Updates

Has it been forever since I’ve shared my heart with you? It seems like forever. I’m here tonight, friends, without agenda. I just need to write (erm…type); I need to share what’s been happening with my heart and my head and my…self.

Life has been busy, folks. I hate saying that; it’s such drivel. You don’t have any more minutes in a day than I have, and there’s no point in pretending I’m such an excellent manager of the minutes I do have. If you gave me 60 extra minutes each day, I’d still find a way to feel ‘busy.’ Admit it…you would, too.

I suppose it is never really that I’m busy. I’m the type of gal who needs time to process. I need to process my new job, my monthly bills, my leftover yarn stash, my pile of laundry, which route I will take to get to work, how many right hand turns I’ll make if I take Front Street instead of Third…I process. I analyze. I need a game plan. And you can ask my mom and brother, Jeremiah, what happens when they allow me to plan a trip. It was the best unused itinerary ever!

Unfortunately (or fortunately…maybe, somehow, it is a good thing, after all), I tend to need time to work through everything I think and feel and want to say. It can be frustrating at times, and I can’t tell you how many friendships have been on the line in my short 34 years because I needed time and I failed to articulate that need.

That’s kind of where I’ve been: I’ve needed time.

Not just with the blog. Literally, with everything in my life (except knitting), I have needed time this year. And more than ever, I’ve felt like I’ve had too many things to process for the minutes I have alone in the course of a day.

I won’t share it all with you. That wouldn’t be appropriate to the other people involved.

I will tell you that I’ve been struggling with my health this year in a way that I didn’t anticipate. I’ve been a migraine sufferer for twenty years now, and I honestly thought I had a handle on them. This year has brought much change in that department, culminating in the dreaded “worst headache of my life” that sent me to the Emergency Department. Friends, I won’t lie to you–the pain was unbearable. I thought I was going to die. Between you and me (and the world wide web), I was ready. My words to God that evening were brutally honest. When I started reacting to the IV meds they’d given me, I flashed back to that episode of NCIS where the guy was locked down in the sewer and slowly lost his mind and ripped out his own eye. That seemed very logical to me suddenly! I digress. I had a follow up visit today with a Neurologist, and I have to tell you, I’m surprised by the direction we’re headed. I don’t want to share anything at the moment, other than…he ordered some labs and I’ll have to do some imagining. The culprit, he suspects, is something my doctor suspected (and brushed off) about twenty years ago, when I first was diagnosed with migraines. Or…he believes that my severe symptoms were stress related.

Totally unreasonable.

Or…totally not, if you know the kind of year I’ve had. :/ Whatever is going on, I feel hopeful about having a Neurologist on my team. And I am eager to get my life back.

In other news, believe it or not, I’ve been writing a lot of music. I know this shouldn’t surprise any of us at this point, but it still catches me off guard a little bit: I am a songwriter. I’m not the best singer. I’m not the greatest lyricist. I’m certainly only a mediocre guitarist. But I am a songwriter. That’s so cool! Anyway, I’m trying to be brave and share a song or two with those around me. If you’re out there and you want a snippet, send me an email and I’ll link you to my dropbox. I will just warn you upfront: Most of the songs I’m writing are about a boy. Okay? Okay. Don’t laugh. Okay, you can laugh a little. It’s actually a pretty ridiculous story, and someday maybe I’ll tell you all about it. But right now, the closest you’ll get is a song. So. There you go.

Work has been good. I think. I can’t tell you how much I love what I’m doing or the people I work for and with. I’m in a new position now, which is pretty stressful for me. I confess that I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the constant and unending workload. But I do enjoy the work that I’m doing–and that makes a huge difference. I will say, I’m praying more and more for my bosses. Our office is a busy one, and the simple nature of the office is a stressful one. It takes its toll on the staff. But I will say…I really do see the doctors investing emotionally, physically, tangibly in the staff, and that is very encouraging. I’m still thankful to be there, thankful for the people God has brought into my life through the job. But. I am stressed with it lately.

Family is…sigh. You don’t want to hear about my family, do you? I love them. They love me. Sometimes we act stupid. Still.

Choir is going well! We are preparing for our Christmas concert (can it really be coming up so quickly?) the first weekend of December. If you’re in Marquette, stop by to see us at the Cathedral. It’s going to be super-uber-totes COOL. Next semester, we will very sadly, but with many good memories, finally allow our Fearless Leader to retire and settle down to do the things he WANTS to do with his life. In honor of the occasion, we’ve commissioned a three-movement piece by British composer Paul Ayers. Seriously–if you’re going to be in Marquette, this is a concert NOT to miss. It’s going to rock like 1984, folks. We’re also planning a retirement shindig for Floyd. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I feel so blessed that I get to be involved at this moment of his life. Floyd is like…a Marquette icon.

