Friday, December 16, 2016


"We are doing the small, difficult tasks day by day, one stone at a time. The cathedral builders toiled for years of their lives without knowing whether they would see the finished cathedral - the holy place to which they had given their lives. A homeschooling mother acts on similar faith - adding one small brick at a time - wondering if it makes a difference, if anyone will ever notice, if those small quotidian tasks will ever add up in a meaningful way." - Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest
 Today was the kind of day where I could not see the cathedral through the rubble, could not even imagine it or picture it in my mind. It was the kind of day that convinces you this pile of stones will never even be a cathedral, but maybe a tomb instead.

You're thinking,"Wow, that's kind of dark," or "Aren't you being a little dramatic, Sarah?" I'm telling you, it was one of those days.

I even hid in the laundry room and cried.

It's over now. I'm the only one left awake in the house and I want to be hopeful. I know in a couple of months or years I will be able to look back and see the work that God is doing. He is cleansing and sanctifying and shaping me through my kids. Through the hard, sometimes endless work of mothering.

Maybe the cathedral being built here is really me. Isn't that a nice thought?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Advent Is Coming

A few years ago we bought a house. Every year after Thanksgiving, a neighbor puts a sign in their yard that says "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" For the first couple of years that we lived here, I could barely refrain from scoffing and rolling my eyes every time I drove by and telling the kids "It is not Jesus' birthday."

Several years ago on Facebook, a college friend of mine wished all of his friends a Merry Christmas and warned us not to forget the reason for the season. I thought I couldn't help myself when I responded snarkily with: "Do you mean Jesus? Because it's very unlikely that he was even born this time of year."

I, too, am surprised that God didn't smite me right then and there.

Someone I don't know responded with "Is this girl for real?"

I was for real. I had even armed myself with information about how many of our Christmas traditions and even the date of Christmas has pagan origins. In the end, I didn't enter into an argument about the reason for the season because I had finally, at twenty-something years old, begun to learn some discretion.

Sometime last year, I remember thinking about Christmas and suddenly it hit me: it (December 25) doesn't have to be His actual birthday, but maybe it is simply a celebration of His birth.

Ding ding ding! Lightbulbs are flashing, bells are ringing, people!

I can't tell you what a relief it was to have puzzled this out for myself. Imagine my surprise and delight when Christopher L. Webber, an Episcopal priest, said that very thing in Welcome to Sunday. I was so excited, I told Husband about it right away. He nodded and smiled like he was indulging someone very special.

Probably the whole thing could have been cleared up years ago if I had bothered to have a real conversation with any number of people, or they bothered to have a real conversation with me, about Christmas, instead of just skating over it like politics and talking about the superficial parts.

But here I am. About to embark on my very first season of Advent. I had, of course, heard of Advent before, but I really and truly thought it was just a countdown to Christmas the commercial holiday, that magical time when kids wake up before the sun to see what's under the tree.

Now I know that it is the beginning of the liturgical year, the church year, and it is a season of joy, preparation (for the celebration of Christ's first coming, when he was born a wee baby in a manger), and anticipation (trying to imagine what it must have been like for those anticipating that first coming and also looking towards the second coming), but also penitential.

Of course, this is all information I am regurgitating for you. I don't yet have a true understanding of what Advent is or is supposed to be, but I am very excited to learn.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday's Words: Girl Meets God

Hello, my name is Sarah, and  I... have a book problem. My problem is that I can't stop acquiring and trying to read all the books.

I recently (a few hours ago) got a(nother) new book, Girl Meets God. Girl Meets God is a memoir by Lauren F. Winner, who converted from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. I bought it kind of on a whim after I saw it mentioned a few times recently by Jenn Giles Kemper, creator of the Sacred Ordinary Days planner.

I've only read the first two chapters but I'm enjoying it so far. In the first chapter she talks a lot about how hard it is to separate her Jewish self from her new Christian self. I know very little about Judaism and gleaning a bit of information from someone's personal viewpoint is interesting and fun.

