Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Four"ever Young

Today, Lawrence and I have been married 4 years!

Lawrence proposed on June 20, 2007 at Ponca Bible Camp , where we met in 2004.

They have been the best years of my life!

We got married on September 29, 2007, at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, Kansas.

We honeymooned in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

Before Coralyn was born, we took a vacation to South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.
This is Jenny Lake, in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming.

Exactly one week after our 2nd anniversary, on October 6, 2009, we welcomed Coralyn Ruth into the world! She has blessed our lives in so many ways!

Coralyn's one-year/our family picture in the fall of 2010.

Our annual "trip" to Ponca to serve at camp during June/July. Summer 2011

Our next family picture will have one more person in it!
We look forward to welcoming Baby Young #2 this December, the best Christmas present we could ever ask for!

This past year has been somewhat rough as we have experienced various trials and difficulties, but through them all we have grown even stronger and closer together. Of course, we have enjoyed many wonderful times as well. No matter what the journey holds, though, I am so blessed to have such an amazing partner and traveling companion. When we got married, we ended the ceremony with a prayer from Psalm 48:14, "This is our God. He will be our guide, even until the end." While I hope the end is far, far, far off, I am so thankful that God has certainly been leading us every step of the way as we seek to follow hard after Him. We have gone both uphill and down, seen majestic sights and wondered when we would ever see light again, laughed, cried, and everything in between. Yet, we know that God has been by our side the entire way. We have no idea what lies ahead, but we are confident that God has gone before us to prepare the path, and that He will make sure we arrive at our intended destination. Pretty sure we will learn a few more things along the way as well! :)

So here's to another four, or fourteen, or forty, or forty-four years of walking (running, limping, crawling, or whatever we have to do to get where God is taking us) side by side, hand in hand with my best friend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'll Do It!

Coralyn has always been an independent little thing, wanting to do things all by herself, confident that she doesn't need any help. Recently, though, she has been determined more than ever to grow up and be a big girl and do everything by herself. Thus, "I'll do it!" is quite the common phrase in our house these days!

From climbing up onto her chair for a snack or meal to somehow getting in her carseat (and of course at least attempting to buckle herself in) to getting dressed in the mornings to putting her shoes on before we go outside, Coralyn assures me, "I'll do it!"

I usually try to stand by and let her do whatever it is on her own, offering my assistance only if she truly needs me. I want her to be independent, to learn how to do things on her own, to not look to me for help with every single little thing. But at the same time, it's hard for me to let go and allow her this independence, for several reasons...I can get it done a lot faster, she might not do it right or the way I would have done, she could make a mess or get hurt in the process.

This morning, however, I knew getting dressed was not going to put my daughter in mortal danger, so I sat back and let her put on her shirt, panties, and jeans by herself. It was quite a comical site, and it felt good to laugh (even if at my own daughter's expense). She got the shirt on, but had one arm through the neck hole. With just a little assistance putting her feet in the correct leg holes, she got the panties on, but pulling them up was somewhat challenging (and caused me the most internal giggles). The same was true of the jeans, as she tried so hard to lean back and pull them up over her little bottom. Thankfully, she let me put her socks on, as I'm not sure how that would have looked.

As I was sitting there watching Coralyn struggle to get her panties, and then jeans, on and chuckling to myself about how silly she looked, I wondered if God does the same thing as He watches us attempt to do things on our own. They can be the simplest of things, like getting dressed, but our efforts probably seem so silly to Him, especially since He could do it so much faster and with no problem whatsoever. Yet, He does sit back and let us try on our own. He gives us the chance to grow up. Yet, like I am with Coralyn, He is right there by our side to offer His assistance should we truly need it or to protect us if we put ourselves in harm's way as we adamantly insist, "I'll do it!"

I also wonder how many times we shout, "I'll do it!" and try to get things done on our own, in our own strength and wisdom, with our own resources and abilities, when we really do need help. How often do we waste time struggling, and looking ridiculous in the process, when we could just ask God to help us out, and He would gladly reach out to assist us with whatever problem we may be facing?

Oh, Lord, may I learn to admit my utter need for You, my total dependence on You. Forgive me for insisting that "I'll do it," when I truly need Your help. Thank You for Your patience with me, and for always being right by my side to help me out, even if I don't ask or wrongly think I can get by on my own. Thank You for being the best Father ever, and for teaching me how to be a better parent to my own daughter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


They are gone.

