The List is Long…But He Keeps Giving More

Needing to be reminded of God’s faithfulness, I spend this afternoon typing out the gifts listed by hand.  The list is long as it has been too long since I sang His praises publicly.  Pictures from the past month are interspersed to make the post more interesting.  🙂

1741.  lovely Monday

1742.  humility that comes with feeling dumb

1743.  a clean first floor after dinner – gift from my girls

1744.  early morning walk

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1745.  working around the house

1746.  a cheerful Ellie

1747.  last day of formal school

1748.  painting in the sun

1749.  meeting neighbor ladies

1750.  bunk beds painted

1751.  bathroom progress

1752.  backyard sitting in the spring

1753.  joy of the dog with her soccer ball

1754.  joy of children on a trampoline

1755.  dinner with friends

1756.  good conversation

1757.  beds sanded and assembled

1758.  yard clean(er)

1759.  time together

1760.  watching the girls work together to organize and clean

1761.  a lovely day at Deanna Rose

1762.  rains parting, stopping

1763.  just being present

1764.  finally feeling like running again

1765.  bread baking

1766.  weekday lunch with my beloved

1767.  leisurely Saturday

1768.  chatting with the neighbor

1769.  bike rides

1770. sick kids on a Sunday morning

1771.  changing plans

1772.  quiet with my Lord on the front porch

1773.  little ballerinas

1774.  an art show

1775.  towering treees

1776.  squirrels that chase

1777.  Phad Thai “delivered”

1778.  working together

1779.  a perfect night to walk, laugh, run

1780.  a picnic outside

1781.  chalk drawings

1782.  spray paint

1783.  early morning fox on the run

1784.  garage saling fun

1785.  good advice from a friend

1786.  second-to-last week of Thursday night madness

1787.  picnic with friends

1788.  date night happiness

1789.  really good sleep

1790.  girls’ room coming together

1791.  fruit of our labor

1792.  beautiful day to walk

1793.  giant cotton candy

1794.  shattered bottle of nailpolish

1795.  pink grout, tile, trim

1796.  adding to my summer to do list

1797.  mothers of all kinds

1798.  grocery shopping, dollars stretching

1799.  five miles of hills run

1800.  no more cast

1801.  days that break

1802.  little break throughs

1803.  a quiet place to write, think

1804.  three children who need so much prayer

1805.  a house set on fire

1806.  knowing God can bring good, even from these things

1807.  a morning out with the girls

1808.  the courage to speak

1809.  the last “Thursday night madness”

1810.  goals accomplished

1811.  questions raised

1812.  praying for answers

1813.  painted furniture

1814.  husband’s help

1815.  ballet recital

1816.  a long year finished

1817.  a slow Monday morning

1818.  lists being made

1819.  two weeks til Haiti

1820.  fun newborn session

1821.  family who works while I am gone

1822.  back yard forts and shipwrecks

1823.  the power of a good story

1824.  learning to smile

1825.  sleeping in

1826.  a squabble-free day

1827.  a room finished

1828.  a morning nature hike

1829.  clearance rack flowers

1830.  free dresser

1831.  another broken arm

1832.  wondering what God is doing

1833.  learning and “remaining under”

1834.  yard looking so much better

1835.  late night tears and heartfelt conversations

1836.  photos edited, beautiful family

1837.  shopping lists made

1838.  time with friends

1839.  losing at every hand of cards

1840.  a doctor’s appointment

1841.  a leaky ceiling

1842.  my mama

1843.  one office visit

1844.  a short cast

1845.  three weeks to healing

My circumstances do not diminish God’s faithfulness.  My thanksgiving does not increase His  blessing.  But my gratefulness opens my eyes to His faithfulness, even in the valley of life.  As we walk the roads common to man, often filled with trials and tribulations, a heart of thankfulness is a heart that is open to the good that God is up to in the midst of a life that rubs hard against the soul.

May your heart be filled with thanks and your eyes be opened in hope to the goodness of a God who loves you wildy, madly, endlessly.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

A Little Adoption Nesting = A Bedroom Makeover

Y’all, I am so excited about this post tonight – mostly because it means I’m finished with this project!  I have been working all of May to redo Chandler and Ellie’s (and eventually Amania’s) room.  We have struggled long to find something workable for these two.  The room is massive and the girls are both packrats/clutterbugs and so it was in constant disarray.  After praying about it and thinking it through, I came to believe that the mess was due to two factors:  1. Too much stuff (obvious), and 2. Not enough useable storage (not as obvious).

