Just Do It!

2018 is my Nike year. “Just do it!”

Today, I should be finishing up the book of Judges, Ruth, and starting the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Since the objective is to be finished reading the entire Bible by Easter, after that I plan on returning and doing a deeper study of certain passages and books that God lays on my heart. Still remembering to post photos and try to be more in the present through this practice. I have been reading a chapter or two a night of Sheila Walsh’s new book, In the Middle of the Mess: Strength For This Beautiful, Broken Life. I love Sheila and the way she allows God to use her voice. She is transparent, honest, and real. Most Christians hide their weaknesses and only play up their strengths, but she is someone that truly shows how God can do more with a broken, willing vessel than the perfect version of ourselves we idolize.  When she says something, I sit up and take notice because she is someone acquainted with pain and suffering, but doesn’t let that be the end of her story.

In the Middle of the Mess

Sheila Walsh’s latest book. It’s currently only a $1.99 for the Kindle version on Amazon.com!!! So worth it!

I know it is just over two weeks, but I’m really proud of myself for pushing through on a daily basis and not giving up on these goals. With my family and friends, it’s so easy to encourage and motivate them. I honestly believe they can do whatever they set their mind to because they are amazing and I love them. However, as much as I can be their biggest fan, I’m my own worst enemy. Finding reasons why I can’t do something or why I shouldn’t do something should be more difficult than it is, but it’s not.

In a half-empty glass sits all my talents, abilities, and potential. More than anything I see what I’m lacking or missing. If only my singing voice was just a little bit better and my EoE didn’t cause problems with my vocal cords, then I would try out for the worship team at church. If only my health was a little stronger, than I could do more things like travel and experience the world. If only I knew I was going to succeed with absolute certainty, that in no way would I come across foolish or dumb, then I would sit down and write a book. If only I was easier to love, then I would have an abundance of people desiring to be in my life. I could literally write a book titled If Only, and every person that read it would need to go to therapy, especially if they made it to the end.

Not this year. Not in 2018.

This year I am focusing on what God has already accomplished within me. I’m training my mind not to romanticize the past, nor to look to the future as the answer to all my present dilemmas. The “if only’s” are still there, but each day as I read scripture God adds His name to the equation. “If only…then, God.”

Most of the dreams I have fantasized for my life are too small for what God wants to do, so I need to dream bigger dreams. Then, I need to take those dreams, and with God’s help transfer them from my imagination to reality.

Seeing God move in our lives requires courage, bravery, and complete trust. It’s so much easier to maintain the status quo and live in a comfortable bubble. The greatest gift that came from EoE was also the greatest curse: my life is gone. The person I was is gone. As scary as that was to go through and continue to go through, it’s also so freeing because I have been through the worst year of my life and with Jesus I have made it. I have endured what I thought would leave me destroyed and unrecoverable. There were days I prayed for death because of the physical and mental pain, other days where I felt utterly alone and unloved, but in it all He delivered me.

2017 was my year of grieving the life that will never be.

2018 is my year of saying, “God, make my life what you want it to be.”

Or as T-Swift would say, “I’m sorry, the old Sarah can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s dead!”

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New Year, New Goals, Same Jesus

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See you later Christmas! Hello 2018!

First blog entry of the new year!!! Woohoo!

Welcome 2018!!!

Today is January 12, and I haven’t broken any of my New Year’s Resolutions! This year I wanted to concentrate on doing four things and eliminating one thing from my life. Here they are:

📝Read through the Bible in 90 Days
📝Take a photo a day – Look for wonder
📝Read all the books I got for Christmas this year and last year 😬
📝Memorize at least one verse a month.
📝I want to leave behind fear, anxiety, and doubt in 2017. Let go of perfection. It doesn’t exist outside of Christ.

Why did I make these my goals/resolutions?

I’m 30 years old, and have loved Jesus since the zero was in front of the three and not behind it, and have never read through the entire Bible. I say that with a bit of shame and guilt because that is totally my fault. I have started most of my adult years attempting (aka half trying), and would give up almost every year when I hit Leviticus. The 90 day plan seemed like a great idea because I wouldn’t get stuck in one book for too long, so I could keep momentum. Then after reading The Bible in its entirety, I can return to certain places for a deeper study. Guess what?! I made it past Leviticus. I’m now in Deuteronomy! I like to use both my Bible (the one with physical pages you flip) and the YouVersion Bible app to listen as I read. It helps to keep me focused. However, being totally honest, during Levitus and Numbers, I would usually just play it. Reading along with it got to be a little much and I didn’t want to get stuck yet again.

Last year I was really focused on what was missing from my life or what I was missing out on, especially as a result of my illness. The word that came to me for 2018 was “plenty.” In scripture after a famine, God would usually promise His people a time of abundance or plenty. I’m praying 2018 is my “year of plenty.” Both in physical and mental healing, but also me appreciating what God has already blessed me with on an individual level and as a follower of Christ. Taking a photo a day reminds me to appreciate the moment; to step back and look at something in a whole new light. I almost forgot one day, but remembered five minutes before midnight. Still a win! Also, my Instagram username is mrsjjmiller if you want to see more of what I’ve posted so far this year!

In 2017 I only read five books, so basically it was a non-reading year. However, just because it wasn’t a reading year, didn’t stop me from buying books or requesting books for my birthday and Christmas. This goal might seem super easy, it’s not. It is probably the most amount of books I have ever had to read in a year (blessedly, I love children’s literature, so some will be fast reads haha). Currently, I’m reading In the Middle of the Mess: Strength for This Beautiful, Broken Life by Sheila Walsh and Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battles Against Your Giants by Louie Giglio.