The judge actually dismissed the boys' case entirely, meaning they immediately got to return to her. I found out at 10 this morning, and by 11, there was no trace that the boys had ever been in our home (except for X-Man's bib I left hanging on the fridge from this morning's breakfast).

They've only been gone an hour and a half, and already I can feel the big empty void. Less noise, less mess/clutter...but also less laughter and fewer smiles.

I will miss T-Rex and X-Man. I only knew them for a week. But they took a piece of my heart with them this morning when they pulled out of the driveway.

We were told that we would only have the boys for a week anyway, but I figured that something would happen and we would end up having them for longer, much longer. I guess I fell in love with them and was hoping they could stay. I would have adopted them in a heartbeat. But that was not meant to be.

I am glad they get to be with their mom again. That is how things are supposed to work. This is a good story, a happy ending. So why am I so sad?

Better to have loved well, than to have never loved at all. I won't be able to hug the boys anymore, or rub their heads to mess up their curly hair, or read them stories. Chances are, I will never see them again. BUT, I will keep praying for T-Rex and X-Man, just as I still pray for Shadow.

And I will wait for that next phone call, the one that tells me who will be next to enter our home, and our hearts.

The Great Unknown

I hate not knowing what is going to happen. I am a planner. I like to know all the details, to have all my ducks in a row. I am learning that this is simply not possible as a foster parent...

Today the boys have a court hearing. The judge will decide if they can go back with their mom, or if they will need to stay in alternative care for a longer time, giving the mom more time to set up house and get ready to be a parent again.

If the judge rules that the mom regains custody, then the boys will leave today, or tomorrow. I guess even that isn't for certain. Either way, we will have to say good-bye. The extra bedroom will once again be empty, and things will be a lot quieter around here! (and maybe I will get to enjoy more of the morning by myself :) Life will be much simpler, less busy, hectic, chaotic. But, it will also be emptier...there won't be blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys running/crawling around, giving me (and the baby) hugs or kisses, making me laugh, or filling my heart with joy.

BUT, if the judge rules that mom needs more time before she can get the boys back, they will stay with us...until the next court hearing. And I don't know exactly when that is. Maybe the end of October. Maybe the end of November. Like I said, it's all unknown at this point.

And the suspense is nearly killing me. I don't do so well with all these unknowns.

Yet, God is apparently trying to teach me that I don't have to know everything. In fact, He doesn't want me to know everything. That is what faith and trust are all about, isn't it?

So, today I wait...

Today I trust God with all these unknowns, thankful that He is certain of what will happen, that He knows all the details, and has everything perfectly under control, working everything out in the very best way possible.

Monday, September 26, 2011

At the Break of Dawn

The Bible tells us that the Lord's mercies are new every morning, and for that I am very thankful.

I am also grateful that hope rises with the dawn, that the new day gives us a fresh start, an opportunity to begin afresh, have a clean slate. At the beginning of the day we have the chance to look ahead with anticipation of all that God is going to do, to present our requests to Him and wait in expectation for Him to act.

Don't get me wrong...I am a morning person and enjoy getting up with the sun. I just want to be able to enjoy the beginning of the new day by myself, in peace and quiet. To just sit and take it all in as I see the dark slowly turn to dawn.

Being a mother of three has made enjoying my morning ritual virtually impossible! I guess the kiddos have the same outlook as me and just can't wait to get up and start a new day. I sure wish they enjoyed sleeping just a little bit more though :)

So, here's to a full day (it's got to be full when it starts at 5 right!) of seeing what God can do. I am certainly going to need quite a few of those "new mercies" to make it through the day. Wait, what am I talking about, I am going to need them just to get to lunch!!!

Do you think God's mercies are new after each naptime? :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Strings Attached

They tell us in foster parenting class not to get too attached to the kiddos who are placed in our home. You never know exactly how long they are going to be with you, and at some point you will most likely have to say good-bye as they are either reunited with their parents (or other family members) or adopted by another family. Basically, good-byes are inevitable when you are involved in foster parenting.

We've already had to say good-bye once, but that situation was a little bit unique (at least I hope!).

If we have to say good-bye to T-Rex and X-Man, it's going to be totally different. I've only known these boys for a few days, but I am already invested. Deeply. My heart melts each time T-Rex gives me a hug or asks if he can kiss my baby. When X-Man reaches his arms up to me, wanting me to pick him up, my heart fills with love. I can't help it. They are pulling at my heart strings, big time.

And I know that this is supposed to be a "short-term" placement. As in, a court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday to determine if they get to go back to Mom or not. If not, they will stay with us for at least another 30 days, maybe longer. Like I said, you never know how long foster kiddos will be with you. You never know how long they will be part of your family.

But no matter how long they are with you, they capture part of your heart. Like these boys have mine.

And they say not to get attached...yeah right! If we have to say good-bye to these boys, cutting the strings is going to be hard. VERY HARD. And the longer they are with us, the thicker the strings become, and the tougher it will be to cut them. I'm not very good at the "no strings attached" mentality, at least when it comes to loving kiddos who are placed in my home.

But I would rather get tangled up in these strings of love than not. I would rather have the opportunity to become entwined in the cords of compassion and have my heart broken in the end than not have the chance to open my home, and my heart, to these precious kiddos. So I guess I am already in the process of getting myself in a mess of thread, twine, yarn, string, and anything else of the sort.

Here in the Young house, there simply can't be a "no strings attached" policy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coralyn Sandwich

I am now a mother of three, for awhile at least.

My little strawberry shortcake Coralyn is now sandwiched between two curly blonde, blue-eyed boys. Lawrence has always said he wanted our boys to have blonde hair like he did, so I guess his wish has been granted, for the time being.

These boys are the cutest things ever! T-Rex (as I have nicknamed him) is 3 and 1/2 years old and his little brother X-Man is 13 months old. They arrived yesterday just in time for lunch, and boy are they good little eaters. And polite too. Well, T-Rex is. X-Man doesn't talk much, or at all really. :)

T-Rex is a go-getter and a little bit of a daredevil. We went outside in the backyard after supper last night and before I knew what was happening, he was hanging upside down from the bar on the swingset. He proceeded to flip over and land on his feet. His next move was to climb the ladder and get ready to go on the monkey bars, but I thankfully saw him in time and requested that he climb back down! So on to the slide he went, climbing up it with no problem and then sliding back down with a "Wheee!" Seconds later he was ready to jump on the trampoline, and he actually jumped. I saw air under his feet (both of them!). I wasn't ready for this, nor was Coralyn who was also on the trampoline. But she quickly figured out that T-Rex was a serious bouncer and just joined right in with him. If T-Rex wasn't swinging from his legs or performing some other crazy feat, he was running around kicking or throwing one of the balls in the yard. Now if I could just capture some of his energy and inject into my body! :)

X-Man is a sweetie and pretty relaxed little guy. He seems kind of small for his age, or maybe it's just that he is a bit behind in his motor and language skills. He still doesn't hold his own weight, like if I tried to hold his hands and pretend walk with him, he would just sit right back down. He does eat really well, and by the end of the day he was doing some "baby talk" and starting to pull up on a few things. His huge blue eyes capture your heart in one single glance!

T-Rex loves his little brother and plays really well with him, making sure X-Man gets a turn with the ball or whatever toy the kids might be playing with at the time. Not only does T-Rex like his baby brother, but he seems kind of fond of babies, as he has already kissed the baby in my belly several times. And he gives great hugs too!

Overall, the boys seem to have adjusted quite well on their first day. And so has Coralyn, assuming her role in the sandwich as the middle sister. She gets right out there and tries to do everything T-Rex does, and makes sure X-Man has his cup of milk to drink. So, thank you so much for your prayers as our family has doubled in one day. We appreciate your continued prayers as we continue this new and exciting adventure!

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Oldie, But a Goodie

Psalm 23 is probably one of the first passages of Scripture little children who grow up in church learn, whether in Sunday school or at home. I know it was most likely one of the first passages I memorized. And it’s probably one of the most familiar Psalms, with most adults being able to quote, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

Because this Psalm is so familiar, I think it tends to become less meaningful. Not that the words are not meaningful or powerful, they certainly are! However, we don’t stop to actually think about the words or what they are really saying. We just kind of think, Oh yeah, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” and go on to repeat the words we have known since childhood.

