be combined as most usually eat while watching TV). Some minutes will be spent with family or friends or lovers. Some minutes will be spent alone. If you’re a Christian, hopefully some minutes will be spent with God or in church or reading the Bible. How many minutes will be spent simply dwelling in His presence?

31,536,000 seconds. I never knew how many seconds were in a year until today. I was just kind of curious, not even sure where this post was going (still kind of uncertain, actually). 31 million seconds. Growing up as a distance swimmer, I always thought of a second as, well, nothing. If I swam a 500 freestyle (20 lengths of the pool) in 5:35 (5 minutes and 35 seconds) and my goal was a 5:30 (5 minutes and 30 seconds), I was only 5 seconds off my goal time. When you think of the fact that the race is 20 lengths, that’s only a 1-second drop every 4 lengths — which is nothing. It’s a quarter of a second off per length — which is a fraction of nothing. But I’ve learned that a second is something. A second can be valuable. Those seconds add up to over 31 million seconds in an entire year. And that, my friends, is something. Did you know that four babies are born every second? Take a second. 4 babies were just born. It’s amazing isn’t it? — the fact that God brings 4 new, unique creations into the world every second.

Let’s think about this: God brings forth 4 new, unique creations into the world every second. These 4 babies all have a different set of fingerprints. Even if two of the babies are twins, they’re still different. In addition, most twins are born a minute or more apart from the other twin. They’re not even born within a few seconds of each other let alone a minute. Back to the babies. These 4 babies will grow up — probably in different countries with entirely different cultures and parents and lifestyles. Some may know God but some may not. Some may be married but some may not. Some may have children but some may not. But these four babies-turned-adults will all share this one second in which they all came to life. Not only were they born in the same year, on the same day, in the same minute; they were born in the same second. But they were all uniquely made by their Creator. Not one of them is the same. Most likely, their lives will never cross. But who even thinks of it? The second of my birth was shared with 3 other people on this entire planet. But there’s another thing that I share with these three other people — and with everyone in the world, actually. I share the same Creator. The same Creator (God) that created the gorgeous Ben Affleck also created me. The same Creator (God) that created my homeless friend Alfred from Chicago also created me. The same Creator (God) that created my worst enemy also created me. The same Creator (God) that created my soulmate also created me. At the same time, I have a completely different relationship with God than Ben Affleck, Alfred, my worst enemy, and my soulmate. It’s personal. I didn’t go through the same experiences as Ben or Alfred or my worst enemy or my soulmate. We’re different. And, since we’re all different, we all have a different relationship with God. God stays the same. He doesn’t change. But we do. We all change and, hopefully, we all learn and grow even closer to God throughout our lives. Because, after all, God just wants us to want Him. He wants us to choose day in and day out to love Him more than anything or anyone else in our lives. It’s not a lot to ask, is it? After all, without Him, none of us would exist.

I LOVE YOU AND GOD BLESS,

Sarah

Mar
01

It is said that, “time flies by when you’re having fun.” However, it is also true that “time flies by when you’re busy!” I haven’t updated my blog since New Year’s Eve — which was over 2 months ago. With teaching and coaching and sleeping — there has been little time for anything else. However, since I am off from work today because I am sick, I decided that it’s time for an update. So here we go:

2011 did not start off as wonderfully as I had planned. I had planned that I would be accepted to the MTR program in Tennessee and that I would be moving down there in May. Well, on January 4th, that dream was suddenly crushed. I cried…a lot. I went through the 7 stages of grief and, luckily, within a few short days I was back to my “regular” self and moving on to the next big venture. Even though I didn’t get accepted to MTR, I knew that I still wanted to become a teacher. I did have a few “back up” plans with regard to getting my teaching license so I submitted transcript requests and all of that information to the proper schools. However, I knew that wherever I would further my education, I wouldn’t be taking classes until the fall. So I needed to make summer plans. I really wanted to do another mission trip so I researched different organizations, places and dates on the Internet. I found a wonderful opportunity with Chosen People Ministries: a mission trip to Israel for 4 weeks! I submitted my application and a couple of weeks later I was accepted into their “Outreach Israel” program. I am so excited. God has been providing so much throughout the support raising process and my supporters have been extremely generous. 85% of the support needed for the trip has already been raised – what a blessing!

