Kneelin’ in the New Year

Well hey there, 2016.
We’re happy you’re here! And we’re ready to take your blank squares and color them in with more adventures in love and life.

But before we look forward to all that it is to come, we can’t help but give our proper adieus to 2015. It was a beautiful year. I wouldn’t call it “easy” or “comfortable.” But we look back and recall grace upon grace and we feel so blessed. New Year’s Eve, we were recounting some of our family’s favorite memories of 2015. Among those mentioned…

– Saída da Liderança {our yearly getaway with the leaders of Peniel}
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– Rodeo with cousins
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– Surprise visit from fam
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– Riding our bikes to Winona Lake
– Birthday celebrations
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– Hugs from grandparents
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– Activities with students
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– Escaping to the ocean that is less than 4 hours away!
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– Encontro {New Tribes of Brazil’s Conference for Missionaries}
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– Candlelit dinners {AKA power outages}
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Xtreme
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– Sitting in on Prof André’s classes
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– Graduation {the chance to be a part of these students’ training to become tribal missionaries}
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– Celebrating our 15 year anniversary in Rio
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– Christmas Eve with grandparents
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Looking back, the moments I cherish just as much are when the camera is put away, and my little boy hands me a fresh-picked flower or handmade card “To know. I love you”, the hugs in the kitchen and the prayers before bed, the exchange of apologies and forgiveness, a note or call or visit at just the right time, knowing we are exactly where we’re supposed to be when I witness my love do what he was made to do, those moments when there’s no other place to turn than the throne of Mercy and the grace He has given, the week everything seemed to go wrong and the Lord kept painting rainbows in the sky–5 in one week!

As we close out 2015, I’m keeping close my verse for the year: Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, You inspire shouts of joy. {Ps. 65:8}

There’s just something about a New Year.
Whether or not last year ended as we hoped, we get to turn the page and start another chapter. It’s a chance to put the past behind us and resolve for things to be a different, better, happy new year.

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

The weeks proceeding the New Year, I take some time to consider what I want my life to be characterized by. One word that I want to describe my living and being and going and doing. Last year, I chose JOY. {hence the verse above}
Not just superficial-laughter, smile-on-the-outside, happy-when-things-go-my-way–JOY.
But deeply-rooted, my-hope-is-in-You-Lord, can’t-touch-this, regardless-of-circumstances–JOY!

Since I’m now a master at all things JOY, it’s time to move onto another word.
{Or something like that…🙂 }

I’ve really had a hard time deciding on my word for this year…
Shine * Believe * Love * Engage * Laugh * Hope * Cherish * Courage * Peace
I want it all!

New Year’s Eve, we fondued it up {tradition}, rang in the Paris New Year {at 9:00🙂 }, tucked in our boys, said our prayers, turned off the lights, and spent the last moments reflecting on 2015. I felt both relief and uncertainty. That moment when you’re thankful you made it, but aren’t sure you really have, and you wonder how much you have left in you. Give me a few weeks or two and I’m sure we’ll be back in the “mustering up all we got” and “sucking all the marrow out” business. But this New Year’s, we’re tired. I don’t think it’s an accident that we feel this way. I think this is exactly what I needed to resolve not to muster up, but to kneel.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:6-7

Not just “be in a position in which both of your knees are on the floor” kneel.
I’m talkin’ the posture of our heart regardless of our position, because we were created for purpose – KNEEL. As in. You want to shine, believe, love, engage, laugh, hope, cherish, have courage and peace….well, in His presence you can have it all – KNEEL.

I’m hopeful about 2016. I really am! We’re already marking in our calendar squares with classes and visits and dreams we’ve always dreamed. Regardless of our goings and doings, our living and being, if there’s one thing I hope to accomplish in 2016, it is to kneel.

No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9

Second Year {New Normal}

Two years ago today our family of 5 packed 15 bags. After saying “good”byes that were much more hard than good, we got on a plane. Two years!! 730 days ago, but we still remember it like it was yesterday, we moved our life to Brazil. We have felt alot of things in all those days. But one thing we have never felt is alone. We have such dear people still journeying with us…despite the distance. I cannot even find words to express how much that means to us.

