All we have needed, His hand hath provided

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BEFORE: the day after we arrived in our new home

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I’ve lost track of how many snow days we’ve had in the last three weeks. It’s very beautiful!

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Ellie likes to feed Adam, although I’d say her success rate is around 18%.

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We were feeling pretty homesick, so we dressed up and went to the mall for an ice cream cone. (that’s Ellie’s doll in Hj’s inner coat pocket, where she spent a miserable evening abandoned by her “mother”)

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Adam loved the ice water just as much as the ice cream!

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Don’t tell anyone, but we found some more stuff in the “As Is” section at IKEA.

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We had a delightful date at a Vietnamese restaurant. I use the term “date” loosely here. Our kids were tearing around with the owner’s kid most of the time.

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Hj is being amazing in the coffee shop!

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This is what living in community looks like. We just prop the door open and let the kids play in the hallways.

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I don’t know what you think of this, but we visited a church the Sunday before Christmas and they gave away bikes to all the visiting kids.

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Christmas morning! Adam was so shocked to get a toothbrush, since he only has two teeth.

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Ellie got a tiny kitchen set, maybe because we were wishing for a stove of our own.

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AFER: three weeks later, we are feeling much more settled. It’s starting to feel like home!

 

Adam

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I thought about letting Adam make his writing debut here today, but I know what it would consist of: Hubba, bubba, look! A puppy! A person! A truck! A loud thing!
He is all boy, needless to say, and we absolutely love him to pieces.  His nickname is “Buster” because he is just bursting with life and excitement, even though we can’t seem to capture that on camera.  He looks so serious on all these pictures, but he is actually really goofy and makes silly faces just to see us laugh.  I think maybe we end up with serious pictures because those are the only ones that aren’t blurry.  🙂  Maybe your 8-month-old likes to hold still, but mine doesn’t.

DSC_0290I feel like I am often caught in a wrestling match because changing him is wrestling, nursing him is wrestling, just holding him when he wants down on the floor is a full-blown workout.  I decided he is a little man and I will just have to wrestle back and do you know what?  He loves it!  He also loves to scratch, pinch and bite at all the wrong places, you know.  Sometimes I feel sorry for my body putting up with all those unexpected pains and other times I think, What a fun season of life, to be so connected to my very own son.  He loves his “wild uurtje met Papa!” when they roar around and do dangerous stunts.  Papa is the fun parent at our house, and the highlight of all our days.  Also, Hj is the best dad out there, and I’m not making this up.

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So far, Adam has reached all his physical milestones much earlier than Ellie did.  He threw caution to the wind before he ever reached earth, I’m afraid.  This week he has started taking steps on his own and I told him if he walks by Christmas, I will give him ice cream.  He seems really motivated! But not any more than before, honestly.  As soon as he conquers one thing, he is ready to move on to the next challenge.  He says, “Papa” and tries to repeat a lot of other words, but mostly they all end up, “Da-da.”

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When we are in a crowd, Ellie finds the babies to carefully kiss and hold, and Adam finds the little boys tearing around in a corner and then tries to join them.  He was so sad last week and I was sure he just missed Derek, one of his favorite people in the world.  But then last night during dinner in the dining hall, he got sick and I ended up catching most of it in my hands.  He is back to his happy self today, and I am still kind of surprised how excited I was that I caught most of that puke in my bare hands.  It’s like I’m a real mom or something.

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I remember when Ellie was about 9 months old, I sort of bottomed out emotionally and physically.  This time I’m a little more prepared, but I still think this age is uniquely challenging.  Their little desires have become quite decided but they can’t communicate them very well.  It feels like they need some kind of feeding around the clock, because they’re both breastfeeding and eating real food.  And after 9 months of pregnancy, a birth, and then 9 months of your sleep always getting interrupted…. well, it takes its toll.  When Ellie was this age, I remember really doubting my salvation until someone kindly told me, “You’re tired.”
Even though we are trying to get Adam to sleep more than an hour at a time, I do still love getting up with him once or twice a night because he is so relaxed and cute and I can just stare at him and he doesn’t grab my nose or pinch my sweet, soft, tender neck.  Even when he is tired, he is so cuddly and he loves snuggling, but I’m still always on edge because of those frightful little pinches he can spring on me, in the jiggly part of my arm.

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When he looks into my eyes I always get the feeling he is searching for something, and I wonder what it is.  Is it purpose?  Is he searching my face because I look familiar?  Maybe he is just looking for approval at the end of a long day of conquering teddy bears and knocking down towers.  Hj and I tell him all the time that he is so smart and handsome and brave, because we actually think he is.  He is our very dearly beloved son and we could not be more pleased with him.

(all photography by my talented niece Emily)

Colorado might not be heaven, but it must be on the way.

