Sarah McCarten


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When we experience things differently.

empty tube stationShe got back and she was so excited, she’d been with her brother and her mum to see one of these mega preachers, I won’t tell you his name, but it was in the late nineties and mega preachers were very impressive in those days.

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Jealousy

A couple of months ago I put out a request for things that you guys might like to see me write about. I got a solitary request, which was from my lovely friend Max. So thanks for that guys!

Max asked me to write about the person that I am most jealous of in the world. Christians aren’t supposed to get jealous are they?  So I thought it quite an odd question, and apart from Max’s girlfriend, there aren’t many people who I’m envious of really.

I try to be a the-glass-is-half-full kind of a girl. So seriously choosing a person of whom I’m jealous is a hard one. I might look at a girl and think; ‘you’re married and happy, I’m jealous of you,’ but then I look at her husband and think ‘actually I got the better deal.’ So, I’ve decided to write about the kind of life traits that I am jealous of. I know that it’s not exactly what Max requested, but I’m using [a little] artistic licence.

People who get to write for a living.
Please don’t get me wrong; I love my job. I’m so grateful for the fun I get to have at work and the flexibility my job affords me. However, I am jealous of those people who get to spend their whole time writing and cultivating their craft. More than that, I’m jealous that they have enough inspiration and motivation to fill their time. I’m jealous that they don’t get bored.

People who know what they’re doing with their lives.
My dad has never had another job. He started working for the company he works for when he was 16 years old, this year he will be 55, that’s a long time. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. He did of course start at the bottom and work his way up, but essentially his career has been the same. I think that I see him sometimes and think I want that, he knows exactly what he’s doing, whereas I do not. I can see about 3 strides ahead of me, he sees to retirement, and he has done since I was a little girl.

So when I see my peer with a plan, I do get a little envious. I think I wish I knew with certainty what I want to be when I grow up. For me the uncertainty comes with this desire I have not to fail. If I say, for example, that I want to be a writer when I grow up, then if I do not do that I have failed. But if I say, I want to be a nanny for now; I’m pretty successful at that.

Married people.
I have a lot of friends who are married. While I look at most of their spouses and think I wouldn’t want to wake up with you every morning. There is something that I’m envious, and that’s the fact that they’re done with the dating game. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy going on dates, but there’s something about the security of their marriages that I feel like I’d like to have. Not to mention that the family politics of weddings would be done with.

So, if you’re married and you write for a living and you know what you want to be when you grow up; watch your back! I’m after your life.

Thanks so much for reading you guys! It really does mean the world to me!


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A few thoughts about friendship.

I wanted to write about friends. I wanted to tell you about some of the best friends I know. They may not be my best friends, although many of them are, they are simply good people who are good at being friends.

If you’re reading this and you’re my friend, please don’t think this is guide to loving Sarah better, there are plenty of things that make a good friend. Personally, I make an effort not to fake friendship and so if you and I are friends the chances are that I really do like you! This is a reminder to myself as well as to you about how we can make life a little bit lovelier for each other.

They make you feel at home.

I love it when I feel at home. When I go home to my parents I feel like that, but there are not many other places where I feel like that. Some of my friends though, have perfected the art of making me feel at home. I can’t put my finger on what makes me feel at home. I think it has something to do with the fact that they have things that I’ve bought or made for them around their homes, or that my name is on their to pray for board, or that they have my photograph hanging on their wall. I like that I am part of it.

It definitely has something to do with not feeling like an inconvenience to be there. That I can help with the kids reading, or make myself a cup of tea without asking. It also has something to do with the effort my friends make to welcome me, so not that I just turn up and I fit into their family life, but that I turn up and their routine has to change a bit, but they don’t mind because they want me to feel at home there.

Then there are those other wonderful friends who have the gift of making people feel at home at places other than their own home, that might be at a home group they attend or at church or anywhere really. Those people, I think, are brilliant.

They criticise you for your sake.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a chat with various friends about what they’re doing in life really irritates me. Of course, I dress it up in ‘this is to help you’ language, often it isn’t really to do with them, it’s not damaging or sinful, it would just make my life marginally nicer if they stopped doing it. It might be that their behaviour is sinful or damaging but, I don’t tell them to be helpful, I tell them because it is pretty damn annoying!

I’ve got a friend who I don’t see very often anymore, but for a time we spent a tonne of time together. I feel like he knows me pretty well and he makes it pretty easy to be honest with him. Every time I see him, I prepare myself for a telling off. And I love him for it. You see, he’s not telling me off because he wants me to be a better friend to him, or because I’m doing something that’s annoying. He tells me off because he genuinely wants me to be a better person, for my sake, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He tells me this stuff honestly and humbly. Some of the stuff he’s heard from our friends, but mostly it’s stuff that I’ve told him about my life and journey, he’s a pretty discerning young man! He’s usually right, and I usually go away feeling good about myself! He’s a brilliant friend! I’d be pretty happy if I got to be as good at being a friend to someone as he is to me one day.

