Talking

Maybe the reason I find social media awkward is because I picture everything.  When you send me an emoji, I picture you making that face.  😯 When I post something on Instagram, I actually picture myself standing on a platform behind a pulpit, saying the caption aloud to 150 people/followers.  (This includes an overhead projection of my photo.)  When I write a blog post and nobody comments, I feel like a whole bunch of people are silently sitting in a circle, staring at me after I just shared my heart with them.

I guess I should just keep talking.

Whenever I’m around people who are married, I always have this burning question on my mind: “How is your marriage going, for real?”  In 6 years of marriage, I might have been asked that question once.  It seems like your marriage relationship is a pretty big part of your life if you’re married, but I guess people want to honor and respect their partners by never talking about them.  I just love talking about marriage, but how do you casually ease into the subject?

I wonder if I should just keep talking.

A lot of people left our church recently.  We’ve been there for a year and a half so we feel pretty at home.  It’s an odd conversation to have when your friend says, “I wanted to tell you we started going to another church.”  What is the appropriate thing to say?  Do you offer sympathy?  Do you hide your surprise or display it?  Do you ask more questions or was that the end of the conversation?  I think I said something smooth and cool like, “Oh!  Ok.”

I bet I shouldn’t just keep talking.

The thing about old people is, they love to talk.  They have so many interesting stories to tell, including all the details and dates and people you don’t know.  I was trying to think of a new type of event we could do at our coffee shop, and I thought of “Olde-Tyme Story Thyme,” where we invite old people to talk for 2 hours straight about whatever they want.  I imagine the audience knitting, painting, and checking Facebook on their phones, all while listening to an elderly person talk about.  Maybe if the old people get all the stories out that are stuck in their head, they won’t hold me up in the check out line.

I should really stop talking.

I’ve had a blog post in my drafts for months.  It’s called, “De-plaining” and it’s all about how I used to be plain but I’m not anymore.  You would probably find it very interesting but I’m not sure how interesting I’m up for being at the moment.  Basically, I wrestle with the question of whether it’s possible to leave the Mennonites or not, which is another one of those questions burning on my mind, but I feel isn’t welcome in polite society.

I stopped talking, for now.

Updated update

VISITORS!
Hj’s sister came for a few weeks to visit us, all the way from Holland.  She brought her little daughter Feline along, as well as her friend named Rosalie.  They arrived on koningsdag, the day when the king’s birthday is celebrated in Holland, so we got to start their visit off with festivities!

They went on lots of adventures and the kids got to play together to their hearts’ content and maybe even beyond.  🙂  There are plenty of things to do around the Springs, and they even spent a weekend with our friend in Estes Park and explored Rocky Mountain National Park.

         

Feline’s birthday was a few days after they left, so we threw an early birthday party for her and Ellie, who will turn 4 next month.  It was so interesting to hear them communicate, in English and Dutch, sometimes figuring it out and sometimes getting frustrated when they were trying to pretend a story.

More recently, we had some of my family come visit!  It’s very hard for me to fathom, but those beautiful women flanking me are my nieces.  Last week we were having tea parties and swimming in the Pomeroon River and this week they are old enough to cut their own pancakes!  The rest of their family was here too; I just failed to get pictures.

This is the other day Andrew’s were visiting– we  took the train up Pike’s Peak and stopped halfway up where there was still enough snow to make a snowman.  Adam found that amusing, it seems.

SOBE!
While Martine was here, the SOBE (School of Business and Entrepreneurship) started.  I am staffing that school, which means I am in class every day with the students, sitting in on the lectures.  We have 13 students from around the world and it has been a delight to get to know them and their visions!

Most days, this is my view from the back of the classroom.  I’m learning so much from each of our knowledgable speakers, as well as from the students.  Meanwhile Hj is at home with the kids, being humble and loving and sacrificial and cheering for me every day!

ART!
I have organized a series of summer art classes for our campus.  It has proved to be a really profound experience and we have encountered Jesus in every lesson!  Yesterday after the art class, I found one of the older students in a corner weeping at what God was revealing to her through the process of creating.