All I can say is that, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” God closed to the door to MTR for me. MY plan was MTR — but it wasn’t God’s plan. God has something else for me. And, since I was rejected, I am able to go to Israel this summer — something that couldn’t have happened if I was accepted to MTR. I also began coaching a YMCA swim team last month which I really enjoy. I will also start taking classes at Notre Dame College in the fall in order to get my teaching license. If all goes according to plan, I should graduate in May or August of 2013.

I am still very involved with my church and, in recent weeks, my mom has joined the Bible Study group that meets at our house. She used to work on Sunday nights but, since she also got another job, she doesn’t work on Sunday nights anymore and can attend group! – THANKS BE TO GOD! – I am so proud of my mom and how far she has come within the past year with regard to her faith. My dad is doing great, too – reading the Bible and teaching me something new every day. My family is happy and healthy — and I honestly couldn’t ask for better parents — who celebrated their 25th anniversary two days ago!

Life is busy…but it’s also fun. I am loving every moment of it — the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. I have lots of growing still left to do but I know that I have an amazing support team that will help me get through it all. And, of course, I have the most amazing love that a girl could have — the love of Jesus.

I love you and God Bless,

Sarah

Dec
31

It has been one year since December 30, 2009 — the Eve of New Year’s Eve. I still remember it like it was yesterday:

The morning was off to a rocky start as I had the “blue flu.” I still don’t exactly know what that means, but I had it. I did not want to do ANYTHING — I especially did not want to go walking through some apartment complex in a city that I had never been to before telling complete strangers about Jesus. Yes, I had recently accepted Christ through communion a few weeks prior to December 30, 2009. I was currently at a conference in Indianapolis through an organization called Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru). I believed in Jesus almost wholeheartedly but did that really mean that I had to tell people? Couldn’t I just believe in Him for myself? I literally remember “practicing” the Would You Like to Know God Personally (KGP) booklets with my fellow college friends from Cru. Not only had I never seen a KGP booklet but, within an hour, I would be sitting in front of someone witnessing to them about what was in this little blue booklet that would change their lives forever. Super. Luckily, I was put into a group with my discipler’s husband, Nate Berkey, and a fellow new-believer, Steph. Nate took us under his wings and little did I know that what would happen next would be the most life-changing experience of my life. As Nate, Steph, and I approached the first apartment complex, we took some time to pray. Nate led us through a simple, straightforward prayer and it was the first time that I truly witnessed the power of prayer. Never again would I underestimate its power. Looking back on it now, God had prepared all of us for that moment. We knocked on that first apartment complex door and we were ushered past the living room (which was tuned into Jerry Springer, I think) and into the kitchen. We had a Box of Love — or something of the sort — and a survey. The woman, who was a believer in Christ, couldn’t read so Nate read her the questions on the survey. I remember watching him flip through the KGP and so easily talk to this woman (who he had known for merely two minutes) about Jesus. I wondered what it took to be so confident and so willing to share one’s faith. After talking with the woman, we decided to try one more apartment. I was feeling a little more comfortable because of the success from apartment #1. The next apartment was home to Wyatt. And Wyatt would be the first person that I would ever see surrender his life to Jesus before me. I was an emotional wreck and tried to control my sobbing to experience this amazing transformation. Steph, of course, had to hold my hand. Again, Nate spoke to Wyatt with total confidence and honesty. Wyatt, in turn, was also completely honest and, when it got time to pray, he asked if he could speak the prayer aloud in order to surrender his life to Jesus. I was amazed and filled with an unexplainable joy. Following this visit, we returned to the church and had the opportunity to share about our experiences. I was volunteered from my group to talk about it and, following my brief speech, had a conversation that changed my life…for the second time in 24 hours. I was talking to my friend, Ryan Brooks, about baptism. I don’t even remember how it came up but he told me about his baptism and how, at his church, Nate (my discipler’s husband) had baptized him. I knew that this was something I wanted to do — and who better than Nate and his wife, Megan, themselves? On the car ride back to the hotel, I asked Megan and Nate if they would be interested. I had just graduated a couple weeks prior to the conference and had recently found a home church. They were definitely interested and Megan had a brilliant idea. She asked me, if it was possible, if I would be interested in getting baptized today — in the hotel pool. It was perfect. I had just graduated college. I had just found a home church. I was surrounded with some of my closest brothers and sisters in Christ. Perfect timing? I think so. Megan quickly got on the phone and called anyone and everyone that she needed to in order to find out if it was possible/allowed. It was. I texted the other cars about the time and place of my baptism and it was good to go. Before my baptism, I called my parents. My mom is not a believer, but she was happy for me — and so was my dad. Even though I wish they could have been there, I felt confident just having their support. It was a beautiful baptism, really. Megan and Nate read pertinent verses from God’s Word and I confirmed my faith in Christ Jesus. I was immediately filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit and had never felt such joy. Lindsey Rapp, my close friend who had shared communion with me only a couple of weeks beforehand, was there too — taking pictures of course. (Over a recent dinner date, she handed me printed pictures of my baptism. Her gift reminded me of the life that God had so graciously given me and the amazing gift of His unfailing love and forgiveness).

