Monday, July 31, 2006

Who God Is

What comes to your mind when you think about God? Usually one of the first things that come to my mind is His bigness. A friend recently emailed me about something that is going to happen in August that hasn't happened in thousands of years, and might not happen again until 2287. On August 27, we will be able to see the planet, Mars, in the sky. It will be as big as our moon. How cool is that? This is due to happen because of Jupiter's gravity pull on Mars and it will perturb it's orbit. Mars will come within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be the brightest object in the sky.

My only response is "Wow!" The same God that created Mars loves me. The same God who is so big that we can't figure out wants a personal relationship with me. It has been said that the two most important things are what you think about God and what you think He thinks about you. If you have the wrong picture of God, you might not see what He thinks of you. If you don't see Him as loving, then you will misjudge the circumstances in your life. If you don't see Him as being in complete control, then you might feel as though you're living in chaos.

Take some time today and reflect on who God is. Try reading some of the Psalms. Write down your thoughts of who He is and then based on those truths, write down what that means about you.

Sarah Bragg

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Those Little White Lies

Let’s face it. We’ve all lied—probably even today. We’ve told that quiet girl at the locker beside us we like her dress when we didn’t. We’ve faced an annoying kid on the playground and made up a nice story not to have to play with him. We’ve all brushed off someone in a way that made us feel better about doing it.
We call these stories "white lies"—nice lies, but the fact is they’re still not truths. No matter how much easier they make our life in the short run.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 shows us just how much God dislikes lies. Even though their lies were not mean ones, they still were enough to anger God. In the early days of the church, God needed to show that we couldn’t just "get one over" on the Holy Spirit like we might fool our teacher into believing that we really DID lose our homework on the way to school. Unfortunate for poor Ananias and Sapphira that they had to be our lesson.
Think for a few minutes about a recent lie you told. Did you rationalize it away as a "white lie" and not think about it again until just now?
God wants us to be like Him. Him who is Truth. Sometimes it might not be easy, but when we figure the way to always do it in love, then those around us take notice.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Forks in the Road

Life is a series of decisions. When you're a small kid or even a teen, a lot of these are made for you: where you live, what school you attend, etc. But during the teen years, the balance of decision making shifts significantly. More and more you have a major say in what comes next, and sometimes the pressure can be overwhelming. Which college to attend? What career to pursue? Whom to date? Whom to marry? Where to live?

When I was a teen, I imagined the day would arrive when I'd graduated from college, gotten married, started a family, and I would settle into a nice cozy house situated at the end of decision-making road. I would have found my place and purpose, and the rest would just be living.

'Fraid not. My youngest child is 21, and I'm still traveling on a road with lots of forks in it. I still have to make decisions that can seem overwhelming in their importance. What if a wrong turn takes me away from God's plan, and there's no turning back?

It's a scary thought until I remember the truth: God wants me to find His will even more than I want to find it. He created me for His purposes, and He is able to keep me on His path. If I make a wrong turn, God can redeem my mistakes and get me back on track. He is sovereign. He is almighty. And He loves me.

Do you have some important decisions facing you, and you're not sure what to do? Pray. Read the Bible (it's full of wisdom and God's promises to lead you). Talk to your parents or pastor or someone wise that you trust. Then believe that God will lead you to the right choice. He is faithful.

Life is a series of decisions, but you don't walk alone. God walks beside you and holds your hand.

Let us know if you'd like prayer concerning decisions in your life. We'd be honored to pray with you.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Good Life

Girls. . . I get that.

God. . . Check, got that too.

The Good Life? Hmm. What's up with that?

As I sit with my fingers on the keyboard, I pray about what to write.

God, you know the girls who will arrive at this site. You know who they are, what they are facing, and the questions that they ask. Show me what to write.

The question that pops into my head is, "well, my life isn't so good, so what is this about the good life?"

Funny, but that was a question I once posed to God myself. I stood in the back of a church, an unfamiliar place for me, and listened to a pastor talk about a loving God.

It made me angry -- spitting mad.

Coz my life wasn't so great at the time. My family was a mess. I was hurting and pretty angry at life.

How did a loving God fit into all of that?

