Wednesday, August 28, 2013

To God be the Glory...

...great things he hath done!

Big and little.

Lately I have been in awe of all the "little" ways God has been showing himself to me.  Ways that can only be him, because there is no other explanation.  Things that in the grand scheme of life don't seem like they (as far as that particular action) really matter.  But he knew they mattered to me - and he showed himself!

I guess he always does - but sometimes it does not seem as obvious.  Or is it that sometimes I am not looking as intently?

One of the things that Shawn has felt God has told him again and again in the support raising process is that when we finally get to the point where it is not about our contacts, our friends, our abilities,  then he will intervene.  And in doing so, HE will get the glory.  Well, he is getting that now.  We have reached the end of the line when it comes to natural contacts and people to ask.  We have spoken with almost every family member and friend/acquaintance we have ever know!  And it has been a wonderful, fun, sometimes-stressful, but usually rewarding in an "at-least-we-were-able-to-reconnect" way.  And our kids know their second and third cousins more than I ever imagined they would!  (They will get to know many of them better of this next trip!)

But from here on out, it is God.  (ha - like it wasn't before.  I am so prideful!)  Any new contacts, and new support, and new prayer people, any new churches - it all comes from him.  And that is a HUGE relief.

But it wasn't always.  When I first realized that was the point that we were at, I panicked.  I am not always the most trusting person - and God has gotten the brunt of that.  He does not need to prove himself and his goodness and love for me, yet he has decided to do just that again and again.  And in the last week, I have seen him everywhere and in everything.  From being the finder of lost things to being the God who asks people to remind me of his word - even new friends that we are still getting to know!  And it is perfect and exactly what I needed in that moment.  His timing is impeccable.

So I am learning to give him the glory.  It is in line with living a life of thankfulness - which has taken the back seat in my life since I started fund raising.  But no more!  I am thankful for you all, for the God who made our paths cross, and for his love and work in my life.   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


This morning I had the fun task of taking RJ to the dentist.  For some reason my youngest two have bad teeth - weak enamel or the fact that they only floss when I am standing over them glaring are probably the biggest reasons, because we don't eat a lot of sticky, sweet things!  A couple years ago I had to take Andrew to the dentist and he was put under conscious sedation.  It was one of the worst experiences of my life!  After over an hour of yelling, screaming, crying out for help and calling my name as I held him down so they could operate, they fixed 8 cavities and pulled several teeth.  (They also cleaned them while he was under!)  They were right - he didn't remember a thing - but I was scarred for life.

Today they gave RJ laughing gas and then Novocaine, but he still had a hard time when they actually started pulling.  Watching him grab the chair and cry was terrible.  For one thing, I had inadvertently lied to him.  I was under the assumption the reason I was paying extra for the laughing gas was so he wouldn't feel anything - but he obviously did.  And now we get to go back in another two weeks to get the other side done.  Fun times.

I know that these things are sometimes painful, and can cause anxiety in my children (and me!) - but ultimately they are for their own good.  Getting shots to prevent disease, removing infection from the body, and fixing things that are broken are all beneficial things that can seem not-so-beneficial at the moment.  When RJ was just 6 months old he went in for open heart surgery to repair 2 holes (ASD and VSD for those of you medical people.)  It was AWFUL!  Not being able to feed him in the morning and hearing his pathetic whines because he was hungry and too young to understand; seeing the tubes and the not being able to hold him afterwards;  he started getting an infection, and they had to beat on his back every few hours after breaking open his sternum - the whole thing was terrible.  Yet it was this very thing that caused him to be able to live and have a life that doesn't revolve around hospitals and surgeries.  I hated it, but God got us through it and he is healthy and alive.

I think about parents who have to watch their child go through sickness or tragedy.  It broke my heart today just to hear RJ crying, and have him know that I was there and allowing it to happen.  But what about those parents that have to watch as their child goes through cancer treatments?  Or dies slowly because of lack of food or clean drinking water?  What about the moms and dads in South Sudan and other countries like it that have seen their children raped, maimed, killed, and taken by their own country?  How does one heal after that?  How does one cope?  It's hard to see the purpose in those things - they are not like getting life healing surgery or having an infection taken out of your mouth.  It's just plain evil and sin in this world.  But these parents, these families, still need to know God's healing and his love.

When we were in the hospital for RJ's surgery there was a little girl there that was only around 6 - and she was going through her second round cancer.  She could no longer walk because of the treatments, and she had no hair.  Her mother was taking her around trick or treating that day in the kid's ward (it was Halloween) and I met them on the elevator.  I was nervous and sad for RJ, but I knew I would be taking him home in a few days and he would be healthy and happy.  There was not that promise for this little girl.  Watching her mom broke me in ways I can't describe.

As we go to South Sudan we will meet parents who have lost kids in all ways - famine, war, poverty, childbirth, disease - even preventable ones.  I am asking God to keep my heart tender and breakable, even though it will hurt badly at times.  I want to always see people through his eyes and with his heart.  It's not a prayer I take lightly - but I believe it's an important one.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

climbing mountains

This last week we spent time with friends in northern Maine, at a family cabin.  It was a wonderful time with many fun things to do, and we are so grateful for it!  I also learned (re-learned?) an important lesson as we decided to go hiking in Acadia National Park.

My friends, Hannah and Christina, are kind of super hikers.  They would say that was not true, but it is.  So when they suggested doing the Beehive, I was apprehensive.  Then I looked it up online and got even more nervous.  I was not thinking so much about the straight up hike for myself as I was the fact that I had to watch the kids do it!  When the warning signs look like the one below, you tend to think twice as a mom!

