Monthly Archives: June 2012

Happily Ever After

Check out the blog I wrote for Girls of Grace. See the original post here: http://www.girlsofgrace.com/content/happily-ever-after-penny-syndrome

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Have you ever watched a chick flick and thought: that is a great story, I want that. We’ve all thought that once or twice if not multiple times. Why? Because we all want the perfect love story. We invest our time and love into relationships and find ourselves disappointed over and over again because it didn’t live up to our expectations.

My friend, Emily, says that this is because chick flicks are the female version of pornography. We indulge in this romanticized feeling of prince charming and these movies give us unrealistic expectations on relationships. We convince ourselves of this because living in a fairy tale world seems so much safer than reality.

You see, none of us are immune to the penny syndrome. We can live our lives as godly as we can and guard our hearts as securely as possible, but at any moment that security can disappear and we hand out our hearts as if they were worth nothing more than spare change.

Here’s my question: Who says we need to care? Where in the guidebook to love does it say we are defined by a guy, a “prince charming”?

How many times have you met an engaged or married couple and asked for their story? If you’re like me, then you love the story. The “when did you know” defining moment that we all secretly hope we can one day experience for ourselves.

Now, how many times have you heard the story go like this:

Well he never responded to my text messages or phone calls and only talked to me on his terms when he felt like it. When he wanted to hang out we would have a great time but then I wouldn’t hear from him again for weeks. Eventually he decided that he liked me and now we’re happily married.

OR

He wasn’t very nice in the beginning, always cheating on me and ditching me when we had plans. I remember this one time crying so hard I thought I was going to die. That’s when he stopped calling me for no reason whatsoever. But then he did again! And I took him back! And look how happy we are!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but my point is, you NEVER hear that kind of story from the ridiculously gross, happy couple you hope you one day will be. That’s because when it’s your story – and I mean your very own, sweet, lovey-dovey, nauseating chick-flick-esque story – it’s not going to be like that.

It’s not going to be like every other story you’ve experienced so far of:

The boy who didn’t call
OR
The boy who only texts you when he feels like it
OR
The boy who only wants to have sex with you
OR
The boy who is embarrassed of you around his friends

…I could go on and on. You could probably add a few to this list yourself.

We all deserve to tell a great story and it’s time we stopped settling just because we want a story to tell. So ask yourself, what kind of story do you really want?

And here’s the truth: You deserve an amazing story.

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Be Yourself [Mint is Gross]

Check out the blog I wrote for Girls of Grace. See the original post here: http://www.girlsofgrace.com/content/be-yourself-mint-gross

I don’t like mint. The taste of it, the smell of it, all of it makes me nauseous and makes me want to vomit. Don’t get me wrong, I want to like mint. Let me rephrase that. I desperately want to like mint because everyone likes mint. Who doesn’t like mint? Only weird people like me. I understand that it is a rare thing to be grossed out by, like if I had said the smell of Apple pie or pizza makes me want to vomit. Absurd.

When I was younger I tried to force myself to eat mint. Every time we would go out for ice cream I would order Mint Chocolate Chip and then subsequently, threw-up afterwards. Even though I knew I would be hugging the toilet for the next couple hours, I still ordered Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Why? Because like I mentioned earlier, who doesn’t love Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream?

This might sound ridiculous to you, but we all do this in our daily lives all the time. We consume so much of our culture, whether it’s an unhealthy appetite for trashy television shows, or drinking alcohol, or dressing like the girl in the magazine. Whatever it is, extreme or not-so-extreme, we do it for the lame reason because “everyone else is doing it.”

I’ve always wanted to like mint, but there’s something about it that my body physically and emotionally rejects. Whenever someone offers me a piece of gum and I follow it with a “no thanks, I don’t like mint” their horrified look says it all. I think that’s why I probably have a deep desire to like mint because I associate it with being accepted.

Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Don’t be ridiculous Sarah. If someone doesn’t like you for not eating mint, then why do you even want to be friends with them in the first place?”

Hmm.

Now replace the word mint, with whatever “thing” you are doing because you think it’s the determining factor among your friends.

Is it gossiping? Drinking? Having sex?

“Okay, but that’s different.”

Is it really?