I’m still working on the Psalms. Reminder to self: I need to meet with Rob and talk about Psalms.

I guess that’s all I have for now. I just wanted you to know I’m here and I’m still alive. I miss you all. Yes…all of you. Give me a holler and let me know you’re doing alright.

Pax Christi.
Sarah

Words for Sara(h)

Beauty.

Strength.

Honor.

Courage.

Hope.

Relentless.

Love.

 

We grow up surrounded by the safe wisdom of those who know: Never judge a book by its cover; beauty is only skin deep; it’s what’s on the inside that counts. These are havens for us when we are young. They remind us that we are made up of something more than what we look like. At least for me, growing up with two beautiful, thin sisters–it was a haven for me. It was hope. It meant that if I was never thin and pretty, I could still be worth something.

I won’t lie to you. I won’t say that I don’t still struggle with this particular issue. In the last year, especially, though, I’ve been noticing a far more disturbing trend: A tendency to judge one another by what we possess.

And more frightening–by what we don’t possess.

College degree.

Stable career.

401K.

Health insurance.

Dependable vehicle.

Credit card with 0% APR.

Book published.

Marriage.

Children.

 

The “things” you lack do not define you anymore than your physical stature. It doesn’t matter why you lack them. It doesn’t matter whether you are happy or enraged about your lack. The only thing you need to know — the only thing of which I’m here to remind you — is that none of it defines you.

You would never disown me for being overweight. You would never tell me that this is somehow a flaw in my person, ridding me of value, ridding me of the ability to make a difference in the lives of others. You would never diminish my worth upon such a basis. Don’t you ever — EVER — believe or accept the lie that you are diminished because someone “has” something that you “don’t.”

You are an amazing woman, one that I am so blessed and proud to call my sister (even if I do get a little bit touchy about sharing a name with you when you insist upon spelling it incorrectly). You, my dear, can slay any dragon that you face. You wield an amazing sword. You have worked hard to build strength and perfect your skill. And most of all, you are unrelenting in your pursuit of what is good.

Do not ever, Sara…do not ever let anyone’s words destroy your heart. And if you need the reminder, you know where I am. I am lost somewhere in Michigan, cheering for you, believing in the amazing woman, sister, wife, student, fire fighter, daughter, friend you are. There are those in this world…who need you.

Yes, you.

Now stop what you’re doing. Go to the beginning of this blog. Read those first seven words and know: I chose them just for you as a reminder that you lack no good thing.

I love you, woman. Always.

 

Pax Christi,

the other Sara(h)

 

Malaria

semmie:

Number 5, folks: Malaria is preventable and curable. It is heart-breaking to think that anyone–ANYONE–should die such an unnecessary death. Can we get involved? Can we do anything to change the trend?

We can…

Originally posted on justfacetsofus:

The topic for this month is: Malaria.  Here are some facts and stats from the World Health Organization:

1. Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. 

2. According to the latest estimates, released in December 2013, there were about 207 million cases of malaria in 2012 (with an uncertainty range of 135 million to 287 million) and an estimated 627 000 deaths (with an uncertainty range of 473 000 to 789 000).

3. Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.

4. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria.

5. Malaria is preventable and curable

6.  Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission. Access to diagnostic testing and treatment should be seen not only as a component…

View original 255 more words

Audience

Roberta and I met Friday morning for coffee. It was remarkably good fellowship, which is saying a lot. Roberta is always great company, but this was more. More than just catching up with someone I love. This was heart to heart, the benedictions of life and peace and joy upon one another as fellow members of Christ’s Body. What a wonderful experience.

One of the things we spoke about is my complete lack of desire to sing or make music for an audience. We can speak honestly about this, folks. There was a time when I longed for audience. There was a time I believed my heart was there, on a stage, speaking life and hope to people too close to be strangers. And I don’t know precisely when it changed. I remember even in leading worship at the Tab that I made a subtle transition from wanting to “lead” to wanting to accompany and support a “leader.” When my brother got married six years ago and they asked me to sing a duet at the reception, I was so uncomfortable at the thought–but so comfortable with the reality.

I forget little things. For instance, I really do like the way my voice sounds in a microphone. And I really do enjoy looking out at people and making eye contact. And I love–more than almost anything in the entire world–noodling on the piano as I try to speak the words on my heart.

But I have long desired the solace of having no audience, no stage, and nobody looking at me.

