Almost Double Digits

Nine years ago yesterday, she entered the world, right on her due date, in spite of multiple attempts on my part to convince her to come early.  Her labor was the shortest and easiest by far, a stark contrast to what her first few years would bring.  I’ve written before of how our third born has given me a run for my money from day one and how she turned my whole world upside and regularly caused me to question everything I thought I knew about parenting and how she daily amazes me with her capacity to love others right where they are.

Since that post two years ago, I have continued to watch her grow and be amazed.  She has taught me to be more sensitive with my words, more intentional with my touch, more selfless with my time.  She prays with great faith and has the honesty to question why sometimes God doesn’t seem to hear.  She wants to be a missionary and already shares the gospel regularly with her friends.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, but has incredible compassion for others.  At only nine, she has a way with babies and little children that I’ve never had.  She has a zeal for life and energy like no other.  She is naturally strong and agile and can climb like a human monkey.  She is passionate and does nothing halfway, except maybe cleaning her room.

Chandler is far, far, far from perfect and we rub each other wrong far too often, but she is genuinely striving to be more like her Savior and we’re learning together what that looks like.  When God brought her into our world nine years ago, I was not prepared to be a mother to three children under three.  But He gave great grace (and my own mom who was unemployed for six months) and I wouldn’t trade this tender-hearted wild child for the world.

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January 9, 2012Mentioned twice recently in church, Chandler has taken to reading this classic.

Happy 9th Birthday, Chandler.  I know God has big plans for you and I am so blessed that He has chosen me to be part of them.  I love you!

Forty Five Years {A re-post in honor of my parents’ anniversary and Father’s Day}

 

This post was is two years old now, so today my parents celebrate their 47th anniversary.  That’s so amazing to me.  I’m still so proud of them for sticking together through some really hard times.  And I’m still really thankful for my beloved who continues to weather the storms of life with me and makes me the most blessed woman on earth.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Today is my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary.  Forty-five years.  That’s a long time.  My parents haven’t always had a great marriage.  Sometimes I don’t know if they even felt like they had a good marriage.  But they have stuck with each other for forty.five.years.

Matt and I have had, in my opinion, the second hardest season of our marriage over the past eight months.  The first year was without a doubt the hardest year.  It was the year I would have walked had I not been pregnant so soon after our wedding.  I’m not proud of that fact.  I just wasn’t strong then and was prone to looking for the easy way out.  I often don’t feel I’m strong now.  I’m just convinced that I’m in this for the long haul.  I’m grateful for that early pregnancy.  Not only because it gave us our first born, but because I honestly believe it saved our marriage.

The past several months have been a different kind of difficult.  We’ve let life interrupt our marriage and haven’t made as much time to be together.  Matt’s knee has kept him from running which had become a huge part of “us”.  We stopped meeting early once a week and lost that time of communicating and sharing what God was doing in our lives.  Because we don’t feel connected our words get sharp and our defenses go up.  He says one thing.  I hear something else.  I respond without grace.  And the cycle continues until we both feel broken and defeated.

As I strolled the aisles of WalMart – alone! – the other night, I talked with God about this and how I was so tired of it and how it was wearing us down.  He gently showed me that when we get in these ruts I stop thinking about all of my husband’s wonderful attributes and begin to focus on his weaknesses or some perceived way that he’s failed me.  And I can’t think the best of my husband when I’m only thinking the worst.

So, today, even though it’s not Monday, I’m counting some of the ways I’m grateful for the amazing man I’m married to, that I share this life with, that I will walk beside until “death do us part”.

  • his amazing, driving, never-ceasing ability to work hard, even when he doesn’t feel like it
  • his orneriness
  • how his eyes disappear when he laughs
  • his laugh – oh, how I love his laugh!
  • how he loves me
  • how he’s still so attracted to me
  • that he’s not afraid to push me or challenge me to do better, be better
  • his patience with me, the girls
  • his abundantly generous heart
  • that he’s a man of amazing integrity; a man of his word
  • that he’s never been willing to settle for a mediocre marriage
  • that I have no fear of him ever leaving me, that my heart is safe with him
  • knowing that the Enemy of our souls will do everything in his power to destroy this thing we have and that my husband is strong to defend us on his knees

As I reflect on my parents forty-five years of marriage and I contemplate Father’s Day tomorrow, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to my parents for sticking together – through good and bad. You are now blessed to have a wonderful marriage for all your times of weathering the storms.  Thank you to my dad for being courageous enough to go against the grain and take us where you felt God leading us, even though it might cost you your family.  Thanks to both of you for the years you spent on your knees for me.  You know now that God heard you.  Thank you to my in-laws for raising such an amazing son for me to marry.  Thank you to my father-in-law for breaking the cycle of divorce in your family and constantly reassuring your children that you would never leave their mother.  Thank you for leaving a legacy of faithfulness to your children.  And thank you to my husband, for sticking through that first awful year together and for never being willing to settle for anything less than a great marriage.  Thank you for being such an amazing husband to me and father to our girls.  I wouldn’t want to do this life with anyone else.  I love you.


