About Sarah Frase

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far has created 13 blog entries.

Carrying on the Legacy

by Dr. Nate Hearne

Legacy Given

My seventh grade science teacher, Mr. Clyde Haak and my seventh grade football coach, Coach Mark Wallace, both ignited my passion for living and leaving a positive legacy. They entered my life during my most formative years and imparted life impacting messages, which will remain with me forever.

I grew up in poverty. I’m the middle child of eight siblings, there would have been nine of us, but my youngest brother, Jessie, died two weeks after birth. The ten of us, including my mother and father, lived in a three-room house, not bedrooms, that sat on cinder blocks. The house consisted of a kitchen, a bedroom for my mother and father, and the third room served as a living room during the day and a bedroom for me and my brothers and sisters at night. There was no indoor bath facility and no hot water. We had to heat the water up on the stove to take a hot bath.

My mother worked as a domestic. If you have seen the movie The Help, that’s a great characterization of what my mother did all her life. The majority of the clothes we wore came from the homes my mother cleaned. I remember during my elementary years, having three shirts and three pairs of jeans, all with holes in them. Many times during those early years my older brother, Rayfield and I, would cut out cardboard to slip into the soles of our shoes to keep the heat of the pavement out in the summer, the water out when it rained, and the cold out in the winter.

It was during those very difficult times that I encountered Mr. Haak and Coach Wallace. They gave me hope when I thought there was none. They gave me confidence when I had no self-esteem, and their commitment to serve me went far beyond my greatest expectations.

When Mr. Haak passed out my report card for the first six weeks of class I had an A. He stopped by my desk and told me I had earned the A and I could make A’s in all my classes if I wanted to. Then later during class he said he was going to make me his lab assistant. He asked me to come to the school on Saturday mornings and help him set up the labs. It was during those special moments he showed me how to prepare slides, preserve specimens, and use the microscope.

After a game that I played really well in, Coach Wallace hugged me and told me I was the best 7th grade football player he had ever coached. Another special moment I remember occurred when I was changing into my uniform before practice. Coach Wallace walked up to me and said,

“Hearne, those jeans and shoes you’re wearing with the holes in them do not define you. You have a very bright future if you keep working hard.”

These men did not give me hope through their words alone but also through the time they spent with me. The importance of the legacy they left for me to emulate can’t be measured by mere words. This legacy of giving hope to others has to be lived out in actions and deeds in the lives of the people we encounter every day.

Legacy Revealed

If you have a discerning spirit, God will often give you a snapshot of your own legacy. It comes in some of the strangest places, at some of the strangest times. Not long ago a taco shop opened near the area where I worked. The restaurant became the rave; people were waiting up to an hour to be served. It was there that God gave me a glimpse of my legacy.

When I walked into the restaurant, two college-age ladies were taking orders. “Hi, Mr. Hearne,” one of the girls said politely. “You wouldn’t know me, but you were my principal when I was in high school. I never got in any trouble to be sent to your office.”

“That’s kind of bittersweet. I’m glad you didn’t get in any trouble to be sent to my office, but it saddens me to know that I never got the opportunity to know you.” I told to her. She asked if I were still a principal at the school I responded that I was now the Director of Student Attendance for the district.

Then, the other girl spoke up.

“You’re the one who goes out and write tickets, and harasses students into coming to school,” she said.

“No, that’s not at all what we do,” I responded. “My officers conference with the families about the problems, and I find resources to help them. We want to avoid writing citations.”

As I was explaining this to her, I could see the young lady who knew me as her principal was smiling. When I finished explaining, she said:

“Mr. Hearne, that’s what you’ve always done. You’ve always tried to help people.”

It’s all I want people to remember about me—that I always tried to help people. That is what I want to be my legacy. That young lady said I didn’t know her, but she knew me and apparently she had witnessed me helping people. The life impacting messages that I received from Mr. Haak and Coach Wallace helped me transition from a student with no self-esteem, a strong desire to drop out of school, and failing grades in my classes into a honor roll student with a dream. I took their inspirational messages, and turned my dream into a goal of becoming a science teacher and a football coach. I graduated from High school and received an academic/athletic scholarship to attend college. I graduated from college, and taught science and coached football in the public schools for over thirty years.

1 Peter 4:10 reads, “Every good and special gift you have received from God, should be used in service to others.” 

I know that I have received a good and special gift from God. I want to use that gift everyday by continuing to carry out Mr. Haak and Coach Wallace’s legacy. I want to educate, mold, and inspire others to become the very best God has created them to be.

-Coach Hearne

Challenge Questions

1. What legacy are you living and leaving today?

2. What unique gifts do you have that you can serve others with?

BOOK DR. NATE HEARNE AS YOUR NEXT SPEAKER

 

By |October 19th, 2015|Legacy Building|0 Comments

Living and Leaving A Positive Legacy

by Dr. Nate Hearne

I have been connected with the Church and public schools in the state of Texas for more than three decades. In those thirty-plus years, I’ve seen a tragedy happen over and over again. Students, teachers, and parents fail to reach their maximum potential.

