February 10, 2015

Sprinkled Cakes

To my sweet readers,

I decided to take the plunge on a cake website and blog! I will be focusing on my writing there, so please check it out and follow . . .

Here is the blog site: Sprinkled Cakes Blog

Please also visit Sprinkled Cakes.com along with my new Facebook page!

Thank you all for reading - it means so much.


Sarah P

January 2, 2015

the struggle is real

Hello, 2015 . . . and hello to the blogosphere, after a long hiatus.

Last summer I started baking more and decorating cakes, which has consumed most of my free time - and this blog took a hit. I honestly don't know what direction to take this in . . . it's fun to think of having a baking blog, or to post cake pictures here too. But again - the time issue. 

Every now and then I feel the urge to write, so I'm just going with it. 

It is so refreshing to hear someone share a struggle, to be honest and transparent.

Social media is very deceptive, in the sense that we only post our highlights. It's easy to compare your "real" moments with everyone's instagram and facebook feeds (as they call it, "highlight reels"). Sure, anyone's life can look perfect on the outside. But the older I get, the more I realize that everyone is going through something.

As the cliche saying goes, "the struggle is real."

Whether or not they are willing to share, that is something else altogether. 

I have a few friends that have been wrestling with circumstances lately. Unexpected setbacks, not having it all together, not knowing where life is headed. But let's be real . . . which one of us actually has it all figured out?

If we're honest, no one does. And it's life-giving to know that we're not alone.

One of my friends recently said that she was hesitant to be honest with people, because she didn't want their pity. I totally get that. There is a difference between pity and empathy. There is something about "doing life" together, coming alongside a fellow traveler and choosing to walk with them. To encourage them, know how to pray for them, and help carry a burden. 

When we are honest, we give others the opportunity to bless, to speak truth, to encourage. And to let a watching world know that we don't have it all together, and that's OK. In fact, that's normal. It's being human. There is freedom there.

To all of my friends who are struggling, you are not alone. To those of you who have chosen vulnerability, thank you. To those of you who share stories, keep going. To those of you who are listening, respond in gentleness and kindness. You don't know what battle that person is facing, and this world could use more grace.

December 30, 2014

peace . . . in any season

It's a little late to write a post about Christmas, but as I was sitting and reflecting on the season, I couldn't help but write.

It's easy to be disillusioned at Christmas, isn't it? We watch hallmark movies and have warm fuzzy memories and want everything to be just right . . . as if every dysfunction and broken dream will become mended on December 25th.

I don't know about you, but it's freeing when you realize that Christmas doesn't mean perfection.

We dream of harmonious family gatherings, giving or receiving the perfect gift, and the anticipation builds. 

And these are good things! Don't get me wrong. Togetherness and fun gifts and all of the events and "things" (i.e. baking too many cookies) that come along with the holidays are great and I love them.

But let us not make those things the "ultimate" thing or the focal point. That they wouldn't make or break our Christmas. I think all of would agree that there is some degree of dysfunction in our lives - with or without the holiday season. Christmas just heightens your awareness of family weirdness, unmet longings, and unfulfilled dreams.

The greatest thing about Christmas is the news that God came to be with us. Broken humanity. He sees us, loves us, and has drawn near. He has made a way for us to know Him.

It's true - Emmanuel - God with us.

As one pastor said during our Christmas service, suffering and pain doesn't mean God has forgotten us. The good news is that God will never leave or forsake us . . . and He walks with us through brokenness, disappointment and shattered dreams.

He sees us through difficult seasons, all year long. He is the reason we can have peace, regardless of our circumstances. 

I pray that you know Him . . . and that you will press deeper into the gospel and comfort His presence brings any time of year.

September 22, 2014

Psalm 25

I was reading Psalm 25 this morning, as part of the She Reads Truth devotional (it's awesome, if you haven't checked it out!) and this verse stood out to me:

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
- Psalm 25:6

There is something disarming and comforting about the fact that God's mercy and love are "from of old." 

It reminds me of Ephesians 1:4-5, which states: "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ . . ."

If this really is true, that means that God was determined to love us even before we entered this world. Before our parents even entered the world. Before everything. 

That means there is nothing we can do to outrun God's love, nothing we can do to remove His mercy and grace - even in our darkest of days. If He determined to set His love on us before creation, why do we think that we somehow hold enough power to remove or change that love?

September 19, 2014

The mystery of grace

This post is long overdue . . . last month I decided to delve into the world of cake baking and decorating, which has been a whirlwind - and this blog fell to the wayside (oops). 

I wanted to share about this awesome book that my bestie has let me borrow - Extravagant Grace by Barbara R. Duguid. 

It's hard to wrap your brain around grace. I find it difficult mostly because I am hard-wired for works and performance . . . when I think I'm nice and productive and doing well spiritually, I feel like everything is great. When I fall into a pattern of sin, see the ugliness in my heart and am too rushed to have a real quiet time, I feel not so great . . . as if I need to pick myself up by my bootstraps and try harder. I feel like a "bad christian" - as if my performance is what keeps me in good standing with the Lord.

I thought for a long time that falling into a pattern of sin or having habitual sins meant that something was devastatingly wrong with me. As if I needed to be victorious over my own sins and just get over that bad habit on my own. How could I be a leader if I wasn't perfect? How could other people look to me when I struggled? How could I be a Christian and still battle these sin patterns?

In this book, Barbara explains that there are certain sins that the Lord - in His grace - allows us to struggle with for years, maybe even this lifetime. We never can quite gain victory over them. In those struggles, we see that we are never beyond needing His grace. Even the apostle Paul wrestled with sinning against the Lord and not being able to do what he knew was right (Romans 7). 

