My Adventure

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As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was going to happen. -Winnie the Pooh

Sabrina’s Bucket List

  1. Raft the Colorado River
  2. Hike the PCT with my brother
  3. Refurbish an old VW bus and travel the U.S. (picking up odd jobs, writing, and discovering ways to love people along the way)
  4. Visit all of the National Parks
  5. Backpack through Europe
  6. Tour Israel
  7. Attend language school in Costa Rica to sharpen my Spanish and return to Honduras (perhaps permanently) to serve the people I love so dearly
  8. Paint a mural on the side of a building
  9. Write a book about my family, the people we met, and the lessons God taught us about faith, loving others, and trusting Him while owning the Mustard See Cafe
  10. Complete my Masters in Biblical Counseling

Believe it or not, this was my actual “bucket list” just a short 6 years ago. My how things have changed! While a few of the items on this list are things I may still do someday, I’ve come to accept that the majority of them I may never experience. This bucket list is a reflection of a young 23 year old woman in search of a great adventure! At the time, I just wanted to finish the undergrad studies I had started years before, and was transferring into Multnomah University. I was living in Portland and was working as a waitress in order to pay for school. At the time, I thought of MU as no more than a “stepping stone” on my way to the next great adventure. Little did I know, the adventure God was inviting me on right there in Portland. My sights were on life after graduation. The future was a mystery and I had no idea where God might be leading me next. But God had something else in mind. He was calling me to “be present” with Him. He wanted to use my “present” to do a beautiful refining work in my heart.

Recently, I’ve been seeing things pop up on social media of friends who are off on various adventures. I’ve also had several conversations with friends who are just about to embark on their grand adventures. Couples studying overseas, friends completing their doctorates, singles and young couples venturing off onto the mission field, wives/mamas touring other countries with their young families, friends traveling to beautiful places all around the world, young mamas backpacking through breathtaking terrain with their littles in tow, creative friends making music, art and writing books….the list could go on, and on. Oftentimes, it is tempting for me to compare my “mundane” to their “magnificent.” In these times, I tend to forget what a beautiful and unique journey God has called me on. Isn’t that the way it always works? When we give into the temptation to compare our lives with those around us we tend to forget the precious gifts God has given us? I have been convicted lately that all too often I fail to thank God for the calling He has placed on my life as a wife and mother. As I’ve been reflecting on this, I’ve come to realize that my adventure isn’t something I need to be waiting for. My adventure is the journey I’m on right here, right now! My adventure is Mr.E and the gift of marriage God has given us. My adventure is Gracelyn Joy and the humbling call God has given me to raise her into womanhood. My adventure is the rich community of family and friends God has given us to learn from, grow and share life with. My adventure is loving our neighbors and the local community God has sovereignly placed us in in this beautiful place we call “home.” My adventure is a call to pray for my Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world. My adventure is to encourage and support those who are venturing out to serve God overseas. My adventure is to love, serve and reach out to those who may not know Jesus yet. My adventure is to walk with Christ daily.

The future continues to be a mystery and I have no idea where God might be leading our family next. But I know God is calling me to “be present” with Him. He still desires to use my “present” to do a beautiful refining work in my heart. This is the grand adventure, friends!

Enjoy the ride!

Mrs. E

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

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Boundaries

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The last time I posted, Mr. E and I were right in the middle of our pregnancy. In fact, we were still referring to our precious bundle as, “Baby E.” Since then, a lot has changed for our little family. Mainly, welcoming our daughter, Miss Gracelyn Joy to our family. Now that we’ve officially journeyed through our first year as parents and have made it out alive, I think it’s  safe to say, “this parenting gig is tough stuff!” For me, motherhood has proven to be one of the most challenging, joy-filled and purposeful roles I’ve ever been called to.

Year one with our little “Gracie girl” has been a testament of God’s faithfulness to us. While we’re grateful for this past year, it has not been without it’s ups and downs. With it, we have seen just how much we are prone towards selfishness and sin. We’re continually being reminded of our need for God and His grace in our lives. No doubt, year two will contain much of the same. But we would not have it any other way!

