Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happiness is Contagious - Pass it On!

Hey guys! How are you this beautiful Tuesday morning? I am WONDERFUL. You know why? Because God is faithful... and he works in mysterious ways.

So I've been spending the last month in a time-crunched job hunt. I'd gone on several interviews that did not lead to a job offer. Then, I was offered a temp position with the possibility of it becoming permanent (pending an interview). It wasn't what I'd truly wanted, but it was a salary - and that's what I needed. So, I put my name in the drawing.

The week prior, I had submitted my resume for a position for which my friend had referred me. This job had more of the qualities I was looking for in a position, and I became really excited about it. Well, I didn't hear back last week about interviewing for it, so I assumed they weren't interested in me any further.

Cut back to this week. I interviewed for the position I'm temping at, and they want to make a decision today. Right after I interviewed with them, I got a call saying the other job - the one I was excited about - wanted to interview me - today (Tuesday). I had that moment of, "Whoa - what do I do?!" I would need the person I was interviewing with for the second job to make a decision asap, or at least give me some assurance one way or the other, in order for me to give job # 1 an answer.

After a little more excitement and nervousness, I ended up being able to interview for the position at exactly the hour I needed to, according to my schedule with the company where I'm temping. The interview went great. I gave him my elevator pitch, spoke about how genuinely interested I was in the job and why I was a great fit for it, and explained my predicament. He joked about how I was putting him on the spot - but then he assured me that he was interested in me for the position. I still have to interview with one other person, but I think it looks good!! This job is a sales job, which I never thought I would do or was interested in, but I think this is what God has for me. The job has the qualities, the growth potential, and the earning potential in which I'm interested. And higher earning potential means more money to put toward the ministry that I am starting soon :)

So, after much excitement and drama, I am declining position number one on faith that God is providing job number two. I am very happy and completely content with my decision, and so happy, content, and thankful with the way things have worked out. God is just so faithful! I thought this position was a no go, and at the last minute God surprises me and gives me an interview. Awesome!!!

In the meantime, I'll be moonlighting on my ministry. Just to put it out there, I am currently looking for web design and administrative volunteers who have a passion for ministering to teens! Preferrably in the Denver area :)

Oh - and just FYI - Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice contributed to my Tuesday morning happiness ;)

My main message and "moral of the story" today is to never underestimate what God will do... and "do not be anxious for anything" (Philippians 4:13). Even when it seems like God might not have your back... He does. And He doesn't forget and ignore your prayers and the desires of your heart :) He is faithful!

Have a GREAT day, everyone.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Yet" by Switchfoot

If it doesn't break, if it doesn't break, if it doesn't break
If it doesn't break your heart, it isn't love
No, if it doesn't break your heart, it's not enough
It's when you're breaking down with your insides coming out
That's when you find out what your heart is made of

The Real Story

'Morning, guys!

So, if you've been following my blog for the last 3-6 months, you've been following really only part of my story - the part that's been happening in this "season" of my life, which is the story about my marriage and divorce, and how that's changed my life for the better. What you DON'T know is the history that led me into that marriage. Now, for the record - I am not claiming that my story is any more dramatic or worse than anyone else's. I know it's not. It's just mine. And I'm giving you the succinct version, not the long drawn out one :)

My story really begins when I was 10 years old. That's when life started become real to me - when the hard things start to hit and you're not just going through your days as an innocent child anymore. My parents separated when I was 10. That was followed by my mom's severe depression and multiple suicide attempts over many years. My dad began a custody battle after the first one and other unhealthy situations arising, which my father won. My siblings and I moved to NY, which at that time was one of the hardest moments of my life. All I remember was looking out the back windshield and crying as we were driving away. Not as many children end up with their fathers in those situations, and I had an insane bond with my mother back then. We're still close now, but it's not the same. Her illness has forced me to keep myself at a healthy distance in order to prevent myself from getting too affected by it so that I could still function healthfully. Even though my mother was still alive, I spent all of my teenage and college years without her playing a pivotal role in my life, simply because of the fact that we were separated. That felt wierd to me, and it was sad.

The first few years after moving to New York were spent enduring some tough adjustments. My dad was a single parent who was working his butt off, and we saw him about 2 hours a night during the weeknights. He tried a couple of nannies, but we were largely independent. When I turned 16, I was responsible for being the family chauffeur in his absense. Turning 16 also marked another significant event in our family timeline. My father met and became remarried to my current stepmother very quickly. At the time, it seemed wonderful. We bought a new car, she redecorated the house, and we got a dog, a step-sister, and a step-grandmother to round out the package.

However, that happy picture quickly turned sour, as it became clear that my stepmother was emotionally abusive. She was mean to all of us (my siblings and I), but for some reason I received the worst of it. She broke me down till I could not have possibly broken any further. Also during high school, both my sister and brother went through times of cutting themselves. All of those experiences culminated in about a decade of painful and dark times for me.

It was during all of these other events transpiring that I began looking to relationships for the love and affirmation I wasn't receiving at home, and I began settling for any relationship that would come along, just to satisfy that need. - which eventually led to me settling for a man that I was never meant to be with, marrying him, and then finding myself in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage.

It was THIS that led me to dream of doing what I plan to do today... which is to carry out the vision God's given me of ministering to youth going through similar and other equally difficult experiences, because the only thing that enabled me to survive the brokenness I felt through that decade was believing that through God, I would find happiness someday.

And that's why my life verse is Psalm 27:13, which in some translations says it the way I felt it: "I would have lost hope if I hadn't believe that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

I'm living to give other teens that exact same hope - because that is what saved me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A New Chapter

Ok Friends, it's here. The first day of a new chapter.

In my last post I stated that I was no longer going to withhold the message that God has put on my heart - the reason He's created me, the purpose He's given me, the calling He's put upon me. Though I have been seriously lagging this week, I am sticking to that!

God even worked in some amazing ways this past weekend to reaffirm my calling, to open my eyes to some things I'd forgotten, and to give me fresh vision.

On Friday, my roommate and I watched the movie "To Save a Life." It is a faith-based movie about a teenage boy whose childhood friend commits suicide. It leads him to become saved and change his life and how he treats people.

It reminded me that my calling and my heart is not solely about talking about purity and relationships. That certainly is one aspect of my testimony and an area that affects teens that I DO want to talk about, but it's not the only one. God reminded me through that movie that my true heart is for ministering to teens who are going through dark times and places in their lives. That darkness could be related to family problems, depression, eating disorders, relationship issues, etc. - all of which I have dealt with in my own life. There are certainly many hard and dark things I have not had to deal with or go through, praise Jesus - but there are quite a handful that I have! My true heart is for sharing with them the one key thing that got me through all those years of darkness and difficult times - My relationship with God. I long to tell them that there is hope in Jesus, and a relationship with Him can bring them out of the darkness.

The second thing that God did this weekend was allowing me to meet a teenage girl at church who is going through her parents' divorce. I didn't get a lot of talk time with her, as she was very quiet, but I at least had the opportunity to give her my email address and phone number and express that I was available if she wanted to talk or hang out. I think it might have scared her a little, but I don't care! I was doing what God put me on this earth to do, and I was grateful for the opportunity, even if nothing ever comes of it. I was being obedient, so it won't be wasted.

Divorce is a special issue to me, because that's when the dark times in my life began. I had a distinct moment when my parents separated when I decided that I wanted to help "other kids like me." And 16 years later, that's what I'm setting out to do with the vision God's given me.

In the past few months, I've shared on my blog the part of my testimony and my life that related to purity and relationships. In the coming days, I'm going to share the rest of my testimony that more aptly relates to the entirety of what God's calling me to do.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tests and Blessings

A little while ago I wrote a post describing some of the difficulties I began going through immediately after Heaven Fest. Isn't that just like Satan to want to shoot us down when we're on a spiritual high? These past two weeks have definitely been a test of faith for me. I have been so broke that I didn't know how I was going to buy food. I have been heart broken that my ex would continue to deliberately hurt me even while being so far away and not immediately in his life anymore, considering all that he's already put me through and done to me. I've been applying for jobs, uncertain of when I am going to once again have a salary that meets my needs and allow me to pay my bills on time (and to catch up on the ones that are now late). I have interviewed for a job I seriously wanted, only to get rejected the next morning.

These two weeks have been HARD.

But God has been steadily providing for me and showering me with blessings along the way, reminding me that He loves me. He once again moved my roommates to help take care of me, which they've graciously done more than once this summer. He provided a single day temp job, money from babysitting.... He blessed me with a freelance writing opportunity that not only provided for my physical needs but blessed me emotionally. He even showed that He cares through the little things - like giving me a grande frapp at Starbucks when I had ordered a tall and lamented over how expensive it was (talls used to be 3-something, now they're 4-something) - on a day when I truly just needed a pick-me-up. Today, he blessed me with the possibility of a long-term temp assignment, which will at least give me some income while I continue looking for a permanent position.

