Saturday, December 6, 2014

"My Lord, I have failed you..."

(This is originally from my writing blog, but I wanted to share it here, too)

Sir Hawthorn waited outside the King's chamber. He was nervous, which was unusual. On a normal day while visiting his King, he felt at peace, happy, and in awe to be in the presence of such a King as he had the pleasure of serving. But today... today was different. He had no happy tidings to bring, no questions or requests that needed answering. Today he was only to give an account of the recent quest he had returned from. 

"The King will see you now," the page announced. Sir Hawthorn jumped slightly, being drawn out of his reverie rather suddenly. He stood, nodded, straightened his uniform, and followed the page's lead. He tried to calm the nervous butterflies in his stomach, but to no avail. How was one supposed to even prepare for such a task as this?

As he entered his King's chamber, he took a deep breath and kept his eyes on the ground. He could not bring himself to look upon his King's majesty. Not like this. 

"Sir Hawthorn! My faithful servant, how are you?" The King exclaimed, coming down from the throne and extending his arms for a warm embrace. Sir Hawthorn ducked his head in a quick salute, but stepped back quickly to evade the embrace.

"My Lord, you will not think so highly of me once you have heard my news," Sir Hawthorn, eyes still lowered, willed his voice not to tremble. He had gotten the first part out. Now to just tell the news.

"What is it, my son? You do not need to fear telling me anything. Come, sit and talk," The King motioned to two chairs by a table. Sir Hawthorn reluctantly followed and took a seat beside his King. He felt ashamed to be sitting so near to Him. 

"Now tell me, what is it that troubles you?" the King asked, in a gentle voice. 

Sir Hawthorn did his best to keep the tears from rolling down his face, yet one escaped and slowly made a trail down his cheek. "I have failed you, my Lord. Yes, I have failed you," the last words were barely whispered.

"Ah, I see..... I believe I know what you are talking about," the King answered, slowly. 

"What? But how could you? I've only just returned," Sir Hawthorn replied, confused.

"Yes, that is so. But I still know. You feel you have failed because your recent quest failed. Is this correct?" 

Sir Hawthorn stared at the King for a moment, surprised. "Yes... yes, this is so," 

The King smiled sadly at Sir Hawthorn. "My son, you did not fail me. Not in the way you think. Your quest failed because it was a quest of your own making. I did not send you on the quest and you did not even seek my permission,"

"But I saw a need, Sire, and my desire to serve this need was great!" Sir Hawthorn argued.

"Indeed! I saw it was so. But still, this quest was not of my making and therefore, you feel as if you have failed because your quest did not end as planned."

Sir Hawthorn sat quietly, realizing his King's words were true indeed. 

"My son, did you receive my letter for the quest that I would have had you go on?"

"Yes," Sir Hawthorn replied quietly, once again looking at the ground in shame.

"And did you receive them before, or during your own quest?"

"Once before, sire, and once during," Sir Hawthorn replied, beginning to realize where this was going.

"Indeed, it was so. I knew you had gone on a quest of your own. I knew you were thinking of going on this quest before you even went! This was why I sent you the instructions for mine. And when you still left for your own, I sent you instructions once more, in hopes that you would listen and return home."

"But, my Lord, I felt that there was greater need for my quest. That it was more... important."

The King smiled sadly and looked into Sir Hawthorn's eyes. "And that, my son, is where you are very wrong. No quest of mine is too great or too small for the one I have given it to. You need only listen and fulfill that quest as best you are able in order to please me. I cannot make you go on the quests I send you. I do not want to make you. I wish for you to serve me with your whole heart and willingly because you choose to do so," 

"Yes, my Lord," Sir Hawthorn replied. "But the fact remains, that I *have* failed you,"

"Nay, that is not so. My quest is still standing. It still needs to be done. And there is time to complete it."

"But, my Lord.... I feel.. I feel as if I am not able to complete it. Not without your help," 

The King smiled and took Sir Hawthorn's hand. "And my help I will certainly give you, my son. You need only ask and I shall be by your side," 

Sir Hawthorn smiled and bowed his head, "Then I have only to receive Your instructions once again, my Lord, and I shall go on Your quest."

Have you ever felt like you 'failed' the Lord? Like He had given you a task to do, but somehow that task got lost among the many other 'bigger' things you could be doing?

I know I've had it. Many, many times. In fact, I had it just recently. The sense of failure. The knowing that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing.

See, as a writer, we sometimes get stuck in this sense of 'must be doing, must be doing'. And we're finding out what the most popular genre is at the moment so we can write some epic and amazing novel to put out there on the shelves of millions of book stores around the world. We start losing track of what our main goal is.

My most recent one was NaNoWriMo. I've written before about why I love this contest, so I won't repeat it again. But I was ready to participate and win and write a novel that I would publish and would become New York's Best seller, etc, etc, etc.  But I had something missing in my plan. A really big thing; God. I didn't have God in any of these plans. Sure I sort of halfheartedly prayed that God would give me inspiration and guidance on how to write this novel, but I wasn't focused on serving Him in it. I was focused on serving myself. I was tired of only being known as a 'children's author'. I wanted to write something my friends would read and actually enjoy. I wanted to write something that would become popular and talked about. I, I, I, I..... it's all about self.

So one evening, while driving home from work, I turned on the radio and heard a song. I don't remember what it was called or who it was by. But I do remember this... it was talking about "less of me, more of You, that who I want to be,". And the words struck a chord in my heart as I realized, "Lord, I have failed you. You gave me a task. A task that I thought was too small and not big enough. I got caught up in what the World thought of me instead of seeking You on a daily basis,". I started crying. Because you know what? This wasn't the first time I'd made that mistake. No, sir. I wish it was, but it wasn't.

As I cried, asking the Lord for forgiveness. And as I prayed, He said to me, "You haven't failed. Do the task that I already gave you and seek Me on it."

And so, feeling renewed again to go about my task, I began afresh. And isn't that wonderful that we can do that? That the Lord's mercies are new EVERY morning? It's beautiful and humbling.

So I 'failed' NaNoWriMo. I didn't get in a word count. I didn't get very far in my story. But I learned something far more valuable from it than I could have ever learned on my own. I may never come out with some big novel that hits the top 10 in book stores. Yet I will have something far better because it is the task, the quest that the Lord has given to me. And it is my honor to complete it, despite what others say, despite what I think, and despite the nagging that Satan gives me to tempt me to do something else.

And I have a feeling that this time, with the Lord by my side on His quest, I won't fail.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In Which I Explain Myself....

Well, I have to say I've really dropped the ball with this whole blogging deal.... I used to be pretty good about staying on top of it, but... new season in life, right?

In any case, I'm hoping to get back into it in the next couple of weeks. I've got so many blog posts swirling around in my head, I could fill a whole month... However, as some of them are maybe not 'blog worthy' or 'blog appropriate', I won't be blowing up your notification box too much. ;-)

So all of that short little paragraph to say that once our drama performances are done this week, and I'm recovering from my oral surgery, I shall be popping back in here to share my thoughts on many various subjects.

Au revoir!

Monday, October 13, 2014

When God is Sufficient

It happened again last night... the recurring dream/nightmare. I'm not really sure what to call it. All I can say is that as soon as I awake and find that this wonderful thing I was dreaming of is not real, I feel immediate heartache. Sometimes even while dreaming I think to myself, "This isn't real..." and the heartache sets in early. No matter when it comes, though, it does arrive at some point.

Have you ever had a wish, a desire for something and just felt like it was always out of your grasp? Either by circumstances or other odd reasons?

I have a dream/desire. It's one that is very close to my heart. Yet it always seems like it will be impossible to reach.

So last night when this nightmare (or dream... which is it anyway?) kept me from sleeping well on into the wee morning hours, I kept waking up with that old familiar ache. It's hard to explain, but if you've ever suffered loss or had a desire so big for something it hurt to think about it, then you understand. Needless to say, I was frustrated. Why did this have to hurt? Why couldn't it be filled with excitement or something instead? But no. It had to ache.

I drove to work this morning, the pain still fresh in my heart. I was thankful that I would have the distraction of several awesome kids to keep my mind off of it, but I dreaded the long, lonely drive home.

