Featured

Fairy Tales in the Bible

“…and by this I will know you have shown kindness to my master”. – Genesis 24: 12-14

When I was a little girl, my mom would read bedtime stories to me. There was one in particular, I was quite fond of, and almost every night I would ask her to read me that story. She would smile at me and try to convince me otherwise; she would give me other options such as the one about “Persephone” or “The Odyssey” attempting to lure me with adventure, sometimes she would even throw in “David and Goliath” since she knew I also enjoyed that tale, but every night I would win and she would lose. Almost every night she wound up reading from the same book. She had read this story so many times, some nights she opted to tell it to me from memory, but I enjoyed the words and if she forgot a detail, I adamantly encouraged her to read the book by saying, “No mom, read the story, don’t tell me the story”, as I would take her hand in mine and tap her fingers to the page – the story was Isaac and Rebecca.

My mom never understood why I enjoyed the story so much, perhaps it was a father’s desire for his son to find marital bliss, perhaps it was the way the young lady in the story is depicted as a compassionate thoughtful woman, or perhaps it was the illustration of “love at first sight”, but for some reason her youngest child would end her day pleading for her mom to read “Isaac and Rebecca” as she fell asleep in her mother’s arms. As a child, I thought the reason I enjoyed this “fairytale” was because of the underlining theme of “Happily Ever After”, but as an adult I have discovered “happily ever after and love at first sight” were just two aspects of the story, the real reason why this was my favorite was the depiction of answered prayer.

Like all other young girls, I grew up in the world of Disney. I was introduced to the idea of fairytales one Christmas day when my next door neighbors gifted me a “Beauty and Beast” VHS (yes I am that old). This film marked my first introduction to the idea of romance, love, and marriage, following this film were Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, and Snow White. I was only three years old, but all these films had a common theme: “Man meets girl, girl meets man, love at first sight, conflict arises, love wins, and they lived happily ever after” (Boring). Although I did enjoy these tales (and songs) and watched the films many times over, they were all the same to me, it is no wonder why when my mom first read the story of “Isaac and Rebecca” I fell in love with their story. Here was a “fairytale” that was different, a story about a father who wanted the best for his son, so he entrusted his servant with a task to go find a bride for his son, the servant not having much to go on other than “go to a land” decides a bold approach, the servant prays to God for direction, and God answers his prayer…word for word! Don’t believe me? Take a look at these verses:

“Then he said, ‘O LORD God of my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’ – let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac..” Gen 24:12-14.

This was the servant’s prayer for God’s direction in making his decision. Fast forward a little ways, and we find this:

“And the servant ran to meet her and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher’. So she said, ‘Drink my lord.’ Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking’. Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels” (Gen 24: 17-20).

-What?!

-Did she just do exactly what the servant had prayed? How awesome is that?!

-Incredible!

That section right there was what captured a four year old’s heart, mind, and attention. A servant prayed and God answered that prayer word for word. I knew as a little girl, that these cartoon fairytales were “make believe”, but what about this? Could this be real? Is this possible? After all, it comes from the Bible.

I didn’t know it then, but there in the midst of a “bedtime” story, God had gifted me with His fairytale for my life. A fairytale that one day I would revisit at age 23 and would cling to, not believing so much for that “prince charming”, but rather believing that my Heavenly Father has my best interests at heart. Isn’t it romantic, the idea that we can draft a prayer, and have faith that the LORD will answer this prayer for our lives?

