The Year We Laughed {and a little Hagerty announcement}

I used to think I could have many heartbeats in my home without seeing their fingerprints on the walls. But sometime between our jump from two to four and four to five I have awakened to this reality: the order I once knew can’t coexist with the sheer number under our roof.

As I nurse this new babe, sharing these midnight hours with scores of twenty-five year-olds who already have what I so dearly wanted back then  — remnants of youth and motherhood all tangled together — I can’t help but laugh.

This year was the year I wore my namesake: Sara Elizabeth.

(This year was the year we all wore my namesake.)

She was ninety and unlikely, married to an old man wearing wrinkles but remembering a promise. She couldn’t stifle her laugh at the story God handed her. Her successor, Elizabeth, though younger, wasn’t very much different. Her husband, her bestie, outed her to the angel as if that prayer they once prayed was voided for a woman “well advanced in years.”


Just like us.

Our home — that once-well-oiled machine for which I was aiming — is now the convergence of a sticky mess that shines a little when the Light hits it. You move past our portico and it’s loud (sometimes unhinged), but 2013 has been epic and our mess has only enhanced that.

So, as I show you our year in pictures, each one needs this caption: unlikely. 

We have these photographer-friends who make a business out of looking through a tiny lens at one moment of a person’s whole life — and finding there beauty. They miss the saliva slathered on neglected cheeks, last minute as we pile out of the car, and the squabbles among siblings who wrapped arms around each other in armistice just before the flash. They don’t freeze-frame this wife’s darted look at her husband who walked out of the closet wearing that for the photo shoot and the hour-stints of sleep in between groggy feedings at 2am, and 3am and 4am (wasn’t he supposed to feed every three hours?). The momfail — snapping at her child who left the house without shoes or blithely shrugging off the injury of another little who needs attention — isn’t captured on camera. The moment where that kid whose years of insecurity surface at the thought that others may see her picture, it isn’t on their roll.

They don’t airbrush us — they don’t erase the mess that happened minutes before the shot of brother and babe, all cuddled — they just find the beauty of Him over-top of it. They caught unlikely beauty from the life we thought we could order and captured a half-dozen broken stories which, under His Light, really do shine.

Those who are unlikely aren’t without mess, nor are they marked by their mess — they are just overshadowed.

2013 was our year to laugh. 2013 was His year to shine, over us in all of our sticky mess.

{And … one more thing: Once you page down past these photos I’ll tell you about one new unlikely that’s unfolding in our lives.}







2013 was the year I birthed a baby.

And it was the year I birthed a book. 

In the weeks leading up to Bo’s delivery I tucked little ones into bed and lit another candle in a part of my story I’d previously decided wouldn’t happen while they were young. I logged hours at a coffee shop corner-table editing the pages over which I’d sweated a year before, when I didn’t think anything would come of this book that I was writing on a nudge (and then another, and then another) from God.

Apparently He had other plans.

Every Bitter Thing Is SweetTasting the Goodness of God in All Things will be hitting the shelves in October of 2014 via Zondervan.

Unlikely. Every one of the pieces that have come together for this book that, now, will not just be stored within, but published outside of my little closet, has been just that.

But I’m learning that He is the master of the unlikely.

The best of these photos are compliments of our friends: Mandie Joy, Lucy O Photo and Cherish Andrea Photography. The others, we took.

Our 2012 Year In Review



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