“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6-7
It’s funny how life works. Pulling from my own life, I am in the last 5 weeks of classes, scholarship requirements, homework, and also preparing for licensing. The pressure is high and as I have been working my way through what was a two-page master to-do list, I was feeling he pressure from it all. There was a moment last night where I wondered if all of this was really worth it. For a split second, I weighed how easy it would be to sabotage myself and everything I’ve worked for. Luckily, I had my moment and the logical side of me kicked in and I quickly got back to what I was doing.
I wondered if I really wanted to share this or not. For the record, I do not share this to brag on myself. Yes, I work hard but everything I do is to the glory of God and at a standard of excellence. The rewards and accolades are nice, but ultimately, He gets all the glory and praise for without Him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I received a letter in the mail today saying that due to a 4.0 semester in the fall, I was inducted into the President’s Honor Roll at Bacone College.
This is really a testimony of how far God has brought me. I began as a freshman in Bacone’s Christian Ministry program in 2009 where I finished my first semester with a 1.82 GPA. I’m currently a year from graduating in the same program. It’s safe to say that God has brought me full-circle. Again, sharing this was never to brag on myself in any way but to say literally, “What a mighty God we serve”. I feel that He used this letter notifying me of my academic achievements as a way to remind me of the bigger picture. I have been so focused on each individual task that I needed to get done and was getting lost in the pressures and anxieties of day-to-day life being a fulltime student as well as preparing for my licensing. I needed to be reminded of the One who brought me to this place.
It seemed like after the initial excitement died down (I am still really excited to see this), I was able to think with a clear head and had more confidence in myself that I was going to get everything accomplished that I needed to and that it would be okay.
The verse I used at the top of this post is one that many people know and is comforting. Knowing God will supply everything we need and give us the supernatural peace only found in Him like He always has really opened my eyes and allowed me to come to a place where I could trust Him even deeper.
To whoever is reading this, know that no matter the situation, God’s got it. He’s in control and everything will work out. Cast all of your cares, worries, and fears onto Him because He cares for you. I’ve said this before but it’s never about how big your storm is…it’s always about how big your God is.
Peace and love.
Love and light,
“If I lost it all, would my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and takes away? If You take it all, this life You’ve given, still my heart will sing to You…”
I’ve spent the better part of this afternoon into tonight at my dining room table, working on homework and planning out my week. I definitely will be hitting the ground running with several significant assignments due this week. I can’t work without music playing and the song I referenced above was playing on my phone’s music app. I was working on some Greek homework I have due tomorrow and it was enough to make me stop and think about something Pastor Moore said in the service this morning about living for the flesh vs. living for faith.
The statement that was made was:: “The only way I’m going to have less in my life is when I desire to live by the flesh rather than the spirit. Even though I have a loving heart, would I go through that pain, take up that cross, and die that death? Would I do that for someone else? Christ didn’t live through His Crucifixion through the flesh— He did it through faith.”
Going back to the song, the thought I had was, “If I lost everything right now…would I have enough faith in God to carry me through?” This is something that’s been convicting my heart for a little while now.
The answer to that:: I honestly am not sure if I would or not.
As I reach the final days before my licensing, God has really been moving like no other in my life. The insights I’ve gained, the revelations, epiphanies, and things that have been revealed to me about different aspects of my life are priceless. The heavenly and spiritual riches I have gained through this experience far outweigh the intrinsic, physical, and material accolades.
I spent a little time on my sermon tonight to prepare for Homiletics class on Tuesday. (this is being written on Sunday night and I’m unsure of when it will go live).
It was officially announced today that licensing will take place April 17th. The fear I had when we were at this point last month with my original date is gone and have been replaced with nothing but joy and excitement. We are currently 20 days away with a lot of preparation left. I could not be more humbled, ecstatic, blessed, and honored for this opportunity. To have the AMAZING life teachers and mentors at Summit in my life that I do is priceless. I thank God each and every day for them and the life lessons and blessings they have individually and collectively brought into my life.
God gets all the glory and praise for bringing me to this point. When I look back at the posts from when I first announced I was going to be licensed at Summit to now…all of the trials, heartache, pain, fear, and anxiety have all been more than worth it. Everything leading up to this has paid off 70x7 and beyond.
I am so, so, so excited for all that God has done. In keeping humility and my own heart in check, I cannot allow myself to get comfortable. I know that for every trial I overcome through Christ, there’s going to be another one just as hard, if not harder. I want to continue to hunger and thirst after Him. I can’t allow myself to stay in my cozy, safe, little bubble.
I like to view the concept of faith as a rubber band. I have one on the key ring that I keep my car and house keys on that was given to me by my Internship professor. I keep it on there as a constant reminder to not be scared of tension in my relationship with God or in my faith and to rise with it, rather than bringing it down to my level. It’s a constant daily reminder to myself to not be scared or anxious about growing in my faith.
I want to close this post out by challenging and encouraging whoever is reading this to do the same. Let your faith be like that rubber band. Expand and stretch with it rather than bringing that tension down to your level.
Above all else, remember:: “Now faith the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”—Hebrews 11:1.
Love and light,
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”—Luke 19:10.
Typically, Fridays are reserved solely for me to catch up on homework, run errands, and other tasks that rarely get done during the days I’m in class and/or in meetings. As I was gathering materials to begin working on assignments for my Biblical Research and Writing, and my New Testament classes, I was reminded of the significance of this day.
