Thursday, June 15, 2017

That Awkward Moment When Someone Asks to To Tell More About Yourself and You're Like Oh God! Who Am I?


By Sara Ostrander

When I was asked to write up a blog, I quickly had something in mind. You see, I am a perfectionist by nature so I was already planning out what to write, how I would write it, what verses I could use—you name it. I had finally been able to carve out some time in my crazy and hectic life and as I sit down, my mind goes blank. As I sit there staring at a blank Word document I think to myself “hummmm maybe I’m not in the right setting”, so I move. Now I am sitting up in my office and still blank. I try to write some thoughts down and still NOTHING sounded right. So, then I think maybe I need some coffee or tea. As I grab that and sit down I think “well maybe I need some background music” I first try calm classical, then I go to motivational Christian and STILL nothing. By the time, I was all “situated” I had changed placed three times, had a coffee, tea, some pretzels, and had changed the music several times and still there was still a blank Word document in front of me.

“Come on Lord, I NEED to write something for Jen, I promised her! Please help me focus!” Suddenly in my heart I hear this small voice saying “Sara, who are you?” My first thought was “God, not right now, I’ve gotta write this blog” but then I hear it again: “Sara, who are you” …and thus, my blog post emerged.

Who am I? It’s a simple question, right? When asked who I am, my response is that I am Sara, a recent college graduate who is a social worker with a husband, a cute kiddo (who is turning 1 in less than a month!) and a cat. I like to sing, dance, do martial arts, and laugh. But is that really who I am?
Who are you? We have all been asked that question before--In job interviews, when we meet a new person, first time meetings in small groups—you name it. And we all know the “right” answer. Your job, your family, where you live, how old you are, yadda, yadda, yadda. But what happens when all of that superficial stuff is stripped away, when all the materialist 1st world things have been swept aside and you are left with…well, YOU.

In Genesis 32:22-32 we read about a man named Jacob. A little background information: before this passage, Jacob stole the birthright from his brother Esau and when his brother found out, Jacob ran. Now Jacob is on the run and he comes to a place where he wrestles with an angel. Some theologians believe that this angel is God Himself. They struggle for hours and hours and at day break the angel finally says let me go. Jacob refuses to let this angel to until he blesses him. Then the angel says, “what is your name”.

Back then, your name was more than what you were given to be called when you were born. Your name meant: your identify, your character, the very core of who you were as a person. So, when the angel asked, “what is your name” He already knew it was Jacob, he wanted to know, however, who Jacob thought he was. You see Jacob had a past, like us all. He did things he was not happy of, he lied, deceived, stole, and then in fear, he ran.

So here Jacob is wrestling with God and at daybreak after several hours Jacob finally stops and tells the angel “I am Jacob”. At that point, Jacob was done. He was done being Esau his older brother, he was tired of being a deceiver, being afraid, and living a lie. He was ready to become who God intended him to be. Jacob. And because of that Jacob became a king of a nation. A KING! He wrestled with God and overcame and God used that as a stepping stone to make His kingdom shine.

Who am I? To be honest, for a long time who I was I did not like. I had believed so many lies for so long that who I was, was not desirable (or so I thought). What I saw was that I was a failure, stupid, weak, and ugly (the list could literally go on and on). I, like Jacob, had a past. I thought that my past defined me and acted as such. Then I started going to this small group where I was challenged on those thoughts and I wrestled with God (there was A LOT of wrestling). God would ask me, Sara who are you and as He asked that question He began to strip away all that I thought was me and as I came to my daybreak God asked me again, Sara who are YOU and I smiled as I knew the answer—I am cherished, loved, a daughter of the King. I am beautiful, beloved, chosen, desired, and free. And with those truths, God is using me as a stepping stone for His kingdom.

So, I challenge you, who are you? If your first thoughts are like mine once were I challenge you to look to the Word because the Word is truth and nowhere in there does it say those things like failure, worthless, stupid, etc. (trust me, I’ve checked). I dare you to consider wrestling with God and discover who you really are because once you know who you are—beloved daughter of the one true King—life opens up to things unimaginable. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

What’s My Emoji?

