Breaking the Mold

Learning to be who God made me to be

Working for what? — December 5, 2014

Working for what?

You ever get the feeling that God is trying to tell you something? It’s something important but you’re just so BUSY that you can’t be bothered to sit down for a minute and listen to what He’s saying. Well I feel like God has been trying to tell me something recently but I haven’t sat down to figure out what, besides there’s a house to clean, faces to wipe and bills to pay.

Say what? Ignoring promptings from God to do housework? Choosing to spend my “free-time” on things other than listening to God (like scrolling through FB for the 100th time)? You know what happens when my children don’t listen? They get time-outs or spankings. So I’m sitting down today to listen because I really don’t want to see the negative consequence for ignoring God.

This article HERE by Matthew L. Jacobson, is just one in a series that I have seen over the last week or so that I’ve really felt were directed at me. I mean, I think I’m a good mom, not a perfect mom but a good one. I’ve recently started working again part-time and I have to say that while I appreciate the extra bit of cushion in our budget, I just DO NOT enjoy being back in the work force. I find that it distracts me while at home and interrupts our routines because all I can think about is what needs to be done before my next shift. What this articles says is what I believe God has been trying telling me.

“What are you working for?”

“That’s easy, I’m working so we can pay off our student loans.”

“No, Sarah. For what are you working?”

Then it hits me. NOW is the time that I have with my kids. They are so precious and open to God’s calling at this age. An overwhelmed/stressed out momma is NOT going to be the embodiment of God’s love. I want them to know God and see God’s provision.  You can work everyday of your life to provide everything for your kids, but in the end all that matters is whether your children are also children of God.

What you’re doing now is teaching them what is important in life.

What will they see? Work? Money? Success? Fame?

What about hope? faith? love? prayer? commitment? serving others?

A “Little” Christmas — December 2, 2014

A “Little” Christmas

Christmas this year is going to be hard. And when I said hard, I mean we don’t have a lot of money to throw around. Not that we’ve ever really had the money (teachers/pastors don’t really make bank…), but this year we are having to really cinch in the belt. But that’s okay. It’s forcing me to be creative and prioritize what I think is important to really be able to celebrate Christmas and make memories with my family.

Things that I realized make little difference to our Christmas memories:

  1. CHRISTMAS CARDS. Sure I love getting them, but getting our kids to take a nice picture, paying to either print the picture and then stuff it in a card or pay to print it on a card, not to mention postage and whittling down the mailing list so I don’t go broke simply buying stamps.
  2. DECORATIONS. We have a tree (that we’re borrowing from our church) and I did go to the Dollar Tree for a few exterior decorations but spent no more than $30 in total for decorations that will hopefully be re-used next year. We’re not even home for part of the month to enjoy them! Besides with a 3-year-old and almost 18 month old, decorative things don’t last very long around here. The tree will have to fend for itself.

    I was pretty happy with the simple decorations I was able to find at the Dollar Tree
    I was pretty happy with the simple decorations I was able to find at the Dollar Tree
  3. ACTIVITIES. I love all the Christmas activities in our area but a lot of them cost money and tend to be more of a hassle than a memory-maker for us at this age. We have found a few free activities that we will be attending including our church’s Living DRIVE-THRU Nativity (<–CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT!). But really the things we do with our kids during this season is more meaningful and memorable than the things we give.
  4. GIFTS. We’ve actually never given our kids more than 1 Christmas present. We have large families on both sides and they love pretty well on our kids. So it’s neither necessary nor practical for us to give a bunch of gifts. We have a small home and if we went gift crazy and the family went gift crazy…well my husband would lose the garage. So the boys get 1 gift from us and maybe a few things in their stockings. I love this because it presents a challenge for me to pick the ONE thing we will get them this year. On the flip-side, we give small things to the rest of our family. We have to drive 700 miles to see them every year and with 2 young kids that ain’t no joke! So they enjoy us being with them more than the things we bring for them.
Unfortunately this is not the norm for our long car rides to see fam.
Unfortunately this is not the norm for our long car rides to see fam.