As we continue through Holy Week, I am haunted by the significance of this day. I credit the aforementioned Biblical Research class for a deeper understanding of the significance of this day. Growing up in a Christian home, my parents placed great emphasis on Resurrection Sunday and Holy Week, but it wasn’t until I really dissected Psalm 22 (the Psalm that was prophesying the Crucifixion of Christ) that I really understood and began to really feel convicted for this week. It was in understanding the brutality, humiliation, anguish, pain, and heartache that Christ had to endure and suffer on this day that took me that much deeper in my love and relationship for Him. My final projects in the aforementioned two classes are about the Trial of Jesus, as well as the Crucifixion. As I read each the Synoptic Gospels’ account of the trial and then Crucifixion, it really ignited a fire in me to want to love and worship Him that much deeper.
As I was gathering books, online articles, and my Bible to begin the writing process, I, for whatever reason, thought of my licensing sermon and the verse that headed this post came to my mind.
In documenting my licensing journey, one of the key points in my sermon is that, “You are never too lost for God to find you.”
There are times in life where we stumble and maybe not take a wrong turn, but a slight detour. In life, we reach unmarked territory and can’t decide which way to go. In Scripture, God emphasizes over and over and over again that He is always with us. Even to the ends of the earth and to the end of the age. We’re never on this journey called life alone. He’s really the only constant we have.
I want to take this chance to encourage whoever is reading this to continually seek Him. Let us trust Him to keep saving us from the lost moments in this life we face.
As we remember Good Friday and the events that took place and then as we prepare to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, let’s remember that it’s through Christ’s love that we’re here in the first place.
Let us not get lost in the fun that comes with Easter that we lose our focus on what this day is really about—Christ. Speaking from my own life—especially as a college student in the busy part of the semester— Let’s not get so caught up in the busyness of life that we forget the big picture of what these next few days are about:: Christ dying in love and coming back to life.
“…You were as I, tempted and tried; Human; The Word became flesh, bore my sin and death, now You’re risen. Lead me to the cross, where Your love poured out; bring me to my knees, Lord I lay me down. Rid me of myself, I belong to You. Lead me, lead me to the cross.” – Lead Me to the Cross by Hillsong United.
Love and light,
“Iron sharpens iron, just as one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
This post will be a little lighter than the previous ones have been. Typically for me, Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for me to catch up on homework, rest up for the upcoming week, and take care of any business I need to. Last night and today were spent catching up and getting ahead on homework. I am approaching the busy part of the semester where things move quickly and it seems like everything is due all at the same time. Typically, homework doesn’t inspire me. Today was different. In my Foundations of Pastoral Counseling class, we had to write a brief paper over a spiritual issue we were struggling with and how we overcame it, using the various counseling models and methods utilized in the class textbooks and discussions. I feel like I’ve talked about this so much but I used my Season of Forgiveness and also how our women’s ministry at Summit played a role in helping shape my spiritual maturity.
I had planned on doing this post later after I turned in the paper and thought about uploading the whole thing, but I couldn’t wait. This isn’t the paper I’m handing in but I did want to pick out a few things I thought were significant and share these vignettes with you.
The main thing is—Iron sharpens iron. This is really what women’s ministry is all about—building that sense of community of love and trust within what has become a sisterhood. As a future counselor that will inevitably have to lead group counseling, this is really the model I would base my future counseling groups around.
Not to get into what I wrote specifically, but I chose the 4 most significant things out of my Season of Forgiveness to elaborate on. To whomever is reading this, what I want you to take away from this is not my history but the fact that God is the Healer, Restorer, and Perfecter of all things. I share these things because despite how dark these times in my life were, God was still God. Christ was still on the throne, and while I admit my actions were my actions and disobedience was a choice I made, it was me who moved—not God. He was faithful in my trials and through His healing, my story became my glory and my opposition became my opportunity.
These are things I’ve talked about and touched on in previous posts but I think this is the first time I’ve really opened up about them.
Many of you know about the year I spent in Shawnee and the reconciliation that took place recently. For those who may not know, I went to a small Bible college in Shawnee, Oklahoma 5 years ago. Things started out okay but ultimately, I suffered almost a full year of traumatic emotional and spiritual abuse. I came home for the summer completely traumatized and just a few days later, I began summer session at Bacone. It left its scars on me. For the longest time, I let that trauma and heartache dictate my life. I let it dictate my relationships with others and also allowed it to get in the way of how I related and connected to others. I was in Shawnee recently for a campus ministry event and saw the president of this college for the first time since I left in 2010. She hugged me, we had a brief conversation, and went our separate ways. It was only God that allowed me to be able to do that. When I saw her, I didn’t have harsh feelings. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t have any anger or resentment towards her. I was able to look at the situation for what it was—horrible and traumatic, but it made me stronger. It made me more empathetic and ultimately, my relationship with God and my own spirituality were mature enough where I was able to honestly say that I forgave the administration for what they did. I’m still working through the emotional side of it. While the scars will always be there, the sting and the pain are gone. I can wholeheartedly begin healing and moving forward with my life.
One of the darker sides to that year was that I was thrown up against my doorframe by a family member in an all-out dry drunk rage. I never talked about. I never went to law enforcement to report it, nor did I pursue any type of counseling to recover from it. I suppressed it and pretended it didn’t happen. I mentioned women’s ministry at the beginning of this post. The love, sense of community, and the strong bonds that have been formed have brought me more healing and more growth than any therapy session could do. In the past couple of years, my parents and I have done family therapy to help mend the brokenness that came from that year. The dynamic between my father and I has dramatically improved. God gets all the glory and praise for it. It was only through God that we were able to work past such a dark time in our lives. Our household and home are much more Christ-centered and our prayer life as a family is stronger than it has ever been before. I am a work in progress and God is not finished with me yet, but I am a far cry from where I used to be. God moved in my life in such a huge way where I was able to admit how wounded I was from this situation and how there was a small part of it that still impacted me. The scar that night left is tattooed over. There are days where it still affects me. I’m not going to lie or pretend it doesn’t. Those days are lessening in severity and are becoming few and far between. As strange as it may sound, I thank God for these experiences. Without them, I wouldn’t be as effective in my ministry or in my future counseling. They’ve played a role in shaping me. While I wish these crosses to bear weren’t mine, I’m thankful that the entire year of 2010 was what helped me become Sarah. I may not be in ministry today without the struggles and opposition that became my opportunity to share the testimony of how God moved.
