Just a list…..

1130.  “clean” sicknesses

1131.  application in the mail

1132.  groceries before more winter

1133.  snow

1134.  the chiropractor

1135.  snuggly sickies

1136.  lots of naps

1137.  last Upward game

1138.  messages on forgiveness and living Radical

1139.  thunderstorm over still white snow

1140.  husband who helps me talk, sort through, hard things

1141.  sunshine

1142.  agency application approved


Ann’s post is beautiful today.  I hope you’ll click on over there and read it and be blessed as I was.

May your week be filled with thanks ~

~ Sara

Expectations and Grace

Last fall, the ladies in our small group agreed to create a “book club” of sorts.  We meet once a month at my house and fellowship together and discuss our current book.  We are all very busy, so we’ve only been able to work on two books since September.  But it’s getting us all to read regularly and read critically, thinking about what’s on the pages so we can (hopefully) discuss them intelligently.  😉

The first book we waded through was C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain.  There were times in those three months where I think we were all pretty convinced that this book was the problem.  But, it really was a good book, just much thicker reading that any of us had attempted in a long time.  One of my favorite chapters was the one on hell.  (Is that weird?  It seems weird.)  He offers a fascinating perspective on the subject.  Anyway, I recommend the book.  Just be prepared to read each chapter a couple of times to really “get it”.

Our current book is Do Hard Things by Brett & Alex Harris.  All of us in this book club are mothers with children either in their early teens or rapidly approaching them.  All of us want our children to be counter-cultural, not settling for the norm but striving for excellence.  We selected this book, most of us thinking this would be our pre-read and then we would read it with our children in the near future.  Great book! I definitely will be reading it with my girls soon.

But it has created a bit of conflict and struggle for me personally.  I was the child they talk about a lot in the book, the one who excelled – especially academically – and received a lot of praise from adults for being a “good kid”, but I never really had to work at it and only a couple of adults in my life ever really pushed me harder than I was used to being pushed.  As I look back, I struggle with regret that I wasted a lot of time and potential that God had placed in me.

I want more than this for our kids.  I see incredible potential in them and I want them to know that our expectations are high.  Not that we expect them each to be the very best at everything they do, but that we expect them to push themselves to do better, to never settle for the easy road, to always try harder.  This is particularly difficult since I like to settle for the easy road most days.  So this book has been a great challenge for me personally, to expect more of myself and of them.

So in my reading of this book, I found myself pushing harder with the girls, expecting more, requiring more, mostly in school but also around the home.  I wanted them to realize that we were not just going to slide through life.  But in my efforts to raise expectations, I realized this weekend that I had completely thrown grace out the window.

I’ve been working my way through Ann’s book on my own.  I finished it the other night.  And it was this weekend, reading her words, her words always full of grace, that I was reminded that I was missing it.  If I don’t show grace, all my high expectations are only clanging noise.  The girls were fighting against me; obeying, but not out of love.  We were all exhausted, exasperated, by this burden I had placed upon us.

This week, in spite of losing our rhythm, I feel like I have found my center again.  Gentleness has returned to my parenting, grace has taken up residence again in our home.  And while things are not perfect, we are all so much happier.

But my struggle remains….how do I hold my children, myself, to high standards while showing grace?  How do I communicate to them that we will not take the easy road, that we will do hard things, while still holding their hearts gently?  As I write, I suppose the best way is by my own example, through open, honest conversation, by inviting them into community with me to see how I live as a woman following hard after her Savior.

But what about you?  Have you found ways to demonstrate high expectations while showing grace?  I’d love to hear how you balance the two in your home.

Praying your day is filled with God’s grace and goodness!

~ Sara

Random Wednesday (and a tiny update)

We have completely lost our rhythm around here this week.  I’m not sure how it happened.  But my part of the school day has been dragging on and on.  I can’t get caught up on laundry or dishes or the endless blanket-folding that occurs in the winter.  One child is in and out of consciousness (not literally) with some weird fever-sore throat-upset-stomach-but-otherwise-fine bug.  It’s nearly lunch time on Wednesday and I’m sitting here instead of doing history and science (which typically start at 10) because I can’t find two of my students.  **sigh**

In other news this is in the mail as of this afternoon!

I LOVED Ann’s post this morning.  In this my year of intentional slowing down, it struck a chord.

Wishing each of you a blessed Wednesday, friends!  May you enjoy your Maker today – He loves you so much!

~ Sara

Joy

“Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing – and are filled.”

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

I read her book, highlighting like crazy the words that speak to me.  I confess, I was slow to take to it.  Why do I feel bad admitting that?  I have loved Ann’s words for years now, but it took a few chapters for me to sink into the book.  Perhaps it was just where I was at when I started and where I’m at now.  Life changes how we view things.  So much truth, so much grace spill out on the pages and I am reminded, brought back to the center of things I have learned, grace I’ve experienced.  I am reminded “without expectations, what can topple the surprising wonder of the moment?”

