Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fancy Walmart

I realize that the title of this blog are two words not typically seen together.  But it is a true statement.  On Tuesday night Jourdan and I went Thanksgiving shopping for our 2nd annual non-traditional Thanksgiving feast.  The trip had two purposes: to gather the proper ingredients for our meal and to purchase t-shirts to bedazzle for our Florida vs. Florida State game day activities.  

When we left our apartment we decided we would head up to Walmart hoping to encounter some yellow smiley faced rolled back prices on our ingredients, t-shirts, and maybe even a tire or two. Arriving at the Walmart we were familiar with, we were disheartened because it was closed.  And I don't mean just for the night but closed forever.  You know the economy is in distress when a Walmart closes its doors.  

In order to remedy our situation, Jourdan googled Walmart, called them and asked for the closest one to us.  Upon instruction, I turned my truck around, headed down the highway, exited, drove a few miles, and then what met our gaze was pretty unbelievable.  It was a brand new Super Walmart, complete with new logo, fonts, and looking almost massive home-like with fake windows and storm shutters.  I think the building may actually have been sparkling.

I parked my truck far away because of course it was packed and Jourdan and I scampered like hyper squirrels towards the doors excited about what might await us inside.  As we walked in, I think I heard angels singing "ta dah" as we gazed at the well spaced displays and noticed the remarkable cleanliness of the store.  Beginning our walk through the store, we also were surprised at the fake hardwood floors (also known as fardwood) that separated each section.

The atmosphere of this Walmart was one that inspired you to shop around and buy, unlike most of my Walmart experiences where I just want to find what I need and leave quickly but usually can't because only 2 of the 50 registers are actually open.  I mean, we almost left with a Texas flag shower curtain and some pineapple cream cheese.  Two things I would never ever want unless under the influence of illegal substances or due to the effects of fancy Walmart hypnosis. So if you struggle with debt, stay far away from the sparkly, beckoning Walmart on Forrest Lane.

After oohing and ahhing at the shoe section that actually looks like a shoe store, finding the Thanksgiving ingredients, and selecting our t-shirts and iron-on letters, we purchased our items from the happy checker and made our way to my truck parked in Oklahoma.  Peering inside of my truck, I saw a life-size teddy bear that my friends had found in their neighbors trash can a couple of months ago and strapped him in my passenger side with a note taped to him to cheer me up after running out of gas one unfortunate morning.  I had been needing to set him free for a while so I decided if he was going to be happy anywhere, it would probably be at the dazzling Supercenter where people are friendly and love, joy, hope, and smiley faces abound.  

As we emptied the contents of our cart, I got Mr. Teds out of my truck, placed him in the child seat of the cart and rolled him into the cart farm.  He looked funny sitting in the cart and I tried to imagine who he would get to cheer up next.  While we were driving off, I do have to admit, it made me a little sad to see him in my rear view mirror sitting stiffly in the cart all by himself as Jourdan asked me how it felt to abandon the stuffed friend.  In response to her question, I halted the brakes, threw my truck into reverse, navigated back to the cart farm, got out, ran around to the passenger side, opened the door, unbuckled Jourdan, scooped her up, placed her in the child seat of a cart next to Mr. Teds, jumped back into my truck and screeched off -- all without saying a single word. Ok, so not really, but I mean, what if :)

And by the way, our Thanksgiving friend feast was a huge success.  Jourdan cooked  her first delicious roast and made the comment "I think this is my proudest day as a woman" (her proudest day as a man was when she shot that twelve point buck that one time -- not really again, but I mean, what if?).  While we are on the subject of Jo-Jo (that's Jourdan), we were watching bits and pieces of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning and saw the Sesame Street float with all the Muppets from the show.  Jourdan asked me what animal Snuffalufagus is and I told her he is an elephant.  I then asked her what she thought he was. Her response was "I thought he was a Snuffalufagus." I mean, what if?

Tomorrow we head to Austin for the rest of the weekend.  Game day shirts and necklaces are ready for the FSU and UF grads to prance in down the streets in the heart of the Big 12 South. No one there will really get it and that's half of the fun.  Can't wait to see what God has in store in ATX for Jo-Jo and Danger Kitten.  Stories await so in the words of Urkel "Don't fret my pet!"

Happy Thanksgiving!  


