Pressing On

Sometimes, the faith journey can feel like a sprint, while other times, it can feel like a marathon. Regardless of what it feels like, the necessity of pressing on stays the same.

The idea of pressing on has been somewhat of a theme in this season.

If I had given up on getting back to kinda who I was, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Pressing on has been challenging-oh so hard-at times, but all the tears and tantrums have been worth it to see how far I’ve come.

Don’t think that this is just me wanting recognition or a pat on the back, but the example is meant to show you the value of pressing on.

I’m not a runner but that’s another example that will resonate with people.

How does one run a marathon?

You have to persevere-keep going-when your muscles hurt. You can’t give up the moment things get tough.

The same is true with faith. It’s easy to trust God when things are going well. Life is all butterflies and roses. But what about when your plans get derailed. You get an unexpected call from the doctor, or you lose your job. Life seems to be more thorns and wilderness. God seems so far away but in reality, we’re the ones who have moved, not Him.

Will you keep trusting God even when it doesn’t look like anything is happening?

Paul is a great example of that. Life was good, and it was horrible-he was beaten and imprisoned. It ebbed and flowed between being good and bad, but throughout he remained close to God. He was honest about where he was, but he never truly blamed God for his suffering. He writes in Philippians 3: 12-15;

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”

That shocks me because he had every reason to be upset at God. True, God didn’t ever cause suffering, but the suffering was because of God. But he never blamed God. In fact, he counts it kinda an honor-he rejoiced in it.

“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”

Colossians 1:24

Because I was curious about what the word perseverance and phase press on actually meant, I looked them up.

Perseverance (n.)

persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Press on/ahead (phrasal verb with press)

to start or continue doing something in a determined way, often despite problems

Both words/phrases hint to continuing despite problems and hardships. It’s the idea that problems will happen, but we need to be determined in continuing despite.

So here’s a couple tips to help you press on when you feel like giving up on Jesus:

 

  • Recall past persevering accomplishments.

 

Remember the times when your perseverance paid off. Allow those memories to motivate you when times get tough.

 

  • Celebrate victories (even small ones).

 

When you are in the midst of troubles or hard times, it’s easy to get discouraged. Celebrate victories. Even small one’s matter. I remember when I walked down the stairs for the first time in a long time without holding onto a handrail. It was a small thing, but I threw my arms up in a victory stance. Luckily, I was in a stairwell with no one in it, or people would have given me weird looks. Celebrate the moments where you get into the Word or listen to godly podcasts. They might seem like a small thing, but sometimes you just need a win.

 

  • Take a step-just one.

 

Sometimes,  the big picture is so intimidating that you are frozen in place. In order to move, you need to just focus on taking on step at a time-on breathe at a time.

  • Just keep going (even if it’s only in your mind).

 

Sometimes, half the battle is in your hard. My brother always says “Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are both right”. Half of the battle is what you tell yourself. If you tell yourself you can’t do this or to give up, then you won’t get there. But if you tell yourself that you’ll eventually get there even though it’s hard, then you’ll get there eventually.

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9 Things I Desire for 2019

A new year brings a new beginning and a fresh start. As this New Year begins, I am starting to think

about what I want for this New Year. What do I want this year to be about?  As I prayed about what I want

for this year, two words came to mind: content and anchor. These words have played a part in my journey

during this past year, and I believe they have a role to play in the year coming up.

For the first time in probably forever I desire to put down roots temporarily and be content in my corner of

the world. I desire to anchor myself to family and friends as well as anchor myself to God. I made a list of

things that desire for the year ahead as I incorporate these words into my life. I am not talking about New

Year’s Resolutions. We tend to think that we will not complete our resolutions. They are normally just stated

to help us feel good about our plans for the New Year. The idea behind what I want out of this year is growth

and adventure. I want these items to contribute to how I interact with others and God.

  • Cross at least one item off of my bucket list.

Life is meant for good friends and great adventures. The adventures of this new year comes from

taking chances, stepping out of my comfort zone. In the spirit of continuing to be brave, I desire to

take new adventures and check things off of my bucket list. Sometimes you have to allow yourself

to pursue the things that you want, even if it just to say you did. I checked things off this year like

visiting a new country, but there’s more I desire to check off.

