Peace out, 2016!

I can’t look back over 2016 without feeling deep gratitude. Not because it was easy in any sense of the term! But, because we made it through! “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength.” {2 Timothy 4:17} #thankyouJesus

2016 started with some major blows that left us feeling knocked down. A year ago, I couldn’t even stand to ring in the New Year; we were kneelin’ in the New Year. Turns out it’s right where we needed to be to face what we would face. The blows kept coming and we found Shelter and Strength on our knees.

One of my favorite New Years’ traditions is taking time as a family to share our highs and lows of the year. We fondue and reflect. Then for the next couple days, they keep telling me, “Oh, I thought of one more.” Too many highs to count!
But here’s a few:
~ Xtreme weekend (Miles)
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~ Hiking in the creek with dad (Jack)
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~ Riding the crowded bus (Jude)
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~ Finishing up the 6th grade (Miles)
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~ Camping with friends (Jack)
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When I caught 2 gars (Jude)
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Going to grandma and grandpa’s house (Miles)
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Staying at other people’s houses (Way to look on the bright side, Jack 🙂
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~ Star Wars Marathon weekend with mom (Miles)
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~ LeCrae Concert (Jack)
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~ Finding shells (Jude)
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Their list goes on…
Hocking Hills with Maddie, all the fish we caught, Silver Beach with friends, Vacation Bible School, Saída da Liderança, campfire with our Brazil grandparents, using a port-a-potty, City BBQ with Maddie, going to Wisconsin to see our cousins, basketball camp, turning 13 and getting Facebook, when we went to that couple’s house for tacos who had the tiny doggie and pool, jumping on the trampoline with Laina and Landon, watching Rogue One with friends, the vinegar store…
Of course, they all said their birthdays; and that they liked each other’s birthdays.
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We were given another year, full of uncertainties and disappointments.
And yet, each day was a fragile and precious gift, to be fully unwrapped and enjoyed. 
How grateful we are for the gift to be here, to do this!

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[Xtreme]
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[Andy speaking at Peniel’s graduation]
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[Rio 2016, which happened to be 7 hours from our house]

This year, my highs were more about the beauty in the everyday. Like that time we were on a date and rounded the bend to see this– a timely reminder of the greatness of our God:
All the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10)
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OR like the humor our 13 year old brings into our days,2016-01-06-11-03-51
the tender side of our 12 year old (of all the places he could sit in the house, that he would snuggle right up next to me);
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that every flower our 8 year old sees is for his momma,
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and how this man has stood by my side, for better or worse.
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Thimg_20160404_154553460_hdren there’s the lows…
For me, it was when my 4-6 week recovery turned into 4-6 months when they found a blood clot 4 weeks after surgery and I had to go on blood thinner injections, which made me very sick, like couldn’t even drink hot tea-sick; and we prayed and prayed and prayed that I would be able to go off the injections by my birthday, but my levels weren’t where they were supposed to be, so I waited in the car (because I also couldn’t walk without feeling lightheaded and dizzy) when my hubby went to pick up my prescription refill. And nabbed these pretty hydrangeas while he was at it. It just amazes me that even in our lows, there is evidence of grace. Even if the grace is “this life is not all there is.”

Andy’s lows included spending extra to buy what you think is a better van… only to have it break down again and again and again… leaving us stranded yet again (below). AND being the one to give me the injections.
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But that was all SO 2016.
Turn up the music. It’s time to ring those bells!!! We’re happy you’re here 2017!!!

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go; 
Ring out the false, ring in the true…
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
{Alfred Tennyson}

Time to resolute! We’re thankful for second chances.
There is a word that keeps coming to mind.

It’s how I want to respond when my teenager rolls his eyes and mumbles under his breath, when things don’t go “my” way, when I disagree, when there are muddy fingerprints on the refrigerator door… yet again.
It’s what I want to be when I feel misunderstood, unappreciated, hurt, insulted.
Who I want to be when confronted, intimidated, opposed, challenged.

meek
/mēk/
adjective
 
  1. an attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others.

    πραΰς, πραεῖα, πραΰ
    Transliteration: praus
    Phonetic Spelling: (prah-ooce’)

John MacArthur writes, “Pride has been redefined in American culture as a virtue. The strong, the beautiful, the powerful, the intelligent, and the privileged take every opportunity to put themselves forward. Politicians manifest pride in speeches and debates; entertainers glamorize pride in their movies and lifestyles; educators teach pride by emphasizing self-esteem and making every child a winner (whether they deserve it or not); and sports icons reinforce pride as the path to greatness.

Probably the least admired character quality in America is meekness. And yet the greatest Person who ever lived was a meek and humble man — “learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus exemplified meekness during His first advent, even as He ministered in the power of God. Those who follow Him will also demonstrate meekness, or gentleness as fruit of a Spirit-filled life (Galatians 5:22).

“Meekness” is a humble attitude that expresses itself in the patient endurance of offenses. Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. As the writer of Proverbs says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32).” {John MacArthur}

“Picture a wild stallion that has been broken and is now tamed. That stallion still has as much power as when he was wild, but now that power is bottled up for the master’s use.” {Rick Warren}

If meek had a theme song, pretty sure it’d be this. And if meek had a manual, it’d be Psalm 37.

I don’t know what all #meek entails. 
I just know I’ve got my work cut out for me! Because this does. NOT. come. natural.
BUT, it seems worth it:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5

Thank God for second chances. A new year, full of hope!

Missão Impossível | 2016

In November, Instituto Bíblico Peniel hosted another Xtreme weekend! A mission camp for youth– packed with challenges, endurance trails and dynamic games, all illustrating some aspect of tribal missions. The theme for this year was Missão Impossivel (you can probably gather what that means). With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
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It’s a family affair, down to the very last dab. (Note Jude in the front 🙂 )
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Andy and our coworker (to his left) are in charge of events at Peniel. Together they planned and ran the whole long weekend (with the help of our amazing students!) This year was different though, as our coworker and his family are moving to a tribe to plant a church among the Kaingang (which is super fun to say: kai.in.gung’.ghee). Bittersweet for all of us, for sure! We may talk about the need for tribal missionaries, but I don’t think there’s anything so powerful as seeing someone you hold so dear leave and go do it! Needless to say, it was a weekend full of impact. Here’s a little glimpse 🙂
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No Peniel camp is complete without an endurance trail (picture a tough-mudder experience with tribal indian encounters). This is a highlight of Jack’s year (below in the yellow hat). For the one who scrubs all the mud out of his clothes (me)… not so much. 😉
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This year it rained the whole. livelong. weekend. You know the crazy thing?! I didn’t hear a single complaint! From the looks of it, they didn’t mind a bit! The brazilians are a hearty, happy bunch.
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Peniel students travel to churches sharing a sketch entitled “Each stick had a name.” It’s a true story about a short-term mission trip to some missionaries in PNG. Men from a neighboring tribe came and asked for missionaries to come live in their tribe. They knew they were lost, and wanted to learn the way. When the indians heard there was no one who could come, they were devastated. They came back with sticks, each one representing people in their village… family… friends… children… who would die without ever knowing the truth. dsc_3207 dsc_3220 dsc_3235
The real story happened in Papua New Guinea, but the map below dialed it in, closer to home. Each stick/pic represents the unreached tribal groups in Brazil. Still. In 2016.
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The main speaker for the weekend was one of our students, Zénilton (pictured below). Zé and his family are from the Gavião tribe. He shared that if it weren’t for a couple from Germany who left their country, family, language, etc. to come to his village and stay 40 years to see a church planted, his people would still be one of those pics on a stick. Now he hopes to dedicate his life to strengthen the church among his people, and reach out to unreached”sister tribes.” He and his wife graduated from Peniel a few weeks ago and will start the next phase of New Tribes in Brazil’s training to be tribal missionaries.
“We are rocks in God’s hands. He can throw us far, or he can throw us near if He wants.” 
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There’s strong challenges all weekend, but plenty of fun as well. Always a good time when a mechanical bull shows up on campus!
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We praise God for the 150+ who came! After months of work, planning and prepping, it was so encouraging to see the Lord at work in the hearts of those who particpiated– some pursuing plans to come to Peniel, some committing their lives to tribal missions, and ALL leaving with an encounter of believers impacted by God’s work in their lives.

