Throwback Thursday Post – Reflecting on a Hard Season and a God in the Details

So, I busted out my spring purse today.  And I couldn’t help but think back on the storied life of this little bag and how thankful I am to have a God who cares about our small stuff and our big stuff.  Reposting from the archives, these two stories on His faithfulness in the hard times and how sometimes He loves to surprise and delight us just because He can.

Post 1, from September 24, 2010:

Downer Warning:  It’s been a week, and I am just starting to really “feel” the events today.  This could be a very crabby post.  Feel free to flee now, or read on at your own risk.  😮

On Wednesday of this week, I had my SUV broken into and my purse stolen.  My brand new purse and wallet that I had only had for one month.  Exactly.one.month.  On a day that started out well and in the middle of what I hoped was going to be a drama-free week, everything was turned on its side.  I tried to do school with the girls, but they were clearly disturbed by what had happened and I was so distracted by phone calls to be made and trying to find somewhere to take my window-missing truck before it started to rain, we ended up only getting about half of our stuff done.  I spent most of the day numb and somewhat disoriented.  Thursday felt about the same.

Today I’m just mad.  I’m mad that my whole week got jacked up by someone’s selfishness.  I’m mad that everything cost just enough to be a giant nuisance, but probably not enough to make it worth submitting to insurance.  I’m mad that we haven’t even gotten the credit card bill for the dang purse yet and it’s already gone.  I’m mad that Matt had to take money out of savings so that I could go get groceries (because I was trying to be “good” and use cash and that was stolen).  I’m mad that I had to put groceries back today because I had to save money to go replace my driver’s license.  I’m mad that I have to make a bunch of phone calls this afternoon to change our auto-pay information from our checking account, because we had to open a new one.  I’m mad  that when I went to order new checks today, I got all the way through and realized I had no way to pay for them online.  I’m mad at the inconvenience it is causing Matt to be without any of his business credit cards for the next couple of weeks.

None of this is a big deal.  It really isn’t.  But it’s been an entire summer of this.kind.of.stuff.  Unplanned, unbudgeted inconveniences.  Matt and I laid in bed on Wednesday night and began to count up how many unexpected expenses we’ve had just this summer:

  • my truck window
  • my purse, wallet, and cash
  • his truck totaled
  • flat tire on his truck led to getting four new tires
  • two weed whips gone
  • one lawn mower dead
  • tool theft
  • roof repairs
  • broken rear hatch handle on my truck
  • broken antenna (not a cheap fix)
  • both air conditioning units at the house needing repairs
  • two speeding tickets

There were a few more, but they’re not coming to mind.  Needless to say, we’re worn down by the financial blood bath that this summer has been.

On the other hand, God has been more than generous with us this year.  It’s been a good year for the business and He’s been prompting Matt to work hard on saving money.  It’s just that Matt thought he was saving for the future, not for right now to just replace all our broken or stolen stuff.

I know God hasn’t changed.  I know He is still good.  I cling to His faithfulness and His promise to carry me.  There is still much to be thankful for and at least one beautiful story has come out of this, which I will share on Monday.  But today I feel a little like I’m going insane.  I told a friend today that I’m not even sure if this is Biblical, but I’m just going to go ahead and start “claiming” a drama-free week next week.  In Jesus name.

Now that I have written all of this down and looked back through it, I’m actually laughing.  It’s all just so ridiculous.  I wonder what could be next?!?!

Have a fabulous weekend, friends.  I’m sure going to try to here!

Only By His Grace ~

~ Sara

Post 2, from September 29, 2010

Last Friday, I was angry.  I was angry about my purse.  I was angry about how life was going.  Our insurance was willing to cover the loss, but it wasn’t worth filing the claim with what it would do to our rates.  I appealed to the buyer’s protection with our credit card; they wouldn’t cover theft from a car.  I felt like everything was going wrong.  And I was mad.  I worked my way through that anger, enjoyed a relaxing drive and laughing with my husband, and then danced the night away with friends.  By Saturday, my soul was at rest.  I had reached a point of accepting where things were at in life and was “claiming” a drama-free week for our family.  And I still had hope for my purse and wallet.  In the back of my mind my only thought was, maybe none of these other avenues are working because God is going to give it back to me.