They don’t make excuses for you.

I’m a little quirky, I’m loud, a bit outspoken and I like a bit of controversy; but I’m pretty happy with the person I am these days. If I’m honest I sort of expect my friends to be. There are not many things that I enjoy less than a friend who feels the need to make excuses for me. When I meet their friends or we meet new people they say; ‘that’s Sarah, she might seem a bit [insert aspect of my character that my friend is not so keen on today], but she’s actually an lovely person when you get to know her.’ Errrrr… actually no thank you mate! If you’re happy to be my friend in private, please be proud of me in public. Likewise I shall try not to make excuses for your inconsistent theology, or your preoccupation with the ‘problem with the church’ or your daddy issues, even though you make it very difficult not to!

They understand what is important.

I enjoy naps and spending time alone. In fact if I’ve not had at least one nap and one evening in alone each week I’m not a very happy young lady. I also eat slowly, and I don’t share my food. These things are very important to me. My friends understand this. I love it when I can say to people, I can’t see you tonight, I’m having the evening in. I know they are friends. When I just tell you I’m busy, and I’m actually staying in it is probable that I don’t trust you enough to tell you that I need time alone. You see, my friends understand that this is not selfish behaviour, it is that this makes me, me. The best way I know to be me, is to process, alone! Sorry about that!

I’ve got some friends who process aloud, and they are some of my best friends, I love listening to them, but it took me a long time to realise that they didn’t mean what they said. They were just articulating their thoughts aloud, and that’s alright. I understand that is important to them and I don’t really question them if they change their minds, I’ve sort of come to understand that what they do out loud is what I do when I spend an evening by myself.

I’ve got some friends who value confidentiality, not that they tell me secrets particularly, but they want what we say to remain between us, so for them I try not to relay their stories to our friends before they’ve had a chance to do that themselves. Sometimes I fail because I forget, or I forget how important it is. I’ve got friends for who it is really important to be on time. I try to respect that, and in that show them that I love them and they are valuable to me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Feel free to leave comments about the things you value in your friends. I tweet here. Thanks for reading!


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Some thoughts on taking things slowly… in church.

Can I let you into a secret? Sometimes I struggle in church. Okay, it’s not a secret; anyone who’s chatted with me for more than five minutes knows this.* One of my struggles is the call that the church puts on us to act immediately.

I’m all for spontaneity in life, but I wonder if in church we ought to be a little more considered?

My main worry goes like this; we hear a talk and the preacher asks for a response, it might be for those who are called to the mission field, those who are called to be leaders, those called to put out chairs. Whatever it is, if we sense that this call is for us then we are invited to make a response to this (go to the front/raise a hand/tell a friend/pray a prayer…) If you go to a slightly more charismatic church it may be that a person has a prophecy or a word of knowledge or a picture or a dream from God and people are encouraged to respond in the same way.

I believe that these words of knowledge, teachings, dreams, prophecies and pictures are usually from God and are usually right and good.

But they will still be right and good next week.

Let me offer a specific scenario. A word or a preach is given at church about there being people in the congregation who are called to leadership. The preacher asks for those who feel this sense of calling to identify themselves by going to the front. He doesn’t qualify what this calling is for or what the feeling is.

People go to the front. Some people know they are called to be leaders from previous experience, so they go to the front and are prayed for. This is good. Prayer is good.

My concern is for those who just want to be leaders, or just feel a funny feeling and go for prayer. This can be damaging. They may start to feel validated in a calling that is not really their calling. This is detrimental because, if and when they accept that they are not going to be leaders, they may feel like they haven’t fulfilled their calling, that God has let them down, or that they have messed up so badly that they have missed their calling.

There is another group – those who haven’t felt this call before, and genuinely feel it. They are prayed for and their journey toward being a leader continues. This is good. Prayer is good.

So what am I asking? Well, I’m asking if you wouldn’t mind if we took things a bit slower?

I like prayer and I think prayer is helpful and edifying. So I’d ask if we could pray for people who already know their callings. Could we pray for people in general? Could we pray for words and prophecies for individual people? If possible, could we ask people who feel general words and prophecies to consider them and come back for prayer next week or ask a friend to pray for them later?

Thanks for reading guys. It really means a lot to me. I tweet here.

*I also love the church so don’t worry about me.