piggybackporchI grew up trying to scratch out semblances of poems on yellow notepads, trying to get out my rich feelings through the richness of the concise wording of poems. I did have one little poem published in my university student poetry journal once upon a time. But I’ve really never been any good.

I have friends who ARE really good at this.

They study meter and pacing and form and they write and edit and write and rework until they have what really are masterpieces. I am not that.

But once in awhile I’ll scratch out a new poem only when I can’t seem to write anything else.

This most recent one is more of a conversation with myself than anything else. Maybe you will like it too.



The moment you realized that everything

You ever needed was right here

And that you had to go through

This day


And tomorrow

In order to even begin that beautiful thing

That this year was all about: The kids are

Still at the dinner table and the


Are dirty

In the sink

But you don’t have another option. You must

Do this. You must come of age in your writing

At the same time your children are coming

Of age at all.

You must

Must must

Make this work. It’s do or die time right now.

These days ours is not to reason why

But ours is to write. It is to do.

Then you

Say, “I can’t take

One more day

Of this.” But in the tears you realize that

One more day means one more chapter in a book,

One more day means one more string to be cut,

One more day


One more sad heart

But it also means one more accidental purposing of words.

How We Can Reach Past Christmas

13885426695_5a69c14816_z“You realize the preschool is being built, right?”

I sat with Chris Marlow and some other friends at Allume a few weeks ago. I work on a project basis for Help One Now and whenever all of us are in the same place at the same time, we make sure we have all of the meetings we’ve been saving up for months.

“At Ferrier? It is?” I was amazed.

Chris nodded.

In April, after a long, bumpy and dusty SUV ride into the very northern part of Haiti, I visited an orphan care village called Ferrier with a group from Help One Now. At the time of our visit, they were at the very first part of a phase when they were building five new homes for children who have been rescued from trafficking and were planning on building a preschool on an adjacent piece of land.


And on that insufferably hot spring day, we walked (the kids ran) across that empty dirt field near the church and I wondered what that preschool might look like.

You see, I’m a great ideas girl. I’m a strategizer, a thinker and a planner. I’m the one who thinks up things. But sometimes I have a hard time seeing ideas actually built with my mind’s eyes.

So I stood in that field and couldn’t see it. That’s why when people make amazing ideas come to life, it always amazes me.

Ferrier Phase Two is still a long way from being funded, but it is well on its way. One of the things we wanted to accomplish as a storytellers trip was to help see those homes finished (done) and see that preschool be built (in process).

And I simply can’t believe it’s happening!

The other thing we wanted to see back in April was the children of Drouin, this forgotten little village at the end of a dead end road, be sponsored. Those sponsorships would keep those families together and prevent those kids from become orphaned. If they can stay with their families they will never have to be a part of something like Ferrier village. But as a trip we fell far from our goal.

This week, this little rag-tag storytelling group of us are asking our communities to help us finish what we began in April.

I’m asking us, asking you, to put some of our Christmas dollars toward something that will reach much further than December 25. This is the kind of generosity can reach to the next generation.


When we prevent children from become orphans, it gives those children the platform from which to lead functional lives so that they can then, in turn, keep their own future families together.

This kind of generosity goes far further than we can ever know.

So it is very simple. I’m only asking for 20 of us to sponsor a child this week in Drouin, Haiti. Just 20.

It’s $40 a month that will profoundly affect the life of a child in Haiti, and continue to affect his or her children someday as well.

Maybe you’ve been trying to figure out how to give back this holiday season. Maybe you wanted to sponsor a child when we went last April but didn’t get a chance to. I hope you will consider it today.

Click here to see your generosity go further than you could ever imagine.


Generosity Can Go Further Than You Think

Tonight my husband asked me to pay for dinner and I got really angry.

Let me back up.

To understand this I would have to explain that we have my money and our money. I know every family does it differently and we have never Ramsey-fied anything, but the way we’ve done it for the past 18 years basically works. He pays for the big household stuff with OUR money and I pay for incidentals, some of the kids’ stuff and gifts, etc with mine. Trips we take, I usually pay. Mortgages, he pays. We go to a concert? Mine. We go out to eat, ours.

Since I started making a paycheck awhile back after years as a stay-at-home mom, this system seems to work for the most part.

