Goodness, it’s bittersweet writing that title out and hitting publish, but I wanted to let all my blog followers know I’m in the process of changing websites from meetmeinthemornings to sarahheringer.com.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
After almost 7 years of blogging here and over 150 posts, it’s time for a change. Change is not easy on me (anyone else?) so it’s been a slow process, but I’m finally ready. I hope you will join me on the new site and we can really become a community of believers seeking, seeing and savoring the Lord.
~WordPress followers, I think you will need to re-follow.
~Current e-mail followers, you have been transferred over to the new site.
~New friends, be sure to follow the new site so you won’t miss a post!
I also have some freebies I’m giving to new subscribers and I will make sure current followers via e-mail receive these pieces as well. Be looking for them in your inbox (or maybe junk box).
Thank you so much for your support, love and grace over the years, I am so grateful for you!
***Over the years, my parents and I have written about my brother, Daniel. Now it’s my sister’s turn. I’m so happy to share with you her heart and experience. Today marks 14 years without him. I cannot believe it has been that long. Oh we miss him dearly.***
Have you felt the tug of the Spirit, nudging you as only The One Who Created You could – as if a string was tied from inside your soul to an unidentified outward location? Have you heard the silent whisper of His voice, beckoning to you to go this way or that, to make one choice or the other? There was a time in my life when I was not really listening…no, I was having too much fun living for myself. But I will thank God for the rest of my days for not giving up on me, for not going silent, and for His persistence one autumn day in particular, for carrying out one very special plan.
I was in my second year of law school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and clerking for a large firm (large by Arkansas standards, anyway). I was also in a long distance relationship with my now-husband, Jonathan, and most weekends were spent traveling the hour-and-a-half distance to visit him (or vice versa) in his hometown, Russellville, Arkansas.
On that particular Friday in October, the managing partner of the firm – a.k.a. my boss – asked me to deliver a document to a town located halfway between Fayetteville and my hometown of Harrison. I had already planned a little road trip across the state for the weekend, driving to Russellville before heading to see my sister perform in a play in Jonesboro, on the east side of the state. With this new assignment, I decided instead to go through Harrison first. That is when I gave my brother a call.
Let me tell you a little bit about my big brother, Daniel Matthew Sprott. He was born on July 12, 1977, at Doctors Hospital in Little Rock, a short drive from where we lived in Brinkley. He was the firstborn in my family, and my parents were over-the-moon excited to become parents. There were no signs of problems during the pregnancy, but he suffered a skull fracture during birth and was immediately taken to a different hospital. The fracture was an early indicator of a rare medical condition.
He was a medical mystery, surviving, by his own count, “30 plus” surgeries. He could walk short distances but mostly used one crutch or his Quickie wheelchair. Doctors made surgical attempts to straighten his legs, but none significantly helped. There is a picture of the two of us after one of those surgeries; in it he is in his wheelchair, legs straight out in front of him in full casts, a big grin on his face, smiling down at me – a baby of about 6 months old – laying happily between his broken legs.
That was him: Daniel had the best attitude. I honestly cannot remember him ever complaining about the hand he was dealt. Now, do I remember him complaining about me being in his way in front of the television, or about me being an annoying little sister? Sure! But never once did I hear him play the victim.
He was always making people laugh, and people in Brinkley and then Harrison – where we moved when he was in the 4th grade – loved him, accepted him, and treated him no differently than they would anyone else. It was when we traveled out of town that I noticed a difference. Even as a young child, I can recall situations where kids would say something about “that weird looking boy”, like “what is wrong with him?” It hurt me to my core. He would smile back at the little kids who stared, oftentimes making a funny face at them to get them to relax and understand that he was not some sort of monster.
