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 {Weeks 1 & 2}

Eleven days into the new year.  We’ve made it through the first full week of real life.  As I shared (and others echoed) on the Facebook page last night, this week was a tail-kicker.  The holiday break was much-needed and so refreshing, and everyone was enjoying it so much, I think it was hard to get our heads around school and structure and getting out of our pajamas again.  And the fact that we hit the ground running from day one, rather than the normal ease-in, I think affected things too.  And while I did enjoy my beloved tortilla chips yesterday, I resisted the urge to hide in my closet while eating them.

In spite of the busy and the tiring, it’s been a wonderful start to the year.  Goals and plans are laid out.  Personal and family challenges are set forth.  We are striving to memorize more Scripture, be more intentional / affectionate / encouraging, spend more time as a family and less mindless time on screens.  The goal is not perfection but progress, that by the end of the year we will have reset some default behaviors and change what we are characterized by.  It’s going to be a good year.  But not because of our plans or hopes or goals, but because God is in it with us, going before us.  And He may derail our plans and take us on a new, wild, unexpected journey this year.  And it may be hard and exhausting and nothing like what we are praying for, but we can trust Him in all of it.  And as much as I love to look at my list of goals and the plans I have made, I have to continue to hold it all loosely because things can change quickly and obedient trust is the only way to follow Jesus in this unpredictable world we live in.

And the joy hunt continues into the new year, as I still count those 25 “days” of joy…..

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Joy Find #17 – Snow Ice Cream

In the midst of the Polar Vortex last weekend, some of the girls enjoyed all of the snow and the cold that came with it.  The rest of us did not.  But, we did all enjoy a little snow ice cream….

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Joy Find #18 – Wonder

I finished my first book of the year.  Category – Kid’s Pick.  My kids often tell me I need to read this book or that, but because my reading time is so limited and our reading tastes are so different, I rarely get around to it (although I’m trying to do better!).  My 5th and 6th grader read Wonder last semester for a literature class and both insisted I had  to read it.  I’m so glad I did! I struggled to get into it at first, but quickly found I couldn’t put it down.  It’s a beautiful story and every one should read it.  A particularly powerful tale for that middle school age about the power of kindness.

I especially love this quote near the end….

If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.

Joy Find #19 – Daddy Dog Pile…

Need I say more?

Joy Find #20 – Pretty little flowers at the end of an ugly day…..

 

From my beloved who knew I needed a pick-me-up.

That’s it for me this week.  May your weekend be blessed, my friends!

For His Glory ~

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2013: Year in Review

As we prepare to say farewell to 2013 and welcome 2014 tonight, it only seems fitting to look back one more time on this super-crazy-good year…

2013 started with me just so thankful that the holidays were over.  Thanksgiving and Christmas without Amania last year was indescribably difficult, and for the first time I can remember, I was just happy it was over.  We rolled right on through January and February waiting for news, and in March our answer came – our girl was coming home!

But, first – one last vacation as a family of six to our favorite ranch in Colorado – Lost Valley!

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It snowed and it was cold and Matt was sick and exhausted and in some ways the trip was a forecast for our whole year – good, but not easy, but like everything else, I’m so glad we did it.

Just a few short days after that, Matt and I packed up to head to Haiti to bring our girl home….

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And then the process of adjusting to this new family member began.  Everyone did amazingly well and it wasn’t long really before she felt like just another one of our girls.  It has been a continual process in some areas, and will be for some time, I’m sure; but we are blessed in how easy, all things considered, the transition has been.

And then it snowed.  In May.

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And then, because our lives were just too normal (???), we decided to buy a new (to us) house.  And so, what was meant to be a relaxing summer of bonding and recovery turned into an insanely busy summer of packing, home repairs, moving, showings, inspections, closings, unpacking, painting, and more.  I’ve never been so happy to see a summer end and a school year begin, just so we could have some structure to our lives again!  But, it was totally worth it.

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in with the new(er)….