Until we get tight. And then, as in every family, we have to readjust to new financial obligations.

So tonight as were stepping out of the car on the way to dinner he asked me to pay.

I could explain a ton of things here, like all the things I bought this last week with MY money because the mortgage came out of our account. I could do that. I could tell you how tight our budget has become. But it really wouldn’t matter because that wasn’t the real reason.

He asked me to pay and I should have gladly, generously, openly said, “Yes.”wilderness1

Yes because I love us. Yes because I have the cash and “we” don’t. Yes because it’s no big deal. Yes because of all the times he went to work and I stayed in my pajamas.

Yes because generosity is a form of love. Yes because generosity is a form of giving to someone who doesn’t have what we have. Yes because selfishness isn’t becoming on anyone.

Yes because just yes.

And so I made it a federal case at the pizza place and I paid anyway and slapped down my ATM card for the girl behind the register. Then because I was still fuming I almost sent back my food because it tasted bad (it truly did, though). I told the waitress it was the worst salad I’d had anywhere (almost true). I begrudgingly ate my meal anyway in awkward silence.

But maybe nothing tastes good when you’re angry.

This, all of this, was all the opposite of generosity. This kind of general crabbiness robbed everyone at my table, my kids and mother included, of a nice meal. The nice meal I bought. I bought it, but then didn’t let them enjoy it because I was still angry.

Selfishness smothers. But generosity, it lets things loose.

This week I’m going to be posting about generosity, and the idea that it really goes further than we all might think. I’ll fill you in in the next days about what I mean by that and what that means for me and maybe for all of us.

I don’t know about you but I’m still learning how to be generous. With my time, my love, my money, my energy. And you know? Some of these things, they explode into the far reaches of the universe when we let them loose; when we let go of the things that make us hold them tight.

I hope you’ll join me.

Soul Revival

iwantgod_cover-e1409421036251I’ve known Lisa Whittle for a few years now and we’ve done all sorts of crazy fun things together. I see her (and Mary DeMuth both) as writing mentors to me. Both are only a few years older than me so I feel like their little baby writing sister at times. I’m grateful for both of them and I’m excited that Lisa has just published a new book.

It’s about Soul Revival.

Here are a few Questions and Answers from Lisa about I Want God.  It releases today! Buy it here.

1) What led you to write I Want God?

I wrote I Want God at a time when I was really sick of my struggles, my fears, myself, basically – I call it the heartcry of the sick of me life. It was at a point of desperation and wanting to quit the ministry that my heart just cried out for God to consume me more than my life currently was and what started out as a blog post turned into an anthem for many of my readers who wanted God in that way, too. (That blog post, by the way, is included as a little bonus in the back of the book.) I remembered that the only way I’ve ever gotten better about anything in life is to focus on God harder, and that is really what I Want God was and is for me.

2) What’s different about I Want God, compared to the other books like it out there?

You know, there are so many great books out there. Truly. I think what makes I Want God so beneficial is that it is very bottom line, simple even, and tells the reader specifics rather than a lot of fluff they have to figure out. Maybe it’s because I’m basic and straight forward, but I just think people crave some core truth in a world where there is so much information out there it causes us to be on overload. I Want God is a book I still pick up for myself to see where I am off when I find myself in a place I don’t pursue God like I should.

3) Your book is filled with Scriptural truth. Can you share a favorite Scripture from the book and a unique perspective God gave you about it?

Wow. That’s tough. I love the passage in Haggai (1:3-6) that God gave me for the book because it shows how other things we chase have failed us…I love the Revelation passage in chapter 6 that shows us how to have a soul revival from Jesus’ own red letter words…I love John 1 where Jesus asks the question, “what do you want?” because I have realized it is maybe the most important question He ever asked. A favorite is the verse I share in the intro, Psalm 142:5, “Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.” It’s really my heart’s cry and my prayer for the readers of the book.

4) Who did you write your book for? Who can benefit from its message?

I wrote it for the person in a place of lack – starving, desperate, need-God-to-consume-them-more-than-what-is-currently-consuming-their-life. I wrote it for the person who lives in a place of plenty but it’s still not enough. I wrote it for the searcher and for the one on the spiritual roller coaster – wanting God one minute then not as much, the next. I wrote it for the spiritually dead – the believer who is stifled in their relationship with God and can’t figure out why.

