Sarah McCarten


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When I tell you that I’m scared of failing.

playing_playstation_flickr__cc__s-revenge_4664950_lrg‘I can’t believe he’s got no ambition, he doesn’t want to do anything with his life, he just wants to stay home and play on his PlayStation all day.’ My friend explained how her son had no desire to work towards his A Levels. She’d pushed him got him through his GCSEs, kicking and screaming. He’d passed, mostly, but he’d not done brilliantly. She told me that she hadn’t thought that things could get worse, she said she’d thought it wasn’t possible for him to try less, but she’d seen a whole differently level of complacency.  She couldn’t believe how content he was in underachieving.

I listened to my friend and I offered her some advice, I told her that I thought her son was scared of failing and scared of being out of control. I explained to her that if he didn’t try he didn’t fail; he was in control of his future. It might not be a bright future, but it was a future he could take deliberate steps towards. Even if those steps were sitting at his games console.

My friend thanked me for my advice; she said she’d never thought of it that way. She asked me if I’d studied psychology, I told her that I hadn’t, she called me insightful.  I didn’t tell her it was because I saw myself all over that image of her son.

I could tell you about many times I’ve not tried and not failed; but I’m not going to do that. Mostly because it would be embarrassing, but partly because it’s self-indulgent.

What I will tell you about is something I’m trying; something I might fail, but I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m going to try being a writer.

I hear you saying; ‘Sarah, you have a blog, what are you talking about’. What I’m saying to you is that I’m taking it seriously now, outside of people and work and church this is going to be my priority. That means, writing when I don’t feel like it, writing about the tough stuff, writing consistently, and trying to get my writing in other places than my blog.625488_10152709706935004_895663287_n

I tell you this because I want you to keep me accountable, please, because if you know me, you know what I’m like.

Hear me right, this is not an ‘I’m putting all my eggs in one basket’, like if my blog fails I fail. I’m not going to give up my job and move into my parents loft so I can be a writer. I’m telling you I’m going to try and I might fail.

As part of this, I’m taking Elora Ramirez eCourse Story101.

I tweet here.

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When I tell you that I didn’t get out of my car.

IMG_0082I saw her in the rear-view-mirror of my car. I was in a service station about half way between my parents’ home and my home, about a hundred miles from each. I was surprised to see her as she was so far from home. I thought about getting out of the car and saying hello, but I was in a rush and she looked like she was talking to her friend.

I drove out of the service station I felt gutted that I hadn’t made the effort and got out of my car, I could turn back but I was on the motorway and it would have added at least 30 miles and a half an hour to my journey. Besides, I couldn’t even be sure she’d be there on my return. I had plenty of stuff to do when I got back to London and I was sure I’d see her at some or other church thing some or other time.

It played on my mind the rest of the journey. I’d spent so much time with this lady in my teenage years, she’d made such an effort with me, she’d really helped me realise my potential, she was one of the first grown ups to not treat me as though I was weird and I as though I just needed to conform to some evangelical ideology of faith, she’d let me do my thinking for myself. I’d been too lazy to get out of the car and say hello to her.

I visited my parents a couple of months after that and they told me that this lady was sick, she had cancer, but she probably wasn’t going to die, it was curable. I knew that 1 in 3 people in the UK got cancer each year. I didn’t know, and still don’t really, how many people die from it. I went on about my day like nothing had changed, I trusted that the doctors knew what they were talking about, and in my experience, if they’d said someone might die, there was a chance they’d live, if they’d said they’d live, they had. If I’m honest I thought that this lady would probably end up cancer free and she’d have a good Jesus story to tell.

Since no one had mentioned it I’d forgotten that she was I’ll so when I was visiting my parents recently and my mum got a text message it wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. My mum told me that this lady had died.

Actually died, like I’d never see her again, I’d missed my chance; this wouldn’t be a happy Jesus story. It was just crap.

I was angry with the colleague of my mother’s who had text her to let her know. I was angry with myself also, firstly because I’d not gotten out of the car those few months ago but mostly because I had never told her how much her support had meant to me during my formative years.

Now I’ll never get the chance.


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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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Being Busy

Can I tell you something? I hate being busy. I hate not having time to myself. I genuinely like being on my own, don’t feel sorry for me because I mean it. I really mean it. I feel like our society tells us that it’s good to be busy, being busy is the thing do be doing, it doesn’t really matter what you’re busy with. I was out with friends recently, one of them said ‘oh I’m so busy, I’ve got this and that to do.’ Another friend chirped in ‘I’ve got this and that an the other to do.’ I said ‘oh actually I’m not very busy at all this week.’ And it was like a shock to them. Like I’d admitted that I’d intentionally bought the wrong shoes (or something). It got me to wondering what is it with our generation’s preoccupation with business?

