He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9



Silly, silly girl

Guess what I'm doing?  Cleaning house and doing laundry to dinner music by candlight in the middle of the day!  Isn't that cool?!  It is an overcast, blustery day I was feeling inspired....so I lit a slew of scented candles and turned on the dinner music over the speakers throughout the house. (Don't worry - the baby is safely sleeping and there are lamps too, so I can see what I'm cleaning.) 

I don't even care if you roll your eyes and shake your head at me.  I think probably the only way to enjoy home blessing (flylady's term for house-cleaning) day more is to hire someone!

I'm also giddy-excited because I might buy a new (used) fridge today (my freezer has been broken for awhile).  And I'm planning on making a really low offer on a used outdoor fireplace for my gazebo and I think I'll be coming home with it! 

Gonna have to hurry-scurry if I'm going to finish by the time the girls and David get home from school.

Happy Friday!

Update:  New-to-us fridge is wonderful and bigger than our old one!!!  We went to see the outdoor fireplace, but it was totally falling apart..... a very bad experience.  I'll have to just keep watching craigslist.


Why these fears?

I have learned to know myself, and I suspect several practical reasons, but as usual the presence of fear within me feeds fear itself.

I don’t like the nagging of fear. I much prefer the sigh of rest and trust and have learned to nurture it. But as a child and even beyond I spent countless nights fearing things eternal and temporal and specific and vague and realistic and imaginary.....and always fearing fear itself. It has paralyzed me, at times. Made me stare wide-eyed into darkness and double lock doors and dive behind beds. Made me picture God wrongly and turned heaven into a place of unknown dread for me.

I have remarkable awe and respect for my mother’s unending patience in talking me and walking me and praying me through night after night of fear. Spiritual fear, physical fear, mental & emotional fear.

God has worked Himself in me patiently and powerfully.... and my heart now is so sure and still and quiet compared to the dark muddle that haunted me for many years.

But lately, the edges of my spirit are burned with the dark hint of fear again.

Even tonight, just minutes ago, as I typed the first part of this journal in the quiet night of the kitchen a yellow toy car rolled off the table and clattered to the ground, scaring me out of my skin and sending my heartbeat and imagination racing. I grabbed my Bible (which I immediately wanted to hold close) and devotional book and scurried to our bed, leaving on with purpose the light beside my desk.

What is it about darkness that ignites fear? Sends it crawling and choking and swirling? As I read in my beloved Book the words of life, needing its stillness and strongness, I realize that the Living Words send light into my silly spirit. Light brings such comfort. And I know – again – that the fear of darkness is nothing other than the unknown. It is why I fear even now.

Not knowing why the car fell off the table. Not knowing what is in a room to trip me as I walk through in darkness. Not knowing what causes the noises of basements. Not knowing if this body will ever know disease or if my children will always be safe and well. Not knowing what God will allow into my life past his great sweeping hedge of protection. But wait....don’t I know?

One thing that makes fear powerful is the horrid, living knowledge that bad things DO happen. And they sometimes keep happening. Everything doesn’t always turn out good if you just trust God. Sometimes 3-year-old cousins drown and 24-year-old cousins die in car wrecks and strong, beloved black-haired grandpas die of cancer and uncles fall from roofs and cousins are in car crashes on the way to burying a son and vivacious grandmas are stopped in their lovely, dancing tracks by disease. And none of our days are guaranteed. It is a vapor. This, we know.

But....only in those deep waters of grief and question - when the rug of confidence unstained by tears is dissolved into reality - can true assurance be found.

One whose footing has been tested can be utterly sure
that his Rock will stand.

We’ve all heard it questioned....why do bad things happen to good people? Some would answer...why not? It rains on the just and the unjust. If you break certain laws of nature, there are natural consequences. But lately that has not been enough for me. I am holding – clinging - to a God who has built a strong and mighty hedge of protection around myself and my family. And if ANY evil or sadness finds its way past his great and loving arms it will be only because He sees fit in His eternal wisdom to prove His goodness in our lives.

God answers our questions, you know, in very individualized language. Usually, for me, He answers them with Himself. I did not know where my jumbled fears would take my searching fingers tonight. But He has brought them around, once again, to the words printed above our front entry.

Be still.

And know.

That I am.


He is good. All the time. This, we have proven together in the fire and darkness and years of waves of grief and the laughter that soothes us and the faith that holds together our pieces.

