Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Bright Side of Going Dark



Last week I did the unthinkable—I stayed away from social media. I only visited Facebook long enough to honor my commitment to an authors’ network, wish my son Christian a Happy Birthday, and promote an event that I knew Christian was excited about. I clicked on a couple of “tweetable” quotes in blog posts that I liked, but other than that my Twitter account remained silent. When my usual day for posting on my blog rolled around, I took a break from that, too. Why? 

Here are my honest reasons:

1)    I find that when I visit Facebook too often, I struggle with envy. There were things that I wanted to be doing last week but couldn’t, so I decided that the best way to avoid falling into a sulky mindset was to focus on what God had for me each day instead of what He had for others.

2)    I have been feeling uncertain about my blog lately. What am I really trying to say? Have I lost my focus? Did I ever have a focus? Do my weekly postings about what God teaches me through my very ordinary everyday life offer anything of substance?  

3)    I really REALLY wanted to take a few uninterrupted days to work on a new fiction project. Before I got too attached to the vision that was taking shape, I needed to lock myself in my room with the characters and see if we got along and if I wanted to hang out in their world for an extended period of time. Did I care about their problems? Would anyone else care? 

4)    As wonderful and useful as social media is, it’s distracting and addictive. I felt like it was time to rein that in. 

5)    After a few weeks that included a difficult editing project and an assignment that I needed to finish quickly after getting behind on it, my mind felt cluttered. It craved a mini “retreat” where I could devote time to writing something that flowed from my own creativity.

I’m halfway into a new week and I don’t regret the break at all. I mapped out a new novel, spent extra time with God, and recognized some areas where I need to be more disciplined. I am re-entering the social media world slowly. As a writer, I know it is a necessary part of my day, but I also want to use my hours wisely, knowing there is so much more to life than blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and even (I can’t believe I’m saying this) writing.

I think I’ll pull away from social media more often.
Have you ever taken a break from technology or social media? Why or why not? If you did take one, how did you benefit from it?       
      
(This was cross-posted.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Confessions of a Highly Sensitive Person

I posted this on my personal blog recently and thought you'd enjoy it too.


I was standing in my kitchen when I worked up the courage to tell my friend Tracy (not her real name) that her words had hurt me. I imagined a heart-felt apology. I would forgive her without hesitation then, after shedding a few tears together, we would drop everything and go out to lunch. Instead, Tracy pointed out that her words probably hurt me because I was a very sensitive person.

She had a point; I was very sensitive and she was abrupt. We both knew that going into the friendship. But as I stood there feeling weak and spineless, I longed to be more like Tracy. When would I learn to toughen up and let harshness roll off my back?

I hated being sensitive. Every time someone attached the word to me (“I know you’re very sensitive”), even if I knew they didn’t mean it as a put-down, I saw myself as a wimp.

When The Passion of the Christ came out and I chose not to see it because I knew I couldn’t handle the violence, I felt like a weak Christian who didn’t have the strength to take in the suffering of my Savior.

When, on the last night of choir practice before leaving Reno, I couldn’t stop the tears because it looked like I might miss out on singing one final Sunday, I felt like a big baby. (Things worked out so I did get to sing with the choir before leaving town. Yay!)

It didn’t matter how many people reminded me, “If you weren’t sensitive, you wouldn’t be able to write the way you do.” I still prayed for a thicker skin.

One thing stopped me from giving in and turning rock hard: I kept remembering that talk with Tracy and how her response made me feel. I did not want to be a person who could hear “Your words hurt me” and not apologize from the bottom of my heart.

The other day I saw a link to the article, “16 Habits of a Highly Sensitive Person.” I immediately read it and started mentally checking off boxes. Feels more deeply: yep. Emotionally reactive, cries easily: guilty! Often hears, “Don’t take things so personally”: definitely in touch with that one. I have a low tolerance for violence, overthink things, take a long time to make decisions … pretty much everything on the list applied to me except the one about preferring to exercise alone. I also don’t mind noise or crowds. But a beautiful thing happened as I felt this connection and shared the link on Facebook—I did not feel at all ashamed of my highly-sensitive status.

