3 Things For The Single Person by Sarah Burgess

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1) Serve. Serve. Serve.

I know this isn't the first thing you may have wanted to hear. But it's the most important. Recently a friend asked me, "why do you serve almost every weekend at your church?" "Because I can," was my response. I can take 1.5 hours out of my week to try to calm screaming babies. It is a way to serve the Lord. I try to serve the Lord daily, but this is intentional. It's not wasted. It makes me more like Christ and honestly, it could prepare me for marriage. How? Well. Contrary to every advertisement, social media post and movie from Hollywood, marriage is sacrificial. It's about putting the other person first. Otherwise it isn't going to work. What happens when you both put each other first? That's ONE hot marriage. Ephesians 5:1 says, "Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ." Since Christ is THE REASON we submit to one another, that means we have to do it even when we don't feel like it. I can't tell you how many times, I don't feel like serving. I don't feel like letting the person pull out in front of me in heavy traffic. I don't feel like putting my friend's needs above own. Actually, if servitude and love was based on feelings - we'd all be in big trouble. SO again, while you are single...serve. It will take your mind of your singleness to. There are a ton of people out there who have unanswered prayers too. Take the time to listen to them.

2) Surround Yourself With People Who Don't Think Your Crazy.

The Beatles sing, "All you need is love, all you need is love
All you need is love, love, love is all you need
All you need is love (All together now)
All you need is love (Everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need."

And the end is "She love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. She love you, yeah, yeah, yeah." Not a bad song, right? But then you go out on a few dates, it doesn't work out. You are in a long term relationship, it ends. Someone divorces you. You are left alone. You want love. It hasn't happened. Or it faded. When disappointment sets in, it's easy to feel hopeless. To doubt yourself. I've not met a man or woman who hasn't dealt with heartbreak of some kind. Surround yourself with friends. People who have known you your whole life. People who can pour into you and remind you of the good things you have to offer in this life! Focus on friendships with guys and girls. Don't just stick with the same gender. Fellowship with the other gender in friendships. This can be healthy and a good for your heart. Find encouragement in what people say about you. Know that you are valued and loved in your singleness. 

3) Don't Give Up.

Unless you are absolutely sure that you are never supposed to fall in love with someone in your life time (for the first time/or again), I wouldn't give up. But don't forget to keep that hopefulness in check. Like let it occupy 5-10 percent of that brain of yours. Journal about it. Remind God about it. But don't let that be all that you talk about with Him. Imagine you are God, and every time He saw you come to Him, He already knew what you were going to say, "God I'm still single..." Now. I realize that God knows all things, so He already knows what your going to say. I guess I should have given a different example. Imagine a kid goes to their dad and asks for a bike for Christmas. It could be red, and a special speed...that's cool too. After a couple of times, dad has gotten the hint. He hasn't forgotten. He knows it's important to his kid. There is a time for us to move on to mention other things in our dialogue with God. To even tell Him the needs of others. Always, always, conclude "But thy will be done." I know that's Old English, but there is nothing sweeter then expressing your desire and then trusting the Father with it. His timing is so perfect. Cliche, but true. He isn't holding out on you. He isn't punishing you. He knows what you want. He wants to be glorified in your life, whatever that looks like. I can't promise you that you'll ever meet the man/woman of your dreams. But I can promise you that there is a Savior who desperately loves you. "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."1 John 4:9-11

Conclusion: I am praying for you. You can do all things through Him. He will give you strength! (Philippians 4:13)

 

3 Things (Maybe) You Shouldn't Tell A Single Person by Sarah Burgess

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1) "God is working on your future spouse or/and God is working on you." 

Normally when a person says this to a single - they are saying it with good intent. They mean well. But let's think about this phrase. Say, you are married. You look back at the time you met your future spouse. You didn't meet your spouse when you first exited your mother's womb, in fact not even soon after. You met your significant other, later on in life. As with all humans, over the years you've grown, matured. You most likely met him or her at a time that wasn't entirely picked by you. Sure, you can look back and see milestones and ways you may have been growing before you got married. But that's not the case for everyone. Plus it kind of leaves a 'lack of' taste in someone's mouth. It's like you interviewed for the job and didn't get it. Most single people you meet today have already dated and obviously since they are 'single,' didn't reach a relationship status or marriage - yet. So be careful with any kind of well meaning phrasing that implies that there is something lacking or missing. Most singles already feel that pressure on themselves. Another phrase is (and this applies to Christians) "If you are a godly woman, a godly man will pursue." I know many women and men who have walked with Jesus and have been consistent in their faith (not perfect - this is legalism) and who haven't been pursued by a godly potential relationship partner. Again. Try to stay away from sentences that equate a+b = c. Still doesn't make sense? Have you ever put yourself in the shoes of someone who can't have a child? They have tried everything possible and they are still barren. The worst thing you can do is to imply they should try harder or that if they do the right things it will happen. I guess I'll just stop with this one.