A year ago, I wrote New Normal, about the little things that have made their imprint on our thinking and our ways.

First year.
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Now that we’ve been here a whole ‘nother year, you can know life in Brazil has become part of our life and some things have become even more “normal.” And yet, sometimes when we stop to think about it, it all sounds a little crazy.🙂

Second year.
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  • Red lipstick. The first time I ever wore red lipstick, it was for a costume. Our boys’ reaction: “Mom! What did you do?? Will that come off??” But here it’s “chique” (stylish). Being a missionary means learning to adapt, right? Even if it means red lipstick now and then😉
  • The kids’ favorite thing to do after homeschool now is go fishing at the creek.
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  • Our entire 1st year, they had to be accompanied by an adult, for fear of all that “could” happen. 2nd year means momma lets them walk down to the river by themselves and prays without ceasing until they come home. Then they gut their fish, fry ’em up, and savor every morsel until this is what’s left.
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  • After their snack, it’s time for “tick check.”  Jack holds the record with finding 21 ticks on himself at one time.
  • Your child may pour himself a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast or make herself some toast. Ours…….. well, they go outside to hunt for queen ants, pop off their butts, fry them in butter and salt, and eat them. True story.
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  • This is a totally normal sight–our town’s version of a traffic jam. 
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  • Only took 2 years of gas prices in Brazil to think my husband having a dirt bike is a good idea. It is super economical and practical, and we’re thankful.
    {Pray for him tho? :)}
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  • There’s enough battles to choose from that sometimes letting your kids wear a neck pillow to church doesn’t seem like a big deal. For one, we don’t get home until 10pm. For two, kids are viewed here… as kids.
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  • We’re still learning new things, like this is what happens when you attach Bom Bril (Brazilian steel wool) to a broom handle and light it. DiY Fireworks!!
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  • We’ve had plenty of opportunities to work on our dress-up. Here is our family in the 60’s for a Decade Night.
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  • Finally figured out how to keep the ants away from our strawberries. Now if I could only outsmart the birds. 
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  • When the electricity goes out, then the *real* entertainment begins. André {with an electrocuting tennis racket} vs. ALL the flying creatures in our home. 2015-11-04 21.31.52
  • Gas stations pump your gas for you. They also wash your windshield–which means they pour water from a watering can and scrub your windshield with a broom. It makes me laugh… every time🙂
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  • These two have gotten even more “jungley.” We have regular safety talks with them, because we still see countless possibilities for danger, when all they see is countless possibilities to imagine and create. 
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  • Sometimes the grocery store doesn’t have black tea or rice flour or tortilla chips…for months at a time, so I’ve become a bit of a hoarder when they come back in stock.
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  • How exciting are little glimpses of familiarity–KFC in Brazil!! It’s never gonna be “finger-lickin’ good,” cuz Brazilians don’t lick their fingers. But, the boys cannot wait for this “taste of home.”
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  • 1st year, I threw out the chicken head and feet. 2nd year, I make bone broth!
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  • Still not used to the smell of the meat market though. 
