Happy Birthday, Squared!

Today is a very special day in our household — not one, but TWO birthdays shared by Kathy and our ‘caboose’, Sarah.

I spent my time on the train today poring over old photos of our family. I built this slideshow to show how loved Sarah is by our family and by her many friends; there were so many photos, I had to limit this first presentation to 2002-2005. Hopefully I’ll be able to post more in the upcoming days.

You can switch to full-screen mode by clicking on the icon at the bottom right of the slideshow.

Sarah turns twelve today, and Kathy turns, well, a few years older than twelve. Both of them keep our family young with their joy and enthusiasm. Truly, their birthday is one of the high points of the year — and no less this year with the lovely summer weather we have been enjoying. And of course, Kathy and Sarah share a love for celebration and traditions, which makes it even more fun.

One tradition I started (in our home, if you do something once, it is halfway toward being a ‘tradition’) with Rachel was the “Twelve things I love about ____” blog post, so I must not be remiss in telling these twelve things about Sarah.

Twelve things I love about Sarah

  1. She has great childlike faith.
  2. Whenever Sarah is sad, or worried about something, she usually confides in Kathy or me. Since we try to be a praying family, our solution is often to pray for her. It often impresses me that Sarah is comforted by our prayers for her, knowing that the matter has been brought to God’s throne, and it is settled. She knows her Bible and dearly loves Jesus, and so she doesn’t seem distressed if there is no immediate relief from the sorrow or concern, but faithfully trusts that God will answer our prayers.

  3. Sarah is very persistent.
  4. In less than two weeks, Sarah will complete her fourth year of IXL math (although she has accomplished this in only 2.5 years). In this time she has completed 41,700 problems, many of them quite difficult. I require my kids to reach 100% mastery on each IXL skill, and they are not allowed to use calculators until they reach high school math. Sarah steadily works away at her math, and I am very proud of her.

  5. She observes and doesn’t rush into trouble.
  6. Like her oldest brother (Joshua), Sarah has the personality of an observer. She doesn’t like to leap into new things without gathering information, and she avoids a lot of grief (and some sin) by being a bit more careful about what she does and says. I really admire this trait in her.

  7. Sarah is a loyal friend.
  8. It is very interesting, watching Sarah navigate the complicated and sometimes drama-filled waters of friendship as she enters middle school. Over the years, my youngest daughter has had many good friends, and she tends to those relationships carefully and loyally. She tries hard to avoid gossip, and she is willing to rebuke a good friend when necessary.

  9. She is tender-hearted.
  10. Sarah takes after her mom in mercy, and she is careful of the feelings of others, even when they are callous toward her feelings. Time and again I have seen her exercise compassion to friends and relatives, even when they didn’t deserve it.

  11. Sarah is joyful.
  12. Sit quietly in the same room with her, and you’ll soon hear her singing whatever song is playing in the sound track of her life. Sarah is seldom gloomy or sour, but instead the joy of the Lord flows out of her, usually in song.

  13. She is patient.
  14. As the youngest child in our family, Sarah receives more than her fair share of criticism and correction, but she often bears it cheerfully and simply waits for her turn, and isn’t unduly upset if she never gets a turn at all.

  15. Sarah is content.
  16. Some people are high-maintenance, but not my twelve-year-old. Leave her alone and she’ll soon find something to do with her time, whether reading or writing an email to one of her friends. She doesn’t demand to be constantly entertained by others, but quietly expresses herself in creative ways.

  17. She is crafty.
  18. Not the devious kind of ‘crafty’, but creative and clever with her hands. Sarah is always drawing or making something beautiful, and she doesn’t seem to mind if it doesn’t turn out perfectly. Her mind seems to constantly produce new ideas for her hands to execute.

  19. Sarah is submissive to parental authority.
  20. Some children resist and oppose their parents, assuming that they know best, or suspecting that the parent does not seek the best for the child. But Sarah trusts and respects us as her parents, and takes it to heart when we correct or rebuke her. It is a delight to parent a child who trusts in this way, and of course it makes me want all the more to be trust-worthy and faithful as her Dad.

  21. She is generous.
  22. Sometimes the youngest in a family will seem a little spoiled, and occasionally greedy, but not Sarah. She loves to buy presents for her siblings and is unstinting in spending her money on them. I am proud of the way that Sarah shares and gives to friends and family so generously.

  23. Sarah is a good communicator and an excellent listener.
  24. I am often struck by the maturity and wisdom she exercises in communicating with friends and family members. But Sarah is also skilled in patiently listening to others.

Now that I finished, I went back and read the blog I wrote about Rachel — it is interesting to see how many things overlap, between my two girls. I guess it is no accident — after all, they roomed together for many years, and Rachel has faithfully taught Sarah many of her strongest virtues.

Happy birthday to both of you, Sarah and Kathy!

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Summer Joy

Today is one of those glorious summer mornings when everything looks like it is freshly-minted from the hand of God. The sun laughs in a cloudless blue sky, casting its warm light across green lawns and trees, painting everything with crisp new edges and joyfully washing away the shadows. Even shabby, man-made buildings gain a fresh luster from the golden bath of new light, as the day fairly explodes with promise and hope.

Waiting for my train to arrive ...

Waiting for my train to arrive …

Of course, I’ll spend the day in a beige, cloth-covered cubicle, 25 feet from the nearest window, staring into computer screens at webserver configurations. But for the next 90 minutes, my eyes are free to feast on the beauty of God’s creative brushstrokes and His masterful use of light and color on this canvas of Earth. Mount Rainier looms in hazy majesty to the east, peeking out from behind every obstruction as if to remind me of God’s omnipresence and the sheer size of His glory.

Even downtown Seattle looks fresh and new.

Even downtown Seattle looks fresh and new.

On days like this, my heart sings with gratitude to my Creator, and I blink away tears at His goodness to me. Each breath feels like a priceless gift, and the mundane falls away as I gaze on the smallest hint of what God has in store for me, when I go to live with Him forever.

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