She said something early on that I really liked, though (emphasis is mine):
"My story doesn't fit very well with this conversion archetype. A literature scholar would say there are too many "ruptures" in the "narrative." But she might also say that ruptures are the most interesting part of any text, that in the ruptures we learn something new."
To rupture means to break or burst suddenly, synonymous with sever, break, breach, disrupt. It also brings to mind interrupt. We do the most learning when our lives and the plans we have made for ourselves get disrupted, sometimes completely thrown out the window.

I married a man 9+ years ago whose feelings about God were almost the complete opposite of mine. We were babies! Sometimes I wonder what we even really knew about each other. I look back and I'm utterly amazed at how far we have come, but we were just following our hearts and maybe he was following God.

I could never in a million years have even guessed that we would be where we are now. There have been countless disruptions along the way. Although I can count 5 off the top of my head. Yes, I'm talking about my kids, but before you get all Judgey McJudgerson on me, let me ask you this: does anything turn your life upside down - in the best, craziest, most unpredictable ways - more than having children?

I'm sure there will be many more. Disruptions, that is. Not sure about the kids.

I'm going to bed counting my blessings tonight and thanking God for not turning his back on me and letting one of the ruptures swallow me whole.

What else is on my nightstand:

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  • No Bad Kids, Janet Lansbury
  • Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids About Sex, Leman & Bell
  • Welcome to Sunday, Christopher L. Webber
  • The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo
  • Anne of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery

See what others are reading at ladydusk

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Anchors Aweigh

This week has been one of those crazy life weeks. Husband has been working ridiculous hours; he leaves before anyone else is awake and doesn't get home until the big ones are about to go to bed. The kids are taking turns being bed-ridden sick. Donald Trump was elected President.

Sometimes it's just like that.

I finally shared this blog with the Husband last night, and then I felt compelled to re-read everything I have written to analyze what he might think of it. Yes, I'm one of those people. A few things stand out:

  1. The slow and systematic removal of sippy cups FAILED. In fact, we had to buy more.
  2. From the end of my first post: "I don't intend for this blog to be about me finding God." Hah! Joke's on you, Sarah.
  3. I never shared the verse that inspired the title of that post, which seems a very fitting verse still:
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."
Ezekiel 36:26
 In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer said
"We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit."
God has been working on me for quite some time, I guess. Up until a year ago, maybe even less, I would have steadfastly denied it. There was a time when I thought that my being a good person, despite not relying on the Bible or God or the church to help make me one, was evidence against God. I had a pretty good moral compass all by my lonesome, I thought. It turns out my ideas about myself, among many other things, were pretty flawed.

My urge to pursue God was very subtle at first. It started out as a kind of gentle stirring. A vague thought in the back of my mind, buried deep in the clutter, that something might be missing. But it steadily grew and grew until it became a kind of hunger inside me.

I woke up this morning feeling very childlike. I have found myself reading the Bible with interest and wonder and wanting to talk about all the things (some of them disturbing) that I didn't even know were in that book. The things I don't know are infinite, y'all.

But the most surprising thing... is how real the pursuit and the relationship with God can be. I've just barely begun to grasp it. No one ever told me about it before. It always seemed so flat. Just like something else Tozer said:

"The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be "received" without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is "saved," but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God."

A week or so ago, I got an urge to go to church. I haven't bothered with church in a LONG time. The very thought of it exhausted me. But it popped into my head last week - you might say God put it there - and it wouldn't go away.

So last Sunday... I went.

I picked the church where I thought I would find the most genuine people, where I thought I would find substance, not just a facade people put on every Sunday like I remember. I showed up and looked for God in their faces and in their words and in the liturgy. (Liturgy is one of the infinite things I didn't know Before.) I think He was there. I want to go back, at least, and that's not nothing.

So, I think I should add a number 4 to my list up there: Big things are happening.

"Then ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:12-13 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday's Words: Miss Cornelia and Captain Jim Weigh In

On voting:
"I'm not hankering after the vote, believe me," said Miss Cornelia scornfully, "I know what it is to clean up after the men. But some of these days, when the men realise they've got the world into a mess they can't get it out of, they'll be glad to give us the vote, and shoulder their troubles over on us. That's their scheme. Oh, it's well that women are patient, believe me!"
On evil:
"I believe in what I heard a minister once call 'a mighty and malignant and intelligent power of evil working in the universe,' " he said solemnly. "I do that, Cornelia. You can call it the devil, or the 'principle of evil,' or the Old Scratch, or any name you like. It's there, and all the infidels and heretics in the world can't argue it away, any more'n they can argue God away. It's there, and it's working. But, mind you, Cornelia, I believe it's going to get the worst of it in the long run."
And then Carrie Underwood sang: "Jesus, take the wheel!"


As you can see, I am still reading the Anne books. Of all the wonderful characters, I am really coming to love Miss Cornelia and Captain Jim quite a lot. I'm reading several other things too, but mostly Anne, because it's hard to put down.

I have been keeping up with my daily Bible reading, though, and have ventured out from my chronological year-long plan. I also like to look up Sarah Hagerty's daily adorations, and just finished up a short devotional plan on finding joy in every day life.

This stood out to me in my readings in Exodus yesterday, when Moses was pleading to God for the sake of Israel:
"Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people."
Exodus 33:13 
Lord, show me thy way.  Not the way or my way but thy way...

See what other folks are reading this week at ladydusk:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wednesday's Words and The Year Without Halloween

Have you ever noticed as you get older that your memories become like a tunnel? With every change of season or every birthday or holiday come around again, you can see in your mind all the way back to that first one and each one since. It's lovely, right? I think so anyway.

Halloween is not a particular favorite of mine, but I love how much fun the kids have with it: picking out costumes, wearing them for at least a week before and maybe after too, carving pumpkins. Some of my very favorite pictures of the kids are the ones of them posing with their pumpkins on the steps of our house. Their wonderfully weird little personalities always come out the best in these Halloween pictures for some reason.

This year, Halloween was on a Monday that was such a Monday. It came after a stressful weekend with guests in the house, an unfortunate incident involving my young boy and a cell phone, grouchy, grouchy children, a sick and irritable Husband, a stressed and irritable Me... Pumpkin faces were designed Sunday evening and Husband carved them dutifully, but no one seemed to care. We didn't take pictures with them and when Monday rolled around and unfurled a little worse, we didn't even go trick or treating.

This morning on our walk, I looked sadly towards our now drooping pumpkins, looked down my tunnel of Halloween Past and hoped for a better time next year.

On Sunday evening after the kids went to bed, an email arrived in my inbox featuring a week long Bible study focusing on anxiety. I am in the midst of a year long, chronological study of the Bible, which I am sure will come up later, but since I was feeling particularly anxious, I figured it couldn't hurt to add this to my daily readings, so I clicked on the plan.

I almost cried reading the verses for the first day. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."
Psalms 62:5-8
Before I put my Bible away, my eyes fell on another verse and I clutched it and took it to bed with me as a prayer:
"Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy." 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November, November

"It was November -- the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines."
At 30 years old, I have discovered Anne Shirley. I am enchanted, to be sure. I can't remember feeling this way about a set of books or a character in a very long time. Words like lovely and delightful and wonderful spring to mind when I think about the Anne of Green Gables books. I finished Anne of the Island late last night, with a deep sigh.

Novembers in the deep south don't seem quite as romantic as Anne describes - we're lucky if it's cold enough for a jacket by Thanksgiving and most of the birds stay all year long, I think- but November is my favorite month. To start with, it's my birthday month. But aside from that, it does bring to mind orange and brown falling leaves, crisp air on my cheeks, pumpkin pie, and so much more, none of which I have any good words for. I love November.

A lot has happened in the last three months since I last bothered to write anything. I thought I might write about some of it today, but when it comes down to it... it's the kind of life happenings where there is everything to say and nothing at the same time. It's more a gut clenching feeling for me than anything I can share, so I might as well leave it for now.

Instead, I suppose I will leave you with this little gem of a line from the moment Anne realized (thankfully, finally!) that she could never marry Roy:
"To her came one of those moments when we realize, as by a blinding flash of illumination, more than all our previous years have taught us."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday's Words: Sarah Mackenzie

I finally got my hands on Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and started it this week. I am trying to go slowly, maybe one little section a day, and am enjoying it so far. I've heard so many great things about this book, so I'm looking forward to reading it. This is some of what I read last night:
"We are doing the small, difficult tasks day by day, one stone at a time. The cathedral builders toiled for years of their lives without knowing whether they would see the finished cathedral - the holy place to which they had given their lives. A homeschooling mother acts on similar faith - adding one small brick at a time - wondering if it makes a difference, if anyone will ever notice, if those small quotidian tasks will ever add up in a meaningful way."
I thought she described motherhood perfectly there and particularly love the metaphor that home education (all parts of mothering and raising children, I think)  is building a cathedral, "the holy place to which they had given their lives."
 "Rest looks like stewardship. Consider a garden - a raised bed right outside your kitchen window perhaps. The Master Gardener has charged you to plant it with seeds, to cultivate the soil, to tend to the plants and help them to flourish. He did not throw some seeds at you and tell you that you were responsible for the miracle of turning them to ripe, plump vegetables. He place the seeds into your palm, patted your fist lovingly, and asked you to tend them well. To steward them. To help them grow.
Remember your place, then. You cannot make the plants grow or bear fruit. You can only plant the seeds. You can water them, and steward them. You can cultivate the soil (education is an atmosphere!), thin them (a discipline!), and water them (a life!). It is only by our cooperation with the grace of God and the laws of nature that the seed becomes a plant and bears fruit. We don't need to have anxiety about when the plant will grow, about how quickly it will come to fruition - our part is to steward it and do what we can to make sure it has the ability to grow rightly." 
I have always felt that I was called to this job of Mother. I would not necessarily have chosen it for myself had I known what motherhood truly entailed, but instead I was called. I knew when I first held Riley, I was made for this.

But being a mother has changed me. It has been harder than I could ever have imagined. I have cried, and agonized, and pored over parenting books. I have been terrified and anxiety ridden that I would mess this up, that I would damage my kids, that I would do it all wrong.

I have been reminded, though, that I am not in control. My job is to guide them, to teach them, most importantly to love them, to do what I can to make sure my little seedlings "have the ability to grow rightly."

Relinquishing control is a hard thing.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Matthew 11:28, 29

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday's Words: Charlotte Mason

I continue slowly on with my study of Charlotte Mason. These are some of my favorite quotes from her, not from my reading this week, but some that I wrote down in my journal a while back (from Teaching in the Branches):
"But that most delicate and beautiful of human possessions, an educated conscience, comes only by teaching with authority and adorning by example."
"Authority does not compel. It indicates the way and protects the wayfarer and strengthens and directs self-compelling power." (Emphasis is mine.)

First time linking up with:

Monday, July 11, 2016


"The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet."
Proverbs 27:7 
The passing of the baby's first birthday combined with the slow and systematic removal of sippy cups (discreetly take them to another room to hide them after they come out of the dishwasher so we can get rid of them later) from the house has me feeling nostalgic. I looked around this morning and realized that technically we have two toddlers now. We have settled into nap routines and meal times and there is an easy, predictable flow to our day.

Are we really leaving the baby stage behind? It seemed so permanent just a few months ago. I've had babies in the house for a long time. 8 years, actually. I don't even know what to think about the possibility of No Babies. It is nearly inconceivable to me. I'm pretty sure I thought Oliver would be a baby for always. He's so tiny and cute, I thought I would just be carrying him around like a little monkey clinging to me for the rest of my life.

Time passes by so quickly now. I only have time to stop every few months and marvel at how it's already midsummer when it was just Christmas yesterday.

One day we were eating with my in-laws and my mother-in-law said, "The last thing I rememeber..." And I don't know what I thought she was going to say, but I wasn't expecting: "... I was 32."

I laughed so hard. One of those really good, loud, open-mouthed, from the belly laughs. My mother-in-law is almost 60. I'm pretty sure whatever happened to her is happening to me too. I started this post thinking about one thing and I went off on a tangent about babies (or lack thereof) and nearly had a panic attack at the realization that my kids are growing up.

But what I was thinking about that somehow started all of this was how easy it is to miss life's really beautiful moments when you have a big family, or when you are just plain busy. There is a near constant flurry of noise and activity and mess. It's easy to only see the chaos and stress and not the underlying beauty. It's like when you go into your kids rooms at night while they're sleeping and you look at them, so calm and peaceful in their beds, and you think about what awesome little people they are and how much you love their little quirks, but an hour ago you were wrestling your 3 year old to bed and someone was screaming for water down the hall and someone else got up to announce they had to pee and OMG DOES IT NEVER END.

It's easy to look back and see the beauty, but sometimes it is so hard to see it in the day-to-day mundane of motherhood. Or as my Mom-in-law likes to call it, "In the trenches."

With both of the babies being 1 now and everybody growing up a little, I feel like I have been catching a little more of those fleeting and beautiful moments. The other night, I grabbed my book and sat down on the couch while Husband was reading to the kids. I flipped it open and read a few pages before looking up. The oldest three kiddos were lounging around me, quietly listening to the story (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), sucking on fingers, or looking at other books. Both babies were already asleep. And I thought: Holy crap, I need to record this. I didn't, but I tried to commit the moment of peace and contentedness to memory.

This morning, I looked up to see 4 out of 5 kids happily swimming and laughing together in the pool. No one was fighting. They were all just in there together, the bigger ones helping the littler ones, everyone being silly and splashing around. Then they climbed out to dry off and sat on their towels in the sun together.

People think we are a little crazy when they see us all out together. But this is what it's all about, folks.

When I look back on this past year, I don't think about how hard it was, how many tears I cried in the shower, hiding from sight. I remember those things, but they were all just stepping stones to here and now, and what I think about is moments like this and how blessed I am.

God saw me, even when I refused to see Him. He gave me more than I deserve and more than I would have asked for, but, it turns out, exactly what I needed, and even more than I could have hoped for.

"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
Romans 8:24-25 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Time to Every Purpose

God seemed quiet in the wake of not getting the answer I had hoped for. I asked for guidance on what comes next for us. I had hoped I might "hear" from God. Husband has talked about this phenomenon, maybe I'll share some of his stories one day. Sara Hagerty also talks in her book about praying, then being quiet to listen. So that's what I did.

I don't think I heard anything. But I did fall asleep. Whoops.

The kids seemed extra loud. I had plenty of time to mull over the news and by the end of the day, I still felt a sense of peace around me, though I will admit it was colored with some irritability. I told Husband that I don't feel like it's over. I don't feel like we should move on or give up. Rather, I feel like we are waiting.

God works in His own time. Now is our time to get some things in order, to focus on our family, and maybe a little ways down the road, we will look up to see that the scenery has changed and circumstances are different. Maybe what is not possible now will be made possible later.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." -Ecclesiastes 3:1
"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:18 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Earnest of the Spirit

Yesterday, I left the house for a spontaneous afternoon outing feeling pretty anxious. You know that feeling in the bottom of your stomach when you're worried about how something will turn out? I tried to talk to God in the car, which is kind of hard to do over the clamor of young people and music. I tried to say, I trust you with us. But it was really hard to tell if that was true. I wanted it to be true, so I was trying really hard to let go.

Here is the thing about wants. Sometimes you want something so bad, you can rationalize it no matter what. Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between what I desire and what is right.

Fleetingly, I thought of that verse in Matthew: Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. But I shook my head because it's not like a person can just turn off their worry. Right?

Then I started humming that praise song from my long ago days of church camp: Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power and love... And I honed in on wisdom. He is wise. He knows so much more than me. I have to give this to Him. I can't control it anyway. It's completely out of my hands. And He loves me. I've seen that now. Whatever happens will be right.

No joke, right after this, I reached out and switched the radio to a praise station. Which I have done all of NEVER. I knew about this station, though, because Riley stumbled across it a while back and likes to listen to it in her bedroom, singing along to the "Jesus songs." Listening to one or two songs did calm me down some more and then I had to change the station because the Boy Bands for Jesus vibe was a little too bizarre for me.

A while later, as I watched the three big kids laugh and play at a splash pad with a bunch of other kids, peace settled over me.

Some things that stood out to me in my reading:
"Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God; 
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

"But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." 
Hebrews 11:6 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Husbands and Wives

Husband and I have been married for almost 9 years. It's been a happy marriage, a good journey so far. He is truly my best friend. But there is one thing that we have always struggled with, one thing that always causes rifts and strife and puts distance between us. Sometimes it seems only a small hill, sometimes it's an insurmountable mountain.

