Random Wednesday…

…when I type about pretty much whatever pops into my head.  🙂

  • I feel extremely industrious and virtuous when I have dinner prepared early in the day.  It makes the late afternoon so much less stressful.  I wonder why I don’t do this more often.  Oh yeah, I know why.  Because that would require me thinking ahead.  😛
  • I went shorts shopping this afternoon.  This is akin to bathing suit shopping, in my opinion.  I.hate.it.  Running for three years has NOT given me lean legs.  Noooo….my thighs just keep getting bigger.  They are toned and lovely.  But big.  Not thin.  Very frustrating.  The few shorts I have are either a) too tight, b) too long to be cute anymore, c) just plain old, or d) all of the above.  Today I braved the department store, swallowed my pride and bought the size I need instead of the size I want to be, and now I can finally wear something other than skirts this summer.
  • Recently, Matt was teasing me that I was pregnant.  I’m not.  And then a friend told me recently that they are expecting again.  And that tiny flash of baby fever set in.  Or maybe it was because I was in the sun too long.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I wish it was as easy as saying “we’re just having two and we’re done”.  Or, in our case, “four and we’re done”.  That would make my life each month a whoooole lot easier.  I hate fence sitting for any reason.  We’ve been on this fence quite a while.  No clear direction is coming, so I guess we’ll maintain our perch on said fence and see if the Lord decides to surprise us someday or give us some sort of direction.  Direction would be nice, Lord.  Although, if you have more children in mind, a surprise might be the way to go. I don’t know. *sigh*
  • The happy little sunflowers I bought last week are doing surprisingly poorly.  I thought they liked heat and sun and dryness!  I think I’ll be returning them this week.

Well, that’s all I can come up with.  Have a great Wednesday, y’all!

Quotable and Not So Much

Ellie keeps us in stitches around here.  Most often, unintentionally…..

Yesterday, we were driving along and she says, “Mommy, I’m feeling too scrawny to use words today.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Recently, I was putting her to bed and she asks, “Mommy, can God hear all the peoples’ prayers?”  I answered, “Yes, Ellie, He can.”  She pondered that for a few moments, then asked, “Does He have bigger ears than us?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Her quotability has been hampered the past 24 hours.  You see, she screamed – and I mean sca-reamed – through her first swim lesson yesterday.  For the entire thirty minutes.  I was such a proud mama.  *sigh*  Well, she gave her vocal cords such a work out that her normally raspy voice just up and disappeared along about yesterday afternoon.  She’s still pretty hoarse and I just chuckle every time she tries to talk.  And occasionally I remind her about why she has no voice.

She did much much better today at lessons.  There was a little weeping because last week’s three digit temps have given way to more seasonal, 80 degree, temps, so it’s a tad chilly at 9 am if you’re soaking wet and sitting on the side of the pool.  And there was one small meltdown over her order in line when doing kneeling dives.  And then there was the jumping off the board – when the assistant was out of the water ready to “help” her in before my child finally decided to jump.  Not so much crying, she just wasn’t moving.  Okay, she still has some work to do.  But at least there wasn’t any screaming.  🙂

The Third Born

Seven years ago, she entered this world.  Not early like I had prayed.  Not late – Praise the Lord!  But right.on.time.  On her due date.  On her great-grandmother’s birthday.  Flesh brought forth flesh and my heart was stolen once again.

The nine months of preparation had stretched body and soul.  Youngest child’s older sister was 18 and one half months.  Her oldest sister was 2 years and 46 weeks.  That’s three children in less than three years.  This body was tired.  Only 25 myself, I was not ready to be a mama again and God and I wrestled daily and hard through those forty weeks awaiting her arrival.

The lessons learned can hardly be articulated, put into words.  Only that it was that third pregnancy, this third child that has brought me low, given me a new, deeper dependence on God.  He has taught me my limits and taught me to respect them.  And when she came forth, a love so deep welled up within my soul, and I knew I could never imagine life without her and that God had a purpose and a plan.  And she was perfect.

She used to rise in the middle of the night, sneak down to the kitchen, climb up on the counter tops and steal granola bars off the top of the refrigerator.  She cuts things that aren’t meant to be cut, writes on things that aren’t made to be written on.  She used to eat lotions and oils like they were candy – and not even the good tasting ones!  She has caused me to question everything I thought I knew about parenting.  She’s been lost on the beach in San Diego and she said she was going to run away in Ohio.  She loves everyone she meets and makes friends easily.  She has an easy laugh, a tender heart, and an amazing smile.  She has rocked our world and we will never be the same.  And I’m so thankful.

This weekend she is seven.  She is no longer baby, toddler, preschooler.   She is one of the “bigger girls”.  Second grade begins all too soon.  Today I give thanks for her.  For the countless things God has taught me through her and the things He has yet to teach me.  I give thanks for her life and the way she lives it – unrestrained and full of passion.  I give thanks for the privilege of being her mother.  And I give thanks for the daily blessings the Lord bestows….

0601.  quiet days at home

0602.  staying cool

0603.  teaching large hands to knit

0604.  summer’s heat

0605.  reading in bed

0606.  free audio books

0607.  unplanned days

0608.  How to Train Your Dragon

0609.  frostys + french fries

0610.  being four

0611.  snuggling her through the movie

0612.  long bike rides – just us

0613.  talking all the way through a green light

0614.  birthday cinnamon rolls

0615.  blow pops for friends

0616.  birthday lunch dates with daddy

0617.  swimming…swimming…swimming

0618.  a lost tooth

0619.  conquering fears

0620.  great-grandmother

0621.  being seven

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful.

~ Colossians 3:15

What are you thankful for today?

Week in Review

It’s been a week of….

…staying cool

…long afternoons of reading

…trying to knit

…splashing around

…being hot hot hot

…puppy dog faces

…and full-on summer

Get out there and enjoy the heat.  Soak up the sun.  I know we will.

Make it a great weekend, friends!

~Sara

Colorado Road Trip, Day 4 – The Long Drive Home

We are finally coming to the end of our Griswald style vacation.  Just for the record, I don’t necessarily recommend dragging a four day trip out into four weeks of photo posts.  It’s really hard to remember the details of the last day or two once three or four weeks of daily minutiae have worked their way into all the crevices of one’s brain.  Regardless….we’ll give it a shot.

On day four we went to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, and then started the long trek home.  We drove into, through, and out of a spectacular (and rather frightening) western Kansas thunderstorm with a tornado running 9 miles to our south (thank you western Kansas meteorologist for the frequent updates) for a good 30 minutes.  We never saw the tornado – it was pitch black outside, only heard reports of it and scanned our phones and GPS and the trusty old atlas trying to find the small towns they were referring to.  God carried us through while my prayer life got a workout.  We made it home safely and I’ve never been so happy to not share a room with my children.  🙂

(To stop the slide show, float your mouse over the pictures and a square “stop” button should appear.  Feel free to scroll forward or backward through the photos at your own pace.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mercy Rising – My Take Away

I’ve finally started burning through my summer reading list at the pace I know I’m capable of.  🙂  To see the list, posted at the beginning of June May (man, this summer is flying by!), click here.

Yesterday I finished Mercy Rising:  Simple Ways to Practice Justice and Compassion by Amber Robinson.  As I said in yesterday’s post, I highly recommend this book.  It’s a quick, easy read and full of useful, practical, every day ways to help others in the midst of our already busy lives.  She gives dozens and dozens of websites and information to facilitate the reader in her desire to serve those in need.

This little book review is mostly bullet points of what stood out to me in the book.  Hopefully it will be enough to entice you to pick up a copy and find your own way live the gospel.  (quotes are in bold italics)

Love is always a choice of will that impacts my feelings over time. This would be true in my personal relationships and in loving those I am called to serve.

