Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Faithful One

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As I sit here chatting with my sweet friend Jodi, I’m struck by how faithful God is to us.  He allows all kinds of crazy storms and events to come whipping through our serene lives, but He never walks away to just let us deal with it on our own.  There have been times when the storm made me mad and I refused to take His outstretched hand, but it was still there.  Patiently waiting for me to stop throwing my tantrum.  To allow Him to hold the pen and continue writing my life’s story.

This week of single-mom living is almost over for me!  Amazing!  I was dreading it with everything in me.  Now it’s already over?  Hm.  In this case, the anticipation of the event was definitely much worse than the actual event!  Tonight, as I swept up at least 2 cupcakes-worth of crumbs off the floor (leftover from hosting playgroup this-afternoon), I reflected back on the week.  Gabi and Brennah were chasing eachother up and down the hallway, giggling and clapping, and I had to smile.  I am so blessed to be their mama!  I had one of my favorite play lists going on my computer, and this song came on… I could just barely hear it through all the squeeling and giggling!  It’s called “Faithful One” by Selah.  It always chokes me up a little.  Depending on the day, it might reduce me to an actual puddle.  I couldn’t find a better link for you, so I apologize for the audio that is a little odd at the beginning.  Close your eyes and listen to the words.  You’ll be glad you did.

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The perfect weight

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Don’t you love it when God brings something across your path that makes you think “wow, I really needed that today.”  Something that just speaks to your soul.  That is how I felt this-morning! 

My day began over 3 hrs ago, when Brennah woke up convinced that she was on the brink of starvation.  I looked at the clock and my first thought was “wow!!! That was 7 1/2 hrs of sleep with zero interruptions!!! SWEET!”  I went to the girls room, nursed that sweet angel, and laid her back down.  I really just wanted to go back down myself.  I’m not sure why I’m so sleepy after getting more continuous sleep than I have in a very long time.  Maybe the last few weeks are just catching up to me?  At any rate, it took all my self-control to avoid the couch and pop in an excercise DVD!  30 minutes in, Gabi woke up and sat on the couch to laugh at the spectacle while I finished my workout.  Everything is more fun with a buddy, right?  😉  I got her a bowl of cereal (apple cinnamon Cheerios… her fav!) and hopped in the shower.  Much to my surprise, Brennah was still asleep when I got out!

I grab my Bible and devotional book and enjoy a few minutes of peace, reflecting on Luke 8:26-33.  About how God is God, even to the godless.  I admit to having a hard time concentrating, though!  My mind kept jumping to things that need to be done today, things to add to my menu for this weekend when the team gets back, etc.  I grabbed a pen and paper and started a list.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see this blog pop up on my blog reader.  I smile and click, knowing that whatever Ann posted today will be an encouragement and not a drain to my quiet time.

This is when that feeling of “wow I needed that” came in.  I sat pondering the thoughts on my screen, then sat back and told the Lord thank you.  I am grateful that He knows what we can handle, aren’t you?  I then thought of a handful of people, off the top of my head, who have SO much more on their plates than I do today!  The first person is my mom.  How much she has had to deal with over the years!  She’s been a great support to my dad and his business, raising and homeschooling 8 kids, being church pianist… how does she/did she do it???  Once again, I will mention that I wish she would write a blog so the rest of us can glean from her wisdom and experience!  No pressure, Mom. 😉  Of course my dad is the next on my list… he’s amazing!  Successfully starting and running a business, taking care of our large family and many other families… he is the most generous man I’ve ever known.  There’s no way I could make a complete list.  But he is incredible to me!  I think of my sisters next.  One of them holds a demanding nannying job, has a busy toddler, is pregnant with #2, keeps her house immaculate and family well fed, all while supporting and helping her husband through dental school!  My other (adult) sister is caring for 5 kids, day in and day out.  3 biological and 2 foster.  I had no idea the hassels involved in foster care until she started this a few months ago.  Drs visits, social workers, bio parents… good grief!  My sister is juggling this while also trying to home-school these kids.  My mind wanders to my friends, and then I get overwhelmed.  Husbands out of work, full-time moms working another full-time job to help out, sick parents, moving while pregnant and home-schooling, miscarriages, infertility… now my heart feels heavy.  How do my friends deal with so much at once???

Then I come back to the blog I mentioned above.  “The weight of glory always tips the scales for joy.”  God is good, He is faithful, and He will not give us more than we can handle!  I am exceedingly grateful for this fact today.  I pray that the truth of it will sink deep into your heart as well!

