Tuesday, December 16, 2008


With the closing of yet another year, I am reaching into my bag of memories - that collection of experiences God gave to me and began or continued working in me over this fleeting time period.

Today I was reading through my journal, (not my diary, mind you) reflecting on what ran through my brain at the time of my entries, and I decided to post a few of them this holiday season for whoever to gain whatever out of them.

The one I'm posting today is called Beauty and I'm sharing this one today because of how it spoke to me; dipping deep into my heart and touching something tender.

My dear Journal,

March 29, 2008

I have always been an admirer and student of beauty. Beauty captures, enlightens, fulfills and delights me. I find beauty everywhere; easy beauty, that is.

I find it in things as lavish as the ripe colors of a winter sunset and the deepness of a medieval painting portraying a tall knight in silver, glowing armour kneeling before a fair lady with golden hair, clad in the purest white.

I find this beauty in the simplest of things like painted daisies on my sister's toenails, wildflowers in an open field, or the bright, pure, smile of a child.

I find beauty in things as rare as a colorful, strutting peacock, who seems to look down, instead of up, at the entire universe. I find it in the incredible architecture built around the world and in the unusual opportunity of watching two people unconsciously fall in love.

And of course, I delight in the beauty of the common; those things that are all around us, every day, there to reach out and receive joy from. The eyes of a striking gentleman, an uncommonly pretty girl, beautiful gowns that ravish the heart, bouquets of roses, timeless musical pieces, the elegance of a quite, country dance, a field of tall, enveloping grass swaying to the tune of the wind, the smile shared between a husband and a wife, silver-haired, but still madly in love - these things that aren't so uncommon, after all.

But in my attempt to culture this taste for beauty, I fear I have become only more inclined towards easy beauty; the kind of beauty that is evident to everyone, the kind that is striking, no doubt. But is it satisfying? Do we ever get enough of this kind?

I am quick to spot the pretty girl over the plain; the graceful man over the clumsy. My taste for elegance (and my intense desire to see such surrounding me everywhere and always) often overcomes the good sense which I know should determine how I see the world. This "taste" is not really taste at all. It isn't talent. It's not being well-bred. It's being what everyone else can be - human.

Something is telling me that my eye for easy, obvious beauty fades away the many opportunities I have of seeing beauty in the most unobserved places - the rarest of kinds, only found after a strong desire and a deliberate quest for it. So my easy beauty had better be called, "lazy beauty".

Like beauty, everyone sees and observes rainstorms, but it takes true taste, true talent, true heart, true compassion to notice the raindrops. And it requires so much more in this extraordinary person to study, bring out, and highlight the tiny drops of water, of which all rainstorms are made. Perhaps, just maybe, these tiny drops of water can teach us far more than the most spectacular rainstorms.

Maybe they will remind us that, after all, some of life's greatest gifts are wrapped in the smallest, most obscure packages. And perhaps we'll begin to understand the many dimensions of beauty; discovering that the deepest ones are the hardest and most unusual to find.

And maybe we'll remember that we're not the Creator, that we do not think like Him, and that we should not be taking lessons from our own books of human wisdom to define what is truly beautiful.

Let me see and study the splendor of beauty forever, praising the great Creator of it, lest I grow dull and lifeless, without a heart of joy; without a heart of gratefulness. May I never grow unperceptive to any kind of beauty, because yes, it is everywhere.

Once I am blind to it, I am blind to all. ~

Thursday, October 9, 2008


“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." - Marianne Williamson


Unfortunately it's a word that is rarely used in reference to human relationships.

Somehow it's strange. Somehow it's uncomfortable. For some reason, hardly anyone practices it.

Well...she's a bit different. She wears dark clothes and dark makeup, and her straightened hair falls over who knows what kind of eyes she has.

She slouches against the doorway of a room buzzing with life and activity, like a wallflower afraid to be one.

Her attitude speaks louder than her words.

But wait. She hasn't spoken yet. We haven't allowed her to.

Finally, someone chooses to single her out in the crowd. She extends a hand, and the long hair falls back from her face, revealing the bluest, deepest eyes.

Ten bracelets line her arm, but her grasp is the kindest we've ever felt. She speaks, and authenticity rings through her voice and says more than her words do.

She is a deep river, found beneath the rocky landscape of the world. But she's afraid and she's clinging to the image of someone she's not.

He's all put together on the outside; suit, tie, hair - straight from a magazine.

He steps into his office with firmness and presents business plans that are stamped with confidence.

His eyes laugh, dancing from the reflection of all and any light. But if we look closely, do we see fear lurking behind them?

He smiles at his colleagues, but underneath the suit, underneath the smile and underneath the confidence, he's kicking and screaming, finished with happiness and tired of life.

If we didn't read past his firm handshake and his measured pace, we'd never really know him. And he would never be able to change.

Why is that we go to church every Sunday and never really know our fellow church-goers - even the one sitting next to us?

Why are we bound by fear, afraid to be ourselves in an open, honest way? Why do we grab an image and cling to it, portraying it as the real revelation of ourselves when it is just a mask, a cover-up for the real person inside?

Why is it that an entire world is content with passing each other every day, living and working with each other and continually dwelling with each other on a level of superficiality?

No one wants to open up. No one wants to be rejected. And that's understandable.

Everyone wants to be understood, but there seems to be a rarity of understanding people just now. That explains why there's a startling abundance of hurting ones.

There is something that our world needs more than televangelists, tracts, radio programs, and churches, believe it or not.

Transparent people. Understanding hearts.

Someone once said, "If you can teach a heart to trust you, you can teach it anything." So true. I suppose the opposite must also be true. If you can't teach a heart to trust you, you can't teach it anything.


I am guilty of doing this so many times. Trying to teach when I should be listening. Trying to keep my image together when I should be throwing it down, revealing exactly the kind of person I really am. Trying to get compassion when I should be giving it.

I worry about the salvation of the world and forget about the unsaved in my own family. I am concerned about the people in my city not having anyone to truly know them, and I never bother to really know my best friend. I am so often focused on the outward; that shallow image, and never think to dwell on the heart.

I am charged with hypocrisy by my own conscience and the whispering of a small voice deep inside me.

I tell the world its faults, and neglect to reveal my own. I do my best to cover my sinful tracks, and my utmost to discover others.

And just when I think I am deep, I am beyond all others the most shallow. I can hide my heart the best.

Change comes when we find in ourselves in need of a Saviour.

It shows itself to the world when we reveal our sinful hearts to the heart next to us, revealing ourselves as real people, with real problems and hurt, as well as real hearts.

Hope never whispers its arrival. When it speaks, it is loud and victorious. It opens up its gates and pours out blessings. It tells the world who is its Master and why they are loved. It gives purpose to souls, throwing open doors of opportunity for the kingdom of God.

Its reach is unfathomable. Its effect is utterly indescribable. And it's here, ready for the taking, prepared for a great experience - ready to redeem. Me. You. The world.

But it begins with us. It begins in my heart, when I choose everyday to leave my mask on the shelf and put on the love of Jesus Christ. It starts when I've decided to listen instead of be heard. When I turn to the person next to me and ask how they are. When they reply, "Fine. How are you?" it begins when I look into their eyes, beyond the disguise, past the hurt, and ask, "No - how are you really?"

A revelation hits me in the form of a word, and I think I know its name.

Sometimes we call it love. Sometimes we call it hope. But it has told me its name.

We call it redemption.

And it will change the world.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When I've Failed

He looks me straight in the eyes and down into my heart.

Somewhat like a lover.

He knows everything I'm thinking, and feels my hurt before I even say a word.

Somewhat like a best friend.

He wraps His mercy around my cold shoulders and puts comfort, like a bandage, upon the part of my heart that is most wounded.

Kind of like a physician.

He steps down from His pedestal of light and sits with me in the dark, holding my hand and speaking love without saying anything.

Sort of like a father.

He crowns me with righteousness and calls me His own.

Somewhat like a King.

My heart stands amazed at the greatness of a King that saw me in my sin, chose me as His own anyway, and forever will call me that. My spirit soars every time I experience His greatness in a new way.

I see the love of the Father God in the eyes of a child. It speaks in unearthly tones and reaches the coldest of hearts. Who can say that love like that is earthly? It is utterly inhuman and completely miraculous.

My soul shakes as I observe the power of the Most High in the wind that bends trees to the ground, lightning that sets the sky on fire, and the thunder that shakes the ground I'm standing upon.

