30 January 2013

A Gift

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We received this in the mail.

It was a surprise. My boy opened it and then brought it to me.

And then I cried.

What an incredible handmade gift from my cuz-in-law…

What a perfect, perfect gift from her heart to ours.

Thank you, Lori. Thank you a thousand times over.

25 January 2013

A Concert

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This was obviously taken awhile ago in Africa… my girlie putting on a little concert with her big brother’s guitar. We’d occasionally be treated to puppet shows or singing concerts or the like. It’s one of the perks of being a parent.

';)

24 January 2013

One Month

Our baby is due in about one month. One month!

*deep breath*

I've been doing a lot of deep breathing these days. I’ve also been doing a lot of huffing and puffing… like after I climb a flight of stairs? Just being honest…

And just to make life MORE interesting and uncertain than it already is these days, my midwife informed me that women who come to high altitude at the end of their pregnancy (and aren’t accustomed to high altitude during the entire pregnancy like I was with Sweet N) often deliver 1-2 weeks early. Oh my. Thank you for the warning? I thought for sure I would go 40 or 41 weeks. Both my other babies have been late so I wasn’t thinking I might have an early baby.

Grrreeeat.

Now, I might not deliver early. It doesn’t happen to everyone. For once in my life I don’t really want to deliver early! I mean… I’m not feeling great these days and another month of pregnancy doesn’t exactly excite me but I also am hoping not to go into labor without a home of my own. I’d like NOT to be living out of bags, boxes and trunks when we welcome our child into this world.

You know what I mean?

*deep breath*

But I’m doing what I can to be ready as quickly as I can, which honestly is pathetically slow these days. But it brings me some peace of mind to get all my ducks in a row (all my onesies in a stack? all my nursing pads in their box? all my burp cloths washed up?) This girl cannot NOT try to be ready ahead of time just in case… whether or not we have a place of our own by then. It goes against everything in my being to not be prepared for any possibility. And so I do what I can.

And wouldn’t you know that most of the time I do have a good measure of peace. Thank you Jesus, for that.

I’ve sorted my baby things and listed when we still need. We purchased a used baby bouncer and today a friend brought us a lovely bassinet that is now set up in our borrowed living room. I have a case of diapers and wipes and lots of other supplies. Friends are surprising me and sending things in the mail! Wow. It’s amazing! We’re getting there and we’re really blessed.

If I had any energy left I’d post some pictures of my simple preparations because posts are much more interesting with photos, but I haven’t much extra energy these days and so you’re not getting many photos. Maybe I’ll get around to it.  Photos will be way cuter, in any case, when there is an actual baby in the photos too. Which could be as soon as two weeks or as late as 4 or 5? Okay. I can do this…

*deep breath*

21 January 2013

Lil’ Fashionista? Or Not.

One evening a couple months ago we walked through our part of the city to meet friends for dinner.

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I don’t always let my children pick out their clothing, but this evening I let Sweet N wear what she wanted…

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Aaaaand this is what she choose.

Oh my.

Mismatched pink skirt and shirt, backwards Crocs and a flower headband smack dab in the middle of her forehead. And a very interesting look on her face. She has a gift, eh?!

Here on this side of the globe the kids are trying to get adjusted to dressing for cold. N often tells me she doesn’t need to wear a coat/mittens/other winter item. I tell her she’s going to be cold and she insists “I wike ta be told (cold)!” Then I have to remind her about the time last week when she played in the snow with no gloves on and her hands got cold and “Remember it hurt and you cried, sweet girl?”

“Yeah…. I dinin (didn’t) wike it.”

Then she looks at me with big big eyes for a second and then I can usually convince her to dress warmer after the reminder.

We’re learning!

18 January 2013

A First Time For Everything

This post will provide you with a break from all the long recent heavy posts about all we’re going through. Here is a lil’ flashback to the end of December.

My girlie has done lots of things that my boy never did. Things like color on walls, chairs, windows, etc. Repeatedly and endlessly. Why can’t she learn? Why doesn’t she want to obey? (Don’t answer those questions!)

Anyway, my boy never once colored on a wall until he learned it from his sister and he has also never stuck anything up his nose.

But I can no longer say the same for my spunky girl.

One night after church she was finishing her snack of peanuts in the car. We can’t remember how it happened or how we learned what she had done, but we soon discovered that she had shoved a peanut up her nose.

