Monday, June 30, 2014

A Happy Birthday!

Today is Leah's birthday.  4 years old.  How did this happen?  To think that our youngest is already 4 is crazy.  She's our wild child.  Our rule breaker.  Our challenger.  Our negotiator.  Our yeller.  Our diva.  She brings all kinds of life to our family.
Leah petting Uncle Ray's dog, Dolly.

Today we went to my brother's camp-site to play at the playground there.  In the time we've been out of the country, he purchased a new mobile home type camper and they have a boat now.  Last night he invited us to take a ride on the boat.  The kids were loving it and it was a nice refreshing little ride.
Noah driving the boat.  He had to slow it down to feel comfortable.

Leah did surprisingly well giving gifts this morning to Noah and Bart.  Her and I agreed she would get me something in Florida so we didn't have one more thing to pack.  She didn't complain about not getting anything and seemed excited for them.  Noah loved getting some new cars and Bart got a personalized mug.  Small and simple.
Noah and his 2 new cars.
Proudly presenting her mug to Papa
We also went to McDonald's today for Leah's birthday.  Her request.  It's on the water (we even got to ride past it last night on the boat) and we were able to feed the geese and ducks after we ate.  They loved it.  Goslings, ducklings, and many adults.  It was really fun.
Riding past McDonald's on the boat
The past few days have been a little stressful leading up to the move to Florida. We are trying to figure out what will fit into both cars and don't want to weigh them down a ton.  So far we've been able to fit all of our suitcases and now it's down to fitting everything else.  I'll try to remember to take pictures, but no promises.
Eating at McDonald's today.

The goal is to leave tomorrow morning around 6:30 or 7:00 at the latest.  We have the trip all planned out, but we're going to just be flexible and hope for the best with traffic and construction.  My parents do have walkie-talkies that they're letting us borrow so that should hopefully help with communication between us driving 2 cars.  We're not looking forward to the drive separately, but I'm sure we'll manage with the help of lots of movies.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More transition

We moved out of our housesitting gig in Columbus.  Moved.  Again.  Our kiddos had to say goodbye to another place.  We're in northwest Ohio at my parents' place.  The kids are loving having toys and cousins to play with and all kinds of stuff to do outside.  But we're ready.  Ready to not live out of suitcases.  Ready to sleep in a place that's our own.  Ready to be settled.

After a few days of fever and over 24 hours of vomiting, Leah is improving.  We found out today that she definitely has a UTI.  Again.  Probably as a result of her being so stubborn and holding instead of going to the bathroom.  She started an antibiotic the other day, but we had to switch tonight since the doctor's office confirmed and said the first one wouldn't work.  Thankfully it'll start working before we start the drive to Florida next week.

So the next few days will be spent getting details together.  We need to make arrangements for random details of moving.  Lots of details.  We need to figure out how to fit everything in our cars.  It should be a wonderful puzzle.  And of course we need to celebrate a special little girl's birthday right before we leave!

Is. 41:8    But you, Israel, ymy servant,
Jacob, zwhom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, amy friend; 
9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called bfrom its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are ymy servant,
zI have chosen you and not cast you off”; 
10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with cmy righteous right hand. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The thief in the night

Oh my.  This. Is. Killing. Us.  2 nights ago, Leah threw up in the middle of the night, had a fever and it has only continued.  Today we've seen a bit of progress in that she's holding down food and her fever has broken on it's own.  She's been super clingy and needy and that's ok.  But that kind of changes everything when these things happen.

I've been sick.  Some sort of strange bug hit me 2 nights ago.  It doesn't seem to be the same thing that she has though which has been good.  But I'm still not right.  So sleep hasn't been something that many of us have been getting lately, minus Noah who sleeps like a rock through just about everything.

One of the things we've discussed is that seemingly little things like getting sick or cutting a finger kind of put us out of commission.  If we were in a healthy place and felt like we could handle these things, it wouldn't be that big of a deal.  But that's not where we're at.  And so these things just take everything out of us.  Our capacity to handle things has diminished.