As he got older, the physical pain he endured was perhaps joined by emotional pain, as his friends started getting married, having children, advancing their careers, etc… He had a good job – working at our dad’s small law practice – and had countless friends. In fact, Daniel was the best man in several weddings and godfather of many children. Looking back, I see how he was also in a state of physical decline. Were we in denial? Were we in such a state of self-centered oblivion that we failed to even notice? Or were we to realize from the very beginning that he was an extra-special, unique gift from our God the Creator, and that each and every day we had with him was a treasure? Looking back, I know the answer.
On that gorgeous fall day in October 2006, the start of a weekend that I had high hopes for, I felt a tug, and I called my brother. He was not working that afternoon; my parents were in South Carolina under obligation of my father’s role as President of the Arkansas Bar Association. I could tell that Daniel was on the computer when he answered. I boldly told him my plan, and asked him to pack a bag and be ready for me in about an hour and a half. He was not used to taking orders from his little sister, five years his junior. (He was, in fact, used to taking orders from his other little sister, Sarah, only 13 months his junior and of a much more dominant personality-type!)
As I alluded earlier, I was not exactly listening to or living for the Lord much back then. I had just turned 23 and was completely occupied with law school and the roller-coaster ride of a long distance romance. The fact that I was even willing to drive out of my way to pick him up shows divine intervention! It could not have been anything other than the Holy Spirit that spoke through me, and when Daniel came up with a few excuses as to why he could not go, I knew I could not take no for an answer. I stood my ground and said “We are going to do this. We are going to go watch our sister perform a big role on the stage together. You are coming with me and that is that!” He finally gave in but only after he negotiated one bribe: Before I picked him up, I must go through Kentucky Fried Chicken and get him three Chicken Snacker Sandwiches. My goodness he was a hoot!
Thus began the weekend I will never forget.
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F R I D A Y
I completed my simple job delivery, then drove the winding scenic road I had traveled hundreds of times – U.S. 412 – to my hometown. I obligingly drove through K.F.C. before heading to the home my family had moved into nearly twenty years prior. I found Daniel downstairs, grumbling a little but mostly in good spirits with a little bitty overnight bag he had packed, ready to go. He was a little concerned about Annabelle Lee (“Annie”), our black Labrador Retriever we had given my dad when I was in the 10th grade. My parents had left Daniel in charge of her, so his concern was valid. I was on a mission; there was only one option: “Let’s get her in the Jeep then.” We all piled into “Hogger” – my red 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee – and headed down Scenic 7 South toward Russellville.
Jonathan had only recently moved back to his hometown after graduating with his MBA from the U of A, so he happened to be living with his parents at the time. There were countless parts of this journey that I consider special, but this first stop was priceless. My future in-laws spent time with and got to know Daniel that weekend. Jonathan, who I would marry less than two years later, spent quality time with him. Here is another sweet memory I have from that night and another example of Daniel’s giant heart: my in-laws do not particularly love dogs, so Annie stayed outside in the yard in a kennel far from the house. Annie was mainly an indoor dog at this point, so Daniel stayed out there with her a long time to comfort her and make her feel safe, and loved.
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S A T U R D A Y
The next morning, we left Russellville for Jonesboro. That meant we would be driving through Conway. Growing up, one of my brother’s best friends was our cousin Adam. His sister Laura lives close to Conway and has a horse farm and barn animals. Daniel, in his easy-going, slow-paced way, asked if we could stop and see if she was home. He was never in a hurry to get anywhere! It exasperated us all at times, but what a great way to live! I again felt that prodding from the inside, and Instead of worrying about the clock, agreed that it was a great idea. She was delighted to see us – especially delighted to see Daniel – and even let me ride one of her beloved horses!
While I was riding, Daniel took some pictures with his flip phone (this was one year before the iPhone took over). I remember how he smiled, watching me ride, even though it was something he was not able to do. I remember thinking about how I was being selfish; he probably was not having any fun just watching. But that was the thing that made Daniel special; he was always content, no matter the circumstances. Maybe it was because of his circumstances, but he had a mental fortitude unrivaled.
We left our cousin’s house happy and with sun-kissed cheeks. The Tour of Daniel’s Goodbye had one final leg: Jonesboro.
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My sister Sarah is only 13 months younger than Daniel; they were practically twins! He was always so proud of her, and then of me too when I came along four years after Sarah. She and her husband have three beautiful babies, and the youngest is Daniel’s namesake. In October 2006, they had been married four years and had recently suffered a miscarriage. Our hearts were particularly tender toward her at that time.
Daniel requested that we get to Jonesboro in time to get her some flowers before her play. Since neither of us knew any better – or knew the town of Jonesboro any better! – we ended up at a Walgreens. We managed to find some type of flowers there and lucky for us also some gummy worms, which we both shared an affinity for.
By this point, I did have to rush him along a bit because it was almost time for the show to begin! Sarah had saved us two center seats on the very front row of the Forum Theater in downtown Jonesboro. Sarah was playing Shelby in Steel Magnolias! She had minored in drama in college and this was her second lead role in the community theatre.
Daniel and I were mesmerized the entire show – I remember looking over at him and I could see on his flip phone that he was texting Sarah-something about being “fallible”, which is embarrassing to admit, but I had to look up the definition later (he was always surprising me with his wit and wisdom!). She showed me later what the text had said: “Who are you and what did you do with my fallible sister?” He had also configured a rose on that text. What a sweet comment from a proud big brother. I do believe he even wiped a tear or two during the show. That is how proud he was of her.
I love the memory of us sitting on the front row of that little old theatre watching Sarah do what she loves. To this day, when I see, hear or say the word “fallible/infallible”, I think of my big brother, and how he taught it to me. He taught me so, so much.
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I love my brother-in-law, but it just so happens that he was out of town that weekend, so it was just the three of us. We had the time of our lives. We listened to music, Sarah and I danced, and the three of us talked late into the night. I remember a conversation Daniel and I had outside that night on their back deck. For some reason, I had been questioning if he still believed. Because of that conversation, I know that he is in heaven with Jesus His Savior. His, Yours, and Mine. What a gift. What a comfort that was to ponder after his death…knowing that it was not really the end. We would see him again.
Also that night, Sarah and I – separately, without the other even knowing! – watched him sleep, which is something we would not normally do. God took our hands and led us into the room where he was sleeping, and told us to look at him, because He knew that the next time we would look at him like that, he would not wake up. That is just jaw-dropping to me still to think about, because what a crazy-stalker-strange thing to do! Who does that? And why? If not for God leading us to do it, stirring our hearts to feel the need, the impulse to do this otherwise abnormal thing, we would not have that memory of his peaceful, restful sleep. That memory of his face, his body, his hands, in restful slumber. Thank you, Lord.
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S U N D A Y
Sundays. A day of the week that looking back to my college and law school years feels dreary and sad. There are several reasons for this. Perhaps because it signified the end of the weekend and the beginning of the school week, which then meant long classes and endless quizzes, essays and exams. Perhaps because I had stayed up way too late the night before at a sorority/fraternity function. Or maybe, perhaps, because at that point in my life I was not in the joy-giving habit of Sunday-morning church-going, a habit I was raised with and knew deep down was best for my soul.
That Sunday was the dreariest of all. Not atmospherically, though I have no recollection of the weather at all that day (of course it IS a gray day when I picture it all in my mind). I dropped him off, at the home we all grew up in. The house was empty and dark because my parents would not return from their trip until the following day. I watched him get into his wheelchair down by the basement door. He turned around and waved goodbye, giving me a toothless grin before I drove off down the alley and then back to Fayetteville. I will never forget that image…and I hope I never do.
Life resumed to what was normal back then. Busy and hectic, but otherwise, we had a carefree, painless existence.
Four days later, on Thursday, October 19, 2006, my Daddy called at 8:01 a.m. to tell me that Daniel passed away in his sleep; his heart had stopped beating sometime in the night. He was 29 years old.
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It took me a few days, but the realization of how, and when, and that that trip miraculously came to be slowly encompassed my being like the hand of God holding me. With that realization came a peace to fight any doubt that may exist, of knowing that God is with us, guiding us, and that we must listen when He calls.