This post has been written on my heart for over two years now, but I could never work up the courage to write it. Perhaps, along the way I lost hope and stopped believing that this type of prayer is attainable? Perhaps, the thoughts were too vulnerable for me to share with the public? Perhaps, I began to doubt God? You know what I think the reason was why I haven’t written this post, – timing. The moment had not taken place yet for me to type this up, nor for the audience to read. So I am believing boldly here, that whomever is reading this, it is one of those kairos moments where you were meant to read this in God’s timing dear one. I hope it has encouraged you. To the young mother, believe and dream BIG for your children, start praying for their spouse now while they are young. It will make a great difference in their lives, especially with all the sorts of ways society bombards young minds. To the young woman who waited for her answered prayer (spouse), share your story. Your tale of how you met your husband and how you prayed for him before you had even met him will encourage and inspire many young souls. To the adult single woman, have faith. God has His best interests for your life at heart (Jer 29:11). He has purpose for you, and trust me if you have not met “The One” it’s because God’s timeline is different than your own timeline. To the teenager, talk with your parents, seek their advice, matters of the heart are meant to be treated with great care, who better to discuss this than with an adult who cares for you like your mom, a guardian, or your group leader/youth pastor.

And if you are wondering dear one, I have list. It’s not lengthy nor does it involve drawing water for camels, but it’s my list. The One God inspired in my heart many moons ago, and I pray over consistently believing that one day God will answer my prayer just as he answered Abraham’s servant.

My prayer and hope for you precious one, is that you found encouragement within these words. I appreciate you for pausing at my blog and reading. You are fearfully and wonderfully crafted out of God’s great love, keep smiling, keep hoping, keep believing, God’s great purpose unfolds over you every moment of your life. Remember, God loves you! And his mercies are new every morning.

Until next time,

-S

Advertisements

Where Do Our Feet Tread?

“And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?   As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who brng good news!” –Romans 10:15

Hello fellow readers, it’s been a while. I hope you and your loved ones are doing well. I have been on another one of those “sabbaticals”. Just decided to take some time away from writing and focus on  my faith, work, and relationships. Before you get too excited, when I say “relationships” I am referring to family, friends, and my fitness community, not the romantic kind. Anyway, now that we have cleared that up, you’re probably wondering, “Okay Sari, what does your picture of blue powder on cement have to do with a Bible verse?”  I promise you fellow reader, if you power through this post with me it will connect, but first let me tell you a story.

Just the other day (yesterday) there was a community 5k taking place at our local park, since this race was to raise funds for a good cause and they had some very creative t-shirts I decided I would sign up. A very strong  cup of espresso may have also played a major role in deciding to sign up for this race at 11:00 PM one Saturday night, but I digress. The point is I was signed up and I was ready to race, that is until a sweet friend mentioned she would also like to run the race. The runner and encourager in me was overjoyed at this idea and invited my friend to join me. She also signed up and we both suggested to one another that we would run the race for fun and do a run and walk. Fast forward to a few days later, and it was race day! To me this meant we would leisurely run the race but mainly walk it, it was a color run so I was ready to just have fun, my friend had a total different idea…

The race began, I quickly scrambled to put all of my belongings in my flip belt (also known as my kanga pouch) and set my fit bit to “run” mode. While I did all this, my friend took off and boy did she take off. She was about a good minute in front of me, I thought “surely she’ll slow down” but, I was mistaken. With my friend in front of me I decided to catch up with her.

I did….

But after a few strides I told her I was about to walk, thinking she would also stop and walk with me, but to my surprise she kept going. I was sad, I was upsest, but more than anything I was hurt – I felt “left behind”.  After a good while, I decided to start running again but by then my mind was a tornado. The enemy of my soul had taken a foothold of my heart and mind, and I was under attack.

– Weak…

– Slow….

– Unequipped…

– Unqualified…..

– Unprepared….

– Unfit….

These were just some of the thoughts swarming in my head, and with every stride I felt like I was not advancing. Then the inner competitive me kicked in, and it was downhill from there. I started running faster and faster, my heart beating out of my chest, my legs burning with every stride, my core feeling strained from all that exertion, but I saw her and I knew I had to catch her. Now, here comes one my most un-proud moments and weakest too, because not only did I catch her (granted she waited for me at the water station) I confronted her, told her I was upset, and then I passed her. My irrational thought was, “she left me the first half now it’s my turn”.

