A God in the Details

Last Friday, I was angry.  I was angry about my purse.  I was angry about how life was going.  Our insurance was willing to cover the loss, but it wasn’t worth filing the claim with what it would do to our rates.  I appealed to the buyer’s protection with our credit card; they wouldn’t cover theft from a car.  I felt like everything was going wrong.  And I was mad.  I worked my way through that anger, enjoyed a relaxing drive and laughing with my husband, and then danced the night away with friends.  By Saturday, my soul was at rest.  I had reached a point of accepting where things were at in life and was “claiming” a drama-free week for our family.  And I still had hope for my purse and wallet.  In the back of my mind my only thought was, maybe none of these other avenues are working because God is going to give it back to me.

In spite of my “claim” for a drama-free week, Monday morning started with one of our favorite red glass lamps being shattered while the children built a fort on the couch.  One of those mother moments when I looked and thought, This is a really bad idea.  And then I also thought, No, Sara, let them do this.  Say yes. So I let them and went upstairs for a bit.  And then I heard the shattering thud and knew instantly what had happened.  😦  So, before lunchtime I had given up my hopes for drama-free this week.

Tuesday morning, Matt found himself in a ditch in his truck.  *sigh*  I laughed.  I couldn’t help myself.  He was fine, just terribly inconvenienced, and I couldn’t help but laugh.  So, so ridiculous it was.

So Tuesday afternoon when the city services truck stopped in front of my house I honestly wondered what the next thing would be.  I wondered if something had happened with our payment and now our water was being turned off.  It just seemed like the next ridiculous occurrence in this series of unfortunate events.

The men in the truck sat out there a bit, so I went on and forgot about them, until one of them came to my door.  “I’m looking for Sara,” he said.  “I’m she,” I responded.  “Did you lose a purse?” he asked.

I gasped and my eyes had to be as large as saucers and I replied, “Did you find my purse?!!?”

He led me out to his truck and there it was sitting in the back, dirty and crumpled, but completely intact with my wallet inside.  I hugged him.  I couldn’t help it.  I told him I had been praying for it and that my friends had and that he had made my day.

I asked him where he found it.  He said it was in a trash can at a local park, about two miles north of where my purse was stolen.  He said they find them there all the time.

The smell on the purse is indescribable.  I took it to a local cleaner’s yesterday because I couldn’t even bear to have it on my front porch.  As best I can tell, the thief only took my money.  Every last penny was gone out of my wallet, but nearly everything else was there.  A few random items are missing from my purse, but my guess is that they fell out in the trash can because it’s silly things like lip gloss and fingernail clippers.

I knew my money was gone as soon as the purse went missing.  All I asked of the Lord was that I could have the purse and wallet back.  I didn’t care about any of the rest of it. I have seen God in so many little details throughout my seventeen year walk with Him that I never doubted His ability to bring that purse back, if He was willing.  (And after all this, I’m also confident He can get the smell out of it!  🙂 )

Matt and I have been asking ourselves for weeks, but especially the past several days, Is this God?  Is this Satan?  What are we supposed to be learning? And those thoughts continued to roll through my head as I processed the excitement of the afternoon.  What was God saying by giving this back?  Had we done something right?  What was it?

As I drove along, my soul knew it wasn’t anything we had done.  It was just God.  He gave it back because He’s God and He can and He chose to.  It’s grace. Simply grace.  And really it’s His grace that leads us through the trials that bring us to our knees.  For if grace means undeserved gift, then the trials of life that make us more like His Son are surely also grace.  It’s all grace.  Every moment.  Every breath.

And I’m so thankful for His endlessly abundant grace and His concern for the details of this day-to-day life.  Oh, how deep is His love for us!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara


Time and Balance Tuesday

In the past couple of weeks, I have had many friends ask me for notes from what I shared at our local mom’s group meeting on the topic of Time and Balance and Being Who God Created You To Be.

I have decided to do a short series on here, starting next Tuesday.  If it really takes off, maybe we’ll keep it going!  So, tell your friends and go ahead and subscribe by clicking the button on the right side of the page.  That way you’ll be sure not to miss anything!

I’m looking forward to seeing what God does with this!  Have terrific Tuesday, friends!

~ Sara

What Do You Do?

Once again on Wednesday I rose early to run.  No inclement weather threatened this time.  We met, Nikki and I, at our usual place, parked our cars, and started out.  Four and a half sluggish miles later we returned to the parking lot, laughing and rejoicing that we had finished.  And then we saw it.

Nikki saw it first – the back window on my SUV shattered.  Glass all over ground, floor, Ellie’s car seat.  My purse gone.  My new purse, a “souvenir” from my trip to Chicago with Grace.  The purse, the wallet, all the contents…credit cards, driver’s license, who knows what else…and the cash for our groceries this week….gone.

What do you do when it feels like this is just another incident in a long series of major incidents?  What do you do when you feel like you’ve spent the summer facing unexpected expense after unexpected expense, and none of them small?  When it just seems to be one thing after another?

What do you do?  You remember that moth and rust destroy, that thieves break in and steal.  You cling to the promise that every good and perfect gift is from above….all things work together….He will provide….He is here….He is enough…He is faithful.

What do you do when children come, smiles hidden, eyes alight and hand you envelopes rattling with change, stuffed with monies saved and cards made?  You weep and you hug and you give thanks.  In this inconvenient, broken moment of canceling credit cards and replacing shattered windows, you find your own heart shattered at this love-gift from children, from a Savior.  For without this broken moment, their beautiful gift never could have been given.

And I give thanks….

0805.  broken window

0806.  stolen purse

0807.  a friend who prays with me and for me

0808.  generous, abundantly generous, children

0809.  granny oakley

0810.  drives in the country

0811. dancing

0812.  barn swings

0813.  laughing

0814.  perspective

0815.  Sunday school prayer time

0816.  someone who dances with me

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth!  Sing to the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!  For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

~ Psalm 96:1-4

Week In Review – So Happy It’s Friday

Downer Warning:  It’s been a week, and I am just starting to really “feel” the events today.  This could be a very crabby post.  Feel free to flee now, or read on at your own risk.  😮

On Wednesday of this week, I had my SUV broken into and my purse stolen.  My brand new purse and wallet that I had only had for one month.  Exactly.one.month.  On a day that started out well and in the middle of what I hoped was going to be a drama-free week, everything was turned on its side.  I tried to do school with the girls, but they were clearly disturbed by what had happened and I was so distracted by phone calls to be made and trying to find somewhere to take my window-missing truck before it started to rain, we ended up only getting about half of our stuff done.  I spent most of the day numb and somewhat disoriented.  Thursday felt about the same.

Today I’m just mad.  I’m mad that my whole week got jacked up by someone’s selfishness.  I’m mad that everything cost just enough to be a giant nuisance, but probably not enough to make it worth submitting to insurance.  I’m mad that we haven’t even gotten the credit card bill for the dang purse yet and it’s already gone.  I’m mad that Matt had to take money out of savings so that I could go get groceries (because I was trying to be “good” and use cash and that was stolen).  I’m mad that I had to put groceries back today because I had to save money to go replace my driver’s license.  I’m mad that I have to make a bunch of phone calls this afternoon to change our auto-pay information from our checking account, because we had to open a new one.  I’m mad  that when I went to order new checks today, I got all the way through and realized I had no way to pay for them online.  I’m mad at the inconvenience it is causing Matt to be without any of his business credit cards for the next couple of weeks.

None of this is a big deal.  It really isn’t.  But it’s been an entire summer of this.kind.of.stuff.  Unplanned, unbudgeted inconveniences.  Matt and I laid in bed on Wednesday night and began to count up how many unexpected expenses we’ve had just this summer:

  • my truck window
  • my purse, wallet, and cash
  • his truck totaled
  • flat tire on his truck led to getting four new tires
  • two weed whips gone
  • one lawn mower dead
  • tool theft
  • roof repairs
  • broken rear hatch handle on my truck
  • broken antenna (not a cheap fix)
  • both air conditioning units at the house needing repairs
  • two speeding tickets

There were a few more, but they’re not coming to mind.  Needless to say, we’re worn down by the financial blood bath that this summer has been.

