Update Week: On Life and Lice

It feels as though the past three and a half weeks have been lived in survival mode.  Between race training and head picking, it’s been all I could do to keep us all afloat.  However, as of yesterday, it is with great joy and relief that I can now say We are lice free!!!  🙂

In the midst of just trying to keep things going, projects like Thirty for 30 have taken a bit of a back seat.  Matt has tried to do it at least a couple of nights a week, but I’ve had to take that time to do things like laundry, check school, or sleep.  Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to get back into the swing of some of those “hard stops” we have been trying to implement.

I’ve been asking God for the past few weeks the why of head lice.  We’ve had them once before and, while I hope to never ever ever do this again, I have been able both times to find the gift in them.  The first time, head lice forced us to stop.  We had been going at what seemed like a break-neck pace and suddenly, that all came to a screeching halt.  And, while inconvenient, it was definitely a gift.

This time I feel like God has shown me my own sin, my own idolatry.  He revealed to me that I had taken something good, something beneficial – the concept of a schedule and routine – and made it into an idol.  I was seeking so hard after something predictable that I could control that I had stopped trusting Him for the strength for each day, each moment.

I still love and crave routine and schedule.  I believe we were made for it and I know we all do better with it.  But I realize that it is not the schedule that will save us, nor will some ideal of a methodical, predictable life.  In the midst of running a small business, home education, life with kids, adoption, being involved with church and ministry, no matter how hard I try our life is going to be somewhat crazy and trying to force us to fit into a box we weren’t made for is only going to frustrate everyone and keep us from modeling our Savior to each other and those around us.

I am prayerful that as we move into the holiday season over the next few weeks that we will be able to slow down, to enjoy the season and consider its weight and worth.  But I also know that these years are fleeting and fighting the fullness of time will only leave us all empty.  So more than anything, I pray that God gives the grace to enjoy each moment, to soak up the wonder of it, and to savor the glory and peace He gives each day.  Because He is more than enough to meet all our needs.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Update Week: The Running Post

On Saturday I ran my fourth half marathon.  The past few weeks of training have reminded me of some things that seem to apply to life as well.

  1. Running is hard.  But it’s always worth it.
  2. It’s always better with friends.
  3. It’s about 90% mental attitude.

Point three was key this past weekend and it’s what God and I have been talking about ever since.

My wonderful friend and running buddy Nikki and I trained hard through a lot of different challenges and prepared our bodies to not only run this race but meet a personal time goal.  We went to bed early on Friday night and did our best to sleep well, but already my mind was fighting against fear and nerves.

I’ve run this particular course three times now. I know the parts that I struggle with, that have been hard in the past and my mind that night before the race was telling me that it was going to be harder than ever because not only did I want to finish, I wanted to finish fast. (Well, fast for me.  Not fast for the Kenyans.)

(look at that elevation profile – not flat!)

We got up Saturday morning and started the race strong.  We made it up the hill I had been dreading and I was still feeling good.  And then a second steeper – but shorter – hill that I had apparently blocked out in my mind came right on the heels of the big hill and I struggled all the way up it.  My body was able to do the work, but my mind was weak.

By mile four I was ready to cry and had to walk shortly after.  Poor Nikki tried so so so hard to keep me motivated and dragged me along for five more miles before we got separated by the crowd.

God and I talked a lot that last 4.1 miles.  I knew He had helped me prepare for that day and I gave up.  I didn’t claim the victory He had given me and I don’t think missing a goal in a race is a sin, but not walking in faith and obedience is and that’s what had happened.  I chose failure that day because I chose fear.  I was afraid that even if I worked hard I wouldn’t meet my goal.  I was afraid of working hard and still letting myself/Nikki/those who came to watch down.  I was afraid of hills and fatigue and an uneasy stomach.  I was afraid I couldn’t conquer that race and so I chose not to be carried by the One who had already given me the victory.

And all too often, that’s how we deal with life.  We are afraid so we refuse to walk in faith.  What if God doesn’t provide?  What if there isn’t enough?  What if He doesn’t do what He said He would?  What if I misunderstood? What if?  What if?  What if???  But God has already given us the victory through Christ Jesus His Son.  That doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle and that He won’t allow hard things to draw us closer and teach us more and cause us to lean harder on Him.  He calls the weak and the broken and the ill-equipped.  We will need Him more and more.  But He calls us to walk in faith, to walk in the victory He has given.  And to give all the glory to Him, because only He is worthy.

