Finding Faith in the Seasons of Mundanity

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I’m reading in Genesis right now, smack dab in the middle of the story of Joseph. What a crazy life. Born a favorite, naively arrogant to his brothers, betrayed and sold, escalated to the highest serving position in every single circumstance he found himself in, ran Egypt, and eventually forgave his brothers and reunited with his father.

Pretty exciting events in there. But what struck me was the amount of time Joseph spent in each season. It’s not absolutely clear in the Bible, but let’s assume Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. He was 30 years old when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. 13 years in between. Think about 13 years ago for you. I was a freshman in college. 9/11 happened. Think of all that’s happened to you since then.

We know Joseph was in prison for 2 years, so we can assume he served Potiphar for 11 years. How in the world did Joseph get through those long stretches of time?

Everyone has a plan for their life. What was Joseph’s? Did he try to figure out a way to escape Potiphar and get back to Canaan in the early years and then finally succumb to his lot and accept being a servant? Did he try to find the positive aspects of the situation and serve joyfully? Did he ever get to the point of despair while in prison? How did he keep his faith in God through those times?

It’s easy to praise God in the really exciting happy moments – the birth of a child, the marriage of two people, the achievement of a degree or passing a test, reaching a long, sought after goal. And it’s easy to cling to God in the dark moments – the death of a loved one, loss of a relationship, job, or identity. But what about the other 99% of life? The day after day after day after day after day? Sometimes I feel like I’m trudging.

My answer is I don’t know. Or maybe it’s one of those things that is simple and hard at the same time. The truth is, it’s not glamorous. It’s getting up 15 minutes early to read a passage of scripture you don’t understand half the time. It’s trying to keep your thoughts from distraction during silent prayer. It’s saying, “Oh Lord” every morning when you get in your car to go to work. It’s extending grace and forgiveness time and time again to those around you – and yourself. It’s serving at your church every other week, making dessert for this or that event, tucking in your kids every night with “Jesus Loves Me.”

Strong faith comes from incremental decisions. Disciplined effort. Non Instagram-worthy moments. Obviously, there are amazing times of clarity or insight, and of course it’s all worth it. There is an end goal. Reading scripture in the morning will set your priorities for the day and detox your soul. Prayer will keep the world in perspective and God in control. You just may not see it everyday.

Whether you are exactly where you want to be in life, or feel like you’ll never get there, continue to seek God in the mundanity, wherever you are. After all, loving you is never mundane to God.

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Grace and Forgiveness

When the person behind you is riding your tail.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone dismisses your heartfelt compliment.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you find yourself being hypocritical.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone cuts you off when you’re talking.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you’re accidentally left out.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you’re intentionally left out.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone spoils a movie you haven’t seen.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone ate the last cookie and you didn’t get one.

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Grace and forgiveness.

 

 
When you smile but don’t get one back.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you work hard and someone else gets the credit.
Grace and forgiveness.

As you start your day.

As your live your day.

As you end your day.

Grace

And forgiveness.

Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other {grace} and and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Freedom Run

I know I’ve plastered stuff all over social media about finishing my Couch to 5K program, but I’m not ashamed to write a post about it! It was SO HARD and I am proud of myself for completing it. I kept myself accountable by choosing to link the app to my Twitter account. I tried to have fun with those tweets… (keep reading after the pics)

Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3Picture 4It did not escape me that I finished the workout plan on the 4th of July. I was thinking about how lucky I am to have this freedom. Meaning – I acknowledge the fact that I:

  1. Have a good paying 40 hour a week job, backed by labor laws, in which I can have a day off
  2. Can run outside alone on safe, well-paved road without the fear of being kidnapped, killed, or harassed (except for a few harmless catcalls)
  3. Have the independence of a single woman to do as I please and not have to live under governmental or cultural male dominance
  4. Can afford really nice workout clothes, socks, and shoes and ways to pull back my hair
  5. Can afford sunglasses, nice headphones, an iPhone with ways to charge it and plenty of music to download to accompany my run
  6. Have unlimited access to CLEAN WATER
  7. Have unlimited access to hospitals, doctors, therapists, trainers, medicine, and medical supplies, if needed
  8. Can afford food to replenish my calories

That’s a lot to be thankful for. While I was struggling to run for 30 minutes straight, other women my age are working in hard labor, or are being trafficked for sex, or are living in poverty with children to feed.

It’s convicting. I need to do more to help those who are less fortunate. That is Jesus’ whole ministry. Let’s come together and do great things for God’s kingdom. It’s okay to focus on doing good things for yourself, like running to stay in shape. But if that’s all we focus on, then we’re keeping ourselves from doing greater things for the Kingdom.

Let’s go.

{Thank You}

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We made it through June! We did it!

In the beginning I wrote that June was going to be a hard month for me, personally and professionally. And I was right. That is the reason for my writing devotions for a month. I didn’t want to (fully) medicate myself on Netflix and shopping and other things that simply suppress the difficult emotions. This medication happened a little bit, but I found that the devotions kept me focused on something more worthwhile, and most importantly, focused on God.

Thanks for going on this journey with me! You can always go back and read your favorites…(I know Bobby’s were your favorites).

Time now to take a break. Enjoy the summer!

-Sarah

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Devotions for June, Entry 1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with the perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a

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Turn my eyes to see your face, as all my fears surrender… (from Hillsong’s “Love is War”)
I was initially drawn to this lyric because I love the timbre of the singer’s voice, and the chord progression and layers and textures at that moment in the song (read: music geek extraordinaire) and it actually took several subconscious listenings before I really heard the words.

I have trouble focusing sometimes.

