*ahem* Anyone still out there?

Yes, I know.  The last time I posted about our family on this blog was about 3.5 months ago.  There have been numerous times when I’ve thought about sitting down to write, but it just hasn’t happened.  It’s not like I haven’t had a moment, but honestly it’s felt like it would take more energy than what I wanted to give each time I thought of it.  Newborns are great and all, but they sort of zap your energy. 🙂

I have no specific plan for this post (scary thought, I know), so I guess I will begin with this.  Justin got me a Kindle this past Mother’s Day.  Because I’m just so sweet and sensitive, I gave him a bit of a hard time about it (wink, wink).  See…we’re not really big gift givers on days like Mother’s Day.  In fact, if I’m completely honest, we sometimes do a horrible job (both of us) of planning ahead for things like Christmas.  I know.  That’s horrible.  Not every Christmas…or every birthday…or every *insert big deal day of your choice* do we drop the ball, but there have been years that have come and gone when we’ve just given a card or maybe gone out on a date (which is obviously better than nothing!) for some of those bigger special occasions.  When it comes right down to it, neither of us is overly bothered by this, but I do think both of us would like to be a bit more consistent with our gift giving for those special days.  Just so I won’t totally embarrass myself, I feel the need to say that we DO give each other gifts…don’t get me wrong.  AND…I think we’re both actually pretty good gift givers (if I do say so myself).  If I think about it some more, I feel like living here in Peru has sort of taken us down this road.  Half the time, the gift that we both might want isn’t even available here.  The other half of the time, the gift we might want/want to give costs literally double the price due to it being an imported item or something like that.  So there…it’s not ALL our fault. (haha).  ANYWHOOOO…(just so you all know, none of that has anything to do with what I was intending to write).  Needless to say, I sort of made fun of Justin for getting me a Kindle (which I considered a big deal) for Mother’s Day when we had sort of not even given each other much last Christmas.  There.  I said it.

Don’t worry folks.  I’ve repented for the fact that I kind of thought a Kindle was a bad gift.  That Kindle (you know, the one I didn’t even think I needed) has become my best friend.  OH.MY.WORD.  So…EASY!  I have probably read like 6 or 7 books since this past Mother’s Day, which is equal to the amount of books I’ve probably read in the whole time I’ve been a mother.  That would be 5+ years.  I LOVE my Kindle!

My point: I have recently been reading a short book called “Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess” by Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker.  Yes, friends, I have certainly found myself in moments/days/weeks of weariness.  Even before Carter was ever born.  Parenting is just a challenge, right?!  It is fun and rewarding, but to be honest, it’s also plain old tiring.  To top it off, I’m not perfect at, and sometimes I find myself REALLY messing things up.  And that’s hard to swallow in those times when I reflect on how a day has gone or how any one given moment of our day unfolded and it’s obvious that it didn’t play out well.  I am just so thankful that I know and have the support of a loving God.  I would be a complete mess with no hope if God wasn’t on my side.  Seriously, people.

In this book, one of the things one of the authors writes about is her experience with the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”.  It touched me, because one of my favorite songs is “Lord I Need You” by Chris Tomlin.  You can listen to it here if you’ve never heard it before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESWGYf–tMw.  Obviously it’s a bit different than the hymn, but the idea is much the same.  In the book it mentions the history of this hymn and that it was written by a housewife, Annie Hawks, in 1872.  I looked it up some more, and I came across something that Annie Hawks wrote about the song:

“For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was

wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow,
with which it has often been associated.At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later,
however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the
words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.”
Like Annie Hawks, I deeply desire to have this mindset about Christ in my life – even every hour of my life.  I don’t just want to be singing this song because I’m weary.  I want to be acknowledging my need for Him even when my cup is overflowing!  Another verse the authors point out is 2 Chronicles 16:9a, NASB:
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
Sign.Me.Up!
I guess what I’m trying to say is just that I deeply desire the support from the Lord that 2 Chronicles talks about, but it is painfully obvious to me that if I’m not living to the tune of the song “I Need Thee Every Hour”, my heart cannot be completely His.  I’ve tried.  It’s impossible, and the mess isn’t just mine.  It affects my entire family.
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On a completely new note.  I am LOVING having a newborn in the house!  Carter is just literally precious, and he couldn’t be a better baby except for when we’re in the car (haha).  He pretty much doesn’t like his carseat unless he’s sleeping, and those days when he sleeps all the time are fading fast!  Here’s the little cutie at just about 4 months old (in his 9m old outfit…what?!)
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Here are a few things we’ve had happen since Carter’s birth (about the last time I posted)…
Both Cailyn and Corban fell on the same day a couple of months ago and both had to get stitches.  Cailyn fell from a hammock at a friend’s house and once Justin was back from the ER with her, Corban fell that late afternoon when Justin took him to ride his scooter outside.  It was a great day.
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We had a little Halloween shindig with our teammates, and I thought you all might get a kick out of a couple of pictures we got.
Our crazy crew…
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One of the first houses we went by for candy had this sign.  It basically says, “Don’t bother us.  Electric fence.”  Geez.
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For the last few years we’ve really gotten a kick out of how careful the people here are when they hand out candy.  Many people just crack their doors, hand candy out of the corner of their window, or put up signs like the one above.  It really is fairly funny, although we probably shouldn’t laugh too hard seeing as last year there really was an incident in front of our home that involved a guy with a gun on Halloween night.  Still, this next picture just makes me laugh.  The kids were too short to reach this tiny window (and what is this hole for normally anyway?!), and the lady inside just stuck her hand out and dropped candy on to them.  We adults were literally laughing our heads off.  It’s things like this that make great memories, right?
IMG_0398When it was all said and done, we probably found about 5 houses in numerous blocks walked that were even handing out candy, and we all agreed that it’s a good thing our kids have no clue what snickers, skittles, butterfingers, laffy taffy, etc. are, or they would be SORELY disappointed in Halloween here. 🙂  It’s things like this that make you aware again that much of what you feel your kids are “missing out on” occasionally by living in another country is really only about what you were used to as a child as opposed to them actually knowing they have “missed out” on anything.  For all of these kids, their reality is Peru, and that includes all of the 80 different types of hard candy that get passed out at Halloween or put in party goodie bags.  They’re probably healthier for it anyway, right?
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We had a great Thanksgiving with our team and some new friends as well.  I have no pictures of that day.  Our camera has sort of gone nuts on us, and I’ve not been great at taking pictures – something I hope to change soon!  We had a ton of food, and we enjoyed spending nearly our entire day together being thankful for a lot!
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Another sweet photo of the tiny one in the house…
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This next picture cracks me up, because despite the attempts Corban makes to be really sweet, Carter is learning already that he needs to be on the watch for his busy, energetic big brother!  He’s showing his uncertainty well in this picture. 🙂
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I had some good helpers at Thanksgiving to make all of our food…
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You can find pumpkins here, but they are not really common.  We chose to just paint ours this year since we don’t really have a great space to carve them now in our apartment.  The kids thought this was super fun, and it was certainly less messy!
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My other helper who was really more of a mess-maker.  But he’s cute, so I let it slide this year …
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We put up our Christmas decorations a couple of days after Thanksgiving, and with that comes all of our Christmas books!  My parents had Christmas books under our tree each year when I was growing up, so it’s fun to keep that tradition with our kids.  
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We stopped our decorating for a bit and dressed the kids up to get a quick festive photo…of course Carter smiled in between each flash.  I was a bit sad we didn’t grab one with his cute little grin, but I was happy with this one just the same…
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We took our first beach trip of the “summer” a couple of weeks ago, and we actually just went again today.  It’s beginning (NOT to look a lot like Christmas around these parts) to get really hot, and we wanted to get the kids to the beach at least once before we leave (THIS TUESDAY!!) for our furlough in the States.  They have been asking about the beach pretty much since last summer, and we’ll unfortunately be gone for most of beach season here while in the States.  It’s a little bittersweet.  Anyway, Carter really loved it, as you can tell. 🙂
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Actually, it was a bit windy and slightly chilly that day unfortunately, so Carter  didn’t like the wind.  The kids had a blast despite it not being super sunny.  We were glad to get a day in at the beach nonetheless.
Carter is really into Praise Baby DVDs, which is huge for me since Cailyn officially started Kindergarten with me in our homeschooling venture back in October.  He enjoys sitting at the table with us, but  after a while there’s just so much I can do with him in my lap.  Anyway, he’s an angel baby, really, and he is very content to sit and watch/listen to the great praise songs they have on those DVDs.  It saves me on some days!
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Cailyn has done really well with homeschooling so far.  I know the year technically starts in August or so, but I was 10 days from having a baby when August hit.  So, I preplanned several weeks of lessons and activities that coincided with a K4 curriculum that I am sort of loosely using with Cailyn, and I made a goal of starting October 1st with her K year.  She actually just finished her PreK year at the school we had her enrolled in this year on Friday the 14th, and it could not have been a better experience.  There is a small part of my heart that is sad that she will no longer have the opportunity to be in a Spanish speaking environment in that capacity, but Justin and I agreed the other night that we do not regret in any way our decision to homeschool the kids. So, there is also an excitement that comes with knowing that from here on out, or at least until God changes our schooling path, we have adventures waiting for us with her (and the boys as well) as a homeschooling family.  Here is a picture of her with her 3 teachers on the last day along with the kids that had made it to school by the time we dropped her off.  Somehow when I said, “Una foto Cailyn!”, the other kids thought that meant all of them, too. 🙂
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Santa came to the class Christmas party Cailyn’s class had.  I thought these pictures were hilarious.  The party was at a club near the beach, and the reflection of the sun off the ocean was SO BRIGHT!  So, Cailyn naturally needed her sunglasses.  Makes you really feel like Christmas.  Justin and I decided Santa was probably going to lose a few lbs. by the time the evening was over since it was so hot in his suit!
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Little brothers and sisters got presents, too (you know, if mom and dad brought them something), so Corban got his picture as well.  He wasn’t too sure about wanting to get too close. 🙂
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Corban has his last day of classes at his Nido (preschool) on Monday, and we let him ride his scooter a few blocks to school as a “last week of school” treat.  Since we moved, it’s hard to do things like this (being so far now and all), and one of his classmates gets to ride his scooter every day.  After Corban asking and begging to do this for days, we thought we had a great opportunity to make a treat out of it as well as learn a little bit about not being jealous of our friends who “ALLLLLways get to ride their scooter to school EEEEEvery day!” (according to Corbs).
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Today we had a super time at the beach one last time before we head out.  Our teammates, Lee and Stephanie Fletcher, have a 7 year old daughter, Sofia, who has taken up surfing this year, and she is great at it!  She goes each Saturday for her lesson, and today many of our team joined her in the water.  Of course, we’re big enough in numbers that it also meant that many were on the shore enjoying watching them and playing in the sand!  Below is a picture of Derek Yoakum (4 years old – the blonde duh, right?) and Corban (3) playing together.  It is honestly one of the biggest blessings to see our kids growing together and developing relationships with one another as they get older.  Derek and Corban are becoming close, and I think it mostly has to do with the fact that they can both hold their own in a wrestling match as well as enjoy being a bit more rough and tumble than some of the others do.  They make a good pair. 🙂  This little pool of ocean water on the rocks was their paradise for a while this morning.  It is certainly fun to live just 15 min. from this!
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The Fletcher family is contagiously fun, and Cailyn’s Tío Lee  (“uncle”) was awesome enough to take her out into the water on his surf board.  Cailyn has been saying she wants to learn how to surf, but this child typically is way not into the ocean water.  She is fine building sand castles BEHIND where we set up our chairs (hah!).  But, at the end of last summer and as this summer is approaching, she has shown some more nerve when it comes to getting wet!  Today it BLEW.MY.MIND that she let Lee take her out.  I saw him motion to her, and she jumped all over the opportunity to go.  It is fun to see your kids grow out of fears and learn and experience new things.  It was yet again a moment when I praised God for having other family-like adults in her life that will take moments to have fun with her and teach her something new.  Here’s a picture Justin got…a little hard to see, but she’s out there!  Looks like Parker D., her sweet friend, is either cheering her on or yelling that she wants to join them!  Parker’s another influence in Cailyn’s life when it comes to breaking out of her shy or timid shell. 🙂
Well, I think I about covered the main events since about the time Carter was born (haha).  I know I’ve already said it, but we couldn’t be any more excited to be seeing family in a few days as well as getting to meet many of the new friends and supporters we have at the Littleton Church of Christ in Colorado who have begun to support our family just this year!  Leaving your home for a couple of months can be a little crazy, and there’s a part of me that fears I might come back to a few things having molded while I’m gone (haha…i’m not kidding), but there’s just something about our life as missionaries that allows for so much reflection and renewal when you leave and then come back again.  Leaving for 2 months and returning kind of gives you an opportunity to regroup, reprioritize, start new, make new goals, etc.  It is a fresh start in some ways, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I need that sometimes!  So, the next time I post something, I plan for it to be accompanied by some pictures of us with friends and family in Texas!!  Thanks again to all of you who keep up with us here on the blog!

September 6th

I don’t write much on our blog. Alison does such a great job with her posts that I don’t always feel the pull to post. But every once in awhile, there are things that I like to share.

About a month ago, I found myself writing the piece that I’m sharing below. Every week I have time carved out for preparing Bible lessons, teaching assignments or sermons. It’s a normal part of my routine. However, this week (the week I wrote the piece below), God took me elsewhere. You see, I’ve been positively overwhelmed by God’s provisions since this date last year. I was telling Alison the other night that September 6th is probably always going to be a significant day for me. Not for negative reasons however. There might always be some painful memories from the events of last year, but the story is not about the negative. It’s about God’s triumph. I see September 6, 2010 as a day that Alison and I began an incredible part of our story. I see it as a day that I began moving to a greater level of trusting God, trusting in His ever-faithfulness.

Now that September 6th is here, I wanted to share with you what I wrote. I hope that you enjoy it. I hope you’re blessed because of it. I hope we can all grow deeper in our faith, and together as God’s people, we might learn to fully trust in Him.

 

FAITH

It had been a year since it all happened. I remember seeing my child in a battle. He was scared, confused, worried. Most of all he was unsure. Unsure of the future. Unsure of my provisions. Unsure of my faithfulness. Unsure if I’d really work in the way that he trusted me to work. What he didn’t know, or at least fully realize, was that his life was mine, and I had a plan far beyond his comprehension.

