Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Saturday was our last Laundry Love of the semester.  Maybe you’re unfamiliar with our Laundry Love community project – let me catch you up.  One Saturday out of every month, we show up at Harold’s Laundry, a laundromat right down the street from Russ and Jamie’s house.  For two hours we throw a laundry party, putting quarters in machines, talking with the laundry-doers, and playing with their little kids out front. 

When I first went to Laundry Love, I felt ridiculously uncomfortable.  I didn’t know how to approach people and ask if I could pay for their laundry.  I knew if someone asked if they could do that for me, I would likely turn them down (hello, pride…).  But God has taught me a lot about myself and about the people that live in the community around UNM through Laundry Love.  He surprises me in some new way, every time I go.

This Saturday, I began talking to Ronnie* right away when I got there.  She was drying about 40 basketball jerseys for a local high school team.  We talked about the game for a little bit and her children, and then she shared with me how she was diagnosed with and beat cancer this year.  She invited me to come visit her at work.  I helped her fold the jerseys.  Ronnie left, and I felt like I was waving goodbye to a friend.  We only spoke for about 45 minutes, but friendships form quickly at Laundry Love.

A pair of guys comes in every once in a while during our Saturday laundry parties.  Every time they’ve come in, they leave while their laundry is in the washer and come back with a pizza and breadsticks for all of us volunteering.  At least one of these guys – I don’t even know his name! – goes to a local church and wants to express his appreciation in some tangible way.  It’s so encouraging to get a glimpse of the body of Christ working together, loving each other while loving others.

The Mission – and now Young Life College – has been involved with Laundry Love for close to two years.  I still get nervous every time I pull up to the laundromat.  Sometimes I play with the kids, drawing chalk faces or singing “Let It Go” with them.  Sometimes I get to hear life stories like I did with Ronnie.  And sometimes I simply ask, “Can I put some quarters in this machine for you?”  Whatever it is that I do, though, I always – always – leave Harold’s with a smile on my face.  And maybe it’s a bit trite to say this during the Christmas season, but I believe I leave with a full heart because it truly is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  I want to keep this spirit of generosity before me as 2014 comes to an end and the new year begins, following the generosity of the Father who gave the greatest gift of all. 

Merry Christmas, friends!


*Name changed

Monday, December 15, 2014

To live is human

"to write is human, to edit is divine."
-Stephen King, On writing: A Memoir on the Craft

Writing is tough.

For me, writing is one of the most difficult crafts. I have all these thoughts and ideas that sound good great in my head but once I try and transcribe them onto paper (computer screen)...

haiodsosaijd aosdklasfh adilshpiehq pqolajew indsoaqopejiopj asdaklhdeioqhw iodajslkdjpqwiop aios

You know what I mean? Last week was finals for all you college students, I'm sure those who had written ones can relate to the difficulty of this art. Instead of writing, we try to convince ourselves Segway crash compilation YouTube videos or the trending pancake art videos must be viewed immediately. Me laughing takes precedence to me writing this mediocre [insert writing assignment here] and I will stop at nothing to comply to my laughing needs. I know at this point you definitely know what I mean (And if you took a break from this blog post to look up these videos, I am not offended. In fact, I would be offended if you didn't...this is where you go look up these videos if you still haven't...).

Editing is a whole other world. The other day, a friend of mine asked me to review a communication paper for her, to edit the paper. By no means am I some English wiz but I do talk to people on the daily so I figured I had the communication part down. I said yes. Stephen King said it best:

" edit is divine."

I didn't know what I was doing. I spell pretty well (dotted red lines*right click, select correct word*) but Grammer? (See what I did there?) I was out of my element but I did my best. Let's just say I'll stick to writing; to write is human.

