Mother's Day reminds me that everyone's story is different.
Ours started just six months into marriage.
We got pregnant six months into marriage. That was not anywhere near the plan. And that positive pregnancy test wrecked me. I knew I was supposed to be excited, that life is a miracle, that children are a gift from the Lord, that there were others who longed to be in my place. But I was crushed under the weight of uncertainties, the permanence of that change, the loss of foundational time with Spencer, desires and dreams being put on hold, and being constantly crazy sick. That gift of motherhood so early on in marriage did not feel like a good gift from a good Father.
As a freshmen at my local community college, I went with my mom to her women's Bible study. It was Beth Moore's Daniel study and I knew the host because she was the mom of a good friend from middle school, so I decided to go. I was by far the youngest, the one marked by a different generation. But I was immediately welcomed and accepted.
The host was Cathy.
She was someone whose home I always loved being in. Even in those awkward middle school days, I knew there was something different about this home. It was one that made anyone feel welcome and accepted.
Cathy was like that. She treated hospitality like a gift and offered it to all. Even with my friend away at college, she never treated me different but just considered me part of the Bible study group. Even after my mom wasn't able to attend, I stayed with that group of ladies for at least three different studies. Those Bible studies left a lasting imprint on me, because of what I learned and because of the community I was part of. I loved going; I loved soaking up with Word with other women; I loved being known and prayed for and respected despite my age. (And I loved Cathy's breakfast casserole!)
Cathy became one of the few people in my life I consider to be a spiritual mom. I never told her that, but now I have a suspicion she knows.
Winter is a hard season. The cold weather and overcast skies takes a toll on me; they take a toll on our family. We are sunshine and warm weather people for sure. But there is something to be thankful for in every season. And there is usually something learned in every season as well as things to enjoy. So as my excitement for the coming Spring grows, I'm also trying to reflect on and grow from what has been.
As the cold comes and the Advent season is upon us, I began to think back over the past couple months. We welcomed into our arms our sweet little Claire in September, and so this fall has been a journey into all things new as a family of four. Its been hard, but its been sacred. The Lord has been so gracious and kind in this new season. And in looking back I've seen the four reminders my heart needed to hear.
I’m a processor. Whenever I get asked a question, whether of little importance or great, I need time to gather my thoughts. If I have to give an immediate answer I usually reply with some jumbled mess and then later on think of all the things I should have said, meant to say, and actually think.
I was reminded of this a few days ago. Combine my need-time-to-process-personality with past-due-date-pregnancy-hormones and you get a bit of a messy, awkward situation.
I've dealt with a lot of change throughout my life. And although I have learned to be pretty flexible and adaptable, I've always struggled with finality. I have to take time to process things. And I process them deeply.
Whether it's saying goodbye to a person or a place or a job or a season of life, I can't simply walk away with ease. Finality always brings with it a heaviness on my heart. Knowing something will be forever changed or different weighs strongly on me.
At the end of 2015, I thought about the word I wanted to mark my 2016. I wanted a word for the year to lay claim to throughout and to refer back to on the discouraging days. And although that word was in clearly in front of me as 2016 approached, this is the first time I've announced it.
Uncertainties marched into 2015 with us, so my word for last year was able. I clung to the truths found in Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
We needed provision in every way--a job, a home, a church, friends, a car, furniture, community. All I could do, all we could do, was trust in the God who is able. We didn't know how He would provide, but we knew He would. And He did. In some ways it wasn't what we necessarily prayed for or wanted, but His provision is so good. I'll always look back to that year as a marker of my God who is able.
So as 2016 approached, I wanted to lay claim to it. As we thought about our photography business and my writing career and making friends and building community, the word that kept coming to mind was courage.
I had a goal to read 25 books last year. And I didn't quite make it. Which bums me out because I'm pretty competitive and like reaching goals. But I have to remind myself I read more than the year before and that was an accomplishment.
I learned that sometimes the journey towards the goal is just as important, if not more important, than reaching the goal itself.
Who you become along the way, and what you learn along the way, is way more important than simply being able to say you got there.
These are the books I read last year:
I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this.
Last week I wrote down my goals for this year.
Guys, it was the last week of April. It's May now. Writing down my goals has been on my to-do list since the end of 2015. And I just now did it.
But I did it.
And that's the lesson I learned from this. It is never too late to start.
As I laid in bed yesterday with a migraine I found myself getting discouraged because I couldn't apply what I had learned from the weekend at the Tribe Conference. I couldn't take action after being so energized to do so. But as I continued in the migraine state of fighting pain but not being able to fall asleep, I reminded myself of why I write.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.