2) Introducing Your Single Friend To Someone Else.

I can confidently say that there is nothing wrong with me, as to why I am single in 2018. There have been seasons of singleness though, where well meaning friends have tried to set me up with someone. Usually they were friends that I hadn't talked to in some time and the conversations went like this. "Hey, how are you....listen, I wanted to introduce you to _______, and I already asked him and he said it was ok to ask you." WHAT?! Sometimes it can come as a shock. Especially when it's out of the blue.  I've been introduced to three different people on blind dates. They didn't work out. Here are two questions to ask someone before you introduce them to someone. Number one, ask them how they are doing? They may be doing really well in their singleness and not be interested in going out with anyone. Respect that. Just because they are single doesn't mean they want to be introduced to someone. Number two, ask them what they type is. Many of us have types. That isn't a bad thing. We are all wired and designed differently. Attraction is important. As far as setting someone up - yes, it is true that there are some people out there are dying for you to help them out with this. Cool. I'd just encourage more of a dialogue. These are matters that are close to the heart. See where your single friend is at emotionally. Just because they are single, doesn't mean they don't have hopes or dreams of who they would like to meet and potentially one day marry. See if they are in a place to go on a date.

3) Don't Tell The Single Person Their Desire Is Wrong.

It's easy to assume that when a desire has been prolonged, that there has to be a reason. But this problem solving goes back to Jesus's time. I'm thinking of one particular story when a crowd jumped to a conclusion as to why a man was born blind. Jesus addressed the issue and said, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." John 9:3. The crowd and those who had known the man were astonished. They thought surely, it was because of something bad that the blind man had done. But, scripture says, it had nothing to do with the person. Believe it or not, a lot of singles are not single because they are ugly, stupid and terrible to be around. Many are single for the purpose of God's glory. I personally hope that's the case for me. Whether I meet someone or not. I wan't God to be glorified in my singleness. So when you talk to a single, don't tell them that there desire is wrong. Or don't speculate that it's because of him/her. Instead encourage them in their desire to trust God. Also, their desire doesn't mean they have bad faith or aren't walking with Jesus. The desire to be in a relationship and eventually married is God given. Don't believe me? Go back to Genesis.

Conclusion:

Life is hard. Many of us have unanswered prayers. The greatest thing you can do for your single friend is point them to Christ. You can speculate on their future, but you really don't know  what it will entail. No one does. Don't tell them, "You WILL meet your spouse one day, it's just not time." Because you don't know that. God will be able to meet that single person in a way that you can't. I am serious. God can also do something about your friend's singleness. God gives us so much hope in His word. It's hard to navigate through life when it disappoints us. There are so many things you can encourage a single person. I don't know anyone who would turn down a free meal. It's hard to fly solo and provide financially for ourselves all the time. Ask your single friend to join you for dinner. Let them ask you questions about your marriage and life. Remember you aren't perfect, don't expect your single friend to be. Be honest and vulnerable with the ups and downs with marriage. It will help them to have a realistic view. Most of us have a great fear of missing out. If you make marriage seem perfect, it will only hurt them more. Again, point them to Jesus. Because He is the one who knows their longings and cares about them intimately. And have heart! "“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33

 

Cold Brew @ Mean Mug. by Sarah Burgess

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It's still spring even though it's 80+ degrees outside in Chattanooga! I spend a lot of time at coffee houses editing and working on photography projects. I consume a fair amount of coffee. Since it's warmer outside, I am less likely to consume a warm cappuccino. So. Cold Brew has been my favorite these days. I was really excited to find out about Mean Mugs Cold Brew Jar. If you have the jar and you get a Cold brew - it's only $2.50. Winning. I took these pictures to entice you! That is actually Mean Mug's Cold Brew coffee in the jar. Photographer: Sarah Elizabeth.

