I Am Who He Says I Am

Our team had a mini-retreat a few weeks ago. During our time we spoke truth to each other about positive things in each other’s lives. I don’t know about you, but I want to be “humble” and think people are just flattering me. First of all, that would mean I’m calling all of those people liars, and they aren’t. Second, it’s downplaying the work God has done in my life to make me that way. So, from that God prompted me to write a whole list of who I am because of what He’s done in my life.

I am imperfect because of sin and know that even though these things are true of me, some of them are more ingrained in who I am than others. I am a work in progress and God is doing a great work in me.

I am insecure because I look in the wrong places for confidence and dwell too often on rejection. My insecurity is a huge reason why I allowed God to show me what He showed me with this list and why I am transparent in sharing it along with all the good stuff.

I am brave because God made me brave.
I am courageous because God put courage in me.
I am patient because my Father is patient with me.
I have compassion because God has allowed me to hurt and experience loss.
I am kind because I have been shown kindness.
I am generous because God has been generous with me.
I am wise because God gave me a brain and showed me how to use it.
I am gentle because I have seen how short and fragile life can be.
I am obedient because the simple act of obedience shows my Father love and it matters.
I am reverent and humble because, of the little I know of God, I know He is a great and mighty God who deserves reverence and my humility.
I am selfless because Jesus endured the ultimate act of selflessness for me.
I write because God gives me words.
I laugh and smile because God loves to see me smile and hear me laugh and puts things in my path to make me do so.
I speak truth because He is Truth and dishonesty is ugly.
I live in light because He is Light.
I am beautiful because I was “skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth” by The Creator. (Psalm 139:15)
I am a Child of God, Daughter of the King of king and Lord of lords, co-heir with Christ, and certain of my eternal fate.
I am blessed because I have read His Word, followed His ways, and walked faithfully the path He gave me.
And I love because He first loved me.

All praise be to God my Father from whom all blessings flow!

Now-go write your own list!

The Good Good-Bye

A year ago we were deep in the trenches of good-byes.  At this point we were saying our last good-byes to many places and things.  Our last Sunday at our church in Murfreesboro along with our going away party there was a year ago.  Our last time to visit the Nashville Zoo (which we still get frequent requests to visit) was a year ago this week.  And we took our dear friends along for that visit and said good-bye to them in the zoo parking lot. Our good-bye to our nearest and dearest friends and our families all took place almost exactly a year ago. We said good-bye to friends who have walked through many difficult things with our family.  We said good-bye to our parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews.

We said good-bye to the home I lived the most number of years of my life in-the home we brought Samuel and Benjamin to from the hospital. We said good-bye to our vehicles and thankfully had friends buy them who we knew would enjoy them as much as we did.  We said good bye to Toot’s and Marina’s and Maple Street Grill. We said good-bye to Kroger and easier grocery shopping. We said good-bye to a life that we will never live again because we will never be like we were before we moved.

Those last couple weeks before we moved were PAINFUL.  We said good-bye after good-bye and felt like the good-byes would never end.  And they really haven’t. But we have seen is how important it is that with every good-bye we say that it should be a good one. We need to be honest and real about how we feel about the person we’re saying good-bye to.  We need to look forward to the time we’ll see that person again (if we know when that will be happening).  We need to just let good-bye moments to be good-bye moments.

We have found already in this life that we have a lot of good-byes.  Our team travels a lot, so we are always saying good-bye and see you later.  Other expats who live here may only be here for 2 years before they return home or get sent somewhere else.  I met a girl at church in the spring only to find out a couple weeks later that she was moving.  Sometimes it makes it hard to want to invest knowing that the person I’m investing in may leave.

We say good-bye to Toffer regularly. So far God has seen fit to always return him in generally the same condition he left, though I’ll be honest that in my heart of hearts I know that God’s plan may not include him returning one day. So I make sure that last good-bye before he leaves is a good one, a sweet one, and that the last words I say to him are “I love you” (and occasionally “Don’t do anything stupid”)

Even though the good-byes are painful, we also see that GOOD good-byes are necessary to say good hellos. And those good hellos do allow us to make the effort to invest no matter how long we might know someone.  Good good-byes mean we loved and are loved and it’s worthwhile to make relationships. God designed us for relationships.  Some day we will say our last good good-bye to this earth and enter a whole new world without good-byes.  I have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that some day I will never say a good-bye again-only lots of good hellos.