I know what you are thinking, “Sari, that’s not okay. Where’s the kindness, the compassion, the friendship?” Trust me dear reader, it was there but I wasn’t listening I was wrestling. I wrestled my mind for what felt like 30 minutes which in actuality was only 1 minute. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit, an inner voice within me beckoning me to stop and reconsider, but I let my hurt lead my actions. That is until…God intervened. Suddenly, I got smacked in the face with pink powder bringing me to a halt. I stopped, I knew the group who was throwing color powder at the runners so it wasn’t a big deal, we laughed it off and took a few pictures. But I knew God used this moment to slow me down and bring restoration to what I was thoughtlessly destroying – my bond with my friend. Quickly, I ran up to my friend and did my best to explain why I was upset, which actually only made it worse for a moment. Thankfully, we talked it out and realized it was all a misunderstanding of the terms “run and walk” what I perceived as a slow run she perceived as “a run and power walk” after all it was a race. Also, when I said “walk” she misheard as “run” so she thought I was about to kick up my pace a notch, so she also never left me behind. (She is an amazing friend, and I am lucky to have her in my life!) So, we hugged it out and I believe our friendship is actually stronger because of that minor “tiff”.

I share this, because how many of us can relate? How many of us can relate to a bad moment being the root of a misunderstanding and erupting into something more destructive? How many of us allow our emotions to lead our decisions, rather than let our decisions lead our emotions?  How many of us are attacked by our own minds in moments of distress? It does not matter how often we may attend church, read our Bible, pray, lead a life group, we all fall short. I don’t say this to excuse our behavior or response in those “bad” moments, I share it to remind you as God reminded me to be kind to myself. To forgive myself just as much as we forgive others, which brings me to the picture of blue powder and the verse.

The following day, I met up with my morning running group and set out to run two miles. As I ran that morning I sought one thing “redemption”, but my redemption was geared towards improving my time from the day before…God’s idea of redemption turned out to be a lot sweeter. As my feet moved past the tinted powder residue on the cement, I kept being reminded of my short coming from the day before. I felt embarrassed by my immature behavior, and felt like I failed as a friend and as a woman of Faith. With every stride my body and feet grew heavier, my shoulders slumped, my gaze downward, and then suddenly I saw it… As I stared at the pavement, I noticed my foot prints. Wherever my foot landed it left an imprint on the tinted powder on the ground, not just that, my foot also left colored footprints as I continued to run. I was leaving a trail of my footprints behind, and that’s when it hit me.

Wherever our feet tread, a footprint is left behind. Which is a metaphor for wherever we go, we make an impact. The question is what type of footprint or impact do you wish to leave behind? Or are you leaving behind? Is it a positive one or negative? It is life breathing or death breathing?

In that moment, I knew I wanted to leave a positive trail behind me. I want my footprints to have purpose and make a positive impact in the lives of others, which lead me to the verse in Romans 10:15 “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”. So what does that mean to me? It means to strive to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. It means to take greater caution with my words and responses on a daily basis. It means to shed light that points to Christ that points others to Scripture, to the Church, to community groups, to health, to joy, to peace, to forgiveness, to life. And sometimes I will fall short, because Scripture tells me I will (Romans 3:23) and that’s okay because of God’s grace and He promises He will work all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called for His purpose (Romans 8:28). Just as He strengthened my friendship yesterday, and brought forth the important concept of communication, while also reminding me of the importance of an understanding compassionate heart, after all it was just a race.

So dear one, wherever you are I hope this post resonated with your soul. Perhaps, you have been too hard on yourself on your mistakes. Perhaps you have been wronged. Perhaps you are wrestling with inner thoughts from your past like I was during my race. Please know it’s okay, forgiveness is just one decision away. The Heavenly Father who loves you will embrace you, redirect you, comfort you, and bring peace to your heart, if you know Him call to Him, pray to Him, seek His direction, and if you don’t that’s okay. He knows you and is only a prayer away.