This past week, God brought this familiar Psalm to mind. He reminded to take time to think about each and every line, to apply these truths to my life, and to act on the precious promises He has given me.

The Lord is my shepherd,

God will take care of me. I am His sheep, and He takes the time to search for one lost sheep, so He will certainly make sure that I am safe and sound. I need not worry or fear, but simply follow wherever He leads. Not only is He my shepherd; He is the GOOD Shepherd. He laid down His life for me so that I could be His child, so I can be confident that He will continue to love and protect and care for me every day now that I am His daughter.

I shall not want.

God will meet every single one of my needs. I may not have everything I want, but I will definitely have all that I need. Not only that, God usually blesses me with more than enough. So be thankful for all that He has given me, all that He has done for me. Live in gratitude, for He has blessed me abundantly. I may feel as though I am in a state of “want” right now, but I am not. I have to remember what He taught me about perspective a few days ago. When I do that, I realize how truly rich I am!

He makes me lie down in green pastures

Green pastures, not dry brown ones. No, He takes me where the grass is lush and fresh, where there is plenty to eat. He shows me the good stuff and gives me what is best.

And leads me beside quiet waters.

Quiet waters, not rushing rivers that will pull me under. No, gentle streams where I can drink and be filled, where I can rest and be refreshed. This is especially timely given the message our pastor gave a couple weeks ago when he told the story of Jesus and His disciples caught in the storm. I mentioned how I could relate to the disciples feeling as if they were going to perish and drown in the raging waters. Yet, here I am reminded that God leads me beside quiet waters. Granted, the water is still moving; He wouldn’t take me to stagnant water that is putrid and contaminated. The water is fresh and delicious, satisfying my thirst. After all, He is the Living Water!

He refreshes my soul.

Ah, peace. New strength. Hope. He speaks to me and quiets my worried heart. He wipes away my tears. He comforts my anxious mind. He wraps His arms around me and invites me to sit at His feet, to lay all of my burdens down and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him. To rest in His presence. To “be still and know He is God.”

He guides me along the right paths, for His name’s sake.

He is guiding me, not letting me wander aimlessly. He has a plan, a purpose, one that is for His glory. And so, no matter how rocky or narrow or steep or uphill, the path I am on is the one He has led me down. AND He has come with me. Further, He will continue to be with me, every step of the way (as long as I keep on following His lead). Keep on following Him to see where He is taking me, and to find out how all of it will result in His glory (and my ultimate good).

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

Yep, it sure feels like I am in a deep, dark valley. Yet, I can see because the Light of the World is guiding me. He is showing me glimpses of what is to come, of what is after this valley, of what we will see as we top the mountain up ahead. So, I am not alone. I can feel God holding my hand (like the song says, “Oh no, You never let go…You never let go of me!”) and guiding me each step of the way. And I have to keep on moving if I want to get through the valley. I can’t give up and quit because the going is tough. If I do that, I will stay in the valley. I want to climb this mountain and see the glorious future that lies ahead.

I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

The “Oh no, You never let go song,” seems to go perfectly with this line of the Psalm as later on we sang, “I will fear no evil, for my God is with me. And if my God is for me, whom then shall I fear?” As I sang, I pictured Satan up in my face as he has tried so hard to get me to fear and worry and doubt and give up through all that we have experienced recently. At times I certainly have done all of those things, but on Saturday night as I sang, I was punching Satan right in his ugly face and telling him, “Take that,” and “Get lost, loser!” It felt really, really good.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Discipline isn’t always fun at the time, but God does it for our good. I have no idea for sure why God has allowed us to go through this valley, but I know that I have learned quite a bit during this phase of the journey. I have come to depend on God in a way I never have before, to rely fully on Him, to see my utter and total need for Him. And as God has come through for us, I have been greatly comforted, and amazed. I have grown in my relationship with Him, in a way I never could have if I had not gotten into the boat and begun to “cross over to the other side” with Jesus.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

God doesn’t wait for the enemy to leave, or for the bad times to necessarily end. Instead, He does good in the midst of them. And I have certainly experience that as God has not snapped His finger and “poof” made everything all better in one instant. Rather, He has daily met our needs and shown me that He is at work.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

He doesn’t just meet my needs, He supplies in abundance. My cup overflows. I have more than enough. I am blessed beyond measure!

