“Hold my earrings”

Have you ever watched the movie White Chicks, it’s hilarious, but that’s beside the point. Anyway there’s a scene in it where one of the “white chicks” is about to be in a cat fight, and one of the first things she (used loosely) does to prepare is get the other white chick to hold her earrings.

Sounds silly but that earring scene always stuck with me, if I were ever to get in a fight I’d know that it’s a sensible thing to remove my earrings in preparation before it begins. (No one wants a ripped ear) Since then I’ve always associated removing earrings as a symbol of someone getting ready for a fight.

See I think we all too often forget that as Christians we are in a fight. We are daily in a battle with the devil. Yes God has already won and we have the victory in Jesus but that doesn’t mean we aren’t fighting a daily struggle against the devils attacks. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to put on our full armour of God so we can stand against the devils schemes so we know we’re in battle. He’s angry, he wants to take as many people away from the kingdom of heaven as possible, so yes we are in a battle. We asked for this battle I don’t know about you but as a Christian I have definitely prayed Isaiah 6:8 over my life:  “here I am lord, send me!”

So I don’t know what we expected from the devil when we prayed that, but he fights dirty. He is sly and smart and calculated and mostly he hurts. He knows where our weak spots are, he knows the past wounds to reopen, he knows our fears and our insecurities.  For me that means he knows I seek people’s approval and to be liked by all. So he manifests lies in my head of what I need to achieve to gain peoples approval:
• must always be happy.
• must be intelligent and well educated.
• must always be surrounded by laughter and jokes.
• never fail.
• fit and healthy.
• practically perfect in every way.

None of these are true certainly not true of those who love me. They just want me to be happy for me, not because it’ll increase their love for me. Yet the devil whispers these lies of this is how I can gain the approval I seek. Then he’ll condemn me (remember God convicts the devil condemns) for not seeking God’s approval over man’s. That’s another spiral of lies and rituals I need to carry out to gain Gods approval.
• read bible daily.
• pray for like an hour a day.
• serve in everything possible in the church.
• honour God with my work so therefore I can’t fail or I’ll fail him.
• be so busy for God I forget to look after myself.

Don’t get me wrong these things aren’t necessarily bad things to do bar the whole failing God thing which is impossible or not looking after myself, after all my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19). However these things become wrong when I think I need to achieve them to gain Gods approval.
Gods approval or acceptance is a gift, freely given.
By trying to achieve it I almost disrespect him.

Let’s go back to the “hold my earrings” I said this has always resembled preparation for a fight to me. So here’s my question – “what are you doing to prepare yourself for your fight?” 

Ephesians 6 is one of my favourite chapters in the bible for this reason. It prepares my heart for battle. See step one of “hold my earrings” in Gods army is recognising there’s an enemy -Ephesians 6:12 (hopefully I’ve helped you do that). Step two is knowning what your hinderances are (your earrings). I recognise mine, it’s my desire for approval. So how do I remove it? It’s not easy it’s a process, a long process. I need to ask for Gods help to convict me to seek his approval, I need to find friends that’ll hold me accountable, I need to declare God’s adoptionship over my life and be ready to face rejection.  Giving my hurt of rejection to God and letting go is hard but so worthwhile, it’s fully accepting the peace christ offers me. Step three is putting on our armour like in Ephesians 6 or the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5. Finally step 4 is finding your army. I said earlier about accountability and this is why church is so important it’s the army of God rising up to support one another and carry out Gods work on earth.

So obviously no fight is as easy as removing your earrings but when victory is assured it makes me grateful to know which army I’m a part of.

Sarah x

 

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My home

It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s restless, it can be tense at times – welcome to communal living.

Student accommodation is less than ideal at times. You basically shove a handful of newly fledged young people attempting to be adults into a house and hope for the best. You get a wide range of skill sets – some who love moping (myself), some who loath doing the dishes (also myself), some who cook, some who bake, some who always have friends around, some that are never in, some that never leave their room, or some who are somewhere in the middle.