After taking such a huge step in my faith through baptism, I made some goals to for 2010 in order to grow closer to the Lord. My main goal was to read the Bible. I had read relatively little of the Bible prior to my baptism and I felt that was an important area that would draw me closer to the Lord. After graduation, my uncle and aunt had sent me a One Year Bible as a gift so that I could spend time daily in God’s Word. Tomorrow I will finish reading God’s Word for the first time and hope to do a more in-depth study on specific books in 2011.

Another goal that I had in order to grow closer to the Lord was to serve Him. All throughout the conference that I attended last year in Indianapolis, they were talking about service. I had considered spending a week in Chicago with Here’s Life Inner-City — the Urban Ministry of Cru. I remember telling Lindsey and she encouraged me to devote an entire summer through Summer Project. After returning from Indianapolis and spending time in prayer, I decided to at least fill out the application. Believe it or not, I was actually accepted and spent the entire summer with 19 students and 10 staff members in Chicago’s inner-city. God really pulled through with regard to the whole process and, with financial support from my family members, friends, and church family, I was able to serve God’s children in the third largest city in the United States. Summer Project was an experience within itself and, for more information, you can check out my blog entries from June and July.

My third and final goal didn’t come to mind until I left for Summer Project in June, but I wanted to find out what God’s calling was for my life. Even though I had just graduated from college, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I attended a brief lecture on it at the conference in Indianapolis but I didn’t feel any calling about anything. However, I had literally just surrendered my life to Christ so it was understandable that I didn’t know God’s desires for me at the time. I had briefly considered graduate school before I left for Chicago, but I declined my acceptance to Kent State University for Journalism. I decided that I would be prayerful about God’s will for my life and hoped that He would reveal it to me over Summer Project. And He did. Only halfway through Project, I felt that God was calling me to be a part of urban education. I didn’t know where or when or how this would happen, but I would find a way — or at least God would. I considered programs like Teach for America and graduate schools nearby my hometown — so I could live at home and work simultaneously. However, the answer came to me through my Project discipler, Emily Durham. Emily told me about an organization called MTR in Tennessee. It was a Christian-based program that focused on Urban Education. I applied and recently flew down to Tennessee for an interview. I am also currently substitute teaching while I am in the process of waiting for God’s will to be accomplished. MTR is a very competitive program and I will find out in less than a week if it is God’s will for me to serve Him in Memphis. Whether or not I get accepted, I still plan on pursuing a degree in education and serving Him wherever He calls me to go. I have confidence that the will of God will be accomplished.