Surely Your goodness and mercy/love will follow me all the days of my life,

All the days of my life, including this one, including this entire time of difficulty. God doesn’t disappear when times are tough. He doesn’t abandon me when I encounter trials. No, He pours out His faithfulness fresh every day. He shows me His goodness in ways I had never experienced before this. He helps me appreciate Him all the more!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What a promise! No matter what may come here on earth, my future is certain. And it is worth any struggle or trouble I face during this life. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wow, I don’t think I thought through the Psalm like that when I memorized it so many years ago. I am glad God helped me slow down and take it line by line so that I could fully appreciate the meaning of David’s words. And apply them to my life, holding on to these precious promises and living each day as though I believe them to be true.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How Many Until...?

I don't know how many times I day Carson asks me, "How many more until my mom comes?" or "How many more until we go to the library?" or "How many more until we get to play at the park?" or "How many more until we can go home?" or "How many more until so-and-so comes over?" or How many more until we go outside?" or "How many more until we can have a snack?" or...well, you get the idea! :)

If I was paid a quarter, or even a dime, for every time he asked me a question that began with "How many more until..." I would be a rich woman!

This morning as I was taking a walk, I was praying for the day and asking God to help me have patience with Carson's seemingly endless "How many more until..." questions. Just before I had been reminding God our of needs and asking Him to provide for us. It was as if I was asking Him, yet again, "How many more until you will meet our needs?" or "How many more until I will know how you are going to meet our needs?" or "How many more until I don't have to worry about our needs being met?" or...well, you get the idea! :)

I caught myself and wondered if as I was praying for patience with Carson if God was praying for patience with ME.

So today, every time Carson asks, "How many more until...?" (as I know he will) my goal is to not get frustrated, but to be reminded that I do the same thing to God. And that God is so very patient with me (and so I should be with Carson). No matter how many times I ask, or how many different ways I rephrase the question. He is still patient.

And His answer is usually the same, just like mine is to Carson. "Don't worry about it. Just play. Go, have fun. Stop worrying about the timing of everything. Relax!" Hmmm.... "Knowing exactly how many more until whatever isn't going to make it happen any faster." "Your mom always comes back at the end of the day (at the same time) to pick you up. She will pick you up today too, just like she always does." Hmmm...

"Sarah, trust me. I'm going to provide. I always do. Knowing how and when isn't going to make it happen any faster. Stop worrying and getting yourself all tied up in knots. Just relax and go about the day. Do the things you are supposed to do, and enjoy them! I've got this covered, like usual. At the end of the day, everything is going to be okay, like it always is."

I wonder if God wants to add, "How many more until you are going to trust me completely?" or "How many more until you are going to realize that I am in control and have everything taken care of, that I have had this planned for all of eternity and know every single little detail and will put everything in place at just the right time and in just the right way?" or "How many more until you are going to 'be still and know that I am God?'" or...well, you get the idea :)

So, I guess I have one more goal for the day, in addition to being patient with Carson -- and maybe Coralyn too, as she has her own little things that she does that cause me to pray :) My goal is to not ask God any "How many more until..." questions, but just to rest in His presence and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Matter of Perspective all boils down to how you look at things and then choose to respond to them.

Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, discouraged and disheartened, worried and anxious. I have let my circumstances control my attitude. My present situation has dictated what I think about, how I act, and most importantly my outlook on life.

Sadly, I have felt pretty glum. Yet, God keeps showing me glimmers of hope. At times the glimmers turn into big bright rays of sunshine, but for the most part, they have been small little glimpses of the light that is indeed at the end of the proverbial tunnel I feel like I am in right now. But little glimpses are all I really need to keep going. They light my way enough to take one more step. And isn't that how I am supposed to follow Jesus anyway...step by step. One day at a time, sometimes one hour (or even one minute) at a time.

As I have been contemplating my present circumstances, I have let myself become overcome with fear and anxiety rather than resting in God's goodness and faithfulness. Shame on me. Not only have I doubted God, but I have become overly consumed with my life and my problems, forgetting that there are countless others who are hurting and in need of help. Others who are in much more dire circumstances than me.

