Wednesday, January 29, 2014

having it all together?

One of the biggest lies in our christian circles is that people in ministry have it all together. It's so easy to put people up on a pedestal who have shown the world that they want to serve him with their life as well as their vocation. We don't think that they would ever struggle with the same daily life issues and troubles that we go through. We think they are free from temptation and incapable of having rough seasons. They have given their whole life to the Lord, so it is just easy for them to live for Him, right?
 I am here to be honest and say it's not easy for us. I have felt the need to try to keep up the facade that I have it all together, and I bought into the lie that if anyone saw how messy my life really is, they wonder what God ever saw in me. I fight against the temptation to be believe that my worth as a person in ministry is dictated by my fruit and not being the best at everything means I am a failure. We struggle with the daily grind (cleaning up splatters of milk off the wall and cheerios on the floor... mounds of laundry that never stop... kids that don't obey...dinner that does not cook itself, and the dishes that go with it) We struggle with temptation for all kinds of things- envy, impatience, disrespect, anger, and the list goes on. We struggle with discouragement and fight against the desire to quit and go home (searching for that easy life we though we could find serving!). We long to be noticed and cared for, but many times it is just assumed we are ok, so our trials go unnoticed. Often, we work so hard caring for others and being out serving that we don't know we are struggling ourselves until we are at a breaking point.We go through seasons of loneliness and we watch our children walk through loneliness and the sad goodbyes with grandparents on the other side of the world that will rip your heart out. It's not easy. Often it's not at all fun and exotic to live on the other side of the world, even though we do have those moments as well. I have so many things that make life here more comfortable than I expected, but then I have a month like this one and I realize that this really is my life, with the joys and the pain. It will always be about goodbyes. It will always have struggles. I will always be an outsider, and even when I go home to my home culture, I will be weird there too. I don't know the latest fashions or keep up with many US cultural trends. My husband and I will not always see eye to eye, and we will go through times of miscommunication. I try my very best at language, but it will never be as comfortable as English is for me. I will be tempted in ways I never thought possible, and I will give in to discouragement more times than I can count. It will never be easy.  But when I signed up for this, did anyone say it would be easy? no, not really. I think I just bought into the lie that if I was called to it, I'd just love it all the time. I imagined that the one who called would make the road "easy" and I would not have deep valleys of struggle. Or maybe I thought I would love the valleys because thats where the Lord grows us the most. But here I am. wishing things were different. being in a valley, but just feeling alone. too often giving in to discouragement and discontentment. giving in to anger (esp at my kids, who are just being kids) And I am asking the lord for the grace to just make it through the day. On the one hand, I know its just part of life here, and what better place to be than at the "end of Sarah" so that HIS power can be seen though my life... and the other hand knows it's good, but feels the pain and "not-at-all fun-ness" of it. I want to go into survival mode where I don't have to think about the implications of my actions and just survive for a while. Maybe no one would fault me for it... we are under lots of stress just living in a third world country.... with twin toddlers and minimal help around the house, full time ministry and language study, sometimes just getting a healthy dinner on the table, clean laundry, and a mopped floor are as unattainable as the underdog getting the gold medal. I don't mean to complain, but honestly we all feel this way at times. But I can't just survive here. If all I needed to do was feed my family and keep house, I could do that anywhere, but I am called here. And I can't not share truth. I can't stop learning language. I can't spend my days grieving what I can't have only to miss the things I do have. So this blog may be mostly for me to write it out to give myself that motivation to press on. Or to ask HIM to give me the motivation and discernment to know what to pour my life into. To open the word when I am discouraged. To write a letter to someone who might also be discouraged. To lovingly prepare dinner and clean my house for HIS glory. To treat my husband with respect. To share truth with my neighbors and intentionally go out to meet people. To study language when a TV show would be much more fun. To invite people over for chai and prayer. To trust that HIS plan is way better than mine and I can trust the future to Him, and He will take care of it.  "Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." Phil. 2:17

Encourage someone who is serving around you today. Let them know you support them and let them be real around you. None of us deserve to be on any pedestals except for the one we follow, who saved us. Lift Him High!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1 year GOTCHA DAY!