The third situation had to do with a hardened heart. I came back to Bacone in the spring of 2015, still slightly bitter towards a couple of past mentors from mistakes and negative decisions that were made. When I first started feeling convicted, this was the first thing God brought to my mind when I allowed Him to fully search my heart. These mentors have become some of the most loyal people in my life and I have grown to truly and sincerely love them. For all intents and purposes, they have become the first people I go to when I’m struggling with my spirituality, struggling with something in my degree program, or just life in general as a Christian ministry student.
The last situation I mentioned is one that I am less than comfortable sharing, however, it is part of my life’s story. For those who don’t know, I am an adopted child. I was adopted at two days old. I have yet to meet my birth mother and birth family. For the longest time, I harbored so much anger, hatred, and resentment towards her for giving me up. What I failed to realize was that it was a spirit of abandonment I was wrestling with. I was also using it as fuel to feed my eating disorder and self-harm related behaviors. I was also to a degree, dealing with the abandonment of a father figure, despite having a strong one in my life. Instead of looking at it as a blessing that I had two loving parents that to this day, will do anything for me if I asked, I was looking at it from a standpoint of self-deprecation and self-loathing. I thought there was something wrong with me or that I was “damaged goods” for her to give me up and for my biological father to not be involved at all. My Season of Forgiveness began either right before or right after Christmas and is still ongoing. It was only in the past few months that I have really began to look at my birth mother through the lens of love rather than hate. God has allowed being adopted to aid me in my counseling. I have developed a strong passion for ministering to middle school and high school girls and I have a strong passion for wanting to work with families in the DHS and foster care systems on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
Throughout all of these experiences, God turned my great trials into greater triumph. He made beauty for ashes. He restored what was broken.
I mentioned women’s ministry at the beginning of this post for a reason. Without my girls, I would not be where I am today. My faith has grown so much in the past few months. I have matured so much emotionally and spiritually since getting plugged into a ministry like this. The women I have surrounded myself around are pretty much my extended family. I want to encourage whoever is reading this to get plugged into a ministry like this. You cannot survive life on your own. I’ve said this so many times and this is a lesson that I am **finally** starting to understand. I know that if I didn’t have my Thursday night crew, I wouldn’t be where I am today. At all.
Like I said, this season in my life is not over. I have plenty of work left to do. This post wasn’t planned. I was going to do another one but just felt the need to write this one really quick.
I don’t really have a strong way to end this but I do want to say that iron sharpens iron. We all influence and help shape each other. Something I’ve learned along the way is that you are who you associate with.
Speaking from my own life, I’m going through something right now where I’m having to pray and seek God about a friendship. Something that has been on my heart the past few days is the question “Are your friends investments or liabilities?” In the friendship I’m having to seek God’s wisdom and discernment about, I’ve had to ask myself that question. I definitely want to encourage you to surround yourself around positive people. Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed and really want to help you reach the goals you have for yourself.
I think that’s really all I wanted to cover for this post. I have one post in mind that I really want to write that’s centered on something that took place in my New Testament Literature class a couple days ago.
Until next time,
Love and light,
As was mentioned in my previous post, this is part 2. There are 3 things I want to cover in this post so it will be lengthier than most. I again want to start out by saying that this is not an easy post to write. Exposing the innermost private and personal aspects of my life is not something that is familiar to me nor is it something that comes easily. I don’t typically plan posts like these. The Holy Spirit speaks and when He does, I have to be obedient. This was a post that I have been both looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Introductions out of the way, here we go::
March 17, 2010. A 19 year old, deeply wounded, sick, almost irreparably broken little girl with her bangs in her face was sitting in a dark corner of Bacone College’s chapel, counting down the minutes until she knew when everyone would be asleep in her dorm so she could do the unthinkable. Distraught and in an immeasurable amount of pain, she saw a way out and was going to take it. She had decided she was too far gone to be saved and too far gone to be loved. She was had great friends, great family, was involved in a praise and worship team, but still felt empty. The mentors that loved her the most and saw the greatest potential in her couldn’t reach the depth of her pain. She felt more alienated and alone than ever before and was going to ultimately take the only way out to end her suffering that night.
That little girl was me. My roommate at the time convinced me to go to worship with her that night. What was basically one of my darkest secrets was that while I was on a praise and worship team, I had fully turned my back on God. Deep in my heart, I think I knew I had a calling for ministry, but didn’t know how to handle such a strong calling. I wasn’t mature enough in my faith for it and in essence, couldn’t handle it. I chose to run in fear. I let my fear, masked as anger, dictate every area of my life. I was pushing people away right and left. Trusted confidants were included in that. Being in that worship service was literally what saved my life.
I remember so vividly the sermon was preached by Dr. Leroy Thompson over the Armor of God in Ephesians. It was the only thing that got through to me. It was that moment where I realized how intense spiritual warfare was. 6 years later, I see where God was at work and I see areas where He had prepared me, but I didn’t want it. I was relying on my own strength rather than going to God to carry me through. It was that moment that I realized that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, and against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
To this day, that’s a sermon I go back to and reflect on 6 years later. I recently wrote two papers for my New Testament Literature and Homiletics classes on this sermon because it has made such a lasting impact on me.