I Am THAT Woman

You’ve seen her. That woman who looks different, sounds different, maybe even smells different. You look at her and think “She’s not from around here.” She probably believes something different than you do and knows little of your language.  You might see her at the grocery store or the doctor’s office. Next time you see her, realize that I am that woman. I am her 10,000 miles away.

I am that woman at the pediatrician’s office with three small children trying to figure out the process and system, trying to sort through records and figure out what shots each kid has had where all while soothing whichever child (or children) is sick at the moment.

I am that woman in the grocery store looking at packages confused about what the contents are and not necessarily having her language on the packaging to figure out.

I am that woman who can’t figure out what you do with half of the produce in front of her or what meat she’s looking at (I so wish I had paid more attention to David Letterman’s “Know Your Cuts of Meat” segment).

I am that woman who always has her children in tow because her family is 10,000 miles away and all of her friends are in the same boat she is.

I am that woman who will go months and years between seeing family and friends, eating familiar foods, and being in a familiar climate.

I am that woman who is well-educated and intelligent who is being judged and thought of as stupid because she doesn’t know the local language and customs (The language thing doesn’t apply to us as much English is widely spoken here, but we do have a lot to learn culturally).

I am that woman still trying to figure out what all these holidays are about and why the ones she’s used to celebrating aren’t anywhere on the calendar.

I am that woman who still sometimes wants to drive on the other side of the road and with different rules because she’s been doing it that way for almost half her life.

I am that woman trying to figure out whether to laugh, cry, or do both when all the stress of cross-cultural living has gotten the better of her.

I am that woman who is anonymous, but very obvious-stared at/gawked at/watched everywhere she goes with some positive interactions and some very negative ones.

I am that woman you fear because she is different. Next time you see that woman, please don’t fear her.  Do me a favor and find a way to love her, be kind to her, show her some mercy and compassion.  If she’s arrived there in the past 18 months I can guarantee she’s worn out, lonely, overwhelmed, and probably feeling scared and isolated.  She may not be able to find familiar foods or even ingredients to make familiar foods. She doesn’t know the process and system for things.  Everything for her is different just like it is for me. Treat her and her family like you would want people to treat me.  God might not be sending you to the other side of the world like our family, but He could have easily sent the world to you right where you are. Don’t miss the opportunity He’s given you to share His love and grace with people who have potentially never heard it.

 

Beauty in the Darkness

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

I think I’ve mentioned before that our boys have verses on their wall. One of the passages is the 23rd Psalm.  A few months back I was reading it to the boys at bed time and God put on my heart that the valley of the shadow of death is not just about physical death, physical evil.  We live right smack dab in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death.  Physically we’re actually quite safe.  If I stay within a 5 km radius of our house I’m actually safer than where we lived in the US and outside that radius the crime is mostly petty theft.  But spiritually it’s a much different story.  Just in our little community of 70 families only one or maybe two are like-minded–the rest worship idols and false gods or simply nothing at all.  Spiritually this is the valley of the shadow of death.  Physical life may abound, but so does spiritual death.  The eternal consequences of people’s choices can weigh heavily upon us.

But God is in the midst of this darkness.  Twice in the last week He’s shown me very specifically how He is here.  I took the boys for a walk.  Sunshine and time to run a little is good for all of us.  We left out little community and headed into the neighborhood it’s nestled in and walked along the street.  First we looked at the flowers on some potted plants.  We talked about the different colors and types of plants. We crossed the street and the boys started picking up everything they found-sticks, leaves, and plenty of weeds. The thing was so much of what we were looking at was beautiful, even the weeds.  The plants had various textures and colors. Tiny flowers had bloomed to show their bright faces.  We even brought some things home to do leaf rubbings.

Two things struck me at that moment: 1) I need to be more childlike in my faith, more trusting of who God is. I need to talk to Him and see the world He created more like my boys do and 2) God is everywhere and will bring beauty in places of darkness.

That was a lovely walk and I came back feeling better about living here than I did before we left.  I had another similar experience this past Monday.  Toffer had the day off for a holiday (with all the belief systems here they happen regularly), so I took advantage of Isaac’s morning nap and went for a nice long walk.  I walked places I hadn’t been before.  Most of it was through old neighborhoods where I would have gotten lost if I had ventured off the street. Doors and windows were open, people cooking, watching tv, knickers and other clothes hanging on the front porch (my knickers get dried in the dryer, thank you very much, I’m too modest to hang them outside).

I eventually managed to find a way to get to the beach (we live on an island and have yet to go to the beach as a family).  The beach was largely empty and beautiful in its own way.  The sound of water hitting a beach is one of the best in the world (behind hearing a growing baby’s heartbeat in utero and having someone sincerely say they love you).  I walked along, just me and God (past a guy I am almost certain is a pirate-all he was missing was the peg leg), having a chance to really experience the place I was.  In that moment I once again saw that God is here, that because He created this world we all live in He has revealed Himself to people who live here whether they choose to see Him and seek Him or not.

He comforted me, reminded me that I need not fear the evil around me even though we live in the valley of the shadow of death.  I see reminders everyday of the evil that surrounds us, but if I really look I can also see reminders of the great and mighty God we love and serve who loves us, and those around us, more than I’m capable of being able to understand.

This Is What Pleases The Lord

I’m not sure I’ve shared my heart in such a raw way in this context previously, so please be kind and gentle with replies.  I think with Mother’s Day approaching this is an appropriate post. This is from my heart and specific to my life.  One of the difficulties of living the life we live is spiritual warfare. I know people who don’t really believe it exists or think it gets overblown. I believe without a doubt that it’s real and that our unseen enemy can rip those who follow Christ to shreds in seemingly the blink of an eye.

We have seen our share of spiritual warfare as we fought to get here and fought to stay here. In all of it I’m a really easy target.  There’s a reason for the saying “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  I’ll go from another angle and say “If Mama’s under attack, everyone is under attack.”  And so I’ve been attacked. I mostly have lies fed to me (not infrequently by other people) that I’m not good enough to be Toffer’s wife or the mother of my children, I’m a poor wife/parent/daughter/friend, and the hit of all hits-I’m a huge disappointment to God and a failure in what He wants me to do.

God apparently decided that this is an unacceptable line of thinking and has graciously been fighting for me day in and day out.  The way He fights? He says to me “This is what pleases Me.”  I heard it the first time a few weeks ago in church as I stood with my husband and three boys-“This is what pleases Me.” I heard it when I rocked and nursed my infant son-“This is what pleases Me.” I heard it as I did dishes (a much lengthier process here than back home)-“This is what pleases Me.”  As I go about my day caring for my family and our home God has repeatedly shown me that this is the life He called me to and this is what pleases Him.

The most important job I have right now is to raise my children.  At a different stage of life I would certainly be off with Toffer on some of his adventures. And let me tell that I wish I could be off with Toffer on some of his adventures. He’s seeing some incredible places in God’s creation I someday hope to see myself. But that’s not what God intended. God put me here at this stage of my life for a reason.  My obedience to go to the ends of the earth with two toddlers and a baby on the way pleases Him.  I am not a failure. I am not a disappointment. I am a good wife and a good mom (though very admittedly imperfect). I love the Lord and desire to follow and please Him with my life.

So this Sunday I get the opportunity to fight for my life, my sanity, for the knowledge that I please the Lord and celebrate three of the greatest gifts God has bestowed upon me. They are very precious gifts that take great and painstaking care to bring up properly, but every day is worth it knowing that they feel loved and knowing that I please the Lord in doing it. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who take great and painstaking care to raise your children to love the Lord, each other, and those around them. It’s the most important job you’ll ever have.