I know you desperately want to be liked. I know you want to fit in. It’s true, we all do, but it’s so much better to be yourself than someone you’re not. Here’s the thing about my relationship with mint. It will always make me nauseous and I’m okay with that. In some weird way it makes me, me, and I kinda love that. And because I don’t have to worry about what people think about me, I don’t have to brush my teeth anymore. JUST KIDDING. But seriously, I’ve learned that being an original is so much more refreshing than a copy.

What’s interesting is that long before I mentally accepted the fact I didn’t like mint, my body was already rejecting it. Have you ever noticed when you do something wrong, you feel like you have just gotten punched in the gut? That’s the Holy Spirit in you. Because you have the Holy Spirit within you, your body is a temple and it knows what you need in order to live a healthy, spiritual life, even if your brain and actions don’t agree.

You were not created to love the mints of this world. Don’t live as a follower. You were born an original. You were born a leader. Don’t eat mint.

Best Friends Forever (BFF)

When I was about seven years old I began praying for good girl friends.  I watched movies and television shows where people hung around coffee shops and talked about boys, jobs, life and all of them, no matter what drama happened during the show, seemed happy.  This contentment led me to have a deep desire for friendships and I looked for these personalities everywhere I went.

At the age of 12 I thought I found them; the type of friendship you grow old with.  There were a group of girls I had met through my church that I felt like I could truly be myself with.  One by one their families each moved to Houston and we began our best friendship pen pal relationship.  With the boom of the internet, communication became easier through emails and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).  I loved these friendships.  They made me feel wanted and important and happy.  Mostly, it made me feel known, and as a girl who often felt invisible, this was huge for me.

One of the girls in this group had a guy friend from school named Chris and every so often he would be over at her place and we would also chat.  The girl confided with me that she had a huge crush on Chris and wanted me to figure out if he liked her.  I felt honored to have a best friend who told me secrets and without any hesitation, agreed to play detective on her behalf.  It worked, one time on AIM Chris told me he had a deep crush for my friend and wanted advice on how to “woo” her.  I helped him think up sweet, romantic ways to confess his love for my friends and I was bursting with joy…I couldn’t wait to hear how the story unfolded!

About that same time my parents gave me the okay to go down to Houston to visit my best friends.  I was ecstatic!  I messaged all the girls and told them I couldn’t wait to see them.  Chris messaged me after hearing I was going to be in town and mentioned that we should meet up at some point.  I told him I couldn’t wait to finally meet him as well and we should all meet up as a group for dinner.  Hopefully, with his new official girlfriend at that point.

When I arrived in Houston, everything was great.  A whole week with my best friends, I was living the plot of my favorite sitcom.  Over dinner at one of my best friends house, her parents asked what I was most excited about and I listed all the things we had planned.  “I also can’t wait to meet Chris!”

My friend’s face turned white.  Her dad responded, “Who is Chris?”  I realized they had never told their parents about Chris.  It was common in Asian culture to not approve of young relationships and so in stellar-best-friend-mode, I quickly changed the subject.  Later I received a message from Chris that he wanted to meet-up because he needed to talk to me, but he didn’t want to tell anyone.  No one in the best friend circle could know.

I’ll fast-forward this story for you.  One of the brothers in my best friend circle pulled me aside and told me the truth.  There was no Chris.  The girls had made him up, AIM screen name and all to play a trick on me.  They wanted to see if I would fall in love with him, if I would try to steal him from my “best friend” even though I knew she liked him, if I would try to secretly meet up with him if I was in town and the awful list went on and on.  Worse of all, my loyalty angered them and fueled them to come up with more creative ways to force out a betrayal for me.  I was crushed.

After that, I had a hard time trusting girls and found my fruitful friendships through guys who were like a band of brothers in my life.  Throughout high school and college, it started to feel like my quest for a girl best friend was a moot point.  I felt defeated.  And even though I made peace with my lack of female friends, I continued to yearn for one, just one, girl-coffee-going-amazing-friendship.

I turned 27 years old this month.  On my birthday I spent the day overwhelmed by the messages, texts, calls and quality time of my friends.  The majority of them were girls.

God answers prayers.  It may not be in the way you expect Him to or in the time frame you’ve asked for, but He does.  I promise you, He not only hears you, but He gives you exactly what you need.