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  • 1st year I took them to swim lessons and sat by the pool–unofficial lifeguard duty. 2nd year I do like every other mom and drop them off at swim classes, then run errands. Sometimes I’m not there when they get done and they have to wait on the bench out front. Go ahead and judge. I may have judged moms like me a year ago too! But now I’m just thankful for the 2 hours a week a dear lady is willing to watch my kids AND teach them how to swim!
  • Our 7 year old gets embarrassed because he’s the only one NOT wearing Speedos. “Mom! Can you please buy me some Speedos like all the other kids?” Sorry son, I just can’t. Maybe next year…😉
  • My last haircut in Brazil left me with a rat tail. SO, I’m going on 6 months… need to get my haircut… but for now, a ponytail wins over a rattail.
  • 1st year we were f.r.e.a.k.e.d out by the novelty of finding scorpions in the house. 2nd year, we collect them and take them into town where they extract their venom to make an anti-venom.
  • Our cockatiels wake us up with their cat calls at the sunrise. I just have to smile. And believe it makes God smile as well. #madetopraise
  • 2nd year was our first trip to the local hospital. It went like this. Doctor: “What do you think he has? What type of antibiotic do you think he needs? And, do you know the dosage of that?” OH dear.
  • I do love the ways our kids are adapting. How they have been forced to be creative and make-do. We brought a bat and ball from the U.S. for them to play baseball, but they prefer an empty 2-liter and handmade yarn ball.
  • Periodically our kids will flip on light switches and exclaim “Yes! The power is STILL on!” It’s just become normal to have it go off.
  • Jude IN HIS SLEEP: “Panettone…Chocotone…” These are a few of his favorite things.
  • Jack says now he sneezes in Portuguese. Instead of “Achoo!” he sneezes “Atchim!”
  • We laugh. But, also thank God our kids have picked up the language so quickly and so well that they even talk in their sleep in Portuguese!
  • The more I try to step out of my comfort zone and communicate, the more mistakes I make. Like, the time I answered the phone (which is the hardest for me) and instead of asking “Would you like to leave a message?” I said “Would you like to borrow a sermon?” I can’t even post the most embarrassing one. Let’s just say it’s a fine line between humbling and humiliating.😉
  • My cooking has become more Brazilian. We went from eating rice and beans once a week to eating rice and beans atleast 4 times a week. Two years ago, I had no idea how to make passion fruit juice or jabuticaba jam or carrot cake w/ chocolate frosting or chicken stroganoff or manioc fries. Now they’re some of our faves.
  • Students love to share their “finds” with our boys–whether it be a tiny bat or a huge tarantula, a scorpion or a snake–our boys feel so special and add them to their collection.
  • The first time I wrote Lawry’s seasoned salt and Ranch dressing packets at the top of my “Wish List” when asked what we would like from the States, I had to chuckle. The longer we’re here, the more “missionary” my wish list looks.
  • We are still called “German.” Our kids are still called “Little German.”
  • People still ask where I’m from and make a big deal when I say the United States. {They don’t ask André–to them, he’s a Brazilian who married an American.} Then they’ll yell out “She’s from the US!” Still not sure what I’m supposed to do… Duck and run? Smile and wave? Who knows.
  • When my mom asked Miles what he wants for Christmas, his reply: “You know those ads you get for the day after Thanksgiving? {We’re all thinking he has his eye on something in the ad, but no.} Well, could you send me the ads?” He wants the AD!!!!!
  • Jack was reminiscing about soccer camp in the States. He told me about one morning he woke up before all the other kids to take a shower just for the fun of it. His face lit up and he said, “Mom! You could change the temperature of the water there!!” I love that his “normal” has become not to be able to.
  • An actual conversation with my 6 year old in the grocery store:
    Me: “Jude, remind me to get Catupiry.”
    Jude: “Oh mom. Your accent is so cute…Catupiry.” (He says absolutely perfect–NO accent.)
  • Taking a 2nd year prayer card picture means you set up an ironing board in the field next to your house and put your camera on top; set the timer and hope everyone’s smiling🙂 DSC_0184

