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Bidding Farewell to a Happy Year

A brief Christmas letter – back to probing religious questions after the new year. 🙂

I’m a little sad to see this year go… It’s been pretty fantastic. Next week my husband and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. We’ve grown so much together. Our love, patience and understanding for each other seem to increase every year. With great discipline and commitment, each of us has also honed a remarkable talent for irritating the other. 😉 The addition of a curious, talkative, smiley baby girl last year makes this anniversary seem even more meaningful.

We’ve lived in beautiful Iowa for six years, but it is only recently that we have begun to feel really rooted. We’ve made some fabulous friends, found a church and discovered so many great places to eat, hike, shop and just enjoy in general.

On a strictly personal level, I have loved every second at home with my daughter. The time to read and blog is an added bonus. I don’t think I’ve ever done so much “living in the moment.” I like it.

Our families have done well, too. There have been some challenges and struggles, but everyone seems to be hanging in there. We can’t thank our friends and families enough for their support. That sounds like such a pat statement, but it is meant with the utmost sincerity and gratitude.

I’ve been sitting here trying to decide how to wrap this up, and I feel compelled to relate a rare moment of peace and renewal that I experienced the other day. One morning last week, I found myself keenly aware of my blessings and of God’s proximity. The feeling was peaceful and yet full of emotion. There was a pervasive quietness within me. I felt distinctly not alone in a way that was deeply comforting. Maybe that sounds a bit hokey or vague, but I wish that all of you might feel the same contentment in the year ahead.

Prayers for peace and joy for all of you! Merry Christmas,

Sarah

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God hath already accepted thy works. ~Ecclesiastes 9:7

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Spirituality

Reflections on my Daughter’s First Birthday

Today, my daughter is one year old. She is a healthy, happy, beautiful child and my gratitude for this gift knows no bounds. I also want to say thank you to my family and friends for your support over the last 12 months. Parenting would be so much harder without it! 🙂

To all of you who are tired of hearing about every miniscule achievement (or momentous b.m.) the children of your friends and family make, I can sympathize. I’ve been there; but I’m afraid I have officially joined the ranks of the baby-obsessed. My post today is an attempt to justify this fascination. 🙂

If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch a baby develop, there’s nothing else like it to renew a sense of wonder and astonishment at humanity. It’s not just in the developmental milestones like smiling, rolling, crawling, talking and walking. Every day, there is some subtle new awareness. Her babbling changes in little ways and becomes more like my husband’s and mine all the time. The rapidity with which her physical strength increases is mind-blowing. Science gives us a sneak peek into just how purposeful and necessary each little development is. I can’t wait to see what her unique talents are, though. I wonder whether she’ll be musical or creative or analytical. Those are the things that seem to set humans apart from other species, aren’t they? The things that aren’t about survival but seem simply to exist to enrich life.

Parenthood has stretched and changed me, too. I respond to things with more patience, even though I’m getting far less sleep! I relish her primal dependency on me, but it is sobering, too. I am responsible for her physical and emotional health. Just a few days ago, I saw her react to something with fear for the first time. It was really pretty funny, but it broke my heart. It is an odd thing – you want them to move forward, to grow up, but you hate to see them experience the pain that inevitably comes with growth.

I think many parents find that they want, with surprising strength of feeling, to see themselves in their children. I love to see myself in my daughter. It sounds so conceited, but true, nonetheless. Perhaps this is a biological thing; we have a natural desire to see ourselves live on in our children. Although I think parallels and metaphors to compare the parent-child relationship and the God-human relationship can be faulty, it occurs to me that perhaps this also parallels our relationship to God. Perhaps in the same way, God (the first and ultimate parent) desires us to be like Him. The other interesting dynamic here is that children often grow up and wish to be different from their parents. We all want to be appreciated for who we are, but we can’t fully realize our individuality and promise without accepting its source.

Happy birthday, baby girl. I love you!

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
~ Psalm 139:13-14

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV

Spirituality

Slogging through a Bog

I’m feeling bogged down and a bit irritated today with the endless Christian and bible-based theories and interpretations that are out there. How does one sort through the various view-points of different earnest and intelligent theologians? And how does one study scripture in a non-biased way, without applying the ideas of their church or teacher?

I know this comment could earn me some serious criticism – I find it hard even to be honest about it because I know that some of you reading are fairly fundamental, but this is the kind of thing that really does lead me to wonder about the relevancy of the Bible today. Frankly, I think reading it without having some understanding of the context and intent of the authors can lead to much more confusion and misapplication than clarity and apprehension. And I think very few of us have that knowledge.

I still thoroughly enjoy learning and growing, and maybe tomorrow I’ll be over my negativity. In the meantime, I think maybe a short break to reset is in order. 🙂 I do believe that God gives us what we need and I strive not to limit Him with my presumptions!

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!