E Pluribus Unum…

“…out of many, one…”

A few years ago, I had opportunity to travel to New York City. Some close friends had moved to Long Island and invited me out for a visit. Being that the Big Apple was only a train ride away, I set aside a day and ventured in to see the sights.

It was surreal to see so many iconic places in person…

The Empire State Building…

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The New York Library…

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Central Station…

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The 911 Memorial…

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And that amazing city skyline…

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One afternoon, my friends ventured into the city with me. Having been descendants of immigrants, we were intrigued to visit both Liberty and Ellis Island. After standing nearly an hour in line, being thoroughly questioned, and systematically screened, we boarded a small boat.

The wind whipped through our hair, carrying with it conversations from an array of dialects and tongues. As everyone looked back across the Hudson River, I was struck by the scene…

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The cityscape sparkled in the sunshine, tourists from all over the world gazed back at the view, and Ol’ Glory waved as if to attest to the irony of the situation. E Pluribus Unum… “out of many, one…”

Though our nation inherited many political and societal structures from Britain, the culture has been shaped by immigrants. People who have brought with them traditions, customs, and creativity which has contributed to the prosperity and strength of us all. People who yearned for opportunity, freedom, the chance at a different life… The words of Emma Lazarus, have rung true… Lady Liberty has been the Mother of Exiles…

‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she

With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”*

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Our nation has endured so many things… Breaking free from colonial rule, horrific civil war, economic depressions, world wars, equal rights for all… Yet, despite such groundbreaking successes that brought us together, we have become increasingly divided, polarized. No longer do we know how to be friends with those different from us… with those on the other-side-of-the-aisle, much less the other side of town! We don’t know how to have constructive conversations…

Rather than celebrating and welcoming opposing views, seeing them as bringing greater clarity, a catalyst for better solutions, or providing opportunity for growth, we withdraw from them… seeing them as “wrong,” “bad,” or simply an obstacle to our own comfort. We’re quick to scurry back to our little hovels full of people just like us, who we perceive to agree with us. We take offense at being misunderstood ourselves…

But this kind of thinking will get us nowhere. You need only turn on the TV, the radio, or your smart phone to see the fruit of such thinking… We cannot continue to label one another and write people off for the sake of our own ego… In so doing, many have villainized would-be friends.

The Apostle Paul knew there would be conflict in the midst of diversity. In fact, the church is the perfect example of that. God has drawn people from all walks of life to His family… wealthy and poor, presidents and slaves, the scientific and the artist, the guard and the prisoner, the doctor and the sick… Amidst such a diverse group, there would be differences of opinions, perspectives, biases, and sore-spots…

He reminded us of how our own body works…

“Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still ONE body…

We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large integrated life…

The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together

…If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own.

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.”**

It seems to me these are wise words which would be helpful not only for the church, but also for the nation. That we would see each other as a valuable, significant part of the success of us all.

I want to leave you with a link to Mandisa’s new song entitled We All Bleed The Same… An insightful reflection that when taken to heart has the power to change the world.

We All Bleed The Same

pcs: Sarah Coffey 

*From The New Colossus

**Excerpts from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 in The Message translation

To be a wife…

…waiting in active preparation…

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”*

Recently, one of my single girlfriends came over to share lunch and watch an episode of the series This is Us. In the middle of the episode, something sparked us to reflect on our own love lives… or, rather, lack thereof… We shared our experiences, our heart’s desires, our annoyances, and our frustration in waiting… and waiting… and waiting

After we finished and my friend left, I began to reflect on our conversation… It got me thinking what would it look like to be a wife? Not, what does it look like day in day out… But rather, what would I look like as a wife…? what kind of wife would I be? What are the traits that I would hope to possess? And it occurred to me, I’m not there yet…

I’ve been blessed to know many godly women who have been great examples to me of what it looks like to be a good wife, and a good mother… It’s taken them couragepersistenceperseverancetoleranceforgivenessselfsacrificeallowanceacceptance… determination am I that kind of person?

To be a wife is so much more than being a lover, an assistant, or a support…

It means being an encourager being an ego booster being a confronter

It means being willing to put in the hard work to work through differences, disagreements, and misunderstandings… without running away…

It means being vulnerable and real

It means being willing to put aside the desire to be found correct, and instead seek to be one

And, I venture, it means many more things I have yet to understand or even know…

Proverbs 31 has always been the passage that the Church has always looked to as the best example of a wife… To be honest, at times that Proverbs 31 lady seems so perfect that it seems impossible to try to be like her… even though the desire remains strong to try to keep her pace…! Like the perfect “soccer mom” of the 90’s

Well, as I sit here in my cozy bedroom-for-one enjoying an evening of peace and quiet, I’m humbled to recognize the ways in which I have to grow even as I recognize these things and even strive for them, I must also accept the truth that I’ll never be perfect… never

So, as I seek to “grow up” in maturity – to be tolerant, gracious, flexible, dependable, stable, encouraging – I also seek to rest in authenticity, being real about who I am and where I’m at…

And so, I guess I am content to wait but wait with purpose wait in active preparation seeking to grow, deal with my insecurities, my anxieties, my issues… so that when I meet my man, I can be all the more ready to grow in oneness with him…

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”**

*Proverbs 13:12

**Ecclesiastes 4:12

pc: Sarah Coffey, Cesis, Latvia 2016

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

A Lesson from Dunkirk…

…where there is unity there is victory…

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting my mom for a visit. It was a nice time to reconnect, catch up, and explore…

While here, my mom mentioned wanting to see the movie Dunkirk. I hadn’t heard of it, but not having seen a movie in the theater in a while, and knowing my mom has good taste in movies, I was definitely up for the venture.

Dunkirk recounts the historic Battle of Dunkirk on the coast of France during WWII. As it goes, the Nazis had surrounded British, French, Belgian and Dutch forces in May of 1940. The Battle of France was beginning to heat up, so British and Belgian forces rallied to France’s aid.

Roughly 400,000 Allied soldiers were trapped on the French coastline, hemmed in by the Axis powers. Conceivably, the only means of survival was an evacuation by means of the English Channel.

Being that the piers on the French coast had been destroyed and large naval vessels couldn’t sail into the shallow waters nearest the shore, the call went out to British civilians to relinquish their private yachts and small fishing boats to the government for the rescue mission deemed, Operation Dynamo.

Prior to this plan, Churchill had briefly considered a conditional surrender to the Nazis. Had he done this, it’s possible that the outcome of WWII could have been vastly different, being that this was just the beginning of the war. Churchill also thought they’d only be able to rescue a mere 30-40,000 soldiers.

In response to the call, approximately 850 private vessels sailed across the channel, some with their proprietors aboard, and rescued over 330,000 Allied soldiers!

Upon reflection, a connection formed in my mind between this historical event and current happenings here at home…

Right now, there’s a battle being waged in America… Race and ideologies are recurring themes… It’s insidious, subtle, disturbing… It can be difficult to understand… Passions run deep… We have seen how our government and media reacts… Use of force, replaying the horror, perpetuating doom…

But this is OUR nation… these are OUR people… these are OUR communities… Simple civilians, we must continually respond to this call… Government power and strength is limited… We must offer our vessels, dawn our sailor’s cap, hoist the mainsail and stand ready at the wheel…

Just as the fate of hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers was changed by the intervention of British citizens, so too, the fate of our communities depends on us, the citizenswe the people… The battle at Dunkirk was too great for the government to manage alone… and so the battle in our nation runs too deep for government resolution…

So, what can we do?? What does it look like to fight such a battle??

We must all ask ourselves these questions because the answers will look different for each one of us. However, may I suggest we start by remembering who we are… We are the UNITED States of America…

And so, let us start by coming together… making a point to stand together in our similarities, rather than stand apart on differences… choosing peace instead of pride… holding hands across the aisle instead of fists… choosing UNITY

At Dunkirk, “…the divisions of society…were put aside and ‘everyone came together and showcased what is best about Great Britain. They found unity from diversity.“*

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.

– Thomas Paine

Where there is unity there is always victory.

– Publilius Syrus

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

– Psalm 34:14

*LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-ca-mn-dunkirk-history-20170714-story.html)

pc: Sarah Coffey, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii