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A GOOD TEACHER?

Posted on February 23, 2016 by Sarah Stevens | 1 Comment

I have a friend, in another state, who has a 2nd grade cute little dude.  She has shared with me the issues they are having with his teacher.  I am so troubled by it so I thought I could write about it.  Writing always helps me sort through a problem...and usually by the end the answer is much clearer than before.  I would love it if you would join me in this and let me know what you think should be done in this situation. 

So, this little boy has a male teacher that is new to teaching.  It sounds like he had a career for 10 years or so in sales but is now teaching because the state they live in allows anyone with a degree {in anything, not just Elementary Education} teach grades 6 and under.  This man has been upsetting the proverbial apple cart in their school.  How has he done this?  Let me give you a few examples that my friend has shared....

This teacher says the most inappropriate things to these 6/7 year olds.  He has called one girl in the class fat.  He has told one little boy that he shouldn't be in school because his parents are "Mexicans".  He has told the students, when they don't understand a math concept, that they are idiots.

This teacher slams the reputation of fellow teachers.  He has told them the art teacher is flighty and got her job only because she is pretty.  He has told the kids the principal shouldn't have her job and made comments about her looks in a negative way she.  He has told the students that he is the best teacher they will ever have because all the other teachers in their district are not qualified! 

This teacher has refused to accept a new student in his class because this student is a foster child and comes from a pretty rough situation of poverty and he feels another teacher should have to deal with this challenge.  

This teacher has told my friend's little boy, whose father is in the Army, that his dad is fighting for something that is wrong.

This teacher has used terribly inappropriate and foul language almost daily in the classroom.  My friend's son comes home often wondering what a word he heard means.... and my friend is horrified. 

This teacher handled a bullying situation in a way that left my jaw on the ground. There were 2 boys fighting at recess and when they were brought in to his classroom he closed the door and told them they should just fight {physically} it out till one wins.  

When the parents have gone to the PTO and principal with these stories, asking for this teacher to be fired, they have been met with a crazy thing.  The other parents want him to stay.  They feel like he isn't coddling these children like other teachers do.  They feel like he is being real with the kids.  They feel like he is a refreshing change from the other teachers who make all their decision in the class room dependent on getting good scores on state tests! The parents of the students in his class are at a loss for words and are hate that this man is who their children spend most of their day with.  They are scared of the effect he will have on them.  And they are helpless.

Are you as flabbergasted as I am?  Is your blood pressure up like mine?  Is your jaw on the floor and can not believe that, in this day, there is a teacher like this allowed in a classroom?

 

Well, let me admit to something now. This was a fictional story.  Please forgive the deception but I wanted to get you thinking about something in a different way.  This isn't a story about a friend's son's teacher.  But it is a story about someone who is teaching our children many things now and potentially for many years to come. This is a story about Donald Trump.  

I am so utterly confused why the majority of people in the last 2 primaries feel like Donald Trump is the right man to hold the highest office in the United States. If he were teaching in their schools and behaving in the way he has this campaign they would stand up and demand he be removed from the classroom. There would be a story done about him on the news and it would go viral and cause incredible outrage.  People all over Facebook and Twitter would be posting and tweeting their horror and disbelief.

I am a registered Independent voter.  I have voted for presidents that were both Democrats and Republicans.  I land on the conservative side of some issues and the liberal side of others.  So, I always look at and seriously consider ALL candidates.  I will admit to you that this election has brought a situation I have never had before.  I honestly don't love ANY of the candidates this year.  On either side. I find this sad and am disheartened about the state of government in our country.  Gone are the days of politicians who may...might be willing to...could possibly...would be open to WORK WITH EACH OTHER AND FIND A COMMON GROUND COMPROMISE on issues.  Gone are the days that civility was practiced. I don't trust most of these candidates.  I would not feel comfortable and good about checking the box next to any of their names if I had to vote today.  Some of them have moments when I think they could get my vote but then I am plagued with doubts.  Those doubts make it hard to know who to vote for with any clarity.  BUT, I can tell you what I am very clear on.  I can tell you what I have 100% certainty of.  That is that IF Donald Trump is the Republican nominee I will never vote for him.  I would certainly not vote for him ONLY because he is the Republican nominee.  And if he were the Democratic nominee I would not vote for him either.  I will vote for whoever he is running against.  I feel the damage he can do as President is greater than all of the other candidates.

