Catching Up and Giving Thanks

This morning we sit quiet.  Two middle girls are gone for standardized testing.  The youngest, she’s not old enough to test yet.  The oldest, she rests still, nursing a broken arm today.  And I am thankful for this week.  An unplanned Spring Break that our minds, souls, and bodies needed.  Nothing planned.  Just quiet, semi-structured days.  And I marvel at how much this has ministered to my home schooling heart; I, who typically does not take a spring break, and how well my girls have responded to the break.  Five weeks remain when we return.  The end is near.  🙂

So, the broken arm…  Our second born has been begging to go to the skate park.  She got a skate board for Christmas and apparently our driveway isn’t exciting enough.  So, last night, on a beautiful spring evening, we ate dinner early and loaded up.  When we arrived, the child who had begged to go wouldn’t even get her skate board out because there were some teenagers there and she was embarrassed.  (She won’t admit that, but that’s what happened.  I know, because I would have been the exact same way.  Some teenagers still make me self-conscious.  😉 )  But the first and third born children, they snapped on their roller blades and went for it.  And we weren’t even there five minutes and Matt comes over to me helping Grace hold her arm and no one’s crying or even seems upset, but the wrist, it looks strange.  And he says, “I think her arm is broken.”  Three hours, increasing pain, a trip to the ER, and some x-rays later, she was home with a splint, and feeling pretty slap-happy thanks to Tylenol-3.  Today she will rest and lay low; perhaps we all will, and tomorrow we will see what the orthopedist has to say.

This morning as I was getting ready it just intrigued me that God knew this was going to happen last night.  He knew we would only be at that park five minutes before she fell.  And I just find it so interesting.  I’m not upset about the arm or the expense or the inconvenience.  I feel bad for Grace, but these things happen.  But I am waiting expectantly for God to show me the purpose of this, the why.  I know He will.  Nothing is by chance; He allowed it for a reason.

It was sweet to see the other girls so concerned and compassionate.  One would have thought we were going to a funeral for all the tears the youngest shed.  And the third-born cut loose a scarf she had been knitting in the truck for her grandmother and gave it to Grace to use as a sling.  And Emma was concerned, she just showed it differently, through cautious questions and worried expressions.

I am thankful this week and this morning my heart feels full, in spite last night’s events.  There are so many things on my to do list, but the slowing down is a gift to us all.  God is so good.


1684.  a new day 

1685.  IBESR case number

1686.  lunch out with a sweet friend

1687.  Haiti girl’s 5th birthday

1688.  Skype and her smile and shy nod

1689.  grease burns

1690.  “Hot & Ready” pizza

1691.  just going to bed

1692.  looming project finished

1693.  sunshine!

1694.  Miracle cream for burns

1695.  Bradford pear blossoms falling like snow

1696. sunshine and afternoon prayers on the porch

1697.  fine arts competition

1698.  girls who use their gifts and one who stretches herself

1699.  friends, Sol Cantina, and a Jayhawk win

1700.  quiet Saturday to rest at home

1701.  day of rest that was actually restful

1702.  watching the Jayhawks with my favorite people

1703.  Final Four bound!

1704.  wonderful end to a wonderful day

1705.  the smell of spring

1706.  walking to the park

1707.  “Father May I” and charades with the girls

1708.  a quiet day at home

1709.  eating dinner outside

1710.  girls excited to paint the playhouse

1711.  oldest child’s broken wrist

1712.  compassionate, merciful sisters

1713.  precious friends for all of us

A friend posted this on Facebook recently:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” – C.S. Lewis

This year has been long and I wear it on my sleeve and share it with the world and I thank all of you for being such precious friends to me through prayers and encouragement and hanging in.  I am blessed by the encouragement I receive from so many for simply sharing my heart and what God is doing in this broken life.  He is merciful and you all are so kind.  Thank you.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Five

Today she is five.  Our sweet Haitian girl, she celebrates another birthday without a family and we celebrate without her.  Last week my heart was tight as I thought about another year easily coming and going before she comes home.  Today I just pray she is happy and am hopeful we will get to Skype with her tonight.  I am thankful that she is well cared for and loved where she is.  And I am thankful that we are able to know that she longs to be here with us.

As I read Streams this morning, God gave me this: “”Let us remember that no earthly circumstances can hinder the fulfillment of God’s Word.  We must look steadfastly at His immutable Word and not at the uncertainty of this ever-changing world.  God desires for us to believe His Word without other evidence, and then He is ready to do for us ‘according to [our] faith.’ ” (March 21)

Nowhere in God’s Word does He promise us this adoption, but His Word does make clear that He cares for the orphan and widow and that He puts the lonely in families, and we believe that He has led us to this point and so we continue on in faith that He will bring this to pass.

Yesterday we received word that we have entered IBESR.  This is the first agency that our dossier must go through in Haiti.  This step alone could take four to twelve months. We are praying for a wild miracle.  Will you pray with us?  Does God still get the glory, even if this takes twelve years?  Yes!  But oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if she could celebrate her sixth birthday here with us?!

Today we eat our traditional cinnamon rolls for her birthday breakfast and tonight we will enjoy “Haitian” beans and rice (as Haitian as this blan can do) and fried plantains.  And Lord willing, we will see our beautiful girl and be able to tell her happy birthday, even though she probably has no idea what that means.  And we will pray wild prayers that God will do amazing things in the next year and bring this girl – and so many others whose families wait for them – home.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

**necklace from The Adopt Shoppe.  Great jewelry for a really great cause. http://www.etsy.com/shop/theadoptshoppe

 

Beauty from Ashes

When the tears fall free and hard before 7 am and you talk controlled-soft to keep from yelling in frustration, it’s hard not to wonder where you went wrong.  When you fall asleep praying tomorrow will be better and you wake up still praying for a softened heart, for joy, for grace, you sometimes wonder what God is up to.

This year has been hard and I’ve said it too many times and I feel like I’m using it as an excuse.  But God has put us here for a reason, for a purpose, and I just don’t understand it yet.  But we wrestle, He and I.  And I ask and I pray and I cry out and I wait patiently for an answer for why He has called us to this, led us to this, yet every step lately has been so painful.  And some days are good and some days I see hope.  But most days, it seems, we are just getting by, trying to make it through to the next one.

I hate just surviving.  I want to enjoy this life, these days, this time.

I walked by a stray Barbie doll this morning and my heart stopped momentarily.  I was taken back to five years ago, eight years ago, when life was Barbies and Princesses and nap times and trips to the zoo and my biggest concern in life was what time does the baby need to eat again.

Now here we stand at the precipice of adolescence.  Two girls on the brink of teenage-hood, two more following hard after, and one waiting in Haiti with who-knows-what kind of baggage to unpack.  And I know that, comparatively, these are the easy days too; the days before boys and periods and driving.  And my heart hurts because I don’t believe we’re ready, don’t believe they’re ready, and I feel like I am the one that has failed them.  And I fear that we’ve somehow missed our window.

I know that’s not all entirely true and it’s a lie from the Enemy as he tries to knock me off my feet.  But you hear a lie day in and day out and it starts to become a part of you.

But my God, He makes beauty from ashes.  He restores what the locust has eaten.  And when I give thanks, even amidst the hard days, hard years, I open my life – our lives – up to more of what He wants for us.

Some days life gets so crazy and the way gets dark and I can’t see Him, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is here with me.  I have to trust Him that He will see us through this season, that better days await us.  I cling to His promises that He will not leave nor forsake.  I trust that He will take my offering as a broken mother, broken wife, and make something beautiful out of these children, out of our lives.

As I go to the Word throughout the day, He reminds me to give thanks in all things.  In my quiet time He reminds me to bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  Regardless of my feelings.  He tells me to thank Him for my irritations.  This constant giving of thanks, it doesn’t always make everything better.  Some things are still hard.  But my heart, it softens.  My mind, at least for a few moments, finds peace and rest in the middle of the rushing roar of life.

God’s grace is amazing and His faithfulness is never failing.  He is with me and He is at work, even if I can’t see or feel it.  He is not surprised by the struggles we have and really I shouldn’t be either.  He has a purpose for this season.  He is making beauty from ashes.

1673.  priceless words from our daughter’s mouth –

words of love, longing for her home, family, Papa

February 8, 2012Reaching for me.  Always reaching for me.

1674.  a weekend away

February 27, 2012(Bonus pictures) - Such a goofball!

1675.  time as a family

1676.  six bodies in one small room

January 31, 2012Grace, all tweened out.

1677.  protection

1678.  stitches that help heal

1679.  Shredding with my favorite

December 6, 2011Emma and Coco enjoying a good book.

1680.  tears that fall early in the morning

1681.  continued brokeness

January 16, 2012The youngest empties the trash.

1682.  husband that leads, regroups

1683.  a God that never fails

Thanks for hanging in with me this year.  I’m beginning to feel like a bit of a whiner as our troubles are so small compared to so many.  But our struggles are real and God has us here for a purpose.  And as eager as I am to be out of this valley, I never want to forget what He’s teaching me here.

All For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Beautiful Things

This morning, in the early dark, I read this….

Christ is building His kingdom with the broken things of earth.  People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful – the God of those who have failed.  Heaven is being filled with earth’s broken lives, and there is no “bruised reed” (Isaiah 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty.   ~ Streams, March 15

Tonight, in the cool of the evening I am thankful for a God who uses broken things, broken people.  For a God who makes beauty from ashes.  I thank Him for showing me that a heart-felt prayer uttered out loud is more effective than arguing with my child.  I thank Him for children that forgive my shortcomings and chores that will be there tomorrow and a bed to fall into soon.  I give thanks that tomorrow is Friday and this weekend is time as a family and that at least for a little while we’ll all step back and just be.

May your weekend be blessed and may your eyes be opened to the beautiful things God is creating in your life right now.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Getting Things Done….

We all have chores to do and we have struggled all year to find a workable system for this season of life.  Early this year I implemented a card and clothes pin system that works pretty well.  However, the clothes pins hang on the side of the fridge, the side that guests see as soon as they walk into the house.  And while the clothes pins look nice when I line them up, they quickly become a mess as the girls take them on and off the side of the fridge to see what they have to do.  Considering that I hate having stuff hanging on my fridge in the first place, this was making me nutty.

January 26, 2012New chore system implemented and successful!

(The old system – cards clipped to a clothes pin for each child.  Looked cute, but got messy quick.)

This weekend, I tweaked the system, and came up with something that I really like and it looks nice on the side of my fridge.  Win win!

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The cast of characters – empty check boxes, packing tape, Sharpie, ruler, utility knife, cute scrapbook paper, strong magnets.

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Step 1:  Draw a straight line around the middle of your empty check box.  The simplest way would be to draw one straight line around the middle.  However, I made an error in my first set of boxes and didn’t realize it until they were finished.  Because I’m picky like this, I couldn’t stand the idea of the boxes not all being the same size.  Thus, my need to make two lines around each box.

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Step Two:  Using your utility knife, cut each box along the line you drew.  Tape down all edges with packing tape to secure.

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Step Three:  Wrap boxes with pretty paper, just like a present.  Secure edges of paper with packing tape.

Step Four:  Using strong, quick-drying craft glue, adhere magnets to the back of each box.  Allow to dry thoroughly before using.

Step Five:  Fill with chore cards and watch your children take responsibility for their own tasks.

A word on the chore cards themselves:

January 26, 2012New chore system implemented and successful!

To make the cards I went around the house looking for jobs the girls can do or need to do.  Some jobs they are compensated for monetarily and it is noted on the card (see photo).  Others they do simply because they live here and are responsible for those things.  Those cards do not have a monetary amount on them.

I made the cards in Word using Avery Label size 5264 and printed them on purple paper that I had leftover from something else with gridlines showing and cut along those lines.  I then did a poor-man’s laminating job by coating each one with packing tape.  I have since purchased a small laminator for the house.  Clearly, that would be a faster and cleaner option if you have one available!

I love these little boxes and I don’t cringe any more when I see the side of my fridge.  🙂

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How do you keep chores organized at your house?

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Thankful

Last week was laying low and staying quiet.  I stepped back for a few days from writing and 40 bags and a lot of other things.  I reflected on God’s promises and gave thanks for the knowledge of His presence with me.  I spent Saturday exercising my creativity around our home, something I haven’t done much of for years.  (Thank you, Pinterest.) 

This morning clouds hang low outside, casting grey quiet on the city.  My girls still sleep, exhausted from the time change and a birthday party and just not getting the sleep they need for a while.  I am thankful today for this flexibility.

Today I start the week with giving thanks and remembering some of God’s promises from this past week.  Promises for perseverance and trust in His faithfulness, for He never fails us, never lets us go.

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.  – Hebrews 3:14

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Often the last step is the winning step.  In Pilgrim’s Progress, the greatest number of dangers were lurking in the area closest to the gates of the Celestial City.  It was in that region the Doubting Castle stood.  And it was there the enchanted ground lured the tired traveler to fatal slumber.  It is when heaven’s heights are in full view that the gates of hell are the most persistent and full of deadly peril.  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. (Galatians 6:9)  “Run in such a way as to get the prize” (I Corinthians 9:24). ~ Streams, March 5

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The greatest challenge in receiving great things from God is holding on for the last half hour. ~ Streams, March 5

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. ~ II Corinthians 4:1

When I cannot feel the faith of assurance, I live by the fact of God’s faithfulness. ~ Matthew Henry

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will You hide your face from me?

I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13:1, 6

Only five verses separate the verses above.  In just four verses, David’s attitude went from questioning God to praising Him.  What changed?  At first David was in despondence, looking only at the enemies he faced.  Then he asked God for help and remembered God’s power and love.  When he considered who God is and what He had done, he saw his enemies from the right perspective and began thankfing and praising Him.

~ Samaritan Newsletter, November 2011

Waiting, trusting and hoping are intricately connected, like golden strands interwoven to form a strong chain.  Trusting is the central strand, because it is the response from My children that I desire the most.  Waiting and hoping embellish the central strand and strengthen the chain that connects you to Me.  Waiting for Me to work, with your eyes on Me, is evidence that you really do trust Me.  If you mouth the words “I trust You” while anxiously trying to make things go your way, your words ring hollow.  Hoping is future-directed, connecting you to your inheritance in heaven.  However, the benefits of hope fall fully on you in the present.

Because you are Mine, you don’t just pass time in your waiting.  You can wait expectantly, in hopeful trust.

Jesus Calling, March 12

1639.  still hard times

1640.  being on the same page

1641.  progress

1642.  closet updates

1643.  working as a family

1644.  husband who serves with love

1645.  praying for hard hearts to be softened

1646.  a God who hears and heals

1647.  a productive Monday

1648.  a week’s worth of meals prepped

1649.  bread and granola – home made goodness

1650.  sisters who help each other with school

1651.  puzzles to work

1652.  closet forts

1653.  quiet

1654.  “tickle parties”

1655.  squeals that could shatter glass (and eardrums)

1656.  oldest child laughing ’til she cries

1657.  smells of spring

1658.  thunderstorm

1659.  reading in bed

1660.  adoption nesting

1661.  Thursday’s

1662.  stretching one week of groceries into two

1663.  project ideas

1664.  running as snow falls

1665. fat, wet snowflakes

1666.  photo booth and the six year old

1667.  parent interview completed

1668.  laying low most of the week

1669.  feeling His peace

1670.  a Pinterest-y Saturday

1671.  Skype and my sweet girl on the computer screen

1672.  quiet Monday morning

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May your week be filled with gifts of rest, love, and laughter.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

40 Days – one week in….

I start this journey, these forty days.  Forty days of preparation, forty days of making room.  An intentional clearing of space in my home and my heart for more of my Savior.  The 40 bags in 40 days is not a way of salvation, it is a way of working out that salvation, and one is not more or less righteous as a person for having done it or not.  But for me, even in this first week, I see the benefit, I feel the peace.

Forced to pace myself and not tear my house apart in one day, I pray through each area.  Lord, what would you have me work on today?  Lord, what should I keep?  What would benefit someone else?  What is keeping me or someone in my family from knowing you more deeply?  What is trash?  Show me the way, Lord, and I will walk in it. A theoretically simple task becomes spiritual.  Something I do regularly anyway (cleaning out and organizing) becomes a pathway to communion with Him.

This exercise combined with this book

….(which arrived conveniently on Ash Wednesday) have together led me deeper in to relationship with Him.  The structured prayers, said four times a day in my world, provide a back drop to an on-going conversation that had become stale.  Praying back God’s word, conveniently written out for me, has it ever on my mind and heart.

Eight days in, my house is becoming less cluttered with stuff, my heart is becoming more full of His presence.  I see the beauty of preparing for Easter, a long waiting for His salvation, and I see myself, once again, longing for ever more of Him.  He is so good to me.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara