March 28, 2013

Breastfeeding is Best Said My Boss

"I wish that you could stay home so you could breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding is so much better for your baby...."said my boss, when I sat down to talk with him about my maternity leave coverage. 

Despite how inappropriate it was for my boss to say that to me, I did not respond. I allowed myself to be squeezed into what I should be to fit in, again.

There was a time when I said all the right things, dressed appropriately, was involved in all the right activities, and created an existence on pleasing others. I went to church services all week long, sang in the choir, directed programs, volunteered on multiple community activities. I tithed regularly and voted uninformed.

I never debated politics or religion. I joined causes that my friends were involved in, and donated money to only Christian organizations. I boycotted the companies that supported the "wrong" causes, signed petitions, and breastfed my baby. I was the good all American Christian woman.

And than one day, I woke up. Who had I become?

How this stubborn, Philly born, competitive gregarious girl squeezed herself into a mold...still baffles me.
I removed the masked version of who others thought I should be and found me.

I have devoured books on politics and religion and have challenged the faith I inherited. I have seen God in the eyes of a man living with AIDS whom I held hands with. When previously he was one I boycotted through not buying products from a certain company.

I have sat among a group of friends where we talked deeply and passionately and uncensored about God and felt the greatest sense of church.

I stopped tithing regularly at church and instead give money to others when I feel led and have received some of the greatest blessings.

I have been moved to tears while singing songs of worship in a church held in a bar (no alcohol is served) where a group gathers who have been cast out of the traditional church. Their robes are often smoke scented and need a good pressing, but they sing with the deepest passion and love for our God, that even the most practiced cantata performance could not portray.

I am processing all that I once deemed wrong or bad no longer through eyes of condemnation, but love.

Some wonder if I have lost religion. Perhaps, but I have found God.

I have found him out in the world, that I once fought so hard to keep my girls from.

As much as I am for protecting my children and want to shelter them from evil, I also want them to grow up knowing truths. That all in humanity are flawed, but God loves each of us regardless. That going to church does not make you a Christian. That just because someone has AIDS, or is homosexual, or is divorced does not condemn them to hell. That all of my girls are in the gifted program at school and were not sickly and only one was breastfeed for a shot period of time.

As I journey through the detox of my sheltered naive tunnel vision view of who I was, I am finding myself piece- by-piece. I am committed to teaching my girls, as Eleanor Roosevelt did with her children, "that they have an intellectual and spiritual obligation to decide for themselves what they think and not to allow themselves to accept what comes from others without putting it through their own reasoning process."

Why, why do we do this to ourselves or others?

Instead of loving others for who they are we condemn them because they are different. We look at other parents as less than ourselves because they allow their children to be who they are. We shy away from having a different point of view. We do all the right things, only to feel empty. We are quick to throw Bible verses at others wrongs, instead of embracing them in love.

Tell me, who did Jesus do this to?
"All the time we look at people- hot girls, beggars, gays, pop stars, people with dreadlocks, or suits. But over time we can develop new eyes and look into people. Jesus never talked to a prostitute, because he didn't see a prostitute. He just saw a child of God he was madly in love with." -Rich Mullins

We conform to fulfill our desire to belong. To a community, to a church, to a job, to our spouse. We set aside the wonderful creation of our individuality to become like everyone else. It is time, we embraced our God given beautiful individual beings and supported others as they did the same.


March 20, 2013

Not my Plans

Sitting down at my computer I logged on to look at my bank balance. The deposit that was suppose to be made was missing. I quickly logged onto another site to check that the money had been forwarded, only to receive a message saying it had not been.

Hands shaking I called to inquire as to why my money had not been deposited and was told there was none left in my account to forward.

I hung up and sat in a chair stunned. Unmovable.

I spiraled down into despair quote quickly.

The safety net I had, which ironically covered my debts to a penny, ended. Suddenly, unexpectedly, without warning. 

The blackest clouds filled my world, my heart sank into a pitiful place of dread. I saw no way out.
I cried. I ranted. I questioned.

Being my own worst challenge, I could not figure a way out. 

How is this going to work? What am I going to do?

I cursed Mark Twain's challenge to throw off the bowlines and sail away from the safe harbor.

Hadn't I thrown caution to the wind?  I feel so ready to be used for my good purpose in life, but now what?

Auto pilot took me through the next few days.

In trying to keep routine I set out for my run. My head and heart screamed my fears out to God. I rattled on and on....running and running. 


Suddenly I felt an echoing in my body.

Trust me Sarah..........
But, I started to protest.....
Trust me Sarah.....
But, I started to protest again....
Trust me Sarah.....continually bounced back in the calmest unwavering message and each time I protested.
And finally......Sarah, trust me.

I wish I could say that I felt elated and at peace but I didn't. Yet, I knew I needed to trust God. 


Remembering that I have always asked God to throw a brick at me as subtleties are lost on me, I began to feel a little better. I started to plan out what I needed to do, how I would move forward. Yet, I didn't like my options and fought them openly.

I resigned myself to my only choice. And then held a pity party for days.

A week later, I again logged onto my bank account to pay some bills and saw the money I thought was gone was deposited. I logged off my account and on again to be sure. 

I was speechless.


Sitting in my chair trying to find my breath, words from an old potter's clay choir song streamed through my mind.

