Apr 062014
 

It’s Saturday, and Saturday is my night. It’s a short night because we don’t get home from church until pretty late. But it’s my night, and I love it.

Each of my children get a night, every week, where they stay up later than the others so we can talk about their lives. As a homeschool mom who has just survived a long winter inside with my children, you’d think I’d know all about their lives without any extra effort…but you’d be wrong. I mean, I know the visible stuff. What I don’t know is the invisible stuff. And the invisible stuff is infinitely more important. On each of these talking nights I learn things I would never know if I didn’t take the time to pry…if I didn’t ask the questions they were dying to answer. I shudder to think of the doors left cracked for the enemy if some small secrets remained hidden to quietly grow and grow. Every night I am shocked, amazed, stunned, and proud to get to know the warriors I am raising. I ask them…

 

“How was your week? What was the best/worst thing about this week?”

“How is your thought life?”

“Have you had any good/bad dreams this week?”

“What are your sin struggles? How can I pray for you?”

“How are you working to improve _____ (something that was mentioned the week before)?”

 

Saturday is my night. It’s the night I take special care to approach the Father as His daughter…and to tell Him about my week. He already knows the invisible things, but He likes to hear from my heart. I know, because He’s a parent, too.

 

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Jan 242014
 

It’s been about six months since we packed up the truck with just an inkling of what we were doing…with only a general idea of where we were going. I left my couch. I left my living room chair. I left the kids’ squeaky bunk beds and my washer and dryer. They wouldn’t fit in the truck, and anything superfluous simply had  to stay behind.

A few evenings before, we’d dragged the red wagon down to the lake and gathered bundles of mint and mullen. We rolled in clover one last time, and we chomped on the earthy red flowers as we sat and gazed over the water. It was low..lower than I’d ever seen it. Fish scales littered the shore and tried their best to turn me away. But it wasn’t working; I wasn’t buying. I adore summer mountain evenings. The air is clean and light and just cool enough to redden one’s nose. It’s quiet, and we sat lulled by the symphony of fish jumping and bees buzzing and birds prattling from shore to shore.  I squinted my eyelids tightly to wall a flood of tears behind them, and I breathed in with all of my might.

“I’m sorry, Father,” I whispered, “if I let Your creation move me more than You do.”   Then we waved at the lake with stalwart faces and promised it we’d be back someday. For now, we’d have to leave it. We were headed to Missouri.

I know most of y’all probably think that this move had something to do with my husband. It didn’t. He hopes to follow the kids out here someday soon, and he gave his 100% blessing to the move. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

When God is ready for His people to move, He has a funny way of sullying their opinion of the place where they currently are. You’d think making bricks would be bad enough, but I believe it was God who increased the Israelites’ workload just to sour their taste for Egypt. Over the past year (2013) I had lost relationships. My once strong system of support had all but turned and walked away (because I’d decided to walk-out the Torah). I’d denied Jesus (in embracing Yeshua); at least, that’s what some people said. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

The only possession I had in the world was my broken-down (but well-loved), single-wide trailer. The previous winter had been bitterly cold, and we weren’t really looking forward to another one — nor were my parents in their only slightly better trailer next door. Coincidentally, or not at all so, they had simultaneously begun a walk in Torah before a single conversation between us. Neither family wanted to move without the other or stay and face another mountain winter (and my health has been poor, making single-parenting increasingly difficult)…so we decided to just become one and to move together.

We chose Missouri for several reasons, not the least of which was a fellowship of believers in the unlikely city of St. Charles (just outside of St. Louis). Passion for Truth Ministries, and more specifically Jim Staley, is the church that Google warned you about. Those warnings put me at ease (cause the same things were being said about me). After almost a full year of personal study in which I listened to dozens of preachers and spent much more time in the Word than I ever had before, furiously digging for truth, I found that no other visible ministry fit my life (the one I believe He has called me to) like the one embraced by Passion for Truth.

