four lessons on transitioning well

Anyone who knows me well knows that I struggle to transition into different life stages. This was not always the case. My mom recalls my first day of kindergarten with no tears and no looking back. When I moved into my first dorm in college, I nearly pushed my parents out the door. I loved new seasons and all of the new experiences.

Then I moved across the country. I thought it would be the same experience.

I was wrong.

My husband and I were married on January 1, 2011. I woke up the next day and burst into tears!! My poor new husband didn’t know what was wrong with his brand new wife and I couldn’t explain what I was feeling.

Looking back, I know that I was feeling all of the losses I was about to endure in the next few days and months. You see, we were meeting our family for breakfast, opening presents, and then we were moving away from everything I knew…to Arizona of all places.

the day after our wedding

the day after our wedding

I knew this move was good (Jason had a job!), but at that moment all I could think about was the loss of my last name, my city I’d lived in for 8 years, my friends and family, and my comfort. The only thing that settled me down was a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears in the playoff game (that would make any day better).

All in all, I was a mess.

When we arrived in Arizona, I felt disconnected and lost. I cried EVERY SINGLE day for 6 months. I was always talking about when we could move back and how I just couldn’t do this anymore (poor husband…a word to new brides-don’t do that). I hadn’t prepared my heart for this transition. I was too busy preparing for our wedding.

For those of you who are facing transition or are in the midst of transition, I want to pass on the some words of encouragement to possibly give you some hope and help.

1. Give yourself grace and prepare your heart. Right now you may be preparing to make a move, get married, have a baby and it can consume your time. Don’t let it. Give yourself the time to seek the Lord in preparing your heart for what He has to teach you in your upcoming transition. Enjoy the season that you are in right now, embrace the gifts you have been given in your current season. I had made myself too busy to spend quality time with the friends and family I was leaving. And when you are in the midst of your transition, give yourself heaps of GRACE. Don’t believe the lies that Satan will try to use to discourage you (for me it was a sense of intense loneliness and the lie that no one cared that I was all alone).  Feel what you need to feel, but be careful not to let it overtake you. Always go back to Jesus.

2. Find a friend or a mentor who has already walked this type of transition. I did not do this when I first moved and I felt SO ALONE. By God’s grace, an old friend from college noticed a comment I made on Facebook and sent me an email. She had struggled with a move across country after marriage and she recognized my pain through my words. If it hadn’t been for the encouragement through her words and listening ear, my transition may have taken a much longer time. If you can find someone who you know who will listen to you, encourage you, and just walk through this new season with you, don’t be afraid to ask.

3. Make time with Jesus a high priority. God teaches us through every life circumstance and He grabs hold of us in unique ways during transitions.  He knows that in communion with Him you will find a peace, joy, and wholeness found nowhere else but in Him. There were days  I spent hours in the word, in prayer and reading Jerry Bridges’ Trusting God Even When Life Hurts. It was in that time where I came to truly believe God will work this out for my good and His glory.

4. Sometimes in order to see your sin, you have to walk through a hard transition. This was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn. I had become very comfortable in my old life. I had a strong community of friends and family who I went to with any hardship, joy, or frustration. When I moved, I had no one to go to for comfort or approval.  It took me a long time to realize part of the reason God moved me was to strip me of my comforts so I would run to the ultimate Comforter. Jesus wanted a relationship with me more than He wanted me to be happy in my community.

And finally, it does get better! Two and a half years later I have a community and I love our city. I have also learned to hold on loosely to the things of this world, or at least I’m learning!  There are days when it’s still hard, but I continue to remember that God is for my good and for His glory. He is for your good too!

Do you have any other suggestions for people who are in transition?

 

Live Your Story

i’m a dreamer

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I’m a dreamer. Not the visionary-type of dreamer, mind you. I’m a vivid night dreamer. My husband has declared the drive to work “Story time with Sarah” because I often spend the first 10-15 minutes sharing the previous night’s dreams to him (he doesn’t find them as intriguing as I do, but he listens…good man). My dreams are usually far-fetched stories that include bits and pieces of my days or something that we watched on TV the night before.

