Thursday, December 27, 2018

Beautifully In Over My Head

Our new neighborhood

It’s kind of surreal that I’m typing this new blog post from our new home in Adjumani. Today is day 12 that we’ve been here and we were just remarking as a family how much it already feels like home.  Ever since we’ve moved here, it’s felt like a really big deal. I think the reason is because when we last evacuated from South Sudan and knew in our hearts that for now that door was closed to us for ministry as a family, our future has been a big question mark. We spent most of our home assignment in the States praying, seeking advice, and dreaming together about all the possibilities. It was such a big decision and we felt that heaviness so many days and nights. We started out this year, 2018, with a month of very intentional prayer and fasting about our future. In May, Eli came to Northern Uganda and did a 10 day survey trip. By September we had moved to a temporary home in Gulu, Uganda and it took 3 months before we knew for sure where God was leading us and had found a house and purchased everything we needed to outfit that house.

And now here we are. 

Only a few days after moving in, I was hit with a flood of emotions. I tried to think of why I was feeling swamped by so many feelings and then I realized it was because we were finally here. Not only that but God gave us confirmations and encouragement since the very hour we landed in our new neighborhood. One of our neighbors who we call Muzee Michael (Muzee because he is an old man) came over to help us unload all our stuff and then before leaving he gathered us under the mango trees in our yard and opened up his Bible to two passages. He read from Gen 12 and Joshua 1. The first passage was about when God called Abraham to go far away to a land He was calling him to, saying He would bless him when he went. The 2nd passage was about being strong and courageous. Don’t be discouraged for the Lord is with you and will not abandon you. Muzee Michael encouraged us to be strong and courageous no matter what difficulties come our way and then prayed for us as we settled in our new home. We’ve also had multiple visitors and pastors visit and when they pray for us, a phrase keeps popping up: “God has brought you here.” Those things have been such a comfort to us as we struggle through the challenges of getting settled in a new place, meeting new people, joining a new church, figuring out where to buy food and necessities, learning new ways to cook, adjusting to the heat, and trying to begin learning a difficult language.

Washing clothes with my little helper
As thrilled as I am to be here and as much as I am sure that we are exactly where God wants us to be, it hasn’t been easy. As the mom, I have my work cut out for me. Keeping a house clean in dry, dusty season because I have a crawling baby, trying to cook nutritious, tasty meals with what I can get here, washing clothes by hand, finding creative ways to cool Carson off, getting out to meet neighbors, and doing lots of hosting is a lot of work. It takes time to get in the groove. I keep trying to remind myself to cut myself some slack. I don’t have to be perfect at everything. And since we’ll be here for a while, we’ll have time to learn and do it all.

Yesterday I had had kind of a rough morning and was feeling so tired. As I was cooking lunch a song came on by Hillsong and a line kept running through my head – “beautifully in over my head”. The song talks about how it is a beautiful thing when we are "in over our head" because it’s then that we reach out for Jesus and He draws near to us. So yes, I’ll admit it. I’m definitely in over my head. But it’s a beautiful place to be and I’m trying to embrace it. I want to embrace what God wants to teach me but I’m also confident that there’s no where I’d rather be. 

Playing Uno with new friends

My simple spot on the back steps where I like to start my days with Jesus and coffee

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Contentment & Fulfillment in the midst of mothering

I have been chewing on something for a while and want to share this because I know I'm not the only mother who struggles to feel like what I'm doing is worthwhile. That sounds harsh. When I stop and think about it I KNOW that teaching and raising up my boys, supporting my husband in his work and ministry, and taking care of everyone by washing their dirty clothes, cooking nutritious meals and snuggling whenever possible IS 100% meaningful, valuable and important. But on the day to day, especially when I've been doing it day after day, somehow LIES, yes lies, creep into my brain and heart making me feel like I'm missing something. Like I could be doing more - making more of an impact.