By His grace I will run another race.  (At the time of this writing I’m still so stiff I can’t run at all, but that should heal soon enough.)  And by His grace I will meet that time goal.  But even if I don’t, that’s really not the point.  The point is to work hard, train hard, and trust Him for the results and the courage to finish well.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Adoption Update

With as hectic as life has been lately, I have neglected posting about our adoption progress.

On September 1 we received word that our dossier had been received by the agency.  On September 26 we learned that our dossier had passed review and was being sent on to translation.  On October 13 we were notified that our dossier had been received back from the interpreter, was being reassembled, and would be sent off next for legalization by/at the Consulate (I’m not sure if this is a person or an agency…I should ask more questions).  The dossier department is hopeful to have it back within a week or two.  On October 14 Matt and I took a “date” to USCIS for fingerprinting.  We had been given the impression this was a very intimidating process, but we were in and out in twelve minutes and the gentlemen who did our prints were very pleasant.  We left thinking we must have missed something because it was so painless!

One of the most exciting things that has transpired in the past month was getting a contract on Amania’s house!  I almost threw a party in my SUV when I pulled up and saw this:

We are hoping to close by the end of the month, deo volente.

That’s the scoop for now.  Hopefully we’ll have more good news soon!

~ Sara

Thankful

I’ve been so hit and miss lately and so much has been happening, this seems like a good week for catching up.  First, always first, giving thanks for the good gifts and the hard gifts He has given over the past few weeks.  He is faithful, even when I am not.  This is inconceivable grace.

1373.  hard runs that are cheap therapy

1374.  long talks

1375.  13.7 miles on my own

1376.  fm radio on the iPod

1377.  “putty” golfing

1378.  twelve hours of sleep

1379.  head lice

1380.  forced change of plans

1381.  perspective

1382.  calm

1383.  an offer!

1384.  a contract

1385.  a sold sign

1386.  eleven “easy” miles

1387.  Row House with friends

1388.  home again on Sunday morning

1389.  counting gifts even when the heart grumbles

1390.  nine year old playing piano

1391.  last long run – done!

1392.  date night

1393.  second place at her second horse show

1394.  face down before the Lord

1395.  a God who hears

1396.  a sick one sleeping soundly

1397.  gold leaves on wet black pavement

1398.  sky – amazing shades of blue

1399.  moon – bright and clear

1400.  race training finished

1401.  four clean heads

1402.  hearing that still, small voice as I pray

1403.  confessing I have made an idol out of something good

1404.  another adoption hoop jumped through

1405.  race day

1406.  missing the mark

1407.  knowing I can try again

Hoping your week begins and ends with a heart full of thanks.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

The Back to School Post, Part II – What We’re Using

In the midst of all that we have going on here, I’m still trying to get a couple of series up and running around here.  I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of purpose in posting what we’re using this year when we’re already into the second quarter, but perhaps it will be of use in the future to myself or someone else.  Regardless, enjoy!

I hope to return next week with a piece on some digital tools I have discovered that have increased my productivity.

Art – the girls each take art as an outside class on Friday mornings.  Also, Grace and Emma are taking private lessons as they prepare for the MAACS fine arts competition in the spring.

Bible – the three older girls each have their own devotionals they are reading as well as individual Bible reading.  As we are moving through the school year, I feel like we need something more structured, so I’m thinking/praying about what else we can do.  They are each responsible to write what they learned that day in their journals, as well as two or three things they are thankful for.  As a group we are memorizing the book of James.  This started around February when Ann encouraged her readers to memorize Colossians.  I liked the idea but didn’t really want to memorize Colossians, so using the same format, I made cards for the book of James and glued them into a moleskin book.  We were solidly through the first chapter and well into the second when school ended last spring.  I had good intentions of continuing through the summer but it just didn’t happen.  So, we’ve been reviewing James 1 and are on to James 2. My goal is that we will have the whole book memorized by the end of the school year.

Geography – this is another class taken on Friday mornings by the younger three.  They are using Ann Voskamp’s A Child’s Geography.  Emma is also doing a study on the fifty states this year, which requires her to do some research and record certain facts about each state.

Science – a Friday class using Apologia’s Land Animals of the Sixth Day.  The girls love this class and I do too.  The teachers are wonderful and they are learning so many great things about God’s creation.  Science is one of those tricky subjects for home schoolers.  I know that we aren’t covering the broad spectrum of items I remember covering in grade school science, but I also don’t want to have science in the girls’ minds equal lots of boring workbooks just so we can discuss electricity and weather and plants.  I am confident we will get to all of those things as time goes on.

Handwriting – we are just using simple workbooks this year to work on this skill as well as requiring the older two to do more of their work in cursive.  Handwriting is a stupid hill I have decided to die on and so our girls will learn to write neatly even if it’s the death of me.  😉 

Language Arts – Ellie is using Rod & Staff’s Preparing to Build English 2.  Yes it’s a second grade book and she’s in first grade, but she’s up for it and we do it all orally.  Chandler is doing Rod & Staff Beginning Wisely 3.  Emma started out in Rod & Staff this year, but about a month in we switched to Shurley Grammar 4 as R&S just was not working for her and I had to be humble enough to make a switch for her sake.  So far, we are both much much happier.  Grace is using Rod & Staff Progressing with Courage 6.  This will be her last year with R&S, and it may be everyone’s last year with it to be honest.  It’s a wonderfully simple yet thorough program, but we’ve just had way too many tears over the years because of it and I’m praying about whether or not it’s worth all that.

Math – Ellie is using Horizons Math 1.  We have used Horizons for years and really like it.  However, having to personally grade math books for four students was becoming a little tedious, so the older three all moved over to Teaching Textbooks this year.  Oh, how I love Teaching Textbooks!  I think my love for Teaching Textbooks may be even greater than my love for my iPhone.  Even better is the fact that the girls love it too.

Readers and Read Alouds – Clearly this is a subject with far too many items to list.  We are practicing reading poetry aloud and I will be reading a variety of missionary stories and well as some other books with the girls this year.  The girls are reading through books on the Sonlight readers list.

Spelling – all the girls are using Spelling Power.

Latin – Emma and Chandler are going through Latina Christiana I and Grace is going through Latina Christiana II.  This is our second year using this program.  I’m not entirely sure yet if we will do it again next year or if we’ll try something else. 

Vocabulary – Emma is using Wordly Wise 3000 grade 4, Chandler is using Wordly Wise 3000 grade 3.  These are workbook style programs, which have pros and cons.  For right now they are good for getting the girls used to learning vocabulary words.  Grace is using her Sonlight Core 6 for vocabulary.  Each week I find key vocabulary words from the Instructor’s Guide for the books she’s reading and she looks them up, uses them in sentences, and is tested on them at the end of the week.

Writing – We using various things from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  We used the video program last year and I saw huge improvements in Grace and Emma’s writing ability.  We are continuing to work on this this year.

Anyway, that’s it for us. 

Pray for us if we come to mind, please.  We have made great strides against the head lice issue, but I am still doing regular checks and lots of laundry to make sure everyone is clean.  Nitpicking x 4 can wear a girl down before too long.  Not a huge deal and I’ve worked really hard to keep a balanced attitude (by God’s grace), but I would really really really like to be able to say with certainty that we are “lice free” in the very near future.  🙂

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Monday

Reflecting on words from Brother Lawrence as we continue to battle laundry and unwanted house guests.  Giving thanks for saints who have gone before and left us words of what the Lord was teaching them and for days when I feel the Lord smoothing out those rough edges and breathing quiet praise as He gives grace for each moment.

Lord of all pots and pans and things, make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates. ~ Brother Lawrence

I think of how the brother’s words are not just for dishes and mealtimes, but as I clean and scrub and fold and comb I can become frustrated and hardened or I can bend to His will and become more like the One who came to serve.  I can grumble at the inconvenience or I can give thanks for this thing that He has ordained for me for this time.

I choose grace.  I choose to bend. I choose to give thanks.

To God Alone be the Glory ~

~ Sara