Now that they’ve packed their bags, boarded their bus and gone back home, 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
that the Lord of the harvest would raise up more workers?

Your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. | Isaiah 26:8

Third Year {Our Normal}

Three years ago today our family of 5 packed 15 bags, and moved our life to Brazil. 1095 days ago (but we still remember it like it was yesterday). We’ve felt alot of feels in those days. But one thing we’ve never felt is alone. Because, this. Sometimes still can’t believe we’re here! AND no doubt we couldn’t be without all those journeying with us… despite the distance. We appreciate you all, more than words can say.

First year. I wrote New Normal, about the little things that have made their imprint on our thinking and our ways. 
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Second year. Some things became even More Normalas we continued to figure out what life looks like in this country.
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Third year. The longer we’re here, the more we adapt and adopt parts of this culture and that, finding what is Our Normal.
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You were expecting the ol’ Brasil cup, right?
Another one bites the dust. Literally, broke on the dusty tile floor.
But this mug… I’ve had it for 20 years! That’s longer than I’ve known my husband!!
(For a missionary, it’s pretty much a miracle to have anything that long 🙂 )
And the red lipstick?
Well….. I decided it wasn’t my thing. There are some ways I will never adapt… like red lipstick. {Even though a student offered to watch our kids so Andy and I could go on a date, then gave me her red lipstick to wear, so I could look more “gata” (cat).}

You’d think we’d be running out of things to write, wouldn’t you??
It took awhile to think what to list that hasn’t been posted before.
* Then I asked my child if he needs a tissue, and when I handed him a roll of toilet paper (not thinking anything about it), Andy looked at me and smiled. Then it started to come to me…

I don’t realize how much we’ve changed until
* I cover my baked goods with a towel rather than plastic wrap. It’s what we do in a land where “plastic wrap” melts to itself in the heat and is SO irritating to try to pull apart.
* Our favorite date activity has become driving around town, taking pictures of VW bugs; capturing not only the car, but the culture.
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* Just take out the gnat that landed in your nightly tea and keep drinking.
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* Our weekly fresh banana delivery!
* When you drive by the hospital and see a toucan, stop to take a selfie with a toucan!
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* The banks in our area went on strike for a few months. Not sure how this works– the workers would sit behind locked doors and they wouldn’t stock the ATM’s (demanding a raise), but they would still set out coffee and cookies for their customers.
* It has become totally normal for people to just stop by; to drop whatever we’re doing and put on the coffee.
* We’re not surprised when there’s a pile of bugs under the Christmas tree (that were attracted to the light). In fact, we start to appreciate the phenomenon (my hubby wrote about it here).
* My grocery lists are a mess of languages – some things are just funner to say in portuguese, for example “pipoca” /pee.paw.kuh/ (popcorn).

You never realize how “MK” your kids are until
* your son goes to call his friend for his birthday and can’t remember how to sing “Happy Birthday” in english.
* OR, your child goes to school in the States for the first time in 2 years and doesn’t know his ABC’s. {He is fluent in portuguese, but somehow I forgot to teach him the ABC song.}
* MK ping-pong (2 with rackets, 1 as the net).
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* Your son now makes his own fishing poles with bamboo he cuts down with a machete.
* And shows up at the kitchen window with critters like this.
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* Haircut bribes look different these days: fresh coconut water.
* Pictures on their ipods look like this:
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* When a storm rolls in and doesn’t take our electric out, our kids are actually bummed! So much so that sometimes we turn off the lights and eat by candlelight anyway.
* {filling out a crossword puzzle} Jude says, “A crunchy fruit that’s red…..hmmm, all I can think of is pitanga!” {the answer was apple:)

