Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wipe Out

Sometimes, as parents, or even as children, we do something not really because we enjoy it, but simply because other people in our family enjoy it.  And, by that simple choice of living sacrificially, we enjoy life richer, deeper, and happier.

Deep words for a simple decision that I made tonight---and will most likely make many Thursdays over the summer.  Micah LOVES the show Wipe Out.  I mean, the kid goes crazy.  He laughs, he dodges as he's watching the screen, he roots with the passion that I didn't know was in him!  Since we do not have any broadcast television in our home, Micah usually watches Wipe Out at Gramma and Papa's. He wanted us to go down.  They wanted us to come over as well.  

But, here's a little secret about me...I really do not like watching TV shows where people fall over and over.  It's like watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation all over again.  Except, if I was watching National Lampoon's Christmas vacation, I would shut the TV off about 37 minutes into it!  But, everyone else just loves watching this show.  So, I did what any good Mommy and Daughter would do.  I plopped down with everyone else, and decided to enjoy the time with them.

Because, really, in my mind, it wasn't about watching who would win the fifty grand or if "Team Brains" or "Team Braun" would be victorious (by the way...Go Brains!).  It was enjoying the fact that my dad is home.  It was relishing in the blessing that my children can go to my parents home, with both grandparents there.  Yes, things are different.  But, we were all together.  For that hour TV show, we were all happy.  I didn't even end up picking my "Little House on the Prarie" book off the table, because I actually was so taken with watching the look on my dad's face as he laughs.  Or just watching him watch Micah and Lydia react to the show.  Watching my mom cuddle with Lydia.  Giving David a hug in between commercial breaks.  Being in the same room with the people I love most in this world: My husband, my children and my parents...seriously, you just can't beat that.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Trends

There are several trends emerging this summer that have me pushing the crazy button...
1.Why is closing car doors so easily forgotten by my children?  As I'm walking in carrying 15 bags, plus whatever odds and ends I can hold in between my fingers, my children crawl out of the car...only to leave the door open and the battery draining.  This trend will be rectified immediately.  And NOT with a sticker chart.  2.  What is up with a MASSIVE injury nearly every day.  Two near-concussions, one (pedestrian) collision with a huge tree, a bloody nose yesterday, a tumble down the entire stair case today...all accompanied by the kind of screams a mom dreads! I think we may be investing in bubble wrap around here!   3.  "Mom, Look!"  (per my children)  "Sarah, Look!"  (per my babysitting kids)  is no longer a reliable way to make me look at anything.  EVER.  Because, yes, I know your toe has dirt.  Yes, I do know that is a purple crayon.  Yup.  You have boogers.  Uh, uh.  I know you know how to spell "cow." I will not look at anything on a paper, until that paper is completed.  Until every workbook answer is filled in.  Until every I is topped with a dot, until every cranny of your fairy's wings have been colored in.   I'm actually contemplating a five look minimum, per kid, and times like cooking and washing dishes that make me exempt from looking.
Please, don't take this post as complaining.  It's not.  I love my children.  I love my job.  I love summer.  And most of all, I love the fact that because we are so busy going places, and getting injured, and creating things that my kids never, ever say, "I'm bored."

Friday, June 21, 2013



A rich, lovely gift that comes straight from the heart of God.  Through his son. At no cost to me.  Freely given. That's heavenly grace.


Giving a person the ability to just be who they are, without coming down too hard on them...accepting them, loving them.  That's the earthly version.

I've always felt called to be a "grace giver."  God has called me to live a life of compassion.  I have always had the ability to love a little bit deeper than the average person.  I forgive things that most people could never let go of.  Some people calling that "getting walked all over."  I call it love.  I do not say that to brag of myself, but only to recognize God's calling on my life.  The only way to be who we really are is to be who God has called us to be.  (That's almost as good as Lydia saying, "If I was still three, then I couldn't be four.")

Anyways, being one who has been called to extend special measures of grace, has it's challenges.  Moving past moments that have crushed me, letting go of my "human rights" and living with a heart that is more emotional, so tender, that most people can not even understand the depth of my emotions. Part of the reason we have no network or cable TV in our home is because I would watch the news and just sob.  Faces would be etched in my memory of hurting people.  People I could't help.  But, I couldn't forget them.  So, I did what I had to and stopped watching.