What does that mean for us?  Well, nothing has gone the way we expected it to.  Conversations happen that trigger things we never expected.  Small set backs take all of our emotional energy.  Traveling/moving steals any momentum we have.  Poor behavior in our kids steal any joy we seem to muster.
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.                 -Job 42:3
Satan is very real and alive.  We see it in our hearts, in our actions, even in our daughter as she goes through this sickness.  He has come to steal, kill and destroy.  He wants to rob us of life and joy.  What do we choose?  Well, some days we choose poorly.  Others we walk in the Spirit and move toward one another in grace.  Either way, we see him, we see what he's doing and we're not ok with it.

We cry out to God and sometimes it's in the midst of the crying that we receive hope.  Other times we receive silence.  We choose to believe that he sits on the throne and is sovereign over our hearts and lives.  We choose to believe that the things we don't understand or know will one day be made known. We choose to be faithful, even when it's difficult to get out of bed.  And we choose to rejoice in the hope that he knows and he understands.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A birthday, a wedding and father's day

This has been an eventful week.  Last weekend we had a wedding, which was a ton of fun.  The kids loved the reception.  We left them with Bart's parents for the wedding and that worked out perfectly since our daughter can sit still for about 20 seconds flat.  Plus the wedding was outside and it was a little rainy so I'm sure they would've been all worked up about that.
We celebrated Leah's birthday super early so she could do it
Bart's family.  She went a little crazy when she saw Olaf.
It's hard to tell but she actually put 4 candles in that cake
Super cute Blake and Liesl
Bart's birthday was Friday.  It was fairly uneventful.  He's not very picky or super opinionated so it's sometimes difficult to know what he'll be really excited about.  We did go to Quaker Steak and Lube so he got spoiled with that.  We do reverse birthdays, or hobbit birthdays as Bart likes to call them.  Bart got us all gifts for his birthday.  It's fun but a pretty difficult concept for our kids still.  They want gifts, of course.  Leah is going to be a mess for her birthday!

Father's day has been fun.  We skipped church (GASP, sinners!).  It was nice to have a relaxing slow morning.  The kids were in heavy need of a bath so we let them marinate for a while.  We got a late breakfast, eventually went out to lunch and let the kids play.  We're high class and really splurged today.  We went to McDonald's.  Obviously Bart cared more about his kids joy than his own today.
Bart's father's day gift
(designed by our friend Brian)
He'll always have something to remember VZ
and the people he spent so much time with

We ended up getting home really late last night since we impromptu ended up going to my sister's place.  We had a really good time but it was hard to leave.  We just haven't had enough time with people, especially quality time.  And it was really quality time.
As St. Teresa of Avila audaciously expressed it, from heaven the most miserable earthly life will look like one bad night in an inconvenient hotel.  In the Christian scheme of things, this world and the time spent here are not all there is.  Earth is a proving ground, a dot in eternity--albeit an important dot, for Jesus said our destiny depends on our obedience here.  Next time you want to cry out to God in anguished despair, blaming him for  a miserable world, remember: less than one-millionth of reality has been presented, and that millionth is being lived out under a rebel flag.                                                    -Yancey
This quote has helped me this past week.  When I think about our recovery this week from sickness, missing fingers (slight exaggeration), obnoxiously disobedient kids, it's quotes like this that help me hold it together.  Well, maybe not hold it together, but rather not strangle my kids.  Praise the Lord we made it through this past week.  Your prayers were felt.  Tangibly.  The kids have been a lot better.  Bart isn't sick anymore.  My finger is healing nicely.  We're feeling better about life.
At the wedding reception

And in a little over 2 weeks from now, we'll be in Florida.  Ah, Florida.  In July.  We don't even care.  Just get us there.  To our beds.  To our own place.  To this: Florida

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Please pray

Our family needs prayers right now.  It seems like it's a never ending cycle in our lives right now.  We were doing pretty good for a bit.  We felt like we were being productive, even had some momentum with taking steps of faith and working hard.  And this weekend brought that all crashing down.

It seemed innocent.  We'll just go to Canton for a few days since we had a wedding there on Sunday and we'll have a little birthday get together with Bart's family for Bart and Leah since we won't get to see them for a while.  That was Thursday night.  Leah loved it.  She got all kinds of presents (tons of Frozen stuff) and had a blast with her cousins.

But eventually things started to get messy.  Bart's parents were dog-sitting so Bart's allergies started to go haywire.  Between that and having the windows open the whole weekend, Bart was pretty much miserable.  Ever since Venezuela, whenever Bart's allergies get worked up, he ends up getting sick.  So now he's sick and more miserable than he already was.

