my super creative & artsy older sister is opening a flower business in brooklyn, new york! i had the privilege of capturing some of her work this summer. isn't she amazing?! she's pretty great! :) love you sister!
there is sin in me. sin that i didn't know was there until our sweet amos came along. i fight anger, impatience & i lack grace for him on a daily basis. this sin has surprised me & worn me out. i fight it daily (by God's grace) & there are many days i don't. what grace that the Father brought this little one into our family to expose the sin in my heart that i didn't even know was there. for many reasons i rejoice that amos is my son, but i know i will be forever grateful that the Lord saw fit to sanctify my through his life. i deal with this sin daily & oh how i pray the Father would continue His work in me to make me more like Him quickly!
as a wife, mommy & homemaker i'm quite exhausted, my needs are neglected & i often don't feel like doing much at the end of the day (as i'm sure most of you can attest)! i've NEVER been a morning person! i grew up with my mom & younger brother & sister having to come in a force me out of bed each morning. i enjoy sleep. & i enjoy being up later at night. especially now with mike in school. he's gone all day & our 3 little ones take all of my attention during the day. so at night i usually want to stay up late to watch a tv show (so i don't have to use my brain) & spend time with mike. for years we've been in the bad habit of staying up way too late to catch up on our favorite show. then 6:30/7am rolls around & our boys are rested & ready to be up... but mommy & daddy ARE NOT & that makes for some rough days. the Lord has really convicted me of this sin lately. i am being selfish with my time & not honoring Him when i waste my nights. sure, there should be some time for watching a favorite show or movie, but not every night! ugh. embarrassing. with mike's crazy school schedule we decided to change our routine. i HAVE to be in bed, falling asleep, no later than 10pm. so once the boys are in bed at 8 i have from 8-10 to clean up the house, spend some time with mike & READ! this is really the only time i have during my day to read. then i HAVE to be up by 6 to get time in the Word, work out, shower, breakfast prep & be ready to face the day with my kiddos. it's been good to have this new discipline, hard, but good. this week had been an adjustment for all 5 of us. we got so used to being home with each other every day & the boys have been quite cranky & i have been quite impatient because of all of the change. but i'm so grateful for the grace & forgiveness & patience of my Father. please please watch this video by desiring God!
yesterday it was 6 years since our caroline eloise went home to be with our Savior. here's our story... mike & i were married in november of 2006 & in december we discovered we were going to be parents! we were excited & terrified & i was quite sick! i didn't feel like i was ready to be a mom & i was being selfish about the whole thing. (i'm so thankful the Lord gives us 9 months before the baby comes.) my pregnancy was great & we had no reason for concern. our caroline came 10 days past her due date & we were so ready to hold our girl! we were ready to be parents & see her grow. on september 15th i woke up with contractions & i labored for 10 hours. our midwife said it was a "textbook labor & delivery". our sweet girl's heart rate was perfect & strong through the whole 10 hours. i pushed for 2 hours & she was born. they picked her up & quickly realized she was not ok. her heart rate was down to 50 & then she was gone. they tried to resuscitate her, but she never took a breath. all she knew was the warmth & comfort of my womb. & in a second she went from being pushed out of that safety into her Creator's arms! He knows her better than we ever will! He made every part of her little body so well & i felt it growing in me. for 9 months i knew her. she kicked & flipped & we adored every move! daddy read to her every night. he would hold a little speaker to my belly & read her a story, talk to her & then pray for her. what a grace from God! that night was the hardest night of our lives. we felt the deepest sorrow & sadness we've ever known, our arms were empty & we ached to hold our caroline. we would wake up in the middle of the night & remember our reality & cry together till our eyes & voices hurt. we held each other tight & it was good to cling to the Lord together. He brought us together in a way we hadn't known & probably wouldn't have known were it not for this trial. we understood the fellowship of the body of Christ in a way that amazed us. what a rich blessing to have friends gather around us & stand with us in our grief. He is good to us! we are not meant to be alone in our loss & hurt & fear & mourning. we are not alone. we miss our girl & we will miss her until we see her in heaven where she will be worshipping the One who formed her & perfectly called her home. His plan is without fault. & though we've questioned & we are sad, we know He is good & He has good for us! we love talking about our girl & the hope we have in Christ... please don't hesitate to ask questions or send people our way who have also experienced loss. all for His glory alone. goodness, how would we make it through this apart from Him? read more about caroline here.