When Joy is Found in the Dirt

Home a week now and half my heart, it stays in Haiti.  Those kids, their joy, it’s infectious and it gets into your blood and you never want to be cured of it all.

Two weeks ago in Haiti was wonderful and hard and beautiful.  Where a shy, pensive girl was led to me in February a joy-filled, excited child awaited me when the truck pulled in, her arms lifted high, saying “Mami!”.  Her smile, caught by a friend on camera, revealed pure joy, satisfaction that her “white mama” had finally come to see her again.  All week she followed me, held my hand, touched me, leaned in hard on me, slept with me, ate with me, worked with me.  Her happiness to simply be near me was humbling and beautiful.

Our little team worked hard on finishing the nursery, just built of concrete.  We sanded and painted and painted and painted some more.  We worked in close quarters and laughed and shared stories and made new friends.  And my dear friend and I, we left early, our families and our responsibilities needing us stateside sooner and she and I talked long of orphans and help and hope.  Now our families, long-time friends but long separated by so many countless miles, are rejoined in heart by this new shared love.

I come home, not exhausted this time, but filled with joy and anticipation of where God is going to take us next.  Once again I fall asleep and wake up to the image of beautiful, brown-skinned faces in my mind and I wonder when I can get back there, when can we get our girls there, and how can we better serve these people.  I give thanks for my family and for this life we have here and for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful thing He’s doing in a tiny land off the coast of Florida.

As we start a new week, my heart overflows at the goodness of God.  The trials and fiery arrows endured leading up to our trip, they all seem so small compared to the joy of being with those kids.   And my heart, it overflows at His faithfulness, mercy, and grace.

1846.  robin on the fence

1847.  sky torn open, rain pouring down

1848. playing stuffed animals with the littlest at home

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1849.  feeling hope, choosing hope

1850.  seeing places we need to simplify life

1851.   national donut day

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1852.  reconnecting

1853.  a good Sunday

1854.  one more day until I see our littlest girl

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1855.  exploring NYC at night on foot

1856.  time with an old friend

1857.  sweet littlest one so excited to see me

1858.  her joy, her smile

1859.  the Haiti trip I was longing for

1860.  pink paint

1861.  sanding concrete

1862.  loving these kids

1863.  her obedience when she really didn’t want to

1864.  asking to sleep with me

1865.  this glorious time with her

1866.  this Haiti trip

1867.  US soil

1868.  a bench to sleep on in O’Hare airport

1869.  reuniting with my favorite people

1870.  an evening with friends – those rare friends you can go a year without talking to and pick up like it was yesterday

1871.  sleeping in for everyone

1872.  first pool day of the season

1873.  thirty sponsorships in six hours

1874.  seeking His plan for each day

1875.  deep cleaning

1876.  a nap on the front porch

1877.  morning snuggles from the third born

1878.  sleeping until 9

1879.  second floor well-cleaned with the girls’ help

1880. waking up  to youngest two singing, playing Monopoly

1881.  cool sheets

1882.  oscillating fan

1883.  primer for the bathroom

1884.  a beautiful couple

1885.  a lovely wedding

1886.  words not meant to be funny, but they make us roll anyway

1887.  my dad

1888. his dad

1889.  the father of our girls who…

1890.  provides through his hard work

1891.  reminds me to laugh

1892.  is taking time to build relationships

1893.  loves His Lord

1894.  a perfect heavenly Father who fills in our gaps

 

“I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us.” ~ Isaiah 63:7a

 

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Choosing Hope

I implore you to not give in to despair.  It is a dangerous temptation, because our Adversary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle.  Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense God’s blessings and grace.  It also causes you to exaggerate the adversities of life and makes your burdens seem too heavy for you to bear.  Yet God’s plans for you, and His ways of bringing about His plans are infinitely wise.

Streams, June 1

Romans 5 says, “We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hopeAnd this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.” (NCV)

The past nine months have been riddled with trials.  Trials common to life but trials just the same.  I have not been patient.  I have not developed character.  I have bucked against and resisted every single one.  And I have lost hope.

But today I choose hope.  I choose to yield and listen and trust.  Trials will continue to come and the flaming arrows of the Enemy will continue to fly.  But I will hope in the salvation of the Lord.  I will hope in His steadfast love.  I will hope in the victory that has been promised.

Because this hope will never disappoint.  My children will disappoint.  My husband will disappoint.  Life will disappoint.  I will disappoint.  But this hope will never disappoint because it is founded on the Rock, a firm foundation, One that will never move or change or let me down.  He is unshakeable, unfailing, an anchor for the soul.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 

~ Hebrews 6:19

 

For His Glory ~

~ Sara