At this moment I cannot imagine denying His presence. But why is it that tomorrow, when I'm faced with a simple choice - to choose God or myself - I deny His presence and live for my flesh?

Why is it that when I experience His love in another human being, I feel like I could love the entire world, but when faced with an unlovely person, I find a great, fleshly struggle is lying in the shadows, ready to conquer me if I let it?

My soul wonders why the embers of my soul are stirred up so swiftly when watching others witness about the great things God has performed in their lives - taking them places they'd never dreamed they'd be, transforming their lives, and bringing change through them to many people. I now wonder why I can't see past the end of my nose, past the footstep I'm standing in, and see the beauty, change and joy God is prepared to work in me...just beyond these times. Why are there times when my heart has no problem believing, and other times when it takes the greatest effort to?

The reason is one of those most quickly forgotten.

I'm human.

That's not profound, perhaps. I am a sinner. In itself that's not profound, either, but on a daily basis, I find this fact powerful:

I can do absolutely nothing on my own.

But seeing great things being done in the lives of so many other people reminds me of the source of those great things.

It's the same eyes that look right through me every time I stand before them with my hands open and repentance in my heart.

It's the same great mind that reads my thoughts and has had every solution formed since before the dawn of time.

It's the mercy that forgives me each time I try to win on my own, fight on my own; run, fly, change on my own.

It's the empathy that touches the hurting side of me when I'm sitting in the dark. I'm not in the dark alone.

It's the same great love and majesty that clothes me in purity and calls me its own.

He's my Lover, Best Friend, Physician, Father and King.

If I remember that He is always here with me and that He alone holds my existence, the passion will never die, the strength will never weaken, and I will always have the power to do right, to be right, and to obtain change in my heart and life.

Why do I ever think I can do anything on my own?

Before change can ever be attained in the world, it must be attained within ourselves. And before we try, try and try again to change without success, we must realize that all change comes from the great source of change - our mighty God and Him alone.

Otherwise our attempts will be futile. Quite, quite futile.

Now that I've thought about it, why do I ever want to do anything on my own?

All right, friends. Tell me about this when I've forgotten. Remind me of this when I've failed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Season of Change

Part of me wishes summer could last forever.

There's something in the rays of sunshine baking warm bodies like cookies on a tray, something in the bare feet running down either gravel roads or sizzling sidewalks, something in the tingle of wiggling fingers dipped in an ice-cold, running creek. There's something in all of those things that's hard to duplicate.

Maybe that's because I'm a summer girl. I was born in the winter, but my heart always awakens with the first dawn of a June morning. Something about summertime makes me feel perfectly bliss, and I think I've defined what it is. Comfort.

Summer means no school for many of us, and for those of us who have school during the summer months, it generally means less school and more free time. Summer also gives the much-appreciated chance for extra summer jobs for those industrious spirits among us, and the chance to spend more time on projects with friends.

During summer, our good times (for the most part) aren't inhibited by icy roads and snowstorms; rainstorms and short days. For me, summer means a time to enjoy life. And that's what I do nearly every summer. Enjoy life.

But summer doesn't last forever, unfortunately. Maybe it's not that unfortunate, though. Think about it. If summer had the rare opportunity of lasting forever, consider the detriment it would be to society. Schoolbooks would gather dust - hence, no one would learn anything from them, parents would be overrun by the constant chaos of the season - providing no schedule and no rest for them, vacations would take precedence over lives instead of work, and that perfect state of bliss I defined as comfort would become old and worn-out- like a piece of stale bread dried out on the kitchen counter.

The point is: seasons must change in order to secure our happiness. In our silly human minds, we often define happiness as comfort, but only our wise God knows that happiness never is formed in that mold. Comfort is only our idea of happiness. Happiness defined is living by the fashion King Solomon, thousands of years ago, penned.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to morn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away;
A time to red and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherin he laboureth?
I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
I know that there is no good in them, but for man to rejoice and to do good in his life.
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour - it is the gift of God.
I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it that man should fear before Him." Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

So apparently, God isn't happy about man's idea that one season is good enough for him. That's why He created change. He knew we'd never grow into the image of His Son without it.

I am standing on the threshold of change. My childhood bids me farewell just over my shoulder. The fears and reality of life are rising within my sight, just beyond this doorway. Behind me, and even where I stand, lies all of the comfort I've ever known and embraced. But somehow I've learned that I will never grow in grace within this comfort zone I love. Change stretches people in ways they feel keenly - but that's when they witness the power of growth and experience the grace of a loving God.

How can I ever change the world while insisting on dwelling in the lap of security? My eyes gaze out into the darkness of the unknown. How can I learn to rely upon the awesomeness of an almighty God without trusting Him for that which I cannot see? How can I expect Him to teach me to swim when I'm not willing to take the plunge? How can I run in the dark when I won't walk in it?

I can't. And in a way, all of life is like this. Unless my heart yearns for change with everything in me, my flesh won't be willing to let go of that ever-so-reassuring comfort, and change will be something I talk about often, yet never experience.

I am releasing the ties of my comfort inch-by-inch. It's throwing excuses at me, begging me to stay, reminding me of my failures and warning me of the unpredictable. I am afraid. But nothing ever said I wouldn't be.

This house of comfort screams at me from its every room - my social room, where it tells me that I must cling to comfort in order to remain popular. It smiles at me from the room of my ministry, where it tries to make me believe that I have been effective for Christ there, and that it's much easier to serve Him there anyway. Just when I think my temptation is over, it grabs me by the arm and whirls me around.

"Look," it tells me, "at your spiritual life."

I'm listening with a painful heart. But this time what it's telling me is true. I have, indeed, deserted the cause of Christ many times in this house of comfort. I have succumbed to the temptations of the world time and time again, and I have been indifferent to the mediocre relationship status I have towards the God who loves me.

Why, after stepping out into the unknown, I will be under the microscope of my social world, the magnifying glass of my ministry world, and the condemnation of my spiritual world which pervades it all. If I can't fly when jumping off a thirty-foot cliff, why should I fly being dropped out of an airplane at thirty-thousand feet? If I can't swim in a calm pool, why should I be able to swim in an ocean, battling against the waves that will inevitably be there? Trying to make it outside of my comfort zone and not only making it, but excelling to the glory of God - seems like a nice idea, but highly impractical. The idea has a high possibility of seriously embarrassing myself in the view of all the worlds watching me.

That's scary.

But there's something in that whole scenario that my comfort, still talking in my ear, has forgotten. It's real. It's powerful. It's happening for others. And it can happen for me.

It's the trick of the trade, the heart of the movement, and the power of the greatest secret of all. That is when a person steps out, takes the plunge, jumps the cliff, and braves the unknown in this amazing puzzle called life, that person experiences the greatest power of the universe in a very real way - regardless of the fact that this person has never been able to experience success previously.

It's this act of lowering ourselves before the great Authority of the world, the simple idea of humility in recognizing ourselves unable of doing good without the source of good - God Himself.

It's powerful. It's real. And it's available for everyone. This is part of what they call grace.

I turn for one last look at my childhood, this nursery of my comfort. My heart hesitatingly says goodbye, and in the time frame of an eternal second, my step is outside the door, and I am running, head back, heart forward, into the unknown, farther from the zone of my comfort and closer to the power of God. My eyes are blinded to the temptation of this culture and the worlds watching me by the shining light of the wonder of God. I know that only by actually running from the comfort zones of life will I actually run into the change of me, which must happen before I can change the world in any way, shape, or form.

I like summer, but do I really want it to last forever? Not really. Not at all, as a matter of fact. I desire change in my physical and spiritual life so that change can be worked in the lives of others.
My soul embraces this change - because I know the One who holds all change in His hand, the same hand that holds me.

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13 & 14

Good night, Comfort, and good morning, Change. To tell you the truth, I'm not afraid. Not at all.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Every Sunrise

Someone recently asked me why I believe God exists. In fact, a lot of people have asked me that lately.

I always cringe at these kinds of questions, wondering why I feel like I need to defend a Lion when I know He is perfectly able to defend Himself. It's not my job to protect my God; it's my job to point Him out.

But how do I know that He's actually there?

I can prove the validity for reasoning there's a God. I prove it with science, history and logic. I can slam every point of every worldview that contradicts with Christianity, I can beat the person in front of me with key truths, and I can even convince my audiences that there is a God; even further than that - that He's my God: the God of the Bible.

And I can win. I can so win.