"Happily for us our happiness does not depend upon our understanding the providence of God: we are able to believe where we are not able to explain, and we are content to leave a thousand mysteries unsolved rather than tolerate a single doubt as to the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father.
Is it not good for us to be nonplussed, and puzzled, and so forced to exercise faith? Would it be well for us to have all things so ordered that we ourselves could see the reason for every dispensation?
Could the scheme of divine love be indeed supremely, infinitely, wise if we could measure it with our short line of reason?
Ah, it is well to be cast out of our depth, and made to swim in the sweet waters of mighty love! We know that it is supremely blessed to be compelled to cease from self, to surrender both wish and judgment, and to lie passive in the hands of God." Charles Spurgeon
our sammy boy turned 3 two days ago. what a bittersweet thing... to raise our little ones & to see them growing & changing & learning, but how sad!!! i want him to be little forever! this little boy is a joy to our family! he's the cuddliest kid i've ever known! the way he talks is irresistible! & goodness he's feisty & stubborn. ;) oh may the Father draw sammy liam to Himself & be honored in & through his life always. may sammy be changed by our Lord's good gospel! this little one is a sinner & utterly depraved. there is nothing good in him. he desperately needs a Savior who paid the penalty for his sins! make it real to him, Lord & use his life to make it real to so many others!
someone recently pointed out to us that our boys were getting a long better. they weren't fighting as much & they were playing together really well. it's really good to have outside perspective on your life & you're current situation. whatever season we're in it can feel like it's "THE WORST THING EVER". it can feel like it's the craziest you're life has ever been & it will obviously always be like that. ;) but we thought about it... thought about where our boys were a few months ago & where they are now... & we rejoice in our Father's good good work! our boys are growing & maturing & we are seeing the fruit of our labor. praise the Lord for His grace. even in our own lives it is good to look at what He's brought us out of, the sin He's removed from our hearts & the continued work of His sanctification in us. i'm so thankful He doesn't leave us the way we are!
*Sarah, you're the winner of the mon voir giveaway! leave me your email address below so i can get you the details! thanks to everyone who entered!*
this task (these 3 sweet faces) is daunting! i feel the weight of the role i play in their lives daily & hour by hour. i'm often failing & when i fail i feel like i've failed them, like i'm going to "ruin" them because of my sin against them & against the Lord. but i was reminded again by a dear friend...
"God is the One discipling our kids and we are just His tool."
amen! He's using us! wow! what an amazing honor & calling. what a relief too. He is using us, but we are not in control! He is! He is teaching their souls through our sins & failings & through our strengths & love for them. He will make all things work together for their good, even their mommy's silliness & selfishness. He will teach them about the gospel through my sin & repentance. He is so good & it's good to see HIS work in them, not our work. His is so much better!
hi pretty ladies! wanted to give you the chance to win something super sweet & lovely to hang on your walls! so my friend jenna of mon voir generously offered to give one of my readers a print of their choosing! jenna creates beautiful prints & designed my burdees logo! you're soooo talented jenna! here's how you can enter...
*leave a comment below with your favorite print in her etsy shop.
*share this on your facebook (with a comment below to let me know you did so).
*you can also enter on my instagram feed @albark (find details there).
giveaway ends monday evening at 10pm est. winner will be chosen randomly.
*the winner is... Sarah! please leave your email address in the comments below so i can get your print to you!*
burdees has a whole lot of earrings on sale for $5, $4 & $3! you can also use the coupon code "LABORDAY" for 10% off your order!
we are in a battle for our children's souls! we have to be faithful NOW! we have to nail their sin & not be lazy about it. we will answer to the Father for how we parented our little ones. are being diligent to disciple their hearts & teach them the truths of the Word? are we daily making the gospel clear to them? it's hard work & such a great responsibility. amazing that the Lord would choose us as parents to teach our sweet ones all they need to know. give us grace great God to remain faithful on this road!
oh i've missed being in this space & sharing my heart on this crazy journey! i've missed it & realized how much i need it & how good it is for my soul! our summer was full & busy & rich! the above picture was obviously not from this summer because we're all in coats & sweaters, but i found it as i was looking through pictures to send to our adoption agency for our baby girl!!!!!
so here's a little update on us... my husband has been accepted to the sovereign grace pastors' college which he will start in september! we're sooooo excited AND he will get credit toward his degree at southern seminary! we're excited to see where the Lord leads!
we're about ready to start our homestudy for our baby girl & we're all so tired of waiting! we want our sweet girl here right now!
my burdees shop is taking off & we're so blessed by it! we have some new styles coming to the shop soon & a giveaway happening this weekend! you can follow my shop on instagram @burdees.
friends, i am so so grateful the internet has brought me so many sweet/new friends & this dear lady is a jewel! thank you for sharing your beautiful words with us adrienne! I LOVE THE WAY YOU WRITE!