As for 2011, I hope to grow closer to the Lord through service. I don’t know where He is calling me to go yet — but where He leads, I will follow. 2010 has been a year of change. There have been good times and there have been bad times, but God has seen me through them all — and He will see me through them all in 2011 as well. All I know is that whatever is meant to be will be and I am so thankful that I have nothing to do with it — it’s all in God’s hands. I look forward to the adventures of 2011 — I know that there will be at least one or two. May God be with you and your family in the New Year. Always remember this: God has you planted where you are right now for a reason. Make the most of it and share the Truth with those around you.

I love you and God Bless!

Sarah

Dec
15

So I haven’t updated my blog in FOREVER! Things have been crazy around here since November began and I finally have some (minimal) down time (yay!) to post on here.

November was a month of change as God has truly blessed me in ways beyond imaginable. For one, I was blessed with the opportunity to get a job as a substitute teacher at a charter school in Cleveland. It has been a truly rewarding experience and I feel an even stronger calling to pursue education as a life-long career. In addition to being hired as a substitute teacher, I have also been given the opportunity to leave my job as a server at a local restaurant. As many of you know, it was not the ideal work environment for me. I have been much less angry since leaving the restaurant business and much happier in following God’s plan for the life that He has so graciously given me.

In addition to my new job, I am flying to Tennessee this weekend for an interview with a teaching program in which I can receive my Master’s degree in Urban Education. The program is very selective but I look forward to the amazing opportunity just to have an interview with the organization. I know that, no matter what happens, the will of God will be accomplished. I hope to serve Him in whatever ways He calls me to do so.

As the year comes to a close, it is amazing how much things have changed in my life. I was baptized a little less than a year ago today and my life has changed so dramatically since giving my life to Jesus. God really does have a plan for each of His children — as it is stated in Jeremiah 29:11-13:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, β€œplans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Nothing that has brought me to this moment in my life was of my own doing — it was all Jesus. He took me through a lot of things so far and I know that He will bring me through much more. I don’t deserve any of the love that He so graciously gives me, but I am so thankful that He does. I look forward to a life of service dedicated to my Heavenly Father until He returns or calls me Home.

Praise be to the Lord — the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

I love you and God Bless,

Sarah πŸ™‚

Oct
17

Mostly everyone knows the expression, “If looks could kill.” The expression can mean two different things but I’ve usually used it and heard it in reference to someone giving me or someone else an evil look. Even though looks can’t kill, there’s something else that truly can — and that’s your words.

At my church, Velocity, we’re reviewing The 10 Commandments that were presented to Moses in the Old Testament. This week the sermon was on the sixth commandment: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The Bible verse in the Old Testament is pretty straightforward. But what does the New Testament say about murder? Let’s take a look at 1 John 3:15:

“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”

The New Testament says that even if you hate someone, you are a murderer in your heart. And there’s always someone isn’t there? Someone at your school or at your job or in your family that you just don’t like. Think of some of the people in your life who you don’t like. In what ways do you murder them? In your thoughts? In your words? In your actions? I must confess: I am a murderer with my words.

I have a lot of trouble controlling my anger — especially with my tongue. Although it is something that I am working on, it’s much easier said than done. My words have gotten me into so much trouble over the years and yet it still hasn’t kicked in — until today that is. I have ruined friendships and destroyed the reputations of people because of my tongue. And the opposite is also true: People have ruined friendships and destroyed my reputation because of their tongues. But this isn’t about anybody but me. I can’t control what other people think, say, and do. I can only control what I think, say, and do.

To be honest, between the ages of 17 and 23, I was truly a mean girl. I said and did some things that I cannot even imagine. I am sure that I caused a lot of people heartache. And, to those people, I am truly and deeply sorry. I can never take back those words that I so viciously used to attack you and tear you down. Most of these people will never read this. Most of these people I will never see or talk to again because we have lost contact over the years. Some of these people will never talk to me again because they can forgive but they can’t forget. I don’t blame them. If I were them, I would feel the same way. I do feel the same way. But I am sorry. I know that God forgives me and, to some degree, I forgive myself too. But I have to live with the fact that I have made an everlasting impression on the lives of these people that I’ve hurt — and it’s not a good one. It’s not an impression that I want them to have of me. But that’s the way it is. For some, I believe that restitution is still a possibility. For others, it will never happen. In those situations, the most I can do is pray that, one day, they’ll be able to forget.