Yes, He's there. But what have I gained proclaiming that there is, in fact, a God? That He's the God I believe in? Just that. As soon as I gain my point, in a figurative way God becomes this little king sitting in a tall castle in the high heavens, laughing at His ridiculous creation - who is hopelessly out of touch with Him.

I've seen them before. The blank looks that stare at me across tables, shocked that I won a point regarding the case for a living God. But if I continue to rant on and on about the absoluteness of God and if I try to pound it into their strangely stubborn minds, I will suddenly see looks of carelessness. Because after all, who wants to be friends with a God who only exists to announce He exists?

I am a representative of the Almighty God. If I fail to communicate His greatest message to mankind, I have failed indeed.

I must tell them why it is that I have chosen to believe in Him.

I believe Him because He says He's there, I believe Him because I have found Him and Christianity to be objectionably true. But I also believe Him because I have experienced Him in a very real way. I have seen Him, first-hand, perform marvelous things in the lives of my family members and in my own life; things that are unexplainable in a reasonable, rational, human way. I know God. He is a part of my life because He loves me, and because He loved me first, I love Him. That's why.

That's God's greatest message to mankind. He loves them so immensely that He gave His Son for their eternal lives; so beautifully that He, the Creator of all, wishes to share an actual, personal relationship with His creation - mankind. This is the God I know. And that's why I believe in Him.

When Rachel and I sat down for music rehearsal one day this week, the thoughts of this song flowed from our hearts almost simultaneously. Together we penned the simple lyrics of the first song we recorded yesterday:

When this morning dawns/And the day is here/I will feel Your love/And see Your presence

I see You in every sunrise/I hear You in every whisper/Oh, they can say You are not here/But I know You are, 'cause I feel You

When they try to say/That You don't exist/My heart will protest/Because I've known You

I see You in every sunrise/I hear You in every whisper/Oh, they can say You are not here/But I know You are, 'cause I feel You

Lion and great King/How is it that I/Find this gentle love/Rising in me?

I see You in every sunrise/I hear You in every whisper/Oh, they can say You are not here/But I know You are, 'cause I feel You

Every Sunrise by Sarah and Rachel Byrum © This Bright Hour Music 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

This Rising Song

Nothing inspires me as inspiration itself. And that usually comes in the form of a certain generation.

It was a busy, late afternoon in Washington, D.C at the Dulles airports. Hundreds of people rushed to catch their flights and shuttles. The group of people who had come from everywhere for the same reason I had sat together in a huddle in front, waiting for their ride. The van came, with the name PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE labeled on its side. The kids lined up and piled in. I sat next to the window in the middle row, pressed up against it by the amount of people on the bench. I glanced at my surroundings. Teenagers. Lots of them. Different sizes, different ages, different kids. These were to be my family - and my sister's - for the next week.

What happened next was so strange that it was normal. Everyone was nice. Everyone was friendly. Everyone was kind.

Were these teenagers?

Yes, but they were teenagers with a mission. Young people with a vision, however slight, who were gathering with a common passion. I liked it.

But the mean, nasty staff - now they were a different story. Just kidding. Whoever thought our staff was mean and nasty certainly wasn't there all the way, because our staff was truly the greatest. They might have been inexperienced compared to all of the staffs at camps who are tough, have years under their belts, and who make their campers go to bed at nine 'o clock. But ours was the coolest. We had to be in our dorms by ten, but we all knew that our counselors would let us stay up and chat in our rooms until dawn if we so pleased. Our staff was really the best. Hands down. Honest-to-goodness. No kidding. They knew that they were giving us campers far more freedom than other camps, but that was fine with us. Only we'd know that when more responsibility is given, more responsibility rises. When much is required, much is received.

I have always considered myself a person interested in politics, but I don't think anything could have prepared me for the shocking immersion into the political world I'd experience once I arrived. Right after my arrival I discovered that I was a senator from Virginia and expected to be in congress every single day. In our first session I discovered just how important parliamentary procedure actually was. I'd always thought of it as some funny joke movies sported and TV talked about, but that didn't really happen. I knew it existed, but hadn't a clue how strictly it would be upheld. After observing the firm, collected public rebuke of various congressmen and women by our chairman, I decided that for the first day or so, I'd remain quiet and learn about the proceedings. My little sister, Rachel, who had accompanied me, sat still by my side in complete awe as home schooled twelve-year-olds rose to their feet and began eloquent debates, or presented well-written bills.

We discovered that one person at camp would become camp president, and with that, we began our search for our favorite candidate. At that point there was probably about ten kids running - but that would be eliminated quite a bit by the second day - the primaries. (This was definitely, like they had said, life in the political fast lane!) But this was just the political side of camp.

Every day after breakfast, we'd head down to the Town Hall (actually the basement of our dorm) to hear from an inspiring speaker. There were so many of them - who spoke on so many different topics - that at first I felt a little flabbergasted - and I am only now gathering my thoughts in a sane manner to restate them to you. :)

Michael Smith, president and co-founder of HSLDA. Says enough. Christopher Klicka, lead attorney with HSLDA and a man with the most amazing testimonies of God's grace. Kristen Wright with Parental Rights - a group to amend the constitution to make it more explicit regarding the rights of parents.

So many people I've only heard about but longed to see in person, in other words.

Alex and Brett Harris, the incredible authors of Do Hard Things and the founders of TheRebelution.com, also spoke to us, but in a completely different way than what I'd expected. Somewhat like how they speak on their well-known Do Hard Things tour except slightly more informal, the brothers bounced off of each other in a humorous and captivating way - quietly convincing their audience of the truths they presented. They told their story. A story of two teenagers floating aimlessly along in life until they were rudely awakened with the message that has changed their life and those they have shared it with. I'd heard this story before, but somehow it seemed so much more powerful coming right from them. They're normal guys, but it's their completely abnormal message that is moving a generation to rise from lethargy and into faithfulness.

My heart rises within me as I write this, and suddenly I am wishing to once more be back in that Town Hall, sitting with all of those enthusiastic young people thinking, dreaming, planning; laughing. I don't wonder why I get tired of spending time with people who have no purpose, who despise youth, and who think the idea of doing hard things is just a joke. There is a selfish part of me that wishes my world didn't have to be filled with pessimistic people, but rather inspirational. But wait. My world is filled with inspirational people. My eyes are too often blinded to them - and by the idea that there are always more inspirational people elsewhere.

We celebrated the end of our week (or nearly the end of it) with a formal party. Glimmering gowns, perfect tuxes and a high idea of formal ran through our little camp that night. And of course, I forgot my camera. Every photograph I want from that event I'll have to mooch off of my friends.

The young man my sister and I supported was elected president - but not without a close vote. An independent party came very close to winning, much to every one's surprise. I clearly recall jumping to my feet in ecstasy. High ecstasy. And mostly because of the story that backed up why we supported who we did.

We had just jumped on our flight connection in Minneapolis for D.C.. Rachel and I were sitting together - she in an aisle seat and me by the window. We hadn't even taken off when Rachel jabbed me in the ribs and whispered, "Sarah - see that kid over there?"

I nod and look where she points. A young man of about sixteen is animatedly engaged in talking with an elderly black gentleman. "Yes, I see him," I reply.

"He's home schooled."

I gaze at my sister in amazement. She never studies people like I do. I've always considered myself an observer of people and here is my little sister informing of someone I never once observed. "Uh - how do you know?"

She smiles. "Just look at the way he's conversing with that gentleman. He has to be a home schooler."

I return her smile and settle back into my seat, gazing out my window at the wispy clouds clinging to the wing of the airplane and the sun, straining to peak through them with bright rays. I'm imagining that I'm writing. The blue sky covered us like a warm blanket...

Jam! Rachel has her elbow in my ribs again. "See! I told you he was a homeschooler. He's talking politics." A moment later, she abrubtly calls my attention to him again. "He just mentioned GenJ and Patrick Henry! Sarah - he's going!"

We're girls. We wave at him from across the aisle, thumbs up with big smiles. It didn't really matter because he didn't see us, anyway. But all that to say, we considered it a special thing that we ended up sharing the same flight there, that we were able to campaign with him, and rejoice with him when he won the presidential election that week.

Washington, DC. The very act of mentioning the name of that beautiful city sends waves of chills through me. I can think of no greater place to be than there, our nation's capital, on its great birthday. I expected great things, but came away walking on clouds.

We walked in the great footsteps of the people who lead the greatest nation in the world. We gazed at monuments, tall and splendid, who grace the sky and do beautiful justice to the sun shining down upon them. My heart both sank and rose with every step in that great city. I remember it, and embrace the feeling once more.