My house at uni is very much an example of this and at times it can get tense. As students, stress is like a permanent state in our bodies and it means minor inconveniences can spiral in our heads and it causes friction. I think I was sorely mistaken when I assumed living in a house completely filled with Christians would make all these common issues less of a regular occurrence.  So yes I was wrong to assume that Christians wouldn’t get so easily frustrated at such things, however how they handle it changes everything.

Passive aggressiveness isn’t allowed in our home, we have to air out our grievances promptly, we have to be open, but above all we have to be gracious with one another. Grace can be so hard to give and to receive. It is the peak of humility, the easiest way to live out Matthew 5:5 –

blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”

So if grace is something we are blessed to give and receive why do we struggle with it so much,

pride

Pride manifests itself in so many ways which is why it’s so hard to recognise. It can come to us in the simple knowledge that we are right, an unwavering opinion of well arrogance. This is something I struggle with, I am a creature of habit, so when people do something a way that I’m not used to or a way I wouldn’t choose, despite my best efforts to be understanding and accepting, dam I can’t help but get frustrated with them and grace goes completely out the window. This is when I chat with the person calmly and in a loving way I try to remember that I don’t know what habits they are set on, or the little things I do that infuriates them. I also might not know what they are going through so to irrationally accuse them of eating all the eggs in the house without replacing them would be simply insensitive and a little stupid let’s be honest, sounds like misdirected anger to me. It also helps to talk to someone I trust about my frustrations usually they’ll be able to remind me of these things or tell me to wise the bap.

It also becomes us when we start seeing ourselves as better than others or seeing others beneath us. This one is so tricky to spot because we so often don’t realise we are doing it. Some people’s personalities are just really self-assured and it can come across as a little holier than thou. Sometimes we say stuff in passing not realising the affect our words are having. And now your like well Sarah how can I have grace in this scenario if I don’t know I’ve done anything wrong or if I’m not the one hurt? Well this is more of a process than the other one. You need to start holding yourself accountable. Self awareness is different than being self absorbed. You must be choice with your words and gentle in every conversation you have, once you start paying attention to what you say it’ll be easy to realise when you might be coming across as condescending or little bitchy. It is gracious to be kind and constructive with your words. In this scenario it is also gracious to apologise and accept someone’s opinion if they confront you on any hurt you’ve consciously or unconsciously caused them. Confrontation is nerve-racking  and it’s important to encourage someone when they be bold.

The final form of pride that gets in the way of us displaying grace is the kind of pride where we put our opinions of ourselves above Gods. Oh yes I’m talking about when we become so “humble” it becomes insecurity. It means we don’t accept compliments or appraisals because we see ourselves as lower than everyone else rather than the equals God created us to be in his image. We need to give ourselves the same compassion we so often give or try to give others. Recognise when we do something well and accept that all God wants is for us to try with good heart intention and as long as he sees our heart we need no earthly validation.

I adore my house it’s always filled with laughter, craziness, love, food and tons of grace. It’s a safe haven in times of illness or life’s overwhelming points. It has times of peace and stillness but above of all else it’s family. They challenge and grow me, they care for me, love me and they’re reliable. This is what makes a house a home.

Verses:

– Psalm 133:1

– 1 Timothy 3:5

– Ephesians 2:8

– Hebrews 4:16

God bless,

Sarah x

 

A letter to my 10 year old self

IMG_0190Hi little princess,
I know you’re excited for the next 10 years of life, going around telling everyone that will listen that no you’re a pre-teen (whatever that means) and that you’re growing up and maturing. However before you get ahead of yourself I’ve some lessons and encouragements to tell you about before you embark on this exciting decade.