How refreshing to know that sensitive is simply the way some of us are wired.

What is so wrong with being sensitive anyway? I realized that some of the habits listed in the article were very nice traits. Isn’t it wise to take time before making a decision, and shouldn’t we be a little bothered by violence? The Bible says to weep with those who weep, so crying easily is really a good thing (although it would be helpful to not burst into tears over little disappointments).

While I do still feel the need to work on my tendency to take things too personally, and I’m thankful that I have grown a thicker skin in many areas, I no longer wish to be like those who have been hurtful.

Jesus wept.

David spewed out every emotion and thought to God.

And God created each of us exactly how He wanted us.

Yes, we do occasionally need to rise above and toughen up a little. No, being sensitive does not give us permission to get out of difficult things, act immaturely, or cower at challenges. What it means is that we have tender hearts, and that is a gift.

Are you a highly-sensitive person? How has God used it for good? What challenges have you had to overcome because of it?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Guess What?? Check out this new show!!

I wasn't aware of Awesomeness TV until last year - but wow! While I can't recommend everything on there - there are a lot of fun web shows and vlogs on their YouTube Channel.

But I can HIGHLY recommend their brand new show - Road to Nashville!



And then check out Lydia Meredith and subscribe to her channel:-)



You can also follow her journey on twitter and Instagram @lydia_meredith

Share what you think here! What's your big dream?

~Sarah~

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

college, drinking and vulnerability


Cross-Posted:-)

drinking and vulnerability

Been thinking about this so much lately, and while I hate be controversial (since I know a lot of people will disagree with me) - I think I just had to say it:-)

~sarah~

Sunday, August 17, 2014

No More Secrets

Recently I stood in front of 1,000 girls and talked about the one thing I’d always promised myself would remain a secret.

This girl... the one who travels and speaks and hangs out with some of the coolest people on the planet for a living... she knows what it’s like to feel alone. 

I walked through high school this way; with some of the most caring, loving, selfless family and friends... but somehow I felt alone.

How could I tell my family as I sat in my room that night--watching the moon reflect off the wall--that all I could think about was hanging myself on the blind cord? 

How could I tell them that no matter how tight they squeezed I couldn’t feel their arms around me anymore?

How could I tell them that the truth they spoke--that things would get better--was like the reflection on my wall... it was there; I just couldn’t grab onto it?

One of the darkest times of my life, and here I was... about to tell 1,000 strangers about it.

Best. Decision. Ever. 

They pressed in on every side, girls who got it. Girls who were all too familiar with the word “alone”. Girls who wanted more than anything to grasp at the light until the shadows fled away.

 They each had their own story, just like I had mine. (Medically induced depression from seizure meds was more than any of us knew to look for back in 1998.)

But most importantly, it opened my eyes to how very many people around me are hurting... and just can’t find the words. I don’t know if you’re one of those people tonight. Maybe this story means something to you.

If it does, I want you to know you’re more than just one girl in 1,000. You are here for a reason. Jesus brought YOU to this place, to these words, to these promises. 

And with Him... there are no more secrets. Because with Him, the truth will set you free.

****
We're here for you. Shoot us an email or leave a comment telling us how we can pray for you. If you'd like, visit our friends at Door of Hope for Teens.

****
Bekah Hamrick Martin is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hang tight!!

I will be working on the format and layout of the blog over the next few days so get ready for some changes:-)

(This might be because I need to clean out a storage room in my house and I am avoiding it, but whatever...)

I thought I should let you know so you're not like, "Whaaa????" when you stopped by:-)

But I would love your help!!

What are the places you love to go online?? I want to have a great resource list for you! It's time for a summertime makeover:-)

~Sarah~

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Does God Owe Me?



The letter almost stopped my heart. Someone else’s choice was about to cost me, or at least it looked that way. I responded (okay, reacted) with the usual panic and ranting before taking a breath, doing a little research, and finding a possible way out of this unfair situation. In the process, I made an interesting discovery about myself. It came out while updating a friend on the saga.

“What really upsets me is that I try very hard to be responsible and do the right thing. And now I might suffer the consequences of someone else’s irresponsibility. It just doesn’t seem fair.” I admitted that I’d been praying along those lines, you know, in case God was unaware of my flawless behavior record.

Next thing I knew we were having a frank discussion about our tendency to approach God as if He owes us.

I’ve been through a hard time and am overdue for a windfall of blessings.

I faced a painful process with integrity, even when tempted to do otherwise, therefore God should grant me favor in pretty much every area from now on.

I follow the rules; I deserve to be rewarded for that.

I am careful with my money, so my bank account should be considered sacred, never to be touched by the trials of life. 

Yet, nowhere in the Bible could we find evidence that any of the above warranted some kind of divine payback. Yes, God rewards faithfulness, but He doesn’t guarantee that we will never suffer for someone else’s choices or have life fall apart after doing each step correctly.

Job, a righteous man, lost everything.

Jesus was perfect and paid the ultimate price for other people’s sins. 

“God owes us nothing,” my friend said.

And I had to agree. I could look back on many blessings that came after standing strong when it was difficult or holding on to my integrity when it would have been easier not to, but even with that, He wasn’t obligated to make anything go my way. God did promise one thing though: no matter what happened, He would take care of me. 

What a sobering, humbling thought.

When have you caught yourself approaching God as if he owed you? How does belonging to Him seeing Him work in your life stir your desire to do the right thing no matter what?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Small Enough

I heard the Nicole Nordeman’s song “Small Enough” about nine years ago when the worship director at church asked me to sing it for a Sunday Service. Having recently rebounded from the aftermath of my husband’s heart attack, I fell in love with the lyrics immediately: “Oh, great God, be small enough to hear me…”

A couple of year later, he asked me to sing it again, this time on Christmas Eve. By this time I was in the depth of a deep emotional struggle and learning to call on God in a whole new way. As I let the words flow from my heart, I felt like I finally grasped their meaning.

Then life unraveled and I really began to live the words. I needed our Great God like never before.

A few weeks ago I found the CD that includes “Small Enough.” I hadn’t listened to it since that Christmas Eve performance. As I let the song play, three years of “be small enough” memories played in my mind—crying out for comfort, intervention, provision, wisdom, direction, patience. And every time my Great God came close.

I felt a tug to share this song with you, knowing that, like me, you might need God to be big enough to do the impossible and small enough to come near while you wait. I consider the song a Thank You to my Heaven Father for His goodness and note of encouragement to those who might need a touch from Him.

Thank you, Great God, for being small enough to hear us!



Saturday, March 22, 2014

Talk to Yourself!

What are you talking to yourself about?

No, I’m serious. What do you say?



Whether we know it or not, there is a continual dialogue going through our minds. The dialogue occurs in two ways:

1) Unscripted: Out-of-control, spontaneous, unanchored. It’s when your social calendar, the people around you, and whatever emotion of the day or hour takes over and rules your life.

2) Scripted: A solid plan. It’s something YOU create after thinking through situations, considering your plans and what you want, talking to God about your worries, cares, and your hopes. Then you actively determine how to handle life (with God’s help and strength). So even when everything feels whacked out, you have something solid to hold onto.

Unfortunately, during my teen years, I didn’t have any idea it was possible to script my thoughts. I learned quickly that how I thought, was what I believed. And what I believed, I lived. And living with my emotions just millimeters from the surface didn’t always make a pretty picture.

How about you? What does your current, internal dialogue involve? Your thoughts will control your beliefs—which, in turn, will control your actions. This may not result in throwing punches . . . although that is a real possibility.

Believe it or not, you don’t have to leave your life (thoughts, beliefs, actions) to chance. You don’t have to be caught up in the drama, pulled along by every new character that pops into the scenes of your life (whether positively or negatively). Instead, you can realize you are the Star
Performer in your life story. You can write the script. Being the Star Performer of your world doesn’t mean you’re the center of the universe, but rather you understand that God—who is the center of the universe—created you with a role to play. Not only that, He’s provided His Word (the Script) and the Holy Spirit (the Internal Director) to guide you along the way.

To live life scripted means to allow God’s Word to guide your thoughts, actions, emotions, and desires before you throw yourself into the drama of life.

So. What ARE you saying to yourself?

(Image c/o stock.xchng)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Lesson from Frozen

In honor of Frozen being released on DVD, I thought I’d devote a blog post to some things I took away from it (besides the song, “Let it Go” getting stuck in my head).

It has been a long time since I loved a Disney movie as much as I did Frozen. Besides the incredible music and powerful story, I related to the characters in deep ways. If my sister had frozen our kingdom before running away to hide from the world, I would have blamed myself just like Anna did, arriving at her door shouting, “It’s just me; your sister, who made you freeze summer.” When someone that Anna loved turned out to be a creep and justified his behavior with, “You were so desperate for love that I knew I could get what I wanted” I literally got chills. 

My heart ached most for Elsa and her legitimate refusal to let anyone in, isolated by the thing that made her different, born with a power she never asked for and didn’t seem to have any control over. I think I would have stormed off to build a castle of ice too.

But what hit me first was the scene where Elsa and her family must come to grips with her power and one of the dwarves tells Elsa, “Fear will be your greatest enemy.”

Is that true or what? At least I know it has been in my life. Elsa’s story reminded me that:

Fear isolates us. Think about how much time she missed out on with her sweet, fun-loving little sister.

Fear robs us of fun. She couldn’t even enjoy her own coronation.

Fear brings out our worst. As we see every time she is confronted or exposed.

Fear hurts those who love us. Did it not rip your heart out every time Anna knocked on her sister’s bedroom door asking to build a snowman?

Fear causes people to misunderstand us. When she pushes her sister away, it’s easy to forget that Elsa really is a nice girl; she’s just afraid.

Fear holds us back from our potential. Elsa's fear of exposure and the bad things that her power could do prevented her from discovering the good she had to offer.

Fear must be faced eventually. And Elsa spends most of the movie facing hers just as I have had to face many of mine in recent years.

When has fear been your greatest enemy? What fears is God helping you overcome? How has He helped you grow in courage?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Pushed You Under



Near my house is a college. In that college is a garden. In that garden is a rose… surrounded by roses.
I think of you every time I pass the garden with the rose.
I wish you didn’t live there.
I wish you didn’t live in that one song, in that one place.
I wish you didn’t live in the grasp of strangers at church.
I wish you didn’t live in that word, that one spoken, whispered in my ear again and again that one day.
Did you know that four-year-olds do not possess the brain development to understand what you did that day?
Of course you know. That’s why it was so easy for you. To take it and to walk away.
There are so many places I wish you didn’t live… in my church, in my shower, in my wedding day, in every lap I try to swim at the YMCA, telling myself I’m not suffocating, not being held under.
I spent a few years being held under, the sickness literally escaping my bones because my mind could not contain it.
I forgive you.
I want you to know you cannot stay.
You are not welcome in my garden, in my church, in my shower, in my wedding day, or in my marathon laps. With every stroke, I have pushed you under.
And with every walk through the garden, I have watched the rose… once mutilated… die to become resurrected.
She is in full bloom and your shadow has fled away.
Bekah Hamrick Martin is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan, 2013). Most of all, she’s Ethan’s wife and Zoey’s mom.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Life Lessons Learned at the Gym



“I think I came up with a new article idea today,” I told my friend Cheryl as we finished our traditional Wednesday morning workout, “I’m calling it ‘Lessons Learned at the Gym’ Lesson 1, don’t be a machine hog.” 

She laughed, but she also knew I was completely serious. She’d seen me waiting patiently for my turn on the lower back machine while a young woman texted a friend then proceeded to do a dozen sets of fifteen. (I didn’t actually count, but I do know she far exceeded the unspoken three-sets-per-machine courtesy rule.) I’d been there the day that Cheryl sat down at the empty triceps machine only to have a hulk-in-training inform her that he had dibs on it as well as the one he was currently using.
Such experiences stood as reminders to us both that some people take their workouts very seriously.

Being one who finds life applications in everything from movies to knitting, I could not pass up the opportunity to see what God had to teach me through this rather rude gym member. He actually taught me several things, but for the sake of this post I will narrow it down to three: 

1)    Life isn’t all about me. I still remember the day when I was grinding coffee beans at Costco and became aware of the line forming behind me. I barely had time to pick up my pace before my friend Susan touched my shoulder and whispered, “You don’t need to rush. Relax.” And she was right. I had waited in line like everyone else and was simply taking my turn. Still, I never want to be that person who focuses so much on my rights that I ignore those who also need to take their turn.        
2)    It feels nicer to be nice. After that woman finished her 30 minutes (okay, 5) on the lower back machine, it was tempting to do a few extra reps myself. After all, I had been waiting for a long time! I pictured my bold friends being so proud of how much I’d grown in my ability to not let people rush me. But I knew I would feel like a jerk if I followed through on that plan. As much as I’m learning to recognize my needs as equally as important as everyone else, I also know that I feel much more true to who I am when I opt for politeness. So I only did one extra set.  
3)    Actions reflect the heart. We rarely need to tell anyone, “I’m putting myself first today.” This attitude has a way of announcing itself. The same goes for our desire to be generous, kind, and considerate.
 
Standing behind that inconsiderate woman reinforced my desire to be a person who takes others into account even when it is technically my turn and there is no sign saying I can’t do what I’m doing. 

What has inspired you to be more considerate lately?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Teen Mom: Trust Your Good Choices


You’ve made good choices already … trust that you will make more.

Teens make good and bad decisions every day. Lots of them. Most aren’t as visible as teen pregnancy. Perhaps you think it’s unfair. Your choice is leading you to make choices you weren’t prepared for.

You may not have been prepared to be a teen mom, but you can be a good one. By choosing to have your baby you’re already taking responsibility. You’re choosing life for your child—you’re trying to do your best.

You may not have all the knowledge, resources, and wisdom, but look around for someone to help you find what you need. You’ve made good choices already, teen mom … trust that you will make more.

I turned to God when I was a teen mom because a group of women poured love into me. I was unlovable. Those women kept loving, even when I turned my back on them, and eventually my heart softened—to them and to God.

You may not have been prepared to be a teen mom, and there are probably others who are dealing with the same emotions. Do you know another young mom in the same situation? Reach out to her. Give some time. Offer a listening ear. Affirm her good decisions. Seek help together.

Today is the day you can make a good decision. Today is the day you can reach out to another mom. Today IS the day you are loving your child. Trust that as you do more of all three, it’ll be easier to do them more.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Worth Celebrating



In last week’s post, I mentioned that a friend invited me to share Valentine’s Day tea with her, to celebrate her recovery from an illness. Well, here is a picture to commemorate the day. Carolyn is now in full remission from cancer. Doesn’t she look amazing? 

As we sipped tea, talked, and nibbled yummy sandwiches and treats, I felt like we were both embracing a new lease on life. Both of us had been through a battle and were coming out as stronger women with a lot to thank God for. Since the tea room is run by Christians, Carolyn got to share her praise with our waitress and the owner (they had prayed for her) and write it on their wall of praise flowers in gold pen. What a gift to experience this moment with her, and to know that she chose to share her first major post-treatment outing with me.

When we got our check and I saw the reminder of how expensive the tea was, I chased away the twinge of guilt that tried to settle in and ruin the fun. Some things are worth a splurge—things like good friends, renewed health, fresh starts, and the opportunity to return to a place where sisters in Christ prayed and say, “Look what God did.” 

This was truly one of the best Valentine’s Days ever.

What good things has God allowed you to celebrate lately?

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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