I stand firmly on my side, unwilling to budge, always in the right, waiting for what I "deserve." He has always been so much more willing to bend and give than I have, but still, we can't seem to find a common ground.

Yesterday, my eyes were opened and I finally could glimpse the way to meet Husband where he is. I could just see the answer, or at least where to find it. It's somewhere in love and grace, and demanding less for myself. Love him as he is, where he is, as he needs and deserves. Give him grace when he makes a mistake, when he is not perfect. Bend, Sarah. Give just a little more than you think you should, or a lot more. And he will respond in kind.

It seems an obvious answer. But it isn't always. And it certainly won't be easy. It's hard to change 30 years of stubbornness, of always needing to be right.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Text Messages from Above

When I first imagined what my blog might be, I thought I would be one of those funny, witty but insightful writers who gives lots of great anecdotes about the sometimes insane day to day life of mothering 5 kids between the ages of 1 and 8 (at the time of this writing). I didn't know that when I did start writing that my thoughts and my words would be turned to God.

It happened again. He truly knows my struggles right now. He gave me this:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
- Ephesians 5:22-33, KJV

I have heard some of this one before. I always revolt at the word "submit" and turn off my listening ears. So I had to chew on this a while, all day really. Until I went for a run after the kids went to bed and I opened up a conversation. I think I understand now, the answer He was giving me. And it wasn't "Just do whatever your husband says or wants." Whew.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Expanding on Yesterday's Note from God

Praying is a really foreign thing to me. I remember when we were kids and my parents went through a churchy phase. Sometimes they made us pray out loud together and when it was my turn I had no idea what to say, so I would make a long list of thank yous. Think: "Dear God, thank you for this day, and the trees... and food... and my clothes... and grass. Ummm, in Jesus name I pray, amen." Awkward, right? So, pretty much I didn't pray for like 20 years after that. Except sometimes in complete and total desperation, but even then not really, because I was pretty sure that God was frowning down at me for being such a hypocrite.

But lately I've been trying something new... It's more like talking to God. I've heard people do this. Husband has talked to me about it before. So, I thought I would give it a shot. On walks, in the shower, in the car... I've been trying my hand at starting a conversation with the Almighty. It feels really weird to me. And I'm basically always approaching it like, "Well, God, if you really  are out there... If you can hear me right now..." I had a feeling I was going about it all wrong, but what do I know about talking to God?

This morning I was reading and decided to look up some mentioned verses. The first one was James 1:27 and I thought to myself Isn't that the orphans and widows one that everyone always uses when they talk about adopting? So, I looked it up and I don't know if that was the one I was thinking of, but I decided to read the beginning of James to get some direction and see where verse 27 was coming from. And as I read the words, I just knew that God was calling me out. He knows how doubtful I've remained and that I've been reluctant to put my faith in Him. I've been coming at Him halfheartedly, sort of hopeful, but not quite believing. He was saying, "I see you, Sarah! I got your number! YOU WILL LIVE TO REGRET THIS!" Just kidding about that last part. Maybe.

I have to say, I was more than a little amazed. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. Did He really just do that?

Monday, July 4, 2016

To Sarah, From God

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
 - KJV, James 1:2-8

I feel like I have just been slapped on the wrist and scolded.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

What I'm Reading, July

I always have a pretty big stack of books to read. I sometimes have a problem finishing books because in the middle of one book, I will get a new book that I'm so excited about I have to start reading it rightnow. Usually, I'm reading several things at a time, though.

Last month I went on a twaddle binge and read a bunch of YA sci-fi books. We homeschool here at Casa de Johnson and I was just plum ready for summer break. I just needed something that didn't require brain power to read but was kind of entertaining. Enter: The 5th Wave series, three books about an alien invasion and a bunch of kids just trying to survive.

But I digress. This month, I am reading several books that I am really enjoying and I wanted to share them.

