Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

Episode 36


Hi friends! I’m so excited to share this episode of Heart Lessons with you today. My special guest is Kristin Schell. Kristin started the Turquoise Table and #frontyardpeople movement, which is all about building community with those around you. Kristin just released her first book and so we chat about many of the ideas she shared there including how to make space in your heart for others, the difference between hospitality and entertaining, and how we should be ok inviting others into our lives and homes because it is less about perfection and so much more about just belonging and being together.

In this age of being so “connected” via social media I think learning to connect with others in a face to face way is deeply important and I’m so happy Kristin was able to share her heart and her vision with us here.

Heart Lesson: Stay in communion with God and listen to Him.

Connect with Kristin: blog // facebook // instagram // twitter // book

We mention:

Romans 12:13

Lowe’s picnic table

Sherwin Williams Nifty Turquoise

Tuesday Morning

Thanks for listening! Find me over on instagram later this week to share your own heart lesson.

Room in the Heart

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Lighthearted #5 - Lexi


Connect with Lexi: blog // instagram // book // twitter

We Mention:


Angie Smith Conference

My Sister’s Closet

Nothing to Prove

Can’t Stop the Feeling

Trolls Movie

Call the Midwife

Downton Abbey

Altar’d State


Heart Lessons Episode #5: Strength in Weakness

Everyday Heart Lesson: Learning to trust in the Lord when you can’t see him moving.

Find me on instagram this week and share your answers to some of the lighthearted questions!

Next time I’ll be chatting with Kristin Schell, the woman behind the Turquoise Table. I hope you tune in to catch her vision for being “front yard people” and living in community with those around you.

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Guys, this is really different than my typical subject material and I’m not really even sure what to write. It’s heart-feelings and half-worded ideas that make this familiar keyboard feel clumsy and foreign. But sometimes being unsure of how to express certain thoughts means that’s precisely the thing that needs to be said. Maybe being in that vulnerable place is actually a place of strength.

I started trying to read through the Bible back in 2012. Just this morning I turned the last page of John and tomorrow (or whenever I can …) will start Acts. It’s been slow going but good and, surprisingly (not surprisingly), even my tortoise-speed reading has landed me in just the right places in just the right times.

In the last few months as I’ve been reading through the Gospels I have been overtaken by the words of Jesus. I just can’t get over how time and time again he turned the religious leaders of the day on their heads with the things he told them. The most primary thought in my head as I read Jesus’s groundbreaking words and their over-the-top offended reactions is this: the people who thought they had it all figured out were the ones Jesus continually threw for a loop. The ones who thought they had this God thing all figured out were repeatedly condemned for their ignorance and hypocrisy. It’s so interesting. And so very convicting.

My prayer as I’ve read through the Gospels is that the Lord would show me the places in my life where I think I have it all figured out – where I am certain no one can possibly think, speak, or act as rightly as I do – and allow me to reevaluate and hopefully eliminate those preconceptions. I think it would open up my life to exactly what Jesus taught as he walked the dusty ancient roads: more love, less judgement; more understanding, less rigidity; more Jesus, less me.

What would it look like if an entire generation of Christ-followers tossed out the mental checklists of what we had to do to be more like Jesus and embraced the things he did. What if?

When the woman was caught in adultery the pharisees wanted to stone her. Instead of condemn Jesus exposed the fact that we are all sinners.

When the pharisees wagged their fingers at Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath he exposed that they loved the law more than they loved an actual person and loved the idea of keeping the law more than they loved the idea of giving a man his life back.

When the pharisees complained that the disciples did not wash their hands before entering the temple Jesus called them hypocrites, because it is way less about outer cleanliness and way more about pure hearts.

Where are our favorite areas to pick others apart as modern day pharisees and what would that actually reveal about our hearts?

The older I get and the more I learn about my faith the more I feel like it all just comes down to Jesus. The rules and regulations that many view as the crux of the Christian faith might actually be its Achilles heel.

The real crux of the Christian faith is a God-man who kept company with the down-and-out, preached world-changing truths, healed many and ultimately, died to heal us all. The real crux is a cross and the love that sent him there, kept him there, and gave him – and us – life again.

I’ve been burned by people who thought enforcing rules was what Jesus was all about. I’m going to guess that you have too. I’m also sure I’ve hurt others in the church by loving rules and behaviors more than caring about hearts. I’m going to assume you fall into that category with me as well.

The truth is we are all imperfect people. Rules are easier than grace because then we can have good and bad, black and white. But grace brings gray and we aren’t as comfortable wrestling with gray as we are enforcing hard lines.