6 Location Chili

Toffer asked a while back if I could make chili some time.  Chili powder is not available here, but I had already asked someone to send some, so I told him as soon as I could get the ingredients together I’d make it.  Well, that was probably close to 2 months ago and I finally made chili a couple days ago.  My mom had brought some magazines with her when my parents came earlier this year and one happened to have a number of chili recipes in it.  I looked them over, realized I couldn’t get all the ingredients for any of them, then made up my own recipe using bits and pieces. So, here’s my 6-location chili named such because the ingredients came from six different places. I very rarely make something that I was able to get all the ingredients in one location.  It’s part of life here, one that’s been a big adjustment.

*1 lb of ground beef (3-150 gm ground beef patties from the frozen food store)
*2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped (from the wet market)
*1 onion, chopped (from the wet market)
*1 tbsp. chili powder (very thoughtfully sent from America by a kind friend)
*1/2-1 tsp cumin (purchased from the gift shop at a local garden)
*1/2-1 tsp. paprika (purchased at the same gift shop)
*2 cans diced tomatoes (from the Wal-Mart type store)
*1 can kidney beans, drained (also from the frozen food store-it has non-frozen goods, too)

Brown the beef until it’s not quite fully cooked, add in the garlic and onion, let that all cook together until the onion gets a little soft. Add the chili powder, cumin, and paprika.  Stir it all together.  Add in the tomatoes and kidney beans, then let it all simmer together for a at least 15 minutes.

Top with cheese (from the 6th location-a mini market that specializes in imported Western goods) and sour cream (which was purchased from the frozen food store).

I served it with cornbread I made from scratch.  We used to very much enjoy the cornbread from the recipe I made. It’s from the America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book and when the ingredients are good it’s very tasty. The cornmeal was NQR, so it was a little off and not nearly as tasty as past attempts.  We’ve learned to not have our hopes up too high when trying a recipe we used to really like with local ingredients. Things just taste different and with the heat and humidity act different, so some stuff just ends up NQR or completely NR. The cornbread itself had ingredients from at least 3 different stores, one of which was not included above. So if you include the cornbread it was actually a meal made with ingredients from seven locations.

I probably could have gotten the tomatoes at the frozen food store or the mini market, so in the future it might just be 5 location chili.  For most of you it will likely be 1 location chili.  Or for some this is too much work and you’ll just buy a can of Chili Magic, a pound of Laura’s Lean, and a can of diced tomatoes with a box of Jiffy for your cornbread. That’s certainly what I used to do on days I had little time and wanted chili and a corn bread type side. Enjoy!

 

Six Months!

My previous post was about how our life is a little NQR.  This one is random facts/figures/tidbits about our life for the past six months with lots of parentheses and dashes because that’s just how I roll.

Facts/Figures
*Number of children added to our family: 1
*Number of cars we own: 1
*Number of car accidents: ZERO-praise the Lord!
*Number of Ikea furniture items in our house: 26 (I think)-and this doesn’t include all of the soft goods we got there
*Number of stories in our house: 3
*Number of stamps we’ve gotten in our passports since leaving the US: Toffer-13, Becky, Samuel, and Benjamin-9 each, Isaac-3
*Number of countries we’ve been in since leaving the US: 4, though only Toffer was in one of them
*Size of the boys’ “bathtub”: 25 L
*Distance Toffer walks to work (when he walks): Not quite a mile, the last stretch of it is up a steep hill. He gets his exercise in when he walks.
*Length of our only family plane trip since arriving: about an hour each way-we’ll leave the lengthy plane trips for when we’re not doing it with a newborn.
*Cost of a gallon of milk: Doing the math of how many liters there are in a gallon and then factoring in the exchange rate, a gallon of milk is about $6.20.
*Number of eggs in a carton: 10
*Number of levels in the closest mall: 9
*Number of stations Toffer has helped with: 2-a new install in Nepal and putting up a new tower/antenna/transmitter (essentially redoing the station) in Thailand. We’re hoping this number goes up quickly.
*Number of partners who participated in training the first 2 weeks of April: 5-2 from Thailand and 3 from Indonesia
*Number of Units in our housing complex: 68
*Typical Temperature: 27 to 30 Celsius every single day of the year
*Length of Daylight hours: around 12 hours (give 30 minutes or so during some stretches) year-round because we’re so close to the equator.  Sunrise is around 7 am and sunset is closer to 7:30 pm right now, though it had been about 7 pm during the “winter”

Random Bits About Our Life
Common Prayers in Our House: “God Help!” and “God-don’t let us do anything too stupid.”  So far He’s faithfully answered both.
Favorite Indian dish (We eat at a couple Indian places quite frequently): Chicken Butter Masala
American eateries we have here: Chili’s, TGI Friday’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Baskin-Robbins, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Subway, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and KFC (though we have yet to eat at the KFC)
Length it took to eat at one: Not even a day-we had McDonald’s the first day we were here. Theoretically for comfort food, but we rarely ate at McDonald’s in the US.
Household conveniences I’d like to have again: large washing machine/dryer and the dryer has multiple settings, a garbage disposal, a dishwasher, hot and cold water out of the taps, drinkable tap water, and central air conditioning.
Things that are QR (See NQR for context): Baskin-Robbins, the smell of Gap, McDonald’s hot fudge sundaes, the boys playing with their trains, rocking & nursing my baby boy
Most Disappointing Treats: Twix-they’re made in the region and don’t taste good at all. And the “ice cream” we got for my birthday that we discovered was actually “iced confection” and realized that all real ice cream is actually expensive.  And the “ice confection” fiasco was before we knew about the Baskin-Robbins, otherwise I would have wanted an ice cream cake made with real ice cream. 🙂
Oddest flavor of potato chips: seaweed
Random canned item: grapes
Favorite places to shop for groceries: wet market and the baking store (2 of many places I go to get my groceries)
Huge Blessings: Our House (we ended up with more space in a gated housing community-which houses usually aren’t behind gates, just condos-for less than other houses we looked at that weren’t gated. With Toffer traveling having our family behind a gate made everyone feel a little better even though we live in a fairly safe city.), Our Car (the big blue wonder-it’s not really a van, it’s not really an SUV, it’s just an NQR multiple person vehicle),Our Church (a lovely community made up primarily of western ex-pats and a Canadian pastor who I gain more respect for every week), Our Financial and Prayer Support Teams, and Our Teammates (I hope I’ve bragged on them enough, but I’ll do it again here-we have an amazing group of people we serve and do life with)
Things we miss the most right now: family, friends, and food

Kids
-Samuel’s newest hobby: sending postcards (if you want to get one, seriously let us know and we’ll put one in the mail-he LOVES doing this)
-Favorite Question Samuel has asked: Do the Hindus have Legos?
-Sweetest Prayer: Benjamin saying “Thank you God for bathtub” when we had a bathtub during a recent trip to Singapore-had no idea how much he missed having one
-Most Surprising Scripture Memorization: Samuel said all of Psalm 23 not too long ago-didn’t know he’d learned the whole thing. And at bedtime a couple days ago Benjamin said most of Psalm 23:1 and a few of the phrases from Romans 8:38 & 39. God is good!!
-Isaac’s weight gain since birth: 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds)
-Number of times Samuel has asked to go home: Too many to count-he asks every single day and that’s okay.
-Animals the boys were most excited to see at the zoos we’ve visited: MEERKATS, kangaroo, elephants, emus, zebras, baboons (they have red bottoms)
-Things they do in creative play: pretend to Skype/text/talk to people on the phone, lots of things travel on planes and have to go through security (including some little trucks one day), make lots of food-pepperoni pizza (we miss good pepperoni-here it’s made from beef and is not the same) and roti are the most common foods

Vocabulary
Highchair: baby chair
Stroller: push chair
Shopping cart/buggy: trolley
Line (like one you stand in): que
Elevator: lift
Crib: baby cot
People ask where we stay instead of where we live.
A buy 1, get 1 free sale (or something similar) is simplified to just buy 1, free 1.
When a store is out of something they say “finish.” For example-Me: Do you have minced beef? Store clerk: Finish
Meat is called minced here, not ground, and has a different texture.
Can/Cannot are common responses instead of yes/no.

