I Go to Counseling (Day 16)

I go to counseling. This is something I am very open about. I think there is an unnecessary and unhealthy stigma attached to mental health and I think that needs to end. I think that that begins with us being honest and vulnerable. I’m not really sure where this stigma even came from. I don’t get why people willingly to take care of their physical health, like taking antibiotics and pain medication, but they refuse to treat or address their mental health. To me this makes absolutely no sense, at all. Mental health and physical  health are both important. So this is why I go to a counselor. I go to grow and learn and change and love better. I go because my mental health is just as important as my physical health. I go every single week, and when I leave I like myself a little more. And I’m about to say something that might offend you, but I think you should probably go too.

One of my favorite catch phrases is, “we’re all a little crazy”, because well… we are. You might be thinking, “well speak for yourself Sarah” and I’d say, I am …. and I’m also speaking to you. We’re allllll a little crazy (some more than others). Craziness isn’t bad, it is evil, it doesn’t mean we should be locked up with the key thrown away. It just means that we’re human, and we live in a world where entropy exists. In other words, we live in a broken world that is falling apart a little more each day. We live in a world with mean bullies, and flawed parents, and teachers that are apathetic, and bosses who kick you when you’re down. Because of this fact, we each carry around a suitcase filled with baggage. In fact, some of carry around a few suitcases. Life doesn’t always deal kindly with us, but the beauty in that is that we don’t have to go at it alone. There is freedom found in speaking your baggage out loud. My friend’s counselor (who also happens to be my counselor) told her that we’re only as sick as our secrets. That is wisdom right there. Our baggage is only as heavy as what we choose to carry alone. When we share the burden with someone else, preferably someone who is trained to give you helpful wisdom, the burden becomes lighter and we can live freer!

So, because we’re all a little crazy, I think we could all use a season (or a few seasons) of counseling. I bet you think you don’t. You might even be annoyed that I’m telling you that you do. But counseling is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a punishment because you did something bad. It is something that is for your good! I think that God uses counselors to help us unlock our true potential. He has used mine to help me figure out who I am, whose I am, and who I can be. The first step is always the hardest step. But you can do it. I did it, and I never looked back.

How do you feel about counseling? Have you ever been to a counselor before?

More than profit (Day 15)

Whenever I see a business that is doing more than just making money for themselves I get excited, and it’s pretty amazing because currently there are a ton of wonderful companies doing exactly that. My husband and I call them “more than profit” because making a profit isn’t their only goal. Ultimately these companies also want to help their fellow man and invest in their community and the world they live in. They are encouraging local businesses, they are providing for people in need, and they are providing dignity and fair wages for people overseas. These companies are empowering their fellow man to live better. Steve and I love these companies so much that we are trying to start two ourselves! One is a t-shirt company called Kingdom Come Clothing Company and the other is a card company called Re-Write Cards. Each company gives a portion of our profits to worthwhile organizations. And we aren’t the only companies out there with the heart to help others. There are many wonderful organization who desire to make helping people more important than making a huge profit.

I wanted to empower you awesome people with the knowledge to make better purchasing choices, because ignorance is not bliss. We can no longer claim “I didn’t know!” when we see injustice. We have a responsibility to help each other,  because in the words of Glennon Melton over at Momastery, “we belong to each other”. So in the spirit of knowledge being power, here are some of my favorite more than profit companies…

1.) TOMS Shoes. Most people have heard of this brand, I think they put this model onto people’s radar. For every pair of shoes you buy, they give a pair away. And they recently put their factories in the countries they are giving shoes away in to help the local economy. They have now expanded from just shoes and a few t-shirts to an marketplace where they showcase other businesses that are about more than their profit line.

2.) Noonday Collection. They collaborate with women in third world countries to provide jobs for them with a proper living wage. Jobs equal dignity. People aren’t looking for handouts, they’re looking for dignity and Noonday Collection helps that happen.

3.) Ten Thousand Villages. They are a fair trade, non-profit company that sells goods made in third world countries. Similarly to Noonday, the artisans are paid a fair wage and they develop a business relationship. If you ever have the chance to go to one of those stores I would recommend it. It’s neat to walk through and see the creativity and resourcefulness of people in other countries. They create beautiful goods using things that you and I might take for granted.

4.) Sevenly. They are a t-shirt company that for every item you buy they give $7 to specific cause. Every week the cause is different, and every week the design changes. They have some pretty creative ideas and they are helping other charities do amazing things!

Those are just a few of my favorite “more than profit” companies. They inspire me to serve the world better not just in the obvious ways, but even the way I do business. Are there any companies like this that you love?

Thankful Tuesday (Day 14)

Soooo about that blogging every day thing…. do I still get an A for effort? No? Ooook. Well today I’m bringing back Thankful Tuesday, because being thankful is being healthy, and I have a ton to be thankful for. So here we gooooo…

Today I am thankful for…

1.) An awesome husband who washes dishes and eats all the food I make (even when I put chili powder in chicken noodle soup) and encourages me and plans birthday celebrations and laughs with me. I know what a gift he is, and I want to always call to mind the ways he blesses and encourages me.

2.) An awesome counselor who speaks words of wisdom and encouragement to me. The Lord has used her to incite so many changes within my heart and no matter where we move to I will never forget her. (If anyone needs a counselor, her name is Whitney Smith and she is a Christian Counseling Services… just don’t take my time slot, k thnx.)

3.) Coffee… because duh.

4.) Ways to buy sustainably and fairly, like the store One Thousand Villages and Relay Foods and Noonday Collection.

5.) Essential oils because I have seen a lessening in anxiety and an increase in joy since I started using them. I feel lighter and far less anxious.

6.) A mini cation this past weekend because it was refreshing and fun.

7.) My in-laws coming for a visit next weekend, because I MISS THEM and it will be so great to hug them and spend time with them.

8.) Chocolate, also because duh.

9.) Our wonderful house.

10.) Our life group.

Those are some of the many things I am thankful for this week. Now it’s YOUR turn!! What are YOU thankful for? I want to know, don’t make a girl beg!!

Emotions are our friends(Day 12)

Emotions are your friend. Take it from someone who is emotional and doesn’t like it, I understand that a lot of the time emotions don’t feel like friends. In fact they feel an awful lot like my mortal enemy sometimes. But here’s the thing, and I’ll keep it as short and sweet as possible… emotions are friends, not foes. We seem to believe that feeling things makes us weak or crazy, I know I have felt that way may times. However, that is just not truth. The things we feel have a purpose, and when used for good they can make our lives better.

Emotions are indicators. They are warning lights. They shine a spotlight on something in our lives that needs some extra loving. They are like the flashing battery light on your phone, or the check engine light on your car. They are telling you, “HEY! PAY ATTENTION! THERE IS SOMETHING HERE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED!!” Like put gas in the car/fix the engine or you’re going to stop on the side of the road. Or plug in your phone otherwise the battery will die. Those indicator lights are warning you that something needs to be worked on or changed, otherwise it will stop working. Emotions work the same way. They are flashing indicators that are telling you something important.

Sometimes the emotion is happiness or joy, and it’s telling you that life is good. Sometimes it is anger or sadness or frustration. Maybe they are telling you that something in your life isn’t right, or some part of it has to change. Even the most “negative” emotions have a purpose.

What happens in you ignore the gas light in your car? It’s going to run out of gas. It won’t magically put gas in itself, and it won’t be without consequence. If you don’t put gas in the car, you’re going to run out and that’s that. It’s the same with your emotions. If you don’t address what is causing your emotion, it’s not going to magically fix itself. It won’t go away just because you are going “la la la la la, I can’t seeeee you.” Just like your car won’t magically be filled with gas, your emotions won’t magically go away without the proper attention and care.

For a very long time I have been ashamed of my emotions. I’d prefer to hide them away and ignore them. I thought if I did that they would eventually go away and I would just be a perfectly normal. But here’s the thing… that’s not what happens. My emotions didn’t go away, at least not until I began to address the things that were causing the emotions to begin with. As I begin to tend to the underlying cause, I see the negative emotion being changed into a positive one. As I work out the painful stuff, I find that it is replaced by joy and understanding. Examining the cause brings freedom from things holding us back and healing to sick places within our hearts. But when we run from our feelings, nothing is fixed and nothing is made better.

