Saturday, July 14, 2018

America the beautiful

Well, look at how quickly 6 months passed since last I wrote!  And, we are back in the U.S. again, getting rather close to packing a million suitcases full of stuff that we wonder if we should have bought.  This time we won't be back in the states for 2 years, so we're trying to figure out what's a must for returning.  The same process happens every time we are back: (Me in a store) "I need these shoes/curtains/plates/picture frames!  Let me shop around and make sure I'm getting the best deal...  Argh!  I'm so tired of going everywhere trying to find the best deal- I'll just buy these right in front of me.  Wait, do I really need these picture frames??  They might be cheaper and better made and cuter and easier to find, but I bet if I tried really hard I could get them in La Paz.  What do I do????"  Seriously, why is it like this every. single. time.  The struggle is real.
This feels like the craziest trip we've had yet.  Now that we are on a school schedule, our longest time back is about 7 weeks- which is barely enough to get a couple weeks in with parents and trips to see supporters and churches.  That doesn't include much time for fund-raising or relaxing...two very important goals we always have coming into our stateside travel.  Although our kids are a bit more independent than last time, they are also more easily upset by making friends and spending time with family and then having to say good-bye to them. 
And, there are more doctors visits now that we've reached an age where all the kids need to see the dentist and eye doctor, not to mention the random doctor's visits Scotty and I need.  Thankfully, the kids are champs on roadtrips and have 2 10-hour trips and 2 5-hour trips under their belts.  The last 9 hour trip will be Monday!  We've been through 8 states so far!

Summer highlights for Miser kids:

ice water- hands down, this has been the most exciting thing.  Ice in everyone's dispensers!  Free ice waters in restaurants! ("You mean, they just give you as much as you want??)  Crunch crunch all day long.

Swimming!  Pools, beaches, lakes, even one Great Lake

Bikes- Natty learned to ride a bike in about 2 hours. 

New friends- oh, so many sweet kids in all our journeys.

Treats!  We've relaxed our sweets rules a bit for this trip. 

Grandparents- don't we wish we had more time together?

Sandwiches- the cheese variety! the soft, sliced bread! PICKLES!

Summer highlights for Miser adults:

Time to work out

Warm weather

Seeing old friends

Reconnecting with so many precious, faithful supporters- we feel so blessed and cared for.


Shopping!  (A blessing and a curse.  See above.)

So, less than 2 weeks to go before we board a plane Bolivia-bound.  We will be so happy to be back in our home, not living out of suitcases.  But, we are incredibly grateful for these amazing experiences in the homeland.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Travelling lightly.

The explosion of luggage when we got home.
We recently took a holiday trip to the U.S. and got some stuff.  What can I say?  It'd been a year and a half since our last trip and we needed/wanted a few new things.  And, it was Christmas.  We received presents and gave presents to each other.  So, 5 people's worth of stuff adds up.  Needless to say, we had 7 bulging suitcases, carry-ons for everyone and 3 little people in tow.  I had to make sure that I rented a car to drive to the airport that would be big enough to hold us and our junk.  We had to figure out how to wheel that luggage, push that stroller, and keep those kids in check from one end of Miami International to the other.  It was not easy.  Especially since we haven't invested in those awesome new-fangled suitcases that have wheels that will turn any which way you so desire.  Trust me- that is on my list of things to buy next time we're in the U.S.  All this to say, I see that there are definite benefits to travelling light!

