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;)