Badness Levels

The opposite of good is bad, so does that make the opposite of goodness, badness? When I think of the word ‘badness’ I think of the scene in Lilo & Stitch where Lilo pulls out the piece of paper and draws a scale of Stitch’s badness level. Let’s just say it’s not very good.

So I started thinking. What if that’s how God measured our sins? He pulled out His big red pen and filled in a diagram that would display how full of sin we are. That wouldn’t be very good either. But when God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, that level went way down. It became nonexistent. Our badness levels became full blown goodness levels.

Now that’s not to say we’re by any means perfect. In fact we’re far from it. We sin, and constantly fall short of the glory God has intended for us. But we are so richly blessed in the fact that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8b God knows we are imperfect. He knows we fail. He knows all of our sins and shortcomings, yet he still loves us. He still chooses to forgive us. Even at those times when we think there’s no hope left for us. God still loves us, and will continue to forgive us.

Until next time,
Sarah

P.S. Sorry this is short, summer season means camp season which means a lot less time spent sitting behind a computer!

 

An Act Of Kindness

When it came time to talk about kindness, the song “An Act of Kindness” by Bastille kept playing over and over in my head (see the end of this post for a link to the song). According to Dan, the lead singer of the band, “[“An Act of Kindness” is] about a kind of Good Samaritan narrative in the context of everything that’s happening at the moment in the world and being in a sea where everyone keeps their heads down, so in their life, just one small act of kindness can completely transform a day, or a situation, or a week, and can follow you all the time and that you can feel kind of worthy or unworthy of that.”

It’s so true, isn’t it? The world we live in is one where more often than not we bury our heads in the sand and try and pretend the things happening around us in the world, just aren’t happening. However, when someone goes out of their way in an act of genuine kindness, it changes your world. Even if just for a moment.

I’ve heard from so many people about the amazing feeling they get after being kind to others. I can even tell you from a firsthand point of view that it does feel pretty good. However when you’re on the other side of it, sometimes it can be confusing. If we don’t have an immediate #PayItForward mentality, we can begin to feel like we didn’t deserve it.  Why would someone go so far out of their way for me?  And that’s just the beginning of those thoughts that begin to circle our minds.

But who is to say that we don’t deserve these things? The only person telling us we don’t deserve them is ourselves (well, obviously under the influence of the devil himself). So why do we think so little of ourselves? Why don’t we realize how much effort God put into creating us just the way we are? And you know what else? He loves us this way. Sure, we can be a disappointment, but it doesn’t change how much He loves us.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

God created us and has plans for us. I know that He wouldn’t mind if we appreciated an act of kindness shown to us. Or if we paid it forward along the way.

Until next time,
Sarah

An Act of Kindness – Bastille

Patience is a Virtue

My 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Hope, always said “Patience is a virtue”. Looking back on it now I’m pretty sure it had something to do with not wanting to answer the constant questions of “So, when is lunch?”. However as a 2nd and 3rd grader, I never really knew what that meant. I sort of assumed it just meant we all needed to learn to wait.

Many years later, when hearing the word ‘Patience’ I still think of this phrase. So, being the scholar that I am… I typed it into Google to see what it really means. Which led me to read, “Meaning: To be able to wait for something without becoming frustrated is a valuable character trait”. It’s pretty literal. Patience, waiting for something. Virtue, a valuable character trait. Guess I didn’t really need Google to figure that out, but typing it in was so much faster than taking the time to think about it. Right?

That’s an example of not exhibiting patience. I’m not the most patient person. I like immediacy. If I have a question, I want to immediately Google it and get an answer. Like today, I went to see a movie with some friends. The entire time I wanted to pull out my phone and find out who was voicing each character. It was eating at me the entire movie. I did end up waiting, but this lack of patience is probably what drives my easily distractedness.

I start out doing one thing, and then I remember, “Oh I was going to send that e-mail” Which turns into, “Wait, you mean Old Navy is having an online sale” which goes back to something else. It’s the immediacy of being able to do so many things at once that drives people, especially myself, away from taking time and being patient.