Our kids have grown up so much these last 3 years— learned a new language, earned new freedoms, made so many memories, created their own nostalgia right here in Brazil.
* They camp on their own (even though it’s basically in our backyard, they still have seriemas trying to sneak into their tent).
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* They head to the creek for an afternoon of fishing.
* We can leave them with a big bowl of popcorn and a movie while we run to town.
* Some nights we have to call them home from “hide and seek” at 11:30 so we can go to bed!
* They appreciate the humor of  things like “Star Wabs” or “Wood Box” or #ricefordays.
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I’ve also had a bit of growing up to do myself. This is where…
* I have come to appreciate simplicity. Many days I can’t remember when the last time I went to town was. Some weekends our only expense is going out for popsicles. And I love that.
* “Stop, it’s hammock time” (to the tune of MC Hammer) has become a daily ritual–keeps me sane.
* “I need Thee every hour” is on repeat in my mind.
* the Lord is teaching me that we can’t truly know the fullness of God until we have empty spaces for Him to fill.
* Living on a dirt road with 3 boys has stretched me uh-lot, and I am learning to be at peace, even with so. much. mud.
* The Lord has been faithful to help me stand up to the bully known as fear, over and over again. Do not be afraid…for the Lord will be your confidence” {Proverbs 3:25-26}.
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* Peer pressure kicked in and I find myself doing things like painting my toenails.
* OR, ironing my kids’ shirts. T-shirts! (Which I used to mock, by the way, until our kids were the only ones without ironed t-shirts.)
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* I’ve had to buy fabric… not by the yard… not by the meter… by the KILO! #notJoannfabrics

Three years. We’ve learned alot.
We came to Brazil to teach, but these dear people keep teaching us!
There are phrases they say that will forever ring in my mind, such as,
“It’s so much work to be happy!”
{Meaning– do we really need all this to be happy, or could we be truly happy without so many comforts? Hmmm…}

Don’t get me wrong. I mess up and lose perspective and need put in my place. Regularly.
We still get frustrated and discouraged by this culture.
 I could write a whole ‘nother post about things that get under my skin (like, ticks), and I can’t stand it! But. This is where we live. So, we’re gonna embrace the quirky and learn to make the most of it!

Day by day, year after year, this is my prayer– may we live fully and love deeply and shine brightly for His glory, wherever we are, even if it all sounds a little crazy. 😉

Overcomers gonna Overcome

I’ve kept my mouth shut this whole presidential campaign (atleast on social media). Andy has listened to all my conspiracy theories, so you should thank him for sparing all y’all from that.  🙂

But there is one thing I read the other day, something that I haven’t seen in any headlines, something that jumped right off the page and I’ve been thinking about it ever since, something I have to share.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I immediately thought about this whole election and whatever the outcome will be.
But it didn’t stop there! The very next phrase—

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
{Romans 12:21-13:1}

In other words, “All authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (NLT)
Wait, what?!?!
This whole election seems like such a mess. {and I’m not just talking about the candidates!}
We rant and jab and complain. Because, quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine anything good could possibly come from this!

We worry about how our next president will change our country.
How the outcome could affect our freedom, our comfort, our children, our grandchildren.
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We read things like this {which is really insightful about the importance of our vote}, but also unnerving that much power falls into the hands of another person– into the hands of one of those people!

Or does it.

Could it be that God is orchestrating something bigger and even more beautiful than we could ever imagine— something we may never perceive in this world as we know it. (Hebrews 12:28)
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If that’s the case…
Let us not forget that this world is not our home and it will get ugly. But take heart because our Savior has OVERCOME. (John 16:33)

Let us not act like orphans, worrying about what will be. Instead, may we cling to the fact that, no matter what, we have an Almighty Father in heaven, who will never leave us. (John 14:18)

Not only that, but we can cast all those cares at the feet of the Most High. Because He cares for us! (1 Peter 5:7)

Church, eyes are on us.
Whether we realize it or not, we are that city on a hill that cannot be hidden.
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We can either keep on ranting against policies and people we don’t agree with.
OR, we can draw from the wells of the deep deep love of Jesus and be bearers of the living water to a world that is dying of thirst.