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pass Me Not

Yesterday was a weird day for me.  Work was quiet and slow giving me ample time to be alone in my mind.  Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it can be a little frightening because my thoughts take off and go to places they were never intended to go.  Some of my thoughts packed their bags and camped out in the imaginary land of worst case scenarios and conclusion jumping, causing me to be anxious, squirmy, and panicked.  And then every once in a while, valiant Truth raced in on his caramel colored horse (yeah, I know it's not white, I dig a caramely horsey, I mean, what if?), searched for the loose thoughts and beckoned them back to safety with his words "Do not be anxious about anything", and "My peace I give to you, do not let your heart be troubled," and "do not worry about tomorrow..." bringing rest and right perspective to my rebellious, little mind.

Since I had so much alone time at work, when I got home I knew I needed my roommate. Jourdan was out of town and Kristen was not home yet, so I called her to find out her plans. Much to my relief, she was headed home so we decided to make some chicken and spend some time together.  As we were waiting for Kristen's special chicken to cook, we opened up the guacamole and ate the entire container except for the part that I dumped on the rug in the middle of the kitchen floor.   A typical, graceful, Sarah moment for sure :)

As we were getting dinner ready, we had some time to catch up and share our experiences over the last couple of days.  It was interesting to listen to Kristen and hear about the tough place God has her in currently and then for me to share my own unexplainable course of events. Even though our situations are different, we both find ourselves in a place of questioning what God is doing and while we know in our minds that He is faithful and good, we were both questioning that in our hearts.  

As we shared our stories, I not surprisingly got emotional and the tears came down my face a-freaking-gain. (Who knew the body could produce so much salt water? These days I feel like I have an IV connected to the Pacific Ocean or something.)  Kristen was experiencing her own place of processing and emotion and it was sweet to be able to sort through our questions together.  One of the coolest things about our living situation in humble little apartment 2002, amidst the randomness and silliness, is the transparency that is found here.   A cool, connecting gift for sure.  

After eating our dinner, Kristen went to her room and began playing her keyboard.  I came in a few minutes later and we spent some time talking about music and worship and God.   At some point we began discussing old hymns and Kristen told me her favorites and I asked her if she knew "Pass me Not". I'm not sure why God brought that song to mind since it is relatively obscure, but as I sang the words to her and as she figured it out on the keyboard, I realized it was the exact plea of my heart and mind during this time of wondering what in the world God is doing.

Here are the words to a couple of the verses:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry;
While on others thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief

So as cheesy as it sounds, Kristen and I played and sang some music to God and He was there among us.  I was reminded that it is ok to ask God to help me in my unbelief--to give my questions and frustrations to him, because He can handle it.  I also realized that my heart is at a place of wanting to be nothing if not purposeful in bringing his relief and transformation to others--whatever it takes--and although I am fearful of him "passing me by"  I know He will not and honestly, that He is not.

When I got in bed last night, I still had the same unanswered questions.  But through my time with Kristen, valiant Truth faithfully rode in again on his caramel colored horse and set my mind on things above and His rest tenderly followed.

Currently, I find myself in a place where trust, belief, and pursuit have never been so real to me as they are now and it is hard work.  And yet the cool part about my situation is that when the pieces begin coming together, I will only be able to say "God absolutely did that" -- not me but Him, and I can't wait.  He will come through for me, He will come through for Kristen, He will come through for you.  

God, help us in our unbelief and please, pass us not.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hot Stones

A couple of days ago,  I found myself laying on a table, face down, naked bod covered by a blanket (oooh, cover your eyes!), table warmers on, and hot river stones on my back. I was blessed to be at a spa getting my first ever hot stone massage. While I have had a massage before, this is never a frequent occurrence in my random life so when the opportunity presents itself, I fully enjoy it.

Feeling the warmth from the table combined with the heat of the rocks on my skin and the pressure of the the therapist's hands working through my muscles, should have been enough to put me to sleep or at least get me close, but while my body felt relaxed, my mind and heart were not. A sadness sneakily crept over me and as my head was face down in the little cushiony breathing hole, my eyes welled up with tears and I could feel them gliding down my cheeks and plopping to the floor beneath me. It was a quiet cry that was not noticeable to the therapist, but a cry nonetheless. My nose even began to run, and not having access to my arms at the moment, and feeling very much like a veggie tale,  I could either let my nose drip or inhale the drippage back into my head. Choosing the seemingly subtle option, I inhaled still hoping the massage therapist was blind to my sad little state.  Just then, however, she instructed me to turn over. Busted. While keeping my eyes closed I obeyed hoping she thought it was normal to have wet eyelashes and damp cheeks, and then hurriedly wiped my nose first grade style against the back of my hand and tried to regain composure. Thankfully, the tears dried up and the massage continued without any huge emotional hiccups.