Just as the loaves increased when they were broken, the Lord has granted those things necessary to the beginning of this work and when they (are) given out, they will be multiplied by His inspiration, so that in this task of mine I shall not only suffer no poverty of ideas but shall rejoice in wonderful abundance. – Augustine

Daily bread.  I’m empty, but security will not fill me. Daily bread – not what He gives, but Him.

The list of websites in the book is not comprehensive, but it is abundant.  Here are just a few:

www.goodsearch.com – shopping

www.freerice.com – vocabulary fun

www.freepoverty.com – geography game

www.betterworldbooks.com – buy and sell used books; profits help fund world literacy

www.warmwoolies.org – knitting group (as the girls and I get better at knitting, I think we’ll check into one of these)

www.projectlinus.org – knitting group

www.kidsofcourage.com – activity sheets, coloring pages, etc

www.questforcompassion.org – interactive game for kids; characters explore foreign countries and collect information

www.servlife.org – take a family missions trip

www.worldorphans.org – help an orphan stay off the streets

www.nationalsharedhousing.org – share your home

www.artistshelpingchildren.org – take your children to visit, and share their art work with sick kids.

www.slaverymap.org – see where human trafficking has been found around you; watch for signs of it and report offenders

Mother Teresa said people should begin in their own homes to remedy poverty.  Her prescription to love grates against the culture of grand gestures that tells us to serve where we’ll be seen.

All of chapter 5 is on shopping.  How to shop ethically, to make sure you are not (unknowingly) supporting human trafficking/slavery, how to shop in abundance so you can give your extra to others.  A whole chapter on how to be a justice-minded consumer.  As women, we spend much of our time shopping – either for pleasure or necessity.  What an ordinary, but important, area where we can make an impact.

Don’t reach for your billfold; it is not close enough to your heart.  Don’t raise your hand to volunteer for another committee in the ecclesiastical bureaucracy; tokenism is an unfit gift.  Rather, look within.  What invigorates you?  What causes you to wake up before dawn with a new idea spinning in your mind?  What fuels your imagination, even when you are fatigued?  Here is where you will find your most valued treasure.  Here is where you will find a gift worthy of your Lord. – Robert Lupton

The Greek word for “hospitality” meant “the love of strangers” and “generosity to guests”. (emphasis mine)

The true end of education is not only to make the young learned,

But to make them love learning,

Not only to make them industrious,

But to make them love industry,

Not only to make them virtuous,

But to make them love virtue…

Not only to make them just,

But to make them hunger and thirst after justice.

–       John Ruskin

Loving the poor can be very messy.

Pick a corner and work your way out. (This quote is mostly for me…..it is from a story in the book and is relevant, but I’m not going to go into that here.  I think it’s just a pretty good philosophy on the messiness of life. )

Organize a baby shower for low income moms. – What a great, simple idea!

The impact God has planned for us does not occur when we’re pursuing impact – it occurs when we’re pursuing God. – Phil Vischer

This next section astounded me:

Christian Smith and Michael O. Emerson, authors of Passing the Plate, compiled a list that challenges our thinking.  They tally $46 billion in lost revenue each year just from regular church attendees who don’t practice biblical tithing, which is ten percent of their income.  Money isn’t’ all that’s lost. With this amount of lost revenue we could –

–       Complete the funding needed to eradicate polio within the next year.

–       Build 1,000,000 wells.

–       Send livestock to 4,000,000 needy families.

–       Give food, clothes, and shelter to all 6,500,000 refugees in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

–       Triple the resources being spent on translation work to provide Bibles to the 2,737 people groups lacking Bibles in their own languages.

–       Raise the salaries of the 50,000 lowest paid pastors in the United States by $15,000 each.

–       Quadruple the amount spent on global evangelism.

Only 27 percent of United States Evangelicals are tithing, and 36 percent gave away less than two percent of their income according to a December 2008 article from Christianity Today.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give.  I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. – CS Lewis

Freedom and Poverty

It started a few years ago.  It was winter, almost Christmas, and we were looking through the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog.  You could donate to help rescue girls from human trafficking.  Matt said something like, “I think maybe, someday, God will want us to do something like this.”  I thought to myself, “Seriously?  That’s a whole world of issues we can’t understand.  If I’ve got issues from what I’ve been through…those poor girls….I can’t imagine.”  But having been abused myself, my heart breaks for girls mistreated.  The idea is not dismissed, just shelved for the time.