5) What was your goal when you started writing I Want God? Was it achieved?

My goal for this book is that it would be a guide for years to come to help readers see where they are when they find themselves spiritually off course. I wanted it to convict, inspire, and most of all, help the reader remember their God. My biggest hope is that someone will read it and need to stop and put it down and get on their face before God. To hear that it has done those things for early readers means a great deal. One of those early readers, Jill, calls I Want God “a wrecking and a revival and a resurrection, all at once.”

6) What was the most personally meaningful thing to you in the book? How has God used it in your life?

Again, this is a tough one – it’s like asking me to pick between my kids when I love them all! ☺ God spoke to me so loudly in the writing of this book I actually mourned it when I was through. (Usually, I’m honestly just grateful to have met my book deadline!) I think chapter one will always hold a special place for me because it still convicts me just as powerfully everytime I read it. Several of the stories – the one of my tattoo is meaningful to me in a big way. But I probably cry the most when I read the beginning and end of chapter 6. Chapter 6 opens with a huge vulnerable story from me and ends with a story of my dear friend, Jennifer, who passed away. It reminds me that no matter what, God is Who I always want most.

7) What do you feel is the greatest obstacle people must overcome in order to make a deep desire for God a priority?

You know, that’s a good question. My first instinct is to say that everyone has different obstacles. For me, it is my desire for comfort. For others, it may be a desire to have people’s approval. So to a degree, we all have a different “issue” we face that most keeps us from God. But as I think about it, probably it can boiled down to a universal issue of self. Self is our greatest obstacle and most often keeps us from God.

8) What is your prayer for anyone who reads I Want God?

Absolutely, that God will use it to change them in some way. We have enough stirred believers, and that is a spiritual waste because it doesn’t have lasting impact. I pray that their prayer will become that of David’s in Psalm 142:5. That right in their living room, on the beach, wherever they read it, a soul revival will begin. I’m trusting God for that to happen!

9) What are some practical ways your readers can implement the principles found in I Want God?

I think daily choice is super important. So if they will first find out what they struggle with the most (I have questions in the back of each chapter to help them identify this for themselves.), go into every day with that awareness and just be honest about it, and then choose that day – each day – to do something that lessens that grip, I believe over time they will see change. And of course, prayer. I mean, prayer is everything, and that will always be the most important.

10) Is a soul revival really possible?

How does that happen? Yes. For sure it is. Jesus talks about this soul revival – which is really just a renewed passion for God, in Revelation 2, which I explain in the last chapter of the book. I believe all revival happens first in individual hearts. I believe it can happen in your office at work, carpool line, in the middle of Starbucks…that place where you know God is messing with you and you stop telling Him no and giving excuses and finally let Him. And yet I believe that a soul revival is ongoing. I don’t believe we have a quick moment, are stirred and then it’s over. Many believers swing from one high spiritual experience to another but never see their life change. The kind of soul revival I’m talking about is the one where be become aware of God again, our life is altered, we confess the places that need to change, and then we stay with God daily to see the revival fires continue to be fanned.






I’ve Forgotten How Fun This Can Be

scfta1I think I had forgotten how much fun it is to write.

For me, writing is usually heavy. It’s learning. It’s a spiritual discipline. It exacts something from me each time. That might be in part why I avoid it sometimes.

Writing, for me, has been at times life-giving and at times life-taking. But in any season, it always costs me something to write.

It’s been so long since writing was fun to me. There was that brief period in the fall of 2012 that I thought I would write a novel (I still haven’t completely given that up) and that was so. much. fun.

Fun? Writing is fun? It had always been at the most, cathartic. It had always been a passion and a thing by which I came to greater understanding of God, myself and the world. But fun: Yes. I learned it can actually be fun.

I have forgotten that until recently.

A friend suggested that maybe I should start a different blog alongside the one I already write. Maybe an arts blog? Or something about culture and music. You do a lot of those types of things, Sarah. There are people out there who want to read about it.

So. Yes. I thought about it, came up with the name and concept on a six-hour drive up the middle of California with just me and my girls.

californialovescultureorangeheartsmallMeet California Loves Culture.