The question is, as a musician, how do you love and pursue music without desiring an audience? This is a question I’ve pondered for years, and I am no nearer an answer than I was when I first posed it.

As Berta and I discussed this the other day, she–in her typical, gentle but challenging manner–suggested that maybe it would be good for me to be exposed to a bit of audience again. I love Roberta’s manner of making me feel totally uncertain and yet entirely certain. Of course audience is good for a musician, even if performance is not the aim.

So there I was, yesterday, sitting on the edge of the stage at the bandshell all alone, my bare, cracked feet swinging off the edge like a little girl, and my guitar in my arms. And I sang softly. There was no one nearby, so I allowed myself to have a little fun and let loose (which, if you know me, needs to happen more often). And so I’m singing one of my old favorites by Rich Mullins–My One Thing–and I’m hamming it out. And…?

This guy comes out of nowhere. With his dog. I figured he’d walk right by and all would be well, so I just kept going. Every night, every day, ya hold on tight or ya drift away, and you’re left to live with the choices ya make. Oh Lord, please give me the strength to watch and work and love and sing and pray…

Aaaaaand he sits down.

Wait…what?

Like, I know it’s an actual stage, and I know there are benches for the audience during concerts, but the fact that no one else is there and I’m sitting on the edge of the stage without any equipment other than a guitar (without even a pick, I might add) should clue you into the fact that this isn’t a concert. But he sat. And his dog sat. And wow–that was awkward.

But what the heck, right? I kept going. And I know that the pure…the pure in heart…and I know that the pure in heart shall see God. Yeah, I know that the pure…the pure in heart…yeah, I know that the pure in heart shall see God… and out of the corner of my eye, I see a young man with a lot of hair walking towards the bandshell. And I’m thinking, he’s headed for the restrooms. And the dude with the dog is just sitting there watching me with a silly grin on his face, but the song is over so instead of stopping and having an awkward moment with the stranger and his dog, I went right into another song–another favorite–Thankful by Caedmon’s Call. Of course, it isn’t nearly as awesome without the trash can beat, but…•shrug•

So I’m singing along, trying to be a little amusing for the guy with the dog, but secretly wishing I weren’t dumb enough to sit on the stage where people might mistake me for entertainment. Cause I am just like Lazarus, and I can hear Your voice. I stand and run my eyes and walk to You…because I have no choice. And I am thankful…

And the young guy with the hair? Nope. He isn’t headed for the restroom. He turns toward the stage, walks right up to the very first bench, and sits down.

Oooookay. If I hadn’t left my cell phone home to charge, I likely would have paused right there to call Roberta and make her come out to witness this odd moment of my existence. But I couldn’t, because I did leave my cell at home.

So I finish the song and pause long enough to say, “I wasn’t expecting an audience.” They both seemed amused by this remark, but neither made a move to leave. And since the dog had laid down on the ground by his walker’s feet, I figured–what can I lose? So I sang them another song–this time (be proud, folks), I sang one of my recents–Daisies, which I shared the lyrics to here on my blog recently.

And as I’m nearing the end…singing my very own song for these total strangers–a family of four walks up behind the benches. Mom and Dad and two little girls. And Dad just held the younger girl in his arms while Mom held the older girl’s hand. And me? I capo-ed the third fret and I sang the song I always sing over children, another one by Mullins–Let Mercy Lead.

And as I watched these people, watching me, I thought–being heard is not such a bad thing. It is that “being heard” that allows us to minister to one another, to speak truths through music that we are often unable to speak conversationally, to connect with people that we may have absolutely nothing in common with other than our humanity.

I stopped after that song. The family left. The man and his dog left. The young man with the hair spoke with me for a moment about guitars. And as I walked alone to my truck, with my guitar slung across my back (as no guitar-respecting young woman should ever do, because there is too great a risk of it falling [and trust me, duct tape does not fix a broken guitar]), I heard myself pray.

“God, what was that?”

But I didn’t really need to ask the question. I knew the answer.

It is just like God, too, isn’t it? We think we understand some aspect of our lives, our hearts. Someone (thank you, Roberta) speaks challenge to our assumed desires, and suddenly, God places the people and the circumstances in our lives to give us the opportunity: We can grow and learn, or we can remain as we have been.

I still have no desire to perform. But if you see me with my guitar, I hope you won’t be afraid to ask for a song, because the truth is–I don’t mind the audience.

Pax Christi.
Sar

Ten Things I Love About My Job

I thought it would be fun to stretch the topic into other areas of my life. :) It’s important for me, particularly after a day like today, to reflect on the things I truly love about my work.