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Another Photography Adventure. by Sarah Burgess

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What a great event! 5th event with Ironman here in Chattanooga. 4th time doing video or photography for it! I loved getting up at 5:00am and meeting the media team down by the river. I know! I must love what I do. I do! I had the privilege of watching a friend from Chattanooga compete - up close! Congrats Cambrie. I can't wait until Ironman in September. I am going to miss all the Triathletes. They are so inspiring. Also, Vibrant Meals got me through the day with some healthy snacks. Sorry for the iphone photos. I was managing Gopros and didn't have my professional camera with me!

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I Won't Forgive You. by Sarah Burgess

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We boast that we live in the most tolerant time of our human race. We allow our fingers to race across our keyboard or thumb a quick reply in a text message. We are instant. We are efficient. We are intelligent. We are advanced. We seek perfection. Rarely do we celebrate imperfection unless it is for a cause. There are so many causes. Seldom do we ponder what we are going to say before we say it. We constantly feel the need to reply. To have the last word. Heaven forbid our message was "seen" but we were not replied to. We often function as that of robots instead of humans. Our minds constantly wonder. But rarely is filled with wonderment. Unless we get out. We explore. We unplug. We look at the stars. We think. We conclude, "can I forgive the person who hurt me with their words?" "Can I take a moment to think before I respond?" We wonder what's the rush? We know words aren't everything. We've read the studies. It is one aspect of our communication. Merely an aspect. Facial expression and tone of voice are also important. These can not be experienced through a quick, modern text. The Bible says that we are to love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19). Let's forgive. 

What is Love? by Sarah Burgess

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My aunt shared that he was "tall, dark and handsome." She said, "Now I can say that now that I am in my eighties." She laughed. She admitted to asking him out. She said "I got him!" "But then I didn't know what to do with him!" Me and my Nana laughed hard. My great aunt asked me what it's like to date today. I paused.

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I am listening to the Andrews Sisters as I write. This past Sunday I sat with two sisters on different porch swings. There are three on this particular deck. Both in their eighties and the Mother's Day crowd long gone, the two started reminiscing on the past. It's my fault really, that my great aunt went back into the house to pull out her wedding album. 

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My aunt had asked me a question. It's not unusual that at reunions or get togethers someone brings up my singleness. This time I brought it up. I am sure some of you remember my post back in December. A humorous example of being in a family situation and a relative bringing up the "s" word. But this blog post isn't about me. It's about my great aunt. It's about two sisters sitting on a porch, talking. With a coke in their hands. Timeless. I had one too.

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My great aunt is one of four sisters. Her father, my great grandfather, died very young. I never knew him. My great aunts and my nana are strong women. They laughed as they talked about different men they had a crush on. My aunt laughed as she mentioned the name of one particular gentleman. My nana chimed in and said "Oh yes, ____ (insert name here)." 

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Back to my aunt asking me about dating today - and how it is... and having had regular conversations with guys and girls over the years, I've never found myself more dumbfounded by this question. I've concluded some things, and I shared with my aunt. She seemed flabbergasted. I expressed from my conversations that simply put, "no one knows what they are doing anymore. It's extremely complicated - and I have no idea how we got here."

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My great aunt said, "Well, can't you all just go out for a coke?" "Can't it be just simple?" I lifted up to be what I think is the culprit, or a huge part of the problem, the CELL PHONE. "The problem is Aunt Sue, most people are so caught up in who should ask who out first - then no one makes a move. It's too complicated." I smiled.

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"What?" She said. Yes. We have over complicated things. Over complicated dating in the 21 century. She flipped through her scrapbook, telling me the story of her romance. No, she didn't marry tall, dark and handsome. In fact she married a sweet and plain boy who loved her deeply. Most of her life she remained alone as my great uncle passed early on. I never knew him. But I'd love to thank him for loving my great aunt well.

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These two women, sitting here. Have experienced life. I learned that love is about selflessness. It's about putting the other person first. It's not placing your dreams all in someone, but dreaming with them. Love is not complicated. It is simple. It's forgiving. It's forever. I learned something about love. Maybe you have too?  (1 John 4:7-11).

