Nine years ago today, I was nervously getting ready for a wedding rehearsal and folding programs with little brown satin ribbons on them.
We practiced walking down the old carpet in the tiny chapel and we played it super cool. We ate Italian food in the fellowship hall, with checkered table clothes and garden lights. I made strawberry smoothies with my cousins and watched a movie and went to bed early.
My dad would marry us and my aunt would play piano and my cousins would sing and my dad would also put a peanut butter cracker on the communion table as a joke. We would say “I do” and Cameron would attempt to wipe my tears away by literally smearing them down my face.
No dancing or toasts or extra attention, thankyouverymuch. A reception my mother (and her crew of workhorses) worked really hard to decorate and prepare food for. We would have iced coffee instead of champagne and we would chat with friends instead of throw a bouquet. We would leave amidst family cheers, heading to a honeymoon in the mountains and our first Thanksgiving together.
I loved our wedding. I loved our wedding photos. Our wedding day was beautiful and clear and cool and we had so much fun.
But those dancing, dipping, laughing kids up there? I barely know them. Nine years ago us had no.blooming.clue. We were wounded and scared and hiding and saying “I do” had not begun to peel back the layers injury we’d carefully wrapped around our hearts.
God, who is rich in mercy, somehow let us see in each other what was possible with grace.
He gave us the gift of bumbling through those first few years, peeling back anxiety, fear, pride, strongholds and, amidst lots of yelling, He started to administer the sort of love only possible when and a man and a woman are surrendered to Christ. He used the fire in Cameron’s bones to keep me from backing down, cowering in fear and kowtowing to anxiety. He used my persistence and persuasion to compel Cameron out of the darkness and into the light. He used our collective determination and willingness to let stuff go to make room for healthy conflict resolution. We take an argument by the horns and don’t let it go until it’s resolved. Nothing festers here. We drag it into the light and we call sin sin and we call each other to higher living.
We hardly recognize ourselves now – and this is a good thing.
We met one hot summer after I spent three months refusing to be introduced to him. We dated for six months before getting engaged on Valentine’s Day (much to my horror. Cliche, much?). We were engaged for nine months -almost to the day- of our wedding. We were married for two years when we experienced our first miscarriage – twins. Two years and two more miscarriages later, we welcomed our daughter through adoption. When she was 18mos old, we started saying “yes” to adoption again – three times we’ve walked through the open door, three times God’s said No. Not this time. Not this baby. Not your family.
It’s a good thing we are being made new. Because now? A decade into our love story and nine years into our marriage? We can walk together – equally yoked, equally passionate, equally gifted & called, equally made in the image of Christ and equal to the task of waiting for another baby. We can wait with grace -and without sometimes-, because our home has been made into a safe place for the (now) three of us.
We are being made new and we are known and so we take one step at a time, one day at a time.
Tomorrow, there will be flowers. (I know, because I ordered them. Nine years in and we’ve agreed it’s just best for all if I direct that.)
And there will be a date day sponsored by two selfless parents and one generous friend.
We will get to sleep in.
And we will wake up and say, “I do. I do. I do.” all over again, till death do us part.
Love you, whodie. Glad to be your wife.
We’ve had so many sweet people book mini-sessions to help support our adoption fundraising efforts! Enjoy the gallery below of images from our mini-sessions, plus a few more I’ve taken in recent years. I am still taking on appointments for fall portraits – but the get-them-done-for-Christmas window is narrowing quickly! You can use the contact button over there —-> to reach out, if you’re interested in booking a session to support our adoption!
Recently I have found myself making book recommendations.
WHICH I NEVER DO. I am terrified of making recommendations. For most of my life, I have adopted my parents’ method of sharing books or movies, which is to say, “I [enjoyed it, was bored by it, really liked it, this one was okay], but I won’t recommend it.” It has rarely mattered how I felt about the book or film, I have never been willing to recommend it. Because what if the person to whom I recommend said piece HATES IT and then says, “Well, Sarah recommended it to me…”?!
I just can’t handle the risk. I am not a risk taker. I am a calculated, chronic over-thinker. One who does not recommend books. [Aside: I recently learned I am a six on the enneagram, which has totally wrecked me and explained half of my over-thinking all at once. I hate it and I love it, which is characteristic of a six. UGH.]
At any rate. I am now becoming the book sommelier (is there a word that works better for this?) for my mom and my aunt and a few other friends. This is making me think about books differently. In a good way. I can’t handle thinking I might give a book to my mom that has a sex scene in it (HORRORS) and I want the books to be realistic, but I don’t want them to be too sad, since all three of us are in the reader camp that believes “life is already sad, I don’t read for realism, I read for escape”.
To get here, I had to learn what kind of books I like to read and then be brave enough to admit it. Prime example: I still keep my Shopaholic books in the drawer of my nightstand and put my more intellectual reads on the bookshelf in the living room because as funny as I find Becky, I am just a wee bit embarrassed that I read her. It took me a while to find what I liked, too, because once I was out of school, I kept reading like I was in school for a while. I know. I’ve been out of college for over 12 years. Good grief. It took me a minute.
Sometimes I read for the intellectual challenge or for personal/spiritual growth. That is another post altogether. Right now, I’m evaluating and sharing what I’ve learned about reading for pleasure. So, in the spirit of not recommending anything, here are my tips for finding a good read:
- Decide what you really, genuinely like in a book. I like books that make me think, but not books that require me to take notes in order to retain. Sometimes I want to just be entertained for a minute, sometimes I want to feel the way I feel when I am taking a walk alone outside or reading poetry. I like books about books, books about authors or readers, books about bookstores, tiny bakeries, women “finding themselves” (no romance necessary), books with occasional recipes thrown in, I like books with a hint of mystery (but nothing scary – I have a vivid imagination), and I usually like historical fiction, depending on the era. A little romance is okay, but if the leads keep hopping into bed, I’m done. A little suspense is alright, but if it creeps me out, I bail. I want to enjoy the book, I don’t want to acquire a taste for it.
- Investigate what other people like to read. I am a huge fan of Anne Bogel over at Modern Mrs. Darcy and get a lot of my reading suggestions from her. Anne has a podcast called ‘What Should I Read Next?‘, wherein she matches people with books, based on their preferences. I sometimes search for summer reading lists on Pinterest. Occasionally I text my high school English teacher and ask her what she’s been reading lately. And I just re-established my GoodReads account, so I can keep track of what I’m liking and maybe find some more good reads for the fall.
- Be willing to wander. Sometimes I just wander the local library or bookstore. I read the jackets and then see who wrote promo for the book. If an author I really like writes a review for a particular book, the chances I will take that home are increased by 35%. (Okay, I totally made that up. But the chances do go up.) I am also more influenced by the cover or jacket than I entirely necessary. I want my books to be pretty, too! If I love a book, I may or may not own several copies, if I find pretty ones.
- Be willing to bail. Blessed be the library. Borrowing books wins here! I have NO guilt whatsoever when I bail on a book I borrowed! Occasionally – very rarely – I will buy a book with little to no research and then discover that I cannot finish it. And then I feel super crappy for bailing on a book I now own and have broken the binding on. (I am a binding-breaker. Another issue for another post. Probably in a list with the Oxford comma and other quirky things.) ANYWAY. When you borrow from the library you are utterly, completely free to bail on a book you hate with zero remorse! And unless you are in some strange competition with yourself, I urge you: BAIL ON THE BOOK. You only have so much time. Don’t read a book you hate.
There you have it. Best practices for being bookish.
I figure reading should be fun, but it can also take a little work to find what makes it fun.
Totally worth it.
And if you must know, this is what’s on my nightstand right now:
And you can check out my Goodreads here, to see what I’ve read, liked, not liked and what’s on my to-be-read list!
I am asking God for a very specific thing and quoting His words back to Him directly in so doing. I think I will be changed as I do this.
I am considering that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.
I am writing out words every day and calling it an actual goal, instead of hiding behind “I don’t make goals because I always quit them”.
I am the Mystery Reader this week in my kid’s preschool class. I will be reading Max and Tallulah, a colorful storybook about two zebra friends. One friend believes he must do wild and exciting things to capture the attention of the other. But all along, she is waiting for him to just be himself. This is what I want for my daughter – to be completely herself. And that can be wild and exciting, or can be quiet and dreamy.
I am praying for a baby. I am crafting a bajillion things to sell in our “shop handmade for Christmas and support our adoption” shop that will go live in late October. Gestation through crafts. Whatever works.
I am making new friends.
I am going to stop eating sugar, probably, maybe, starting next week. Because good things start on Mondays. Or maybe I will start on Sunday. But I think my whole self will feel better if I do this.
I am slowing down the speed with which I agree to various commitments. Life is inexplicably faster, with a kid in pre-k and a husband on staff at a large church in a big city. And last week I felt swept away. So I am starting to stay “no” and I am very excited about it.
So, I am really very brave, you see.
this original photograph & quote available in our adopt shop as a print! click the image to view the shop.
Every day I learn a little more of how little I know. How little I am in charge of.
Last week, new friends (met through our shared consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants) flew to our state when they got the call that their daughter had been born. A month ago, when we exchanged numbers and started texting, this family had not yet been matched. And last week, I got to meet them at the airport, as they flew into a tropical storm, to meet their baby daughter. They waited on pins & needles for her brave birth mother to sign consents, but flew anyway – believing God would sustain them in the outcome.
During that same tropical storm that elevated into a hurricane, my cousin & her family spent two days without power (with a teething baby). Her best friend had a tree come through the roof and they stayed up all night mopping and swapping out buckets of water to make sure their house didn’t flood. The community is working together to meet the needs of the families who suffered from the storm.
Friends from back home are experiencing that unique sadness that comes when a spouse grows ill. The wife is not doing well and Thing A cannot be used to help unless Thing B changes…and thing B is not changing. The husband is watching and praying and…that’s it.
Isn’t that all any of us can do? Watch. Pray.
I don’t care for this method most days. I want to be DOING something. I want to be FIXING it or making it right or contributing to wellness or completion or whatever. I don’t want to watch and pray.
A friend told me recently that her bestie is adopting. This is their family’s first adoption and as they go through the process, they are experiencing the ups and downs we all do. (Note: for the record, the adoption process may follow a general timeline, but each family’s experience is incredibly nuanced. Have mercy.)
The bestie remarked to our mutual friend something in the spirit of: “The finances are such a big hurdle. And as we work to save and raise the funds, I realize that I get more caught up in praying for the money than I do praying for our child.”
Basically a sledgehammer to my heart.
It is hard enough to believe that God’s best for us is adoption: we can do nothing to speed this along or make it happen.
It is hard to consider that we must believe God for around $35,000: we can only do so much to work towards this. It’s humbling.
It is hard to watch and pray, when there is a frantic push in my spirit to WORK hard for that money, so we can JUSTIFY what we’re doing. What if people think we should have more of it than we do? What if people find it an unnecessary expense? Like many pregnant women discover, TOTAL STRANGERS suddenly have lots of opinions and questions.
It’s hard. It’s hard and I’m “septembering” and I am not getting a cold, I am just not going to get one and as I sit here with agency paperwork in the other room and photo sessions to book…I don’t want to watch and pray. I want to lay on my couch and cry and beat my fists into the cushions and wonder why it has to be this way.
Because autumn is coming and then winter and didn’t it just get light again outside?
And inside – didn’t I just get light again inside?
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