The important thing to take from all of this is that words do kill. Let’s take a look at Matthew 12:34-37:

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings out the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

All over the news we hear about kids that are bullied in school — and it’s not just physical attacks. It’s the things that someone said to a little boy that made him kill himself. And it’s understandable, isn’t it? We remember the negativity much more than we remember the praise. Those bad memories just stick out like a sore thumb. And some people can find enough strength to push those negative comments aside and live their lives — and others simply can’t.

I don’t want this blog entry to be sad but I do hope it stirs up some feelings of conviction. I’m not trying to be a saint because I’m not. I’m the worst sinner of all but, by the grace of God, I have been saved. His power can seriously change lives and, if it wasn’t for Him, I would be dead. Maybe not physically dead but spiritually dead for sure. I don’t deserve anything but I thank God for every day that He gives me to serve Him. I know that I always fall short but I know that He has a plan for me — and He’s not giving up on me. He never will.

In closing, let me leave you with the passage that we closed with in Bible study (1 John 3:11-20):

“This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

For all of those reading this, I thank you for doing so. I pray that you ponder this verse in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. “For God IS greater than our hearts, and he knows EVERYTHING.” Think about the last words that you said to someone that may have hurt them. What if something happened and that was the last memory they have of you? Watch your words. I pray for you; whatever season you are at in your life, wherever you are in your walk with the Lord. The path is long and never easy but always worth it. Remember that God loves you and knows the deep desires of your heart — even if you don’t. If you are a single woman and desire marriage, I pray that God puts a man in your life who is a protector, a provider, and a prophet. If you are a man, I pray that God puts a Proverbs 31 woman in your life. It may be tomorrow or it may be in 10 years but, if it’s your desire, God will make it happen in His perfect timing. Do not worry about the future. Continue to pray hard, work hard, and trust God. May you be blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. I pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I LOVE YOU AND GOD BLESS,

Sarah

Sep
24

I haven’t updated my blog in nearly a month — which is so sad considering that I updated it every week in Chicago. Even though a lot more things were happening a lot more often in Chicago, a lot has been happening right here at home, too (like the Browns being off to a 0-2 start).

First and foremost, I’m reading a new book. Well, the book isn’t new — actually, it was published in 1998! But, for me, it’s a new book. Believe it or not, the things in this book are still relevant today. The book is called Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado. I heard about it from a fellow student on Project and finally ordered it off Amazon. It’s nothing short of Truth and conviction. I love it — and strongly recommend it.

In Chapter 5: Being Led by an Unseen Hand: A God-Intoxicated Heart, Lucado talks about pictures of intimacy between God and us. He goes further to include passages from the journal of Frank Laubach — a missionary to the illiterate. Lucado writes: “Dissatisfied with his spiritual life, at the age of forty-five Laubach resolved to live in ‘continuous inner conversation with God and in perfect responsiveness to His will'” (54). Here is one of the passages from Laubach that touched my heart:

“It is my business to look into the very face of God until I ache with bliss. . . .Now I like the Lord’s presence so much that when for a half hour or so He slips out of mind — as He does many times a day — I fell as though I had deserted Him, and as though I had lost something very precious in my life (March 3, 1931; May 14, 1930)” (61).

How awesome is that?! Laubach wanted to dwell in God’s presence every moment of every day — when he failed, he felt like he had deserted God. Do we all feel that way? If we don’t, shouldn’t we? Time is so precious — and time with God is the most precious gift that we, as humans, have been given.

Lucado goes further to say this (63):

“The more we search the Bible, the more we realize that unbroken communion with God is the intent and not the exception. Within the reach of every Christian is the unending presence of God.”

