Book Review: The Road Back to You

When I first heard about the Enneagram, I was skeptical. Another personality test—a set of questions used to place me into a category I think I might not necessarily fit into. My church, however, had an upcoming one-day conference utilizing the Enneagram to gain a greater depth of knowing and relating to the congregation. Hesitantly, I took the plunge and decided to take an Enneagram online test.

The Enneagram is a typology test, separating a person into one of nine personality types, which emerge from childhood. Some say that the Enneagram number you best match up with is the way God originally made you to be, before everyone else told you who to become.

When I took the online test, I have to be honest: I was sort of disappointed. It wasn’t until I read Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You, that I gained clarification in my typology and began to understand the complexity of the Enneagram itself. My initial disappointment quickly turned from intrigue to understanding and finally to acceptance.

As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we're prisoners of our history. We'll continue going through life on aut

In the book, Ian describes burnout from the church he was pastoring, and how he sought out spiritual direction from Br. Dave, a Benedictine monk. It was Br. Dave that introduced Ian to the Enneagram. “What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others … As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually, we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

I’m a 2w1 (two wing one), meaning my personality type most lines up with Type 2, The Helper (or my personal favorite title for a Type 2, The Befriender). The wing represents the number that my personality also leans toward—it’s adjacent to my typology number, and I tend to display characteristics of my wing in my personality as well. Type 1 is titled The Perfectionist. You might be able to see why I was initially disappointed when I found out I was a Helping Perfectionist. Yikes. Thankfully, The Road Back to You left my heart encouraged. I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of myself that, when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God’s people the best, without losing a sense of self.  

I can now identify the parts of myself that are unhealthy, and the parts of my self that when healthy, mean I can lovingly serve God's people the best, without losing a sense of self.

The Ennegram intends to bring illumination to those who take the test, and Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book beautifully describes each personality type. As I dove into my number’s chapter, I began to relate to the characteristics explained, including the deadly sin my number gravitates toward when unhealthy. Colossians 3:10 shares, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Learning more about myself has encouraged me to know more about God: His creativity, His love for us. As Thomas À Kempis says, “A humble self-knowledge is a surer way to God than a search after deep learning.”

The Road Back to You is a useful tool in discovering a deeper knowledge of your Enneagram personality type. Its intent is to help people rediscover who God created them to be, and allow God’s people to relate to one another on a more complex level.

Have you taken the Enneagram test? If not, here’s one we recommend. If you have taken the Enneagram test, what’s your typology? What has God been teaching you through this discovery?


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.
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Manna from Heaven

My family has three character-filled dogs that traipse across our home’s floors and our hearts. Two of the three are miniature dachshunds, with two-inch legs and bigger-than-life personalities. Whenever any of the humans of the house are in the kitchen, you can guarantee the two short canines are in the vicinity, waiting for what I like to call “Manna from Heaven.” Scraps of vegetables, crumbs of bread—anything that drops, the doxies are close by to claim their treat.

The real manna from Heaven was a little different. The Israelites found themselves in the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Sinai. They were bitter and full of distraught- Moses and Aaron had led them to a land they wished not to go. God’s chosen people voiced their frustration and even wished to have died in Egypt—where meat pots and fluffy, hot-from-the-oven-leavened-bread was plentiful (See Exodus 16).

God, in His glorious wisdom, let Moses know that He’d be raining bread from Heaven. The Israelites were to gather their daily portion, except for the sixth day—on this day these dear people were to collect a double portion in order to honor the Sabbath or holy day of rest. Moses and Aaron relayed the information to the Israelites, and naturally, some were greedy. They gathered too much manna, and it ended up rotting and covered in worms. God quickly put an end to this excess, and the people of Israel learned to take only what they needed.

