Truth for the Downcast Soul

There’s a girl I know who is precious and young and has a tender smile that makes you think she’s just fine.

But I found out recently that this girl has darkness swirling around her mind and she can’t shake it and she’s just very sad. She’s so sad in fact that she wants to cut herself or hang herself, and my God, she’s only a young thing. And my brain tells me maybe she was abused in some way, but maybe she just suffers from the darkness. I don’t know. What I know is that she needs to know that even in the dark, there is light, because there’s nowhere she can go where God won’t go for her, where He isn’t already.

You all know I have been in the depths, but I’ve also been on the wings of eagles. I have felt God and I have soared with Him, even in my darkness, even in the anxiety and depression, there have been heights with such awesome views, I can only praise Him.

One of the reasons I love Jesus so much is because He is close to the brokenhearted. He is gentle and kind and tells me to come and rest with Him. He tells me I’m not alone, and I’m not my brokenness. He fills me with light and beauty and He leads tenderly. I have never feared God in the sense of being afraid of Him; He’s my Father. I fear Him in that I respect Him and remember He is God (!!!), but I know I can run to Him with anything and everything, and He will surround me in grace and mercy and help.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m telling you these things because maybe you have a darkness swirling around you and you need to know that God wants you to know that He hears your cries and He wants to heal your broken heart. He will be with you in the depths, and He will be gentle with you.

If this is you, I created something to encourage your spirit. To get it for free, just click here or enter your email below.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

Love, SM

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

Give Yourself Time

My youngest daughter is so much like me.

There’s this fieriness to her, this loudness, this tenderness, this bent toward wanting to scream and then cry when someone wrongs her; she is so dear and so thoughtful and so… worried. She’s worried she won’t be able to control her temper, find peace in conflict, or just breathe long enough to not yell at her brother when he irritates her. She thinks she’ll never change.

“Oh sweet Caroline, you are so much like me,” I tell her as we drive, just the two of us.

“No, mom, not really.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you know how to control your anger and I don’t. I’ll never be able to.”

And there it is, the lie that she’ll never change, the start of a downward thought process that can lead to despair if not corrected in truth.

“Care, how old are you?”

“Eight.”

“Well, I’m 37, so I’ve got some years on you, and through those years God has helped me to have self-control, and He will help you too, but give yourself time to grow and learn and surrender and wait as He helps you. You can have self-control. Here, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned…”

Read the rest over at (in)courage today!

SM

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

The voice in our head that speaks condemnation

Every week it’s the same thing.

We study for the spelling test and my child cries and says, “I’m so stupid! I’d rather not be in this world. Everyone is smarter than me.”

They go down a dark trail of negative self-loathing and harsh talk about themselves. It’s awful, and it’s sad and it’s hard and it makes this mama feel so helpless. I pray and I ask God for all the grace and patience and gentle words and gentle touches to help, but it’s a fight. And I know the enemy will use this disposition that my child has to try and steal and kill and destroy.

I think, why? Why does my child look at themselves so poorly? Why can’t they see what I see? That they are a wonder, smart and funny and passionate and driven and thoughtful and made with purpose? 

And then I turn the gaze inward and I think of all the ways I have spoken harshly to myself. I think of my own particular bent: I’m so stupid. 

I don’t say it out loud, but I speak it in my head and my heart. I’m dumb. I have nothing to contribute to the world. What’s the point? And now that I’ve seen my child say these things, I wonder, Does God view me the way I view my child? Does it break His heart when I condemn myself? Is it painful for Him to see?

Click here to read the rest over at (in)courage today.

Love, Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

Maybe you don’t have to live like this

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” Proverbs 15:30

“I think I’m only considering medication because I’m writing a book and I need to be able to get it done. If I weren’t writing, I would just live like this.”

“But Sarah, maybe God is saying you don’t have to live like this.”

Maybe you don’t have to live like this. 

Maybe I could live in the light. Maybe I don’t have to suffer in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, something is a little whack with my brain chemistry but I don’t have to live with it.

I’ve been on medication for over a month now, and I feel normal again, like myself again.

I was the frog in the boiling water. Slowly, slowly, insidiously, this sadness filled me up and then one day I couldn’t tell you anymore whether I was an introvert or extrovert. I couldn’t tell you what I liked to do or the last time I enjoyed going somewhere. The boiling happened so slowly that I don’t know when it began or how long I’ve lived in the hot, dark water. I don’t know when I started to lose who I was.

It was like I was living in a dream.

But now I’m awake, and to mix all the metaphors, I feel like I’m in the sun, like I’m out of the boiling water, like I can see clearly, and most wonderfully, I know who I am again. I didn’t lose my personality. I am still me.

I wrote a love letter to myself this morning to help me understand again who I am. The beginning of the letter goes like this:

Dear Sarah,

You’re struggling to figure out who you are lately. If someone asked you, “Who are you?”, you’re not sure how you would answer. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can help.

First, you are loved and chosen and seen and known by God, who is your Father and who loves you with a faithful, steadfast, pure love. You are His daughter and He knows every intricate piece of your heart and soul and mind. What you don’t know, He knows. What you don’t see, He sees. Where you feel lost and confused, He is sure. So the first thing, dear Sarah, is that you are a loved and known daughter of the God of the universe.

I’m not advocating medication on a whim, I’m just telling you that I am better. Something was wrong, but now it’s right. That’s all I know.