My day went well. I had so much fun with my nanny kids. There is nothing quite as satisfying as being around kiddos who are just awesome and adorable and amazing and sweet and funny.. =)
However, as I walked out to my car, the old feeling crept in again. I tried to keep my mind off of it. Cranked the radio up to drown out my thoughts. but it didn't work.

Finally, while listening to the radio DJ asking if we were taking time to really get 'plugged in' with God, I had the lightbulb moment of 'duh, pray about this'. Now you might be laughing at me and thinking, why didn't she think of that sooner? Let me explain a bit more about this 'thing' of mine... I have had a very hard time praying for it because I sometimes feel convicted that I need to just be content where I'm at and quit asking God all the time to change things up. That He has me right where He wants me and when He's ready for that to change, He'll let me know... the other half of me realizes that it isn't wrong to lay our desires at His feet. Our heavenly Father wants to know how we feel, what we want, etc. But we also need to be content when the answer is 'no'. So I've always found myself in this conundrum. How do I pray for the desires of my heart but also be content? So in any case, that's where I've always been and that's where I was at when I realized that I should just pray.

So I turned off the radio and just poured out my heart to God. No better time than when in a quiet vehicle. =)

I basically just said, "God, you know my heart. You know this desire of mine. I don't know why You've kept it from me, but I do know You have a plan that I need to follow. But I just have a hard time understanding. Are you placing this desire so strongly on my heart because You are trying to prepare me for it? Or is it simply there because *I* want it?"

I sat quietly for a minute, thinking....

"God, are you trying to give me a sign that this IS going to happen?"

I immediately think how silly this is... it's not going to happen. So quit getting your hopes up... and oh if this ache would only go away!

"God, can you please just give me a sign on whether or not this is or isn't happening? I could bear it if I knew... even if it wasn't going to happen.. or even if it was, just several years down the road!..."

My prayer trailed off as I heard, very clearly, "Sarah, my child, am I not sufficient for you?"

My plea stopped dead. Was Christ sufficient for me? Or had I allowed my dreams and desires to take first place in my heart?

It slowly dawned on me that yes, Christ was sufficient. I didn't need a 'sign' that this was going to work out. All I needed was to remember that I have a Father in heaven who is going to give me the best that is in His plan. I don't need to be worrying about it because He has it under control. He holds the world in His hand!

Just like that, an unexplainable peace flowed over me.

I smiled out at the world around me.

Folks, I serve an awesome God! The God who cares SO much about me that He sent His Son to DIE on a cross, be buried, and rise again just so that I, a worthless sinner, could sit with Him in heaven someday. So that He could lavish me with His love and unfailing mercy. There is nothing to describe the joy that wells up in my heart when I think about it. My God is awesome. And I mean that in the most majestic way.

So yes, Christ is sufficient. Does it mean I won't still desire for this dream of mine every so often? No, but it does mean that I can look back on this and gain that same peace that Christ IS sufficient.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Melody of Life

Have you ever just sat and pondered the simple things? Pondered where the wind comes from, or where it goes? How clouds can suddenly form in the blue sky from seemingly nothing? How a bug knows which direction it's going?

Perhaps I'm crazy. Or odd.... or both. But sometimes I like to just sit outside and think about those sorts of things. It's the kind of thing I do when words can't describe the emotions and feelings swirling around inside my mind.

Moments of intense pride as you watch your brother turn into a man before your eyes.
Times of heartache when you wish things weren't as they are.
Feeling as if you'll simply burst from excitement for all sorts of things.
Calmly smiling to yourself as you realize that you truly are special in your own way.
Realizing that most people might think they know you, when really they don't.
Fighting the panic that rises as you think about the tasks facing you.
Pondering the small things in life and catching the beauty in simple things.

Yet still that fails to describe everything. The intensity of emotions that sometimes roll around. The sparks of creativity that flood my mind. The passion for life that comes out in a big smile. The joys of feeling happy for others.

Ever had that? Where it doesn't matter how hard you try to describe it, it just won't come out right. No one will or can  understand it. But it's there.  like a song lurking in the corners, ready to burst at the oddest moments, making life more beautiful with each of it's sweet and sad notes.

The melody of life though very old and frail,
Yet strong and firm as a navy ship's sail.
Each note sings of joys and sorrows,
The wonder of mercies new on the 'morrow.

Though no one can see it 
Though only the bearer can hear it,
It floats on heavenly wings to you and me,
Breathing life into everything we see. 

Each note brings something new
To ponder and question alike.
Much like the bright morning dew,
It sparkles and dances in the sunlight.

Each new day a bar and measure
Every moment a note to savor.
The melody of life flows strong in the veins,
Untouchable and unbreakable in life's stormy rains. 

Yet many do not listen to this melody so strong, 
Ignoring it for material and worldly things instead.
For the beauty of this song lies not within itself,
But instead comes from the Giver of them all.

For He who gives the melodies so tender and so sweet,
Makes each one so very special and unique. 
No two are ever quite the same,
Yet listen to the sound it makes.

The melody of life is one that covers all space and time,
Woven inside the magnificent tapestry of grace and love.
For each new thread that's added into this paradigm,
The Giver shares a melody from His throne above. 

~Sarah Heckendorn

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive....

Ok, really, I can't believe I used that as a title as I absolutely hate that song... done by the Beegees (or however you spell their group name). However, it does fit. Folks, I AM alive still! I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I realize it has been a looooong time since I've really posted... and I'm truly ashamed of it. Life has just been such that things like blogging fall by the wayside.

In any case, yes, I am here. Life has been going on as usual, but it just feels slightly busier than normal. Don't know why that is... Perhaps it's because it IS busier... My brother, Josh, just graduated and got himself a full time job, so perhaps having 5 adults in the house now with different schedules makes it much busier. I don't know. =)

So what's been going on over here at the ranch? Well, let's see. We've gotten quite a bit of rain, so the pastures are looking green (which is just fabulous.) In fact, as I type, it looks like rain clouds are rolling in! =) Yay!  Green grass makes for happy cows, which makes for happy ranchers. =)

On more personal news, I'm very excited to announce that I was able to get another nanny position! As some of you know, I have a one day a week nanny job with a fabulous family that only lives about 30 minutes from me. This job has been a huge blessing in more ways than one. For thing, they are a Christian/homeschool family, so it's great that our values line up already there. Secondly, the kids are just a blast. I always come home with funny stories to tell my family. And secondly, it helps me put some money away into savings. =) However, I really wanted another one day a week (or two days a week) job someplace. I wasn't really wanting to work 5 days a week because I do have other things going on (drama, fiddle lessons, writing, ranch stuff, etc). Well, I was recently convicted that I haven't been very good about sharing prayer requests. If people ask I tend to just say everything's going well.. not because I don't want to share, but usually because I have a hard time remembering them off the top of my head. So in any case, I decided I would share the prayer request on Face Book for my friends to pray for me. Well, about 2 minutes after I posted, a mother friend of mine messaged me saying they were looking for a nanny one day a week! I was so excited. Once again, a wonderful Christian family that homeschools and who has a bunch of wonderful kids! =) So naturally, I was just THRILLED! =D
Of course, the best thing was how God totally orchestrated it.

Needless to say, it's good to share your prayer requests.

On a second note, we've been having a lot of fun on Tuesday nights attending a swing dancing group in ABQ. It has been a blast to learn swing better. We know the basic steps and a few moves, so it's been fun to learn more and swing with other people. =) Usually a group from our area goes in, which makes it a lot more enjoyable (having friends in strange places is always awesome!). Met some new people, reconnected with old friends. It's been a blast!

One of Caleb's ducks hatched out a little duckling this week. It's SO cute! Course, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I want to name it Jemimah, but we haven't agreed yet.. not to mention we don't know if it's female or not.. lol

And now, just a few random pictures to show what else has been going on. =)

 We just have awesome clouds out here. Don't know what it is.. but we do. And the bottom pic turned out super cool!!!

 Muh dog. Ain't she purdy??

 This little fella came all the way from Tucumcari.. Was Caleb's pet for a bit until he ran away (or slowly crawled away) when we were busy with some stuff...

 My latest embroidery project... taped up to our window so I could trace the pattern onto my cloth. This window is awesome for tracing! =D

 Working on figuring out our volleyball court that we are putting in...

 Muh sister's dog.. who is adorbs!