I had been there before, and I'm sure I'll be there again, but I'm sure I'll never quite be there as I was this time. Surrounded by laughing, enthusiastic young people - as eager to devour history as myself - I had to pinch myself at times to make sure I wasn't dreaming. In fact, at times when everyone else had walked ahead on the streets, under the sun and tall shadows, skipping and laughing, I'd stop. I'd throw my head back and let my face be kissed by the warmth of the sun, my hair blowing in the wind, and I'd embrace the moment with everything in me. I wanted it to take such a deep root in my heart that I'd never forget it, never let it go, and carry it with me forever. This is the land I love.

After a day of walking in the shadows of the past, we ended it with a long walk to the Jefferson Memorial. It began to rain, so we quickened our pace with prayers in our hearts - asking God to bless us with decent weather for the firework celebration. People everywhere blocked my vision as we struggled on, but very soon I peeped over tall heads in our group and saw the Jefferson Memorial - clear against the sky, breathtaking in architecture, glorious in story, beautiful in providence, unforgettable in sight.

Our group gathered on the steps of the great monument just as dusk was falling. The darkness settled quickly, covering our warm bodies like a blanket. And then it began to rain. At first it sprinkled, but as seconds whizzed by, it picked up speed and gained momentum, soon immersing us in a literal shower. We sat there, under the darkness, surrounded by a fast growing crowd, getting drenched by an eastern rain shower, and loving every minute of it. Would the fireworks happen? Who cared! We were having a blast sitting, laughing, joking, musing, smiling, watching - in the rain.

Regardless of the fun I felt we were having, my heart ran with thoughts. I observed the many little children wrapped to the teeth in rain ponchos or huddled underneath large umbrellas (which reminded me of the wings of a mother hen, protectively covering her chicks) sitting, watching the sky with intent, blinking little eyes, appearing as if their little minds were uttering a thousand-and-one silent prayers for the rain to stop. I grabbed the hand of my sister next to me, and we quickly offered a prayer that the rain would stop and the fireworks would be able to go on.

Minutes later, the rain stopped.

When the fireworks began, it was as if they were about to end. Exploding rays of light rushed to the sky and showered down - it seemed - upon us. In a breathless second a rocket would travel up, up, up into the darkness, and another split second and colors of impossible variety were stretching across the sky. Fingers of color, showers of sparkle; fountains of gold. The reflection of the show danced in my sister's eyes, and my heart rose to the highest peak imaginable.

I could have sat there forever. My feet in a puddle of rain and my hands tightly together on my lap, my heart took in the beauty in context of the week I'd just experienced. From the first moment when I'd been surprised at the friendliness of the people, to my first experience in mock legislation and congress, to the very first speaker who spoke to us, to the very last speaker who spoke to us, to the moment of victory in the presidential race, to this moment - this beautiful moment - when it was all coming together like the end of a fairy tale.

But I snap myself out of my drifting thoughts and glance around at my many friends, sitting under the same sky, in the same place, on the same steps, watching the same, magnificent sight. I don't know what they're thinking, but I can guess. I see laughter in one person's eyes, deep thankfulness in another's, happiness in this one's; depth in that one's.

And now I remember why I have loved this time so much. Something like a sob rises within me as I think about the lives that we - these young people - have before us. We will go home, we will live our lives, but something tells me that they'll be changed. These young people sitting here with me on these great, white steps, represent a great generation of world changers. That's what I see in their eyes collectively. It sparkles brighter than the fireworks that display it; it shimmers more gloriously than the sun itself. It's a fire, a call, a holy desire; a vision. It comes to me in the form of a sentence, and my heart, again, embraces it.

We will change the world.

It is like the melody of a beautiful song, accented by the deep harmony of belief and the orchestra of inspiration, a rising song lifted to the sky proclaiming the glory of the Most High.

Hello, world. This is my generation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flaming Torches

I am remembering things these days.

Yesterday one of my mother's and my dearest friends (also a mentor to me) told me a story about myself that I'd long forgotten. She's known me almost all of my life, and we tenderly recalled the days when I was a little girl and she a young mother.

I had always loved children. I hadn't forgotten that, of course, because I still do. Something about their innocence and wonder strikes me and pulls me into their happy, beautiful world. But to go on with my story.

So yesterday I sat at a table with this precious mother, her husband, and their six lovely children. Fondly, I remembered when each and every one of them were little and before most of them were born. It's strange to look at a beautiful young lady, just entering into womanhood, and remember when she was a baby, holding my hand and learning to walk, talk; sing.

My friend told the story that has awakened my remembrance. I was enthusiastic about teaching children, she told us, by the respective age of eight. After church on Sundays and Wednesdays, I'd gather the little children together - a group of two-year-olds, three-year-olds, and children up to my own age. At times, I'd have a special attendance of children who were older than myself. Very special.

I'd pull out my handcrafted canvas bag, filled with my "class" things. Coloring books, crayons, puzzles, prizes and games would line the corner of the sidewalk in the shadow of the church building where we'd sit huddled and avidly engaged. I helped the tiny ones with writing their names on their sweet pictures, and enthusiastically (perhaps too enthusiastically?) praise the other children's highly innovative artwork and creations.

By the dozens mothers would bring their children and sigh with relief on seeing them productively employed. My friend was one of these mothers. Her daughters were some of my students. It was nothing to me. I was doing what I loved.

Something about it, being surrounded by the happy little voices, joining in their laughter, looking down into the twinkling eyes (and sometimes up at them) and putting my thoughts about God into their heads was the next thing to heaven for me. I planned all week for it, gathered new supplies and ideas, and was as crazy over it as one woman at my church over the VBS program of which she was the leader. Seeing the children happy, employed and united instead of running around the church parking lot and giving headaches to their parents, left me feeling delighted.

And then I'd pull out the book.

I'd read as long as I could. I was quite unaware of the wide eyes that were watching me, the little hands that laid aside whatever they were doing and found their places on little laps or the minds that were turning quickly with wholesome, biblical thoughts. How could I have known?

Years down the road, long after I had moved elsewhere and began attending another church, in another state, with other friends, I'd keep that love of teaching children with me, and it was that same love that helped and spurred me onward as I helped to home school my eight younger siblings throughout my high school years. That pastime of reading stories to children would become a passion for telling stories to children, eventually writing them - for both children and adults. It's never left me and only grown.

But the story isn't over yet.

Ten years later, I sit at a table with some of the same young people who were my avid students of the past. Their mother smiles at me, smiles at one of them in particular, and tells me that my tradition, however small, is still being kept.

Because her daughter is running it now.

Every Sunday at that same church, when the lights in the auditorium are off and the children are running off to play in the parking lot and unknowingly give their parents headaches, my young shadow pulls out her handmade canvas bag, gathers her little class of children under the covering of the building, and sits in a circle with them on a small corner of the sidewalk. She hands them the coloring books, the crayons, the games, the prizes, and together they revel in masterpieces.

And then she reads. While the words are flying expressively from her lips, the children watch; mouths open, hearts beating, eyes flashing, minds spinning.

They are captivated.

And the tradition goes on. It is just a small thing, this story of the connection from me to my friend's daughter, once the little girl who sat in my shadow and listened to my stories. But what it represents is not. The torch I carried so enthusiastically and waved with joy would be carried and waved by one of the little people who watched me so intently those Sundays. How could I have known?

I couldn't have. I didn't.

This act of remembrance makes me think. What other kinds of torches am I passing to those hearts that beat for me, those eyes that gaze upon me, those hands that reach upward? You never know. The things I am doing today may very well be flaming torches preparing to be passed on to the next generation.

Maybe I should be doing them well. Quite well.

Just maybe.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jamestown Memories

It's been one year since my incredible time at the Jamestown Quadricentennial, put on by the ministry of Vision Forum.

I’ve tried to recall a single memory that played such a significant part in my mind, but all of the happiness I felt comes running back to me, swirling my thoughts like a whirlwind.

Happy fathers, blessed sons, joyful mothers, sweet daughters, little children, elderly grandparents – they were all there.

At the time I almost wondered if the locals of the historical towns we visited: Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown, were looking at us and wondering, “What has happened? Did aliens land from another planet and did the news forget to tell us? What is with these 14-passenger vans and other vehicles suddenly appearing from nowhere smeared all over with strange messages like, ‘‘Know Boudinot?’’ and ‘‘Honk 4 JT400!”