So, I took on God. You know, the God of the universe? I closed my eyes (read somewhere that God could only hear you if your eyes were closed -- myth #1) and let God have it between the eyes with my wrath.

Where are you if you are real?

It's easy for them to talk about a loving God and a good life. They don't live at my house.

Then God did something unexpected. He cut through my anger and pain and settled somewhere deep inside of me I didn't even know existed and let me know he was real, and that he cared.

A lot.

He loved me. He loved my family. He grieved over the brokenness we all were experiencing. It wasn't his plan, but I wasn't stuck. I could take a step toward God and he would meet me and show me a new way. . .

Hmm. Should I?

How could I not?

I became a follower of Christ that day. My family didn't change. My circumstances were the same. But something very cool happened.

I was a girl.

I met God.

I discovered the good life.

Peace inside of me when everything else was chaos. A Father who loved me for eternity. A heart that healed.

So, I don't know where you are in life or what you're dealing with, but I do know this: God truly cares about you, your circumstances, and your life.

He knows and loves you.

That's the secret of the "good life".


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wanna hang out?

This is my daughter the night she got engaged. Katie married in May. Last night, her dad (my husband) and her husband were busy. She's 22. Friday night and nothing to do.

So she called me right after work.

"Hey, Mom, wanna hang out?"

I was so excited I started naming off restaurants. Then I changed clothes. Since I'm a writer a lot of days I wear really weird clothes all day long (mismatched pj's, whatever's comfy, no make-up).

Katie helps me shop. She knows about cute clothes. I smiled and put on one of the outfits she'd picked out from the mall--little blue lacy tank top under a brown shirt with brown and ice-blue matching bracelet. Getting dressed up is fun--even for moms!

Anyway, we went to an Italian restaurant. We laughed and talked about married life, which still blows my mind--having a married daughter! I remembered little things from her childhood--things I'll never forget. I reminded her that she loved to play My Little Pony and Barbies. We talked about the morning when she ran away from home. She was seven years old. I watched out the front window until I saw her walking back a few minutes later with her yellow suitcase and dragging her blanket.

Then we went to Wal-Mart after dinner. We didn't buy anything. But we looked at clothes, cute pj's, and pretty mirrors for her house.

I wouldn't trade hanging out with Katie last night for anything. You know what? I'm finally understanding that God adores me so much that He loves spending time with me. Little ole me. He doesn't remember the things I've messed up on. They're all in the past. Forgiven. He just loves being with me.

Thank you, Daddy.

Much love♥♥

Friday, July 21, 2006

What will you be?

I've had a very interesting, and very exhausting, week at church drama camp. I was the teacher. Though I have years and years of experience in the theatre, this is the first time the church has been able to wrangle me into teaching for them.

They bribed me by letting my kids attend the dance and music camp for practically nothing.

But it's also been a while since I've been trapped in a room for two hours with 10-13 year old kids. And it reminded me of all the excitement of being young and dreaming about what they might do when they grow up.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be:

a doctor
a Navy pilot
an author
a mom
an actress
a director

Wanting to be an actress took up about nine years of my young life. I was resolute. I would move to New York City, eat cat food if I had to and become a famous actress. The famous part was pretty important.

I am not a famous actress. Obviously.

What I've actually been:

a waitress
a teacher
a counselor
a mom
an author

But I know that I'll likely get to "be" many more things before my time here is finished. Because we aren't really called to be something, we're called to be His. Being His means that we go whatever direction he does. Sometimes I think he puts these dreams into us very young. And with others he chooses to reveal things in his own good time.

So what dreams do you have for your life?
What is it that you think God wants you to be?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Dog Ate My Homework

Well, I wish I could say the dog ate my blog info, but I can't. It was simply my own fault that I've gotten behind on my "assignments." As a high school English teacher, I've heard about every excuse in the book as to why my students don't turn in their work on time. I even had one girl bring in a book she had owed me for months--with the corner chewed off. Yes, her dog REALLY had eaten it. Here are the Top 10 Excuses I've gotten.