(I have a lot of Sydney Bristow (Alias) & Olivia Dunham (Fringe) dream-type dreams. Which often lead to interesting conversations as we drive to work!)

But, a few months ago I had a dream that has embedded itself into my mind’s eye and I hope it never leaves.

(Disclaimer: the dream is not how the reality is in our adoption process…that would be weird)

In this dream, my husband and I were headed to a hospital in the states to meet our children for the first time. We were walking through customs on a hospital floor feeling very nervous but excited to meet our children for the first time. We were then taken to a room filled with children and someone introduced us to our older daughter! She was beautiful, healthy, and happy playing with her friends and toys. We were then escorted to another room to meet our other child. As we entered the room, a nurse explained to us that our son was very ill. I went to him and saw his tiny, frail body and swooped him up. The nurse continued to tell us that he probably wasn’t going to make it and we should consider staying with him for as long as we can in the hospital.

In the dream, we weren’t supposed to take our children home yet; we could just visit with them for a short time. I pleaded with the nurse to let us take home our son for the remainder of his short life. As the nurse left to discuss with her directors, I held our son in my arms on a hospital bed. I told him how much I loved him and how wonderful he was and how I was going to do everything I could to make him feel better. He looked straight into my eyes and said “Mommy, I love you. All I want you to do is hold me until I die.”

And then I woke up in tears…

I also woke up with the pressing words of God on my heart…”I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” God clearly spoke to my heart that there are countless orphans around the world battling illnesses who just want someone to call Mommy and hold them in their most desperate moments. I was and still am overwhelmed.

What do I do with this dream? How do I act upon it? How can I hold those little boys and girls who are sick while I am thousands of miles away? How do I care for children who may not be sick, but their chances of adoption or family are slim to none?

I still don’t know what to do with this dream and with this heart desire. We sponsor two children through Amazima and Compassion. We are adopting. We give to friends who go to orphanages. We try to raise awareness. We pray.

But still I feel like I can do more and I want to do more. I want to go to the broken places. I want to hold the children, care for the sick, and tell them about the love of Jesus. I want to build relationships with orphanages and help them provide medicine, love, and staff.

I guess you could say that I am a visionary dreamer too…

For the Cloudy Days {Mercy Found}

1 Cor. 13-12

The skies are unusually cloudy here in the Arizona desert today. The dogs have been sleeping all day from a busy evening of playing. The house is quiet. And my heart is heavy for our girls.

The weather seems to be reflecting the heavy mood that is clouding my thinking. I’ve found that writing it out has been helpful for me to find a way out of the clouds and down to the truth of who God is and how that affects my day-to-day life.

It’s been 110 days since we first saw beautiful pictures of G & M and said yes to pursue them to be our daughters. I had been praying that July would be the month we hear something from the courts, but from an email I received last week, we are nowhere close to passing court. 110 days. I pray that it’s not 100 more, but if it is I know God will pour out his grace on us and on the girls to sustain us for the long haul…

To continue reading, I’m over here at Mercy Found and I’d love to connect with you…

 

(image from http://christinamariehernandez.wordpress.com)

I’m Diving In!!

Do you every have that feeling of excitement, but also a sense of “what did I just sign myself up for”? I’ve been experiencing that over the past 24 hours.

Yesterday I took the plunge and signed up to be a Thirty-One consultant! If you remember, a little over a month ago I held a Thirty-One fundraising party and it went VERY well (thanks again to all you purchased products!). Prior to that I had been praying and deliberating about joining their team. I wanted to find a way that I could help our family raise funds for our adoption, but not take away time spent with Jason and serving our church family.

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I love the Thirty-One product and I love that they are a company that values faith, family, and service.

But I am SO nervous about starting something like this. I’m not the type of person who likes to ask people to host parties and I don’t want to be that girl that people run away from because either she’s going to ask about buying Thirty-One or donating to their adoption fund (I’m already that girl…who am I kidding).

My hope for this new endeavor is that it will be a fun outlet for me to meet new people and to stretch my skills of sales without pressuring others into buying products. I also hope that God will bless it and help provide the much-needed funds to bring home our baby girls. 100% of the profit that I make at each party will go towards our adoption fund!

So here’s my ask from you, my readers…would you consider hosting a party (online or house party) in the following months? I hosted a party in June and it was super easy and fun to get together with people to eat food and look through the countless options of bags and totes, etc. As the hostess, you also can receive great rewards based on the amount of product you sell. I received some pretty awesome stuff last month! Hosting is also a great way to partner with us in our adoption even if you, personally, cannot give financially.

If you’re interested in hosting either an online party or a house party, please shoot me an email at sarah.amelia.wood@gmail.com. You don’t have to live in my area to do it either. I’m still learning the ropes on how long distance parties go, but I know it can be done because I did it last month!

You can checkout my website here https://www.mythirtyone.com/sarahwood/ if you would like to get a head start and purchase some fun product of your own! From now until the end of the month when you spend $31, you get 31% off any item!

If you think of me in the coming weeks, please keep me in your prayers as I transition to having a new “job”. I’m excited, but like I said…so nervous!

 

why I cried after my brother’s team made it to state

Last night my brother and the Albia Blue Demons won their substate game which means that they are going to the Iowa State Baseball Tournament!! Woot Woot!!

My brother's the catcher and I love the intensity in his face!

My brother’s the catcher and I love the intensity in his face!

Now to clear some things up because I get this question all the time from people down here…

  1. Wait, Sarah, your brother is playing high school baseball in the SUMMER?” Yes, Iowa plays high school ball in the summer and no I do not know why (for my peeps in Iowa, just know that playing a high school sport in the summer is very uncommon).
  2. “Didn’t Gabe graduate earlier this Spring? I didn’t know graduates could play.” Yes, my brother graduated in May and is still playing high school baseball. According to Iowa rules, you can play baseball/softball the summer after your senior year because the season started during the school year. So, yes he did play five years of high school baseball and my sister played 5 years of softball.
  3. “Are you ALL athletic?” Yes, but not all of us are athletic in baseball/softball…or should I just say I am terrible at softball. I have an appreciation for the game, but I can’t hit a softball to save my life!

Ok, now that that’s cleared up, let me continue…

I listened to the last inning and a half on my phone while at my friends’ house last night. As the announcers were exclaiming that the Albia Blue Demons were headed to state, my heart was filled with joy but also a lot of  sadness as tears ran down my face.

I was so happy for him, but I was sad that I couldn’t be there to give my sweet brother a big hug and to celebrate a victory with my family. There are days like yesterday where I find it hard to live so far away from home..

I sent my brother a text after they won congratulating him and telling him how proud I am of him. He sent back a text that said “Thanks. Wish you were here! Love ya” Melt my heart. Those are sweet words from an 18 year old man-boy!

The tears fell because I felt like I was missing out on another milestone event for my family. And I was. There have been a lot of things that I have “missed” in the 2.5 years of living 1500 miles.

But then I remember all of the amazing things that have happened while living in this dry, hot desert and I’m grateful. I still mourn the loss of the familiar, but the adventure Jason and I have been on makes it worth it all.

The next few weeks I will be spending my Wednesdays talking about the adventures that God has taken me on and the lessons I have learned since we took this huge step to move from the cornfields of Iowa to the desert land of Arizona. And I would love to hear from you as well! How has God taken what looked like it would be hard and made it beautiful?

I want to be able to share my life here on this blog and I hope that as you read how God has changed me, you will be encouraged to know that God is at work in your story too. That’s why I’ll be linking up with She Does Justice on Wednesdays…will you join me?

Live Your Story

a lesson from Sarah {of the Bible}

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If we were having coffee today, I’d lean in and tell you something that has become my lifeline as of late…

God is faithful.

I have been a follower of the She Reads Truth online devotional community for almost a year. I’ve shared what I’ve learned a few times here and here. Normally, I’ve been able to stay up to date on their plans and follow along with, but this round I started very late in the game. I started theWomen of the Bible plan right before the weekend hit.