Don’t hide from what you’re feeling, don’t treat it as a curse but instead as a blessing. Emotions are our friends.

 

Thankful Thursday (Day 9)

A huge part of being healthy, mind, body, and soul, is maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving. Thankful people are happier and less stressed, and today I have a lot of things to be thankful for. The sun is shining, the fall breeze is blowing, and I have homemade chili awaiting me for lunch. Pretty awesome start to my day right there! Our lives are filled with silver lining, graces and blessings, if only we will take the time to look for them.

So without further ado, Thankful Thursday!

Today I am thankful for…

1. Oatmeal (with sliced bananas), because it is delicious and nutritious and Kroger has this organic line and they have the best instant oatmeal in the world.

2. Coffee. There will never be a day that I am not thankful for this magical juice sent straight from heaven. It’s instant human in a cup… just had half and half.

3. Love notes from my sweet, sweet husband, because it is a reminder of how blessed I am to have a husband who loves me so well. Last week was a hard/long week but he was so supportive, encouraging, and strong. Such a gift of a husband.

4. Pumpkin everything, BECAUSE FALL! We went to Trader Joes on Saturday and they literally had everything pumpkin. It was incredible.

5. Life group tonight, because I’m loving getting to know the awesome people in our group! Everyone is so hilarious. Also, homemade pizza is on the menu, sooo nuff said.

6. Getting to go to Kings Dominion FOR FREE with my husband. As a gesture of appreciation the department that I work for is paying for all of us plus our families to go to KD. I’m like a giant kid when it comes to roller coasters so I seriously can’t wait. Also, we’re going to spend the night in Richmond which will also be awesome. ROAD TRIP!

7. My job and my boss. I know that I am so blessed with have a job and to have a steady income and benefits. This is something I don’t want to take for granted. AND I have the BEST boss to boot. I’m not confident I’ll ever have another boss as wonderful as she is. She loves the Lord truly and fully and sets the example for how to be a mom and love your family. She’s a doll.

8. Encouragement at the All Sons and Daughters concert on Tuesday. It was such an incredible time of worship where I could feel God’s presence stronger than I had felt in a while.

9. A fixed car at minimal cost.

10. MAWAGE! So much fun, so much growth, so much adventure.

That’s all for now… now it’s your turn! WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR? Does being thankful come easy to you, or does it take more intentionality? Tell meeee, I really want to know!

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Giving your money a voice that matters (Day 8)

A few days ago I wrote about why Farmers Market’s are the best, and one of the reasons was because I liked giving my dollar a voice that empowers other people. Along those same lines, today I want to talk about why buying Fair Trade is important.

People Matter, and the whole world is our neighbor. As human beings we have a responsibility to care for each other, and when we see injustice we have the responsibility to stand against it. Just speaking against it doesn’t cut it, we have to do something. One of the biggest injustices that I see is when people are not paid what their services are worth. This is notorious within the coffee and diamond industry as well as within “first-world” companies that go overseas with their factories to take advantage of cheap labor. We live in a Wal-mart world where the cheapest price wins the customer even when that price isn’t sustainable for the people making the product. We all know that the big companies aren’t the ones taking a cut in salary for you to have that cheap price, it’s the person who makes it that ends up taking the hit.

But I have good news! There is a better way! We can buy what we need while knowing that the person who made it was paid a fair living wage, and that is through buying Fair Trade. There are different organization that abide by standards and rules that ensure a better life for all humans. Now mind you, these products are a little more expensive, but it’s worth it when it means you are investing in another person with your purchase. Your money matters, your purchases matter. Your money has a voice and it can change a person’s world. It has the power to give or take away dignity. It can do more for you and for others. Tell the companies that care more about profits than people that they don’t get your money anymore, because people are more valuable than low prices.

For possible places to give your business check out these sites!

Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade Federation

Equal Exchange

Noonday Collection

Now listen here, I’m far far from perfect in this area but I think it’s about slowly but surely becoming more intentional about where and how we spend our money. Rome wasn’t built in a day and habits don’t change over night. But if we keep changing things one at a time, one foot in front of the other, then you will see that you are changing yourself and your world. Go forth friends, and let’s do good, hard things that matter.