Two years. We’ve gotten used to alot.
Now and then, our shower goes cold. I just consider it a lymphatic cleanse.
Sometimes our electric goes off. We have come to enjoy a surprise candlelit dinner.

BUT. I don’t know that we’ll every get used to being so very far away from loved ones. The homesick doesn’t go away, it only goes deeper. Sometimes it surfaces when we least expect it. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, and I have to remind myself why we’re here.

When I consider how fleeting is this life, my convictions grow even stronger. I don’t think we were put on this earth to chase after our comforts. When all I want is familiar, I have to remind myself Jesus’ final words weren’t challenging His followers to live near people who think and act and talk the most like us.

Then Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I never anticipated making disciples of all nations would involve so many ticks or mushrooms growing in my shower. But this is where the Lord has placed us. We’re gonna embrace the quirky and we’re gonna learn to make the most of it! We’ll probably mess up, like we do. We may lose perspective, like we do. But. Year after year, we’re gonna resolve to live fully and love deeply and shine brightly for His glory… wherever we are… even if it all sounds a little crazy.😉

An Extreme Weekend

Last weekend Instituto Bíblico Peniel hosted a youth missions camp for the purpose of exposing young adults to the need for tribal missionaries. We planned and prepped and prayed for this weekend for a long time–Andy was in charge of it all, but we couldn’t have pulled it off without the amazing creativity and labor of our students. They rise to the occasion and blow us away every time. We wanted to share some of the fun we had with you🙂

With Rio 2016 approaching, the students put together a pseudo-Olympic games–>complete with a mascot, torch-lighting and a medal ceremony. Seriously, look at these student-made torches from bamboo they cut down in the jungle, pop cans and kerosene!! Love it.
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Don’t have starting blocks for the sprinting events? A second person’s feet will do.
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This year, the theme was não sou fã {not a fan}. {I know, it’s been done in America–that’s one of the beauties of being in Brazil🙂 } As believers we’re not called to just sit from a distance, but to play an active role. The sessions were geared toward focusing on our relationship with Jesus, the church and missions. SO…Not a fan of Jesus, but a follower. Not a fan of the church, but a part. Not a fan of missions, but a participant.
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DSC_0976No Peniel camp is complete without an endurance trail {picture a tough-mudder experience with tribal indian encounters}. This year, one of our teammates put together a zipline over the river. Our kids are already looking forward to the next camp. I just love to see their little faces in the crowd.
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Of course, the REAL heroes are the ones who worked hard in the 90-some degree kitchen all weekend to fuel everyone’s energy for all this!! We’re so grateful for the Lord’s provision for this kitchen to be renovated (it now has a ceiling!!!) AND just in time for this weekend.DSC_0637 DSC_0352
Of course, I can’t post without saying how proud I am of my husband (yes, proud–in a good way:) ) A few weeks ago, there were only 3 people signed up to come. So, what’s he do? Pray!! (And had the students make calls to invite every church they know.) We ended up having over 120 young adults come!! And SUCH a good time. I just love how he pours his heart into whatever he does. I walked down the hill to take some pics of the break-out sessions and here he is. The thing is…even if only 3 came, he would *still* share the need with this much passion.DSC_0619

Why do we share this? Because this weekend was about so much more than fun and games. We can work extremely hard planning all of this and stay up way past our bedtime and drink extra cups of coffee to make up for it and go hoarse cheering and conversing to the point of exhausting all the portuguese I know. But. If God doesn’t move, our labor is in vain. 

We’re praising God for every person He brought to Peniel this weekend. Now that they’ve packed their bags and boarded their bus, we keep praying that God would continue the work only He can do. That He would move in their hearts, give them a passion for His fame and call some of them to come back as missionaries in training.

Would you take a moment to join us in prayer for this?
Your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. | Isaiah 26:8

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

I haven’t forgotten I have a blog!! It’s just my days are consumed with homeschooling, still working on my portuguese, and all else that comes with serving and living at a Bible Institute. There’s much I’ve wanted to share, but realized in our 2 years here I’ve never written about the biggest part of my day! And so.

In case the title didn’t give it away, I’m talking bout homeschooling.🙂

2015-09-09 16.22.13I don’t presume to be a homeschooling veteran…much less an expert.
I haven’t ever read a single homeschooling blog…much less know how to write one.
But, it’s what I do. Errrry live-long day.

I don’t homeschool because I have some warm, fuzzy feelings about keeping our kids close.
I don’t even homeschool because I think they will receive a better education from me than they would anywhere else.

I homeschool because it’s what we feel is best <<please hear me>> for us, for this point of time, for where we are, for this stage of our lives.