There was a point in the service where I finally let go. I all but ran to the altar, poured my heart out to Him and begged Him to take me back. He did.
I’ve struggled, fallen short, made similar mistakes since this night but this was the first and only time I’ve really experienced God in a physical form. That night, I felt either an angel, the Holy Spirit in a tangible form, or something, take hold of me, wrap me in their arms, and just held me.
I share this night not to rehash ancient history from my personal life but because if I were asked to pinpoint when I felt most called to ministry, it was this night. This was really where I decided I was going to wholly devote my life to God. No turning back. Full speed ahead.
I’ve strayed a few times since then in running from that calling because I was scared. Each and every time, God was always there to brush the dirt off, help me up, and like a father, told me to keep going and keep trying.
It has been said that your story becomes your glory. I didn’t fully understand the brevity of that statement until 5 years later. In my case, the tests I put through became my testimony. The satanic assaults I’ve experienced that were initially my opposition became my opportunity.
March 17, 2015. I reached a point on this day a year ago where everything leading up to this point paid off 70x7. I had returned to Bacone January of 2015 from NSU. I felt that familiar tug at my heart saying it was time to come back to ministry and spent my entire spring break that year praying about it. I was ready to come back. My heart was in a completely different place. I was healthier than I had ever been, albeit still struggled, but was coping in healthier ways. There were issues I was (and still am) getting help for. It was time.
March 17, 2015, I posted on my social media profile::
“I’m so thankful for God’s healing. My life is taking a direction I never in my wildest dreams could ever see coming. I am so, so, so thankful for those moments where everything comes full circle. This journey began 5 years ago as a snot-nosed bratty freshman who was angry at the world. Thank the Lord I grew up!! I am so proud to say that I am making a return to Christian ministry. I’m in my car in tears just thinking about how far I’ve come and how many obstacles I’ve had to overcome to get to this point. I feel so blessed and thankful for this opportunity and I’m so excited for the future.”
March 17, 2015. I declared my double major in English and Christian counseling. When I came back to Bacone just a few months before this, I had gone to a discipleship conference in Colorado Springs and also an international student discipleship training conference in Oklahoma City. Both instances, God was laying ministry heavily on my heart. I knew it was in God’s plan for me, but I was less sure in what aspect of ministry I was called to be involved in. God ultimately revealed to me that I was called to Christian counseling.
These are the moments I love the most. The same mentors and life teachers I had teaching me, investing in me, pouring into me, putting up with me, (and for whatever reason, loving me) are the same ones that are doing the exact same thing. I’ve gained a few mentors over the years but I would not be where I am today without my Bacone Center for Christian Ministry tribe supporting me.
It brings tears to my eyes when I look back and see how far God has brought me. When God moves, you all but have to run to keep up. Little did I know how much He would move in my life in just 365 days.
In my struggles to get where I am today, I could have allowed myself to get defeated. I could have let my situations and circumstances be the opposition I used as a cop-out to derail me from God’s plans. To be transparent, it is only by the grace of God that I’m here today. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to overcome everything I have had to overcome to get where I am today.
My journey has not been easy by any means. There were times I could have given up. The main thing I have had to remember is that on my worst day ever in my life, God was still God. I didn’t die. I woke up the next morning, ready to keep fighting. In being transparent, I needed to go through the past 6 years. I know my faith in God wouldn’t be as strong as it is today if the past 6 years hadn’t of taken place. While I wish the scars I bear weren’t mine, they’ve made me more effective in my ministry. While my life would be radically different if these situations hadn’t of happened, I wouldn’t be Sarah. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if these obstacles hadn’t of happened.
God puts people in your life at the right time. That leads me to my third point.
March 17, 2016. I am a senior at Bacone, a year away from graduating as a double major in English and Christian counseling. I am active on this blog as well as juggling two praise teams— at Bacone and at FBC Summit. I’m engaged in the social media ministry at Summit, and play a role in the women’s ministry.
6 years ago tonight, I was in a dark corner of Bacone’s chapel. I came in ready to die but left ready to live for God.
6 years later, on this night, I’m sitting at my dining room table, everyone else in the house asleep but me. I’ve got a sermon outline, Homiletics notes, and a Bible in front of me. Across from me is a pile of books about the trial of Jesus and 2 counseling handbooks. My spiritual tests became my testimony. My story became my glory and I’m already doing ministry by sharing that story.
I’ve always said that I never want to live my life for myself—I want to live my life knowing I’ve used my gifts and talents for the glory of God.
6 years ago, my eyes had seen death and destruction. They were lifeless and full of heartache and pain.
6 years later, my eyes are full of life. They’ve seen God breathe life into dead situations and bring forth new growth and life in spite of how dark any given situation may look. They have happiness and joy again.
I share my story because this night 6 years ago was really when my journey began. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was what has shaped my ministry. It was honestly the course in which my journey would begin.
6 years later, I’ve come full circle.
In closing, as I sit here with tears streaming down my face, all I can do is thank God for how far He brought me. I’m not that sad, broken, depressed, sick little girl anymore.
I never want this blog to be about me. I never want whoever is reading this to see this is Sarah’s writing. I want the reader to see this as God using Sarah to relay a message He has.
It’s in these weak moments that true character is revealed. In moments of opposition or adversity, we have a choice to either rise up or admit defeat.
The question now:: which do you choose? In the darkest and toughest situations, will you rise up in staying faithful and obedient to God or will you admit defeat, lay down, and die?
These are questions I have to ask myself constantly. We all fall short but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new daily.
No matter how big or insurmountable your situation may seem, know that God’s got it. There’s nothing He can’t do.