Here she is demonstrating it for the camera after the fact…

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I got really worried and was doing the whole “Do we really need a night run to the hospital to extract a peanut from my daughter’s nose on top of everything else we are dealing with?!” freak out. We got her upstairs, into the light and between two parents and some tweezers pulling and some pinching at the top of her nose, thankfully, the thing popped out. Whew!

Wait, am I really telling this whole story on my blog? Does anyone really care?

Well, in any case that’s the end of the story. The peanut came out of the little stinker’s nose and she seemed unbothered by the whole thing even though her mother was in tears.

And she is still so darn cute even with a peanut up her nose. What a special girl I have. Ha!

16 January 2013

Letting Go and Taking Up

I changed my blog title. “Thriving in the Desert” was true a month ago, but has no relevance to my life right now. I suppose you could say we’re ‘in the desert’ in some ways in life right now. We’re unclear about a lot of things… the main one that occupies my thoughts day and night is where we will live. I’d like to say answers and moving will come any day now, but that’s not true. God has asked us to continue to wait for answers. And so as this belly grows and this sweet babe’s due date draws closer, we wait. Each day feels like a month to me, but I take a deep breath and I wait. With lots of tears and questions and God’s help, I wait. We want His best, and so we wait. His grace is with me, I know.

But EVEN if you call our current situation ‘a desert’, the verb thriving would obviously be a lie. I am not thriving; I am struggling. I think it’s to be expected and I’ll be fine and please don’t worry about me. And in the big picture all of this isn’t a big deal. All of our needs are met and we are healthy and we are surrounded by wonderful people and someday soon this will all be in the past and I will be settled in my own place with my three babies and we’ll laugh at our crazy circumstances that came about at the beginning of the year and praise God that we made it through, just like we always do. I am certain of it.

It’s just in the midst of our lives being turned upside down in the matter of a couple weeks,combined with the fact that I am a planner and nester…it’s just a bit hard right now. That’s all.

Anyway, when some friends were praying for us the other day, one said something along the lines of “Give them grace as they let go of their life in Africa and take up new life here at the same time… how does one even do that? With a baby on the way!?”

I totally resonated with that prayer. How do we let go and take up at the same time? We have no idea. And maybe we’re doing a terrible job so far. We still feel pretty numb about the whole thing. How long will that go on? I don’t know.

So this is my new journey. From the Sahara Desert to the Rocky Mountains. Letting go and taking up. Jesus, help us.

12 January 2013

Quote of the Day

H, after using the toilet and seeing no trash can close by told Mike…

“On accident, I threw my toilet paper in the bathtub.”

Mike replied: “H, in America, toilet paper goes in the toilet.”

OH, the joy of transitioning kids. Ha!

So yes, we made it all the way to Colorado. It was a five day trip that nearly killed this very pregnant lady. We are temporarily settled and we are resting. We are spoiled by friends, we are well provided for, we are loved, we are thankful.

The kids are napping and we are spending a few minutes sorting through our lives. Throwing away entire lists of ‘things to do’ that applied to our lives in Africa a couple weeks ago that can now be tossed in the garbage.  Lists of preschool projects that I wanted to complete that never will happen getting tossed. Crossing events off calendars that are now happening half a world away that we thought we’d be attending that now we are not. Deleting emails of things we were organizing that now we have nothing to do with.

Then we’re looking into purchasing a vehicle. Researching cell phone plans. Enrolling the kids in preschool. Making budgets. New to-do lists.

Shutting down and opening up.

We’re picking up the pieces of a long beautiful chapter quickly closing. It’s all so abrupt and strange. It’s sad and still unreal. And we’re unfolding what our ‘new’ lives will look like here.

But in the midst of all the madness there is a bud of a feeling of a ‘fresh start’ in my heart. Of course I didn’t choose or expect a fresh beginning. We didn’t want a fresh beginning right now. We fought for so many years to stay in that country. But nonetheless, we have been given a new chapter to begin and so we try to embrace the new season facing us, even as we are still in disbelief that the last chapter has truly ended.

It’s all a process. We continue walking it. We’re bathed in grace and our God is faithful.

10 January 2013

Less Than Two Weeks

It was less than two weeks ago that we were told to leave the country.

And now here we are, in NYC. That was fast. How did that happen?