First up, Janet Lansbury's Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting. I discovered her blog several months ago and I read her other book, No Bad Kids. (For those who may not know: I read a lot of parenting books. Like, a lot.) I'm reading about a chapter a day of Elevating Child Care and it has quickly risen to the top of my list of parenting books I'd recommend to other parents and come back to time and again myself. Janet is all about respecting children, especially babies and toddlers, as people. Now that is something I can get behind. Kind of reminds me of someone else...

"Children are born persons." - Charlotte Mason
Speaking of Charlotte Mason, I am currently on a 3 Year Tour with a group of ladies on the Ambleside forums. (Ambleside Online is an awesome curriculum we use in our homeschool.) Right now we are studying CM's 20 Principles, and later we will be reading through her 6 volumes on education. I am a little behind in the study, but as I read, I am constantly awed by Charlotte's wisdom. I find myself highlighting and underling and saying "Yes! This!" to myself as I read. So, I am reading chapters from her 6 volumes, as well as some extra articles and related blog posts online, sprinkled throughout the week.

Ok, next up, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty. This book is much different than the kinds of things I normally read. What originally caught my eye was the title. I love it. I think it's an amazing title. What made me kind of want to read it was hearing that the author has adopted four children from Ethiopia and Uganda. It took me a while to decide to buy it. It's written like a memoir and tells the story of Sara's growing relationship with God. I have to say that I am having trouble comprehending her relationship with God, as I have never experienced anything like what she describes and have never met anyone who seems connected to God that way. Still, I'm enjoying it.

Finally, the one I am enjoying most, No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene. Another great title! This is a book about the author's family and tells the story of how they came to adopt 5 children (added to their biological 4 = 9!). I am really loving it. It is touching and funny and relatable. Not to mention, I basically just eat up stories about people expanding their family through adoption. I love to read personal accounts.

So there it is. I think that's all of them. Happy 4th of July, internet! (Since I am pretty sure no one is reading this yet.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

From My Stony Heart

I've considered starting a blog for a long time. Sometimes I start one and then I delete it. Blogs are scary. It's like writing a diary and putting it on the internet for anyone to find. People I actually know could read this. And then they would judge me.

I have always loved the idea of journaling, but I have trouble creating the habit of keeping one. When I was 10 or 11, my brothers and cousin would rummage through my bedroom and read my "diary" (not a real diary with anything of substance in it, but a small notebook that had something like "I love Trey" and hearts drawn on every single page). They would go through all my things. My clothes, my toys, notebooks, whatever. And then they would make fun of me. So now I am afraid to keep my thoughts outside of my head. Thanks, guys.

Anyway, I won't bore anyone who stumbles across this with an introduction to me. That feels weird. Instead I wanted to get out some things that have been swirling through my head this morning as I put away laundry and cared for kids and ate breakfast.

I have been reading some incredible stories lately about big things happening in people's lives. As I went about my way this morning, I found myself thinking, Why doesn't God do big things in my life? How come amazing things don't happen to me? Why is it only other people?

In full disclosure, I have lived my adult life firmly agnostic, sometimes bordering on atheist. I have viewed my friends and other people who claim to be Christians with heavy skepticism, cynicism, and yes, judgement. Most people I have come across in my real life give a lot of lip service to God, but I rarely see any evidence of him in the way they act or speak or live in their day to day life. I haven't gone to church since I was about 16 because church seemed like a big show everyone was putting on; it just didn't feel real to me.

But something has been stirring inside of me lately. I have been wondering.

Immediately after I thought Why doesn't God do big things in my life?, I answered myself with Because I have never let Him. I have always believed I make things happen for myself. I have never trusted anyone but me with my own life and I didn't give credit to anyone for good or bad things that happen. I viewed people who "give it all to God" as naive. I thought of God as a safety blanket. It makes people feel better to think that someone else is in control.

But I'm wondering now. Could I be wrong?

I don't know yet for sure.

In November, during a particularly rough season, I bought a bible. And then I hid it from my husband. I didn't want to admit that I might be reconsidering or changing or, especially, that I might be wrong.

I don't intend for this blog to be about me finding God. But I do want it to be a kind of record of our life. That is, my and my family's life. The truth is, a lot of big things have happened in my life. And I think there are more big things coming. And I want to write the story down.