I remember that his actions weren’t perfect. He was and still is completely human. Imperfect. Full of fault. Unworthy. At least, he was these things without me. Even with me, he isn’t perfect. Or righteous. Or holy. But I remember that he never tried to be perfect. He only tried to be faithful. I remember the hours that he spent in brokenness, speaking my name, asking for provision, begging for me to overwhelm him.

All the while, thousands of miles away I had been doing something that I started many years before. Years before I formed him in his mother’s womb, I was transforming hearts to respond as my firstborn Son would respond, with compassion and boldness. I was teaching my people how they should respond as the church. As my church. In this moment, I overwhelmed my child. Men moved because I formed their hearts to give compassion. I provided through mercy. And grace. And goodness. My child didn’t directly ask for this help, but he did ask to be overwhelmed. He asked to be filled. He asked to be moved. And in this vulnerable moment, I captivated him. I provided. I gave. I loved.

Then I watched. I watched as my child shed tears of joy. Tears of gratitude flowing because of being overwhelmed by love. To him these tears were incomprehensible, but to me it’s what my love does to people when humility wins the day. I fill their hearts with love. With hope. With peace. Then I bought my child through the next part of his journey. I allowed him to walk again. I permitted him to see the world through different eyes, ones still tainted by the pain of battle scars, but ones at very least ready to accept my sovereignty. Ready to accept my ever-faithfulness.

In the weeks and months that followed, my child worked hard. He labored. He toiled. He fretted. He worried. He cried. But he also hoped. He loved. He rejoiced.

I am teaching him that this story is not his. It’s my story. There is no story without me. It’s not about his pain. It’s not about the scars. Or the fears. I’m teaching him that the focal point of this story is me. He’s still learning. He tries to stand on his own at times. He’s still learning that the only reason he can stand is because I will it. His faith is growing. It’s more profound than it was when he first began this section of my story. I still have a long way to go with him, but I am proud of my child. Though I’m afraid he doesn’t always know it. I love him. He is mine.

Oh, and I’m still providing. And I have no intentions of stopping because, quite frankly, it is mine to provide. It’s mine to love, to give, to change, to transform. It’s my story. And my people will know my faithfulness because it is never-ending.

Is July almost over?!

How can it be?  This year is flying by.  I feel like Justin and I were just on a date at TGIFridays talking about our goals for this month (which actually happened at the beginning of the month), and here we are…at the end nearly.  So, here are some highlights from our life this month…

  • If you didn’t read my last post, feel free to look back on it by clicking here.  While we’re still seeking answers to many of the things I wrote about, God has since blessed us in some specific financial ways for this next year, and we’ve had some hopeful conversations (or at least heard of some that went on) about our possible future partnership with a new supporting church.  Thanks to God for those small glimpses at how our next year will unfold!
  • I continue to be amazed at my mom’s reading suggestions!  I am LOVING the book One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp!  You MUST read it.  Basically it is teaching me that I’ve got to get a hold of myself when it comes to thanking God for every.little.thing in my life.  I have so much.

Things I’m thankful for…

  1. My kids playing together SWEETLY this evening outside in the dirt
  2. The hours that my husband plays with the kids in order to give me some moments alone
  3. The awesome salsa that our team’s intern, Brad, (who’s living with us) made tonight!
  4. Cailyn’s growing ability to think through what the consequences might be unless she obeys
  5. Corban’s new found desire to sit, rock, and read books with me (ahh! sweetness!)

My mom wrote a great blog post about her thoughts on the book, and I agree with everything she said.  It’s a great view into what the book is about.  Check it out!

  • We got a new desk…well, we bought it from our teammates.  I love it!  It’s {nearly} the last thing I wanted in order to sort of complete our Activity Room in our house.  This room is where my kids create, imagine, read, laugh, work, learn, and just have fun!  And…I do, too!  Now I have somewhere for our printer to go and a good spot for the computer and my cell phone that is up and out of the reach of our sneaky little Corban!
  • Peru’s Independence Day is coming up this week…July 28th.  It’s also the day the new president will be sworn in (if that’s even the right terminology…i know…you really don’t want to know how ignorant i am when it comes to politics…well…many things, really).  Cailyn’s school has been focusing a lot of their energies on teaching the kids about Peru, what it means to be Peruvian, etc.  They had a program recently that each class had a performance in.  A few days before the day of the performance, Cailyn’s teacher came to me and asked me to sort of encourage her at home to participate in the song and dance act that she and some of her classmates were in.  I was not surprised AT ALL that the teacher wanted help with that, because C is anything but a performer.  She even sometimes gets embarrassed when I ask her to sing or dance for ME!  So, I did the encouraging, and the day of the performance, Justin, Corban, and I showed up for what I thought would be her standing there on stage…not participating – EVEN THOUGH she had told me that morning that she would, in fact, “raticipate”.  “MMHMM…We’ll see”, I thought.  SO, you can imagine my surprise when she came out on stage for her dance, and we saw this…

Yes, that is her waving very excitedly that we have come to see her.  I did almost cry when she did this (and I might also have a knot in my throat now).  I cannot tell you how much it makes me proud that she is not only overcoming her inability to communicate in this culture (because she is speaking more and more spanish each day!!), but she is also embracing new things.  I love that she went from unsure to decidedly going to participate.  And…she apparently did it with JOY!  Here is proof that she did the actual dance, AND…I need to say that these are pictures from one of her sweet little friend’s mother.  All we had was Justin’s cell phone…terrible, I know!