  • Make new friends and deepen friendships.

2018 overflowed with new friendships, and I want 2019 to expand those relationships and make

new friends throughout my adventures.  Charles Swindoll writes, “I cannot even imagine where I

would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face

it, friends make life a lot more fun”.  I do not know where I would be without the amazing friends I have

and the ones I made this year. There is a moment when you meet someone and something clicks. You

become friends, and they impact your life in ways you never thought of. This year I strive to be more

vulnerable with the friends in my life. Inviting the people I love into my heart and life.

  • Embrace the life of freedom-this life of more-that I have been given.

As a child of God, I have been given freedom. I am no longer a slave to fear, perfection, and insecurity.

I can embrace life with an attitude of freedom because Christ had given me life. Freedom from fear

and insecurity is something that I have been wrestling with over the past year. This year, I am choosing

to live in that freedom and embrace the Creator of the Universe.

  • Learn to make each moment, good or bad, count-and be content where I am.

The thing about living a brave and free life is that I want to make every moment count. I do not want to

look back on this year and regret the passed moments and missed opportunities. I desire to look back

on my year and say, “Wow. What a year!” because of the relationships I made and the moments that I

allowed myself to live, I mean, truly live. I want to live life to the fullest, as I take step out of my shadow

and be brave with my decisions. I’ve allowed myself to anchor myself to here and now. The small

moments matter. The smiles. The breezes. The quiet. These little moments like holding hands, reading

a book for fun, the reassurance that I am heading on the right path.  These moments are not flashy

moments, but rather they creep up into your life.

  • Be intentional with the people in my life.

As I deepen my relationships, I want to reach out to the people around me. As I am intentional with my

conversations, I can invest in people’s lives. At the end of the day, accomplishments are amazing, and

material possessions are nice, but relationships are the only things that we can take with us to Heaven.

People matter.

  • Spend more time discovering who God is.

This new year is a new opportunity to spend time discovering the Creator of the Universe and me. My

relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life. I desire to spend more time intentionally

getting to know God and allowing him to love me. To love the places in my heart where my deepest

insecurities and hopes lie.  Beth Moore writes, “May God remind us daily—no matter what kind of

obstacles we face—that we are loved and empowered by the One who brought the universe into

existence with the mere sound of His voice. Nothing is impossible for Him”. As I get to know God

and delve into His word, He continues to love and empower me. He pushes me out of my comfort

zone into places that I never thought about, but that are so incredibly better than I could have planned.

  • Figure out what makes me tick, what I feel passionate about and delve further into it.

As I bravely and vulnerably surrender my time to Lord, He begins to show me glimpses of the woman

he created me to be. I bravely try new things, develop new habits as I discover new interests. As I

celebrate my twenties, I desire to use my time this year to discover new passions and bravely

explore the place these passions interact with my life. Whether it is volunteering at a free clinic,

helping with an afterschool program, or raising money for a cause halfway across the world, I desire

for this year to be a defining year of me interacting with the lesser known passions and desires in my heart.

I desire to continue to figure out this new Sara and who God is shaping me to be.

  • Cry unashamedly.

Crying signifies vulnerability, and I hate being vulnerable, truly vulnerable. This year, as I bravely become more

vulnerable with the people around me, I give myself the freedom to cry. Not emotionally crying all the time, but

to cry when I need to cry without being ashamed of tears. Sometimes, being strong means not holding back the

tears but letting them fall.

  • Worry less about what people think.

I have a tendency to be reserved and cautious because I am afraid of what others think of me. I

selfishly think that they care about every little thing I do. The reality is that as I live in freedom I

shake off the perceptions of other and the expectations I place on myself. The only expectations

that matter are God’s. I am pretty, smart, awkward, quirky, organized, vivacious, entertaining,

outspoken, and introverted. I am fiercely loyal to my friends. I have an obsession with colored pens

and planners. I love reading. I am learning to accept myself exactly as God created me quirks and

all.

2018 was a year to remember, but here’s to more adventures with God in 2019 as I investigate my

corner of the world.

There’s Always Room for One More

There’s always room for one more.

This was a saying I heard all the time growing up. In Nigeria, there was always room for one more in the car and our lives.