1: There is one woman I worked hard with to establish a monthly payment schedule that would work for her. Every month, she sends a check, and attaches a little post-it note with her appreciation and a smiley face. In today’s instant media world of sideways smileys and emoticons, I love an old-fashioned smiley. It brightens my day!

2: The Nurses on staff are so fantastic. I love that I can ask them any manner of question, and that I can bring to them any odd manner of patient phone call (and believe me, I have had some odd phone calls).

3: My Doctors? By far, and without any hesitation, the best doctors. They are exceptional practitioners, exceptional employers, exceptional individuals, and exceptionally fun. I love their hearts for the health of women and their babies. I also love that they laugh at my cow jokes. And no question–I would trust any one of them with my life. (I also love that I can tell them the strange dreams I have about them and they laugh at me.)

4: Ladies? When you find out you’re pregnant after months of ovulation induction and ultrasounds? Yes. We LIVE for those phone calls. You don’t see or hear it, but that one phone call sets the office abuzz. Some of us get misty-eyed. Every-single-one of us smiles.

5: I know you won’t believe it, but at the beginning of every month, I get the distinct honor of counting how many obstetric appointments each of the docs had for the previous month. It is dorky, but I love doing that.

6: I don’t have to sell anything. I loved my job at the bank, but it is incredibly fulfilling to not have sales goals! If that ever changes, I will be calling all of my girlfriends to schedule their girly appointments.

7: My jobs allows me to invest financially in things that I am passionate about–like music, books, and two young men in Burkina Faso.

8: We stay busy. I know it sounds odd, and I almost loathe myself for saying it after a day like today, but I am so thankful that we don’t have time to stand around and do nothing. It makes the day go quickly. It keeps us sharp!

9: There is a very blurry line which separates coworkers from friends. I genuinely care about the people I work with, and I know they care about me. That is a rare gift.

10: And finally? What is the thing I love most about my job??? I may be a softy, but…more than anything else…I love when the ladies come back for their post partum visit and there’s a beautiful 6 week old baby needing to be held and cuddled. Babies make us happy. :)

I hereby challenge you to tell someone what you love about your own job!

Pax Christi!
Sar

Ten Things I Love About Me

I want to tell you ten random things that should make you absolutely adore me.

1: I write the best ridiculous poetry.

2: I surround myself with characters, and I love them fiercely.

3: I desire resolution in every aspect of my life–relationally, theologically, physically (don’t jump to conclusions), musically.

4: I sniff books. And I enjoy it.

5: I write letters out of a crazy desire–not only to know another person, but because I long to share myself with others.

6: I can find a message of Hope in a field of blueberries.

7: Though I’m not always successful, I do try to look for the good in others. I have an acquaintance that I see several times a week, and even though she makes me crazy, I find that I want to see good in her. I want to understand what is lacking in her heart that causes her to behave as she does.

8: I’m a quote junky. I love quotes.

9: I have a box full of letters to my future husband…and a journal of letters to my future daughter.

10: You will never, never, never-ever-ever find someone who makes veggie dip as well as I do. Not even those who have the same recipe. It’s all about the dill, folks.

And there you have it–ten things about me that you may not have known. Now…tell me something about yourself!

Pax!
semmie

Family

Family

My brain is running a thousand miles a minute. I have so much to contemplate! Like…

1: How, my friends??? How am I ever going to preserve the documents that’ve been handed to me?

2: How am I going to share the information, making it accessible to the extended family?

3: What is the best way to communicate with extended family? There seems to be a generational gap, an invisible force that separates the f@cebookers from the letter writers; at present, I see one option: I must employ both methods of communication for the sake of the Family Tree.

4: When did Clayt grow up? And how did I miss that? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was rocking him and singing over him?

5: I never sang over Hannah Lynne. I never realized how that has impacted my relationship with her until this weekend. Don’t fret, my dear; we will find your song.

6: What is the best way to encourage the family to preserve their stories?

7: I love that I get to love my uncles. I am so, so ridiculously thankful for their place in my life and in my heart. God knew.

8: A cousin approached me at the reunion and asked if I was Sarah, Heidi’s daughter. He proceeded to tell me that he knew my mom many years ago when she was a candy striper. My mom, who I then introduced, was quite embarrassed, but admitted that she still had a picture somewhere of her in the uniform. Two questions: where is that photo? And what is a candy striper?

9: Isn’t it amazing how resemblance happens within a family? I love seeing the common traits and personalities, not merely among siblings, but among cousins and extended family. It boggles my mind!

10: There is no greater gift…than belonging.

Pax Christi!
Sarah