  1.  You’re young, innocent and naive. People are going to mock you for that, you will be told off for being too happy and bubbly, that it’s annoying and you need to grow up. But my darling do not grow up stay pure in heart, stay free for as long as possible, because soon you will grow up and want to back to when it was so simple.
  2. Your mum is ALWAYS right. I know it’s frustrating but when she says take a jacket because it will get cold later, take a jacket because it will get cold later. When she says she doesn’t trust that friend listen to her, mums have this weird 6th sense that will detect which friends are gonna treat you well and which friends are going to break your heart. She’s praying for you and fighting for you so it might just be common sense to trust her.
  3. However, when they do break your heart because when do you ever listen Miss Strowger, she’ll never say I told you so she’ll just help you pick yourself up and dust yourself off. So, Don’t fight with her or your dad they love you to bits and will forever be your biggest supporters, so make good memories, not ones were you slam the door then beat yourself up for doing it.
  4. Look after your brother. I know he’s annoying and sometimes you just can’t help it if you want to punch him in the face, (trust me regardless of age resisting the urge to punch him isn’t easy) but someday you’ll go to uni and you’ll miss him so much you’ll cry and ask yourself “what is wrong with me?”. So cherish him and eventually it’ll be worth it.
  5. Friendships are HARD like really, really hard. As per usual you’ll still for the next 10 years get on with guys better than girls and will have some great friends. Believe it or not some of those great friends will be girls, you’ll finally get that best friend you always wanted and you’ll have a great friendship for 6 years then it’ll end and it’ll be hard but it will be okay and those good memories will be some of the best times of your teenage years. Good things sometimes come to an end. But you’ll grow so much through all the pain of ending friendships. Not all will end and the best ones will stick with you forever.
  6. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR GRANDPARENTS. The wisdom you’ll learn from your Nannie is incredible, she will become your Godly woman goals, pray with her, study with her and ask her anything and everything. Your Granda D will be such an encouragement to you when you’re at your lowest with his prayers and sense of humour, laugh with him. Granny will always have the fire on waiting to chat with you and just watch the world go by, don’t make her wait. Finally Granda S will tell the greatest stories of his life so far, listen to them they will be the ones you’re gonna tell your grankids someday.
  7. Study hard, work hard it’ll be worth it, you’ll get into the secondary school you want, a uni you didn’t want and you’ll learn that God always has the greatest plan for your life. So, don’t stress, do your best and God will do the rest. There’s a good reason why you’ll lean so heavily on Jeremiah 29:11. No more hoping you’ll get in and more praying if its Gods will then you’ll get in.
  8. Take care of yourself. Don’t give up cross country, hockey, netball and most importantly dance, just because you’re scared of what people think. You’ll always wish you could go back to playing sports and the people who you’re worried about judging you they don’t care and aren’t even watching. Don’t stop playing the flute you may hate it now but when you go to uni you’ll wish you had a musical bone in your body other than dancing feet.
  9. Take care of your head as well and no I’m not taking about your hair (mind you you’ll make a few mistakes there). No I’m talking about your mental health, it’ll be a term you’ll come across at 14. You’ll find yourself surrounded by friends who are sad and can’t explain it or hurting themselves and can’t stop. You’ll start to worry about them, then you’ll start to worry all the time and panic about the littlest thing. Sometimes you’ll panic for no apparent reason and that’s okay but be honest about and get help, don’t suffer alone it isn’t just part of who you are and part of your personality, anxiety is an illness and for you the best treatment will be relying on Jesus and counselling and there is nothing wrong with that .
  10. Boys. Ew I know for now any. Stay the strong, sassy independent lady that you are for as long as possible take rubbish from no one and above all else RESPECT yourself. However, some day you’re going to meet a boy who you’ll think is the love of your life (spoiler alert he’s not) and you’ll fall for him but soon enough he’ll start to hurt you. One day you’ll wake up and realise just how unhealthy the relationship was and you’ll be brave and end it. Be proud in that time you and him grew so much but you were both wise enough to realise you weren’t good for each other. You’ll rebuild your friendships and work on some stuff with God. You’ll meet someone new and learn what a healthy relationship is  you’ll make incredible memories and he’ll make you laugh more than anyone and the rest will be history.
  11. Finally, Draw close to God. He is gonna be your rock through all the bad times and the source of joy in all the many, many good times. Never be afraid to speak out about who he is and who you are in him in school and in church. Never be afraid to pray for others or to ask for prayer, in fact if there’s a chance to pray in anyway do it. He will make you so strong and will answer every prayer in his perfect timing. Worship freely, be kind and  love even when it’s hard. Pray for those that hurt you and stand firm on the word – wear that armour of God girl (Ephesians 6:10-18)