But, when it's your family, and it's real life, there is no TV to shut off.  My heart aches for my Dad and Mom.  My Gram.  David's Gram.  David's Aunt Terry.  Now, my cousin Chris.  I can't look away from their pain.  So many people flippantly tell me to just 'let it go.' There are needs that are greater than people can imagine present. My heart aches.  I have no idea how situations will pan out, medically, spiritually, or financially.  Their are souls and lives at stake here.  Everyone else's answer is to let it go.  Yes, I pray for them all.  Yes, I trust God with them.  But, God called us to be people of action as well. Being a person of action means that sometimes I'm solving problems that are way beyond my capability.  Sometimes, I'm in situations that make me uncomfortable.  I'm trying to do what is in my power, without stealing any of God's power.  I mess up at that sometimes.

I guess the point of this all is I need grace too.  I need a little grace to fall apart sometimes.  I need people to understand that I'm not your average person.  I'm not even sure what "letting it go" is.  My friend Leah once said about me that I have a sensitive soul.  My heart breaks for people. It always has.  I remember sitting on a Santa's lap in the Value City store crying because I didn't understand why he couldn't give poor kids presents too.  I was four.  So, imagine, if my heart breaks for poor kids who I have never met, I'm pretty sure that my parent's situation, along with my other family members' ordeals, will make my stomach turn, my eyes tear up, and yes, maybe even leave me a little disheartened.  I'm human.  I'm a kid with parents who need more help than I could ever offer right now.  And, I'm being flooded on every angle.  What I really want is a hug, and some extra love.  And, while I'm always open to spiritual growth and maturing in my faith, sometimes I do not want a lesson on how to be a "better Christian" during these times.  I'm holding as tightly to my faith as I can right now, balancing more than most people could imagine, and trusting God's grace to cover my shortcomings there as well.  


Monday, June 17, 2013

Old Feelings Creeping Back In

When I write, I just assume that most of what I have felt has been felt by others as well.  Tonight, I'll be making that assumption yet again.  Do you remember in junior high where you were never quite sure that you even liked yourself?  And did you ever wonder how anyone else could even enjoy being around you?  I remember feeling that way all the time.  I often felt cumbersome, dorky, and most of the time on the fringe, looking in.  
As I grew older, I had a group of friends who made me feel accepted, yet I struggled with that confidence.  I never felt quite like I lived up to the expectations or characteristics that everyone else seemed to think I fit into.  I never felt quite as smart, good, or happy as everyone thought I was.
This same struggle has carried over into adulthood.  The difference now is that I know that my worth, my 'goodness' and my identity are truly all rooted in Christ.  Honestly, who I am has very little to do with me.  It's because of who I am in Christ.
But, lately, I have been really struggling again.  I feel so insufficient. So empty handed.  I often get these really kind compliments, and while they make me feel really good, I also feel really...awkward.  Sometimes I almost want to say, "Really? I'm a mess.  How could you even think a good thought about me?"  I have never felt so grossly inadequate in my life.  My load is so big, my scale has creeped back up the last few days, my schedule too full, and my mind too cluttered.  
I need to remember the key of what I said before.  Who I am, whatever I am in that particular moment, is rooted in Christ's redemption.  I need to let go of my insecurities and shortcomings and remember that through Christ I can be all He meant me to be.  I don't have to focus on my "feelings" but rather I must focus on the truth.  
I need to take my eyes off me---turn them to Him---and let him figure me out.
Trusting God to see me through this night---asking Him to fix my eyes truly on Him.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Good Day

