Sisters

There is nothing in life like a sister. Mine came to visit for the weekend without her family. She is an interior designer and wanted to be able to focus on our new house. We had 47 hours of togetherness that went by fast.

Our weekend started off with an adventure our Mom would have been proud to witness. She probably would have been the ringleader. Elizabeth’s GPS led her through the back of the neighborhood. Her eagle eye spotted chairs by someone’s trash, so we went trash pickin’. Mom had an eye for people’s trash and could turn it into something amazing. When people admired it, she was as proud to tell them it came from the trash as some might be if it came from Ethan Allen. Thinking of that still makes me smile.

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We had lots of laughter and discussions that are difficult over Thanksgiving or other loud holidays. Although we are as different as two people can be, we had the same upbringing. We understand each other in a way others don’t. We still have a hard time missing Mom, but we have always had each other. Having her to cling to when I couldn’t talk to others has gotten me through rough times. I am at a point where Elizabeth’s bossiness is more tolerable. I understand she is trying to help and always has my best interest at heart. Besides, she is much better than me at many things. It was easier to let her tell me what to do this weekend. Our house feels more like a home after her visit and we have a long list of projects. She said she expects them to be done next time she is here. I don’t doubt her. ;)

Over two days, we only cried once. I began to cry over a picture we found and she yelled at me because I made her cry. Then we laughed at ourselves. We can always laugh and cry together and are able to switch from one to the other seamlessly.

We painted 3 chairs and a cabinet, hung pictures, arranged furniture, and bought a few tables and lamps. It was a whirlwind that left me tired, sore, and with a smile on my face. I missed her as soon as she left.

I love my siblings with an affection reserved for them. They are such a gift and bring different perspectives and characteristics than I have. Siblings may not always seem like gifts, but we are put in our families for a reason. If we can learn to appreciate family, our days will be sweeter.

Life will have ups and downs, but siblings are there for the ride.

The good rides may lead to the trash.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Me a Leader?

You know those times God tells you something but you don’t believe it and He has to keep telling you? Those times He uses different people in different circumstances? Yeah, I must be a bad listener.

Here is what God is showing me: we are all meant to be leaders. He wants us to lead people in the right direction, toward Him. But guess what is also true? If we aren’t leading others TO God, we leading them AWAY from Him. We can think all we want that no one is paying attention to us, but that is a lie from the pit of Hell. Satan wants us to let our guard down and wade into the murky water to death and destruction. It just takes one questionable action at a time. “There is nothing wrong with what I am doing.” “The Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong.” Before long, someone is saying, “Sarah is doing it. I can too.”

When I think about being a leader of something, I start the I’m nots. “I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not patient enough. I’m not smart enough.” I will always need God’s grace and power, but He wants to use me. To be honest, I like the excuses. They make me comfortable in my decision to sit back and do nothing. They give me the false illusion that someone else will come along and do it even though God tapped me. If I tell myself there is someone better qualified, I don’t have to feel guilty. But seriously, is there a better qualification than God Almighty asking me to step up? Who am I to doubt Him?

Someone else may be smarter/prettier/braver than me, but God had me in mind. His kingdom is fulfilled when I am obedient.

I know. Mind blowing.

Even if it scares the fool out of me, I want to lead people in the right direction. I don’t want to be the reason someone else stumbles or even thinks they are on the right path. I will never know who all is watching me, so I have to consciously show them the way to God. The alternative is unacceptable.

So, when you feel that tap on your shoulder, take that step. Trust God to make you what you need to be and lead. It may be leading one person or a large group, but it takes the same qualification. When God calls, say “Yes Lord, I will.”

Linking with Faith Along the Way

Magic of a Whoopee Cushion

Friday night, my girls received a whoopee cushion, which is arguably one of the best toys ever made. They gleefully put it on my seat before I got in the car. When I glanced down and saw it, I sat down as hard and dramatically as I could. The peals of laughter could likely be heard for miles. (Sorry to my in-laws’ neighbors.)

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Sunday night my oldest was trying a little too desperately to get me to sit on her sister’s bed. I indulged, but that little bugger would not deflate. I rolled back and forth and hopped around to no avail. We had to call in the big guns-Daddy. When HE couldn’t flatten it, we squeezed it by hand. Let me tell you it was still funny.

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Yesterday I was in my closet putting away laundry. When I came out, I caught my 6 year old trying to sneak it under my pillow. I told her to try again later since I caught her. They later succeeded.