In Haiti, I encountered this thought  process again as we fit as many people as we could into transportation to get from place to place. Personal space wasn’t really a thing, to be honest.

Now we kind of laugh at this because in our culture,  personal space is a big deal and time is a commodity that can be spent. But, in thinking about it, it really speaks to a deeper, beautiful thing.

There’s always room for one more.

No one is excluded. Everyone is welcome.

I think Jesus thought that way. No one was excluded from His friendship. No one unworthy of His time and energy.

This mentality is one I want to cultivate in my heart. There’s always room for one more-in my heart and life.

I think western society has cultivate this image of scarcity. It’s weird to say because we have so much excess, but we have cultivated-unconsciously-this idea that we don’t have time and space. This idea that we have to plan for exactly how many people are coming so we don’t run out. This idea that if someone is better at something or prettier, than we are less. The idea that there’s not enough of anything to go around.

I want to cultivate the mentality for more in myself.

Just because someone has something that I don’t doesn’t mean there is not enough of that thing to go around, or that God is withholding some blessing from my life, it just means it’s not my time to acquire that thing.

I want to embrace this idea that there is always room for people in our hearts. Some people camp out in your heart for a while, and some just stopped by on their way to somewhere else, but that doesn’t mean we should stopped making room for others.

There’s is always room for one more. There’s room around the table for you so pull up a chair and sit for awhile. Richness is found in relationship whether the people are in our life for awhile or just for a season.

There’s always room for one more.

Embrace Your Messy Hair

I’ve been blessed with my messy curls.

I used to not like them. I wanted blonde, straight hair like my friends. It wasn’t until college that I started to embrace my curls.

Now I wouldn’t trade my curls for anything, but I’ve learned how to manage the crazy.

Here are a few tips and tricks that I use manage my messy, crazy and wonderful hair. I’m by no means an expert. These are just some things that have worked for me and so I thought I would share.

  1. Don’t brush your hair.

That sounds weird to say but with curly hair it’s not a good idea to brush your hair and NEVER brush it dry. Brushing your hair damages the curls and increases the frizz.

2. Dry shampoo is my favorite friend.

I don’t wash my hair but twice a week (I see your face). It’s not as gross as it sounds. If my hair is visibly dirty, I wash my hair but washing it too frequently takes the natural oils away. It dries it out and makes it more frizzy. Because I don’t wash my hair that frequently, dry shampoo makes it fresher without all the work of actually washing my hair.

3. You can try your hardest to control it, but in the end, it’s just going to do its thing. Accept it. Embrace it.

My state of mind got better when I decided not to fight against my hair. Instead of me freaking out because my hair will do its own thing regardless of how much time I put into doing it. Im learning to take an “it is what it is” attitude with my hair. I mean 9 times out of 10 when I feel like my hair looks awful, someone else is thinking it looks good.

4. Condition. Condition. Condition.

The thing about curls is that you have to keep them hydrated. Conditioner reduces the frizz and keeps your curls looking controlled and defined.

These are just a few tips and tricks that help me embrace my messy and crazy hair.

The Very Worst Missionary

I just finished this book by Jamie Wright.

10/10 would recommend reading with a grain of salt.

She has some good points, but there is some shaky theology. She also uses some language so if Christians using language makes you mad just read the highlights and not the book.

Here are the things I pulled from the book( these are my opinion so if you disagree or agree take time and research it for yourself. I would recommend that you don’t just blindly follow me because I could be wrong.)

  1. Missionaries are normal people. Missionaries are not “more spiritual” because they decide to give up American (or their comfortable) culture for one that is different. They have similar struggles as the average American but we get shocked when we hear about their struggles.
  2. Our calling is not what we do as much as it is who we are while we do it. I used to be convinced that God would “call” me to suburban America because that was the environment I was least comfortable in. Now, I have realized it’s not where you are but who you are that matter. You can be a missionary anywhere and anytime. Some people are “called” to go overseas but Jesus simply said “Love your neighbor”. “I’m pretty sure he meant, like, my actual neighbor—the person or people nearest me at any given moment. At home. At work. On the subway. In the supermarket. Y’know, neighbors.”
  3. The only way to know how to truly love your neighbor is to truly know your neighbor. I’ve heard stories of short term missionaries going into a community and building a church or doing something and leaving and then the nationals tear down and rebuild it according to what’s common in that culture. If we go into missions with a savior mentality than we lose something crucial—relationships. Relationships are hard and time consuming. There is no physical measurement suggested for relationships. They don’t have the same measurements that say building a church does. You can say you built a church and built relationships, but you can only visually see one. You can’t see the hours spent talking over coffee and just simply being present. You can’t measure the depth of a relationship as a grande or venti. But the content of the time together matters.