It’s something I struggle with especially when it comes to prayer. If I’m praying for something, for example the sun to shine, I’d be happy if the clouds rolled away, the rain stopped, and I could feel the heat of the sun beating down on my face. Immediate response. The quickness of things like search engines giving us answers right when we want them, makes it hard to be able to wait through those long silent moments to listen for God’s voice speaking to us. As soon as we are in the midst of the silence, our brains wander. Our attention spans are too short, and our patience meters are on empty.

Still God wants to speak to us. He is speaking to us and we just need to be patient, and listen. We need to have faith that even though we may not get our answer right away, we will get our answer. It may not be immediate, it may not be what we want to hear, but we need to stop, and push away all those distractions and really focus on what’s important. God’s plan for us.

Be patient, He’s got you!
Until next time,
Sarah

Peace defined by Children

 

As I was typing my first draft of this post I was joined (distracted) by two kids who came knocking on the door of the cabin I currently call home. It was an admittedly welcomed distraction. The first thing I asked them was to define Peace for me. I wasn’t sure what answers I would get from a thirteen-year-old and a six-year-old, but their answers made me smile.

The thirteen-year-old talked about a sense of calmness, sort of like a sigh of relief. I liked this image quite a lot. Thinking of when everything around me starts to go crazy and then once it’s over taking a deep breath. A sense of peace really does wash over you. It makes me think of  Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s such a simple thought and yet it brings such a sense of peace and calmness knowing that we can simply put our trust in Him, and He will take care of it all.

Now the six-year-old responded with a response that was a bit confusing to me at first. When I asked him what peace meant to him, he said “God’s Love”. I responded, “What?” and he repeated, “God’s Love, sharing God’s Love!”. Now it made more sense to me.   God’s Love is the definition of peace. How do we find peace? Through God’s Love. How is peace even a possible concept for us to feel? Because of God’s never-ending love for us.

I feel blessed knowing that even though I’m a leader, and I teach different things to other people, that I can also be on the other side of the spectrum as a learner. Learning things, and realizing that people have different viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, is one of my favorite things.

Until next time,
– Sarah

Companionable Silences

April is upon us which means we are changing gears from Joy and heading into Peace! 

I can’t recall the first time I heard the term ‘companionable silence’. But this simple term has explained so much to me. Think of it this way: you are sitting in a room with a few of your favorite humans when a sudden silence washes over the group. It’s not an awkward pause, where thoughts come rushing to your mind of “Oh gosh, someone better say something soon. Should I say something? Did we run out of things to talk about?”. It’s not a deafening silence, where all that you can hear is nothing, and the nothingness begins to drive you crazy. It’s a companionable silence, where a sense of peace wells up inside you and you realize that your friendship is growing stronger by purely existing with those other people.

This term ‘companionable silence’ has become one of my favorites. I was standing on a mountain with four of my college friends in North Carolina when I first realized it to be true. There we all were coming down the mountain, and the sun began to set. A couple people stopped just to look at something and then we all ended up stopping, and just standing in almost complete silence together. Nothing needed to be said. I was at peace.

I like to think that these companionable silences that bring this sense of peace don’t have to come solely from instances where you’re with other people. There are times when I’m outside by myself where I just take a deep breath and simply exist. I sit and observe the world continuing to happen around me, but I forget about responsibilities and stressors and just focus on existing in that moment. No music, or electronics, or other distractions. Just me.

Even in those times when I’m alone, I know that the sense of peace I feel comes from believing that I’m never truly alone. That ‘companionable’ aspect is still there because Jesus is right there existing with me. I’m safe. I’m alive. I am at peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says that in every season there is a “time to be silent and a time to speak”. So much can be said in just a moment of silence.

Until next time,
Sarah

Down in my heart. Where?

It’s safe to say I was feeling less than inspired on the topic of “Joy” this month. My first post was admittedly last minute, and I wasn’t exactly proud of what I’d written. It seemed forced and that made me a little angry.

I kept thinking, “You just need to write something”, “Throw some thoughts together”, “Write about the first thing that comes to mind”,”No one is going to benefit from reading this”, “Why are you even bothering”, but I was bashing myself and tearing myself down.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “We are our own worst critics”. Isn’t that the truth? We’re not content with anything less than perfection. Don’t you know that if being perfect is what you’re striving for then you are setting yourself up for failure? No one is perfect! Only Jesus was perfect, and last I checked I am for sure not Him.

