Fourteen

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This one.  Today she is fourteen and lovely and nearly as tall as me.  This year she will begin high school and learn to drive.  And it only just now seems reasonable to me that I should have a five year old, but I look over and I have a young woman.  And it seems just yesterday that she was sitting on the couch watching Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues with her eyes watering because she would.not.blink.  And how does this wonderful world spin so fast?

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Sidenote and unrelated fact about the above picture: Grace is now babysitting for that swim instructor’s two year old son.  How time flies….

This child is our guinea pig child – the first born that is one constant experiment in parenting do’s and don’t’s.  And we’ve learned so much and we have so much left to learn and the next several years will bring a whole new level of education as we navigate goals and plans and new freedoms and responsibilities and the inevitable interest in and of the opposite sex.

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But for today we give thanks for the gift of this girl – the first of our five.  She remains steadfast, responsible, strong, more than a little stubborn sometimes, funny, incredibly artistic, smart, and with a heart captivated by Haiti.  This mama heart is not ready for the letting go that the next few years will bring, but God has plans for her.  Big, good, wonderful, beautiful plans for her life.  And she is His to use.

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Happy Birthday, my beautiful Grace.

Love,

Mama

Things to Remember

On Saturday there were tears, and maybe some gnashing of teeth, as worries over children and their character overwhelmed.  As some problems were brought to light and as the new school year looms ever-closer, this mama’s heart was heavy and discouraged.  Every fault, every failure, every short-coming, it seemed, could be traced right back to me and I felt, once again, I could never be enough. And Sunday dawned with much needed heart-felt worship and a sermon kicked off with Pharrel Williams’ “Happy”.  And the day ended with a LeCrae concert and an unexpectedly amazing time of worship and encouragement and just plain fun. Some things were remembered that Sunday that need to be remembered again and again.  Things like God’s faithfulness and His promise and that these children are His and as parents we must do our best, but it’s not about us. Some thoughts from the past couple of weeks that my soul has been holding tightly to:

  • Why aren’t we more enthusiastic? (All of the following is from Pastor Jim’s current sermon series, until noted otherwise):
    • we forget how good we have it
    • we have unrealistic expectations
    • we have a grumpy gene (heh 🙂 )
  • Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV) – Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another,forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  • Choose to set your mind on the things of Christ.
    • Oh my mind has not been here.  I have been distracted by so many things; many good things even, but not Christ.  But my prayer of late has been that Jesus would make Himself first in my heart again.
  • How do we become more enthusiastic?
    • Let the peace of the Messiah control your heart.
    • Be thankful.
    • Let the message dwell richly.
  • On parenting:
    • Know your child.  Know yourself.  Know Christ. (oh yes!)
    • Some people are just runners.  They will run from law and they will run from grace.  Law (legalism) does not draw anyone back.  Grace draws its own back home.  Hold fast to the gospel of grace.
  • Romans 12:11 (NLT) – Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

And then there was that LeCrae concert, with speakers like Tyrone Flowers and Phil Davis and that oft needed reminder that this world is more than what we see and that there is a daily battle for our hearts and minds.  And fresh off my own emotional wrestling over kids and choices and hearts, Tyrone Flowers pulls out Jeremiah 29:11, that verse that has given me hope for over twenty years, and God quietly reminded me that not only does He have a plan for me, He has a plan for them too.  Each of those girls sitting to my right was created by Him – on purpose and for a purpose.  And while I definitely have a job to do with them, their ultimate outcome is not up to me.  He has a plan.  I can trust that plan.  It may not look like I want it to look, but He has a plan and it is good.  

For His Glory ~

 

 

 

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A Decade and a Half

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Fifteen years today.  Fifteen years of marriage.  Fifteen years of life and love and chasing dreams and chasing kids.  Fifteen years of working through struggles and laughing about them later.  Fifteen years of friendship and intimacy, the depth of which I didn’t know was possible.  Fifteen years – five kids, four houses, a business, and memories to last a lifetime.  Fifteen years of learning to lean on each other and lean harder on God.

