Sister Sara Says

Resources for ministry, and musings of a Deaconess.


Life as I know it

Merry Christmas to all and to all… Simplicity

I love pinning. Pinterest is my time filler of choice. When I first started using Pinterest two years ago I was looking for gift ideas for my kids, a task that seemed never ending. How many presents do they actually need? We would end up with piles of presents every Christmas, from us (parents) from grandparents, great grandparents, aunt, and countless others. Every year I couldn’t think of enough things they wanted for all of the people who wanted to buy presents, and then I found this little nugget on Pinterest.


I remember thinking “This is genius! Where has this been all my life?” And so a new family tradition has begun, and I can’t sing its praises enough. I was worried that the first time we tried it (Easter) we would have some push back, but really both of my boys really enjoyed it. Here are some reasons why it works so well for us.

1. Limiting the amount of gifts. Four, that’s it. Sometimes I really want to buy more, because I get swept up in the excitement of it all, but this helps keep some perspective on how much we really need for each kiddo.

2. Keeps expectations in check. The boys know what they will get, something from these four categories. They also know that the only thing they really get any input on is the want category. My older son (AJ) told me this past week “you know I never really like my wear. I mean, I know its not my want… but still”. However, does he wear what I get him? Yes. And does he complain? No. This also keeps the “I want I want I want” way down at our house. They might tell me four or five things they want, but they know they need to narrow it down, because they are only getting one of them.

3. Teaches Prioritizing. We know at our house that if we only get one “want” then we’d better weed out what is really unimportant. My older son spends lots of time researching what he wants online, to find out what the best thing will be. Sometimes this helps him find out that he doesn’t have the correct equipment to run something he wants, or he finds out that he would need to replace the batteries so often that it wouldn’t be a good use of his money. This teaches skills I want him to have for the future when he spends his own money.

4. Extra $ for others. Because we don’t spend as much on our own gifts, we have extra money for gifts for others. In our church a Sunday School class sponsors gifts for children from the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. This year we purchased a remote control truck for a 3 year old boy. Both boys contributed their own money for the truck, and AJ (who has been tithing longer than his brother) saw this as a natural extension of what we already do. My younger son (CW) had a little trouble parting with his money, but we talked about how this little boy should have his own want, need, etc. He still wasn’t thrilled, but he understood that other people deserve a “want” as well.

5. Family giving made easier. Because the boys are good at narrowing down their want lists, it has become easier to tell family what they might like. I know which “want” I’ll give them, and I can let them know the other ones they requested. This has also simplified our family events, because family knows that we only give four presents, and we request they limit theirs to one big present, or two small ones. This has made our family giving times focus more on being together and less on the gifts themselves.

I have really enjoyed these more simplified holidays these last few years. My prayer is that my boys understand what we are trying to do as they grow older, and grow to be generous and cheerful givers.

May your Christmas season be filled with joy, and simplicity.

Gender Equality at the Gym

Nope, this has nothing to do with re racking your weights so I don’t have to, although that’s really annoying folks. Its not about when I feel totally intimidated by the men with bulging muscles that work out around me and my puny little arms. This is about when I dropped my son off for child care.

We have never stereotyped gender roles in our house. I have two sons, AJ (10) and CW (5), and I can remember many times when they have both wanted to do things or have things that society might say are for girls. AJ spent hours on the playground in preschool playing princesses with the girls, and then wanted to be Word Girl for Halloween. He most recently purchased a Nerf Rebelle Crossbow, and had no problem purchasing it, but the lady at the checkout asked if he was going to a birthday party for a girl in his class.

I’m really excited about the strides that are being made in the area of girls toys. I think products like Goldie Blox and Nerf Rebelle are great, in that they market traditionally “boy toys” to girls. Although when was it not ok for girls to play with erector sets or nerf guns? But that’s a post for another time.

However, in our move to move girls into the areas that have been reserved for boys we haven’t made the same lateral move for our sons. CW wants his nails painted all the time, but he has learned that he might get made fun of at church or school. He watches My Little Pony and sings frozen in the car. He can even articulate that “if I like pink its a boy color, because I’m a boy, and if a girl likes blue its a girl color, because she’s a girl”. This is more than I can say for what we encounter most often when we meet people while he’s wearing his Cinderella ring and carrying his unicorn.

