Monthly Archives: February 2014

Miss ‘Merica

I squeezed 6 Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Via packets into my suitcase to pull out on those “I miss America” days. Almost 3 months into our life here in Brazil, and I just opened my 2nd packet.
That’s pretty good!

As I sip on this instant pumpkin spice latte, that is really hardly anything like a pumpkin spice latte. But the longer it goes between now and my last “real” pumpkin spice latte, it doesn’t matter – it’s a fragrant and delicious taste of the freedom of driving myself to a Starbucks and ordering my own cup of coffee without the baristas straining their ears to understand the words coming out of my mouth.
As I sip on this instant pumpkin spice latte, 2 lists emerged.
What I miss. What I don’t.

The “what I miss” list will probably get added to randomly…when all of a sudden I remember there’s a vegetable out there called celery and how good it would taste with peanut butter. Right now!

During this adaptation to living overseas process, we can wake up feeling like “something just isn’t right about my day…oh yeah, it’s because EVERYTHING has changed.” But when I really started to boil it down, it was surprisingly fun and therapeutic to encapsulate what it is we truly miss.

Of course, we miss friends who have become family. Family who are our friends.
I would trade this whole list to have any of them here. But *besides* that…

I miss:
Tortilla chips.
Spaghetti squash.
Grocery stores having what you need. or want. or what they usually have.
Being able to talk to the lady who is cutting my hair.
People praying in English.
Life group.
Dropping my kids off at school. (Really, just the few hours of quiet.)
“Alone” time (I did just start to drive here!! Still don’t feel comfortable driving anywhere by myself until I can communicate better. But it’s a step!!)
Joann Fabrics.
Modern conveniences: dishwasher, dryer, crockpot, mac and cheese in a box.
Not rationing out my Tazo Zen tea bags, or KIND granola bars.
Feeling capable {insert… to hold a conversation, to order coffee, to take my kids to the dr.}
Letting our kids be kids in public and not having to hush their English (for safety reasons).
Watching the Olympics.

But! That’s not all!!
As I started to pen on paper what it is we miss, a different list came with it: what we don’t miss!
No doubt because of many prayers for our sustaining grace and our resolve to love it here.

I don’t miss:
Texting…maybe it’s more the “What to do when I’m making dinner, or reading to my kids, or talking with my husband, or having quiet time, and someone else enters into the moment…should I pause and write them back now, or write them later…can the world really wait?”
The speed at which is normal life as a mom in America.
All the peripherals that kept me from my priorities.
Needing to be places on time.
Wondering how my kids are during the day.
Missing them.
Having to plan out my week to see people. I love that people just stop by!
Flatlands. I really really really like looking out at the mountains.
Driving in snow.
Chapped lips.
Fruits and vegetables from the grocery that don’t taste like real fruits and vegetables.
Wondering if we are where we are supposed to be.

I really love seeing Andre do what he was made to do.
I love getting to know the students and needing to learn Portuguese.
I love that our kids are growing up with a bigger worldview.
I love to hear their gasps from the backseat when we pass a house that is barely more than cardboard and plastic.
I love that they understand now what abandoned children are, and ask when can we adopt some.
I love picking them up from Sunday School, and they share about their class in Portuguese.
I love that we met the pastor of a church on Saturday, and when he heard Andy worked in a church in the US, he asked him to preach the next day.
I love that when we visited the church the next day, he said “Is that pastor from the US here? Could he come up and pray for this man?” LOVE THAT!!
I love not caring that I wore this shirt twice already this week.
I love that I wrote tortilla chips on the top of my “MISS” list, and the next day we went to the grocery and they had TORTILLA CHIPS!
I love seeing the simple ways the Lord cares for us.
I love feeling sustained by Him.
I love no longer wondering if we are where we are supposed to be.

We’re here.
While we may miss ‘Merica, there is much to love here.
So, I might as well sip on this quasi-pumpkin spice latte and focus on that 🙂


New Stomping Grounds

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Country road,
take me home to the place where I belong…
This little town has found its way into our hearts.
So, we wanted to share some shots of our new stomping grounds.
Hard to believe we have been here for almost 3 months.
Just enough time to get settled in and learn the important things, like where are the best pão de queijo and frozen cappuccinos. To find our way around the grocery store and the farmers market. To get our kids on soccer teams. To find a church we all are excited to be a part of. To overhear people say “there’s the Americans.” T
o start to dream big for these cities in Brazil.
That the church here would raise up to be the light of the world,
like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.DSC_0002


My parents still live in the same house I was brought home from the hospital. I lived there all my childhood, elementary, NKOTB, and high school years without packing a single moving box. DSC_0754But the last umteen years have made up for that. This last year alone, we have moved 3 times. Each space has been different. Each has had its own character, hosted its own share of dinner-parties, made its own memories. I will always smile at the good times we shared under the different roofs.

We spent newlywed months in an apartment where we could vacuum the entire place without plugging into a different outlet. Our landlord would mow our lawn in her bikini and direct our guests to where they should park in her bathrobe. But nothing mattered, because marital bliss!

We had a cardinal that banged into our living room window for 2 years until it turned from red to ragged-gray. Here we saw 2 lines for the first time!! 9 months later, we welcomed the teeniest, loudest, preciousest little bundle into our family.IMAG1938
We moved to a house right across the street from the church Andy was pastoring. Here, we saw 2 lines as well…although they seemed much blurrier holding our 4 month old. It was a beautiful dream to live 30 minutes from my parents for these years. DSC_0696
When we moved back to Indiana, we rented a space for some months until our house was built. 14 cats lived here before we moved in, and our allergies regretted every day of it.
We built a little house that turned out to be where all our money went and when we realized we had bigger dreams than keeping up with our mortgage, we put a For Sale sign in the yard. The pic is not very flattering, but it’s real life. (Also real life is not being able to find most of the pictures we took during those 3 years.)
We were uncertain where circumstances would take us, and some dear people let us rent their house as we waited on the Lord for the next step. Meanwhile, we savored the crimson sunsets across the fields, barefooted play in the yard, blankets of snow, and laughter of friends that filled this house.