I am scared to death of what this man will teach our children, what decisions he will make for America, and how he will represent the United States of America with other leaders in the world.  I am frightened of how much more hateful the people in our country will feel like they have a right to be when they have President to leads by inciting hatred instead of peace and unity.

I am saddened to think that many Americans feel like someone who "tells it like is", no matter how rudely, inappropriately and reprehensibly, is a person they want to put into the Oval Office.  He is not a good teacher.  We would never allow this kind of person to teach our children.  So why, in the Sam Hill, would any one want him to rule our land?!

You know how many politicians end speeches by saying "...and may God bless America."?  Sometimes I question the genuineness of that statement.  I can tell you that I am absolutely being genuine when I say this....

....and may God BE WITH America.  Because I think we need Him. 

 

May we recognize the qualities we do and don't want
for our children to emulate.

May we choose leaders that can make wise, thoughtful decisions instead of impetuous, impulsive ones.

May we carefully consider who we want to be in charge of our country on both domestic and foreign fronts.

May we search our hearts AND minds and
make wise decisions at the polls. 

May we, one day in the near future, be able to trust the men and women who represent US in Washington.

Fallen Stones

Posted on February 10, 2016 by Sarah Stevens | 1 Comment

Last August, on my birthday, my sister, stepsister and I went to check out something I had been wanting to see in person for far too long.  It was the remains of an old stone farmhouse sitting up on a hill.  They were willing to scale barbed wire fences with me to get a closer look.  I love them for being risky with me!  This fragmented leftover farmhouse took my breath away!  It was stunning!! There were only portions of a few sand-colored stone outer walls left.  The rest, hundreds of stones, had crumbled and fallen to the ground.  I kept closing my eyes and imagining what it looked like when it was newly built.  It had to have been one of the proudest moments of a farmer's life the day that it was completed.  And then to see it now...

 

 

It is fragile when it used to be stable.
It is fractured when it used to be well balanced.
It is run down when it used to be secure. 

I felt connected to this farmhouse.  It seemed to speak to me at my core...my spirit. This farmhouse and I, we are similar right now.   

I used to be stable, but now am fragile.
I used to be well balanced, but now am fractured.
I used to be secure, but now am run down.


I picture in my mind's eye what the time it took for the farmer to built this home looked like. The rough sketch that was the building plans of his dream home probably were studied every night by candlelight.  The aches his muscles must have felt from lifting hundreds of heavy stone daily.  The perseverance it took as stones he placed carefully would fall time and time again. The frustration he had to have felt when storms blew through for days delaying progress.  The people in his community that helped him with their time, muscle, cheers and possibly prayers.  The pride, relief, and joy he must have felt when he stood back and gazed at his accomplishment.  

He put time, effort and strength into building this house. If he could see it now.... I am betting he would be saddened...at first.  But then, after the frustration and grief had its chance to dwell in him, he would start picking up those fallen stones and be resolved to restore his home.  

Why is it that almost every human I know struggles with loving themselves well? Whether it their job, their home, their body, their intellect, their...everything. Each person needs to sit in the grief that is the product of a struggle.  Just sit in it.  For awhile.  But then, when they are ready, they need to dig deep and do the hard work of rebuilding!  

I am learning to love myself better in this seemingly unending season of struggle. I am acknowledging that pain might be a reality for me for years to come.  I am realizing that the strength I need for this is in knowing who I am at the core of my spirit.  I am discovering that my foundational outer walls are made of strong, yet fallible stone.  I have recognized that in the middle of the shaky crumbling wall is a simple window. 

The window allows the light to enter.  The window exposes the view of things close by but also in the distance. I have looked into the window of a farmer's prized possession and seen the good strong resilience of his home.  I have seen the possibilities in the rubble.  I have seen the beauty in the broken.  Now I just need to look into my own window with that same perspective.

 

 

 

So..... On the day I celebrated my birth, the structural building plans for my own restoration & acceptance were rediscovered.  They were under the fallen stones right outside the window. Now it is time to get to work.  It is time to pick up those stones and start to rebuild.

It's a good thing I love me a gooooood restoration project!  