Ahhh!  VBS is done.  Dad is back at the Rehab hospital, right where he belongs, for the moment.  My house is in order. We've had a wonderful day.  *happy sigh*
As I look through the calendar, not a regular week seems to be on the horizon until early August.  
The week ahead is another busy one, but it has a bit more of a relaxed rhythm.  Lots of work ahead this week, which is always a blessing.  Also, a big step of faith for both Micah and myself as he heads off to Camp Judson for 3.5 days.  I just keep reminding myself that camp is a great way to help Micah claim faith as his own!  On Thursday, Lydia and I are living it up with "Mommy Camp" which includes the beach, doing our nails, and perhaps an evening date with Daddy.  The weekend, as is our usual for summer time, is filled with plenty of picnics and entertainment.
Our countdown is on for our Spanish friend who is coming to stay with us.  She is a monitor for the minors coming, so once again, we are hosting someone in their twenties!  I love hosting the adults.  This will be Maria's first time in the states, so we feel very honored to have that opportunity!  Micah and Lydia are already claiming stakes to the first Maria hugs!  
I'm enjoying the time with Micah and Lydia now that they are home with me for the summer.  However, I have felt myself becoming a little short with them.  It's a reminder that even though my normal schedule has changed, I still need to make time each and every morning to ask for a fresh fill of the Holy Spirit and to read the Bible and apply it to my life and how I interact with the precious children around me.  
Lately, they have been stealing my heart, with little smiles, or the way they proudly proclaim that even if they had a choice for another Mama and Daddy they would still pick us.  Or the way they passionately fall to their knees in prayer sometimes, yet when it comes to praying before meals, you've never heard two children talk so fast!  We are watching they both master new skills---Lydia slowly learning new vocabulary words, or how to draw alligators with Daddy.  Micah is working on learning how to ride his bike with no training wheels or how to tie his shoes.  (Yes, most kids his age can do both of these, the task is just taking a little longer around here.)  He has made up his mind that he wants to be "super secret pen pals" with his cousin Kyle and wrote a wonderful first letter this evening.  His writing skills are much better than the biking! :)
Parenting is mostly blissful in this neck of the woods currently.  Yeah, there are moments, but we've been using them as "teaching moments" and making the best of it.  Perhaps it's just the fact that everything else in life has been so hard, that truly sharing life with Micah and Lydia seems easy.  I'm not sure the reasoning, but I am definitely sure of how blessed I feel.  That blessing is spilling over into the marriage realm of life too.  It's nice to know that when I'm in these four walls, I'm safe.  No matter how bad...or how good...of a day I'm having!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Today, at VBS, our memory verse was, "Don't worry about anything.  Pray about everything."  Yeah, that's the stuff.  Especially since I've been a little tied to the sin of worry lately.  So, I woke up, and thanked God for waking up.  I thank God for my shower and for the fact that I didn't get wet as I walked to my car.  I praised God for my children.  My husband.  My parents.  My church.  My friends.  VBS.  Oh, yeah, tons of praises pouring out everywhere.

I let the praises continue at the park.  While the five children I had with me played, I wrote praises in my prayer journal.  First.  Before I talked about my "concerns."  (Really, a fancy word for worry.)
I praised God that my dad is still alive.  That eventually he should end up back in Meadville at Rehab. That I have been able to share God's love with him in my own "Sarah way." I praised God for the way my friends have been reaching out to me.  I even took time to look at Lydia's little face and how beautiful she looked as she was swinging back and forth on the swings.  The way her hair went up and down, sometimes covering her face, sometimes flying back behind her.  Oh, the beauty of a child having fun.

The praises have continued.  I am currently thanking God for a full belly.  My friend Sam cooked us the most amazing roast for dinner.  Seriously, you can not even understand the deliciousness of this roast.  I've never ate anything like it.  Lydia said it tasted, "like a dream."  Logan (my "nephew" who is with us tonight) gave it an A++.  Those are pretty high praises from children.  I actually feared my husband may never like my cooking again after tasting the glory that is the roast!

More gratitude flows when I think of how my friend Betsy let us swim in her pool tonight.  She generously allows us to take our children there and give them a fun time.  With finances being so tight for us, allowing us that family fun time means so much to me.  It's a bigger blessing than Betsy realizes, I imagine!

With all this thanksgiving, I had a better day than I have had in weeks.  It is humbling to think that if I can just set my mind on the proper thinking mode that I can get through the day much more gracefully.  I know tomorrow has many blessings in store as well, so I'm going to bed tonight ready to wake up with my heart set on Scripture, on a God who loves me, and praises to Him on my lips.

And, I'll try not to worry about the storms moving in.  (Oh, when will I ever learn!?!)

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Tomorrow is the start of the Cambridge Springs Community Vacation Bible School!  It's my third year being the director of the preschool program, which usually has about 60 kids ages 3-5!  

I tend to be a bit hyper about VBS!  I love sharing Jesus with children.  I love working with other adults who love Jesus to proclaim the gospel.  And, even if it is only for 15 hours one week, I enjoy making an impact in these kids' lives.  I can show them love, let them know their value in Christ, and help them know they are important, even if they are teeny, tiny people.
Unfortunately, this year, the sadness about my dad's health has clouded my VBS joy.  

However, in just the way the Holy Spirit works, at just the right time, I can feel the darkness lifting a little.  Today, I had the worst headache...toeing the line of a migraine. When I would step out of the house and into the sun, I would want to vomit.  I cried a lot today.  I wept for my dad and his health, the intense urgency I have for his salvation, but I wept for me too.  I miss feeling like myself.  Including the way I feel on VBS Eve.

