Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I've been debating whether to share this or not. We'll see if it gets posted or deleted. I have no problem sharing my life and my struggles...that is when I'm tucked away behind my computer in the corner of my little living room. It's a different story when I see you all at church or the grocery store and you say "I read your blog and all about your learning disability!" Then I could crawl in a hole:) Not really but it has been humbling at times.

But then I think of all the conversations I've had, the emails and facebook messages I've received from so many of you saying "Hey I have a learning disability too!" or "thanks for being so open about your infertility, I am struggling through that now" or "thank goodness I'm not the only one who wears my pajamas all day!" I've been so encouraged hearing your comments and personal stories. So many of you can relate to my struggles. I've realized I'm not such a weirdo after all (or else I just surround myself with other weirdos..just kidding)!

I think the reason I'm not sure about sharing this particular struggle is because I'm going through it right now. It's easy to share about the past and tell you I've conquered that struggle, I've made it to the other side and I'm a stronger person because of it. But to actually open up about what I'm walking through now...that's hard.

But I'm sure there are many walking the same road right now. I'm hoping to encourage you just by letting you know, you're not the only one (and maybe you could drop me a note and let ME know I'm not alone either:)).

So what is this BIG struggle? It's my old friend -- Anxiety. Well I wouldn't call him a friend but he sure hangs around a lot. The last several weeks have been filled with unknowns for Andy and I and it has brought on quite a bit of anxiety for me. Have you ever felt anxious? It is a terrible feeling. I feel like I can't breathe, I can't focus, which causes me to feel confused and disorganized, and I'm on edge all the time--one wrong move and I might snap and bite your head off (well probably only if you live in my house)!

I've struggled with anxiety on and off for a long time. I've been handling it well lately and I'm able to recognize when it's coming and usually I 'attack' as soon as i feel it coming. This time though...I don't know, I'm having trouble fighting back. Maybe it's because my body is already in a tailspin from making a baby!? My hormones are out of whack already so I think the added stress has just been too much.

The last two days though the Lord has really brought two things to my attention (both things he's shown me before but I don't catch on so quickly I guess so in his patience he's showing me again).

1) Anxiety/Stress/Fear/Worry is NOT from God. In fact those feelings basically scream that I don't trust God! I say I trust God, I believe he is in control, I believe he has good things for me. Yet I allow myself to be controlled by fear. I allow myself to worry about the fact I have no idea where I'll be living in 12 weeks all the while I have a baby arriving in just 11 weeks. I want complete control of the situation and because I have no control of it, I'm terrified. But who ultimately has control? I know it in my head -- GOD --yet I'm still doing everything I can to be the controller. Doesn't seem like I have much trust in my Father does it? I've learned in the past that as soon as I relinquish all control, I am free. The anxiety leaves and God has (every single time) pulled through and worked out whatever the situation was. He has never left me to flounder. He doesn't always work the situation out the way I would have but I will admit that in hindsight I always see why my way wasn't best. So, why is it so hard to surrender? I don't know. My foolish human thinking, I guess.

2)My anxiety causes me to be self absorbed. When I am anxious the focus is solely on SARAH. How can I feel better, how can I fix MY situation, why doesn't God answer MY prayers? I don't know about you but I can't stand self absorbed people, yet I have definitely been one the last several weeks. I am so consumed with my problems (which really aren't all that horrible) that I haven't spent anytime caring about anyone else who might be struggling. I haven't picked up the phone to check on my friend who I know is lonely, I haven't made an effort to invite the new family at church over for dinner to make them feel more welcomed, I haven't even been that attentive to the needs of my own family. I instead sit here and worry (about me). Poor me. As soon as God (gently) pointed this out I was disgusted with myself! I didn't let that disgust turn into self hatred or loathing (which I might have done in the past) but instead decided to get out of my house and do something for someone else. Help someone else who is having a bad day. It really put things into perspective (and I actually felt a lot better after wards, huh).

I know what I need to do (now it's a matter of mustering up the courage to do it) I need to surrender control (again), I need to focus on God's promises and repeat them over and over until they move from my head to my heart. I laid in bed last night repeating over and over in my head "I am loved by a King. I don't need to earn his love. He loves me for me and has good things for me, he is trustworthy....I am loved by a King..." Over and over I repeated that. Slowly I could feel the weight on my chest lifting off, my heartbeat returning to normal and I finally fell asleep (only to wake up an hour later with a baby on my bladder but you get the point). I filled my head this evening with more of his truths by reading my Bible, it's shocking the wisdom you can find in there!;) And tonight I will repeat those truths again as I fall asleep. I will do this until they have been absorbed into my heart and the anxiety is gone. I know from the past it won't change overnight but in time as I allow God to move and speak and transform my heart it will happen.

Here are some scriptures I find comforting, encouraging and/or challenging --

Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

Matthew 6:25-27
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.Isn't your life more than food and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They do not plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Matthew 6:34
So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it's own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

Psalm 23 {this is my favorite. It's probably familiar, it's often read at funerals but read it, REALLY read and let those truths sink's so comforting}

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

There are tons and tons I could share but these are a few of my favorites. Now I need to go and really read these. I often read them and say yeah, yeah I read that a million times. But do I believe it? Do I allow it to transform my heart and mind? Do I allow God to speak to me through it? The answer is, usually not or I probably wouldn't be ridden with anxiety!

So that's what I'll be doing over the next few weeks. Usually not a terribly fun thing but a necessary thing. Now, if you see me out and about, don't bring this up! It might make me anxious:)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

my gift

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

We had a great day...
but if I'm being completely honest there was an hour {or two}
when I was kinda sad I didn't have any presents to open.
I know, I know I've been going on and on about having more than I need
{obviously i DO have more than enough and was just being ridiculous}
but I guess it is fun to get something new every now and then:)

Just when my pity party was in full swing
my dear sister-in-law, Glenda handed me a gift..
It was my absolute favorite gift of the day
{ok the only gift of the day but it would have still been my fav regardless}

How great is this sign!?

I can't wait to hang it in the nursery!
I might eventually hang it in our living area with pics of all my kids,
they were ALL such an answer to prayer.


