Monday, January 15, 2018

here we are

by Alanna

  We've lived in Minnesota for over 5 months now. And while I am tempted to call it this frigid state, I have to remind myself that winters here actually don't last forever. We had a beautiful few weeks in Colorado, living up the deep blue skies and drinking in the sunshine.  Spending time with my family that felt unrushed, unhurried, blessed.  It was the most relaxing couple weeks I have had since my first baby was born over 3 years ago.  I got to see some dear old friends who strengthened my heart.  Leaving Colorado (again) to drive home was very painful for me.  This cold city doesn't feel like home yet. It's unfamiliar, I don't belong.  I am learning people's names at church and helping in the nursery, but I feel far from having deep relationships with anyone. And my kids don't have any aunts, uncles, or cousins here.

  So I have had an ugly attitude.  Chosen to settle for darkness and cold in me.  Because honestly I don't want to be here.  I'd always dreamed my whole life of option A- living in Africa and doing mission work there.  If I can't have A I'll take B- living in Colorado where my family is and things feel more comfortable.  But C?  Living in this little house in this cold place with a growing number of kids and my mother-in-law?  For who knows how long?  I rebeled against this thought this past week.  And God, my patient Creator, lovingly gave me grace to see.  The importance of obedience.  Of submission to His plans.  Of "counting it all joy" wherever He has us.  A dear friend reminded me that if we are afraid of the future it is because we don't trust God's promises, or we ultimately want what we want more than what He wants.  I don't want that to be me.  I want to submit to my Savior.  He knows so much better than I do.  So I am praying for a constantly repentant heart, that rejoices, that chooses to love in the sphere He has put me.  That chooses to submit to His plans and rejoice in His love for me.  I don't ever want to fight against His plans.

  Amy Carmichael wrote these words about Psalm 4:7. They say what I would like to say, just much better.

"What David offered to his God was a heart that was utterly satisfied with His will.  There were no private reservations, no little whispered "if"- if only I can be where I want to be, and have what I want to have, then there will be gladness in my heart, O God; he did not say that- he did not even say, "By thy grace I am glad , I am as glad as I should be if I had those stores of corn and wine." He went further, he flew right out of all the restricting thoughts that might have caged his spirit, up and up into the free air of God , and he said, "Thou hast put a new kind of gladness in my heart.  It does not depend on what I have, it is more than that sort of gladness. It is a joy that is entirely independent of circumstances." 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Changing my prayers

By Mary

After Sofia was born, once we were back in our own house after the hurricane evacuation, I still felt a little overwhelmed. My parents had just left and I was missing them, missing also the help they'd been giving. I was trying to figure out how to make first grade happen for my oldest, when keeping the house clean and the kids alive seemed like a big enough job by itself. On top of that my one year-old was randomly waking up nightly after being a great sleeper for the longest time and I was already waking up with baby girl multiple times a night. It just felt like a lot.

But somewhere along the line I kinda stopped praying for more sleep, more help, less sibling drama.  Instead I began praying for more grace to pour out of me, more wisdom, more kindness, more joy. And I have to admit...when I'm praying this way, God never seems to say no.

New year, new baby, new zip code

By Mary

I guess I can't really say that the baby is new since she was born the beginning of September...but I'm not sure I even ever mentioned my fourth pregnancy, much less her birth or the daily ways she lights up our life. Sofia Nicole (wise, victorious) She's the sweetest thing. Part of me thinks the fourth kid just sort of has to be easy-going, but mostly I think God was just super kind and gracious and thoughtful and decided to cut me a little slack.

2018. Just crazy. I had to write the date for the first time the other day (signing in to urgent care unfortunately-shingles isn't the best thing to get when you're nursing a baby and you're everybody else's jungle gym) We had a whirlwind end to 2017, starting with Sofia's birth really. I checked out of the hospital the day after she was born and started helping my husband put up storm shutters over our windows for the hurricane coming our way. After that I tried to pack as best as possible for our newly grown family of six and evacuated to North Carolina where my husband had to work from the hotel for about a week, keeping accountability for everyone on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. On day two I was about to lose my mind so thankfully my parents changed up the timeline of their visit just a tad and came to save the day by meeting us at the hotel for the first half of their two week visit.

Once things began to settle from that whole adventure and we started getting in the swing of life with a newborn, homeschooling and AWANA starting up again, we had some surprise orders come our way, to about as far away as we could get-Washington state. And it's really amazing, because in that one week between being told about the move being a possibility and when the movers were actually packing up our house, God really worked a lot of things out. A family from our church mentioned needing temporary housing for their family while their new house was being built. And their timeline for moving in allowed for the perfect amount of time for us to move out and get the house cleaned up before they moved in. So we have a house on the market right now, filled with a sweet family till the spring time.

Just the fact that the military actually assigned us a moving company in the short window of time we had before leaving South Carolina was an act of God. And somehow this was by far our best move, all things considered. After some time in Colorado that went much too fast (and missing out on seeing Alanna by less than a month 😭) we hit the road again. This time we brought my mom with us which was the best idea ever. Honestly her presence made the road-trip a hundred times better, smoothed and speeded the unpacking process, and made the whole last month of 2017 a thousand times sweeter. We're all so grateful.

So here we are, at the beginning of a brand new year. I'm not sure what to think of it yet, or what to expect from it. It hasn't been the easiest start in just this one short week we've had. But I know that God is with us and there's no reason to fear. And there's more than enough reason to hope.