 

May you never look at a broken down house the same.
May you respect the love, effort and devotion it took to create you.
May you be humbled by the love of your Creator. 
May you lift the heavy stones needed to accomplish your goal
May those stones not fall again for many years to come.
May you {and me!} be restored to the JOY of our foundation...or salvation. 

 

 

Restore the joy

Posted on January 07, 2016 by Sarah Stevens | 6 Comments

A few weeks ago someone said to me "How have you stayed so positive throughout this year when it has been so hard?".  I have no idea what actually came out of my mouth but I do know this.  It was bullshit.  Oh, FOR THE LOVE, don't have a cow because I said bullshit!  As the old lady Gladys on the Ellen Show would say, I love Jesus but I do swear a little. ;)  This has been one very hard year for me. It has almost broken my spirit and found me wondering where Sarah had gone.

It got me thinking. I don't see this person very often so her assumption was based on what I "put out there" on Facebook.  Yes, I normally post positive stuff because...well...because I AM POSITIVE.  Normally.  This year the outside world saw me being creative with my business that I love, cheering on the teams that I am crazy about, and having special times with high school students, family & friends {highlighted by the most extraordinarily special wedding weekend for our son and new daughter!}  And while all of those things were true and authentic it was not the WHOLE story.  I have started to think that only sharing those moments may not have been the best choice.

Everyone knows that social media can be a place where most people showcase only all the awesome, amazing parts of their lives.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think the majority of people are just sharing things that they are happy about or proud of in a non-braggidocious way.  But who are we kidding!?!  None of us seem to be willing to share the crap that is making us feel bad. We tell ourselves that no one wants to hear it {probably because we snub our own noses when we read a super passive aggressive post} and decide not to type up a honest-yet-bummer kind of a post.  So we put on the mask and become part of the culture of semi-authentic living...even if we are struggling.  

The trouble with that is then everyone who is struggling feels like they are alone in their hardship.  Moms feel like no one else loses it every once in awhile and screams at their kids.  Teens feel like unless they have that special summer hands-shaped-like-hearts-in-a-sunset moment with friends they are not cool. The girl who struggles with body image sees that everyone else looks skinny and fit in the pictures all her peers are posting.  Do you know what I am talking about?  Of course you do. 

I have learned many valuable lessons in 2015.  Not all of them have been fun. So, instead of keeping much of the stuff that provided these lessons to myself under a mask, like I normally do, I am going to be brave and share. {Oh boy, brave is hard. Well maybe I won't share.  Maybe I can just tell one friend who doesn't know.... Maybe I can blog about growing and learning in my craft... Or about the crazy, ludicrous idea of a president with the name of Trump. ;)  Maybe it could be just super surfacey...... But... then.... will I feel good?  Will I move on?  Will anyone benefit from my real answer to that question asked of me? Will I be only perpetuating the fake world of social media?  This is the discussion going on in my head....so you can see where this brave thing is a slippery steep slope.  Ok, moving on folks...} As I was saying, I am going to be brave and share.  I will open up so that I can hopefully be a part of a cultural shift to be MORE REAL.  Here goes....

31 weeks ago I wrote in the middle of the night {like right now} Lazy Boy Lamenting and haven't written since.  I ended it with these wishes for myself. 

May I heal and be free from pain.
May I be strong enough to be ok with not being strong.
May I never give the impression that everything is always so great with me.
May I hold on to hope.

Not a single one of them has happened. Nada. Well...maybe just one....but barely.

May I heal and be free from pain...
I was in pain when I wrote this but didn't know why I was at the 8 week post op point and not feeling relief.  Now I know.  I have nerve damage.  The remaining 1/2 kidney was damaged during the surgery.  I have been through several nerve pain medicines.  Each one has needed to have been stopped due to unacceptable side effects or allergic reactions.  I have been in pain most days since surgery on April 7.  I am not healed.  I am STILL sleeping in the stinkin' lazy boy. So...I am not free from pain.  I have never had chronic pain before and I can share with you this.  It is life-changing for the one in pain and those who love him/her. 

May I be strong enough to be ok with not being strong...
Nope.  This didn't happen either!  I am still trying to be strong for everyone.  I continue to use my tough-as-nails Irish genes to smile through the pain only to sit in a bathroom or my car and cry when no one can hear.  I still drive leaning forward clutching the wheel like a 80 year old.  Here is the deal folks...I am strong.  I AM.  I am not sure I can promise that I will ever change this trait that I have.  And to be honest, I am not sure I want to.  I am damn proud of my strength, pain tolerance, and determination.  Yep.  I am not sorry about this!  At all.  Strength is valuable.

May I never give the impression that everything is always so great with me..
Once again.  Failed.  I have kept that mask on.  I actually have had to find a new mask.  It is made of much stronger materials to be able to endure any rough stuff thrown at me.  It is larger so as to cover more than just my face. It has a easy grip handle so I don't let it slip when my hands weaken from white-knuckling it. It is heavy.  But.... Why a new mask you ask?  {Deep breath...be brave.} It is to hide depression. Yep, that is right, depression.  In late June I found myself, in a doctor's office, being diagnosed with substance-induced depression.  This was a first for me.  I was already feeling in a bit of a funk, as you could tell by the Lazy Boy post, but then the first nerve pain medicine they prescribed sent me deep into a place I haven't ever encountered. 

I have heard about this place.
I have empathized with people who know this place.
I have loved and prayed for people I know who live in this place.
But I had no idea what this place was really like.
Until now.

I felt like I was a big beautiful healthy tree that was standing in a lush green field basking in the sun under a bright blue sky with voluminous white clouds overhead.  And suddenly, without warning, all the leaves started to fall and a thick, dark gray fog rolled in.  It felt murky, weighty, exhausting, frustrating and burdensome. I couldn't seem to move, emotionally and sometimes physically. I was paralyzed by the fog, not being able to view my life in the way that I always had seen so clearly. This was new territory for me...and for a gal who embraces new places this was scary.  This was a new view of life for me...and for a gal who lives and loves rich beautiful color this was GRAY.  Deep, thick, cold gray.

And yet, I found a way to pick up the mask {thanks to the easy grip handle} and exist.  Not live.  Just exist.  I know the difference now. 

Have you seen the wonderful animated movie that came out this summer called Inside Out? It is the sweetest movie and I adore it. It was fun to watch with my kids but it also has been educational for me.  I am a visual learner.  I can read oodles of articles on depression and listen to all the doc's advice that is possible, but I didn't really understand what was going on inside of me until I watched the movie.
***spoiler alert...I talk about the end of the movie below***

It is about a little girl, Riley, whose emotions are depicted by fun characters that hang out in the "headquarters" of her psyche/brain and help her go through her day. Joy is the leader of the bunch that includes Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear.  Riley has had a pretty sweet life until her family unexpectedly moves to a new state.  Sadness starts to touch her core memories that were happy which causes trouble with the crew of characters.  Joy and Sadness get into a bit of a tussle and end up being sucked up into a tube that lands them far away from headquarters.  Without Joy running the show for Riley's emotions the world gets gray and sad for the girl.  Joy spends most of the movie trying to get herself back to headquarters because she believes SHE is what Riley needs.  And she is right...sort of.  She learns that sometimes life's core memories and lessons are a combination of sadness and joy.  She discovers that sometimes joy in life can be born of sadness.  A new level of joy can be found when you have gone through the dark fog and come out on the other side to a sunshine joy-filled day. 

I, like Riley, am in the process of RESTORING joy in my life.  I understand that I have to walk through this tough time to get there.  I may not like it right now {actually I hate it!} but I recognize that it isn't going to change and something better is on the other side. And when that happens I know the new joy will be sweeter than the years of happy contented living I experienced before 2015.  It will be a fresh, enlightened joy.

But until then.............it is hard.  And I know others share this feeling and are embarrassed, fearful and hesitant to open up about it...like I have been.  But I am changing my attitude, daring to be authentic out of honesty and responsibility... and I hope others do as well.

I am not ashamed of having depression.  Nor should anyone be.
I am not being melodramatic.  Nor is that true of others.  
I have a condition that not completely controlable.  Nor for anyone else.
I am one of millions.  It is hard...for all of us.  All of us...trying to hold on.
But hold on to what?   