Right now, in my tears, I want to go wake up all 4 of my babies and hold them and kiss them and guarantee their utter safety. What mother's heart doesn't long to hold them forever-sure?  But I have to trust in arms that are bigger than mine. I have to trust His goodness. I have to trust His love.

And the sigh of that love returns to my spirit so that once again I can pillow my head in sweet sleep.

And His arms hold us still.
                                                          And all is well.

Psalm 4:8
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety

 PHOTOS:  Light-filled moments at the cabin this summer.

Beautiful Day

Oh yes, I think it's going to be a beautiful day. 

I've spent a few minutes making good use of the endorphins from my run to do a little vigorous facebook surfing. 

Caiden is playing VBS songs on (i kid you not) a 4-note violin pitchpipe
Corin is playing with violin rosin at the piano. 

David stayed with the boys and left late for his study day so I didn't have to get up at 5:30am to run
(love that man). 

My friend called last night and offered to keep all of our kids sometime while we go on a date!

My mom and I went on a midnight shopping excursion last night.  I got to watch the coupon queen in action....she is completely amazing!!   CVS should be afraid - very afraid - when they see her coming.

And she spoiled me and my budget completely rotten with all of her amazing purchases. 

We bought some lovely dark chocolate infused with coffee and anise for a song.....and we talked about Grandma Parsons while we ate it.

We accidently stole some Right Guard. Still laughing.

I got my carpet shampooed yesterday and some other projects that make my heart-sigh-happy, so that also feels very good today.

And the plumbing/sewer man came yesterday and cleaned the vigorous roots out of the system so there's no fear of a repeat of last year's toilet explosion for another year! 

Mom and Dad stopped by to spend the night with us on their way back from an awesome excursion to Chicago.  They took us out to eat and listened to the kids show off their current violin, cello and piano songs and we had a fun, relaxing time.  They dropped the girls off at school this morning on their way back to Cincinnati.  It's so fun to see them relaxing.

What a treat!    

Caiden stops dancing in the kitchen (in his underwear - to VBS songs) periodically to kiss his mamma. 

He wants me to touch and smell his cool dead, dried-out frog that he found outside yesterday.

Wednesday is laundry & closets day.  There isn't much left to wash and it is ready to be rebooted.

I have a new video to watch while I fold laundry today.....found it last night for 5 bucks!....a 20 CD set of old classic musicals with Legends like Sinatra, Astaire, Garland, and the Andrews Sisters.  Happiness.  Almost makes me wish I was behind on my laundry so I'd have to fold a long, long time.  Maybe I'll just slowly match socks or sort my closet. : )

Tonight is Kids Club at church.  My kids LOVE kids club!  And cookies and marshmallows and popcorn and stories and songs and games.  Thanks, Angie!

Corin is 14 months old today.  He is quite possibly the most delightful baby on the planet.  He is ready for his morning nap and I get to go hold and rock and squeeze and kiss him for a minute.

I have some new great food from my shopping yesterday that is low in WW points and a yummy breakfast  (High fiber cottage cheese with key lime pie yogurt and sliced bananas.....and maybe even a light Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino with a squirt of lowfat cream! 

What more could a girl want, really?

A beautiful Wednesday to you!

John 10:10
"...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."


Heather & Wes - Sneak Peek

What a privilege it was for David and I to be part of Wes and Heather's beautiful day.  It was unbelievably relaxed and such a gift to see them so happy together after the loss they have both faced.  And the rain held off except for just a few tiny sprinkles until the very minute we took the last shot and stepped out into the parking lot after the reception.  I have to make myself stop adding pictures to this sneak peek or I'll never get it posted! 


Refocus on Blessings

Where do days like this come from?  Two days ago I am overwhelmed with intense perspective.  But then today comes...a perfectly normal day when I got to sleep in until 7:00 and David had an hour to help me with a special project and nothing has really gone wrong....so how in the world could I be discouraged!  Can't blame this one on hormones or sleep or nutrition or even stress.  So why these morning tears?  Why the dump-session on my helpful, handsome, unsuspecting husband? Why this discouragement?

I sit in the rocker reading and singing to Corin before his morning nap and I sing new words to a favorite song....

I give all my worries to you.
I give all my worries to you. 
And no matter the cost, or what others do
I give all my worries to you.