I’ve listened as, one by one, students, their parents, and teachers parade through my office with stories of defeat, rejection, and isolation—stories of how they were cast aside by parents, spouses, and colleagues—how they’d been rejected by the Church, the school, and society as a whole. Though these heartbroken people were of different ethnicities and their situations not always the same, they all had two things that linked them together:

  • troubled relationships in the home
  • a lack of knowledge or relationship with Jesus Christ

Students confessed if they made straight A’s they were rewarded by their parents; if they made poor grades they were rejected. Athletes told me when they played well on Friday nights, their fathers were really loving and caring, but if they had a poor performance they were reprimanded and rejected. I heard numerous stories like these in my office played out in families that crossed every ethnicity and social background.

Leadership and Legacy

I’ve contemplated my experiences and analyzed the repeating problems I’ve seen through the years. From this I’ve come to believe that if those who are in leadership positions will change the standards by which they measure success, there will be a profoundly positive impact on the development of the people they encounter. In other words, I believe those in leadership positions should concentrate more on living and leaving a positive legacy.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word legacy as “money or material possessions left over to someone by will or bequest.” Yet I’ve seen many professional athletes sign multi-million dollar contracts thinking the money would improve their status in life, after a very short period of time find themselves bankrupt and suffering from depression. There are numerous accounts of parents who left enormous estates of wealth and property to their children and these estates become marred in bitter legal battles between siblings. I’ve witnessed parents save for years to provide college funding for their children and their children misappropriate the money and never earn a degree. I’ve studied this paradigm for a number of years and concluded that one’s legacy will never be centered on money or material possessions.

I believe that a person’s legacy is based on their character and how they choose to love and serve others.

Legacy Lived Out

In his book, Leadership 101, John Maxwell says that we speak and write a lot about the character traits of leadership, but we very seldom write or speak on the traits of legacy. It’s the one we know the least about.

Achievement is attained when a person accomplishes great things on their own. As a coach, I’ve seen gifted athletes, Running backs rush for 1,500 yards, Quarterbacks pass for 3,000 yards, and Wide Receivers have 1,800 yards of receptions in a season, these are major individual accomplishments! Success is gained when a person empowers others to accomplish great things with them. As a principal, I’ve seen master teachers help their students earn exemplary scores on national exams. A person may even find significance when they empower others to accomplish great things for them. I’ve seen gifted coaches take athletes of limited abilities and transform them into State and National Championship teams.

But a person leaves a deep, positive, long lasting legacy when he empowers others to accomplish great things without him.

In John 14:12 Jesus says:
“ The person who trusts in me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I’m on my way to the Father, and am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing.” (The Message)

As we encounter Jesus in Scripture this reoccurring theme was the central focus of His ministry—empowering others to do great things without Him! Jesus asked the disciples “who do you say that I am?” and Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” After Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus said, “Peter, you are the rock upon which I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:15-16). When Jesus held the demon-possessed boy and the disciples came to Jesus and asked why they couldn’t cast it out, Jesus said if you have the faith of a mustard seed you will move mountains and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:18-20).

The shortest distance to a great legacy is service.

Your legacy will never be measured by how many people who serve you. Your legacy will always be measured by the number of people you serve. The more people you serve the more valuable you become—to your family, your friends, coworkers, and the community you live in. In 1 Peter 4:10 chapter it says, every good and special gift you have received from God, and God has given each of you a unique and special that is like no other gift; that gift should be used in service to others.

-Coach Hearne

Challenge Questions

1. What’s your legacy?

2. What positive legacy are you living and leaving today?

BOOK DR. NATE HEARNE AS YOUR NEXT SPEAKER

 

By |September 28th, 2015|Legacy Building|0 Comments

Behind Friday Night Lights

by Dr. Nate Hearne

Seasons of Success on the Field and Screen

During my years as an assistant coach in the football program at Permian High School, I was fortunate to be part of building the State Championship team that was also named National Champions in 1989 by both the Associated Press and ESPN. Permian had gained a gained a tremendous reputation for winning State Championships, winning them in 1965, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991.

Permian High School was so well-known that in 1988 an author came to Odessa to follow us through our football season that year with the intent of writing a book about us. That book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and A Dream, made the New York Times Top Ten Bestsellers List. In December of 2004, a major motion picture based on the book was released which went on to be named by Sports Illustrated as one of the top ten best sports movies ever made. Two years later a television show of the same name was created that is now a widely known Emmy-Award winning series.

Secular Success and Biblical Success

During my years of involvement with organized sports teams, not only football, but also basketball, track, and baseball, I’ve had the pleasure of participating both as a player and a coach on a number of championship teams that believed in the philosophy of secular success. This philosophy is determined and measured by natural, human standards. The players place their faith in the team system: practice hard and everyone will experience miraculous success.

Secular success can, indeed, help players win championships. But rarely do the goals measured by secular success address the long-term, inner character development of the athlete.

Lasting success is only possible when we submit ourselves to God’s Word and become followers of Jesus the Christ in word and in deed. When players, coaches, and leaders include God’s principles within his or her action plans, there will not only be secular success, but biblical success as well. It is through achieving personal biblical success that one can effectively lead and guide others, best preparing them for success in life.

From my experiences in coaching the Permian High football team, the accolades bestowed upon those young men during that time and the championships they won, came as a direct result of their belief in the philosophy of secular success. I’m not arguing that having a secular success goal is all bad. As a coach, I am fully aware of the importance and crucial value of a solid game plan.

What I am saying is this—over the years, many of the students and players, of all ethnicities I’ve had the opportunity to work with in classrooms and sporting arenas all across the state of Texas, have told me later how valuable those beliefs I taught them regarding biblical success have been active in their lives years after they stepped off the field.

One Biblical Success Story

When Friday Night Lights: Untold Stories from Behind the Lights was released, many of my former athletes and students reconnected with me, as they heard about my book and read it. One of those students was Tony Carimi. I was his basketball coach and he was a high school sophomore. Recently Tony invited me to speak at the annual executive leadership meeting for his company and  we began to reminisce about the good ol’ days.

“Coach, do you remember that conditioning drill you had us do called ‘snakes’?” Tony asked.

I said, “Yes, I definitely do.”

For this drill my players would out of the main gym and up into the stands. They would have to run up the stairs and down the stairs, up the stairs and down the stairs, snaking their way through the stands, across all the stands, until I got tired of watching them do it. And they’d have to do this before we began practice.

Tony could run those snakes drill all day and never break a sweat. He ran his hardest and never quit, never slowed down. He gave those snakes drills 100% effort, every time.

I remember one day hearing the upper classmen berating Tony.

“Carimi, slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad, if you don’t slow down we’re going to get you after practice,” his teammate said.

I blew the whistle to end the conditioning, and called Tony over.

“Carimi, come here,” I looked him in the eye. “Don’t you EVER let anyone else dictate your behavior on this team. You have been blessed with a special gift, and I want you to use that gift, every single day for the glory of God.”

Being leadership-minded and intentional about building legacy, I had a conviction someone else had passed on to me that I was now passing on to Tony. I wanted to see him use his gift and not let anyone else take it from him or cause him to diminish it.

Years later, after I spoke at his work, Tony sent me a text message; here is some of what he wrote:

Coach,

I just wanted to personally let you know how honored I was to have you kickoff our meeting today. A real-world example of “iron sharpening iron.” 

Your calling at 62 is to speak and share your message. There is no doubt about that.  I know that 27 years from now that someone will look upon your guidance today as a defining moment in their life.  I thank you for your leadership and the time you invested in me 27 years ago.  You are living out an amazing legacy for your mentors and your family.

As you spoke today about life and death, all I kept coming back to was one of my all time favorite verses. 1 Peter 1 24-25. “All men are like grass and their glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of The Lord stands forever.”

I look forward to standing by you forever.

God bless you.

Tony

Tony is just one of many biblical success stories I’ve seen, and I am thankful I got to see him as a young man and a grown man serving God. Let me leave you with two challenging questions:

1. I recognized a gift in Tony. Can you name a time when someone recognized a gift in you and encouraged you to use it?

2. Have you ever gone back to the person who encouraged you to let them know of the impact they had?

~Coach Hearne

BOOK DR. NATE HEARNE AS YOUR NEXT SPEAKER

 

By |September 21st, 2015|Legacy Building|0 Comments

Catch the LIVE Show

We Don't Just do Bible Studies


January 1st isn’t the only day for fresh starts.

Starting this Summer, The Hub has been thrilled to bring you two new features on our site–you can book a dynamic speaker directly for your church or group event AND you can join us for Live Access Webinars.

Because when the content is this good, sometimes you need to catch the live show: BRAND NEW HUB LIVE EVENTS.

By |August 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

For Better. For Worse. For Reals

I’ve been living on the road since October 2014, traveling across the U.S. (and to four countries) to speak at events related to themes from The Invisible Girls.

When people ask me questions like, “Where do you live?” or “Where’s home for you?” I pause because I don’t have an answer. I live everywhere. I live nowhere. I don’t know.

I own a townhome in Portland, Oregon, which has been rented out to tenants for the past two years now. I had an apartment in California but I gave it up in October when the lease was up because I knew God was calling me to make traveling and speaking my vocation for now. And now it’s just me and a large wheeled duffel bag with 9 months’ worth of clothes, my laptop, my passport, and a few books.

When people hear about my transient life, I often get ooohs and ahhhs and aren’t you lucky’s. And I acknowledge how blessed I am to be on this adventure right now.

I also realize that the transience and the frequent speaking engagements come with their own complications. As a for instance…

Last month I picked up a rental car that smelled like cat pee and cigarette smoke. And I couldn’t take it back because if I took the time to do that, I’d be late to the event. So I had to suck it up. Three hours in a car that smelled like an incontinent, chain-smoking cat had driven it last.

Last week I was at an event in North Carolina to speak at a few events at a school here. The first morning, I was sitting in my rental car (that, thank the Lord, does not smell at all), and my contacts felt dry. So I pulled some eye drops out of my bag and instilled them in my eyes, and as I blinked, one of my contacts fell out and I couldn’t find it. My glasses were in my hotel room, which was a 15 minute drive from the event.  I didn’t have time for a 30 minute round-trip drive before the event started.

Jesus, I prayed as I was sitting in the front seat of my car using the rear-view mirror to inspect my eyes, Please help me find my contact lens so I don’t stand on stage for 45 minutes squinting with one eye shut like a patchless pirate.

I looked again, and found the lens on the sleeve of my shirt.

I had an amazing time speaking at the event, talking to a group of middle school students about the Good Samaritan and the life of compassion that God calls us to. And then as they were leaving the assembly, one of the boys tripped and fell and broke his arm. So I set it and splinted him and sent him to the E.R. and then, a few minutes later, started teaching back-to-back composition classes.

Does this happen to Rachel Held Evans when she speaks at events? I wondered.

Tomorrow I have to get up at 3 a.m. to catch my flight, which is a pretty regular occurrence. I’ve changed time zones more times than I can count. I’ve been up for long stretches (my longest to date is 46 hours.)

There are lots of other stories that I will write more about later. I think the point is that no matter what life we have, it comes with its plusses and minuses. It comes with its excitement and its obligations. And it’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone’s life is like that.

It’s easy for single women to glamorize marriage, and for married women to glamorize the single life.

It’s easy for childless women to glamorize the lives of moms, and for moms to long for a clean, well-decorated, silent studio apartment with a large ceramic bath tub.

It’s easy for people who aren’t in full-time ministry to glamorize the lives of those who are — and for those who are in full-time ministry to spend every birthday wish wishing they could, for one Sunday, sit anonymously in the pews.

It’s easy for people who have stable home lives to glamorize those who travel, and for those who travel to glamorize (and in my case, sometimes intensely envy) people who stay at home and get to retrieve their clothes out of a dresser instead of a suitcase, get to eat all their meals at the same dining room table, get to go to the same gym a few times a week, get to go to the same church every Sunday….

What I’m realizing is that all of us, no matter our situation, we have lives that are beautiful and complicated and blessed and hard. And it’s easier to glamorize the life we don’t have than to appreciate the life we do have.

And the win is to learn and practice contentment. To accept the hard parts and live into the good parts. To realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect life — for us or for anyone else.  To walk with each other through the ups and downs of our lives, accepting life for what it is.

For better.

For worse.

For reals.

Sarah Thebarge has a Master’s degree in Medical Science from Yale and was earning a Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University in 2010 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. After nearly dying, she sold everything and moved to Portland, Oregon, to start over. While still undergoing cancer treatments, Sarah developed a relationship with a single Somali mom and her five daughters, who taught her how to love and be loved again.

The details of Sarah and the Somali girls’ story of survival, recovery and redemption are recorded in her memoir: The Invisible Girls. All of the proceeds from the book are going into a college fund for the Somali girls. Sarah has written for The Huffington Post and Christianity Today. Her book was chosen as the First Year Experience book for incoming freshman at Mississippi State University, where she delivered the convocation in August 2014. She is also spokesperson for Vanity Fair Lingerie’s Women Who Do campaign and Compassion International.

Bring her to speak to your group or at your church event: Book Sarah Thebarge

By |June 29th, 2015|Invisible Girls|1 Comment

Wild and Precious

I’m writing this post at 35,000 feet on a flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles.  I just saw the Grand Canyon for the first time in my life! As I’m flying back, I’m thinking about bucket lists.  And death. And what it means to be alive.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago.

I had two recurrences, five surgeries, eight rounds of chemo, 30 days of radiation, one year of Herceptin infusions, three years of Zometa infusions, five years of Tamoxifen and Zoladex, and now I’m halfway through another five years of Arimidex and Lupron.

I have doctors appointments every three months. There’s a blood test my oncologist can check to monitor my cancer.  If the marker spikes, it means my cancer’s back and I need to start chemo again.

I did some research and found that checking the marker doesn’t improve your chance of survival.  It just lets you know sooner that your cancer’s back and you might die.

“Why would I want to know my cancer’s back sooner if it doesn’t improve my survival?” I asked my oncologist

“The only reason you’d want to know is if you’d live differently if you knew you were dying,” he said.  “Like — if you’d want to quit your job and have time to parachute out of an airplane or fly around the world or spend more time with loved ones.”

“Let’s cancel the blood test,” I said.

“Are you sure?” he asked me.

I nodded.  “I already live like I’m dying.”

And it’s true.

When you read my memoir The Invisible Girls, you’ll learn that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was seriously dating a man named Ian.  Shortly after my mastectomy, he picked me up from my apartment one evening to take me out to dinner.

He suggested several restaurants that we’d enjoyed in the past.  And I became irrationally angry.  “Why would we want to go there?” I demanded.  “We’ve BEEN THERE BEFORE.”

After facing my mortality at 27 years old, I became acutely aware of how short and how precious life is.  And I didn’t want to retrace any of my steps.  I wanted to blaze new trails — even if it meant doing something seemingly insignificant, like dining at a new restaurant.

It’s been nine years since my cancer diagnosis, but I still feel the same sense of urgency.

The world is a big, beautiful place. There are so many things to see and to do.  I’m not going to live forever. So let’s start exploring now.

Lots of people talk about their bucket lists.  It’s a list of things to do before you die, but for most people, it becomes a list of things to do as you are dying. 

What if we rethought the idea of bucket lists?  What if, instead of filling up a bucket with experiences and memories and then kicking that bucket over shortly afterwards as you’re dying….what if we fill up buckets to carry with us as we’re living?

What if we look at live as an adventure?

What if we see the world as a land of endless possibilities and experiences?

What if we celebrate life by slowing down and noticing that we are, in fact, alive?

What if we create space in our lives to do the things we’ve “always wanted to do?”

What if we stop procrastinating and look for opportunities, even this week, to experience the world in a unique way?

What if we stopped thinking about what we want to do before we die, and started thinking about what we  would enjoy doing while we are pain- , disease-, and deadline- free?

What if we already lived like we were dying?

In the words of Mary Oliver,


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

Sarah Thebarge has a Master’s degree in Medical Science from Yale and was earning a Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University in 2010 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. After nearly dying, she sold everything and moved to Portland, Oregon, to start over. While still undergoing cancer treatments, Sarah developed a relationship with a single Somali mom and her five daughters, who taught her how to love and be loved again.

The details of Sarah and the Somali girls’ story of survival, recovery and redemption are recorded in her memoir: The Invisible Girls. All of the proceeds from the book are going into a college fund for the Somali girls. Sarah has written for The Huffington Post and Christianity Today. Her book was chosen as the First Year Experience book for incoming freshman at Mississippi State University, where she delivered the convocation in August 2014. She is also spokesperson for Vanity Fair Lingerie’s Women Who Do campaign and Compassion International.

Bring her to speak to your group or at your church event: Book Sarah Thebarge

By |June 22nd, 2015|Invisible Girls|0 Comments

The Invisible Girls

by Sarah Thebarge

I was riding on a crowded train during rush hour in 2010 when a little Somali girl, who couldn’t find a seat on the train, climbed into my lap and fell asleep.

While I was holding her, I started talking to her mom, who told me in broken English that they were refugees from Somalia. Her husband had left the family shortly after they arrived in the U.S., and now she was stranded here, raising five children by herself, without any income or language skills or job training.

Then the woman leaned her head against the window as tears welled up in her eyes. “It’s too much,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s too much.”

I sat there silently, holding the sleeping child while her exhausted, overwhelmed mother cried. And as the minutes dragged on, I grew more and more uncomfortable.

I didn’t have a clue how to help a refugee family. I didn’t have any strong opinions about how to fix the problems with our immigration system. And, if I was really honest, I avoided most people who talked about “social justice” and “immigration reform” because the terms felt overused and overwrought. They seemed to require a significant amount of information and energy, and I didn’t have either of those things.

Shortly before I met the Somali family, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. After nearly dying of it, I had bought a one-way ticket from the East Coast to Portland, Oregon, landing in the new city with nothing but a suitcase of clothes and a broken heart.

Even now, as I held the sleeping Somali girl in my lap, I was still undergoing cancer treatments. I had no mental or emotional capacity to rescue a refugee family — most days I felt like I needed to be rescued myself.

“God, you dropped this Somali family into the wrong person’s lap,” I thought as the train traveled down the tracks.

And then I felt an overwhelming peace, almost as if God had whispered in my ear: Just do for this family what I’ve done for you.

God had pursued me — chased me across the country, in fact — and encountered me in my loneliest moment. So I asked the Somali woman for her address and went to check on the family a few days later.

God had loved me when my bald head and mastectomy scars made me feel unlovable. So I began to spend more time with the Somali girls, loving them when their stained clothes and broken English made them feel unlovable.