Whether or not they were actually thinking those things, I’m sure they had to have been wondering something. Indeed, I found it hard to believe that I hadn’t traveled to ‘homeschooling country’ or some other such place. You could see them a mile off, holding hands and crossing streets, walking beside you and taking notes or pictures and laughing and playing on the Williamsburg green. You could see them, you could hear them; you could almost smell them. Families. Everywhere. Something had happened.

I remember the very first night, the grand opening at the Hampton Convention Center. I recall the breathless excitement clearly exhibited by the eager crowd outside the closed doors. Everyone spoke, laughed; murmured. A violin could be heard in the background, nearly, but not quite drowned out by the rumble of the people.

I smiled. It was the definition of grand in a real, live, sensible way.

I remember the thick and spreading elation as the crowd poured in through the open doors and took their seats in quick anticipation. The soft strum of the maidens’ hands on a harp, the thrill as Mr. Doug Phillips took the stage to address the attendees, and the joy of watching the speakers ascend with a powerful message – it’s all coming back to me, as if I was there all over again.

I remember wanting to catch the week in my hands as it flew by, and wishing that I could soak in every single moment and keep it with me always. I feel the wave of exhilaration once more as I recall walking over the ground that Captain Newport, John Smith and Pocahontas had trampled on four-hundred years before. I stand in the unseen footsteps of moccasins and boots from centuries past. I meditate in the shadows of monuments, tall and marvelous, and feel the presence of the Almighty – the same Almighty whose presence they felt so strongly.

Shaking the hand of John Tyler’s grandson, meeting and laughing with the impersonators of Theodore Roosevelt, John Tyler, Patrick Henry, John Smith and Lady Rebecca are memories that will always be with me, instantly coming to mind at the mention of the word, ‘Jamestown.’ I remember laughing at the weight of my notebook, filled to the brim with the many notes I carried to the sessions, and laughing at my sister’s which was stuffed with the autographs of the many godly leaders we met there.

The balloon rides, the boat rides, the historical tours, the walks along the James River – it all evoked the stirring of a part of me that had never been awakened before. The sensation of leaping to my feet with a crowd enthusiastic over the John Smith award given to the very worthy Christopher Klicka, the tears that I shed when Miss Melanie Thomas won the Jamestown 400 treasure for the glory of God and her family – I will watch these scenes in my mind over and over again during the course of my lifetime.

And the parade – the marching, shouting, singing, laughing, musing, smiling rows of children and young adults (some older ones, too) walking through the woods of Fort Pocahontas, that classic civil war battle site, and throwing their hats, raising their swords and spears, waving flowers and flags to the beautiful music of fife and drum that led them – that led us – onward. I remember, and my heart cries with triumph.

When I have at last begun to think I have very well recalled and covered the most prominent of my memories, another grabs my attention and pulls at my heart with vigor.

The children’s memorial.

Nothing can begin to describe what went on in the beating hearts of the crowd at that moment. Little children sat on their daddies’ shoulders, peering over the heads of strong sons and beautiful daughters, and even the littlest of these were silent with awe, as if they understood the greatness of the monument about to be dedicated.

Because, after all, it was for them.

I still feel the tingling thrill and the tears that stood still in my eyes as Mr. Harrison Tyler, the descendant of Pocahontas and John Rolfe and the grandson of John Tyler, stepped down the long path through the crowd and set the time capsule into its position by the monument – underneath a stone that read 2107. Thousands of eyes watched it be set in it; thousands of hearts beat. Cameras flashed.

It was done. The founding of the greatest nation in the world and the great Providence of its God had not been forgotten in our generation. It would be remembered, and we, by causing a monument to be erected, were setting a precedence for the generations beyond us – these children’s children; my children’s children.

It will never be forgotten. The history of the four hundredth anniversary of Jamestown and a new country, eventually to be the United States of America, is the great story of an Almighty God and of His tender mercies. And this story, experienced and felt like never before, will live on in the hearts of those grandparents, parents, young adults and children forever.

For me, I must add that a part of me that had never been lived before flung open its doors and lived in a way that left me changed, strengthened, and envisioned for eternity.

I will never be the same.

Soli deo Gloria!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Generation Joshua 2008

For those of you who are not familiar with the ministry of Generation Joshua, please feel free to familiarize yourself with it here.

Generation Joshua is a branch of HSLDA and an organization dedicated to creating political awareness in teenagers and teaching them about the faith of our nation's founders and the practical application of the constitution.

This year my sister and I will be joining hundreds of other teenagers and young adults around Washington, D.C. and at Patrick Henry College for a week of prayer, learning, celebrating, friendship, spiritual encouragement and vision. Please pray for us June 29 - July 5.

And in the meantime, check out their site. GenerationJoshua.org.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Walk

A few days ago I posted a writing entitled My Life Song, a piece that accurately displays what I am learning in my heart and life.

But I've been thinking some more.

While I still believe what I said about making Jesus my life song, I wish to clarify some points for my readers, and unite the beauties of heart and life.

First, Jesus is our leader and our passion. Always. But some of us (myself included) may find it an easier route to simply claim the name of Jesus with everything that we do, everything that we share with people, etc. But here's the catch. Unless our lives are being lived according to what Jesus taught and did, our proclaiming His name is a worthless act, and in many cases, a detrimental one.

I live in the United States, and in this country, the brand Christian is so commonly used by so many people, that the term can be used and identified with by both slums on the street and with millionaires. The name of Jesus itself is flung off the lips of both the heathen and the moral, screamed in swear words and sung in church hymns, and is used in every possible way in between, and by every kind of person. What makes the difference between the real and the unreal, the false and the true?

Only one thing. The walk.

Anyone can talk. It's easy to go to church, sit in seats, sing songs, and listen. It's easy to tell people we're Christians whenever they ask us. And for many people, it's easy to put one's kids in Sunday School, take them to VBS, etc. For some people, it's even easy to tell others about Christ - to door knock, to share through music, to witness in everyday places. To some this is the walk.

But let me tell you what's not easy.

What's not easy is telling one's wife that she is appreciated- even on hard days, taking time to wrestle on the floor with one's children, helping old ladies across streets and old gentlemen, too; meeting deadlines, deporting ourselves with grace and honor when relating to parents and elders, speaking kindly to those who speak unkindly, choosing the moral over the immoral, the right over the unclear, holiness over mediocrity; running the Christian life when we feel like walking, or when our culture expects nothing more. That's not easy. But it's right.

And that's the walk.

Who cares if I can tell the world I am passionate about Jesus Christ? What does my life say? My mouth must speak, my heart must sing, and my feet must run with passion, but unless my soul is grounded in truth, I speak for nothing, sing for no reason and run with no end in sight. To be a thoroughly passionate Christian, my heart and life must proclaim the lordship and greatness of Jesus Christ.

It's not easy, but it's right. For me. For you.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Life Song

Here I go, thinking again.

I love talking about things that mean a lot to me; convictions, beliefs, ideas and goals of mine that tend to be prominent pillars of who I am. However, I am realizing that these things should not be my passion and what makes me Sarah.

Because after all, although I am passionate about writing, the art of writing never saved me. It never gives me hope.

And though I love to discuss theology with friends, theology isn't what gives me life and eternity.

I love, love, love to be around intelligent, gracious people. (Highly civilized, as my family teases me by saying. :)) But intelligent people never gave me a reason to live.

I will always enjoy proclaiming my views on subjects such as Christian modesty, courtship, parenting, home education, etc., but my views on these subjects will not show a hurting world that Jesus loves and died for them.

When I speak, who am I proclaiming? Myself? When words flow from my mouth, are they my own understanding of perhaps Biblical, valid issues, or are they the words of the great foundation of these issues - Jesus Christ?

Oh, yes, these things are right. Yep - they're even worth fighting for. And sure, I would defend them left and right if the need arose. But truly, I think that some of the things we rant and rage over, some of the things that we proclaim to the world as truth, are not nearly as worth the time and effort proclaiming as Jesus Christ and His kingdom is.

There must be nothing more saddening to the heart of God then to see His children squabbling like accomplished bickerers over the smallest issues, or even the greater issues, when in reality they are all nothing in comparison with His great message to the world.

In the scope of eternity, what will it matter if I went to this church or that, if my friend taught in public school or not, if I believed one great doctrine while another didn't, if so-and-so went to college and this other person didn't, whether I wore striped jeans every day or dresses? Will it matter?! At all? No!