Playing monopoly with Caleb on his birthday. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In Which I Give Fair Warning

Hello friends!

I haven't posted here in a while because, quite frankly, I wasn't sure what I would post about. Life has been normal, and more than likely quite boring for all of you to read about. So, I didn't have much of anything else to say. Rambling, though fun, can be a bit boring, too, I realize. So, I've decided to make a slight change to this blog.

Don't worry. It isn't *too* big, but big enough. See, I've begun to suffer from something lately.. it's called 'fear'. I'm afraid to post certain things because I don't know what others will think of me. I don't want to post anything controversial, because I don't want people to get into a huge blog debate and use my posts to knock one another down. So, instead, I've just sat quietly, only posting things which were 'good' or 'biblically based'. Now, don't get me wrong. Those are very good, I know. And when the Lord is teaching me something, I like to share, so I'll continue to do so. But, I'd also like to use this as more of an online journal, so to speak. To post questions I have about varying things in life, to ponder over different things that have been going on. To use this blog as more than just a hobby writing place, but as a place I can share my thoughts and views and not worry so much about what others will think.

I suppose all bloggers have to face the 'big question' at some point. That question being: Why do I blog? So that is my answer. I want to blog because I want to share my thoughts on ALL of life, not just a little scope of it now and then.

With that being said, I've been pondering over a rather funny question lately. I hope that I don't sound too weird or pushy or something for saying it, but it is something that has been foremost on my mind lately.

How much do you think a young man needs to have before he marries? In terms of money, house, job, etc? Just as a general question. Where do you base your opinion (biblical or just personal preference)? I'm just curious to know your thoughts on this. =) Also, what about the young women? What do they need to have/be in order to get married and why?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Discussions are more than welcome here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

When Life Hits You Full Throttle In the Face

Life.. ah, where to begin? It has been especially hectic over here for some odd reason. The oddest thing, though, is that one really can't put an exact finger on what we've been doing. We've just been busy.

Actually, I suppose I could recount a few things... For one thing, last Tuesday my brothers and I went swing dancing in Albuquerque. This group meets every Tuesday night. They do a lesson beforehand, and then free dancing time afterwards. It was a lot of fun and we learned some good basic steps. =) It was also really cool to watch those who have been doing it for a while really get into the dance. Some pretty good dancers out there! And the best part? My brothers enjoy doing it! =D Which means we got to come home and practice!

Friday I nannied all day, then went putt-putting with a local young adult group. We went out for some frozen yogurt afterwards and had a good time all around. Made some good memories and had lots of laughs.. =)

Saturday night we went to another dance, though this was an English country dance, so quite a bit different than the swing dancing, but still loads of fun! There were only a handful of guys, so I got to dance the guys part a couple times. Its really fun to exercise your acting skills by playing up the role. While I danced the virginia reel with a friend of mine, we had a very extended conversation about my recent 'hunting trip to Africa' and all that. She did marvelously to play along and I had a blast playing a posh old gentleman. =)

Other than that, we started landscaping our yard this weekend. Our poor front yard is so hard that it refuses to grow grass. So we finally gave up this year and decided to just do gravel and pretty rock. I think it will be much better this way.. more low maintenance, too, and since we already have about 6 acres around the house to keep up, it will be nice to not worry about the yard, too. We will grow some grass around the side of the house where our 'sitting area' is, just to add something green and soft and cool.

This Sunday, for father's day, dad decided he wanted to work more on the landscape. So we did that, then headed into town in the afternoon to go watch The Amazing Spider Man 2. It was pretty good, but I'll tell ya something... modern movies seem to focus more on filming cool action sequences and forget to do some character development. Not totally bad, but not totally awesome either, on that scale.
We went went to Rudys for supper, so really, it was a good day. Although, I was so tired this morning I really couldn't keep my eyes open for several hours after getting up... yikes. However, it was a great day to celebrate an amazing person. My dad is just... awesome. There's no other way to put it. He stays up until the wee hours of the morning talking with me if I have some big problem to figure out.. He jokes and teases with me. He gives the best hugs and shoulder rubs. He works really, really hard for our family. He is just amazing!

This week we have quite a bit planned, too. Busy, busy week. Most notably, though, are probably Monday and Wednesday. Monday I get to go to lunch with a dear friend of mine, and then on Wednesday we have our last filming day! Well, what should be our last! If all goes well, we will officially be done filming our movie and I can get on with the editing. Should be a fun, but crazy day. Going from 8AM to 8PM... yup. =) At least we'll feel like real actors... hah!

So what's been going on with your life lately? Anything new and exciting going on in your life?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Quick Update From The Long Lost Girl

I feel as if I haven't blogged in forever... oh wait, I haven't. =P

Well, I'm back again. Glad to see me? Maybe... maybe not. Who knows? In any case, I'm back again. Hopefully I'll keep up with promises of all these fun posts. My life has been slightly out of order lately.

For one thing, we just arrived home last night from a week long trip up to California. Our dear friends (aka adopted cousins!) were celebrating the graduation of their eldest daughter. It was so much fun to be able to go up for a mini vacation and enjoy spending some time with them. =) Many, many memories were made. For the graduation party, my siblings and I sang, along with a few others, as part of Kara's 'graduation choir', so to speak. We sang several songs, including one from Celtic Thunder called 'Place in the Choir'. It was LOTS of fun!! =) I got to play guitar for a couple songs, so that was double score. After a wonderful speech from both parents and the graduate we made room for dancing! Calling English Contra dancing is something that I've enjoyed for a while now. I had offered to call dances at Kara's graduation, so that was a lot of fun. Everyone really seemed to have a good time, too. =)

While we were up there, we got to meet one of their real cousins from Texas. That was loads of fun and we all decided we fit in as one big crazy group. We made several 'scenic' ventures and got to go to the coast, Burney Falls (a BEAUTIFUL waterfall that Becca and I got to see last time we went up), saw the Redwood forest, and got to eat at the 'mess hall' that was used for loggers way back in the 80's/90s. That was really neat. Basically the set up was a bunch of long tables and then your server just brought out plates and bowls of all sorts of yummy goodness. Orange juice, coffee, bacon, toast, eggs, biscuits and gravy, and potatoes. If we ran out of something, we just asked for more and she brought it out. It was really cool. Perfect place for hungry boys, methinks. =) It set us up perfectly for a long day looking at the redwood forest and the ocean.

I think that the ocean might have been my favorite spot we went to. Mainly because no one else was there but us and well, quite frankly, it is just beautiful. I'd love to get a little beach house and just go and write. Mom said she'd tag along and cook and clean for me... hmm... thinking that might be a pretty awesome deal. (both photos were taken with my cell)

Hanging out, though, was truly the best. Fun to just visit, laugh, visit, laugh, play music, laugh, dance, laugh, swim, laugh. Yeah, basically a lot of laughing. However, the awesome thing is that we also had many wonderful discussions. But, our lifesaver was the pool. Their house, which is just beautiful, has an awesome backyard with an awesome pool. We pretty much spent a lot of time in there.. It was just SO hot! =)

Also, another neat thing was that, two days after the graduation party, was Meri's birthday! So we got to stick around for that as well! (Meri is the second daughter). Naturally, we had lots of fun. That morning, we got up and Josh and Dad fixed her their famous biscuits and gravy. Then, we opened gifts... she received a recurve bow and arrows to go with it from the men in her family, so she spent a good portion of the morning shooting. Then, while her cousin Abigail and uncle took her off to go buy some targets, the rest of us girls went out and decorated the deck in Hawaiian fashion, then surprised her with it when she got back. =) We did some dancing until about 8ish, and then we decided that it would be fun to just go for a late night swim. So we did! It was the most impromptu, silliest (in a good way!) thing I have ever done! Ok... actually not. But it was still fun! We swam until around 10:30. It was crazy fun! Definitely helped us cool down after the intense heat from the day!

However, despite the heat, we really enjoyed our time there. It was a big bummer when we had to leave. Hopefully I can steal some pictures from my sister so I can post some later.

Yet, it is also really nice to be home again. There is so much to do and I'm really looking forward to getting back to work again! We've got some landscaping in the yard coming up (finally gave up on trying to grow grass in the yard, so we'll just be bringing in some pretty gravel), putting in our volleyball court, and cleaning out the shop and such for Joshua's graduation party!