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A photo from today. I loved sitting on the swing with my nana and watched her as she listened to stories from her sister. The flowers in the background were that of her mothers, my great grandmother, Maw Maw. Thankful for every opportunity I still have with my Nana.

Because of Her. by Sarah Burgess

My Nana struggles with Alzheimers. Everyday I am able to call her, pick her up to go to Cracker Barrel or run errands with her - I find myself thankful. She may not always remember everything but she is one of the first people that I will got for advice. In regards to photography, she has been my biggest advocate.

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I've been working hard at this photography thing. Today when I called my Nana, I said "Nana I work so hard, but sometimes I want to quit." She said "Don't you've worked so hard to be where you are at!" She is so right. It's not that I don't love what I do. It's just like anything...sometimes the unknown can be daunting.

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 But I am going to keep running this race. It's the longest race I've ever run. I feel it's been a marathon. Champions are made from those who don't give up. How do you think Olympians feels? So here is to the unknown! For the uncertainty of one day to the next. For blurry photos, for photos in focus, for all the memories in between. Because your story is worth telling. 

My Family by Sarah Burgess

I am so thankful for my family. They have put up with me for many years. We aren't perfect but we love each other. I was looking through my computer and ran across these old photos. Most taken with the iPhone - but they are photos regardless. Each photo tells a different stories. Treasuring these memories.

I already know. by Sarah Burgess

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I already know why I pursue photography as my full time vocation. But today was a good reminder. Today was the day I got to celebrate and capture the recent engagement of these two. Carlotta and I were roommates for two years. I've seen her grow in her faith and trust in God. She was very content when she met Justin. She will soon be marrying this amazing man who will be faithful to her. The photos for today were taken out in Cleveland, TN. I love Chattanooga, but it was sure nice to get out of town for a bit. The photos are amazing and I will only let you see a few candids, here. When I shoot a session, I promise  (to the best of my ability) a 24/hour turn around  (with an exception of a wedding of course). So, I better get back to editing. Nothing like a little Jack Johnson and some sweet tea with lemon to motivate me. I look forward to taking your photo!

Chattanooga by Sarah Burgess

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The sun is shining and people are smiling. I am in the presence of freshly baked bread. Next to me, an older couple enjoys a cup of coffee as they read the newspaper. I overhear a gentleman speaking German to a friend. A young couple discusses politics. As I go to get a drink of water, a man politely apologizes and moves out of my way and continues a conversation over the phone in Spanish. This is my city, Chattanooga.

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Chattanooga has gone through many changes over the past few years, and I am excited to have witnessed them. I, myself, am not from Chattanooga, but a transplant. My grandparents live in Chattanooga, so I have continuously visited over the years. I've experienced first hand the change!  How this quaint little southern town has turned into a town boasting of culture and growth. 

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Most people live for the weekend. Because I am a freelancer, I live for everyday. I work seven days a week. What do I do? I tell your story. Recently I've been helping small businesses, restaurants and entrepreneurs tell their story through photography. Who knows, maybe I'll be telling your story, one day!

I wore Chacos. by Sarah Burgess

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A Barista just lit a candle for me, and sat it at the bar I am working at. Isn't it amazing - when someone does something so little - yet it speaks volumes? It's been a long time since I've written something. The other day someone handed me a daffodil - spring is coming. I wore my Chacos for the first time this year. 

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I am excited for spring, because with spring - comes summer. These sunglasses were the best $5 I ever spent. Well, I better get back to a proposal I am working on for a local business that I am going to be working for. I can't wait to tell you about it. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

The patience of a driven individual. by Sarah Burgess

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I am driven. Thank, God! I inherited this drivenness from my parents. They are both wonderfully driven people. One thing I admire about them though - is that they always put others first. There drivenness doesn't cause them to push past or put others down. I am the same. They set a good example for me.

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One thing I struggle with, is patience. Today while driving downtown, a random thought crossed my mind. I thought of how many people in my country are in debt. I looked at my beat up, paint peeling, HOT red car I was driving. I am not in debt. But there are reasons for it. 

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Sometimes, no matter how hard I work - I feel I get nowhere fast. That's when patience comes in - and it's hard to have it. It's hard to be patient when you feel you aren't moving forward. Or maybe you are - just not at a fast enough pace. I am not always good at remembering to pray about my circumstances. 

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This verse has always helped me to remember to pray when I don't feel patient. Here is is: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

Resting. by Sarah Burgess

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I've been sitting at my favorite coffee place for almost 4 hours now. So much work goes into freelance photography and I love every bit of it. My sister just left to head home and pack for her trip back home. I think I've mentioned this before, that I am not a huge fan of change. You would think that I would be used to it by now - as much change as I've experienced in my own life.

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Change often means I am not in control. It's in those times of change that I have to rest in someone. Time and time again I find the best one to rely on, is Christ. One of my favorite verses is this, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.." - Isaiah 40:31.

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As I sit with my cup of sweet tea, watching the falling rain - I find hope. Just like the other day when the sun came out and I was reminded that the winter weather will change and it will be warm again. The sun will come back. Remember the warm day we had yesterday? That is when my sister took these photos of me as I had just finished a quick run. 

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"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:14. 

My Mother. by Sarah Burgess

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My mother is special. Each one of my siblings, my father, and all those who know her will tell you so. Children who aren't her own readily call her 'Mother,' because of her kindness and sweet spirit. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember her cooking wonderful meals for us to eat. In this day and age - it seems people rarely get to sit down for a homemade meal. From an early age my mother taught us how to bake. Her love for cooking and serving others comes from her own mother. It has been passed from one generation to the next. 

My sisters and I always tease my mom and try to get the most attention from her, especially when we sit on the couch. I usually come in and lay dramatically across her, causing everyone to laugh. I love to see my mother laugh. Over the years I've learned she isn't replaceable. There are some amazing women who have come in and out of my life but no one is like my mother. Thirty years ago, she had her Sarah Elizabeth, and I feel she understands me best. 

She is patient with me when I struggle with understanding why this life can be so hard. I wish people were kinder and would forgive more easily. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and she often reminds me, "that nothing lasts forever - and there is always hope." My mother is so precious to me. I soak up these days I have with her. She is a gift to me and I love her very much. I hope to become more patient and loving, like her.

Grandma's Funeral Service by Sarah Burgess

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Grandma's funeral service was beautiful. Our family did an amazing job and worked as a team to put together a wonderful tribute to honor her life. My cousins shared their love for grandma by singing and sharing to those gathered at the ceremony. It was a time of celebration. Even Grandpa said he had never seen a service like the one we had for Grandma. There were long lines out the door with people from the community who had come to show respect to my grandmother.

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I am so thankful to have such a wonderful family. I am thankful for all my cousins, aunts and uncles. Each one of them expressed similar sentiments of our grandmother and the legacy she left for all of us. While there were many tears, there was also much laughter as each of her four children shared wonderful stories of Grandma. At the very end, all the grandchildren (15) and great grandchildren (13), were asked to stand in honor of our Grandmother. People clapped. I felt blessed.

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Our dear friends came all the way from Texas to honor my Grandmother. We laughed and talked about the five wonderful years we lived there. I wore Grandma's red scarf. Many of us wore bright colors in celebration. Today my brother and I went on a hike to see one of the last of the frozen falls. We talked about grandmother and the life she lived. She hasn't been gone long but she has already greatly impacted us. We are challenged to live a life that put others first, a life that seeks t to honor Christ above all else. 

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We love you Grandma, and we thank God for your life and we will see you soon.

Being Understood. by Sarah Burgess

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Recently I have developed a deep appreciation towards my family. I am the oldest of three girls and a boy. We are all adults now, the youngest of my sisters is a freshman in college. We live far apart. When we get together our conversations are often of our dreams and what is going on in our lives currently. We talk about the past and living overseas. We share our ups and downs and disappointments. But most importantly we are united.

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The other night I stayed up until 5:30am as my sister and brother drove all night to get to my location. Exhausted, we woke up the next day and prepared breakfast. All hands on deck - my brother made coffee, my sister scrambled eggs with cheese, and I make pumpkin pancakes. Someone found orange juice in the fridge and we all served one another- making sure we had a good breakfast.

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I washed the dishes and my brother thanked me. We then talked about the day and all that it entailed. We talked about why we were here and how we could help our parents. We talked about serving one another and understanding where each other was coming from - our differing thoughts and perspectives. We aren't afraid of differing opinions. We learn from each other and love to discuss new insights we discover in life.