There are moments where we treat our prayers like a broken machine.  We bang it against the counter and ask “Is this thing on?” because for whatever reason, our prayers don’t seem to be getting answered.  But God’s timing is perfect.  It may be to teach us patience or to help us appreciate what we have to realize He is truly all we need.  It may even be to show us what we really need to be praying for or to keep us from getting too greedy.  Whatever it is, God answers prayers exactly when it is needed and in the way it should be answered.

I’m not saying the wait on answered prayers is easy.  In fact, it can be pretty excruciating.  When I turned 27 years old, I received a table full of flowers, unique and beautiful like their sender.  My enchanted day was filled with so many lovely friendships and ended with a surprise, intimate dinner with a group of girls I adore.  I sat at the table looking around to each girl.  Each girl has shown me love through friendships and has on several thousand occasions, spent countless hours at coffee shops with me talking about boys, jobs and life.  I realized in that moment that I was living my dream sitcom.  And I know if I had to have waited another 20 years to be surrounded with this community I have now, I would do it.  Because, what I’m trying to say is: it is worth the wait.  However unattainable your prayer is or however long this seemingly radio silence from God is, it is absolutely worth the wait.

When God answers prayers, even in the smallest requests, He answers big.  And I promise, it’s worth the wait – every time.

The Penny Syndrome

On my friend Courtney’s birthday, a group of us girls went to dinner together, followed by a trip to our friend Christina’s house.  We all sat on Christina’s balcony, which offers an unbelievable breathtaking view of the Nashville skyline, and took turns voting on where Courtney should apply for culinary school and competing on the most ridiculous stories.  There were points in the night we were all laughing so hard our faces hurt.  I, of course, took the liberty to throw in a couple Asian stories of my upbringing and even settled on the title of this book in the process.

The conversation turned when Christina told us a story she had read in a magazine of two Chinese girls being kidnapped from their home in China because of their gender.  One by one it seemed we each had a story we had recently heard on some sort of injustice in the world.  It made me realize that life is a lot bigger than me and my friends in Nashville.  We have the privilege of walking down the street wearing as much or as little as we want.  We can speak our mind in a gathering full of male peers.  We are worth more than pennies.

I don’t think we do a good job of living our lives beyond, what I like to refer to, as The Penny Syndrome.  We act like pennies, we talk like pennies and we dress like pennies.  Our hearts are handed out to whoever is willing to take it as if it is nothing more than spare change.  And when we are broken, we hurt deeply.

As I sat on the balcony with my friends, I couldn’t help but think of the girls our age in different parts of the world and what they were doing at the moment.  Here we were spending an enchanting evening under the stars talking, laughing and dreaming together, and there are girls out there in dark rooms crying, being treated like pennies and objects and fighting off persecution.

As I’m writing this, there is a store across town that just put up a window display with each mannequin holding a sign that spells out the sentence, “Start a revolution, stop hating your body.”  Society depicts an unrealistic image of the perfect woman.  She’s tall and slender with unattainable beauty.  And naturally, us mere mortals buy into this idea.  We measure our worth by the size number on our favorite pair of jeans and compare ourselves to others to see all the ways we don’t measure up.  It seems we live in culture where we embrace The Penny Syndrome while the rest of the world tries to fight against it.

My dear friends and brilliant musicians, Joel and Luke (for KING & COUNTRY), partnered with me and turned this concept into a tangible reminder to fight against The Penny Syndrome.  These beautiful, penny necklaces come with a card that reads, “Society suggests, ‘Talk, dress and act like you are worth nothing more than a penny.’  This Australian coin stands as a reminder that a woman is worth so much more.  She is priceless.  It also is a call out for men to treat ladies with Respect & Honor.”

We were not meant to live the life of a penny – we were not meant to be treated like one, bargained as one or spoken to like one.  A long, long time ago a man named Jesus paid an incomprehensible price so that no one could ever try to buy our worth away from us.  So please, stop starving yourself, stop spending more money to show less skin, stop painting murals on your face, stop hating your body.

We can be part of a revolution, a band of dreamers with the antidote of the Penny Syndrome.  It doesn’t have to start with the world or a mountain or a village.  It can start with one penny.  Every cent counts.