Refreshing Hearts One Sentence At A Time
Currently, I am taking pre-orders for hard and soft cover copies of Sara's Lemonade Stand! Please go to the Contact Me page, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter if you would like to order your copy today. The first 50 will be signed!
A book launch party is in the works, so keep an eye out for that invite! I would love to see anyone and everyone who helped this book become a reality, so that includes almost anyone I've known for the last eight years. God has used some incredible people, circumstances, and events to teach me more than I deserve to know, and I would love to celebrate this occasion with you. I will have some fun gift baskets available at the party for you to purchase as gifts for yourself or friends and family this holiday season. (New Years is a holiday too!
You can pre-order on my Purchase page and I will hand-deliver or mail the book to you as soon as I get it in stock. For those who are Christmas shopping and have to ship items ahead of time, you can purchase books at:
Barnes and Noble
The E-Book will be available soon as well.
I would prefer to see you at the launch party and hand the book to you, so fill out your pre-order form today!
Thank you again for all your support and encouragement!
How do we keep going?
At my workout class yesterday, during the cardio portion, I found myself flopping around like an uncoordinated jellyfish who had been unwittingly hired on as a Rockette.
I’ve been at this workout class when I got the phone call that my grandmother had passed away. I was there when my dad called to say he had lost his job, that my cousin died, and when my real estate agent informed me that our offer was declined. Apparently, bad news calls in the morning.
Sometimes I would continue class, sometimes I just let the tears fall while the wind whisked around me at the park, and sometimes I just continued on with class, because there was nothing left to do but move on to the next stop.
Yesterday when I was flopping around with my discoordinated flapping and kicking, the thought popped into my mind: How do we keep going?
Yeah, so what if I refer to myself as a ‘we’?!
I mean us. You and me. Me and that other girl. That other girl and the blond guy over there. How do we keep going? Why do we keep going?
“Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26).
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1,26).
The children of God are not aimless, pointless, fainthearted, or easily displaced. We cling to the truth, to the precious words of our Maker, and continue forward knowing he is good, he is with us, and he will help us endure. That’s where the last step ends and the next step begins, in your willingness to risk the change. Even if you look like a fish out of the water. Especially when you feel like a fish out of the water.
The grass is faded to a dry brown by the harsh sun beneath those golden, sparkly shoes. Stand firm with outstretched hands. Cool air massages the shoulders, wrapping cold hands around the waist as the warm sun lingers overhead. Direct your eyes and aim for the target ahead, barrels locked and loaded, ready for the unknown to shatter within your grip. Pull the trigger.
I can’t tell you how often I am my own worst enemy, my greatest disadvantage, and my own antagonist. I think and rethink a decision, hope and wish, tarry and linger, where instead I ought to act. Some of my best decisions have been impetuous. This new List has somewhat been an option plaguing me. Should I try to attempt this? What will people think? Will people think I am trying to be a know-it-all? What if I can’t do the entire thing? What if I’m too busy and don’t have time?
This whole “life” thing is not for the faint of heart. Just keep walking straight ahead.
Is there only one path we ought to follow? Where do our decisions fall on the scale of glorifying God and living according to his plan? Is there just one correct path? These questions keep coming to mind as I see health and sickness, holidays and organizational tendencies come to fruition. In the realm of funerals and weddings, birthday cakes and budgeting, what is the best option?
Is the correct path the one that asks God to walk alongside, wherever that road may lead?
This past week, my little family of three was invited to a friend’s home for the holidays. I made Messy Potato Casserole, the Thanksgiving MUST (it is actually an any-holiday MUST, as I have found, and any holiday is just not right without Messy Potatoes), and threw together my chocolate chip cheesecake. We can’t visit without bringing a little something, can we?! Chuck, Little M, Chuck’s sister Kay, and I packed up the car and drove to the outskirts of Wichita Falls, Texas, for a gracious, Southern homecoming. There were croissants, roasted turkeys, juicy hams, the biggest pan of stuffing I have ever seen, spicy breakfast sausages, crisp autumn air, giggles from the little girls, dusty gravel roads, black cows in the field nearby, and golden sunsets out the front window. The little brick house was filled with tasty food, hugs for family, and a quiet peace of the countryside. I always love going to the city, any city, with the bright lights and multiple radio station choices, but there is something to be said about the bright white beads of the stars overhead, the whisper of the wind across the fading grass, and the soft groan of the porch swing.
What I’m learning to be grateful for is people. For people who accept you into their lives just because you are around. Without stipulation or agenda, those willing and generous souls speak into my life in more ways than they will ever know. Those people who ask you out to lunch or coffee, their smiles a welcome sentiment, and don’t judge you because you’re a klutz, stammer a lot, and often get right confused with left. And they even choose to let you shoot guns with live ammunition while fully aware of these traits.
These kinds of people teach me lessons, and not just the obvious lesson of How To Shoot A Gun, but the sub-lessons that go along with them. Lessons like: every plot has a subplot, conflict drives story, and action makes a scene.
On this particular sunny day, the wind whipped across the dry field and around my sweatered shoulders, the casseroles baking in the oven, while our group killed off a few hours. My husband’s long-time friend Michael*, whose parents had been so hospitable as to invite us, suggested we use the guns he brought with him. Okay, I’m trying to give you some good imagery for this, but I’m still new to the terminology. That last sentence took me about ten minutes to formulate.
Michael let us work with his .22mm handgun and revolver. He let me ask questions and watch him load the guns, showed me some safe methods of handling a gun, and showed me how to fire into the pond behind the house. We took turns with the different firearms, aiming at old tomatoes we threw into the pond. The bright autumn sun dawdled overhead, echoes of simple shots popping in our ears, we laughed, aimed low, and I got to cross Item #5 off my list. I really enjoyed the activity, learning how to aim a gun, seeing what a big factor the wind is, and actually testing my aim and skill level in a new way. I had no idea the effect of a gunshot on the ear drums – afterwards my hearing was muted like after a loud concert, but only for a few minutes. Michael’s uncle came out and they shot his gun, a larger .45mm whose shell casing and shot were twice the size of the revolver’s.
Chuck says that the time I shot a BB rifle in middle school doesn’t count, so this was my first time to participate in the activity. There are quite a few endeavors I’ve either been afraid to try, thought was not my “thing,” or feared failing at any attempt. Let’s face it: taking risks is an opportunity for embarrassing moments, falling down, and failing. Risks are also a chance to make friends, gain experience, and learn something new about yourself. I really enjoyed shooting those guns. I nervously held the weapon away from my body, holding my arm steady, unsure of what would happen next. Eh, so I never hit a tomato dead on, but I got close. I found myself wistful for the continued chance to aim at a target. I sure would hate to live my life missing out on excitement because I was afraid to try.
For those experienced shooters, I’m sorry if my beginner’s terminology was offensive, but hey, I had half an hour with a revolver, so that’s a start, right?
Why was this particular activity on my list?
A few months back, a friend of mine firmly stated my husband should know how to shoot a gun, and even own one for our own protection and defense. The statement got me to thinking, because I grew up in a household of females and guns were not in the picture. Barbies and bows, yes; firearms and weapons, not so much. Now that we are grown I believe my dad either owns a gun or is in the process of hoping to acquire one, although I can see how a papa of three girls would want a rifle for intimidation. This isn’t a discussion of the right to bear arms or gun control, but that statement really made me aware of a topic which I had not previously considered. My husband owning a gun? My husband shooting a gun? Well, why shouldn’t I know how to shoot one? Shouldn’t I know different methods of protecting myself, whether with some sort of training like self-defense classes or with a weapon of some sort? Pretty sure Katniss used her hunting skills more than once in the Hunger Games. Why do I maintain the idea that others should know how to take care of me, rather than knowing for myself? Why would I depend on anyone else to know what I need to know?
K and M*
That’s the basic idea behind this list. I want to be prepared, to be aware, to be ready, to fully experience this life. I don’t want to cower in fear or tremble in trepidation. While skydiving did NOT make the list, I may still look into the basics of how it works. After all, if I’m going to be in an airplane, shouldn’t I know what to do if there is crisis? Why would I drive a car if I don’t have some working knowledge of its composition? And could I possibly inspire art and life in others?
Ultimately, I want to seek God in all that I do. What can he teach me about his heart? How can shooting a firearm bring me closer to my Creator? (Without, you know, physically taking me closer to my Creator.) How can learning and doing inspire a love for my Lord that encompasses my actions, motives, and heart?
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young--
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance--
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Solomon asked God for wisdom. I often pray for the same thing, to more fully understand God’s heart, and to see his hand at work in my life and the lives of those around me. I would be lost without him. But he has given me extraordinary opportunities, and I want to thank him by seeing just where they lead. What an exciting adventure. And as Edward said to his father, “Carlisle, I've never thanked you for this extraordinary life.” Can I turn down the opportunity to show gratitude?
In this new jot down Learning Lane, I seek God’s presence in these items so that I can feel the warm sun on my shoulders, taste the richness of provision, and utilize the mind God has secured.
“The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant” (Genesis 39:2-4).
Even on the broad horizon, where the sun meets the far seashore, God will guide.
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Tarry not, look to the horizon, and accept the open road. That’s the answer I am putting in my pocket for now. God gives us options and we choose the one that can display his creativity, his splendor, his provision, and utilize his presence.
And so we stand firm. The grass is faded to a dry brown by the harsh sun beneath those golden, sparkly shoes. Cool air massages the shoulders, wrapping cold hands around the waist as the warm sun lingers overhead. Direct your eyes and aim for the target ahead, barrels locked and loaded, ready for the unknown to shatter within your grip. Pull the trigger.
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Courage has genius, power and magic in it;
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated.
Begin it and the work will be completed.
~ Apples of Gold
Here's the list.
It's a start, anyway! The plan is to take one item per week and check them off as we go. I hope you will join me so we can learn everything together.