So we had a great day with The Bylers on Christmas
and a great day today celebrating with my family.
I love being with family.

And now we are hunkering down for the night as it snows!
I hate snow but have decided to embrace it for tonight
{i will not be embracing it tomorrow if i'm stuck on this hill though}

Enjoy the snow!

She made my sign and blogged about it:) She makes awesome stuff! Take a peek..

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas
dear friends

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.
I'm looking forward to spending the next couple of days with my
close friends and family.

This year will be the first year Andy and I will not be exchanging gifts.
We were bummed at the thought of this at first
but this has been one of my favorite Christmas seasons in quite a while.
It has reminded me once again that I already have all I need:
my man,
my girls,
my precious baby boy,
and the love of Jesus that is so very real in my life.
I have more than I deserve.

I pray you are able to see your blessings this year more than ever.
Cherish these moments,
we'll be longing for them in the years to come.


Friday, December 17, 2010

christmas cards

Can I just say that

l love checking the mailbox the month of December!
Instead of just a pile of bills waiting to greet us
there are cards, cards, cards just waiting to be ripped open!
I must say it is the highlight of my day these days.
I love getting mail.
I mean 'real' mail.
Not an email, or facebook message
but a handwritten card,
Or a photo of friends that I can hang in my kitchen.

I will be the first to admit I often send birthday wishes,
thank yous, encouraging words, etc.
via computer. Why not?
But there is just something so fun about getting snail mail.

So thanks for all the Christmas greetings!
I truly enjoy every card and picture (as do my kids)!
I am reminded how blessed I am to have so many wonderful
family and friends in my life.
(there I go again, thanking you via computer!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Conspiracy

This is exactly what's been on my heart this Christmas season!
I can't believe I found this
(i guess being awake at 4am w/ pregnancy pains isn't a complete waste).


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony

When I started this blog a few months ago I started to write my testimony as my very first post. I wrote, re-wrote, and finally just saved it and figured I'd come back to it another time. I was having trouble describing the day that would forever change my life. How do you type a life changing experience? No matter what fancy, descriptive words I use it doesn't come close to the actual experience. Over the last month or so I've had a few people ask me to share my testimony (mostly people who are trying to figure out how in the world I got from the girl they knew in high school to the woman I am today..I still have a lot of work to do but I've come a long way from the girl I was back then). So I thought I'd return to the draft I had saved and do my best to share the work God did, is doing and will continue to do in my life. I also realized maybe you don't need to completely understand what I was feeling at the moment my life was changed but more importantly have you understand how, why, and by WHOM my life was changed.

So this may get long, (I typically try to keep things short and sweet on my blog but I do have 31 years to share) I'll do my best to only share the important events in my life...

I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church every Sunday, sang in the Jr. Choir, went to youth group, prayed before dinner,went to a Christian high school, went on missions trips, oh I could go on and on. From the outside I was a 'Christian' but in reality I didn't know Jesus at all. Although I didn't really know Jesus, I asked him into my heart at the age of 12. Why? Because I was terrified of going to hell. I wasn't sure I believed all this stuff I had heard in Sunday School, seriously...God came to earth in the form of a baby, lived among the people, died on a cross, ROSE from the DEAD (ok this is getting crazy), and is going to come back for his followers!?!? It just seemed a bit out there to me. BUT I wanted to make sure that just in case all of this was true and he did come back that I'd be going with him! I had heard about heaven and hell. Heaven sounded much better.

Although I had asked him into my heart, I still wasn't sure this man named Jesus had ever existed or maybe he existed but he couldn't possibly be God's son. And come to think of it..did God even exist? Well I wasn't sure but just in case, I needed to a least act like I believed all this so I could get into heaven when I die. I was SO terrified of death. It actually consumed my thoughts. What if my prayer didn't work? What if I'm not saved? I continually pushed these thoughts and fears out of my mind and continued living my fake Christian life.

My freshman year I started attending a small Christian high school. It was a good change from public school. I made good friends, had a boyfriend (ok quite a few but eventually settled with one) and was enjoying the close knit atmosphere. I still had tons of questions and doubts about my faith, even though we had chapel every week, and Bible class every day. I just felt like it was something being forced on me. Something I was supposed to believe because everyone said I should believe it. I wasn't buying it but just kept on smiling and playing the part. My freshman year was a fun year but I also began to really struggle academically. It was quickly discovered I had a learning disability. The school was quick to help me with IU-13 and other learning support programs. I am thankful now for these programs but at 15 I was MORTIFIED! Everyday I had to leave class and walk to the IU-13 trailer. It was a long walk, and everyone knew where I was walking to. Talk about a beating on one's pride. I began to hate going to "the trailer". I decided instead of trying hard and possibly failing, I just wouldn't try! That way it was my choice to fail. And fail I did! I rarely passed a test, I copied my homework from my smart friends, and I just prayed my smile would get me through..(it must have worked, I'm still not sure how I graduated). So, instead of going to school to learn, I decided I'd go to have fun! I began drinking, smoking pot, and I sought the attention of boys like it was my job. I had a lot of friends, a lot of fun but I was (deep down inside) miserable. I hated being 'dumb'. I hated myself for things I did when I was drunk. And I hated being a fake (Christian). I felt totally empty inside and did everything possible to fill that emptiness, nothing worked but I continued trying and when that didn't work I'd try harder (meaning I'd party harder).

My entire high school career revolved around boys and partying. Half way through my senior year, I developed quite a crush on my co-worker. He was a quiet cook at the restaurant where I worked (shout out to Country Gardens). He never talked or looked at me (well he was looking, I later found out, but not at my face -- hahaha). One night I decided if this guy isn't gonna talk to me then I'll talk to him!! I called him up (with the encouragement of some giggling friends) and asked him on date! I was shocked when he was so polite on the phone and said yes!! We went on our date and I knew almost right away this was the man for me. We have never been apart since.