Lucado then gives examples of how we can live in God’s presence. Here’s one of them (64):

Give God your whispering thoughts. Through the centuries Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers, prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting. Laubach sought unbroken communion with God by asking him questions. Every two or three minutes he would pray, ‘Am I in your will, Lord?’ ‘Am I pleasing you, Lord?'”

I’ve tried this a little this week already. For example, if I’m at work and I can tell that I’m about to get frustrated — just by my thoughts alone — I ask God, “Am I in your will?” By just asking this one question, I can usually feel conviction immediately and put the thought out of my mind. So far it’s really helping me to stay focused on what’s really important — God’s plan — which brings me to my next point.

In Chapter 7: Golf Games and Celery Sticks: A Focused Heart, Lucado addresses four questions that need to be answered in order to be more like Jesus — with a focused heart. Here are the questions:

1. Am I fitting into God’s Plan? “Regardless of what you don’t know about your future, one thing is certain: you are intended to contribute to the good plan of God, to tell others about the God who loves them and longs to bring them home” (86).

2. What are my Longings? “You are a custom design; you are tailor-made. God prescribed your birth. Regardless of the circumstances that surrounded your arrival, you are not an accident. God planned you before you were born. The longings of your heart, then, are not incidental; they are critical messages. The desires of your heart are not to be ignored; they are to be consulted. As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passions to turn your life. God is too gracious to ask you to do something you hate” (87).

3. What are my Abilities? “Failing to focus on our strengths may prevent us from accomplishing the unique tasks God has called us to do. We cannot meet every need in the world. We cannot please every person in the world. We cannot satisfy every request in the world. But some of us try. And in the end, we run out of fuel. Have a sane estimate of your abilities and stick to them” (88-89).

4. Am I serving God Now?But Max, I’m ready to do great things for God. Good, do them at work. Be a good employee. Show up on time with a good attitude. Don’t complain or grumble, but ‘work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people’ (Col. 3:23)” (89).

Lucado closes the chapter by saying, “God allows you to start fresh at any point in life. ‘From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires’ (1 Pet. 4:2 TEV). Circle the words from now on. God will give you a fresh scorecard. Regardless of what has controlled you in the past, it’s never too late to get your life on course and be a part of God’s P.L.A.N” (90).

Speaking of God’s plan, let me give you a short update on what’s been happening in my life. This summer, in Chicago, God revealed His plan for my life: to be an urban school teacher. Through my Project discipler, Emily, I heard about a Christian-based teaching program in in which I could get my Master’s degree in Urban Education and work in the city following the 1-year residency program. Even though I have no prior education or work experience in education, I decided to apply anyway. After all, this is part of God’s plan for me. So I applied and had a phone interview a little over a week ago. Following the interview, I was invited to a face-to-face interview in December. I was — and am — so excited. Whether or not I get accepted into the program, I know that this is just one step toward fulfilling God’s plan for my life.

In closing, here’s a short, true story about my mother (she is not a believer) and the ways in which God is working in her heart. So I went jogging/running a couple of hours ago. I literally got home, sat on the couch for five minutes, and the door bell rang. I was annoyed. Who could it be? Of course it was one of the people my mom used to deliver mail to when she was a carrier. When my mom was a carrier, she knew everybody. She knew their address, their names, their kids’ names, their family history, and, of course, their health problems. Even though she is no longer a carrier, she still stays in touch with many people that she delivered to. Anyway, one of them is Arnie. He is a Jehovah’s Witness. Me, the new-Christian, is on the couch — exhausted. My mother, the kind woman, is at the door — opening it up for this man. He stopped by with some videos and pamphlets about Creation. As Arnie is sitting in the living room, my bold mother tells him about the church that we go to. [I briefly insert the fact that the church has a website]. He says that he is unfamiliar with the church but that he’ll look into it! I love when my mother, who is still exploring Christianity, shares information about the church we attend. It makes me so happy to see how God is working in her heart. I thank God for this divine appointment — and the opportunity that He gave her to share information about the church that we attend.