It is when I raise my expectations, demand something of God, of life, that I become frustrated, angry, impatient. But when I realize my right position, that I deserve none of it, then it truly is all grace and all a gift and every moment is open to wonder and how can I not give thanks?

 

1117.  discussions of Haiti

Geese on the still-frozen pond

1118.  him willing to lead, serve, sacrifice there

1119.  open windows, doors

Warm enough we were out in short sleeves, but the water remained frozen.

1120.  a break from school to enjoy a warm day in February

1121.  zoo animals also eager to enjoy sunshine


1122.  open sunroof

1123.  6:20 p.m. and still so light out


1124.  birds flying north, sign of spring

1125.  giant pearl moon hung on blue sky

The male lion was going to town on his tail!

1126.  allergies in February

1127.  still thinking of that dog on the second floor of the play house


1128.  adoption applications

1129.  phone calls that mean I’m actually doing something toward bringing her home

May your day be filled with unexpected joy!

~ Sara

Week In Review

Note:  the following was all typed yesterday (Friday) and in the interest of actually getting this post up, I’m not going back to edit it.  So, just pretend today is Friday while you read or make the changes for yourself mentally.  😉

This week has been both long and short.  My heart has been heavy, my arms longing to hold that little girl.  I know this is only the beginning.  I am thankful for four pregnancies to condition me (ever-so-slightly) to the pains and heart tugs of a child you can’t yet hold.  But with a pregnancy, at least you have some assurance of when you will hold that babe.  This road….it has no definite end.  And we’ve only just begun the long, long journey. sigh

Yesterday turned into a good day.  Seventy-five degrees in mid-February makes everything better!  We enjoyed our zoo and the girls all took their cameras and each took about 200 pictures, I think.  And then we hit the Sonic play place for slides and Happy Hour.

Today it is hair cuts for chicks and cleaning house and hopefully this weekend we can de-winter the garage, porch, and patio a bit.  (Only a bit, though, as more winter is forecasted for next week.  😦 )  Everything just feels so cluttered and dirty from the winter, even the floors inside the house showing signs of melted snow tracks.  I may even charge the girls with cleaning out my truck.  It hasn’t been vacuumed in at least a month, probably more.  I don’t do well with dirty, messy, in my own spaces.  I start to feel things closing in on me and my brain just can’t focus on anything until I clean.

Added on Saturday morning:

The house is now clean, girls have trimmed ends.  Everything is feeling better.  Last night Matt and I enjoyed date night at a local Thai restaurant.  Money bags…..mmmmm!  Today is one of Chandler’s last Upward games and then, hopefully, a productive/relaxing day at home.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and that you are able to enjoy both work and rest.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

*photos of Valentine’s cookies we made last week, in honor of last Monday’s holiday

Second Chances

It happens nearly every time and so I shouldn’t be surprised by it and yet it never fails to catch me off guard.  The promise of a day off, plans to enjoy time together, relaxing, fellowshipping as family and the Enemy he wastes no time in inserting himself and turning it all upside down.

All week we have waited for today.  I had scheduled off Valentine’s Day in our school year, but with the promise of 70+ degrees on Thursday, we held off.  A day to sleep in a bit and then be outside, we long for the feel of the warm, moist air on our faces, arms.

But within moments of being up, the bickering begins.  Trivial annoyances, whining, and oh why today?  They go outside and two children decide it will be a good idea to take the dog up to the second floor of the playhouse.  Dog who does not go up stairs, except the few between the door and the yard, they take her up a tiny ladder that my adult frame can barely maneuver.  And when it’s time to go to the zoo and the library I learn of their scheme and now they can’t get her down.  Of course.  So I must wrestle 50 pound beast, her body stiff but trembling, my blood pressure rising by the moment.  And my flesh breaks loose.  I restrain my volume, but my displeasure is clear, and Satan has triumphed in the moment.

And the image is funny to me now; the wrestling of the dog, and wondering how they got her up there in the first place.  And how excited they surely were at their plan.

But we raise them to mature and to think rationally and then they catch me completely off guard with something so ridiculous.  And I know it’s what I do too.  With words, with money, with impulsive decisions….I do ridiculous things.

So how do we beat him at his game?  Satan, this enemy of our souls, that wears us down and then knocks us off our feet.  Prayer.  Grace.  Second chances.

Right now I am hiding in husband’s office.  Typing out my frustrations, my heart.  The blood pressure has returned to (almost) normal.  We will try again.  We still have an afternoon before us before we have to go to ballet.  The girls and I, we will hug one another and laugh, and trust the Lord to redeem this day.