It’s all very VERY unreal. In fact, we’ve been strangely emotionless the past several days as we finished up packing and left and have been traveling. It’s like its not real. Like all that craziness didn’t just happen.

We’re certain it’ll sink in at some point. Maybe slowly and gradually. Maybe soon and quickly. I don’t know. All I know is right now we’re just kinda hanging out, not really fully aware of what’s going on.  I think this is normal. But it feels a bit odd. I’d rather be walking around full of emotion now, while in the midst of the actual, physical transition (sitting in a hotel room with my family and 12 pieces of luggage in between our African home to a new life in Colorado) then have a weeping session sneak up on me at some far less convenient place and time. But what am I gonna do? I guess I just wait. And I carry tissues everywhere I go? That’s about all I can do. Grieving is a process, I know.

Aaanyway, we are in the midst of our travel itinerary. We had to book on such short notice that we had to get very creative with our tickets to not blow $10,000 trying to get back to Colorado. Seriously. It could have been that bad.

So we flew out early Monday morning. We had a nine hour layover in Jordan, where friends picked us up and took us to their house for several lovely hours of visiting with two dear families from different seasons of our life.  It was a sweet time.

Then we flew five hours to London. There we had a 22 hour layover. So we booked a hotel near the airport, rested, and visited with another dear couple that don’t see often. We were so thankful.

Then a seven hour flight brought us to New York City. We’re staying here three nights because domestic flights to Colorado were much cheaper on Friday than any earlier day. So we’re resting and visiting with more dear friends. We are rich in relationship and so thankful to see faces we love in each place we stop.

When we first booked this itinerary I thought it was so long and drawn out it was going to be terrible. Well, it turns out the flights are so awful for me (I’m just so extremely uncomfortable… to the point of tears!) that without these long breaks between them I think I would have lost my sanity.  God knew what I would need. He knew I would need a long drawn out itinerary with lots of rest in between flights. We’re just so exhausted from the quick exit… these days resting are such a blessing.

Here are a few photos from our journey…

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I’ve gotten a lot of stares on this trip. But I have to say if I saw this walking around in an international airport I would be worried, too! So I don’t judge all the people who stare at me in the airports and airplanes. They have a point, haven’t they! I’ve got six weeks to go, but I don’t exactly look like it…

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This girl slept a lot on the seven hour flight from London to NY.

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Mike did too. But my boy has a crazy ability to stay awake on airplanes if there is TV to watch. He has got some impressive endurance.

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But as soon as we landed he crashed in the stroller for a couple hours while we sorted out bags. If you look closely though, you can see that he woke up (or not?) at some point to remove one shoe and one sock. Any ideas?! We have no idea what he was doing. Delirious traveling children can be some good entertainment sometimes!

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Girlie found a comfy spot also. Ha! Whatever works…

Tonight is our last night in NYC. Tomorrow we finish our trip and arrive in Colorado after one direct four hour flight. Glory!

06 January 2013

My Strength

I awoke as the sky was brightening. It only took a few moments for the reality of what faced me today to resurface at the top of my sleepy brain.

I moved closer to the other body in the bed. My head on his shoulder. His arm cradling me. My hand clasping his. Legs intertwined. I needed to be close. And I wept.

Today is a day I didn’t want to believe was happening. A day I wasn’t ready to see come. A day I didn’t want to experience. And yet here it was. I was living it. It had begun. And the weight of it all felt crushing. It felt impossible.

One long day. The last of the packing. The last and the most painful goodbyes. The completely empty shell of a house that I don’t recognize as the place where our family made our home for so many years. The red-eye flight out of this dear country. The finality of this incredible life-change that we didn’t know would come until nine days ago.

I laid there in early morning light, tears streaming down my face onto my husband’s chest. And in that moment I was overwhelmed with the strength I find in him… my husband of eight and a half years. He has been a picture of Jesus to me through this painful nine day journey. He is full of grace for me and full of patience. He understands what I’m going through. He has been serving me and loving me and giving me whatever I have needed. He holds me when I cry and he has never judged. A word of complaint hasn’t come out of his mouth. Instead he’s encouraged me. He’s been watching out for me and caring for me and this baby I carry. He works so very hard. He tells me I am strong and that I’m doing great. He has peace that carries over. He tells me we have each other, no matter what.

He is my God-designed strength. And I love him so. We don’t really know what our future holds and part of me doesn’t care… I am just so thankful that he’ll be by my side.