  • The kids and I are pretty much always “doing stickers”.  When I say, “Do y’all wanna do stickers?!”, that means…I get out my great bin of stickers and they spend 30-45 minutes putting stickers on a piece of paper.  If you are a mom of young kids, and you don’t do this but need a good idea for a fun and fairly chill activity…try this!  My kids LOVE it!  I am always collecting stickers, and my dad has also gotten the sticker bug, because he has bought loads of stickers for the kids as well!  I have gotten so many that I just keep them all in a bin.  When we “do stickers”, I just sit next to the kids, go through our bin, and cut strips of stickers for them.  I never let them go through the bin alone, and I also never let them use a whole sheet of one type unless it’s a special sheet that I have just for that day.  So, I might give each of them 3-4 stickers each off of one sheet, and then they go to sticking!  Seriously, it’s great fun!

the sticker bin and my only supply…scissors

  • We have also continued with some of our letter learning from the ideas I’ve gotten from this awesome blog…No Time For Flashcards.  Even though I had to pay 13 soles (like nearly $5) for this small pack of Jelly Belly Jellybeans, I did it, because I thought the “J” activity was too cute and way fun!  The kids were super pumped about gluing eating the jelly beans, too!

Corban already not following the “glue them all, THEN you can eat the rest” rule…

His reaction to me reminding him of the rule…and enforcing it…

Finally choosing to do it mom’s way…

Oh, so happy when eating time came!

  • We’ve also made binoculars, because there are just so many cool things to see “up close” from the upstairs window into our backyard. 🙂

  • Justin & I surprised Cailyn with a mommy & Cailyn night out to see Disney on Ice that came here to Lima early on this month.  She was beyond thrilled, and it was really tons of fun for both of us.  Besides the fact that it was Disney Princesses and Heroes, it wasn’t cheesy at all…I mean, this show was the real deal!  Cailyn was beside herself with excitement!  It was definitely a fun experience.

  • Cailyn also recently had her first Ballet Performance.  She takes a ballet class through her school each Wednesday afternoon, and the girls in it all performed for the parents after school one day.  Nothing big and fancy, but super cute…and, once again…she made us proud!  She was not only right on with each move, but she even gave the teacher cues for the next moves in one part.  I was enjoying the performance, and the next thing I knew, my child was the voice of the “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro” in order to lead the girls into the next position (which was clearly not her appointed role in the performance).  Who knew she could get so into it?!

I think that about covers our month.  BUT…I do have one last prayer request.  I know Hannah (my sister), might cringe when she reads this because of her tendency to be a bit less verbal about things like this, but I honestly want those of you who care about what’s on my heart to know that this is a big prayer for me this week and these next few weeks.  Hannah will be having surgery this Wednesday, July 27th.  She described it as minor in a blog post that she wrote recently, but it is not just a day surgery or anything.  It is full blown surgery.  While I won’t give more details than might make her comfortable, I do ask that you all be praying that she is protected and that God puts his angels around her body and her Surgeon during the surgery on Wednesday.  It will take about 2 hours, and she should have about a 2 week recovery after that.  My mom is going to Washington DC, where Han and Jason live, this Tuesday, so I pray that she gets there safely and that her flight is not delayed in any way seeing as they want her there for the surgery on Wednesday.  Praises to God for the flexibility that our mom has always had and made for Hannah and I in our lives.  I know Han and Jason will benefit greatly from her care!  Love you, Hannah!  Thank you all for your prayers!!

Here We Go Again

Well, I’ve thought and thought about what this message will say, and I’m still at a loss in some ways.  So, I figure I will begin writing and do my best not to sound incredibly jumbled up.

Back in December or so, when we were still on our 4 month fundraising stay in Texas (I call it that, but it wasn’t by any means planned out that way), Justin and I sort of told ourselves that we were going to sit back and see where God led us in terms of financial support for at least a few months.  You see, Justin had worked his TAIL off  since September 2010 trying to connect with churches in order to secure our family new long-term support for 2011 and the future after that, but that was not what God had in mind for us.  By the end of January, many of you (plus tons of people who don’t read this blog) had stepped up and allowed God to use you in His plan to send us back to Peru for the year 2011.  Right now, we first owe thanks to God for providing us this year in Peru, and secondly, we must say again…thank YOU for believing in us, our ministry, and our calling to Peru.  Because of God’s plan for us and our friends and family’s financial sacrifices, we have gotten to spend now another 6 months here in Peru, our home in this season of our lives.

