A Mama's Heart

So, I haven't blogged anything in several months. It certainly hasn't been for lack of activity, news, or something to say. And, thankfully, it hasn't been because I'm not learning much from the Lord these days. There's something about hard situations + leaving what's comfortable and known to help me learn. 

It's probably just because there is so much going on, it's hard to stop and think about what to say. It's often felt like there is so much to say, it's easier just to say nothing. 

But something I read today reminded me of something that I like about having a blog...a simple chance to share what I am learning.

Baby Sandwick #2...aka Little S
First, I should share some VERY exciting and significant news for our family...baby #2 is on the way. We are so thankful for this gift, and for each day we get to enjoy him/her, and pray for the opportunity to meet him or her this fall.

Our little girl, Erin, is at SUCH a FUN age. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE being her mom! She is so busy, curious, spirited and a joy to be with. I love watching her personality develop. What I long for her most is that she will have a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus, and that she will devote herself to Him. And I pray this for our new baby too. 

I know that this is something that I cannot control, that it has to be each of their decisions to make. But I also know that the Bible is clear about my role in discipling, training, correcting, disciplining, teaching and loving them as their mama. 

On my own, I'm scared to death of this task. Being a mom is really hard at times...and I'm not that far into it. I know more challenging days are ahead.

But, the Lord doesn't ask me to do it on my own. In fact, He plainly says that I can't do anything that will bear fruit without Him. Jesus said, 
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

And so, as I daily learn (and prayerfully grow) in my role as a mama, I am grateful for the examples of those I can seek to follow. My own mom, family and friends who are ahead of me in parenting and those who are right alongside, and those who have gone far before me. I love biographies, but I haven't read one in awhile. In the last few months, I've started 2, both about great leaders in the Christian faith, and how their faith led them to be used by God to change the world they lived in. 

What has struck me about both of these stories that I am not far into yet, is the roles of their mamas. How both of them had moms who loved Jesus, who taught and discipled their children, and considered it a sweet privilege to do so. They were steadfast in discipline, and as Adam and I are entering the world of disciplining our own little girl, I am learning how painful it can be to truly discipline a child out of love, and how easy it would be to give in to laziness in this area. 

I read something today that really struck me. It's the story of Amy Carmichael, an Irish girl who grew up to be a missionary in India in the 19th and 20th centuries. When she hears God tell her to go, she was in her early 20s and the oldest of several kids. One of her first thoughts was for her own mama, who had been widowed, and how much she needed Amy. When she wrote to tell her mom what she believed God was calling her to, it's obvious that the pain she caused her mom grieved Amy - yet she was certain of God's call to obedience. 

What has struck me most is her mother's reply to Amy's plans. She wrote, 
"My own Precious Child, 
He who hath led will lead all through the wilderness, 
He who hath heard thy cry will never close His ear, 
He who hath marked thy faintest sigh will not forget thy tear.
He loveth always, faileth never, 
So rest on Him today - forever. 

Yes, dearest Amy, He has lent you to me all these years...He is yours - you are His - to take you where He pleases and to use you as He pleases. I can trust you to Him and I do...All day He has helped me, and my heart unfailingly says, 'Go ye.'"

Wow. The bond between this mama and her firstborn is obvious...yet, both were willing to lay down that relationship to be obedient to the Lord. For Amy, to go, and for her mom, to send.

As I pray that God makes me into a mama with a faith like this one, to see my children as gifts that are lent to me that I am accountable to steward well...but that they are not mine, they are His... I will also pray for my children that they will hear God and obey. 

Oh, Lord, help me to abide in You...  


Update Number Three ~ Our New House!

the new home
After months and months of looking, we finally found a house! We are so excited and thankful. We close in a couple weeks, and we cannot wait to move in and begin this next chapter of our lives. 

Looking for houses has been quite the process...definitely full of ups and downs. I loved getting to go through it with Adam, but I will be happy if we don't have to do this again for a long, long time. 

I really really really like our new house. I mean, it's pretty much the cutest house I've ever seen, and the neighborhood is where we wanted to be. There are lots of kids, and a good mix of homes, and they all have a lot of character. 

When we started this process, I thought that I knew what kind of house or size of house we would end up. It was incredibly tempting to spend more than we said we could to get just a little more space, or a little more updated, or this, or that. I am incredibly grateful for the convictions my husband had and held firm to during this buying process. We knew what we could afford, and what we couldn't, and he didn't budge from that...even when I would be tempted to, I'm sad to say.

One of the best things about this process was getting to go through it with Adam. We learned tons about each other - what we like and don't like, how we make decisions, how we research things, and what are the most important things in a home for each of us. Not surprisingly, we didn't always agree...which led to our fair share of arguments discussions. But I am thankful for those because conflict done well leads to deeper intimacy in a relationship, and I feel like I know my husband even better than I did before. And that would be worth going through again. 

Come see us up here in OK anytime! We'll have a guest room for you. I'll post more pictures once we get settled in. 


Update Number Two ~ One Year Pics

Sweet Erin endured some cold weather for her one-year pictures...officially marking the end of her monthly pictures. What a fun year it has been!

I tried to take her pictures by myself, and got her all bundled in her snowsuit from Auntie Suz...unfortunately the cold weather, the snow on the ground and basically everything else was far more interesting to her than looking at my camera. 

Here was Round 1...don't worry, we weren't out there for long!

After I took this one, I realized we should probably go inside...

Thankfully, Adam came home from work at lunch and helped me take a second round, and did an amazing job making our little girl smile. Some of the snow had melted too so I don't think she was as chilly either. 

Happy Birthday, Miss Erin! We love you, and are so thankful for you.


Update Number One ~ Erin's Birthday

Oh my. It has been awhile since I sat down to write on this little blog. And it's not for lack of something to say... maybe there's so much to say that I didn't know how to decide what to write. It could also be that we haven't had internet access at our house for a few weeks. But thanks to my hunky husband, we now are back online. So, instead of trying to cram everything into one post, I'll just start with this one, and see how far we get.

I guess first things first....our sweet little Erin Grainne turned 1! 
snow! it made the perfect background for her one year pictures.
1 years old...12 whole months. She's in her crib laughing right now, even though it's 1.5 hours after her bedtime. Maybe she's pushing for a later bedtime now that she's such a big girl.

Her birthday was SO.MUCH.FUN. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if friends from Dallas could have been here. It was strange to me to not celebrate her first birthday where she had spent most of her life, but we were completely overwhelmed and blessed by all our Oklahoma family and friends who showed up to celebrate with us. 

Here are some pictures from Erin's big day...
the birthday girl. i asked erin's aunt b to make her a tshirt with a 1 on it, and she surprised us with a matching skirt. erin looked adorable...
family pic to start the day in front of our family birthday bunting banner. i hope to bring it out every year on our birthdays!
a cool pic from the morning. our glass storm door fogs up when it's hot inside and cold outside. the high for that day was 28 degrees. so much for all the kids playing outside. 
we are living in a rental house, and haven't decorated too much since most of our stuff is still packed in boxes. for the party i dug out 3 bulletin boards and filled them with erin's monthly pics, and Bible verses that we have been praying for erin. 
this was one of my favorite things about the day. i'm not much of a party favor person - seems like usually they end up in the trash and since we were on a pretty tight budget, i thought we wouldn't do them. but then...a barnes and noble gift card + a good price online + a good reason = AWESOME party favors. a friend gave erin this Bible, the Jesus Storybook Bible, after she was born, and we have loved reading it with her. every story is written in great kid language, and it explains how the whole Bible points to Jesus. plus, the illustrations are pretty incredible. our prayer for each of these kids, and for erin, is that God's word will be implanted in their hearts at an early age, and that their lives will be different because of it.
our back patio...
my parents came up for the party and were tons of help. i'm so glad they were here...it wouldn't have felt complete without them here. here's my dad trying to figure out a way to hang the pinata.
my sweet mom...she did everything from sweep the floor to cook the chili to keep miss erin smiling the whole time. she even got up with erin the morning after the party so adam and i could sleep in a little.  
erin's cake...you can see her little cupcake to the left. this cake was for the adults...homemade carrot cake. so delicious. however...
...erin wasn't too sure what to think of the whole cake idea.
this was about as messy as she wanted to get.  
memaw and papaw sandwick were lots of help too, and loved having all their kids and grandkids together at one time!

love this pic of erin with her daddy...especially how she's resting her little hand on his chest, and how they are cheek to cheek.
the biggest hit of the party...2 packs of orange and blue balloons. i wish i had a picture of all the kids playing with them...it was hilarious. they took over our whole house so i had to pop them all one day during her nap time. 
it was a little too hectic at the party to get great pictures, so we tried giving her a cupcake again the next day. once again, she was a little more interested in the pinwheel.

overall, it was a wonderful day. we are so thankful for erin, and she is definitely a gift to us. adam did an awesome job sharing with everyone about the Jesus Storybook Bibles, and why it's important for us as parents to teach erin God's word. he explained how we think it's our number one job as parents to love her in a way that will make it easy for her to believe in loving heavenly father. 
Erin's birthday was so much fun - thank you to all our sweet friends and family who celebrated with us! We're so glad you came. I wish I would have got more pictures from the day, especially of all the friends and family who were there. We can't wait until next year!