First I read this book…..

….and I know I must act.  But how?  Life is so busy.  But I know that’s no excuse to ignore the needs of those created in His image.

Then Haiti happened.  We prayed for the safe return of Matt’s brother and sister and their team.  They came home and seven Haitian children were (legally) united with forever families.  We watched news reports of fathers and mothers in Haiti selling their children because they could not care for them.  I wept as I tried to fathom the despair a mother must feel to believe selling her child is her best option.  And I wept for those children who have no mother or father to hold them at night, who were sold by those God ordained to protect them.

This summer I picked up this book….

….and I begin to find ways to act.  I highly recommend it.  I’m about halfway through it.  It is varied in it’s scope and highly practical with countless ways to practice “kingdom justice” in the midst of our already busy lives.  Please pick up a copy.  Today.

This weekend I read this post and God struck something in my soul.   I talked to Matt.  We agreed to pray about how to be involved.  Maybe not in this particular ministry.  But something.  Somehow.

This morning I woke up to this post.  (Do you think God is trying to tell me something???  I’m not even kidding.)

My Jesus has set me free from so much.  From sin, bondage, bitterness.  He carried me through the storms of my own abuses and has placed me forever under the shelter of His wings.  I do not know how I can stop human trafficking from my home schooling, middle American life.  I don’t know how I am to rescue girls the age of my oldest daughter, bought and sold to be used by men while I keep up with laundry or get my groceries or take my own girls to ballet and horse back riding lessons.  But I know those are someone’s girls.  They have hearts and souls and dreams.  They have a heavenly Father who loves them.

I know this happens here in America and around the world.  I know it’s not just girls affected.  I know I cannot ignore it.

I do not yet know what the Lord has planned for us in this area.  For now I will pray and wear awesome jewelry.

What about you?  What are you doing with the freedom God’s given you?

The Multitude

My head swirls this morning.  By 9:30 I have already threatened to send three of four children back to bed.  For the day.  The coffee works to drive out the double dose of Benadryl taken last night in an effort to assuage the poison ivy itching.  Blog posts written by others place burdens on my heart.  I pray about how God will use them.  It’s Monday here.  A busy week ahead.  It’s time to stop and give thanks for the many blessings and set a tone of gratitude for the day, the week, the life of a family.

0580.  Monday morning phone call from a precious friend

0581.  days and evenings that stretch long

0582.  another road trip

0583.  a day with a friend who blesses, encourages, and inspires me


0584.  long distance friends

0585. my own poison ivy 😦

0586.  talking late into the night with my very favorite

0587.  first time obedience and not being there yet

0588.  pop up thunder storms

0589.  prednisone

0590.  patio furniture

0591.  oldest child’s hard work

0592.  nine year old’s first paycheck

0593.  dinner guests

0594.  eleven children playing quietly

0595.  being too busy for the computer

0596.  parents’ 45th wedding anniversary

0597.  a legacy of faithfulness

0598.  my father

(Sorry…this is truly an awful picture of my dad….but, sadly, it’s the best one I could find on my computer!  Note to self – take more pictures of your own parents.)

0599.  his father


0600.  their father

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. ~ James 1:16-18

What are you thankful for today, dear friends?  Give thanks for every gift.

~Sara


Forty Five Years

Today is my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary.  Forty-five years.  That’s a long time.  My parents haven’t always had a great marriage.  Sometimes I don’t know if they even felt like they had a good marriage.  But they have stuck with each other for forty.five.years.

