To live in full color…

…risk stepping out to be who you were created to be… rise up and answer your calling…

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Growing up in Western Washington, there were many a gray day. Even if it wasn’t actually raining, the skies were white with overcast clouds. Though the rain gives that area it’s lovely green color, without the sun to shine on it, one can feel like it’s a pretty dreary place.

Recently, the thought came to me about how life can sometimes feel that way… Reality and the things that make us feel so “alive,” can seem hidden by some fog of responsibility, or obligation, or simply, the monotony of life.

Back in the 90’s, a movie came out that at first glance seemed to be entirely filmed in black-and-white*. Starring Reese Witherspoon and Tobey McGuire, this brother-sister duo found themselves transported into the brother’s favorite 1950’s TV sitcom. The premise followed a “Leave-it-to-Beaver” type family living in a small town where everything was predictable and “safe.” Being that the sitcom followed the birth of the television, it aired in black-and-white rather than color. Similarly, the movie began in gray-scale scenes…

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As the brother-sister duo move throughout the movie, they begin bringing attitudes and behaviors from their own generation, nearly fifty years later. Suddenly, the predictable story line becomes disrupted, throwing the town in which the series is set off kilter. Before you know it, everything begins to fall apart… Characters deviate from expected behavior, going off-script and begin to dream…

Scenes shift from only black-and-white, to stains of red, orange, blue, green… By the end of the movie, each scene is entirely in color, none of the black-and-white shades remain. Predictability has vanished, boring has been wiped out, what was lifeless has disappeared…

It got me thinking… What is it to live life in full color?

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Earnestly, I’ve yearned to “fit-in,” seeking after the life everyone else around me appears to be living… Working the “9-5,” attaining the “husband, house, 2.5 children and a dog” lifestyle preached to me from the pulpit and the TV.

Yet, the more I’ve sought this life, the more it’s alluded me. Furthermore, even that which I have attained has left me feeling more lifeless than I expected. This “life” became boring, predictable, even frustrating. As if, the more I strove to be like everyone else, the less I became like everyone else and the more lifeless I felt.

But to live in full color…! That is the life I long for…

To live in full color is to be fully alive… To feel every breath in your lungs… To rub the lint between your toes and feel its plush fiber… To gaze out across the valley and see a sunset that leaves you speechless… To lose track of time playing games with children, laughing all the while…

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Not many routine things bring such joy, such life, such color as these… And yet the adult within me struggles to make those things a priority… But if I’m to live the rest of this life, it’ll only be worth it if I’m living in full color.

So, let us take risks… Risk trusting Yahweh to care for you as you follow His leading… Risk your reputation or friendships sharing about the reality of Jesus in your life… Risk stepping out to live the life you were created for no matter how much money you will make, how much others oppose it, or how much you fear failure… Risk getting lost in the little moments that bring you joy, whether that be painting the ocean shores, creating a melody on ivory keys, throwing a frisbee to your furry friend, or playing tic-tac-toe with a five-year old… Rise up and answer your calling…

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“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” – Jesus*

“[God]…richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” – 1 Timothy 6:17

*Pleasantville (1998)

*John 10:10

pcs: all sc, except Pleasantville clip and vintage TV set

Always becoming…

…in the midst of determining our goals, we are already becoming someone or something…

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Backyard at the house I used to live in was a sturdy apple tree. None of us were quite sure what kind of apples it grew. But one thing was certain, this tree excelled at fulfilling it’s created purpose: to bear apples.

Every weekend in Spring, a swath of apples at varying stages of ripeness blanketed the grass beneath the tree, waiting for someone to come and take notice. It wasn’t long before collecting the apples made it to our weekly “chore list.” Each of us soon discovered the need to operate with strategy if we were to dispose of them efficiently and save ourselves from back pain.

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Despite the fact that I always seemed to finish the chore with a throbbing back, my time spent beneath its branches always yielded life lessons as proliferous as the apples themselves…

Through the seasons of time, a tiny seed in the ground grows and grows until eventually it becomes a tree. A robust trunk shoots out of the ground stretching to the blue skies above. Spindly branches stretch from side to side, concealed in green leaves quivering in the breeze. As Winter turns to Spring, little buds begin to develop, ever bigger with each passing day. Until all at once, you begin to see the beauty of the fruit.

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But what kind of fruit is it?

In a healthy tree, it will become nutritious, pleasing to the eye as well as the body.

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In a tree diseased by harmful cankers, pleasing fruit is sure to bring poison to the human body.

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A tree becomes a tree over time. And over time, it produces fruit. But what kind of fruit will it be?

Similarly, we all began as little children… Seed from our parents that would one day bear fruit of our own. And whether we’ve strategized about the fruit we want to bear or the kind of “tree” we want to become, we are all becoming something.