Things we ARE doing this year.

  1. REASON FOR THE SEASON.  We are reading through Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” as a family. This is an advent book that includes discussion questions and simple activities to do as a family. It really helps focus on the meaning of Christmas and how the Christmas story really started at creation and doesn’t end after Christmas day. We’re discovering that it may be a little long of a read for the younger crowd, but you can summarize it and still do the activities. Plus the pictures are gorgeous.
  2. FOCUS ON GIVING. Making cookies for our neighbors. We live in an older neighborhood and some of our neighbors have been having some rough times health-wise. We love our neighbors so it’s a simple way to show our love and appreciation for them. We also have a sponsor child, Sebabatso,  through World Vision that we send a special gift too each Christmas. Benji will also be working on getting his room cleaned out to make room for the new by choosing some toys/games to donate to other children that don’t have them.

    We started sponsoring Moli back in 2008, right before we got married. It's been great to see her grow!
    We started sponsoring Sebabatso back in 2008, right before we got married. It’s been great to see her grow!
  3. FAMILY TRADITIONS. We all have them. Growing up ours included Orange Danish Rolls on Christmas morning, making home-made yeast rolls for Christmas dinner. A Christmas Eve family gathering at Grandma’s and driving around the neighborhoods to ooh and ahhh at the lights and a candle-light Christmas Eve service. Now that we live so far away and have kids of our own we’re figuring out what WE want our traditions to be. You can bet they will include orange rolls!
Making Rolls
Rolling out the traditional yeast rolls to bake for Thanksgiving and Christmas

It’s okay to have a “little” Christmas because when you down-size the unnecessary, God can move in a big way! When you don’t have much to give, you can focus on how much you’ve been given.

What about you? Will you take up the challenge to have a “little” Christmas?

#Thanksgiving — November 25, 2014

#Thanksgiving

This year has been a year of changes for us. But really, who makes it through a year without changes? Anywho…we’ve done a lot this year. We switched jobs (and career-fields completely), sold our home then were homeless, then finally bought our new home, started homeschool and… you get the point. So often I find myself just getting through the changes, grumping (<–that’s a real word ya’ll) at my husband and boys and worrying about the outcomes. Now that we’re kind of in a lull of activity I’m sitting down and thinking back over all those changes and I am OVERWHELMED with gratefulness. Despite the upheaval/turmoil that our lives had been in for the last several months, our family is thriving! My husband loves his job as an assistant youth pastor and our boys loves the new house with a yard actually big enough to run around in. Thank goodness for that yard it is my sanity-saver. It’s so easy to get frustrated when you don’t know the outcome of events or the reasons. But I look back now and realize that I had been praying for all these changes for years. So I’m thankful to the God of creation for putting things into motion to give us what was asked for. Even though, like a spoiled child I often whine about the process, I need to just be patient enough to see the results. Do not doubt the goodness of God in the middle of life changes because all things will come together for the good of those who love Him. Big or little, come to His gates with praise and thanksgiving.    Psalm 105:1-3


Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.     Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.     Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name;     rejoice, you who worship the Lord.


So what are you thankful for this year?

No “Test” in my Testimony — November 22, 2014

No “Test” in my Testimony

When someone asks for a volunteer to share their testimony I always shrink away. My life has been, for the most part, uneventful compared to testimonies I’d heard. I had no life-change moments. No rock-bottoms that God had lifted me from. No terrible home-life. So why would anyone want to hear about my bland, nondescript dedication to Christ?

My life hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns for sure, but I have a loving husband and two great kids. We live near a great church family that provides for us in times of need (seriously tho, we were homeless for 1 week and had so many folks opening their homes to us it was overwhelming). I get to stay home most of the week/days with my sons and home-school. We might not make a lot of money but we pay the bills and have food to eat and even have extra here and there for fun! God has blessed us.

So why would this ^^ make a good testimony? Well the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the fact that my life has been relatively simple is a testimony in and of itself. I think back through decisions I COULD have made, situations that COULD have turned out worse, opportunities I COULD have taken/not taken. All those forks on the road in my life that would have me somewhere completely different and being someone else. That’s my testimony! God has saved me from bad decisions time and time again. He was guiding my steps long before I realized what the consequences would have been for ignoring His promptings. It all falls back to Jeremiah 29:11, a verse that some say is “overused” but can scripture really ever be overused? I don’t think so.


 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.

“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”


So when you sit down and look at your life and think that your testimony is not worth sharing. I’m here to tell you that EVERY testimony is worth sharing. God has a plan and purpose for us all and people need to know that even the “ordinary” among us, who think we’re “good people” still need the love and salvation offered to us through Christ.

Have you ever shied away from sharing your testimony? What’s holding you back?

Like a Child — November 6, 2014

Like a Child

When I was little we lived on a farm about 5 miles out-of-town. It was fantastic! My mom would throw the five of us out of the house in the morning and we’d only come back in for lunch and the occasional cup of water. My three oldest siblings usually ran off to the woods for adventures but my sister Rachel and I would stay back playing pirates or building things. When the light above the barn came on we knew it was time to go in and wash up for dinner. My dad was home for most of those dinners. But as I got older he was there less and less. Then he stopped coming to church with us and stopped being involved in our extracurricular activities.

We moved into the city when I was 10 and after that point I started noticing things about my dad that I was blind to before.  Despite my observations,  it wasn’t until college that I realized my parent’s marriage was in serious jeopardy. He was rarely coming home from work and if he did he would either go straight to bed or play on the computer til everyone else was in bed. Right before Thanksgiving my freshman year of college he told my mom he wasn’t come home again…

It was the worst Thanksgiving ever. We spent it with relatives that we didn’t know all that well and the only thing it did was to serve as a reminder of how broken our home had become. I don’t know what it is, but something about your parents in difficulty has the power to turn you back into a small child again. I remember crying out to God late at night in my dorm room just overwhelmed with the pain and hurt this man was causing my siblings and worse my mother. I wrote an email to my dad and told him that LOVE IS A CHOICE, NOT AN OBLIGATION. We were an obligation to him.

He came home right before Christmas and appeared to make amends with my mother and went to AA for a while. Then that too stopped. Fast forward 8 years. We’re back to where we were or worse. My siblings and I told him this past summer that he needed to make a choice. He clearly has.

I find myself feeling like I did back in my dorm and like I did when I was a very small child and was scared in my dark room at night. I’m crying out to God for answers, ANY answers. I know He hears me and will answer. Psalm 116:1-8 says this:


I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
    the terrors of the grave overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
    So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
    I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
    for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling.


I don’t know what God’s intentions are for my family, but I’ve realized that there are somethings that will never cease to make you feel like a child again. Helpless and overwhelmed. But as the Psalm says, “The Lord protects those of childlike faith”. So when I am small and inadequate, the Lord sustains me. I may not have the most amazing father but he is a sinner just like me. And though his decisions hurt me and tempt me towards bitterness I have to realize that God loves him the same as He loves me. I have to have that faith that “He who began a good work…will be faithful to complete it” and that one day my dad will be able to reconcile and forgive.

 What makes you feel like a child again?
Ties that Bind — November 4, 2014

Ties that Bind

Do you remember how hard it was learning to tie your shoes? I do! It was an impossible task! Why couldn’t my mom just continue to buy me those awesome velcro shoes? OR even better yet those sweet jelly sandals! So what if they gave me blisters!

Well I’ve realized that learning to tie ourselves together in unity is also a difficult task. Whether it is unity with my spouse, family, friends or my church. I have to WORK at it. I have to practice. I need mentors and people who have been tying themselves to Christ’s family longer than me, to show me how it’s done.


As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NLT; emphasis mine)


This verse uses the word “one” 7 times. Why is that significant? Because 7 is used in the Bible as a symbol of completion, wholeness or oneness if you will. So what Paul is telling us is that if I want to have the full unity with God and with others, I need to practice humbleness versus pride. Gentleness versus harshness. Patience versus impatience.

Easy? NO. But neither was learning to tie my shoe. Is it worth it? Well I know how much happier I was when I didn’t have to stop playing to find an adult to tie my shoe again. Unity also requires sacrifice. I have to be willing to put aside selfish things, give up time that I often feel I don’t have enough of anyway and invest in relationships. Learning to tie my shoes was a sign of maturity, just like working at binding myself as one within the body of Christ is a sign of the spirit’s maturity within me.

As I mature I realize that those things that were once so difficult (sacrificing time, money, pride etc) are really just part of learning to walk upright and with confidence. Knowing that these ties that bind are hard-pressed to come undone.

I Failed At Couponing — September 22, 2014

I Failed At Couponing

Me:I saved 64% on my grocery trip today!

J: That’s great! So what did you get?

Me:Ice cream bars, popsicles, toaster strudels, eggo waffles, and some chicken…

J: Ok…

Me: And I still spent like $75…

J: Oh

Me: I think I just failed at couponing…


As the wife of a youth pastor and a stay at home mom I am always on the lookout for ways to A) make money or b) save money. When one of the ladies in our small group showed a knack for couponing I thought, well why not? If she can do it I can do it right? I started saving EVERY coupon I got and even paid for inserts so I didn’t have to buy the paper. I scoured websites and joined Facebook groups trying to figure out the easiest and simplest way to do this. I had piles of coupons, bought a binder to organize them in and got out my sharpest pair of scissors to make nice clean edges on this free money.

Trip after trip I would use my coupons with every confidence that I would save money this time around. Only to turn around and be disappointed by the 12% -20% savings I was seeing. “Saving is saving!” “Any amount you’ve saved is money back in your pocket!” This is what the coupon gurus told me. Except that it wasn’t true! On a typical trip to the store without coupons, when I have my list and I have my meals planned in advanced, I can get out of the store spending only $30-$60 for a family of 4 each week. I have averaged a total of $200/month WITHOUT coupons.

One of my few successful coupon trips. This was only a successful trip because the store was having a mega sale event.
One of my few successful coupon trips. This was only a successful trip because the store was having a mega sale event.

Please don’t misunderstand me. If you can coupon and save money, congrats because I’ve tried and I’ve failed. When I “coupon” I spend on average $50-$80 each trip and end up with things that I would’ve never even bought in the first place! I’ve have the frozen eggo waffles in the deep freeze for over a month because my husband makes us waffles once a week and we freeze/reheat the leftovers.

If you’re like me, do not feel bad because you’re like the coupon queens out there that have started their own blogs about how coupon savvy and awesome you can be. Plan ahead, catch the sales, make a list and STICK to the list.

Currently… — September 15, 2014

Currently…

Thinking about- Oh my, I’m not sure I even want to put this out here but…I’m thinking about baby #3. We’re not prego yet (as far as I know…) but I definitely have baby fever! So many of my friends are pregnant or have just had a baby and I just can’t resist!

Thankful for- A small home. You read that right. We live in a just under 1000sq ft and I LOVE it. Less to clean, less to fix, less to organize. I also spend less on crap  stuff because I don’t have anywhere to put it!

Enjoying The quietness of the rare, coinciding naptime! Yay!

Photographing House projects. Our house had been empty for a while and the yard had not really been maintained so there have been quite a few projects to work on, including putting up a fence and re-doing the closets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Ta-da!

Loving- The fall weather! Finally getting a bit of a chill here in the South East!

Listening to- I’m listening the “The Citizens” I actually listen to them on repeat.