In spite of my “claim” for a drama-free week, Monday morning started with one of our favorite red glass lamps being shattered while the children built a fort on the couch.  One of those mother moments when I looked and thought, This is a really bad idea.  And then I also thought, No, Sara, let them do this.  Say yes. So I let them and went upstairs for a bit.  And then I heard the shattering thud and knew instantly what had happened.  😦  So, before lunchtime I had given up my hopes for drama-free this week.

Tuesday morning, Matt found himself in a ditch in his truck.  *sigh*  I laughed.  I couldn’t help myself.  He was fine, just terribly inconvenienced, and I couldn’t help but laugh.  So, so ridiculous it was.

So Tuesday afternoon when the city services truck stopped in front of my house I honestly wondered what the next thing would be.  I wondered if something had happened with our payment and now our water was being turned off.  It just seemed like the next ridiculous occurrence in this series of unfortunate events.

The men in the truck sat out there a bit, so I went on and forgot about them, until one of them came to my door.  “I’m looking for Sara,” he said.  “I’m she,” I responded.  “Did you lose a purse?” he asked.

I gasped and my eyes had to be as large as saucers and I replied, “Did you find my purse?!!?”

He led me out to his truck and there it was sitting in the back, dirty and crumpled, but completely intact with my wallet inside.  I hugged him.  I couldn’t help it.  I told him I had been praying for it and that my friends had and that he had made my day.

I asked him where he found it.  He said it was in a trash can at a local park, about two miles north of where my purse was stolen.  He said they find them there all the time.

The smell on the purse is indescribable.  I took it to a local cleaner’s yesterday because I couldn’t even bear to have it on my front porch.  As best I can tell, the thief only took my money.  Every last penny was gone out of my wallet, but nearly everything else was there.  A few random items are missing from my purse, but my guess is that they fell out in the trash can because it’s silly things like lip gloss and fingernail clippers.

I knew my money was gone as soon as the purse went missing.  All I asked of the Lord was that I could have the purse and wallet back.  I didn’t care about any of the rest of it. I have seen God in so many little details throughout my seventeen year walk with Him that I never doubted His ability to bring that purse back, if He was willing.  (And after all this, I’m also confident He can get the smell out of it!  🙂 )

Matt and I have been asking ourselves for weeks, but especially the past several days, Is this God?  Is this Satan?  What are we supposed to be learning? And those thoughts continued to roll through my head as I processed the excitement of the afternoon.  What was God saying by giving this back?  Had we done something right?  What was it?

As I drove along, my soul knew it wasn’t anything we had done.  It was just God.  He gave it back because He’s God and He can and He chose to.  It’s grace. Simply grace.  And really it’s His grace that leads us through the trials that bring us to our knees.  For if grace means undeserved gift, then the trials of life that make us more like His Son are surely also grace.  It’s all grace.  Every moment.  Every breath.

And I’m so thankful for His endlessly abundant grace and His concern for the details of this day-to-day life.  Oh, how deep is His love for us!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

 

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And so, even though this bag is really too small for this season of life, I keep it and I carry it as my very material, very first-world reminder of His goodness and that He delights in us as a father delights in his children and He loves to give us joy gifts and glimmers of hope in the midst of this crazy world.

For His Glory ~

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2014: Week in Review {Week 12}

Here I sit on this March Monday, watching the snow fall once again outside the window.  And I could complain because we are all more than tired of the cold, but today I choose to give thanks.  This snow has taken a manic Monday and turned it into a mellow one.  One that was much needed.

Last week was characterized by dragging ourselves through another week of school.  This week is half days of testing/half days off, a full day off, and a day of fine arts in KC.  This is what we count as our spring break (snow and all) and we’re all so happy for the change of pace.

We had the privilege of hosting Amania’s friend Shela for her spring break week.  She did lots and lots and lots of hair braiding. 🙂  She was also a wonderful blessing in many other ways, including cooking a real Haitian dinner for all of Matt’s family (approximately 30 people) on Wednesday night.  She did it all with grace and a smile.