What I’m trying to say is your teenage years are going to be a rollercoaster with plenty of crazy hormones but plenty of  joy too. Be grateful for this life that you’ve got because you really are blessed beyond all measure. You are a fierce prayer warrior, a world changer so live and love for Jesus be unstoppable for his kingdom sake and no one will ever be able to take that away from you. Ignore the haters they’re just jealous and insecure. Keep smiling it’ll all be okay in the end and hey when your fighting a losing battle just remember that Christ has already won.

“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭CSB‬‬
“Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭CSB‬‬
Lots of love, 20 year old Sarah xo

 

 

When night comes

IMG_5442*warning mental health is explicitly talked about soz lads*

So it’s currently 02:58 am and I am wide awake. My brain is in overdrive and I want to scream. Overthinking turns into palpitations, and then I get fidgety and irritable, next comes struggle to breathe and then before you can count 0-100 I’m in full blown panic attack mode. What always gets me is how so easily this can all  happen, sometimes all it takes is one negative thought and I just spiral, losing control. That’s the worst bit, that’s the bit that makes me want to scream the most, losing control, I suppose no one likes losing control of themselves. What I dislike most about losing control of my thoughts is who or what I’m losing control of them to, anxiety.

This isn’t something I see as part of me it’s not a cute quirk it’s not who am, I am a different person when I’m anxious than when I’m okay. You see good days, they’re the days when I’m most me, however tonight’s me is pretty much the opposite of the girl you’ll meet on a good day. When night comes and I’m like this I struggle to do most of the standard Christian pick me ups that is expected of a good day me; YouTube sermons can’t shut up the thoughts, reading the bible is the case of in one ear and out the other, and praying? Well it is very hard to focus long enough when your brain is so out of tune with your heart. Some nights replaying and mediatating on memorised scriptures like Psalm 23 or Psalm 121 can help, some nights blasting worship music can help but some nights like tonight I focus on that girl I really am. The girl who laughs loud and awkwardly but doesn’t care, the girl who tries hard to be kind and a good friend, the girl who loves Jesus more than anything and chases him with passion and joy, the girl who loves living for the sake of the Kingdom.

See focussing on her reminds me of who I am. Not who I say I am but who God says I am, who he’s called me to be. He has given me a joyful heart he has said that I am loved. When I remember who I am I see who he is. My God, the sympathetic High priest whose name is love. He’s been through everything I have he’s with me in the storm and he’s enabling me to face the storm with a calm heart. He is filled with grace and is all-knowing, he will fight for me and I am protected in his arms. He gives me peace.

Wow, that peace though it always gets me, when I refocus on who my Heavenly Father is and what he’s done I always calm instantly, I always feel beautifully overwhelmed by peace. Indescrible peace as if I was physically wrapped in the arms of God himself. The closest feeling I can get to describing it is, remember when you had a bad dream as a kid and you would wake up crying and scared and would cry out for your parents and one would come into your room and hug you and comfort you and tell you it was okay, then in their arms you’d soothe and maybe fall back asleep unafraid Well that’s the feeling of Gods peace in the midst of an anxiety storm, only x100.