To remind y’all of what that is, here is the breakdown:

  • I’m a Christian (there is no need to scorn a label that Paul and Peter did not seem to scorn); but more importantly, I am grafted into the commonwealth of Israel.
  • I am saved by belief in a Jewish, Torah-abiding, Messiah who asks me to walk as He did.
  • Yeshua’s blood paid for the curse (what I had coming for breaking God’s law). It didn’t nullify God’s eternal instructions.
  • The fact that I cannot be perfect is not  a reason not to try (i.e. I can’t feed the whole world, so there is no need to feed one child?? Hogwash!).
  • God absolutely cares about obedience, and I live to make Him smile.

In the end, it wasn’t really location or doctrine or friends (or the lack thereof)…God just said go, so we sold the trailers and ordered a truck. And off we went.

We spent eight days in a Super8 while we, sometimes frantically, searched for a house. Deep breath. I’ll break the suspense: We did find one! Honestly, I let Mom and Dad handle most of that part. The kids and I were poolside. We love hotels, no matter the reason. On our first morning there, Sophie (a.k.a. Tiny Dancer) leaned over her complimentary cinnamon roll and OJ and asked through a quirky grin, “Mom, are we homeless?” “Ummm…yep,” I grinned back. Then she laughed-out-loud for five minutes. Apparently she still trusts me enough to think homelessness is funny. I take this as a very good sign.

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The truck was unloaded…and then reloaded and unloaded again (all thanks to Dad). None of us had any income yet, and it’s never wise to play the “God said to move” card with landlords. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we wondered over leaving. Had it really been the safe thing to do? And like the Israelites in the wilderness, we gathered (and continue to gather) manna at just the right time. Unless I’m much, much weaker than they were, I think my ancestors in the wilderness were at least somewhat surprised every morning, and maybe a little worried every night. Even when you should know it’s coming, because God has never failed you before, it’s hard to trust provision that has nothing to do with you.

But then, that’s the story of my life.

Dec 182013
 

Last night I warned my daughter that time moves quickly…so quickly…for grown-ups. Of course, she whined about that being unfair — because life moves so slowly for children.

If I close my eyes tightly, and breathe in deeply, I can see and smell 2012. Two-thousand thirteen is still paper thin, and I could reach through and touch the past if I tried to — maybe. There are seasons in our lives when someone rips the vacuum seal on a lifetime of thoughts and experiences; newness explodes in an instant. It’s inexplicably fast, this bursting, yet it contains moments that are tangibly slow. In these seconds you can hear your heart thump — slow…slower…like it’s falling asleep and you’re listening from underwater.

Budum. Budum…budum…bu-dum…

It was Sunday morning, late 2012, and my eyes were blood-shot from study. I hadn’t slept the night before. I stood on the stage in a floor length dress, and I held my great-grandfather’s violin. The pastor called my name, and that snapped me back to reality. I’d been back at home tucked under covers with my coffee and my Bible.

“Sarah,” he said confidently and kindly, “God has spent the past several years teaching you to hear His voice. Now He’s leading you into a new ministry…”

I’d be lying if I said I could quote the rest. I stepped back to steady myself with my bare heel; I blinked away tears, and I smiled. “What if that means I can’t stay here?” echoed over and over in my mind as I gazed out over my family. “Will you still trust that I can hear God?”

In the winter of 2011 I was inspired, compelled by joy, to write the book I am presenting you today. I believe God told me to write what would be a kind of Christianity 101 geared to parents of young children and meant, at least in part, to be a conversation starter for families. As a parent of five little ones, and a thirty-year veteran of Evangelical Christianity, I thought it sounded like a cinch to write. I sat down and began typing a rough chapter outline within five minutes of hearing His voice. I smiled from ear-to-ear and typed like the wind; then He interrupted softly with, “…but not yet”.  I was crushed…and a little offended. One thing was made perfectly clear in that dictated pause between inspiration and execution: I was not yet equipped to write this simple book.

Over the next two years, God has wrecked me — in the very best sense of the phrase. By the end of 2012 I knew exactly why He had delayed me that night. More than that, I was grateful. I fell fast into a love affair with my Savior like nothing I had ever experienced. I began to drink Scripture like before I’d been swallowing sand. I was so thirsty. I opened my mind to anything the Bible had to offer; and as I saw and learned things I’d never seen or learned before, I taught them to my children as we walked along the way.