We also had round one of MAACS competition on Friday in Kansas City.  Emma and Chandler performed with the choir.  Grace competed in art, with her acrylic taking first place.

Amania celebrated her first birthday with us on Friday.  It was an exciting time for all of us and for the first time in about a month (or two), I haven’t heard how many days until her birthday since then.  🙂

Our week in photos….

the cat that thinks she now lives on my truck…

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Starbucks that keeps me going through our own version of March Madness…

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 Shela doing her thing with all the hair…

  an Ellie sandwich…

Chandler after her braids were taken out.  We said we should have dyed her purple so she could be an evil minion….

three of my favorites and me after a long / fun day at MAACS…

this beauty and her first place acrylic painting…

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and this beauty turning seven…


and these two up early on a Saturday to build…

and some Discovery Center fun for everyone….







and one to remember that week that we had six girls….

 

2939.  a multiplied Monday

2940.  tired legs – ten miles, slow and steady

2941.  first day of spring

2942.  girls with braids

2943.  the start of “spring break”

2944.  littlest one turning 7

2945.  a day in KC with my bigs

2946.  beautiful music, excellent speeches, incredible art

2947.  oldest with her 1st place painting

2948.  presents, cake, and ice cream for one very grateful seven year old

For His Glory ~

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First and Seven

Yesterday she celebrated her first birthday at home and there’s a certain bit of irony that it came while Mom and three sisters were out of town all day.  But still she celebrated, we all celebrated, because she is here, she is home, and she is seven.  And because we’ve only been counting down to her birthday since about a week after she came home a year ago.  🙂

AmaniaHopeWhen she entered our hearts and our hopes over three years ago now, she was one of us, yet unknown to us.  And God has worked in each of us to make her part of our family and make us part of hers.

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I think of how far she’s come, how much she’s grown, since that first meeting. And I think the same thing of my heart.

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And I think of how far we have to go.  I pray that the coming year brings her more security and a true knowing she will never ever ever again be left or abandoned.  That this truly is her forever family.

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I pray there will be a better understanding of her story and how she came to us, because there are so many questions.

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I pray she will continue to grow in humble confidence in the beautiful and talented girl God created her to be.

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I pray she will know that she is loved exactly how she is, regardless of how she looks, how she performs, how she speaks.  And I pray she will never stop trying to be more like Jesus.

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And I pray hard that she’ll never lose her joy.  I’ve never seen a child so characterized by happiness.  Yes, she cries and she pouts and she asks for things she doesn’t need.  But her default mood is happy.  And content.  And I think deep down she realizes the blessing she has that the rest of us take for granted.  And I feel my heart stretched even farther as I think about that.  Because this child who has had her family taken from her seems to know instinctively this gift we all take for granted….a family, imperfect and impatient and mundane and weird as they maybe, a family that loves us is a priceless gift and something to be happy about every day.

Happy “First” and Seventh birthday, Amania.  May you never lose the hope you have in Jesus.

Love,

Mama

Why We’re “Forget(ting) the Frock” Again This Year…

Last year was the first time I had heard the term “Forget the Frock“.  Always looking for a way to simplify life and help the less fortunate (and a bonus if we can do both at once!), I immediately jumped on board.  A shirt was designed and promoted supporting Haiti Lifeline Ministries, starting an adoption fund within the ministry.

And as Easter came closer this year and I knew we needed to start planning for Forget the Frock if we wanted to do it again, I wrestled a bit.  Because Easter feels like such a slighted holiday anyway, yet it is one of the most important.  I don’t want to participate in hijacking the resurrection of Christ in the name of raising money, even for such a worthy cause as adoption.  But on the other hand, we (as Americans) can spend so much time, money, and energy on clothes that will be worn one day, fussed over for pictures, and then stuffed in closets and sold next year at garage sales, I decided maybe this wasn’t really hijacking anything, but maybe taking it back.  Because Christ came to seek and save the lost, to lead the charge to care for the orphan and widow, and if we are adopted in Him then we are commanded to do the same.  So maybe a simple shirt that can be worn year round, proclaiming His name and the good news, that helps put orphans in families….maybe that really is the best way to dress for Easter.

