Eight

A year ago, I wrote about Chandler and the completely unique and wonderful child she is and how God has used her in our lives.  And while God often uses her to remind me just how much I need Him, I give thanks for her today.  I give thanks for her tender heart and her quick wit, for her strength and determination, for her generosity and for the incredible way God will use her someday, and for the eight years He has so graciously given us so far.

 

And I continue to count the gifts He gives each day…..

1270.  husbands and daddies

1271.  reaching the breaking point

1272.  finding balance and peace again

1273.  first horse show

1274.  a really good Saturday

1275.  home study interview

1276.  third borns

1277.  another turning eight

Praying you are open to the gifts He gives this week.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Summertime

Well, I’m at least a month late on this post, but (as I’ve said many times) this has been one of the weirdest summers I can remember.  After a major slight breakdown yesterday, I feel like we’ve made it over the hump and I am determined to slow down and enjoy the next few weeks with my kids.  I’m clearing our July schedules of anything and everything I possibly can and we are going to cram as much fun into six weeks as humanly possible.

So, all that said, here is our “Summer Fun List” –

  • Have friends over (they have a list of about 12 different girls)
  • Camping (probably going to have to wait until fall for that one)
  • Splash parks
  • The cabin in Texas (weren’t we just there? surely that counts.)
  • Parks
  • Zoos
  • Bike rides
  • Moon Marble Company
  • Discovery Center
  • Shopping at the mall
  • Get a gerbil (that’s Grace’s – shoot me now, please)
  • Take Coco for walks

Seems reasonable enough, except maybe the camping and the cabin.  I’ll report back on how we did in the fall.

Next up, my Summer Reading List.  It’s long (though not as long as last year; okay, maybe it is as long as last year’s) and I’m allowing myself into the fall for it, too.  Here goes:

  • Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald
    • This gift was given to me to read.  I will be honest, I have some cautions about Vision Forum and their strong patriarchal leanings, but it looks like it addresses some things that we want to work on with the girls, so I am reading through it this summer to determine if it is something we should go through together in the fall.
  • The Gift of Good Manners by Peggy Post & Cindy Post Senning
    • This was on last summer’s list and I still haven’t gotten to it.  It should probably be a higher priority than it is; we need help.  😉
  • Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman
    • Because I really need to cry more than I already do.
  • The Whole Life Adoption Book by Jayne Schooler
    • This one and the two that follow have all been recommended reading as we navigate the adoption process.  I’m looking forward to getting into them soon.
  • Adopted for Life by Russell Moore
  • Praying Through Your Adoption by Michelle Cervone Scott
  • The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart
    • I’m really intrigued by this one!
  • Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
    • We’re going through this right now in Sunday school.  Good stuff.
  • The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
    • Read this first in college, now going through it again with my small group ladies.  Looking forward to seeing what I take away from it so many years later.
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
    • One of my favorite movies ever.  I was at a book sale and one of the ladies there convinced me that it is so much better than the movie and what did I have to lose for a buck?  Should be good poolside reading, if I can ever find the time to sit poolside.  😉
  • Understanding Exposure by Bryan Petereson
    • The next three books are a result of me finally being fed up with not fully understanding my camera.  These are library books, so I’m trying to get through them first, but I can only read about shutter speeds and f-stops for so long before my brain goes numb.
  • Understanding Composition by Steve Mulligan
  • Digital SLR Cameras and Photography for Dummies by David Busch

Well, that’s it.  I’ve got my work cut out for me!

What about you?  What fun things are you hoping to do with your kids this summer?  Any good books you’re hoping to read?

Praying you are able to slow down and enjoy the gift of life today!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Adoption Update

It’s June…..nearly the end of it, in fact!  June 1 marked our GO date for beginning the paper chase that is an adoption.  We’ve been busy gathering the details of our life into one green box that resides on top of our refrigerator.  I would guess that we have 1/3 to 1/2 of what we need gathered.  We had our psychological evaluations last week where we were (surprise, surprise!) deemed of sound mind to parent an adopted child.  Tomorrow we go downtown to get fingerprinted and get our police clearance reports.  We’ve sent in Child Abuse Registry clearance forms on ourselves and our oldest child (because she’s over 10).  We’ve preyed on friends to write reference letters on our behalf.  On Sunday we have our first home study visit.  Sometime in July we have our physicals and blood work done.  I’ve ordered ridiculously expensive birth certificate copies from North Carolina (where Matt was born) and gone downtown to pick up mine as well as our marriage certificate.  There’s much more to be done, but I am fully confident we will have everything gathered by the end of July, if not before.

In the meantime, we (mostly Matt) have been busy working on the house that we are planning to sell to help fund this process.  About a month ago we had a painting party at the property that has been named the Amania House.  I commissioned the girls (and their friends) to take pictures, so we have a lot of photos of them and their friends and a few of people working (mostly their back sides).  😉

Front - mid-progress

Casey & Patrick rockin' the south side

Front porch - we ditched the "Passover" swath on the front door and ended up painting it black.

Chandler & Lauren

Beans rockin' the north side

My father-in-law (and I'm realizing I need to teach my girls how to change the date in their camera - it was not June 27, 2008)

Nikki helping roll out the living room

More north side action

This is the girls immortalizing Ellie's helpful nature.

Me. Without make up. Just keepin' it real.

Hannah rollin' in the kitchen.

More Lauren & Chandler

Jazz Hands!

My mother-in-law helping with the yard

Lucy

Emma

Ellie finally helping

Brogan

Grace

I'm not quite sure what they were doing under that shrub for so long, but we have a lot of pictures like this. (And that dumb date stamp is starting to drive me nuts.)

More of Nikki rolling

Mel cutting in

Kerri & Angee working on the second floor

Dick working in the dining room. He claimed no one wanted to help him.

Rex cutting in. Everyone was thankful for the cutters-in!

The breakfast and lunch buffets.

Ben still working hard.

Me supervising.

Matt & Brian chatting it up while Matt paints the trim

Brogan (this shot was too cute not to include)

We are so thankful to the many friends who came out to lend a hand and show their support.  We are also so blessed by the generosity and encouragement of so many as we walk this road.  It is a gift to see how God does all the work and does amazing things when we simply say “yes” and trust Him.

Joy Giving

JOY. 

It’s the gift I want to give my children, my family.  It’s the legacy I want to leave.  I want to break my history of and bent toward sadness and melancholy and fill our home with peace, joy, love.  I want to be who God made me and I want to glorify Him with a joyful heart.

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This is His will: to give thanks, to rejoice always.  And the strength to do so comes when we pray without ceasing.  Prayers of thanks, prayers for help, prayers for grace, for peace, for hope.  A life of joy flows from a life of prayer and thanksgiving.  May this be the life I live.

1259.  swimming with friends

1260.  really cool VBS

1261.  hard choices

1262.  a broken leg and nothing worse

1263.  Symphony in the Flint Hills

1264.  slowing down again

1265.  baby steps toward bringing her home

1266.  generosity of others

1267.  splash pads and mexican food

1268.  spontaneous daddies and a wonderfully fun Father’s Day

1269.  joy…joy…joy!

May you find joy in His presence this week, my friends!

~ Sara

*photos from a beautiful night with dear friends at the Symphony in the Flint Hills

Ballerinas – 2011 Edition

The girls’ spring recital was a few weeks ago.  They all worked so hard this year and looked so lovely performing.  I am proud of their hard work and watching their delight on performance nights makes all the crazy running around worth it.

I ignored my own usual advice, and did not take pictures at home before the recital.  I thought – we’re older now, they’ll be fine after the recital!  I was wrong.  They were all tired and an emotional mess.  So, next year, it’s back to pre-recital photo ops. 

Ellie

Emma - a Woodland Fairy in Snow White

Grace - a Mirror in Snow White

Here’s to a refreshing summer break from pink fluff and pointe shoes and looking forward to another wonderful year of watching them grow in gracefulness.

~ Sara

Grateful Monday

I’ll be honest, it’s been a day.  A Monday.  I likely should have practiced what I’ve preached and started my day with the giving of thanks.  Perhaps pausing in this moment will redirect my thoughts as we go into the evening hours.

In Streams recently I read…

Our praise will bring forth “water…in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6), while complaining will only bring judgment.  Even prayer by itself may fail to reach the fountain of blessings.

Nothing pleases the Lord as much as praise.  There is no greater evidence of faith than the virtue of genuine thanksgiving.  Are you praising God enough?  Are you thanking Him for the countless blessings He has bestowed on you?  Are you boldly praising Him even for the trials in your life, which are actually blessings in disguise?  And have you learned to praise Him in advance for answers yet to come?