Andy and I fell in love and got married. We had a lot in common, including drinking. So we continued to party together as a married couple. Andy was raised in church as well and I believe he struggled with doubts of his faith just as much as I did. After a few years of marriage we both felt like we should start going to church. So we did. We'd go out drinking Saturday night and then drag ourselves to church Sunday morning. I kinda listened to the message that was taught but it still didn't seem to sink in. But we eventually became more and more involved at church and we decided maybe we should slow down on the drinking. We made good friends at church, we joined a small group and I even started reading my Bible in the evening. Something was happening. I wasn't sure what exactly and it wasn't overnight but my heart was beginning to soften. I started feeling compelled to pray. Huh, interesting. Maybe there was some truth to all this God stuff!?

At the same time I allowed God to start working in my heart, Andy and I decided we were ready to start a family. Most of you know what happened next. We tried, and tried, and tried. No baby. Well not for us anyway. All those friends we were making at church though...well they were popping out babies left and right (and still are --teehee)! Every Sunday someone would have another big announcement! OR they would say "So Sarah are YOU pregnant yet?" or "Any announcements yet?" or "Are you trying?" UGHHH. I couldn't stand it. I could not pretend to be happy for one more person who "is so fertile he just has to look at me and I get pregnant!" I was done. No more church. No more small group. No more babies!!!

Since I chose to walk away from my new friends at church, I decided to return to the comfort of an old friend, alcohol. I began drinking again and in full force. I didn't just drink at bars or parties but I started drinking just to fall asleep at night. I was at rock bottom. I was so incredibly depressed. I truly wanted to die, even if I didn't know where I would go after this life was over. After a few years of 'trying' we had some testing done. It turned out we would never conceive a child. 0% chance of it happening naturally and slim to none with medical intervention. We were devastated. But I have to say it was almost a relief to know. Now I could grieve over the children I would never have and move on. Something always sat in the back of my mind though -- one night a few years ealier I went to a Bible Study and at the end I went forward for prayer. I didn't know the girl praying for me but out of nowhere she said "God is going to open your womb" I was taken aback and encouraged but after years of no luck conceiving, I figured it was just coincidence. And now here I was years later with a confirmation from my doctor that I would never carry a child. We grieved. I drank and grieved.

After awhile Andy and I started talking about what was next for us. The thought of adopting was something we were both thinking about. We talked (and we even prayed) about adopting a child. We began to get excited! Maybe we will be parents after all!!! After much thought, prayer, paperwork and fundraisers we got the call. A baby girl had been born that morning in Guatemala and needed a forever home, were we interested. Were we interested!?!?!?! YES! YES! 6 months later we were in Guatemala bringing home our baby girl, Sophie! I was a mommy.

I was completely in love with this little girl. I loved being a mom. It didn't matter to me at all that I had not carried this child inside of me or that I hadn't given birth to her. She was ours. I told Andy "I think we are supposed to grow our family through adoption. I don't care if I never have a biological child!" I'll let you guess what we found out 2 weeks later. Yep, I was in fact pregnant when I made that comment! (just a quick side note: although we conceived after adopting that is NOT the case for many, many couples --comments suggesting otherwise can be hurtful and insensitive, so steer clear of making such suggestions..)

Where was I? Oh yes, I was pregnant! We were obviously thrilled, baffled, amazed, shocked, etc. We were both reminded of the time I was told that God would open my womb. That random girl had been right! And God had kept his promise to me. That was the first time that God was real to me.

I gave birth to our second daughter, Ruby. We were a happy little family (even though I was trying to survive sleepless nights and busy days with 2 little ones). We began going to church again, reconnecting with friends, and again I opened my heart to God and I asked him to move. I asked him to change me and show me who he was. Over the next few years I learned a lot but I never completely surrendered my life to God. I wasn't willing to give him control of every area yet.

That is, until the Tuesday afternoon in my living room. I was home alone and had decided to spend the afternoon in prayer. I was sitting on the floor with my prayer journal and I was getting ready to pray about all the things I needed, pray for all the people who could use some changing, and oh yeah give thanks for all my blessings. God had other plans for that afternoon...

So I should first mention, I had a terrible fear of Ruby dying. I had a dream several months earlier that she had died. It was very real and it haunted me everyday. In the dream I never knew how she died so everyday I'd think of all the possible ways she could die (completely irrational and a little wacked, I know). That afternoon as I began my prayer list I felt the sense that I should be quiet. QUIET!? How can I pray and be quiet? I don't have time to just sit here God, what about my list!? The feeling was persistent, "be quiet." OK, OK, I'll be quiet. SO I sat there. And I sat there. Waiting, listening, waiting. Suddenly I felt like I 'heard' God (not an audible voice but a feeling in my spirit) say "I want Ruby. I want you to surrender Ruby to me." WHAT!?!?!?! NO WAY! WHAT!?!? This was NOT what I had in mind for this day of prayer. Oh my word...Ruby...I have to go and get her right now before something happens to her!!!!!!! I jumped up from the floor and started to run out of my house when I felt God so strongly say, "SIT DOWN!" Almost forcefully. I needed to decide was I going to run and get Ruby or sit down and hash this out with God? I very reluctantly sat down. I was sobbing. How could I surrender my child? I would give him anything else but not my child! I can't, God, I can't. God gently reminded me that he was the one who had given Ruby to me, she was HIS. I was terrified that if I agreed to surrender, he would take her right then and there. Again he reminded me that he is in control whether I surrender or not! If Ruby was going to die I had no control over it anyway, I might as well place her in the hands of the one who created her! So there, in my living room, sobbing, I whispered, "you can have her, God. I trust you. I trust you with my child. I trust you with everything. I am yours and I surrender everything to you...I surrender Ruby." In that moment I felt it...God's spirit completely connected with my spirit and he said "I will bless you." I had never in my life felt God's Spirit and his love so heavy, so strong. It was the most real moment of my life.

My life was forever changed in that moment. I will never doubt the existence of God again. I will never fear death again because I know that what I experienced in my living room (his overwhelming presence and love) was just a tiny glimpse of what I'll experience in heaven.. I cannot even fathom what it will be like! Since that day, God has revealed truths to me that people had been trying to explain to me for years. Example: that Jesus was his son, died on a cross, and rose from the dead for ME! I cannot convince you this is the truth, just like no one could convince me but God revealed it to my spirit and I KNOW IT'S THE TRUTH! I know Jesus is my savior. He is now my very best friend, he is my Father, he is who I turn to when I'm at the end of my rope, he is who I rejoice with when things are good, he is EVERYTHING to me.

I continue to meet with God. I continue to listen for his voice, follow his guiding, and trust him with everything. I surrender to him everyday. Sometimes several times a day! It's not always easy. But I know he is trustworthy, and good and a loving God, who has good things planned for me (and guess what..he has good things planned for you too!) That is not to say bad things won't happen but I trust he will be with me through this journey, good and bad--until my journey is done and finally I will see him in his fullness. What a day that will be!

Until then, I desire to live a life that brings glory to Christ. I desire to know him deeper everyday. I desire to share how he has changed my life with anyone who will listen (or read) and I desire to see people's hearts changed and see lives transformed through the power of Christ!

Phew..there ya have it! Well some of it...I didn't even get into the whole music testimony...I'll save that for another post! :)

Praying you were encouraged through my testimony. If you have never experienced the love of Christ, don't wait another day! Just ask him to reveal himself to you. He will! You'll experience a love you've never known or imagined. You'll be forever changed!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

just keepin' it real, folks. just keepin' it real..

I absolutely cannot keep this to myself!
I'm not sure why I feel so inclined to share this but I do!
Ruby was fooling with my camera and snapped this gorgeous picture of me.
I'm thinking of framing it?
Or maybe I'll give it to Andy as a Christmas gift?
You know, so he'll always remember his beautiful, glowing, radiant pregnant wife.
Lest he never forget this wonderful time in our lives.

Here I am 25 weeks pregnant,
just beaming with joy and life!

Hahahaha!! I cannot stop laughing at this.
This is my reality folks!
Chillin' on the couch in my jammies at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Oh dear.
I'm sure I'll regret this posting but I was kinda feeling like a fraud.
I have posted several pictures of myself on facebook all dolled up, with a huge smile..
it was all staged people!!!
The only day my hair gets brushed is Sunday, I rarely wear 'real' clothing, and my smile is usually 1/2 real, 1/2 fake.

My poor husband.
This is his reality also.
(Wish I could attach an audio file of my complaining so you get the full effect!)

So this is your warning:
if you choose to 'pop' over to our place,
THIS is what you will find!
(so maybe you wanna give me a call first and I'll at least put some jeans on..)

And to my sweet Andy,
I promise I'll be back and better than ever once this little man arrives!
(or within the year of his arrival)

So hopefully you had a good laugh and feel a little better about yourself today!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

a friend like kim stoltzfus

It is no secret I'm having a difficult and frustrating pregnancy this time around.
I do my best to care for the kids and keep up with daily tasks (all with a good attitude..)
but some days just getting the girls to and from school does me in.

The other week my friend Kim called to check in.
As we wrapped up the phone call she said,
"I'm bringing you a meal. Does Wednesday work?"
That's one thing I love about Kim..she doesn't even ask, she just 'does'.
I started to protest but she just acted like she didn't hear me
and said she'd be over Wednesday.

{How many times have I had a friend who wasn't feeling well, or was overwhelmed and I made that casual "let me know if you need anything!" statement.
In all honesty how many people would actually call and say "I need something"
I know I wouldn't
(unless the call was to my mom).}

Kim just delivered our meal.
It's around 1pm, looking out my window it is one of the yuckiest days I've seen in a while. Not only did she drag herself out in this mess, she came with a huge smile!
Guilt is trying to sneak into my spirit but instead I will choose to be thankful and receive the blessing from my friend.
(my friend who has 4 small children of her own, and whose husband is away..
I will not feel guilty, I will not feel guilty..)

Thank you Kim, for being a dear friend,
for showing the love of Christ in a simple yet huge way to me..
Thanks for not 'asking' and just doing.
Thank you for blessing me and my family today.

It is my desire to be a friend like, Kim Stoltzfus...

(and to clarify, this was not written in hopes of more meal offers! Just a thank you.)


On a completely different note --

Remember my rant about naked women the other week??
(sorry Kim, I jump from you to naked women..)

This blog post caught my eye a few minutes ago.
They are giving away this fabulous, yet modest skirt!!
OK so the skirt is not my style..
But the words written totally spoke to my heart.
They reminded me to be humble and gracious
(not always my specialty)
when is comes to this touchy subject of modesty.

Check it out..

Modesty and Grace

And don't feel the need to enter me in the contest, my dear friend Jeane' already did;)

Monday, November 29, 2010

thanks for the love.

I'm heading to bed but wanted to say a quick but
to all my dear family and friends!!

Thank you for making this girl feel special
and loved on her 31st birthday.

Today, I enjoyed a quiet home.
I folded laundry, washed dishes and took out the trash
all. by. myself.
In case you're not sure -- this was a GOOD thing!
I love my precious family to death but sometimes I love being alone.
I can think, pray, sing as loud as I want -- I love it!!

Andy was off hunting (he got a nice buck by the way),
and the girls were on the annual Philadelphia trip with my family.
My pregnant self couldn't handle the Philly trip so I opted to stay home
(as opposed to riding in my grandmothers wheelchair).

I was a little bummed to miss the trip but my mom
{I mean, my awesome mom}
was sure to make my birthday happy!
This morning she delivered a suitcase I had my eye on at a yard sale
a few weeks ago but I was too cheap to buy it (imagine that!).
She then told me, there was a gift in each compartment of the suitcase!
I opened a gift every hour or fun:)
(and dad, even though I'm sure you have no idea what you got me )!!

My day was also full of phone calls, text messages, facebook shout outs, and cards.
Thank you all!!

I am grateful for the 31 years I've been blessed with so far
and look forward to what the Lord has for me and my family in the years to come!

Blessings to all of you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

o tannenbaum

Today we picked out, chopped down, and decorated our tree!
This year our tree is filled with colored lights,
a homemade paper chain,

ornaments the girls have made through the years,
and a crooked star.

Not my usual 'perfect' tree.

Our tree is usually filled with white lights, rustic stars,
old santas, ribbon and garland. A country/primitive look.
Perfect, right!?


The kids wanted a FUN tree.
(I guess my rustic stars weren't fun enough!?)
I'm not enjoying the tree quite as much as the kids
(honestly I miss MY tree)
But I will suck it up and enjoy their giggles and smiles
as the
y admire their work and the pretty colored lights!
(maybe next year we can get 2 trees?)

So here it is

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

turkey and the tree

We are thankful...

Sarah ~ for a husband who is committed to this journey of life with me, 3 healthy kiddos, a kitchen stocked with food, hot showers, my body pillow

Sophie ~ for my sister and my dad and my mom and my dog Charlie
(we gave the dog away but she's in denial...)

Ruby ~ for dinner, thanksgiving, snow, art supplies

Andy ~ for a healthy family and baby, my job

We are feeling blessed and thankful this Thanksgiving. We are looking forward to spending the day with The Byler family, eating delicious food prepared by my mother-in-law who is a fabulous cook! I can already taste it!! Mmmm.

I'm also really looking forward to Friday --
Every year the Friday after Thanksgiving marks the official start of Christmas in this house! We pick out and decorate our tree, turn on the Christmas music, and deck the halls!:) We'll be going easy on the decorating this year since the decorator (me) has not been feeling all that great. But I'm still excited to get out the ornaments and watch the girls go to town! This is something that can actually be hard for me (letting the girls go to town decorating). I love a perfect Christmas tree. I love every ornament spaced perfectly and every light placed in just the right spot to illuminate the ornaments in front of them. I need to remember the kids don't want a perfect tree. They want a tree that is 'OURS'( not mine). A tree they had a part in beautifying! And they love every second of it. So no matter how hard it is to see all the ornaments clustered in one spot at the bottom of the tree, I will not fix it! (pray for me on friday..)

I'll be sure to post pics of the tree Friday! Until then..
Enjoy your families and remember your blessings this thanksgiving!
Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

my birthday with brooke fraser

Last night was a good night!
Andy, myself and two dear friends headed to Philly to see

What a fun night!
The show was in a small cafe'
where we were able to enjoy a fabulous meal
while b
eing entertained by the lovely Brooke.

We were so close to the stage that I think Brooke may
have spit on us a time or two!?:)

I have a mild obsession with Brooke Fraser,
which has now grown into full on obsession!
(not really but I do love he

Why the obsession?
Well her music is f
(and she sounded great live)!
She is hilarious--she reminds me of a few of my girlfriends.
And she is obviously in love with God and reflects that not only in her music
but in her life.

If you're not familiar with Brooke check o
ut my playlist.
All the songs are Brooke Fraser or from Hillsong w
here Brooke is a worship leader
(another reason i love her).
I wish I could put more of her music on here but you can only post certain songs on your playlist (boooo).

Here are a few pics from the show.
And don't forget to crank up my playlist!

ps my birthday isn't until next week but this was my gift from Andy:)
Enjoy this beautiful day friends!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

laundry and flowers.

So I might be a tad behind on laundry this week...

In my defense I have not been feeling well
But still..

On a brighter note
these were waiting for me when I returned home
from the doctor last night
Thanks Andy:)

The little things you've done this week to help me have actually been HUGE!
Thanks for busting your butt to help around the house and with the kids.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tis' the season

Well Christmas is fast approaching! I love Christmas. I love the music, decorations, cookie baking, and time spent with loved ones.

But I also struggle this time of year. I cannot stand what Christmas has become. It has become about "things". I typically love giving to others but something happens to me a Christmas. I'm secretly a "Scrooge" (gasp)! I get so frustrated with what Christmas has become that I've allowed myself to have a bad attitude in recent years. I cringe when my kids open ANOTHER board game or when I see commercials that say "show her how much you love her with this diamond ring." My husband has not bought me a diamond since our engagement but I know that man loves me because he shows it with his actions and words (all year long)..not with something he bought.

My children do not need one more toy, or board game, or doll. I do not need a thing (well I could use a butter dish).'s CHRISTMAS so we spend too much money, we buy things we don't need, we stress over what to buy our in-laws, we wait in line for hours for the newest toy, etc. Why do we do this? Why can't Christmas be simple? Why can't it be about celebrating the birth of JESUS (remember him?) with our loved ones? Why do we (I) allow myself to be pressured into the hustle and bustle of the holidays?

I am determined to keep Christmas SIMPLE this year! I'm not saying my children won't get gifts, or that there will be no Christmas music or tree in my home. I just want to be more mindful about what this time of year is really about. I also want to be mindful of those around me. Christmas is not a happy time for many, many people. Whether they've lost a loved one, or lost their job, Christmas is a time of sadness for many.

What if our focus was not on shopping and material gifts but on loving those around us? What if our gift was spending time with the lonely widow from church? Or baking cookies for our neighbors (do you even know your neighbors? I don't.) Or packing a box of Christmas gifts for a child who will wake up to nothing Christmas morning. What if loving people, spending time with people, giving our genuine attention to the needs of others was our focus? I for one think that is what this season is about--Showing love to people the way God showed his love to us.

I'd love to hear how you and your family keep your focus on the real meaning of Christmas!

If you've lost sight of the real meaning what can you do this year to change that?

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?--Bob Hope

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Remembering Mommom Keim
I was just looking at my calendar to see what next week holds and how I need to prepare (i like to plan ahead).

As my eyes scanned through the week I saw 'Mommom' written on Nov. 16th
2 years ago this Tuesday, my grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer.

Mary Jane Keim
(who we lovingly called MJ, much to her disdain)
She loved shoes and shopping.
Loved being doted on.
And most importantly loved her family.

She definitely added some spice to the fam!
I miss spelling everything I said because she couldn't hear me.
I miss the question she asked EVERY time I saw her.."What do you know?"
(Umm, that's a pretty broad question...)
And I miss receiving the birthday cards with the familiar cursive writing and the generous $2 inside (teehee).