After Christmas we began the slow process of working on problem number 1.  Everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary was boxed up and taken out.  I didn’t have the time or energy for several weeks to mess with it, so the boxes just sat in our guest room.  Once I finally mustered up the courage to tackle that project (thank you 40 Bags), it went really well.  Ellie had apparently built enough emotional distance between herself and most of the items that we threw or gave away at least two thirds of what she wouldn’t have dreamed of parting with two months prior.  Amazing what a little time will do to our “attachments”.  About that same time, Matt added some lower clothing rods and more shelves to their closets, making them much better suited for people under 4 feet tall.

Then came the fun part – fixing problem number 2….

This month I have painted a twin bed, a bunk bed, a dresser, a bedside table, probably a dozen frames, a spice rack, and a large table and chairs.  I have had so.much.fun.  🙂  So come along as I walk you through their “new” room….

First, here is their room “before”.  In these photos it was staged for a neighborhood holiday open house, so it was in pristine condition.  Sadly, it rarely looked like this….

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Now, here’s their room after some adjustments and changes (and don’t miss all the little ways God provided for this room!)…

{Chandler’s bed with corkboards covered in burlap I found in our garage.  The bed is part of a discarded bunk bed a friend told me about and I got for free and painted.}

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{Ellie and Amania’s beds, also with the corkboard covered in burlap.  Obviously, we still need a real mattress and some bedding, but that’s not a top priority at this point.  The bunk beds were purchased off of Facebook for a fair price and then painted.}

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{Dresser purchased for $5 off of Facebook and painted. All of the art in the room is the girls’ own art.  I purchased (or had a friend purchase) cheap frames for me and then I spray painted them fun colors.}

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{New book case, a definite need in the room.  Baskets were from way back when we had a nursery and I spray painted them.  I ❤ spray paint.}

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{Stuffed animal storage – hanging planters purchased at Aldi for $6.00 each.  The rocking chair is the only piece of furniture in the room that did not get painted (except the book case which was purchased black).  I realized that at the end of the redo and just couldn’t force myself to take it on.}

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{One of my favorite parts of the room.  A Pinterest idea that I made my own – an open frame with Kansas tallgrass reeds glued in to hold the necklaces.  So lovely, in my humble opinon.}

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{This truly is my favorite part of the room and a really great story.  The girls used to have desks, but they were a maintenance issue, so they were pulled, but I wanted them to have a flat surface to work at if they wanted to color or something….}

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{So, I prayed and asked the Lord for a table.  I told Him I wanted a sturdy, round, wooden table, pedestal base.  Chairs would be nice, but I didn’t have to have them.  And I wasn’t terribly worried about the condition, as I was going to paint it.  Oh, and, I wanted it for $30 or less…}

{Within 24 hours of praying that, I got on Craig’s List and the first ad that popped up was for a solid wood dining table, round, with a pedestal base.  It came with four chairs and two leaves, giving it the ability to extend to up to six feet.  Oh, and it was $30. Even better, Matt actually had time that day to go pick it up for me, as there would have been no way for me to haul that in my SUV, let alone get it loaded.  }

{This still thrills me how God answered my little request for a table for my girls’ room.  He is so sweet to us!  Matt did the paint finish on it and I absolutely love it.  I am thankful to have it for the girls’ room, but I secretly wish I could put it somewhere more prominent because I like it so much!}

{We also made some updates to their bathroom.  We hung some of their art in there….}Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

{Also, I purchased and spray painted a spice rack to hold all of Chandler’s nail polishes.  (She LOVES to paint nails.)  We also took an extra table that had been in the bedroom and moved it to the bathroom.  It’s not perfect, but it provides a little more storage for towels and such.}

{Lastly, my SIL posted on Pinterest this little headband holder idea.  I’ve tried countless ways to keep headbands organized and this really seems to work!  Best of all, it only took me about 45 minutes to make both of the ribbon holders.}

The only thing still missing is shelves for the bunk beds.  We have a bit of a disagreement going about those as my beloved thinks the ones I have are ugly and I say they’re paid for and they match. I would install them myself, but they require using the drill – which I don’t know how to use, so I’m at the mercy of my handy husband.  Maybe the long weekend will bring him around.

That’s what I’ve been up to this month.  As I was painting the chairs for the table, sweating in the hot sun last Saturday, pushing ahead because I just desperately wanted to be finished, sweet Chandler was out there keeping me company and she said, “Mama, thank you for spending all your time trying to make my and Ellie’s room look nice so we can take better care of it, instead of doing all the other things you have to do.”  I think I love that little comment even more than the blue table.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Week In Review

Man, this week went fast and yet somehow Monday seems very long ago.

Monday my running buddy and I ran five miles!  This should not really be celebratory news, but I/we haven’t run that far since October.  We walked some of it, but it felt so good to break that five mile barrier again.  Monday was also grocery day again.  I need to get that bumped to another day of the week.  Although it is nice to get out Monday morning and have it done.  And Grace got her cast off Monday.  (Woot!!!)