~ Streams in the Desert, May 26

Am I praising Him for Mondays and head aches and irritations?  Am I praising Him for phone calls and paperwork and bills?  I will praise Him for these things and for the promise of a new day and renewed minds, for provision, for grace, and for meeting every.single.need.  He is faithful and He is worthy of my praise.

 

1238.  girls playing in rain

1239.  youngest riding a bicycle

1240.  sleeping in (just a bit) on a Thursday

1241.  celebrations and graduations

1242.  interrupted date night

1243.  incredible hail

1244.  time on the porch

1245.  trust, faith

1246.  a perfect day for painting

1247.  support from friends

1248.  being dinner guests

1249.  no tears at swim lessons

1250.  whole house clean

1251.  finishing a book

1252.  last training run

1253.  Hospital Hill 10k!

1254.  a great friend to run it with

1255.  denim that’s worth a little extra

1256.  summer Saturdays

1257.  annual Spring Fling

1258.  Mondays

May you find the countless blessings He has given you today ~

~ Sara

Pulling Weeds

One throws piano books.  Another slaps her sister.  I hear a stampede of angry wails from my side of the bathroom door.  I am in the shower while the argument ensues; how to settle a dispute that has no witnesses while the shampoo runs into my eyes?

By the time I was their age my only sibling was an adult, off to college and living on his own.  I have no model to draw from for working through these difficulties.  I feel lost.

I send them to rooms, to beds, to think, pray, calm.  I brush my wet hair and pray myself.

There are so many issues, topics that seem to be suddenly glaring.  Areas in our parenting that are lacking.  Where to begin?

One calms down, another confesses her wrong-doing.  They go out to weed flower beds.  Youngest child proudly presents weeds to be placed in water and displayed.  Agitated from the morning, I take them grumpily, hiding behind a polite smile.  If I’m honest, I don’t want to put weeds on the counter, but I can’t resist her unbridled joy.

And it occurs to me, this is what we’re doing as parents.  Pulling the weeds of sin, working to get the stubborn roots, so that the beautiful flowers that are our children can grow stronger, healthier, more beautiful to the glory of their Creator.

While I’m being honest, it bears mentioning that I hate weeding, loathe yard work.  Which is why the children are outside pulling while I’m inside typing.  And while I can delegate yard work, no one else can do this work in their lives.  While God ultimately directs their paths and who they will become, He has entrusted them to us, their earthly parents, to do this difficult, unending task of pulling the weeds of sin that seek to encroach on the beauty He is creating in them.

And He uses them to expose (often glaringly) and work out the sins in our own hard hearts, the flesh that screams to be made first.

This parenting is a sacred act, making us more like His Son more than almost any other crucible that life gives, if only we will submit to His instruction.  And models aside, He will be faithful to lead me, lead us, as we seek Him daily to show us how to lead them.

 

Random Wednesday – Some Catching Up

Thoughts roll through my head, it’s hard to know where to start.  Every day last week I intended to sit down, to write.  Every day filled up, life too busy to linger long at the keyboard.  And this week, it is Wednesday already, and I finally steal a few moments, but what to write first?

The girls are playing outside, enjoying weather that finally feels like summer.  Swimming began this week and (Hooray!) no one has cried, fussed, or complained.  We have worked this week to restore order to the house, cleaning, laundry-ing, and implementing summer schedules.  After a month of what felt like floundering, it’s good to feel order returning.

Since our trip we have had graduation parties, a ballet recital, and painting at Amania’s house.  Pictures linger on the camera.  Hopefully they’ll come off soon and I’ll share them with you.

Today is June 1.  We can officially begin our adoption paper work today.  Woot!

I have had so many emotions related to our adoption in the past few days, ranging from desperately missing her to being anxious to meet her to wondering if we’re really doing the right thing for everyone involved.  I know all these emotions are normal but, much like a “normal” pregnancy and all it’s ensuing emotions, we still must wrestle through it for ourselves.

I had my last run before the Hospital Hill 10k this morning.  Another woot! fits well here.  I keep telling myself it’s only 6.2 miles, but the hills are notoriously tough.  But we’ve trained and I really believe we’re ready for it.  Now we’re just praying for perfect weather Saturday morning.

The troops in the back yard are getting restless.  Direction is needed, so I must go.  Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday!  Hopefully the next post will include photos.  🙂

~ Sara