All jokes aside Mary Jane was a woman who everyone remembers as their favorite kindergarten teacher and as a woman who loved the Lord and wanted nothing more than to see her family (ALL of her family) come to know the Lord personally. That is the one thing we both shared...

We loved you and we miss you Mommom.last picture with mommom, mom, and my sisters
i cannot look at this photo without bursting into laughter!
this was the first time mommom held sophie...and probably the last:)
ruby and mommom shared the same birthday.

"What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see..."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

thankful for dirty dishes? yes.

thank God for dirty dishes
they have a tale to tell
while others may go hungry
we're eating very well

i will smile today as i wash my dishes with a full belly.
have a good one!

Monday, November 8, 2010

going once, going twice, SOLD!

Amidst all my pregnancy woes, a fire, and the stress of everyday life, we have MUCH to be thankful for!
Today we sold our house!!!

I thought I'd take a minute to update those of you who don't know what the deal is with our housing situation. This evening we sold our house at Public Auction. The auction could not have gone better! We actually got more for it than we had hoped (a total answer to prayers). Another huge thing is the guy who bought it is a young amish man with no wife or family, so he is in no rush to move in..which means we can live here until our new house is built!!
(another answer to prayer)

We will be building our new home just down the road from where we are now. After we square things away at the bank, and get those permits we will break ground!
Oh man, I cannot believe I'm writing all this!! I never thought I'd see this day:)

So the plan..
Have a baby mid March
Move into our new home mid March

I think March might be a tad crazy for us but a
GOOD crazy!

We are more than blessed.
We are so thankful to our Father for his favor and provision.
We are thankful to all our friends and family who have been covering us in prayer.
And we look forward to enjoying this season of blessings.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

pregnancy woes

I feel like my body is falling apart.
Being pregnant 4 years ago with Ruby was a breeze, in fact it was a great experience!
This pregnancy...not so much.
Everyday seems to bring a new pain or challenge.
Today my legs are in excruciating pain. I either crawl to where I need to go or Andy carries me (not an easy task these days).

I'm frustrated.
I have not felt like myself in weeks.
I often hide that fact because I feel bad to complain
(I of all people know what a miracle pregnancy is).
I also don't want to show my weakness.
I want to be one of those pregnant women who just glows as she totes her big beautiful belly in front of her.

I'm realizing I just need to admit that I'm not feeling well.
I'm semi miserable.
And I'm wearing compression stockings (talk about sexy).

My apologies if I've been rude to you or if you noticed I was avoiding you at church
(or if I avoid you again next Sunday).

All this complaining to say,
Your prayers would be appreciated.
Andy would appreciate them too:)

Much thanks and love.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's a...


We are thrilled to announce that we will welcome a little boy to the Byler family in March!:)
Poor little guy will have 3 moms and may receive a manicure or two courtesy of his big sisters.

Can't wait to meet our little man!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

setting up the pins

~ It can feel simple but it's really profound, setting up the pins for knocking them down ~

This little song made me smile:)

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 1, 2010


I woke up in a tizzy this morning. I knew I had a lot to do today and I knew our week was jam packed. I don't like that. I don't like rushing my family from one thing to another. I don't like being so busy that I can't stop to enjoy my family or my cup of coffee or notice the beauty around me, like the leaves changing color on the trees (I'm literally surrounded by beautiful trees but only seem to notice the annoying leaves that have already fallen).

So after huffing around for the first 20 minutes of my day, I stopped and said a prayer, gave myself a pep talk and apologized to Andy for attempting to make him miserable as well (he always wakes up cheery and it's semi annoying when I wake up cranky). He was quick to forgive and he even did the dishes before leaving for work so I could cross that off my to do list. (THANK YOU ANDY!!!)

I am quick to get overwhelmed and consumed by all that needs done in a day. I literally need to say "OK stop and eat". That's what I'm doing now. Taking a lunch break. Why shouldn't I? Anyone who works full time gets an hour lunch break. Why can't I SIT to eat my lunch and update my facebook status or blog (or both). Or flip on 'A Baby Story' for a half hour? I don't know maybe I'm lazy? Or maybe I'm a better mother and wife when I STOP. I'm much less cranky, stressed and overwhelmed when I take those little breaks throughout my day. And I know my family (especially Andy) appreciates a happy, pleasant to be around wife and mommy as opposed to an immaculate house. You know the saying "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" HA! This is true in our house:)

Andy and I are attempting to live a life that isn't over scheduled and hectic--something that seems impossible in the year 2010--everyone is busy ALL the time! Soccer, dance lessons, PTA, homework, church activities, it goes on and on and on....We do our best to find the balance in everything, but I'm realizing more and more that stopping needs to be a priority. Whether that means sitting down to dinner together every night and talking about our day, or watching a movie with Andy after the girls are in bed (which we just did last night), or just simply taking a lunch break! We need to STOP. Rest our bodies. Enjoy our families. Enjoy LIFE.

Well my lunch break (which has been interrupted about 50 times by a four year old who is having 'quiet time') is coming to a close. Time to finish the laundry and clean up the house before our company comes tonight! Have a fabulous day! Don't forget to STOP and enjoy it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

recording our worship

So if you know me..even just a know I love music. I've always loved music. And you know I love singing. In recent years however, I don't just like 'music' and I don't just want to 'sing'. I love WORSHIP. I love singing to Jesus. That's the easiest way I know how to communicate my feelings to Him. When I sing I am expressing my deepest feelings of love, gratitude, and joy. I can sing to Him when feelings of despair or sadness wash over me. It just overflows from the deepest part of my being.. it's something I can't even explain in words.

For years I had dreams of recording an album and actually was very close to doing just that as a teenager. I wanted to record an album for ALL the wrong reasons. SELFISH reasons. You know..fame, money, praise, ect. In the end I allowed the fear of failure to take away that dream by choosing to walk away (something I still regret at times).

But God is good. He is faithful. And he keeps his promises. This coming Sunday I will have the opportunity to record LIVE at Petra Christian Fellowship with an amazing group of musicians from our Worship Department! I am beyond excited to have this opportunity. Although I walked away from music years ago my dream of recording never died. The one thing that did change was my heart. I have no desire to be rich and famous (well rich wouldn't be so bad--teehee). My only desire is to bring glory to JESUS. The one who saved me. The one who has changed me (and continues to change) from the inside out. The only one who is worthy of fame. My desire (and the desire of the team) is to bring glory to Christ, bring others to know him, and help those who do know him enter straight into his throne room. We can only do that with HIS anointing.

I have had the time of my life working on this project and working with such gifted musicians. It is insane to watch a song go from lyrics and simple melody lines to an all out completed (and pretty rockin') song! God has gifted me in singing but I didn't get much in the creativity department (and that's fine). So it just boggles me to watch these guys make music! We have a pretty cool team and I'm so blessed to be working with everyone involved.

So come on out to Petra this Sunday! We'll be recording both services (9 am and 11am). We need all the voices we can get. So come and worship with us (then you can say you're on an album too)! If you can't join us please cover us in prayer!! Thank you friends!!:)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a nap (and some cookies)

So I've decided that every Wednesday I will post about the little things.
I will choose one little thing for the day that brings a smile to my face or has brightened that particular day.

Today that little thing was a NAP.
( it's only 11:00am)
The Byler household has not been getting enough sleep over the last several weeks
(for many reasons).
We are all a tad tired and cranky.

After rushing around this morning to get Sophie off to school and a trip to the store, I wasn't feeling well (I've been having bouts of dizziness the last couple of days--probably thanks to my crazy low blood pressure). I decided I had to lay down for a few minutes before making several dozen cookies for Friday's Big Fall Fest!

I told Ruby she could watch a movie, but she said "I want to lay down with you and snuggle" :) I fell asleep for 10 minutes or so as Ruby rubbed my back and twirled my hair. I woke up and she was smiling at me and said "hi Mama, can we bake cookies now?"

I'm glad I decide to stop and rest and snuggle my baby (well she's my baby for now).
These are the little moments I will cherish forever a
nd I'm going to enjoy them instead of feeling guilty.

Well, I'm off to bake cookies (and hopefully sneak a few licks from the bowl afterwards)

(a short time later..cookies are in the oven and Ruby is napping is a good day)
Here is a peek at our baking session.

:) the little things.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

taking off the mask.

Do you care what people think about you? Do you want everyone to like you? Do you hope to impress others with your mothering skills, your charm, or even your latest blog posting??? I don't. HA! I unfortunately care about some of these things TOO much. I'm 30 (almost 31) years old and I still want EVERYONE to like me. I cannot sleep if I know someone is mad at me or just plain doesn't like me. Why do I care? Um, good question. I also secretly hope that everyone thinks I have it together. I do not (shocking, I know). Hence the name of my blog..beautiful MESS!

I am currently learning the art of striving for excellence vs. perfectionism. I am also learning who I am in Christ. I'm learning to care only what God thinks of me and desires from me...not what all 400 facebook friends think of me. I'm finding so much rest in that. It is completely and totally exhausting to try to please everyone (not to mention completely and totally pointless).

So I really didn't want to go deep into this subject (sorry for the rambles...I really can't help it sometimes) but was hoping to make light of my short-comings and expose some of my imperfections--you know just put it out there--you may love me after this, you may be annoyed, you may relate, or you may think I'm odd..but that's OKAY! It's me. I don't want to live behind a mask. I don't want to play pretend. SO...

(this is scary

1. I ramble..a lot

2. I've struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life (probably caused from trying to please/impress everyone) -- although I am finding great victory in this area after receiving prayer and healing!

3. My bedroom often looks like that of a 15 year old. I just can't keep it clean??

4. I found 5 empty water bottles in my purse yesterday (better than last year, when I found a hamburger in it..remember that!?)

5. I have a learning disability. I'm still mortified about it to this day and try to keep that on the down low but there ya go..

6. I'm super impatient

7. I make up scenarios in my head that have never happened and probably never will happen but I plan out what I am going to say if/when this scenario plays out. Does anyone else do that? (I know one of you who does, but won't mention names:))

8. I used to drink (a lot) for fun but also to keep my anxiety and depression at bay (it didn't really work all that well, if you can imagine that)

9. I would have a unibrow if it wasn't for the fabulous invention of tweezers

10. I'm hoping the majority of you still like me after reading this! :o)

So there. I'm not perfect. Never will be (on this side of heaven anyway). And I no longer want to strive to be perfect, or to be loved by all. I'm just gonna strive to please HIM. Strive to be more like him. Strive to be who HE created me to be.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Super Size Me.


I know I'm a little behind the times but I just watched

I don't know what else to say.

But there will be some changes in this household.
I need to ponder what these changes will be
(and discuss with Andy, who was equally disturbed)!

I do know...
No more fast food.
No more school lunches
(which we only buy when I want to sleep an extra 10 min--guess i'll go to bed 10 min early).
And you know what?
I AM going to get those chickens I was thinking about!
And I AM going to start a garden this spring
(and take care of it)!

Like I said, I need to ponder some more.

Any movie or literature suggestions on this subject would be appreciated.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Share Your Compassion

I was delighted today as I was going through my mail to find a letter from one of our Compassion children, Elias. Elias is a 7 year old boy from Guatemala. My family has committed to sponsoring Elias financially ($38 a month) and we are committed to praying for him and his family daily. I smiled as he wrote that he was enjoying school (he struggled last year and asked us to pray) and was surprised when he said he keeps our picture in the drawer by his bed. We have totally fallen in love with Elias, a little boy we've never met but is a part of the Byler family. My children speak daily of Elias and they NEVER forget to pray for him at dinner (even if mommy and daddy do forget).

If you know me, you know I carry a burden for the poor, the hungry, and the orphaned. I always have. My parents raised me to be aware of the needs around me and the importance of helping others. As I grew into adulthood the burden grew. It was growing because I wasn't doing anything to help those less fortunate than me. I just felt sorry for them. What good does that do anyone?