What Does It Mean To Survive?

“Life and living is the very definition of surviving. It is what the living do.

We survive.

In the absence of survival comes our death and so, when we survive, it is not the dreaded anchor around our necks. It is not some awful curse and sentence.“
Survival is the simple act of choosing to get up again—taking the next right step and breathing.

Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

We hear the word all the time.  In this brain injury community, especially, we toss it around and heap it and don it.    Survive.  Survivors.  TBI survivors….

I was wondering how it is that so many of us feel so blessed and gifted of this life after injury while so many feel so cursed and struck down.

Is it simply a matter of severity of injury?

I think part of it, at least, has to do with how we view what it means to survive.  What our own definition of it is and how that evolves over time.

Think of your own situation…What words and phrases come to mind when you think about surviving TBI?

I hear from so many survivors and, for many, the term “survived” is personalized, surrounded by and thrust into a tangled mess of phrases that include, “Got stuck with,” “End up dealing with,” “I lost…,”…

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Brainaversary

In 8 days, it will be a year. December 17, 2016, my life changed. In a moment, life can change drastically. I almost died. I should have died, but I didn’t. I’m alive. That’s a great thing. I wake up every morning and take a deep breath because often we take being alive for granted.

I have a lot of emotions coursing through my body: grief because of what life could have been, happiness because I’m alive and fear because I’m unsure about what’s next.

This is a weird anniversary to celebrate. It’s a day that I don’t really want to remember. This year has truly been bittersweet- to the very essence of the word. There have been times I don’t want to remember-bitter and hard moments, but there have been some sweet moments. Times, I want to capture in my mind and lock away in my heart.

Here are some of the things, I’ve learned about myself and God though this season.

  1. I am loved

I am deeply loved by God. This has, hands down, been the hardest season of my life thus far, but I see God’s hand in everything. The fact that I’m not dead is a miracle. I choose to see everything, not as coincidence, but as God saying, “You are loved more than you can ever know “.

I am deeply loved by people. When something like this happens, you truly know who your friends are. My family and I have been overwhelmed by the love people have shown us. We ultimately saw the body of Christ working as it was created to work as people from all over the world prayed for me.

2. It’s okay to not be okay.

I don’t have to have everything all together at any given moment. I probably won’t have anything all together, but that’s okay. It’s exhausting to put on a face that’s everything is okay. Sometimes, it is good,but sometimes, I miss my old life. I miss the old me. During those moments, God sits with me in the mess. It’s okay to grieve that, but it’s not okay to wallow in it.

3. Life is bigger than just me

This summer, I went to Seattle with some friends. Looking at the mountains, I realized the bigness of God. That is part of what He is teaching me lately. When I focus on all my problems, they tend to overwhelm me. When I looked at the mountains, I pictured my problems that big and God scooping them up in His hands. My soul was able to breathe because the pressure was off me. God had control. I knew that, but it finally sunk into my soul. My life was just a blimp in the radar of eternity and His plan of redemption. God cares more about my growth than my comfort.

4. I can’t ruin God’s plan

“If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my friend, are not that powerful.” Lisa Bevere

This is not how I saw my life going a year ago. This is a detour. I may have gotten off the path of “my plan” because of the car accident, but I feel pretty strongly that this where I’m supposed to be. I have no doubt that the road I was on before my accident was God’s plan. The thing about detours is that they are inconvenient and time consuming, but you still end up at your destination. Life is different now, but I’m still on the road to my destiny.

So in 8 days, I’m celebrating my brainaversary-the day God chose to spare my life. I survived with a new brain so I’m celebrating a year of recovery and a year with the new me.