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Stepping into the unknown known (Day 7)

Steven and I are entering a season of life where we are being required to kind of jump feet first into something that feels a little unknown. Back in April he submitted his applications for Physicians Assistant school. At first he only submitted one app to Lynchburg College, which made sense because we already live here and have a house and a life and I have a job. But at sort of the last minute he decided to apply to two more schools so that he wasn’t putting all of his eggs in one basket. He got an interview scheduled at LC, but it wasn’t going to be until October 24th. Then he got an interview at Campbell University, less than a week from the day he received the email. Off to Campbell he went and a week later found out he had been accepted! Woooohoooo! But the catch was that he had two weeks to decide and then if the answer was yes he had to put down a large, non-refundable deposit. So here we were having to make the decision without really being able to weigh the options. So we prayed and prayed, and made pros and cons lists, and talked and compared and dreamed together and we finally made the decision to take the leap of faith we felt God leading us into. Almost the exact moment that we leapt and paid the deposit… one of our cars broke down, whilst I was sitting in the middle of a turn lane at an intersection. Oh bless. Two tow trucks and an expensive diagnosis later I sat there thinking, “Lord, I’m not sure that I want to keep doing this whole walking in faith thing if it’s going to mean cars breaking down and life feeling so uncertain.” Almost immediately I felt like I had the answer.

Just because something is hard or painful or uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I had subconsciously convinced myself that if something felt uncomfortable then it must not be what I’m supposed to do, like I get a free pass from the hard stuff just because it doesn’t feel all warm and fuzzy. But I’m quickly learning that God doesn’t call me to live in my comfort zone, He is inviting me out of it and into this big incredible plan that I have the opportunity to be a part of.

Steve and I have two companies that we are trying to start, music that we are trying to record, we have to rent out our house, figure out where we are going to live in NC, and I have to find a new job. In order for all of these things to successfully happen we are going to have to do hard things, and literally live outside of what feels comfortable for us. We will have to take chances and be bold. I am NOT bold, I do NOT like to take chances, but if I want to live an awesome life, I am going to have to suck it up and do things that are hard, but that matter.

Even making healthy changes to our lives is outside of my comfort zone, because.. well… I LOVE FOOOD! And sometimes it’s easier to throw that plastic bottle away, or to use paper napkins instead of cloth. But I know that these changes will be better for our bodies,for the environment, and for our wallets in the long run. I’m trying to do the hard work now, to reap the benefits later. I’m living in the present with the future in mind.

Reaping what we sow is a biblical concept and really quite logical. If you sow comfort and laziness than you won’t reap a full adventurous life. If you aren’t willing to sow into your dreams, then odds are they won’t ever come to be. If you aren’t willing to take chances and trust that the Lord has you safely in His hands, then you might find yourself stuck in complacency. Here’s the thing though, God isn’t calling you somewhere that He won’t be. I’m not saying it won’t be hard or painful, but He’ll still be there with you holding you through it all. For me that makes courage a little more accessible. Knowing that even if I can’t see what’s coming but God knows, makes it much easier to sleep at night. Also lavender… lots of lavender.

I bet God is calling you out of your comfort zone too. I bet He’s inviting you into the unknown that is known by Him. He’s inviting you to trust Him even when it all feels shaky and uncertain, but He’s holding you through it all. He’s holding us all.

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Hey God, it’s me again (Day 5)

Hey God… it’s me… Sarah. Remember me? The girl with the red hair and the freckles? I think you remember me, I mean you know the hairs on my head and after all, you did knit me together. All the facts point to you knowing me by name, but sometimes I can’t deny that I feel forgotten. This week has been pretty blah, I’m not gonna lie to you. Broken car, exasperating days, stressful work, broken hearts. I’ve tried to fill pages upon pages in my thankful journal because when I count the blessings it seems to put the crappy stuff into perspective. But this week, there were times where the blessings were hard to see through the weeds of exhaustion, frustration, and pain. And for a moment, just for a moment, I felt forgotten. I know you haven’t, I know you’re there, but I’m just being honest here. I can do that with you right? Right. You can handle it, all my wondering and my doubt. All my “God what is the purpose in this pain?” You get it. You even said so, “In this world you will have trouble…” But I guess sometimes I forget the last part. “But take courage; I have overcome the world!” Courage is hard to find when you see so much pain around you though, isn’t it? I guess that’s the point, courage happens when you do something that scares you. It’s the ability to have strength in pain. I guess it’s something you develop through experience. As long as strength doesn’t require me to keep it all together all the time, I think I’ll be ok. I think I can be courageous.

