Monday, August 16, 2010


 When James and I made a little expedition to Target yesterday, I was stunned to see a huge area of Back-To-School supplies. It’s hard to believe that it’s already that time again… especially since summer hasn’t even really hit Southern California yet. We’re still wearing sweaters in the mornings and evenings. Hear me: I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I was in Georgia long enough to have had my fair share of summer at it’s worst. (And we’ll be sweating it out here in September and October with no air conditioning.) Nevertheless, the display reminded me of how rapidly the supposedly carefree days have flown.

Summers are definitely not as carefree as they once were.

There were several blessed respites this summer, but it some ways it was a hard and harsh season. As I’ve vented previously, being home with Katherine and James was a rude awakening. There was fresh grieving. There were disappointments and disillusionments.

I realize that a lot of it had to do with interactions with other people… in both public and personal contexts. Positive and negative. Affirming and discouraging. Life-giving and draining.

Aren’t we an endlessly fascinating and complex species? Shockingly diverse, yet the same in so many ways. I agree with Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice that there are worse ways to spend one’s time than in the study of human nature.

In spite of my misanthropic musings a couple of posts back, during the past two+ years we have been given the gift of relationships with some extraordinary people. Men and women who have helped to restore my faith in mankind. People who have made me want to become a better person.

I usually discover that these are the ones who have sacrificed their rights and their egos in order to become malleable clay in the Potter’s hands.

In the midst of my oppressive summer gloom, one of these blew into our lives like a brisk ocean breeze beneath a radiant sky.

She absolutely radiates life and joy. She breathes inspiration.

Her name is Sarah.

She was a sorority sister of Katherine’s at Samford. They were friends, although not in the same immediate circle.

But when she heard of Katherine’s AVM rupture, she felt called to come alongside us in a powerful, major way. To go through it with us. She has been amazing, constantly flying in just in the nick of time when we’ve needed help or major encouragement. It’s like she has a heavenly hotline. So we were thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to Sarah, by loaning her our cabin at Lake Hartwell for a retreat for a women’s group she’s started in Atlanta.

She asked Katherine to share her story with the group. It was evidently an incredible weekend for all involved. (Our little cabin is “holy ground” now.)

I asked Sarah to share a little about her ministry, “Establish Her” (Est.Her.) Sarah’s thoughts about abiding versus activity echo my own, as does her view of the purpose of suffering in our lives.

I have a feeling you’ll be hearing more about Sarah Ott. She is a visionary young woman.

Sarah wrote:

Est.Her was birthed in my heart many years ago, though her name and existence just came into being in October, 2009. Through pain and suffering in my own life, the Lord led me to I Peter 5:10 the same week I was speaking on Esther at a women's conference. I Peter 5:10 says, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God who called you according to His grace, will Himself, perfect, confirm, strengthen, establish you.” The words dried my tears as I realized suffering is not only an inevitable part of life, but it is a divine gift that has an alpha and omega, too. Suffering is never a wasted cistern but a meaningful catalyst for perfecting my identity in Christ, confirming my call from Him, strengthening me for my calling, and ultimately establishing me through Jesus. He is life not merely an addition. So preparing for my Esther talk, I flipped the pages from I Peter back to Esther and my eyes enlarged. "Establish Her" was written in Est.Her. He wants to establish women, whether married or single, through the artistry of suffering. It is in this place of need, Christ awareness, and humility that intimacy with Christ is ushering in; perfecting our identity in Christ, confirming our callings from Him, strengthening us for our responsibilities, and then, of course, firming us up deep as women in God, not just women of God.

Activity is one of the greatest enemies to intimacy with Jesus. Establish Her was born for and through women who are hungry for intimacy in Christ, not merely activity for Him. Oh, may our hearts not be far from Him while our hands work for Him. So much of our activity is fruitless because it is not truly birthed out of abiding in Christ. Abiding, at least for me lately, has been deepened through a keen sense of need. That keen sense is not developed on the pinnacle, as much as it is in the pits or "prisons" of life. Even Paul wrote from prison, “I have learned to be content with whatever the circumstance."

This group of women is open for anyone who loves and needs the Word of God as an anchor through life. It is joyous to be a daughter of Christ, in spite of our lack of perfection. Establish Her celebrates the validity and application of the whole council of Scripture, while also enjoying and profiting from the individual voices and ‘establishment stories’ of broken women made whole. Every other Monday and Tuesday, women meet to break bread together, share an establishment story, capitalize on a passage of Scripture, fervently pray, and worship the Living God together. Truly, He inhabits the praises of His people and inhabits us, indeed. Where two or three are gathered He is present in Spirit and peace. This Bible study that stemmed from my own misery now births ministry for others. How thrilling to do life in community with one another as women, while enjoying the person of Jesus Christ, not only as our Savior and Lord, but LIFE utterly!”

I wish there were more Sarahs in the world. Her enthusiasm and joy are contagious. 

I hope that when I grow up, I'll be more like Sarah.


Some of the ladies of Est.Her

Wearing "Katherine Lived" T-shirts as a sign of solidarity
Praying for healing


Click here for Sarah's blog. If you are in the Atlanta area, and would like more information about Est.Her, contact Sarah at  Website coming this fall.


Laurel said...

What a great story to dovetail with Katherine's! I'm always fascinated by the way that seemingly incidental, casual connections play out later.

Gorgeous picture of Katherine, too. She looks amazing. Almost inspires me to try for blonde. Almost. (Pretty sure I couldn't pull it off.)

lucy said...

You are all inspirational!

With all of the negative news, ir's nice to hear stories of people whose lives are a blessing to others.

Thank you for sharing.

Joy said...

Love the pictures... especially the last one.

The Power of Prayer.

May it reap a great harvest of healing.