As I prepare to be licensed in ministry, this night is never far from my mind. In the moments where I get overwhelmed with preparing for licensing as well as the daily pressures of being a fulltime student about to graduate, I’m reminded of where I was 6 years ago tonight. If God can carry me through that situation, He can carry me through anything.
God moved in glorious ways that night. He brought me out of one of the darkest situations I had ever been in. He moved in my life and He’ll move in yours.
God is good.
Love and light,
This post is another personal one that I really don’t want to write but when the Holy Spirit leads, I don’t really have a lot of say so. I have to be obedient. As I prepare my sermon for licensing and to preach my sermon in my Homiletics class, I have to pull from my past because they’re why I’m in ministry today. Today and tomorrow, March 17th, are two of the biggest moments in my spiritual journey. The experiences have been the topics of a paper for Homiletics as well as my New Testament Literature classes. I’m at a place where these days can be celebrated rather than mourned. So…here we go.
March 16, 2010. I was at my dorm at Bacone as a freshman at one of the lowest points ever in my life. I was failing all but two of my classes, I was miserable in pretty much every aspect you can imagine. I was also carrying the burden of two life-threatening secrets:: My eating disorder behaviors were as bad as they had ever been, as was my self-harming. I had a meeting with my mentor in the Christian Ministry program, who saw a lot of things I didn’t. He saw my potential and the strong calling God had on my life for ministry. In my pain and heartache, I didn’t. I remember so vividly in a meeting with him in the basement of Bacone’s chapel where he told me that I was in what was my Garden of Gethsemane. I was in the midst of a spiritual crisis— would I choose to continue down the path I was on, or would I run home to God, who was waiting for me with open arms?
At this point in life, I had distanced and alienated myself as far as I could from the girls in my dorm and had made a bunch of friends outside of my program. In becoming Baconian, I lost sight of becoming Sarah Lynn Brixey-ian. On this particular night, plans were made and letters were written. I had decided enough was enough and I was ready to take my life and my fate into my own hands. I remember so vividly that it was a Tuesday with Wednesday Night Worship taking place the next night. I was done with merely existing rather than living. I was done with keeping up the act day in and day out that everything was fine. I was hiding behind layers upon layers of makeup and hair product. Beneath the hairspray, extensions, eyelashes, foundation, and eye makeup, a scared, dying, irreparably broken little girl lay defeated and ready to die.
Much like the jailer in the 16th chapter of Acts, I was crying out to God, asking “What must I do to be saved?” It wasn’t that I was afraid of dying, like I had planned on doing, but it was that I was afraid of living a life wholly devoted to God.
This post is not to rehash my past in great detail but to illustrate where I’ve been to fully understand the brevity and depth of my life today. I had my suicide letters written, pills were hidden in the drawer of my desk in my dorm room.
6 years ago tonight, around the time I’m writing this, I was preparing to seal my own fate. I had fully turned my back on God and was ready to live with the consequences of that choice. Calling back to Pastor Moore’s sermon on Sunday, “Your obstacles and struggles either become your opposition or they become your opportunity”.
6 years ago tonight, these obstacles and situations were my opposition.
6 years later, these obstacles are my opportunity to minister and help others who may be in a similar situation I was.
My life was complete chaos as “Baby Sarah”, a title I’ve given myself to refer back to my former ways. At that time, I was ready to give up. The pain was too great and I needed an out. The only way out I saw at the time was suicide.
6 years later, on this night, I’ve got a Bible in front of me and handouts from Homiletics as I begin the writing process for my licensing sermon.
If you told me 6 years ago on this night that this is where I would be, I wouldn’t believe you. I don’t like saying God works in mysterious ways. To me, that’s got a negative connotation to it. I choose to say that He works in glorious ways.
On this night 6 years ago, I was at the lowest point ever. On this same night 6 years later, I am not where I want to be yet by any means but I thank God every single day to still be here to be able to see all the things God has for me.
6 years ago tonight, I allowed my fear to take over.
6 years later, as I look back on my life the past week, I’m left asking myself “After all the hell I’ve been through the past 6 years to get to this point, why was I so afraid of giving a 15-25 minute sermon?”
In closing because part 2 will be taking place in a post tomorrow and I want to document these days the best way possible because as I said, they’re a lot of why I’m in ministry today.
In life, when it comes to fear, we have two choices::
Or, we have an alternative::
The question now, when faced with obstacles and adversity, which do you choose? Do you choose to run from your fear and let that obstacle be your opposition, or will you choose to face that fear, overcome it, and let it be your opportunity to share that testimony with someone else?
Throughout this process in my licensing journey, I have been tested and tried so much already. I know this is not over and I know there will be more trials to come. I’m confident that God has prepared me to rise to the occasion and overcome whatever is thrown at me. For me personally, while I had my moments of weakness as early as 2 days ago where I told both Pastor Moore and First Lady J that I wanted out of everything, they encouraged me to stay the course and finish strong.
I’m encouraging whoever is reading this to do the same. No matter your situation or circumstance, God has decided already the tests and trials you’ll be given. He has prepared you for such a time as this.
My final words to you for this post are to stay strong. Stay the course. Finish the race.
**to be continued**
Love and light,
This post is one that is not easy to write. I wrestled for a long time and prayed about whether or not I should even share it. When I was praying and asking God whether or not I should go ahead with writing this, His response was, “Yes. This is part of the process and you need to convey that.” So here we are. It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. This is not something I’m comfortable with talking about, but I’ve said I want to document my licensing journey, which includes exposing my insecurities and fear.
The video clip attached to this post is called The Death Crawl. Like the video, the football player was doubting his abilities with carrying the weight of one of his peers on his back. He started out strong, but then grew weak as the pressure and weight began to build. He over and over promised his coach to give his best effort. As you watched, he pushed through his pain and fatigue and made it to the endzone.
The full movie is called Facing the Giants and is about the faith of a small-town Christian school football team. (Disclaimer- I’m not sponsored by them but definitely check it out if you haven’t). This scene is one of the most powerful in the whole movie. It parallels my licensing process perfectly up to this point.
As I’ve said in an earlier post, I am a senior at Bacone. I’m a double major who juggles two praise teams, various church activities and engagements, and is obviously preparing for licensing. The past week, I’ve been extremely un-Sarah like. Normally, Summit is my element. It’s where I feel most in my skin and most comfortable. Praise team practice is really where I let my hair down, so to speak, and can fully be myself goofing off and having fun.
Last Sunday, I just got in this mood where I was doubting whether or not I belonged at Summit anymore. Nothing bad happened but it was as if I was starting to pull away and distance myself. Due to various other commitments, I had to push my licensing back. I don’t know. I was really questioning myself on whether or not I really wanted to go through with this process. I was attending a special program at Divine Love Fellowship and it was like I was subconsciously almost talking myself out of it. I was on spring break the past week and was letting myself stay in that place where I was ready to put a halt to my licensing as well as this blog. Burnout was setting in and it was dragging me down. I spent the week working on my academic workload, putting my church activities in the backseat. Saturday morning, we had praise team practice. I reached a point where I said, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I want out.” I ended up staying home to work on a paper I have due soon. I woke up this morning to get ready for church. I was not feeling Summit and texted First Lady J that I wasn’t coming. I had plans to either attend another church or to just stay home and work. At the last possible second, I decided to swallow my feelings and go.
I got there, felt uncomfortable and like I didn’t belong. The service ended and I approached Pastor and said, “I’m done with this licensing. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want off the praise team and I want to bail on this blog.” I felt like I wasn’t making an impact. I felt like nothing I said mattered. Ultimately, I was under satanic assault. I was thinking emotionally and reactively rather than spiritually.
Paralleling my life to the video, I started this process out strong, my calling from God on my back as I began crawling to the endzone. Life happened. Reality began to set in and I was starting to get tired from the weight and pressure of it all. I reached my lowest point Saturday and today where I said, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s too painful, I’m too tired. Everything is too heavy and I want out.”
This is why I will forever be thankful for an AMAZING Pastor, First Lady, and church family. Pastor Moore had to do his fatherly, “Sarah. What on earth are you thinking?” and reaffirmed that everything was going to work out and that I was on the right track. Then I dropped the bombshells that I wanted out of praise team and this blog. First Lady and two of my mentors, Minister Barbara and Otis Logan got in and basically it was a 4-against-1 tag-team intervention. I needed it, not because I needed validation or people believing in me, but I needed to hear that I was doing the work God has called me to do, despite how it appeared to me. I was focused on the work I was doing rather than the work God was doing through me. What I failed to realize the past week was that it’s not about me. It’s about the words God gave me to speak into someone else.
I posted on my social media profile tonight that I never want to be so caught up in everything that people just see me as Sarah, the girl who blogs a few times a week or the dark-haired girl on the praise team. It is my prayer that you see all of this as God moving—I’m just the vessel He used.
I left church today to help a friend and was still kind of emotional because I was trying to process everything that was said. My excitement was starting to come back, but I still had a little residual self-doubt, fear, and a little self-loathing left that I was trying to combat.
I am a Christian counseling major and had to help diffuse a situation today that was perfectly aligned with my career path. It took something like that to get me out of my own head and made me realize, “Wow. This isn’t about Sarah. This is about God using Sarah to move in the lives of others.” I was warned by more experienced people in ministry that the closer I get to licensing, the harder I am going to be hit. That is definitely proving to be the case.
Going back to the video, I promised to give God 1000000% and despite how painful and exhausting it might be, I intend to do just that.
This post is getting lengthy so I’m going to start wrapping it up. Days like today make me so thankful and humbled to have such an incredible church family. It’s rare when you find a church family you love just as much as your family at home. It’s even rarer to find a Pastor and First Lady that love you, invest in you, pour into you, and become like your spiritual parents. Like a mother and father discipline their children, I definitely got some spiritual disciplining today that was much needed. I needed that tough love to make me realize my potential. More so than that, they see the potential in me and want to foster and encourage that growth.
It was pointed out today that when I first started at Summit, I spent the first two months in the back row, almost in a corner. I moved up to the second row from the front and also joined the praise team. Seeing that growth and the metamorphosis process of becoming what a mentor and I have affectionately called my Christian Ministry journey as the “Baby Sarah” years to becoming the young woman of God I am called to be.
As I sit here, a quote from Pastor Moore’s sermon comes to mind, “Sometimes God puts you in a chaotic situation to bring out the leader in you.”
Speaking from the standpoint as someone who has served in various leadership capacities, this ties in with what is one of the most convicting quotes from the Death Crawl video clip with the coach and Brock, one of the key football players::
“You are one of the most influential people on this team. Don’t tell me you can’t do more than I’ve been seeing. If you walk around defeated, so will they. God’s given you a gift of leadership—don’t waste it.”
I don’t say this from a place of pride. I don’t say this with a boastful heart or to brag in any way—I have a strong heart and fire for mentorship, especially high school girls. The past week, God has been on me about my leadership. God has laid a few girls on my heart to minister to and the last thing I want is for my own shortcomings to interfere with how effective I am as a youth minister and Christian counselor. I know that if I feel tired, defeated, despondent, so will they.
