Grace

This week has flown by. Tomorrow will mark two weeks of being in the land. In many ways it feels like it should be 2 years. But mostly I still feel like a foreigner. The truth is, there have been a lot of difficulties since we’ve arrived. Sickness, fatigue, jet lag, exhaustion, emotional meltdowns…the whole gamut.

The hardest thing for me has been our boys. My Eli is the sweetest natured little butterball, always smiling and happy unless he has reason not to be and extremely easy going. Since we arrived, he has been so upset, will barely eat anything and extremely clingy with me. Isaiah has a short fuse, he is easily frustrated and easily loses his cool. Don’t get me wrong, they are still a delight and we have had a lot of sweet moments, but so far this has not been an easy transition for them.

Tonight as I was putting them to bed I began to say our nigh nigh prayers and I began to cry, which is not unusual. For some reason when I put the boys to bed my heart is incredibly tender and I almost always cry when I pray for them or read bible stories with them. Anyway, I began to cry and I asked the Lord for grace, as I always do. But tonight it dawned on me, His grace is covering us right this very moment. It is upholding us, surrounding us, enfolding us and keeping us. And then it provoked the question, “What if it wasn’t?”  You see, I often ask Him for grace as if I haven’t touched it yet or felt it yet, but tonight I thought, “What if the grace that has been given to us was removed, right now, or even just slightly withheld for a moment?” I all of a sudden became so incredibly grateful for the grace that was already present in my life. Instead of begging Him for more, I, in that moment, felt like I could actually see the odious amounts of grace that were already oozing all over us. Even now as I’m writing this I just feel so humbled. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I feel so very weak. My humanity is continually failing me and falling short. But to think about what it would be like, what it would feel like if His kindness wasn’t towards me right now, that His smile wasn’t over me, that His tender hand wasn’t upholding me?

99% of my day, I feel nothing. I am unaware of His nearness or His delight in me. I feel numb and I just hope to make it through the day. However, I know that His grace is covering me simply because His Word says it is and He promises that He gives it in our time of need and that it is sufficient in every circumstance of life and every season of the soul. He promised, therefore it is.

But tonight as I prayed, it was as if He opened my eyes and when He did, it wasn’t that He let me feel all those things that I long to feel, He just allowed me to consider and think upon a life where those things didn’t exist, the promise of them, the gift of them being there even when I can’t hear, see, smell or feel them, and the condition I would be in if they didn’t.

So tonight, I don’t want to ask Him for more as if He isn’t already richly lavishing it upon me because if He wasn’t I litteraly wouldn’t be able to stand under the weight of darkness. I would crumble and die and that is not an exaggeration, all of us would! I am so very thankful for His unseen and seemingly unfelt grace that keeps me from so much folly and harm and keeps my way upright and my feet steady. I am so very thankful for the kindness He bestows on me every moment of every day. I am so thankful that He is so incredibly faithful and has never left His post at my heart. He is a good, good God and I love Him.

I will end on one of those sweet moments that I had or have with Isaiah. He loves to read his Jesus Story Book Bible (thanks Joel and Katherine!) and lately when we look through the pictures he asks what everyone’s name is – he’s quite satisfied with all of my answers but every time, and I mean every time, we get to Jesus he says to me “What’s his name?” and I reply with “That’s Jesus” and he says to me “No, that’s God”. And every time he says it, I say “You are absolutely right, Isaiah.” I am so thankful every time I hear those words come out of his mouth. I don’t know where he got it from, I’m sure I’ve told him before that Jesus is God, but never deliberately while reading stories. I don’t know if he knows how profound what he is saying is, especially in the area that we are living in when so many just believe he was another prophet. My prayer is that this will be the message that marks my son’s life. That he will grow up proclaiming the truth that Jesus is God in the flesh and that He is coming again in that same Jewish body that He came in the first time. But He’s not just a man, He is THE God Man.

“He’s not just a teacher, He’s not one of many, He’s the very Son of God…”

P.S. I will try and get some pictures up here soon. I know that’s what most of you are wanting! You just have to put up with my ramblings until then! 🙂

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A Whole New World

“A new fantastic point of view…”

It’s a new way of life here. And the funny thing is, I don’t even know fully how new it really is. So far I have only been “confronted” with the newness of practical things.

Not having a car. Walking everywhere. Buying fruit and veg from the markets. Using google translate to figure out what kind of meat or cheese or ANYTHING that I’m buying at the supermarket. Sweating constantly. Dusty roads. Dirty feet. Washing machines in the kitchen. Kitchens smaller than my parents guest bathroom. Different words for thank you, hello, goodbye. No flushing toiletpaper…etc. The list could go on.

But we haven’t even made it into a local’s home yet. I haven’t even had the opportunity to watch them interact, socialize, work, relax.

We’re taking it slow. We talked tonight about giving the first 2-3 years to 80% language learning and 20% ministry with the idea that once we hit year 2 or 3 we could flip flop the numbers and give 20% to language study and 80% to ministry. So, we’re easing our way into things.

We’ve only been here for 5 days today – which is crazy! It feels more like 5 weeks. I can barely even remember what my parents house smells like or feels like and yet we were there just over a week ago?

By the end of the day, I’m exhausted – the combination of walking everywhere, the heat and constantly having your brain wired to translation – it’ll wear a girl out. Not to mention the fact that I have been sick, along with at least one other person in our family, pretty much since we’ve arrived. But, I’m getting better and so is the rest of our family. And feeling physically tired at the end of the day is nice. It feels like it’s how we ought to feel. Like we’ve put the effort in, not wasted our minutes (though I still can and am sure once I get settled will wrestle just as much as I used to, to be deliberate with my time). It feels good. But I am tired and am going to have to learn to keep up with this new way of life.