After fourteen years without my brother, God is still revealing the beautiful, loving ways He prepared and held us before, during, and after that weekend. God orchestrated the entire trip. He had me take Daniel on somewhat of a farewell tour, to see people who had been a big part of his past, and to see people who would mean a lot to his family in the future. He worked it out where everyone could say goodbye to him: it was one last time for every one to be blessed by him and by his good nature.
God gave me the magical gift of TIME with my brother. Time spent with him in the car, with no cell phone service, where we were forced to talk to each other, to make memories, not knowing then that we were saying goodbye. And He gave me the gift of knowing where Daniel is now, and that I will see him again, and he will have a perfect body, and be able to run and do all those things he was not able to do on earth, all of the things he had to sit and watch the rest of us do.
I thank God for nudging me to make the call, to take the trip. Even though it hurt SO MUCH to lose him that day, I know that God is with him now. And I will see my brother again.
Today my husband and I celebrate 18 years of marriage. Wow. We really were babies when we tied the knot and had no idea what true love was really about. But we have learned over the years and are still learning as we go. It’s not always been perfect (what marriage is?) but I can say it’s been special and neat. Even the hard has taught us of who we are and who God calls us to be.
One day I’d love to elaborate on a few of the hard seasons, so to help others walking a similar journey, but for today I will stick to a light and lovely post. Maybe even a little sappy, but maybe it will encourage you wherever you are in your marriage.
We celebrated this weekend with a night away at our lakehouse, which we needed more than we knew. Since the virus we haven’t had our weekly date nights, and it really does make a difference. We’ve not been as connected, or ONE lately.
I bought him his favorite cake and meant to buy two candles, a 1 and an 8, but forgot. I searched the junk drawer at the lake house and found two candles, both 1’s. I thought, well that’s not going to work...and then I thought again.
Oh yes, it will work and be even more perfect than a 1 and an 8.
“And they shall become one flesh…” Genesis 2:24
ONE. When we marry a person we become one. It’s biblical and beautiful, but difficult to let go of ourselves enough to actually do time and time again. But it’s what a Christian, covenant marriage is about.
However, I can recall times when it felt like we were two VERY different people trying to make it work. Feeling so opposite, as if on different sides, all I could see were our differences.
I remember vividly the day I was hit over the head with this idea of ONENESS in our marriage. I re-postitioned myself to be ONE with him, a unit, a team… and not only my perspective changed drastically, but our marriage did too. And it grew.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
We must remember, we don’t fight against flesh and blood; our spouse is never the enemy. Sin is the enemy and we ALL struggle with it. Things like selfishness, entitlement, high expectations, unforgiveness, etc….get in the way of a thriving marriage.
The enemy is also the enemy and he HATES marriage. He wants us to quit, to give in and give up. He wants us on different teams than our spouses. He doesn’t want us living as ONE, because that is how God calls us to live and that is where the fruitfulness lies.
Our oneness honors God because it reflects His purpose for marriage. Our love for one another does the same because marriage is a picture of the Gospel.
So in your marriage…are you living as ONE? Or has the enemy and/or sin drawn a wedge between the two of you? Are you living separate lives, each going the opposite direction it seems? I encourage you to change your thinking. Think of it as a war – gird your loins, draw those weapons and fight. You and your husband are on the same team. Reposition yourself, encourage him to do the same. Get on the same side of the fence and your fight will be more powerful. Change your mindset to be on the same team, fighting for the same thing- your marriage. And not just a marriage, but a growing, thriving, flourishing marriage. It’s what we all want isn’t it? It’s what the Lord wants for us too. He designed marriage, it’s a good thing between a man and a woman.
This weekend, as we blew out the single candle, we each made a wish (or a prayer is what I like to say). We celebrated 18 years of marriage (21 years of total togetherness) and prayed for many, many more. We thanked God for the blessings over the years, especially in our three children.