WASHINGTON DC!
I spent Mother’s Day weekend in Washington DC with a number of friends and family.  These 3 beautiful women came with me all the way from Colorado Springs.

We were there to pray for God to move in the Supreme Court, that we would see an end to abortion in our country very soon.  It was a really powerful, beautiful time.  It is such an honor to stand as humans and pray for LIFE.

This year we circled the Supreme Court seven times, praying for seven different areas that relate to the abortion industry and fatherlessness.  My faith was renewed and the flickering flame of hope was fanned in my heart.

We spent an extra day sightseeing in DC, as the ladies traveling with me had never been there before.  I had seen the city plenty of times during the day, but seeing it at night was a whole new experience which I loved!  It felt even more grand and majestic than normal.

FAMILY!
At the end of every day, I am so grateful for the little family I get to call mine.  Before bedtime, we like to sit in a circle, hold hands and talk about the best parts of our day, as well as the sad parts.  Adam’s favorite part of the day is usually, “when Papa came back.”

Ellie  Adam  (typed by Ellie!)

I asked Ellie to write the captions for these photos.  She says, “These two pictures are for God and Jesus, one funny and one happy.  Did you know the devil hates pictures?”  Those are little undies on her head, which she discovered work great as a head covering.

          

Ellie spent the last 2 months in our preschool here on base, two mornings a week.  She loved it and will be going again in the fall.  Adam misses her a lot on those days, and sometimes I think how ironic that having two kids at home is so much easier than having one.

I’ve been reminded lately that 2-year-olds are about the most charming little creatures in the universe.  I feel like I have my own little show to watch every day as he discovers the world and language and his own opinions.

          

 

Going on an update

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Yesterday May 18th it snowed.

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The Fousert’s

Yesterday

My friend Heather had a dream about human trafficking when we were in California together a few months ago.  Either in the dream or out of the dream (I do not know), God gave her my name and a mandate.

Our campus is focused on the 10/40 window and unreached people groups, but we also do some local outreach right here in our city.  At holidays, a group of YWAM ladies usually takes gifts to the local massage parlors for the women working there.  By massage parlors, I mean the sketchy ones where you come in and there’s a locked door and a camera to greet you.

God put it on Heather’s heart to start going to visit these ladies every week, and asked me to join her.  As we prayed and waited for God to direct us, He did.  Yesterday was our first day to go and we had four interns join us from the REACH team, the team from our campus focusing on local outreach.  I think REACH is an acronym or then I’m just yelling it.

I’m not sure if I have a comfort zone anymore, but if I do, I wasn’t anywhere near it yesterday.  I had never been to any of these places before; actually never did anything like this in the USA so I had no idea what to expect.  I had to remind myself of Ellie, who announced this week at the breakfast table that she has been talking to Jesus a lot and He has been talking to her.  He came to her in her bed, she said, and told her that she never has to worry because anytime she goes anywhere, He comes along.

We had a good time, prayed for a number of ladies, and told them we’ll be back next week to visit more.  They seemed delighted, overall.  Our highlight, though, was when God interrupted our “task” with some unexpected people.  A young guy came up to me as we were leaving one parlor, and asked what we were doing.  I said we were going around blessing local businesses and offered him a pack of Twizzlers.  He said he’d trade Twizzlers for weed, and would I join him in a celebratory smoke?  The Scripture says, If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

I was very unbiblical and refused, but we entered into a wonderful conversation.  He was on his way to get married at the Rastafarian church down the road.  I kept looking at him and his fiancé, who joined us after a bit, and felt such love and compassion and hope for them.  They were as open as could be, welcomed our prayers with outstretched hands, and kept telling us we were so cool, even though we were preaching the Gospel to them, which isn’t always cool.

There is hope for this generation.  Of course there is, but some of us actually believe there isn’t, if we’re honest.  I am seeing young people transformed right before my eyes.  A man who was in prison a few months ago, dedicated His life to Jesus and is giving his life to missions.  I watched a youth who was an atheist a few months ago, picking up a mic and declaring he is opening His heart to the Father’s love.  These are people in my every day life; this is happening right now!  I even know some good young people who just realized their goodness doesn’t come from following rules and they encountered the Father for themselves.  That’s a real miracle.