I was also very grumpy on Monday.  I’m not sure why.  It could have been the go-go-go again all day.  It could have been early morning run.  Or it could have just been a grumpy day.

Tuesday and Wednesday we cleaned the house.  Wednesday we went to a choir picnic for Emma’s choir group.

Wednesday also brought some unexpected excitement to our lives.  I was sitting at my computer that morning, going through emails when Matt calls to tell me that a house we bought a while back, had remodeled, and had sold (with the closing being only days away), was on fire.  A neighbor had called him to let him know, as we had no other way of finding out.  Investigations that day led to the conclusion that the fire was set intentionally, but by whom, no one knows at this point.  I honestly spent Wednesday laughing about the whole thing.  It was just so ridiculous!  We’re not these crazy people who should have people trying to burn down properties we own.  Such a completely random and bizarre incident!  Thursday I was a little more disturbed by the whole thing as reality sank in a bit more.  We are praying that the arsonist is caught quickly and that God would be glorified in this.  Clearly, it wasn’t time for that house to sell yet!

Thursday morning we did some more garage saling.  I am a long-avowed non-garage saler, but a friend has been baiting me with her great finds for most of a year now, so we’ve given it a try the past two weeks.  The girls and I have had more fun together and we’ve found some great stuff.  Yesterday’s big score was this chair for $10.

I may or may not paint it.  I haven’t decided yet where it’s going to take up residence in the house, so we’ll see.  The other big find was this hideous thing:

Our rule the past two weeks has been “No Toys”.  I have made an exception both weeks, but they seem to understand that this is not an opportunity to collect more plastic junk.  That said, when we drove by the house with this thing in the front yard, Ellie gasped and asked eagerly to go look.  She was completely entranced.  When I told her she could buy it (with her own money), you’d swear she just won the lottery – skipping and bouncing down the sidewalk; all the way home saying “This is a dream come true!”.  They haven’t had any time yet to play with it, so I’m thinking I may have scored myself a very quiet Saturday morning tomorrow!  Definitely worth a few bucks of her money!

This weekend is ballet recital.  Quite possibly it will be the end of (or at least a long break in) an era for Grace.  We are praying about everyone’s activities for next year and what we should all be doing with our time, but we’re all pretty sure Grace is ready for a break from ballet.  This year was hard, mentally more than physically, and the schedule burned her (and us) out.  It will be sad to see her stop, but it’s too large of a commitment both financially and time-wise to drag her to something she doesn’t love.  Regardless of what next year holds, we are all looking forward to a break from regularly scheduled activities for a couple months!

I’m still trying to finish up Chandler and Ellie’s room.  Hopefully by the end of next week now I can post some pictures.  However, I did do a really fun project a couple of months ago that I never shared.  For years I’ve had French memo boards in our front hall for pictures and Christmas cards and such, but the boards were overflowing and also looking very tired so I tried to think of something different.  Enter, an old wood door from our basement:

It’s old and worn and completely imperfect.  It has old, rusty hardware on it, and for years I’ve been trying to figure out something fun to do with it.  Well, with the help of some nails, wire, and my husband, it has been transformed into my awesome picture hanging thing.  🙂

(My incredibly narrow and dark hallway makes it very difficult to get a good picture.)

Well, that’s our lives this week.  We’re loving summer already and the flexibility it provides.  May your weekend be wonderful and filled with time to enjoy your Creator.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

When We Get What We Ask For…

Often it is simply the answers to our prayers that cause many of the difficulties in our Christian life.  We pray for patience, and our Father sends demanding people our way who test us to the limit, “because…suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).  We pray for a submissive spirit, and God sends suffering again, for we learn to be obedient in the same way Christ “learned obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

We pray to be unselfish, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice by placing other people’s needs first and by laying down our lives for other believers.  We pray for strength and humility, and “a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7) comes to torment us until we lie on the ground pleading for it to be withdrawn.

We pray to the Lord, as His apostles did, saying, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).  Then our money seems to take wings and fly away; our children become critically ill; an employee becomes careless, slow, and wasteful; or some other new trial comes upon us, requiring more faith than we have ever before experienced.  

We pray for a Christlike life that exhibits the humility of a lamb.  Then we are asked to perform some lowly task, or we are unjustly accused and given no opportunity to explain for “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and…did not open his mouth” (Isiah 53:7).

We pray for gentleness and quickly face a storm of temptation to be harsh and irritable.  We pray for quietness, and suddenly every nerve is stressed to its limit with tremendous tension so that we may learn that when He sends His peace, no one can disturb it.