God had shown me that He was Immanuel, the God who dwelled with me — not instantly changed or fixed me, but dwelled. So I began spending most evenings at the girls’ apartment, sitting with them in their dark, cold apartment because their mom was worried they’d run out of money for food if she spent too much money on utilities.

The more I loved the family, the more I began to see that the reason I used to dislike phrases like social justice and immigration reform was because it made the problems seem like massive, institutionalized, politicized systems. And I don’t have the interest, let alone the ability, to overhaul a system.

But when I dug through the rubble of the system, what I found underneath were people who were just like me. Girls who were scared and scarred and broken. Unlovables who wanted to be loved. Invisibles who wanted to be seen.

I ended up writing a memoir about the adventures I had with the Somali girls as I helped them navigate life in America for the first time. It’s called The Invisible Girls and all the royalties from the book are going into a college fund for the five Somali sisters featured in the story.

As I’ve been on this adventure with the girls (and with God), I’ve discovered that there’s a lot I can’t do in this world. But I can love God, and I can love my neighbor the way God loves me.

And maybe that’s enough.

Sarah Thebarge has a Master’s degree in Medical Science from Yale and was earning a Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University in 2010 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. After nearly dying, she sold everything and moved to Portland, Oregon, to start over. While still undergoing cancer treatments, Sarah developed a relationship with a single Somali mom and her five daughters, who taught her how to love and be loved again.

The details of Sarah and the Somali girls’ story of survival, recovery and redemption are recorded in her memoir: The Invisible Girls. All of the proceeds from the book are going into a college fund for the Somali girls. Sarah has written for The Huffington Post and Christianity Today. Her book was chosen as the First Year Experience book for incoming freshman at Mississippi State University, where she delivered the convocation in August 2014. She is also spokesperson for Vanity Fair Lingerie’s Women Who Do campaign and Compassion International.

Bring her to speak to your group or at your church event: Book Sarah Thebarge

By |June 12th, 2015|Invisible Girls|1 Comment

The Suffering and Audacity of Raw Faith

by Kasey Van Norman

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. (Hebrews 11:32-37 ESV)

Many things in life can be so very different than the way they seem.

For me, depression seemed like an excuse for weak women…until I was depressed. For me, adultery seemed like something only a perverted harlot would sink low enough to engage in…until I was the perverted harlot. For me, cancer seemed so far away, if ever…until it was here and now. For me, faith seemed like a happy place to eat ice cream and never gain weight…until faith sent a sledge-hammer of suffering into my gut.

For the men and women listed in this passage above, things must have surely turned out differently than expected. When children of God are permitted to suffer, be rejected, and mistreated; to go destitute and afflicted, I believe, God is giving a gift to our world.

I believe He is spreading his love and grace to the world through those who suffer inside the unshakable faith that the Lord himself is better than life. I believe it is this raw faith that strips our heart of pretense and allows us to dance naked—laid bare—before our Creator.

Once upon a time my aim was to live simply; to survive the brutal blows this world hands out with a smile. My goal was once to live floating in my wade-pool of contentment; to go to church, have a loving husband, healthy children, a white picket fence, and a maybe a small dog, and above all, to never venture far outside of my religious box of experience in my small town underneath my small Southern-Baptist, sweet-tea steeple.

Once upon a time, I would have never written that last sentence for fear of what others might think. Once upon a time I would have never looked under the covers…never asked questions that actually stop people in their tracks…never do anything but shake my head yes and no like a small, female, soldier with no voice; doing whatever a ‘faceless committee’ deemed necessary for me to do and the ‘majority’ affirmed.

But God wanted me to look. He invited me to dig. He beckoned me to run naked through the streets of religion and scream, “Oh yeah! Well, take this!”

He wanted me to see faith as He sees—truly, deeply, unhinged and often unspoken of.

Prior to cancer I didn’t know what it was like to really be faithful…not the faithful like these people in this Hebrews verse.

My faith wasn’t naked and bare before God and others…it was clothed in hypocrisy-phony and small and timid.

I didn’t need God when I was happy.  I didn’t God when we made a good living and the bills got paid on time each month.  I didn’t need God when I delivered 2 healthy children with no problems.  I didn’t need God when my husband came home every night still wanting me.  I didn’t need God at church—I was happy there.

I believe that I am different now; more audacious now; more laid bare than ever before, for one reason– my faith is different.

Our trials, suffering, pain, and hardships prove to us a God of faithfulness despite our faith. If we turn toward God in our tough times, these seasons can work for us, not against us.  They have the potential to create in us hearts that are truly satisfied in absolute surrender, instead of hearts that are clothed in doubt, fear, worry, anger, anxiety, envy, and bitterness.

Hearts that are faithful are hearts that sprint naked in surrender before the Lord.

Hearts that are truly changed and point toward God’s glory are not hearts that cower in the face of opinion and tradition, but hearts that leap for joy over the grit God has developed through trial in their life.  These hearts are laid bare before God, welcoming whatever it is that will make us more like Jesus-if pain must be felt, so be it.  If our pride or reputation must be ruined-so be it. If we never understand the ‘why’-so be it.  If we never hear the, “I’m sorry-“so be it.

In my life I have come to one grace-grand conclusion…

Naked hearts are faithful hearts.

Kasey is a cancer survivor, a licensed professional counselor who has earned degrees in psychology, public speaking, counseling, and biblical studies. In 2014, Kasey was named ‘most inspiring woman of the year’ by Houston, TX and Buffalo, NY radio affiliates. She and her husband of 13 years, Justin, live in Bryan, Texas with their two children. She is the President of True Mission – a not for profit residential safe-home for minor girls rescued out of human trafficking within the US. She is also co-founder of Raven’s Way, Inc. – a not for profit online community of women who are learning to know and speak their life-story together (launching August 2015).

Kasey’s 2014 book and Bible Study: Raw Faith: What Happens When God Picks a Fight, (Full Study Series Here) has been hailed as one of the most daring and vulnerable ‘cancer narratives,’ to hit Christian literature. You can find out more about her on her website: KaseyVanNorman.org or follow her on Twitter @KaseyVanNorman.

By |May 29th, 2015|Raw Faith|0 Comments

A Bleeding Heart of Faith

by Kasey Van Norman

When we think about faith, we often reach for actions and behaviors—things we can quantify. We create a mental checklist: Have we been going to church? Have we cut back on the drinking? Have we been giving money to the church? Have we been doing our devotions?

We forget that authentic faith—the kind of faith that touches the heart of God—is not rooted in the external. It’s all about what’s happening on the inside.

People with real faith have hearts of good, rich soil. People with real faith surrender to the truth that there is absolutely nothing they can do to please God or maintain right standing before him. People with real faith understand that as they hear and receive the Word of God, the Spirit takes over and changes their hearts. As their hearts change, so do their behaviors. Then what you see on the outside is only a sincere reflection of what is happening on the inside.

I once thought that satisfaction would come from some external experience. But my greatest moments of victory, my most blissful seasons of peace, my consuming feelings of joy and contentment have never come from a big paycheck, a glass of wine, a beach vacation, a sexual experience, a relationship, or a blazing moment of success. Nor have they come from attending church, being a “good girl,” or serving in ministry.

For me, the greatest thrill of my life has always come from the breaking and changing of my heart to look more like Christ.

Perhaps the most victorious moment in my life to date was the true realization that God works in the gut-wrenching valleys of our life. Just as He brought the Israelites in to the wilderness to show them his mercy through manna; so He brings you and I into journeys of wandering through the wilderness to show Himself greater. True joy and overwhelming satisfaction is found there—in the process. In fact, the process is the point of our life all along. For me, I sensed no greater feeling of protection, security, and identity than the moments of heaving and sweating my guts out into a trash can from the previous days chemotherapy treatment; when my heart had no one or nothing else to lean against but the love of Jesus Christ.

Undying faith is found only there—in the broken, bleeding, surrendered places of our hearts. Great faith can only be experienced in a place of absolute dependence on Jesus.

The same can be true for you, no matter your history with faith. Maybe you’ve been a skeptic your whole life; maybe you have danced on the borderlands between doubt and faith for years; maybe you’ve been looked the part of a faithful Christian but haven’t truly jumped in with both feet. Wherever you find yourself, it’s not too late to embrace true faith.

Kasey is a cancer survivor, a licensed professional counselor who has earned degrees in psychology, public speaking, counseling, and biblical studies. In 2014, Kasey was named ‘most inspiring woman of the year’ by Houston, TX and Buffalo, NY radio affiliates. She and her husband of 13 years, Justin, live in Bryan, Texas with their two children. She is the President of True Mission – a not for profit residential safe-home for minor girls rescued out of human trafficking within the US. She is also co-founder of Raven’s Way, Inc. – a not for profit online community of women who are learning to know and speak their life-story together (launching August 2015).

Kasey’s 2014 book and Bible Study: Raw Faith: What Happens When God Picks a Fight, (Full Study Series Here) has been hailed as one of the most daring and vulnerable ‘cancer narratives,’ to hit Christian literature. You can find out more about her on her website: KaseyVanNorman.org or follow her on Twitter @KaseyVanNorman.

By |May 15th, 2015|Raw Faith|0 Comments

When People Pleasing was my Spiritual Gift

by Kasey Van Norman

For most of my life I have struggled with pleasing. So much so that I would have reckoned “people-pleasing” was a for real spiritual gift from the Bible. And if a real thing, then I had been “gifted” with an overdose of the “pleasing” ability and talent.