I prayed before one meal, he prayed before another. Our prayers and hearts were met with the grace of God. His grace over the last 18 years, His grace for today and His grace for many more years to come. His grace giving us strength, stamina and fight. His grace calling us to pursue one another, cherish one another and truly love one another as He has called us to. To put one another first, our relationship as the priority above any other…which is hard! His work is his baby, our babies are my baby…we are spent all day long and there’s often little left for the other when we cross paths in the evenings. But with prayer and the Spirit’s help, we can learn to love the other more and not just give the left overs.
To end this post I want to share with you THE BEST marriage book I have ever read. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.
Go get this book! If your marriage is great, go get it. If you’re hanging on by a thread, go get it. If you’re engaged, dating or even single, this book is highly suggested. I pick it up from time to time to be encouraged and to revisit some amazing quotes. I’ll leave you with a few.
“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful if because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once.”
“The Gospel can fill our hearts with God’s love so that you can handle it when your spouse fails to love you as he or she should.”
“Seek to serve one another rather than to be happy, and you will find a new and deeper happiness.”
“Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love.”
“Only if you commit yourself to loving in action, day in and day out, even when feelings and circumstances are in flux, can you truly be a free individual and not a pawn of outside forces. Also, only if you maintain your love for someone when it is not thrilling can you said to be actually loving a person.”
“So, if your definition of love stresses affectionate feelings more than unselfish actions, you will cripple your ability to maintain and grow strong love relationships. On the other hand, if you stress the action of love over the feeling, you enhance and establish the feeling. That is one of the secrets of living life, as well as marriage.”
“You can change your heart over the long haul through your actions.”
“No other human being should get more of your love, energy, industry, and commitment than your spouse.”
“A deep experience of the grace of God- a knowledge that you are a sinner saved by grace- will enable the power of truth and love to work together in your marriage.”
“Christ is the only spouse that can truly fulfill us…”
“Christ’s love is the great foundation for building a marriage that sings.”
One more thing Keller points out in this book is the studies that reveal two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my husband, Ryan. I love you forever and always.
I was invited to be the keynote speaker at my High School’s Homecoming Assembly last week. It was truly an honor and so fun, exciting and great to be back at Harrison High.
Grateful for the opportunity to share what I loved about high school and about Jesus too. Grateful for the many friends praying for me as I prepared and spoke. Grateful for the help of my dad as my editor on the speech. Grateful I didn’t fall in my new shoes or let my nerves get the best of me! TYJ.
Below is the speech I wrote with some encouraging words I need daily! After that you will find a link to the video of the speech if you want to watch. All glory to God! ♥️
***Wow, it is such an honor to be standing here today, 25 years from my senior year at Harrison high school- which, when I say that out loud, it doesn’t even seem possible that it has been that long since my time here. Time really does fly and I certainly don’t feel as old as I must be! It’s crazy to think none of yall were even born when I was a senior in high school!
After Mr. Parker asked me to speak to you all, I visited with my husband and parents about what I would say that would maybe make a difference. My husband suggested talking about my life then and now and what I’ve learned along the way, my mom wanted me to make sure I let yall know I would not be where I am today without her, my biggest cheerleader. I agree, mom! And thank you. (SHE RECEIVED A ROUND OF APPLAUSE HERE! Much deserved! I loved it!)
My dad reminded me of a short but powerful Winston Churchill speech many of you may be familiar with- Sr Winston, was back at his alma mater, speaking to the graduating class. A popular phrase that has been taken from his speech is: “never give in, never give in, never never never never never-in nothing great or small, large or petty- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” I think he made his point to never give in very clear on this one. And while I will encourage you to never give in except to good and right things, I want to encourage you in some other ways too.
But first, I want to tell you what I loved in this place called the Home of the Goblins. I’ll try not to bore you I promise!