Presently, our precious little lady is entering  toddlerhood. As many of you know, this stage isn’t without it’s challenges, but it’s also super fun! Not only is our bond with our daughter growing with each passing day, we also get a front row seat as she discovers the world around her. She’s constantly learning new things (words, skills, etc.)  and is soaking everything up like a sponge! During this phase of curiosity and great discovery, I’ve been cautioned that it is oftentimes tempting for parents to become fearful of crushing a child’s spirit if they are firm and consistent about rules. However, I’m learning that Gracie cannot experience true freedom until the boundaries are clearly established. When we’re clear about her boundaries and she knows where her limits lie, it is so much easier for her to relinquish ‘testing her limits’ and return to playing. That being said, this does not mean that she always appreciates and/or understands the boundaries we set for her. She is still learning to trust us. Gracie doesn’t always know and/or believe that we have her best in mind. When she doubts our good intentions and/or her desire for a “fun, new experience” trumps her desire to obey she oftentimes rebels against our authority as her parents. Her rebellion typically results in her throwing a temper tantrum, and/or her experiencing the natural consequences of her choices (a bump on the head from falling off something she’s been told not to climb on, literally eating a fistful of yucky dirt after she’s been told not to put it in her mouth, etc.).

You and I are not all that different from a toddler testing his/her boundaries. As I mentioned, this first year of parenting has been a real joy…but certainly no “walk in the park.” When we’re faced with life’s inevitable difficulties, it’s encouraging to be reminded that God desires to use ALL of our life…including those difficult circumstances you may not have chosen…for our good (Romans 8:28-29). He desires to use those difficult circumstances to make us more like Himself. We do well to be reminded that He is over ALL of our circumstances.

The apostle Paul faced many difficulties: physical illness, beatings, imprisonments, stonings, hunger, and more (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But whatever the circumstance, Paul lived to know Christ and to make Him known. God didn’t allow these circumstances in order to frustrate Paul’s desire to experience Christ more fully, or to stifle the progress of the gospel. Instead, God intended them to form boundaries for Paul’s life. Rather than pushing back against these boundaries he accepted them and worked within them– praising and thanking God all along the way!

Like Paul, God has set boundaries around our lives too. For those of you who are parents, our children form part of the boundaries. For others, it may be something else (a relationship, a lack of relationship, a position, a lack of a position, health, a lack of health, wealth, a lack of wealth, etc.) that forms the boundaries. But remember, God brings the circumstances to better define your life, not to restrict it.

Oftentimes my temptation is to believe that I have been created to BE Jesus to those around me (including my family/child). However, that could not be further from the truth! Our design as Christ-followers is to display our NEED for Jesus to those around us. This is an essential reality I frequently forget. Whether as a mother, or as people in general, we all will be faced with difficult circumstances. But with God’s help, we can face them head on with joy and thanksgiving knowing that we were created to NEED Jesus, and that these difficult circumstances are gifts to remind us of our need for and dependence on Him. We have the opportunity to allow the environment in which God has placed us in to become a positive factor in our growth (and our children’s growth as well).

Be encouraged, the specific limitations or challenges you may be facing can become stepping stones to new depths with God. You may be in the “thick of” a particular set of challenges today, but know that God desires to be your comfort, strength, encouragement, and wisdom. Remember, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11). God promises to lead us, though the way that He leads you may be entirely different   from how He leads me. What is universal is His heart for us. As we choose to be women (and men) of prayer, read God’s Word, seek counsel, wait on God’s peace in our hearts and trust Him by acting in faith, we will begin to truly know and experience His heart. Let us ponder the greatness of the God we serve and know assuredly that He is a good God, who  sets good boundaries, and has our absolute best in mind.

Grace & Peace,

Mrs. E

Throwing Up and Being Stretched: Lessons in Surrender and Perseverance

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The second trimester of pregnancy has the reputation of being the most enjoyable for many women. Thankfully, the nausea and throwing up has subsided for me. However, as Mr. E and I waved farewell to those two pregnancy symptoms around week fifteen, we’ve been greeted with a few new ones…namely, congestion, sinus headaches and growing pains. Thankfully, I’ve been sleeping a little better, but last night around 3:30 a.m. I woke up with some painful cramping; nothing alarming just my uterus and stomach muscles stretching to make room for Baby E’s growth spurt this week.

It’s beautiful and exciting to see evidence of Baby E’s precious life in the form of a little baby bump. But I cannot say it’s all together enjoyable! Like most growth that takes place in our lives, it’s uncomfortable and even painful at times. In fact, I was on the brink of tears this morning when I first arrived to work in the office.