11 Month Season

So, here we are at January 26th, over 2 weeks since Erin officially turned 11 months old. With all that has been going on in our family...still living on the generosity of our parents' as we are 'between homes' right now and Adam went to Uganda for 10 days and Erin is moving around so much these days so it's hard to get a good pic...I'm just hoping to get these pictures posted before she turns one. Which is right around the corner...so hard to believe. 

With all that in mind, I've decided that this will be her 11 month 'season.' Being a 'season', there's no reason that these pictures should have been posted on January 11th. Let's be honest, despite what that little index card says, none were taken on that day. That was the day I was trying to get Adam, Erin and myself packed for 10 days away.

My first idea was to grab pictures as we were helping Adam get ready for his big trip to Africa! I am so proud of my husband for going with such a willing and excited heart. I knew that he would be an incredible addition to the stellar team, and I was trying to do anything I could do help him get ready. He wanted In-n-out for his final American meal...hence the first attempt at 11 month pictures. 

Looking at these fun pictures, I probably could have just stopped there, and posted them on that day. And we'd be done. But I wanted to try more spots, and since I had Honey around to help, I took advantage. 
Round 2 - the front porch at my parents'. 
I mean, if you can't wear hot pink boots with the fur when you're 11 months old, when can you? And that grin!?! I love it!

Again, I could have stopped with these pictures. But while I was in Dallas, I kept looking at a sweet rocking chair that my parents have for Erin. It is ADORABLE, and I really wanted to use it for pictures. So I tried a few of those, too. I love this rocker so much, you may see it again sometime later. 

Her best trick in this funny little rocker was spinning all the way around. I have no idea how she learned this, but I think it's hilarious. It's not unlike the way she sits on hardwood or tile floors, spinning around on her little bootie, keeping her legs out straight the whole time.  
Erin Grainne,
Happy 11 month {season}! Your dad and I are absolutely crazy about you. Your smile and your laugh are infectious, and the Lord has used you in sweet ways this month to remind me of His presence and His comfort. It's been a big month for you. You've been working on new teeth, you are walking around with the help of furniture, a grown-up's hands, or a fun little walker. You are {finally} crawling on all 4s, with your belly off the ground. 

You got to experience your very first Christmas {a whole post about that is coming soon} - out here in the world, that is. We had such a fun time celebrating with you. You actually got to celebrate it twice - once with Daddy's side of the family, and once with my side. You are blessed to have so many people who love you so much, Erin. We pray that you will have lots of fun Christmas memories, but most of all, that you will love the One whom we celebrate - JESUS. We love getting to teach you about Jesus, and how He has changed our lives.

You've grown a little pickier with food this month...that's not the most fun for us, but maybe we need to get used to that. You did enjoy a visit to the greatest college town in the US this month...College Station, TX. {Full post later} I can hear the whoops now. You were such a champ in the car - I think you loved having your little buddy Serenity with you back there. 

You spent 10 days without Daddy. That was pretty rough on you, but you pulled through. Before he left, he made you a video of his goodnight routine, and when you would hear his voice, you'd settle right down. You slept better the night he came home than you had since we moved out of our apartment 2 months ago. 

You continue to adjust to life in OK pretty well...probably better than your momma is doing. I love getting to stay home with you - it is such a gift that Daddy works so hard so that I can do that. 

We love you more than we can say, Peanut Butter, and we can't believe that you are about to be one. One year! We continue to thank God for the gift you are each day, and we pray all the time that God will make your heart soft towards Him. I love how much you love people, Erin, and how God is already using you to put others at ease. I pray He strengthens this gift in you, and uses it for His glory in your life.

Daddy and Momma


A Father to the fatherless

The husband is in Africa this week. Uganda, to be exact. He and 27 other folks flew out of Dallas Thursday afternoon, and arrived at their final destination 30+ hours later (I think). He's able to send text messages from there, so I knew that they had arrived, and they were waiting for a large group of Ugandan orphans to show up for their first camp experience. The goal is to show these kids that they are loved...not just by this team but by the God of the universe. These kids have lost one or both parents, and many have been through horrific experiences of being forced into slavery or being a child soldier. (You can read more about their trip here.)