Manna, as described in Exodus 16, was like coriander seed, came white in color, and tasted like wafers made with honey. This bread from Heaven was thin, and based upon caloric reasoning alone, shouldn’t have sustained the Israelites. But it did! For forty years the people of Israel accumulated manna in the morning, eating their fill and feeling satisfied for that day. The people of Israel also took two liters of manna and filled a jar to rest in the ark of the covenant. This jar was a reminder to show future generations the faithfulness of  God’s provision.mannafromheaven

What strikes me most about this passage, manna from heaven, is how God provided for the people He loved. He didn’t provide His people with nutrient-deficient food, causing the Israelites to overindulge and still feel unsatisfied. He bestowed a perfect daily blessing to His people—just enough and always in the morning as He promised.

As I think about my own life and my own wilderness that I am navigating through, I remember my own perfect daily blessing: knowing and loving Jesus. Jesus is always enough and never too much. He sustains me; He provides for me. He won’t leave me, nor forsake me. I am most satisfied in my life when Jesus is at the center of it. I need not fear what tomorrow will bring because He goes before me and behind me and provides a way for me (see Deuteronomy 31:8). girlindesertWhen I begin to complain or feel distraught, I need to center my life upon God’s perfect gift, Jesus. He will satiate every longing, and bring a peace that surpasses understanding.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

 

God Our Healer

From a young age, I knew my hands and heart were created to heal. In my twenties I graduated from nursing school, ready to bring comfort by words and deed. While most of my job consists of staving off illness, curating health promotion and prevention, I do encounter students on my caseload who have incurable syndromes and diseases. With these precious small friends, I have no choice but to trust that God has a plan for their welfare and their time on Earth. This means that sometimes healing occurs, and sometimes it does not.

One miraculous story of healing in Scripture is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV) speaks of a woman in desperate need of healing from physical bleeding. “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.”

He wants us to come to him in our ragged state -- to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us.The Passion Translation shares this verse a little more clearly. Suddenly, a woman came from behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his prayer shawl for healing. She had been suffering from continual bleeding for twelve years, but had faith that Jesus could heal her. For she kept saying to herself, ‘If I could only touch his prayer shawl I would be healed.’ Just then Jesus turned around and looked at her and said, My daughter, be encouraged. Your faith has healed you.’ And instantly she was healed!”

Pause for a moment and envision this woman’s life. She lived in a time prior to adequate sanitary conditions. Women who were menstruating were physically separated from men for seven days at a time. They were not to go out, touch members of their family, even cook or clean. Women during this monthly ritual were to be quiet, as per purity laws. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years! She suffered not only all the physical ramifications of having a constant period, but the emotional and social implications as well. I’m positive she felt isolated, depressed, frazzled, and fragile.

In her state of desperation, this woman left her home, where, by law, she was required to reside, and sought after Jesus. She had caught wind that he was in the business of healing, and she knew in her heart of hearts that if she could see him, talk to him, touch him — he could save her from her life of distress. Her faith drew her to Jesus, and prompted her to boldly act, touching his robe. An unclean woman, as she was, shouldn’t have been out in public, nor been in the presence of men. An unclean woman most certainly should not have reached for Jesus in the crowd. But on that day, God heard her cry, and her fingers swept across the robe of Jesus.

In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn't see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. In turn, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew her

In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn’t see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. Instead, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew her pain, her cry for help. He picked her out of the crowd, declared her faith, and healed her.

As I grow older, I recognize the need for Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness, whether that means physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. He has no desire to shame us, or turn us away when we are in a state of desperation. Instead, Jehovah Rapha longs to repair the wounds. God is the God of healing, no matter what state we are in.

My time as a nurse has taught me to see beauty in the brokenness. There are those who are suffering from physical ailments. Minds that are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear, depression and angst. Hearts that are longing to be known and loved. Working as a nurse has revealed there is a humility in asking for help when life feels uncontrollable.

I am not sure if you are in a current state of desperation — if you are needing healing. If you are not, I’m sure you know a friend or loved one who is. And while I cannot explain why God does not always heal this side of heaven, I am sure of this: He wants us to come to him in our ragged state — to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us. May we be moved in our times of biggest need to seek Jehovah Rapha for restoration and healing.


Sarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

Let ‘s All Be Brave! A Book Review

I listened to Annie F. Downs before I ever read a word of her writing. She’s likable — and a super fun sounding Southern gal, always up for a good laugh. Her podcast, That Sounds Fun, hosts a variety of insightful, Jesus-loving people. Her heart for God, and others, drew me in, and I asked for her book, Let’s All Be Brave, for Christmas. Thankfully, one of my brothers bought it off my Amazon list.