10. "I had to babysit my little sister last night, and she threw up all over my assignment."
9. "My dad used my assignment as fire starter."
8. "It's in my locker, and I can't open my locker."
7. "It's in my P.E. shorts and the gym is locked up."
6. "I thought today was yesterday."
5. "My assignment is in my car and my friend just stole my car."
4. "I did my history assignment, which isn't due until tomorrow, instead. Will you accept my history assignment?"
3. "I lost my __________ (textbook, assignment book, assignment paper, etc.)."
2. "My mom/dad said I shouldn't have to do this."
1. "My mom and dad got divorced and my homework is at Dad's house five hundred miles away."

We all use excuses, don't we, when we procrastinate, forget or just don't want to do something that's required of us? There's always something more fun than our responsibilities (think of how English teachers have those mountains of essays to read). But I'm finding that it's hard to enjoy those fun things in life until I have my chores behind me.

I'd be interested: what's your favorite excuse of all time? And how do you motivate yourself to do those things that aren't so fun to do? God's Word promises that our hard work leads to a profit, while the lack of it can lead to poverty. So...I'm going to promise to do better by turning in my blogs on time. :-) My apologies to my blogbuddies!


New Glasses

Have you ever worn glasses or contacts? I began wearing glasses in the second grade. For some reason, I thought it was cool to wear glasses. Although, I look back and my GIANT blue frames were anything but cool. I had the worst vision (until recently when I had laser eye surgery). When I was in bed, I could not even see the clock beside me. The worst part was when I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and would slam my toe against something. It is awful having blurred vision. No one would want to live life with a blurred vision. But, for some reason, we walk around in this life with a blurred vision when it comes to our bodies and image. We can't see ourselves exactly the way God created us. Sometimes we need to pick up the glasses God has provided for us and put them on so that we can see ourselves clearly.

I have a past of struggling with my body image. Even though I have found freedom in the area of my body, I still have days where I struggle. I have learned that when that happens I must put on the glasses God gave me and see myself through His eyes.

Psalm 139 says that you were skillfully made in awe. He made you extraordinary and astonishing. You are accepted by God. You are significant. Remind yourself of that truth today.

You are loved,

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


In this morning's paper two front-page articles were placed side by side. One dealt with the city manager's warning to commissioners that they need to stick to a strict budget for the coming year. This means various local lobby groups may not receive the funds they want for their pet projects. The other informed the public that the same city commissioners granted the same city manager a $9,000 raise, also for the coming year.

So, do you suppose the editor of the paper wants local citizens to be outraged by the city manager's raise?

Before anyone accuses the editor of striking a low blow, I think it's fair to say we all do this at times. We line up the facts in the order most suited to attain our desired outcome. I remember doing this with my parents. You know how it goes--remind them of my good grades and how I've been keeping my room clean before asking for certain privileges. Greasing the old wheels for a smooth, nonstop ride to getting my way.

I hate to admit it, but I know I still do this. With my husband. With my kids. And I even try to do it with the Lord. Except in God's case, He knows my heart. He understands that I'm trying to manipulate Him, even before I lay my first card on the table.

Manipulation is a next-door neighbor to deceit. When I realize I'm doing it, I should back up and start over with honesty as my guide.

Do you ever catch yourself trying to manipulate your parents? Friends? Teachers? What can we do to overcome this tendency? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Be A Smart Cookie!

So many times, I’m driven by how I feel and not what I think.
God wants us to be smart.
He wants us to use our brains and “Consider” what we do.
To make good decisions using logic – not our emotions.

Do you ever felt like you’re not smart?
The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz said “If I only had a brain.”
I’m here to tell you that you have a great brain.
God formed you in your mother’s womb.
In Psalm 139:14 He says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made

You have a great brain. It weights approximately 3 pounds
Scientist report that it feels like butter. It has no pain receptors.
Doctors can operate on the brain while the patient is awake. Yikes!
It’s your most amazing organ! It’s irreplaceable.
With it you learn and reason. It control’s all the functions of your body
It’s better than any computer ever built.
Scientist are trying to discover the mysteries of the brain

We are born with approximately 100 billion brain cells – more or less.
Remember in school some kids are labeled “the brains?”
Some people do actually have bigger brains, but that doesn’t mean they
have a higher IQ and there are many people with high IQs who never do
much in life. Some people with average IQs are smart and become quiet
successful. It’s not the size of your brain that counts or your IQ, what matters
is if you use it. We use a very small fraction of our brain’s potential.