This is not a hopeless generation!  Ask God to lead you to the ones who are hungry for truth, and He will do it.

 

Easter Celebrations

This year we broke from our Easter tradition of hosting an art gallery, and took a mini family vacation instead.  We got an airbnb in the mountains in a tiny town called Nederland and spent a lovely day breathing deeply and that’s about it.  It used to be a mining town, which is why the Dutch came and named it Nederland but there really wasn’t much of the Netherlands there, tucked into the Rockies.

Easter morning we went to a sunrise service downtown.  I was freezing cold and annoyed at the inefficiency and incompetence on display (a very Weaver thing to feel, I think) and then Adam thawed and I got to wrestle a wiggling 2-yr-old for an hour.  He kept saying, “Devil’s dead!” very loudly, and in the same breath yelled, “I’m farting!”  It was a special Easter morning, the kind you can only have with toddlers.


We came home and had a lovely brunch with several other families.  The dads, instead of taking naps on their recliners as in the Mennonite tradition, went outside and hid Easter eggs.  I am 31 and this was the first Easter egg hunt of my life.  It was very fun, because there were lots of kids and chocolate and little surprises and so much laughter.  Ellie says it was the best Easter in the whole world, and Adam kept saying, “Let’s do it again!”  I trust that in future years the power of the Gospel will overshadow the power of the chocolate eggs, but for now we were all just delighted in our own ways.

It was a joyful weekend, filled with such sweet memories.  (only one or two that weren’t so sweet)  Our life is so full and intense, but God is teaching us how to take Sabbaths and not only that, but how to live from rest every day.  What I’ve cut out (pleasing people, performance, serving out of obligation) God has replaced with abundant grace and joy.  But my number one victory for this year?  Getting up early, like 4:30 or 5:00 early.  It’s changed my life.  The little twin that goes along with that is going to bed early and I have fully embraced that too.

There are a number of things I could point out about this photo, like how I have been wearing that polkadot dress for about 15 years.  I can hear the voice of that sweet little Southern guy who asked me many years ago, “Ain’t it taaaam to update your staaaal?”  I’m sure he would be disappointed to know that no, it still isn’t time to update my style.  I will probably be wearing this dress when I’m holding my grand babies, sir.

Isn’t it easier to be joyful and a Christian in general, in the springtime!?  Just being warm helps a lot already.  Blessed spring, peeps!

Overwhelmed

Is it just me, or are options overwhelming?  I’m glad we have options in this life, but too many of them make me turn into a fluffy-brained snail.

This becomes really evident at the grocery store when I am trying to buy some cheese or something.  There are so many kinds, so many brands, so many options.  I feel like crying, I feel like yelling at somebody to help me, and I feel incompetent.  In short, I feel overwhelmed.

So I’ve been on a quest to pare down my options.  There are two mothers I think about a lot: Ma Ingalls and Abraham’s wife Sarah.  I’m not sure why them, except that they represent eras to me– a time when life was much harder and much more simple.  It was kind of fragile and wild too, like the earth swallowing people and then special breakfast appearing on the ground.  I think of Ma Ingalls’ era quite romantically, I’m afraid.  Reading Little House on the Prairie, I’m always reminding myself how very hard survival was back then but my heart just longs to live in such a simple time.

I thought about these two women a lot when I was assessing the options I could remove from my life.  I felt silly, because well, it seems like such a first world problem– to have too many options that you have to work hard to get rid of some.  I think these women woke up every day and simply did what needed to be done in order to keep their families alive.  That was their option.

I, on the other hand, get up in the morning and have 25 breakfast options and that’s not even counting the coffee options: French press, pour over, latte, cappuccino, cream, creamer, sugar (raw, refined, brown, white, organic, or full of GMOs).  You know what I mean?  It’s crazy.

Here I take a moment to list some of the things I did to reduce my daily, dizzying options.