On that subject... wow. I can't believe he's this old already! Makes me feel.. super old.. lol!

Also, before I close, I'd like to make mention of a friend of mine who is working on getting his book published. The awesome news? You can help! He's currently entered in a contest and all he needs are lots of votes. Go visit HIS SITE to check out a synopsis of the book and to vote. If he gets enough votes, he could be up and running for a publishing grant. Also, check out his blog!

Alright! Off to my crazy life! Hope to see you all around here again soon!

Monday, May 12, 2014

"For The First Time in Forever..."

"For the first time in forever, I'll finally go outside! For the first time in forever, I'll enjoy a new sunrise!
Don't know if I've been too busy, but I'm going to change that now! 'Cuz for the first time in forever!!!!!! I'll be doing something fun!"...

Ok, if you were able to sing along with that and actually keep it in rhythm, then you, my friend, are one amazing person... kinda like me for being able to write that all out.. But who's keep track anyway? ;-)

However, to go back to my little diddy, I was finally able to get outside and do some work today in my flower garden! I haven't done a flower garden in about 2 years or so because time just got away from me. And lately I haven't had much of a chance to enjoy the outdoors because 1) it's very windy out or 2) I was busy doing other things.

So, today I resolved that I would go out and work. So very glad I did!! The weather is so lovely... a few lazy clouds hanging in the sky, gently floating by. A light breeze teasing my hair from it's braid (which is actually really annoying but yeah... sounds fun to say). Oh! and the birds are singing sweet melodies to one another. It really is so very lovely out.

In any case, Caleb and I decided to go out and work on some stuff. He didn't realize I would put him to work when I invited him to, ahem, come outside with me... lol! But he seemed to have a fairly good time as we worked together.

Gardening/landscaping/working outside is one of my all time favorite things to do. But I never get a lot of it done. Silly, right? Well, I've been reading through this really neat book, "Be Well, Live Well: 14 Simple Ways to Excellent Health", authored by a friend of mine, Jeanne Drennan, and I've really enjoyed all the practical things she gives to help you on your way to, well, excellent health. One of them was to get out and do something you enjoy. That's far better than sitting around doing nothing. So, I decided that that would be the first change I make. It helps my overall attitude during the day to get out and 'get dirty', so to speak. But since I love the outdoors so much, it seriously does put me in a positive mood. (There are scientific facts that would show WHY I feel this way afterwards and about how great it is for your body to be outside, barefoot in the cool dirt... but I'll save that for another time).

In any case, I'm following one of the 'simple ways' and already today I feel fantastic. =) My lilac buds are doing so well (and for anyone who doesn't know me or hasn't gotten it from my blog title already, those lilac bushes have played a fairly big role in my growing years!). We're supposed to freeze again tonight, so I'm thinking I'm going to go out and take some extra precautions with my bushes to keep them from dying again.

So, what have you done on this lovely day? =)

Also, I'm really excited to get some new blog posts underway here. I've got some fun ideas up my sleeve so stay tuned!!

(dear me, I hope I don't say that too often without following through!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Desiring is Desirable

Lately I seem to have gotten this very odd idea in my head. Not really sure where it came from, but it just planted itself and I've been having a rather hard time getting it out.....

This little thought is that it is wrong to long or desire for something. To be specific, that it is wrong to desire and long for marriage someday.

See, when I was younger, I had this idea that as soon as I graduated, I would get married and start raising a family. I mean, that that was something that was incorporated into my daily training: how to be a helpmeet. Now, I've still got a long way to go on that one, but I am training for it. So I figured I would get married right after highschool and move on with my life.

Apparently God had other plans. Two years later, still single but (and this is hard for some to understand) I'm rather content with it. God has given me a place in my home, has given me a task to do, and I'm really very content with that. In fact, several years ago, I was praying really hard for God to bring my husband and I really felt like God clearly answered that I needed to learn to be content in my singleness because I wasn't going to be getting married any time soon.

So, I have learned to keep myself busy, focusing on serving others and seeking the Lord's will. I may not be doing it perfectly every day, but at least I am striving for it, and that is all He asks of us.

However, to get back to my earlier point, I do still find myself wishing for a husband. Yet any time that desire comes up, I try to shoot it down, thinking it's wrong of me to want it.

I recently realized, though, that I hadn't prayed for my husband in a long time. You know how you pray for that "someone, whoever he may be"? Well, I hadn't done it in a long time. See, I kind of took God's message of "not right now" to mean "never, ever, therefore you must never ask again.".

Reality check here... I don't know God's plan for my life beyond what He has currently given me to do. I can't see my whole future and I don't know if it includes a husband and family. So why should I stop praying and desiring?

I think for me, I stopped praying because I was afraid it would take my focus off of God and onto husband hunting or something crazy like that. So instead, I just stopped thinking of it all together. I didn't want to dream of it, I didn't want to imagine it, I didn't want anything to do with it because I was afraid. Yet, I've begun thinking that perhaps that was the wrong course to take.

Praying and desiring are good things. Praying, we all know, is good because we need to tell God our hopes and dreams and desires and then ask Him to change those to match His perfect will. And desiring isn't wrong, either. I mean, God made women to desire a home and family of their own. That's how we're made. Where it gets wrong is if I let it take control of my life. When that's all I can think about, when it's all I can talk about with friends, when it's all I ever dream about, then it's become a god. And we all know that THAT is wrong. =)

So my recent life lesson has been to not be afraid of desiring or asking for things, but to remain content with where I am at and let the Lord guide me. If I remain completely submersed in Him, then I'm not going to stray. It's a tricky, thin line that I don't want to cross.

Learning to be content has probably been the hardest thing I've ever done... especially when I'm waiting for God to give me something to do. I don't really care for waiting with nothing to do and especially when it has to do with my life! But I've also learned, through many struggles and trials, that God's timing truly is the best and He really has my best interest in mind. Just like any father, He is watching over me and wants me to be happy, but He wants me to happy and joyful and content in the things that He has given me.

Have you had any life lessons so far this year?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Convention Surprises

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were filled up. The CAPE homeschool convention was on! =) It's always a favorite time of year for me. Not only do I get to see friends and visit with them I also get to... well, see friends and visit with them. lol! Actually, it's a really great time to see friends, yes, but you also get to hear great speakers, see awesome vendors, and really get encouraged. =)

For the past two years I've had a table at the vending hall with a friend where we have sold our books. This year I wasn't as excited about it as I was the first year. I was disappointed that I hadn't gotten another book published and I was feeling a bit like a flake. Not only that, but I had a head cold, so I wasn't feeling all that great.

However, I got to convention, set up my books, started feeling a little excited about it, and settled in for a long weekend. When the first day ended with no sales, I was feeling a bit discouraged. However, I hadn't sold any books on Thursday of last year, either, so I figured it was just because mom's were looking around before they decided what to buy. So Friday dawned bright and early... way too early. I hadn't slept well, so I was feeling worse. With a somewhat bad start to my day, I was letting it affect the rest of my day. I only sold 4 books by the afternoon. I was feeling really discouraged. On top of that, I had a couple of people who weren't very nice stop at our table. Normally I would have been able to at least smile and try to encourage them (knowing they must be having a bad day or something). That day, however, I failed to be cheerful and let the bad moods of others affect me.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling a little better. I had been encouraged the day before by my wonderful mother, reminding me of my purpose and Who I needed to be glorifying. With her words in mind, I got to convention feeling much better. When I went to the exhibit hall to set up the table for the half day, I was greeted with a beautiful package, wrapped in newspaper (a writer's favorite!!) and a little note that read: "To Sarah Elizabeth, Authoress". No signature or any other indication of who it could be from. Inside was a beautiful journal and a homemade hair scrunchie. My curiosity was peaked to a high level. Who could have given that to me?

I inquired from friends, but no one really seemed to know. A few hours later, I stepped away from the table for a bit and, when I returned, my friend informed me that I had been left another package. This time it was a little bag of peanuts, some chocolates, and a note saying: "To Sarah, from ??" Now I was REALLY curious!! Who was doing this?? The Handwriting didn't match the other note, but if someone was trying to keep their anonymity, they certainly wouldn't use their own handwriting....