It started as early as I can think back. In fact there are very few moments I can remember prior to the age of 30 that I lived free of what others thought of or were thinking of me. From the way I acted at the grocery store to the car I drove, how I dressed, what technology I used, where I spent my free time, the house I owned, and even down to the lunch I ate–all of it was controlled by what another person thought of me. I was so enslaved to receiving the approval of others that I would actually spin the events of my life (stretch the truth, so to speak), because the real story seemed to lack enough interest and flavor to intrigue anyone long enough to listen.

At the age of 18 I went to church camp. While there, a well-meaning counselor diagnosed me as being a people-pleaser. She was right. But in the same diagnosis she offered me a dose of very bad medicine.

First, the counselor spoke this verse over me:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

Then, she told me that I needed to stop focusing on how to get the approval of man and start focusing on how to get the approval of God. She sent me on my way with a new Bible-reading plan, a challenge to pray and journal every morning for 1 hour, and a list of service-oriented activities that I should be involved in through my local church.

I was thrilled. This was a language that I understood and spoke well.

I could follow the rules and a “to-do” list like a boss. And so, I did exactly what she said to do. I pumped up my obedience level even more-so and upon returning home, I went hard after the approval of God.

In the years that followed something happened that I did not expect.

Instead of feeling more free, I gradually felt more enslaved. Five years into pleasing God, I fell in love with and married a man because his reputation seemed good for my image. Six years into pleasing God, I went back to my old, comfy idols of self-harm, depression, and the abuse of prescription medications. Seven years into pleasing God I committed adultery. Eight to ten years into pleasing God I lied to my closest friends and family about who I really was. And twelve years into pleasing God I attempted to take my life via overdose.

At the bottom of all my seeking and all of your seeking is one, singular fear. It is the fear that drives us so often into the most dumb and dysfunctional places of our life. If you don’t realize that you personally struggle each day with this fear than you have suppressed this fear so deeply that your heart has become numb to it, and you are simply living a mediocre, auto-pilot existence as a slave. The most liberated people are those people who are deeply familiar with this fear and their great desire to pick it up and play with it each and every day.

The fear of being unknown is at the bottom of all our doubt, depression, disorder, and desperation. This fear alone cripples our culture.

It starts with the fear of not being known by other people. We spend so much time here because the approval of another human being is theoretically possible. It is possible for people to approve of us. And so, once we taste it, we become addicts. The approval of man becomes our cocaine.

But despite the “high” we may feel in the moment of acceptance, here are the facts:

•Human approval is shallow. No human can know the deep places of our heart. If they did, would they still want to know us?
•Human approval is shifty. Some people will like us and some people will not.
•Human approval is skewed. Your friends will overlook many of your failures that need to be addressed. And your enemies will overlook many of the good things we do that leaves us to address them by working harder for their acknowledgement.

But there is a slavery deeper than seeking the approval of man. And that is seeking the approval of God.

While living to gain the approval of man is possible, gaining the approval of God is impossible.

“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7)

When we are drowning the answer is not to kick harder, but to grab onto the only life-vest available–Jesus. And the best response is here in Romans 7: “WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM!”

I shout–YES! I AM FREE!!! There is no amount of working or earning or seeking left to do. There is no amount of being good or moral, not enough time reading the Bible or praying, no amount of journal-writing or acts of service or ministry or legacy-leaving left for us who are in Christ Jesus!

And THIS sets us free to live and love without receiving anything in return.

Our helplessness before God is the space for true faith and freedom to be ignited in our life and for our pleasing of man and God to die.

What foolish slaves we are when we attempt to be something…anything, in the place of grace. We offer nothing to a holy, self-sustaining, sovereign Creator. And it is the being satisfied in this place that busts open our chains and liberates us to live.

Know your stuff > We fear not being known every day.

Believe the truth > The approval of man isn’t worth it. The approval of God is impossible to earn.

Live in Freedom > Through Jesus Christ you have been approved. God is pleased in you because of Jesus. It is finished.

Let Grace Change Your Heart > I don’t have to do anything. I get to serve God and love others.

It is finished, my love.

Kasey is a cancer survivor, a licensed professional counselor who has earned degrees in psychology, public speaking, counseling, and biblical studies. In 2014, Kasey was named ‘most inspiring woman of the year’ by Houston, TX and Buffalo, NY radio affiliates. She and her husband of 13 years, Justin, live in Bryan, Texas with their two children. She is the President of True Mission – a not for profit residential safe-home for minor girls rescued out of human trafficking within the US. She is also co-founder of Raven’s Way, Inc. – a not for profit online community of women who are learning to know and speak their life-story together (launching August 2015).

Kasey’s 2014 book and Bible study, Raw Faith—What Happens When God Picks a Fight, has been hailed as one of the most daring and vulnerable ‘cancer narratives,’ to hit Christian literature. You can find out more about her on her website: KaseyVanNorman.org or follow her on Twitter @KaseyVanNorman.

By |May 1st, 2015|Raw Faith|0 Comments