God decided to get my attention today, to refocus my vision, to get my perspective in line with His. I put all the kiddos down for their naps (I have 3 of them today, and they are all sleeping at the same time, so that in itself is a glimmer of hope! :) and sat down to read for a minute or two. The radio was on and the DJ began talking about the situation in Africa...Somalia, I believe. She was sharing about the drought and famine there which has been further complicated by a recent outbreak of measles. Talk about some glum circumstances! And here I am stressing out about the status of our bank account. Yeah, I get frustrated when Coralyn wants yet another snack, but at least I have food to give her to eat. And not just 3 meals a day, but snacks in between! I can't even begin to imagine being a mother in Somalia right now...listening to your starving child crying because he's hungry and not being able to do anything to comfort or help him! Or watching your child scratch and itch at her measles, whining that she's hurting, and not being able to give her anything to relieve the pain.

And so my mindset has shifted. My problems haven't disappeared, but they have certainly become a lot smaller in the last 10 minutes. My mountains have been reduced to molehills, where they should have been all along.

I guess it all boils down to how I look at life. Today, I am going to try to do better to see things from God's perspective. He probably has a much better view anyway, seeing as how He knows the story beginning to end. Not to mention He is actively writing it one chapter, one page, one letter, at a time. Who better for the job than the "author and perfecter of my faith?!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Other Side

This weekend at church our pastor talked about the story when Jesus calmed the winds and the waves. You know the one...Jesus fell asleep and was taking a nap during one of the most horrific storms His disciples had ever seen, seeming to leave them on their own to handle such a dire situation.

As usual, and as our pastor says, "Where you are at in life is where you are at in the Word." So, so, so true.

Now this is one of those stories where you can know it backwards and forwards, teach the Sunday school lesson complete with flannel graph illustrations, and still learn something when you read it for the 10,000th time. In fact, I learned (or was reminded) of quite a few valuable lessons. Of course I felt obligated to share them with you :)

First lesson: In the version we used at church the story begins, "Now on one of those days, Jesus said to His disciples, 'Let's cross over to the other side of the lake.'" Pastor Michael talked about how he loved that it was "one of those days" and mentioned how some of us probably feel like we are having one of those days, or maybe even one of those weeks, or months, or lives really. Lawrence and I can certainly relate to the feeling of being in the midst of one of THOSE times right now. Work is kind of stressful for Lawrence, I have less daycare kiddos than planned so the budget is super tight, and we are getting ready for a new addition to the family, who know life goes. But, even on "one of the THOSE days," Jesus had a purpose for all that He did, a plan that would result in massive amounts of glory being brought to His name. Good to know that even on the seeming worst days (or weeks, months, etc) God can do His thing! :) And little did the disciples know what was ahead of them. Just think, "one of those days" was just about to turn into "one of THOSE days!"

Second Lesson: Jesus had a plan, a purpose, even if His disciples didn't know it. And it was a specific plan and purpose, though it may not have seemed like it in the midst of the storm that was to come. He didn't suggest, "Hey, let's go out for a sail and see where the wind takes us." He didn't shrug His shoulders and sigh, "Well, we've got nothing better to do. Let's hop in the boat." No, He specifically instructed His disciples, "Let's cross over to the other side of the lake." He must have wanted to get to the other side of the lake for a reason. He must have needed to be there in order to do a specific thing, something His Father wanted Him to do (as all that Jesus did was done in obedience to His Father). He didn't divulge this information to His disciples, however. He just told them, "Let's go to the other side." And Jesus doesn't always tell us every detail of His plans either. But that's probably a good thing. If the disciples had known that once they got in a boat and were on their way to the "other side of the lake" that they would experience a deadly storm and almost lose their lives, I'm not so sure they would have been very eager to hop in the boat and set sail, even if Jesus was going to be with them. And it's the same with us. If we knew every storm that was coming our way, we would probably run in the opposite direction. We wouldn't jump up and down and be giddy with excitement about the trials about to take place in our lives. God knows this about us, and wisely chooses not to reveal every aspect of His plan. This is hard for planners like me. I like to know all the details, but God knows better. In fact, He knows best. So He just says, "Sarah, let's go to the other side." And my job is to get in the boat and go with Jesus.

Third Lesson: Or maybe just a continuation of the second one, but either way...Sometimes I may not feel like going to the "other side." I am comfortable and content right where I am. Why do I need to go to the "other side?" What's so special about the "other side?" This side is just fine, thank you very much. Therein the problem lies. I get used to my situation, feel good about life, and go about things without much thought or concern. I don't have to rely fully on God, or trust Him completely, or realize that I am totally dependent on Him. And so God says, "Sarah, let's go to the other side." Of course it's not just about what is on the "other side," but what He has to teach me along the way, as we journey together to reach the "other side." I certainly feel like I am on my way to the "other side" right about now. And I am beginning to feel a lot like the disciples did as the winds began to blow and the waves began to toss their boat higher and higher. I am beginning to feel like this nice little boat ride to the "other side" has turned into a nightmare of a trip, one that just might be the end of me.

Fourth Lesson: God may seem silent at times. Often it's at the times when we feel like we need Him most. Say, in the midst of a deadly storm. And what is Jesus doing while the disciples bail water out of their boat as fast as they can? Taking a nap! How can He be sleeping through this?! Doesn't He care that His closest friends are so close to dying?! Why isn't He up helping them? Can't He just make the whole thing stop with the snap of His fingers? So why is He doing absolutely nothing?!! Yep, I feel a whole lot like the disciples right now. I am crying out to God, waiting for Him to answer, trusting Him to help me (and knowing in my head that He will), but seemingly getting no response. I feel like I am beginning to drown and yet don't feel God's hand reaching out to pull me up out of the water. And I wonder, why isn't God doing anything? Why is He letting me experience this terrible time? Why is He allowing this to happen? What exactly is His good and perfect plan in all of this?

Fifth (and final) Lesson: What seems absolutely impossible to us is totally possible (and quite easy) for God. The disciples rush to Jesus and shake Him, waking Him up from His nice little nap. "We're perishing!" they cry out. Jesus doesn't jump up and act startled. He's not taken aback by the situation. He's not the least bit worried, concerned, or frightened. He might as well be in the middle of a seamless lake enjoying a gentle breeze as He waits for a fish to nibble His bait. He just gets up, rebukes the wind and the waves, and takes care of business. Simple. Done. Lickty-split. Piece of cake. So it would seem to Jesus, as He turns to His disciples and asks, "Where is your faith?" What was the big deal? What was all the fuss about? I'm right here with you. I've got it covered. Remember, I'm the one who suggested that we go to the other side of the lake. Do you think I wouldn't have gotten us there safely? And so the disciples are left speechless, in awe of Jesus, the one whom the winds and waves obey.
One little word and everything is as calm as can be. No one would have ever guessed that they had just been in the midst of a deadly storm, feeling like they were about ready to die. How true is that of the storms in my life right now? And so I just wait for Jesus to say the word, for Him to make everything all nice and calm. Like the disciples, though, I don't know how long the storm is going to last. But I do know several things for certain: the storm won't last forever, Jesus is with me, and not only that, He is the one who told me to go to the other side and will make sure that I get there. As Philippians 1:6 reminds me, "And I am sure that God, who began a good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again."

At the beginning I said that God always has a plan and a purpose. He certainly did in this story. Jesus really did have to get to the other side of the lake, for there He would do some incredible things. He frees a demon-possessed man by sending the demons into a herd of pigs, heals a woman who has been bleeding internally for 12 long years, and raises Jarius' daughter from the dead! Then, He empowered His disciples to cast out demons and sent them out to teach and heal in the villages. Soon after that, He multiplied a little boy's lunch to feed over 5,000 people! Good thing He went to the other side of the lake! And so we see that God did have a specific plan and purpose for "crossing to the other side." Not only did God get massive amounts of glory when Jesus calmed the storm, but also when He performed these miracles "on the other side of the lake."

I rest in knowing that good things awaited "on the other side." And as our pastor encouraged us, when God seems silent, we need to remember what He has spoken (that He was the one who told us to go to the other side, that He is with us along the way, etc.). So I cling to two verses that God has given me recently, and in quite random ways. One was the Bible verse of the day on my Daily Bible app and popped up on my phone one morning. The second was K-Love's Encouraging Word of the Day that I heard on the radio just as I returned to my car after a delightful trip to Wal-Mart. How awesome that He spoke these words long ago, but they are just the promises I need at just this time in my life!

Romans 8:32, "Since God did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?"

Isaiah 65:23-24, "They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the Lord, and their children, too, will be blessed. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!"

I have to remember not to make the mistake that Peter did as he was walking on the water during a storm. He was doing just fine and dandy, walking on water for Pete's sake (ha! ha!), until he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the storm around him. My focus has to remain on Jesus, and Him alone. As the author of Hebrews urges us, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish."

I don't want Jesus to look at me and ask, "Where is your faith?" Why are you doubting me? Don't you trust me? No, no, no...I want Him to say of me, like He did of the centurion, "I have never seen faith like this before." And so I feel like the man who cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief!"

Thus, I choose today to set my eyes on Jesus as He leads me (and walks with me the entire way) to the "other side," wherever that may be, whatever storms arise along the way, and whatever adventures await once we arrive.

Oh yeah, and to God be the glory as His perfect plans and purposes unfold on this journey to the "other side."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


In ONE month Coralyn will be TWO years old! How did that happen? I can still remember the day she was born, like it was yesterday!

While I am thrilled that she is growing up and becoming a big girl, I am also kind of sad that she isn't my little baby anymore. Good thing we're having another baby in just a couple of months, huh? :) THREE months actually, and we will be a family of FOUR!

But for now I am enjoying my little "big girl" and all the joy and adventure she brings to our lives. There's certainly never a dull moment in our house. :) This past month has been full of both laughter and tears. I love the giggles and squeals and shrieks of excitement as she discovers something new, shows me one of her "tricks," learns a new word, says an entire sentence, or just cracks up laughing for no apparent reason. The tears are harder, of course. I don't enjoy calming her fears over the Chick-fil-A cow or soothing hurt feelings or consoling her after she's gotten hurt or trying to figure out why she started crying at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason.

Thankfully, we have more laughter than we do tears. We have more excitement than drama, more joy than sorrow, more good times than bad.

Coralyn is back to sleeping in her big girl bed, for which I am extremely thankful! She doesn't really have a choice as both of the beds in her room are toddler beds (until we have to change the crib back to its original state when the baby comes). She does get to choose which one she sleeps on, for now. And in even bigger news, she took a nap today without asking for "Boppers" (her pacifier)! I have started giving it to her at nap time and bed time only when she asks for it. Every day she has remembered her precious binky and requested it, and I hesitantly give it to her, figuring we will master the whole big girl bed thing before we take away her dear "Boppers." But this afternoon she amazed me...she climbed right into bed, closed her eyes tight, and didn't make a single sound (not even a little peep) as I left the room. And when I went to check on her 10 minutes later, she was still in bed, asleep, and stayed that way for almost 2 hours, when she had a bathroom emergency :)

I was impressed not only because she got right into bed without "Boppers," but that she didn't fuss one little bit. The best part was that she actually stayed in bed and took a nap. The last few days she has been a little stinker and managed to not only get out of bed (not that difficult), but turn her light on, and proceed to play with every imaginable item in her room. So when she "wakes up" from her nap, I find piles of books, band-aids, bottles of lotion, random clothes, and all of her stuffed animals (and baby dolls) on her bed. She may have had lots of fun, but by the end of the day she's not as fun to be around :)

My most cherished moment (or moments) in this past month though would have to be when Coralyn asks (without any prompting at all) to read her Bible. The other day we finished breakfast, and she wanted to get down from her chair and read her Bible. Of course I was happy to comply. Later that day she ran in her room and got her Bible for me to read to her yet again. She did the same thing that evening before bed. Another fond memory was having the opportunity to explain the gospel to Coralyn and Carson as they sat reading her Bible together (because she went and got it for them to read). They reached the story of Jesus' crucifixion and were asking why Jesus was on the cross and why he had so many boo-boo's. They sat and listened to me tell the story of Jesus dying on the cross, His resurrection, and the promise of His return. Then I got to tell them about heaven. Although Carson is adamant that Jesus hasn't come back yet because He is off getting money. :)

I could go on and on telling stories about Coralyn. I love her to pieces! But I should probably go hang out with Lawrence and my mom (who happens to be visiting). Plus, I am about ready to fall asleep as I type. I guess that happens when you are ONE month away from having a TWO year old and THREE months away from having a family of FOUR. :)

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