And all that crazy ended up pushing me over the edge and I faced a season of depression I haven’t seen in years.  And God, in His great wisdom and mercy, introduced our family to essential oils and we have become completely committed to this crazy, oily way of life.  And because of my (sometimes excessive) transparency, I have been blessed with the opportunity to share oils with many old and new friends and watch them also find healing in these seemingly simple treasures.

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In August we started a new school year and we settled in a bit and since then we’ve helped organize a race and had friends visit and taken road trips and celebrated birthdays and life has been beautiful.

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And we played soccer and we played volleyball and I got a tattoo to remind me that hope is that anchor for the soul that gives the heart wings.

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And Thanksgiving and Christmas came again and everything was different because everything has changed.  And two years ago I never would have guessed I could be happier than I was then and a year ago I never would have guessed what a year would bring and today I wouldn’t change a thing.

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And a video, just for fun, because watching Amania open her “big gift” as we call it, on Christmas morning, was absolutely priceless….

(click the photo and it will take you to the video in a new window)

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As we prepare to say farewell to 2013 and welcome 2014 and I look back on this crazy year, I can’t help but have a heart full of thanks for God’s faithfulness, mercy, and goodness.  His love never fails.

Looking forward to a new year of adventure with my favorite people and following God wherever He may lead us.

For His Glory ~

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Joy Find #16 – another year of God’s unending faithfulness and love

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Celebrating My Love

Today my best friend, my beloved, my favorite, celebrates another year of life and I celebrate the gift he is to me, to our family.  I continue to stand amazed at how God blessed me with this man and how thankful I am for the chance to live life with him.

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I’ve shared many times (maybe too many) about how this year has been defined by changes, all good changes, but several big changes.  And those changes had some big effects on each of us individually and on our marriage.  Matt walked with me through a deep valley of depression the likes of which I hadn’t seen in well over a decade, maybe since before we met.  I know he became discouraged when he felt there was nothing he could do to help me, but he never gave up and has been more than supportive as I’ve recovered.

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I watched as people who never had an opinion before suddenly had loud and significant opinions about our family life and his work schedule and the choices we make.  And he stood firm, recognizing that the path God is leading us down is no ordinary path and we may be misunderstood and it may be lonely, but with God we are where we should be.

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And this year our marriage took a beating that I don’t feel like we’ve had since the first year we were married (the year that both of us thought we had made a horrible mistake and wished there was a way out).  It has been a long, hard year for our marriage, but by God’s grace, we have held on to Him and to each other, never giving up hope that things will one day get better, get back to where they were.

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And as our lives start to settle down, just a little, and we find this “new normal” I see glimpses of us again.  But even if things don’t ever get back to what we once were (even though I’m sure they will), there’s still no one else I’d rather do life with, no one else better suited for me, no one else I want to grow old with.  And I believe we will laugh at the crazy days we’ve come through and we will laugh at the days to come, because of the Hope that lives in us.

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For His Glory,

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Joy Find 15 – my beloved
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Adopted for Joy

I sit here, the room across the hall finally quiet.  My heart hurts for a girl who chooses a harder path out of fear.  And I think of our adoption as children of God and how our Father trains us, teaches us, disciplines us, in ways we often don’t understand.  Ways that seem too hard at the time, but they are for a bigger purpose.  And just like each new stage and event and transition in life bring struggles for this otherwise adaptable little one, we are daily presented with the temptation to revert to our old ways, to take on a survival mindset that says God cannot be trusted and my way is best.  And yet, it never is and He always can.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ child and exchange gifts and sit in wonder at the manger, I am thankful for the gift of adoption, the gift of being bought for His Kingdom, to be part of His family, and to have this child as part of ours.  I am thankful for parenthood and how it gives the tiniest glimpse into the heart of God and His great love for us and that bigger picture mindset.  And I am thankful for His gentle, but firm, hand that always leads, always guides, always hangs on.

May your Christmas be filled with wonder at the gift born long ago and the gift He gave everything to give to us.