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Even in an our adulthood we have decided that we wouldn't allow bitterness and anger to divide one another. We had seen it to often in our lives and wanted it to never be true of us. Our team work comes partly from living in a large family and the times we moved. But mostly because we have God-fearing parents who are constantly teaching us to love and forgive well. I am so thankful that I have a family who understands and loves me well. Isn't it good to be known and loved?

Remembering My Grandmother by Sarah Burgess

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I think I can. So I am going to try. Dearest Grandma. Yesterday evening you went to be with Jesus. As much as I love writing, as much as I love looking at pictures, it's hard to remember. To be honest, it seems like a dream. That you are no longer here. I honestly needed you to stick around a little bit longer. There are some events in my life that I really hoped you would be a part of. I remember when you first started to battle cancer when I was sixteen. For fourteen years I have watched you endure one thing after another, but you never complained. Your joy - the joy of our Savior was shared with everyone you came in touch with. From other patients at the doctors, to the neighbors on the street.

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I went on so many adventures this year. California being one of my favorite. I remember you calling me because you had heard from mom that I was going and I forgot to tell you. You called me, and said "Sarah! Where are you going now, honey?" I think you loved my free spirit. You cared for me so deeply. Every time I would go and see you, you'd ask me to tell you when I got home. I never went home empty handed. You always told me to grab some drinks/food to take home. I was so fortunate to live just six minutes from you and see you so often. You were so much more then a grandmother to me. When you invited me over to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with you, I didn't know it would be our last. 

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We took so many photos together. We talked about so many things. I think I walked with you on probably your last walk around your neighborhood. You had Toby on your leash. You pushed your walker, you were ever so determined to get well again. A neighbor and their little boy was out playing on the driveway and you stopped and remarked on how cute the child was. You weren't in a hurry to get back. You were never in a hurry. Grandpa was soon to be waiting in the driveway. You had called him from work at Publix and he was going to pick you up and take Toby to the animal doctor. On the way back on our walk Toby pooped and you couldn't use the dog bag to pick it up and so I did it for you. You laughed when I remarked on how awful it was.

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I talked to you about how I recently forgave someone who had really hurt me. I am not sure why the significance of the conversation but you were proud of me. I told you that we have to forgive as Christ forgave us. I had to babysit and couldn't go with you and Grandpa to take Toby. But I helped you get in the car and handed Grandpa some Christmas cookies I had made. He was eating Subway and had just gotten off work. I know you are so proud of him. He was so sad that you are gone. But as I told you, I will help him. This past Christmas that I spent with you, there was a lot of cleaning to do in the house. You wanted everything to be clean and I was happy to oblige. I wore reindeer ears and it made you laughed. I decorated your tree. You were so disappointed that you couldn't do the normal baking that you do every Christmas.

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You gave so much over the years. I was happy to serve you. I wasn't the only one though. Your kids and grandkids have been so loving and helpful to you. I drank cranberry juice mixed with sprite. You always let us have this as kids. I borrowed a cup from the kitchen (I hope you don't mind), and took it home with me. It was dark and I had just said goodbye to you. You always were worried when I went home in the dark. Grandma, the thing I struggled most with you leaving so soon - was the fact that you have prayed for me for so long for a godly future spouse - and yet you never met him. I felt so sad about this and as I sat quietly, God reminded me of something you said. When I recently was very excited about someone and it didn't work out. You said "Sarah, I am so proud of you. You got back up on your feet. You didn't let it get you down." I told you, "Grandma, I do wish I'd hear from him. But Jesus is enough."

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You never belittled my prayers during my singleness. You would grab my hand and pray with me in them. But Grandma, I realized...you, the most faithful to God, you had unanswered prayers with your cancer. Yet, you walked in a way that exemplified Christ. I am only thirty, but Grandma you have left such a legacy for me to live. I don't want to feel sorry for myself in my circumstances, I want to rejoice like you did. I guess heaven is where we will be reunited once more. I can't wait to see you again. To be honest, I can't believe your gone. Please give my brother Isaac, a hug for me. Try to beat Grandaddy in checkers. Tell Maw Maw her garden looks beautiful. It's 1:00am. Sammy and JoAnna are driving all night to get here. Your service is going to be held tomorrow. So many people will come. So many tears will be shed. Christ is going to be honored. There is still so much I want to say to you. But I am blinded by my own tears. So, this will have to do for now. 