The stated Stephen King quote has been stuck in my head and I can't stop thinking about it since discovery. Writing is putting pen to paper, finger to keyboard and just writing. Don't worry about perfecting the content, that's the editors job. Just write. I came up with my own Stephen King-esq quote and here it is-

"to live is human, to live perfectly is divine"

I think my biggest struggle in writing is the beginning, to just start writing. I think it has to be perfect the first time around so I allow fear to prevent my thoughts to form into sentences. That being said, I think my biggest struggle in life is starting, to just start living. I feel I must live life perfectly all day, everyday. To live perfectly is divine. We should strive for perfection* but understand it is a process to perfection that is orchestrated by God. Let's not be the editors of our own life and let's not try perfecting ourselves without God. Allow God to edit us, making corrections and revising the structure of our lives to guide us toward perfection.

In my high school years, I had a very foul mouth. Jonah Hill in Superbad may be a good representation of both what I looked and acted like in high school. It wasn't good. One day, I said I was going to stop cussing. I woke up every morning telling myself, "Today is the day. Not one cuss word." I would spend the rest of the day thinking over and over,

        don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss don't cuss 

I would make it only a couple hours before the verbal poison leaked out and by the end of the day, it was gushing. I would wake up the next day and it would happen all over again. I'm just as bad at editing actual papers as I am editing my own life. When I finally handed the red pen over to the Big Guy, my language began to change.

"God, I'm tired of trying to stop cussing. How come I can't stop?"
"Because that's all you think about all day. If you want real change, start thinking about Me."

I learned two lessons from this short and sweet conversation. One: If I think about not sinning all day, I'm thinking about sinning all day. The don'ts do not change the subject of my focus and what I focus my thoughts on has an impact on my lifestyle. I should focus on God because He will edit out what needs to change. Two: If God can start sentences with "Because", then it must be okay to do. Because He is all knowing.

Perhaps the point isn't to stop sinning. Maybe the point is to respond to God, our life editor, when He makes corrections. A writer's work will only become better if they are obedient to their editor. And the next time the writer puts pen to paper, his work will reflect his obedience.

"to live is human, to live perfectly is divine"

in His grip,


*"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

-Matthew 5:48

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

-John 15:1-2

Monday, December 8, 2014

Set A Fire

On Friday night, there were two events going on at UNM.  First, as pictured above, the traditional "Hanging of the Greens" started as soon as it was dark.  Every year, campus organizations put together thousands of luminarias and place them around campus.  There is hot chocolate at the President's House and if you're lucky, you might even run into carol singers!  It's really beautiful and loads of people from the community come to walk campus and see the lights.

The second event was Lobo Worship Night, an incredible event put on by our very own Lauren McAuley.  Lauren has been organizing these nights at the end of each semester for the past several years.  It's always an awesome time of worship with other campus groups, made even more awesome this time around because our very own Russ Collins was the headline musician!

As I was on my way to campus for Lobo Worship Night on Friday, I totally forgot Hanging of the Greens was going on.  And if you know me, you know that I LOVE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS/DECORATIONS/CHRISTMAS IN GENERAL.  So you can imagine my delight when I walk on to campus with luminarias lighting my way around every turn.  I stroll into the SUB (the large building in the picture) and come to find the room Lauren reserved is the ballroom with huge windows overlooking the campus plaza that has lights absolutely everywhere.  Wow!  A perfect set-up despite the fact that the technology in the room was malfunctioning, and we weren't able to get words to the songs projected on the wall.

The night proceeded, however, and when I talked to my friend Elise later about Lobo Worship Night, she said something about how not having the words on the wall made the experience "raw" and authentic and so personal.  I love this description of Friday night.  And being on campus, singing praises to the Prince of Peace, surrounded by decorations celebrating HIM (even unwittingly) reminded me that I am, yet again, in the midst of His great work.

We sang one of my favorite songs that night.  One verse goes like this:

Set a fire down in my soul,
that I can't contain,
that I can't control,
I want more of You, God.

As morbid as it is, I imagined one of those little luminaria candles lighting its bag on fire, and then jumping to another bag, and another, until the entire campus of UNM was engulfed in this flame.  (Let's be real, this is probably influenced by the fact that my hometown has almost burned down...twice).  What if this is what God is in the process of doing right now?  He's lighting fires in each of us so that we can go and light other people on fire to spiritually burn down this campus...heck, this city? Boy, I hope this is what's happening.

Honesty hour:  I am afraid of fire.  Like really afraid.  I've been burned before.  Not bad, but it still hurts because fire is hot. Duh. But I also love standing around a huge bonfire on a cold night.  I love roasting marshmallows over campfires.  I love drinking tea and reading books next to my parents' wood burning stove.  And it's from those experiences that I know how fire pops and crackles and sparks and surprises us sometimes.

I don't know about you, but I've experienced God sparking, crackling, and popping these past few months.  I've been caught off guard, surprised, and sometimes even a bit disgruntled at the way He's moving in my life, on campus, and in Albuquerque.  God brought this verse to my attention this week, though.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:5 Paul writes, "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ."  Have you ever been totally hypnotized by flames?  The blue, the yellow, the orange, the red.  It's beautiful, really.  This verse challenges me to look at God that way.  To be totally absorbed by Him, but not just with my eyes, with my heart above all else. To be in awe of His steadfast love, directing my heart to the warmth that emanates from King Jesus, especially at Christmas.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, people.  Love to you all!

Monday, December 1, 2014


Monday 11/24

9 minutes.

The amount of time between each alarm after inevitably snoozing my daily 5:30am wake up call. I don't even know why I try to get up this early when I know realistically, my day will start at 5:57am. I gulp down 12 ounces of the human form of octane 87, off brand drip coffee and I inhale my usual breakfast of eggs over easy. I then watch my breath flow to my frigid hands as I drive to the high school, making a mental note to buy gloves - but this will only remain in my head and become lost among the other countless thoughts of things I should do. I become anxious walking into the library where I have been for the past two months, knowing I will be doing monotonous work  and I feel seventeen again as I wait for the 2:25pm dismissal bell to ring.

Tuesday 11/25

27 minutes.

The amount of time it takes me to wake up and then repeat Monday.

Wednesday 11/26

1,560 minutes.

The amount of time between waking up at 9am and eating the meal I have been waiting for all week.

Thursday 11/27

420 minutes.

The amount of time between arriving at my parents house for the Thanksgiving meal and being back at my house, hungry once again. It's Thanksgiving. The day where men eat in their sweatpants and women dig for their maternity pants or borrow some. If there is any day to not be hungry, it's today. But yet, I sit here hungry.

Monday 11/24

390 minutes.

The amount of time I have to try and impact a person’s life while at my long-term substitute-teaching job at Volcano Vista High School. As the librarian, I have a great opportunity to remember a students name, ask someone how they are doing, and be ears and listen, to show students that adults do care about them.

Tuesday 11/25

390 minutes.

The amount of time I have to repeat Monday.

Wednesday 11/26

180 minutes.

The amount of time of extra sleep I get to have on this day and enjoy a day of rest.

Thursday 11/27

 420 minutes.

The amount of time I spent with family and friends while sharing a warm, home cooked meal. My mom went as far to bake two individual gluten-free pies for me, even though she understands I wouldn't mind not eating any but also knowing how much I used to love eating pecan pie. I had a second Thanksgiving meal with my sister-in-law’s family, as I do most years. I am thankful for being able to have not just one family to spend holidays with, but two. 


Dear friend,

Perception is reality.

Sometimes I see my days how I first described them. But when I take a step back and look at them from a different perspective, I see that there is so much to be thankful for and so much life to be found every day. We can look at a job as a means of income, giving time monetary value or as we go in life, impact those around us. Time's worth becomes more than an hourly wage. Maybe God has our paths cross certain people because He wants them to experience Jesus that day. If you’re a believer, you know that Jesus offers life and life to the full. I am thankful that God allows me to have the opportunity to show people Jesus every day, wherever I am in life, through my words and actions. We have reason to rejoice and be thankful in every situation. Sometimes we just have to adjust how we see things.

In His grip,


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Great Turkey Adventure

This past Tuesday Night, we held the Second Annual Thanksgiving Potluck at the Mission.  Students sign up to bring a dish to share - Pinterest creations, family recipes, Smith's pies, etc. - and we all gather together to eat and laugh and celebrate the holidays.  This year, I was blown out of the water by the amount of food students brought and the creativity and time students poured into their dishes.  One girl, Courtney, brought AMAZING mac 'n cheese, and our guy, Ty, brought HOMEMADE pumpkin pies.  What?? How awesome is that??

Well, Bryn and I signed up to bring the turkey.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I, Sarah Worland, probably the least gifted culinary student around Albuquerque, volunteered to cook a turkey.  Honestly, I was banking on Bryn's kitchen skills to offset my lack of them. Anyway, I went home last weekend and thought I would gather some tips from my mother (Carol Worland - Master Chef Extraordinaire).

Saturday, I casually brought up the fact that I was bringing turkey to the potluck. Our conversation proceeded as follows...

"Have you bought your turkey yet?" - Mom
"Umm. No." - Me
"It should have been thawing about, well, yesterday." - Mom

GREAT.  Thus commenced the Great Turkey Adventure.  Quick thawing in cold water for 8 hours, pulling necks out of fowl (ha) cavities, crippling anxiety that I was going to under cook and/or poison students.  All in all, the turkey actually ended up delicious (yay!)...after, of course, a few frantic calls between Bryn and I because the thermometer didn't pop out of the bird (boo!).

As I kept thinking about this though - and I won't lie, patting myself and Bryn on the back a little bit ;) - my metaphor-inclined brain kicked into high gear.  Was not this endeavor similar to this adventure God has sent me on with Young Life College?

In Isaiah 43:19, God says, "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"  This has been a verse that Russ and Jamie have had close to their hearts since they began the Mission 6 years ago in Albuquerque and has also been a comfort to me in the past year as I've set out with Young Life College.

There have been times this semester when I've felt way behind from the get-go...just like with thawing the turkey.

There have been times where I have been nervous and anxious about the logistics of Tuesday Nights or meeting new students or fundraising...just like I was afraid of under cooking the turkey.

There have been times where the thermometer hasn't popped up during the semester, when I have been waiting for God to show up, putting Him on my timeline and thinking certain situations should be "done" when I want them to be.

But from this November perspective, I also see a savory semester in my wake, seasoned not with rosemary or rubbed with olive oil but instead full of rich relationships, students renewing or growing in their walk with the Lord, and laughter - lots of laughter.  Sometimes, I think God asks us to jump out in faith, ask for some advice along the way (thanks, Mom!), and embrace the new thing that He's doing.  Maybe that's starting up Young Life College at UNM.  Maybe that's inviting a difficult coworker to lunch.  Maybe it's cooking a turkey.  Whatever it is, I do know that these new things God does often lead to thankfulness in us.  Thankfulness for students who brought food to share in the midst of a hectic week.  Thankfulness for the three guys who stayed for close to an hour after everyone had left to help clean up the house.  And thankfulness that God allows me to be a part of this incredible community forming and solidifying at UNM.

Happy Thanksgiving, fam.  Thanks for reading.  I pray that you have a full week, in so many ways :)


Monday, November 17, 2014


Dear Friend,

"Do what you are most passionate about."

What does that even mean. Just kidding, I know what it means. But when someone tells you this in response to your mid-college life crisis and you feel you must choose a major before you get kicked out of the University (FACT, they can kick you out*), "what does that even mean" seems like the appropriate response to say and to say with the appropriate amount of sass.

I know when people say this, they mean well but sometimes I wish this didn't sound so vague and cliche. I didn't know what I was passionate about in college. I liked a lot of things. I hoard collect a lot of things. But I would hardly say I'm passionate about Pez dispensers, bottle caps (not the candy. Definitely not the candy), ticket stubs, and other countries currencies. Or maybe I am. But they don't offer Bachelor of Arts in Pez or world currency, and these interests didn't help me pick a major with confidence. I changed several times due to the fear I was choosing wrong. But I didn't know what a wrong major really was and I didn't know what it would feel like to pick the right one or if feelings are involved at all.

May 17th, 2014 I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Communication. This way I could explain and communicate my thought process behind my several degree changes, my indecisiveness in life, and my lack of awareness when it came to my passions with certainty and effectiveness. It wasn't long after this I found out what I am passionate about. And I'm not sure how much of it has to do with my degree.


I couldn't simplify it to one but maybe because life wouldn't be life without all three.

One of my best friends wasn't a believer when I met him. He was up for anything and that is how he ended up at a Young Life summer camp. He had one friend and one crush going to camp and that was enough to get him to hear the Gospel for the first time. No previous experiences with Jesus, religion, bible teachings, etc. but he heard truth and responded "yes" to truth.

Another good friend of mind was raised in a Christian home - her dad is a pastor. I met her while serving at camp 2010. She loved Jesus and she put him in her speech, her drawings, and her music. It drew people in.

This one-of-my-best-friends met this another-good-friend-of-mine in May 2013. They saw each other 10 days of that summer, entered a relationship knowing (thinking) they would be apart for two years due to travel abroad plans, spent a year 5,125 miles away from each other, and now 7 months away from two years since first seeing each other, they are still together - growing closer to God and learning about Jesus.

I don't understand it. I would never do such a thing (never say never), but this is why I'm passionate about people and Jesus. Everyone has a story, unique to them and I love a good story. I'm passionate about Jesus because He makes the stories full of life. Only Jesus could change the heart of a kid the first time he hears the Gospel in preparation for the girl he will meet four years later so he will be able to lead her spiritually. Two different people, two different stories, two different backgrounds brought together by one God.

Lastly. I'm passionate about creating. It can be in any medium, I just want to create. I used to draw a lot. I painted once or twice, I've sculpted with clay, snapped some pictures, and now I also make films, but it wasn't the paint or the camera I loved but the finished product. I look at what I created and stand in awe. I believe I feel this way because I am made in the image of The Creator and He looks at the people He creates and stands in awe. Creation of the world is good but it wasn't until He created man that He said His creation is very good**.

I am more than excited that Sarah has asked me to help out with this blog for Young Life College, to share my thoughts and life with you all. This opportunity will allow me to experience all three of my passions since this community Young Life College has created is filled with people and Jesus and now I get to write for them. If you ever want to chat about these posts, life, Jesus, creating, or anything at all, feel free to come up to me on Tuesday nights and share a story or two.

in His grip,


-noun: strong and barely controllable emotion.
-"a man of impetuous passion"

*This is in fact, not a fact.

**Genesis 1:31

Monday, November 10, 2014

In the Midst

Dear Friend,

If I could, I would love to welcome you into my home, sit down on my comfy couch with you, hand you a cup of coffee (or tea - your choice, I have a rather impressive supply of each), and tell you all about the adventure I am having with Young Life College here at the University of New Mexico.  But, because we are spread far and wide, let me instead welcome you into this virtual sitting room.  Maybe you can grab a cup 'a joe from your own kitchen.  Regardless, I still have the opportunity to tell you about God's work at UNM.

I cannot believe it is November.  Our typical Tuesday Night gatherings have wrapped up, and we have a dinner at Frontier, a Thanksgiving potluck, and an ugly sweater Christmas party before Winter Break is upon us.  This semester has been a whirlwind of activity, growth, relationships, and perseverance, and in the midst of it all, God has been ever present.

In the midst.  This phrase keeps surfacing, in several different ways, in the things I am reading and experiencing.  Allow me to explain.

"In the midst" can mean that you are surrounded by something.  I have felt surrounded by God's faithfulness this semester as He has provided an incredible support network for Young Life College - that means you!  I covet your prayers and the work you are doing, near and far, for the students and the campus I love so dearly.  Thank you!

"In the midst" can give the impression of experiencing something.  I am in the midst of learning tough but valuable life lessons.  I am in the midst of knowing God in new ways.  I am in the midst of laughter, tears, and deep friendship.

Finally, "in the midst" can imply that someone is in the process of doing something.  God is in the midst of a great work not only at UNM but also in the entire city of Albuquerque.

And therein is the purpose for this blog.  My friend Josh and I want to share this Great Work with you as best as we can in this virtual sitting room.  We'll post on Monday mornings - maybe an update from the week's activities, maybe something we're discovering for ourselves - but please tune in. We are so excited to have you with us on this journey, as you join us "in the midst."


"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17