However, just the day before we went exploring an island that had a lot of cliffs and rocks to climb and the kids did awesome so I decided to give it a try.

When we pulled up and saw the mountain that was the Beehive, I tried not to show my distress.  I knew there was no way I could keep up with these two climbing.  However, I also knew that my kids really wanted to do it, so I started off with no complaints.  I didn't take long for me to start huffing and puffing.  Then the pressure to keep up came on, and I felt like a failure.

You know those moments when you really want to do something, but there's enough doubt, pride, or embarrassment that you don't?  Well, I know those moments in my life - and they often come to the fact that I know I have to lose some weight, and I allow that to rule what I do or don't do.  I didn't zip line with the kids this summer, even though I REALLY wanted to, because I was embarrassed of my weight.  I haven't tried a ropes course, even though it sounds like fun, because I was worried about what people think.  There aren't many times in life when I think about what others think - I tend to do things off the cuff and think about it too late.  But when it comes to my weight, I am always self conscious.

So when Hannah and Christina, and our friend Carrie started up the mountain at breakneck speed, I tried to get them to go without me.  I was disappointed in myself -especially since I knew how much Andrew wanted to go.  But I was not going to "hold them back" or make it boring for them because of my slowness.  I knew I could do it - but not at the rate they were going.

Then in stepped my dear, sweet, stubborn sister.

Christina is one of my best friends.  She is quiet and thoughtful and introspective.  And stubborn - very stubborn.  She intervened and sweetly and politely told me that the reason she wanted to do this particular mountain again was because she wanted to experience it with us.  She told me I could set the pace, and the put me up front.  She was sweet, thoughtful - and determined.  And I am so thankful for that.  Christina saw the desire in me, and knew the potential in me (I am also slightly stubborn) and pushed me that way I needed to be to go.  She knows my struggles with my self image, as we have talked a lot about this, so this was one way she was not going to let me use that excuse.

So I slowly started the climb.  And you know what?  We passed and were passed by the same group of people over and over again.  That means we were all going the same pace, taking rests, taking in the view, taking pictures, etc.  And absolutely no one cared what I looked like.  Funny thing, pride.  I get so self focused sometimes!

And we made it - all of us - to the top!  RJ was making me laugh as he repeatedly (and throughout the week) exclaimed, "I climbed a mountain - I can do anything!"  Though I wouldn't have said it quite like that - or out loud - I felt the same way!  I realized how much more I can and need to push myself and our kids.  We are a lot stronger than I realized.  We all loved it, and it was a sweet victory!  It was also a wonderful reminder to me of why we need those friends who push us to be all that we can be.

I am thankful for my friends - not just in the times that we are literally mountain climbing, but in those times that we are emotionally stuck, or spiritually dry.  I have friends that push in those times also - by praying with and for me, by reprimanding me if needed, by sticking close by, and by reminding me of all that is true and pointing out the lies I am believing!  I thank God for you all!  

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Isn't it wonderful how God has created us with so many ways to be touched emotionally through all our senses?  I see my kids smile and feel like the world is right; I smell freshly cut grass and lilacs and it means new beginnings and hope; I feel the weightlessness of my body floating in the cool lake, and it resets my mind back to being settled; I taste the warm, exotic spices that flavor indian foods and I think there cannot be a better culture as far as food goes; and I hear the voice of a friend that I haven't seen in far too long over the phone, and it transports me back to a time and place we were together.

I had that last experience tonight.

Talking with Althea on the phone made me so very happy!  Althea was the woman who stepped in when we were in Malawi and floundering around not knowing what we were supposed to be doing!  She was the one the pastors took us to when we said, "Please take us to a white person."  She drove me to the ER and took care of all the cultural things I didn't (and couldn't at the time) understand when Andrew had to have emergency surgery.  She drove us all over getting groceries, furniture, plants, medicines, and money.  And most importantly, she introduced us to the missionary community in Blantyre that made us be able to start breathing again and believe that maybe we actually could do this missionary thing.  She was a God-send, and remains a woman whom I love and trust to this day.  And hearing her voice on the other end of the phone, that wonderful South African lilt and the encouraging, exhorting words that she always speaks - it was a gift to me today to remind me of my excitement to be back in Africa.

Because this has been a bad week for me.  No reason in particular.  In fact, by all outside things, it seems like it should have been a good one.  Our van was declared safe and usable after all; we had a new supporter; we heard from a church about speaking; and I have felt very clearly that God is about to do something big in this process.  Yet I refused to be hopeful and happy.  Instead I was fearful, anxious, and sad.  I was doubtful about my ability to live and thrive in South Sudan.  I was scared about the idea of having our family spread out over a few countries in a couple of years.  I was worried about team dynamics and what things will be like by the time we get there.  And I gave in to those things, those lies, as though they were truth - even after admitting they were not!  I had fears about death, money, and family things.  I had near panic attacks as I allowed my mind and thoughts to take me to dark places.  I gave into sadness that was deep and threatened to drown me.  And even though I recognized it as attack, I didn't feel like I had enough energy or hope to fight it off.

But today God broke through.  And He did it in those little ways that I was not even looking for.  I went to church and heard the worship leader tell us to expect and anticipate, so I did.  But the real healing (the sermon was on healing, oddly enough) came from the simple fellowship of being with people I love who love me back.  It was not a particular song or word or sermon, but rather a culmination of people, love and laughter that made me start to surface.  It was like my senses all started to wake up again and notice all the ways He is around and has blessed me.  And talking with Althea tonight was just icing on the cake!  I am so thankful for my God who continues to love and pursue me in all ways!