I sing more verses, put in the things - one by one -  that trouble me....

I give all my budget to you
I give all my budget to you
And no matter the cost, or what others do
I give all my budget to you.

Sounds a little silly when you're singing it, but it helps.  My mind zooms through my frustrations in light of my priorities and some perspective returns.

Then I'm in the basement, rebooting the laundry and praying when it hits me.  Duh!  You need to focus on your blessings, you sillyhead!  I start saying out loud the praises that come pouring. 

Ah! That's better...oh so much better!

I hurry upstairs to blog my praise.   
  • My squeezable babies
  • A hugemongous yard for the kids and a church parking lot for bikes and trikes and rollerblades and races
  • My beautiful Gazebo - our "back porch"
  • The budgeting wisdom of Dave Ramsey, which helps us to save strategically for a few beautiful "wants"  like the gazebo
  • Our dogs and our kennels and the shed
  • My incredible elliptical, (which I won for free 8 years ago when I was a member at Victory) which makes crosstraining a breeze
  • The washing machine I inherited from a rental property when my washer broke...which doubles the amount of laundry I can do in a load!!
  • The high efficiency dryer we found on craigslist cheap when my dryer broke
  • An oven/stove almost exactly like the one we had borrowed when our stove quit working - found on Craigslist for $35.00 !!! (Muchas Blessings on the guy who invented Craigslist.  Can I get a witness?!)
  • A deep freeze in the basement (gifted from my mom) to keep all the food from our freezer upstairs which has broken
  • The gift of living in a small house where we are all together no matter what we do - not all spread out in a big, huge house with lots of rooms and stairs
  • A big living room where we gather to  read and sing and play and pray
  • The gift of learning that less is more
  • These beautiful, breezy days and cool nights
  • More than enough good, healthy food

  • A little dark chocolate now and then

Okay...so I realize that most of my praise list is pretty temporal.  But I am truly grateful. And this stuff is real...it affects my daily life.  And this is where I am today.  I'm having a day when I want to just grab the debit card and go spend money!  Lots of it! And poo poo to the budget and bills and priorities.  Yeah.  Real mature, I know.  You can just pray for me.

Have a blessings day, All!


Good Books!

Some Good Recent Reads from our shelves:
One of my favorite things to do is browse other blogs and websites and collect good reading ideas.  So here are some rich finds....!
The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs
Lots of great tid-bits about having a healthy lifestyle and a new mindset.  She has been featured on Focus on the Family a couple of times this year.

Survival for Busy Women - Establishing Efficient Home Management  by Emilie Barnes
Borrowed this one from my mom's awesome bookshelf.  It's just a classic - one of those books to reinforce and remind, and maybe add a few new tools to your belt.

Everyday Talk - Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children by John A. Younts
It's actually been awhile since I read this.  But it is a fantastic look at our own selves as parents. The words we choose, the attitudes we model, the theology we pass down in the daily.  Good stuff.

Double Take by Jenness Walker
Written by my childhood friend Jenness (Peak) Walker.  We were GBS campus brats together...they are long-time family friends.  She is so talented.  A good book to NOT  read on a dark and stormy night unless you want to have to crawl up close to your husband after you finish it and creep to bed.  Thanks, Jenness! Loved it.

Leave it to Claire by Tracey Bateman
Just a nice break.  A fun, sassy, sarcastic novel. (Note:  Has divorce and re-marriage issues.  Read at your own discretion.)

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling  (A Caldecott Honor Book)
A young Indian boy builds a small wooden canoe-man and sends him on his way to the Sea.  An incredible way to make geography real to kids.  Excellent!

James Herriot's Treasury for Children
Deliciously adorable.  A country vet tells charming stories of his work.  Got animal lovers?  Gotta have it.

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Is it even possible to read this book and not LOVE it?  Or am I just a 33-year-old kid?  Funny, funny book. 

Sarah's Current Reads:

Breathe - Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life  by Kerri Wyatt Kent
I'm reading this during my devotions.  She reminds me to "ruthlessly elimate hurry" from my life.  Written by a real mom.  One of those books that just keeps a subject on the chalkboard of your mind while God impresses deeper the need to rest and keep margin.

Sleep - It Does a Family Good by Dr. Archibald Hart
I had to laugh when I picked this book up late last night  and read a little more to help me get sleepy.  It really is very good.  I am a firm believer in plenty of sleep!  Dr. Hart has been featured on Focus on the Family.

