Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thirty-seven.

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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Home sweet home.

Wow!  I am such a terrible blogger these days!  Do people even read non-famous-people blogs anymore?  Other than my mom?

We're in the house!  Man, I did not foresee the stress it would be to move all our junk over here while a handful of workers were still milling about, important projects were yet to be completed and general chaos reigned.  I realized afresh that my personality likes order, completion, set expectations, and comfort.  I did not enjoy bathing myself and my children from a large soup pot of water heated up on the stove for the first 2 weeks while hot water got sorted.  I did not like driving by our old apartment to try to catch the wi-fi signal until internet got installed 2 weeks later.  However, that is all in the past now and we are slowly getting ourselves unpacked and set up.  There is still a list a mile long of stuff that needs to happen and the entry and back still very much look like a construction site.  But, it's home.  A day doesn't go by that I don't marvel that we are finally in here.  My favorite part, you ask?  Oh, do I have to pick one?!  My kitchen- how did I ever survive without a massive island?  My bathtub....oh, to have a real bath!  My laundry room- no more hiking down 3 floors with a full laundry basket!  The yard!  We haven't really been able to play in it fully because the whole month has been planting grass time and it is covered in a neat layer of sheep poop at the moment.  There really are too many wonderful things to mention.  Now, I would just like life to slow down enough to start inviting people over to enjoy it with us.

Speaking of that, is this our new normal?  Scotty basically works day and night.  Moses continues to wake us up for extended periods of time each night.  The house still requires lots of work and related errands.  We are just barely treading water here.  I want to feel like I have a good routine and habit of work, rest, exercise, ministry, family time, etc...  What is the secret, cause I'm all over the place?  Time is short before we're heading back to the U.S. for NICS training, fund-raising and family-visiting.  I'm hoping we'll have some time then to really think about what we want to focus our limited time and energies on regarding ministry.  It's weird to be in this totally different place but not be sure exactly what it's all supposed to look like for our family.  I think the craziness of life with 3 little kids also works against my natural desire to have everything predictable and makes me feel a bit out of control.  All things to pray about...

So, I'll try to keep up better!  Thanks for being patient.

P.S.  I started running with an informal little group of single, female teachers once a week.  I'm not a runner but I love the time with them!  Goal: 5K in May, to an Italian restaurant where we will replace all our lost calories.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rain and tantrums.


We had strangely little rain this rainy season, until February hit.  Now, it's making up for it.  As I type, rain is pouring outside and I'm wondering if Moses and Scotty are staying dry in their trek downtown.  Although Moses came down with a bad cold earlier this weekend, I decided to make an appointment with our lawyer to go to immigration and get started on the paperwork for his passport.  We'll be travelling to the US in June and he'll still need to get a US visa, since he can't become an American citizen for two years after the adoption.  We packed a snack and diapers and wipes and all the documents and water and extra tissues since we both have the cold.  I drove us down to where the bus stop is and thanked God the rain had let up enough to get to the covered bus bench and still be dry.  An elderly woman walked up to wait for the bus and immediately started talking to Moses.  "Hey, little man!"  She tried to grab his hands and I immediately wondered where her hands had been last.  He pulled away and she tried again.  He pulled away and turned his whole body from her and she says, "He really doesn't want me to hold his hands!"....at which point she made yet another attempt to touch a stranger's baby.  Of course, nothing clever came to mind to let this lady kindly know that his mommy didn't want her touching him either.  So, she sat down and looked over at him again and made some comment about his ears sticking strangely in one spot.  Yes, his ears slightly roll...let's move on.  We made small talk about other things until the bus came and it was packed! I was thankful that a city bus system has made it to La Paz where there is a set route and the "host" of the bus makes people get up and give a seat to elderly, pregnant and people with babies.  Most public transport stops every 5 ft. or wherever someone wants to get on or off and doesn't show as much courtesy.  Anyway, we made it almost to immigration without a problem until Moses started coughing so hard that he threw up on us.  Sigh.  Wiped that off super fast and then ran across the street for some photocopies and then off to find our lawyer.  She was prompt and we got in line to wait our turn to start paperwork.  Sadly, by the time they got to us, Moses was done with being there, being held and generally being awake.  When Moses gets tired, bored, annoyed, etc... he begins to throw himself backward, usually hitting his head on something around him and if he can make it to the ground, he'll lay down crying and kicking his legs.  It's cute.  His response today was a bit toned down because he's partially lost his voice and doesn't have much energy.  But, I'd already been lugging his 25lb. self around all morning from one transport to another and it was still tiring to maintain control with one arm while I clutched my bag and paperwork with the other.  I got a fair number of looks for his childish outburst, especially from a couple of women behind the counter who were shooting me the who-let-this-woman-adopt-a-kid vibe.  We only had to endure another 20 minutes before we found out that, contrary to what our lawyer had recently been told by an immigration official, Scotty needed to come sign the paperwork- today.  Before 3pm.  Nevermind that he has a job about an hour away from the office.  Well, the Lord was gracious because he was able to get off of work early, pick MoMo up after his early nap (yay, he actually went to sleep early!) and they are currently in route.

So, one more step in making Mo official.  It's always good to get these things accomplished, even though they are never easy or convenient.  He is definitely showing some temper issues but I am trying to remind myself that he is both an immature baby and a child who had a tough start in life, which can dramatically alter many many things, including responses to disagreeable situations.  I'm so grateful for the wealth of information out there about families like us when I begin to wonder.  These last few months have felt heavy as he's started to show a bit more "spirit" and regressed a bit with sleeping.  Sometimes it just feels overwhelming as a mommy.  However, the Lord has truly given me a lot of peace and strength in those moments when I'm just not sure if I can take one more outburst, from any of my children.  And grace, for when I fail to handle them well.  He's now been with us longer than he was in the orphanage and I still remember with gratitude those long years of waiting- that they are over.  What a gift he is to our family.