About Sarah Lowther Hensley

Writer. Former public radio journalist and higher education administrator. Currently blogging at https://homeamongthehills.wordpress.com/ and at http://laylectionary.wordpress.com/ and providing volunteer communications support to the Mon Valley District of the United Methodist Church. I have covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, anchored morning drive news, lobbied legislators, volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused children, and performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Heidelberger Studentenkantorei. I enjoy the Live HD performances of the Metropolitan Opera at our local theatre and watching German TV on my iPad. I have a B.A. in International Studies from West Virginia Wesleyan College, M.A. in German from Middlebury College and am a 1998 graduate of Leadership West Virginia. I attended the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks 2013 conference, concentrating on the writer's track. I live in Fairmont, West Virginia with my husband, our son, and Tess the rescue pup.

Perpetual Intention

Two square cubes and three rectangular blocks.

From these simple objects, I mark each new day.

The rectangles display the months of the year, one month per side.

The squares display numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6/9, 7, and 8, from which each day of the month can be shown in its turn.

Wooden calendar in front of books on a bookshelf with the month and date blocks spilling out.

Twelve months…a repeating pattern of days of the month…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 (sometimes), 30 (sometimes), and 31 (sometimes).

My perpetual calendar – a gift from my sister many years ago – can show each day, but only if I intentionally move the blocks around to show the correct date.

Some years it gathered dust on a shelf.

Some years I changed it once in a while but mostly forgot.

Lately, I have become OCD about changing it daily.

It’s really just a few pieces of wood with some writing on them.

If I forget to change the blocks for a particular day’s date, the day still happens.

But the intentionality of changing it…of saying “here is a new day”…means something to me.

Each new day deserves its own intentionality.

I WILL acknowledge it’s a new day.

I WILL be intentional about making the most of this day.

I WILL pay attention to the small, everyday, simple things.

Intentionally WILL.

It’s not about a bigger, longer, better “to-do” list of intentionality.

It’s about taking stock of the basics…not letting life’s “to-do” list of busy-ness crowd them out.

The basic building blocks of a “day”…a “month”…a “life” are extremely simple.

We are the ones who make it complicated.

Perpetually.

Wooden calendar in front of books on a bookshelf.

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Writers Read

In the foreground, an open book, cup of tea, lit advent candles, and a Christmas tree in the far background.

2017 has been a tough year for writing.

It has been a tough year.

I’ve done tons of worrying and stewing, but not much writing.

Just. Could. Not. Write.

Luckily…

Writers read.

This year, during my own dry spell as a writer, I ramped up the reading.

Here’s a list of the books I read this year.

My goal for 2018 is to maintain this pace of reading, but also revive my writing mojo.

Feel free to leave book recommendations in the comments.

In the meantime…thank you for including my blog in your reading list now and then.

I wish you a very Happy New Year.

-Sarah

*Note, I have added links to Amazon for reference, but the VAST majority of these books I read for free through our local library and the Overdrive app.*

The picture shows 60 book covers - one each for the books listed in the blog post.

Imperfect Purpose

View of a couch from the arm towards a worn out seat.

I sit on my corner of a broken down couch

and ponder the state of the world.

Beauty and bitterness

Love and hate

coexist together as swirled

strands of a common theme

of humankind and human-unkind.

Damaged.

Yet somehow continuing

the timeless pursuit of meaning.

The world, the couch, and I share a fate

of maintained utility amid brokenness.

Imperfect.

With purpose.

Hopefully good for something.

Haven for Healing

Angry Birds bandages, Neosporin, and an arm sling.

I once belonged to a church whose vision statement declared it existed to “share the joy of knowing Jesus” and it was a “haven for healing and a training center for ministry.”

I felt and was quick to share the joy of knowing Jesus and I actively participated in the training for ministry, but the “haven for healing” part did not resonate with me as something I personally needed. For me, it represented my hope that others who needed healing would feel welcome among us.

That was then.

Now I am the one in need of a haven for healing.

I believe in God.

I trust God.

But I have lost faith and trust in the church.

My heart is wounded and in need of healing, but the place I would normally look to as a haven for healing is, in this case, the source of the injury.

I know in my heart I need and want to stay connected with a community of believers, a community of Christians who experience the joy of knowing Jesus and the drive to share that joy with others; who thirst for continued study, growth, and training for ministry.