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Speaking of working in the office, that has proven to be another opportunity for growth this past week. While I’m extremely thankful to still be able to work and serve our team and student community, I’ve struggled adjusting to my new role. Stepping into this new position, I anticipated that it may be a challenge for me because I knew just how much I enjoyed the opportunity God’s given me to work with and serve young women the past few years. I also knew that I’d be learning, developing and exercising administrative skills that don’t come as naturally for me. While I like to think of myself as an organized, professional and responsible person who is willing to learn, I’m not exactly the most “tech-savvy” person. Those who know me well can attest to this!

One of the things that originally brought me comfort in the transition from Dean of Women to working in the office was the fact that I’d have more opportunities to connect with our co-workers. However, last week proved to be a busy one for most of my co-workers (including Mr. E) and much of the hustle and bustle took place outside the office or after I got off work in the afternoon. To be honest, I felt a little isolated both at work and at home. So much so, the highlight of my day was whenever the phone to rang or the FedEx/UPS came to our door. At home I found myself being tempted to wallow, but thankfully choosing to spend some extra time with Jesus (and maybe watching a little too much “Call the Midwife”). Believe it or not, I don’t consider myself to be an extreme extrovert. In fact I regularly enjoy spending some time by myself. However, I am quickly being reminded of just how highly relational God has made me. Tasks are a definite priority for me, but so are people.

In response to this, my goal this week is to find new ways of relating with and loving on those God’s placed around me. During this season in my life that may look like spending quality time with others (which I absolutely love), but it may also mean quietly praying for others and sharing words of affirmation with those I love through cards and things of that nature. For Mr. E and I it may mean finding new ways to love and support him by choosing to be understanding, patient, helpful and affirming. I’m also learning to cherish the quality time we do have together before going to bed each night and on “date day.” With God’s help, I’m learning to be flexible and adapt.

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So far, both our pregnancy and life’s recent changes have served the same purpose, namely, to unite me to Christ and the Cross. I’m daily being reminded of just how much I need Christ and the salvation that He brings. He’s in the process of making me more like Himself. This process of change brings with it opportunities to throw up my hands in surrender and trust as I’m being stretched outside my comfort zone.

This isn’t the first time God has lead me down a path that is challenging and uncomfortable. However, I’m thankful for each and every time He has invited me on these difficult journeys because it’s during the difficult and uncomfortable seasons in my life that I’ve witnessed the unmistakable miracle of how perseverance yields fruit when I choose to be trained by it. I have seen the harvest that times of patience has brought, and with sincerity of heart I can testify that it is good–very good!

Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is

created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort

is needed to develop good character.

HERACLITUS

Presently, this reminds me to not give up too quickly. To be careful not to give into the self-pity, anxiety and apathy that often tempts me to abandon the path God has me on in order to venture my own way. I’m reminded how important it is to not quit too soon, lest I leave before the harvest comes in. The harvest I’m speaking of  illustrates the God-given potential that  each one of us holds when we plant seeds of discipline, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control–seeds that will blossom in our garden one day, a breath-taking garden that draws others to Christ.

Practically, God is calling me to discipline myself to spend time with Him each day. He’s calling me to love others even when it’s inconvenient and I want to be selfish. He’s calling me to choose joy even when I don’t feel like it. He’s calling me to invite Him to be my peace and to help me patiently persevere. He’s calling me to allow His goodness, faithfulness and gentleness to impact my heart in such a way that I begin to reflect these same characteristics in my own life. And finally, He’s calling me to exercise self-control when I’m often tempted to abandon the path He has me on in order to venture my own way.

In the midst of both my physical and emotional discomfort, God is reminding me there is no such thing as hopeless when our eyes are fixed on Him. God transforms the impossible into the possible. He offers the unpromising a promise. He gives strength to the weak. He encourages the discouraged. And He comforts the lonely heart in a way no one and nothing else can!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

JAMES 1:2-4

While my circumstances may seem petty compared to some, my prayer is that what God is teaching me through them will bring encouragement to you no matter what you may be facing. You may be facing a storm or trial that’s bigger than what I’m presently walking through, but I want to remind you that God’s promises and truth remain the same! Be encouraged knowing that the same comfort and truth God’s offering me through His promises are more than enough for whatever you are presently facing or may encounter in the future.

Love,

Mrs. E