The day has mostly passed now. The weight remains but the hours are dwindling. Soon we will find ourselves on an airplane, saying goodbye to the country we have loved and hated. The country we have fought to live in. The country where we have poured out our blood, sweat and tears. The country where our children grew up. The country where we made many mistakes and learned so much. The country that has made us who we are. The country that has truly become our home.

The country that will always, always have a piece of our hearts… goodbye.

05 January 2013

Travel Certificate

Today I spent three hours of my day trying to see a doctor to get a letter saying that baby and I are safe to travel.

My normal midwife is out of the country, so I had to see a doctor I haven’t seen in four years. He kindly helped me in my situation even though he hasn’t seen me in this pregnancy at all.

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I got my certificate. He deemed us safe to travel. That’s a good thing, considering we haven’t been given a choice…

While I was there he did a quick ultrasound to measure the baby (head still measures two weeks ahead of the body, for your information).

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And look at what I got to see.

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Can you believe this? My sweet baby’s face and chubby cheeks. It was just what  I needed. This lil’ one and I have gone through so much together already. I needed to see his/her face. Such joy.

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God is so sweet to give us this gift. In seven weeks, no matter what we’ve been through or what our situation will even be at that time… honestly it doesn’t matter. This sweet bundle will be in my arms. I’ll have a new gift. A new treasure. One of the greatest of things I could ever receive… a new baby.

And my circumstances or recent experiences or exhaustion or all this crisis can’t take that away.

I am so thankful for God’s timing. His timing is perfect, you know?

My sweet baby. I am in love.

04 January 2013

Look At Me

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Just look at me. Shouldn’t I be resting and nesting instead of packing and uprooting?

I guess God had different ideas. I’m trying to be okay with that. He’s pouring out abundant grace.

We continue to press on and trust Him.

Two days remain.

03 January 2013

Goodbye Preschool

I headed downstairs early this morning.  I asked my staff to come on one last day during what was supposed to just be holiday break and run school so the kids could say goodbye to the school and the staff.

I went down, unlocked the school, straightened up a bit, planned a simple schedule for the day and headed back upstairs to get the kiddos ready.

But on the way up the stairs I broke down. I wept.

Saying goodbye to the preschool is one of the hardest aspects of this quick exit. The preschool has meant so much to me. I love my staff and they have blessed me so much. I love what the school has done for my children and others’ children. I love what I have seen God do in such a short amount of time. I love that He chose and used me to do it. I have loved almost everything about it and it’s so hard to say goodbye to such an incredible dream I never knew I had that I barely had time to live.

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I also cleaned out my desk and office today. Exactly one week ago I sat at this desk all morning and planned out the rest of the year. How quickly things have changed.

Goodbye desk. Goodbye beloved office supplies and files (no, I’m not kidding).

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March calendar. I had been working on lesson plans for after the baby arrives.

Goodbye calendar.

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Here are all my lesson plans for February and March.

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In the trash can.

:(

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Here are my Arabic flyers we were going to finally use to advertise to locals now that we had finally finished our proper business registration a month ago. We were finally ready to grow and add lots more local kids.

But now my flyers are in the trash.

:(

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But here is a cute happy girlie on the lil’ car and the boys running to open the gate for a friend for the last time.

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Helen did the last circle time.

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I don’t think I could have handled it at this point.

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Last lunch.

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And then another circle time, led my my lil’ missy. He he.

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And this little sneak had snagged a bag of sprinkles from our ‘sale rooms’ (on the other side of the preschool building), stashed it in the play kitchen and kept eating bits when she thought no one was looking.

That girl!

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Not all the kids came today. But each of the students are all so special to me.

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I hate taking my kids from these ladies. H and N are well loved by them (and quite spoiled, too, if I’m honest).

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My dear assistants.  I have no words.

Goodbye preschool. I’ll miss you so.

02 January 2013

Here’s the Thing

Here’s a lighter note in the midst of our not-so-light-feeling daily lives:

God has shown us incredible favor in the selling of our car and household items. Incredible. We’re so thankful.

And now we have very little furniture in our house.

So that means many of our remaining things are sitting on the floor.

But here’s the thing: I can’t really reach the floor. At least without a certain amount of grunting and straining. A certain belly impedes my mobility significantly. I must be quite a sight. Lord have mercy…

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