Joy Find #13 – adoption by a perfect Father, paid for at the cost of His own Son

For His Glory ~

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Joy to Share

I knew this 25 days would take a while, especially during such a busy month.  🙂

Here we go with a few joy finds of late –

Joy Find #8 home school choir singing carols in the library rotunda; beauty echoing, singing glory.

Joy Find #9 – trees that count gifts and that count down to the Ultimate GiftPhoto & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Joy Find #10 – annual church lightshow, a favorite holiday tradition

Joy Find #11 – Christmas goodies sent by friends far away

Joy Find #12 – twinkle lights and falling snow

 

May you be finding moments of joy in the midst of the busy season.

For His Glory ~

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Joy #7

Joy came last night and this morning by way of the western horizon.

Last night….driving and looking westward and seeing the sky ablaze in red sunset – brilliant and breath-taking in its radiance.

This morning….walking with a friend up the hill to our cars with giant golden moon just sinking below the horizon – haunting and humbling in its beauty.

The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech.  Night after night they reveal knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2

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The Difference a Year Can Make….

A year ago, I sat waiting and wondering.  I looked at pictures of a little girl far away.  I walked daily by her empty stocking and empty bed.  I wept, wondering when the process would ever end.  And I grieved, knowing she would not be joining us for Christmas.

A year later, she is home and we are all together and the whole season has light and life again.  I have new appreciation for those who grieve during the holidays, who feel keenly the absence of a loved one for any reason.  And I give thanks for our family united this year and the chance to celebrate all together – to see all my girls faces every morning, to hear their laughter, to share in their joy each day.

A year ago I heard this song by Third Day.  I had heard it many times before, but it was just a nice song.  But in the midst of the waiting and the wondering and the longing, it became an anthem that was listened to often last Christmas, always with tears.  And then I forgot about it when the season was over and the Christmas music turned off.

Until this year when it played again.  And the tears fell again, feeling those feelings once more and also rejoicing that the wait is over and we are on the other side of that song.

Joy Find #6 – all my girls home for Christmas

Merry Christmas  – Third Day

There’s a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Cyin’ for momma’s arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
Where the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang
The stockings by the fire
And dream about the day
When I can finally call you mine

It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I’m warmed by the fire’s glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white
And make angels in the snow

And half a world away you try
Your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven’s angels come
To carry you here

It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas

And Christmas is a time to celebrate the Holy Child
And we celebrate His perfect gift of love
He came to us to give His life and prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with Him above

It’s Christmas time again and now you’re home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I’ll hold you in my arms
And tell you from my heart and I’ll tell you from my heart
I wish you a Merry Christmas

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For His Glory ~

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Joy Gathering

Joy Find 5 – 

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This weekend was not only marked by Emma’s twelfth birthday, but also by Ellie’s first Nutcracker performance. This sweet girl has loved ballet this year and was soooo excited to dance the part of a Cookie. I couldn’t help but have all kinds of joy as she just radiated her own joy at practices and all throughout the weeks leading up to last weekend.

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Praying your days are filled with joy as we prepare to celebrate the Giver of all Joy in just a couple of weeks!

For His Glory ~

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This Girl

Day 4 – this girl….

Twelve years ago, we were blessed with our second daughter.  At 5-something in the morning, Emma Joy, entered the world and our lives were forever changed.

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The past year has been a special blessing as we have watched her mature and mellow.  As Matt shared this morning, she calls herself a “geek” (though neither of us knows when that became cool – but as a former geek, woot!) and loves books and a certain BBC series she’s not even been allowed to watch yet and camo and Duck Dynasty.  She’s excited to play soccer in the spring and volleyball next year.  She’s taken to baking this fall which has resulted in a variety of delicious concoctions, particularly her bacon butterscotch muffins.  She sings beautifully and I could listen to her play the piano all day.

Emma is a gift to our family.  She keeps us laughing and makes sure things don’t get too girlie.  I’m so glad I get to be Emma’s mom.  I can’t wait to see what God does in this next year of her life.

Happy birthday, Emma Joy!

For His Glory,

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* photo credit goes to my beautiful and talented friend Chelsea Hudson

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