Wednesday, November 28, 2012

home again, home again...

After a wonderful week of being in Ithaca and seeing family and friends, eating Thanksgiving dinner with my family and with Shawns, hunting (Shawn) and bringing home the bacon...I mean venison, and spending some time with our friends from Hillside CMA, we are home.  For about three days.  Then we are off agin.  I guess that is what life is like for missionaries while we are "home."  Thankfully our kids are flexible.  As we outlined our next few months travels on a map with them during school, they got excited to see where we will be headed.  Now if we could just figure out the vehicle situation...
Thank for your prayers as we continue this support raising blitz to get to South Sudan asap! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bittersweet

Yesterday we had a good day of eating, walking, zumba-ing, laughing, talking, and hanging out at my Dad's house for Thanksgiving.  It was a a relatively calm day, and we were able to to enjoy each other and catch up.  Cousins played together, there was more than enough food, and we had a good time.  Today the kids are excited because Shawn's parent's have planned a "treasure hunt" for them.  This is something that usually happened at Cousin Camp each summer, but this year Cousin Camp was no more, so the kids had some specific things that they missed.  One of the big ones was the treasure hunt! We are also having another turkey dinner with them, so there is more thanksgiving celebrations happening.

Each of these holidays are wonderful.  I love getting together with people and catching up.  It doesn't have to be some huge event - movie night with friends is something I cherish.  On New Years Eve we are hosting a party for friends in the area (If you are around, you are welcome!)  Then after that we head out on a big two month trip meeting people and catching up with old friends for support raising.  Each one of those visits will be wonderful - and sad.

Because each one of these things has the thought, "Next year in South Sudan..." behind it.  And this statement holds so many different thoughts and emotions:  excitement and joy, curiosity and wonder, sadness and loss, happiness and gain, anxiety and unknown...all bundled up together!  We are so excited and ready to get there, get to know our team and our new home, meet the people we will be ministering with and to, start to figure out our roles and adjust to so many new things.  Yet at the same time that means it will be a long time before any more movie nights with these friends, turkey dinners with grandparents, and zumba with sisters.  Good and bad.  Gain and loss.  Always missing someone - that's the life we choose.

Don't get me wrong...I wouldn't trade my life for any other!  I LOVE my life.  And facing the reality of the blustering all of emotions that seems to be constantly rising up in me is a good and healthy thing.  But as usual, friends, writing is how I process.  So you tend to hear a lot about these things in this blog! Thanks for your continued prayers for me and my family.  You are among the many blessings I continue to be so very thankful for!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Catching up on the thanks...

As we went to the Philly area last week, I left Troy with a heavy heart.  The night before I had a wonderful small group time with my girls (see below post) and was really feeling the weight of the loss that was facing us as we left this area.  The excitement I had previously felt about getting to World Harvest and meeting with a lot of people down there seemed to be drowned in my sadness and weariness.
But God is good.
As we got closer I managed to pass time by taking a little nap (I was not driving, obviously!) and when I woke up it was as if my head was clear and my  heart was ready to look at the here and now and not at what we will be gaining or losing in future.  I am really bad at that - the here and now.  As we were being prayed for by the WHM team at the sending center, someone prayed that specifically for us, and I felt God's presence and his Spirit as he enveloped me and calmed all those fears, nerves, and anxieties.
So, once again, I am reminded of all I have and I am thankful for!

For Debra and Mitch and their warm, open hospitality as they let us crash all over their house and eat their food and watch their tv.  New friends that I anticipate being good, lasting friends as the years pass.

For the Sending Center staff and all those people in the World Harvest family that let us word vomit fears and frustrations, praises and anticipations all over them, and then pray for us.

For the chance to do things like visit the Lego store (though it was a slightly smaller version that we pictured) and Valley Forge with the kids.  The weather was GORGEOUS - almost 70 in the middle of November!  And we took pictures, rolled down hills, ran through the fields, and marveled as we touched walls that George Washington touched.  (RJ was particularly fascinated by this!)  A train even passed by us just a few feet away as we stood there - an extra perk to the day since my boys love them!

For the troops then and now - where freedom for the USA started and where we are today because of brave men and women.

For seeing family that we do not see often enough.  I mentioned before that when we were first married we lived in the Philly area.  I love the area and I love the family that lives there.  Seeing Uncle Fred and Aunt Linda, Nathaniel, Megan and Robin and the kids, Beth, Nicole, and Jordan...it is always a blessing to be around them.  Having the chance to eat tacos and drink tea (yes, it was a strange and wonderful combo) and tell them more about the work we will be doing in South Sudan made it even more fun, as we saw their excitement for us grow!

For holding the newest members of the Boda family.  Yes - that is members - they are beautiful, healthy twin boys!

For visiting and speaking at a church that we attended (cough, cough -slackers!) when we were first married.  Seeing a few familiar faces and so many more new faces.  Many people signed up for our monthly email and took donation forms.  We are trusting God in that.

For hanging out with my sister and her family.  Being welcomed into their home with the smell of yummy pork roast and the warmth of a coal stove.  Late night talks and tears and laughter.

For seeing old friends that we have not had a chance to visit with in many years!  Sharing our mission with them and eating together.  (The eating together thing seems to be a theme!)

For safe travels in our old car.  For the fact that it didn't take too many times of slamming the trunk to get it to stay closed and we didn't have to resort to a bungee cord (or duct tape!)   ;)

For coming home to hear that one of the churches we recently visited us is not only taking us on monthly, but also wants to send care packages quarterly.  Investing in us financially and emotionally - there's a lump in my throat as I think about it.

For a few days of playing catch up in school and having good things happen.  This school year has proven to be a really good one so far, with the frustrations being few.

For the anticipation of seeing college friends tonight and their kiddos!

Speaking of which...I have to clean.  I guess I can be thankful for a warm, big, dry, safe, welcoming house to clean.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My girls...

After an amazing night of openness, authenticity, tears, and prayer small group is over once again.  I am getting down to single digits of the times I will be able to be with these women on a regular basis, and it makes me feel like throwing up.  (I seem to be talking about throwing up a lot in my blogs lately...)  Seriously - it's one of those nights where the loss feels too great, and I could give into it.  But this blog is about thankfulness this month - so I will press on.

I am thankful for these women.  I am thankful for the time that I have had with them.  The conversations.  The tears and laughter (there have been plenty of both!)  The realness.  And the prayers - oh, the calling on God that has happened in that group!  For our families, our friends, our town, our church, our ministries, ourselves!  And the answers that have come in have been in abundance.  We have watched children return to Jesus; healing happen in all aspects - mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual; And seen captives set free.  God is good.

I am thankful that I know these women will be storming the gates for me (and my family and the people that we minister to) when we leave for South Sudan.  And I am thankful that I will welcomed back into the fold with open arms whenever we are home.

So thank you, Jesus.  For "my girls."  My friends.  My sisters.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

overflowing

Despite counting the thanks the last few days, it has been a season of a lot of anxiety for me recently.  Things that we are working through in our hearts and minds have given a heavy burden.  I have been overwhelmed with sadness and distress for a few friends who are going through really low spots right now.  And support raising - well, let's just say that this is one thing that is testing my not-so-patient personality more than anything I have experienced!  With the combination of these things, we recently called to God to show himself in an obvious and tangible way.  I don't feel bad doing this - I'm in good company if you read through the Bible.
Let me just say that God knows how to answer that prayer - even in excess.  Situations have not necessarily changed (that I know of), yet His love for me and his answers to prayers overflowed today.  Support came in from places not expected, prayers for friends started pouring out of my heart and mouth with hope and anticipation instead of dread and worry, and I felt like a burden of several tons has been lifted.  And it just kept happening all day!
The funny thing is how I reacted to it at first. When the first event happened I got nervous, waiting for the "but" to be thrown in.  When the next thing happened, I literally felt like I was going to throw up, wondering if it was a carrot being dangled in front of me.  (I have such a warped view of our Father!) Then God called out to me.  He reminded me of what I asked of him.  He gently pulled me into a hug and peace and joy filled my soul.  That was the best part.  Living with anxiety, worry, depression - it eats away at you, and slowly makes you feel hopeless.
Tonight as we sat in a room with several other ministry families around us that we have been friends with for the past 4 years and heard them pray over us, I choked up from the loss again.  But it was a different sort of emotion.  One that was filled with my own sadness of leaving and losing - yet still peaceful because I know He is in it.  One that had joy for the friendships that I have with these people.  One that made me think that if they are praying for us like this at other times, what do I have to worry about?  From that confidence and assurance I was able to empathize and pray for my friends in a way that they cannot do right now in their own raw emotions and losses.
God, you are Holy, mighty, awesome, peace-giving, powerful, merciful, Abba.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

keeping it going...

I am thankful for friends who come over and eat cheesecake, listen to silly songs, and just laugh together.

I am thankful for this computer that allows me to stay in contact with people all over the world easily and quickly!

I am thankful for Al and Ru, who put a lot of time, effort, and creativity into our friendship and into helping us raise support!  They are amazing people, and I love them!

I am thankful for the chance to home school my kids - even though some days I am exhausted from it and feel so much less than adequate.  I see good things in them that I know are partly because of this choice for our family.  They will have other things that are become challenges because of this choice, but I am thankful for those things, too, because I believe it is all a part of God's plan for them.

I am thankful that our church blessed us with a gift card and I could buy Anna pants and shoes that actually fit!  (These kids never stop growing!)

I am thankful for the pumpkin scented candle next to me - because it brings light and a yummy smell and makes me very happy!  (Sometimes I overlook these simple, little things that God gives me!)

(I would love to hear what you are thankful for!)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

more thanks

I am thankful for heat, as I sit here shivering in the cold air this morning!  (I am also praying for all those going without electricity right now!)

I am thankful for the summer I had with Christina and her little Logan (Or not-so-little Logan!)  I miss them terribly, but am grateful for a summer of laughs, tears, games, memories, late night talks, funny videos, and growing together as moms!  I love them both!

I am thankful that my daughter is at a birthday party today of a good friend and that John had two of his friends over last night.  It is a good thing to see your kids develop friendships and learn in them.

I am thankful for the library being just three blocks down the street, and that we can go there as much as we want and get books to read and videos and watch for free!  And it's a good sized one, so there are many options!

I am thankful for a few minutes of quiet time this morning as I sit writing this and "the crew" is mostly still sleeping!  I feel peaceful listening to the clock ticking, the cars going by outside, and praying.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

thanks overflowing

It's November already!  (I am not sure how that happened!)  So I am doing my usual thankfulness count this month.  The difference is that thanks to a friend recommending "One Thousand Gifts"by Ann Voskamp  I have been doing this all year - and it has really affected me.  But since I always need to process and think through writing, I am going to make those things more public through this blog.  Would you count along with me this month?

Today I am so, so thankful for my husband.  Shawn is my best friend.  He was my hero when I was a  confused and angry little 18 year old girl, and he held my hand and has walked with me through some of the hardest moments in my life.  I am so thankful for this man that is my best friend and an amazing father.

I am also thankful for my kids as they are growing and becoming their own people.  What a gift I was given in these 4 people!   I love to see their personalities grow and shape.  They love Jesus, us, and each other.  They make me laugh until my sides hurt sometimes, and cry as if my heart would burst at others because I love them so much.  I am so excited to watch and see the things that God has planned for them.

For my friends.  God has blessed me some women in my life that have known me like no one else.  I can be real, honest, and raw with them.  Some have been only for a time in life, and I am thankful for that time.  Others - fewer, but so precious - are people that will be lifelong sisters - kindred spirits, if you will.  I know I can always count on them for love, encouragement, prayer - and a hard word when needed.  (This is just one of those amazing women!)

For my real sisters.  What would I do without them?  We frustrate each other in ways that only sisters can do, but will always love each other.  They have known me longer than anyone else on this earth that really knows me.  We have shared good and bad times together, and it has made us stronger.  They are women that I text or call several times a week, and I can;t imagine not having them.

For my church family.  I can's say enough about Compelled.  I am in awe of what these people will do for Jesus.  They challenge me and make me stronger and more confident because it is done in love.  It is a family that has allowed authenticity and healing in the ugly, dark places.  I will miss them so, so much when we leave.  I am only comforted knowing that this church is one of those places to which we can always come home.


There are so many more!  I can't wait to share them with you!