I hope you are picturing this and laughing, because life is hard. There is so much evil and sadness in the world that it can easily swallow us if we let it. Therefore we must not let it. We must find the joy in life. When we find it, we cannot let go. Grab those moments and milk them for all they’re worth. Be silly. Laugh hard. Dance around the room. Sing loud.

All it takes to start is a 99 cent whoopee cushion.

Linking with Holley Gerth and Faith Along the Way

Psalms Always Know

Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

I clearly remember the first time I read this Psalm and felt like David knew what was going on in my heart. I was in high school, on a church retreat, and my Mom had cancer. The world felt like it was spinning out of control and I was helpless to stop it. I knew all of the sayings that people say at times like this. “God doesn’t give you more than what you can handle.” “You’ll get through this.” I knew God had the future in His hands, but sometimes it is just so hard to leave it at that.

There I sat in my top bunk in the girls’ cabin with my Bible. I had randomly flipped to Psalm 13. It was just for me at that moment. David laid his heart out to God. He questioned God and asked how long He will stay hidden. How long will God allow David’s enemies to win? He didn’t sugarcoat his feelings and was honest. Then came the “but.” At the end he was also honest when he said he trusted God’s unfailing love. What a beautiful picture of how we are to be. God knows what we are going through and can take us questioning Him. He just wants us to get to a point of telling Him we trust Him. No matter what.

Are you in a dark place right now? A place where confusion and heartache reign and there is no glimmer of hope? You aren’t alone in it. Know that God can take your questions and He hurts for you. He never intended for you to go through this alone. Go ahead and ask God those tough questions that plague you. If He feels hidden, ask Him to reveal Himself. If you feel like you are losing a battle, remember you will have ultimate victory.

Once you get through your questions, don’t forget the crucial part of this Psalm: the end. Tell God you trust His unfailing love. Tell Him all the good things in your life you are grateful for. Praise God and then rest in the knowledge He is on your side. No circumstance will change that.

Linking with The Saturday Soiree

Letting Go of Doing It All

God sure has a way of getting my attention! The Bible study I am in is focused on rest this week and guess what? It was what I needed to hear. How did God know? ;)

I have many things going on right now, and they are good things. The problem is me and my expectations. I need to work on my book more. I need to work on my makeup business more. I can’t let these things take away from blog time. I have to figure out prayer meeting issues. I don’t want to miss out on time with the girls or volunteer obligations. It has been enough to leave my head spinning and keep my brain from sleep.

Friday I felt a cold coming on and we had a busy night with elementary school kids at church. I decided to take a nap and actually rest while the girls were at school. I love a good nap and try to sleep Sunday afternoons, but it had been months. My tank was empty. After taking that time for myself, I felt much better for church and my family. We can ignore our own needs for only so long before they catch up to us.

Then there is the last few days. Living in the south, we don’t do well with snow. They were calling for snow for yesterday, so our county cancelled school Saturday night. Obviously, nothing happened except rain. I had been excited for a snow day! Even brief snow would be better than nothing. Something switched back in me when we got all rain. All the to-do lists and guilt came back. Without snow, I needed to be busy!

God spoke to my heart and reminded me that these days are fleeting.

I shut down my lists. Instead, the girls and I did each others’ makeup and hair. We giggled. A lot.

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We painted our nails

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We watched movies in our pajamas and drank hot chocolate. We ate popcorn and cheesecake. We read together. Everything else could wait.

I was refreshed. Now for day 2 of “no snow” 2015….

If you are reading this and any of it resonates with you, take a break from doing it all. Get the rest you need, in whatever form works for you. You will be better for it, and so will all those people who need you. Quit believing the lie that you have to run the world and just breathe.

Linking with Holley Gerth

What Being Part of a Prayer Group Has Done For Me

Since our church began having prayer meetings 18 months ago, I have changed. Now, I know people may be reading this, thinking there is no way they want to pray out loud in front of people. Well, this list is for you!

1. My legacy. When I was growing up, my Mom and her friends would get together once a week after we went to school. They would drink tea and pray for all of us. All these years later, the other ladies still pray together. They still pray for our family. As a kid, I didn’t think much about it, but I now know it was and is huge. They consistently took time to talk to God about their lives as a group. My girls see me leave twice a month for our prayer meetings. It is making an impact on them that they might not realize for years.

2. It has helped me become more comfortable praying out loud. I no longer think ahead of time about what I am going to say. I don’t try to sound spiritual and deep. It is just me talking to God. I pray when I feel led and soak up the other prayers. I am learning not to complicate it!