For the longest time, I’ve spent countless hours trying to “figure life out.” Most specifically, figure out MY life. What am I to do with it? How can I please God? How can I get the things I want out of life?

Recently I realized that even in the midst of being “stuck” in this season of “figuring things out,” I’ve been becoming something, or rather someone. Right under my nose, I’ve been becoming who I am. It got me thinking that though I may never have life “figured out,” if I am faithful in the day-to-day, pursuing my goals piece-by-piece, even on my way to a destination, I already am someone. I already am bearing some kind of fruit.

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And so, as I consider this happy little apple tree, going about her business of stretching her branches wide so that birds may perch on them and sprinkling apples on the grass for the squirrels, I, too, ought to go about my business of bearing good fruit and fulfilling my purpose of being a human being. Let us consider our fruit… What kind of fruit are you bearing as you grow into yourself?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:22-25 –

pc: all Sarah Coffey

Like a couple of rabbits in the garden…

…to have room for the new means to be rid of the old…

…screeeeaach… I forced the door to my clothes closet open… I was in search… Now where is that stuff… I was sure I brought it along…

Digging through all my paraphernalia, accoutrements, various doodads, I could feel myself sinking, being buried alive in my closet. It hit me… thoughts turned from my search to this impediment… Despite all my efforts to down-size earlier in the year, these possessions were once again growing, multiplying like a couple of rabbits left alone for a spell in a garden… No sign of the carrots, just countless figures of fluffy white fur canvasing the vegetable patch…

Beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic, I began making snap decisions… No, I haven’t worn that in the last year… No, I haven’t even cracked that book in all the years I’ve kept it… Quickly a pile began to form of articles to purge.

In the midst of this sorting, a realization hit me…

The only way to have room for the new is to be rid of the old.

Such a simple thought, yet pivotal.

For so many years I’ve held on to things for “the future.” As if this “future” would be full of destitution or poverty, a lack of necessities or no remembrance of days gone by…

Yet, in so doing, not only has it limited my floor space, it has limited my mind, trapped me in yesterday… There was no room for new things.

Like a breath of fresh air or a weight lifted from my shoulders, my mind seemed to open. To get rid of the old is to make room for the new… To make room for the new is to give myself permission to do new things… It means, new things WILL happen… new, GOOD things are coming… But I can’t grab a hold of them with my arms still full of yesterday’s heap!

I suppose I had felt that I somehow needed permission to move forward, permission to move on from the past… To let go of the past was somehow to deny or discount it…

But I was beginning to see how to let go of the past was in essence a way of assuring future goodness. To make room for the new was to see that new things would actually come! To be looking forward to those mysterious, as of now, not-known things – good things – that would be coming in the future… But how could I grab a hold of them if I didn’t move on from the past?

And then I was reminded of God’s word…

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’

– Revelation 21:5

So, as I enter this New Year, I am eager to make room for new things… The past is full of trials and triumphs, of which the present time and the future will not discount. It was what it was, but now it is time for something new. And so, my heart will carry the following sentiment through 2018…

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” – Psalm 40:3

Unfettered…

…live unfettered and let God achieve the unachieveable…

…he soars into the yard, wings extended… quickly closing them up under his breast as he touches down on the green grass… looking for the proverbial worm to fill his belly at breakfast… at a moments notice, his white and black striped pinions open high and he’s off over the fence… searching another lawn for the juicy grub…

Around here black magpies fill the air, the yards, the parking lots… Their coloring is striking… black and white… a shimmer of teal reflecting from the black feathers… I’m always drawn to them…

In watching them, it got me thinking… what would it be like to be completely unfettered? Free to roam, fly where you choose, unfettered by the cares of this world?

To many, I seem like a “free spirit,” and in many ways, I suppose I am… But for a very long time, I have stressed about many things… money, relationships, career, purpose, ministry… being enough… So many goals… seemingly unachieveable in my own eyes and perhaps even the eyes of the world… especially based on my track-record and current status… How can they come to be?? And, even if I was to give up stressing about figuring them out, how would that get me any closer to achieving them? To let them go… wouldn’t that mean giving up on them?

Yet, as I sit here, considering life… it occurred to me… stressing out and trying to “figure” it all out hasn’t really gotten me much closer… it’s just gotten me more stressed, bitter, tightly wound… and that is not living…

Isn’t our God bigger than that? Isn’t He bigger than our puny attempt to try to figure things out? Bigger than our failures? Bigger than the dead ends we think we find ourselves in?

And, just maybe by living more carefree, giving up trying to figure things out, that would actually get us closer to seeing them come to fruition…! I’d be free from worry, burdens, cares… and so, perhaps I would be more myself, a relaxed self, a beautifully unfettered self…!

Luckily, there is some solid advice from God’s Word… He seems to know us so well…!

“…look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”*

“For nothing is impossible with God.”**

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”***

 

*Matthew 6:26-27

**Luke 1:37

***Hebrews 13:8

pc: The Internet – The National Audubon Society (I couldn’t sneak up on them fast enough for a nice photo.)

…a half…

…Jesus is enough…

one-hundred-eighty-four days… twenty-six weeks… six months… half a year… half a year… half

I’ve been in Utah now for half a year… It hardly seems possible… And yet, there’s the calendar proving the point…!

These six months have passed by like Mario Andretti rounding the track at the Indy 500, pulling out a win… blink and you’ve missed him…!

…to my chagrin, it no longer feels like I just recently moved here… the dust is settling… roots are growing… so many reasons to be hopeful, excited, thankful…!

Now in a new state… a new house… new roommates… new church… new perspective… a new job… new friends… new adventures…

But one of the most surprising, exciting, yet, scary things has been the self-discovery learning more about who I am… who God has made me to be… and, even how I’m broken… yes, broken, to my own dismay…

It’s been said that no matter where you go, you always take yourself with you… [Ain’t that the truth?!] There have been many times that I’ve wanted to leave myself behind, so to speak… To be someone else… Someone “cool”… someone that’s got it together… someone successful, in the eyes of the world…

Alas, I’m still just me… Sarah… with all my bundles of nerves, idiosyncrasies, “just so” tendencies… But you know what?… God continues to teach me, I’m enough… But more importantly, He’s enough!

“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness…”*

Yes, love He has loved me in those who have loved me here… reached out in kindness to listen to my stories… invited me to dinner… included me in the group… cared about what concerns me…

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me… no one can snatch them out of my hand.”**

Yes, secure… so often I’ve doubted my security in Jesus, but He’s promised that no one can take from what is His… after all, He said, “I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”***

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”+

Yes, sufficient in moments when I’ve struggled, He has been right there… in the silence, the stillness, the uncertainty and confusion…

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to HIM be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”++

Yes, immeasurably more than we imagine… so many new beginnings and new surprises… the future always held such an anxious grip on me, that I didn’t want to enter… and yet, Jesus reminds me He is the Author of new things…

And so, as I look back over the last six months, I smile with a tear in my eye at all His provisions… His faithfulness… despite my weakness… despite my denial of His goodness… despite my fears of things imagined… and so, He will also bring me through the next six months and beyond…!

*Jeremiah 3:13

**John 10:27-28

***John 10:17-18

+2 Corinthians 12:9

++Ephesians 3:20-21

pc: Sarah Coffey, Utah 2017

Beautifully broken, beautifully bold…

…help me share God’s story of all He’s doing…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – Jesus*

So, I’m writing a book… you read that right, a book…! The above heading may be the title, but nothing, not even the exact contents, are yet set in stone… But, it’ll be about what I experienced and learned while on the World Race in 2016. It came about kind of by surprise…

Through the World Race, I discovered my love for blogging… As part of the program, we were required to blog… I soon found myself writing nearly every week about my experiences with my team and with the local culture, or things God was teaching me through people or situations…

Once I touched down on American soil, I knew I’d need another outlet to continue developing my writing skills. That’s what led me here, to WordPress… Within days, I had created my own blog and began searching for tips on how to be a better writer.

In the process, I came across a writers guide from Westbow Press, a sister company of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. After downloading it, I soon received a call from them wanting to know my writing goals. Before I knew it, we were working together on a book! (It’s common for people to use an assisted self-publishing company like Westbow. So, that’s what I’m doing!)

I’ve been working with them since June and they’ve given me a generous deal. I’m raising $2640 USD which will cover the cost of editing, copywriting, registering, and ultimately publishing my manuscript. Once the process is complete, it will be available wherever books are sold!

Would you like to help me tell my story…?

Or rather, God’s story of all that He’s doing in the world… to highlight Christianlife across the globe… to share the beauty of living in deep, confrontational, raw community… to share how God can transform a little life, like mine, showing all that He can do if we simply say, “yes, send me…”

Our eyes will open, our hearts be touched, our will challenged, our lives transformed

Help me encourage others to take courage to step out of their comfort zone into the unknown, risking being uncomfortable, becoming aware of their brokenness…

Discovering that it’s Jesus who makes us strong when we are weak…

Will you consider joining me on this journey??

(Below is a link to my fundraising page.)

https://www.youcaring.com/sarahcoffey-951200

Even as I venture out on this new expedition, I’ll still be here, blogging along… but, I look forward to sharing my progress with you, every step of the way!

*2 Corinthians 12:9

pc: Sarah Coffey, WR Launch 2016, Thailand