Sometimes life feels like a bad dream and sometimes it feels like the monsters are in our own heads which makes it feel impossible to escape them. We need to remember to just cry out to our Dad – our heavenly Dad. In whatever way that may be for you. He’s protecting you, he knows it’s scary but he knows it’ll be okay you’re wrapped in his arms he will sustain you and fight for you. He doesn’t let us go back to life afraid but refills us with the qualities that makes us who we are and we are strong – “for greater is he who is in you  than he who is the world” – 1 John 4:4.

Bible passages that helped me tonight:

• Hebrews 9:11-28

• Hebrews 4:14- 5:10

• 1 Peter 5:10

• Proverbs 31:25

Songs that helped me tonight:

• Take Courage – Kristene Di Marco

• Psalm 46 – Shane&Shane

• Sanctuary – SEU Worship

• One thing remains  – Passion

• Closer to your heart – The Belonging Co.

• Only Jesus – Brian Johnson

 

Why I CAN love myself – an honest conversation.

Six months ago I wrote the blog “Why I can’t love myself – an honest conversation” and six months later with Valentine’s Day coming up I thought it’s about time I correct that post.

I’m not self obsessed, trust me, it’s just sometimes I really love myself, the way my hair sits when it cooperates, my pig laugh that makes others join in and the way my butt looks in my favourite pair of jeans.

Dont worry it’s not just the exterior parts of me that I love, I’m not that shallow, I love the fact that I was and am honest with myself to recognise my mental health was rubbish and I needed help. I love the fact I went and got the help I needed and wasn’t ashamed. I love that I started to look after my body and exercise and eat right without getting obsessed with it. I love that I surrounded myself (Thanks God) with an awesome support network that I trusted, that helped make me laugh when I couldn’t and listened to how they could help then did it. I am blessed beyond all measure.

I love that although in many ways I am just ordinary, mediocre and average, God makes me extraordinary and different. That he’s given me gifts of Joy, compassion  and passion that no one can steal from me (John 10:10) I love that I can know I am not fighting this daily battle for victory but from victory, because my God has already won it for me and I AM FREE.

I love my quirks, my fat rolls, my brain, my eye rolls, my passion and my sass because it’s me and I wholeheartedly can say I am learning to love me day by day. Are there days I don’t like me? Yes. But I am learning to accept that’s okay and love myself anyway.

Do yourself a favour this Valentine’s Day, just start learning to love yourself and appreciate who you are and what you’ve got, count every blessing.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these. ~ Mark 12:30-31

(look back at the end of my “Why I can’t love myself – an honest conversation” blog and start living those 10 things I promise they make a difference)

Sarah x IMG_9020

Eyes on you

IMG_9090I have a friend who is a primary school teacher, he works with 5 year olds and they obviously have a very short attention span. He’ll be in the middle of class and they will start faffing and chatting and lose concentration, but he has a trick: “Eyes on me!”

The minute he says this no matter what the children are doing they stop, turn to him, point and say “eyes on you” (apparently they drag out the yoooou). He brought it up recently whilst we were doing a bible study on Luke 5 1-11 ( it’s good read it) and I can’t shake it from my head. After the bible study we encouraged one another and what people said to me was so consistent “when you talk about Jesus or when you’re focused on Jesus you are passionate and joyful”. So encouraging  but there was that word: when, and it was stuck on repeat in my head like a broken record. I hadn’t been truly like that for a long time.

That night triggered an epiphany that I hadn’t anticipated. For the last year I have struggled with anxiety and depression, my faith has obviously been a huge help but can I say my eyes were on Jesus throughout it all, no, not really anyway. The days where I lived sold out for him were euphoric and freeing but there were days where I saw nothing but darkness and felt broken. For so long I blamed God, I think I quoted the poem Footprints to him in every prayer asking him to show me his, asking “why me, why now and why this?”.

All I could see were the fiery arrows of distraction that the devil was using against me whether it was more failed friendships or  maybe hurtful words or worse, hurtful actions, even my bed became a weapon. All I could focus on were these distractions of spiritual warfare and I felt my shield of faith (Esphesians 6:10-18) just dwindling. Then the lack of faith and my annoyance towards myself because of it became a focus.