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Our last picture - I came by to see you before I went to Chicago. I MISS you Grandma.

An Aimless Wonderer by Sarah Burgess

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"I can see my breath," I laughed. It was so cold. It was great to visit Chicago. I tend to return to the city that possessed 4.5 years of my life. I haven't forgotten her. All her busyness and cold. She has held many intrigued by her cold winters and glorious summers. It was 10 years ago that I first entered her territory. I had just flown thousands of miles from a country far away to start college right in the heart of her.

(Photo Of Me Credit: SamuelMarz Photography)

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This past trip, Chicago didn't disappoint. She offered the same cold wind that would shiver me to the bone. The same excitement. The same rush. But I guess this post isn't really about Chicago and how nostalgic I was when I saw her. It's not even really how enthralled I was by the cold whiteness that lay all around me. Or about the negative temperatures that threatened to keep me inside. 

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I have in 2017 had the opportunity to return to almost every place I have ever lived. Except for Asia, where I spent 6 years of my life. I returned to Texas, Georgia and Chicago. Outside of those trips I also traveled out to Colorado and to California to hike and see the ocean. All incredible places. But going back and retracing my footsteps - so to speak, has taught me a lot.

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What am I learning? Can I be honest? I am just figuring this out as I blog. Even as I type, right this very  moment. I don't have the exact answer. I will say there has been purpose in going back and seeing my story of 30 years. It's been helpful. It's made me feel purposeful and I've met many who said I made an impact in their life. This is both humbling and challenging to me. How has it challenged me?

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Being a driven and creative individual (both God-given and wonderful qualities I fully embrace), I can at times find myself feeling very dissatisfied with my location/occupation or the unknown future. Ask my good friends. Numerous conversations over coffee have been held about this topic that seems to constantly be circling my brain. My sweet mother told me the other day that I was this way even as a child - a dreamer. Like I said, it can be a very good thing. It means I won't always settle, that I look for something more.

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But sometimes I feel restless that I loose my focus. I forget the track that I am on. As a follower of Christ I have a goal, a future ahead of me with my Savior. The things of this earth can be meaningful and important but I will at some point feel dissatisfaction. This is actually a normal feeling amongst humans. But I know how to replace that feeling with hope. To be content, to be present where I am at.

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This has been my challenge, and I've accepted it. To find purpose and hope as an aimless wonderer, even in the mundane. One of my favorite writer and scholar says the following, "“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis

SINGLE DURING THE HOLIDAYS - AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. by Sarah Burgess

by Sarah Elizabeth

For whatever reason, the holidays have been deemed a good opportunity to catch up on one another's lives. So, in my early thirties and single, I often get asked about my singleness. While people mean well, the question has always made me feel a little uneasy. Have you ever felt this way? You know the question. It can be asked in many different ways. When someone asks me about my singleness, in my brain I want to humor the question - because to me it sounds like this:

 "Sarah, how is that growth on your big toe doing?" I would always look awkwardly at my feet. "I had hoped my socks and shoes would have covered it up," I would whisper to myself. My thoughts continued, "I had hoped they would have forgotten...wishful thinking, I guess." Most of the time I wasn't anxious to talk about it, either. Usually my singleness was a topic that only me and my girlfriends would discuss at a local coffee shop or bar. Not something that I really wanted to discuss with Aunt Agatha. The problem was, it wasn't just Aunt Agatha. When the question was asked, the whole room would go silent...and many would stop their conversation to see what my response may be.

It would be at this point I would want to blurt out "Well, the growth wouldn't go away, so I HAD to have my toe REMOVED." I am sure everyone would gasp as I would tug at my shoe lace like I was about to take off my shoes and say, "Anyone want to see it?" "NOOO!!!" Would be their response, I am sure.

Have you ever heard that phrase, "Out of sight, out of mind?" Well, I would apply that to the situation of your singleness, but it's not necessarily true. For example, when you walk in anywhere this holiday season, you most likely will walk in alone. Maybe you will walk in with your family, but at some point - being single- you will be alone. You will be representing yourself. You are your own representative, you speak only for yourself. So when you receive the following questions, "Are you seeing anyone?" "Are you still single?" "What happened to that guy/girl?"

How do you respond? The questions will inevitably come. Usually the intent behind these questions are pure. People are well meaning. What they don't realize, however, is these questions can trigger emotions that are painful. But you have to remember they don't know this. They didn't know that the last guy/girl you went out with broke your heart. That you've been trying to forget your singleness. They don't really understand that at times bringing up your singleness makes you feel incomplete or sad. 

Look at your cousin Robert. Aunt Agatha is probably going to be asking him about his most recent promotion at work. His mom (who is sister to Aunt Agatha) had mentioned it to her over the phone one day. But what Aunt Agatha doesn't know, is that Robert didn't get that promotion. You watch him as he sits across the room avoiding eye contact with Aunt Agatha. His worst fear is that she will bring it up at the dinner that evening, in front of everyone.

Is it wrong for Robert to have wanted that promotion? No, it's not. He worked hard to get it. But it just didn't come through. So what should Robert do? Well, I don't know entirely, because this is mostly about you and your singleness. I would probably offer him the same advice that I am about to give you. This advice isn't going to just help you on the holidays, but on other days as well.

Let's call it a 'focus shift.' Now I have no idea if that is a phrase or even a thing - but I am about to make it one. We've already established the well meaning of your friends and family when they ask you about your singleness. Now let's talk about your response. I am hoping that you won't have to completely make something up. Think of something positive. Something that can cause the focus to move off of your singleness. Remember Aunt Agatha cares about you, she wants you to be happy. Also remember you are happy. At least you should be. Your singleness doesn't define you.

As hyped up as this society gets about 'being in a relationship' - there is actually so much more. That more is you. Yes you. Remember you are your own representative. You are not defined by your relationship status. I know, your moaning and groaning and saying, "but Sarah, you don't get it.""Your right, I don't." I'll reply to you. Why? Because I choose not to.

I choose to not be defined by the past relationships I have been in. I choose to not be defined by my current status that society labels as single.  If Aunt Agatha walked up to me this Christmas 2017 and said "Sarah, are you seeing anyone?" I would give her an honest reply. Because an honest question deserves an honest answer. There is no shame in my answer.

"Aunt Agatha, I am not dating anyone. But let me tell you what I have been doing." I would reply. Suddenly things change. I would take her by her arm and share with her about the book I am writing. Yes, a book. I know. I've been putting it off for years. Its my story. Maybe you can read it one day. No, you don't have to say your writing a book. Especially if you are not.

Aunt Agatha may ask you for credit or at least have her name put on the first page, "To My Aunt Agatha." I'm just kidding. But seriously. She would. She thinks she is the best aunt you've ever had. Tell her about the gym you just started working at. Tell her about your crazy next store neighbor who keeps borrowing eggs, and you have no idea what she is doing with them.

Now I am not undermining the pain you've felt. The pain in your singleness this holiday season may have been very real, and I am very sorry. I am sure you are probably sick and tired of all the Hallmark movies, all the hype and the commercials that make you feel alone. But don't worry, you will get through. Maybe you didn't have anything to tell Aunt Agatha when she asked about your singleness. So go do something. You can't and shouldn't wait for someone to come into your life to make you happy. I know this isn't a popular worldview. But it is truth.

We like to think that someone is going to come in and make us feel better about ourselves. We start to believe that we would be happier with that other person. While someone who loves you can most certainly bring you a lot of joy, they will never be able to complete you. The most certainly will not be able to do that 24/7. They are human just like you. They will have their ups and downs like you do. I am not being cynical, but realistic. I promise this mindset will help you.

Tracking with me? Maybe not. That's ok. Just take a deep breath. Remember this: your life is wonderful and more importantly YOU are wonderful.  You are not alone in your singleness. Being in a relationship with someone, being married is one part of your life. One tiny aspect. It may happen, it may not. If it is something you really want - that is really important to you - then - I hope for your sake it will.

But until then, you HAVE to remember that you have purpose. You are loved. Your life is worth living. There are people who would greatly miss you if you were absent from their lives. So write a book. Go to the gym. Figure out why Mildred next store keeps borrowing your eggs, and live your life to the fullest.

Oh, and tell Aunt Agatha all about it. 

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Photograph by Sarah Elizabeth Photography