Masthead header

in which i am quite brave, actually

I am asking God for a very specific thing and quoting His words back to Him directly in so doing. I think I will be changed as I do this.

I am considering that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.

I am writing out words every day and calling it an actual goal, instead of hiding behind “I don’t make goals because I always quit them”.

I am the Mystery Reader this week in my kid’s preschool class. I will be reading Max and Tallulah, a colorful storybook about two zebra friends. One friend believes he must do wild and exciting things to capture the attention of the other. But all along, she is waiting for him to just be himself. This is what I want for my daughter – to be completely herself. And that can be wild and exciting, or can be quiet and dreamy.

I am praying for a baby. I am crafting a bajillion things to sell in our “shop handmade for Christmas and support our adoption” shop that will go live in late October. Gestation through crafts. Whatever works.

I am making new friends.

I am going to stop eating sugar, probably, maybe, starting next week. Because good things start on Mondays. Or maybe I will start on Sunday. But I think my whole self will feel better if I do this.

I am slowing down the speed with which I agree to various commitments. Life is inexplicably faster, with a kid in pre-k and a husband on staff at a large church in a big city. And last week I felt swept away. So I am starting to stay “no” and I am very excited about it.

So, I am really very brave, you see.

choosejoy

this original photograph & quote available in our adopt shop as a print! click the image to view the shop.

|||

in which i don’t want to watch and pray

Every day I learn a little more of how little I know. How little I am in charge of.

Last week, new friends (met through our shared consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants) flew to our state when they got the call that their daughter had been born. A month ago, when we exchanged numbers and started texting, this family had not yet been matched. And last week, I got to meet them at the airport, as they flew into a tropical storm, to meet their baby daughter. They waited on pins & needles for her brave birth mother to sign consents, but flew anyway – believing God would sustain them in the outcome.

During that same tropical storm that elevated into a hurricane, my cousin & her family spent two days without power (with a teething baby). Her best friend had a tree come through the roof and they stayed up all night mopping and swapping out buckets of water to make sure their house didn’t flood. The community is working together to meet the needs of the families who suffered from the storm.

Friends from back home are experiencing that unique sadness that comes when a spouse grows ill. The wife is not doing well and Thing A cannot be used to help unless Thing B changes…and thing B is not changing. The husband is watching and praying and…that’s it.

Isn’t that all any of us can do? Watch. Pray.

I don’t care for this method most days. I want to be DOING something. I want to be FIXING it or making it right or contributing to wellness or completion or whatever. I don’t want to watch and pray.

A friend told me recently that her bestie is adopting. This is their family’s first adoption and as they go through the process, they are experiencing the ups and downs we all do. (Note: for the record, the adoption process may follow a general timeline, but each family’s experience is incredibly nuanced. Have mercy.)

The bestie remarked to our mutual friend something in the spirit of: “The finances are such a big hurdle. And as we work to save and raise the funds, I realize that I get more caught up in praying for the money than I do praying for our child.

Basically a sledgehammer to my heart.

watch + pray | waiting on adoption | sarahsandel.com

…….

It is hard enough to believe that God’s best for us is adoption: we can do nothing to speed this along or make it happen.

It is hard to consider that we must believe God for around $35,000: we can only do so much to work towards this. It’s humbling.

It is hard to watch and pray, when there is a frantic push in my spirit to WORK hard for that money, so we can JUSTIFY what we’re doing. What if people think we should have more of it than we do? What if people find it an unnecessary expense? Like many pregnant women discover, TOTAL STRANGERS suddenly have lots of opinions and questions.

It’s hard. It’s hard and I’m “septembering” and I am not getting a cold, I am just not going to get one and as I sit here with agency paperwork in the other room and photo sessions to book…I don’t want to watch and pray. I want to lay on my couch and cry and beat my fists into the cushions and wonder why it has to be this way.

…….

Because autumn is coming and then winter and didn’t it just get light again outside?

And inside – didn’t I just get light again inside?

…….

 

|||
September 7, 2016 - 1:07 pm

Addie Zierman - Beautiful and honest. I’m Septembering a little too.

all the true things

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

Today I am choosing the true things, because my brain and body are all wiggetywack.
Yes, a word. Maybe. I don’t know. DO REAL WORDS REALLY MATTER RIGHT NOW?!

I am recovering from anxiety and depression. I’ve talked about this a little bit from time to time. I say “recovering” because God continues to reveal His sufficiency when I am anxious. The whole “sometimes He calms the storm, sometimes He calms His child” idea. I go long stretches with no symptoms, then perhaps a season of requiring so much attention and grace as my body responds anxiously to life transitions and changes. But let me explain what’s going on these days. Because we have all the upheaval going on in our home and all the hope and waiting. And the combination of this, plus that whole BEING BOUND TO TIME thing is making for interesting days. Hard days. But faith days.

For years, my emotions have responded a particular way to crisis, frustration, anxiety, delay, fatigue…allthethings. My brain is so used to this response, that it starts to gear up (or maybe it amps up) by sending a swirling array of thoughts to the forefront. It’s like wearing anxiety goggles, because when this happens, my vision is blurry and I can’t hear very well. It’s hard to shake out of the whirlwind of words and thoughts which, on a good day, are fairly nonstop. I am a thinker. This is a gift from God. But I am a thinker. And what God intended for good, the enemy will work to distort.

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

Something differently is happening this time, however, and it’s taken some help and a step back to truly see the work of God in me. The whirlwind of thoughts is beginning to look distant…like not a part of me. When the thoughts begin to suggest that I may not be safe…that all this work is foolish…that God will inevitably let me down…that I don’t want to do hard work…it is beginning to look like the bullcrap it is.