Thomas a Kempis said, "They travel lightly whom God's grace carries."  I read that and immediately imagined my family hauling mountains of luggage through MIA.  Me with several (heavy) carry on bags over my shoulders and pushing a cheap stroller whose wheels don't cooperate.  Natty and Scotty trying to drive two over-loaded baggage carts, accidentally bumping into people who get in the way.  And Jubilee, receiving the wrath and frustration of the rest of us for lagging behind.  God has been speaking to me about grace in this last year.  His gentle reminders when I lack it- for myself and others.  His kind and loving promises that He wants to extend more toward me if I would just accept it.  I'm afraid my life often looks like that scene from the airport.  I've packed a bunch of suitcases full of merit- feeling useful to people around me, shining in the compliment given to me about one thing or another, seeing success and growing maturity in my kids that makes me feel like a good parent.  These are all nice things, of course, and none evil in and of itself.  However, I have often collected all these things in hopes that they will build me up and sustain me.  But, when I see a flaw in my kids or realize I blew it in a relationship, it all crumbles.  And I begin to question myself and why I can't pull it together and how I could fail so many times!  Where is the grace??  How I long to live as a light traveler...being carried by God's grace.  Not dragging behind me all my merits and good deeds.  To recognize on a daily basis what scripture tells us that we are no longer condemned and free from the law of sin and death. And how amazing it would be to have so digested and been nourished by this truth that I would naturally extend this grace to my family and those around me.  Here's to the journey...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Happy Mama.
I turned thirty-seven on Monday.  It's not exactly a milestone birthday, but it seems that I get a bit more nostalgic and meditative with each passing year.  In some ways, I feel like I'm just getting used to being a thirty-something and here I am, quickly approaching 40!  It turned out to be a lovely day.  I was able to connect with a dear friend and leisurely do girly things in the morning and then have lunch with her outside at a new cafe, soaking up the sun and the newly chilly breeze.  We have thankfully had a lot of rain recently, but my birthday was bright and clean and fall-like.  My husband brought a beautiful bunch of happy flowers home after school and we enjoyed an afternoon together with the kids, had a delicious dinner made by my house-helper and then a quiet night, just the two of us.  It was my kind of day.

I was talking to a friend about getting older and we both agreed that the 30s, at least for us, are when you do a lot of growing up.  My 20s were all about fun and adventure and love and new things.  The 30s have brought little kids, routine, hard work, tragedy, life changes.  I feel more grounded than I ever have in who I am, in how God has created me.  But, it has come with pain, with tears, with work, with choosing over and over again to believe the Lord and trust Him.

One thing that stands out to me from this decade is how blessed I have been by friendships.  I still have wonderful friends from my younger days, but I've been surprised by how many new, deep relationships I have been graced by in these last few years.  I don't take that for granted, especially as I am far from my home country and know that many missionaries struggle for years without good friends.  Many of these wonderful woman have come and gone and it has broken my heart each time.  But, how much more have I been able to experience God's soft and patient repair of those broken places, encouraging me to open my heart again.

What will this year have in store??

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rain, rain...don't go away!

It has come to light in the last few weeks that La Paz has all but drained its water resources.  So, we get a few hours of water every 3 days as they put some extreme rations in place.  So many thoughts swirl around in my mind:  How many people live their whole lives with barely enough water to live?  How many of them walk every day great distances to get water that is probably filled with parasites?  Why does my life seem to be revolving around this issue right now?  How long will it last?  Will I remember how precious water is when we have enough again?  Why are we never thankful for what we have until it's (almost) gone?

In our women's Bible study at church, we are going through a book called How People Change by Paul Tripp.  He talks about the "heat" in our lives- our circumstances- that bring out what is deep in our hearts.  What comes out is either fruit, from a heart controlled by the Spirit of God, or thorns, from a heart that is still sinful.  Obviously, as believers, both are there.  I'm finding it all so very timely.  Moses has given us some pretty rough nights lately.  Scotty is finding himself tired and stressed at work (which affects me, too).  And, we've only had a couple afternoons of water in the last 8 or 9 days.  These are all "heats" in my life and I wish I could say beautiful, gracious, patient things were flowing out of my heart right now.  Instead, a lot is being revealed that is showing me how far I still have to go.  It's amazing how hard we fight against this process of refinement or how we wish it could come some sweet and gentle way.  Sometimes it does, but it seems that much more frequently it is brought through trial.
My Jubilee enjoying her class party on the day of the anniversary.  

On the brighter side- Highlands just celebrated 14 years this week!  I stayed for the school-wide chapel on Wednesday and maybe cried a teeny bit when I saw my sweet 8 year old up in front of the school with some of her friends leading everyone in the hand motions for the worship song they often do in lower elementary chapel.  I watched Jubilee troop in with her class, happy as can be to be a part of pre-kinder.  A young man from Scotty's class who has recently received Christ came over and asked if he could pray for Moses.  I know that this boy has a myriad of personal struggles in his life, but he wanted to take a moment to lay his hand on our son and ask God to bless him.  Again, I was brought to tears to see our redeeming God at work in these kids and in this school.  We are so grateful to be a part of it!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Welcome to America.

Funny, I just watched Lecrae's, "Welcome to America" video (Christian rapper) and the last part was from the perspective of an immigrant who is desperate to get out of his own country and into this wonderful land where anything is possible.  I was just pondering this earlier today as I sat, happily being attended as an American in the American embassy.  As I waited for my paperwork to be completed (after skipping 50 other people waiting in line to have a visa interview), I was eavesdropping on the loud embassy employee who was grilling each Bolivian who came to her window on why they wanted to go to the U.S.  Man, did she give them the third degree!  In the short time I was there, she turned away at least 3 people, saying, "Sorry.  The American laws are very strict about who can go there."  I'm not a terribly patriotic person, but the fact that I am incredibly blessed to be born an American did not escape me at that moment.  I might get frustrated with the bureaucracy or injustice I see here, but in the end, I have an out.  I am frequently confronted by the amount of faith it requires some of our Bolivian friends to continue trusting God in bad marriages, bad work situations, no work, unfair treatment in work/hospitals/schools, etc...  We see it and say, "that's terrible!", but we don't have to live it.  Although we've renounced some of the conveniences of living in the states and the gift of being close to our families to be serving here, I think it's in the back of both of our minds that if we needed care in some way that this country can not provide, we could just go back.  I don't feel guilty but I do see that my role and responsibility is to use this blessing I have of being an American to help those in need to the best of my ability and sacrificially.  Am I willing to do it?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How is Moses?

Maybe some of you are wondering how our little man is doing.  The first year with him was such a blur of sleepless nights, I can't even remember if I updated much on how he was growing and changing.  Our trip back to the US this summer was a cause for a bit of apprehension, knowing that he doesn't always take kindly to large amounts of new people, new places, changes, stimulation, etc...  However, God obviously heard the prayers of many of you and answered them so kindly in helping Mo to transition well and even sleep better than he ever has in our hopping around from state to state during those 7 weeks!  We were so very grateful and hopeful that he had finally moved past some of his night challenges.  Well, although we are farther ahead of where we were this time last year, he has regressed a bit since returning.  We couldn't handle the idea of being back in that place where we trade off going into his room several times a night for 30-90 minutes at a time to calm him down, so we tried to bring him into our bed to see what happened.  He seemed to enjoy being with us and even though he tends to be very aware of us and to wake easily and not always settle quickly there, at least we can lie down while it's all happening.  Some nights, he disturbs our rest a little bit, but we all go back to sleep quickly.  Just as frequently or more, he wakes up for a 2 hour stint during which he talks and giggles and pretend eats things off our sheets and kicks us in the head, generally driving us insane.  I swear at that moment (every time) that we will commit ourselves to retraining him to sleep in his own bed.  But, the next night comes and I just can't bring myself to go through what I know that will take.  So, he does his first few hours of sleep in his own crib and then comes to us each night for the rest.  I love the idea that he might feel closer to us through this, even though I don't always love the reality of how it all plays out.  However, if adoption challenges have taught me anything, it's that the phases pass and change and complaining or playing the victim does nothing helpful whatsoever.  What's more, I know that God is challenging me to find contentment in Him alone and not hope in Moses becoming a perfect sleeper or anything else that isn't Christ.  So, that continues to be a challenge that I am willing to take on.

Otherwise, he has grown and matured so much!  He has lots of words, some of which only we know the meaning of.  He and Jubilee have become better friends and it's heart-warming to watch them play together and laugh.  He understands everything that I say and even when I explain to him every night how Mommy wants him to try to sleep in his bed the whole night, his little face is still with concentration and listening.  His answer to that is always, "Dada", which I take to mean that he'd rather sleep with his daddy.  He LOVES people and really enjoys the attention he gets from all the kids at school who ooh and ahh over him when I take him.  But, he will cling to me while appreciating their admiration.  His smile continues to light up the world and melt the coldest hearts.  He's obsessed with trucks, tractors, semis, cars and anything with wheels- which he has given the blanket term: Dugga.  I don't remember the girls being so fixated on one thing at his age, so it's interesting to me to see this classically boy interest coming out so strongly.  He still has pretty fierce melt-downs when things don't go his way, but probably not too much more than any other almost two-year old.  And, he has finally learned how to say "no", which comes out sounding more like, "nah".  I wish he used it that nonchalantly.  He loves to eat.  He always holds hands to pray and waits patiently, no matter how long we pray.  He can read books till the cows come home.  He has incredible fine-motor skills.  And nun-chuck skills. So, that's our Momo. He's the most handsome little man ever and so charming and we still marvel that he's ours.  Thankfully, we still haven't gotten any negative commentary from people around us, but have had our fair share of confused or interested looks as we walk by and surprise when we tell people he's our son.  I can handle that.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

A new start.

Where do I even start?  My blog has grown dusty in the past few months and sometimes I wonder if it's even worth picking up again.  But, I'll give it go and see if I can keep it up.  Instead of trying to recap way too many things, I'll just start with today.

We returned from a 7 week trip to the U.S. early Saturday morning.  The 2 flights from Orlando were made longer by a wiggly little toddler who let the entire plane know when he was all-done sitting in my lap and being confined to a 2 foot square space.  Not. Fun.  Anyway, leaving is never easy.  We are blessed with families who let us explode all over their homes, sleep a little longer than normal while they play with the kids, cook us food, do our laundry, etc...  We enjoyed the freedom from some of our normal responsibilities and the luxury of clean tap water, clean neighborhood pools, clean streets, warm weather, beaches, free soda refills, free returns and blueberries.  Just to name a few.  So, coming back is a mixed bag.  We were anxious to get home to our new house, which we lived in for less than 2 months before going on vacation.  And, we were excited to see some of the new friends we had made at NICS training that we'd be working alongside of at Highlands.  We know what we leave behind and we know what we're walking into.  That can be good and hard on so many levels.  Natty kept saying, "I want to go, but I don't want to go.  I'm sad, but I'm excited."  I get you.  The first day home was a blur of shortness of breath, dogs barking, 9 (yes, 9) suitcases exploding everywhere, TIREDNESS from rolling in at 4am.  As much as I wanted to be back here, there were surprising memories that crept up from deep below that brought out some fear.  No sleep and the stress of not knowing if that would ever change.  Long work hours.  Constant frustration with the differences in culture that we would never change but continually experience.  Our last year was hard and the ease of a summer away only temporarily erased that.  I think now that most of our stuff is put away, there are some groceries in the fridge and we've had some good interactions with friends at school and church, those feelings aren't as intense.  But, I know that my security can't rest in any of those things- in my control over those things.  My resolve to thrive in the moment, whatever it is bringing me, has been made stronger by being forced to choose between living in bitterness or in faith in God's goodness and ability to sustain us.  Although I have to think this year will be less intense than last year, I just don't know.  What I do know is that God never changes and His promise to me is that all is for my good.  The challenge is when that good doesn't look like what I think is good.  I'm learning....slowly.

One thing that brought a smile to my face and reminded me of one of the reasons I love living here was the bank.  I won't go into detail about how frustrating that experience was, because I'm trying to work on my attitude a bit.  What was sweet was when a cholita came in and sat down in front of the girls.  She was dressed in traditional Bolivian gear with a big skirt and little round-toed slip-on shoes and 2 long, thick braids down her back.  She smiled at the girls and said they looked pretty, like little Barbies.  My motherly fears of my girls being compared to Barbie won't come in here.  Jubilee got up to hang out with me while I chased Moses around, trying to keep him from launching out into the parking lot looking for "duggas" (trucks), but I watched Natty from afar, chatting it up with this middle-aged, indigenous woman.  They were laughing, they were sharing information, they were communication beautifully.  Natty hadn't lost her Spanish and she looked so grown up to me, sitting alone, smiling at this older woman.  She shared everything they chit-chatted about with me and I marveled at her ability not only to interact with an adult, her ability to do that in Spanish, but the privilege of growing up getting to know another culture.  So sweet.