God has been SO faithful to take care of me every day, even while the big questions and big needs are still to be answered. God always gives us enough for the moment. And while I've been doing my best to be strong in the face of adversity, He has seen me and blessed me. How can you not be in love with a God like that?

When I told my mom about the freelance assignment, she said, "Wow, Sara. God is really moving in your life." She was referring to the succession of the opportunities with Heaven Fest and the freelancing. That really encouraged me. I know He is, but it gives me continued hope that He is and that He will continue to give me such amazing opportunities. My life has honestly been better than ever and chock-full of blessings, opportunities, and growth since I separated from my ex, and I have been filled with a new love for life that I didn't have before. I just hope it keeps going in the same direction, you know?

However, I've had some sobering realizations in the past week regarding my blog and even my presence on Facebook. And that is that they are pretty narcissistic! Though my blog talks about God a lot, it serves as an ego boost when people read it. And let's face it, most of the posts are about my life. When it comes to Facebook. I realize that a lot of my posts are just talking about me! Or asking people to pray for me, asking for help in networking for jobs, etc... instead of reaching out to others and giving. That hit home a little bit. It was a little hard to realize, and the truth is I want that to change. There has been a lot of talk about how Facebook is all about our generation's narcissism, but that doesn't have to be the case... we can use it for worthy causes, for ministry, and for glorying God's name. It's all about how you use it.

Let's make it less about our name, and more about HIS.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lessons After Heaven Fest

Hey Guys! I'm back from working my booty off for Heaven Fest. And it was worth it!!!!

There are so many stories and moments to talk about in telling you guys about it, but I think it will literally take 5 separate posts! It was hard work, it was stressful, it was dirty (literally), it was hot, it was sweaty, it was tiring, it was fun, it was full of laughter and smiles, it was moving, it was a high, it was ministering to volunteers, it was volunteers ministering to me... it was God's name being glorified and His love being poured out... it was amazing. And SO worth it. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And God willing, I will again next year!

I was thrilled to arrive home (I stayed with another Heaven Fester who lived closer to the site for the week), but my first week after Heaven Fest was waiting with some challenges for me. First, working that hard for a huge ministry event fills you with various emotions, and you really need to process through them afterwards... so I had that going on. After the event I had one day off and then I had to jump back into going to the office this week. But the doozy was finding out that my ex's spousal support did not come through this month.

He already owes me over $2,000 for previous missed payments, but finally, June and July came through. I was really depending on that money this month, though I was relying on God for the rest of the money I needed to pay my bills (the support pays most, but not all). I had been saying in July that God was going to do miracles for me this month... but now I REALLY needed a miracle.

It left me really broken. After everything he's done to me, to know that he's screwing around so that he can hurt me further by not providing the money that he's supposed to and that I need, really hurts me. Like I need him to hurt me any more? And like I really want him to be able to hurt me from this far away...

I had two days in a row after finding that out that I really struggled to keep it together, as I still had to go into Heaven Fest. It took a lot to not have any breakdowns in the office. My roommates had the pleasure of witnessing those, lol. But they are such gracious sisters and have helped me the whole way through this summer and through the divorce.

I'm still waiting to see how God is going to provide this month... so far He's providing through my ridiculously generous sisters that I live with. God always has a plan... but as for my bills, who knows.

I am currently getting my butt in high gear on my post-Heaven Fest job hunt, and praise Jesus, God graciously provided me with a short-notice interview this Friday morning. It is for a customer service position with Catholic Health Initiatives, a healthcare nonprofit ministry, whose mission I really like.

Regardless of what happens, I am learning in this season just to trust HIS plan, even when it doesn't look like what I had in mind or what I asked for or what I want. God sees way more than we do - sometimes what we THINK we want might not turn out to be what we want, and His preventing us from going our own way is really Him saving us from heartache. And He has a bigger purpose in giving us things that look like something we don't want - remember, His will is always for the salvation of souls and the glory of HIS name.

I've struggled for many years over wondering how my big dreams are going to come true, when it feels like I'm a million miles away... but God has really been working the lesson of being faithful into me. Being faithful to do what He's called me to RIGHT NOW and doing my best at it - and He will take care of the rest.

I started reading "Coming Back Stronger" by Drew Brees at Barnes and Noble today... and as I was reading his inspiring story (even though I'm still in the early years of the story), I was filled with the sense that God has bigger things in store for me than I can even imagine... things I have NO idea of. And that filled me with a peace about being faithful with where I am right now, while simultaneously encouraging me to pursue my dreams and the visions God's given me as best as I can.

"Do your best and give God the rest."

I was also convinced that I need to marry a Christian NFL player... And we DID just get Tim Tebow ;) LOL!