As I sit here a couple of days later and process my experience, I realize that the grief that showed up very much unannounced is part of God's healing process for me. A wise man in my life told me that when grief grips, go ahead and do the work of experiencing it. Don't try to ignore it or run away from it, feel it and know that God is still purposeful in the pain and in the loss. So yesterday when I was on that table and the pangs of loss jumped on my back along with the hot stones, as untimely as it was, I knew I had to be in it.

Many times I want my grief to hurry up and run it's course.  I want to feel happy and my eyes to dance with lightness more often than naught, but then I am reminded of the realness of pain. It is typically not an overnight fix and in the earlier stages, I found it to be sometimes a moment by moment process. Yet I am convinced pain brings our insides to light and the reality of it connects us and moves us in ways that sometimes all of our successes never could. 

Thankfully, I know this pain will not be forever.  I also know it has served to connect me in beautiful ways to others and to God himself. The twinge of my grief reminds me that this world is not intended to be traveled alone, and that I am in desperate need of a  God who restores and redeems. Pain pushes me forward to do the things I was created to do because I am reminded of life's brevity and how I want my days to be spilled out purposefully.

During the massage, the therapist would take a stone and push it down the lengths of my muscles, working through the tension with both pressure and heat which formed a picture in my mind of my own grief. Like the hot stone treatment, God is using His realness wrapped in pain to apply pressure, heat, and sometimes unexpected grief to call out very clearly the dreams in my heart and mind that had become muddled and even confusing in my own strength. It sounds odd, but in many ways, God is bringing relief through my pain and putting me in a place to more effectively be His relief.  Such beautiful, twisted, foolishness...

If you ever have the chance, try out a hot stone massage. You probably won't cry but it's ok if you do. Realness connects and his hot stones are often necessary for us to ultimately become. If I am to be a sucker for the ridiculousness of Christ, pain, in a weird way, is both a compassionate and beautiful part of the deal.

Oh, and the kitty caller did not do a good job of beckoning her cat back to her homestead last night (although Jourdan reported that close to midnight she certainly tried very loudly for a good while).  I woke up to meowing over and over again at about 2:30 am which leads to this official statement: Kitty and kitty caller beware. If we wanted you for an alarm we would have set our phones to the odd neighbor ring.  But we don't and we didn't.  Now go and sin no more.

 I mean, what if?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ruh-Pig Ruh-Latin

Tonight, silliness prevailed in apartment 2002. All of the roomies got home around the same time and piled on Kristen's bed.  While Jourdan was stealing programs from K-Nast's computer and K-Nast was trying to make her tummy feel better with a hot sock filled with rice (I think it's a Chinese medicinal treatment she picked up while serving in Mexico or maybe pick), I was reading aloud funny excerpts from "A Bunny Tale", the birthday book compilation Jourdan and the contributing friends put together for my birthday earlier this year.  

A little while later, Jourdan and I left to go to a Kathleen Edwards concert (girlfriend can play the guitar and also has a sparkly, flesh colored electric mandolin that my eyes had never before beheld).  After she had played our favorite clever song "come back to me" and finished her set, Jourdan and I got in the car and headed back to our apartment.  On the way home a new language was born.  It's called the language of Ruh.  So if I was writing in ruh it would be like this: "Ruh-the Ruh-concert ruh-was ruh-fun."  If you are not yet able to catch on, don't you ruh-worry, I will periodically give tutorials throughout this blog and you will be fluent before you ruh-know ruh-it! 