As I opened her book, I knew from the first few pages that I would glean encouragement and wisdom. At the time of the book’s publication, Annie was 33. And single. Hello! She’s like me. Possessing a zest for life, and seeking adventure. Chockablock full of raw emotions, some easy breezy, some a little trickier to navigate through.

Hold on to hope. That's the thing we can't stand to lose. You can let go of jobs or people or hurts, but don't let go of hope.

My #oneword365 is hope, and I cannot help myself as I mull over a particular passage Annie shares about in the pages of her book:

Hold on to hope. That’s the thing we can’t stand to lose. You can let go of jobs or people or hurts, but don’t let go of hope.

This book isn’t about me being single, but if you think it’s been easy to hold on to hope as I’ve watched my friends pass me by in life phases over and over again, oh friend. Not so much. It’s one thing when they get engaged or married. It’s another when babies come. And another when the kids go to school — and I’m still alone at night.

Amy Stroup sings a song called “Hold Onto Hope Love” that has been my companion more nights that I can count as I’ve cried to God about the rough patches on my hands from holding on so tight to the cliff of hope when it feels like it would be easier to just let go and fall into hopelessness.

And the truth? It would be easier.

But it wouldn’t be brave.

It’s not the story God is writing with my life. It’s not the story God is writing with yours either.

So please. Hold on. (p. 122)

Envision my face after reading this passage. Oh the tears! What perfect, God-ordained timing that I would pick up a book without knowing why I must read it. My heart, as I kept reading, said, “Hey! Me too! I am feeling all those feels friend. I am not alone and crazy, but validated in my thoughts and emotions.” Annie’s bravery throughout the entire book, by sharing her God-given story, vastly encouraged my heart. And in turn, her story helps me want to take steps of bravery in my own life. Whether that means sharing vulnerable parts of my own life through writing, or taking steps toward a dream I may have pushed by the wayside for some time.

If you want to read a book that will embolden you, I cannot recommend this book enough. In what way is God asking you to hold on to hope? What dream has He placed in your heart? How can you begin to be brave today? Read on friends, read on, and I think you might be surprised by the end of the book what God reveals to you through Annie’s words.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

Risking It All

Two years ago, the founder of this blog, Chara, challenged a bunch of us gals to think and pray over a word for our year. She read about #oneword365 and wanted to set the tone for an entire year by settling upon just that, one word.

The first year I participated, my word was “Yes.” In uncanny ways, “Yes” popped up in my life persistently. God shaped 2016 for me with that word. When I began to pray over 2017‘s word, I didn’t entirely like the word that I kept visualizing in my head. In fact, I almost avoided selecting a word for the year, purely because the one word that I couldn’t shake from my thoughts was “Risk”. Seriously? What in the world? Sometimes God calls us to BIG things, or changes—that is exactly why the word “Risk” terrified me so.

One Word Hope Sarah DohmanHowever, God surprised me with my 2017’s word “Risk”. I wasn’t asked to move somewhere new, or start a different job. I spent a large portion of the year on the edge of my toes, waiting for something drastic to take place. But God, in His infinitely better ways, used this word risk to teach me about trusting Him and loving His people.

Jennie Allen, in Nothing to Prove, writes about obedient risk. “Obedient risk will simply be us leaning into His abundance, leaning into His love, simply believing that He will work, believing that He could take any situation and any boring day and cause life change to happen in it.” Leaning into His abundance requires trust, just like in Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.When I trust God with my life, I can lay it down in submission, knowing that His plans far outweigh my own. Every day is an opportunity to trust Him more and find refuge in Him, and in His refuge, I can and will find rest. Resting in God’s love, knowing He’s working in every intricate detail of my life, facilitating every moment, takes away any hesitation for me to obediently risk.

Sarah Dohman One WordAs I learn to trust in Him more, I am ready and willing to love and serve His people more. Loving others is a risk- there is no guarantee that it will be reciprocated. Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, shares, “Relationships are the realest reality- and the realest risk … and the worthiest risk. Because in sacrificing ourselves, we are guaranteed to discover the depths of our best and realest selves. Because when you self-sacrifice, you are guaranteed to find your better self.” 2017 taught me that investing my time, my energy, in God’s people, is never a waste. It is divinely appointed. God asks us to risk vulnerability in order to love and serve His people with an open heart.

As 2018 begins, I am anticipating the newness of the year, and my One Word 365, Hope. Friends, what is your one word for 2018?


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

Resting in the God Who Never Changes

“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.” –J.R.R. Tolkien

I am a girl who embraces change — well, mostly. I traversed through 5 colleges, travel often, and worked numerous jobs before I became a nurse. Each switch in my life’s story welcomed fully. I need not fear, for I was girl on an adventure!

Change Sarah DohmanAnd then adulthood hit, head on. Instead of looking for the next inspiring task or journey, I began to plant roots. Roots that have now run deep, and secure. Those around me seem to having perpetual changes happening in their life. But for me life has been fairly consistent for a couple of years. I’ve worked for the same school district for 3, going on 4 years. I’ve attended the same church for 10 years. Even my newest source of change, the new community group I attend, has been meeting for a year.

I know change is coming down the pike, as it always does, but sometimes my life can feel like a hamster wheel: spinning, spinning. Consistency is not necessarily bad, but what happens when consistency feels like monotony? What truths and/or lies do I believe about myself— about God when life goes on, and I’m feeling a little left behind?

Upon examination of my heart and mindset, I’d say the biggest emotion I feel in the daily grind is fear. Consequently, what I personally love about God’s word is how it shows us what to do when riddled with fear.

Sarah Dohman ChangeIsaiah 43:1-2 says, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” In this passage of Scripture, Israel’s people are about to walk through huge change. God prepares their hearts by explaining they are not alone. God’s people are never alone. They need not fear because they have been chosen and redeemed, and God will not leave their side! What reassurance the Israelites had, and what reassurance we can have too.

When everyday life rests in the mundane, I rest assured in knowing I am not forgotten. I am loved by a God who will walk through the stillness with me. I can submerse myself in His word and be reminded that He chose me and knows me.

Oswald Chambers succinctly sums up what God is up to when change feels distant. “We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing, that He is preparing and fitting us for some extraordinary thing by and by, but as we go on in grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, in the present minute. If we have God’s say-so behind us, the most amazing strength comes, and we learn to sing in the ordinary days and ways.”

My hope is that in the mundane, when the outside world is bustling with change, there would be an inner strengthening of my character. That my heart would be so reliant upon God, contentment would take root inside my heart, and I would be a woman not living in fear, but in ultimate trust that His ways are better than my own, whatever may come.


sarah-dohman-square Sarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

5 Reasons Why I Read Scripture Daily

The most transformative discipline affecting my spiritual health has been, without a doubt, spending time in God’s word. I say discipline, because spending daily time in the Bible is not always easy. Roadblocks try to separate me from reaching for God’s truth: time, commitments, even reading other text written from fellow believers. Why do I practice this spiritual discipline?

image1 (3)Here are 5 reasons why I spend time in the Bible daily:

  1. We are in a battle folks, a battle against good and evil. A battle that is waging a war for our souls. Ephesians 6:14-18 shares, Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” We wouldn’t go into battle without first gathering all of our equipment, and going into battle against the devil should be no different. God’s word equips us with truth that will not lead us astray, even when lies and deceit are swirling around us.
  2. Our hearts and flesh fail. Take heart though, friend. God is our strength. Many verses point us to this truth. Psalm 73:26 says, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Filling up on verses that point us to God’s strength are needed in times of trial. We can’t do this on our own, but God can. 
  3. The Bible is chalk full of sage advice on topics such as wisdom. Proverbs 3:13 shares, Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Scripture will always point us back to God, no matter the topic. When we need the best advice, we can go to God’s word for the clearest answers. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
  4. Scripture equips us for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Spending time in God’s word prepares us to serve and love His people.
  5. God’s word is counter cultural, and teaches us to seek peace. We are living in world that constantly bombards and persuades us to reciprocate wrongdoing with more hatred or evil. An eye for an eye. Scripture, however, shows us that as Christ followers, we are to be different. We are to seek peace. 1 Peter 3:10 asserts, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” The peace of God inwardly transcends our hearts, and outwardly alters the way we live our lives.