The devil is good at distracting its one of his specialities. He knows what ticks you off, what you’re insecure about, where your doubts are and he loves to launch those specific things into your life. Fiery arrows have always been used as a distraction in warfare and spiritually the enemy’s arrows are just as strategic and well planned. Satan wants you to lose focus from what God has called you to or who he has called you to be. He wants to hinder you every step of your journey so you lose faith. But what if you have your eyes on Jesus? When your eyes are on someone you are giving them your full attention and focus. Isn’t it great when your having a conversation with someone and their eyes are on you and not their phone? How much must Jesus love it when your eyes are on him?

Who are you when you are sold out for Jesus? Think about it you grow in the fruit of the spirit, you love freely and unconditionally, and are filled with a fire that is joyful and bold. You are different. Doesn’t it make you excited even a tiney bit to be that person, to be hungry for Jesus?

Now think about what distracts you from being sold out, from having your eyes on Jesus and recognise those distractions for what they are (meaningless arrows) they can’t burn you as you’ve got your armour so just stamp them out, keep marching and keep your eyes on Jesus.

John 10 talks about the good Shepard and verse 27 says “my sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me”. We all need to listen for when Jesus says “eyes on me” and then to follow, distractions will come, that is a part of life but surround yourself with those who point to Jesus and say “eyes on you” that way you can’t go wrong.

References:

✨Luke 5:1-11,

✨Espehsians 6:10-18

✨John 10: 1-42 ( all of it, it’s good)

✨Priscilla Shirer ~ The Armour of God bible plan

✨Micah Tyler ~ Different (YouTube this)

✨ my wonderful and encouraging friends

✨JESUS

 

 

Why can’t I love myself? – an honest conversation. 

It’s rhetorical don’t worry, and no I’m not suicidal. Trust me. It’s just I can’t stand myself sometimes. Recently it’s sort of been all the time.  Yes I’m aware we are living in an age of self-empowerment and feminism and as a woman I meant to love myself despite of my countless flaws according to society. However regardless of this “confidence boosting” age I wake up and go to bed feeling so bleugh about myself. Look it’s not just that I feel horrid about my appearance, my appearance is average I’m not exceptionally beautiful or exceptionally unattractive (by social norm) same goes for my personality and everything about me really. Maybe that’s the issue maybe I don’t love myself because nothing cries out for love. Nothing about myself is eye catching or jaw dropping. I’m average. Average grades, average appearance, average personality, average life. Maybe I am angry with myself for never being something that stood out, even in failure. Maybe I’m angry that I am here living this mediocre life (from my own choice) whilst those with life limiting illnesses are trapped within themselves yet they could do so much. 

Maybe I’m angry because I feel trapped inside my own head with no excuse. Maybe it’s because my poor mental health has been and is getting the best of me.

One day I will love myself, one day I won’t need anyone else to love me to make me feel worthwhile to the world. One day I’ll see that there is no average, normal and it’s just everyone is exceptionally different and wonderful. And I’ll be okay with that. You matter, you have a purpose and you are exceptional even when you don’t see it. Don’t let these intrusive, toxic thoughts consume you start fighting back. You see  we were all made on purpose, for a purpose and I choose today to start trying to realise that and see the potential in my life, how God sees me. I said try right.

Time to practice what I preach…

  1. Write down one thing you’re grateful for daily.
  2. Smile ( trust me)
  3. Go outside.
  4. Turn off you’re phone.
  5. Talk to a real person. 
  6. Start living out Proverbs 16:3
  7. Remember you will be okay.
  8. It’s okay to not love yourself all the time.
  9. Just don’t beat yourself up about it.
  10. Oh and please whatever you do don’t hate yourself.

I will love myself again. Watch this space. 

Sarah x