So much has changed in a decade and a half.  And so much has stayed the same.  We’ve both grown and matured.  Our preferences and opinions have changed over the years.  We’ve struggled through petty conflicts and big decisions.  But our love, our commitment to each other, our faith in God, those remain and have grown deeper and stronger and I can look forward with faith and confidence to the next fifteen (and even fifty) years.  Deo volente.

For His Glory ~

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Learning to roll….

A sure sign of the presence of idolatry is inordinate anxiety, anger, or discouragement when our idols are thwarted.  So if we lose a good thing, it makes us sad, but if we lose an idol, it devastates us.

~ Tim Keller

God’s been working on  my idols lately.  Idols I didn’t even realize were idols.  Good things like to do lists, productivity, passions, dreams, and the warm summer sun.  All of these He’s been working to lay bare the past six weeks.  And I have fought hard, but tonight I surrender.  I surrender my idea of summer accomplishment and summer relaxation.  I realize that, at least right now, our summer looks a lot like our school year – time behind the wheel.  And this is life with five active children.  And we could say “no” to activities for them.  And we have.  But these things are good for them and this surrender is good for my heart.  And I lean harder on Jesus now, trusting in Him for the things that will or won’t get done over the next several weeks.  As I do I feel freedom mounting like wings as I release myself from the pressure to do every.little.thing. before school begins again.

And, oh, I am still hard-wired to be task-oriented; that is how I was made, but I can lay down that idol and focus on the tasks God gives me each day, not the ones I make for myself.  I am still driven to do what I can, but tonight I rest in His timing and I choose to let Him stretch me and teach me patience, even in this.  And I choose to roll with the waves that life brings.  Because what else is there to do but count it all a gift and give thanks?  He is good.

For HIs Glory ~

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Week in Review: 2014 {Weeks 19, 20, 21, & 22}

I’m a broken record….how does an entire month keep slipping by between each post?  Not cool.

May was our first month of “summer”.  School ended and activities wrapped up.  We experienced a full week with no where to go and nothing to do.  That was glorious.  June has started and with it bursts of crazy interspersed with some slow spells.  I have high hopes for a great summer.

May wrapped up Emma’s first soccer season.  We resisted sports for so many years, partly because I didn’t want the crazy schedule.  Practices, games, and the constant changes due to weather and other conflicts; I just wasn’t interested.  But this year we relented with volleyball for Grace in the fall and soccer for Amania, then soccer for both Amania and Emma this spring.  The schedule was nuts, but it was actually also quite a bit of fun.  Getting to observe Emma as she starts to come into her own and doing something her older sister has never done was a gift.

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We also wrapped up ballet for the school year with the annual spring recital.  Ballet is so very different from sports (duh), even down to its very predictable schedule and year-long build up to a two-minute performance.  But it was a blessing to Ellie this year, as she also had a chance to sort of come into her own with an activity that has been done by all of her older sisters, but only by her right now.  Watching her in class, I saw this silly, squirrelly girl mature and focus and take this opportunity very seriously.  She was lovely in her performance and is very excited about moving up to pre-pointe in the fall.

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We celebrated off the “official” end of our school year earlier in the month with a trip over to Kansas City and an afternoon of shopping at the Legends.  It was a wonderful afternoon with my girls and a gorgeous day to walk around and shop.

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May also meant Mother’s Day, the opening of the pool, and a sweet baby cardinal in our bushes.  I don’t think things ended well for this little guy, but we try not to think about that.

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So my big goals for the summer include going back through every room in the house, decluttering, cleaning, organizing, and hopefully wrapping up some small projects that don’t involve my very own general contractor’s assistance.  I’ve come to the conclusion that moving is some sort of multi-stage process (probably another “duh”).  Last summer we packed, unpacked, purged, and put away.  But we had to move fast because nothing was really planned and it turned out to be a much bigger project than I think either of us anticipated when we said, “Hey, let’s make an offer on that house!”.  Now that we’ve had a year in the house and I don’t feel the pressure of the deadlines, I am going back through and being as thorough and ruthless as I can be.  I’ve only been through four rooms and we’ve already sold quite a bit of stuff and hauled five good-sized boxes to the local rescue mission.  As I’ve been purging and cleaning, I’ve been aware of a recent run of shares by friends on Facebook about minimalist living.  I’ve read the articles and there is so much that appeals to me about the idea, and we are certainly continually working toward having less, all the while consuming more, and it seems to be a bit of a merry-go-round for us.  As I talked with one friend this week about how to actually pursue a minimalist lifestyle, we both agreed that really, the most effective way to get there would be downsizing one’s house.  And since I’ve already declared that I am never, ever, ever moving again (at least not for a very long time, Lord willing), that’s not going to work.  Just the change in storage space has forced me/us to re-evaluate what we hold on to, but I know we can continue to do more to reduce our possessions, eliminate excess, and simplify life.

My other big goal is working through the book Cleaning House with the girls.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough, even if your kids are already hard workers around the house.  I will do another, more focused post on it and our experience, but her analysis of where our “helpfulness” as adults is taking our kids is eye-opening and motivating (and maybe a little frightening).

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That’s pretty much it for us.  This week is going to be a fun one for the kiddos, so hopefully I’ll be able to post again soon….like less than a month.

 

Have a blessed Monday, friends!

For His Glory ~

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The Day After Mother’s Day….For When You Don’t Feel Like Mom of the Year

While it’s welcome and appreciated, if you’re honest there are some days, most days maybe, you don’t feel like you deserve the praise or recognition that comes on Mother’s Day.  You feel like most days are a total crap shoot and in spite of your best laid plans, you have no idea what today is going to bring, and it makes you crazy sometimes.  And some days you look in the mirror and wonder what happened to the woman who used to know about fashion or business or politics and when did she disappear exactly and will you ever see her again?  And you look at the gifts and talents God has given you and this deep drive to be excellent at something, anything, all while feeling like you’re flailing through each day just hoping to raise children who don’t end up in prison.  And sometimes you wonder what on earth God was thinking when He gave you these children.

Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.

When you start to feel stressed, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me. Thus, your needs become doorways to deep dependence on Me and increasing intimacy between us. Although self-sufficiency is acclaimed in the world, reliance on Me produces abundant living in My kingdom. Thank Me for the difficulties in your life, since they provide protection from the idolatry of self-reliance.

from Jesus Calling, May 10

Oh, how great the temptation is to despair at times!  Our soul becomes depressed and disheartened and our faith staggers under the severe trials and testing that come into our lives… We may come to the place where we say, ‘I cannot bear this any longer.’

What have you done in the past when you felt weak physically?  You could not do anything.  You ceased from doing.  In your weakness, you leaned on the shoulder of a strong loved one.  You leaned completely on someone else and rested, becoming still, and trusting in another’s strength.

It is the same when you are tempted to despair under spiritual afflictions.  Once you have come close to the point of despair, God’s message is not, ‘Be strong and courageous.’ He knows your strength and courage have run away.  Instead, He says sweetly, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

That is all God asks of you as His dear child.  When you become weak through the fierce fires of affliction, do not try to ‘be strong’.  Just ‘be still and know’ that He is God.  And know that He will sustain you and bring you through the fire.

from Streams in the Desert, May 10

And sometimes you fall on your face and you cry out and you realize that God often calls us to serve in obscurity and that He doesn’t always call the qualified, but He qualifies the called, and that all of this is a preparation for something else, something we can’t see yet, maybe even something eternal.  And so you put your head down and you push through, and you choose hope and you choose joy. And the labor pains continue long after the child is born, but it’s all becoming something glorious.

I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord….Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage.

~ Psalm 27:13-14

For His Glory ~

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Adoption – One Year Later

A week ago we quietly celebrated the one year anniversary of Amania’s homecoming.  And when I say quietly, I mean by cleaning out the garage and going to soccer and otherwise living normal life.  Because it was needed.

Fifty-four weeks ago we were making plans and preparations for our quick trip to Haiti to bring our girl home.  Fifty-four weeks ago we were worried about parasites, language barriers, bed wetting, night terrors, RAD, food hoarding, and a dozen other worst-case-scenarios we had read or heard about along the way.  Fifty-four weeks ago, we had no idea what the next few days would look like, let alone the next year.  And a one year anniversary seemed a million years away.

We came home and she settled right in and all those things we worried about turned out to be nothing.  Parasites were treated.  Her English skills grew overnight it seemed.  Bed wetting, night terrors, RAD….all those things were non-issues, needless fear.  Praise. The. Lord.

And yet the past year hasn’t been without struggles and tears and wrestling.  And there were struggles we didn’t expect.  Struggles not directly related to our new addition, and yet connected.

There were the unexpected opinions of others who suddenly felt they could (and should) weigh in on how we run our family and our lives.  There was the Mama Bear reaction in me as I watched the world swarm around our newest family member (for months after she came home), all the while ignoring all of our other children who are all old enough and smart enough to know what was going on.  There were the struggles of our bio girls as they adapted and accepted this new family member – helping them feel valued and loved, while helping her assimilate.

And then there were my own struggles.  Some I’ve shared here, some I haven’t.  And those I haven’t are simply because I just haven’t had words. I do not understand my own struggle to connect with this child, how she has what appears to be a perfectly natural and healthy relationship with everyone else in our family circle, except me.  How our relationship is still so stiff and forced and awkward.  How I’m not a kid-friendly mama.  I love love love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but I’m very German and we are utilitarian, functional, efficient, not particularly cuddly (at least that’s my impression of us).  Unless of course you like cuddling with porcupines, which is what I often feel like around small children.  (True confessions, right here, friends!)  And the level of guilt and shame that I feel admitting all of this because Godly Christian women are all supposed to think young children are the best things since Jesus Himself, or so it would seem.

There has also been the unexpected toll taken on our marriage because of my unexpected and unexplainable reaction to Amania’s home coming – the depression, the disconnect.  And I feel like our marriage has been through the ringer and there are days I wonder if it will ever be the same.

And I haven’t said much here about our journey with her home because I honestly haven’t known what to say about the emotional places we’ve been.  As someone in our family reminds me, she is doing so much better than we ever expected and things could be so much worse.  But the fact is, this is my reality. This is where we live.  And while I’m thankful we don’t live in “worse”, this is by no means easy.

I have been praying about this post for weeks, maybe months.  Because I don’t want it to be about me, but I am, without a doubt, the one who has struggled most since Amania came home.  And right now, I don’t know if I will even hit publish, because I feel so vain, so shallow, so dysfunctional for these struggles I’ve had.  But as I prayed this morning, asking God for words that were transparent yet redemptive, He reminded me that this too is redemption.  This process is His continued refining of all of us.  This struggle has been a struggle for our whole family and He is working out something good.  I don’t know how long it will take for Amania and I to have a “normal” relationship, but I do believe with all of my heart that one day we will because our God is a God that redeems the broken.  He makes beauty from ashes.  He restores the years the locust has eaten.  And I think about how our adoption, my adoption, cost Him everything and why should I expect that this adoption would not also cost me more than money, time, and energy, but also a greater breaking of my heart, that I would know Him more and be more like His Son.

And I don’t know how long this process will take, but I will wait quietly on the Lord to restore and renew and make us all whole again.

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So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten….
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.

Joel 2: 25-26

For His Glory ~

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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