image2 (1)I spend daily time in the Bible because life has a natural ebb and flow of mountains of rejoicing and valleys of mourning. Life has variables, but Scripture is constant. I want to submerge myself in truth, letting it marinate my heart. Soaking in God’s word eventually overflows into all aspects of my life. This spiritual act of discipline enables me to know and love God, and ultimately, love His people more.

 


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

Messy No Longer

Scrubbing. Dusting. Washing. Vacuuming. If there’s one extra-biblical theologically-sounding statement my family believes in, it’s “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” With three dogs & four humans, our house can get messy. Even if it’s been less than a week since cleaning, the dirt and grime stealthily builds up.

Messy Sarah DohmanI dread the beginning of the whole process, but I love the end result. There’s nothing like a clean toilet and uncluttered surfaces. I truly admire a dust-free house, even if it only lasts a few days. There’s something triggered deep within my soul when the weekly chores have been completed. I can rest in knowing I have a window of time to enjoy the clean sparkle.

Much like my admiration for an unsullied household, there’s something to be said about a washed life. This world is in a recurrent state of mess. Violence, natural disasters, broken families,  and there are even parts of my own heart that are just plain ugly. Can I tell you how grateful I am for Jesus, fixer of the broken things? Healer and redeemer of all the messy and unlovely.

Jesus, lover of my soul, lived a perfect life. He always directed his followers back to God the Father. And in his utmost and flawless timing, he gave up himself on the cross so that there could be an end to all the mess and stains that separate us from God. Isn’t that incredible?

Peter, one of the early church fathers and a disciple of Jesus, shares,

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action,and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”-1 Peter 1:13-21

Sarah Dohman Messy (2)We were “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers.” Our uncleanliness, this separation from God was and is multi-generational. This is a perpetual cycle of sin that can only be ended by the perfect blood of Jesus. Jesus’s death and resurrection conquers all. He takes the mess in our hearts and wipes it clean. We are not required to clean ourselves up over and over as we come to God, but can rest assure that Jesus finished the work that has ensured our holiness. He washed us with His blood and it removed all filth.

As the world aches, and our hearts wane, I am praising God for his son. His clean, pure, holy son. Who looks at my mess and says, “I love you anyway.” Let’s not waste any time trying to scrub ourselves clean. It’s exhausting and futile. Instead, let’s kneel at the feet of the One who loves us at our worst. Jesus can and always will be able to handle our disarrayed lives, and transform them into something beautiful.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

True Freedom

Current Location: Sunny San Diego. More specifically at my hotel’s outside oasis, surrounded by palm trees, orange umbrellas, pool lounger chairs. As I await my afternoon flight, I am naturally drawn to people watching. All sorts of folks have flocked to the pool area, splashing in the water, sipping their icy beverages in the alfresco restaurant…but all I can really think about is getting home.

Rainy Oregon over the land of perfect weather? Yes, because this is the week of the 4th of July, which is consequently one of my most favorite holidays. (I know you’re thinking, Fourth of July? Really, even more than Christmas? Aside from Thanksgiving—YES!) Why America’s Independence Day: The red-white-and-blue everywhere, people drenched from head to toe in the festive colors, flags proudly waving in the air, parades, barbecues, time spent with friends and family, country music blaring “Let Freedom Ring” and “God Bless the USA.” Some of the festivities may seem cheesy, but I relish and delight in it all. I love celebrating America’s birthday.

Freedom Sarah DohmanThe 4th of July makes me remember America’s freedom song, and I am compelled to think about my true freedom. The freedom found when all else is put aside and one truly knows and loves Jesus. Freedom through Christ is shared throughout all of Scripture. Christ came to set us free from everything that binds us up and keeps us apart from God. We sing a song at church titled “Death Was Arrested.” The lyrics in this song stir my love for my savior and proclaim how Christ brings us true freedom.

“Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you”

This freedom, true freedom, not only sets us free from death and sin, but should drive us as Christ followers to love our neighbor. Galatians 5:13-14 shares, “For you were called to Sarah D Freedom (1)freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” We are called to freedom in Christ, and then, as captives set free, are asked to love others. This doesn’t mean just those easy to love, or those who are similar to us in race, ethnicity, education, etc. It means EVERYONE. Freedom in Christ ups our love game—it gives us the confidence and ability to love the people around us who challenge us, who believe differently from us, who may even dislike us.

On the Fourth, as I’m clad head to toe in red-white-and-blue, I cheer for independence. I’ll be celebrating America’s independence with gumption and gusto, but at a deeper level reflecting upon my true freedom—grace given freely through Christ alone. I will look around at my neighbors with love, and think of ways to bring joy into their day. I will look at my own freed life and reflect on the love and freedom God has lavished on me.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

 

Choosing, Forging, and Keeping Terrific Friendships

“You will not make it in life unless you are really good at choosing, forging, and keeping terrific friendships.”

Timothy Keller, a well known and respected pastor who hails out of New York, stated this in a video I recently watched for a church leadership class. It’s fitting, really, that for the whole month of May our training devoted itself in the art of relationships. Questions that stirred included, “What makes a friend? How do I choose them as an adult? Am I a good friend?”

Keller friendship (1)Keller went on to explain that “Friendship is the only love that is absolutely deliberate. It will not push itself upon you.”

That makes me stop and think–I need to choose well in regards to my friends, but how do I chose well? What are the characteristics of a friend that I should seek after? Or vice versa, the characteristics that I must display that will make me an affectionate, loyal, loving friend?

The video progressed to explain four things needed to create a friend: constancy, carefulness, candor, and counsel.

Constancy

I must be faithful and dependable. Proverbs 18:24 challenges us with these words: A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” To me constancy means I am that faithful friend, one who can be called (or texted) in the middle of the night. I come over when you’re overwhelmed with a pick-me-up coffee and a smile. I show up, time and again, without question. I let you in, all of you, and don’t shy away when life gets particularly hard or messy. A true friend sacrifices their time in order to be there for their people. I am determined to be a constant friend.

Carefulness

To be a faithful friend I need to be aware of my friend’s well-being and emotional state. This is the second aspect of a good friend. When friends are walking through perilous times in their lives, I am sensitive to their needs. I am unable to rejoice in my life when my true friend is unwell. On the contrary, when my friend is rejoicing, I am celebrating with them. I am acutely aware of their emotional and mental health, and display empathy. I am determined to be a careful friend.

Candor

I will be a truth-teller. I speak into my friend’s lives with frankness and honest expression. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” I know someone is a true friend when they are not afraid to share with me things I need to hear, but might not want to hear. Do I wield the truth to my dearest friends, even if it’s uncomfortable? Am I speaking God’s Word into their life when lies deceive and they are lead astray? I also recognize their giftings, remind them when forgotten, and spur them on in serving the Kingdom of God. I am determined to be a candid friend.

Counsel

friend Sarah DLastly, as a true friend, I am to counsel those I love and have chosen to be in my life. James 3:17 shares, But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” When I am counseling a friend, I am first seeking after truth from Scripture. I am always ensuring that my counsel is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and finally, sincere. If my counsel does not align with these characteristics, it is unwarranted and therefore not useful. I am determined to be a counseling friend.

In my lifetime, I have encountered many a friendship. Some friendships turned out to be more seasonal, some have lasted over half of my life. The beauty of a friend is that they are irreplaceable, and a gift from God. C.S. Lewis beautifully sums up friendship in the Four Loves.

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

As I am reminded of Keller’s four characteristics of a good friend, I am also reminded that God is always at work, even in our friendships. He knows that in order to make it through life, we need friends to cleave to in adversity and to rejoice with in happy times. Friends are a reflection of God’s goodness and faithful love toward us.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.