At the intersections…

…our lives are more than our own… they become irrevocably enmeshed in the world around us…

For the runner, busy roads often present unwanted obstacles… street signs, light posts, uneven pavement, narrow sidewalks, and stop lights…

If you don’t run into the street sign first, you’re sure to be halted by the stop light. It seems the little man appears just long enough to play his part before there’s the inevitable countdown to the big red hand and the “STOP” that dictates your pace…

One day during my usual run, I began to ponder intersections… While waiting to cross, sometimes I’ve encountered a pedestrian on her way home from the grocery store… The avid walker, taking Fido out for his daily stroll… Or the panhandler, clutching his cardboard sign in hopes I’d drop a copper or two into his cup…

It’s at the intersection that our paths cross, our lives meet, connection occurs… Do I greet the shopper with comments about my favorite cuisine? Reach out to pet the mutt before we both go on our way? Engage with the hobo, offering a kind word and a Lincoln?

As soon as our paths cross, our stories intertwine. It’s no longer just my path… It’s no longer my road… It’s no longer my story…

So often, it’s easy to think of our lives as our own… As if in our individualistic society, we live independently of one another… That the decisions we make are inconsequential to others because they are OURS… To do this or that matters only so much as it matters to us… to me…

But as in virtual reality, that is only fantasy…

In reflecting on my own life, I have seen how at the intersection, people have entered my life that have made all the difference… They have shaped who I am… They have given me courage to endure… They have inspired me to be my best self… They have challenged me to grow… They have opened my eyes…

And so, as I live my life, I consider my ways… The words I speak, the activities in which I engage, the things I choose to do and choose to skip, it all matters… Not only to me, but also to others… So, let us take a moment’s pause at our intersections…

pc: Sarah Coffey, St. Louis, Missouri

April showers bring May flowers…

…don’t worry, just look at the flowers…

Most recently, we’ve been having a lot of rain… I’ve heard that it’s pretty common, pretty much everywhere, to get a lot of rain in the springtime… Though of course I’d hoped that by coming to Utah, I’d see much less of it than I did in Washington…

Yesterday, I was introduced to one of the local pastors as being from Washington… He was like, “So you must be used to all this rain we’ve been having lately, huh??” It was kinda funny… Whenever I mention Seattle, jokes and thoughts of rain always follow…

After one of the torrential rain storms, I noticed our beautiful tulips… They continued to stand tall in the planters lining our front steps despite such a strong downpour… The only evidence of the storm were beads of rain drops settled on their petals. It was simply beautiful! So, quick as I could, I got my phone and took some pics to capture their beauty…

At this, I was reminded of Jesus’ words regarding worry, using flowers as an example…

 

“…See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”*

 

He is right… Flowers are simply beautiful! And yet, their beauty was endowed on them by their creator. Nothing they could do would make them more beautiful… I mean, think about it…

Flowers are stuck in the ground, in one spot… They don’t get to choose to relocate to another plot of sod if the sun gets too hot or they’re near an aphid nest…

Flowers literally DO nothing… They just sit there, looking pretty…! They soak up all the sunrays that beam down on them and all the rain that falls from the clouds…

Flowers are vulnerable to all kinds of things… Strong gusts of wind… An early or late snowfall… Flooding… An ant infestation… And yet, perennials return year after year after year…

During this new “risk” of following God’s leading to Utah, I’ve had my share of doubts and uncertainties… Yet, God has taken this perceived risk and only blessed it… Over the last 3 weeks besides getting connected to the local community, I’ve had several job offers… Yesterday, I had several that I had to give an answer on… In usual Sarah fashion, I wavered, agonized, waffled between one option and another… Today it all came together… God provided the opportunity to work for a great company, in an exciting position, with great benefits… Only a week prior, I’d thought I’d bombed the interview and lost the chance for this exact position! God is so good…!

And so, when you think of what worries you, consider the flowers in your garden… And if you don’t have a garden, this even applies to dandelions… I mean, even though their weeds, they still have a pretty yellow shade, right?! If that is how God will clothe the flowers, and weeds, will He not much more clothe you? So, don’t worry, friend… God’s got beautiful plans for you, if you just release yourself from the stress of worrying about it…

*Matthew 6:28b-30

pc: Sarah Coffey

Much. Grace.

…sometimes we get what we don’t deserve…

…as of today I’ve been in Utah exactly one month…! The days have simply flown off the calendar… carried by the wind into the recent past…

…in that time, I’m amazed… surprised… maybe awed by all that has happened…

I’ve settled into a spacious bedroom in house like I grew up in… been on several job interviews… had a few offers that didn’t quite pan out… and some that I’m still waiting on… found a home church… joined a couple small groups… made some new friends… played a couple games of tennis… ran through the neighborhood… seen the snow falling… and the rain, too… bailed out a flooded basement window when the sprinkler systems went berserk… baked a couple good desserts… eaten some great meals made by my roommies… God is sooo good!

Though at times I get impatient to have my life “figured out” according to the world’s views, or at least have a job with some money coming in, I can see that in all this God is holding me… day by day, I’ve been living in His grace

Grace.

What comes to mind when you hear that word? What does it even really mean? Is it even real?

Growing up, I heard it used a lot… It was often differentiated from the word mercy…

Mercy – not getting what you deserve

Grace – getting what you don’t deserve

Both are great gifts God has given us!

One of the best stories I’ve ever known to exemplify the meaning of the word comes from Jesus’ teaching about the prodigal son… He squandered his inheritance, came back to plead with his dad to be a slave, only to be welcomed back…  celebrated as having come back from the dead…!*

Now, in this story, there is a second son… A son who was responsible, did everything his dad wanted, and yet, there was no celebration for his faithfulness… I never really understood this… In answering this son, the dad makes it clear that they must celebrate because the younger son was presumably dead in a foreign land… but turns out he wasn’t… he came home… he was in fact alive and could be restored…! So they must celebrate!

Though I often identified more with the older son, feeling myself to be pretty responsible, as the years have gone by, I’ve come to see how I, too, have been the prodigal… squandering the things that I’ve been given, selfishly spending on myself, not extending forgiveness or even grace to those who ask or need it from me… Yes, I, too, have strayed… I, too, have needed grace…**

Easter is always a time that highlights our greatest need for saving and God’s greatest gift of grace to save us through Jesus… That He, an innocent man, would be willing to die a criminals death, a death we deserved, so that we wouldn’t have to face it and we could instead have the chance at immortality, living with Him forever! Wow. That is GRACE.

The last year and a half has been no different for me… No matter how exciting it was being abroad last year, it was equally as challenging… stretching… a time of tempting and testing… And God gave me grace to live each and every day… It has been the same over the last few months… Though I still don’t know what tomorrow may hold, I know who it is that holds the future…*** And, so, I continue to live in His grace… In a life undeserved…

No matter what you’re going through, rest in His grace… In His love, He gives rain and sun to all…****

When you find it tough to continue on, let Him carry you…!*****

*Luke 15:11-32

**Romans 3:10-12

***Corrie ten Boom is quoted to have said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

****Matthew 5:45

*****The Footprints in the Sand poem exemplifies my thoughts on this perfectly… When there were only one set of footprints, it was then that God carried you.

http://prayerfoundation.org/footprints_in_the_sand.htm

pc: Sarah Coffey, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

I’m running in the rain…

Sometimes when we run in the rain, it’s not a storm, but the blessing of God’s goodness.

…what is man that God is mindful of him? children of men that He would care for them?…*

…God’s blessing on our lives is what makes us rich;

nothing we DO can ever improve on God…**

…for most, rain is a formidable enemy of the well-intentioned exercise enthusiast… watching it through the window brings the realization that to go out in it will inevitably mean the sting on your skin from each cold pellet… feeling the circulation drain from your hands as they take on an icy stiffness… no… running in the rain isn’t appealing…

…for me, running in the rain brings to mind similar thoughts… but those are often drowned by happy memories of my first days as a runner… as a middle school track athlete in Washington, rainy days never permitted cancelled or even shortened practices… it just meant the hot shower afterwards would feel that much warmer when we finished!

…these days, I can’t help but feeling like I’m running in the rain again… yet, this time, it’s not an icy rain or even a tangible rain… it’s a warm rain of God’s blessing on me…!