Now that my headache finally went away (with the help of a lot of medicine, and a bottle of Coca-Cola), I am starting to feel a little bit more hopeful, and more energetic about tomorrow, and the rest of VBS week.  I know I can trust God to carry me through. I can trust the Lord to meet my needs, and I know that the reward for being faithful to Him, despite all the hardships all around me, can be big.  Who know?  Maybe that reward will even be a heart or two or sixty turning to Christ over the course of the week.  And maybe, soon, that reward will be one very special heart, the heart I've been praying for since the day I asked Jesus into my own heart, turning to Christ too!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Weary and Worn

The first sentence of this paragraph just isn't happening.
I know that's not the correct way to start a paragraph, or a blog, for that matter.  But, I had tried over and over to figure out how to start today...and this is what you got!

Similarly, my first task of the day...Micah's's not happening either.  Well, it happened.  But, it's bad.  Real bad.

Micah's room is the smallest room in the house.  It has a set of bunk beds, a 6 drawer dresser, a small bookcase, a toy organizer (doubling as stairs to the top bunk), and a closet.  In the closet is 3 years of beautiful, name brand, some still with tags on them clothes that were given to us.  The issue we have hit is that Micah is just much smaller than most kids his age, and for the last three years he's pretty much worn the same size.  Well, finally, he has hit a spurt, and we've decided to hit the closet to sort through all those clothes.

What a disaster!  His entire floor is covered in piles of clothes...and I pray I can remember what each pile means, and where it is to go when I begin the journey of the "donate" "summer" "school" "church" separation.  Not to mention the 9 pairs of swim trunks I have to figure out how to redistribute!  

Both kids will be moving into Lydia's room for a few days.  I'm not sure why I started this project today. I think I thought it would be easier.  But, as for starting this enormous project the Saturday before VBS (Vacation Bible School) and while my Dad is still in the hospital---I'm not sure why I thought I could "handle" it.

It's just a reminder that these days about everything I face is bigger than what I can handle.  Whether it's my dad's health issues, VBS, my insane schedule, ministry opportunities, my weight loss, our debt, or trying to become a better's all so much bigger than I am.  

I'm a mess.  So is Micah's room.  

This is the point of my blog where I typically spin it into a happy little positive thought---but, today, I'm not sure I have it in me.  I know there are still all kinds of good things, and I'm still a joyful person, but today, I truly feel a little dark.  Rather frustrated.  I still know God holds the future in his hands, but I wish that the future didn't look so scary to me.  I wish that everything didn't feel so arduous. I know I have grown some in the area of trusting God, but the more I grow, the bigger the issues are that I need to trust him with.

So, I'm just going to do what I must.  I will chip away at Micah's room in 20 minute increments.  I will pick one Bible verse at a time to sustain me and whisper one prayer at a time.  I will pay one bill and work on one task and make one healthy decision at a time.  We will work on getting Dad through one day at a time as well. 

I can do this.  Through Christ.  Even if my mood isn't the greatest.  Even if I'm tired and worn.  God can sustain us, even through the darker days.

To close, I want to share this song that so beautiful depicts how I feel today.  I share it with you even while my eyes are still wet from crying from listening to it.  It's called WORN by Tenth Avenue North.  And, it's my prayer and my heart on this Saturday morning.  Please, take a few minutes to listen to this powerful song.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Preschool lessons

Serious lessons are learned in preschool...
For instance:  Just because it's raining...okay...raining is not the right word.  Let's see here...Starting again...
Just because it's a "near monsoon" outside doesn't mean you can't have fun!  

Lydia's class was scheduled to go to Waldameer Park today for their field trip.  I was optimistic all week long...ignoring the growing threat of rain.  However, all my optimism didn't matter when I woke up this morning and rain was literally pounding our roof.  

Reluctantly, I packed towels, extra clothes, finally bought an umbrella and put on a smile...and wouldn't you know it?  We had FUN! 

Did you know that when the rain is relentless---the lines are non-existent?!  We rode every single ride Lydia wanted without waiting for a single one!  Some rides we were even able to ride all on our own!  It was a new way of experiencing Waldameer, and it reminded me of the Bible verse I remind myself of always, "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS---again, I say rejoice!"  (emphasis added by me!)

The downpour of rain reminded me so much of this season our family is in.  Dad recovering from his stroke, Gramma and Aunt Terry recovering from their medical issues, car struggles, finances, me balancing three job, plus VBS and a foreign exchange student, AND still trying to find time to be "me."  It's a complete down pour.  But, I know that the rain is helpful.  It reminds us to be grateful for the times when the sunshines.  But more importantly, it reminds me that sometimes, in the middle of the rain, we just simply need to make our own sunshine! 