When we moved to Brazil, the kids and I didn’t know a lick of portuguese. There were so many transitions our boys needed to make that we didn’t think being thrown into a classroom-full of peers they couldn’t understand, and who couldn’t understand them, should be one of them. Although…those first weeks, there were more threats than I care to admit for them to either shape up OR be thrown into a classroom-full of peers they couldn’t understand!!
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Homeschooling was an adjustment for all of us–boys and momma. My boys didn’t care about my B.A. in elementary education. I was their mom. And they just weren’t sure I really knew how to do long division. But, we pressed on. Many a morning I had to explain that I not only completed the 3rd grade, but I went on to finish college and have even taught 3rd grade.
Eventually, they came around… Eventually.
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Momma didn’t realize how much I had gotten used to predictable, uninterrupted, quiet hours in my day. I went from spending my mornings meeting with friends and leisurely drinking coffee to how-many-times-do-I-have-to-tell-you-to-capitalize-the-first-word-in-a-sentence?! As for the predictable, uninterrupted, quiet hours in my day…. well, time is a peculiar thing. You see, the more time that passes, the more I forget what that was like. And, the more time that passes, the more I see these moments as fleeting and precious. Is there any better way to spend my morning than this??
Eventually, I came around.
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As precious and rewarding as homeschooling is, it still is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not just the pressure of being the sole person responsible for your child’s education (I freak out just writing that!) It’s that there is no moment where “school is dismissed.” There is no “personal day.” There’s no “sick days” either. There’s no “teacher breakroom”–the bathroom comes close, but they still stand at the door and knock with their math questions. 
And so.
My Homeschool Stress Prevention/Management Plan!!
{Help to surTHRIVE homeschooling}

1. Breaks. Honestly, even more difficult than finding the time is actually taking the time. But, we gotta! Whether it be an escape to my room after lunch for a quiet hour, or a kid-less Saturday afternoon… breaks are a must.
2. Morning Walks. Every morning that I am able, first thing I do is head outside to walk laps around the soccer field. And pray. Praise. Repent. Ask. Yield.  My husband calls it my “trail of tears.” :) My day just goes better when first thing I seek the One whose mercies are new every morning.
3. Dates. Since moving away from family and friends, this is one we’ve let slip. But, we have new resolve. Even if I don’t feel like we “need” a date, our kids NEED someone else’s attention and care (and ears!) It’s a wonder how refreshing it is for all of us to get a sitter for a few hours now and then.
4. Let things go. When you add something as huge as teaching 3 children in 3 different grades, some things just have to go. Floors have more dirt. Closets have more clutter. Clothes have more wrinkles. Meals become more simple. Those won’t matter when it’s time for them to go to college.
5. Lower expectations. I can let fear drive my expectations of myself and my kids. And I need to simmer down a few notches. Are they readin’? writin’? ‘rithmatic? Ok, then. Relax!!
6. Soul care. Paint. Read. Dance. Create. Hike. Call a friend. Sit outside. Stare off into the distance. Find time to regularly do whatever makes your soul sing. Be at rest once more, oh my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. {Psalm 116.7}
7. Regularly receive truth: Our pastor is from Rio, speaks very fast, and I still translate what he says in my head and miss important things. I have a whole new appreciation for listening to sermons online while I make lunch. It keeps me grounded among the ups and downs of a homeschooling day.
8. Laugh: I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to have wrinkles…it better be from laughing rather than scowling! I don’t do this enough. Which is why it made the list🙂 Laugh with your kids. Laugh at your kids. Laugh at yourself. Ease up. And laugh. After all, Laughter is the best medicine!!
9. Still stressed? Make a list. Oftentimes, it’s just. not. that. much. If it is, consider if there’s a common denominator. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Memorize verses for perspective. Share with someone for accountability. Seek counseling for clarity. Tackle that baby head on!
10. Give thanks. Not just “when all else fails…” BUT before all else fails…GIVE THANKS! Ann Voskamp: He deserves all my thanks and it’s impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear {or worried…or stressed…or anxious}.

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I was gathering up our pencils at the end of last year, and just had to chuckle.
Not an eraser in sight…….
You can tell by this image, we make plenty mistakes.
The more we’re used, the more we’re gonna mess up.
BUT! The more we mess up, the more opportunities we have to be sharpened.

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.
2 Chronicles 20.12

As long as my eyes are on me, I will never be adequate enough or patient enough or wise enough. Which is why I need to look less at myself and more at the One whose promises are great.

