Encouragement

A friend recently encouraged me with her words. It was just what I needed to hear. Thank you Lord for bringing her to me with the right message at the right time.

(paraphrasing) Stop looking back at the past that you can’t change, or inward at the hurt we can’t bear, or outward at the circumstances we can’t control. Instead look up to our El Shaddai, our All Mighty and All Sufficient One.

 

 

 

God’s Word

So thankful for wonderful friends, encouraging words and deep Bible studies. What a privilege I’ve had the past several months to really dive into the Word of God. It’s exciting at times that even at my age, even after 4 years of Bible college, that I am still learning SO much about the Lord. It’s like discovering a new little tid-bit of information that unveils more about the character of the Lord. It’s like a new present and you want to share it with everyone. Then you begin to wonder “how could I have missed this before?”.  I am so thankful the Lord continues to revel Himself to me!

You created me from less than dust to be your image bearer. You have chosen me, made me alive through new life in your own precious Son. All your ways are perfect and great. You never tire or change. You are faithful to the end of this time and will continue so, even beyond this time. You are not limited or restrained, but rather compelled through your great love, you offer mercy in abundance and are the only source of perfect peace and contentment. Amen.

Words – What to say?

I have been wondering “what to say” for a while now. What should I put in the blog. It’s a new year, January is almost over and I don’t know exactly what to say. People all around the world take the time to read this, I’ve got their attention at least for a few minutes, I should probably say something worth while, interesting or enlightening. I’ve read other blogs and they are usually perfectly polished, a joy to read, and usually just what I needed to hear. Blogs about homeschooling, blogs about raising children, blogs about womanhood and numerous blogs from missionaries around the world. I suppose blogs can be a way to share information, to get a message out to a large audience with a minimal amount of work. They can also be a great way to share prayer requests and keep in contact with people far away. Then there are the blogs that make everything seem SO easy. For example, ’20 easy new recipes your family will love’, all with colour photos of fantastic looking meals. Since I really don’t like cooking and new recipes never seem to turn out right anyways, those blogs aren’t overly encouraging to me. Then there are the blogs about homeschooling, ’10 steps for a more productive homeschool experience’. Some days I am just glad to survive another day of homeschool teaching!

It’s so easy to use words to convenience others of something. Especially with the internet as we can control the lovely photos and joyful explanations we share with everyone. I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in a “make believe fairy land”. Words can be useful but on the other hand, they can be extremely hurtful. I’m sure we can all remember a time when words hurt. Either spoken in haste or with intent, it hurts. No wonder the Bible warns us, saying the tongue is full of deadly poison. It’s like the Sunday School song “Oh be careful little tongue what you say…”.

I grew up with the rule, that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. It’s a nice thought, though probably not entirely Scriptural. I actually think it came from Walt Disney and the Bambi movie. But either case, it’s a warning to guard our words.

 

Thankfulness

It’s certainty been an odd year for our family. But as we look back, we see God’s hand still guiding us. I will be honest enough to say that when you are in the middle of things, it’s hard to see His hand or His plan. There are often so many questions and so few answers.

Now we are approaching American Thanksgiving; A time to reflect and give thanks. Even in the midst of uncertainty, we can given thanks. We are content where God has put us, for how ever long He wants that to be. For the past several months, I have again and again been thankful to be in North America not Ethiopia. What an odd thing to say. Leaving Ethiopia was incredibly difficult for us, but this week I am even more glad that we are not there right now. This week we received the shocking news that my father-in-law has colon cancer. He went in for a routine screen, with no symptoms or concerns, but the report came back with unexpected results. So it’s at times like this, we are glad to be closer to family. The Lord knew we needed to be home this year, as my parents and my in-laws alike, have experienced significant health difficulties. Having one parent sick is difficult when you are far away, but having all 4…

So today I am thankful to be where God has put me. I pray that I can still say this tomorrow, next week, and next month when the storms of life keep crashing. I have no idea what the future may bring, as it’s already brought so many surprises this year. But I trust the One who has carried us thus far, who sustains us today and who has already written our tomorrows.

During our recent small group Bible study of Hebrews (6:19), I was remind of an old hymn, “Will your Anchor Hold”. The first verse contains the questions with the chorus giving the jubilant answer. Growing up on the East Coast of Canada, I have a very good mental picture of crashing waves and stormy seas. I remember many night-time crossings on the ferry between Newfoundland and Cape Breton, where the seas were so rough they literally chained the cars to the deck. But as the storms of life blow in (so unexpectedly as them seem to so), what are you tied to? Are you tied to the ship, which can still sink in the worst of storms. The Titanic proved that even the “unsinkable” is still sinkable. Where do you get your strength and stability?