All the time that the team was traveling, I kept praying that they would be able to rest on the flights, for safety, for things to run smoothly...but I kind of expected that they would be exhausted when they got there. I thought it might be a battle for them to be energetic and fun and create this unique experience for these kids to just have relax, have fun and be kids, and build a bridge that they would hear and understand the gospel. 

But then I saw this picture that the team had sent, and was posted on the blog that I linked above. Look at those smiles! There isn't one person who isn't grinning. I mean, they don't even look tired. Awesome. And, look at that handsome, bearded guy in the back, 3rd from the left. Wow. There must be something going on there that is energizing these friends, and I can't help but think that it has something to do with loving those who are very close to the heart of God. 

I really cannot wait to hear about this trip when Adam returns. I sure don't like being away from him but I would never choose for him to miss this opportunity. Through Watermark, folks have an opportunity to sponsor an orphan in Uganda for $35/month. All of the kids at the camp this week are currently being sponsored, and they have recently added more children who need sponsors. We want to do this, and I was going through the list of children who are available. (Go here if you are interested.) I was thinking of Adam, the orphans he is investing in this week, and praying for all of them, and fairly randomly read Psalm 68, wanting to send him some Scripture to encourage him.

As I read, I was amazed to read what God was reminding me of. Psalm 68 says,
"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; 
   may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds;rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. 
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, 
   is God in his holy dwelling. 
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing..."

What an incredible reminder that God cares so deeply for the orphan, for the lonely...and that I should, too. I don't know what God is going to do in and through Adam and his teammates this week, or in the lives of these children. But I know that He is already working in me. There's nothing like your husband going thousands of miles away to remind you that you aren't in control, and to bring you to your knees in prayer. And I am reminded that God is the father to the fatherless, that He sets the lonely in families.   


10 Months {again}

Good news. The 2nd time I took Erin's 10 month pictures, they turned out so much better. Sadly, she wasn't in her beautiful Christmas dress, but she looks like such a big kid I can hardly stand it. I think one reason they turned out so well is that I enlisted the help of her Memaw and Pawpa {Adam's parents and our current hosts} to make her smile and smile she did! 
Here's some pictures, with a little note to our Peanut...

Dear Erin,
What a BIG month you've had. You don't really know it yet, but this month you moved, for the first time in your life! I didn't move until I went to college, so you're already ahead of me. But apart from messing up your sleep some {a LOT} at night, you haven't skipped a beat. You are learning new things every. single. day. I LOVE watching the Lord teach you...because I know it isn't me. 

A big change in your world this month has been how proficient you've become at pulling up and walking along things you can reach. You pull up to everything, and you are growing increasingly frustrated with how limited your physical capabilities are. I decided to try to show off some of your awesome skills in your {2nd set of} 10 month pictures.

 I love the look on your face in this picture! You think it is such a big deal when you accomplish something you've been working on, and it is precious. You remind me that there are a lot of things to get excited about.

Speaking of getting excited...
 ...you have also started clapping this month, which is hilarious. You clap when anyone else starts clapping or laughing...and you've even been known to clap after you let out a big burp or a big toot. I don't know how you learned this, but I love it. You seem to really enjoy people, Erin, and I pray that God uses that natural enjoyment of people you have to further His kindgom.

I think that my favorite new trick you've learned this month is putting your hands on top of your head. Sometimes you'll do it when I ask, "Where's your head?" More often, you'll do it when someone else does it, and then you kind of bend forward like you're doing a situp. I know you didn't learn this from watching me do situps because I don't think you've ever seen that. But it is SO FUNNY. Your little arms are so short they don't even reach the top of your head.
You keep getting teeth...here you are showing them off. 
You still make the funniest faces, which you've been doing since you were born. {See here for proof.} I got some good ones...these pictures make me laugh! You are so much fun, Erin!
 I keep thinking that each month is the best one that has ever been. You are so much fun to be with, and you love to laugh and smile and explore new things. You have been a great buddy for me as we explore our new home. I love that the Lord chose me to be your momma.

We love you, Peanut, and are grateful to the Lord for entrusting you to our care for this time. I pray that I will depend on Him to raise you.
Momma and Daddy

A few more of my favorites...