Ever since participating in the Beth Moore challenge, I know how important it is to make scripture memory part of my year. When I did her memory challenge, it was two verses a month. I would usually fall behind, so this year I am focusing on one verse a month. I am trying to say it to myself at least 3 times a day. It’s become like a mantra. My first verse is Joel 2:25 (NLT version). I really love ESV for studying God’s Word, but I really love the way the NLT translation words things. It feels like it is written how I would say it.

Leaving behind fear, anxiety, and doubt as well as it’s first cousin, perfection, is really a daily challenge for me. The only way I will leave those behind is by replacing them with joy, hope, and faith. The only way I can add those three things to my life is by changing my vision from me to Jesus. Reading my Bible everyday and memorizing my monthly memory verse has helped a lot, but I didn’t adapt to my negative way of thinking overnight, so it won’t disappear or change to something life-giving after one day.

Also, a big part of that is learning to let go of control. God has to become bigger and I have to recognize that I’m not invincible, that He is smarter and wiser than me, that He knows way more than this know-it-all every could.

What resolutions did you set for 2018? Do you like having a word to focus on throughout the year? How do you motivate yourself to keep pressing forward with them as New Year’s Day fades in the rearview mirror?

Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving…

In honor of just turning 30 earlier this month, here are 30 fun facts about me:

  1. I have lived in 4 states: New York, Florida, Texas, and now, Georgia!
  2. All-time favorite book (if I could only pick one): Persuasion by Jane Austen
  3. In 2010, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a dual degree in English Literature and History from Florida State University. Go Seminoles!

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    Buttercup and Rosie making themselves at home.

  4. The Office is my all-time favorite TV show. “That’s what she said.” My favorites that are currently on TV: This Is Us and Superstore.
  5. My husband, JJ, and I got married December 23, 2012. Only 2 days before Christmas! This year will be our 5th anniversary.
  6. I’m a proud doggie mama to 2 of the cutest Puggles in existence: Buttercup and Rosie.
  7. I’ve worn glasses almost my entire life. I started wearing them when I was 3 years old.
  8. Ever since I studied abroad in London, I’ve had a major case of the travel bug. I hope to never be cured!
  9. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the cool weather and the vibrant colors of the changing leaves.

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    JJ took this photo with his drone last November in Waynesville, North Carolina. Gorgeous!

  10. Christmas and my birthday are tied for being my favorite holiday.
  11. I collect typewriters.  I bought my 1960’s Smith-Corona electric typewriter (photo of it on my “Contact” page) for $10 at a thrift store! It’s my favorite one.
  12. Guilty Pleasure (I don’t actually feel guilty for loving this): Hallmark movies! Love every single one of them, especially the Christmas ones. The cheesier the better!
  13. My love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.
  14. I was born on Pentecost Sunday, and since then my birthday has never fallen on it again.
  15. Tea is way better than coffee in my humble opinion.
  16. Favorite Movies (in no particular order): Anne of Green Gables series, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Beauty and the Beast, The Sound of Music, The Goonies, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Titanic, What About Bob, and so many more!
  17. I have 22 first cousins.
  18. Favorite Harry Potter Quote: “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
  19. Biggest Pet Peeves: Two-Faced People and the noise people make when they flick their fingernails and toenails.
  20. When I was 12, my friend’s little sister accidentally squirted super glue on my eye, and it was glued shut for 5 days. To get my eye open, my dad had to cut off my eyelashes. It’s all good now because, fortunately, eyelashes grow longer.
  21. Since I was a little kid, I have hated mayonnaise. I used to refuse to eat food that even touched it.
  22. My favorite place as a child was The Catskills. One of my secret (not so secret now) ambitions is to someday buy the place we used to stay in, The Weldon House.

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    My Mom and me in The Catskills. Yes, I’m still that white/pink.

  23. My favorite Broadway play of all time (and this is really hard!) will always be Les Misérables. It was the first one I ever saw and completely enchanted me.
  24. If I could live in any fictional place, it would be the magical combination of living in charming Stars Hollow and eating at Luke’s Diner everyday with Lorelai and Rory, going to school at Hogwarts with Harry and Hermione, and having spontaneous adventures in Narnia with the Pevensie siblings. Also, in case any of that got too “boring,” I could hop on a plane and visit my bestie Princess Mia in Genovia.
  25. JJ and I share the same eyeglass prescription.
  26. In 7th grade I wrote a letter to the New York Public Library campaigning to save our local branch from being shut down for a year while it was being renovated. I was the only one to get a response from them (Yes, I’m special), and they promised that they would open a temporary space while the library was under construction. Major nerd points!

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    You’re welcome New York! I basically saved civilization as we know it…

  27. New York pizza is the best pizza on this planet! No, Michael Scott, Sbarro’s doesn’t count as New York pizza. Chicago Pizza is good, but New York wins by a landslide.
  28. I have been to 7 countries: England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Canada (Niagara Falls), and Chile.
  29. My maternal grandmother was born and raised in Ireland. As a result, I’m ghost white and can do an incredible Irish accent.
  30. I love sending letters to family and friends. I think letter writing is sadly a lost art form.
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    I sent almost 100 handwritten cards last Christmas,