My Awefull Life » A Pilgrimage of Wonder

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One recent morning, a post from Ann appeared in my inbox just at the right moment of pause, and I actually opened it and read. I say “actually” because in the months since we have arrived home, I have put off or even avoided some of the very things that have historically sustained me. Writers of hope, music to compel, conversations to renew… Why do we do that? Avoid the life-giving when the life-living becomes treacherous? Ahhhh, so I stray from my original point, but perhaps the confession of my wayward heart will somehow produce a turn toward home.

As I read “Because Hard Days are White Horse Days,” my mind drifted to one white horse day in particular. A hard day, exactly one year in the past. The kids and I had gone to the beach with one of my oldest and dearest friends for a few days while her husband was there for work. It was a trip in part to distract us from the wait for a referral of our baby girl. In the weeks prior there had been a sudden rash of children referred by our agency and we knew our name had to be nearing the top of the list. In fact, based of the timelines and waits for some of those families receiving referrals, I even started to grow concerned we had somehow been skipped.  Paranoid, anyone? So to put my impatient mind at ease, I shot off an email to our caseworker as I packed for the beach. Our first morning at the ocean, my friend and I having managed to schlep ourselves and our four small kids along with all our beach-going-gear, settled on a spot along the crowded shoreline. As she went off to handle something with the resort, I absent-mindedly checked my email on my phone. There it was- a response from our caseworker – but one I was not at all prepared for. Instead of the reassuring reminder to “hang in there” I was fully expecting to read, I soon learned my hunch we had been skipped was in fact very accurate. Without going into too many details, along the way there had been a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, and our names had been passed over in last set of referrals that had been given. Standing there in the hot Florida sun with sand toys, snacks and kiddos at my feet, I started to cry. We had missed her, missed our daughter, missed our turn to put an end to the wondering after face and name. It didn’t make sense, and in that moment I could not see, nor did I want to hear what my head was saying, what I’m sure my sweet friend said upon her return. I could not see how this could be used for good, or that those precious children simply were not who God had chosen as our precious child. No, that day the “white horse” stung much more of curse than of any sort of blessing.

For now we see in a mirror dimly…

Here I sit, one full year since that morning on hot sand and a wave of crushing news. Here I sit, with one full year of perspective and privilege to see the promises of God were not missed because of man’s misunderstanding. Here I sit with our daughter, the one divinely chosen to be our family, asleep in the next room. In countless details and rows of provision, we have watched faithful God redeem that specific white horse day. Layer by layer has been peeled back to reveal that hard day was full of protection and purpose and His honest-to-goodness, goodness. So many details, ones we couldn’t see or have anyway of knowing existed from where we stood there in the sand. Ones we will some day be able to share with Lulu as part of her story, part of God’s plan for her life. In hopes she may grow to live in the full understanding that while the glass is dim, nothing is wasted, all will work together for good in Christ Jesus.

So today, what is your white horse? Blessing or curse? Or quite possibly both? Whatever your heart’s answer, my hope is you may take heart and embrace the hard days until all that is left standing is the blessing.

xo – Sarah

Our perfect fit – photo courtesy of Jen & Chris Creed Photographers

  • Julie Dumond - Oh Sarah- my heart and mind are so deeply touch what is true for not only you but for all of us. Your words flow so eloquently through out what at one time was such a hurtful and more then “trying” time. You my sweet sweet woman of God are so blessed with the ability to pass on such treasured lessons from experiential knowledge.
    I will definitely want to pass this along to some of my friends.ReplyCancel

    • sarahrichmond - Thank you Julie for always being quick to support and encourage. xoReplyCancel

  • Alisha - I needed this today! Wow, I did not want to read too fast, because I did not want it to end. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this out. That must have been so painful. I love the scripture you quoted, and I love the complete peace you now have about your path and your precious child!ReplyCancel

    • sarahrichmond - You are sweet Alisha – I’m grateful it resonated. I love getting to know you friend!ReplyCancel

  • Amber - Thanks for this. I too needed to hear it. Just posted about the “looking back moments” myself. It has been encouraging to read people’s stories.ReplyCancel

    • sarahrichmond - Amber- I truly hate this for you and the other faithful waiting. Not being equipped to offer a solution or even much that will ease your pain is so hard. I just have to pray and believe, as with our own story, God won’t waste the pain you are experiencing. Love to you – and thank you for reading!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie W. - Sarah, this is a beautiful post. So full of encouragement and life. Thank you for sharing. His grace, peace, & love to you, Stephanie.ReplyCancel

A few weeks ago I ran across a print by way of Pinterest, that I loved for Lulu’s room. The piece from a line entitled “My Roots Lie here,” also caught the eye of several friends, and soon enough they were messaging me about the perfect find for Lu. At the time I ordered it, it was by way of a website One King’s Lane, but it is not currently available there. I did find it, along with several other countries and state options on etsy here in case you would like to buy one as well. I love the world map option and may have to add that to my wish list. Here are a couple iphone shots of Fasi Lu with her new print (the pointed finger is trademark Lulu and all her doing):

Tomorrow marks three months since we reunited with our baby girl. In all honestly, I was really expecting and hoping by three months most of our transition challenges would be long gone. We are day by day seeing small steps of progress in the hearts of each one of us, while also recognizing the work we have yet to do. Thank you for your continued prayers and support – we are grateful and complete as we are all together but also appreciate your prayers for the continuing process of weaving our family together. This month also marks a full year since our referral of Fasi Lu was received, and in the coming days I hope to share some of our thoughts in looking back over what God has done this year. A connecting of dots with the luxury of hindsight, so to speak. Three months together has produced great strides in many areas, and as I think back to 12 weeks ago, almost immediately a couple developments come to mind. Lu’s walking has improved and developed to the point where she now dances on one foot, runs, and even tackles large downhill treks. She also has found her laughter. When we first brought Lu home, Rob and I would often comment how she didn’t laugh out loud – she would keep her joy and laughter stifled and stuffed behind her smile. She now laughs often and loud and for that we are joyful. I’ll leave you for now with the latest video clip of our brood. This was captured last night on one of our many evening picnics, a time and place we all seem to be at more peace. I think you’ll see Lu’s personality starting to bloom, and it is also complete with annoying commentary from Rob and me – who doesn’t want to watch that? 🙂

Have a beautiful day friends!


Job 42:10-17 (NASB)

10 The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold.11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. 12  The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13  He had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch.15 In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17  And Job died, an old man and full of days.


After all was said and reconciled, Job’s deliverance from life’s great storm came to pass. It was a deliverance arriving in abundance. Still, I wish we had more insight into Job’s heart in those post-storm days. The final words in the book say Job died an old man and full of days. “Full of days.” In the Hebrew, the word used for “full” is ““sabea” – meaning sated, satisfied, abounding. He died satisfied, abounding with a life lived, once again Job thrived. Does this mean Job had reconciled the experience, the battle, the injustice? And if so, how long did that take? Was it an instant healing as soon as repentance came, or was it a gradual process back to fullness over his next 140 years of life? Were those early years of restoration still a battle of their own merit? I wonder, if handed a mirror in the months following his deliverance from attack, would Job have recognized himself? Or had the battle altered him so deeply he was left someone unknown even to his own heart?

“Am I a man when I feel like a ghost?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes”

Friday marked two months home with our Lulu. Two months beyond the greatest storm of our lives to this point. Two months of gratitude and celebration for our own deliverance and restoration. But also two months of reality heaped upon me, deferring those days of “sabea” I naively expected. I am left in a place far less than thriving, a place I scarcely recognize and dare I say, a place feeling more foreign than the brutal conditions from inside the storm we lived for months. In the storm, my helplessness was palpable, my desperation for God’s sustaining presence as constant as each breath I took. It was there, I felt Him near and heard His constant voice, carrying me through. Is it possible it was there, in the storm, where I thrived?

I come alive when I hear you singing

But lately I haven’t been hearing a thing and
I get the feeling that I’m in between
A machine and a man who only looks like me”

I know enough to know God hasn’t gone anywhere. He is as close now as He was in the darkest of nights I experienced in getting Lu home to us. If God is still right here, then where have I gone? What is blocking the path between His voice and my heart? And how is it I can be myself one beautiful day in Ethiopia, board a plane only to step foot back home someone altogether unrecognizable?