I can hardly believe that its already been one year of kissing my babies goodnight! 365 nights! It is amazing how much they have grown over the past year. They learned to crawl, walk, run, jump, climb... you name it, they will try it! They are so funny.... I know I am biased but these boys keep us laughing. Daniel makes silly faces and clicks his tongue really well, and Josiah has a huge tickle spot which sometimes I just look at, and it makes him laugh! They both like to entertain and a crowd is normal and exciting for them. Every time we go out, they have to shake hands with everyone we meet on the elevator and especially all the guards at our building. Today one of the guards we see everyday picked up Josiah and gave him a sweet hug. Most people don't talk to each other on the elevator (or lift as it is called here) so when the boys start a conversation with their little "Hi!", it is awesome to see peoples' responses. And I bet not many other people have a daily handshake with the guards. They rarely act shy, they both are so outgoing and loving towards all the people we meet everyday as we go out.

These boys are the best cuddle-rs... and they have unlimited supply of hugs. I love starting my day with a cup of coffee and Josiah in my lap reading a book peacefully. After breakfast, you can expect a cantaloupe "flavored" kiss or scrambled egg fingers running through your hair as they say "I love you" in their own unique ways. Through out the day, they find ways to show me they love me, and we are working on obeying and its awesome to see them learn to put their toys away, to stop doing something when I ask them too, or to see them playing together so well. They take awesome naps (most of the time) but right now I hear them talking to each other from their cribs on each side of the room. Twins. Gotta love it!

We don't even want to think about where they would be if God had not placed them in our family when he did... or even what our life would be without them. They keep our house on its toes, that is for sure! We just bow in reverence to the holy one who saw fit to connect us... and stand in awe that he did THIS : He put 2 lonely boys in a family... and filled a barren couples house with children, and its ALL for HIS glory. I could never praise Him enough for all the things He has done. "The Lord has done great things for us, and we are FILLED with JOY." Psalm 126:3

Hope you enjoy the video. Everytime the boys watch it, they delightedly squeal as they see their Daddy and Momma picking them up! I love being able to share the story of their adoption as a limited picture of the redeeming love that brought all who believe into HIS family. I can only imagine THAT Gotcha day... when all our faith will be sight and we will forever sing His praises! Hallelujah, What a Savior!
 
Gotcha Day Video

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blessings...

This blog is a prequal to the boys ONE YEAR HOME (aka Gotcha day! which is Jan. 22nd)... that blog will come soon, with a video, but this blog is just today... in this moment. Sitting here with the most amazing homemade sea salt caramel latte, halfway watching Enchanted on TV while all three of my boys catch a Sunday afternoon nap, and I am overwhelmed with the blessings in my life. The sermon this morning was about "the good, the better and the blessed" He spoke on how many times we work for the better things in life, but miss out on the BEST things which are the blessings of the Lord. I know for us, the best thing that happened in our marriage is not being able to have a child naturally. I for sure did not see this as a real blessing, even though I did try. The song "Blessings" by Laura Story was the motto that kept me sane. "What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise." I still sometimes wish it was not our lot in life, but I would not change the past years with Ryan and all the lessons we have learned for anything in the world. The two precious littles sleeping in the next room are by far some of the most precious blessings I have ever been blessed with! The road to bring them home was not easy, but worth every tear and bit of paperwork. The boys are not perfect, but totally the most amazing fit for our family and those little smiles can melt ANYONE'S heart! I love listening to them laugh, and start playing well together... watching them share their toys and learn to make all the animal noises. Teaching them to obey has been a humbling experience and somehow seeing their little foot stomps in anger reminds me of how often I have stomped my foot at the almighty asking for something better or a different lot in life- thinking that I am deserving of the best things, which would be in my definition of best. Everytime, I have been astounded by His patience with this disobedient child and He longs to teach us all to trust him and his plans for us, which after experiences with him, we know are way better than our own ideas of good. I desire to teach my boys to be men of faith who trust in the unseen to do more than we could ever imagine. I want them to be men of truth that will stand for what is right, to defend the cause of the fatherless and strive for justice in the ways that please the Lord. I want them to be a light for the nations and that they will desire that all men know the truth. I pray that they give Him control of their days so they can make His name famous. I want to teach them to praise the Lord and to love to be in his presence. They love praise music and will dance to it for hours (no joke. Its in their blood) and I am excited for the days we will get to talk about the Lord and his truth and hear their simple questions of child like faith and gently guide them to Jesus.

