"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71

Friday, February 25, 2011

De-cluttering for Jesus!

I was in The Container Store a few weeks ago when I had a major "aha" moment regarding stuff. I was thinking about Reynosa, Mexico where I saw people living in tiny cardboard huts several years ago. They could have fit all of their possessions in one bag. Then I thought about the Africans I've been learning about in The Hole In Our Gospel. They have few posessions at all, spend their days walking miles just to get enough water for the day. Live on less than $2 a day. And if they had more money they'd likely spend it on prevention and a cure for AIDS. Not because it's the popular cause of the moment. But because it's what's killing their own communities.

I'm thinking all of these things as I walk up and down the aisles of The Container Store. These people have nothing. And here I am... in a store to buy stuff that can help me organize my other stuff. I bought three things, got in the car and promptly started crying like a baby. It just felt so wrong. I called Terry and was able to laugh at my outburst. But it was the final straw for me.

Everything I knew about money, giving, and the needy has been shaken up. God has been moving us in this direction for years now. Looking back, I can see the small, baby steps. He's been nudging us forward. Challenging us to look at our finances, our budget and weed stuff out. He's been calling us to give more. Yes, of time and resources. But also of money.

Last month we made the decision to move. In an effort to create more space in our budget for giving, we're downsizing to an apartment that's 2/3rds the size of our current house. We're losing a garage and a yard and an attic. So all of that stuff that piles up in these places has no where to go.

And our house has become a mass exodus of things on their way out. Plastic things, shiny things, handy things, useless things, pretty things, memorable things, "What is this and where did it come from?" things. And I've been doing a jig. I feel as good as if I were shedding pounds! Goodbye stuff! Adios materialism! Keeping up with them? Shoot, I dont' want to even resemble "the Joneses!"

I've been looking at my things differently. If it takes up my precious time to clean it, store it, maintain it, I want it out! I don't want to lose family time because I'm always taking care of my stuff. I don't want the funds for a mission trip or to feed a needy family to not be there because I had to have more clothes, more toys for the boys, or more dinners in restaurants.

The ideas and concepts from the Bible about giving and blessings-- those concepts that were repeated and reshaped in Radical, those ideas that were made poignantly clear in The Hole, are coming alive for the first time in my life.

I'm honored, humbled, and thrilled to be on the receiving end of this message from God. I pray that it's a permanent change and not a short-lived revival of sorts. Thank you for praying the same.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good and Evil

There are two versions of the patient room in my oncologist's office. The one I lived in today was cheery, cozy, friendly, The light was yellow, the table was hard. Last year's magazines, frayed and pleasantly dog-eared. This side of the office is okay. It's the place where the people who know how to save my life are.

There is another version of this same office though. It's gray and hazy. I sit on the table but don't feel it. Pick up a magazine but don't read it. This office is filled with fog. Foggy memories, smoky black. Bad, bad stuff is floating in this room. It's the place where people tell you about percentages, side effects, and illness. It smells of tears and unlived years.

I am always aware of both offices. The safe side is unassuming, blank, sterile, not quite warm, but nothing to be scared of either. But just passed it I see the other side. Through "the looking glass" the gloom and fog is still there. Teasing me and reminding me that, try as I might, I cannot escape bad news forever. I'm not angry at this black and white version of the room. It has to be there. If it weren't there, if there were no danger, then the other version of the room, the one I'm presently in, wouldn't be as sweet.

Today I went to the oncologist for my three month exam. I didn't know which version of the room I'd be in. Bad news isn't the only thing that can push me from the real-life room to the imaginary, dreary one. My attitude and doubts can, too. God was with me today. As always.

I got only good news: Less medicine needed. Fewer scans prescribed than I'd expected. Go. Smile. Be happy.

And so I went. And I was.

Because God is merciful. And because I know. That even when things are good, and I'm sailing through life, shadows are never far away.

Lord, help me to remember the pain. Help me always be aware of how to share your unending light with those who still fear the night and don't yet accept that you are the way out.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where Should We Go?