But what do I do when connection with a community of believers, a community of Christians, is the source of the hurt and pain?

Back then, I was one offering joy and healing; now, I am one seeking it.

I seek a haven for healing.

I know there are people in communities of faith ready to offer that haven – even people within my current one – but I am still feeling off balance and – frankly – more than a little burned. I am not yet ready to trust again.

I am struggling with trusting anyone – even well-meaning people – with my broken heart.

I seek a haven for healing.

I hope and pray I find a way to place trust in a church community again, but for now my focus is on God – in whom I do still have faith and trust.

The journey continues.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

 

Psalm 23: 1-3

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

 

Psalm 51: 10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

 

Psalm 147: 3

He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.

Atomic Haiku

ShadowsAtomic bombs here

And some atomic bombs there

Which nut will fire first?

 

Americans love

And North Koreans love, too

Why harm the people?

 

Donald and Jong-un

Do not speak for the people

Let’s lock them both up.

Eclipse the Shadow

It was a thumb.

In the movie Apollo 13, Jim Lovell holds his thumb up in front of his face and blocks out the moon. As he moves his thumb back and forth, the moon disappears, reappears, and disappears again.

A trick of perspective let his little thumb seem to cover up the bigger moon.

Screen shot from Apollo 13 - Jim Lovell holds his thumb up to block out the moon.

I thought of that scene this past week as people across the nation stopped what they were doing to witness that same moon make the sun disappear.

The sun didn’t really disappear of course.

It was there all along…the moon only temporarily blocked our view of the sun…just as Jim Lovell’s thumb only temporarily blocked his view of the moon.

A trick of perspective let the moon seem to cover up the bigger sun.

NASA Screen shot of Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017.

The solar eclipse was a beautiful and amazing trick of perspective, and…

…and, it was reassuring.

In recent posts I’ve shared my struggle to remain positive and optimistic. I am sad/angry/disgusted/discouraged with the way things are going on many fronts – global, national, local, and personal.

It’s as if my normally optimistic self is being eclipsed by worry’s weight, hate’s heartache, and the devil’s despair.

The shadow is deep and dark; at times terrifyingly total.

So I am holding tight to the lesson of the solar eclipse:

The shadow is temporary.

My optimistic self is still here…somewhere…behind the shadow.

NASA Screen shot of Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017.

The psalm of the eclipse proclaims it:

The shadow cannot, will not, remain.

NASA Screen shot of Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017.

The light will break through – first around the edges and then with amazing power.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, shine, shine

Let it shine!

Out there in the dark

I’m gonna let it shine

Out there in the dark

I’m gonna let it shine

Out there in the dark

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, shine, shine

Let it shine!

NASA Screen shot of Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017.

Pessimistic Pollyanna

Refrigerator magnets spell out "I just can not."

It’s not pretty.

It’s not at all pretty when a glass-half-full Pollyanna hits the reinforced concrete barrier of disappointment with the world and the overall state of things.

It’s gruesome.

I don’t want to look.

I try to avert my eyes, but I can’t escape it.

I am that Pollyanna.

I’ve hit that wall.

 

I’m overwhelmed at the degree of the hatred-of-other, apathy-toward-neighbor, and acceptance-of-lies unleashed in the world.

 

I’ve lost faith in and respect for our nation’s leaders.

I’ve lost belief in the ability of our state’s leaders to work for the common good.

I’ve lost trust in the spiritual maturity or accountability of my pastor.

 

So here I am.

Overwhelmed and lost.

I’m feeling anger, grief, despair, and – sometimes – fatigue and numb lethargy.

It’s taking its toll.

My blood pressure feels like it’s up, I think I may be getting an ulcer, and I can’t sleep.

 

The wall.

It’s been hit.

 

If it were just me, I believe I would withdraw from the world, curl up into an introverted ball, and tell the world to go you-know-where.

 

But, of course, it’s not just me.

We’re in this together.

 

Our – my! – inactions / actions affect others.

We – I! – can’t give up.

We can’t give in to anger, grief, despair, fatigue, and numb lethargy.

 

I’m still not quite sure how to proceed.

But I will try.

I have to pick up my battered and stunned self from the ground at the foot of the wall and seek a way over, around, or through it.

The Pollyanna in me, buried deep as she is, whispers to keep seeking the way.

Refrigerator magnets spell out "I just can not but will."