Before we get started I'd like to give you a bit of the behind the scenes of this post. It's Thursday afternoon and a congested and grumpy Carson finally fell asleep. I'm still in yoga pants and while I did manage to brush my teeth this morning, a comb has yet to touch my tangled top knot. I am a sight that sores eyes, and I know it. My face is leathery from the winter weather and dry heat of our wood stove, my hair frizzing and in dire need of a trim, and we won't even get started on the callouses on the soles of my feet. As leftovers heat in the microwave, I fill a large stainless steal bowl with hot water and lavender oil. I mash avocado with egg, honey, and oil making a mask for my straw-like hair. After it's smeared through the tangles I tie a gray plastic Walmart bag over top. I look like a granny with a shower cap, only homeless. An oil mask is rubbed deep into the pores of my should-be-youth leathery skin, and I sit down, feet in the water as I begin to type.

Time moves quickly and my water is now chilly, my toes wrinkled like raisins. The home pedicure I attempt to give myself over the mound of belly is pathetic. I'm multi-tasking and doing nothing well. And that's when I hear it, the solid rap, rap, rap of someone knocking on the door. I'm caught with my hair in a grocery bag, my feet wrinkled like raisins, yoga pants yanked up to my knees, and the curtains pulled back. Do I brave door? What if it's an important package for Herm? I am left with no choice really. It's obvious I'm home, and with all curtains wide open, I can't escape to any room in the house without being noticed. I pull the grocery bag off my head and hope the mashed avocado doesn't fall to the floor as the FedEx man hands me the package and begins to chat. Not today, not today! I silently moan. It is with a sigh of relief that I finally close the front door, package in hand, and slink to the bathroom for a much needed shower to wash the mashed avocado, avocado my toddler did not put there, out of my hair, and get dressed so I look like the responsible adult that I am. Finishing up the blog post can wait, there are more important matters to attend to.

Reading: After reading a lot of non fiction and several consecutive books that couldn't be described as horrible, but neither could they be called wonderful, I was ready for something I knew would be good. I don't often re-read books, but there are several authors that I absolutely love and am willing to read their works another time over. Francine Rivers is one of them. I borrowed three of her books from my mom --  The Scarlet Thread, Leota's Garden, and Unveiled, which is a novella from the Lineage of Jesus series -- all ones that I read several years ago, and dove into them throughout the month of January and into February. These books are all fiction, but they tackle weighty issues like divorce, abortion, adultery, euthanasia, and so much more, and they make me think real hard about my stance on these issues. If you haven't already given Francine Rivers' books a try, I'd highly recommend you do.

Loving: This chocolate! It's got bits of crystallized ginger in it, which makes it amazing. And the bar I'm currently nibbling my way through came to me from my friend, Gina, who lives in 2,500 miles away in Los Angeles, CA, which makes it taste even better. (She thinks anything with ginger is disgusting, but still she gifts it because she knows the depths of my love and devotion for that tasty, albeit controversial, root. She's a true friend, let me tell you!) Carson feels pretty entitled to my entire stash of dark chocolate, so this bar will be snacked on during his nap time or behind a locked bathroom door. While I am working hard at teaching him to share, I can't share, won't share, my precious chocolate. (How's that honest mom moment for you?)

Dreaming: About two really exciting trips happening this month! One out of country to Montreal, Quebec, for a mid-winter getaway. While most people tend to go south, we are rather fond of going north when we want to relax as a family before the spring season hits and Herm is flooded with work demands. The other trip was planned in a period of about five hours just this week. Yup, from the first notion until the tickets were purchased. How's that for fast? My friend, Gina, the one who loves me well and gifts me with all things ginger, is coming home for a visit. She hates flying alone, but the thought of that is even worse now that she's a mom. So Carson and I are going to fly out to Los Angeles, then a few days later fly back home with Gina and her son, Bryce. I had planned to fly out last summer to spend time with her, but after my cousin passed away and I made a quick trip to Wisconsin for the funeral, that trip was put on hold. I still hadn't forgotten about it though, but wasn't sure how to make it happen before the baby arrives. Sometimes last minute plans really are the best plans. To say I'm excited about this trip is an understatement.

Wishing: Women's clothing retails would notice how many of us are baby makers and start catering to pregnant women a bit more. If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you're sick of hearing me rant. Give me a few more seconds, then I'll shut up. I'm not at all fond of Motherhood Maternity. The few items I did pick up there didn't hold up well, and to be honest, it just feels so, um, motherly. This week, in desperation I went to TJ Maxx and JC Penny (we don't have a lot of options without driving an hour or so) in hopes for some basics like cami's, tee shirts, and a few other things. But at both places I was told they don't carry those items in store. I'm always so hesitant to purchase online unless I know that I love the style, the quality is good, and the shipping is free. I came home and checked out the styles online... Let down, for sure. Madewell Maternity. I like how that sounds. Maybe if I write to them they'd listen?