California Loves Culture is an offering of local happenings and great things to do, eat and experience in and around Southern California. I’ll be exploring the arts including theater and music events, local food including farmers markets, restaurants and eateries, local travel and local culture.

I’m kind of excited. Actually I’m really excited.

As a result I’ve had a few questions:

Sarah, will you still be writing your regular blog:

Yes. As much or more as I am now. Hopefully more. I’ve just been a little burned out on writing lately. I’m hoping this infuses a little more life into me creativity-wise. And that this kind of writing (a little more light hearted) will be a good thing for me personally.  I am also still writing regularly for (in)courage, Deeper Story and The Art of Simple.

What if I don’t live in Southern California? Will I still like it?

Well I hope so! Do ever plan on visiting? Do you like seeing pretty pictures of the beach? I’m slightly kidding, but I’m not kidding. I’m primarily directing this toward people who live here in Southern California and are able to go to the places I’m featuring, but I’m hoping it will inspire people to make a trip out here as well!

I don’t live in Southern California but I live a different part of the state. Will you ever be featuring other places?

Yes and I hope so. Part of my four-pronged approach is local travel (Arts, Culture, Food and Drink, Travel). My favorite vacation destinations are all within this great state. (Is there a name for people who are prejudiced toward California?) So I’m planning on writing about nearby destinations. Also, if I’m lucky, I’d like to also take submissions from other people who live in NorCal, Central Coast, Central Valley and San Diego with their local favorites. But that will be later.

I’m a local business owner. Will you be writing about anything like that? What if I have an idea for you?

Yes. Hopefully. If you have a suggestion, whether it be a local business or event, or anything else, please email me and let me know! I’m highly curious and I have a loooong running list of places to go, people to see, things to visit so throw them at me.

Follow CAlovesCulture on Instagram. I’ll often post where we are going before we get there so maybe we can meet up sometime if you live local!

And I’ve gone and gotten myself a Facebook Page as well. Hop over to it and find me there as well.

Click over to the new site itself to take a peek!

This is fun. This is just what I needed.

What about you? What kind of “different” thing have you embarked upon lately that has infused you with energy?


What We Do When We Don’t Plan

horsesuntetheredI only had neighborhood friends growing up for about 3 years. The years before and after the Ueckerts were so much less brilliant than the ones during and my neighborhood was empty without them.

There were 3 sisters. The oldest was my age and they other two girls each a couple years younger. So with my sister and I, there were five of us. And since we were really the only kids on the whole street, we ruled it.

The sisters introduced me to Madonna. They introduced me to pomegranates. Their dad was a Lutheran pastor so they, in a way, introduced me to the sacraments.

They introduced me to riding bikes in the neighborhood and boogie boards at the beach.  They even introduced us to scary movies and Halloween celebrated the way Americans intended it to be enjoyed.

What a good, easy-going, way to shake up a little evangelical girl’s safe upbringing in Long Beach, California in the eighties.

One autumn Saturday our family jumped in the van with theirs and headed all the way down to a little town past San Diego called Julian. This simple excursion was so unlike our family’s planned-out, controlled existence. After two and a half hours on the road we found apple orchards and pumpkin patches and a big slice of apple pie each.

On our way home my mother mentioned to the group that her uncle and aunt lived in the nearby town of Escondido.

“Well let’s stop!” the girls’ mother exclaimed.

I’m not sure my mother intended for the entire nine of us to make a detour but we did. Off the highway we pulled and followed her directions to the small home of my grandfather’s brother and his wife.

I remember her violets. My great aunt’s violets. And I remember not worrying about

getting home on time

traffic on the freeway

a place to be.

And neither did my family. By the time we piled back into the car it was dark. But we had stained fingers from pulling of the road to eat pomegranates from a fruit stand and we were oh, so tired. The adults chatted and dodged headlights all the way back to Long Beach and the children dozed in the back seats.

So much of my life I spend worried about where I need to be and when I need to be there. I plan out the next thing, next time, next place that I miss the pomegranates and violets. I do.

I hate it. Because I love the freedom.

When my neighborhood friends moved away {I’d been told their father had been called to pastor a church in Arizona} it was well before the middle-hardest-years of teenage-hood.