So, yeah, my toes are wrinkly.  And, even hours later, I'm still chilled to the bone.  Perhaps, I may be exhausted and borderline (or full-blown) grumpy at the end of this wet day, but I know it's a day I'll never forget.  I know this is a season in my life I will never forget.  And, I know that both this day and this season in my life have lots of forever lessons to goal is simply to be ready to learn them and to hopefully apply them as joyfully as I can.

Yet, here's the cold hard truth...It's hard for me to admit.  Tonight, as I digest the lessons learned from the field trip, I'll admit that I'm not really feeling very joyful.  I'm struggling tonight.  This endless grind...the no time at home, the unknown about my dad's future, feeling helpless and powerless and unable to solve very big and real problems, the messy house, the pure exhaustion I feel at the end of every's starting to wear on me.  

As I press on, I keep praying for the lessons to be internalized.  That I can cling to the hope and faith I profess tighter than I clung to my umbrella today.  I'm hoping that not only can I dry out my soggy feet tonight, but that I can dry my eyes, and cleanse my heart from a bit of a bad attitude that I've felt creeping in the last couple hours.  I know I'm only human, and that life can really work on us emotionally some times, but I also know I have available to me the power of the Holy Spirit to carry me through and to give me that real matter how hard the rain is coming down.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

10 Days of Scattered Thoughts

1:45 A.M.  What in the world?  Why is my phone ringing?  Why does the voice on the other end sound so distraught?  What is going on?
As those questions were answered, one by one, the picture became very clear...and one other question moved to the forefront..."Will things ever be the same again?"

It's now ten days later, and honestly, no, things will never be the same.

But, things are a lot better than where I thought they would be.

Yes, ten days ago, my dad had a stroke.  I had JUST taken him to the doctor about 12 hours earlier.   Then, he had visited Gramma Humes with me...visiting Gram in the very hospital where he would soon become a patient.  We went back to his house that afternoon, he helped David and I gather up some pieces of wood from his shop for a project we would be working on, we loaded up a silly motorized scooter Dad had given David...and I remember as I watched Dad and David working side by side how happy and full and complete everything felt.

A lot can change in 12 hours.  That's for sure.

But, you know, even in the darkest hours, there are so many silver linings!

Our friends and family have been amazing.  People babysitting our children, donating gas money, food so Mom doesn't have to worry about grocery runs, people sending cards, the prayers, the phone calls, people have offered to make dinner, bake cookies, and then of course, there are certain people, that all they have to do is hug you and it makes everything better.

It's beautiful that I'm seeing my Dad bounce back.  Hours of therapy a day, and his speech is becoming more clear every day.  He is getting stronger every day.  Hey, he's even trying new things!  Today at occupational therapy, he baked cookies.  Mom jokes and says maybe they should give him a mopping and laundry lesson while they are at it!

So much has changed.  But, so much is the same.  Dad is still a jokester.  He still "gets" my kids probably better than anyone else in this world.  He is able to have fun, even in a rehabilitation hospital, with a 88 year old woman, an 89 year old man, and a 91 year old woman as his cohorts in crime.

 I've been praying for my dad for 16 years now.  Oh, how I long for my dad to turn to Christ.  Gracious, it's hard when all you want is that peace and joy that comes from the Lord for your own flesh and blood.  This situation has given my dad the chance to hear the gospel message yet another time.  Yes, you can believe there is a God...but true salvation is found only in Christ.  Jesus is our hope for salvation.  Dear friend, I hope you have found your salvation in the Lord.  I pray that your heart is soft to the message of salvation, especially in this dark, hard, and scary world.  Please, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about that.  And, if you know the Lord, when you turn to Him in prayer today, will you ask specifically that my Dad will eventually give his heart and his life to Jesus?

I just keep praying that maybe things will even out.  Even with all the silver linings, the stress is still there.  I feel the stress taking a toll on me.  In fact, prayers would be appreciated as I myself have made a doctors appointment tomorrow for a quick once over.  Stress is hard on our bodies, and I'm experiencing some physical signs of the intensity of the last few weeks.  They remind me that I need to continually give these worries over to the Lord.  I'm doing my best, in many emotionally charged situations and just trying my best to trust the Lord, not only with my Dad's future, and the health of his soul, but also trusting him with my future too.

So, tonight, while the weight of my little world is on my shoulders, I need to remember, it doesn't belong there.  It belongs at the feet of Jesus.