Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pray We Won't Be Moved

We're all just tired today.

I'm up with the sunrise to feed a hungry baby girl for the second or third time since I fell into my light sleep last night around 11pm. I can't remember if it was two or three times that she woke me up, announcing her empty belly.

Now I sit here rocking her bouncy chair with my foot, the only thing that will keep her content for now, guzzling a latte before our biggest little wakes, full force and full of life. And while I prepare mentally for his energy level so early in the day, I say a quick, "Thank you, Jesus", under my breath because just three days ago he lay lethargic and weak, battling a virus that stole the few ounces of fat his active body had, leaving him looking so fragile. Breaks a Mama's heart to see her baby that way.

Just as our boy recovers, though, it's Daddy's turn to take a hit. And we pray for quick healing as he is preparing to leave for the Jungle in just six short days. And I try to carry his load, too, because he needs the rest more than me right now. We pray I don't get the virus before I'm alone with two kids while Richard is away.

And we go through the motions of the day to day.

And we're all tired. We feel it in our heavy eyelids and our tense shoulders. Little man expresses it in whining and discontentment. Baby girl just sleeps away during the day. Peaceful baby dreams.

Seems like each day we get disappointing and sometimes even tragic news. So our physical exhaustion is coupled with mental and emotional exhaustion and sometimes it feels like too much. And we try to count our many blessings and "overflow with thankfulness" (Colossians 2.7) and trust that He is good. But some days it's just hard. Some days we ask why we're here. Some days we wonder if just maybe we misunderstood His calling because this doesn't "look right"....

Today I cling to the verse that we've honed in on as our "life verse" because it's the only thing that makes sense right now.

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20.24

These days we make a conscious decision that these "things", they won't move us. 

The untimely death of friends and babies taken too soon. 
The long delays in visa progress and the discouraging outlook of aviation medicals.
The lack of friends and community to build us up and to pour in to. 
The long nights and early mornings with new baby and sick baby. 
The holidays away from those we've loved the longest.
The distance from where our heart is planted on the other side of this foreign country we now call home and no clue when we will be reunited. 
The frustrations of broken toilets and cars that won't start and ATMs denying cards and hot days with no wind to refresh and broken dishes and all those little things that add up to mountains if we don't keep our perspective in check. 

But we choose. We choose that none of these things will move us and we will not count our lives dear unto ourselves because this IS our calling and we ARE where He has us and it IS worth the hardships and the tired and the loneliness if we can finish our course with joy because the Gospel is worth that. 

And we know that the trials only serve to make us more like Him (James 1.2-3; 1 Peter 1.6-7, 4.12-13).

We ask for your prayers right now, because they're needed.

Pray for strength and rest. 
Pray for wisdom and faith.
Pray for peace and perspective. 

Pray we won't be moved.

Thank you, friends.

Some of the faces that motivate us to push through.

Monday, December 24, 2012

We Are Those People

It's 5:30am on Christmas Eve and I'm wide awake. Not because of the excitement of Christmas less than 24 hours away, but because of a quirky little girl who refuses to fall back asleep unless I'm actively bouncing her rocking chair with my foot. In fact, if it weren't for the calendar telling me today's date, I probably would have forgotten what tomorrow is. It just hasn't felt like Christmas this year.

It occurred to me yesterday, in fact, that we are "those people" this year. The ones everyone says, "Let's remember the people who don't have anyone to spend the holidays with this year."

We have no family here. And the two friends we do have here left today to go on vacation.

And to top it off, it's day five of Elliott being sick. So sick he and Richard spent all day at the hospital on Saturday.

And I started to throw another pity party like I did when Richard and Elliott went to the States without me.

Poor me. Poor us.


And God said, "Really?"

"Yes, really," I said. "We are all alone here. No friends, no family. Elliott's sick. We're all tired from lack of sleep. It doesn't even feel like Christmas.... half of the Christmas lights on our tiny tree went out, for goodness sake!!"



"I thought I was all you wanted for Christmas," He said after a pause long enough to make me realize how ridiculous I am.

Well, yeah. There's that.

The past several Christmases, God has worked in our hearts about the overindulgence that Christmas has become materially. We've done a great job as a society to turn it into a self-centered, retail crazed fiasco rather than a time to remember the God who became Man to rescue a fallen world.

We've forgotten the beautiful, life-giving story behind the season.

This year He's breaking it down even further for me. Not because it's bad to be surrounded by family and friends on Christmas. No, that is in fact good. 

But because He knew my heart needed further refining. 

Because in all my efforts to eradicate the materialism from the holiday, somehow I still didn't get it.

I'm still pouting over the external when God says He wants the purify the internal. My motives, my desires, my goals, my dreams. And He loves me enough to make it hard.

So this Christmas is different. Hard even. We miss family and we long for friends. But our hearts find contentment in the one who is our all in all. The one who became flesh and dwelt among us so that we could live a life of hope and joy, glorifying Him as Creator, Sustainer, All-Sufficient One.

So, yes. We are "those people". The ones Christ died for, redeemed, and now uses every means necessary to make us more like Him. And if it takes a little home-sickness to bring me closer to Him, well, I guess I'll take it. 

"You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith--more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 1.6-7

Merry Christmas, everyone!! I hope this Christmas brings you closer to the One it's all about!

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