Here are three reasons, I think, we like to be busy.

Being busy protect us from having to invest in real relationships.
If we’re constantly going from social situation to another, spreading ourselves thinly it means that no one knows us that well. It means that we get to spend a little bit of time with a lot of people. I personally don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be. We see this in the life of Jesus, he spent his days with 12 others, sure he had other acquaintances but these 12 were really the people he spent time with. Even beyond that, he had a smaller circle within the disciples whom he was closer to. That, for me, speaks volumes.

Guys, please choose wisely who you spend your quality time with, it is important. If you want to be known and to know people the way to do it is to spend time, good time, with people, and unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day. If however, you want to remain an enigma, carry on, being busy, not being known, but I am convinced that the loneliness will catch up with you some day.

It keeps us from considering what’s important.
I know what’s important. Making time to call friends and family who are far, writing, thinking, reading. These things are important to me. So why do I construct ‘business’ in my life to prevent me from doing these things? It’s because these things are the most challenging things in my life, they make me consider who I am and what I’m about, they make me assess myself. That’s the most difficult thing I have to do. So if I’m busy doing other things, it is easy to push these things aside. Even though I know it’s these things that make me who I am. Sometimes, I don’t want to be who I am.

It makes us feel important.
If you’ve always got something to do, it makes you feel important. It’s pretty simple really. We fill our time with things that aren’t important in order to make us feel important. We do it subconsciously. Often it not to make us look important to those around us, it’s simply that if we look in our diary’s and see that they’re full we feel popular.

So, that was Sarah McCarten’s guide to being busy. Please don’t for a minute think that I want you all to live like a hermit, I think it’s important to be doing stuff, I just think we need to think about the stuff we’re doing!

Thanks so much for readin]g! It really does mean a lot to me!

Please note that I found this picture/quote after I wrote this blog – just saying!


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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.


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The truth will set you free.

This is one of the truths that I’ve grown up believing. I think the specific Bible verse that this is referring to (John 8:32) is talking about knowing the truth of Jesus Christ and how it is that which sets us free. We understand that knowing Him and the lesson He taught will set us free. But, how does knowing the truth and being truthful impact everyday life?

I work as a nanny and I often wonder how much truth to tell the children that I work with. You’re thinking ‘always tell the truth Sarah, what are you talking about?’ aren’t you? Well it’s sometimes a bit more complicated than that!

Think about this:

There is a museum that we sometimes go to. It houses a collection of stuffed animals from the Victorian era. It sounds a bit cruel, I know! It is a bit, but the Victorians didn’t concern themselves with such matters. I went there a few weeks ago. I’ve taken the children there at least a dozen times and they’ve been with their parents lots of times too. We were wandering round a particular gallery and the little girl I nanny said, “Sarah, they’re awfully still aren’t they?” My immediate response, almost without thinking was, “sweetheart, of course they’re still, they’re dead.” She started shouting; “They’re dead? What do you mean they’re dead?”

As it transpires, she was under the impression that it was like a zoo and that the animals wander around at night but stay still in the day so that people can look at them!

Should I have told her the truth? Does it even matter?

Think about this:

I take the little boy I nanny to ‘toddler worship’ at the local Anglican Church. It usually follows the lectionary, so sometimes the stories are a bit odd for the children, but it means that the whole parish is looking at the same thing in the same week, which is a good thing! They adapt the stories for the children a bit. I was there after Christmas and the story that was being told was the story of Jesus turning water into wine (John 2). They told the story to the children and they explained that Mary asked Jesus to help them out with the lack of wine situation. Then they explained that Jesus said. “Of course Mummy, happy to help”, which of course we know is not the exact phrasing that Jesus used!

Should they have told the truth? Does it even matter?

Think about this:

How many times have you heard a Gospel message like the one that Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19)? Or the woman at the well (John 4)? Or even your own story? I know that the Jesus I hear about from the platform is often different to the one that I experience in my own salvation story – It’s less sugar-coated, and I often feel like we’re at risk of conning people. We tell them of an easy life, but in my life and in the lives of my friends I know that this is not true. Following Jesus is complicated and messy, but it’s great! I know that my life is so much more fulfilling than it would be if I didn’t know Jesus, but I also know that it’s harder a lot of the time too.

Should we tell the truth? Does it even matter?

Think about this: At what point is the truth essential?