2012 – Year in Review

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This year – it’s been a wildly fast one and yet the last five weeks have somehow seemed longer than the 47 before them.  As this year comes to a close, it only seems fitting to reflect on all that God has done in our lives in 2012.

We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries.  We traveled to Haiti, twice for each of us, and the oldest child made her first trip as well.  We wrapped up a really, really hard school year, soaked up the summer, and kicked off a new year which has been so much better thus far.  I painted more furniture than I can count and discovered this relatively cheap form of therapy and realized that I need a creative outlet far more than I knew.  We made more trips to the doctor’s office this year than all our other years of parenting combined, or at least it seemed that way.  We had two broken arms, a split open ear, pertussis, and a myriad of other minor illnesses.

We learned that the adoption process is wildly unpredictable and that a pregnancy with no due date is unfathomably hard to endure.  I started the year with a focus on attentiveness and found the word hope written all over it.  We took some little trips and focused on time as a family, preparing our hearts and our home for our Haiti girl to join us.  I experienced the hardest holiday season I have ever known and God gave me a glimpse of the desperate love He has for us and how He longs for us all to come home.

Oh, this year, it’s been a good one.  We have grown and changed and hopefully become more like our Jesus.  I am eager to open the door on 2013.  I’m cautiously hopeful we will be a family of seven by year’s end.  I’m trusting Him to continue to complete what He has started in each of us.  And I’m looking forward to where He leads us in the coming year.

Wishing you a blessed beginning of the coming year.  May 2013 be the best one yet.

For His Glory ~

Seven

So I realized that in my funk I missed posting about a couple of birthdays.  Trying to remedy that before Christmas.  🙂

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She’s funny and sweet and bright and witty.  She has energy and drama to spare. She loves everyone and still loves her blanket.  Some days she’s seven going on seventeen and others she’s seven going on four.  But, oh, she’s a gift.  She has brought abundant laughter to our family.  She has taught us all to be a little more flexible and patient.  She is caring and compassionate and loves Jesus.

Happy (belated) birthday, sweet Ellie.  Praying this next year brings less tears, just as many laughs, and more loving your Savior.

Love, Mama

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A Grateful Catching Up….

November 15 – A last minute girls’ night invite and actually accepting it….

No photo, but after a ridiculously long Thursday, so thankful for a friend who invited me to come hang out for a bit.

November 16 – A long drawn out date with my favorite….

Budget talks over margaritas, laughing long at the Tim Hawkins show, and discussing life and the future over dessert.  After a long month of busy and gone, this was just what my heart needed. 

November 17 – Tank tops in mid-November and a clean garage….

So thankful for time as a family to clean out our bordering-on-a-Hoarders-intervention garage and a beautiful day to boot.

I could post a picture of all of our junk…but I think I’ll just leave that to everyone’s imagination.

November 18 – A little girl and a long sheet of bubble wrap….

Oh the joy of bubble wrap.  Especially when it’s outside.

November 19 – For so much….

Another non-photo day, but still….

For a daughter who helps me at the grocery store when I’m dragging through sick, the week of Thanksgiving.  For another daughter who puts dinner in the crock pot while I’m away.  For the kind people at TJ Maxx who didn’t charge us for the $70 Le Crueset dish a certain child broke while scouring the racks for my favorite coffee.  For a husband who sends me to bed early.  For a warm drink as I snuggle under covers. And for a long night of sleep to help me recover.

November 20 – Crazy science experiments that entertain for hours and color foils for all the girls….

November 21 – Girlie buffet lunches and Thanksgiving feasting Part I (complete with princess dress up)…

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November 22 – A holiday at home and a heart that overflows “thanks”….

Again, no photo from yesterday, but so thankful for this holiday at home every year.  What a gift it is to us to have a day to make our own traditions (and to have extra time to digest all of the Thanksgiving goodness before another feast this weekend). A late brunch and soup for dinner.  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television and The Odd Life of Timothy Green at the cheap theater.  We did notice that our holiday tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving Day has given us adoption-themed movies the past two years (Kung Fu Panda 2 last year), neither of which we knew were adoption-themed before we ever saw them.

Caught up for now; more to come tomorrow.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Runaway Heart

She comes to me tear-stained and tired.  She says no one wants her here and no one cares, so she’s just going to leave.  She wants to run away and wasn’t I just saying the same thing yesterday?

I ask where she’ll go and how she’ll care for herself and what will she do.  And she says she doesn’t know but she’ll be safe because she has her Swiss army knife, an arrow, and God.