Thank you for powering through this post with me, remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made and cherished in every way by God. I appreciate you, until next time.

-S

“Let the Past Die” – Title Brought to You by Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you we’re bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Cor 6:19-20

Hello fellow readers, I know what you must be thinking, “Okay Sari you’ve written some interesting thoughts, but what does Star Wars and the Bible have in common?”. I promise you reader, it will all make sense at the end…hopefully.

So it’s been a while, a long while, and I can honestly say I did not plan on, this, being my first post back from my sabbatical of silence. In fact, I’ve spent an entire year working on what I hoped to be my first blog of 2018 (super excited about the topic by the way, but I digress).

-Where was I?

Oh yeah, I have been editing, revising, and editing this future blog post, but when inspiration strikes, a blogger must write. So, to catch you up, writing has not been the only thing I laid down for almost half a year. Due to a head injury back in March ’17 I also had to lay down exercising. Letting go of lifting and running was not easy for me, but I had to give my body time to recover. It’s been almost a year later, and I am back on the grind!

–“But, am I really?”

You see today, I woke up dark (yes the sun had not risen) and early and made it to the gym! After about an hour of a bosu ball workout and ten minutes of running, I was feeling good! So, I did the one thing I avoid at all costs with the exception of today — I stepped on the scale… and the numbers read .8 more than I weighed in December.

–Shocked, would be an understatement.

Immediately I shook it off and decided to continue with my cool down and stretch. Expectation: Zen. Reality: WAR! I had entered into a battlefield of my mind, the entire 20 minutes engaging in a quiet argument with myself about my goals, routines, and eating habits. The outcome didn’t make sense! “I have reduced my calorie intake and been exercising consistently for the past 3 months, how on earth am I point eight pounds heavier than in December?!”

The more I tried to shake it off, the worst it got. I was jealous of the woman behind me doing her cardio and weights workout, and I’m not a jealous person. I just felt this unshakeable envy of every individual at the gym, and as I saw my reflection in the mirror I despised what I saw (although I actually am smaller in size then in December) I still despised it.

I left the gym crushed and confused. My thoughts swirling like a tornado, I made it home and walked into the bathroom. And that’s when it hit.

The thought came like a still small whisper, “Why are you chasing the past?”

In that moment I realized my frustration was not about the numbers on the scale, It was with the woman staring back at me in the mirror (present) and the one standing at the mirror (past). You see my mentality had been that of two years ago Sari, the one who had just completed her first half-marathon and was learning all about lifting weights. The one who had lost I don’t even know how many pounds because she never stepped on a scale. The one who’s job required for her to be on her feet staying active for the greatest part of her day. The one who was inspired by Stasi Eldredge’s book which conveyed the ground breaking thought: to work out out of love for one’s body, mind, and spirit and not out of shame. My reality wasn’t meeting my mentality, in fact they have been at war with each other for quite some time.

This entire time I have been chasing after two years ago me, and was growing discouraged by 2018 me. So many changes have transpired since 2016 and they have been like a roller coaster, thrilling for sure but intense and fast. I haven’t had a chance to slow down and process everything, once I do I can focus on the present and move forward.

And so I am choosing to, “Let the past die”.

The reality is, I am not at the same fitness level I was in 2016, in fact I am stronger and have gained more muscle so yeah my body composition looks different. My cardio has decreased significantly and with it so has my agility, but instead of chasing the past I can move forward and set new goals, create new workout plans, and focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. The most important thing is to remember the verse that started my fitness journey in 2014, “my body is a temple” and as a temple I must care for it, spend time on it, and love it for what it is not for what it could be.

Today, I was reminded of why I started running and exercising, and it was all because of my faith, ministry, and acknowledgement of the epithet above ( 1 Cor 6:19-20). My ultimate goal was not to lose weight, drop clothing sizes, or look slimmer, no, my one and only goal was “Love”. Love God by loving who you are today and taking the BEST possible care of your body, mind, and Spirit.

I share this today because maybe some of these words will resonate with your heart and soul. If they do, I hope this post encourages you and reminds you, “you are not alone”. Many of us experience battles with our self image, but we win the war. The victory is ours! It’s just a matter of our approach. For me the victory is in Christ, my faith, my knowledge, and understanding of the Bible is what keeps me anchored and breathes hope and life. Maybe for you, it will too. All I know is that you were made in God’s image and He loves you dearly because you are here in this moment reading and breathing.

Thank you for visiting dear reader, and remember God cherishes you every day.

— S

Intervals of Faith

 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” –James 1: 2-4

TODAY’S WORKOUT: 

Run 1 min. > 1 min Step Ups

Run 1 min > 1 min Incline Push Ups

Run 1 min > 1 min Walking Lunges

Run 1 min > 1 min Squats

Run 1 min > 1 min inch worms or burpees

Run 1 min > 1 min Tricep Dips

Run 1 min > 1 min Jumping Lunges

Run 1 min > 1 min Plank

Run 1 min > 1 min Jump Squats or Jumping Jacks

Run 1 min > 1 min walk or walk your way back.

 

Today’s Inspiration: Patience 

Muscles are not built overnight, it takes much dedication, commitment, discipline, and hard work to build up our physical strength. Patience is key. It’s very easy to become discouraged when we don’t see immediate results, and sometimes we may want to stop. But with a little patience and endurance my dear one, you will get there, it just takes time. Likewise sometimes we can grow discouraged in our faith when we can’t see how God is answering our prayer, or bringing that victory over our situation… right away. But with time God will bring inspiration and understanding over what he is building, the victory is always there we just don’t always receive it in our expectations…In fact God’s work is far greater than we could ever fathom, because as Isaiah 55 claims, His ways and thoughts are far higher than our own. So take heart dear one, keep going, keep praying, keep running!

“He is in the waiting” – Kristene Dimarco.

Today’s Prayer: Dreams! If you are somewhat like me, it’s probably been a while since you dreamed with God. Today I would like to encourage you, to be brave, take a deep breath, and start talking with God about your dreams, your hopes, your heart’s desires. I promise you, He wants to hear all about them.  It makes for a good one-on-one chat as you walk back to your car/home. And after you are done with today’s intervals, give yourself a round of applause, You conquered today!

 

Blessings,

–S 

Is it Wrong to Want These Things?

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” –Psalm 139:3-4.

This is by far the hardest post I have ever contemplated to write. A few months ago, the idea began to stir up in my mind and heart, but over the past few months I have experienced great difficulty in finding the “right words”. You see, it was late one night as I was driving home from watching a film with my friends. I was contemplating the storyline; the film was about following your dreams and risking everything to pursue them. It was a very inspiring musical, you may have heard of it, LALA Land, and I just could not drive home right away, so I drove around the city limits lost in a sea of thoughts. Something was clearly bothering me, so I did the only thing I knew to do when restlessness stirs in my heart…I started to talk to God. I don’t know if it was a prayer or just carrying conversation with Him, but the answer I got was everything I have been searching for the past three years.

In the fall of 2012, after returning from a summer in Colorado serving as a church plant intern, I thought I had discovered my “life purpose” , and so I pursued it. Two weeks before leaving my hometown and relocating to a new state, I realized I had what other’s call “jumped the gun”. Though it was painful, I had to let that desire burn with the fire that I felt had destroyed my reputation and character as a “woman of God”. It hurt, but I knew I had made the right decision. Over the next two years, I overcame the sorrow and made the brave decision to put the dream of church planting in Colorado to rest. During that time of healing, I sought answers to so many questions. “Why would I feel such a close attachment to the people and culture, if I wasn’t meant to go? Why did you (God) let me get that far in the journey, if I was meant to stay? How come it’s so easy for my friends to relocate and serve in ministry? Did I just not have all my ‘ducks in a row’?”.  Slowly those questions turned into rationalizations, “Perhaps, I am supposed to get our of debt first like my friend so and so and her husband did before they moved..,Maybe its still church planting just not Colorado. I should go to graduate school first. Financial stability comes first. My family needs me to stay close because this and this was going to happen and God knew that.  Ohh, I know! I am supposed to be married first before I go off on my own into ministry”. This had lasted for years, just going back and forth yet still feeling like I was not fulfilling my life’s calling. Of course family and friends supported me and also offered their perspectives and opinions. Many advised me to stabilize a career first, and I tried but it was like just as I started to climb the mountain boulders would come tumbling down. –Big life’s boulders.  So then I attempted to become more financially stable and really pay attention to my expenses and save, and well… student loans and medical bills just seemed to keep drowning me one after another.

These were the memories, I continued to discuss with God on my drive that night, just seeking the answer that would put to rest all of my anxieties, doubts, and fears. At one point I said, “Lord, I just don’t understand. Why does it look so easy for my friends, why does it look so easy on Hollywood? Am I just crippled by fear? Am I not persevering enough? Do I need more endurance? And what about my other dreams like having a family and a home?”.  And in that moment it came to me like a whisper, “I made you, you”, and in that instant it was like all the weights, all the chains, everything that had been weighing me down was gone. I felt free.

In the film there is this “deciding” moment for one of the main characters and she has to decide if her dream is worth pursuing?, and I felt like this was my moment and I too had to decide. Except I had already made my choice many years ago,  the day I said “yes” to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You see what I learned that night was that each one of us is genuinely and intricately made. We each have our own personalities, talents, likes, dislikes, dreams, passions, professional paths, families, etc. There is not one single one of us who is made the same, not even twins. We are unique and especially divinely designed for a purpose. Just like our personalities, there is a variety of life’s purpose and each one of us discovers it in this beautiful journey we call life. I have sought many ideas and opportunities that I convinced myself were the right ones for me, and I was mistaken but that is not to say that they would be mistakes for another. Money , education, significant other, children, a career, just are not the things that my heart, mind, and spirit truly seek. I cannot explain it but there is one passion, one dream, one desire, that outweighs the rest of them. Like in the Book of Solomon,  I view money, education, career path, etc  as a “chasing after the wind”. I do not find fulfillment, or joy in any one of them.  My desire to see other’s have a new life in Christ, to see the wonderful transformations saying “yes” to God can do for people is the great treasure I am after. I have tried with great intent to look and seek other things, but I come out empty every time.  I believe that faith is what helps us overcome the storms in life. Faith is what aids us in breaking down the boulders piece by piece until they are just small pebbles in our life. I believe that a relationship in Christ with God can be everything we could ever need and hope for in our life, and I believe this is worth pursuing though it may cost me everything I have.

This is the effect, LALA Land, had in my heart that night. Somehow this film started up a flame in me and every day my prayer is that it will continue to grow and remain. So if you are wondering is it wrong to want these things, fame, money, financial stability, love, career, marriage, children, ministry? My answer to you is absolutely not, God designed you to be you. We each feel pulled to different things, be wise not to let it consume you, but explore the place these general concepts may have in your life. I believe that as you unfearfully explore these ideas and bring them to God every day, He will reveal to you the goodness in each one of them without it overwhelming you and destroying you. He will build them, He will guide you in discerning which are worth pursuing and which to put to rest. For me, I know that a life in Christ, and being a witness to others, and share the gospel is what will always triumph over the rest, so as long as I am pursuing that on a daily basis the rest will come as it may. Whether I am teaching at a university or serving in an orphanage in a foreign country I will do it with a Colossians 3:17 mindset. So take courage my dear reader, and explore all that God has for you. Walk in wisdom, seek discernment, seek Godly counsel, remember to pray and pursue your dreams.

As always, I appreciate you for visiting, remember God loves you.

Blessings!

-S

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”. –Colossians 3:17