So I pondered over this for another hour or so before I left the table again to say hello to a friend. When I came back, my friend once again informed me that someone had dropped something off at our table. This time, however, there was a slight clue. The person who had dropped it off had simply tossed the note on the table, said, "The name's Paul" and ran off. The note was a folded up napkin that read: "Hey Sarah, I hope you sell lots of books today! =)". I scanned my brain trying to remember anyone I knew with the name of Paul. It came up blank. I really had no idea what was going on! A group of friends came up to the table and I told them about the new mystery. We all tried to figure it out for a bit... None of us had any ideas.

At lunch, a runner came up to me (for clarification, "Runners" are homeschoolers who have applied to help out at the convention. They kinda of have 'special' tasks like setting up, tearing down, helping vendors, etc, that other volunteers don't do, necessarily.). So a runner came up to me and said, "excuse me, ma'am, but I'm supposed to give this to you from Paul." It was a Dr. Pepper. I was totally floored. Not many people know that I *really* like Dr. Pepper. I don't have it very often, so it's a rare treat! I puzzled over this during lunch. My dear friend was laughing at me as I tried to figure this whole thing out. Who in the world??

Later, as I was looking at all the pictures of the graduates who would be graduating that afternoon, another runner came up and said, "I'm supposed to give this to you," It was another napkin note. I asked her who it was from, and she said she couldn't say.

At this point I thought I was going to go crazy! I really wanted to know who was doing this. I figured it had to be a friend, but I just didn't know who!

Finally, the culprits were revealed. Two of my good friends had pulled the whole thing off... Rachelle and Kelsey! They planned everything out, delivered the notes, got runners to do the little things for them, etc. It was totally awesome. And you know what? It really made my day. Not only did it add some interest to the rather slow day, but it really made me happy to think that they did that for me. I was totally floored. It was a blast hearing about how they pulled everything off!! I was completely clueless!!! =D

And then, my dear friend Sarah (who I lovingly call my 'conscience'- since she and I share names) was the one who got me the journal! =) So very sweet!!!! =D

So, thank you my lovely friends! Y'all are amazing and awesome! =) Now I just have to try to top it off next year!! =D  =D

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just Your Typical Day on the Ranch ~#4

Hey y'all! Another Typical Day on the Ranch post!

Yesterday afternoon my brothers and I were charged with a task: To run all the cows through the chute, get hair samples, put patches on them, and give them their dose of bug medicine.

No problemo. The cows are really quite gentle and work fairly easily. So when Dad gave us this task Sunday night, we were ready to go. The plan was to get up early and get started right away to get it done. We had two set of corrals that we were working cows: headquarters and 'up top' corrals. Thankfully, the guys had gathered all the cows that night, so we didn't need to worry about that in the morning (that seems to be the hardest part sometimes). Deciding we would work the house first, then come in for lunch, and head up top, we went to bed, figuring we'd want a good rest before the next day.

The day started out slightly later than we had hoped (as one of us, ahem, wasn't able to get to sleep until about 2am)... However, we decided we wouldn't let that stop us. Dad had headed into work already, and mom was getting ready to leave for her day in town to do some things. Josh fixed us egg burritos while I went over the plans again to make sure everything looked right. So far so good. I was rather excited about getting the hair samples. =)

As we were about to head out, a friend who leases some pasture with us came by to pick up some of his cows. So Josh and Mr. S went up top to get his cows while Caleb and I prepped everything for working the cows at headquarters. After making several runs back the house then out to the corrals, we finally had everything (not that there was a whole lot but we just kept forgetting things...) Josh got back right as we were about to start. Glad to see our third cowpoke, we met him half way to see how his morning had gone so far. He brought us bad tidings. The cows had either knocked open a gate, or one of them didn't closed properly and they were now scattered in two pastures.

Pause for great big sigh.

We decided the boys would go ahead and go regather the cows before the spread out much further and I would wait down at the house. They left and I decided that, instead of wasting time, I'd go start working the cows on my own. There wasn't a whole lot to do per cow, so I figured it would be fairly easy. Slow, but easy. I headed out, intent on my mission and getting at least a couple handfuls of cows done before the boys got back.

Lesson learned.

When I got out to the corral, I realized that the cows needed to be pushed from a holding pen into the alley so I could push them into the chute. May not seem like a big deal, but when you're trying to push a bunch of bovine, you need at least two people else they just run past you in all directions. I attempted to push them from behind, but that ended rather quickly when I realized I was fighting a losing battle. So, racking my brain for ideas, I finally came up with a brilliant idea that, amazingly, worked quite well. I then began the process of gathering them into the chute (much easier now that I was in a narrower alley!).

I had done three cows by the time the boys got back. Not quite the handfuls I wanted, but hey, it was a start. Once they got there, we all jumped in and got to the task at hand. Josh dosed them, Caleb put on patches, and I collected hair samples.

I will go into a bit of detail on how we did the samples.. It was really cool. I simply had to grab their tail, take a section of the longer hair at the tip, and pull upwards, against the 'grain' of the hair. This pulled the hair, roots and all, out in neat form. I then placed the roots in a clear sticky pad. These will be sent into a lab for testing so that we make sure the cows don't have any illnesses or some other genetic defect that will affect their calves.

As we were working cows, we enjoyed joking around with each other, laughing about 'inside jokes' (none of which needed explaining because we were all on the 'inside'), and liking how smoothly things were going... Guess we thought that too soon. Before we knew it, a heifer had decided she didn't want to go forward and had succeeded in turning herself completely around inside the little alley leading up to the chute. Lovely. Thankfully, though, we didn't need her to go head first, since none of the things we were doing required her head to be caught. However, it's always a little scary when they are in the process of turning around as they can get stuck... Not to mention that you simple stand there looking at her helplessly, knowing you can't do anything to stop her. Getting near only makes her more frantic. So we backed off, silently praying she wouldn't get stuck. She didn't and must have had an interesting time going through the line backward.

Another cow later on almost broke her leg in an escape attempt by trying to jump up and out of the chute. Brilliant idea, cow. What was I saying about our cows being quite gentle? ;-)

Other than those little incidents here and there, everything really did go smoothly. A couple times, when reaching to get the tail for samples, my hand met with 'wet stuff'... *sigh*. All I could imagine was Adrian Monk doing that... (if you've ever seen "Monk", you know what I'm talking about).
But then, I suppose that's why I live on a ranch. It didn't bother me too much (or maybe it's because of living on a ranch that it doesn't bother me... hmm...) You just have to keep going. No stopping to 'get it off! get it off!'... =) Yup, bonafide country right thar. =)  Anyway, back to my story...

So, we finished the cows at the house and went inside for lunch at about 2:30. Finished eating and checking a few things for mom, then got ready to head back out. We took all our gear with us, drove up to the top corrals (takes about 5-10 mins to get up there). As we went to gather the cows, poor Caleb walked right into a metal pole/bar that is sticking out horizontal to the ground. It is part of a fence, but we haven't finished building that fence yet, so it sticks out... he's not the only one that has done that. Poor guy. He really hit it hard. After he recovered a bit, though, we joked about him 'walking into a bar' and tried to put on shocked faces... Yeah, that helped a little. He's such a trooper, though, and got right back to work.

We had done about 5 cows when Josh realized he was out of the meds he was giving the cows and had forgotten to grab the new container from the barn. So, we paused operation and headed back down. Worked out fairly well, actually, as the boys wanted to grab some protein bars from the house (don't know why they were hungry, though. It's not as if they were working really hard....). =)

On our way up, I had taken off my jacket, as it was getting a little warm. When I hopped out, I guess I knocked over my water cup and later, then it got a little windy and I needed my jacket, I realized it was soaked and wouldn't do a whole lot of good for keeping me warm. =P So my new routine of getting hair samples went from 'get them and stand in the open while I'm putting them in their sticker' to 'get the hair as fast as you can, rush back and hop in the truck to stay warm while you now put the hair in the sticker'. =)

During all this, we did have a couple times that some cows got out and we had to chase them around the pasture a bit... or sometimes we'd actually analyze the situation to see how we could outsmart the cows to get them back in. Usually that worked better.. lol!