The beauty of this is, the more I see my sin and my inability to pick myself out of it, the greater Christ becomes to me. I see that He knew humanity's sin and our wickedness, yet He still moves towards us to love. He is not surprised by our sins and our struggles. He loves us despite those things and even counted it joy that He would call us His own after suffering in our place (Hebrews 12:2).

The fact that Christ loves me, adopted me and will never let me go (John 10:28-29) . . . all while knowing how much and how far I would fall is nothing short of miraculous. I am surprised by the selfishness and pridefulness of my heart, but He is not. If you are in Christ, He has called you into covenant, lasting relationship and nothing can change His love for you. Even when you commit sins that you never thought were possible, His feelings toward you do not change. 

I was listening to this sermon by Dr. Byran Chapell where he is talking about God's grace and His grasp on us . . . and I will leave you with some nuggets of wisdom:

He says,

And we know we can fall, and we know that we fail, and we know we are faithless at times, but God says, though we are faithless, he abides faithful. “My grasp isn’t enough to hold you, God,” but his grasp holds us. It’s the double grasp of the Father and the Son by which he says, “I not only have the ability to save you, but to keep you.”

Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century preacher said it this way. He said, “As a believer, you may fall on the ship of faith, but by Jesus Christ you do not fall off the ship of faith.” We are held by him.
Fault does not change relationship. And what God is saying through his Son is that when we have heard his voice and we, by hearing who Jesus is and having believed that, are made one with him, we are grasped by the Father and the Son. We’re part of the eternal family. And we may fail, but that doesn’t change the relationship. He holds us.

And the reason that you and I have to hear that and receive that is too much can happen in life, our failures, the failures of others, the abuse that we experience, the trials that we go through, the hurt that we can’t get rid of. We have to hear through all of that cacophony of the noise of this world the words of Jesus that say, “You are mine. I gave myself for you because you are precious to the Father and I will not let you go.” And that’s what gives us home. It allows us to be sustained in a world where the heartache can sometimes be so great and beyond our ability to cling.

August 7, 2014

not a piece of cake

I love my job. I love my co-workers. I even love to bake them cakes ;)

The place that tests my patience more than anywhere else in my life is at work.

If you work at a teaching hospital, you know what I mean.

I was particularly struggling this week . . . with new med students, new interns and a new fellow in the unit. Take a busy day in the ICU, add a bunch of new and different personalities, plus other stressors . . . and things start to get complicated. 

Anywho, I caught myself becoming impatient, irritated and frustrated. In the moment, I tried to dissect these feelings and get to the bottom of it all - why am I feeling this way? 

There were a lot of stressors, but what I really needed was some perspective. Who am I working for? Do I truly care that this person is looking at me like I'm an idiot? Whose opinion of me truly matters?

I had to remind myself of a couple truths.

1. God extended grace and patience to me when I was His enemy. Does this move me to extend love to difficult people?

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son . . . 
- Romans 5:10

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved . . .
- Ephesians 2:4-5

2. Who am I working for? I am not working for the approval of man, no matter how many letters are behind their name. I am working for God, and His approval is what truly matters . . . which, because of the gospel, is based in grace, not on my performance. So even when I am grumpy, have a bad day and don't treat people the way I should, His feelings towards me have not changed. 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men . . .
- Colossians 3:23

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
- Ephesians 2:8-9

I still struggled, but having a tiny glimpse of perspective helped me to push through. I have to remind myself daily to keep falling on His mercy and grace! Isn't it funny how, when we ask God to give us patience (or any other good character for that matter), He usually puts us through a trial . . . but it's all to change us and grow us.

July 21, 2014

trusting God . . . daily

He said to them, "When you pray, say: . . . 'Give us each day our daily bread.'"
Luke 11:2-3 (emphasis mine)

I have been reading through Luke as of late, and this morning I came across Luke 11, which focuses on prayer.

Something that jumped out at me was this instruction from Jesus to pray for daily bread.

What does this look like for us as Christians? He is pointing out that we are to live in a state of continual dependence on God. That God is our daily provider. Day by day. Sometimes moment by moment.

It is so easy for me to forget that everything I have comes from the hand of the Father. If you stop and think about it . . . what do you have that He has not given to you? Even the ability to wake up in the morning . . . down to the air in my lungs, it's all from Him.

How quickly do I forget and start to live as though I'm self-sufficient and in control of my days?

This manifests itself the most in the form of anxiety and fear.

Just last night, my mind started to wander and those "What if" questions started to populate my thoughts. What if I have to find another roommate? What if all my friends get married and the only people I can hang out with are ten years younger than me and I can't relate to them?  What if I have nothing to do and no one to see on the weekends?

How quickly I can run away with my imagination! I know that other women struggle with this. I was listening to a sermon last week on fear, and Veronica Greear was talking about how we do this - we imagine the worst possible situation and then freak out over it.

We have to reign our emotions and our imaginations back in. What is reality? If I stop, I can see that God is taking care of me right now. Today. He has not called me to go through a time of having no friends, or having to look for a new roommate. He has provided so abundantly and He is upholding me right now. He always has. Even when I did not know how to provide for myself, He knows.

Veronica also pointed out that when we go to these places in our minds, God's grace and power is not available to us. Only when we are called to go through trials does He give us exactly what we need, only when we need it. Of course you don't feel equipped to handle it now - He's not calling you to go through it.

I have to trust that God is going to provide for me daily. So if I do have to go through a time of wilderness or aloneness, I can know that He will be with me, He will carry me, and He will sustain me. It's not my job to figure it all out now - that's not where He has me right now.

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