...sometimes to start again, he needs to break it, but when he stops the wheel his loving hands reveal...a work of art the way he wants to make it...oh, Lord my heart can take if you want to use me, I'm ready for the pain. I know that you will hold me, 'till your purpose is made plain. In every pain or pleasure, I delight in your command. For Lord, you are the potter, I'm just a vessel in your hands.

I cried. 

When given the opportunity to trust. I didn't. 

I fell apart. I sat in self pity. I closed my heart to listening and found a way to grab control. I forged ahead, planning what's next. I found a way to make it work my way. For naught.

Hey Sarah, Trust me.

March 13, 2013

Maybe All We Really Need is Love

"You can throw the entire Bible away if you just keep what Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-40---Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law of the prophets. But the human race has made a mess of it and wreaked the worst havoc and wrought the most horrific destruction, in our Lord's name, because we can't live by those two most basic commandments. And we can't create heaven on earth with just a few people having that intention." (The Book of Love, Kathleen McGowan)

Days since finishing the book, the above still permeates my thoughts.Of all the biblical lessons I have heard none has touched so deeply.

Perhaps it is because my heart continually breaks seeing many seeking refuge in the church only to have the door slammed on their face. We don't accept you here because you are not one of us, you are shunned because of your depression, you are gay don't bother coming here, go home and be more submissive to your abusive husband, you are a woman and therefore that disqualifies you from helping in that program, you are ruined and going to hell because you are divorced, your kids will never know God because you don't take them to church each week, sorry we cannot help you financially you are not a member here.

Sadly, all of the above have been told to people I know. Some to me directly. Sure, I can hear them saying now..."but it was said in love. Those things are wrong....biblically wrong"...and they continue to make noise trying to justify their actions. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

There is no justification in one sinner casting another sinner aside. 

What a beautiful world could exist if we choose to love one another. To open our hearts, and arms,and doors to others whenever they came seeking. To let go of our denominational doctrines that are narrowly exclusive and instead live out---that these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.

I believe that even though the church may have closed their hearts and doors to their suffering brothers or sisters, God never does. My relationship with God is separate from my relationship to a church.  And I am not saying all churches are bad, or you shouldn't go to church, but sadly I have seen too many examples of judgement passed out from others within the church.

Too seldom do we see people in their true humanness. We see them as Jews or Gentiles, Catholics or Protestants, Chinese or American, blacks or whites (divorced, gay, poor, different from us). We fail to see them as fellow human beings made from the same basic stuff as we, molded in the same divine image.- Martin Luther King, Jr.

In our human weakness we fail to show grace to others. We fail to reach out to those who are different. We quickly give advice through our narrowed lens of understanding. We condemn others based on our own arrogant presumptions. We fail to act as Jesus would. 

I confess I have done all of the above, repeatedly. But thankfully, I have questioned, and learned, and started to really know our Jesus through my own relationship with him. 

Not because I was raised a Baptist, or a preacher's kid, or because my parents did...but because I was cast aside by my many fellow Christian friends in the past several years. Many still won't talk to me. All because I was divorced. They choose to believe rumors they heard or drew their own conclusions. I no longer fit their unblemished mold of a Christian woman. 

Since then I have seen the face of God through others who engulfed me in love. From my homeless friends who leave notes on my car to friends I now consider family, to an island home where there are no strangers, I believe more and more that all we may really need is love.

March 6, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us

Don't know how I lived without you, 'Cuz every time that I get around you, I see the best of me inside your eyes....You make me smile...

As the music played I held the hand of my best friend while my three blessings walked beside me along with Jeremy, Marie, Kristen, and Sterling.

The full moon sprinkled a trail of diamonds across the ocean as the waves beckoned us with sand kisses. The soft sand squished between our toes as we made our way through our circle of friends celebrating with us.

In spite of ourselves, we'll end up sitting on a rainbow, 
against all odds, Honey, we're the big door prize....

Our marriage celebration was full of joy and laughter and oozed the pureness of the love we shared. We cried, we laughed, we sang, we danced. It was magical.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, it's jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. Song of Solomon 8:6-7

As our anniversary approaches I reflect on our whirlwind journey to one another. The fireworks that exploded in our beginning have only intensified. 

No words can begin to explain the wonderful gift I have been given. The man I am honored to call my husband and best friend leaves me in speechless wonder often. 

His heart possess more love than I ever believed one could contain. He constantly demonstrates the commandment to "love one another...." to everyone he meets. He sees beauty in all things and is not afraid to share his world. His mind still holds childlike wonder. His emotions are raw and pure. He accepts. He does not judge. He rarely gets angry. 

He embraces my girls with open arms and challenges them to think broader. He pushes them to try new things. He allows them space to question and wonder without feeling wrong for their thoughts. He epitomizes unconditional love in loving them.

He shows me grace over and over as I repeatedly share my fears. He kisses away my tears. He allows me to trust. He takes me as I am. He loves me for me and allows me the space and support to discover more of me. He encourages. He makes me laugh and laughs with me. He challenges me to find answers for myself. He listens. He sees a better me than I ever saw. He gives me more love than my heart feels worthy of receiving. 

I followed my heart and it lead me to this wonderful man. What some in this world thought should not be, has allowed me to find the one where our love shared makes the mere act of holding his hand an exquisite pleasure. 

So honey always, 

You're the one I want to be with when the sun goes,
and that's the sound of sunshine coming down.