And so, after a day that we had hoped would be a morning/part of the afternoon project, we finally got home at 8pm. However, dad was really sweet and went and got us Taco Bell so we didn't have to cook anything. =)

So that, my friends, is just another typical day on the ranch. Do your days look similar to this? (I've found most people's do, whether they live on a ranch or not).=D

Your Ranching Friend Out in the Middle of Nowhere

P.S. Keep an eye out! I'm planning on doing a blog post of our recent trip to Montana (pics included!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Measure of a Man

I've had several discussions lately with my young lady friends about a certain topic: guys. Now, I'm not meaning the ridiculous "I think he likes me" and "He's so cute" kinda talk. I'm meaning really serious, deep conversations on our perspective on what men should be and what the world says they should be. It has been very interesting, I will say. =)

One of the things that has always bothered me with young girls is that they seem to have this extremely romantic perception of how a guy should treat them. Now, I'm not saying that married men aren't romantic, but I'm talkin' about the 'He will sweep me off my feet and catch me when I fall and say all the right things and everything will be just perfect' kind of talk.

So what's wrong with this expectation? Pretty much everything. Now, before you jump ahead, let me explain. Yes, guys can be romantic (my dad is pretty romantic, and so are my brothers sometimes). Yes, they will sweep you off your feet on occasion.. but it isn't all the time. Yes, they will say the right thing, but again, not all the time. But, no, not everything will be perfect. Let's break this down.

Women tend to lean on the more romantic side of things. We like the chick-flicks, the flowers, the sweet sayings, etc. Guys aren't built this way. They are built to provide, protect, and lead. Now that doesn't mean they can't be romantic. It just means that sometimes their idea of romance is far from our own.

Sweep you off your feet? Of course! But ya know what? I've noticed that when married women talk about being swept off their feet, it isn't by the usual 'we'll waltz 'til midnight' type of thing. It's usually something like "He did the dishes for me when he knew I was tired" kind of sweeping. But ya know what? That's much better in my opinion.

Say the right thing? Sometimes. But guess what? You, as a woman, won't say all the right things to him either! Everyone's idea of the 'right thing' is different, so it really does vary on the scale. However, this doesn't mean it won't happen. Men who really know their woman usually know the 'right things to say'... but, quite frankly, I'd much prefer if he were honest and mean it than to say what I want to hear just because its the 'right thing to say'. (unless we're asking if we look fat. Then you'd better say we look beautiful.. lol!).

So what's wrong with the idea of thinking a guy will do all these things? Well, for one thing, high expectation on certain things like this will often lead to disappointment and a breaking of relationships. This is also caused by lack of communication, but yeah. Another topic. =) So we have this high expectation going into marriage and then we find out that not all of it is true. When husband comes home from work and he's dead tired, he may not want to sit and snuggle on the couch. Instead, he may eat dinner, saying about ten words throughout, and then hit the sack. But in the same way, we woman can often disappoint the men in our lives in the same way. He might have planned a romantic evening after the kids have all gone to bed and his wife comes in, gives him the 'yeah right' look and heads off to finish folding laundry.

I'll come forth and confess that I tend to be rather romantic... yet I also tend to go 'ew' to romance.. weird mix, I know. Perhaps the 'ew' romance is what I used to like.. but after visiting with wiser, older married women, I've discovered that my ideas were totally off.

So, ladies, you may find that as you get older (and I pray this is so!) that your idea of romance has changed.

Now, since I've gone over that, I'd like to share a few of my own ideas about the measure of a man. See, I used to think it was about how many times he brought me flowers, send me sweet notes, or took me on long walks. Um.. yeah. Thank goodness for wonderful parents who have helped me change those ideas!

I want to give my ideas in an example. I'm bragging on my dad, so brace yourselves. =)

A couple years ago, we had a rather big snow storm come through. Now, this wasn't so bad, really, except what it did to our SUPER long road. Our road is about 1 and 1/3 mile long. It is set slightly lower than ground level, so when we have snow, the drifts just blow right in and settle down. Rather annoying. So, this particular winter day, we had spent the afternoon/evening with our friends. We headed home and, upon discovering our road, decided we would just drive through the pasture where the snow wasn't so deep (that's countrified for ya). Well, just as dad was about to turn off onto higher ground, the car got stuck in a deep drift (I should say, the Excursion, not car. Now you get a better picture of how bad the road was). Well, we were definitely stuck... So, dad decided he would walk back the house, get the tractor, and come pull us out. Only problem was that he didn't have much on for walking through freezing cold wind and slick snow. He had on his nice boots with the slick bottoms, his thin coat, his docker pants, etc. No hat, no gloves, nothin'. We all began passing items up to him. Someone had a pair of gloves, someone had a scarf. We had a towel from carrying the casserole dish earlier that day, so we wrapped it over his head... yeah, a funny sight, to be sure. But ya know what? He walked that entire distance, in the slippery snow (falling once or twice, I might add) and freezing cold. Now, he could have sent one of us spry kids who were more prepared with thick coats and such, but instead he did the job himself. He was the man and did what it took to provide and shelter his family. Finally, past midnight, we got home safe and sound. (approx. 2 hour the whole thing took).

Now, that may not sound like the cozy, warm feeling romance that most girls envision, but I can tell ya that it was a whole lot better. Period.

Then, just recently, my dad made me cry. In a good way. He was dealing with an extremely frustrating situation and, instead of yelling and getting angry, he calmly dealt with it and kept his cool the entire time. I was crying for two reasons, actually. One was that he told me later that he really wanted to get upset, but he realized it wasn't going to help. This made me ashamed of myself, for one. I realized that I don't always do so well when dealing with frustrating situations. The other reason was that, for some unexplained womanly feeling, I just felt so proud of him. This particular situation would have tested many a man to be weak and crack, but my father stood strong and tall in face of the beast and conquered it in the best way. He was leading in the best way, too: by example.

See, it isn't about how romantic you want your man to be. Instead we need to be seeking and praying for strong, Godly men who are humble leaders, teachable, and willing to fight for what's right, no matter what. If you can find that sort of fella, then, young lady, you are definitely blessed. In today's society they are becoming rather rare.

Now, here's something I've learned, too. While I may pray for this sort of man for myself one day, I also realize that some future sisters-in-law are also praying for the same thing. I now have the opportunity to help my brothers becomes those wonderful leaders by allowing them to lead me. (we get to practice on each other, right? Because I get to learn to respect them like I will respect my husband someday). So, if you have brothers, whether they be by blood or in Christ, encourage them. And no, this doesn't mean you're flirting or anything like that, but sometimes a simple "Thank you" for them treating you like a lady goes a long way.

So, ladies, don't let Disney and fairy tales and 'fluff' books turn your head in the wrong direction about romance. Instead turn to God's word. Everything you need in a man is listed for ya, right there.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Assuming for the Lord

How many times have we prayed 'Thy will be done'? I don't think I could count how many times I've said it. I've said it in church when reciting the "Lord's prayer" and probably prayed it many a time (just not those exact words).

We say it... but how much do we really mean it? I've realized that whenever I pray that God's will be done, I tend to assume that His will is going to match up with what I'm asking for. We have gotten this idea in our heads that when we ask the Lord for something, it will be given to us. Before I move on, I will say that yes, I know the verse in the bible that speaks of asking and we shall receive... but do we really know if what we are asking for is good?

Often times we commit things to prayer and we really expect a 'yes' in reply. We aren't ready for a 'no' and we certainly have a hard time accepting it when it's been given to us.

I remember, when I was much younger, I would ask my mom for something and, when she said no, I would simply go and ask Dad. Sometimes he would say yes (not knowing that mom had already said no).
Or, if they answered no, I would still go ahead and do said thing (or have said thing) and then later pretend that, "oh, I didn't hear you say that".....

Ok, enough about my childhood confessions.. hah! Seriously, though, I just recently realized that I do this to God... a lot. If He gives me an answer I don't like, I tend to pray about it several more times 'just to be sure'.

When I pray for God to give me a yes to buy that equipment, or write this book, or publish this story, or allow me to get married, I always have this little sub-conscience thought in the back of my mind.

He'll bring it to pass.

Why do I assume that? I'm not God. I don't know what God has willed for my life. I don't know if it includes getting married, raising a family, publishing hundreds of books, or getting fancy equipment to do recording and filming. I don't. But I assume that it will happen. I assume because it is what I desire and somehow I've allowed myself to think that if I pray for it hard and long enough, it will actually happen. The reality is, however, that God's will is perfect. Mine is not.