On the other hand, God has been more than generous with us this year.  It’s been a good year for the business and He’s been prompting Matt to work hard on saving money.  It’s just that Matt thought he was saving for the future, not for right now to just replace all our broken or stolen stuff.

I know God hasn’t changed.  I know He is still good.  I cling to His faithfulness and His promise to carry me.  There is still much to be thankful for and at least one beautiful story has come out of this, which I will share on Monday.  But today I feel a little like I’m going insane.  I told a friend today that I’m not even sure if this is Biblical, but I’m just going to go ahead and start “claiming” a drama-free week next week.  In Jesus name.

Now that I have written all of this down and looked back through it, I’m actually laughing.  It’s all just so ridiculous.  I wonder what could be next?!?!

Have a fabulous weekend, friends.  I’m sure going to try to here!

Only By His Grace ~

~ Sara

Summer Reading Follow Up

So, here’s my book list from the beginning of the summer.  It was ambitious, but I think I did pretty well, all things considered!

The list is taken directly from my former blog.  Each entry is followed up by how I did in getting around to it.

  • Arguing with Idiots by Glenn Beck – check; entertaining and very interesting; say what you will about Glenn, I admit I find him intriguing sometimes.
  • Parenting is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Other Myth by Leslie Leyland Fields – check; excellent book; you can find my thoughts on it here.
    • an Ann Voskamp “suggestion”
  • Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris – didn’t get to this one; hopefully this fall/winter.
    • I read somewhere about someone reading this aloud to their kids.  I’m going to read through it this summer and then do that with the girls if it seems like something they would respond to.
  • I Will Carry You by Angie Smith – check; a beautiful story that will definitely make you cry but also rejoice over God’s provision.
    • another Ann Voskamp recommendation
  • Safely Home by Randy Alcorn – not yet.
    • my mom’s been trying to get me to read this for years; she finally had a copy I could borrow that wasn’t loaned out
  • Simple Devotion by Judi Brower – also, not yet.
    • recommended by one of our Sunday school teachers
  • Pray and Watch by Neal and Judi Brower – tried to start this one and had trouble getting into it; loaned it to a friend and just got it back.  I hope to read it at some point.
    • The Confessions of Saint Augustine – LOL
      • okay, this one’s been by the bed for a while; not sure I’ll make it through it this summer! 
    • A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids About Sex by Kevin Leman – nope
    • Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel – no; started to pick it up and felt like I really needed something else, so laid it back down.  Still, always an excellent book.
      • this one is a re-read; read it for the first time a few years back.  Great book.
    • Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – no
      • I’ve read this one several times; always good to go back through
    • The Gift of Good Manners by Peggy Post & Cindy Post Senning – no

    The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer was also on my list, with the first book to read being Madame Bovary.  I bought the book and never touched it.  I think this is an idea that will have to be worked at very slowly.

    There were also some books I wanted to read through with Grace…

    So, out of nineteen books that I had by my bedside at the beginning of summer, I made it through eight, plus a couple of books that weren’t on my list but that jumped quickly to the top of the pile.  Considering all of my other responsibilities, I think I did okay!

    What about you?  What did you read this summer?

    Random Wednesday…

    …when I write about whatever pops into my head.

    I love the way she still lays all over me. Most of the time.

    And I throw in some pictures for good measure.  Today’s photos are some summer leftovers that never made it off my camera until today.  Let’s savor these last moments of summer while we’ve got them, eh?  😉

    I love green

    • I fought stainless steel water bottles for quite a while, and I’m still not willing to move entirely away from plastic.  Too many little hands, too many cups used in a day – I’d never be able to keep up with all the broken glass and I’d never have enough room in my cabinets.  Stackable plastic is still my friend.  Still, I was looking for an alternative to disposable water bottles for the girls to take with them to ballet and games and wherever, not so much because I’m environmentally concerned, but because I got tired of throwing away 14 oz of that 16 oz bottle of water.  A couple of weeks ago I found stainless steel bottles on sale at WalMart for $2 each, so I picked up a few and what do you know?  The water actually tastes better from them!  I’m still not abandoning my plastic cups, but I have come around on those darn hand-wash-only stainless steel bottles.

    This is our old couch. We had it for eleven years. It wasn't much to look at, but ohmygoodness was it ever comfortable.

    • My beloved, nearly silent dishwasher has started making a disturbing noise.  I don’t like it.  Not one bit.

    I miss this couch. Not the looking at it, but the laying on it. *sigh*

    • I’m so excited because I may have purchased our winter supply of chicken this week.  Dillon’s was having a sale on it, half the price of Sam’s.  So I stocked up.  Woot!  Now if my freezer would just cool back down from being defrosted, we’d be in really good shape.

    Not at all sure what they were looking at...

    • I’m always amazed at how some school days go ever-so-smoothly and some are like a slow death by mental torture.  All things being equal, I cannot figure out what makes some days go so much better than others.

    Marching along with the band

    • I’m considering signing up for another half marathon.  In Austin.  In February.  My thought is that it will keep me running through the nastiness that is a Kansas winter.  My other thought is that it will keep me running through the nastiness that is a Kansas winter.  I can’t decide.

      One of the few things I make that I am "proud" of. I make these for the girls on their birthdays.

    Well, I think that’s about it for me.  What about you?  What’s on your mind today?

    She melts me.

    Have a fantastic Wednesday, friends!

    ~ Sara

    Summer Fun Lists – A Retrospective

    Well, with summer officially ending on Thursday, it’s probably time to look back on how we did with some of our summer goals.  First, the Summer Fun List.  Later this week, my summer reading list.

    This was the first year we tried a summer fun list.  Some of the goals were pretty crazy, some were quite manageable.  I will defend myself up front by saying this was one of the hottest, most oppressive summers I can remember.  I love, love, LOVE hot weather, and even I couldn’t go outside for more than a few minutes some days.  I remember texting friends with whom we had swim dates and saying “I think it’s actually too hot even to swim.”  It was that hot.  So, a lot of things that may have gotten marked off during a “normal” Kansas summer, just didn’t this year.  Making the list was fun, nonetheless, and we’ll definitely do it again next summer.

    So here’s what the girls put on their lists: (Items accomplished are marked through; my commentary is in parentheses)

    • swimming – a lot!
    • have a friend sleep over (I’m a deadbeat for not making this one happen; summer just got too busy 😦 )
    • watch movies as a family
    • go to a park
    • camp for three days (here’s where the obscene heat comes in handy as a good excuse)
    • go to an actual beach (technically, this would only qualify for Grace, and that’s only if you call Lake Michigan going to a “real” beach)
    • go to a swim park/sprinkler park (none here in town; never made it out of town to find one 😦 )
    • buy a play set (Really?!?!  Perhaps these children haven’t noticed the miniature size of our backyard.)
    • buy flowers for the girls (Should have made this one happen.  Such a simple thing to do!)
    • have parades
    • get a drum set and take lessons (I’m not even going to apologize that this didn’t happen; I’m no dummy!)
    • read The Sign of the Beaver
    • have a friend over to play
    • go to Colorado
    • read
    • have lots of fun
    • go to Mexico (what can I say?  My kids like to travel and they have really good ideas for destinations!)
    • go swimming with Coco the Labradoodle (three words why this didn’t happen:  wet dog smell)
    • re-organize bedroom
    • go running with Coco (technically this one happened, but only with me.  Who wants to run with four kids and a spastic dog???)
    • go North to see our favorite goat farmers
    • walk with Coco (see the spastic dog reference above)
    • go to San Diego (again with the travel)
    • bike rides
    • concert in the park
    • dinner on the patio at our favorite Mexican restaurant
    • hollow an egg

    That’s our Summer Fun List review.

    Did you set any goals for this summer?  Were you able to meet them?

    In other news, I had (as usual) an entertaining conversation with Ellie this weekend…

    Ellie (as she’s putting old birthday cards into her purse):  I’m going to keep getting birthday cards until I’m twenty.