And I find her a little later, a couple houses down and I call her back and we talk and I hold her and ask her to just come inside and do her school and think this through a little more before she decides to go.  And she does and I try to go on with my day.

But isn’t this what we want to do when life gets hard?  We want to grab our water bottle and our arrows and run away.  Away from training, away from discipline, away from the tough love of our Father.  I realize it’s what I’ve always tried to do and I know I’ve always been a runner, even before I wore running shoes.  And this little girl, she has her mother’s heart: a heart that wants to escape and a heart that doesn’t like to do hard, a heart that wants to run away.

And my beloved sends me encouragement from the book of James, that book we just spent a year (or more) memorizing, that book I should know well but have somehow forgotten already.  He reminds me of chapter 1 and trials and temptations and counting it all joy.  And I ask myself, am I still running?  It is one thing to write about it and to say it to myself in the early morning quiet, but when it comes right down to it, and my child is carrying on irrational and the calendar is overflowing and it feels like this whole thing is going to come crashing down in one spectacular heap – am I then looking to God and saying, “Yes, Lord, even this – thank you.”  Am I running to my Jesus and saying thank you, even for this – for our daily stumbling and falling and facing imperfections?  Or am I picking up my weary heart and running the other direction – running to quietly nurse my wounds and hide myself away from the world and from the sinking feeling that I’m never going to get this right.

And I know I’m still a runner.  And my girl is a runner.  But I want us both to be running to Jesus, not running away.  And I’ve seen it on a few different blogs this week, how October started this year on a Monday and brought fall and a feeling of something fresh and why not commit to something for the 31 days of October.  And that Monday morning I knew what I’ve known since we came home from Haiti in February – I am to commit to pray.  Pray for my little family.  Pray for our hearts and our minds and our relationships and that we would all be children who run to their Father.

I don’t know what this will look like here online because it’s hard to get on consistently and write in the midst of school and home and life in general.  But will you join me in praying for our families for the remaining days of October – yours, mine, and all of those struggling around us?  May we lift ourselves and each other up to our Heavenly Father for strength, encouragement, and wisdom as we struggle to be lights in a darkened world.  And if we must run, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”  (Hebrews 12)  And as we think about running with perseverance, let us contemplate this definition that Matt shared with me:

Perseverance – a steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success; continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

Steadfastness despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.  Was I not just talking to my friend this morning about how it feels like we keep having these same struggles and will we ever see progress?  Am I being steadfast regardless?  And, oh, to continue in grace!  Grace that overflows from the throne of God, grace that I must simply ask for and gather like manna because He supplies it new every morning, grace that leads to glory.

Lord, as we embark on 31 days of prayer, may you bless our efforts.  May you draw us closer to your heart.  Open our eyes to see our families the way you do.  Give us renewed love and affection for our children, our spouses.  Give us steadfastness and love and mercy and grace.  Protect us from the fiery arrows of the evil one and may all that we do bring You glory.  Give us runners hearts that run to you with wild abandon.  And may our love for you spread like fire to those around us.  Amen.

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For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Being Present

I realize this morning as I lay in bed, wide awake and talking to God at 3:15, that I have completely checked out on this school year.  And, ashamed as I am to admit it, I have checked out of family life in a lot of ways the past couple of months.

This year started off well.  The first month was one of our best ever.  And then some switch flipped, or a series of switches, I’m not sure….but this has been, hands down, the most challenging school year we’ve done.  Not for any one thing or subject or child, just every day a waking up and realizing we are going to fight the same battles today that we fought yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.  And I realized that at some point in the past six months, I threw up my hands in defeat and gave in to merely making it through this year, pinning all of my hopes of improvement on next year with new curriculum, new plans, and new possibilities.

As my children go through their day reminding me more and more of chickens in a barn yard – distracted, squawky, messy, and pecking a lot at each other – I wonder what on earth is missing, what am I doing wrong?  And I realize it’s me.  I’m at the table, but I’m not present.  I’m in the room, but my mind is two dozen other places.  And I believe that therein lies the answer, they sense my absence and surrender to the madness and they sense the lack of structure in spite of all the systems and structures I have in place.  They need my presence more than anything – not just physical, but mentally engaged, emotionally available.