Now, it sounds great to say, "Oh, wow. I didn't realize I was doing that. No problem. Won't make the same mistake twice!"... nope.

It. Is. So. Hard.

It isn't easy to change! It isn't easy to realize when you're in the wrong. It isn't easy to confess and ask God's forgiveness for putting Him in a box and thinking I could make Him give me what I want. Nope. Not easy. In fact, I'm still working on getting over it. When we've formed a habit, it's difficult to 'un-form' it...

Now, here is a funny thing about God's perfect timing... We have recently been doing a bible study of sorts with 3 other families called "The Truth Project". Don't know if any of y'all have heard of it, but we are really enjoying it. The funny thing is that we got this study several years ago and never actually started it... yet, I realized that I'm not sure I really would have gotten a whole lot out of the study if we had done it back then. "Back then" I didn't really pay attention to bible studies, sermons, etc because I honestly wasn't really concerned about my personal growth. I really didn't like the idea of giving up everything to God. I really didn't. So, I didn't. I went to church with my family and all that, but usually I let my mind wander to other things. During Bible study before school, I honestly couldn't wait for it to end. I hated having to sit and listen to other's talk about the Bible. I really didn't care. It sounds terrible, I know, but I find it amazing to see how God works. I have gotten SO much out of The Truth Project (and we've only done 3 sessions so far!).

So, random bit there, but I thought it sort of applied. =)

Back on track again, I have made it another goal of mine to not assume with the Lord. I know there will be MANY times that I fail... but, as a wise person once told me, "'Failed' is just another word for "I have learned my lesson and now know how to do it differently'." Amen?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trust Me Not

When you have a secret, be it big or small, you don't want to tell just anyone about it. You might tell a very close friend or family member, but you're not going to tell that 'friend' who you see on occasion. Why? You haven't built up a "Trust-Relationship" with them.

In order to share important or 'awkward' things with people, you have to know you can trust them. If you know a person is a blabber mouth, you aren't going to trust them with your secret or struggle because you know that by the end of the week, everyone else will know about it, too (and, more than likely, not in the real sense of what is going on).

There have been times when I have trusted a friend with a struggle or personal prayer request, only to find out later from a different friend that said first friend had told several other people about it. That hurts. It hurts to know that something you told a person and trusted them to keep secret didn't end up being so. Raise your hand if you've had that situation. I imagine all of us have.

It really does hurt, doesn't it? And once that trust has been broken, it's very difficult to build it up again to the same level it had been at before. Friendships are often times ruined because of these incidents.

I was remembering some of those incidents today and it got me to thinking. The only reason I don't tell certain people about personal struggles any more is simply because at one time they broke that trust. It may have been accidental (even I'm guilty of letting something slip without meaning to!), but it is still that image that you get from it that seems to stick in your mind.

I then realized that, if I don't share my burdens with others because of a lack of trust, I really have *no excuse* for not trusting God. When has He *ever* broken my trust?? When has He *ever* failed me? Never, never. Yet I have such a hard time trusting Him with things in my life. Will He provide for my daily needs, my spiritual needs, my desires? Can I trust Him with this certain thing I'm struggling with?

Hah. It makes me chuckle to think about the irony of it. Here He has NEVER broken my trust (if anything, He has always been building it up!) yet I can't even trust Him *completely* with small things like life decisions, relationships, books, etc. Terrible, ain't it? Yet there is the awful truth.

It also seems ironic to me that He gave us life, yet we somehow think we can take control of it. We somehow decided that we could make our own life decisions and take our own paths. And yes, we can, because He gave us that freedom, but if we are following Him, He has taken that freedom and is holding it to mold it into a better form for His will. Yet, He does it with our permission. How many times, when you're praying for a certain something, has His quiet voice asked you to give it to Him? How many times does He patiently wait while you struggle with handing your will over to Him so that He may mold it to match His? He asks, yet He still allows us the choice to give it to Him, or to hold on to it. Which makes us more joyful? I certainly don't feel joyful when I'm hangin' on to it!

As humans, we seem to crave this desire for chaos, drama, distraction, and stress. Before you protest, let's just think about it for a moment. What does your calendar look like? Do you feel your heart rate going up a bit when you think of all the things you need to accomplish today? Do you begin to feel overwhelmed with the looming task for school project?  We've all had our moments. Yet, if we were to give all of these completely to God and trust that He will give us the strength to follow through and get it done, life suddenly becomes clearer. You begin to feel like maybe you don't have such a mountain of work after all. It all comes into perspective.

But, the problem is... we rarely gave it Him. We might pray about whether we should buy that house or car and whatnot, but do we pray for small things like "Lord, help me to bless others today,"    "Lord, please use me to Your glory and let Your will become my will,". I know I don't do this every day. Sometimes, if I'm thinking about it, I'll send up a quick prayer, but I don't start out each morning thinking about how I can serve Him. I read my bible, do my devotion, check it off the list and move on to other tasks.

Now, I'm not saying other tasks aren't important. Unfortunately, we still have to fold the laundry, clean house, and feed our families. But is our main focus on serving Christ throughout the day? I tend to forget that just by treating my sibling nicely even when I'm really irritated with them is still serving Christ because I'm showing love to said sibling. Or that by doing the grocery shopping is blessing my worn out mother. Or that rubbing my sister's shoulders after she's had a stressful day helps to lighten her mood and makes her feel better.

Isn't this what Jesus would be doing for us? Didn't He wash the disciple's feet? That seemed like a small, unimportant task, yet it was magnified because of serving attitude.

So, are we trusting God to give us strength for these tasks? Are we trusting Him that His will is better than our own and that our life is really His and His alone? I know I struggle with this daily, and I greatly covet prayers that God would continue to mold me into His form. Yet, fleshly desires set in and I find the struggle becomes harder.

Next month my goal is start out each morning by placing my trust in God in things that have been bothering me. I won't do it all at once as that can sometimes become overwhelming, and I want each one to be a serious, heartfelt decision. Then I'm going to focus on keeping that trust and not taking it back. I would greatly appreciate your prayers, brethren, as I do this. I know that the enemy waits and does not falter in his watching for opportunities to snare his prey.

However, with a 'little help' from the Lord, I think I'll be just fine.... oh wait... I mean, the Lord will give me the strength to guard myself against the enemy. =)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Escapades of Josh and Sarah ~Ep. 1

Josh and I are siblings, yes.. but we like to call each other P.I.C (Partners In Crime). Ever since we were little, we got into a lot of scrapes together. Or, as we both say to one another, "... and most of it was your fault..." lol.

Well, I figured it would be kind of fun to share a few of those as they happen. I have my other 'series' called "Just Your Typical Day on the Ranch" but this won't always have to do with ranch stuff.

So, today I got to do something super scary and super exciting. I had my first 'solo' drive in Albuquerque. If you know the area, it's a pretty busy town. Not like L.A. or Denver or anything, but still busy for a New Mexico girl. Especially when you've only driven through it once (staying on the freeway the entire time). This time I actually had to get *into* town... Driving with a bunch of other crazy drivers.. yeah. Josh and I needed to go to voice lessons. Usually Becca drives us (as she's taking too) but this week she was gone. Anyway, point is, I had to drive into town without any other experienced driver in the car...

Josh is, however, really good at remembering streets. In fact, he's often times guided my sis around town (one a few, rare occasions when she needed it). He's got awesome memory. Well, I knew where we needed to go. Had the directions. Really simple. We needed to go to voice lessons, then go get lunch at Panda Express, then head home. Simple, right?

Wrong. We got to voice lessons, da da da da, finished up, and began to head back. First thing to go wrong? I turned left when I should have turned right. So we ended up going the wrong way on a main road. No prob. Just turn around. We turned around and got to the next street we needed to go to. I turned left again and Josh began saying, "Oh wait, we're going the wrong way. We need to turn around again." We laughed about it, and I turned around. Then, we got confused which way I would turn next so we called mom and found out that we were actually going the wrong way. The first way I had turned was correct. Of course, I teased Josh about that (and said, "That was your fault, I'll have you know!"), turned around, and headed back South again... We were laughing about it and all that, finally got to our destination, got lunch, and began to head home.