This Saturday we went to the gym and CW got to pick out the movie. He picked little mermaid and the attendant raised her eyes, I informed her that he also wanted My Little Ponies for Christmas, almost gearing up for a fight. She just smiled and said “tell me all about the ponies little man.” Later she came out and found me on the treadmill and said “A little girl comes in every Saturday with her My Little Pony backpack, filled with ponies, and no one ever wants to play with her. This week she came in and dumped them on the floor and your son said ‘You’ve got to be KIDDING me!!’ and was just so excited. He has been playing with her ever since, and I think its the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!”

This truly warmed my heart, somebody recognized my son for who he is. A sweet little boy who loves ponies, and who knows a lot about how to be a good friend. My prayer is that we can let kids be kids, and let them decide who God has created them to be, painted nails and all.

Making friends after undergrad

As I began my master’s degree program last year, I felt really old. I was turning 30 and many of the people entering the program were just out of undergrad, at that awesome age of 22, where nobody tells you how hard it is to make friends after college.

Well hear me now all of you just-about-to-graduate-college folks, it is extremely difficult to make friends after college. In college you were in a pool of potential friendships, you had neighbors in your dorms to hang out with, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. You were all in the same place in life with similar interests, and life was pretty good for most of us.

Then graduation, job and real world happens. All of a sudden you work different schedules from your friends, move away, or start families. All of these life situations will make it hard to make friends, especially the moving away or starting a family. I graduated college with a toddler, and the lives of my friends did not match my own married life. However as I follow those old friends on social media, I am seeing now that they are in similar spaces, we just didn’t reach them at the same time.

Now so far this whole post has seemed like a downer. I’m not solely the bearer of bad news, I am also hear to tell you that while it is hard, it isn’t impossible. I have also moved from MD to TN to AZ to MO and back to TN, and I have had friends in each location. My message is that it might be time to reevaluate the word friend and what it means to you.

  1. Quality over Quantity. – As I began a new life as a wife and mother in 2006 my need for a wide circle of friends gradually diminished. It is OK not to have a huge circle of friends, many of us thrive on having a small group of friends. It is easier to maintain a few close friendships when you have a family that takes precedence in your time. Make sure those friendships that you do maintain are uplifting and spiritually nourishing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try something new. As I said before, in college it was easy to meet people and make friends, but out in the real world it might be really difficult for you, especially if you are not accustomed to trying new things. If a local church has a young adult group, go try it out. As many of my acquaintances are church workers, sometimes we need to look for groups outside of the churches in which we work for friendships. My dear friend J is also a youth director and put herself in the very uncomfortable position of attending a young adult Bible Study at a larger church in the city where she works. She was new to the area and her only friends were those of us in the master’s degree program, most of whom were not close enough to maintain face to face friendships. Since joining the group she participates in a weekly bible study, trivia night and has numerous opportunities to just hang out with new friends.
  3. Patience is a virtue. OK I know that line is pretty trite, but it really is true. I lived in St Louis for almost 9 months before having a real friend. That’s a long time to hang out with your two year old, but it was worth it. She is still what I consider a great friend, even though we have both moved away, and I will always value my time with her. I lived in my current town for a full year before being invited to do something with people my age, but those friendships were worth the wait.
  4. Work hard at maintaining lasting friendships. I’m sure many of you have experienced the ending of a friendship. Maybe it was sudden, or maybe it just gradually faded away and two people grew apart. However I’m sure we can all identify friendships worth maintaining. My oldest friend, going on almost 18 years of friendship now, is extremely important to me. I make sure to visit once every few years, and he makes sure to call, or message me frequently. We live very different lives, but when two people know the value of real friendship they both need to work at maintaining that relationship.

The reality is that we are created to be in community with one another, and there are some growing pains associated with the transition from college to the big scary world of adulthood. Find solace in this, God created you to be in community so go and find it, you might be surprised who God sends your way!

Continue reading “Introducing… Sister Sara”

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