May I hold on to hope...
Well this is the one that might not have been lost all together.... THANKFULLY! Hope has hung in there with me even though there have been days when I couldn't see it through the thick fog.  It was out of sight.  But....I had faith it was still there. I had faith the fog would lift and the hope would lead me out. I had faith that when it did, joy would be restored.  I still have this faith.  The fog will lift. And when it does, the tree will be full of leaves again, in the lush field and soaking up the sun.

But... Where does this faith come from?  Well, if you know me or have read any of my ramblings it won't shock you to know that, for me, it is God.  There have been plenty of conversations between me and the big guy that have given me peace, focus and calm.  For me prayer is my meditation. It quiets my mind. Without my faith in God I have no idea what this year would have looked like. He is where my hope is found. He is much like Bing Bong in Inside Out. He sacrifices himself so that I can fly to up to the edge of the pit I was pushed into, takes the weight of the fog off of me, strengthens me and restores my joy.  I am grateful that I have faith in the hope He brings.  

I hope you don't think that just because I am a Christian that all was and is ok. It isn't.  But without something to have faith in, to hang my hope hat on, this would have been much worse.  I can only wish that others, who are walking in a fog like me, have a faith in something as well, and it brings them out of the fog into the field of hope.

I know, I know....you are probably saying "Holy moly this is a bummer of a post! Where is the positive, uplifting Sarah?  I want to read her stuff again."  My answer to that is... Me too. :)  Not to worry folks, she is coming back.  I have great doctors, a loving support system and I can happily say that the fog is lifting!  The tree is morphing back into the green, healthy, growing one.  It is a beautiful sight! 
      {This extraordinary artwork was custom created for Cellar Designs' blog by the beautiful, talented Hannah Fricke.  Be on the lookout folks for this gal. Her gifts can not be hidden for long!

So...in the mean time.... lessons for my life {and maybe yours}....

Do not ever underestimate the power of pain,
for it can overtake you if you let it.

Do not put on a mask,
for it can hide reality from people who might recognize it because they share the same story and be comforted by the knowledge that they aren't alone with nothing to be ashamed of.

Do not run from sadness,
for it can help fully heal you in a way you didn't know was possible.

Do not lose hope,
for there is a loving God who provides an endless supply of it!


I have been using a hashtag for the last few months to help me focus on the journey I am in. If you are in the fog try using #restorethejoy also!  Imagine if we could check in on the images attached to that hashtag and not feel alone!


Lastly....there is a song that has been my anthem and at the top of my "Restore The Joy" playlist.  It is "Steady Heart" by Bethel Music's Steffany Gretzinger. Take a moment to watch this video below and be inspired to listen to your steady heart.

 

 

 

 

Lazy Boy Lamenting

Posted on May 30, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 8 Comments

It is 1:41am.  In the morning.  In the stinkin' wee hours of the morning!!

I am awake.  I am in pain.  And I am not happy about it...not one single bit happy. And I am arguing...with myself.  

 

I have had many people tell me, in the last few months, how much they love my positive attitude, my strength, my courage and my ability to look on the bright side of anything.  All these supportive, encouraging comments are appreciated and awesome.  But also humbling and convicting.  What does it convict me to do?  Be more truthful.

The truth is that I am struggling to be positive, strong, brave and look for the good stuff these days.  The truth is that I am wrestling with God.  The truth is that I am tired.  The truth is that I am missing Sarah.  The content Sarah.  The gratitude focused Sarah.  The faithFULL Sarah.

I feel like I have not done anyone, especially myself, any good by giving an image of myself that is always happy.  It is not truthful.  Especially the last few months. So, I thought that since I am up, trying to get comfortable and wanting the pain meds to help I would let you witness my argument. Here is how it is goes:

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY why can't I get comfortable enough to sleep??!!
It is better than it was 8 weeks ago in the hospital.

I want to be back in my own bed and not in a lazy boy chair!!
Thank goodness a dear family loaned me this chair...I can't imagine things without it.

I just want to be able to pick up a sock off the floor without pain!
Lucky me, I have great helpers in the house who do it for me.

Grrrr...I  attempted to go to a concert and after standing for 3 songs the crappy pain was taking my focus away from the cute husband/wife musicians!  3 songs!! What the heck?!
But I am able to go to a concert! Many people would love that opportunity.

I am so flipping tired of driving around town like a little old lady sitting forward, hunched up close to the steering wheel!  All I need is clip on sunglasses 2 sizes bigger than my glasses and a visor and I will be the perfect picture of that old gal!!!  Sitting back against the seat is just so dang painful!!
I am driving.  I have the amazing gift of a vehicle and the freedom to go places. Stop whining!

{With tears streaming down my face while I lay in the lazy boy in the family room that is lit dimly by my computer screen and the tv with HGTV on with a show I have seen 5 times in the past 8 weeks!}  I am so very tired of being in pain!!!  I feel like my body has had pain of some kind or another for over 2 years!!  Tendon repair surgery on one foot that now we know will NEVER be 100% again, a rare different thing on the other foot that stemmed from bearing the weight of my body for 9 months while in a boot/crutches before and after surgery, a gall bladder surgery and now the open partial nephrectomy to remove a tumor that was potentially cancerous.   Can I not get a break?!
{With tears still flowing, but the spirit behind them changes...}  How can I complain?  How can I gripe when there are so many other people who have it worse.  They have had chronic pain for decades.  They have lost a limb.  They are paralyzed.  THEY. HAVE. CANCER.  And...I don't.  It was benign.  C'mon Sarah, find the good in all of this.  Listen to the song that says "my flesh may fail, but my God, he never will".  Listen to it.  Believe it.  Cling to it.  Please

 

You see how this battle is playing out in my mind?  This is daily.  Sometime minute by minute.  The script that is being read in my head.  I am growing weary of it.   

 

It may not be pretty but it is the truth.  Today I was not happy ALL day long. Today I had pain most of the day.  Today was hard.  Today I put on a good face for others {and myself} while I was in pain.  

Normally my blog entries are a reflection of me and what inspires me.  Normally they are positive. Normally they show the spirit of the artist of Cellar Designs. Normally they focus on things like strength, bravery, living in the light of the amazing God I believe in.  Normally they are happy.  Not today. 

But tonight, now at 2:43am and still in pain, I am holding on desparately {by my super short fingernails} to the hope of the return to normal.  I trust normal will come back.  I know normal is possible...again.  This is the truth folks.  Being broken is my normal right now.  

Thank God I believe WITH MY WHOLE HEART that the most beautiful things come from brokenness!! 

 

Also...did you know that at 3 am HGTV stops showing home/garden shows and Jane Seymour is on selling a skin product called Crepe Erase?!?!  What?????  I can't. Who buys this stuff????

 

I usually end the blog with a few things that I hope you discover.  But today I need to hear these for myself.....

May I heal and be free from pain.
May I be strong enough to be ok with not being strong.
May I never give the impression that everything is always so great with me.
May I hold on to hope.

 

One word

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 1 Comment

New Year's Eve to mid-April.  15+ weeks.  107 days.  

A long time.  To think.  To pray.  To wonder what word I would hear.

Malignant or benign.  

A long time to be scared straight.

A long time to think about this blog post.  What would my reaction be to the word spoken? What would I say?  What would I be inspired by?

 

So, the wait is over.  The phone rang late Friday afternoon.  My surgeon's voice was on the other end.  I took a deep breath.  A word was uttered, "Benign".  

I was........without words.

And still am. 

I cried.  I giggled.  I chatted with God.  I shared the news.  And life went on as usual.  Not really though.

I had spent 107 days trusting, being overcome with peace and more.  But I also worried and cried almost every one of those days.  Without anyone knowing.  I needed to be strong.  For others, but mostly for myself.  Was I scared?  HELL YES!  And now I had the best news.  What a relief!  It was over.  Not really though.

What was my big lesson in all of this?  I am supposed to learn something big from these 107 days.  Some amazing inspiration should come from this.  Words of wisdom should flow easily.  Not really though.

I have sat for hours with this blank screen with nothing coming to mind for this blog.  Awesome.  What the heck is wrong with me?  I should have some big insightful stuff to write after this kind of life event.  Not really though.

What do I have?  What can I share?  What did I learn?

I have 1/2 of a kidney left.  I have a large painful incision.  I have barely any clothes that don't hurt to wear.  I have a loving husband who bought me a Grabber and rigged some rope to help me pull the lazy boy lever so it didn't hurt like crazy to reach the handle.  I have a community of people who love me.  I have a healthy prognosis.  I have HOPE.