Well, July is now in full swing, and Justin and I have had to face the facts yet again.  We still do not have a supporting church (or a few even) in order to help us stay here in Lima, Perú past December of this year.

So, as scary as it can seem in some moments, as frustrating as it has been in others, and as trust-building as we must allow it to be, we have begun to get back up on the horse and search out new financial support once again.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we’ve not been sitting around doing nothing since January when we came back.  We have been blessed to have had several uplifting conversations with one church that is still in the process of seeking out God’s plan for their involvement in foreign missions, and at this point in time, this church (which I won’t name for the time being) is our only true possibility for 2012 and beyond.  EVEN if they do decide they would like to support our family and ministry here, we are unsure if they are able to provide all that we need financially in order to live here as we do now.  So, while we know God can do great things, we are also trying to be realistic about our family’s future.

At this point in time, we must not just think about funds for the ministry here in Peru, but we must also remember that our family has no foreseeable income past this coming December outside of about a dozen wonderful families and individuals that give to us on a monthly basis (approximately 15% of what we need).

Just this morning I began the 2nd half (which is technically the first few weeks since I did it out of order) of my “Discerning the Voice of God” study by Priscilla Shirer, and I was so encouraged by what she had to say.  I could work through this study over and over, I’m convinced.  Here are a few great things I read today:

  • “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me.” Habakkuk 2:1
  • “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
  • Priscilla Shirer ~ “Approach the Father with an expectancy that He will speak.”
  • Priscilla Shirer ~ “This is where clear communication with God begins: with a believer approaching her relationship to God and His Word with anticipation, expecting Him to speak.”

So my prayer I wrote at the end of the today’s study was:

“God, I come to you and say we are only successful because of you.  You are the only way we will survive.  Show us what to do!”

This really is our prayer.  Justin and I together.  We have no choice but to believe that God has a plan, and despite difficult feelings that tempt me to be frustrated and hurt all over again, I am reminded (by my mom, also!) that this will get us nowhere.  God is in control.  He has already shown us that times 100!  How can we give up now?

So, that leads me to the whole idea of what giving up looks like.  There was a time when giving up in my mind meant saying, “Ok, I guess we’ll just move back to Texas.”  Honestly, even when some people assumed this is what we would have to do, Justin and I felt confident enough to laugh a little at that assumption.  Not pridefully so.  At least, that’s not how we felt about it then.  It’s just that we felt certain and confident that God had more for us to do in Peru.

So what about now?  Today?  July 2011?  The thoughts swirling in my head are that if we feel confident in His desire for us to be in Peru, then we should also feel certain that God will provide the money.  Isn’t that how it works?  If you KNOW God wants you in a certain place that has certain financial requirements, then you KNOW he will somehow provide the money.  So then, why has He not provided the money yet?  Are we to keep waiting?  Well, it seems so.  But, how long?  Do we wait until we have 4 months left of money in the bank?  3 months?  2 months?  Maybe just days?  Would that be the sign of true trust?  I mean, what if God is actually saying, “NO…you will leave Peru at the end of this year” by not having provided support for our family for this next year yet.  That is what I struggle with now.  And does this mean we should begin job searching in a few months or less?  It all just gets so complicated.  I mean, of course, right?  When I let all of those questions reign in my mind and my heart, it can get so.incredibly.complicated!  So, all I know to do is to keep calling on Him (Jer. 33:3) and to station myself in a place so that I can watch for His message to us (Habakkuk 2:1).  AND…stop trying to make sense of what I have no sense over.  Otherwise, December seems to stare me in the face as if to say…be worried.

So, now that we’ve trekked up the hill that is the first 6 months or so of the year and as we begin the downward slope that is the last 6 months, we come to all of you who read this blog for your prayers!  Please go to the Father on our behalf and EXPECT that He will show up for us!  EXPECT that your prayers will aid our family in our search for God’s next step in our life.  EXPECT that we want to know that you’re praying! (haha-really!)  Please pray for my husband as he goes back to the drawing board with God once again.  Pray that he will set his fears aside for the confidence of God.  Pray for our team as we continue to try and keep up the spreading of the Gospel amidst this uncertainty.  Pray for me, please, that I can not only encourage Justin, but that I can help to do my part in Calling on our Provider on a daily basis.

Just a few random photos from the last few weeks…

Diligently sharpening our colored pencils.  It took him nearly 30 min (ANYthing that keeps his attention that long gets my seal of approval!), and he also got every one of our 10 colored pencils sharpened.  I was somewhat surprise.  I guess twisting the {wrong} way for 30 min. also gets the job done like twisting the {right} way for 5…

Practicing her “Kindergarten skills”…

Pretty much his favorite activity…

All.day.long I hear, “iuh (i want) kick da (the) sock-uh-ba (soccer ball) momma!”