I don’t have ADD or anything. I can easily be swept up in a movie or listen to a patient talk for 10-15 minutes uninterrupted. But I have a tendency to let my mind wander, particularly when I’m driving, or running, or when I’m tired and talking on the phone to my patient boyfriend who lets me lead him on the most amazingly long rabbit trails.

I have trouble focusing on God. Particularly when I need him most. I’ve gotten really good at googling questions, or venting to friends, or the most dangerous option – entering the black hole that is my own thoughts, when I should simply ask, “God? What should I do?”

I decided to write devotions for June because, for personal and professional reasons, this month is going to be a little long and a little hard. And rather than medicating with Netflix and Pinterest, I want to stay focused on the one true source of peace: God. If you think you might need this too, feel free to come alongside me.

I will try to keep things short because, hey, we’re all way too busy. Also, each entry will have a p.s. at the end because I have to be witty and/or snarky somewhere! Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow!

p.s. I was thinking of naming these devotions some cute rhyming name, but none of the words that rhyme with June (according to RhymeZone) were inspiring and at the same time made sense. I decided to stick with “Devotions for June” because sometimes you have to weigh functionality against aesthetic, and functionality just seemed more important. However, I’m not going to deprive you the joy of knowing that the two awesomest things that rhyme with June are contrabassoon — and meteorological balloon. You’re welcome.

Brennan Manning on Advent

I’m currently reading this book at night:

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There is an entry every day from November 24 to January 7. Each chapter is written by a different author. The author for December 20 was Brennan Manning. And of course, it’s simply profound. That is, profound in such a simple way. I just want to share a tiny bit of it.

The title of the chapter is “Shipwrecked at the Stable.” Manning quotes Jose Ortega regarding the idea of who the shipwrecked are –

The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from fantasy and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. And this is the simple truth – that to live is to feel oneself lost. Whoever accepts this has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order to the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked.

With this context, marinate in Manning’s words this Christmas week:

The shipwrecked have stood at the still-point of a turning world and discovered that the human heart is made for Jesus Christ and cannot really be content with less. They cannot take seriously the demands that the world makes on them. During Advent they teach us that the more we try to tame and reduce desires, the more we deceive and distort ourselves. We are made for Christ and nothing less will ever satisfy us. As Paul writes in Colossians 1:16, ‘All things were created by him and for him.’ And further on, ‘There is only Christ: he is everything’ (3:11). It is only in Christ that the heart finds true joy in created things.

Merry Christmas, God with us.

Itchy.

a post for myself, but feel free to join me for the ride

I’m in the itchy part of this season. The honeymoon phase of my internship passed a long time ago. It’s going like clockwork now and I’m thankful for that. It’s making me itchy. I’m done. I’m ready to go. I have to keep reminding myself that I haven’t fulfilled my internship requirements yet, I still have a lot to learn, I have a lot left to do, I must live in the present.

I’ve been zooming in and out of the future the past couple weeks, kind of like the new app animation on iOS7, which makes me a little motion sick, by the way. I’ve started applying for jobs. There have been a surprising amount of hospice music therapy job openings. Each application is followed by a thorough investigation into the agency’s website, a search on Google Maps for distance between the location and my parents’ homes, my brother in Nebraska, and the nearest big city, and then perusing for apartments to get a ballpark on cost of living.

And then I have to go back to the internship the next day.

I’m itchy too because I’m tired. I’m just tired. I’ve done the real world thing before. I remember being tired like this then. I think the energy spent thinking about the giant chasm of unknown future contributes to my fatigue. Funny thing is, I should be used to that part. The contents of my future seem to be revealed to me only 6 months at a time. The current interval is quickly coming to its end though…then what?

Why am I doing this again? Why am I putting myself through all this work and stress? I’m so tired.

Have you been there? I was at this place 3 1/2 years ago sitting on the beach next to the Sea of Galilee.

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Right here. This is exactly where I was when I looked at my life as I knew it. At the time I was running around crazy trying to do the adult thing. God had been slowing forming my calling in the empty spaces and nooks and afterthoughts. And it was upon the waters where Jesus told Peter to have faith that I felt God asking me to do the same. To upend my life and step out onto the water.

Since then, and after telling my “story” a bunch of times to different people who said I was “brave” and “courageous” and “faithful,” I would say to them I am “relieved” that I finally know my calling and have figured out why God gave me a brain so full of music nerdiness and a heart so empathetic I can’t see an old man alone at Panera without crying.

I digress. All that to say – yay God and yay callings and yay music therapy. But. Right now?

I’m just so. tired. Sometimes I wonder about it all. Things about my life have been so transient, so un-grounded. When I moved to Winchester from DC I lost stuff – actual stuff (like my favorite underwear, true story) and relational stuff. I gained a lot of debt. When I moved to Ohio for my internship I had to leave my small delicate circle of friends I had carefully invested in while at school, and got even further away from the people I could always count on in DC. And I am so incredibly grateful to my family for being the emotional rock I’ve needed in this season. Even so…

I ache to settle, plant roots, to have a permanent address be permanent for more than 2 years. I long for the day when I can paint my apartment. Have regular stuff, like a regular grocery store, a regular bar, a regular church.

So I’m itchy. Before you counter my complaints with reassurance because you want to fix me, read my last post. Will you marinate with me on this? I have less than 2 months in my internship left. Pray that in that time I can secure a full-time job.

Please know I’ve grown so much in my faith during this. I talk to God all the time, usually giving him my crap (also in my last post) and so that’s why I don’t feel bad about writing a post like this. He can take it. He can take my feeling unsettled right now.

Thanks for listening, friend.