We can either continue putting off a shocked-and-disgusted-by-this-generation vibe.
OR, we can be heralders of light to a world stumbling in the dark.

We can either complain about the outcome of this election.
OR we can trust that the Lord is sovereign, even in this.

We are not victims. We choose our response.
O Lord, help us.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Voters gonna vote. Haters gonna hate. Overcomers gonna overcome.DSC_0709

Testing testing, 123

2016-01-22-11-39-51…Is this blog still on? 🙂
Man, guys. Sorry it’s been awhile!!
One minute we’re “kneelin’ in the New Year” and the next we’re “leavin’ on a jet plane.” What a whirlwind!! But that could have also been the Vicodin. 😉

Never meant for this much time to pass, but life took some twists & turns and for awhile there, we were just hanging on, not quite sure what to say about it all. But this blog is so special to us– our virtual scrapbook and journal, of sorts. I just don’t want to miss any season, even if we’re still not sure what to say.

We had planned on taking a 6 month furlough in July, but shortly after the New Year, it became apparent a surgery I have put off for many years was necessary sooner than later. In His perfect time, the Lord led the way for us to fly back in January and  parted the waters for me to have surgery 2 weeks later. I wasn’t kidding when I said whirlwind!!

At some point, I counted and realized we’d been living out of suitcases for 7 weeks before we unpacked our bags for a few months. In our 6 months in the States, we lived in 3 different friends’ houses, visited several churches, shook hundreds of hands, traveled thousands of miles… you get it.

We left Brazil not knowing–where would we stay? what would we drive? how would our boys do starting public school back up in February? would our boys have the winter gear they need? how would we weather the cold??

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This pic was taken at the beginning of our journey, leaving our home in Jacutinga. I know this happens when there’s sun and rain, but when embarking on a journey into the unknown, it seemed like an even greater phenomenon– “He goes before us.”  He surely did, providing our every need and so much more!

The boys started school where they had attended before we moved to Brazil. We knew there would be hard things about going back mid-year– getting up in the dark, not getting home ’til 4pm, feeling like there went their day, jumping right back in 2 weeks before standardized testing, having no idea what is a “dab” and all the lingo they never knew, let alone having to remember to flush toilet paper rather than put it in the trash (like we have to in Brazil). But they handled it all like the troopers they are!

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And me. Well, somehow when people told me 6-8 weeks recovery, I heard 2 weeks. SO, when a surgery turned into a blood clot which turned into getting real sick from the anticoagulants… well, I started to wonder if I’d never feel normal again! Somewhere in there I listened to this sermon and realized that time was about so much more than recovering physically, but a deeper healing that needed to take place. That’s a whole ‘nother blog. But, for now. I can just say I am grateful to the core for the lessons learned in the valley of recovery. And for all those who stood by my side when I could do nothing in return–literally, couldn’t even put on my socks! Bless all your dear hearts.

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What amazing friends and family we have! Just looking at all those dear faces again makes me feel all filled up. {Except I regret not remembering to capture ALL Y’ALL this time!}

This furlough was something else. You know, I had plans of delivering meals when a momma was down or taking friends’ kids for the day. I had dreams of girls’ nights out and play dates, and jumping right into all I’ve been missing out on living overseas. But the thing is….. I was the momma down, who was getting delivered meals. I was the friend, whose kids were getting picked up. Nor did I make it to many girls’ nights out and had to cancel play dates to go to the ER. And yet, these dear people were the ones to jump right in and love on us, serve and include us, even though our time was short and we were headed back to Brazil. We arrived on empty and left with full tanks. Thanks to our peeps.

Oh, and all those unknowns back in January? Look where we ended up for most of our time.
The Lord is so faithful.
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THIS is why I blog. Because I forget! I can look ahead and things seem so unclear and I wonder how it will all work out, if it will all work out. But then I look back and am blown away by His provision and His presence. His faithfulness fuels our faith.

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD and rely on His God.
Isaiah 50:10

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 {More 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. 😉