There are many smart people that are not wise-
Wisdom is brain knowledge – guided by understanding.

Proverbs 2:6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding

Pray and Ask God for knowledge, wisdom and understand
That would be a very smart thing to do!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Favorite Reads?

Photo of group of writing friends, 2006. I'm in the top middle, peeking over Sarah's head!

Hi girls!

Something weird, but cool, happened recently. I was approached by a publisher and asked if I'd be interested in writing fiction for teen girls in the nature of the Traveling Pants trilogy. I have to admit, while I love writing about WWII, writing about girls, God, and the good life in fiction form sounds FUN. And I think I'm gonna try it.

So, my question is, what are some of YOUR favorite reads? Books that you just LOVE?

Second question . . . what about topics? Of course, because of who I work with and my past struggles, teen sexuality will tie in.

Finally, I just have to chuckle when I glance up at my "verse for the day" that sits on my window sill. Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works is us."

When I first got my agent in 1996, I'd proposed a teen fiction idea . . . who knew what God would do ten years after that fact! He's so cool!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


God's been kind of quiet lately with me. I'm asking, but I'm not really getting any direction. It's just been quiet. I know He hears me, I know He's still with me - His presence is clear.

That happens sometimes. And I've learned that when that happens, I need to be still...and wait.

That means that I shouldn't spend all my time fretting and worrying and being anxious about something that God has completely in control. If He's not giving me clear direction then I can't just go running off in wild directions because of fear.

Even though I know all that - it's still a hard place to be. Early in my walk with God, He was very gracious with my fears. As I've grown up, I see how more and more, He expects me to trust Him simply because He has always proven Himself faithful to me. That doesn't mean I can't crawl in His lap and cry out all those fears and worries, it just means that now I know better than to take them back. I have to leave those things with Him.

As this difficult time in my life drags on I find myself growing quieter and quieter with God. I don't want to miss it when He shows me the way.

I find such strength in that quietness. In the waiting. In the listening. So if you find yourself unsure, try spending some time at His feet - in silence. Even if He chooses not to give you the answer - He will give you Himself. And that's all we really need anyway.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Who knew?

Okay, this is going to sound totally crazy when you start reading it, but wait until you get to the end.

When I was 12, I got my braces off. Then my teeth started getting crooked again. My orthodontist said I was a TONGUE THRUSTER. How weird! Rather than keeping my tongue against the roof of my mouth where it belonged, I rested it against the back of my teeth. So, I had to go to TONGUE THERAPY every week almost an hour away.

I told my mother the whole thing was strange. Who goes to tongue therapy!! Pretty soon we found out my tongue therapist was also a writer. Mom joined her writing group. Cec Murphey, another writer, was in this group. This happened over 30 years ago.

I didn't start writing until after I turned 40. Totally scared and doubting myself, I went to my first writers' conference in 2001. I wasn't sure I was a real writer.

I'd only seen Cec maybe once in my life. And there he stood signing his books. God, if Cec will encourage me, I'll keep writing.

He invited me to join his writers' group in Atlanta! I didn't ask him to. My first publication came the next year!

This September, I'm going to teach writing at the North Texas Christian Writers' Conference. Guess who recommended me? Cec Murphey.

And I thought it was all about tongue therapy.

Thank you, God. You knew the plan, didn't You!
My love,

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New Girl on the Block

This is my first time to ever blog, and I am so excited that it is to write to you. I wanted to use this first time to introduce myself to you. I almost twenty-eight years old and live in Atlanta, GA with my husband, Scott. I grew up in Cleveland, TN and also attended college there at Lee University. I majored in Communications, but never imagined that I would be communicator for a living! After college, I spent two years at Saddleback Church in southern CA working in their high school ministry. I loved living in CA! I even learned how to surf. It was an amazing adventure! From there, I ended up in Atlanta, GA working for a large church as the Minister to Female Students. Recently, my husband took a job at North Point Community Church here in Atlanta, so I left my position at the church to join him. I now write books and curriculum and also speak full-time.