3. I have become a known prayer warrior. After I started asking for requests, people I never would have guessed have asked for prayer. Friends started asking for prayer other days too. They trust me with personal issues that I wouldn’t have known about and it has deepened these friendships. It is an honor and a privilege to bring others’ requests to God.

4. I have a better relationship with God. I now pray differently and have a better understanding of who God is. I have seen Him work in situations I wouldn’t have been aware were going on. There have been miracles as well as times I haven’t understood His reasons. But I know He is there, working in all of it.

5. I have new friends. Our church is large but feels smaller when you get to know people. The prayer team has bonded like a small group as we are together consistently. We pray for each other and encourage each other. I know I can trust them!

6. If I never took a step out and joined the NorthStar Church team, I would have missed so much. Praying in a group is special. We feel the Holy Spirit in the room in a way that I don’t feel other times. Everything falls away and it is just us having a conversation with God. I always walk away with more peace than I had coming in, no matter what is going on in my life.

Beyond these 6 are so many more things, and it is available to all of us. I believe God wants His children to be in the habit of praying with others, so He can show His power and His plan to us. Whether with family, friends, or other church members, we need to get past the excuses of fear and lack of time. We need to pray.

God is only using me and letting me experience these things because I am willing. Are you willing?

Linking with Faith Along the Way and Holley Gerth.

Difficult People-For the Love

We all have those people in our lives who, for one reason or another, cause us problems. If you can’t think of anyone, you are blessed. Or maybe you’re the difficult one.

Ahem.

One type of “fun” people are the ones who take advantage. “Will you help with my latest crisis? Will you watch my kids? Can I come over now?” It never ends with them! In the beginning we say yes and now it seems we can’t escape. We don’t want to be rude-isn’t that in the Ten Commandments? Thou shalt not be rude? Well, there are times to say no. If we don’t set boundaries, this type of people won’t suddenly do it for us. The ones I come across like this are typically pretty clueless about their behavior. Bless their hearts. So if they fit in our schedule, then great. But there is no room for guilt if the answer has to be no. Just look at it this way: we are doing them a favor and showing them the world doesn’t revolve around them. They need to hear no sometimes.

Then there are the over sharers. I tend to be like my Mama and her Mama, with my shirt that says, “Talk to me. I’ll listen.” (No joke-my Mimi had a man in the cereal aisle ask which cereal would help move his bowels. She showed him one with bran without batting an eye.) Now, with my close friends, I don’t think there is such thing as TMI, but that doesn’t apply to everyone. And I certainly don’t need to hear what mean thing someone else said about me. (Haters gonna hate, hate, hate.) This type of person frustrates me, but I also feel bad for them. We all just want friends. We want to be known and loved. Their conversational habits show me they think of me as a close friend when they may not have many. While I may not want to hear it all, they want to tell me. Maybe I should see it as more of an honor than I do.

The other type I see a lot is the negative person. These people don’t have much to complain about, but by golly, they think they do. Every little thing irritates them and they let the world know. In general, I want to groan when I see these people, but then they would just complain about me. Really, I don’t know what is going on in their life. There may be something in their past or present that I am not aware of. The best thing I can do for them is let them know I am here if they need me. Or if I can’t think of anything nice to say, I should just keep my trap shut.

There will always be people who get under our skin, because we live in an imperfect world. What really matters is how we treat them. Is there a difficult person in your life that you need to look at a different way?

Linking with Holley Gerth!

Wild Success

God wants me to have success beyond my wildest dreams. I want that too, but I get the feeling we are thinking of very different ideas of success.

My ideas tend to come from worldly standards. My kids behaving. My marriage being strong and us not fighting. My house looking good for other people. Money to throw around. Lots of blog readers and a bestseller when my book is finished. Lauren and I selling tons of makeup and feeding lots of people.

Do you know what I know God wants to include in my success? For me to look to Him first in everything. To have pure motives in my actions. For my children to grow up knowing and loving Him (so thankful God knows they won’t always behave!) For my marriage to be based on Him and not our circumstances or feelings. The rest may come and go, but I will be wildly successful if I have these down.

God may choose to grant me great sales and lots of money. But He might also go a completely different direction. He loves throwing surprises at me that I didn’t see coming. He changes what is on my heart and makes me yearn for justice and peace.

I love Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” What I am discovering is that God leads me into things I would never have thought to do on my own. All it takes is getting to know Him better. When I started reading my Bible more and praying more-out of love for Jesus and not out of obligation-I found myself wanting HIS ideas. Now I want His version of success. I am doing what I can on my end and deepening my relationship with Him. In return, He is opening doors for me.