Saturday musings

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Wow, it’s been too long since I wrote a blog.  Today is probably not a good day for an in-depth, thought-provoking blog.  It’s been a very long… month?  And I feel pretty sapped of all mental and physical energy.  But I still feel like posting.  Since I’ll be home with just my two little girls for the next 6 days, I will hopefully re-charge and have something worth reading to post soon.  Until then, I’ve been missing Colorado.  Not just my family, but many things that never used to occur to me to be grateful for when we lived in the US.  Like free, beautiful, clean parks.  Chick fil-a playplaces.  Museums and zoos.  Bowling alleys.  Water parks.  Malls.  Sonic.  Our church.  Starbucks (you had to have known that was coming, right??) and Auntie Ann’s pretzels.  Of course WAY high on the list of things I miss are the people!  I miss SO many people.  Can you imagine how FUN Heaven is going to be???  My family, close friends, husband, ALWAYS TOGETHER!  I wonder if Heaven will have water parks?  I bet it will.

Anyway!  I started missing these things this-morning as I watched Nathan and Cloe and 13 team members pull out of our driveway.  They will be gone until next Thursday night, leaving me and Gabi and Brennah to fend for ourselves!  While I am actually looking forward to this down time (June and July have been NUTS), I feel bad for Gabi.  She’s already missing her big sister a lot!  As I watched the group drive away I started thinking “what can I do this week with Gabi that would be fun and special for her?”  Then I sat in utter silence.  Not a single idea.  I may have better luck tomorrow with the idea search, assuming I’ll have more than 5 hrs of sleep under my belt tomorrow.  But for today, nothing!  Then something in me said “if we were in Denver right now…” and I instantly had a dozen ideas come to mind.  Hmmm.  If I sat dreaming about this for too long, I could get really depressed.  Not long after this conversation with myself, I came across this video that my mom posted on her facebook.  I laughed so hard!!!  Then I thought “ok… I need to be more positive!”  So now I’m trying to focus on all the things I like about being here.

I like knowing that I am right where God wants me to be.  I love the thousand shades of green that I see when I look out my window!  I loooooooove my new sunroom!!!  I like being able to (s0rtof) speak another language.  I love it that I can get a world-class cup of coffee, right down the street, for less than a dollar.  I really have grown to like all the rain!  Those of you who know me may remember that I had a REALLY hard time adjusting to rainy season for the first few years.  Now, the hardest part is that my kids get a little stir-crazy when we have days on end of rain.  But I’m liking it more all the time!  It feels so cozy and homey to me.  Makes me want to bake cookies.  Or at least eat cookies.  I like being a missionary’s wife.  I try to imagine being a doctor’s wife, or a CEO’s wife, or any other kind of wife, and just can’t do it!  I love the fact that what my husband does every day is affecting people for eternity.  I’m starting to like the possibility of SO many ministry options down here.  It used to seem horribly overwhelming and daunting to me.  But I have so many ideas, and it doesn’t seem so far out of the realm of possibility anymore.  I love that we get to see God provide in miraculous ways for us on a regular basis.  I like living so close to so many oceans at the same time.  I love watching the huge variety of hummingbirds and butterflies that live around here.  I like getting to meet SO many new people as we host short-term mission teams.  I like knowing that someday, when friends and family come to visit here, I have some INCREDIBLE places to show them that most people never get to see.  I think it’s cool that my children are growing up bi-lingual, and comfortable in 2 very different cultures.  I also think it’s cool that we have our own website!

And just like that, I’m feeling better about living so far from the land of Starbucks and Chick fil-A.  I hope you are having a Saturday as relaxing as mine!  I hope that whatever you’re doing, it’s as relaxing as sitting on a couch with your 2 yr old draped across your lap, watching Blue’s Clues, eating pop-corn, and listening to the quiet patter of rain on the roof.  In the very least, I hope you can take a minute today to make a little list (either written or in your head) of all the things you love and are grateful for.  Happy Saturday!!!

Day 3… even slow progress is progress

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We’re slowly gaining on the house disaster.  All of the laundry got finished today… now it just needs to be put away.  I’m going to have to bust a serious move tomorrow since play group is at my house at 4:30 and I have a bazillion things to do before then!

Nathan called today!  They were driving through a village called Coapilla and got a minute of cell reception.  YAY!  I love it when that happens.  Generally, he loses reception about an hour from home and then we don’t get to talk until he’s on his way home again several days later.  So this was a pleasant surprise.