What’s My Emoji?
By Jen Benham
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My husband likes to play this annoying game with me. He finds it absolutely hysterical in the middle of a conversation to count how many times I have a “mood swing”. He then chimes out in a high singing chant “Mood swing!” which inevitably irritates me bringing on another...and usually another...and so on. I have the ability to change my mood quite rapidly...and my facial expression typically follows suit.

I personally prefer face-to-face, one-on-one communication with people. However, in our ever- changing digital age we communicate much of the time through devices. This has me worried at times for the generations to come in their ability to properly speak to other human beings... but that is another topic all together. The clever invention of the emoji has greatly increased our ability to express the tone of simple written messages. For instance the phrase “Yay!” can be
expressed in multiple ways. When one is excited “Yay!” can be followed with giving someone a virtual high five! “Yay” can also be followed with 😒 in “yeah, not so much”...or even a facetious 😉. Where words once fell flat a simple emoji can communicate mood, tone and inflection to text messages and Facebook comments to emails and blog posts. This got me wondering...what’s my emoji?

As a woman, I find it my prerogative to change my mood...and opinions as a matter of fact. This is no surprise to my husband who invented the accurate (all-be-it aggravating) little game I mentioned earlier. When I am out and about I really try to have that of a pleasant mood. My prayer is that the Light of Christ will shine through me at the post office, the bank, the grocery people I know and those I don’t. Wherever I go, I really try to say a friendly “Good morning” or “Hi, there!”...and sometimes people respond...other times they look at me like I’m crazy sometimes making me wonder what has happened to common courtesy!? Are we too buried in our devices, to-do lists and thoughts to even say “hello” to one another? Even walking down the sidewalk in my small town or down the halls of my church, I have been astonished at how people don’t want to speak to one another!? I get it in the crowded halls on a Sunday morning it can be difficult to speak to every single person that you know, and I for sure have been distracted and guilty of not saying hello chasing after 3 kiddos or looking over the crowd to find my usually tall husband, but when 2 people pass in an empty hall, I find it rude not to say something...let alone not even respond...especially at church! 😧 Ok...end rant.

All of that being said, sometimes it’s hard to hide my mood. While my desire is to be seen as
😊...sometimes its more like 😒...or 😫...or 😥. When I’m asked about my health, I really try to be honest and most of the time after hiding the truth for so long (watch/read my testimony), but I don’t even know what to say anymore😕. If you really want to know my pain is constant 😣, my digestive issues are continual 😖and I am always, always exhausted and fatigued😓. Not fun, right? 😞Not something I really want to talk about 😶. And then when people say “Well at least you look good” trying to be encouraging most of the time I just smile...and say well, thanks...but really I
feel like 😔. Our fallen world is so focused on what we see, that we can so easily can’t see the forest for the trees.

When I’m asked about my husband , I just adore him 😍. He does have the ability to get under
my skin like no other 😤...and he can make me a little crazy 😜. But I just cannot stay mad at
him 😏...he makes me laugh like no other 😂...and he knows it! When I’m asked about my
children4👬...oh I just love them to pieces😘and my heart bursts💗 with joyful gratitude
that God chose me to be their mommy 😃. When asked how old they are , it is so bittersweet
for me 😭...they are growing up too, too fast 😳....though every new stage and season is “my favorite”...they are SO much fun! 😎Nathan and I often ask one another if we could just hit
the “pause” button . When asked if we will have any more babies...💔oh it stings 😪...hits me right where it hurts . But there is always the hope that God will send us another angel some
way , some how 😇. Only God. When asked about my sister and best friend who is due any day with her little rainbow baby girl ?...I am filled with us joy and excitement ...and despite my efforts to let go and let God, my body is reacting with anxious anticipation of her coming arrival 😰. When asked how work is’s going. After a month of non-stop computer software change issues, I think we have turned the corner and are on our way to actually liking it 😅. When people comment about their enjoyment seeing me help facilitate worship on Sunday mornings, I am filled with such gratitude for the ability to do it .

I guess all in all friends...I am as the song and sadness, peace and madness. And a few years ago I would have felt shame over that...but not anymore. All I can do is keep holding on to Jesus and let HIS joy be my strength and my song. Because my joy is fleeting. The tone of my song changes tune quite often. But HE never changes. Whatever my mood...or my any given moment, I can rest in the Truth that HE is good...ALL the time!

The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14 NASB