NQR

I have been itching to write this post for a month now. I have been eagerly awaiting the point when I could triumphantly say “We have lived here for six months!” Well, today it’s been six months and two days.  I have three napping boys, which means an opportunity to write. I’ve been thinking about what I should write about to honor this momentous occasion and it came to me the other day when I was going to our Wal-Mart type store to buy some bread and bananas: I need to finally write about how we live an NQR life. What, you are wondering, is NQR?

NQR, my friends, is Not Quite Right.  Our teammates introduced us to this concept very early on and it has served us well in describing an abundance of things.  Some things are sort of NQR, some things are just NR (Not Right), some things are really NR, and then there are those few glorious times when something is actually QR (Quite Right).  A silly example of how to use the NQR scale.  The capital city has two donut chains we are familiar with: Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme.  We found Dunkin’ Donuts on our first two trips down, but knew that Krispy Kreme was too far away from where we would be to go.  So, we went to DD.  It was just a general case of NQR.  It was fine. We liked having something familiar, but it wasn’t anything too big to write home about (though I think we still might have).  Then we got to go to Krispy Kreme when we went to get Isaac’s passport in February. And, oh, it was almost QR and tasted SO good.

We’ve been here six months and NQR is the best way I know how to describe us right now.  We’ve figured out how to drive on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car.  Toffer’s local English is much better than mine, but I’m working on it. He’s also better at backing our car in than I am-something that has to happen much more frequently here than it did at home.  Our stove hits me right about at mid-thigh and the counter where our kitchen sink is hits just below my hips. And I’m not a particularly tall person.  The floors in our house are all uneven. I think it’s starting to make us a little uneven.

The beds in the entire region are all hard (seriously-thank God for 6 cm thick memory foam mattress toppers for our bed).  A lot of brands of food that are familiar to us are often made in-region and not imported from the US, so they’re all a little NQR. We buy milk and petrol by liters instead of milk and gasoline by the gallon.  Our kids weight and height are measured in kilograms and centimeters when they go to the doctor.  Everything we see is in at least two languages and often 4 or more.  We have no fewer than five different currencies in our house right now (this makes me feel a bit like a spy) and all of our kids have stamps in their passports for multiple countries.

Our taps only have cold water, so our showers have small, tankless hot water heaters attached to all of them so we have hot water. I have to boil water to be able to wash my dishes in hot water. Samuel and I were doing his Before Five in a Row book the other day (we started preschool at his request a couple weeks ago-fun!) and I asked him what someone would wear in the snow. His response “I don’t know.” Of course he wouldn’t, he’s not seen snow, or even a cold day, in over a year.  The coolest temperature we have experienced (with the exclusion of Toffer during his trip to Nepal) is probably around 75* Fahrenheit.  We don’t even bother checking the weather forecast-it’s always between 28 and 30 Celsius for the high. The only difference is how likely it is to rain and what time of day that rain will come. In the fall it came mostly in the afternoon.  Recently we’ve been getting nice overnight thunderstorms.

We get in ques instead of lines.  I have no fewer than 5 places I go with some regularity to buy groceries and, with the exception of the wet market where I buy a lot of our produce, I don’t know whether they’ll have what I’m looking for.  If we find something that’s imported or stock seems to be spotty we buy several because we don’t know how long it will be before they have it again. Wish I had done that with Bisquick.

Then there’s the list of all the things we can’t get here (like lined paper that lower-elementary kids use) or are so expensive we can’t afford them or can only get them on very special occasions (like sharp orange cheddar cheese).  Or how we had to adjust to lots of new smells (except the couple times I’ve gone in the Gap store-it smells the same) and new architecture (everything is made out of concrete, including our house) and new food (Indian has become a favorite in our house).  We’re still adjusting and learning and growing.  Some day life here will feel less NQR and more QR.  Everyday is an adventure and new things happen (like having more cockroaches in our house last night to get rid of than we’ve had in our house total since we moved in five months ago).

God has been incredibly good and faithful to us as we’ve walked/stumbled/had to be carried through this adjustment time.   He has sustained us, loved us, given us silly things that shouldn’t even matter (like the Easter things we found in Singapore so the boys could have a little egg hunt), and given us guidance and wisdom every single day.  Our last six months have by no means been easy, but they have been full of growth and I can honestly say that I look forward to what the next six months brings for our family here.

 

This is Where I’ve Always Wanted to Live

I’ll be quite honest that post-partum hormones hit me like a load of bricks this time around.  I had a much harder time than I did with Samuel and Benjamin.  Apparently being in a drastically different environment without family and only having a few friends around along with being older can do that.  So, I sought out anything that seemed to help me feel better. About two weeks in I figured out taking walks seemed to help a little, so any time I started feeling really off I told Toffer I needed to go out for a few minutes and out I went.

I spent most of that time praying-usually asking God to bring back my clear and sound mind and more regulated body, but also for this place.  We live in a community with about 70 units in it, but the community is within a neighborhood. So, I’ll walk around our small community  and then out into the neighborhood.  As I was walking in the neighborhood I turned onto a road and out in front of me were palm trees, red-tile roof houses, and a hill beyond the neighborhood.  I had this thought at the moment “This is where I’ve always wanted to live.” God clearly put that thought in my head because at that point in time all I wanted was to go home.

I was walking again a week or so later and had a similar experience. There’s a condo building right next to our community.  In fact, the only things that actually have addresses on our street are that condo building and our community. The rest of the houses that are along the street are either the backs or sides that face other streets in the neighborhood. So, anyway, I’m walking along in our community and come to the dead end and look up at the condo building. I see a woman on her balcony on the 4th or 5th floor talking up to someone on the balcony of the floor above her. As I watched the interaction I had the same thought again-“This is where I’ve always wanted to live.”

I began to process what that meant.  I’ll honestly say if someone gave me a world map and say “Pick a place to live” our location would not be the one I’d choose. If I were choosing, I’d head right back to Murfreesboro.  We really liked living there and hope that at whatever point God puts us back in the US full time that we will live there again.  But I’m not in the business of getting to choose where I live. I’m in the business of letting God choose where I live. And this is where He put us.

I’ve wanted to be in our line of work for many years now.  The past few years in particular have been spent working towards living this life and following God where He was leading us.  And that is why this is where I’ve always wanted to live. I’ve always wanted to live where God called.  For a number of years now I’ve specifically wanted to live in Asia.  And for the six months before we moved I wanted to live in this particular location because it’s where God put our team to spend time in between traveling. Having that thought come into my head not once, but twice, was just another confirmation that we are where we should be.  For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, this is where we live. I may not love right now. It’s not my favorite place in the world, but it’s where I’ve always wanted to live because it’s where God has for me to live and that is what I want most of all.

Tadpole has Arrived!!!

After months of speculation about whether Tadpole is a boy or girl we got our answer about a week and a half ago. Tadpole is a boy!!  Isaac Timothy made his grand entrance into the world a mere 2 hours after we got to the hospital.  We feel so blessed to have another healthy, beautiful baby boy.  Samuel and Benjamin are quite smitten with him and have been great about sharing Mama.

We feel like naming our children comes with some amount of responsibility.  We came up with some guidelines as we’ve named each of our children-they have Old Testament first names, New Testament middle names, gender specific, most traditional spelling, solid names that have meaning, etc.  We continued those traditions this time around as well and feel like Isaac’s name is quite appropriate for this point in our lives.  We went round and round about names back in December trying to figure out what Tadpole’s name would be if he was a boy.  We’ve had a girl’s name picked out for years, so we did the routine “You still like the name?” and that was the end of that discussion.

We liked Isaac, but talked about others.  The original middle name was not Timothy.  In December God prompted me to read through I & II Timothy all in one stretch.  The more I read the more appropriate Timothy seemed to be for a middle name-he was serving God full time like we are, he had a great legacy of faith in his family like our boys do.  Isaac Timothy had a nice sound to it, so we put that at the top of the list, but still kept a few others in case it didn’t suit him at birth.  Obviously we decided it did.  The day after Isaac was born I read through some of the biblical account of Isaac. In reading it God reminded me that Abraham and Sarah were not in their homeland either when their Isaac was born.  So, a fitting name for a boy born to a family living outside their homeland serving God full time, just like Isaac and Timothy.