I thank all of you who are reading this. I pray that God is working in your heart more and more every day. I pray that you are striving to dwell in His presence more and more as the days, weeks, months, and years go by.

I love you and God Bless,

Sarah

Aug
29

So I’ve been back from Chicago for over three weeks already. Time is going by fast and I’m homesick for the city that I love and hope to return to one day.

Anyway, today I went for a run. When I say “run,” I mean “slow jog.” I was definitely not in the mood to run to begin with so I ended up stopping and walking about halfway through. I left the house thinking about divorce and, about an hour later (I’m a slow walker despite learning how to speed walk this summer), I was thinking about God and how much my life has changed since December — even since this summer.

I haven’t really taken the time to write down a post-Project reflection since I’ve returned to Cleveland. It’s not like I haven’t had the time. I don’t think I can express in words what this summer was about. Yes, people have asked me. I’m sure I’ve said the basics: we worked with different ministries, we did evangelism outreaches, we worked with children. And, to some extent, that’s true. We did do those things. But what did I learn? How has my worldview changed? What can I take away from this summer? Now those are great, thought-provoking questions. But, to be honest, I don’t think I can even answer them right now. I think I’m still processing everything that has happened. All I can say is this: I learned a lot. My worldview has changed dramatically. This summer was everything to me. Like one of our student leaders told us, this summer was a “mountain-top experience.” I, personally, don’t think anything will ever top it. I met strangers who became my family. I was placed in one of the biggest cities in the United States which became my home. I was tested in my personal faith beyond belief. I was pushed and stretched to my limits — well, the limits that I had set for myself. This was life-changing…and it reminded me of my shadow.

Back to today’s run/jog/walk/God time. As I was walking and thinking and listening to my iPod, I was staring at the concrete pavement under my feet. Behind me was the sun and in front of me was my shadow. And I had a thought — a thought that I couldn’t let go. I thought about the concept of a shadow. How, in the light, a shadow can be seen and how, in the dark, it disappears. I thought about my past. I thought about how, when I was an unbeliever, I was walking in the dark. I was controlled by the power of sin — I allowed myself to be controlled by sin. Then I thought about my life as a believer and how I am now walking in the light — in God’s light. Yes, I’m still a sinner. Yes, I still do things that don’t make God happy. The difference is that I am now aware of it. The difference is that I want to do things that are glorifying to God. I know when I make a mistake — the Holy Spirit always convicts me of it. I know the things that I can do through my words, thoughts, and actions to be a witness of Christ’s love. In the past, I was hidden by darkness but now, in the present, I am seen in God’s light.

God has seen me at my lowest points and He has still revealed Himself to me. He’s still there. He’s knitted me. He’s cried over me. He’s smiled on me. He’s molding me. Is there any greater gift than God’s love? Could anybody love you more than that? God’s love is the most unconditional love that could ever, would ever, will ever exist. Ever. Think about it. Think about the society, the culture that we as Americans live in. Think about marriages. Think about the fact that nearly 40% of all marriages end in divorce. Why? He cheated. She cheated. I would assume that a lot of people would break up with their significant other if he/she cheated on her/him. Now think about this: How many times have you cheated on God? Probably more than you can imagine. But guess what? He forgives you. He always forgives you. I don’t understand it myself. We are so unworthy of His love and forgiveness yet He continues to love us and forgive us anyway. No matter what sin we could possibly commit, His love never fails. It will never fail. We should all consider ourselves blessed to be clothed in God’s grace and mercy. I know that I do.