God has a whole life prepared for me. If I am going to know which way to turn or what choice to make, I have to be able to hear His voice above the others in my life. I must wait and talk to Him before I rush into anything. I need to trust that He knows better than I do and that sometimes I must let go of a desire or a part of my life so He can bring me to something better. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.

Today is a new day filled with potential. Something great could happen or it could seem to end up as an ordinary day. What I know about today is that God is working. He is guiding me toward the success HE has planned for me.

Whatever happens, it will be beyond my wildest dreams.

Linking with Faith Along the Way.

God Can Use Makeup

My oldest daughter may only be 8, but she has the biggest heart for people! It breaks my heart to hear her say she lays awake at night sometimes thinking about children who don’t have enough to eat. I have been trying to figure out a way the two of us could help more, and I found it.

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We went into business together! A good friend of ours joined a company called Younique last spring and has had lots of success and met many new people. I held out until now because of past experiences with direct sales.  After knowing what a burden Lauren has had on her little shoulders, I decided to act. I asked her if she wanted to sell makeup with me and donate 30% of our proceeds to Food for the Poor. Her eyes lit up! Now I get to spend more time with my little girl and help families around the world. What could be better?

Food for the Poor not only feeds millions of people, but also provide emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, according to their website.  More than 95% of their donations go directly to programs that help the poorest of the poor. When we give to companies like this, we are being Jesus’ hands and feet. We are making a difference.

For those who don’t know, Younique sells makeup and skin care. They have only been around a few years but are growing by leaps and bounds. Their products are available in the US and Canada as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. It was just announced that soon Mexico and Germany will be added. Younique’s products are naturally based and some are gluten-free and vegan. The bestseller is the 3D fiber lash mascara. It is awesome and even one coat makes my puny lashes look good! The lip gloss and eye shadow pigments are beautiful as well.

Younique seeks to uplift, empower, and validate women around the world. My prayer is that in these next couple years, Lauren will grow to understand that she can make a difference. Her age isn’t important, and neither are her skills. All that is important is that she is willing to be used by God. The sooner she understands that every little thing matters, the better off she will be. God has been using children for His glory since the Old Testament, and He is still doing so today.

If you are interested in purchasing anything or hosting a virtual party, check out the party we are hosting until midnight of February 12 at:

https://www.youniqueproducts.com/sarahandlaurendonegan/party/1308506/view

I never want people to feel pressured to buy, but I want to give anyone who is interested the opportunity to have great makeup. If you can not make a purchase at this time, please say a prayer that we will succeed in helping to feed the poor.

Just think about the families we can help together!

Linking with Holley Gerth and Faith Along the Way!

Place in Purpose by Kathryn Lang Review

placepurpose

Most (probably all) of us have had times in our lives where we wonder why we are here. Did God really want us in THIS place at THIS time? Place in Purpose is a book filled with tips to help us figure it out. Kathryn Lang’s passion for helping people understand their purpose is evident in every word.

We all know how important a strong relationship with God is in all aspects of our life, but do we really work at it? Do we read our Bible as often as we can? Do we talk to God as if He were our best friend? Do we pray God’s Word back to Him? These are all keys to God revealing answers we seek. We won’t know His voice until we get to know who He is.

Serving others is an area I have been trying to grow in. It doesn’t come naturally for me, so I really enjoyed these tips:

“Pray before you act. Spend some time with God talking about the work at hand. Talk to Him about the people involved. Talk to Him until peace and joy abound in your heart about the situation or activity.”

“Set the martyr free. You are not the only person that can do it. You may not even be the very best that can do it. The world will not cease to revolve if you choose not to do it. Your church will not collapse if you have to step aside. It is not on your shoulders.”

I think my favorite section was about decluttering our homes and lives as I love an uncluttered home. Ms. Lang includes many personal stories and one was about how most of her family’s possessions were in storage after tornado damage to their house. Once they didn’t miss many of the items, her husband said, “If we don’t make a place then there will never be room for the blessing to come.” They let go of a lot to others who could use it. This idea is true of our time as well as our stuff. If we want God to work in our lives, we need to give Him space.

We all need to be intentional in our relationship with God and in discovering our purpose. When we put God first and develop a deep friendship, we hear Him speak and feel Him move. There is nothing He wants more than to have a close relationship with us and to show us our place in this big world!

Dislosure: I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.