Other than language creating, the most brilliant part of our evening had to be when we drove up and parked outside of our apartment and Jourdan suggested we go outside of Kristen's window and mimic the kitty call to see if she noticed.  Jourdan let out the first "HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY," to which I responded with an identical second one.  After a few of those rounds, I told Jourdan to start and then I came in at the same time with a kitty harmony.  Sure enough, we saw the shadow of Kristen come up to her window and peek out of the blinds. Jourdan and I were laughing so hard that my HERE KITTY KITTY KITTIES became slow and interrupted.  We finally saw Kristen's shadow collapse in giggles so we ran around the corner, back into our gate, and up to our apartment with squeals of success.  As we entered into our homestead, K-Nast was still laughing and we had a good time ruh-rehashing the evenings events.  

Well, my brain is pretty tired from language creating and doing puppet shows with our bare hands out of the sun roof to Justin Timberlake while driving through downtown Dallas (forgot to mention that part, just know that it happened and it was awesome -- weird but awesome nontheless) and Kitty calling so my work is done here for now.  Hope this entry today made at least one giggle surface :) 

Ruh-I ruh-mean, ruh-what ruh-if?


Monday, November 10, 2008

Get Ready for the Rain

I just finished hanging out with my friend Chelsie.  I listened to her, she listened to me all while sitting at a small four person table in a sweet little coffee shop. And although there were only two seats occupied (by hineys at least, my green bag occupied another one), I absolutely know that in the vacant chair sat Jesus himself.  Paul says in Acts that it is " Him we live and move and have our being..." and I know that while Chelsie and I were sharing our lives -- the heart wrenching parts, the exciting parts, and the scary parts as well -- He was "living, moving, and being" through us and hanging there right with us. 
I loved listening to Chelsie tonight and the things God is calling and sometimes wrestling out of her.  My heart completely identified with how He is not allowing her to compromise or settle for good at the expense of His vision for her -- even when practicality is against her.  How encouraged I am when Jesus drops others in my path that are striving to live purposefully despite how foolish it appears to the rest of the world.  

I am convinced that freedom comes when God aligns our heart to His in such a way that moves us to forsake even the potentially good for His distinct call on our lives.  While not the easy path, it is a life of impact and one where we see God, we see his movement.  And then, as if seeing him is not enough, we become his movement.  

A God that uses us to be His movement, His relief.  When He never even needed me.  In these moments, Jesus looks up over his coffee mug at the table where I am currently sitting (I'm imagining him in worn jeans and a cool tee, maybe with a skateboard propped against the side of the chair or a guitar somewhere close) and He knowingly looks into my eyes and I am gracefully reminded that despite the unknowns, frustrations, and heartaches, it's worth it.  Life with my cool, skateboarding, guitar playing, relief bringing, relentlessly loving Jesus is so worth it. 

As Chelsie was about to leave a little while ago, she looked at me and said, "Sarah, the idea I keep hearing for you as I listen to you is get ready for the rain, just get ready for the rain.  I think He wants your field to be prepared for the harvest."  And although neither one of us knows all God intends with that truth, my heart bent in agreement.  I then watched Chelsie walk out the door of the coffee shop and within five minutes, the sky opened and it literally began to pour.  So I think I'm going to get ready for His rain :)

Let Him make you ready to be His movement.  It's the life of a fool but to me, it makes the best sense.  I just want to be an absolute sucker for the ridiculousness of Christ.  Praying that for you as well.  I mean, what if?  

Oh yeah, and this blog thing was an abrupt start for me (thanks Jourdan), so I obviously need some design help.  Advice welcome, especially the silly type.  Duh.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cat Calls

The other night, I was sitting on Jourdan's bed with she and our third roommate, Kristen, and I heard a noise from outside. It went like this "HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY! HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY!" and so on and so forth. It sounded like the lady was right next to Jourdan's window wooing her feline to her was loud, it was high, and it was weird. I started laughing and said "what is that?!" as the lady kept crying out to her kitty kitty kitty. Jourdan started laughing and said that she hears that lady call her kitty kitty kitty every single night to which Kristen agreed. Both of their rooms are on the other side of the apartment so I never had the pleasure of hearing the cat whisperer try to charm her kitty back into her cat coven. About an hour later, we were back in Jourdan's room actually praying for the upcoming cd release project, and in the middle of my prayer, the kitty siren occurred again. We all started laughing, regained a little composure and finished the prayer. The next morning, Jourdan reported that right before she drifted off to sleep around 1:30 am, the Kitty caller began beckoning her kitty kitty kitty again. Talk about untimely cat calls...if she keeps it up, I think our neighbor could make a great construction worker...I mean, what if?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bathroom Conversations