Those lies have been messing with me the past couple of weeks. You see, after an extended home assignment in the States (in which I felt no guilt at all for resting and not working), we have returned to the mission field but this time to a new country. We landed in Uganda to a wonderful town called Gulu and we've been loving it here but since it's not our final destination, I haven't been able to totally settle. I've made a few friends but haven't put the whole effort I would if we were going to live here permanently. We've joined a church, but I could be so much more involved if I didn't have that nagging thought that "we're not going to be here much longer."

We were supposed to move to our "final destination", our new home, in a place called Adjumani, last week. But just a few days before we were planning to move, we got a phone call that our house wouldn't be ready yet and then a 10 day trip to South Sudan for Eli came up and suddenly, we were delaying our move another 2 1/2 weeks. I kept telling myself it wasn't a big deal. So we have 2 1/2 more weeks in Gulu, great. And yet...with a lot of our stuff already packed, Isaac home on break, and taking our Christmas break from home schooling, I have felt like I'm just floating.

I'm in a holding pattern. Waiting. Again.
And yet, it's really not a bad thing. Since we're just kind of chilling until Eli gets back from South Sudan I can do things like take a mat out to the yard and sit with Carson while we watch the big boys play with the dogs. We can head to the pool for the afternoon. We schedule play dates. And yet in the midst of those sweet things - I feel guilt. I feel like I'm not doing anything.

Chilling after a bike ride
But how can I say that? How can I say I'm not doing anything?!!! I have four precious boys that I'm loving, training, and raising to be Jesus followers, kind young men. And especially with a 7 month old baby who is going through the separation anxiety phase, it is my constant job, all day long. Changing diapers, playing peek-a-boo, splitting up fights, reading Advent passages - all of it is soooo important. And I truly wouldn't trade it to be out working a "real" job or running around every day so I can be involved in ministry outside of the home. Think of all I'd miss!

And when we decided to adopt, I very intentionally chose to continue (and start over really) this mothering ministry IN THE HOME. I don't want to miss Carson's first attempt at crawling or his first words. I want to be the one to put him down for his naps and go to him when he wakes up.


Just look at this sweetness!
My mother in law helped me answer that question yesterday. Why is it so hard to be content when what we're doing is quite possibly one of the most meaningful and important things we could do with our time and energy? It's Satan. He knows how meaningful it is. He knows we're raising world changers. Our work as mothers, Ladies, is a threat. And so Satan will throw whatever darts he can at us as we're pouring out our hears for our families. He tells us the exact opposite of what is true. And the worst part is that we believe it. We start thinking it. And before we know it, we're totally stuck in his trap, feeling hopeless and insignificant, like we've missed something.

I was feeling all those things just yesterday afternoon but the Lord, in His great love, coaxed my mother in law to call to check in on me. Getting a phone call from my mother in law is always very special because she lives in Malawi right now and it's a miracle that we get a good connection. I shared how I was feeling and she spoke TRUTH over me through the phone lines stretched from one part of the African continent to the other. She encouraged me to REJECT those lies and then affirmed how truly meaningful and precious my "work" is.

My way of rejecting those lies is to share this with you all who read this. Please join me in rejecting the lies that Satan tries to get us to believe. And let us not grow weary in doing good, but let's KEEP IT UP and all the more, because we know just how significant it is. We ARE making a difference in the world.

Joshua reading his Christmas story
This Advent season the boys and I are doing a special Christmas activity every day that is written on a slip of paper in our Advent calendar. Yesterday we wrote our own Christmas books and illustrated them and then read them to each other. It was so much fun to spend 45 minutes coloring and writing and then of course we giggled and applauded each reading (the drawings were really hilarious since none of us are exactly artists.)

As I was kneading my dough yesterday afternoon and still processing my phone conversation with my mother in law, I told myself out loud that even that simple task was an important way I'm loving my family. I know I'm going to have to keep preaching truth to myself this week...and next week...but I can't stop. Because this is a battle and I don't want anyone to steal my joy of soaking in every day with my 4 precious boys.