My first book was just published by New Hope Publishers called "Body. Beauty. Boys." To hold my book in my hand for the first time was so surreal. I can't believe that my words were inside it. This book is basically my story about how I struggled with my body image and ultimately bounced around different eating disorders for more than 10 years. It's a story about finding freedom from the mirror.

As I look back over the coarse of my life, I can see how God's hand has been weaving a magnificent portriat. God has been at work all the time. There were moments when I felt He had forgotten about me, but He was there. Even in the difficult seasons, I wondered why He allowed it, but I can now see it was part of the portrait. God has a plan for you. He has uniquely shaped you to do and be something extraordinary! I hope to be so priviledged as to see what happens in you.

I look forward to meeting you...
Sarah Bragg

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Eye Has Not Seen

For those who love Him, God has prepared things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man. (I Corinthians 2:9) In other words, we can't imagine it.

I've been reading in Revelation lately, and it boggles my mind. I'm a very visual reader, so whatever I'm reading plays out like a movie in my head. But I can't do that with Revelation. God showed John scenes from heaven, and he simply couldn't wrap human words around them. He came as close as he could, but what he wrote defies imagination.

This might bother some people, but it excites me. I don't want God to fit into the confines of my world. My world is broken and limited and falling apart. I live in it like a caged bird in a windowless room. I believe there's a sky. I've heard about its endless depths of blue and that some day I'll soar there with nothing to shackle me. I sing of it even now as bars of flesh keep me caged. I sing by faith, because I believe the One who told me about the sky. And I trust Him. After all, if He didn't intend to set me free, why would He have given me wings?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Should It Hurt To Be Beautiful?

As a teenager my family doctor jokingly told me while piercing my ears, “It hurts to be beautiful.” Why does it hurt to be beautiful—or at least to fit into the cultural view of attractiveness—which changes from century to century, decade to decade, year to year, and season to season?

In China infant daughters had their feet bound to keep them dainty—which deformed the bones and left them crippled.

You may think that foot binding is ridiculous, but most of us wear high heeled shoes and other impractical footwear that can cause back pain, and foot malformations. We often give up comfort for vanity’s sake.

In an area in Africa, women elongate their necks with stacks of metal rings—those long necks are ravishing to their tribal men. To me, it seems that swallowing would be difficult. Any procedure that takes the fun out of eating is suspect in my book.

The wearing of iron girdles sounds like a barbaric torture reserved for prisoners in dungeons. Think again! In the 1500s Italian princess, Catherine de Medici—along with many other women at court—wore them to ensure themselves a 13-inch waist. In the nineteenth century, in order to achieve an eighteen-inch waist—women wore their corsets laced so tightly that servants were needed to pull the strings. Not only were the wearers in great discomfort—it was hard to breathe. Smelling salts were carried in case of fainting. Extremely dedicated Victorian women had rib bones surgically removed to make their waist smaller—as have some fashion models in recent history.

According to the news, the incidence of plastic surgery on teenagers has increased; patients are getting younger all the time. Teenagers are begging their parents for plastic surgery, and some girls are getting nose jobs and breast enlargements as high school graduation gifts.

In the past few years, the number of girls as young as 14 having breast augmentation and liposuction has doubled.

There are serious medical concerns about ANYONE having surgery because they are complex procedures. There are risks and complications. People magazine had a special report on “Dying to be Thin—Desperate for a better body, more and more Americans are taking bigger risks—and paying with their lives.” In “A Body To Die For,” they write, “In an endless quest to slim down, image-obsessed Americans try surgery, pills and starvation—sometimes with fatal results…"

Should we endure pain -- or pay with our very lives -- to fit into society's standard of beauty?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Denver Bound

I'll fly out early Friday a.m. to land in Denver, CO for a trade show called "International Christian Retail Show" (ICRS).

I'm pumped because this is the one time of the year that I get to hang out with people who love writing. There will be thousands of book store owners, publishers, authors, musical artists and more.

When I think that I get to launch my 3rd book, I get goosebumps. But the fact that it is one of 180,000 that will launch this year keeps me humble.