The church represents Jesus and sometimes we do a lousy job. Sometimes we become like the pharisees and love the law more than we love people. But what if our prayer became a plea for Jesus to show us where our ways of thinking needed to be turned upside down? Who could be freed, healed, saved, befriended, welcomed, redeemed, encouraged – who could belong – if we embraced living and loving like Jesus and rejecting the notion that we had it all figured out? What might happen then?

Jesus, show us … 


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Episode 35


Hi friends and thanks for joining me for episode 35 of the Heart Lessons podcast! Today my special guest is Mary Evelyn Smith who blogs over at What Do You Do, Dear?

I absolutely love what Mary Evelyn writes on her blog and although our stories are different, I feel like I identify with her very much and much of her writing has helped me along in my journey of processing the loss of my babies.

Today Mary Evelyn and I talk about what it looks like for her to be the parent of a child with a disability specifically, her son Simeon who has spina bifida. We talk about the diagnosis day and what that felt like, we talk about what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made when your body operates differently than the majority of those around you, and what Mary Evelyn hopes to communicate to the world about disability. We also talk about her awesome career as a school librarian and she makes some killer book recommendations. And of course, we chat about what God is doing in her heart as she continues to move forward in what God has for her.

I hope you enjoy this conversation and that you are able to come away with a heart lesson of your own, to help you draw closer to the Lord.

Heart Lesson: O Heavenly King, O Comforter, Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things.

Connect with Mary Evelyn: blog // facebook // instagram // twitter

We Mention:

Spina Bifida

On Abortion: Learning Empathy and Changing My Heart

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Psalm 139:13-14 

Mo Willems 

Jon Klassen

The Book with No Pictures


Mac Barnett

O Heavenly King and Psalm 51 (Prayer of Repentance) 

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A couple of weekends ago I sat in the back of an auditorium full of women to listen to Angie Smith share what the Lord had given her for us. If you know anything about Angie you know that several years ago she lost her fourth daughter, Audrey, to a condition so very similar to the one that claimed both Evie’s and Charlie’s life. Going into the weekend I was really looking forward to hearing what she had to say, especially knowing she would be speaking from a place of having lost a baby. And I was earnestly asking and seeking the Lord to show me the places in my heart that were still in pain, that still needed healing.

Angie spoke from a passage in Genesis 22, the one that tells the story of God instructing Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. As the two walk to the top of the mountain where the sacrifice is to take place, Isaac inquires of his father, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

And Abraham, knowing full well that the next moments would be so incredibly, unspeakably painful tells his son, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”

Abraham prepared the altar and arranged the wood. He laid his precious son overtop of the pile of tinder and, hand trembling and eyes filling with tears (how could he not!), Abraham raises the knife over Isaac’s chest to kill him, his only son, the promised one.

But before the knife even touches Isaac a voice instructs from heaven, “Abraham! Don’t lay a hand on the boy …”

And after the Angel commends Abraham for his faith, his eyes are opened to see a ram caught in the thicket by his horns and this is the ram that was offered in Isaac’s stead.

Angie pointed out that initially Abraham told Isaac that God would provide the lamb for Himself. What actually happened was that He provided a ram.

The Lamb of God was promised and provided for us. But sometimes we want His provision to look a lot more like a ram.

Sometimes we are looking at a thicket for ram instead of at the cross for a Lamb.

I sucked my breath in sharp as those words rang in my ears.

Sometimes we are looking at a thicket for ram instead of at the cross for a Lamb.

In my own life, the ram was healing for my babies. I wanted so badly for our story to end in the miraculous addition of all the parts they were missing and their development to be super-charged and doctors to marvel over these amazing little blessings that we had been told wouldn’t survive. That’s what I would have wanted. But instead of providing that ram, as God did for Abraham, He believed it was sufficient for my story to be redeemed by the Lamb.

In the end, when I climbed the proverbial mountain so the Lord could test my faith, He asked me to carry out the whole thing, the entire act of sacrifice. I looked all around and begged for a ram to sacrifice instead but He didn’t give me that particular provision. Instead He accepted my humble, painful, albeit reluctant sacrifice of living life minus two. He didn’t provide a ram. But what He had already done was provide the Lamb.

Evie and Charlie are not with me, that much is very true. But they are somewhere better. They are in a place of perfection that was only made possible by the blood of the Lamb, God’s precious and only Son.

Angie had exhorted us to pray this prayer: Lord, show me what circumstances I have closed my eyes to your provision and open my eyes to see.

Praise God He opened my eyes once again to this heart-healing truth. God didn’t provide a miracle for my babies and that grieves my heart. But how can I hold that against Him when what He did provide was eternal life for them and for me and paradise forever because of the sacrifice of His Son?

These words are so beautiful to me. I needed them so very much. God’s provision in my losses didn’t look like a miracle. Instead it looked like a temporary separation and then a forever together.

God didn’t provide a ram. He provided for us a Lamb.


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