In addition to sponsoring children, and having the opportunity to go on several missions trips, I've determined to bring awareness to these issues. Wait--I don't like how that sounds--these are not issues, they are human beings. People living and breathing, RIGHT NOW. How can we as fellow human beings NOT do something!? What if you hadn't been born in America? What if you were trying to figure out how you were going to feed your children dinner? What if your only hope was that someone would answer the call of love and sponsor your child?

Let me share a excerpt from Kay Warren's book 'Dangerous Surrender'

"It's very easy for us to remain aloof and untouched by the suffering that defines the existence of the vast majority of people on this planet. I have read that if you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the people in this world! If you have any money in the bank and some in your wallet and some spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy"

Luke 12:48 To whom much is given, much is required.

I know times are 'tough' with the economy but we are STILL more fortunate than most in the world. Consider giving up your daily Starbucks and brewing your coffee at home, or gather your spare change on your dresser and start a "Compassion Jar"...I'm sure if you get creative you can come up with $38 a month.

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" -Mother Teresa


I pray that each person that reads this will see how blessed you are and I pray that you go straight from this blog to the Compassion website (I'll add a link) and change the life of one child.

"If you can't feed one hundred people, then just feed one" - Mother Teresa


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the little things.

It doesn't take much to make me happy. A good cup of coffee, the sound of the screen door slamming in the summer, laundry blowing on the line, reading a book by the woodstove--all these things bring a smile to my face and give me that warm fuzzy feeling.

Check out my new coffee mug! Oh how HAPPY it makes me!!! I don't know what it is but there is just something so cozy about walking out of a coffee shop with the little styrofoam cup warming your hands (especially on a day as raw and cold as this one). I've always loved it BUT always felt a tad guilty about the wasted money and even worse about throwing the cup in the trash--not very "earth friendly". Now I can pretend I just walked out of the coffee shop but without the guilt!
I LOVE IT!! Like I said, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

I think there is a lot to be said about appreciating the little things in life. It can get us through those hectic days with a smile. So what little things make
YOU happy? What gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling? Do tell.

Well here's to the little things! Enjoy your day...I'm off to make some decaf to fill my mug.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Make Me a Servant

Have you ever heard God speak so clearly you could not deny it was him? Have you ever wished that maybe he had said something else? For the last year and a half I've been wrestling with what I knew I heard God speaking to me. He was clearly telling me that I am called to serve my family JOYFULLY, put more time and thought into making our home a place of peace and security for my family, I am to serve my husband even on the days I don't feel like it, and I need to make hospitality a priority..even if my house isn't as fabulous as I'd like it to be.

Now obviously I love my family and they are my number one priority but in recent years I've been getting by with doing the bare minimum. You know..trying to figure out what to have for dinner at 5:30 only to realize I don't have half the ingredients the recipe calls for, so I make grilled cheese (again). Or letting the house get a tad to messy and then panicking when someone unexpectedly pulls in the driveway to visit (i dead seriously hid in my bedroom once so I didn't have to answer the door and explain the mess)! Or just having a really crappy attitude as I did my chores for the day and making my family completely miserable with me.

But God continued to speak to my spirit. Serve your family. Not because you love them but because you love me and I am calling you to this. Serve me by serving them. I heard him but WAIT! I have other plans God!! Bigger, better plans!! I have dreams and hopes and I think you could REALLY use me in this other area (an area where people would see me and praise me). Don't you want to give me the desires of my heart? My desire is not to be June Clever. I will love my family and take care of them but I also want to be out in this broken, hurting world making a difference..not washing dishes 4x's a day in the seclusion of my tiny house.

Just recently I decided that if God has spent a year trying to get my attention on this matter then maybe there was good reason. Maybe I should hear him out and give this "serving my family" thing a try. So I decided I would wake up the next day at the crack of dawn, prepare a hot breakfast, clean furiously all day, taking a break only to prepare our meal from scratch, and of course I needed a dessert! I did all these things..but I was overwhelmed with feelings of stress, anger, anxiety, annoyance, etc, etc. I had decided to take action and serve but my heart was not that of a servants. God wanted a servants heart not just the service. Now what?

I laid it at HIS feet. I asked him to transform my heart. I asked him to fill me with his joy. I asked him to fill me with the desire to serve my family the way he was asking me to. Can you guess what happened? Yep, slowly but surely I began to feel a change. It didn't happen overnight and I'm still allowing him to work in me and change me but I can honestly say, I find great joy in making a hot, yummy meal for my family every night. I enjoy getting up early to get the coffee brewing so I can pour a cup for Andy. I enjoy serving my kids by just sitting on the floor and reading to them or playing their favorite game. I enjoy bringing glory to God by washing my dishes with a happy heart. I no longer think God has asked me to serve my family as a punishment or to make me miserable. I think he just wants to show me more of who he is. Jesus was a servant. His heart was that of a servant's. He did everything he did to bring glory to his Father. If I want to be more like Christ (which is my greatest desire) than I need to be willing to die to myself everyday and put my family above my dreams, hopes, and desires. God knows my desires and I truly believe that someday he WILL use me in those areas but if I can't humbly serve here in my home for the people I love the most than how can he possibly use me to serve outside of my home to a hurting world?

I love the ways of God. I love that he knows what we need and even if correction is what we need he does it with such gentleness and love. And BOY is he patient!!! :)

So what is God speaking to you? Are you listening or stubbornly standing your ground?


PS Have a testimony to share? I seriously would love to hear how God has/or is moving in your heart and life! Let's encourage one another!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Here Goes Nothing...

Well..I'm gonna do it...become a blogger, I mean. I have SO many thoughts in this little head of mine (hence all the facebook and twitter updates) that I thought I'd share some of them here...with you. Especially for some of my techno-challenged friends who do not have a facebook (Missy, Glenda, Holly..yeah I think you're the only 3)! This blog will probably be random, as I can be quite random myself:) We'll see where this'll probably get a glimpse of the Byler household, my love for Jesus and leading others to his throne through worship, my aching heart for the poor, needy, and orphaned, and you might even see a tad of my twisted humor!:) So I hope you'll join me and I hope you enjoy my random musings!