“Been fighting things that I can’t see
Like voices coming from the inside of me and
Like doing things I find hard to believe in
Am I myself or am I dreaming?

I try and hide it and not let it show

But deep down inside me I just don’t know
Am I a man when I feel like a hoax?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes”

Maybe I am going too far for the sake of honesty, as not many talk about the aftermath of battle. Specifically in adoption, I think we fear ever admitting it is not complete heaven 24/7, because God did answer our prayers after all, our baby is home. Our prayer was answered when so many friends remain in agony of wait, or even harder yet, find themselves facing answers far from what they had prayed and believed for. How dare I not be oozing smiles? How dare I? There is shame in the lackluster. We fear letting our community down when thoughts are not full of rainbows and puffy hearts. And if I have let you down by my absence of unicorns, I get it. I have let myself down, so believe me, I get it. Good grief, what I wouldn’t give for some dang unicorns.

“No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive”

The hope of a future of thriving lies in past experience of such. Again, I am curious if Job held on to his hope, his integrity because of the days of thriving he had once experienced prior to the storm of testing wreaked havoc on his world. I, too have once been washed in days that thrived. I have felt the difference of life asleep and life alive, and now finding myself in a place less than, I know I’m not alright. This is another time, another place I know I cannot set up camp in. I know I won’t be staying long. I just don’t know exactly how to find my way out, or when that door may open up. And so here I stand, staring at that stranger in the mirror, praying for some glimpse of someone known, clinging to the Truth I know will surface if I stay open to hear the words. It is the same Truth I clung to here and here, only now I have to find a way to make it real to me here.

“I get so down, but I won’t give up

I get so down, but I won’t give up”*

I won’t give up. And on the very off-chance this post hasn’t left you hitting “unsubscribe” and off in search of rainbows on some other well-adjusted person’s blog, I hope you won’t give up either. In whatever aftermath you may be facing, don’t give up. We may not know how or when or even why, but one day we will again thrive.

*lyric excerpts from “Thrive” by Switchfoot
  • Julie Dumond - Sarah,
    I certainly love these thoughts. Honesty is great. I for one “where my heart on my sleeve” as they used to say in the old days.
    I think you are like every person who is going about the every day ordinary life tasks after a very big milestone in your life. There will be many more. He is there in the midst of ALL of it.

    Love you sweet sweet woman of God.

  • Carrie - Sarah,

    Sometimes big, happy moments are harder to deal with than the hard, sad ones, especially when our expectations have been so high, both for ourselves and others.

    What you have been through to get your sweet baby girl was hell, but remember you love Lu, you love Asher, you love Emma, you love Rob and you love your God. Let them love you. Time will help, love will heal.ReplyCancel

  • Jen Chase - Oh, sweet Sarah. Thank you for your honesty. We went to a dramatization of Job yesterday. Though it was geared toward the tornado victims here in Joplin, something about it was so poignant and true for me in this adoption process.
    One thing I got from it was that after the storm of Job’s tribulation, he was blessed “more than the former part” {of his life}.
    However, we’re not told how Job felt about his new normal…undoubtedly he was thankful for the way that he had been blessed, but surely he also felt grief for the losses that he had experienced. He could never have gone through such a tramautic experience without having to take the time to grieve, process,and reconnect with God and with his normal.
    My prayer for you is that this stage of processing will quickly give way to blessing and excitement for a new normal that is blessed “more than the former part” {your life before precious Fasi Lu}.
    <3 you,

  • Deena Maley - Sarah-so glad you posted your feelings. Please don’t beat yourself up about where your emotions are right now. They are just emotions and are fleeting. I am sure you wish they would flee on out of your life. Grief can happen over any change good or bad. Like Jen said, you just need to find your new normal. Two months is not much time to find it but it will come. Make sure you find time for uninterrupted quiet. It is amazing what it can do to help you find what you are looking for.ReplyCancel