I have this thing I do. The thing I always do.
I stand on the sands of my soul and I look out to the furthest spot I can see in the water. Then I dive in and I swim. I swim with every bit of strength I can muster and I plow through the water with confidence because I know that I can do this task. I am showing myself I can. I am showing everyone. I am showing Him.
And I think, “I can do this. You made me for this. You have called me to this.” But pretty soon, I have my face in the water so long that I have forgotten He’s even there. I have forgotten Him. And He watches. He waits quietly until I’ve finished my race and He watches as I climb back up on shore, feeling strong and able, and then I look up to see Him there.
This February, I stood on the sands of my soul with my hands on my hips and my chin lifted up, looking out at the horizon as my phone rang. “We’ve got a match! This is it!” The voice says. Unexpectedly, I am a little afraid, but I look out at the water and say, “I can do this.” I say it to myself. To Him. To anyone that is listening. I choose the spot I will swim to, but God begins to speak. He points to a place far beyond the one I have chosen, and He says. “Here. This is where you’re going.”
I shake my head. “Too far,” I think.
But He insists.
I take a deep breath and I dive in.
The day I met Finley was like the day I learned that Earth was only a tiny planet in a vast universe. I became so utterly aware of how small I was. There in the Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home, I was a only a tiny person standing before a towering eighteen month old baby girl, looking up at her and shaking, overwhelmed by the gravity of what I had just said yes to. And I had. I had said yes.
I swim harder than I ever have, and I don’t look up. I don’t dare look up. It is a long time before I can admit that I will never make it. It is too far and I am too weak. Still, He is quiet. He watches me swim. I gasp for air, choking on the water. I kick as hard as I can. And I don’t look up until I am sure that my head is going to sink beneath the surface and never come up again.
And there He is.
He reaches down and takes my hand and I hold on. I hold on for dear life.
“I will never make it!” I scream. “Take me back to the shore!”
And I am absolutely sure that He doesn’t smile. I am sure that there is water in my eyes, that He couldn’t have possibly smiled as I am drowning. But I blink and look again, and I am wrong. He is smiling.
“I cannot make it back.” I plead, looking behind me to the shore that is further from me than it has ever been.
“We are not going back.” He says.
I look up at Him, holding on tighter. “Then where are we going!?”
“Somewhere new.” He whispers, over the sound of the water. Then he points to the horizon, where I can barely see an island floating.
A new shore.
“I cannot do it. I am going to fail.” I am begging now.
“Yes you can. No you aren’t.” He answers.
And there is nothing else I can do, so I put my face back into the water and swim. But this time I have no choice but to remember He is there, because I have to stop again and again and let Him hold me. I have to let Him save me.
Over and over and over again.
I thought the day my daughter finally came home would be the most euphoric experience of my life. I was right and I was so very, very wrong. Angels didn’t start singing. The roof of my house didn’t open up to the beams of light shooting down from heaven. I was right because the world started spinning the moment she stepped through that door clinging to her little purple stuffed monkey. I was wrong because the story didn’t end there.
We had only just begun.
And there are no doctors and nurses qualified to handle this delivery. There is no anesthesiologist in the world that can numb these labor pains. Adoption is a scalpel to the heart. It is an internal bleeding of the most precious wound—one that gives you no choice but to change into the person you were meant to be.
My heart is hard, and I am consumed with fears. Why does this little person scare me so much? How can I be so intimidated by something two and a half feet tall with the loveliest brown eyes I have ever seen? “Absurd. I am so selfish. I am failing. I am so very afraid.” I say beneath my breath, when no one is listening.
But someone is listening. He is.
I catch her dancing in the middle of the living room by herself and singing and I press myself against the wall so I can peek around the corner and watch her and hot tears fall down my face. They trail down my neck as I try to swallow the painful lump in my throat. Because I can see that I am that little girl. And that is why I am so scared and unsure and needy. Because when out of nowhere, she freezes and balls up her fists and looks around the room, perfectly still, listening and watching, wondering if she is safe—that is me.