So we are excited to do this again, with some great new shirts designed just for this event.

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Click here to order yours.  And then feel free to share with your friends why you’re simplifying your Easter by sharing this post.

Forget the frock.  Help an orphan.  Buy a shirt.  Change a life.

For His Glory ~

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* Special thanks to the Fox Family for starting this movement and letting the rest of us be part of it!

2014: Weeks in Review {Weeks 10 & 11}

The past two weeks have been the normal blur.  God has worked on my heart regarding our schedule and our season of life and we plow onward learning to go slow in the midst of the busy.

sunshine and blue skies

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We have done school, gone to a Young Life banquet, and had new friends over for dinner.  Grace and I have cleaned a couple of projects for Matt and we’ve had a birthday party or two (or four….I don’t know, but it’s been a bunch).  We went on an awesome field trip to visit the Trash Mountain Project Aquaponics facility.  They’re doing some really fantastic stuff out there.  We’ve worked outside and enjoyed open windows and doors and the coming of spring.  We’ve figured out how to use essential oils to manage our allergies.  I was able to have some ladies over for some good, low-key fellowship, and I was able to enjoy fellowship with a completely different group of women at an IF: Tables gathering.

aquaponics

I’m continuing to train for my half marathon next month.  I’m doing this one solo, so I’m also doing the long runs solo.  Nothing makes a long run seem longer than running 10 miles alone.  On a treadmill.  But at least I have Jack Bauer and season one of 24 to help pass the time.  That is, when our internet isn’t buffering.  I’m praying about whether or not this will be my last half for a while.  I love/hate them so much.  I love that they scare me into getting my miles in (except that January one, it certainly didn’t have that effect).  I love how I feel **after** a really long run.  I love being able to eat whatever I want and not having to think about calories (not that I think about them a whole lot anyway….but today, as I snuck a brownie before lunch and one child caught me I honestly looked at her and said, “I just ran for nearly two hours. I  can have a brownie.”  She wisely agreed.).  But I hate how much they cost (how much to torture myself for three months???).  And I hate how much time they take.  I don’t mind the normal length runs in the mornings, but setting aside two hours for a long run plus another hour to get cleaned up and recovered afterward…it’s just a big chunk out of an already full day and as I’ve been examining our schedule and praying about the best use of my time, this is one of those areas I’m on the fence about.  That said, six months from now I may be telling this same story all over again.  Those races have a way of sucking you back in.

skies that demand a road trip and a dog that really misses her people when they’re gone

We also launched our version of Forget the Frock with Haiti Lifeline Ministries (a post on that tomorrow).  I’m super-excited about this year’s shirt and about taking back Easter for a cause close to the heart of Christ.

a little teaser for this year’s FtF shirt

And as we head into a new week, I want to start again with recounting the gifts….

2924.  cardinals on bare branches, red on a backdrop of grey

2925.  nurturing my marriage

2926.  Lent and reflection and seasons of pause

2927.  seeing God at work in the lives of teens

2928.  nights of no sleep; leaning on God for strength for the day

2929.  long dates

2930.  sunny Sunday and kids outside

2931.  a long forecast of better weather

2932.  8 mile run

2933.  repentance

2934.  practicing flexibility

2935.  a grace that chases, pursues

2936.  birthday parties, sleepovers, time with friends

2937.  working through issues with little ones

2938.  IF: Tables and thoughts on friendship

Oh restless heart – beating against the prison bars of your circumstances and longing for a wider realm of usefulness – allow God to direct all your days.  Patience and trust, even in the midst of the monotony of your daily routine will be the best preparation to courageously handle the stress and strain of a greater opportunity, which God may someday send.

~ Streams in the Desert, March 17

For His Glory ~

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Finding Time….

When the week stretches long and she rushes out the door yet again and before leaving one of the littlest asks, “Mommy, why do you have to go so many places?” And she hits the highway and tears start to fall and the tired and the schedule just seem too much to bear.

And she purposed this year not to complain about the busy or the driving, but that slow life that Ann writes about, it becomes an idol, a thing coveted, and God works on the heart to tear down all gods but Himself.

She hears it somewhere….In your twenties, you have time and energy, but no money.  In your thirties, you have energy and money, but no time.  In your forties, you have time and money, but no energy.  And that’s where she finds herself…smack dab in the middle of her “hurried thirties”.  Running kids to volleyball and writing and soccer and ballet and science and birthday parties and in between getting groceries and folding laundry and dusting furniture, somehow finding time to run long and far just to keep her sanity and her jeans size.

And Ann also says that “if you track a man’s time, you’ll hunt down what he worships”.  And it would seem that this one worships the highway.  Or the tyranny of the busy.

But that’s not true.  As she spends another week running the taxi service, God works in the heart.  He reminds her this is a season and slow is an attitude of the heart as much as it is a pace of life.

In a family with five children and owning a business and serving in ministry and home schooling, life will not be consistently slow for a very long time.  She knows they are not the people that were made for slow living, at least not all the time.  And so trying to force a family of “fast-paced do-ers” into a box of “slow savor-ers” only results in frustration and feelings of failure.  But she knows they can learn to maintain an attitude of slow….an attitude that can take a breath and step outside on gorgeous spring days, an attitude that can listen to a child’s story without rushing her, an attitude that the laundry can wait because stopping to sit down and just be is  more important some times.  She can learn to say no to good things and leave margin for the best things, the God-things.  She can learn to savor the moments in the midst of the hurrying and she can continually learn to trust God with her time and her to-do list, knowing that He holds it all in His hand and if it’s His will then it’s already as good as done.

For His Glory ~

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2014: Week in Review {Weeks 7, 8, & 9} and Starting a New Week off Right

Donut! (As our accented child would say.)  I was doing so well staying up with my Week in Review and somehow the whole month of February just blew right past me.  Sheesh.  Between the pace at which it came and the winter weather it brought over the weekend, I would say March definitely came “in like a lion”.

February was a great month filled with more cold weather, a trip to Arizona to be refreshed by sunshine and time with friends, then more cold weather, and normal crazy life.

Some pictures from the last few weeks…

So we left this
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For this
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And this

And this (like my mug? 🙂 )

And we came back to more of this
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugbut at least it was warm enough to get outside a couple of days.

Even the little shoots are ready for the warm sun
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And at least the sun is starting to come up a little earlier
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We even had a day of open doors and windows
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And my sweet Haitian girl is reading so well. I could cry. And maybe I did as she laughed her way through this BOB book last month.

Then March came in with more snow and cancelled concert plans but lots of extra girls at our house, so fun was still had by all.
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And, oh, look, a happy little planner. I love my techie gadgets, but I just can’t quit my paper planner.

Last, but not least, what happens when you fill a latex glove with water and stick it outside overnight in sub-zero temps? You get a frozen hand and this picture on your camera.

And to start the week and the month off right, counting just some of the amazing gifts from the Father’s hand.

 

2889.  days that wear you thin

2890.  leaning hard and trusting Jesus to do a new thing

2891.  a happy outing with the littlest

2892.  sweet baby Cora

2893.  morning walks

2894.  four days with good friends

2895.  warm sun, palm trees

2896.  morning hikes, good talks

2897.  long dinners, laughter, wine

2898.  home

2899.  walks with the middle child

2900.  65*

2901.  windows open, kids outside, hope for spring

2902.  busted laptop, mouse in the house, weighty conversations

2903.  God glory spilling everywhere

2904.  rain and thunder

2905.  view of the sky

2906.  thunder, rain, hail, snow, sunshine – a day in the life of Kansas weather

2907.  mom’s night out and high school prep

2908.  an SUV that gets us home

2909. yard work on a sunny Saturday

2910.  cheerful girls

2911.  home improvements

2912.  Sunday worship and Sunday rest

2913.  snuggles and cat naps with the middle

2914.  long runs

2915.  ugly cries

2916.  sunshine and better days

2917.  days full of driving

2918.  opportunities for these kids

2919.  catching up – just a bit

2920. girlfriend sleepovers

2921.  changed plans and more snow

2922.  Sunday afternoon naps

2923.  Monday morning sunshine

May your week be filled with God’s glory and all things good.

For His Glory ~

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