  1. Only buy food that’s on sale.  I go online to see the weekly ad, and plan my meals around that.  If butter is on sale, I stock up.  Even if butter isn’t on sale, I buy it because I can break the rules for butter.  I just sounded like the Pioneer Woman, didn’t I?
  2. Have a weekly meal outline, then plan specific menus around that.
    Por ejemplo, Monday night we eat pasta.
    Tuesday: meat, potatoes and a vegetable
    Wednesday: rice and beans/curry (I add chicken and subtract tofu)
    Thursday: soup when it’s cold, salad when it’s warm (add spicy chicken to the salad for sure)
    Friday: hopefully seafood and not leftovers
    Saturday: pizza (most of the time it’s DiGiorno because I believe in a day of rest)
    Sunday: waffles
  3. Have a morning routine.  I wrote about that in excruciating detail a couple months ago.  Trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds and it’s well worth the beginning effort, in case you’re thinking of implementing your own morning routine.  I hereby give you creative license to be yourself and design a routine you really love.  🙂  The morning routine cuts out all the options of what to do when I wake up.  Even if there are some demanding chores staring me down, I have my morning routine and that is what we do.  Save the chores!  (for chore time)
  4. Buy second-hand clothes only in April and October.  Hj doesn’t adhere to the second-hand rule, because it’s rather difficult for a Dutchman to find used clothing in the USA.  I  have no room to store clothes and I am not very sentimental, so I consign all my kids clothes and use that money to buy for the next season.  In between, I don’t even have to think about clothes.
  5. Go zero waste!  This is more of a “long obedience in the same direction”; not an overnight change.  I have always loved being resourceful and creatively making do, so this one is fun for me, as well as great for limiting options.  When I decided to buy no new plastic, it cut down about 86% of my options in the store.  Very freeing, I tell you.
  6. Ask God for a word and then stick to it.  This has been enormously helpful to me recently.  In YWAM we talk about the seven spheres of society and how the kingdom of God impacts each of these.  I asked God which sphere I am to focus on right now and He gave me a clear answer.  Now when I am asked to do things outside of that sphere, I immediately say no.  I don’t even pray about it, no matter how tempting it is.  It’s not an option.  Last year, my word was to be a wife first and then a mother, and that is pretty much all God allowed me to do.  It was great– I loved it so much.  You would think it might be restrictive but actually, I grew.  This year, I can be a wife, a mother and help run a school and I don’t feel overwhelmed.  I’m suspicious I was enlarged, like on a Xerox.
  7. Be yourself– cut out comparison.  “We have great capacity to be ourselves, but a very small capacity to be someone else.”  I developed this very profound quote; how do you like it?  It is really hard to try to be someone else, but it is 100 times harder to be 100 other people.  There are so many different kinds of beautiful moms nowadays that I see on Instagram, but I have one option– to be just like Joy Fousert and that’s it.  I believe it is the nature of God to just be yourself (the great I AM), but if you’re used to people pleasing, this can be a little icky at first.

And that!  Is how I stay under-whelmed instead of over-whelmed.

Adam turns two!

Today, Adam is two years old.  Two years ago, he was born right here in an old hotel room on this sprawling campus.  While I labored, Ellie joined some new friends at the welcome dinner.  Hj had to miss the welcome party, unfortunately, but I’m glad he did.  He did a stellar job coaching me and catching his son.

Three months later we flew to Indonesia for two months with two babies.  Ellie turned two somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, but now I realize we really had two babies.  It was fun and adventurous and humid, and I don’t ever want to do it again.  I’m glad we survived and today we have two funny little toddlers who make our days delightful.  They actually both sleep 10 or 11 hours at night, which I still don’t take for granted.

I was watching Adam yesterday as he tooled around the house throwing stuff.  He seems to have an insatiable desire to throw everything right now.  There doesn’t seem to be much pre-meditation.  Today it was the butter dish.  Often I’m struck in the face by a stuffed animal when I wasn’t thinking about stuffed animals at all.  “Catch it, Mommy!  You missed!” he yells, just a few seconds late.  Foresight would just mean the world to me, I think.  I keep wondering at what age it is typical for boys to start thinking ahead.  Hj thinks probably around 27.

We find Adam pretty charming, nevertheless.  He makes friends everywhere he goes.  His little face is so expressive and he is almost always sweet and affectionate.  He’s super goofy (a stray gene).  He loves telling tall tales that make us laugh, usually starting with “Once upon a time there was a ti-i-i-i-ny little monkey.”  He is brave and wild and messy, just like a little boy should be.

Ellie and Adam play in a make-believe world most of the day, and poor little Adam is most often subjected to play “Julia,” for some reason.  I suspect it’s because he is a lot more controllable when he is Julia, being bossed by Ellie, “the mom.”  Adam, as I know him, is quite averse to being bossed around but Julia is a docile little lamb who meekly follows mother’s orders.  Is there a deep life lesson in that?

I am still not used to the fact that I have a son, but I love it more every day.  Every morning when he stumbles out to the living room in his pajamas, proclaiming cheerfully, “I wake upped!” I’m reminded what a priceless gift he is to our family.  I mean that, he really is our pride and joy; he is the world’s most wonderful boy.  Happy birthday, little man!

Book review

Since I have children I read a lot more, especially out loud. I easily read 4 to 5 books a day. My favorites are definitely the story books; I’m not so much for the find the yellow cat and lift the flap books.

One of Ellie’s favorites is Farm Yard Tales. It is a collection of stories about the Boot family who live on Apple Tree Farm. On every page there is a little duck hiding so you can imagine the fun we have trying to find it.  Every Barn Yard Tale starts with an introduction of the family:
This is Apple Tree Farm. This is Mrs. Boot, the farmer. She has two children called Poppy and Sam, and a dog called Rusty.

All the stories are similar.  An animal gets lost and they find it. Or an animal is acting up and then it gets better. What I like about the stories is that it is simple and even Adam understands it.
There are about 20 things that I can’t quite get over when reading this book and one of them is the role that the father plays in these sstories. We see the father “figure” in some of the stories but why isn’t he in the introduction? Does the author realize that he is lying every time he introduces the family? This is not the Boot family– this is the Boot family without the provider, the muscles, the man who cuts the meat on Sunday, the head!
I wonder… did dad get the boot?

Why they created Ted, the worker, boggles my mind like it hasn’t boggled before. All Ted does is drive the tractor in the pond and forgets to close the fence. If the father was assigned a tad more authority, Ted would have been fired since day one and it would have saved the Boot family a significant amount of money. With the extra money they could have gone on a vacation and work on their marriage.

There is one particular story where the dad is helping the kids camp out in the yard. When the children lose their tent in the middle of the night because the cow runs away with it, Mr. Boot comes to the rescue, proving that he is part of the family and lives in the same house as them. Of course, this is just a children’s book and I shouldn’t pay attention to the unimportant details. At least it is not a pyramid scheme.

 

 

Honesty

Awhile back, I spent the weekend with a few other moms.  I was inspired, encouraged, and reminded that there is an army of amazing moms out there raising the next civilization.  These moms are intentional, thoughtful, gracious women who care about their families, who love God and are making a huge impact in our culture.  They want to raise healthy kids who are wise and kind, who will make good choices and lead fruitful lives.

Of course I’m aware that this is a big, eternal responsibility– raising children.  I want to do it well; I want to be intentional and I want our kids to thrive, to love Jesus, to make kingdom impacts wherever they go.  But sometimes I start worrying about doing it all correctly so that they’ll turn out right in the end, like a long division problem.  I soon start treating them like that– a problem to solve and fix.

My friend told me recently, “There are no secrets in families.”  I was telling her how I struggle to know how to introduce my children to Jesus, because I have an aversion to the Sunday school cartoon that’s been watered down to a kind historical figure.  My friend was reassuring me that even if I don’t say all the words right, what I truly believe is going to be revealed to my children, if you can call that reassuring.

To be honest, this realization made me lay down the parenting books and get counseling– for myself.  I want to know that what I believe is pure and true and righteous, because that’s what is going to be exposed to my children, if it hasn’t already.  I can say that I believe God is good, but if I complain about His gifts or His ways, do I actually believe He is good?  Opening my heart very, very honestly to a few friends has helped me discover the differences between what I say I believe and what I actually believe.

What if, instead of worrying about how to teach my children that God loves us, I live loved?  What if they believe it because my life has taught them that, on boring days and through dark valleys and on shining mountaintops?  At the end of the day, they will reject or embrace what they have been shown.  But at least I want to know that what they have been shown is pure and true and righteous.

I’m so grateful for encouragement from other moms, for parenting books and mommy blogs and inspiring examples.  I love teaching my children, a little every day.  However, my faith doesn’t hang on my ability to communicate everything perfectly, to set the best rules, to always make the wisest decisions, to follow new, wonderful ideas.  That would be a lot of pressure on me; pressure that would make me overwhelmed and frustrated.

Every day, I learn more about God as my Father and me, His daughter.  I’m in the middle of being a kid myself– I know how it feels to be corrected and forgiven and loved without limits.  I want my kids to go to sleep believing the same thing I believe when my head hits the pillow: I was loved and delighted in today, and I’m confident tomorrow will be the same.

Vulnerability

I don’t know why such uncomfortable things come into fashion, like high heels and skinny jeans– and vulnerability.  It seems vulnerability is all the rage right now and to be honest, I find it so uncomfortable.  Talking about it is easy enough.  It’s the part where you actually get vulnerable and bare your heart that can make me uncomfortable. Doesn’t the word itself sound a bit naked?

I’ve always tried to be a little bit real, but not too real.  I was told it’s dangerous to focus on being real because you end up excusing sin in the name of “just being real.”  You know what I mean?

Recently, Hj and I went with our dear friends to this marriage intensive in California.  We were assigned to a table with three other couples for the week.  At each meal, we took turns sharing our spiritual journey, according to how the Spirit led us.  Monday at dinnertime, it was our turn.

We sat around the table at a funky little Mexican restaurant with these three other couples and Hj started sharing as soon as the chips and salsa came.  He had prayed and heard from God what to share and what not to share.  There was nothing on the “not to share” list.  Hj went for it– he shared it all.

The food wasn’t good.  I cried and wept.  (But not so much about the food.)  And I was thinking, “God, is it really necessary to be so very, very open about everything?”  They listened, and asked questions, and told their own stories.  They heaped rich prayers and prophecies on us.

A few hours later, after I had snotted up a big mountain of tissues with my issues, I looked up into the kindest faces I had ever seen.  “I can’t believe I met you guys this morning,” I said.  They knew the worst of us and yet they saw the best in us.  They heard our struggle and they weren’t afraid.  They felt our shame and they didn’t run away.

 

Brené Brown says in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be really seen.  I wonder, why do I fight that?  Why do I cling to facades and “shoulds”?  What makes me fear letting go of expectations and just being truthful?  I’m talking about the little stuff too; the quirks and emotions that make me unique but I feel obligated to hide them because……?  Why?

We fear disconnection, Brené says, which is a simple definition of shame.  We’re ashamed of our true selves.  “If people knew certain things about me, would I still be worthy of connection?”  Hj and I plumbed the depths of that question that Monday night at dinner, and we came back with a resounding YES.  Those couples didn’t cut us off; they showed us that we would always be loved and belong, not because of the good things we have done, but because God the Father said we are worth it.  When He sent Jesus for us, He declared our worth.  If a painting sells for $2,000 it’s because someone saw that worth in it, not because the canvas and the paint actually cost that much.  When Father said He’ll pay for us with Jesus, He made it clear we were worth that much to Him, not because that is what a curator would actually have seen in us.  This is where our deep sense of belonging and worth are born, I believe.  We somehow know we matter, even though we technically don’t.

I like to think about where that resounding YES leads.  If I carry in my heart the truth that no matter what anyone knows or doesn’t know about me, I am still worthy of love and connection, where will that lead me?  I would love to find out.  I imagine it is a place of deep surrender, where there is only truth.  I imagine it leads to fearless connection in relationships, risks and agape love.  I know it leads to deep, deep, deep gratitude that the God of the universe took time to bend down, pick up a grain of sand, and say, “This one’s mine.”

This is where I am on my journey with God, as I am getting to know Him more deeply and He is getting to deeper parts of me.  I pray you are finding Him just as kind on your own journey.