From December 2012 to December 2013 I’ve logged over one-thousand hours of study…and I’ve poured them into a book. In my quest for truth I held nothing sacrosanct but Scripture, and I held no one sacred but Jesus. At that moment when the preacher’s daughter allowed herself to question, the bag ripped open. The seal broke. The room spun.

“The morning! The morning!” I cried, “I am caught by the morning and I am a ghost.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Two-thousand and thirteen was both rapid and steady — faith-testing and awe inspiring. I stretched all sides of the bubble of Christianity, straining from fingertip to fingertip. It transformed into something at times unrecognizable, but it did not break. I’m still here; I still believe. I still teach my children. Only now, I know I why I believe.

And as if any more ado could be possible, I present: Little Children. Big God.

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[click the photo for purchase details]

 

 

Little Children. Big God. is an intricate weaving of deep study and childhood wonder as told by Sarah Hawkes Valente, a mother of five young children. Each chapter introduces essential doctrine through beautifully concise narrative—simplifying sometimes confusing scriptures while still preserving their integrity. Sarah challenges us to diligently teach our children, to be continually taught by the mouth of our Father, and to apply His eternal precepts to our everyday lives. This book is for anyone in search of renewed, child-like eyes with which to more clearly see the heart of our great big God.

 

 

 

 

 

This year has been a faith-walk for me and my children, and we would be so blessed by your purchase.

 December 18, 2013  Christianity 1 Response »
Sep 152013
 

I’ve had very little time for blogging, lately. Those of you who follow my personal blog have probably noticed this. Since my day for blogging here is Sunday, it’s become a habit of mine to come home from Shabbat service, put the kids to bed, make coffee, and sit down to blog my only post for the week. It’s 1:56 a.m. and I’m just sitting down to write. I’m saying that to excuse the fact that what follows will probably be short and ineloquent unless the Holy Spirit decides to take over (and I decide to let Him).

Today was Yom Kippur (according to the Jewish calendar), and this is the first time I’ve ever asked my kids to “fast” with me. They’ve asked to fast with me a few times, usually for their father, but none of them have made it through a whole day (and they still haven’t, but that’s fine). I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that Yom Kippur is the only commanded fast in the Torah–so it’s pretty important to me that they’re taught to understand it (in a kid friendly way, of course)…

Read more at Whatever is Lovely.

 September 15, 2013  Christianity Comments Off
Sep 082013
 

I am a C. I am a C-H. I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.

And I follow Torah (in the best way we can for today).

I am a Torah pursuing Christian.

I’ve been saying this for about a year now, but “if the term ‘Christian’ was good enough for Peter and Paul it’s sure good enough for me!” Still, people have chosen to say things about me that have made others think I’ve rejected the faith that brought me to Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) in the first place. This has never been even slightly true…

Read more at Whatever is Lovely Ministries.

 September 8, 2013  Christianity Comments Off
Sep 012013
 

After a year on this dusty old highway, the thing that has changed for me the most is grace—simple , abounding, lavishly dripping grace. Now I see it, and it is amazing. Where once I needed grace for salvation, now I need grace for breath. He breathes out, and I suck in like the first inhale fresh from the womb. His mercy is new every morning—and if I need it to be, it’s fresh at two o’clock in the afternoon. Grace is His ever-present hand outstretched over muck and mire. The second I realize where I am, at the moment I call out for mercy, He reaches into a world He’d be justified to shun and says, “Hang on, child. I’ve got you.” He pulls me out. Grace is the hollow sinking, the heart-hurt when we sin. And grace is the lifter of heads…

Read more at Whatever is Lovely.

 September 1, 2013  Christianity Comments Off
Aug 252013
 

I was recently asked by a dear Christian sister how I interpret Mark 7 and Acts 10 (and I’m going to throw I Timothy 4 into the mix, too). She asked knowing that I’ve spent the past year avoiding pork and shellfish and was curious to know what I’ve done with the New Testament’s voice on the matter of food.

For whatever reason, the topic of food is a sensitive one. “You’ll pry my bacon from my cold dead hands,” and so on. But it’s a good question, so I’m going to answer it regardless of any offense it might cause.

This would be a good point in which to stop reading, and don’t say you haven’t been warned…

Read more at Whatever is Lovely.

 

 August 25, 2013  Christianity Comments Off
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