On the day I graduated from high school and as I was walking out of the door to don my cap and gown I looked across the street and in a juxtaposition of important events, there was my friend, visiting from Arizona and stopping by her old neighborhood.

She ran across the street and I took a minute for us. I didn’t have long, but I stood on my front porch with her and hugged and talked. Then she left. What do girls talk about who have been separated for most of their boy-chasing, music-listening, high-school years?

There have been seasons of my life during which my closest people have been non-planners, easy-going dreamers. The liberty in this kind of spontaneity is so very attractive.

I want it to be me.

She was first in a long line of friends {and eventually a husband} who live in this untethered way. I’ll never be able to shock my body or my soul into totally releasing feelings of trying to control my environment or time. I’ll always be 5 minutes early wherever I go. But God, if I don’t learn something from all of them, I deserve to die in my regulated prison of worry.

I pray often, untether me from concern.

What about you? What do you learn from your friends? Who have been your consistent friend-types over your life?

Every Spot is Sacred

wilderness5As the preacher read the Baptist wedding vows I realized I had never actually been to a Baptist wedding. I sat three rows back, right behind the family in the heat of the Northeastern Summer sun and watched the beauty of a sacred act: two people covenanting themselves to one another and to God in front of the witness of friends and family.

Then the cheer. The kiss. The joy.

The sacredness of it all is breathtaking, I think.

They stood on the vast green lawn of a school, nothing consecrated about it except the very act of God meeting us here. There is nothing hallowed about the space at all. No sweeping architecture, no stained glass, no long trip down an aisle.

Just Massachusetts sun, oak trees and close souls gathered around.

But it is sacred. This place is sacred with the covenant and the invitation of the Spirit.

This whole earth, I am reminded, is filled with the sacredness of God…

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Quiet Prophets


I used to think that to be a prophet one had to do all the yelling. We had to say all the things so loudly that no one could getawordinedgewise. And we had to be passionate and outrageous about the things we were yelling about.

We had to wrestle the spotlight away from someone else that stands in it and we had to get people to listen.

But then I realized that quiet can be more powerful than loud and gifts given are just that: given. They are not the same as gifts taken.

There are some of us who are quiet prophets. Or maybe we’ve just begun this business of quiet propheting because we are just now realizing it. We don’t shout. We don’t argue.

We don’t yell.

We listen and we love; we grace and we invite. We divine the divine sometimes just for ourselves and sometimes for others.  We hear the sacred whispered in willows and we see it scripted on the sea. And then we write the words.

Even Ezekiel layed himself down from time to time.

And I’ll never be Isaiah or Ezekiel. I’ll never be the one who shouts from a roof or climbs to the top of the tower to tell the story that burns in the heart.

I have stories the sear the heart, yes, but I’m quiet. Maybe so are you. 

I’ll whisper the words in modest corners and tell the stories from humble places.  I won’t hike the steps of the pedestal or even the steps of the stage. I’ll let those who want to shout have the single sphere of the spotlight, loud and clear and big.

They can be prophets in that way but I’ll do it this way: with small stories and unpretention. I’ll do this quietly. Because if I’m honest I’m really tired of the socialness of media and I’m tired of the poetry getting splashed across photos of the ocean when all we need to do is stand ankle deep in the waves and hear the poetry splashed across our souls. I’m tired of force-feeding my words when it would be so much better to simply feast on the quiet rhythms of the sacred world.

We can quietly prophesy as we work our desk jobs, our home jobs and our jobs that don’t feel like they fill the soul. But as we put our heads down to do all-the-things that we have to do so that we can do what we want to do we remember that even here, we’ve been given the quiet words to be prophets.

And we speak


We speak


We speak

Invitation to the margins and the left-outs.

And here is where we live: in this business of quiet propheting.  When we are quiet it is then that we can hear the best, things we wouldn’t hear if we were shouting.

Now I know this about prophets: when we are given words to whisper, write or sing, we prophesy. And those of us who hear clearly with uncluttered ears and clear hearts perhaps we are quiet for a reason.

Let us always be a people who are humble in message and peaceful with our words. Let us never wrest the spotlight away from the ones who are better designed to live there.  And let us live with quiet words and hearts, telling our stories to the ones who want to hear.


