29 April 2010

Family Retreat

Last weekend we went on a little family retreat just out of town at Quaker Ridge Camp where we attended the Future Missionaries Retreat last summer.  We had a little two bedroom cabin with a cozy wood stove and little on our agenda.  But first, we had to dig ourselves out of the SNOW DAY we had on Friday.  Faith was a great helper... in her pajamas!
We arrived in time to make some supper and decided we were being prepared for Kenya.  There was only a little saucepan and a skillet.  So I cooked pasta in the skillet... it still tasted the same... imagine that!
We ventured out the next morning to check out the horses.  The Faith-pulling-Joel arrangement didn't last very long.  It's tough when you've only got about two pounds on your little brother.
One of the big things we did on the retreat was to go through a workbook with Faith, called "Off We Go".  It discusses the importance of family, saying goodbye, packing up, and new cultures.  Pictured below is Faith with her "Passport" that she made.  She loved the activities; Joel looked on for many of them, and it has been interesting to hear Faith's thoughts this week as some of the activities are still being processed in her mind.  We will have to wait and see how the rest of this transition goes, but we feel like the activities were very valuable, and laid a good foundation for the big months up ahead.  

14 April 2010

Zero to five in the blink of an eye

I can't believe I have had the privilege of spending my days at home with Faith for the last five years, and that we are moving on to a whole new stage called the school years in just a couple of months.

We left the kids at Grandma and Grandpa's last week so that we'd have a chance to start our sorting, packing, and moving process.  I know it's a little early, but I figured that if we started early, June might not be too overwhelming.  Have we mentioned that we have never really moved?  We did move into this house, but that was from college in Colorado Springs... and everything fit inside our Ford Explorer.  Let's just say six years and two children added a little bit of stuff!  Aside from the to-do's, it was a wonderful time for us as a couple, and me, as a wife and mom, to reflect over the past six years.

As I sat in the quiet house on Monday morning, I thought back to five years ago.  I was pregnant with Faith, knowing I should be enjoying the time I had to myself, but mostly I was so unsure of the path we were on.  It was one of the loneliest times in my life.  We hadn't planned on becoming pregnant one month into marriage, and I sure didn't know many other moms... none that I called friend, at least.  I was barely 21, not quite done with school, not even sure what it was to be a wife, and the Lord chose for me to become a mother.  And yes, we knew Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord.  'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"  But as much as I knew that scripture, it sure was hard to really believe it for myself.

The first few months with Faith are some of the most cherished in my memory.  I remember gazing into Faith's cradle when she was just a month or two old, and I was amazed at the pride that swelled up in my heart that made me want to burst.

But then it got harder.

I experienced symptoms of postpartum depression that can only be described as torture.  I experienced enough relief from week to week and began to feel a lot better when she was nine months old, so I figured it was all behind me, and mostly only Jim knew.  Not long after, when I entered the second trimester of pregnancy with Joel, the depression reared its ugly head again and this time, I made a cry for help.  I was treated and thankfully experienced relief almost immediately.  Since that time, things truly have only gotten better.

In the midst of the hardest years of my life, I sure couldn't see how the Lord was preparing me for the mission field.  But last week on that quiet Monday, it just crashed over me like a wave.  I sat sobbing on the floor, worshiping, praising, and in awe of the great God that we serve.  

We handled a lot of stress in our first year of marriage.  It says something when there's always a pile of thank you notes to write.  We had a marriage, new baby, and graduations to celebrate.  Jim juggled the pressures of his first year of teaching with a pregnant new wife.  We learned how to work through the stressful and unknown as a team and how to be honest and real with each other.  I grew up pretty quick.

I believe that the first time I really asked for help in my life was that very dark night during my pregnancy with Joel that I realized I couldn't live this life on my own.  It's not much like our culture to depend on those around us, or to show our "weaknesses".  It is easier to go it alone when there is the fear of rejection or an image to maintain.  There have been many other kinds of situations that we've found ourselves in over the years that we've found no other option but to say "help!"  Prime example:  we're a one-car family with a finicky Ford Explorer and places to go even when the car says no!

I also look at those around us that we now call friends that we didn't know five years ago.  We have been richly blessed relationally here in Woodland Park.  And God keeps the people comin'... two of my closest friends I only met last year, and we continue to be humbled by those that want to get to know us, love us, and support us as we take this big step in our lives.

The future and the hope that God has given us is just amazing.  Amazing.

And it all seemed to start with this....

07 April 2010

A full house!

This week, the kids are enjoying some time with Grandma while we sort through the house.  You can see here the contents of our back shed in the living room.  Christmas decorations, books, camping gear and other odds and ends waiting to be sorted.

And here, in the entry, boxes neatly labeled and waiting to be stored.  

We've got a ways to go, but we are thankful for this time to get a lot done efficiently while the kids have a blast at Grandma and Grandpa's.  Jim was blessed with a snow day today, so that was an added bonus for the week. 

Back to work!