Eating – Don’t laugh ya’ll but I sneak toaster strudels when the kids are sleeping. They don’t know we have them. To be fair, the only reason we do have them is because I got them for free when I was trying to coupon…let’s not talk about that.

Why Menu-planning Matters — August 29, 2014

Why Menu-planning Matters

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to use moving as an excuse but…I have been neglecting meal-planning. I mean we have food in the pantry and fridge, but come dinner time I have no idea what I’m making and it’s terrible. I used to do really well with meal-planning. We were saving money,  I knew what I was making each night and in general we were eating healthier because we weren’t opting for the easy out.

Way too many photos of eating here on my phone...
Way too many photos of eating here on my phone…
My boys' favorite veggie!
My boys’ favorite veggie!

My favorite site to help me meal-plan is Saymmm.com. It is FREE first of all. Secondly, I love that I can upload my own recipes, browse through theirs or link up to all those lovely Pinterest recipes that I’ve been saving but always forget I have. I cannot say enough great things about this website. I can plan out ahead for as many or as few days as I like. Hit “create list” and it pulls all the ingredients from those days and puts it onto a shopping list. I can then go through and edit the list based on what I already have in my pantry/fridge. BAM! I can also add other items that aren’t directly related to dinner, like toilet paper or cereal. It even combines similar ingredients so I don’t have to do figure out how many pounds of chicken I actually need.  THEN it breaks the list down into categories so I’m not wandering back and forth trying to find everything while keeping my sanity and my 1 year-old and 3 year-old content.

The double cart: a blessing and a curse.
The double cart: a blessing and a curse.

When I meal-plan, my day goes better. I don’t have this cloud of impending chaos over my day.  I use my “free-time” more effectively because I know that there is at least ONE thing that I will get done today. Even if the laundry is piled high and the boys are a “bit” on the wild side, come dinner time, momma’s got it handled.

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Even the baby loved this one!

What about you? Do you meal-plan? Are you successful or have you given up on the chaos of dinner? What are your secrets for successful meal-planning? Tell me!

When Facebook Becomes a Mirror — August 26, 2014

When Facebook Becomes a Mirror

James 1: 23-25 NLT 

For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.


I have begun to slowly withdraw myself from the world of Facebook and it is hard. Why is it so hard? I have been using FB since my senior year of HS 8 years ago and it was never this hard to just go without. I guess 8 years is long enough for something to become ingrained in your routine. But I started to notice that in my down-time all I was doing was checking FB. I had to remove it from my phone because I would sit on the couch checking for that little blue indicator instead of getting down on the floor and playing with my boys.

As I was reading through a book I read something that struck me as so significant that I now eschew checking FB at all except when my boys are napping or in bed. The author made the comment that while it was hard not to update FB, who really needs to know or even cares about the minutia of my day? Sure people will “like” my status about what I finally decided to make for dinner (A post about why meal planning matters HERE). But how does that really make their day any better?

Furthermore I realized I was becoming like the person in James 1. Facebook was my mirror and the instant I walked away from it, I’d forget what I looked like and would have to go check it again. I would share and like all the “God is Awesome”, “Like this if you love Jesus” posts but what was I doing? Was I reading my Bible during nap time? No. Was I praying for my friends and family? No. Was I pouring myself into someone’s life or investing time to make my house a home? No. I was checking my reflection because in the 10 minutes I walked away someone may have liked or commented on my status. I was a listener/”liker” of The Word but I was not a doer.

I still use FB, but in a much different way. I’m limiting my posts and even my pictures. I use it for communication if no other source is available. I’ve quit all games and have limited the number of groups to ones that are relevant and that I actually use on a regular basis. Furthermore, I am making the effort to check FB at most twice a day. I have been doing this for almost a week now and I already feel a difference in my home.

I want to hear God speaking to me again and I know that the only way to really turn up the volume on God is to turn down the volume on my notifications.

What is FB to you?