**oops…just a bit too high on the ol’ kick in the next picture**

As much as my hair is looking a bit crazy in this next picture, I am posting it because it’s the only proof that the kids and I were at the zoo recently.  There was absolutely no time for pulling out the ol’ Nikon and getting any photos.  Cailyn’s school had a field trip, and I told Justin to not bother joining us because I thought it would be no biggie to keep up with the kids alone…well…with the help of the group.  W.R.O.N.G.

When we arrived, I realized that not only was her school there, but EVERY other school in Lima was there from babies to highschoolers.  What high school kid wants to go to the zoo as a field trip is what I’m wondering.  Anyway, there were probably a good 60 HUGE (some double-decker) buses there with kids of all ages.  It was insane.  Basically, there were so many people that you had to fight to get up to the glass to see some animals, which I didn’t do.  I think my kids saw about 3 animals “up close”, and each time they really got to enjoying something, the group was moving on and I had to pry Corban’s hands off of the fence in order to get going so that I could strap Corban into his stroller and keep up with the group.  It was sad.  And, yes, Corban HAD to ride in his stroller, because he is so incredibly fast and can get out of sight in seconds.  He does well about 90% of the time when we say “stop” or “wait” or “come back”, so I was definitely not going to risk losing his little brown-haired, fit in with the peruvian look little self by letting him walk dart around.  So, anyway, here we are after having had our “lonchera” (snack…which was more like a meal since i packed actual lunches…oops.  darn that spanish note they sent home that i misinterpreted).

Oh, but wait.  There’s more to the story.

Immediately following our lonchera time, Cailyn just was about to DIE of being tired of walking.  I mean she was as exhausted as they come, and I just couldn’t bear to make her walk any more.  (Are you catching on to my sarcasm here?)  I mean, keeping up with our group was no joke.  If we didn’t I was going to be stuck with some other group I didn’t know, and the place is so big I might have never found our group again!  There was just no time for saying no and risking a melt down with an overly dramatic 4 year old, so I gave in and let Corban walk while pushing Cailyn in our umbrella stroller.  He, of course, though he’d hit the jack pot, and I was just trying to keep up with him at every turn.  He kind of run-walks, just to give you an idea of how quickly I had to get going.  It wasn’t the end of the world, but I was definitely breaking a sweat.  Can you see why the only photo I have is one we got while sitting with our group?

About an hour before leave time we hit a stretch where it was wide open spaces and we could sort of breathe a bit.  Cailyn was having fun, Corban was in the stroller {again}, and I suggested to Cailyn that we enjoy the space and run together to catch the group ahead of us.  So…there we 3 went.

I have NO idea why I suggested this.  I KNOW that my daughter has never been that great at not tripping when running.  And, yet, there we were…running…nonetheless.  Well, that is, until Cailyn tripped and whip lashed her forehead into the cement.

CRY.CRY.SCREAM.CRY.SCREAM.CRY.CRY.CRY.SCREEEEEEAAAAM.SCREAAAAM.CRY…etc.

She immediately had a bump on her forehead that stuck out about as far as a little over half of a ping pong ball.  Oh gracious.  Then, her main teachers and a few of the other class helpers caught up to us and saw that she had fallen.  They immediately began helping us, which included giving me 2 creams and some type of alcohol mix on a cotton ball, plus a peruvian coin (that’s a bit bigger than a quarter) that I was supposed to press onto the bump in order to…well…actually I have no idea what it was supposed to do. We also immediately had about 20 people around us and comforting us.  Some of our friends got Corban out of the stroller so that Cailyn could ride again, so then I not only had to calm her, I had to keep one eye on him as he wandered away a good 50 feet chasing pigeons.  WHY THE HECK DID MY HUSBAND NOT COME WITH ME?!?!?!?!?!!??!?

Basically, the last hour was spent with that group of people, myself, and my kids trying to find the exit so we could end this wonderful field trip.  We’re still getting over that bump on our head, but at least we’re not still scream-crying about it. 🙂

Moving on…

When I went to pick C up from school a couple of Fridays ago, she was wearing this.   They had celebrated “Día del Campesino”, and this is apparently their version of what a campesina looks like…(basically a peasant farmer sort of)…oh, and that’s a potato around her neck.  of course.

After nap photo shoot…

C got to be “La Reina” (the Queen) at school the other day.  Every kid gets their day, and hers came this week.  She got to take a big basket full of her favorite games, toys, books, etc. to share with the class.  They read her letters that we sent from us, she got to wear a princess dress that day(dream come true!), they give her a crown to wear, and they take a poster board of pictures from their life to share with the class.  She.Loved.It!