The story of Sarai/Sarah has been one that I’ve taken interest in since I was little because we shared a name, but what I didn’t realize until this weekend was that was also shared the same fears and doubts.

For those of you who don’t know that story you can read it here: Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 16, Genesis 17:15-16, Genesis 18:1-21, Genesis 21:1-7.

Sarah was a woman who had been given a promise from God (along with her husband Abraham) that He would bless her with children. There was a hitch in this promise for Sarah.

You see, she was OLD.

Not old like 45 and maybe she could still get pregnant with modern day intervention, but Sarah was in her 80’s. Women at that age just don’t have children. But Sarah held on to the hope that God was faithful. She probably became very excited when Abraham told her the news that they would have a child. She more than likely started preparing her home for a little one and began to dream what her child would be like. But then days turned into months and months turned into years…no baby.

She started to doubt God’s promise to her. Instead of trusting in God’s faithfulness, she chose to make things happen. She decided that if God wasn’t going to open her womb, she would order her servant to conceive a child for her with her husband (talk about dramatic!). Sarah took the plans God had for her and made them into her plans. Her decision to move outside of God’s promise did not bring satisfaction; it brought her more bitterness and a deeper desire to control.

Sarah’s excitement for what God had promised turned into restlessness, which catapulted into sin through her own fears and doubt.

Oh, how I see myself in her.

God’s call to adopt was as strong as any call I’ve had on my life. 8 months ago I was excited and expectant! I knew that God was going to move and do great things in our lives.

And then it got hard. Oh did it get hard.

I started to doubt and fear that maybe God wasn’t as big as who He said He was in the Bible. Or maybe He was, but did He really care enough about us? I began looking for answers in all of the adoption Facebook groups, thinking that if I just knew more about our process or if I could just control one aspect of our adoption…all of this fear would go away. I began to trust the process more than the one who holds the process in His hands.

This part of Sarah’s story ends after 14 years of waiting. She gave birth to Isaac at the age of around 90. Isaac, the promised child, was the father of Jacob, renamed Israel, and the nation of Israel was birthed. God had an intricate plan for this child and family!

And God was faithful to Sarah. During those 14 years, Sarah fell many times to her own fear and doubts, but God never waivered in His promise. He continued to pursue her and remind her of His goodness. God was with her in the wait.

I have a choice and so do you. We can lean into God when the waiting gets hard and experience a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father, or we can go off on our own and try to find our answers in the idols of our heart. I can promise you, those idols will fail us even if they look pretty and helpful. Friends, let’s lean into the God who never waivers.

The God who does not change and keeps His promises (Num. 23:19).

Today, lets believe that our God has a plan for us and rest in the truth that He is making all things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

 

 

do you want to follow our story?

I receive many questions about how our adoption process is going and often times I tell them that they can follow us on my blog. Here on my little space, I share my heart of what God is doing as we wait to bring home our sweet  babies G & M. I also share details of our adoption that I am allowed to share (our agency has a policy that I cannot share the country’s name and a few other details regarding our adoption process and I do  my best to abide by that).

This little blog also points you to where you can partner with us in bringing home our baby girls. I keep an updated list of adoption fundraisers we are a part of in the “How You Can Help” or you can give a tax-deductible gift online by clicking on “Donate Now”.

If you are interested in following our story as we journey to bring home our girls and the days that follow, you can subscribe to my blog!

“How do you do that”, you ask? Great question!

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Up on the right hand side there is a button that says “Follow My Blog”. If you click on “sign me up” and enter your email address, you will get my posts sent directly to your inbox every morning (or afternoon) I post something. I try to post 3 times a week, so as not to overload your box.

My hope is that you not only have a chance to follow our adoption story, but that God would use my words to be an encouragement to you as you go about living the life God has called you to live. I have been praying that this little space would develop into a community for women to grow in their faith (where ever you may be at this point) and be challenged to live life with a mission and a purpose that is greater than ourselves.

I’m so excited for the days ahead! There will be lots of face uplifts in the near future (all thanks to my husband).

Thanks in advance for following my story!