We bought an old house that had been condemned and poured blood, sweat and tears into making it new again. We loved this place. But when it was time to move on, we were so thankful that all along we knew it was a gift.
We sold it all, packed it up, and in our last months before moving to Brazil, we were blessed by the generosity of a family who let us live next to them. And sunsets over the lake!!
We moved into a house where parrots were nesting in our attic. We didn’t mind, because we heard they eat the scorpions…which was a relief, since we saw 5 there. Our kids haven’t let language become a barrier and never skipped a beat in inviting friends over.
2013-12-12 10.47.39And now. Here we are!!!IMG_5728This is the view of the school from the road. Our house is in the top right corner.DSC_0100It has been quite a hike to get here. But, some One hooked us up with an amazing view!!!IMG_5740After living out of boxes since we sold our house in September, it feels like we are finally settling. We’re unpacked, and able to put down some roots. But I just don’t want to forget that this is not our home either. Literally. This is a house the school built for us to live in, for right now. It’s not ours.

Sometimes I wonder how it will be for our boys, moving around so much…
I wonder if they will grow up feeling uprooted.
I wonder if they’ll feel conditioned to have to move every 3 years.
I wonder if they think their home is in the US…but when they get there, not feel like they fit in.
I wonder if they will then feel like they belong neither here nor there.
I wonder if they’ll want to revisit these places.
I wonder if disappointment will follow when they do.
I wonder if they realize the treasure was not in the structure, but in the memories we made.
I wonder if they will know that wherever we are, we have done our best to make it home.

But I hope they always know that it doesn’t matter whether we own or rent.
Whether we are near or far from family and friends and everything familiar.
Whether we live in North or South America. Or, wherever we live on this round world…
We have a Home that is greater than anything out there!

Through all the generations,
LORD, You have been our Home.
Psalm 90.1 (NLT)

Love in Focus (January)

You know the year is gonna be good when it starts with a churrasco!!
We were still with Andy’s parents for New Year’s. His Uncle Ben, Aunt Karen and Uncle Bill, Aunt Jean also work at the NTM headquarters in Brazil and live in the same town as his parents. So, we celebrated the New Year with cousins and steak!
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It is rainy season here, which means it can be beautiful blue skies one minute and downpour the next. People here keep saying it was such a hot and dry January. Meanwhile, the midwest had an extremely cold and snowy January. Our bodies are so confused. Doesn’t feel like January, but we are enjoying it…rain or shine.
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January 6th holds a special place in our hearts, ‘cuz we celebrated 13 years!!! We usually do a night getaway in Chicago. I really missed that time away from kids and cares, but we’re here on this adventure. Together.
As wild and unpredictable as our life can be, it is also fragile and precious. And I don’t want to take a minute for granted. So, we celebrated. With these guys and the first Starbucks in 6 weeks!!
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We may not have our snowsuits and sleds, but we do have tropical grass and cardboard!
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Oh yes, and we have an above-ground pool!! Try not to be jealous 🙂
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Rainy season= Mud.
Rainy season + 3 Boys= Lots of Mud.
Rainy season + 3 Boys + Dirt Road and No Grass Yet= Lots and Lots of Mud.
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We all have ups and we have downs. Sometimes, the best thing you can think of is packing up a carry-on and venturing into the mountains of a country where all you know how to say is: “Hello, how are you, my name is, what is your name, would you like to play at our house, thank you, goodbye.” Thankfully, every breath is a second chance.
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Our family has been meeting Sunday mornings to read, sing, pray together (footwashing above). Then we have been visiting Brasilian churches (they meet in the evening). This man and his wife are some students here at Peniel. He spoke at a church we visited, and I was just so struck by the Portuguese translation of The Lord is my Shepherd: O Senhor é meu pastor.
It’s easy to feel lost in the transition of looking for a church we can be involved in, but not understanding what the pastor is saying anyway. I was just really thankful for the reminder that we still have the best Pastor (Shepherd) of all! I have everything I need (Psalm 23).
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Our boys had a blast at some friends’ birthday party here. Cotton candy may be listed as one of their highlights in Brazil so far 🙂

We are moved in!!! (More to come on this later.)
But cannot tell you how good it feels to be moved. Unpacked. Settled. Home.
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The Lord continues to show His banner over me is LOVE. All day. Every day.
The verse that keeps coming to mind is Lamentations 3.22-23:

Because of the Lord’s great LOVE we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
GREAT is Your faithfulness.

Most nights I collapse into bed, exhausted. Wondering how we will do this again tomorrow. Homeschooling 3 boys…Learning Portuguese…Getting used to things taking longer (no dishwasher or dryer or pre-made foods)…Did I mention mud?? 🙂

BUT every morning, the Lord wakes me up and we do this.
His compassions never ever fail.
SO great is His faithfulness.
Again tomorrow. And again the next day. And again forever!2014-01-16 10.21.46
Oh yeah. AND we saw the ocean. Because when it’s 4 hours away, sometimes you just have to leave it all behind and splash in the waves for a day.
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2014-01-16 17.56.09Plus, I had to snap some pics as incentive for friends to visit 🙂