First of all- I love the Goblins. I mean, what other school has a mascot like that? Super special and sets HHS apart from the get-go. When I was here, the school spirit was contagious and magnetic. We all seemed to bleed blue and gold., at least I know I did. What about yall? I’m sure this year’s spirit has looked a little different b/c of all the COVID 19 guidelines, but I hope it’s still here like it was then.
I also love the traditions of this school- Have you ever heard of the shake and bake? During a pep rally, Coach Tommy Tice would lead us in it-I don’t know where it came from, or how it started, I just know it got us excited and made things more fun. (show how it’s done)
Friday Night Lights were awesome on the banks of Crooked Creek.
And then there’s the people here. So many amazing teachers and staff always were there to encourage and equip us students for life and learning. Some I still think of and keep in touch with today- thank you, Facebook!
Just so many lessons and memories in these walls
Speaking of these walls- they aren’t all the same as I remember! This school has grown and changed significantly in 25 years, but the core values of excellence are still apparent.
I am so proud to be from Harrison and proud to be a Golden Goblin for life. I hope you all can say the same now and when you leave this pivotable place in your lives. This school is the springboard of your education, character, and beginnings of your young adult life. The relationships, the experiences, the accomplishments and even the setbacks and disappointments can all be used to further your character. And while things may look, feel and be quite different than they did a year ago, I hope you can look for and notice the things you love and find lessons to learn that will shape you into you.
I can remember not always feeling like I fit in, perhaps you can relate? Maybe it’s just part of growing up and at one time or another we all struggle with that but what’s important is to remember to never give in to try and fit in. If you hear nothing else today, please hear this: You were made unique by a good God who knows you, loves you and has a purpose and place for you. Trust me, we all fit in with Him.
But Maybe you’re the one who has had a hard time fitting in here, maybe you’re the one who didn’t make the team or the squad or the grade; Maybe you’re the one who can’t stay out of trouble, maybe you’re the one whose heart has been broken. Maybe you’re everything here, maybe you’re the one who isn’t. Maybe you’re the one who is always on the homecoming court, maybe you’re the one who never is. Maybe you’re always surrounded by friends, maybe you sit alone. Maybe you’re the one who makes everyone laugh, maybe you’re at the core of everyone’s laughter.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, here are some truths and encouraging words to hang onto in these shaky, uncertain times. I still need these truths daily! I hope all or at least one of these points will stick out as a great foundation to walk on not only this year, but many years to come.
You are never alone. You have a Heavenly Father who is always with you and near when you call upon Him for help. He also gives us people, so don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. There’s always someone ahead on the journey that has walked a similar situation, don’t be afraid to seek them out for council, wisdom and advice.
B.D. B- be kind to one another and build each other up. D- do to others as you would want done to yourselves. Two Bible verse my kids and I have put together for an acronym we all need, B.D.
Focus on YOUR journey, not everyone else’s; Even as a 42 year old this is hard, but Comparison really is the thief of all joy. Try to look straight ahead at your path, and not left and right at everyone else’s.
Do your best with and in all things. shoot for excellence but always remember to give yourself lots of grace – look for progress, not perfection.
Set goals for yourself and know your limitations so you can set the appropriate boundaries.
Don’t base your identity, worth or security on the shaky ground of your accomplishments, accolades, likes or followers. There is more to life than this.
My own twist on Sir Winston’s speech— PRESS ON. Press On. There will be bumps in the road and if what our world has been through this year isn’t a bump, I don’t know what is. You all are making history and by being in such trying times, can really press on through this and learn how to overcome the unknown and the uncertainties of life. I think of the masks we all must wear now and how so many have taken what they were given (what we started with, light blue surgical masks), and made it fun, different, meaningful with various designs and slogans on their masks. We can do the same in life when we press on, make things fun and turn plain into extraordinary and unique.
So, I encourage you to press on and to Hebrews 12:1 : “run with endurance the race that has been set before you.” Set your sights on the eternal prize of Jesus and your footing will always be secure and you can PRESS ON no matter what.
Thank you, for your time today. And always; GO GOBS!!!****