I want to take this time to pray. I thank you, personally, for reading this. I pray for you wherever you are in your walk with God. Always remember that God loves you so much. I pray for all of those who don’t know the love of Christ. I pray that they will meet people who can tell them about what Jesus did for them on the cross for their sins. I pray for all the homeless, poor, needy, lost, sick, fatherless, widowed. I pray for every child, in every country, in every nation across the world. I pray that God would reveal Himself to them. I repent to God, my Father, for every sin that I have ever committed. I pray that He will reveal to me the sins that I am also unaware of. I pray that He will change my heart and challenge me in the areas in which I struggle. I thank God for His holiness, His power. I thank God for giving me life. I am so blessed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I love you and God Bless,

Sarah

Jul
30

Hi everyone! If you’ve been reading my blog these past 7 weeks, thank you so much! I pray that you are seeing some of the injustices that exist for Chicago’s inner-city youth.

This will be my LAST Project post for the summer. We are actually leaving the dorms tomorrow morning and moving into the Agape Center — where we had our carwash outreach. I probably won’t have Internet access, so I’m posting my last blog now.

This week was our 6th week of full-time ministry. We were at Circle Urban Ministries. Even though it was our last week, it was definitely the most challenging week of the summer. We were in a completely different environment with very different procedures that we weren’t used to. Despite the adversity, I really bonded with a girl named Mia. She was in my second grade class and I was able to share my testimony with her one-on-one. It was really cool and I will treasure that experience in my heart all the days of my life.

Anyway, as I stated earlier, tomorrow we are moving into the Agape Center. We have a free weekend and then we are going on a retreat in Michigan for three days. After the retreat, we will come back for two days and then depart for our hometowns/schools. Even though it has been an amazing summer, I am very excited to return to Cleveland. I know that God has an amazing plan for my life and I can’t wait to find out what it is.

If you are reading this, I pray that you are continuing to ask God, seek God, and knock on His door. If you are, He will guide your footsteps into His perfect plan for your life. If you don’t know Christ, I urge you to visit a local church or talk with someone who is very strong in their faith — preferably someone older than you. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with picking up the Bible on your own and checking it out for yourself first. My favorite Gospel is Matthew but many people read John first if they are new in their faith. Anyway, I am praying for you to seek God in your thoughts, words, and actions. If you do, He will reward you in amazing ways.

I LOVE YOU AND GOD BLESS,

Sarah

Jul
25

Hi ya’ll πŸ™‚

Time is winding down in Chicago. I will be home in 12 days from today. Although I am looking forward to seeing my family and Miss Lindsey Rapp, it is all a little bittersweet.

This week was our 5th week of full-time ministry. Our group volunteered at Armitage Baptist Church/Chicago Hope. Armitage Baptist Church was holding a one week music camp during this time. It was so much fun! The camp was from 9:30-12:30. The kids got to play games, do crafts, learn musical instruments and, of course, learn about the love of Jesus. It was really cool. Christie and I worked with kids between the ages of 3 and 7. It was lots of fun. We also got to meet people from Springfield, Missouri. They were doing a week-long mission trip at Armitage and were responsible for leading worship and games. They did a great job and it was really cool to talk with them.

Since staff is gone, this week was our first and last outreach that was planned solely by the Social/Outreach Committee. They did a great job. We did the same outreach that we did at the Taste of Chicago by handing out free water and talking to people about Jesus. We did this outreach at an event called the Taste of Lincoln Avenue. It was in a more upscale environment than the Taste of Chicago so, in some ways, it was more challenging. However, I had a great experience and the weather was so nice that I have a nice sunburn to show off for it πŸ˜‰

Today we went to church at Rock of Our Salvation. We are working with their ministry, Circle Urban Ministries, this week. It is our last week of full-time ministry before we depart from Project. This weekend we will move into the Agape Center — where we had our Carwash Outreach. We will spend a few days on a retreat with relaxation, food, and fun. Then we will have a celebration when we return and depart the following morning.

If you are reading this, I pray that you know Jesus. I pray that you are taking your responsibility as a Christian seriously by spreading the Gospel to everyone you come into contact with. I pray that you are strengthening your faith through prayer and studying Scripture. I pray for those of you who have family members who are not believers. I pray for all of those who have been called to full-time ministry. I pray for all of you.

I LOVE YOU AND GOD BLESS,

Sarah