But what will matter is whether or not you loved and served Jesus Christ, and in whatever climate you lived in, in no matter what conditions, whatever color your skin or hair was, and even if, yes, you went to a bizarre church and believed a bizarre doctrine. (NOT that we should if we know better, but to many, the church WE attend is a bizarre church and the doctrine WE believe is a bizarre doctrine, just to put things in perspective, no matter how much we know we are right. Believe me, I understand how it feels to be right. Just ask me about any issue we disagree on.)

I am the first to advocate and even fight for the great truths of the Bible, the foundations of our faith, etc. But my stomach is also the first to get queasy when I observe Christians in my life divided and unhappy over things that are not important in eternity.

As Christians, we should be far more concerned about the name of our Creator being proclaimed to every living creature along with His praise, His worship and His glory, then we should be about our agendas, ideas and thoughts on issues being broad casted for all to hear. In the end, that doesn't matter. That won't hold. God will not be asking us when we stand before Him whether or not we told everyone about what we thought the Bible said. He will ask us, though, whether or not those in our lives saw us consumed with the fire of the Almighty; with the love of Jesus Christ and for His kingdom.

That is something worth fighting for. That is something worth living for. That is something worth dying for.

So I'm changing my life statement. Instead of Sarah being defined as, "a girl who wants to change the world," she will now be defined as, "a girl who's passion is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone." IF that happens to change the world, so be it. It will only come about because God made it happen through me.

I choose not to ask of everyone the same, but as for me, my passion will be Jesus Christ. He must be glorified in everything that I do - He must be. When people look at my life, I will not be able to take any credit for anything I have done, because really, I'm not the One who has done it.

I may not ever become a famous author or a prolific musician, but that's okay with me. My life will be a song of the Savior of the world.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Hard Things

I am spending some quality time with a dear friend and spiritual mentor of mine right now.

She's teaching me many things.

The first is that although my life may be surrounded by people who do not necessarily live for the glory of the Lord, I must anyway. Otherwise, I will stand before God and be completely responsible for my sin. I won't be able to blame it on anyone else.

If I dishonor an elder or spiritual senior in my life, I am breaking God's commands, no matter what they may have done to me, and I stand in violation of scripture. Even though I may not agree with those in authority over me, yet I answer to an even higher authority to respect them with my words, actions and bearing.

When a sibling does something extremely provocative to me, am I qualified to blow steam, rant and rage? According to God, no - even when they have done something very provocative to me.

For married couples all over the world, I think many of their problems start right here with the act of refusing to take responsibility for themselves. I am responsible for the sins I commit. It's not Adam's fault and it's not Eve's. Neither is it Satan's. It's mine. End of story.

The other thing she has been helping me to see is that although God controls all events, nevertheless I can choose to be strong in character or weak in it, and hence can choose to have a pleasant future or a rather unpleasant one, by the way I prepare for it now. Consider Joseph for a moment. He certainly was placed in difficult circumstances yet nonetheless was capable of rising above them and experiencing God's power poured through himself and onto an entire nation as a result of his choice.

I choose that same choice.

I will willingly take responsibility for the faults I have and the sins I commit. I choose to ask forgiveness quickly and embrace the hard idea of a teachable spirit, regardless of the outcome. These are two of the hardest things I will ever do, and no one ever said it was easy, or that it will be over soon, or that I will have an easy life if I do these things. Chances are it will be much harder, much more against-the-flow, and far more complex.

But still, it's right.

If that's not what it is to be a practical Christian, one who actually lives his faith, what is? Faith is not limited to a foggy idea we have, but the actual walking out of it.

It's where the rubber meets the road.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hello, Summer 2008

When home is the fulfillment of our dreams.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Shh. Sarah's Thinking...

Sarah's mind has been busy lately.

That's nothing strange, only what Sarah has been thinking has been rather different than what she usually dwells on.

My nearly thirteen-year-old little brother (Sarah's brother, of course) who isn't so little anymore, returned from a Californian business trip with my father just a week ago. He was there helping my father for ten days, an actually unusually long trip for them. And although six of us children were born there, Stephen hadn't been back to that chaotic world for almost six years. He was in for quite a surprise.

California has thrown itself into such a bizarre replication of a loud, living, mechanical, crazy clock that Stephen was shocked we had really lived there for as long as we had. My parents were both raised there, but besides being thankful that they took us out of that horrific existence, Stephen came out of the experience bettered in a strange way.

I remember the morning he called us up from way down in the sunny south and told us that they were driving through what was recently the nation's #1 murder capital. After reassuring his mother's panic-stricken state of mind, he told us quietly that he couldn't believe how incredibly wicked our world has become. When he returned to us, safe and sound, we all gathered around to hear his rendition of the peace-shattering experience.

"Barred up salons and hotels," he recalled, "shattered windows covered in cardboard, dark creatures lurking on every darker corner, broken street lights and traffic signals, graffiti everywhere, everywhere, and not a decent soul to be seen at all. It was like the worst ghost town ever, and totally like another country."

I asked him what struck him most profoundly while witnessing such an unforgettable sight.

He said this. "The fact that the world is so obviously terrible and that decent people are living there, living in it and letting the terrible things happen. Just half an hour from the worst place in the country, beautiful mansions line the hillside - the homes of decent, normal people who are living in the most complete oblivion to the darkness around them."

Someone asked him if anything else stuck out to him.

He smiled. I love his smiles - his hazel eyes always smile brighter than even his mouth. "Well," he said, "I suddenly became very thankful for the beautiful home we live in, the family I've been placed in, and the parents who persevere to teach their children the ways of God - no matter how difficult it is. I also appreciate our parents' desire to not be passive in our world, but to share the gospel and love of Jesus Christ to every person who crosses the paths of our lives."

Hmm, Sarah's thinking, that wasn't such a bad trip after all.

"It was so hard for me to see all the pain, suffering and darkness," he concluded, "but I'm so thankful I did. I've been completely changed from the inside, and never to be the same again."

Great trip.

"Stephen," I said, giving him a hug, "the first thing for you to do is teach your siblings how civilizations come to this point of God's judgement and vivid unhappiness. Then, I look forward to hearing how you are going to change that in your lifetime - in your generation, and in the generations to follow you."

"Right," he said, "because our family's not going to forget the commandments of God, and we're not going to forget to share them with others, either, are we?"

No, Stephen. You couldn't have said that better, and you couldn't be more right. :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Personality Defined

Ta-da! My personality is now quite official. I am an Attentive Creator. Scroll over each of the colors to see what they represent and my status on each of the points. This is the best personality test I've ever taken. I encourage each of my friends to try it out here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

One Moment Can Change Your Life Forever

For those of you who have never seen the movie Bella, it's time to. And even for those who have and would love to see it again, you may now own it on DVD. In fact, I picked up my first copy off a shelf at Best Buy. You can buy it online here.
If this movie touches or has touched you (view the trailer here) don't hesitate to share it with others. The message it proclaims is at the same time beautiful and powerful.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Rebelutionary Phenomenon

And he's only sixteen. But for Zach Hunter, the author of Be the Change, the director of the ministry organization Loose Change 2 Loosen Chains and the speaker to thousands of people worldwide on the issue of modern day slavery, this phenomenal way of living didn't come easy.

In Do Hard Things written by the inspirational Harris brothers, they describe the intense obstables Zach had to overcome in order to actually do great things for God. For Zach this meant he had to overcome a severe anxiety disorder and speak in front of huge audiences concerning what he was passionate about.

This interview does an excellent job of expounding on the values that motivate this young man and empower him to change the world. (I do not neccesarily agree with everything said by the interviewer, just as a side note.)

Whoever you are, remember to not despise your youth or the youth in your life. Youth can, will, and are making a difference in their world...right now.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Prince or Princess Charming?

Or do perfect people even exist?


If you feel inclined to slam your fist through your computer screen, please refrain. My thoughts on whether or not perfect singles exist are not my own, although I am expressing them. They are widely known facts, fully practiced and tested by many people I know.

First, you meet someone. He or she either grabs your attention first off, or they slowly pull you into their world. Either way, they've got you, hook, line and sinker. (We all do hope there isn't a hook.)

Then they meet you. Suddenly, the lights go off. Or if this amazing person is really rotten, they'll play with you, lead you in, and abruptly give you a thorough jab of their hook by announcing that they're engaged, courting or dating, or give the all-around flash of disinterest -"Oh, we're just friends." They've suddenly seen a side of you that they didn't know you had - or SOME thing - even though you smiled incessantly, did many things out-of-your-way to impress, or simply sat and minded your own business. Whatever it was that you did, they're busy with others now. WHAT? Why? You're upset. Duh. And you vow to never let your silly heart do that to you again.