Isaiah’s favorite story in his bible right now is “the storm”. The one where Jesus falls asleep on the boat and the disciples sail right into a massive storm that is just mutilating them and their boat and they just can’t take it any longer so they wake Jesus up frantically and ask, “Don’t you care?!”  And then, in a moment, in a word, Jesus silences the waves and the winds and the thunder and the lightening and the chaos stops. I guess what’s striking  me mostly about this story, is that the disciples tried for a while to do it on their own and when they couldn’t they grew frustrated and scared and even offended that Jesus was still sleeping. But all the while, all they really needed to do was remember who was on the boat with them. In Isaiah’s bible it says, “The waves and the winds stopped, the recognized His voice for it was the very same voice that created them.” The One in the boat with them was the One that created and stirred up the elements to make that monumental storm – He was laying in the boat with them. And all was revealed when they finally asked Him for help. It was taken care of in a second.

Moral of the story? I’m hoping and praying that I will remember who is in the boat with me. I don’t think I’m in any kind of storm. But I do think I’m in new and unfamiliar territory and it’s terrain that I need help walking. It’s uncomfortable for me, unfamiliar, and at times frightening. I know that if I forget to ask Him for help, I’ll become consumed with not only fear, but offense at His seemingly apathetic response to the chaos that is surrounding me and overcoming me. I’ll confuse His absolute peace for indifference and laziness and maybe even powerlessness. I would much rather know the One who is laying in the boat with me. The One who sleeps deeply and peacefully and is unmoved by the bigness of the storm…because He is so.much.bigger. He knows more about the storm than I do. But the storm certainly exposes not only what is really inside of me and how much I still need to be sanctified but it also exposes how I see Him. I hope that in the midst of this “storm” I learn to calmly, naturally, and certain of who is INSIDE THE BOAT WITH ME, call upon Him for help.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess…Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14, 16

We Have Arrived

We did it, we packed our lives into 5 bags, shoved them onto a plane, flew on a just over 9 hour flight where we landed smelly, sweaty, and tired into a baking airport filled with people from so many different nations, beautiful people.

My husband, being the hero that he is, took on the task of communicating with our shuttle driver to our hotel. We were traveling with my Mother in-law and our friend, who is more like a sister, Kari. In total we had 10 x 50 lb bags with 8 carry on’s. Our bags were piled high on a cart while we waited to hear when our shuttle would arrive. People were scurrying all around us, speaking languages we couldn’t understand, women dressed with scarves on their heads and some in all black and all that you could see of them were their tiny hands and their hiding eyes peaking through the small sliver in their full garb. It was fascinating and overwhelming all at the same time. All Isaiah wanted to do was drive his “digger” around on the incredibly dirty airport floor where he also would occasionally lay down because it was tile and it was cool and he was very, very tired. Eli was passed out in his stroller, sleeping heavily and catching up on all that he missed on the plane ride over.

When our shuttle finally arrived the men and Mary piled all the bags into the small bus, we boarded our bus and as we drove stared out the windows looking at this big foreign city with wide eyes of little children (some of us in actuality being little children). I was tired and hot and really looking forward to getting into our hotel room.

We arrived at our hotel and they began to unload our bags on to the sidewalk that was right on the edge of a fairly busy one way cobble stone street. People were having to walk around us and all of our bags as they walked along the street and surprisingly none of them seemed to surprised by the pile of luggage sitting on the sidewalk. The manager of the hotel didn’t share their indifference though. He looked at Dalton and said “How many people, 4? I have to ask, how many years are you staying here? So many bags!” Dalton replied with, “We are staying a very long time, we have moved here!” Some of the other young men working at the hotel were pleased to hear that we were moving to their country.

The hotel was this narrow little placed nestled in between lots of shops. It had a spiral staircase that went up steep as if it were a lighthouse. It took probably about 30-40 minutes before our rooms were ready so we just sat there on the street with all of our bags. And then, when our rooms were ready, Dalton and a couple of the guys from the hotel carried each and every one of our 50 lb. bags up the stair case to the 4th floor. It may not seem very high, but I assure you, I was exhausted just carry Eli up those stairs. It was quite a workout.

Our room was very small with 3 beds crammed in and our bags protruding throughout the small space that we had. Some might say it was a tad claustrophobic. But it had air conditioning and a soft bed to laon and that was enough for me.

The location was smack dab in the middle of the city. After Isaiah and I took a nap we all went for a walk through the city and found some dinner. The city was beautiful, cobblestone roads, 800 year old architecture, big beautiful mosques that would be the equivalent of some of the beautiful old churches that you find in France or Italy. But what struck me the most was the people. Everywhere I looked, strikingly beautiful, warm, friendly, welcoming faces. The men LOVE our little ones. Always kissing their hands and pinching their cheeks and trying to pick them up and hold them if the boys would let them. So far, it’s the people that I love most. I haven’t a clue how to have a conversation with them or connect with them in a personal way, but that’s one thing I have patience for (it feels these days like patience is a rare commodity within both me and my children…sigh). It will come in time.

There is so much more that I could write about and will write about. This is just a small picture into our first day of arrival into this foreign land that has become our home. I hope it satisfies the curiosity of some of you who I know want all the details. More to come!