I also know that my mother struggled with depression, so maybe there is some genetic stuff going on. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing a book about the redemption of humanity and the thread through it is the story of my mom and I and the crazy, complicated, hardness of it all. Our story is messy and sad and confusing and nothing short of miraculous. Maybe it’s that my hormones adjusted my brain or that this human body is just not perfect here on earth.

All I know is that I was blind but now I see. And I give God all the glory.

If you’re boiling, or if you don’t even know you’re boiling but you know something is off, I want to encourage you in a two specific ways that two different friends encouraged me:

1.) It’s okay to put everything on the table.

Anything can be put on he table for discussion, whether it’s homes to buy, educating our children, anybig life decision, there is nothing wrong with putting it on the table.

And in that putting in on the table, we lay our hands open knowing and trusting and believing that He is faithful and He guides.

2.) Maybe you don’t have to live like this.

Maybe you don’t have to boil. Maybe God is calling you out to the light. He wants obedience over sacrifice. But the real point I’m trying to make here is this: God loves you and He wants you to live in the light. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever suffer or be in hellish circumstances. What it means is that there’s an inner peace, an inner light, an inner joy that can never be taken away, and sometimes we need outside help to find that joy again. And that’s okay.

The paradox for the Christian is that while we may suffer, we can also experience great joy. And we are free to get help.

The Scripture at the top of this post affirms that God understands our human hearts, and how we need light and joy and goodness to keep on. Here’s another version of that verse that I just love:

The light of the eyes rejoices the inner man, the heart, and good news takes away the ashes.

We have a God who sees us and loves us and helps us and takes away the ashes.

Lord, would you search our hearts and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Show us anything in us that is offensive or hurtful. Unfold freedom for us, bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts, and lead us in the everlasting way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23,24, Psalm 147:3)

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. Try writing a love letter to yourself. I know it’s weird, I acknowledge that, but it’s also helpful and kind.

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.

Following the Spirit to Public School

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. 

 John 3:8

My kids started public school a few weeks ago.

(I know, weird and surprising.)

To put this in perspective of the randomness and weirdness and unlikeliness of us putting our kids in public school, my husband reminded me that I told him that if I ever died to never put the kids in public school. (No pressure or anything). I don’t know why I was so adamant, but apparently, I was. It’s all a blur now. All I know is that last month I found myself thinking about it all, and then I found myself driving to the district office for enrollment papers, and then I just casually filled them out “just in case” and all I can really say is, I guess the Spirit moved.

I’m not being silly. There is no way to explain why we all of a sudden put our kids in school. But we did, and we follow God and are in His will, so, so be it. We follow the Spirit even when we don’t know where He is going, or why this is happening. It’s all a faith walk.

Now a few things about the decision I want to share with you:

  1. It felt agonizing at first to even consider putting our kids in public school. I wrestled with feelings of failure and selfishness. I wondered, was I sacrificing my kids? Why was I even considering this?
  2. It felt, and feels, surreal. We’ve never considered public school, at least no since they were babies and my husband and I first discussed schooling options. We keep looking at each other and saying, “This is so weird.”
  3. I was so scared that my anxiety would keep me up at night if we put them in school and I begged God for peace if this was from Him.

Now let me dive into the things I just mentioned:

Am I a Selfish Failure?

Shame runs deep, and when you believe you are selfish and a failure, especially as a mom; it’s gutting. I kept telling a friend of mine, “Is this selfish? I just feel so selfish if I put my kids in school, because if they’re in school I’ll write, and I like writing and working, and that’s just selfish of me.” She said, “Is that selfish though?” And that question got me thinking. And thinking. And praying. No, it’s not selfish to put my kids in school and it’s not selfish to like working, because we are following God. Also, my husband thought the whole selfish thing was messed up. He said, “If you put the kids in school, don’t be a martyr about it, enjoy what God has next.” Yes. I like that. And it’s true.

I spoke with another friend over my questions and feelings and she reminded me, “God is good, and God is faithful, and God is gracious. Ultimately, it’s the Lord that goes before you and it’s Him who’s going to fight for your children. This is not law, and we don’t find our righteousness in how we school. Our righteousness is in Christ and in Christ alone. Nothing at all changes in who you are and how you are viewed by what you choose to do with your children and school. This is not a sin issue, a righteousness issue, and this is not a law issue. You are under grace. So be free.”

Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m not a selfish failure.

It is Weird

At first, it was super weird to not have the kids with me. I cried for two weeks and then I went to a doctor and got on anti-depressants. There is more to this story of course, but I can see now that having the kids with me all day was covering up something inside of me and God, in His kindness, was going to be peeling back the layers of my heart. Now that’s it has been a month that the kids have been in school, I can see more of why God led us the way He did.

Peace AND Joy

After I made the agonizing decision to put the kids in school, I got the peace. The peace came after the obedience, as it usually does. And not only do I have peace about the decision, I have joy. I feel grateful and joyful and confident in what the Lord is doing with our family.

“Not only is it to the Father’s glory that we get to bear fruit, but we actually get to find joy in it!” -Beth Moore

As an aside, some of you read my post on depression, and I want you to know I’m doing well. The meds seem to be working and I’m feeling like myself again, light shining in the darkness.

God is so kind.

Love, SM

kidsbus.jpg

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.