If you're wise, you'll realize that if Mr. or Ms. Amazing couldn't see through whatever faults you may have, they're not the one for you. But then you get thinking, "Am I being picky? I guess there really isn't a perfect person." Some even go as far as to take the first one that comes along, and for two reasons:
1. The first person who comes along has been a long time in coming.
2. There may never be anyone else.

And they justify it with what I said at the beginning of this post: There aren't really any Prince or Princess Charmings.

But now I'll double-cross you.

There is.

I am one of the too-few people I know who still believe in dreams. Not the physical kind of dream, but rather the kind that stirs in the soul of man, spurring, convincing, thriving, ever hoping. This dream never dies. It tells you when you've seen righteousness, when you've tasted love, when you've made beauty, when you're living on the mountain top. In the heart of mankind, God, by His grace, has placed first and foremost a desire to know and love Him, and secondly the desires, talents and dreams that, in your lifetime, you can see come to pass. I believe that inside the heart of every boy and girl there is a small dream, perhaps so small they aren't even aware it is there, and perhaps almost entirely undeveloped, but there, anyway. This tiny dream is the complete person God is preparing them to marry. And for them, this person is perfect, even with all of his or her faults.

Whenever we try to tweak God's plan, which of course we can't, we end up with a mess. Whenever we go ahead and love someone outside God's commands (for a Christian, out of the faith) and whenever we love someone we have had to work at loving, convince ourselves we love, or believe the words of others telling us we love, we are being traitors to ourselves. We should never disobey God's commands. We should never disobey the God-given authority in our lives unless it contradicts God Himself. And in this area, Christian men and women should allow the spirit of God to rule and form their dream - not die to it. This dream must be very much alive, no matter how hopeless it seems, in order for it to be fulfilled. But it must be born out of the heart of God and yielded completely to His leading.

If you are a fiery tempered female, God knows that you'll never make it with a fiery tempered male. If you are visionary, God knows you need someone who is practical. If you are completely down-to-earth, perhaps your heart and God's tells you that you need someone who soars in the sky, and lives, generally, out of this world.

Whoever it is that you are, you must realize one thing. There really are no perfect people. But there is one person who is perfect - for you. Don't sell yourself short. Don't give yourself away too soon - mentally, physically or spiritually. When that perfect person does arrive, make sure it's the one before you fall. And when you fall, fall hard - and fall forever, never to be the same again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

He's Still In The Race

Hello and a big hearty adieu to all my fellow Ron Paul supporters! Here is CNN's very recent interview with our constitutional champion, and you'll be very happy to know that the lies are real: he is not dead, but rather quite alive! As Mark Twain has said, "News of my death has amused me greatly." You can read about his far-too-great success in Nevada that resulted in a hilarious cancelation of the delegation convention here. And until then, hang onto your hats. A revolution is sweeping our country.

May God bless Ron Paul and all those who desire to see America once again free under God.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Journal Thoughts

My family and I just returned from a wonderful home school conference in Seattle where we listened to such great speakers as Doug Phillips, the Erber family, and Donald Chittick. We had a blast enjoying the time with many of our friends, shopping together, singing together, planning together, and learning great things together. I will post photos and a full report from the trip soon.

I write in my journal nearly every day, and today I felt like sharing something from it with you quite personal, but something that I hope may be helpful to you in your own lives.

My Dearest Journal, 4-10-08

I am devising a plan to help myself and others cope with the presence of what I consider to be serious perplexities, misfortunes and instabilities. I am looking out into the broad, deep sky of the future, beset with many unknowns, but not completely without its stars. At certain times these are very, very hard to see, covered like they are with a blanket of thick, depressing clouds, but at other times I can behold them quite easily - studded into the night sky scape like diamonds or thrown onto the the realm of the Milky Way - scattered like confetti. On the over casted nights I must remember that just because I can't see the stars doesn't mean they aren't there. They are there, waiting for the correct time to reveal themselves to me.

I must remember these words today, tomorrow - and every time my spirit is overwhelmed. I must NOT let my circumstances define me, rather I must embrace the lessons they present and allow them to make me the wiser for doing so.

But I am ever a practical person. Just how am I to do what I have been explaining? I must find real, day-to-day ways of coping with the difficulties and pains of life. Here are my emerging replies to this dilemma.

In order to prevent a ruined personality or damaged character in an individual when living through either severe trauma or its relative, the harder-to-perceive emotional instability, one must:

1. Bury themselves in good books. This is not simply the biased suggestion of an avid reader, but a known help for all types of people.
2. Immerse themselves in the world of beautiful music. Music can be a great healer and I, for one, find myself and my thought life daily influenced by it. I find that when I listen to beautiful music I perform my tasks more efficiently. I even write better while listening to Chopin or Handel or other ingenious composers.
3. Pour themselves into another person. A child, a struggling mother, a spouse, an elderly gentleman. Time has always shown us that by helping to ease the burdens of others, we often alleviate our own.
4. Surround themselves with people. Family, because they love you no matter what; friends, because they inspire you and light up your days; children, because they make you love life and help you to see life in perspective; people of all kinds, personalities, temperaments, habits and beliefs. You never are really steadfast in what you think, who you are or what you believe until you know what someone else does and until you can defend what you do.
5. Make things with your own two hands. Even after doing this on bad days, I step back and gaze at my work of art, whether it be paintings, photography, musical compositions, writings or baked goods with some little passing sense of pride and an immense feeling of satisfaction.
6. Spend time in Scripture and allow it to moderate, influence, and inspire all of the above. Anytime we allow the very breath of God to penetrate our lives, the blessings are endless.

I have realized that no one can spend their days pretending to be elated and in the best of spirits when they aren't. But they can live quiet, dutiful lives which are, in my opinion, quite as pleasing to the goodwill of their Creator.

I've become convinced that many people forget the truth of "making it" in pursuit of the one of excelling. I am infatuated with the idea of excelling so much that I have lost the virtue of simply making do. So much so, in fact, that I even become discontented with the way my life is at present. How wrong, how foolish of me!

My light would be quickly fading by now if it was a candle, such as writers of old used, but as it is a lovely electric lamp, I haven't noticed the time passing so quickly. My younger sister, Rachel, grows tired of the constant sound of my pencil scribbling, so I must say farewell.

Oh, by the way, I can see the stars tonight. The light of a thousand of them shines through the darkness, into my bedroom window.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Today my family and I had the honor of entertaining Miss Akiane (pronounced AH-KEE-AH-NUH) Kramarik and her family in our home. In case you aren't familiar with the name, Akiane is a world-renowned thirteen-year-old artist. (You can visit her website here.)

I was curious to find out what kind of a young lady Akiane had become (it has been many years since I last saw her) considering the fact that she's been in the limelight of the artistic world for five years now. Becoming a celebrity at such a young age is enough to tweak anyone. But I was in for a surprise.

I found young Akiane to be a beautiful young lady with long blond hair and a pair of twinkling blue eyes that smile, if possible, even more than her teeth encased in braces do. From the moment she walked in the door, I knew she was a kindred spirit.

The Kramarik family, Marc, Farrelli, and five children (Akiane is the third eldest), is a devoted home educating family with a vision for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere. My mother and Mrs. Kramarik immediately found common delights in health and nutrition, and my father instantly hit it off with Mr. Kramarik. Her eldest brother, Delfini, watched over the little children and joined in the men's animated conversation, Jean Lu, the next eldest, amused us with his incredible sense of humor and his culinary talents, eight-year-old Illia played all day with my little brothers, and little Aurielus, just one-year-old today, never left his mommy.

Akiane was able to run outside and rejoice in the beautiful day that Jesus gave us, without reporters and photographers, celebrities and fans swirling around her. My heart was delighted, as was her mother's, that Akiane was able to be just what she is with us - a little girl. Certainly a little girl with extraordinary gift, but nevertheless an actual, human little girl, not some "god child" that unnamed interviewers have unknowingly, but blasphemously called her. Akiane is a delightful girl, who enjoys many of the same pastimes and hobbies that my younger sisters and I enjoy, and she has struck me as being remarkably deep, something I consider quite unusual for her age.

Most importantly, Akiane is a young lady of great virtue and a child of Jesus Christ. Her goals are to proclaim His name everywhere she goes and with everyone she meets. Akiane shines in her family, and recognizes that place as the most fulfilling, rewarding place she will ever find.