The main thing I want to emphasize in the space here (that the Holy Spirit is also dealing with me on) is that we don’t have to walk around in the spirit of defeat. My fear, iniquities, and shortcomings are miniscule compared to how big my God is. What Satan has tried to destroy and deconstruct, God has already co-signed, sealed, and delivered. Nothing will happen that He has not already allowed.
If you’re reading this and going through something, know that it’s not the end. 70x7, all of your shortcomings are cast in the Sea of Forgetfulness. Like I said in another post, it’s never about how big your storm or situation might be, but about how big your God is. For me personally, I take a lot of comfort knowing that I’m where I need to be at this point in my life. His Word will never return void, neither will His promises.
The last thing I want to stress here is always strive to be the best you can be. Always give God your best effort. I’m speaking to myself when I say this—even when you’re exhausted and feel like you can’t do it anymore, keep pushing through. You are a conqueror and co-heir with Christ. Always rely on His strength and never your own.
Whatever you’re going through, God’s got it. Know that whatever your situation might be, you’re beautiful. You matter. You’re worth it.
Love and light,
This blog is ever-evolving and developing. My vision for it keeps changing. As the commentary stated on my previous post, this blog is me chronicling my journey to licensing. So many people are unaware of what the process entails and I want to showcase my journey as I go through the spiritual preparation, which I’ve been showing in the posts up to this point, the sermon-writing process, and then the big moments leading up to my service. I have a rough idea for how I want to do this, but ultimately, I rely on the Holy Spirit to guide my heart and I want to be sensitive and mindful of where He leads.
I am approaching the hectic part of the semester and with the end of the semester comes final papers, projects, and presentations…and in some cases, a sermon. I attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma for a few years before returning to Bacone. Some of my most cherished memories happened at NSU, as did a lot of growth and maturity. I did a lot of my creative and fiction workshop writing on the third floor of the library, where I was yesterday. It was my first time being back there since I left the spring of 2015. It was one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever had to do. I was back in the stacks, pulling books for two papers over the trial of Jesus. As I looked around, I was reminded of where I was when I left. I was also reminded of how far I’ve come.
I have only been back at NSU to visit friends one other time, around this time last year. At the time, I was in a bad place. I don’t want to say it was one of the lowest points in my life, because there have been several low, low points, but it was close. When I made this last minute trip, I had intentions on visiting former, beloved, and respected professors and mentors. As I was looking through the books I selected on my topic for these papers, I was also communicating to my mentor in Bacone’s Center for Christian Ministry. It’s funny how we grow and how things that at one time were so familiar are now so foreign. I confided in my mentor that I didn’t belong there anymore. That it was like I was an outsider. I admitted that I felt that I by rights, couldn’t say I was once a student there. It was like a chapter of my life’s story reached the end.
I was reminded that it was part of my journey to becoming who I am today and that I need to embrace it rather than being so quick to dismiss it. While my time there was rocky, at best, I left with some of the most amazing memories, friendships, and relationships. I saw how bad life can be and because of those dark days, I’m able to better appreciate the beauty around me.
I saw a former advisor who for all intents and purposes, is still so much of a mother to me, for the first time in a year. The last time I saw her, I was in a rough place. I was experiencing some pretty bad growing pains from trying to figure out where I fit in at Bacone after being away for so long. I was getting used to being around former professors and was still working on my spirituality. When I made this return the other day, my eyes had life again. I was excited about where I was. Obviously, my licensing was mentioned. It was confirmation to me that I’m where I need to be.
While I had a specific reason for being there, I left with realizing how much I’ve grown since I’ve been away. I realized that my time there was for a specific reason and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. While I’ve considered returning a number of times, I know that my time there is over. The mission of why I was there was fulfilled and I have nothing left to prove.
NSU to a degree will be like my home away from home to visit, but Bacone is ultimately home base. I thank God every day for all of the experiences I’ve had leading up to this licensing experience and as I spend the coming weeks preparing, all of these moments were the stepping stones, ultimately leading me to the pulpit.
In closing, this is a post that is another “Pages from Sarah’s Journal”. There’s not a lot of theological//spiritual depth to it but as I’ve said, I want this blog to be me in my most personal. I never want to convey myself as something I’m not and I really want this to be a true reflection of a millennial in the process of beginning my ministry journey.
I think that’s about it for this post. I have a couple more posts I want to do and I’m still trying to figure out how I want to document my licensing preparation.
Until next time,
Love and light,
“If you’re too busy for God, then you’re busier than God intended for you to be.”—Max Barnett
Those who know me will tell you that I am a shameless workaholic. I have no idea what to do with myself when I’m not writing, working on my Christian ministry coursework, or in my various church engagements and activities. I’m also about to be licensed in ministry in a few weeks. I am a senior in college and am 2 semesters away from graduating as a double major in English and Christian counseling. I know for me personally, it’s a struggle to balance everything and excel with a standard of excellence I try to place on myself.
In our Bible study this week, the revelation hit me that our time on Earth is just temporary—our final destination, if you will, is in Heaven. I was thinking about this as I was running a couple of errands afterwards and was thinking about all of this. I was thinking about all the stuff I’m involved in, how much time I divide between my school commitments, church, and family.
I was also reminded how I am on spring break this week but have spent the entire week either catching up on coursework or gathering research to begin the writing process for final papers. The last 8 weeks of the semester are the most hectic and I was taking this week to decompress and prepare.
I was sitting in my car yesterday as I was preparing to drive home and the quote that I headlined this post with came to mind. I go to a conference in Colorado Springs every January that focuses on leadership and discipleship in collegiate ministry. Max Barnett was the Baptist Student Union (also known as the Baptist Collegiate Ministry) leader of OU’s campus. In his sermons at this conference, he stresses a strong quiet time and prayer life. On the same side of that, he stresses not allowing yourself to get so busy that you don’t have time for God. The lesson this week paralleled that.