And I believe that’s the hardest part of this.  To make myself emotionally available to people who daily have the capacity to hurt me, most often unintentionally.  To have their fleshly natures thrust in my face each moment of each day, thus baring my own sin nature as well….it’s hard.  And exhausting.  And that’s why I’ve withdrawn.  Distance is easier than dealing with it day after day after day.  And that’s a totally wrong way of handling my kids.

So, today, on this last day of the 3rd quarter of the school year, on this Leap Day 2012, we will do a little bit of school this morning, then head out on a couple of field trips.  I will do my best to engage my girls and set a new tone for the last nine weeks. I can’t pin all my hopes on next year.  Next year doesn’t need that kind of pressure.  I can only choose to be available to my family and make each day the best it can be.  And this is a scary thing to put out there.  Not only for the brutal honesty of it all, but also the accountability, because now I have to engage.  I can’t just think about it and ignore it.  I have to do it, knowing that I don’t have the emotional energy to do this day in and day out.  But God, He gives grace each day, mercies every morning.  And if He has called me to this, which I believe He has, then I can also trust Him to equip me for the task.  As I had my quiet time this morning and these thoughts all rolled around in my head, He gave me this as I opened the devotions on my phone:

“You are on the right path.  Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.  I am leading you along the way I designed just for you.  Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking.  But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone.  Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, anymore than you can comprehend My dealings with others.  I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, moment by moment.  As I said to My disciple Peter, so I repeat to you:  Follow Me.”  ~ Jesus Calling, February 29

There will be more hard days, but my Jesus is with me, every step, and my kids deserve to have me – all of me – here with them.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Double Digits

I’m not at all sure how we got here so fast, but another one turns 10 today.

Beautiful and funny.  Dramatic and sensitive.  Emma, you make us laugh and you make us wonder.  You are working hard to find your own place in the family and we are beyond blessed to have you as a part of it.  We look forward to seeing what the next ten years (and beyond) bring for you.

Happy Birthday, Emma Joy!

Love ~

~ Mom

Week in Review

What a week of blessings this has been.  The past few days have seemed a far cry from some of the struggles that prompted Monday and Tuesday’s posts.  Oh, those things remain, but what a wonder a change of pace and the excitement of seeing family will bring!

A week of school and baking, a birthday celebration and the giving of thanks, some Black Friday shopping and card playing with friends, a bike ride and some home maintenance.  It’s been a great week.  My mind is rolling around with ideas for December.  I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

Have a great rest of your weekend, friends!

~ Sara

A Six Year Old Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!  On this day of focused thanks, I am particularly thankful for this little girl –

Born six years ago, on Thanksgiving day, Miss Ellie has provided an abundance of snuggles and memorable moments.  She keeps us in stitches with her innate ability to craft words.  She knows only two states of mind: On Top of the World and The World is Ending.  She has been the “baby of the family” longer than anyone else but cannot wait to have her younger sister come home.  She is frustrating, delightful, emotional, funny, a quick thinker, ridiculously silly, and incredibly bright.  She loves others and loves Jesus.  And we love her.

Happy 6th Birthday, Ellie!  We can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Love,

Mom

 

Thirty For 30

We’ve never been very good at playing with our kids.  Matt and I are both pretty task-oriented and both always manage to have quite a bit going on.  We love our kids and enjoy being around them, especially as they have gotten older and we can have actual conversations with them.  But to sit down and play games or with toys….not so much.

We have discussed this shortcoming of ours many times over the years.  We have gone in spurts of doing well.  But our default is to retire to the computer…or the smart phone….or the television….or a book…and live parallel lives rather than integrated lives.

So this weekend, after another discussion of this nature, I was praying about this and felt like the Lord gave me an idea: Thirty For 30 – thirty minutes of interactive, fun play a day for 30 days…to see what it does to our relationships, our hearts, our home.

It’s a simple plan but a huge one.  We started last night with a trip to the park where Matt played tag with the big girls and I pushed small chicks on swings.  Tonight it was a tearful game of Skip Bo (who knew that was possible?!).  I look forward to what the Lord will do in the next thirty days.  I’m praying it will be something great for our family.

What about you?  What do you do to make family fun a priority in this crazy world of raising kids?

 

Eleven

She’s strong and steady.

She’s ballet and beauty.

She’s a lot like her dad.

She’s a lot like me.

She’s the oldest child.

She’s the least eager to grow up.

She’s born to lead.

She’s growing in His grace.

She’s amazing.

And now she’s eleven.

Happy Birthday, Grace.  I’m so blessed to be your mother, so humbled to lead you on this walk into womanhood.  You, like all your sisters, truly are an “undeserved gift”.