It already has been one week since I arrived in Colorado Springs.
Me and Mocha (not his real name) (he got that name for his love for downtown coffee shops) (actually he got it from autocorrect) drove out Friday morning and arrived Saturday evening. We unloaded our stuff in our empty new home. Monday morning I dropped off Mocha at the airport and then I went for IKEA. I always liked IKEA but this time I was lost in the Swedish maze of oddly named furniture. Most of the time I went into the wrong direction, walking in circles. I caught on to my lostness when I passed the RANARP floor reading lamp for the 6th time. Finally I spotted the BOSNÄS footstool (which was on my list) on display.  It should be easy to find the box now, I thought.  I looked around and even went back a little bit. No BOSNÄS anywhere in sight. In my best Swedish, I asked someone for help. The lady pointed at the other side of the room at least 15 miles away from where I saw the BOSNÄS on display. This scenario repeated itself and now I am fluent in Swedish.
In the middle of it all I decided I should go check out the “as is” section, the part of IKEA where they sell stuff that was damaged. It took me only 45 minutes to find it. I saw a day-bed, still in the box. It used to be $269, now $49.99. After googling an image of the product, I decided we needed a day-bed. I was aware of the money we saved up and I wanted to spent $500. While I was checking out, I texted my wife and said I was probably spending $600 at IKEA, wondering if I was crazy or not.  Starting over just costs a lot of money, I thought.  Joy texted back and said that Jack (not his real name) had just pushed $500 in her hands, because he had so much extra. God always provides for us, even for a BOSNÄS footstool. The bill at IKEA ended up being $501.46. Now I know for sure that those dollar hotdogs at IKEA are not God’s will.
Now, I started writing this blog to point out that we updated our “missions” page.
It explains how you can support us and make it tax deductible.  Whoot, Whoot!

We did need a hitch!

We did need a hitch!


All the important stuff goes.

All the important stuff goes.

The monkey on his back is the latest trend.

The monkey on his back is the latest trend.

We saw some pretty sights.

We saw some pretty sights.

Colorado at last!

Colorado at last!

How I got my diffuser

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We were up at the cabin in the mountains; no internet and no phones. We sat in the rockers on the porch like old people, holding hands, drinking coffee, watching the trees be themselves and being likewise. We talked a lot too, my husband and I. Talked long and hard about our past, our future and our present, peppered with lots of prayers. These are all things we highly recommend, by the way.
That week of peace and rest was beautiful. That’s when it dawned on me anew that Jesus loves me. It’s hard to talk about without sounding foolish, because of course Jesus loves me. I mean, this I know, right? But when the Spirit of God breathes on a truth, no matter how stale or familiar, everything is new.
So I was grappling with this revelation, which is a beautiful thing to grapple with if you’re looking for a good exercise. I asked myself, How would I live if I really believed Jesus loves me? What would my thought patterns look like? How much striving and competing and worrying could I leave at His cross?
I started a habit of meditating on the fact that Jesus loves me, first thing in the morning when I wake up. Before coffee or donuts or sunrise or even contacts, I hold still and let the truth wash me. Or you could say, I just let Jesus love me. If you’re raising babies like I am, you’ve probably discovered that we can only give so much, by ourselves. It’s like a bank, I think. You can’t take out what hasn’t been put in. My mom calls it a love tank, that needs to be filled up. I discovered that when I take the time (keyword) to let Jesus fill my love tank, I actually have plenty to give! I’m not always scraping bottom, at the end of my rope. There are actually leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow.
I’m still learning. I’m really not very good at it yet, but I am learning, a little more every day.

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If you’re wondering how I got my diffuser, this is the part of the story where I tell you. One day at the cabin in the mountains I was watching Becca’s diffuser doing its thing, and I thought, “Wow. I love this diffuser. I’m so glad I gave it to her. I love the colors, the light and the smells. I wish I had 65 extra dollars to buy me one.” (You can see how all my thoughts started with “I” back then.) And then, politely, I asked God if He would please find me a diffuser, when He got the chance?
Now I normally didn’t pray stuff like that. I thought it seemed self-centered and fluffy, to ask God for something I really didn’t need. It must be foolish to God that I’m asking for a diffuser when someone else is begging for a baby or their next meal. But here’s what I’ve been learning: I can let Jesus love me, or I can not let Him love me. When I’m always brushing off my desires in order to work for Him, I’m barely giving Him a chance. Now I’m thinking about my husband and I’m really starting to get it.
So I did the silly thing and asked for a diffuser. I just asked once, not even twice, cause I didn’t want to be importunate, at least not this time.
I actually forgot about it until the other day when an email arrived from my BFF Ruthanne, who sells essential oils and $65 diffusers. She was just letting me know that she had signed me up as hostess of a party I didn’t have to attend and now I’m stuck with some benefits. “Hey,” she said. “You need to pick out $65 worth of product from my company.”
“Ok,” I said. “I asked God for a diffuser; could this be it?”
And she said, “Yes, yes, actually yes!”
IMG_5822Hj has been telling me ever since I met him that God cares about the little things and we can ask Him for stuff like that but I’m an awfully slow learner because it still surprises and overwhelms me every time. God really is listening, and He has lots of people who are listening too. I am so grateful. And I will cherish that little plastic diffuser with its colorful lights and sweet smells.