We pray for love for others, and God sends unique suffering by sending people our way who are difficult to love and who say things that get on our nerves and tear at our heart.  He does this because “love is patient, love is kind…It is not rude,…it is not easily angered…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-5, 7-8)

Yes, we pray to be like Jesus, and God’s answer is: “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10); “Will your courage endure or your hands be strong?” (Ezekiel 22:14); “Can you drink the cup?” (Matthew 20:22).

The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance and every trial as being straight from the hand of our loving Father; to live “with Him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6), above the clouds, in the very presence of His throne; and to look down from glory on our circumstances as being lovingly and divinely appointed.

~ Streams in the Desert, May 13

As I wrestle through another morning at home and the little ones continue to wear my rough spots smooth, I find myself resisting, and seriously considering running away.  At least for a little while.

And then I send them all to read and rest after lunch.  I hide away in the quiet writing spot I just created, Sonic ice water on the desk, and I begin to decompress.  I grab the Streams I had book marked from a couple of days ago and smile with God at how I needed this today.

These things I pray for…why am I surprised at how I must learn them?  And what more effective tools of God than these little people who are with me day in and day out?  And what will it take for the lessons to stick?

I don’t know when this heart will learn to respond first with grace and patience and gentleness.  I don’t know when that “one more thing” that wants to push me over the edge will instead push me to my knees.  I just don’t know when this heart will be right.  But I do know that He who started a work, will be faithful to complete it.  And I continue to trust that He will take these broken things that I offer up daily – my meager attempts to love and trust and give.  I trust that He will use them and make something beautiful out of the dust that I am and that He will be glorified in this home, in these lives.

For His Glory~

~ Sara

Week In Review

So we’ve been busy around here this week and last – painting and baking and enjoying less school.

Last Saturday we set up Chandler, Ellie, and Amania’s new-to-them beds.  The room already looks better with real beds, rather than just mattresses on frames.  Now we are working on “art”, bulletin boards, and remaining furniture.  I will post pictures when the room is finished, which will hopefully be this month.

Monday we grocery shopped for what seemed like the entire day.  I guess that’s what happens when you have a family of six and you skip a week.  Grace also got her massive cast cut down to a “short arm” cast which made her quite happy.  The whole darn thing comes off May 14.  I think I’m as excited as she is.

Tuesday we drove over to KC and visited Deanna Rose Farmstead.  Such a sweet little place, and free on weekdays.  The morning started out stormy and dark, but the rains stopped just as we got there and we enjoyed some beautiful sunshine the rest of the day.

Wednesday and Thursday we had a baking fest here.  Six loaves of bread.  Four batches of granola.  Oreo truffles.  Mini egg casseroles.  Couscous dip.  Banana pancakes.  No bake freezer granola bars.  Five ingredient granola bars.  And now I’m sufficiently burnt out on baking again.  🙂  Everything we made was pretty tasty.  The five ingredient bars need more peanut butter and/or honey as they don’t stick together at all.  And the mini egg casseroles were too much work for what is essentially one meal for my family.  I think next time I will just make a regular breakfast casserole and portion it out for the freezer.

Out of my own curiosity to see the difference it might make and to see how do-able it is on a long-term basis, I am trying to transition us to a “real foods” diet this summer.  I have a little more time to be in the kitchen and it’s so much easier to find good produce this time of year.  If it works well, we will hopefully be in enough of a routine with it by fall that it won’t all unravel when school starts back up.

I mentioned last week that I am not a perfectionist.  Neither am I a legalist (at least I try not to be).  And I’m definitely not one when it comes to food.  As soon as someone says I cannot have something I really enjoy, it suddenly becomes all I think about.  So, I find it easier to just enjoy certain foods from time to time and eat as nutritiously as I can the rest of the time.  I also find that the healthier I eat on a regular basis, the less I crave the unhealthy stuff.  That said, we will still eat out at Mexican restaurants and enjoy ice cream cones this summer.  I will just do my best to make sure the majority of our food is “real food”.

Today is the girls’ last day of Friday classes.  As much as we love love love Friday classes, it’s always nice when they are over for a bit.

I learned something about us this week.  I have come to the conclusion that we all do well with “flexible structure” to our day.  I have tried time and again to give us a real schedule, with times for this and that.  Every single time it fails and I end up incredibly frustrated.  What does work for us is a good To Do list with a start time and an end time.  For whatever reason, most of us here function really well with that type of structure and challenge, but crumble under set-in-stone times for everything.

I’m not quite sure what the weekend holds.  Perhaps some small painting projects.  We will definitely be celebrating Cinco de Mayo this weekend, what with our latent Mexican heritage and all.  (Surely we have some roots we don’t know about….how else can you explain our passion for chips and salsa?)  Regardless, I’m looking forward to relaxing and enjoying time with the fam.  Hope your weekend is great as well!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara