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Category Archives: Just Talking/Thinking

Sometimes I just need to think through my fingers. Or tell the world something important.

New Start

I haven’t blogged in two months because we suddenly moved out of Oklahoma.

After three months of my husband and I being unemployed, we decided to take up his parents on their offer for us to live in their basement. Though it is hard to believe, we have been here now for a month. We are both now employed and filled with new hope, like seeing the sun coming out after the rain.

I cannot say how thankful I am that when we were at our lowest, we had so many friends and family that supported us emotionally and financially. I believe that God has brought us to this new town and has filled us with peace about our changed plans. I thank Him that while we didn’t have health insurance, neither of us got sick. We have been taken care of every step of the way, just like the song “Never Once” says:

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did You leave us on our own

You are faithful!  God, You are faithful.

Listen to it here.

Be encouraged, friend. You will pull through this.

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Posted by on August 2, 2014 in This Just In

 

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Two Week Break

I promised I would blog for 30 days straight. And today is day 20. But I am off to have adventures, so I will be back on here in 2 weeks. 

Why will I be so busy, you ask? 

In about an hour, I am going to the other side of the city to officiate a wedding for the first time. 

And tomorrow I am flying to Ohio to lead worship for a teen camp for a week.

While I am there, I will get to see my grandma who is going through radiation- and chemo-therapy. 

And play with my parents’ puppy, Sebastian, who was just learning to romp around when I saw him last Christmas.

And hug my father, mother, and brother.

 

Until then, may the God of peace be with you.

–The Mrs. 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in This Just In

 

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Failure, Faith, and Pancakes

In my life, it seems that faith and pancakes go hand in hand.

In my life, it seems that faith and pancakes go hand in hand.

It was 8:30 in the morning by the time I groggily entered the church kitchen. I knew we were ten minutes late, but we always are on Sunday mornings (my husband doesn’t believe in leaving the warm, cozy bed before absolutely necessary).

She was already there.

Our church treasurer was starting to set things up for our pancake breakfast fundraiser. It was the third Sunday in a row that we had served breakfast, and I had decided that today would be the last one.

Let me back up. My church has a Bible quiz team. They, like hundreds of other kids in our denomination, memorize particular parts of the Bible (this year, it was Romans and James) and compete with each other. Every other summer, there is a big quiz competition in a big city. Ours are going this year. But we need money. So my husband, their coach, says “yeah! We should do a pancake breakfast!” A couple of days before said breakfast, I realize that he is leaving most of the actual planning/executing to me, since I said I would help.

It is the first time I have ever been in charge of a fundraiser. Lots of stress, blah blah blah. The first and second ones go pretty well, although the wonderful people in the congregation point out all of the flaws and problems they see. So helpful, since they were things I did not think of. Anyway, I was out of town yesterday, and I forgot that, being Memorial Day weekend, our church would be a ghost town. So I had another nice lady pick up (too much) supplies for the breakfast.

The first breakfast, I had seven people helping. Fewer last week. But today, it was just me and Ms. Toni. I was thinking that the breakfast was already a failure, because we couldn’t do the work of 7 people.

But we did somehow.

The only people who came to eat were ten 20-something-year-olds. We made $15. I didn’t care. I was tired. I just wanted people to eat our delicious pancakes. I ate some pancakes and sausage myself. They were great. I went back in the kitchen to start the clean up.

Toni was there.

She was washing the dishes.

We had a conversation, in which she revealed that she is the age of my grandmothers. I was shocked, since she looks a good decade younger than that! Lord, let me look that good when I’m her age! She mentioned that, like me, she will be gone the next couple of Sundays (but she will be doing professional clowning and I will be at a camp). “I don’t think people will notice that I’m gone,” she said with a chuckle.

And I was struck. Struck by her faithfulness. Her dependability. Her humility. The pure fact that she was there early when I needed her. When no one else could. Struck by her love for our teenagers. Her devotion to doing God’s work, and her willingness to follow the kooky plans of young church ministers like me.

We are moving on to different kinds of fundraisers after this, but I dare not move on without pausing to notice her faith in God which moves her into serving others. Her life touches mine.

It is in moments like this that faith is passed down, and moments like this I am proud to say that Toni is in my faith web.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking

 

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How To Deal With A Panic Attack

Pirates of Penzance

For one performance of my university’s rendition of Pirates of Penzance, I played a manly pirate.

Now, I know that the phrase “have a panic attack” is a regular saying in American culture. People use the phrase to express an experience of sudden worrying, where they were like, “OH NO!!” And it is something people laugh about later.

But for people with anxiety problems, having an actual panic attack is nothing to take lightly.

What does a panic attack look like?

WebMD.com lists some of the side affects of having a panic attack.

  • “Racing” heart
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Sense of terror, or impending doom or death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control

I have a panic disorder, which means I am prone to these kinds of things.

They usually happen this way:

1. I am alone.

2. I am thinking about all sorts of things.

3. Something happens that makes me afraid and/or triggers one of my worst fears.

4. My mind cannot help but go down the worst possible outcome of that fear.

5. I think one of the following: “I’M GOING TO DIE!” “I MUST HAVE CANCER!” “I’M GOING BLIND!” “I’M GOING TO GET RAPED!” “THIS STICKSHIFT CAR IS GOING TO ROLL INTO ANOTHER CAR AS SOON AS I TAKE MY FOOT OFF THE BRAKES!!,” because apparently, those are my worst fears. And they are all equally scary in my mind when it comes to having an attack.

At this point, I’m exhibiting most of those lovely symptoms listed above. But the worst part is, I can’t talk myself down. I can’t distract myself or get myself to think about happier thoughts. All I can think about is how horrible it will be when this fear comes true (as it obviously is immediately coming true). I feel paralyzed. And I’m usually close to weeping by this point.

In a nutshell, a panic attack is what happens when you worry about something and your brain’s ability to cope with the idea shuts down. Your ability to rationally deal with it breaks.Your fear center overreacts. And that can be super scary.

Are you one of the unfortunate people who know what I’m going through?

If you have a panic attack, this is what I would advise you to do (only because it has helped me):

1. Try to slow down your breathing. Focus on the sound of your own breathing–make it nice and even.

2. Stop being alone. Find a friend. Find a family member. Heck, go knock on your neighbor’s door (that is how I made friends with the girl whose wedding I’m officiating next week). Be with someone. Explain to them that you need to talk out your fears. I always appreciate hugs.

3. Talk it out. If you feel brave, tell them what triggered the attack and why it scared you.

4. Bravely answer the question, “what if it were true?” and make an action plan in case that worst case senario would actually happen.

5. Remind yourself that you may have freaked out over nothing. Just maybe.

6. After ten minutes, you will be shaken, but recovered. Eat something and tell yourself it was just a bad dream.

7. Go talk to your doctor about it. I started taking medicine for my panic disorder and it has really helped me.

 The important thing to remember is this: You will feel very afraid. But actually, you are one of the bravest people I know. Because you face your fears.

And panic attacks help you understand when other people are afraid. They teach you to take action against being trapped by fear.

Panic attacks remind you that your fears are lies and that you are not powerless.

You can do something.

You can hold on to the truth: you are loved by God and nothing can destroy you when you are in His hands.

 

Have you ever had a panic attack? Were yours ever like mine?

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in This Just In

 

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Storytalk Training #1

Storytalk Training

Once upon a time, my parents were born and raised in the same area of Ohio. My mother wasn’t raised by Christians, and didn’t become a Christian until she was a young teenager, I believe. She started going to Saint John’s Lutheran church in Grove City, Ohio. She loved the leaders of the youth program, Gary and Laurie Pecuch. After my parents graduated from high school, my dad joined the Army. They got married and then spent 23 years moving all over the place. They moved back to their hometown. Gary and Laurie were still at St. John’s. My mother became the youth director and worked alongside them.

Crazy, huh?!

Anyway, they have a great leadership training program for their teens, and every year they have camp that allows the teens to practice their “faith skills.” That includes stuff like praying over a meal, facilitating Bible studies, planning a worship service, etc. This year’s rotation includes something we call “storytalks,” which is really beginning lessons in public speaking. It is the most pain-free way I have ever seen speaking taught. The beauty of this camp is that it is a safe place, where one is surrounded by friends and encouraging mentors, where one is challenged to grow.

I have the privilege of leading worship for that week this year, along with one of the teens who plays guitar.

Anyway, I thought I would use this blog to work on an introductory talk.

The First Storytalk: Introducing Yourself

Hello! I’m Sarah Smith. And I’m a pastor. I am a small group leader. I’m a wife. I am the den mother for the Bible quizzing team. I am a baker and chef. I have a college degree. I am a child of God.

My personality type is a smoother-over, a peacekeeper, a protector, a corrector, a stick-in-the-mud, a rule-follower, a movie-quoter, and a calmer. I do like to get in the way or ride roller coasters. I do not like to hear stories about serious illnesses. I do not like coconut or pranks. I hate cleaning bath tubs. I am terrified of inclines when I am driving our stick-shift Mustang. I am not good at saying the right thing at the right time.

You may not remember these random facts about me. But you may remember me.

Me. The one who laughed at your joke. The one who prayed before she ate. The one who sings all the time. The one who thinks you are really cool. The one who totally read that book too and doesn’t get it either. The one who ate everything with chopsticks that one year. The one who said, “You can do it! I believe in you.” The one who said, “I’m so glad you came to camp!”

I am leaving a legacy. I am keeping the faith.

I am Sarah Smith.

 

Laurie and I

Laurie Pecuch and I at my wedding shower.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Just Talking/Thinking

 

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Surely goodness and mercy are following me.

 

A few minutes ago, there was a knock on our door.

My husband looked at me and said, “Who could that be?” People don’t usually just pop over to see us (which reminds us of the time a policeman showed up at our door…I might tell you that story later). I answer it, and our associate pastor and his wife walk in, carrying boxes full of the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time.

Now, some of you know that my husband lost his job two months ago, and that it has been rather stressful to watch our carefully saved up emergency fund (thank you for baby step #1, Dave Ramsey!) slowly sink lower and lower. My husband, especially, has felt discouraged in job hunting for something suitable for him. This is what our fridge looked like today.

fridge

Not exactly as full as I, the chef of the house, like to keep it.

So imagine our surprise as we saw that the boxes were full of groceries. Really, SO much food!!! Groceries

There was chicken and beef, canned veggies, grapes, bananas, strawberries, blueberry muffin mix, mixed nuts, and so much more! God bless them, they even got us a bag of little chocolates filled with caramel. I’m sure by now my mother is crying as she reads this. I am pretty sure it was the equivalent of three weeks of groceries for us.

Apparently, someone in our church who knew we were going through a rough time wanted to help us. Anonymously.

To that person/couple/family, we say thanks.

And I think God is smiling.

 

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
All the days of my life,
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” ~Psalm 23:6

 

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Vibrant Life

 

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Three Things I Learned In My First Year of Marriage

I have been married to Mr. Smith for a whole year now. It went by both quickly and slowly–you know how that is. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I have learned.

1. If I don’t want him to eat my dinner, I should cover it with mushrooms.

My husband can’t stand those. Actually, this reminds me of a lesson that was hard to learn that first month: “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.” Anything that I eat or drink or possess is not really “mine,” but “ours.” When we got married, we joined our hearts, but we also joined our bank accounts. It was like I was a kid learning to share all over again, constantly being reminded that there is nothing I can really call “mine.” This is true of our Christian walk, as well. Everything we “own” is given to us by God, who is the Great Provider. This is a reason that married life is like being a monk, who can’t say he owns anything either. Every time my husband was thirsty, I would let him drink from my cup (and he didn’t mind me drinking from his). Everything we have is meant to be shared with whoever needs it.

2. There is no more hiding.

I am an emotional person. I also don’t like to get in other people’s way. So sometimes I hide my feelings or opinion because I want to save other people from dealing with my crap. That doesn’t work when you live with someone. Especially if you are married to that someone. I can’t cry without him seeing and persisting until I tell him what is wrong. I can’t be down in the dumps without him wanting to help. No more pity parties for this lady. I can never face something alone again, because I have this man who will fight for me.

3. There is no more pretending to be perfect.

All of that stuff, all of the crazy, all of the wierdness, that you were able to hide when you were just dating, comes out in the open when you get married. The Tourettes Syndrome tics that only come out when he is at home, I married those. The anxiety and IBS problems I have, he married those. Your spouse becomes a mirror that shows how you really are. Every time you would rather choose the selfish option instead of choosing to love reflects the darker tendencies that a lot of people do not get to see. But it can be a blessing. Married people every day have the choice to grow in holiness, to choose love, to become more like Christ. It is rough, yes. It is real, yes. All of the ways I would rather be passive-aggressive and not deal with problems–my husband loves me too much to let me pick that route.

 

In other news, I get to officiate my first wedding next week! I am such a fan of marriage, especially when it is entered into not “unadvisedly, but reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God” like Nazarenes like to say at weddings. When a couple thinks and prays hard over a period of time, and mentoring Christians in their lives think it is a great idea, and when the couple is passionate about serving and glorifying God–it is a beautiful thing. That is the kind of couple I get to pronounce husband and wife next week.

All of you married folks! What are some things you have learned in marriage?

You single folks! What are some things God has taught you in being single?

~Mrs. Smith

Swept Off My Feet

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Vibrant Life

 

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