I know this is a season of stretching, of learning to trust your hand, of stepping out onto to the water believing that your grace will hold me there above the waves. You’re calling me out of the borders I’ve made for myself, putting me in situations that feel so outside my comfort. But I am strong, right? I can do hard things, like move 3 hours from what has become my home, like trust you in that process even though it feels so unknown. I can be brave and I can be strong. I just need you to promise me one thing, that you’ll never forget me. That in the moments when you feel so far away, you’ll still be there. Promise me that in the moments when I’m frustrated with myself and my circumstances, that you’ll be there, and you’ll whisper grace. Promise me that when it looks bleak that you’ll still be working it for my good. Promise me that in my moments of doubt you will not turn away, but open your arms instead. I think that if I can know that you’ll always be there, that you’ll be holding me through the good and the bad, than courage seems more within my reach. The courage to start companies, and build community, and move 3 hours away. The courage to do hard things, I know that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s bad, in fact it might just mean it’s worthwhile. And I can be brave because you give me the strength. I can be brave because I know that I am covered  by the safety of your wings. I can be brave because I’ll never be forgotten.

I guess that’s all I need to know. That you’ll never forget me, that I’ll never be far from your love, from your grace and from your mind.

Why Farmers Markets are the Best (Day 4)

One of the things I’ve been the most convicted about (outside of recycling) is the way and the places I am spending money. Our money has a voice. Where we spend it tells the world what we view as important or valuable. When we go to Walmart we tell the world that low prices is what we find important, which I understand. But we’re also telling the world that we don’t care how they treat their employees, or what they are doing to local mom and pop businesses, or what type of companies and products they sell in their store.* The coffee industry is notorious for underpaying their workers, and hiring people that are either slaves or too young. So when we buy coffee that isn’t fair trade we are telling the world that we need coffee that is cheap no matter what it costs our fellow hooman. I know those are hard pills to swallow but the reality is that when we spend money somewhere we are inadvertently giving our stamp of approval to their business, even if they don’t deserve it. This is why I love Farmers Markets and Community Markets, they give me a place where I can buy the things I need in a way that is sustainable and helpful. It’s giving my money a voice that says I care about my fellow man and my local community and economy.

Every Saturday morning I make my way to a local Market and it is the highlight of most weekends. I buy all of our veggies for the week, bread, eggs, coffee, and apples. Everything is fresh and delicious and all of the vendors are friendly and happy to help you. It’s more than just grocery shopping, it’s building community and investing in people. I love this, it feels like a more responsible and meaningful way to spend my resources. Still not sold? Well here are three reasons why Farmers Markets are the bees knees:

1.)You invest in your local economy

When I buy bread from Lorainne’s bakery, or veggies from a local farm I am saying, “Hey you! I believe in you and appreciate the hard work it took to make this bread or to grow these tomatoes.” When we buy from a local business we aren’t just lining the pockets of the already rich. We invest in a local person and pour into the local economy, and then that person has the funds to go to another person and pour into the local economy too.

2.) Typically you are getting the freshest of the fresh

Fresh is just better. Not only because of the way it tastes, but also because it is literally better for your body. As soon as produce is picked it starts to loose nutrients as it naturally decays. Also, farm fresh eggs are the all that and a bag of chips. I compared the size of the yoke from eggs I got at the grocery store and eggs I got at the Market and the Market eggs won by a long shot! They had HUGE yokes. I don’t think that I really need to say more, fresh being better is pretty obvious.

3.) It provides a way to be more connected and involved with other people in your community.