Terry and I are looking for a place to get away for a weekend for our upcoming anniversary in April. I want a spa where I can get mani/pedis, massages, facials, etc. Terry wants to golf. Where should we go?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

To all the women who make me laugh, have my back, know my secrets, share my memories, hold my hand:

Thank you for being there for me. I am utterly undeserving of such a blessing as your friendship.

Where would I be without you?

Much love to you on Cupid's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Be a Mary Not a Martha

I went and saw my best friends in the world a few weekends ago. We live all over Texas so we try to get together four weekends out of the year to catch up. They've been a part of my life for more than 10 years and they know me better than almost anyone.

I obviously really needed to see them because we had a really great talk one night. I had been getting a little suffocated by the pressure I was starting to feel. I know that anyone being moved by my story or my blog is actually being moved by the Holy Spirit. But I started feeling pressure to measure up to some pretty high standards. Most places I go, I'm not annoymous anymore. I'm "Cancer Girl." And I would be a failure if God didn't get the glory and the praise for bringing us through the fire.

See, I'm slinging around some pretty big words here-- "failure, pressure, suffocated."

Because of my experience, I've had a heart for those suffering. And I was being driven by a sensational need to help. When you're sick with something like cancer (for me anyway) everything is extreme. You are REALLY sick. When you rest you need to REALLY rest. When you cry, you REALLY cry. When you praise God you REALLY praise Him! I would be playing with my kids and think, "How much longer will I get to do this? How long will I be here?" And I'd use those feelings to make every playtime "the BEST playtime ever!" (Man, I'm I excited those feelngs are gone!)

And when everything is extreme, you get really, really tired. Which led to me feeling the need to crawl under a rock...throw in the towel...bury my head in the sand...leave town and never look back! Which in turn, led to a small breakdown with the previously mentioned group of girlfriends.

Thankfully, I've got some friends who are grounded in the Word and comfortable speaking when the Holy Spirit leads. They talked to me a lot that night. And I argued a lot.

But then Pastor Larry preached this past Sunday about finding space in your life. He defined space as "the amount available beyond what is necessary." He suggested that we be spending three to four nights at home each week. I remember thinking, "yeah, right!" But at the same time, I felt relief!

We know the world is "rush, rush, rush," but Pastor Larry pointed us to Romans 12:2- "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

And I was happy to be reminded of the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to visit them and Martha gets busy with preparations- making everything perfect, cooking, cleaning. Mary sits at Jesus' feet to listen to Him. Jesus says to Martha (Luke 10:41), "Martha, Martha... you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her."

2011 is all about simplifying life in our house. A few months back we started talking about moving. With MUCH apprehension. Neither of us wanted to but we kept feeling God urging us to. Finally the pieces all fell into place, and our plan was confirmed by Sunday's message. We are downsizing- living space, "stuff", Terry's commute. All of it will get scaled back to allow more "space." And hopefully we'll all find a better balance and be able to give God more time! ...and avoid future breakdowns! ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When asked what kind of food I wanted for a cancer-free celebration that Small Group was having for me, I jokingly answered, "French." And thus was born my SARAH COUPS DE PIED AUX BUTTES DE CANCER or SARAH KICKED CANCER'S BUTT PARTY!

We had ratatoille, Mijote De Poulte au Citron, chocloate fondue, cheese platters, baguettes, mousse, Beignets de Courgette, and a TON of homemade cream puffs and pastries! Dani scored big points by finding French organic soda!

I asked for a group picture before I had found a willing volunteer to take the photo for us. We're a very obedient group-- see how they stayed put "in pose" when I left the room to find a photographer?

Thanks guys for all the food, fun and encouragement!

I'm slightly biased, but I think our small group is awesome! Kim and Warren gave me a giftcard from Living Water International and I was so excited to visit the website and choose how to spend the money! I am so very blessed to have such thoughtful friends (who just happen to be awesome chefs, too!).