This morning as they both stood hugging my legs, I touched their their little heads and rubbed my fingers through their tight little curls. They are a head taller than my knees and all of a sudden I realized one day they will be taller than me and I was overwhelmed. I will not be able to hold them close like they need me to now, and they will not need to be fed and cared for in such a hands on fashion. So I will cherish those moments when they do need me, even though it is exhausting... I admit its hard work. Kids require so much effort... twins are double lots of times.... and I sometimes wish that it was not always me that they run to when they are upset. They love their daddy, but most of the time, at least when they need something, its Momma they call for. oh but I love it. They need momma to cuddle with when they are scared, or hurt, or overwhelmed. Its past my understanding to be able to hold and kiss the forehead one of the blessings of the Lord in my life. And as I hear them starting up get up from their nap, I am thankful even more for the Lord who put them in my life and for whom I serve and live for.

on a not so deep note, I just got them up, enjoyed sweet wake up kisses, and started to put away the laundry... then i heard the sound of running water. never good with two almost 2 year olds. Lemonade all over the coffee table. such is life with two little helpers!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in photos...



What a year! it has been filled with amazing, "blow your mind" kinds of blessings... and also its own share of hard times, but I can say with full assurance that the Lord has proven himself to us as FAITHFUL in all that has happened. What a JOY to serve a God that i can trust that this next year will also be filled with HIS faithfulness and peace no matter what comes. I will recap some of the highlights like mile markers of His goodness...
Jan: Waiting on being cleared to go pick up our boys.... We were cleared and traveled to Ethiopia and picked them up on Jan 22. Our lives are forever changed!


Feb: Waited in Ethiopia for a few weeks for Josiah's file to officially clear and on Feb 14, we flew to America... they became citizens on arrival, and we met up with Ryan's mom and Sarah's mom and dad! One of the best Valentines day's ever!
March: SOOOO many firsts.... first haircut (for Daniel) first restaurant outing, first crawls, first tooth.... plus meeting more uncles and aunts and grandparents and then a trip to India!


April: We learned so much and grew so much in this month. They started getting anywhere they wanted to go and pulling up. 
May: It was REALLY hot in India and it was the beginning of mango season... we really enjoyed swimming and smoothies.
June: We celebrated their first birthday this month... Josiah started walking around on his own, and Daniel took his first steps on the 30th!
July: Celebrated the 4th of July with flags, and the boys started to say mama and dada!
August: Celebrated Indian Independence day and took some new family photos. The boys are both going at one speed: FAST!
Sept: We took a trip to Sri Lanka and got to see ELEPHANTS... and play in the pool and ocean. Daniel is a little fish and can stay afloat alone with his floaties!
Oct: We opened a package from Ryan's mom with boots and capes... they LOVE to play superhero dress up!
Nov:  The boys are more and more fun! We had a great thanksgiving with our friends here in India! Josiah had his head shaved but Daniel only needed a trim!



Dec: We had such an amazing time preparing for Christmas and my parents came for a visit and we had SOOO much fun! They started saying more words and they can make animal sounds!

Happy New YEAR everyone! I am sure 2014 will be filled with lots of adventures around here... and we pray that your lives are also filled with the JOY of Jesus and the hope that life with him brings!