Yesterday, I found myself brought to tears as I felt incredibly humbled by God’s faithfulness, His provision and love for me… Before making the move to Utah, I struggled with doubt, even as I was confident this was where God was leading me… What is it really like there? Will I be able to find community? For all that I left behind – possessions, family, life-long friendships, familiarity, comfort, networks, connections – would Jesus make good on His promise to make me doubly fruitful?***

Yes.

In the week that I’ve been here, so many good things have come about that I felt compelled to share this testimony…

In fact, this new adventure isn’t unlike what I experienced on the World Race…

Packing for the Race meant only taking what would fit in your 70L or 30L packs… So, there was much that was left behind… In driving down to Utah, I could only take what fit in my little Honda Accord… Upon arriving here, there was a bed with bedding and extra furniture already in my room to use!

Living in community on the Race meant pouring into your team, your squad… sharing life together, loving each other as iron sharpens iron, uniting towards common goals… At our first meeting, I discovered a similar desire to build community amongst my new roommates…

Growth on the Race meant stepping out of one’s comfort zone and trusting God’s leading with abandon… Since being here, I’ve attended a couple different churches, attended the continuation of a class I started back in Washington, and even volunteered at the local university… New connections have already started forming bringing back that sense of community… job opportunities, friendships, and ministry opportunities…

With the opening of each new door, comes rain… Warm rain of blessing and opportunity! God has been more than faithful in providing for me, in making up for all I’ve left behind…!

Now, even amidst all these new wonders, it’s not to say that I haven’t missed home… family… friends… familiarity… that sense of belonging and being known… comfort… I’m still a PNW girl through and through… I still love my family deeply… My friends are still valued treasures of my life… I still desire to belong and be known…

But I have to testify to God’s faithfulness!

So, whatever you are worrying about… whatever you doubt that God can handle… whatever you’re reluctant to surrender to him… or even to offer him… your singleness… your marriage… your money… your career… your children… your sickness… your health… your hopes… your dreams… whether big or small… Be assured that He is trustworthy! Whatever it is, I urge you, give it to Jesus… put it in His hands today… He is gentle, compassionate, loving, fully capable and trustworthy… He is the Shepherd who left the 99 to find the one… You!

…He who promised is faithful…****

*: Psalm 8:4

** : Proverbs 10:22

*** : Matthew 19:29

**** : Hebrews 10:23

+Picture taken by Sarah Coffey on Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia 2015.

 

Run…

…none of us signed up for all life brings our way, but we keep on running…

…we run so we don’t get forgotten amidst the dust… we run to keep up… we run because the trail goes on… where will it lead?

****

It was never my intention to be a runner. As a kid, I wouldn’t have been pegged as having any real athletic ability. Overweight, shy, and sedentary… Cute kid, but not an athlete…

Still, I yearned to fit in… In the sixth grade, some new friends decided to join the track team. Not wanting to be a stick in the mud or left out of conversations, I added my name to the sign-up sheet.

When the first day of practice came, I found myself alone in the registration line… My friends had decided they were no longer interested in track… They hadn’t even seen the team or the track on which we would run…!

Growing up, my parents taught me the importance of commitment… When you tell someone you’re going to do something, you need to do it…! Keeping your promises is key. And so, I went to practice… That’s where it all began!

I came to practice, not really knowing what I’d gotten myself in to, but trusting that the advice my parents gave me was best. For the first month or so, I was one of the slowest on the team. At every meet, I came in dead last. I know from later conversations with my dad, when he watched me rounding the curves, still at the back of the pack, he felt some shame… When he was my age, he ran track and was one of the fastest on the course… Even qualifying for the junior Olympics! Boy, he could run! But then you had me… Giving it my all, but clearly not the star runner…

Well, I kept up with it and followed my dad’s coaching tips… I’d go to practice, come home and have run some more… by the end of that first season, I’d shed 20 pounds and moved up the line… crossing the finish line somewhere in the middle of the pack rather than the end… I’d improved!

****

None of us really sign up for all that life brings our way, but one way or another, we find that the road just keeps on going and our feet keep moving forward… So, in essence, we are all runners… Running to keep up with our daily tasks… Running to see where the trail goes… Running to make our own trail…!

…but running takes effort… it takes strength… it takes motivation… it takes energy… it takes encouragement from others…

As you run, know that you are not alone… Each of us runs through our own dark valleys and up the jagged trail to reach the other side of our circumstances. Don’t give up because in the end, it will all be worth it!