**you can kind of see the bump on her head…this was 2 days later**

They’ve been taking lots of bubble baths lately…

Sister sort of runs the show when it comes to who covers who with more bubbles…

1 or both arms over the side of the tub = T! (time out…recovery needed!)

Brother sort of runs the show when it comes to throwing things like washcloths into the air and making huge splashes.

Eyes squeezed shut and dramatic squeals from sister = “COOORRRBAAAAANN!  I DIDN’T WANT THAT!”

Blank stares from brother = “What, you didn’t like that?  Ok.  I’ll do it again then!”

Happy July!

The Mommas and The Babies

Sweet Pictures from Mother’s Day at church. 🙂

(me, Meche, sweet peruvian friend, Stephanie, Stacy, Tara, Vicki-tara’s mom)

…and the reason we’re mommas…

kids L to R: Corban, Cailyn, Sofia, Liam, Maddox, Jakob, Derek, Kase, Kellan, Parker

Feliz Día, Mamá!

Well, it’s ALL about Mother’s Day here.  Perú celebrates Mother’s day on Sunday as well, so there are red hearts in every store window, signs saying how we all love our moms, and sweet kids who’ve made cute gifts to give out to their mommas this week at school.  Cailyn’s Nido was no exception, so we got to have a sweet little mother/daughter picnic at her school this morning.  She got to wear a dress (a huge highlight for her!), and we got Dunkin Donuts and yogurt…her two fave things…to eat at our picnic (it was more of a breakfast).

Just before leaving for her school…

When we arrived, we had to find our child’s wonderful drawing, and then we got to set up camp there…

The back of the picture was an interview they had given her about me.  It said…

and…in English…it said:

“My mommy’s name is Alison.  I don’t know how old she is.  She is big, she has long, brown hair, and she is beautiful.  ‘She is good!’  I don’t know where she works.  Sometimes, she wears pants.  She likes to eat oranges, and sometimes she drinks water.  She takes me to the park, outside, and to the park close to my house.  We play with my little brother, Corban, sometimes with my Barbies and Corban’s cars.  I love her a lot.  Cailyn.”

Not sure if she meant…sometimes I wear pants and other times I wear nothing…or if she meant that sometimes I wear pants and other times something else…hmmm.  I need to make sure I’ve got clothes on when I’m around her to really emphasize in her mind that I don’t generally walk around with just a top on.  Otherwise, I felt complimented. 🙂

Here’s a lot of the mommas from Cailyn’s class…(that’s my little yellow pillow seat in between the two ladies on the far left)

Cailyn’s teacher leading her class out…with the leader picking her nose…

All set to give her big presentation!

She stood there while the kids all said a poem.  Then she stood there as they all sang a cute song.  Then she asked to sit down with me, and when I told her to wait because I didn’t think they were done, she began to cry.  Nice.  So, I let her sit down in my lap while they all sang their English song, twinkle, twinkle little star…the only one she probably knew.  Go figure.  Then, I had to sort of trick her into going back with them to their classroom for a minute when they all walked out.  She finally went, and that was when we “set up” our picnics.  I got video, but it’s the most boring thing you’ve ever seen.  She does nothing.  Oh, wait.  It isn’t that boring, because Maddox Fletcher stole the show on his side of the square, so I focused in on him for Steph.  Hope her blog readers like it.  I’m not gonna post it here, because my child literally just stands there.  Not the greatest thing to watch if you’re a fan of the Thompson family…hah!

Things got better when it was time to break out the donuts!

Then, Cailyn began to cry again because all I had for her to drink was a yogurt drink, which happens to normally be her favorite thing.  Oh…no…she wanted water.  Stephanie (thanks again!!) very graciously let her, another person’s 3 year old, drink out of her water bottle…something that takes a strong stomach, really.  Good friend, that Steph girl!  She did make sure, though, that Cailyn had finished the bite of donut she was on.  I’m talking…it would have been serious back wash.  yuck.  To top that off, Maddox was basically willing to share everything they had brought with Cailyn, and we even ended up stealing an ENTIRE package of crackers from them due to the fact that Cailyn was feeling full of her donut and about to cry that there was no other option of food.  I was definitely not feeling like mom of the year.

So, we were fairly unstable the entire time emotionally…and by we, I just mean Cailyn.  She was definitely not on her A-game, but, what can I say…we’re still a work in progress.  ME (for how I handle it…ahem)…and…HER (for her frustrating attitudes!).

At the end the mom’s received a cute gift that they had made.  A jewelry box.  Cailyn was SO excited, and I was told right then and there to take off my jewelry so that we could keep it safe in that new box of mine. 🙂  We got a picture, but the box is slightly cut off…you can still see the cuteness, though!  Oh…and that’s leftover donut on Cailyn’s face.

It was a happy time all in all. 🙂  I’ve already warned J that if they have a Father’s Day event he will have to make sure he packs the right food.  Cover your basis, that’s all I have to say.  Happy early mother’s day!