I can share that waiting is scary.  I can share that you shouldn't try to be strong for others.  I can share that being scared is not something to hide.  I can share that needing people is not a sign of weakness.  I can share my FAITH that got me through it all.

I learned that one word doesn't change who I am.  I learned that I can withstand large amounts of pain.  I learned that I am a lucky gal.  I learned that people who hear the other word are my heroes.  I learned that LOVE trumps everything.  

 

I waited a long time to hear one word.  And honestly, I really think that this post would have been the same no matter which word I heard.  It is hard to find the right words to describe how my heart feels after the past 107 days. But, after thinking about it for all this time...the one word that means the most is not "benign".  It is....

 

GRACE.  For it is by grace that I have been..... strengthened, loved and saved. And that would have been true no matter what word was spoken last Friday.       No matter which one.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Snow

Posted on March 23, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 1 Comment

This time last week it was warm.  I wore sandals.  No jacket was required.  The sun was shining.  People were out walking, running and playing in parks.  The city was coming alive again.  

Today we awoke to snow on the ground!!  An extended commute time was caused by the short term memory issues of drivers.  The jacket came back out and even had to put on gloves.  I am wearing boots.  Oh, for the LOVE!

 

We are in that strange season of the year where we find ourselves being pulled in 2 different directions by Mother Nature.  One day it is warm and the birds are singing.  The next day it is cold and the birds are hiding.  It is like we are stuck in between 2 good things.  And we groan during this frustrating time.  We fight the back and forth swing of nature's pendulum that we all know comes every year. C'mon...we knew this was going to happen y'all!!  

But this year I have found a new perspective.  There is something really beautiful that can happen on these "hold on it is not quite Spring yet" kind of days.  We are forced to take one step back from that full on sprint we had started.  It is like someone very wise stepped in front of us on our path and says "Woah, woah, woah.  Before you hit the ground running into the next season I want you to take a deep breath and look back at the one you are leaving.  Look for the lessons you learned.  Recognize the blessings you were given. Take it all in.  Then, and only then, move forward.".

The snow that fell last night was beautiful.  It stopped many of us, in the midst of the amazing liberating dash toward spring, in our tracks.  How we respond is what is in question. Do we whine and moan?  Do we complain?  Or....... 

 

As I shoveled the driveway I felt a significant shift in my attitude occurring.  I lifted the shovel off the hook on the garage wall with a bit of a groan.  But when I put it away I let out a bit of a refreshed sigh.  Something cool happened as I pushed the light, fluffy snow to the sides of the driveway.  I found myself focusing on the removing of the old season...and preparing for the new season.  

This winter has been hard.  I have had to endure the stress caused by the craziness of not knowing what was ahead.  I have had to deal with the crazy worry brain of a momma that had me anxious at the thought of potentially undergoing chemo while our oldest was getting married this summer.  I have had to wonder...about what was ahead.

This spring is going to be challenging.  I am going to have to face the fear that is bubbling up about a major surgery.  I am going to have to endure pain.  I am going to have to stop moving to give myself time to heal.  I am going to miss the joys of painting in my studio.  I will have to wonder....about when I will feel normal again.

BUT... spring is about HOPE.  We got a glimpse in the last few weeks of what is ahead.  We had beautiful sun-filled warm days.  We all felt renewed.  I have no doubt that after my extended "spring snow" season of surgery and recovery that my days will be bright again!

 

 

This spring snow has done a funny number on me today.

This spring snow was like the Holy Spirit jumped in front of me, in the middle of a long road, and hollered "Woah, woah, woah."

This spring snow made me take a good look at the lessons of patience and trust that I have been taught this winter.

This spring snow forced me to remove the snow....AKA junk...from the driveway of my heart and prepare for what is next.

This spring snow is a gift.  A deep breath. A blessing.
A beautiful covering on my road that can not be ignored. 

 

May you look at the spring snow in a new light.
May you just enjoy the swing of the pendulum.
May you use the halting moment to reflect.
May you learn from the past season and prepare for the one on the horizon. 
.