Inside, that is me.
And I feel so completely inadequate. I feel like there is no way I can meet the needs of this baby girl that will one day be a woman like me. So I find myself battening down the hatches to weather this storm with a protected heart. “Just until it’s safe.” I think. “Just until it’s easier.”
Unfortunately—fortunately—there is no shelter from this terrifyingly beautiful storm. And it is the same for any great quest the Lord sends us on. If I want to give up, my daughter and I will both end up at the bottom of this ocean. There is no more room for self preservation. Frankly, there is no time for it. Finley and I have embarked on something so unnatural, so un-instinctual, that I have no choice but to trust Him to guide me. Because in a perfect world, Finley wouldn’t need me. And my heart would not need to be big enough to love her. But this world is not perfect, and she does need me. So, this heart has to grow bigger and stronger to hold her.
So, I keep swimming. I slowly learn to trust in a completely new way and give up on my silly schemes to show myself how strong I am. It is almost laughable now, to think of how strong I used to feel. I let the feelings of being lost come over me—because I can control nothing. I am in charge of nothing. Then I bundle her up in her blanket and take her in my arms and we rock in the rocking chair in the dark and I feel her little hand come up and touch my face. I feel her fingers trace the outline of my lips and listen to her sleepy breaths. My eyes rise up over the surface, and I swim for the place I am headed to with my daughter in tow. With my patient, loving Father watching us. Waiting to save us.
It will take time to get there, but I imagine it is beautiful. I imagine that there, on that island, I am a different person altogether.
Adrienne Sandvos, is a native Texan that lives in Northern California with her husband, their two sons, and a daughter they are in the process of adopting. Adrienne is a freelance writer and works with her husband who is a documentary filmmaker. She is passionate about women’s and human rights issues and culture, and is a regular contributor online and in print for Darling Magazine.
this little one has really no idea (right now anyway) what he's been saved from. right now he could still be in an orphanage with a ton of other crying, sad, lonely orphans. but God in His mercy placed amos in our home. as he grows we will tell him more about where he came from & what God rescued him from in giving him a family. he will understand more & we pray that he understands the gospel more clearly as he hears about his story. maybe when he grows amos will thank us for making him a "barker" because he will understand what his life could've been. & maybe he won't... we're not doing this for a "thank you". we're doing it because God called us to & He chose amos to be ours.
likewise, we really have no idea the depth of what we've been rescued from when God chose us & called us His own. we were dead in our sin, He made us alive & we could still be lost & alone. as we understand the gospel more we understand what He rescued us from & that should draw us to worship!
i've talked many times about how we like to keep our boys close. we have done attachment parenting & co-sleeping with all of them. we want them to feel secure in our love for them. i was thinking of what a beautiful word "nurture" is in the role of being a parent/mommy. the definition of "nurture" is "to feed & protect, to support & encourage, as during the period of training or development, to bring up, train, educate". this is it! this is what we are to do in our homes! nurture our children, train them, feed them, protect them, support, encourage, educate. we're discipling them day in & day out. we're educating them & feeding this minds & hearts, showing them the gospel. & our goal in all of this is not just to "mark it off our never ending list". in their period of development we're pouring ourselves into them that they may know & love the Lord, that they may love others, that they would be loved. to nurture... what a huge responsibility... give us grace Lord!
i just started reading glimpses of grace & in just the first few pages my heart has been encouraged & challenged & reminded to cling to my Lord. read it friends! can't wait to learn more from this book & share more with you!
our 3 little boys are quite loud, crazy & dramatic. mike & i aren't very loud, crazy, dramatic people, so all 3 of them at once can be a little overwhelming. when they're being crazy it's easy to give in to their craziness & get too worked up. i was driving the other day and i thought of this analogy in regards to my children's craziness & my response to them...
when there is a car on the side of the road or an accident everyone that drives by slows down & stares & therefore loses sight of what is in front of them & could possibly end up in an accident as well.
when i give in to my children's moods & fits & let it overwhelm me & cloud my vision i will end up spiraling downward as well. i will get frustrated & worked up & myself become too dramatic about whatever they're freaking out about.
but if i keep my eyes fixed on the Lord & focus on "driving well" He will give me the grace to respond gently & graciously to them. & how amazing to learn to not be tossed around by their moods, but choosing to stay steady on Him.