So I’ve moved on from bashing myself about my previous Joy post. I realize not every post written on this blog is going to touch the hearts and lives of every person who comes across them (though that would be pretty cool, right?). Making this realization also helped me to understand something my mom told me about Joy.

What she said was along the lines of Joy not being something external, it comes solely from within. Recently I picked up a new study bible. In Philippians 4, there is a sidenote that really pairs nicely with her statement. It says,

“True contentment is the result of a heart committed to the risen Lord. Think of all the sins, pain, and brokenness that come from coveting. Adultery, murder, stealing, and lying can all be traced directly to a prior condition when hearts and minds are frustrated and discontent.
Notice what Paul says doesn’t come naturally; it is learned. The normal natural state of humanity is discontent and quiet desperation. It takes a powerful, spiritual presence to transform anxiety into joyous satisfaction. Ironically, it may be the shackles more than his freedom that schools Paul in the art of contentment. Despite the chains, Paul discovers this beautiful state of inner peace through the power of Jesus residing in Him.”

Joy, being one of the fruits of the Spirit, is a gift given to us from the Holy Spirit. Hard as we try to seek external means of joy, true contentment can only be found in Christ. By believing in Him and accepting him into your heart.

Until next time,
-Sarah

Inside Out: Joy!

If you’ve never seen Inside Out (or even if you have), Give this video a watch! It will give you a VERY brief intro to Joy, without any spoilers.

As you may have realized, having just gotten back from Florida, I’ve still got Disney on the brain. While on the trip I waited in a line for 35 minutes to meet Joy and Sadness from the movie Inside Out. They were adorable. Sadness ran and hid behind the cast members, Joy hugged me about three times. It was just an overall cute experience.

When I saw the preview for the movie Inside Out, I was angry. They had stolen my idea! Well not technically, but growing up I always told my brother there were little people who lived inside your head and they watched your life like it was a movie. So Inside Out seemed like a childhood tale coming true.

The movie itself is a heart-warming tale, but I’m going to focus on Joy. Joy isn’t actually my favorite character. In fact, I think Joy is kind of annoying, she’s just SO HAPPY ALL THE TIME. Which in retrospect just means she stays in character. The thing about Joy is, she’s the emotion in charge. She’s been there the longest, she runs the show. Which is awesome! It means that Riley (the girl in whose head Joy lives) is a generally happy and joyful human.

It’s interesting to me, these personifications of emotions. Joy is yellow, a color usually relating to happiness and sunshine. She his big bright eyes, and a wide happy smile. But you wouldn’t be able to say something like “Joy is annoying” if referring to the emotion you feel.

The emotion itself is most directly related to happiness. A single google image search brings up so many pictures of bright colors and people literally jumping for joy. The cool part is, even when we think all hope is lost there is the everlasting promise of joy returning.

Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” It is always possible for us to find joy again, even in the darkest of times the sun will shine another day.

Until next time,
Sarah

Someday My Prince Will Come

I was inspired and also slightly distracted upon the realization that when this post goes up I’ll be in Disney World. So naturally, (after my mom suggested it) this post took a fairy-tale sort of direction.

As a little girl, I was never really ‘into’ all the princesses. In fact, my favorite Disney movie was The Aristocats. Mulan was my favorite princess movie and she wasn’t even technically a princess! However, I still fell in love with the idea of Prince Charming. This perfect man that would come riding through the streets of Suburbia on a white horse and sweep me off my feet. I mean, the name Sarah even means Princess. I had things going for me!

But alas, no knights in shining armor have trot up my driveway (which would be pretty impressive since it sits at a 25 to 30-degree angle), and the idea of Prince Charming shifted over the years. I vividly remember hanging out in my friend’s backyard in middle school talking about how amazing it would be if Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu pulled up in a bright red convertible and whisked us away with them to L.A. Needless to say, that never happened either.

Now I’m twenty-three, I’ve yet to meet my Prince Charming, but I still get giddy every time Flynn Ryder takes Rapunzel to see the lanterns. That scene, along with every other Romantic Comedy out there builds up this view of the perfect man. Tall, dark, and handsome. Blonde, blue-eyed, and fresh out of the gym. Good looking guy in a suit that shows up at your door with roses and a bottle of wine. Hot Doctor. Foreign, rich, and oh wait, he’s actually a prince in his home country? Okay, you get the idea.