He said that this GE team is incredible.  Everyone is working like crazy, no one sits around waiting to be told what to do, and there’s not a bad attitude to be found!  How refreshing!  He is a little discouraged with the outcome of whatever they’ve been doing… not sure what all that means because we didn’t have much time.  I do know that it’s regarding the Zoque response, not the team.  He couldn’t say enough good stuff about them in the two minutes we had!

I’m heading to bed an hour earlier than the last couple nights.  I really need to make some major progress on the house tomorrow!  Not to mention the grocery shopping.  But I keep telling myself that as long as they house isn’t getting any worse, it’s progress.  And any progress is better than no progress!  So here’s to a highly productive day tomorrow… for me AND you!

One last thought on my oven

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First, let me apologize for all of the oven analogies.  3 days in a row, Julie?  Seriously?  I know.

In my first post about my oven, I mentioned that it’s insane and turns itself off.  just as it gets up to temperature.  This-morning I was thinking about how annoying that is.  Especially when I have a dozen extra people here that I’m feeding, and I’ve gotten up an hour earlier than usual to get the egg casseroles cooking, and after about 2 min at cooking temp, it spazzes out and turns off!!!  AAAARGH!

Ahem.

I tend to avoid confrontation.  I don’t like being around people who yell.  When things heat up, I shut down.  I back away and try to get out of there or defuse the situation as quickly as possible.  While I am not so sure that this is a *bad* thing, I’ve been told that it’s annoying.  I have no intention of becoming a fighter/yeller, but I do think I need to be better about this.  On the rare occasion that I get upset with my precious husband, I tend to back off and stop talking.  Actually, I know quite a few people who employ this tactic of conflict resolution.  While this does manage to keep a fight from breaking out, the issue doesn’t get resolved.  It just festers and later pops up in a different area.  In between the time that I suppress my issue and when it comes up somewhere else, it somehow grows and tries to sneak out through snippy comments or little digging remarks.  Next thing I know, I’m completely livid about every little thing… TOTALLY unnecessary!

I hereby resolve to be better about resolving issues.  If it’s big enough to be upset about, it’s big enough to adress.  Otherwise, let it go.

Day 2… cleaning is therapeutic

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My oven is clean!!  See?

Until today, I actually thought that the glass on the oven door was supposed to be tinted.  Turns out, it just needed some major scrubbing.  Hey, cut me some slack!  This oven is a relatively new addition to our house (though it’s by no means “new”) and I’ve never had to clean it before.  I also cleaned my sun room top to bottom today.  I’m feeling pretty good about that.  But you’ll have to check my photo blog to see pics of it.  🙂  I have two sisters that can clean (and take before/after pics) of their entire houses in just one day.  But somehow I didn’t get that wonderwoman gene, so I just get excited to do one room a day.

Since last night’s encounter with my stove made me think of my own need for a deep clean, I wondered tonight what lesson I could draw from the oven-cleaning experience.  As I leaned into that stinky oven I came to my first point… this is uncomfortable.  That’s fitting, right?  When you tell God “purify my heart” do you expect Him to just zap it in the most painless method?  I don’t.  Maybe I’m pessimistic.  I prefer to call it realistic.  I know that when I ask God to grow me, I need to brace myself.  Because introspection is not comfortable.  Having His gentle hand point out a short-coming, grudge or nastiness in me is generally a bit painful.  But how else do you get that part clean?

My other observation was my nails.  I’m not generally concerned with them.  There’s no great salon here that I’ve ever noticed to get them done at.  Even if I knew of one, chances are, I would probably say “eh, it’s not high enough on my priority list to spend money on!”  But when I finished washing everything out and looked at my hands, I couldn’t help but let out a groan.  They are stained black!  Two nails broke in the midst of the scrubbing, and all the other nails were a weird grey soot color.  And again, this strikes me as fitting to my lesson.  If I’m serious about cleaning out the junk in my life, I need to be willing to get dirty.  It’s going to require some honesty.  When He asks “why does this bother you?” I am going to have to really dig for the real answer instead of the one that I think sounds nicer.

All of this seems daunting to me.  And not fun.  I’m not sure I’m interested.  But then I think of the end result.  An oven that is as clean on the inside as it is on the outside.  One that doesn’t stink when you turn up the heat.  I *am* interested in that.  I want to be the kind of oven that can have the heat cranked up, pressure on, and work efficiently without any smoke or horrible smell.  I want to be usable for my Master.