I had to push my licensing back a few weeks for this reason. I was getting so caught up in my day-to-day tasks that I was in essence, kicking God out of my life. I was basically putting God in the backseat with everything else in the forefront. This isn’t okay.
As we approach Resurrection Sunday, I want to spend the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday giving God the attention He deserves. I recently wrote a paper over an in-depth analysis over Psalm 22. It was heartbreaking and sobering, to say the very least. It’s humbling. Being so active in ministry like I am, it is too easy to lose sight of the big picture. In a more recent revelation I’ve gotten, I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to step back. It’s okay to not be able to do everything. My time here is just temporary and I know that my inheritance is in Heaven with the Father.
We aren’t here forever. If we were, we’d get too comfortable and dependent on the ways of the world and not strive to be in Heaven one day. Like most college students in our congregations, I will be hitting the ground running when classes resume in a few days, tying up loose ends, preparing final papers and projects, preparing for licensing, and then presenting my sermon in the pulpit and in class. There will be times that I’m going to have to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this” and that it’s okay. I know that I can’t allow myself to get so busy that God isn’t my main focus. I know that it’s okay to not be able to do everything on my master calendar or master to-do list.
In closing, I want to encourage all of you to have that quiet time where it’s just you and God. Typically, I take 30 minutes before I begin my morning routine of getting ready for class or whatever I’m doing that day to get in the Word, do my prayer and meditation time, and then begin my day. I also take the hour before I go to bed to journal. Currently I’m doing Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life devotional (that we’re also using in the Wednesday Noon Bible study). I also do prayer and meditate on what I’ve read, and allow God to speak to me where I don’t have so many distractions.
You don’t have to follow my routines. I want to challenge and encourage you to have that time with God. It doesn’t really matter what time of day it is, but I strongly, strongly encourage you to have that time. It’s really helped ease my anxiety and it’s helped me sleep better where I wake up not as stressed out by a busy schedule and have a less rushed, hectic start to my day. It also helps me fall asleep faster and easier.
I think that was all I wanted to cover in this post. I have a couple more posts planned. I just need to figure out how I want to do them.
Until next time,
Love and light,
As I sit here in my dining room at 4am, everyone else in the house asleep but me, the only sounds are some music playing from my iPad and my keyboard. I fell asleep a few hours ago but woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I initially planned for this post to be done Sunday, but my writing schedule is off and I have yet to get back on track.
It is my personal philosophy that you have to remember where you’ve been to both know and appreciate where you’re going. That being said, I was working on an assignment for my Christian Ethics online class and was thinking about what I wanted to do for my final paper. I decided to pull content from a paper I wrote for a class at NSU back in 2012, which made me think about the past 4 years of my life.
This week is extremely sentimental to me for a myriad of reasons. 4 years ago this week, my life was changed forever. I had a triple compound dislocation in my right ankle and my injuries took me to a place so dark and deep that it took me a solid year and a half to climb out of it. These were some of the darkest, most physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally grueling, painful, and hellish days ever in my life. There were days and nights where I would lie in bed, unsure how or even IF I’d make it to the next morning. Conversely, it was the turning point that forced me to grow up and realize that I needed to step my game up and start getting my life together. Somewhere in the post-op, physical therapy recovery process, I realized that I wasn’t a little girl anymore and that it was time to grow up. As painful as these injuries, surgeries, recovery, and later re-injury, and recovery again were, I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything in the world.
Throwing it back to the story of Lazarus from Sunday’s worship service, when I think of the worst time ever in my life, this is the central event in my life that I think of. What I always try to keep in mind is that it was never my own strength that got me through these brutal few months—I’m not that strong. The only way I was able to make it through was God carrying me through it.
I say all this because just a couple of years later to the day of this event, I talked with the head of Bacone’s Center of Christian Ministry and said I was ready to come back to the Christian ministry program. I say all of this because I feel that without this event, as traumatic and catastrophic as it was, I probably would not be in ministry today. I wouldn’t have the strong faith needed to be effective in ministry if this situation hadn’t of happened.
While my injuries were serious, this event forced me to come to a place where I was essentially forced to give up my own strength and put my full and trust in God to carry me through. I admit to having a certain level of strength but I couldn’t have made it through the pain on my own. It was God. 100000% it was God. No one is that strong.
I share this story because I think every post from now until my licensing will have some element of my ministry journey to it as I prepare my sermon. I share this because in my worst day, I didn’t die. I survived, God didn’t leave me. He never abandoned me. It for all intents and purposes was a dead situation. God brought life to it, made me whole, and shaped me into a better, stronger, and healthier person.
In our women’s ministry, we start out the evening with a workout of some sort. I tend to be a little whiny and fuss a little bit but in all reality, I feel so blessed and so thankful that I’m able to work out. I thank God each time I play stickball and I give thanks to God every time I hike at Sparrowhawk or hit the running trail.
I share this mainly to encourage whoever is reading this. Don’t tell God how big your situation is—tell that situation how big your God is. He moved in my life, He brought beauty for ashes and restoration and He’ll move in yours.
I’ve often asked Him why this situation happened. He never gave me a straight answer but as I’ve gotten older, progressed in my relationship with Him, and understand things now that I didn’t understand back then, I won’t say I needed this specific thing to happen but I needed something to get my attention with no other option but to put my full confidence in God.
In closing, like I said before…it’s never about how big your situation is but how big your God is. The question now:: How big is He?
Until next time,
Love and light,