For the last year, I have shared a bathroom with my roommate, Jourdan.  Many times we have found ourselves in that little space simultaneously, most often in the morning when we are getting ready for the day.  Since neither one of us could be categorized as "morning people" our meetings in front of the mirror are sometimes quiet except for the clatter and clank of our makeup/hair drying/teeth brushing rituals.  Luckily, we know each other well enough to not be offended by the other's silence and can just be our "trying to wake-up selves" while sipping some coffee on the really special days that one of us actually made it up in time to make it.  Because we do know each other well, we can perceive when the other's silence is not due to morning grogginess but maybe because of a restless heart or anxious mind.  There have been many occasions where one of us would look at the other one (or more often the reflection of the other one in the mirror while in mid-mascara application or bang drying stance) and ask "are you ok?", and typically the anxiousness or restlessness or fear or weird circumstance was revealed.

I remember last year right around this time, I could sense a heaviness covering Jourdan, a fun-loving, typically vibrant girl with a laugh that is contagious.  Yet because of circumstances, her mind was anxious and her heart wounded.  I looked at her that morning and said, "Jourdan, what happened?" and as she leaned on the wall next to the door on "her side" of the bathroom, she proceeded to tell me the story of a relationship with her boyfriend that came to an end when only a couple months earlier she had sensed so much promise and affirmation for their future together.  While the tears came down, the story relayed, and her questions of confusion laced with deep pain asked, I could only stand there and listen and offer her glimpses of truth that God would periodically give me.  Nothing was magically fixed that morning and there were several more mornings where the same questions were asked and the same frustrations expressed.  But somehow, when all seemed dark and hope was fleeting, God pushed Jourdan forward -- and the new place where she resides today is immeasurably more than all she could ever ask or imagine, especially considering her situation exactly a year ago.

Tonight, Jourdan's friends and family will gather with her to celebrate her first CD at her release event for her EP "Mend."  Songs on this record were given to her through the heartache and frustration she experienced over this last year.  Out of the ashes, God faithfully created beauty and gave Jourdan stories to tell to push others forward.  This I know very personally, for not long ago, I leaned on the wall of "my side" of the bathroom and cried my own tears of an ended relationship, asking my own very confused questions, and experiencing a pain that does not make any sense -- and God has been faithful to lift my own head through Jourdan's similar experience last year.

This morning as Jourdan was getting ready in the bathroom, I was sitting on my bed and came across a scripture that I had written on a card and left for her to find tucked into her makeup brushes a year ago during the height of her heartache:

"...we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed we felt we had received the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again.  On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."
2 Corinthians 1:8-11

I said, "Jourdan, I need to read you something."  I proceeded to read the scripture and we both had a "that Jesus" moment and she said, "I remember that card with that verse well from last year."  I responded with " how cool is it that tonight many will give thanks on your behalf for the gracious favor granted you in answer to the prayers of many?"  

This evening as Jourdan shares her songs and her heart, those there will undoubtedly experience Christ in her, the hope of glory.  From the sentence of death to a mended heart filled with hope, I am so excited to celebrate with her tonight something only God could have done -- as I push forward expectantly into my own deliverance.

Now back to the bathroom part of the story -- while transparency does seem to happen during our preparation rituals, silliness probably happens more.  It is not out of the question for a new pimple to talk, or a huge, silver, fake nail to be strategically placed in the other person's deodorant stick or hairbrush only to be found surprisingly upon use, or a little happy meal toy to find different resting places throughout the room, or often just ridiculous "what if" scenarios that make us laugh so hard we have to pee...making the bathroom even more functional.

For Jourdan and I, we would both agree that it is so cool to see God's purpose and molding even in the every day getting ready in front of the mirror routines.  Bathroom conversations have made us both better and perhaps, even a little more like Jesus.  You should probably try it sometime :) And maybe, world leaders should come together in a bathroom to get ready one morning and just see what happens...I mean, what if?

Check out Jourdan's music at and be reminded of the hope to which God has called you specifically.

Gotta go to the bathroom now :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh hi, I didn't see you there...

Woohoo!  Welcome to my bloggy blog.  Realness mixed with truth mixed with ridiculousness mixed with laughter mixed with friends mixed with Jesus mixed with 1 egg will be found here :)