L O V E: The Only Way to Live


I’ve lived a lot of the last week risking my own heart.

We take a step toward love. We take a step toward the next adventure. We take a step toward people and when we do we take a step toward vulnerability.

When we say “yes” to love we say yes to all that may come as a result. Hurt. Pain. Leaving.

So all loving is a heart-risk but all loving is worth it.

Our children. Our partners. Our friends. Our parents. The people we meet along the way. It’s all risk but it is all a part of the beautiful hard journey of living.

Loving is worth the risk.

My dear friend Lisa stamps L O V E on this brass piece and strings it on a chain. And she sends it to me the day after I get back from all that risk, piled high in a mound of mail.

And so it means something so much more than perhaps it would have before I left.


She’s giving me a very special discount code to all of my readers. Click here and when you find what you like enter “sunshine” at checkout to get a full 20% off anything in the shop {this code is good until May 3). 

Also, for today only use “momlove” for 25% off.

L O V E.

Let us love with all the risk we can. With all the deep vulnerability we can because I’m finding that is the only way to live.

The Long Road


There is a long road that no one travels.

Mopeds with three and four people apiece race up and down it as a truck full of something tries desperately to make its way over the pitted surface. The mopeds dodge an occasional goat or a child and drive as quickly as the road allows the long way down the canal.

But no one travels down the road to Drouin unless one needs to. It’s hot and dusty and the water in the narrow canal looks milky-dirty. Stuck in a valley, no breeze blows in Drouin.

Even so we leave the highway near Saint-Marc and turn toward the rice fields. Rice fields that now, seem to teem with growing things, but not so long ago they did not. After the devastation of 2010 this community lost its livelihood as foreign aid poured in to flood the market. Those who grew rice in Drouin could not sell rice when all the rice in Haiti was free.

Small mud homes flank the rough dirt road with small “yards” that brandish a goat or two and maybe a chicken. Children run from the cars or they stare as we pass at an impossibly slow speed.


At the point that I would understand later was only about half-way down the road I wonder if this trip is going to be worth it. What could we find at the end of this road that would be worth the jarring and the banging and the jerking on this horrible road?

It’s a road that nobody chooses. And a road that no one cares about.

But near the end of the road is a school. And a kitchen with a woman who makes rice and beans and fish broth for the students. At the end of the road is a home with a mother who’s life has been changed because of the school. She can feed and house her children because she is employed now. At the end of the road is a classroom full of French and Creole words and joy and singing. At the end of the road a fire of hope has begun to burn brightly in the form of education and school supplies and uniforms and teachers doing what they have been called to do.

13859428054_8356b0a635_z13859100403_2bcd9b3374_z 13859113733_4ac96dc71c_z

So we stand in the school in Drouin this time last week, the place no one ever goes, and the principal tells the children in his beautiful Creole that we are their “benefactors,” that we are the ones that provide the school books and the food they ate.

And it is too much.

Amber looks wide at me and I can see the tears well up in Erika’s eyes and now we are the ones who are staring. The children, they grin and clap and in turn look back at us with the same wide eyes.


This. Is. Too. Much.

It isn’t me, I want to tell them. It is someone else. We are merely standing in for the hundreds of families that support this beacon of hope at the end of the road.

So this is a role that I must grow into, I think as I stand there. I must become what they say I am because it is true and right and these people deserve someone to stand for them. This end-of-the-road community deserves someone to remember them daily.

So I leave them that day with a rent-open heart and tears still brimming. What do I do with this weight? What do I do with this little spark of life down a long road?

Home again, I’ve realized something.

This insufferably long road is something we can travel down daily if we choose. We don’t have to wait for the SUV to crash us over the rocky path. We don’t have to wait for the next trip or the next plane flight. We don’t have to wait.

We can make the journey when we write a letter. When we pray. We can make this journey each day when we support the students of Drouin.



Can you make this journey with me? With them? As a community if we can sponsor just 75 more students in Drouin we can send 250 more students to school for free in a community and a nation where schooling is not free. We can purchase farming equipment for this tiny village. We can pay their teachers.

We are already 25% to our goal. And it won’t take much more. There is joy, hope, and even the future of the nation at the end of the road.