I am blessed to have begun a friendship that I can see deepening and widening like a river sweeping into an ocean. In fact, that's what Akiane's name means - ocean.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ten Favorite Things That Begin With The Letter "B"

A beautiful and amusing (smile) friend of mine has been practicing a new game on her circle of bloggers. She chose the letter "b" for me (perhaps because of my last name?) so hence came my list of words.

Belle - French for "beautiful."
Baby's Breath - the flowers that most depict innocence, I think.
Ballet - let me dance...:)
Bathrobes - fluffy and white.
Berries - I am an aficionado of the sensation.
Books - if you know me, enough said.
Bon bons - mmm. Chocolate! I will ever be devoted to you, I'm afraid.
Boutiques - I'm a girl, of course.
Brides - someday, over the rainbow...hmm.
Brothers - I happen to have six, and I love every one of them.

Thank you, Cheri, for such a fun letter!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Isaac

He's not just any little brother. For one thing, he's mine.
For another thing, he is completely unusual.
Every day I take into consideration that he's completely boy, that he's six-years-old, and that he's gone through an unusually long Idahoan winter - hence the extra hyperness. However, no matter how much I try to make myself think that he is typical, the more I decide that he's not.
Monday morning, for instance, I gather my books to teach my little brothers. I happen to have five younger brothers whom I teach every day, but I always teach Isaac first because he has the ability like no one else to tire me out before my thirty-minute session is over. I'd rather that he tires me out before the afternoon hits and I feel inclined to take a nap.
He's learning to read, so I turn to the lesson we're on and we begin, always in high spirits. He begins reading his list of words, cats, vans, hogs, jams, rags, sits, until he pauses at the word fits. He squints his bright eyes in typical Isaac fashion and looks up at me. "Uh? What's that first letter again?"
I laugh. Surely he remembers the letter f. "You know this one, Isaac, just think about it for a minute."
We sit together in silence. After a minute, he reaches over and grabs my hand, gazing up into my face. "Has it been a minute, yet?"
"Yes," I smiled, "what's the letter?"
"Uh - r?"
"No," I shake my head, resigning myself to a long, difficult morning, "try again."
"No," he exclaims, shutting the book with emphasis, "I'm never doing school again."
His face is contorted into the most comical mix of frustration, impatience, and emotions I generally call "Isaacness." He glances at me from the corner of his eye, with his arms folded, and I know he is waiting for me to tell him what the answer is. This is the principle difference I deal with every day between Isaac and his seven-year-old elder brother. Micah is the epitome of a patient child, but when thoroughly provoked, will cry. He never yells, screams, throws his books, or announces that he's "never doing school again".
"Isaac, we can't get upset so quickly, dear. Try again." I try with my hands. "It's like - like a - what's this, Isaac?" I purse my lips together in a fish-kiss and make gurgling sounds, waving my arms as if I was swimming.
"A bird?" guesses my brilliant, prize student.
I groan. "No - it's - it's a fish, Isaac. Now, I'm not telling you anything else this morning."
His eyes light up. "F! It's f!"
My home is always filled with some kind of noise. With five younger brothers and three younger sisters, you can't really expect the most serene of a home. Music floats in and out of the house, though sometimes it sounds like it's storming in and out of the house (i.e. Bethany's piano practice, Rachel's penny whistle, Stephen's guitar, and who knows what else). The stairs are a constant source of racket, with feet pattering up and down the stairs many times simultaneously. And the voices. If wish I could say that all the voices we hear are melodious, encouraging; sisterly and brotherly. However...that's another story. Isaac's voice is, perhaps, the most prominent of all the voices, given the fact that he boasts a high, extremely audible voice that met every one's ears with gusto upon emerging from his mother's womb, and, I'll add, continues to meet our ears in the same way with the rising of every morning's sun and the setting of the same. I was the only child in our home that incessantly sang during her childhood until Isaac, who now delights me with his tenor voice, sweetly proclaiming the glories of childhood and innocence to the praise of our Heavenly Father.
That's a terrific speech, until tomorrow morning. I'll be enjoying my early morning beauty sleep, unconscious to the world, when in will hop Isaac. He'll bounce all over my bed, crying,"Wake up, Sarah! It's time to get up!" (Before my alarm clock has even had a chance to wake me, I'll interject.) If I don't cooperate absolutely immediately with his request, he'll start singing, "Sleepyhead! Sleepyhead! The sun is out and it's time..." or "Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory, rise and shine..."
Rats. I'll roll over and have to get up because I can't go back to sleep.
But then there are other times when my heart is simply captured by his whit, by his animation, his brilliant art, his fiery determination to conquer the world, or simply by his gentle heart. I'll never forget what he told me a few weeks ago, "Sarah, you're my best friend. Don't make me cry." I had just scolded him for pulling some of my books off their neat place on my shelf. Needless to say, I bit my tongue in regret and determined never to scold again.
I see in my darling little brother, running around the house with almost irrepressible energy, the fire and innovation of a fourteen-year-old, studying with all of his might and creating new things and beautiful art with his hands. I squint my eyes, like he does at times, and look into the future to see him as a tall, daring gentleman with the action conquer engraved on his very soul. I can see him loving, laughing, and serving the women in his life with a heart of gold and being a leader, not a follower, among his revolutionary, reformation-minded friends. I think I can see us, together, best friends still, with a deeper and greater relationship than before.
So when I see all the creativity ever given to a child expressed in Isaac, I must hold my tongue. I will stand in awe at the Creator of the universe, in giving my world such a bright light in it - even if it means my delightfully, irrevocable unusual little brother. I wouldn't change him for the world.
But to finish my story.
He had the f sound thoroughly engraved in his mind before I dared to open the phonics book again. I finally did, and we turned back to the page we were at.
"Go ahead and read that line of words again, Isaac," I said, pointing to the familiar string of words.
"Cats, vans, hogs, jams, rags, sits - uh?" He looks up at me with a questioning look again.
My heart groans, but I hang on. He has to know this. We just went over it fifty times.
He squints his eyes. "Um, is it d?"
Life goes on. I know it does.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Morning Song

There is a little ripple of consciousness beneath my chest, flowing, widening, bubbling up like a spring. It stems from my heart. It is a song.

My song is simply a reflection of the beauty surrounding me. The winter days have finally taken wings and flown away, and spring has gently arrived, bathing me in its warm glow and celestial beauty. The trees and grass adorning my front yard have gladly thrown down their long-worn winter coats and have replaced them with the glad rags of spring; sunny, fresh and green. I can once again see the dew sparkling like a million diamonds on the first flowers of the year, and even the morning air whispers, "He is risen."

My heart sings for gladness. Even amidst the turmoils of life, the tragedy awaiting us at every bend, and the uncertainties of the future cannot dampen the happiness and joy that awaits my discovery in every, single day.

And even if where you are, it's raining and cold; dreary and hopeless, there is still an ounce of happiness tucked away for you to find. When it's raining at my house, in both or either a figurative and literal way, I try to find the sunshine. If it's raining outside, gladness finds me in the fact that my flowers are being watered to grow wise and strong. If it's raining inside, happiness finds me with the knowledge that I am being watered to grow wise and strong, just like my flowers. If there was nothing in the world to be happy about - no sunshine, no flowers, no happy faces, no dewdrops, no beauty - there still would be. If life was as terrible as it could possibly be, we would still have hope.

Two thousand years ago, God came to live on earth with His old friends who had long walked away from Him. Some of them changed their minds and began to love Him, but others hated Him with a passion indescribable. He was the King of the Universe, but they treated Him like a servant. He was the Creator of all, but they turned their haughty eyes up at Him, regardless of the facts that He fashioned them in their mothers' wombs, that He sustained their every breath; that all life was held in His hand. They killed Him one cruel, unfathomable day, and in their own wicked hearts thought that He was removed from them forever. Life hung in the balance for three dark days, and even heaven itself held its breath.

Until the morning. Death and hell were blinded by rays of light as the Son of God ascended from the depths of hell with the keys of life in His hands. Stunned, astonished and speechless, they watched Him soar beyond galaxies with triumph in His grasp, healing in His nail-pierced hands, love in the heart that the world could not hold; conscious of a Power stronger than rain, stronger than darkness, stronger than death. He was alive, and all heaven rejoiced. The epic had been told. It was finished. Life had conquered death.

No matter what any of us may ever go through, there is always sunshine to find. Mine happens to be strong this morning, taking the form of a song, lifting itself through my voice and carrying it over and beyond the fields that dance, the trees that clap, and this heart that soars.