And, hopefully, we’ll learn never to take the dog up to the second floor of the playhouse again.  😉

Where We’re At

Just a quick update today on where we’re at with our new adoption adventure.  Pretty much, we’re in the same place we were last week, but with a few more answers.  😉

We know that our little girl is “available”.  They are creating her file and our name will be on it!  We are still waiting to hear back on what our time line, or schedule, will be.  Apparently, one thing Haiti is a stickler on is the age of the adoptive parents, at least that’s what we’ve heard so far.  Their age requirement is between the ages of 35 and 50.  Welllll, Matt won’t be 35 until the very end of this year.  (I won’t be until late next year, but – fortunately – only one of us has to meet that requirement.)  So, we are waiting to hear what we can start when, so that we don’t do things too early and have them expire and then get to do them (and pay for them) twice.

For those that are interested, I will definitely post updates on our progress regularly here, so check back often (or subscribe 😉 ).

Again, I want to thank all you dear friends so much for your wonderful words of encouragement and support last week as we shared what the Lord is doing.  We are blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of people.

May your Wednesday be blessed!

~ Sara

Love and Thanks

On this Valentine’s Day, this day of love, my life is full of people, places, and things to be thankful for.  My heart just overflows and I can’t help but give thanks to the Giver….

1099.  beginning to to get some answers

1100.  wild, abundant encouragement, support; we are blessed!

1101.  files with our name on them

1102.  God love that leaves me speechless and teary-eyed

1103.  a photo of her

1104.  dinner with a new friend who loves Haiti

1105.  lemon bars made by the ten-year-old

1106.  Cheshire moon in the middle of the night

1107.  ballet sunsets

1108.  peace

1109.  good small group discussions

1110.  friend’s new baby girl

1111.  Valentine’s Day

1112.  husband who leads

1113.  special gifts

1114.  beloved making Valentine’s dinner

1115.  daughters cleaning the kitchen

1116.  God who loves first

We love because He first loved us.

~ I John 4:19

Week in Review

This week has flown by, carried by joy, anticipation, and your wonderful encouragement.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your outpouring of support for our new journey, adventure, wild God-thing.

The week was normal, all things considered, with ballet and basketball and piano and school.  Today was basketball and riding lessons.  Now I stare at glowing screen sipping coffee, heat on always-tight shoulders, Michael Buble on iTunes.  I clean out inboxes, de-clutter desktops – both digital and tangible, and catch up on tedium neglected throughout the week.

A new Blackberry arrived in the mail last week and time was spent pulling old photos off old phone before making the switch.  I have laughed today as I sort them out on my computer.  I’ll close today with some of them.  So funny to see the moments of silly randomness that are caught with the ever-present phone-camera…

(Admittedly, most of them are of Ellie.  That kid is always doing something goofy!)

What happens when Ellie dresses herself.

Sunrise on the road

Grace and me in Chicago last summer.

Ellie in the fountain at Legend's

Getting her hair chopped early last fall

Princess and Unicorn - this kid is the total package! 😉

Geared up to learn to ride without training wheels!

Look! Ellie fits in a carry on. 🙂

Cowgirl Chandler

The trouble with home schooling - fluid schedules make it hard to answer questions in math. 😉

Team prayer before an Upward game.

Maybe I’ll have to do Blackberry Photo posts more often….these truly are the photos I have of real, every day life in our home!

Hoping your weekend is filled with memories and laughter and good things!

~ Sara

 

What’s Going On Here

Husband comes home from Haiti.  Both of us have hearts heavy for these children.  We leave the airport and drive south to breakfast.  We sit long in a booth at Mimi’s Cafe and talk over all he has seen and thought and felt in ten short days.

We discuss options, what both our hearts have felt, and agree to pray.  He sleeps hard.  I finally rest, no longer alone.  The next day my heart still burns, anxious for what I feel the Lord saying. I never expect him to agree, so it seems not-as-scary to think these things.  We talk over the sound of his shower, while I do my hair for church.  My heart stops – he’s on the same page!  Now it beats hard at the possibilities and how this will change everything.

There lives in Haiti a little girl, who from the first picture Matt sent back, my heart said that’s my daughter.  I do not know what will come from this, we continue to wait for phone calls, but I know how my heart aches and I know how my husband looked at her in the photos taken by other team members.  And I think of the vision Matt had once, years ago, of five daughters and how we have never had another one naturally….  She is ours in our hearts, and I can only pray that one day she will be ours in reality, if that is the Lord’s will.

There is also a little boy, whom my heart loves, but he has a sister there at the orphanage, and we will not separate siblings, and we do not feel called to adopt three, so we feel God is telling us no about the beautiful boy we wanted to bring home.  And there are two other boys that we asked about, and both are in the process of adoption.  And my heart is wildly happy for both of them and I laugh that perhaps God really doesn’t want us to have a son as He continues to close that door.

We do not know what the future holds.  We are excited to see what God has in store.  This could be a long, slow ride to bring our fifth daughter home.  Or this could be a very fast trip toward a closed door.  Or it could be something in between.  We covet your prayers and promise to keep you posted.

Holding to His Wild Grace ~

~ Sara