Saturday, January 16, 2010


Middle school is an unfortunate place to have one's character shaped. I did not know who I was, so I lived lies. I stole things with my friends, because my friends liked to steal. I cussed like a construction worker, because my friends cussed like construction workers. I wore clothing that I didn't like because it was the thing to wear. I didn't like the Florida Panthers, but I wore their Starter jacket. My shirts said "No Fear" while I was drowning in it. I was completely lost. I wasn't Sarah, I was a collage of masks.

The Devil has a hay day with borrowed identity. It's a veritable free-for-all.

I was sitting in the computer lab and we were being brought through a long process; I can't recall what we were creating or learning, but we had to follow exact instructions being voiced by the teacher. I made an error. I lifted my hand for help. The teacher exploded. "What are you? Stupid??? (yelling) This is not hard!!! Listen to what I say! Can you just do that? Can you follow basic instructions?? Or is that too hard for you?!?"

It was a barrage, and I sat frozen in my chair, willing myself not to cry. I wondered why I was so stupid. Why can't I follow simple directions? What's wrong with me? The computer screen blurred with unshed tears. No way can I cry, I thought. No way. Everyone will make fun of me. Boohoo, Sarah, so you got yelled at. What a baby. The teacher's assistant came over to me with a look of deep concern. She touched my shoulder, whispering, "I'm so sorry you had to hear that..." I couldn't let her words in; they'd release the tears and who knows what would come of that. I clipped off, "I'm fine".

"I'm fine".

I'm not fine.

During those years I was off and on suicidal. Wearing masks and borrowing identity is incredibly violent to one's soul. I am more thankful than I can express that Christ wooed me before I'd made a complete wreck of myself. It happened in the woods; I went in a lost and deeply confused teen, and came out transformed from within. I'd invited Christ in my heart, and since that day He's been doing serious work in there.

I'm turning thirty this month. It's been 17 years or so since I sat in that chair, trembling and dying inside. As I was re-reading "Waking the Dead" by John Eldredge in the chapter about deep restoration, I felt the Lord nudging me to remember that day. To shut my eyes and remember that moment, remember the words spoken over me. Tears flowed as I again felt small, stupid. In my mind I could see Christ at my side, telling me in a soft voice, "You are my daughter, I created you and love you. You are not stupid".

I've walked with the Lord for many years, I've taught about Him, wrote about Him, prayed to Him, worshiped Him...but I hadn't opened my heart for Him to heal me in this area. I'd forgiven the teacher, but I had not asked for God to come into my brokenness...did I think it didn't matter so much?

It mattered. A few years ago as I was studying the Word a phrase came to mind so powerfully that I could no longer study, but wrote it out: Everything I do is for the good opinion of others. I imagine quite a few could relate. I knew it was deeply wrong. God calls us to do all "to the glory of God", not the "glory of ourselves". Why was I living like this? What was I trying to prove or gain?

Was I crippled by one teacher's tirade? No. I was crippled by having no identity except that which I borrowed or received. When Christ saved me, I got a foothold into becoming fully alive, fully Me, but shedding the masks and lies would turn out to be a life-long process. To this day my greatest spiritual struggle is accepting that God loves me and living my life in joyful, secure response to that. Is that a startling thing for a missionary to say?

I thought it was. Until I read an article containing Mother Teresa's letters to her spiritual director. She struggled with the same thing; not being able to accept that God loved her. It was easy to believe that God loves you, but when it comes to me...well...

I believe that God is healing me, year by year he is filling me up with my true identity. He is a constant teacher, inasmuch as I take time to come to class (or else He has to teach me the hard way by letting me go my own way and fail). I write this as a confession of brokenness. I don't have it all together. I feel like Christ is inviting me to go backward so that I can go forward. I want to become fully alive, not enslaved by needing to gain approval, worth. For this, I ask your prayer for me, that God's love would permeate my heart, kicking out whatever has been standing in for it, because;

He heals the brokenhearted and
binds up their wounds
Psalm 147:3

I will give you a new heart.
Ezekiel 36:26


Saturday, January 09, 2010


To My Most Amiable Readers,

Hope, vision, hard work, and the right tools could make this old Austin Mini come alive again. But without those ingredients it can't go anywhere. Likewise, without your support we could not have worked here in Chile these past four years!! We would not have seen our neighbors come to Christ, nor the rowing youth studying the Bible, nor the people in the mountains find their Savior. But, because we had all those things, plus your prayers, the Kingdom advanced in new and amazing ways in our midst. God has done a great work, and we all got to play a role in it.

We just finished studying the book of Philippians with the rowing youth, and in the last chapter Paul thanks the church of Philipi for supplying for his needs, over and over. He wants to "credit them" for their generosity; you can almost feel his joy through his passionate words. I also want to credit you; how can I thank you enough for enabling us to work among the people of Chile? We have lacked nothing, we have been, as Paul put it, "amply supplied" by your giving.

This week I received a number of emails from our MST (Missionary Support Team) and our church's board indicating that the funds for our support are low. Everyone has been encouraging; they are committed to help us carry out our term, to find ways to raise funds. In the current economic situation, this is a more difficult task than it was before. We are, frankly speaking, a burden on our church's finances. It has been mentioned as well that though the completion of our term is not in question, future terms would be. Hmm.

What that means for us at the end of our term in the spring of 2011, I do not know. I trust that our Father will direct, comfort, and sustain us. Above all, I am filled with the word Ebenezer.."up to this point God has been faithful". I can look back over the last four years with a wide, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Please pray for us, for our church Landisville Mennonite, and for our mission board Eastern Mennonite Missions; that each would be amply supplied for the work of the Kingdom!

Your Most Devoted,