Current Read-Alouds:
These are from the Ambleside Online  Year One Booklist.  Beautiful and rich and fun reading!

Parables From Nature by Mrs. Margaret Scott Gatty
The language is stretching us, I think.  The stories are....well... parables from nature! Learning about faith from a caterpillar and Authority and Obedience from a worker bee. 

The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess
Puts the birds of the Old Orchard into story form, hosted by Peter Rabbit. 

Aesop's Fables for Children Illustrated by Milo Winter
I love the CD included with this book.  These are short and sweet and great.  Be sure to get the Milo Winter illustrated edition!

50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
It has been so neat to see the likes of King Alfred and William the Conqueror and Sir Walter Raleigh become accessible to my 4-6-and 8-year olds.  (And their eagerly-reading mom.)

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Ahh.  This book makes me sigh happiness.  In a world where childhood isn't quite so innocent and delightfully slow, this book reminds us of the joys of imagination.....and makes poetry painless!  The illustrations are half the fun.  It was so fun to watch Caiden creep around the living room last night with his gun - through an imaginary forest -- after reading the poem "The Land of Storybooks."



Thanks to the help of our brilliant sort-of-cousin Jeff, we now have internet again!  I have hopes of doodling around with the blog soon, posting some happy times from recent days.  And I have some special things to say about Gramma's heavengoing. 

But those things will have to wait.  This morning my heart is heavy with perspective.  I am still a bit breathless, and waiting for the heavy feeling to lift, leaving behind a sharpened view and purposed pace.

Perhaps what happened this morning was poignant to me because heaven is so fresh and real to us right now.  And just this morning during my run, I had to surreneder my fears to God once again, trusting His absolute goodness and mercy and power.  Praying a wall of protection around my children.  Asking for only those trials in life that are of the divine will of my Abba, for His loving purposes.  

I came home and went about my day.  Kayla is home sick today, and while she was in the bath, I thought I might run out and feed the dogs.  Our family all has had  a very intense respect for water since my 3-year-old cousin drowned.   I am so careful, I have had to realize that it's okay for an 8-year-old to take a bath without me being there.   Corin (13 months) was playing along the side of the tub, begging to get in as usual.  I decided to go into the next room and make my bed.  While I was in my room, I heard a gasp from Kayla.  Corin had flipped over head-first into the tub.  Kayla grabbed him up real quick and set him on her lap, but I rushed in to find a soaked, gasping, terrified baby.

In a moment, I was arrested by the joy that he was okay and the fear of what could have happened if I would have gone out to feed the dogs or if it had been Caiden (4) alone in the tub when Corin fell in - even if I had been close.  Corin relaxed into smiles quickly, and I just sat in the bathroom holding him and cried. 

I am also overwhelmed by what my cousins, Burl & Peggy, are going through today.  Their son Darryl died of leukemia the same week Gramma Parsons died.  On the way to their own son's funeral on a rainy day, a jackknifed truck slammed into their car and put them in the hospital.  They had to cancel their son's funeral.  Peggy's ribs were broken and their daughter JoAnn was also hospitalized.  Peggy is still in bed recovering.  And now Burl's mom (my Aunt Virginia - Dad's only sister) is deathly ill.  She has stopped taking the medications which were keeping her.

It's just unspeakable.  Takes my breath away.  But not my faith.  I don't doubt that God is good and He is in control and He loves them desperately. 

And had my morning turned out unimaginably differently, he would still be Love.  He would still be Good.

So it's okay that my freezer is broken and I have to cook all the meat today.  It's okay that Corin seems to have a problem with milk and is fussy and we may have to find an alternative.  It's a blessing to have my girl home sick, sleeping in my bed.   And it's even okay that we had to evict our criminal renter and that today is my bills & budget day.  

Heaven is so very real. 

And so are my laundry and my checkbook. 

So.....on I go with that sharpened view and purposed pace!

"The Lord your God is with you,  he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love. 
He will rejoice over you with singing."
  Zephaniah 3:17

"Brightly Beams the Father's Mercy" Hall of Infamy

(Note from Sarah:  This is a post David created a long time ago that never got posted.  We absolutely laughed our heads off at these.)