Learning How To Do Everything
1. Be smart and pleasant, simultaneously
2. Fly a helicopter
3. Change the oil in the car
4. Ride a motorcycle
5. Shoot and maintain a gun
6. Gangnam Style
7. Know the history of at least three paintings in a famous art museum
8. Be able to drive a Hummer
10. The basics of riding a camel
11. Sail a boat
12. Knowing the history of and visiting the stops from the road trip in the movie “Elizabethtown”
13. How to grow a tomato and actually grow one
14. How to prospect gold
15. Starting a fire without a match
16. Morse code
17. "Hello," "goodbye," "how are you doing," "do you speak English" in 10 languages
18. Make a functional radio
19. Sew a dress for a little girl
20. To recognize most constellations in the Northern Hemisphere.
21. To be able to share the gospel and my testimony easily and daily
22. The ins and outs of being a personal shopper
23. Fashion for all!
24. Tap dance the “Moses Supposes” dance routine from Singing in the Rain
25. Cook one dish like a gourmet chef
26. Chop onions or carrots like a chef
27. Cake decorating / cookie decorating
28. Speak at a conference
29. How to fully utilize a food processor
30. Change a flat tire
31. Be a back-up singer
32. Learn how to drive a race car
33. Be gracious in all things
34. Engines and how they function
35. Learn how to build a rocket
36. Learn how rock stars can still talk after a concert
37. To see beauty in all things
38. Whittle a figurine
39. How to rappel down a cliff
40. Metabolism – how and why it works
41. Scuba diving
42. Cancer and how to beat it
43. Pick a lock
44. Cook a brisket
45. How blood works
46. Make your roommate stop snoring
47. Herbal remedies
48. What’s good or bad to eat in nature
49. Survival techniques
50. To always see God's providence
The other day, well, to be honest, many times over the course of this last year I have thought, “It sure would be useful to know how to do that.” Whether the task was treating illness, cleaning my home, or figuring out some project for my multimedia business, I came back to the thought that I would just be better off if I knew how to do “that,” whatever “that” may be.
Mulling over this idea for the past week, I’ve come to a conclusion.
A friend of mine recently quoted his favorite line from the play Harvey. “In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
I recommend pleasant as well. I aim for pleasantness, for showing good hospitality. Sometimes I achieve it.
However, today is one of those days where this town feels like a gray blob, sucking the air from the galaxy, shooting down the sunshine before it has dawned. If you know me, you see my busy schedule, my constant activity, my occasional seemingly flakiness. The long list grows weary, my energy wanes, and motivation storms out the front door, slamming the hollow wood panel shut behind her…particularly on days like this. Quite often I can overcome the ache, but today I need your help.
In an endeavor to aim for the stars, to make dreams come true, and set a fun goal for myself, I’m going to try to learn everything.
I invite you to join me. Today is the beginning.
I’m all about attainable goals, right?! So the first step is making a list. Let’s compile a list of Things To Learn.
“But, Sara,” you may be thinking, “You can’t learn EVERYTHING.”
Eh, okay, so I don’t expect to learn how to play every instrument, excel at every topic, enjoy every sport, and maintain every profession. Surgeons are experts for a reason, and I highly respect their vocation. But aside from the gigantic assortment of variety on Things To Learn, I want to at least have some knowledge about the subject.
“What kind of time frame are you thinking?” you may also be asking. Hey, slow down. Let’s get there when we get there. I am just one person.
“What do I care?!” you may now also be pondering. Well, join me on this journey, and I will share on here so we can learn together. I’m not talking Pinterest ideas, such as How To Cook A Turkey 50 Ways or Organizing The Entire Home In 30 Days. Nah. But let’s start a new journey together, an adventure, and start living and learning.
I know a bit about poetry. I love a good poem. Reading through this poem recently, I was so inspired to actually begin this undertaking. Stick with me here, and explore Tennyson’s world:
“It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
~ Lord Alfred Tennyson
One does not think of the typical “stay at home mom” to be a warrior, a strong heart, a seeker, and an artist. Let’s face it; those four words are a ridiculous label for the job description. A mom is a fighter, with strong arms and fortitude; she is a teacher, a supplier of needs, a helping hand; a complicated mess of love, exhaustion, dignity, and emptiness. And this momma wants something extraordinary to happen. I will not let my shortcomings, lack of knowledge, and weak backbone overcome.
Plus, I think this will be fun.
I would love your input on ideas of Things To Learn. Please feel free to comment, contact, or email me with ideas! Ask your friends what they want to know or share a topic in which you are interested.
Here is my list so far:
1) Be smart and pleasant simultaneously.
2) Fly a helicopter
3) Change the oil in the car
4) Ride a motorcycle
5) Shoot and maintain a gun
6) Know the history of at least 3 paintings in a famous art museum
7) Be able to drive a Hummer
9) The basics of riding a camel
10) Sail a boat
11) Knowing the history of and visiting the stops from the road trip in the movie “Elizabethtown”
12) How to grow a tomato
13) How to prospect gold
14) Starting a fire without a match
15) Morse code
16) "Hello," "goodbye," "how are you doing," "do you speak English" in 10 languages
17) Making a radio
Life piled on life were all too little. Now let’s get to brainstorming!
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
Sara's Lemonade Stand