 

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

 

If I were to write a list and count my blessings, I could easily fill the entire page. I have a wonderful husband and we recently celebrated 15 years of marriage. I have two healthy children who are a continual source of enjoyment and laughter for me. For the many physical provisions such as a home to live in, with nice furniture and a warm bed at night. For more than enough food to eat and full shelves in the kitchen pantry. Even for the dental surgeon who will soon take care of this dental problem which has been plaguing me since Ethiopia. I truly have so much to be thankful for.

Even more than being thankful for family and the privilege of being closer to them right now, there is one more thing that I am so thankful for. But the top thankful item on my list can not be so easily measured. I am so thankful for the continuing love of the Lord Jesus Christ and His mercy that sustains my every day. My anchor is grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love. It can not move. Sure, storms still blow; and this week they are blowing strong. But I have full knowledge and assurance that even in the middle of life’s storm, I am not alone. I have assurance of His continuing love and care. Assurance of a better life to come. Assurance that my filthy sins were forgiven because of Christ’s death on a cross. That is what I am truly thankful for.

 

 

Happy Birthday!

David celebrated his 9th birthday on June 13. He had been counting down for a week, waiting for that day to arrive. This was his 9th birthday, but only his 3rd birthday in the United States. He’s had 3 birthday’s in Ethiopia, 2 in Canada and 1 in Switzerland too.

Swimming at a friends pool.

Swimming at a friends pool.

Lunch time with Daddy at Chick-fil-A.

Lunch time with Daddy at Chick-fil-A.

A birthday surprise! A visit to the warehouse size building filled with trampolines.

A birthday surprise! A visit to the warehouse size building filled with trampolines. (All the green surfaces are trampolines.)

Jonathan celebrated his 11th birthday on August 11. It was quite a special day, being “11” on August “11”. Jonathan was so excited he wanted to start decorating 2 days before. I know he would have balloons every day if he could.

 

Looks who's driving, and loving it!

Looks who’s driving, and loving it!

Not the most attractive cake I've ever made, but the order for lots of ducks and candles, so this fits perfectly.

Not the most attractive cake I’ve ever made, but the order was for lots of ducks and candles, so this fits perfectly.

One Year

It has been one year since we left Ethiopia. Even just saying that out loud, seems strange. One year. August 6, 2013 we left our home in Hawassa for an early morning flight on the 7th. The majority of air travel in Ethiopia seemed to happen at night and our flight was scheduled to depart at 1:15am. The kids were exhausted by 2am when we could finally board the plane. I remember Andrew carrying David on the plane and putting him into the seat, as he had fallen asleep around midnight. David actually woke up the next morning in Istanbul, Turkey with no memory of how he got there; a little disorientating to say the least.

One year. My mind keeps going back to that. The past 12 months have been a whirl wind, guess we are still waiting to “get settled”.

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago when we were packing up our bags to leave for Ethiopia. Making lists upon lists.  Just the other day I found a list from last summer, containing items which we wanted to bring back to Ethiopia when we returned after our furlough – guess we don’t need that list anymore.

So much time is spent in preparing to leave for the field. Truthfully, a person really does need to plan for a move to other side of the world. Knowing that one must pack three years of school books and kids clothes makes it harder. How much do you really expect your children to grow in three years? Then don’t forget about the shoes. The kids will probably wear them out before they can be passed down to the younger sibling, not like a t-shirt or a pair of shorts.

There are books written on preparation, sermons and lectures given on going, but it is harder to find people truthfully talking about returning. It’s not too difficult to have people support you in prayer while you are getting ready to go. Nor is it hard for people to continue to pray for you while you are gone, many will even give financially too. But what about when you come back? It seems that many people just don’t know what to do, including the missionary.

These are the things nobody likes to talk about. Many people say “that’s ok”, but you still don’t feel like it’s all ok. Other well intending people say “it will take time” but its been 12 months already, but maybe they meant 13 months will make it all better. Some people say “That’s the Lord’s Will” – like this statement should give me warm fuzzies all over. Or my personal favourite “It’s ok if you couldn’t handle it”, like that is some sort of comfort or reassurance to me. You just want to shout back – we didn’t want to leave!

It makes me remember all that “wonderful” advice we were given when we were trying to have children. I even had someone actually tell me “maybe you are doing it wrong”… Really?? They never knew how my arms ached and longed to hold a child, then to come so close, only to have it taken back. And now, not understanding what a missionary goes through when they leave the field, especially when it is a sudden departure like we had. I suppose they just spit out advice because they think it’s the “comforting” thing to do.

When a missionary comes back home, for whatever reason, they don’t fit. We don’t feel at home in our “home” culture anymore and we miss the old culture; it’s a terrible struggle between the two. Sometimes people like us even need to decide what is their “home” culture. Is it Canada? Is it Texas? Maybe an odd blend of the two. From Canada, known for peace, to Texas, where some women actually carry hand guns in their purses. Not going to get into the gun debate here at all, but there are two extremes of the scale; and both are supposed to be my culture? Where do I fit into that? That mixed up sense of belonging is not something that can be un-packed as quickly as my suitcase can.

All things considered we are doing quite well. For being willing to give a lifetime of missionary service in Africa, then having it suddenly cancelled, well, that was quite the adjustment. But the God who guided the Israelites through the desert, the God who led Joshua around Jericho, and the God who provided for Ruth in unexpected ways – is still the same God we serve. We will serve Him in Africa or in North America, wherever He want’s us to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowing down

I drove 1250miles (2012KM). It was a long two days. Minus some stormy weather, the gps not working and getting lost twice, it was a rather uneventful trip. No flat tires for either vehicle, no car breakdowns and nothing stolen from the U-Haul. We are so thankful for the Lord’s protection. We saw the remnants of many crashes, as small crosses and wreath’s dotted the roadside. Even a sign in Kentucky marked the spot of a crash in May 1988 that killed 27 people. Take an extra moment to say “Thank you Lord” when you arrive safely at your destination.

We are finally at our new home in Texas. Most of the boxes are unpacked. Things are hanging up on the wall and homeschool has begun, again. It doesn’t seem like home yet, but nothing really does anymore. This is our 4th move in less than 12 months and we are in our third country. So, this just seems like another house, in another town. We still feel a little unsettled not knowing how long we will stay here, so that probably doesn’t help the “home” feeling. But, in reality, it’s only been a few weeks. Give it more time I suppose.

Even though I spent 9 years in Texas, this seems like a strange place to be. We haven’t lived here since 2007, so many things have changed. Sometimes just listening to people is difficult. There are so many strong accents here (and I know everyone says that I have a strange accent too). We went to a restaurant last week and I tried to place my order, but the woman behind the counter was a native Spanish speaker and I had the worst time trying to understand her English. It wasn’t any different than most second language Spanish speakers, but my ears are not accustomed to hearing that particular accent. Not to mention the “Texas drawl” which is so popular.

We’ve been out of Africa for 10 months now, I still notice the little things. Another wise and more seasoned missionary said, it could take 2 years to feel at home again in our “home” culture. I still like the idea of having 24 hour, fully stocked grocery stores nearby. Having my friends speak in English among themselves when we go out together. I pause every time a helicopter fly’s over the house and I instantly think of Hawassa. I notice things like that. Even David wondered why there were so many Ethiopian people in Texas. A little clarification was needed here, as not all black people are from Ethiopia. But he lived in a culture where all black people were Ethiopians and all white people were foreigners. So, I guess things have left their mark on the entire family and now we all notice the change in our own little ways.

I am looking forward to the many summer activities where the boys can do normal kids stuff. Being in a big city offers endless opportunities. Our local church is having a VBS next week. I remember when Jonathan and David went to VBS our first year in Ethiopia, 2010. We were still in attending language school in the capital city. Each morning that week, I put the boys into a taxi cab with the baby sitter (who I could only understand about 50% of the time) and sent them off to the big international church while Andrew and I went a different direction to language school. Man, what was I thinking? David had just turned 5! Oh well, hind sight is always 20/20.

Well things are finally slowing down for us after months of being on the go and moving around. Texas is not really my home; I wasn’t born here, I didn’t grow up here, I don’t have any family here and I can barley understand the language/accent here. But I am thankful to be here. I keep thinking this is only a temporary home anyways, our real home is in heaven!

 

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Jonathan, waiting for the “big one”. Lots of fish that morning, but nothing was biting.

 

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David was excited just to be casting the line. He caught lots of grass, but no fish.

 

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The boys are spending a Saturday morning with Andrew, fishing at a local park. Didn’t catch anything, but lots of fun memories.