This is a rare post by the "David" of davidandsarahfry.blogspot.com.

In preparation for a special song for Sunday AM worship, I found the following renditions of Philip Bliss's 1871 hymn, "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," otherwise called "Brightly Beams the Father's Mercy." I began in the hymnal but felt the song was rather static. The following renditions are...entertaining? I'm not sure. Which one would you prefer for Sunday AM worship?

We begin with one of the more tasteful versions sung by J. Ashley Milne. I'm not sure who he is, but you can listen to him below.

 (NOTE: You do NOT have to listen to ALL each selection to get the full effect.....unless noted otherwise).

I then came across the song sung by Tim Riley of Gold City fame, singing along with The Southmen (never heard of them). I was especially impressed by the feedback; Sarah was impressed by the inverted-boom-chick-playing pianist. We report, you decide.

It was the following clip that made me realize the song can be sung in many different styles. How about some black...gospel, ragtime???

Perhaps a little too hip-hop for AM worship; so how about something a bit more choral?

The choir piece was a bit too starchy for me. So how about a guitar version (NOTE: Listen to most of it, if you can).

Speaking of starchy, did she move at all during the song--besides the odd-sounding suspensions? Just for fun, tomorrow is Missions Sunday, how about a foreign language version? (NOTE: Evidently, the phrasing is a bit shorter in Chinese, hence the gap in the middle...listen on).


I hadn't anticipated acapella, so I did some more research. Back to a quartet number, but acapella. (NOTE: Listen to the entirety of the song. Thankfully it's only one verse)

Just for laughs, my 10-month old was giving his facial approval or disapproval. It changed drastically after the third video. He was dancing with the ragtime, emotionless with the choir, gave me a seriously-mean scowl during the guitar piece, and began crying sometime into the Chinese version and climaxed into a full-fledge wail (with tears) during the final 0:49 sound bite. This is no joke! I wish I had captured his face on camera.


Summer's Adieu - August 29, 2010

(NOTE:  Hi friends!  How I've missed this quiet tapping, feeling like I'm talking to myself and you all at the same time.  This post was created well over a week ago, and never got sent because I wanted to sleep on it, maybe add some pictures...... and then we lost our internet connection for several days..... and then the schedules of life happened and kept on happening.   I'm afraid it's an indication of where blogging ends up on my priority list these days.  sigh.)

Well.  Summer is gone....and what a summer it has been.   Busy, relaxing, painful, happy, productive, lazy.....

Life-changing, really.

I love summers.  For the last decade or so, almost every summer has marked something extremely significant in our lives. (Bear with we as I reminisce...)

2000 - I Graduated from college & started grad school, Trip to the Cayman Islands, where David     and I re-started our dating relationship (long story)
2001 - I Graduated grad school, David & I were married
2002 - Kayla's Birth
2003 - Move to Mississippi & Alabama, David started grad school
2004 - Karissa's Birth, The Battle of the MISSISSIPPI MOLD
2005 - Moved from Mississippi to full-time Alabama (?? Is that what happened?? memory's gettin' foggy)
2006 - Caiden's Birth
2007 - Move to Indiana, David started intense PhD work, house remodeling, I narrowly escaped a nervous breakdown (literally)
2008 - Wonderful, blissful, relaxing summer of no major change
2009 - Corin's Birth
2010 - changes, changes....Losses, gains, perspective,  investments in the future, with paintbrushes and running shoes and so much in between.

As you see, summers are pretty significant around here. (Notice the moving/having babies pattern?)

And now tomorrow begins a new school year, a new schedule, a new season.  I am so ready. 

Today I've been poring over my schedule, tweaking and rearranging and striving to maintain margin.  (I am significantly terrified of what happens to me with a marginless schedule.)

I begin this year with new perspective, new determination, new humility and new confidence.  I have learned so many lessons this summer.  Some from doing the right things with constancy.   Others from doing the wrong things or in the wrong ways.   Some lessons from loss, some from gain.  Lessons in being more gentle and toughening up.  Even trying to express it is a bit overwhelming. 

I have a fresh sense of my utter need, my weakness.  And a powerful sense of God's strength and healing grace.

So...here's to new pencils and freshly printed schedules and revised budgets and dusted-off lunchboxes and some fun new voice students!

I wish for you - for us all - a year of balance and growth.

And oh....how I've missed you, blogging friends.


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