Farmers Markets are bustling with people who love what they do and a lot of the time love other hoomans. I’m at the point now where the vendors recognize me and we can have conversations about more than, “what kind of tomato is this?” It’s a joy to feel connected to other people and to build community wherever you go. It’s a little more difficult to do this in a traditional grocery store setting which is one of the reasons I love FMs so so much.

Now I don’t think grocery stores are bad, there are a ton of things that you can’t buy at a Farmer’s Market that can be found within the walls of a traditional shopping experience. I still go to Kroger every single week. But I want to be as intentional as possible about buying what I need and using my resources in a way that doesn’t just benefit me or make rich people richer. I’ll have another post about this later in the series, but Farmers Market are a great way to do it.

Do you have a Farmer’s Market near you that you love? Have you ever been to one before? What does your money tell people?

*I know that this might be more nuanced than I am making it sound. However, I think the principle remains. Where we spend money matters.

Why Recycling is Important… and EASY (Day 3)

Confession: For a very long time I didn’t recycle. It wasn’t because I didn’t know it was good, it was because I didn’t feel like taking the time to do it. In the town I live in, recyclables are not picked up at your curb like trash. You have to bring it to the correct area and I honestly just didn’t take the time to care. I know, ridiculous, right? But in the last year I have become very convicted about the amount of waste that I create, and thus became inspired to be more intentional about recycling. Now I’m a crazy person about it. I put ever last little tiny piece of plastic, paper, and aluminum into our recycling garbage cans. Instead of just throwing it in the trash can, recycling gives our waste a second life, therefore creating less trash!

An average human being creates about 4.5 pounds of waste per day, 75% of of that is recycable, but only about 30% on average is actually recycled. The amount of paper and wood that we trash each year would be enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years! That’s a lot of paper and wood wasted if you don’t recycle. This stat is pretty crazy: less than 1% of plastic bottles are recycled. Less than 1%!! In the US, we throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles per hour. That’s just nuts people. We only get one earth, and one chance at treating it right, and wasting this much stuff is not cutting it. We have got to do better, there is really no other way. *

Americans only make up 5% of the world population, that isn’t very much, but we create 30% of the world’s trash. Crazy. On average, an American will trash 600 times the average body weight in their lifetime. When you throw that banana peel away, you don’t consider that it might be your 500th banana peel that year and they add up in terms of waste creation! Of the total “waste stream” in America, only about 2% of it is actually recycled. In fact, half of what is thrown away could be recycled and isn’t! This is enough recyclable material to fill a football stadium every day. We are abusing the earth, and this is not cool man. **

If you are a believer I need you to know that you are called to more than this. You are called to be a good steward of the resources you have been given, whether it be money or time or the earth you live on. Most of us know the story in Matthew 25, where the master gives his people talents and expects them to guard and steward them well. He expected that when he came back them would show that they had been responsible and had more to give to him then what they started with. I can’t help but think that the earth is a gift, one that should be treated with care and concern. To recklessly pillage the earth of it’s resources without concern for the viability of that is just ridiculous. We are supposed to care for the earth we’ve been given and treat it like the treasure it is.

There is a misconception that caring for the environment or “going green” is for “liberals”. I’ve known so many Christians to just not care, while the opposite should be true! We know the God who made the earth, so if we truly honor and revere Him wouldn’t we want to protect and preserve what He’s created?

I know that I’ve laid down some serious recycling guilt, but I just think and know it’s that important! And listen, I’m not the best recycler in the world. I still throw stuff away that I shouldn’t but I don’t have an excuse to be that way! Recycling is so easy! We have two garbage cans in our house that we designate for recycling, one for paper and one for plastic. Then we have a plastic bag that we use for aluminum cans. Once they’re filled we bring them to one of the conveniently located recycling dumpsters in our town. BOOM! Saving the early. It’s really that easy. You don’t have to be a shoeless hippie to go green, although if that’s what you want to do, no judgement.

We can all be a little more green, and I think recycling is a great place to start.

p.s. for a great article with more stats about recycling, check it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-grayson/eco-etiquette-is-recyclin_b_320031.html

*http://www.greenwaste.com/recycling-stats

**http://students.arch.utah.edu/courses/Arch4011/Recycling%20Facts1.pdf