Matt and I have had, in my opinion, the second hardest season of our marriage over the past eight months.  The first year was without a doubt the hardest year.  It was the year I would have walked had I not been pregnant so soon after our wedding.  I’m not proud of that fact.  I just wasn’t strong then and was prone to looking for the easy way out.  I often don’t feel I’m strong now.  I’m just convinced that I’m in this for the long haul.  I’m grateful for that early pregnancy.  Not only because it gave us our first born, but because I honestly believe it saved our marriage.

The past several months have been a different kind of difficult.  We’ve let life interrupt our marriage and haven’t made as much time to be together.  Matt’s knee has kept him from running which had become a huge part of “us”.  We stopped meeting early once a week and lost that time of communicating and sharing what God was doing in our lives.  Because we don’t feel connected our words get sharp and our defenses go up.  He says one thing.  I hear something else.  I respond without grace.  And the cycle continues until we both feel broken and defeated.

As I strolled the aisles of WalMart – alone! – the other night, I talked with God about this and how I was so tired of it and how it was wearing us down.  He gently showed me that when we get in these ruts I stop thinking about all of my husband’s wonderful attributes and begin to focus on his weaknesses or some perceived way that he’s failed me.  And I can’t think the best of my husband when I’m only thinking the worst.

So, today, even though it’s not Monday, I’m counting some of the ways I’m grateful for the amazing man I’m married to, that I share this life with, that I will walk beside until “death do us part”.

  • his amazing, driving, never-ceasing ability to work hard, even when he doesn’t feel like it
  • his orneriness
  • how his eyes disappear when he laughs
  • his laugh – oh, how I love his laugh!
  • how he loves me
  • how he’s still so attracted to me
  • that he’s not afraid to push me or challenge me to do better, be better
  • his patience with me, the girls
  • his abundantly generous heart
  • that he’s a man of amazing integrity; a man of his word
  • that he’s never been willing to settle for a mediocre marriage
  • that I have no fear of him ever leaving me, that my heart is safe with him
  • knowing that the Enemy of our souls will do everything in his power to destroy this thing we have and that my husband is strong to defend us on his knees

As I reflect on my parents forty-five years of marriage and I contemplate Father’s Day tomorrow, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to my parents for sticking together – through good and bad. You are now blessed to have a wonderful marriage for all your times of weathering the storms.  Thank you to my dad for being courageous enough to go against the grain and take us where you felt God leading us, even though it might cost you your family.  Thanks to both of you for the years you spent on your knees for me.  You know now that God heard you.  Thank you to my in-laws for raising such an amazing son for me to marry.  Thank you to my father-in-law for breaking the cycle of divorce in your family and constantly reassuring your children that you would never leave their mother.  Thank you for leaving a legacy of faithfulness to your children.  And thank you to my husband, for sticking through that first awful year together and for never being willing to settle for anything less than a great marriage.  Thank you for being such an amazing husband to me and father to our girls.  I wouldn’t want to do this life with anyone else.  I love you.


Week In Review

Yesterday was a busy day of cleaning around here and the computer barely got turned on.  So, a day late, here’s this week’s Week in Review:

Last Saturday we went to the Symphony in the Flint Hills.  Sunday night we had small group on a friend’s back deck.  This is when the large, raised, red splotches on my skin began to appear.  I assumed they were bug bites.  Turns out my poison ivy decided to lie dormant for 10 DAYS before producing a reaction on my skin.  Since I assumed they were just bug bites, I allowed myself to scratch them from time to time and I couldn’t get over just.how.itchy they were!  Duh.  We figured out on Wednesday what it was.  Prednisone was ordered on Thursday and I began taking it on Friday.  I still itch and my right leg looks like it’s been hit with a meat tenderizer.  Here’s hoping the steroids start working their magic soon.  😛

Tuesday the girls and I got up bright and early and headed down to Tulsa to visit a dear friend and her wonderful children.  It was a great day of catching up.  I’m so thankful for her friendship over the years.

Much of the week was spent cleaning up the house and yard.  We had friends over for dinner last night – always a good excuse to go above and beyond on house work.

Well, we are getting ready to head out for an afternoon of family fun:  Matt and I have to go buy new insoles for our running shoes.  😀

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

~Sara