Now, I’m not writing this post to bash romance and fairy-tales. I love that stuff. Sure, sometimes I watch them and shed a tiny tear at the realization that in most cases that isn’t quite how ‘love’ works. But I do know that when I think of the “Perfect Man” there is one love story that comes to mind.

It’s the story that can be summed up in one simple verse:

“For God so loved the World, that He gave His only Son. That whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Jesus was the perfect Man, and he fits the bill. He healed the sick, brought wine to the wedding, and he was called the Prince of Peace. On top of all that, he died for you. He died for everyone, to forgive us all from our sin so that we can live forever with Him. I’m positive Flynn Ryder couldn’t even do that if he tried.

The best part of this love story? Jesus was 100% real. His love for us isn’t summed up in a fairy-tale. It exists in a best-selling book of history and mystery written just for you, and He will love you unconditionally. Even if you don’t have miles of golden hair that glows when you sing.

Until next time,
Sarah

“I Believe in a Thing Called Love”

Over the past week, I took to Social Media and asked “What are your favorite love songs or songs about love?” and I got a lot of answers! 80+ to be more specific.

Just looking at this list made me realize something about love. Each of these songs was different. Sure a couple of people suggested the same song, and there were several songs by the same artists. But I realized that everyone’s perception of love is different.

Purposefully when asking this question, I left it vague so that I could see the perception of the word “love” that people thought of, and while “love” was an underlying theme of these songs, it was described beautifully in so many different ways. The love between spouses, family members, significant others, exes, crushes, and even strangers who’ve never met until that long lingering moment in a coffee shop where they fall in love at first sight. (Okay, so maybe I added that Landon Pigg song to the list myself, but it’s beautiful and I’m not sorry about it.)

These songs each mean something different to their respective listeners. Eliciting memories for example. I’m sure the artists had an intended way they hoped people would feel while enjoying their music. But I’m sure Adele, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Ray LaMontagne, and Sleeping with Sirens, for example, don’t necessarily cater to the same listening audiences.

These thoughts about perception are really what brought me to the message of this post. If each individual person who suggested a song, views love in that way. Wouldn’t that be similar to the way in which we view God’s love? I don’t mean literally (though it works in a lot of cases). If we have a personal relationship with God, then much like our relationships with other people, we have our own perception of this love. It is, however, a lot simpler. We know for a fact that the love we receive from God is everlasting and unconditional. That never changes. The love we give him in return should equal that. But alas, we sin, we do wrong, and perfection even in love is impossible.

His request is simple. Love Him by following his teachings. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-39

Until next time,
-Sarah

The “Love List” is on Spotify!
Listen to it here:  https://open.spotify.com/user/123294909/playlist/3eixdnzzIlofUrmqwBTLv8

Welcome!

Hello there! Welcome to Mission: Millennials. These first two posts are going to be more on the introductory side as I share a little about myself, and about what our purpose here is and Christi’s post next week will be similar as she introduces herself and our first theme.

So let’s get started!

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m a carboholic. No, I’m kidding (sort of). A little bit about me. I’m twenty-three years old and I live in New York (no not the city). I graduated from Houghton College last May with a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation. I grew up attending an LCMS church and day school. A random fact about me is that in 2016 I saw a license plate from every state except for Hawaii (lots of road trips). Thrilling, I know. I’m sure there’s more to know, but hopefully, you’ll learn more about me as you read my posts.

When I originally went to Christi with this idea, it was in a selfish way. I had spent a lot of time last summer writing chapels, and bible studies for teens. I was in the Word daily. I found it harder to keep that up when I was back home. I needed to have something hold me accountable. So I came up with the idea for this blog. Mission: Millennials.

Our goal here is to devote some time every week to write a devotional type post that pertains to whatever our monthly theme is. Christi is going to talk a little more about themes next week so I won’t go into too much detail about that. We want to reach out to our fellow millennials. I’ve got to be honest, sometimes I hate being lumped in with that title, but we’re hoping this will bring to it some positivity. We will be posting every Thursday, and on the third Tuesday of each month, we are going to reach out to one of our fellow millennials and have them share with you.

We hope that this blog will touch your heart, make you think, and bring you closer to Christ as we share our hearts, minds, and faith with you.

Until next time,
Sarah

Check out our ABOUT page for more information!