    Me:  Why only until you’re twenty?

    Ellie:  Because then I’ll probably die.

    Me:  Why?!?!

    Ellie:  Because I’ll be an ooooold granny. (with much emphasis on “old”)


    Have a great Tuesday, friends!

    For His Glory ~

    ~ Sara


    Last Wednesday, I woke in the 5 o’clock hour, like I do every Wednesday.  I clicked the weather app on my Blackberry, making sure the rain was still going  to hold off.  Clear skies, it said.  Weary, I rolled slowly out of bed and began to dress to run.  I ate my breakfast, tended the dog, and strapped on my watch.  I grabbed my water and went out to the truck and started driving west, toward our meeting place.

    And then I began to see lightning.  A little at first, then more frequent and more threatening looking.  I texted back and forth with my running partner and we finally decided to cancel our date.  I did what any logical person would do at 6:30 in the morning, I turned toward Starbucks.  🙂

    Out of my truck windows, I began to see the color rising in the east.  Reds and oranges like I had never seen before.  And I was speechless.

    As much as I wanted to sleep in that morning, as exasperating as it was to get up and get ready and NOT run, I knew this was why the forecast on my phone had been wrong.  I needed to see that sunrise.  A heavenly reminder as I began my day that He is here, He is enough.

    And while He is enough in and of Himself, He gives graciously and abundantly.  And I count the gifts.

    0792.  six miles

    0793.  conquering the beastly hill and reaching our summer goal

    0794.  a quiet afternoon in my room

    0795.  a change of pace

    0796.  indescribable sunrise

    0797.  texts from friends as I prepare to speak

    0798.  speech completed!

    0799.  feeling one thousand pounds lighter

    0800.  the completion of another family wedding

    0801.  a Saturday to recover

    0802.  sleeping until 10 am

    0803.  Sunday morning worship

    0804.  Sunday evening at home

    Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

    ~ Ephesians 4:29

    May your words and your actions today encourage one another and point to the Giver of all good gifts.

    By His Grace ~

    ~ Sara

    **Photos courtesy of my good friend Angee who took these out on her land on Wednesday morning.

    Week in Review

    Today started at 10 am.  Of course, yesterday finally ended at 1 am.  So the sleeping in was wonderful.  Even the girls were obedient and stayed in bed until 9 this morning.  Or they were at least quiet enough that I didn’t hear them.  This week was defined by a speaking opportunity and a family wedding.  It was a great week, but I was so happy when Esther and Regan walked back UP the aisle last night, knowing that all the pressure was finally lifted and we could all just relax.

    First, go here for a video that I shared with the moms I spoke to on Thursday…

    Last, a few photos from the wedding….

    I love this picture of Esther and Regan for so many reasons, but most of all because it is so totally them – always being climbed on by children.  And loving it.

    There are so many things wrong with this picture, that are all my fault, but we won’t get into that.  We’ll just be happy with a picture of the six of us.  Together.  And mostly smiling.  And then there’s Chandler’s expression.  🙂

    Regular posting *should* return next week, with a possible series on time and balance coming up.  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

    For His Glory ~

    ~ Sara

    Here. Enough.

    God is here. God is enough.

    That has been my mantra today. It was on the white board as we did school. It was on the chalk board in the kitchen. It was on my Facebook status.

    He is here. He is enough.

    I needed to know that today. As I was distracted by so many things to do, urgent tyrants screaming for my attention, while true priorities struggled to be heard, I needed to know He is here, He is enough. As I continued to assemble thoughts and plans for the presentation that I give in a little over thirty-six hours and I wrestled with feeling unprepared and wholly inadequate, I needed to know He is here, He is enough. As I fought for motivation to keep working when the day grew long and waking up at 3:30 started to reveal itself under my eyes and in my muscles, I needed to know He is here, He is enough.  And as I face tomorrow and its particular trials and temptations, He doesn’t change – He is here, He is enough.

    As you face your day, your week, your private struggles, may you rest in knowing that He is here, He is enough. Have a blessed Wednesday trusting in His presence.