Did I just say I want to be an oven?  Alright.  Bedtime has definitely arrived.  Hopefully the point wasn’t lost in the bizarre analogy!

Day 2 of our week without daddy has passed and all three of my girls are quietly sleeping the night away.  I’m excited to join them.  Please keep Nathan and the GE team in your prayers!  We have no communication with them while they are in the jungle, but they should have started their children’s program today.

Day 1… white washed tomb/oven

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For days now I’ve been itching to sit down and blog, but just haven’t had the time.  It’s been crazy busy here lately!  Plus, the topics pressing on my typing fingers haven’t been particularly blog-worthy.  So I suppose it’s a good thing that I haven’t had time to let them out.  Even now, it’s 10:30 at night and I’m having to look at the screen with my head tilted back a little so I can make out the words I’m typing.  Last night wasn’t particularly kind to me in the sleep department, and I’m totally feeling it.  But I finally got Brennah to go to sleep a few minutes ago, and the quiet of my house is too much for me… I must take advantage of it… if only for a few minutes!

So Nathan and the current GE team left this-morning for the Zoque jungle.  I know I’ve said it a hundred times before, but hey.  A little repetition never hurt anyone.  I am so proud to be married to him!  I love how passionate he gets when he talks about the status of any given project he’s got going.  I love the way he lights up when someone asks him a deep question about the Zoque or Ch’ol people.  God has given Nathan some unique abilities that I think he’s doing a great job putting to use.

That’s the end of my rabbit trail.  Back to topic.

This is day 1 of 5.  Hopefully, Nathan and team will be back on Friday night just in time for dinner.  They will be doing water filter installation (you can check out the Projects page on our website if you are wondering what on earth I’m talking about), a stove installation, and a children’s program.  They should be pretty busy, and come home pretty wiped out.  I’m told that the days just fly by for these teams.  Which is odd, because they get incredibly slow for us!  It’s a bit of a shock to my system, actually, because things have been so nuts the last few weeks.  So today when I started dragging and thinking “wow we must be close to bedtime” and realized it was only 5 pm, I couldn’t believe it.  As in, I actually checked another clock thinking “that can’t be right.”

In order to better survive these times of being single mom for a few days, I try to give myself lots of projects.  This is never difficult as my house almost always looks like a bomb went off.  Or at least like a few toddlers tore through it.  Either way, the look is about the same.

Todays project (after getting our monthly update sent out) was the kitchen.  It’s slowly been building clutter, and the disorganization has been getting more annoying.  So I tackled it.  You should see my sparkling counters!  Actually, I’ll take a picture for you right now.

See? Nice and sparkly!

But you see that stove in the back?  That’s the object of my deep-thinking tonight.  Sortof.  It inspired deep thoughts, anyway.  It was starting to look a little grungy from all the cooking of the last few weeks.  It had been wiped, but not CLEANED.  There’s absolutely a difference!!  So I cleaned it.  But just the outside.  As I wiped the oven door and opened it ever so slightly to clean that top edge, I was met by the smell of burnt food.  Ew.  My first thought was “GROSS I will clean that next.”  But as 10 pm approached and I grew weary of listening to Brennah yell from her bed, I abandoned that idea.  I finished scrubbing the stove-top, counters, sink, and even a few cabinet fronts.  Then headed towards the sound of the baby yelling.  As I sat in the dark nursing the cranky one, I thought about my oven.  It looks so pretty now!  Well kindof.  Whatever got burned in there last made a sortof smoke stain that I haven’t been able to get off.  But over all, it looks great!

You’d never guess that my oven is insane.

I’m totally serious.  Not only is it insane, but it hates me!  It has started freaking out, beeping like mad, just as it gets up to temperature.  The only way to make it stop is to unplug it for about 5 min to try and reset it’s weird little brain.  So not only does it stink of burnt food, it’s insane.  But it looks nice!

That’s when it occurred to me.  I don’t want to be like my oven.  Obviously, I don’t want to be insane (though I’m sure there are those who would say I’ve already arrived at that destination…) but more than that, I don’t want to stink like something burning inside me.  I don’t want people to see me and say “aw what a nice Christian missionary wife,” then get a look inside and say “ew.”  Because that’s what I think when *I* look inside me.  I can distinctly smell something burning.  Anger stinks.  Bitterness has a particularly nasty scent.  Hurt feelings left to fester just smell rotten.

Tomorrow I will tackle the inside of the oven.  Tonight I’m asking the Lord to begin cleaning out the places in me that need scrubbing.