Thinking about: The IF: Gathering I attended last weekend. I haven't been to many women's conferences, so I don't have a lot to compare this with, but I can tell you it was so worth my time, and I think it would be worth yours too. Next year I'd love to attend the live event in Austin, Texas, instead of simply watching it via livestream. I can dream, can't I?

Listening to: This song on repeat. It makes me miss Jamaica and wish for dreadlocks. And to Modern Love: The Podcast. I really liked episode #3, Not So Simple Math.

What are a few things you are currently reading, loving, dreaming, wishing, thinking about, or listening to I'd love for you to join in on the conversation!


On Hard Things and His Goodness

I don't use this word loosely, so when I say that last week felt hellish, it really did.

I am not going to go into too much detail, some things are better left unsaid. But in the midst of giving in to what already seemed impossible and unfair, I got word that a new friend of mine was in a horrible accident and was on life support.

My hard and heavy felt even more pressing, weighted like lead.

I prayed, and continued praying, because in a situation like this one, that is all you can do. Pray. And hope. And trust.

I won't lie to you though, faith doesn't come easy for me. After loosing three friends in the period of sixteen months, two of whom were prayed over fervently for healing and restoration, it is so easy to question the power of my prayers. To wonder if it is even worth it.

I've seen the goodness of God in so many circumstances. He has been faithful in the day-to-day. He provided a new job opportunity after Herm was laid off. He restored my body completely, when at 7 months pregnant a rib popped out of place leaving me in excruciating pain, worse than that of labor and delivery, for over a week. All it took was intercession on my behalf from a small group of Believers, who gathered around, pressing in for more than just relief but for complete healing. And it happened. In an instant the pain, which I was told could last for seven more weeks, was gone. He answered my cry for another child within months of praying for one.

So why then, when I plead for the lives of my friends to be spared, is the answer always a heart-wrenching, No?

On Friday afternoon, as I was preparing to take my Noonday display to a local IF: Gathering I received the news, Sara passed away. I didn't know her well at all, like I said earlier, she was a new friend. But in that moment grief hit me like a tidal wave, and I felt like I was rolling in it, fighting for a breath of air but taking in water. I was drowning all over again.

Normally after news like this, all I want is to be completely alone. But Friday night, nothing was going to stop me. I don't know why, but I was so desperately determined to go to IF, no matter what.

During the hour and twenty minutes drive, tears came and went. I'm sure I didn't mask the pain well as I walked into the living room of someone I never met and sat down amid the small sea of unfamiliar faces. As the first session came to a close, we were given cards with questions on to discuss as a group. Who is God to you? When did you first hear about Jesus? What do you have to lay down in order to completely be here this weekend?

As we discussed these questions one of the ladies, probably a few years older than I, began to talk. Her question was on the faithfulness of God. And through tears she said she never truly understood the faithfulness of God until her husband left her, a mom of a toddler and a newborn, for another woman, for the third time.

It was her courage and vulnerability that allowed me to share about my week as well. I hadn't planned to open up about anything going on - in typical Sarah fashion, I was going to try hard to stuff it and pretend like my life was all together. And in that moment, as words mixed with tears and my hard day, hard week, unfolded, these women whom I had never met before gathered around me, and lifted me up in prayer.

It was the power of prayer, power that I sometimes have a hard time believe in, that got me through the weekend.

Right now, I'm sitting in my quiet living room, sipping on hot tea and burning a new candle while snow gently falls to the ground outside. Carson is having a Grandma Day, allowing me to have time and space to process the week that was hellish, and to see bits of His goodness throughout the hard and heavy.

Like the lady who shared about His faithfulness being real to her only after enduring trials and betrayal, I think I, too, can say that His faithfulness has become more evident to me during the past sixteen months than it ever was in my life before.

And while I do wish I could go back in time and circumstances would change -- that I wouldn't have had to say good-bye to four friends, and our dog. That my friends, so many of them, wouldn't have had to say good-bye to their babies, but would be able to hold them in their arms and whisper secrets in their ear like I do with Carson every day -- I can still say He is faithful and He is good, because of who He is.

It's this hard and heavy life that I can't imagine facing without Him, and I'm so grateful I don't have to go at this alone.