Do you ever think about what you want to do? When I was 16, if someone had said you could one day be an author, I wouldn't have believed them.

Me? An author. No. I'm a skinny, sometimes-screwed-up, shy, angry teen. How could I be an author?

But the deal is that I loved writing. I didn't recognize my talent. I just knew that I loved the art of stringing words together. I wrote stories and poetry. I made up stories and told them to my little brothers at night.

What do you love? What does God see inside of you that you might not see yourself--yet?

I want you to think about that today. What do you love to do? What possibilities are out there for you? What might get in the way of you finding those dreams?

Now that I'm on the other side of 40 (ancient, I know, I know!) I am grateful that I somehow found this path -- knowing God, finding destiny, choosing amazing and ordinary and wonderful things for my life instead of the destructive path I once traveled -- and I want to encourage you to find your path in life as well.

I believe in you,


Monday, July 03, 2006

Out of Control

I went to the Y to work out today--the whole time praying about what to say in my blog. One thing kept coming to my heart. I hope it speaks to someone. It's been huge in my life.

I teach high school Sunday school girls. We started talking about drugs and alcohol the other week. They were telling me how many of their friends are beginning to drink and do drugs. This hit home. We have drug and alcohol addictions in my family. It's the kind of thing that people don't usually talk about. But if it's going on in your life or in someone's life you love, you probably think about it 24/7.

It's tricky. If you love an addict or an alcoholic, so many times you to try and fix or change the other person. I spent years trying to do this--I'd spy, or write long letters, or get mad. Finally, a good friend told me I needed to get help. I argued with her and told her I wasn't the one with the problems. But really, she was SO right. My life was out of control and I needed help.

That friend took me to my first Al-Anon meeting. Al-Anon is for anyone who has a friend or family member who is an alcholic. They also have Al-ATeen for teens. AA meetings are for the alcoholic. NA is for those addicted to narcotics.

The first truth I learned was, "I am powerless over ___________." I filled in the blank with the people's names I love. The alcholic discovers he or she is powerless over alchohol. To realize that it's not my job to fix people blew my mind!!

The program is based on Christian principles. It's free. There are meetings in most cities. It's confidential. Nobody talks about what's said there.

Maybe this doesn't speak to you. Maybe you can't relate. I hope it doesn't. But if you've been hurt by alcohol, I understand. There's help.

Much love♥♥

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What About Me?

I bet you've never asked that question. I seem to be asking it a lot lately. There's a saying that has become very popular in Christian circles - "it's all about Him" - that makes some feel that they asking the "what about me?" question is wrong and sinful.

I don't think it's sinful. It's pretty natural. And God understands. I think there's actually more danger in not admitting we feel that way from time to time. There's a balance found in living for Him, and remembering that He came to die for you. If you were important enough for Him to die for you, then you are still important - you have value, you have a purpose - it is just found in Him now. So it's about Him - and us. We are part of His grand and wonderful plan.

All this made me think of an old song:

"What about me
It isn't fair
I've had enough now I want my share
Can't you see
I wanna live
But you just take more then you give"

I want my share. You see, I've been getting a boatload of rejections and it's like every one is a bucketful of water in my little life boat. After each one that gets poured in, I wonder if this is the one that's going to topple me into the water for good. And it seems like a lot of people in the boats around me aren't getting any water poured in their boat.

It just doesn't seem fair.

But the reason I believe that the "What about me?" question isn't wrong to ask is because there is really another question lurking behind it: "Do you still love me?"

When we are being blessed and loved on by God it's easy to feel loved. When we feel like we are being passed over and pushed aside, it's easy to feel that maybe God just doesn't like us anymore.

But feelings aren't necessarily truth. The thing that must hold me steady is that no matter what the circumstances, no matter how much water gets poured on my parade, God is still for me. He still loves me. That's what I have to hang on to even when I don't feel it. God hasn't forgotten about me and He hasn't forgotten about you. Just as He is at work inside of me - teaching me deeper and deeper levels of trust, He is always at work in you, too.

So if you're in the same sinking boat as I am - hang tight.

God is in the boat with you.