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.

 

 

A Freedom Song

Rebekah Lyons’s book, “You Are Free”, came into my life at exactly the right moment. I call these moments God-ordained, meaning it is only by His divine purpose and intention that this particular event happened at that specific of a time in my life. Much like God would be whispering, “Sarah, ya need to read this. It will awaken some good thoughts within your soul and cause an overflowing song in your heart. Read this now, as it will empower you to draw those around you to Me.”

One of the first excerpts from the book that intrigued me resided on the dust jacket.

“Freedom is for everyone who wants it–the lost, the wounded, and those weary from striving. It’s for those who gave up trying years ago. You are the church, the people of God. You were meant to be free.”

heavenEnticing, yes? As this was only the cover, I wondered what else would I glean from these pages? Rebekah breaks down the book, chapter-by-chapter, and weaves her freedom story beginning in New York, and ending in Franklin, Tennessee. She spans topics such as what it means to have complete freedom in Christ, to what freedom looks like within the context of a believer’s faith. What does freedom look like when I am grieving, when I am waiting, when I am celebrating, when I am resting?

Each chapter unwinds a little more of a freedom song, and one particular passage that echoed truth was titled, Free to Ask (pg. 94-95).

“Maybe you’ve asked God for something, but only heard silence for many years, and it feels like your mustard seed of faith isn’t growing. Maybe you’ve felt faithless and condemned. Or perhaps you’ve felt as if God isn’t interested in what is happening with you. Maybe your heart feels abandoned, rejected.

I don’t know why God answers some prayers immediately and not others. It’s a mystery. What I do know with full assurance is this: God has given us the freedom to ask him for anything–anything. Perhaps in God’s economy what’s most important is that we have the freedom and faith to ask.

What if we lay aside our concern about the results of our prayers?

What if we simply confess and declare what we have been given–the freedom to ask?

What if we begin to confess our needs to God, to ask again, with our whole hearts, for whatever we need?

How many of us are slow to ask, whether out of doubt or fear or even pride?

Asking requires much.

For starters, asking often requires an admission and confession of need, an acknowledgment that all is not well. Asking also requires us to do something, to participate in whatever God wants to do. Finally, asking requires us to entrust what is beyond our control to the One who controls all.”

confessionThis chapter reiterated what I’ve been learning about God, specifically His desire for relationship with us. We are not only allowed to enter into His courts with praise, but also with fear, doubt, the unknowns in life. He longs to hear the desires of our hearts and does not shy away from the ugly, wavering in faith, lonesome, desperate, or aching prayers, but He commands us to come to Him. 1 John 5:14 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” As Rebekah reminds us, we can have blessed assurance that our prayers are never in vain.

“You Are Free” is a book that weaves together our freedom story with Christ’s gift of freedom. We are free to live without reservation, with conviction, and with the knowledge that we can be who God created us to be ultimately because of who God is: the giver of every perfect gift, including His son.


Readers, What are you reading right now? What should we add to our summer reading list?

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.

Behold! Stand In Awe and Be Amazed

A few months back, I signed myself up for Spotify Premium. I tend to buy at least one musical album a month, and by forgoing purchasing the actual album and choosing to stream the music instead, I save money and precious storage space on my two-generations old iPhone.

Behold Sarah dohmanOne album I listen to repeatedly is Hillsong Worship’s ‘Let There Be Light’. It’s beautiful, ethereal and evokes my soul to praise God. At the end of the album, Brian Houston, Hillsong Church’s main pastor, speaks on the word ‘behold’. Most of the time I flip back to the beginning of the album or start streaming some other tunes. But on one particular instance, I listened all the way through the message. He begins by declaring, “I love the word behold. You know it actually means, ‘Wow‘? Behold means stand in awe and be amazed.”

The Bible demonstrates a poignant ‘behold’ moment in Matthew verses 23-27:

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

In the middle of the Sea of Galilee, a small fisherman’s boat is being tossed back and forth by the waves. BEHOLD, we are told. BEHOLD. Matthew puts us on high alert, here comes a ‘stand in awe and be amazed’ moment. We read it and we wonder what it would have been like to see, experience,  and bear witness to a moment so powerful, so divine. We also recognize this same God is at work within us.

It’s almost like Matthew wanted to say, “Wait for this guys and girls! Be amazed! This boat is filled with disciples of Jesus, and a good handful of them are professional fisherman. And they are freaking out. The waves are lashing the boat, filling it with water. And sure enough, there is Jesus-peacefully slumbering.” The poor disciples act out of desperation and wake up Jesus. He scolds them (knowing their professional background and to whom they belong) and then promptly calms the winds and the sea. The disciples are in awe and wonder-struck, thinking,”Who is this man who can calm the waves and calm the fear in our hearts?”

Amazed Easter Sarah dohmanHow often have I forgotten to stand in wonder and behold the power and might of our God? I am the first one to admit how quickly I join the ranks of the fearful disciples when my life is filled with unknowns. I neglect to place my trust in the One who calms the seas, and who calms my fears and anxieties. Thankfully, God knows these insecurities and goes about his work anyway. Because He is God, and He is good.

We are currently entering into the last couple weeks of the Lenten season. As we near Easter, let us be challenged to behold the One who was born, lived and loved on this earth, experienced death by crucifixion, and who rose again! Let us be amazed at the power and might of God. Let us set aside some time to stop in our tracks, be still, and allow ourselves to be filled with wonderment at God’s goodness and faithfulness.


Readers, This month our theme is wonder and we invite you to tell us what has made you stop and behold in the comments. We would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

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.

What I Found in Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way

I began my 2017 reading with Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way. Honestly, I hesitated in reading her new book, but I am so glad I did. Ann is a poet; her words demand to be read in a melodic meter. They must be savored, word-by-word. She writes with sincerity and from an unapologetic stance that without Jesus, she would quite literally not be on this earth.

In The Broken Way she builds the readers vocabulary with words that whisper the philosophies of the holy.

Eucharisteo -giving thanks

Koinonia- communion in Christ’s brokenness and giveness

Cruciformity-Christ’s ultimate sacrifice of himself on the Cross. Which as she says, begs us to “Never be afraid of broken things- because Christ is redeeming everything” (187).

As I took in the words and turned each page, God began to show up, as He often does when I am reading words written by those who love Him. I felt both challenged and affirmed as I marinated in the richness of what God taught.

av-broken-way-image-1

Challenged

Maybe the only way to care for your wounds is to woo God. And you woo God by pressing your broken wounds into His, and finding that in Him, Him in you, you’re touching the broken wounds of all the other wounded and entering the joy of Him–intimate communion, koinonia, with Him. (220)

Am I living a life in which I share my brokenness readily with God, and in turn, allow my pressing into Him cause an overflow of love for others who are also broken? Are my eyes open and looking for opportunities to speak into brokenness of others with the grace and love of Christ? Do I speak and write about my brokenness without reservation because Jesus broke open for us without reservation?

Affirmed

Someone just choosing to be with you in your fire with a bit of theirs–can turn out to be better than anyone trying to extinguish your fire. Shared flames and shared burned scars can ignite hearts into a great fire that fights fires. (254)

I felt affirmed: In days past, I walked with friends and family amidst the blaze. Anguishing fires are surrounding some of my dear friends and though I can not extinguish the danger, I can stand next to them as the flames press in. Friends and family have not forsaken me in my own brokenness–they’ve not shyed away from the heat of the flames, but point me to the God who can soothe the burns. “When suffering is shared, communion is tasted. And maybe the fellowship of the broken–koinonia in the brokenness–begins to mitigate the suffering” (254).

Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way reminds the broken to take the brokenness, accept it for what it is, align it with Jesus’ brokenness, and then give the hope you’ve found away.

Give. It harkens. Give.

Give hope away to others who need to know that brokenness leads the way to the abundant life where Jesus dwells.


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.

Beauty in the Gathering

75+ ladies joined one another around circular tables, ate tasty food, and shared their stories as we gathered at the local church. Our pastor’s wife prompted us with questions about social media, and how easy, how often, the comparison game takes place. Simply open up Facebook, or my personal fave, Instagram, and the scrolling begins. Swiping downward through apps can be mindless, but can also prompt me to look at other people’s pictures and wonder, “Am I missing something?”

gathering-beautyMy particular table included women ranging from teenagers to women in their forties. Some were college students, some were college graduates. Three married with children, five single. The initial questions I asked as table hostess included basic information, but soon deepened into less explored, hard conversations. Vulnerability. Honesty. Beauty. Sentences strung together with meaning and transparency began to harmonize as we took turns listening and speaking.

We sat there, eating appetizers and desserts, sipping on various beverages, and I took a moment to soak in this precious glimpse of beauty. Here sat women, in varying life stages, talking about dreams and reality. Sharing about the goodness of God, and His character. Words of encouragement spurred on truth being spoken into one another’s lives. The women who gathered were heard, and loved on. They left that evening feeling connected, and craving more face-to-face encounters. I witnessed numbers being swapped, prayers being prayed. Other table leaders shared that those at their table felt hand-picked by God and placed there with purpose.


And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47


beauty-gatheringThe beauty of a gathering is that it is a God ordained practice, and we who love Him have been called to embrace its richness. When we gather in His name and eat, walls built around weary hearts can come crumbling down. Words of affirmation offer truth and love. Frequent gatherings, such as those in the book of Acts, stir up the hearts of the attendees and build relationship. Sitting elbow-to-elbow with another person,  breaking bread, tangibly hearing and seeing a person, reveals their needs. There is divine beauty in knowing another person’s heart’s desires. Jesus himself purposefully broke bread and drank wine during his last meal on earth with the disciples. He wanted them to remember him, and prompted them to meet together often.

Dear friends, gather together frequently. Break bread with one another, quench both physical and spiritual thirst, and honor God by encouraging each other. Find the beauty locked in the folds of gathering, and be reminded of God’s goodness and grace that stands firm in all circumstances.


Readers, Who could you encourage, listen to, or gather with to grab hold of the beauty that can be found as God works amongst the relationships He has given you?

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.

In 2017…

Happy New Year Anchored Voices readers! We are hopeful this blog finds you well and rejuvenated as we march onward into 2017.

For me, a new year brings about anticipatory feelings of hope and elation. I reflect upon the works God completed in me throughout the past year, and I prepare my heart for what is to come in the next 365 days.

in-2017-i-will-wait-upon-the-lordFor many, a new year equates to a fresh start. Thankfully, as someone who loves Jesus, I am able to experience a clean slate every day, not just once a year. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” I relish in the fact that I have complete freedom in Christ, and I am allowed error.  Perfection is too heavy a weight for my soul. In my erroneous moments I have rest for though God sees me for who I am, a sinner, He chooses me anyway. Romans 5:8 shares “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is nothing that I can do that will separate me from God. How liberating!

2016 rocked a lot of people’s worlds. It possessed its blessings, but also brought forth many mixed emotions, including terror, despondence, and sorrow. As I am on the cusp of 2017, I have decided to forgo New Years resolutions; instead, I am resolved to focus on these mantras:

When chaos surrounds me, as it surely will in 2017, I can cling to the hope I have in Jesus. I can seek after Him. I will aim to put others above myself, and do so sacrificially with my time and money. I will hide God’s word in my heart, so that I will not sin against Him. When I need answers, I will look to Scripture and learn more about God’s character, because He never changes. I will be rooted and established in love, and show more kindness and forgiveness to those who need it most. I want to be a peacemaker and reconcile adversaries. I want to point those to Jesus, and embolden them to cling to Him. Lastly, in 2017, I will wait upon the Lord, renewing my strength in Him, and continue to run the race set before me with endurance. By focusing upon these deep and holy truths, I remove the pressure to perform my resolutions, and instead look to God and His glorious grace and goodness.in-2017-renewal


Readers, What truths are you holding to as we enter 2017? We pray you will learn, grow, and be blessed by our Savior.

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 Twitter.

 

 

Waiting at Christmastime

Confession: Christy Nockel’s Thrill of Hope Christmas album has been on repeat in my car since the beginning of November. The Advent Hymn, specifically, resonates with my heart in a time of waiting.