All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.
Isaiah 54:13

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(P.S. When all else fails, make yourself a cup of tea and pull out the stickers.🙂 )

Memory Lane

We’ve only been back 2 weeks, but we are back in the saddle again!!
Andy started teaching classes. I started homeschooling our boys–6th, 5th, and 2nd grade. Students have started stopping by. The boys are back to catching scorpions, fishing at the creek and rattling off in Portuguese with their friends. It all seems so right and familiar and scary and exciting and overwhelming… and we are thankful for fresh wind in our sails.
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Before we get lost in the shuffle of a new semester… a trip down memory lane. We have so many beautiful memories of our time back in the US {some already shared}. No real words to describe those days. Just overflowing grateful, full hearts for every one of these moments.

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IMG_2215 2015-07-18 15.54.56  2015-07-20 10.18.51 2015-07-19 15.27.29Two months flew as fast as we knew they would. We said those things that seem to me much more like “hardbyes” than “goodbyes.” Packed our bags. Boarded our plane. With as many mixed emotions as you can see on these faces.
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Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes.
Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.
Rumi

Our hearts are full and our spirits renewed. We are forever grateful our lives are filled with those who love with heart and soul. It’s still so hard to go. Rather than wallowing in the hard, we want to view our time in the States with family and friends as a gift. And the chance to be back in Brazil training tribal church planters as grace. If we spent too long on memory lane, we’d miss all the opportunities that lie right before us. Really. Wherever we are, we just want to be faithful to love deeply and live fully–to learn and grow and laugh and trust and look for things to love along the way. How we appreciate all of you journeying right along with us!
Paint, Feathers, Xabono, Shabano, Chief

Land that I Love

I don’t know that I have ever bought a patriotic plate in my life. Now I can’t get enough! It all started when that US Official in the Immigration line at the Miami airport said to me “Welcome home.” I was overwhelmed with relief and gratitude and pride…the good kind.

We proceeded down the hall to use our first American bathroom in a loooooong time and I could hardly contain the excitement when I was able to flush my toilet paper! And how soft y’all’s toilet paper is! And, the sink faucet has hot water! And ENGLISH!! And.. and.. and!!! Our time here is too quickly evaporating. But, we are forever grateful for these 2 months “home.” We’ve been able to see many of our family and friends, reconnect with some of our supporting churches, visit our trustworthy doctors, drink from the tap… and we are cherishing every minute of it!
2015-06-25 17.20.18 11025659_10153285723801145_547874181938137386_n 2015-05-24 14.37.09 2015-05-24 15.33.03 2015-05-27 19.13.24 2015-05-30 19.36.50 2015-05-31 14.45.18 2015-05-31 14.49.38 2015-05-31 15.53.58 2015-06-01 15.46.49 2015-06-02 19.39.57 2015-06-04 20.34.10  2015-06-06 09.53.20 2015-06-06 11.48.13 2015-06-06 16.28.02 2015-06-07 13.03.45 11207273_10205400024012474_5791885429363930980_n 11168126_10205399114269731_4162814111158680101_n 2015-06-08 18.21.26-2 2015-06-10 20.45.04 2015-06-12 18.24.50 2015-06-13 18.30.33 2015-06-15 15.52.38 2015-06-15 18.27.17 2015-06-18 14.31.16 2015-06-20 14.19.47 (1)   2015-06-24 18.09.38  2015-06-27 19.43.08 11026247_10153329643806145_8120891279275436574_n11046544_10153393408416145_4276533951476500989_n 2015-06-11 12.35.34 2015-06-05 13.59.25 2015-06-20 15.04.23
God bless America, land that we love!
When we feel lonely, there are so many like-minded individuals who speak English. When we are sick, there are dependable doctors to call.. who change their gloves. When we put on our shoes, there is no need to check for scorpions first. When we struggle with parental issues, there are various places to turn for help. When we’re not even sure what to make for lunch, there is a free lunch in the park. When we want to worship in English, there are plenty services to choose from. When we travel anywhere, there is no fear–people follow traffic laws!