Simply Aroma diffuser: $65
Eucalyptus oil: $10
Electricity, per kWh: $.12
Knowing He loves me: priceless

Courage

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A year ago I was probably lying on our uncomfortable futon, trying not to look in the direction of the kitchen or think about food.  I was sick and pregnant and my toddler was climbing on me.  Over and over I cried out to God for strength, energy, grace.  So many times He whispered, “Do not fear; be strong and courageous.”
Courage.  I claimed it as the word for my pregnancy and my little son growing in my womb.  I studied the meaning and meditated on it day and night and prayed it countless times over my baby.  Sometimes it was an awed whisper, sometimes a declaration, sometimes a command: Courage!
I was scared stiff when God asked us to go pray against abortion at the Supreme Court, scared on so many levels.  Then an older gentleman, a pastor, prayed for me.  When he finished praying he said, “I keep hearing the words ‘courage and purity.’  Does that mean anything to you?”  (I was like, yeah.)  I prayed courage upon the baby boys and purity upon the baby girls– for my own kids, and for the generation being born.
Then we semi-moved to Colorado which is a little harder than a real move, I think.  In the last days of pregnancy and so many new people, then through the agony of labor, the promise of courage was always on the front burner.  “Do not fear.”  A few weeks after Adam was born we were in community worship and a guy had a word from the Lord to share with the group.  His wife had the blue hair so I was like “Ummm… We’ll see.”  Then God took the word and just exploded it right inside my chest and I knew without a doubt, it was for me.  Not only that, God put a finger right on my heart and said, “Go ask him to pray for you right now.”  So I did, and he paused, as though listening, before he started praying for me.   Then he opened his mouth and said, “Courage.”
Monday the kids and I are flying to Colorado, back to our home in the Springs.  Our home, that’s just a minute down the road from that Planned Parenthood, the one I shot fiery darts at every time we drove by, only mine were spiritual.  Our home, far away from the comforts of familiar faces and cultures and air.
Honestly, I never have the courage to face goodbyes.  I despise them and avoid them and they make me cry, sometimes mad tears and sometimes sad tears.  Tonight I’m plumbing the depths for this courage that was promised to me.
I’m meditating on God, how wonderfully courageous He is.
Don’t you think it takes courage for God to keep spinning us around every day on our blue ball, when we’re already dizzyingly foolish?  He watches the bomb explode on the busiest intersection and a body like yours or mine gets blown to bits. You won’t believe this, but He’ll turn around and pick the sun up again tomorrow just like nothing ever happened.  He watches the vacuum suck the womb clean and it must break His heart, but He’ll fertilize the egg next time, like He doesn’t even know.  Why did He let us run the earth when He knew we would mess it up with aluminum cans and stuff?  Why did He make our brains smart enough to figure out nuclear energy, maybe even warfare?  It seems a little reckless of Him, doesn’t it?
I know I’ve mentioned it before here, but it’s a part of God I just can’t get over.  He sees and knows all the most atrocious evils the world holds, and He still renews mercies every morning, even the very next day.  I think that must take outrageous courage, to know we might do it again when the sun comes up, and still let it shine, maybe even add some gorgeous hues to its rising.  Unbelievable!
It seems a little trite now, but I still need courage.  I need courage to say goodbye to dear friends and I need courage to rise again tomorrow and build new friendships, just as if the next goodbye won’t hurt.  I need courage to recklessly love people even when they’re on the verge of leaving.  I need courage to keep believing God is good, in the fall and in the springtime, when the stars align and when nothing makes sense at all.

 

I truly believe
    I will live to see the Lord’s goodness.
Wait for the Lord’s help.
    Be strong and brave,
    and wait for the Lord’s help.  Psalm 27:13 & 14, NCV

I love the story of Moses when he asked God, “Show me your glory.”  Of course God agreed, and caused all His goodness to pass before Moses and then he saw what we all see when we look long enough:  God is good.  This is the truth I have been binding on my heart and tying around my neck these days.  God is unfailingly good.  If you’re quavering at the days ahead, scared to read the news, overwhelmed by tomorrow, let’s gather bravely and ask for another display of His glory.  Don’t fear.  Be strong and full of courage.  You can bank your life on it, you can bask in it, you can ask to see it for yourself… the goodness of God in your land, in your living.