It is well

Posted on March 08, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 6 Comments

{I wrote this on Thursday, February 26.
I held off publishing it till I knew the answer I was waiting for.
But it was important, for me, to document how I felt before I knew
so that I could return and remind myself.}


****If you would prefer to not hear the song playing while reading
just scroll all the way down and hit pause.
 

 

 

It is 3:37pm.  It is Thursday.  The sun is shining.  A normal day.  

However.....
I am waiting.

For a call. 

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard


Rewind.
Let's go back 2 months.  

The day after Christmas my gall bladder decided to get angry.  I spent a night in the ER and left with marching orders to have it removed that week.  So I did.  When I was recovering I received a certified letter that informed me that the scan that was done while in the ER showed some "items of concern" and I needed further testing.  The words used in the report were not ones that gave great results when googled.  I was sufficiently scared.  What was I facing? 

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me        
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

 

I picked up the phone and dialed my physician's office.  When I told her what I had just read she was stunned, surprised {as she had not even seen the report} and mad that I had been informed this way.  She was calming...and informative...and proactive.  She explained that I needed some other tests.  An ultrasound and MRI would help determine what each of the "items of concern" were.  

My reaction... "Great!  Let's get it done.  I can come in TOMORROW."  

However.....
I had to wait.
 

I had just had surgery and couldn't have the ultrasound and MRI for 6 and 8 weeks respectively.  OH FOR THE LOVE!  

It has been a very, very, VERY long 8 weeks.  The not knowing whether or not what I read, when I googled the words, is correct or not has been so difficult.  It has been hard.  There have been moments of real fear.  I have cried a real ugly cry.  I have been overwhelmed.  

However....
I got what I didn't know I was waiting for.

 
Peace. I have felt like I have been swaddled....tight, like a baby, in a blanket of the most comforting, beautiful peace.

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
 

These 2 months, although very hard, have been filled with happenings that are spirit-filled, life-nurturing and an exercise in letting go.  

~Our church went through a series of the book of Job and we all grew in our knowledge that when life falls apart we can trust God even when we don't know the answer to that burning question, "WHY?".   Goodness gracious... the timing is so stinkin' perfect.

~I was part of a team of women who hosted an IF:Gathering women's conference. We gathered with almost 200 women locally, and 13,000 worldwide to build community and learn from many women authors & speakers.  They spoke about the promises God makes to us, the courage we can have to believe in them, and the strength we all possess to take the step of faith to live our lives a different way as a result. This fed my soul with exactly what I needed.

~I have had a period where my business was a tad less stressful.  I have closed up my Etsy shop and stopped accepting all orders. It was mainly because I needed time to complete all current orders.   

However...
I needed to wait for something new.

 
I desperately needed to focus on me.  It is something I rarely do.  I seldom take more than one day to just be. To breathe. To tune my heart. To stop. Everything.   

During all of this there has been one thing that remained constant.
I have not felt alone.

When I sat on our couch, in the middle of the day, researching....I was not alone.
When I painted in my light-filled studio all by myself...I was not alone.
When I felt scared...I was not alone.
When I thought about the "what if"s... I was not alone. 

I was wrapped in peace.  I have had this strange sense of calm.  I have spent much of my time in a reflective, meditative, prayerful conversation with God.
And my conclusion is...

I trust God.  In everything.

In good times.
In rough times.
In good health.
In illness.
In abundance.
In need.

Am I anxious to see my doctor's number flash on my cell phone's screen?  Yes.

Am I nervous to listen to what the testing has shown?  Yes.

Am I scared? Oh, sweet baby Jesus, YES. But, thankfully, I have learned to be brave.

However.....
I am still waiting for the call with the results and....
It is well. 

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well.


So, tomorrow will come.  But through it all, through it all, my eyes are on God.  

And I am awestruck by what I see. 

 

May you be given the gift of waiting.
May you find what is your blanket of peace.
May you focus on whatever that is, through it all.
May you be well.

 

{Writing now on March 8th.  I got the call.  I have a tumor in my kidney that is potentially cancerous.  I will be having kidney surgery in a few weeks.
Thankfully, I feel the same way today.  It is well.} 

 

This song has been on constant repeat for me in the past 8 weeks. It started off by killin' me...but has become a source of strength.  Warning....you may or may not cry the UGLY cry when you listen. :)

 

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