Christ whose glory fills the skies

Christ the everlasting light

The sum of righteousness arise

And triumph o’re these shades of night

Come thou long awaited one

In the fullness of your love

And loose this heart bound up by shame

And I will never be the same

So here I wait in hope of you

All my soul’s longing through and through

Dayspring from on high be near

Day Star in my heart appear

Dark and cheerless is the morn

Until your love in me is born

And joyless is the evening song

Until Emmanuel has come

So here I wait in hope of you

All my soul’s longing through and through

Dayspring from on high be near

Day Star in my heart appear

So here I wait in hope of you

All my soul’s longing through and through

Dayspring from on high be near

Day Star in my heart appear

I imagine the shepherds singing this type of song with baited breath night after night into the early morning hours aching for the Christ to be born. He would be King, the one they had waited fortheir soul’s longing.

Advent is a time of waiting. It is the period prior to Christmas in which we anticipate Christ’s birth. We are given the opportunity to look at the works of God in the Old Testament and reflect upon the prophecies that heralded a coming Christ.

The book of Isaiah is filled with these hope-filled forcasts, chapter 7, verse 14 promised, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah foretold this 700 years prior to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.

I, too, am like the shepherds, with a heart song echoing lyrics similar to those above. I have hopes and dreams unfulfilled and know I am not alone. I know other single gals who desire marriage, wives fighting for their marriage, the happily married wondering if they will ever become mothers, and mothers who have lost children. I have prayed for mothers anxious for their children to return to the Lord after stepping away from their childhood faith, women battling sickness, and those who can’t see the way out of their addiction. These friends are asking ‘Dayspring from high be near’ as they wait for families, for reconciliation, for healing.

Waiting is bittersweet, and sometimes painful. And just because we wait doesn’t always mean God gives us our expectant hearts’ desire. But,“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18. I have found to be true, waiting or not, God’s desires always triumph over mine. He knows what is best for me. He is seeking and pursuing my heart. Always.

As the shepherds watched the evening sky for a great light (see Isaiah 9:2), God spoke to their hearts. He spoke of Hope, and encouraged them to hold to that Hope, no matter what. We learn in periods of waiting. If you find yourself identifying with my own feelings of anticipation this Christmas season, I want to encourage you. We can expect God to meet us in our time of waiting with comfort and peace. We can call on Him, and He will answer us, even if the future seems perilous, frightful, or tiring.

Let us not give up, but press into God’s goodness and faithfulness when answers are nowhere to be found. Let us give our longings over to God and let Him work out all the anxiety-inducing details. Let us replace our fear with trust. May we declare this Christmas anthem as our own, and bellow loudly over any untruth lingering in our heart and mind:

