Thursday, January 27, 2011

Loving Sarah

This is Miss Sarah. She is our oldest daughter and I am sharing these photos to share a bit of her story. When I first met Sarah, she was younger than this photos, but I have to find the younger photos. Who Sarah was when we met and who she is now hasn't changed drastically. She was then and still is to this day a kind hearted girl who hates to hurt any one's feelings. This leaves her open to getting her heart hurt by people who aren't always good friends. She is taller of course, she's taller than me now and loves it. She is loving, compassionate and extremely smart. I'm not just saying that - she really is very bright and works hard to get good grades so she can go to college.
I'm sure older Sarah would tell younger Sarah if she could - to maybe not be so adamant that she wanted a sister. She might get more than she bargained for - she now has two sisters with us and a brother and sister with her mom. When she came to visit the first Christmas that Chris and I were together as a couple, she was crying in the backseat one evening. "
"What's wrong Sarah?"
"Do you know why I'm crying?"
"No, sweetie, why are you crying?"
"I'm crying because I'm lonely. I need a baby sister."
The joke was on us, by the way, I was pregnant and didn't know it yet. We talk about that often in our house - it usually goes along the lines of a lesson in be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. While it would take four years for Sarah to come live with us, I think in some ways that is when her new life began. A life of uncertainty, a life torn between loving me and her mom and trying to be loyal to both sides. A life torn between two families. One family that offered structure, discipline, stability, and the opportunity to get to know her Dad. The other filled with moving, upheaval, and uncertainty. So in 2005, after years of prayer and banging our heads against the wall Sarah came to live with us. You know what they don't tell you when you marry someone with kids is that even when you gain custody of them, it's a tough road. The first year Sarah lived with us, she spent grounded a lot. We worked on not always thinking negatively and trying to not make yourself a victim. It took a lot of work and a lot of love, and wanting to scream and pull my hair out, but it began to happen.

Shortly after school began in 2006 we discovered we were expecting Beka. Sarah took it rather well actually. We thought for sure, she'd be upset, but she embraced it and went with it. She was a good helper during the first trimester when I was sick in the evenings. Yes, she and Elizabeth ate a lot of Ramen, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese or sandwiches, but they quickly got over it, when I hit that second trimester wind and became a cooking fiend. During the first two years, I did several things. First, I made it a point to talk to her about the fact that I loved her just as much as I loved Elizabeth and later I would love Beka. Yes, it's a little different, but I would take a bullet for her and go to war for her just as I do for the other two girls. I took the time to do the little things, like make her favorite meals, or bake muffins when she would mention that muffins for breakfast would be nice. We encouraged sleepovers, play dates with friends, and joining church activities. As she entered sixth grade she didn't walk slumped over as much and she definitely didn't walk around with an invisible bulls eye on her back encouraging bullies to single her out. Yes, she hid behind her hair, but how many tweens and teens do you know who don't go through the I don't feel comfortable in my own skin phase?

This was a time in which I encouraged Family Game Night and the phone went unanswered because it was a family only time. She grew out her hair, which she still loves to keep long. She began to notice more boys and they began to notice her. She also learned that sometimes it's important to root for the underdog. I was very proud of her when the school counselor called me and told me that Sarah had stood up to a group of kids who were giving a troubled young boy in her school a tough time. He'd made a poor choice and the kids were taunting him about it. Sarah asked them, "Do you ever make a mistake? Do you like it when people hold it against you and don't let you forget it?" YEAH SARAH!!!!!!!!! That became the moment when we knew our work was starting to pay off.

Sarah has gone through some phases. She's gone from a young girl who was uncomfortable in her skin and a target for bullies to a girl who loved all things black (and no we weren't necessarily thrilled about it or that she chose black AND blue hair for a while) and we let her express herself with her clothing and hair - because honestly, we figured if our biggest issue was her mouth, attitude and that she had funky hair then we were doing pretty good. Of course, as I write this, I cringe and wonder if I've just jinxed myself?

Through all of these changes, Sarah has begun to emerge as a leader among her friends. And she has had some things going in her favor. The main one being Chris' mom - Grandma Mary. She's been the one constant in Sarah's life from beginning to end that never really changed a lot. Her love was never ending and she is still a champion of Sarah - even when it means fighting with Chris or I. Sometimes, she's right and sometimes we're right, but in the end we all love Sarah. I am very proud of her and how far she's come. No longer does she walk with her head hung low, she walks with pride and dignity. She is happy, well-adjusted (for the most part), and is a girl who knows what she wants. She may still fight with us and argue, but as far as daughter's go, a mom couldn't ask for a better one than Miss Sarah Irene (a.k.a. IBean) Koeppel.
I hope you all have a good week.
Love and Prayers,

I love you Sarah and I am very proud of you.
Your Bonus Mom.

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