Sheriff Sarah

Sheriff Sarah

Friday, March 30, 2012


Contentment. The word inspires a world of images. Lying on your couch with your kids watching a movie. Curled up by the fireplace with a good book. Shopping for a sharp new wardrobe. Watching the sunset on a clear summer day with your sweetheart. Admirable things, all. But can we discover a deeper meaning to the word?

I’m currently walking my own journey in search of contentment. I’m very content in some aspects of my life but not all of them. As any parent of a special needs child understands, every day is precious but that doesn't necessarily bring us contentment. The Apostle Paul wrote that he wanted to be content at all times, no matter the circumstances or what may be swirling around him. It’s this kind of contentment I’m seeking. Is it even realistic to  pursue such a thing?

How can we reach a level of contentment where no matter what lies behind or in front of us, it won’t affect us? Being content is more than simply enjoying the moment or relishing a memory in the making. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines contentment as “a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet.”  A deeper meaning can be found when defining the root word, content: “satisfaction which holds the mind in peace, restraining complaint, opposition, or further desire.” I wonder how many people actually experience contentment in that context. Do you? How do you know? How does being content enhance your everyday life?

Discovering true contentment may take a lot of work and focus, but in the end, wouldn’t you rather live there then in the craziness that so many people do?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pondering Our Past

I'm working on a series of essays & articles about my dad growing up on a duck club in the Bay Area cities of Irvington and Fremont. It's fascinating to listen to his stories or reading the emails he began writing over 10 years ago. This exercise got me thinking about the past. How often do we hit pause on our lives, take a few minutes, or maybe hours, and consider our past? Speaking for myself, I don't do it nearly enough.

There are several reasons we should ponder the past which could positively impact our lives. Recalling that past:

1) Strengthens family bonds. Whether this is retelling family stories to your kids or reconnecting with your parents or siblings as you grow older, your perspective can be altered.

2) Brings a greater understanding of who we are. You may never have known why you acted a certain way or why you clashed with certain people, were blessed with certain talents and not others. Revisiting the past can fill in those holes.

3) Consider lessons learned. Did we repeat a mistake our grandfather made? Did we alter our family's future by removing alcoholism from the equation? Did our parents give us a positive tradition that will be passed on for ages beyond us?

4) Nurtures gratefulness. When we're young men and women,  we seldom consider what sacrifices our parents or those who raised us made. Or maybe gratefulness for removing yourself from a dangerous situation strengthened you as you matured. It's imperative we look for the good things in our lives that changed us. Gratefulness can prevent seeds of bitterness or disillusionment from blossoming.

I'm certain you could add many items to this list and it goes without saying you don't need to just apply this to your familial ties but your past careers, relationships, education, spiritual experiences, etc. Try to set aside just a little time today and ponder your past. Thank those you need to and teach those who need to know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Forward

Last time I talked about taking steps forward in your life. It's never easy, no matter steps you're talking about. The effort is worthwhile and necessary to grow. It can be painful, excruciatingly so. I've begun experiencing this firsthand. I've mentioned briefly here that I'm starting to write about Sarah's journey through her liver transplant. I wasn't sure what I expected when I began. I wasn't naive enough to believe that it would be an emotional-less, pain-free trip.

My own experience has a lot of "holes" in it since Patty was the one living each day with Sarah. I kind of appeared and disappeared like a genie in the lamp because of my new job and doing what I could to bring a little normalcy to the other kids' lives. Of course, even that didn't progress as I would have liked. Maybe that's why I feel a sting while writing about it. I struck out in a lot of ways and fell woefully short in many instances.

Even typing those words is difficult. I couldn't be there for Patty when Sarah's life hung in the balance following her bleed. I couldn't be there for my kids' each night because it caused more hurt for them to spend a short time with me and then watch me leave again.Many nights I sat alone at home crying out to God to bring me strength, to take the pain away from Sarah, from Patty, from the other kids; to help me stand strong even though I felt like a failure.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me. No matter how awkward, shy or disconnected I might be in social arenas, with my writing I could say things I never could physically utter. And much better than I could possibly formulate in person. So, why am I writing all of this? I suppose to some degree its another step in my own healing. You would think after 3+ years I'd have moved beyond a lot of the pain. But it's become apparent these things take much longer than that, even though I'm fully aware how far God has brought me and what a blessing the experience has been. A blessing, you say? Yes, but I'll save that discussion for another time,

Brevity is not my strong suit but I'll cut to the chase. No matter the circumstances you face or what is keeping you from moving forward, the only way to begin to heal (if that's what you need) - even in small stages as I have - is to actually MOVE. Only then can you begin to actually digest what you've lived through and start to see the sunrise on the next chapter in your life.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking the Next Step

I've been pondering life a lot lately. If you know me at all, you'll understand I do this pretty regularly. I know where my ultimate destination lies, that's not my concern. It's more about "what happens next?" We face choices every day we live on this earth. Those choices added together create the fabric of our life - what we do, where we go, who we know. You may be at a stage where you're hitting on all cylinders. Perhaps you have a great spouse, a great job, or feel security throughout your life. Those are all great places to be.

But what is next for you? What steps do you need to take to reach the next level in your life? Maybe you need to reach out to an old friend, or someone who could use a friend. Or maybe you've been unemployed for many months or even a couple of years & you just don't know what to do. You might be expecting your first child and aren't sure what kind of parent you'll be. Rest assured you are not alone in any of these instances.

The difficult thing for all of us is to make a conscious decision to move forward - to chase that elusive "dream" job; to grow deeper in your faith; to break out of your timid shell. Whatever it is the hardest thing to do is take that first step. I'm living there right now as I consider a number of areas in my life that are requiring me to step out and take a chance. One of these is my writing, another is my involvement with organ donation awareness, and there are others. Not only that, but each of these require me to be willing to fail. Are you willing to step out today and fail? Failure is not the end of the world, simply another lesson in how to succeed and reach the next stage of your life.

Go ahead and jump. You won't be alone. What areas do you find yourself challenged to move forward this year?