So here I wait in hope of you

All my soul’s longing through and through

Dayspring from on high be near

Day Star in my heart appear

~~~

Readers, I will prayerfully join you in this time of waiting. I will ask God to be gentle with your heart and give you a renewed sense of Hope this Christmas season. Tell us how can we pray for you?

0752d-sarah2bsquareSarah 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, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

Dear Adoptive Parents

Dear adoptive parents,

There is something I want you to know, and I am unashamedly going to steal a line from NBC’s Parenthood’s patriarch, Zeek Braverman, to do it.

“I hear you, and I see you.”

I hear you.

I hear your earnest, heart-filled desires to bring children into your homes. You pour out your hearts to God. You ask for wisdom, for guidance. Sometimes you are asking God for direction because you are unable to have children of your own. Sometimes, your families do not feel complete until your adopted son or daughter is busy growing up alongside your biological children, their siblings.

You are heard when you request prayers in pursuing which avenue of adoption to take: foster-to-adopt, infant adoption, overseas adoption. I hear your passionate voices when you speak of the children who are yet to join your home, or who already have. You are heard.

I see you.

I see you raising money by creative pursuits and unique inspiration. The t-shirts, the puzzle pieces, the jewelry, and the garage sales.

I have seen your friends sell their possessions to help you pay for your adoption.

I see how much it costs to adopt a child, and yet, you do not complain.

I see your trust in God’s provision.

I see the hope you have for bringing home your child.

I see you waiting years for your child, without hesitation.

I see you loving your adoptive son or daughter exactly as if they were your biological child. You are seen.

In Ephesians 1:3-10, Paul writes,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Sweet adoptive parents, the beauty of this passage is that God chose us He predestined us. We are adopted by God the Father, just like you adopt your son or daughter. As you persevere through the painstaking trials to adopt your child, to get to your child, you are a direct reflection of God the Father. I am a firm believer that the child you adopted is specifically hand-picked for your family.

So, adoptive parents, hear me. “I hear you, and I see you.”

I hear your prayer requests, and I will not stop praying until your child comes home to live with you.

I see your efforts in raising money to bring home your child, and I will support you in doing so with time and money.

I hear you share your challenges as you raise your son or daughter, and I have hope for you as your family begins to meld together.

I see you raising your sons and daughters. And I want you to know, I am on my knees asking God to care for you as you care for your child.  

Adoptive parents, my dear friends, you are precious. You are called. You echo the heart of God.

I hear you. I see you.


Readers, Do you see the needs of adoptive parents? Consider how you could help today.

Sarah 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, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.



Words of Awareness

There are those in life you hope you never hurt. Those who have walked with you through sacred space and have defined friendship for you. Some of my very favorite people in the world I have known since high school. These women,17 years of friendship, and thousands of memories have created some of my most treasured relationships.

As teenagers, we couldn’t get enough of each other. Our parents would take turns hosting slumber parties, and feeding 6 growing young ladies. We were in each other’s classes, we sat by each other before school, during lunch, and took over the couches at each other’s houses after school. Sundaychurch together; Wednesday nightyouth group, church camp, mission trips, family vacations, we were in life together.  In short, we were inseparable.  

The hours upon hours we spent together knit us together as a group, and my friendships with these particular women helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Intertwined with the sweet, I can also identify the bitter memories. Flashbacks that remind me of when I did not act with kindness, or patience. When I tore at those who are my sisters in Christ. Proverbs 18:21(ESV) says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  My unruly tongue lashed out hurtful words. Language that caused heartache and tears. I am grateful that in these instances I was met with grace and forgiveness, and our solidarity endured. It’s scary that such a small muscle in our body, paired with the thoughts in our brain, can so quickly break down another human causing sometimes irreparable damage.  

Becoming aware of the power of my tongue presents a daily challenge.  Do I build others up, or do I tear them down?  Am I choosing to speak life-giving words into those around me, or am I squandering away my speech on gossip and folly?  I am prayerfully examining my heart, and asking God to give me words of wisdom, truth, and healing.

I will always be grateful for the beauty of the words that have been spoken to me by my girlfriends. We have laughed together, prayed for one another, spoke truth into one another’s lives when we needed it, and offered the grace found in the truth that not one of us is perfect. We knew exactly how to build one another up, and spur one another on in our relationship with Jesus. United we lived out 1 Thessalonians 5:11,“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up”(ESV).  Even today, we have a string of text messages filled with Bitmoji, funny quotes, prayer requests, and promising words.

I have been given a group of women who are life-givers and truth wielders. I realize this is rare, and I am grateful. I also recognize that stewarding these friendships holds weight and brevity. I hold a holy responsibility as a friend: I am asked to care for these women and their hearts with tenderness and attention to words that perhaps go unspoken.  I allow myself to be vulnerable, and in turn ask that they do so as well.  We don’t hide from each other when things are hard. We seek each other out and offer one another grace and wisdom.  
I am challenged and called to action when I think about my group of girlfriends. Can we cheer each other on, and celebrate the successes of the other as if they were our own? Can we hold our tongue when it is powered by our flesh instead of our spirit? Can we rest in our Savior trusting that He will give us the strength to be who He has called us to be? Will we have the courage to be aware of how our actions and words might impact the lives of others? I hope so, and I hope you will join me in the attempt.


Readers, Will you join Sarah in the quest for speaking life instead of death?

9b24d-sarah2bsquareSarah 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, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.