I know. Super profound.

My body and brain are so used to responding a certain way to conflict and difficulty, that they begin this response process…and a still, small voice in my mind has started whispering, Hey…you know that’s not true. It’s not condemning or angry-sounding. It’s a gentle suggestion. And I hear it and my body is all BUT THIS IS HOW WE ALWAYS RESPOND TO CRISIS WE FREAK OUT AND THINK ALL THE THINGS.

And there, in the mind of Christ in me, the small voice responds, Yeah, but we don’t have to anymore. Remember? Remember Whose we are? Remember the Life indwelling us? I think we have another option.

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

So, with a lot of help from very patient friends and a really tender husband, I am grasping for the other option: true thinking and faithful being.

Those thoughts swirl around up there and instead of thrashing around trying to solve them (which is my biggest deterrent to truth, y’all – trying to solve the thoughts with the power of my intellect *eyeroll but really*), I get to take a deep breath and let them wash over me like a wave.

True thinking is not letting those thoughts have the final say. They start to swell and I steady myself with what I know is real: God doesn’t leave me. His plans are purposeful. God is kind. This isn’t just a physical battle – this is spiritual. I have everything I need to respond to my circumstances. He is a good Father; He is not a tricky, manipulative one.

Faithful being is not letting those thoughts determine my choices. I have a lot of options available to me. I have availed myself of a variety of fruitless alternatives to faith in the past. But I believe that God has been carving out an endurance in me that compels me to draw from a deeper place. I don’t have to draw from “cry and text all my friends in between bites of chocolate”, when there is available to me, “Tell my soul who is boss and do the thing”.

We all have a lot going on. Each of us has a list of completely valid reasons to just lay on the couch eating popcorn and watching Friends (not that I speak from experience, *ahem*) or have total meltdowns before breakfast (again). Sometimes we have to do the melting down and the tv-watching to get to the real part: Jesus is still enough.

Sometimes I do anxiety before I do faith, and I bet a lot of us are like that. It’s okay for us to feel the feelings. But then we get to discard them and get on with the faithful thing, choosing to override what anxiety or fear offers us.

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

This will take practice.

I will keep needing my patient friends and my tender husband and I will probably keep messing it up and having those pre-breakfast meltdowns. But God is redeeming my emotions and I can get back up, wipe my tears, take a deep breath, and get on with true and faithful living.

Because Jesus is enough.

 

|||

the mystery of His power

Each day this week, I’ve posted expanded content from my contribution to our church’s weekly follow-up devotions. You may recall that the focus passage is Colossians 1:24-29, so although each day zeroes in on one or two verses, you may want to read the entire passage each day, for context and clarity.

See end of post for full series content links.

***

I’ve been challenged to consider this week that the mysteries of God are not dependent on my agreement, my praise, my affirmation, or even my feelings to be true and at work. I serve at the pleasure of the King and His life in me is mysterious. When my four year old was asking me questions today about heaven and Jesus and how come she can’t see Him or touch Him, I just said, “Baby – here are the things I know. But I will tell you now – I do not know everything. God is amazing and mysterious and we get to choose to trust Him.”

Read Colossians 1:29, 2 Peter 1:3-4

The final thought for this week supplies the “how” for the previous days’ thoughts: we strive “according to HIS power”.

How do we rejoice even in suffering? By the power of God.
How do we encounter the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory? By the power of God.
How can we believe that God will complete the work He has begun in us who belong to Him? By His own power.

This is cause for relief and rejoicing – we do not need to conjure up our own hope and help, we get to rely on the One who Himself is our great hope!

He has granted to us everything we need for life and godliness.

The struggle with this, for me, is that every day I do not wake up feeling as though I am equipped for life. I wake up in various states, ranging from grumpy to energetic. But if I am truthful, my first thoughts are not towards the life of Christ in me, His power at work in me to respond to absolutely everything I will encounter. A friend quipped today, “I wish that the truth I know about Christ in me would make me FEEL better about things right now.” She voice my very thoughts!

The power of Christ in me is a confidant reality – but it does not alleviate the earthly toil I am subjected to. The power of Christ in me does not exempt me from my body’s physical response to exhaustion, or my heart’s emotional response to change or distress, nor does it exempt me from mental weariness as I work to solve problems and handle challenges. And though at times this frustrates me, this does not lessen His power at work in me.

If a mental, physical, or emotional state effected a change in status of the eternal, righteous Life indwelling believers – we are to be pitied above all men! If I wait until my mind, body, and soul align all properly and in a timely manner with the truth of the power of Christ in me – I will walk in frustration or despair. The mystery of the power of Christ in me does not require my intellectual ascent. Thank God!

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

To Consider: In prayer today, commit your work to the Lord. Confess (again!) that His life is the only strength for living today, for embracing a holy perspective on suffering, for celebrating Christ in you, the hope of glory!

*****

the mystery [intro]

[day 1] the mystery of rejoicing in suffering

[day 2] the mystery of a life for others

[day 3] the mystery of the hope of glory

[day 4] the mystery of a completed work

[day 5] the mystery of His power

*****
Disclaimer: Everything I write about on SarahSandel.com reflects my personal experiences, opinions, and beliefs. I do not write here on behalf of our church or anyone else. 🙂

|||
July 15, 2016 - 5:51 pm

Kelley Splitter - Sarah,
Oh my what a great article, I just saw you blog address at the bottom of one of your emails. It is obvious you love to write and share your passion for writing. We have emailed a few times, I am with Classical Conversations and we are developing a new community in the Apopka area. I would like to know if you would love to share your passion of writing with our group. Please give me a call or email.
Enjoying your passion and encouraging words
Kelley Splitter
Support Rep
Classical Conversations.