Noah was sad in Canton.  He was ready to go back to Columbus.  It was really pretty heartbreaking because he is never like that.  He did love having time with his cousins but he just wanted to be "home."  He wanted to go to a place that wasn't home, but felt like the closest thing to it for him.

We did have a great presentation at a church in Canton to talk about our ministry.  I shouldn't say we.  I should say Bart.  I ended up trying to negotiate with an irrational almost 4 year old about her staying in her class versus coming with me, versus going in a random unused room to play.  She was ridiculous.  And her ridiculousness has only continued.  I can't leave my children in the same room to play anymore.  They are ALWAYS at each other.  Fighting non-stop.  And this is abnormal.  They fight periodically, but this is out of control fighting.

They cannot be reasoned with.  Threatening doesn't help.  Bribing doesn't help.  There is no sense of any control.  They are just like little crazy, disobedient people who keep feeding off of each other.  Non-stop.  It is incredibly draining.

I can't even tell you how many times Leah was spanked yesterday between Bart and I, because we don't even know the count.  And Noah.  He is regressing.  A lot.  He is behaving quite a bit like a 1 or 2 year old.  In the past month or so he has slowly started all of these really bad habits to console himself.  With that, he has no self-control anymore and that leads to some real messes with his sister.  He is constantly upset about something and we are at a loss.

To top it all off I slipped using a knife the other day and almost cut off an entire corner of my thumb.  No stitches, I'm hoping that was a good choice on my part.  But doing that has totally limited what I can do and it's super sensitive obviously.

At this point, we're just trying to push through.  We realized we only have 2 weeks left in Columbus and for some reason that just feels completely overwhelming.  We do have an appointment with a counselor who specializes in working with kids this week, so we're hoping she can help us know how to help Noah.  This is all just going to take time and we're just quite frankly sick of that phrase.  At this point, it feels like time is our enemy and only brings new challenges.  We can only hope that it can get better from here.  Hoping and praying the next post is positive and we've found new life....

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Not much new

We went through our storage unit a couple days ago.  Well, part of it.  It would have been quite the undertaking to attempt to go through the whole thing.  We had to get some things out, mostly kitchen items, so it was a necessary evil.  It was an overwhelming process to go through some of our things.  It took us a couple of hours of sorting and rearranging and pulling things out.

You see, when we were preparing to leave for Venezuela, we just started throwing things in out of pure necessity.  So it was a tiny bit chaotic in there.  But it's done now.  Whew.  That's off our shoulders.  One less step to get us to Florida.  One less thing to do.  It's refreshing to check that off our list.

On a very positive note, my tooth is getting better.  Slowly but surely.  One of these days I'll remember what it's like to chew on both sides of my mouth.  One day.  Time will heal.  I gladly look forward to everything being right again.
God doesn't explain.  He explodes.  He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway.  He says that to try to explain the kind of things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a little-neck clam...God doesn't reveal his grand design.  He reveals himself.                           -Frederick Buechner
I love this quote.  It's been interesting to reflect on the book of Job throughout this transition time.  One of the things we've desired most throughout the past few months is empathy.  From people, from God, in every scenario.  Yet, that's not how God responds to Job.  Not even in the slightest.  And I'm oddly drawn to it.

I can't help but appreciate a God who shows his glory in how he responds to Job.  He's not sympathetic.  He doesn't leave anyone wondering who's in charge.  He's God.  There's a bigger picture and Job just can't see it.  I want to follow a God that's in control.  I want to follow the guy who knows what's going on, even if he doesn't let me in on it.

It's a lot like the way we interact with our kids.  I just know better.  I have a better view.  Sometimes I can't answer the question of why for them.  I need to discipline them.  I want to give them gifts.  I want to love them.  Yes, I'm referring to myself as someone who is like a child.  I mean, is there any other way to look at it when I compare myself to God?

In so many ways it's been life giving to go to a God who isn't empathetic.  Sure, he can empathize.  That's where having a great High Priest who has experienced earth and all of its ridiculousness comes in handy.  He is perfectly able to empathize but he's much bigger than that.  At this point, that is what we wrestle through, expectations for God, for people, for community, for ourselves.  There's a tension and we're still trying to figure out that tension.