When we got back on the road again, this car decided to merge into my lane... unfortunately, the nose of my car was past it's bumper... another car on my other side was right next to me, so I was sandwiched in the middle.. Thankfully, nothing happened (Praise the Lord), but it was *very* scary. However, as we passed, we noticed it was two teenaged girls just chatting away... *sigh*.... People! Pay attention on the road! =P

So we made it back on the freeway to head back home. As we were driving along, I glanced back in my rear view and noticed the trunk was sort of... flapping or something. So I was able to pull off the highway and, as soon as I stopped, it popped open all the way. Josh hopped out and shut it.

As soon as he hopped back into the car he just looked at me. Then, with a very serious face he said, "By the way, that was your fault.." lol! Ah, gotta love brothers with a sense of humor. So we laughed about it again. I mean, it was quite a hilarious day. What else could have happened? Thankfully those were not 'famous last words' and we got back safely.

But, we both decided that, even though we were older, our escapades are far from over. :-)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

When God Teaches You Flexibility

Hardly a week has passed since I did that big post about how the Lord changes your desires and how He'll teach you to be content, etc, etc, etc.

Well, I guess the next thing on my list of training in "Spiritual Growth Bootcamp" was to learn flexibility. Now, I will be honest and say that I have always considered myself as being rather flexible. Living on a ranch sort of trains you to that, I 'spose. However, there are some things that I have a harder time being flexible with... I'm a perfectionist in many areas, but those are usually the 'odd' areas.. if my room gets a bit messy, it can stay like that for a week before it finally drives me nuts... But! If I have planned a special dinner or tea party, it had better go off without a hitch and everything *has* to be perfect... yeah.

So, all that to say that, yes, there are a few areas in which I have a harder time being flexible. Well, the Lord certainly taught me about it this week.

At Drama, we found out one of our young thespians was unable to stay for the semester because of some major scheduling issues. We were all very sad to see her go and she will be missed in the group. However, mom and I realized that we now had open spots in our plays (she was in both my group and mom's). My "main" character now needed to be recast, and another fairly large role in mom's needed to be as well. What to do??

I called a friend who was in mom's group that had told me earlier on that she would be happy in whichever group she was put in and didn't mind being in both. So I called her up and asked if she could play the Queen in my play. She said she'd think about it and give me an answer soon. Fantastic! (because I was just informed last night that she CAN do the part for me) Now we just needed to figure out mom's play...

One girl was originally playing "Ginger", a small role, but very fun character. She's your typically ditsy, gum-chewing wife of a mafia guy (set in the 40s and 50s y'all!). The character that now needed to be filled again was Terri. Larger role, sweet person, girlfriend to another guy. So, we asked the young lady playing Ginger if she would want to do Terri, or keep her role as Ginger. She thought about it and decided she would really like the role of Terri. So, that was fixed... only, now Ginger was 'empty', so to speak....

So what do we do? How to we fill this part?? We couldn't do doubles because at certain points all characters are on the stage at once.. The decision??

I would play Ginger.

Bam. Flexibility right there for ya. I was content to have no part in the play, quite happy, in fact, and then this comes up and I end up needing to play the part anyway. Am I excited? Am I stressed out now? Am I wishing I didn't have it?... Yes, Yes, and Can't Decide Yet.

I'm very excited about the part. I think it will be loads of fun. However, I was also ready to buckle down and not have a part in the play... *sigh*. Yet, although I'm stressing just a bit because now I've got double work, I'm still rather thankful. I really do enjoy acting and I'm glad that I have an opportunity to do it again.

So there ya have it, folks. Just when you think you're ready to hunker down and get the job done, you might want to be prepared for curve ball that could come your way. =)

And those are my little ramblings for this morning... =)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When the Lord Teaches You to Let Go

Learning lessons is never easy- especially for me, it feels like. I seem to have the hardest time just learning and accepting. But ya know what? God never gives up on me. He continues to give me things that I can keep learning from.

Yeah, imagine that said in whatever way you want. The point is, I really don't like it when I know that my will is bounced out of God's will. When they aren't running in two straight lines together (or rather, when mine isn't running inside of His!)

The beginning of this year has already been bringing that feeling back.

In early January, my mom approached me with a question. She said she had really been praying and considering and felt that our drama group really needed to 'make the next move'. I've already mentioned something about our group splitting into two, so y'all probably know about that already. :-) However, what y'all don't know is that when my mom asked me to consider stepping up and directing the group, I knew my answer right away.

Have you ever had those "God Moments" where you just know God's answer right away? Sometimes it takes a long time and lots of prayer to understand what God wants you to do, but this was one of His 'right away' answers.

I knew that I needed to direct the group. However, I didn't want to admit it. I really didn't want to direct. I'm not cut out for directing, I thought to myself. There's no way I can do this! I act! I don't direct! Besides, I wouldn't even know where to start.

Doubts filled my mind for the next couple of days, but I couldn't get the little voice out of my head that said I needed to do it.

See, there was a little something that was having a major battle with that voice. It's called "Desire". Lots of us are pretty familiar with it, but we often forget that it comes in many forms. It isn't just a lustful sort of thing, but it can also come in more subtle ways. I desired to act. I desired to be part of the play, to be on stage, to do what I knew best.

Well, what I thought was best, that is.. Guess the Lord had some different plans in mind. So, over the weekend, I wrestled with the knowledge of what I knew I needed to do, and my desire to continue acting. I had to have any answer for mom by the time she returned from a business trip with dad. Pressure sometimes helps me take things a bit more seriously.

I prayed about it the first night and felt very strongly that I needed to accept. I denied it. I prayed the next morning, and the afternoon, and the evening and repeated it for the rest of the weekend. I still felt the same answer every time. I guess I figured if I prayed over and over, God would finally give me the answer I wanted to hear.

Well, as most of y'all know, I finally got off my high pedestal of 'I know better' and listened to what God was saying. And, quite frankly, I now agree with Him. I realized that this sort of thing would really help me mature in different areas that I had been feeling I needed to work on. It would pull me up and make me realize that I can't act like a 16 year old any more. It would teach me to step up to the challenge and do the best that I can, whether I fail or not.

I hate saying all that because it kind of makes me sound ill-equipped for life. Well, really, I am, I suppose. Taking my own words that I told the group today: "When we think that we have reached a point that we have learned all we possibly can and no one can teach us anything, then we have already failed."

So, all that to say that I told mom I would step up to the plate and direct. For the next couple of weeks after I accepted, I still had the desire to act. I desperately wanted to join mom's group, but I also felt that it wasn't the wisest idea. Not this semester anyway. I needed to separate myself, to set myself aside as a director. Yet I still really wanted to act. As mom began figuring out what play she was going to do and talking about it, I would feel rather upset that I wasn't going to act. The play sounded so fun and hilarious. I wanted to be part of that. Up to audition day, I wanted to be part of it.

Well, after auditions when we were deciding parts for both groups, Mom said that, if I was ok with it, she might need to pull me in after all because she wasn't sure she had enough people audition to fill the parts. Well, I jumped on that. I thought for sure this was God's answer to my desire to act.

Should have thought again.

Mom decided that I would do this very small part (9 lines). I accepted with alacrity. I was going to still be able to act!! Yet, as the days passed by, I kept feeling like it wasn't right. I just couldn't do it. And suddenly, I realized something...

I no longer had the desire to act.

It felt rather strange, and yet, it felt so right. I realized that God had replaced my desire to act, with a desire to be a director instead.

And it taught me a lesson. If we can give our desires to God, He will change those desires to meet His will. He doesn't want His children miserable, but sometimes we just don't want to follow His will. So, if we are willing to give it up, and give it ALL to Him without holding back, He will make us joyous and happy again by changing our desires.

It doesn't matter if you have a desire to marry, go on a missions trip, go volunteer at your local food bank, if that desire doesn't match up with God's will, you need to give it up and give it to Him. It isn't easy, I know, but it truly is the best thing in the world.

And, what would you know, God found us another actor to take the part that I wasn't going to be able to do. He provides everything in His plan. :)

So, onward Christian soldiers! Let us learn to follow HIS will, no matter what! And may we continue to pray for each other as we continue on our journey.