All this has seemed like a gigantic sigh of relief! But it has also made me see a different kind of danger living here. It’s not that we feel unsafe here. Perhaps we feel too safe here. Could it be that in all this sweet land of liberty, we don’t need God as much? I don’t know. But to be honest, I find myself praying far less in America. In Brazil, it seems we call on Him constantly because we need Him! Constantly. But here, I’m tempted to rely on superficial substitutions for all that God is. 

O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for
God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:8

Not WalMart. Not loved ones. Not medical care. Not quality education. Not traffic laws. Not 911.
GOD is our refuge— our constant Companion, our Healer, our Protector, our Helper, our Provider, our Pastor, our Sustainer.

I dread saying goodbye once again to all that we love in this country. I really do. Maybe this is me pining for some good in the hard… BUT in a crazy way, I kinda can’t wait to get back to those “Oh God. If you don’t show up, we’re screwed!” prayers. Because He always does. SO maybe it’s not the worst thing to live so far away from this land that I love. Because it is where we have felt the nearness of our God the most–perhaps because it is where we have needed Him the most.

[Disclaimer: My fear in sharing all this is that it could offend someone, which is not my intention at all. This is simply something I’ve been wrestling with–how to cling to the Lord. Not just in hard times, but also the best of times. I’m not saying you need to move overseas to rely on the Lord. I think it’s most definitely possible to live in desperate daily need for God here. Perhaps we just have to be more intentional to do so. And I’ve just haven’t. That’s all. :)]

Me, Myself, and I {cannot do this alone}

You know those people who somehow turn drinking coffee on your porch into your own mini-motivational speech/private sermon/counseling sesh. And chances are high that they will say something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
My friend Sylvia is like that.
For one, she speaks English. And there’s not many around here who do, so boy are her surprise visits a treat! But also, she raised 2 boys in a tribe, moved home to take care of her dying parents, and was surprised by a 3rd son after her oldest were in college. She oozes grace and wisdom, which is just evidence that she has been schooled in the presence of our Lord. So, it doesn’t matter what I’m in the middle of, I drop it all when she stops by.

Three months later, I’m still thinking about our conversation.

In the 80’s, her and her husband went through New Tribes’ training in Brazil. My in-laws were on staff at their Language/Culture Program. So, they knew my husband as a kid… which has to be crazy when she watches our boys (who are the same age as her “surprise”) at play. They moved to the Yanomami and learned the language in order to tell the people about Jesus. When her parents became ill and there was no one to take care of them, they left the tribe. Both of her parents have passed away. And now, she and her husband are praying about returning to the tribe to continue the work. We were talking about what it would be like for her youngest son to leave all his friends and familiar and make the move.
I asked her: “What was the hardest part of living in a remote village?”
Her reply shocked me: “Myself.”

I mean, I expected her to say something like snakes.. spiders.. darkness.. loneliness.. sickness.. isolation.. raising 2 boys among an unreached people group…
But myself?! Wow.
She went on to say, “Sure there were hardships, but by far the biggest struggle was myself. Wanting to be filled with faith rather than fear. Trying so hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude rather than complaint…” Just wow.

I think the simple honesty and vulnerability of her reply is what makes it all so deeply profound.
What happens when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that, no matter what a popular opinion says, I am not enough

“Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.  

Tell me, by thy mercy, O Lord, my God, what Thou art to me. ‘Say to my soul, I am your salvation.’
So speak that I may hear. Behold, the ears of my heart are before thee, O Lord; open them and
‘say to my soul, I am your salvation.'” 
 | St. Augustine

Snakes.. scorpions.. spiders.. darkness.. loneliness.. sickness.. isolation.. raising 3 boys far from family and familiar… are some difficult realities we have had to face. But, Sylvia’s right. That’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is I cannot face this alone {myself}. Daily I have to take my thoughts captive–more of Him, less of me. If I could keep in perspective the grandeur and power and presence of our God, the rest…well, it’s all miniscule. It’s not the depth of the waters we’re trudging through that matters as much as the power of the Hand we’re holding onto.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.
Isaiah 26.3

Oh, that we may find our rest in You, O God.
Say to my soul that You are my salvation.
Say to my soul that You are enough.
Amen.