Friday, March 31, 2017

It's been awhile! Abiding and asking

Sorry it has been so long! I have had so much rolling through my head to blog about, and then it was exam time, and birthday time, newsletter time, and thought we needed to talk about what was going there, and then I could be more detailed here... so here is a more detailed update to how March has gone, and thing God is teaching us! If you would like more info please subscribe to our newsletter, that goes out once a month. (you can send me your email and we will add you to the list.) We try to keep information different on here and in our newsletters.

To sum up our month is to say God has truly blessed us in these beginning months here in Cambodia. We have felt every prayer, every member of our team who is backing us, and every joy that comes from knowing we have a network of people supporting us. We have landed so smoothly, and in many ways navigated "country shock" well. "Country shock" is a term I heard form something I read awhile back. Basically it is the adjusting to the climate, food, way of life, living arrangements etc. None of which has been too difficult for God to navigate us through. We are loving life here, and loving building relationships with so many different people.

This month we have found community, community in play groups, community in church, community in our building, and community with people at our school. We have also found normalcy. We have found how to shop, the balance of when to shop (usually) and kind of a normal weekly routine. All of which makes us realize this is home. We have loved getting to know and being embraced by the wonderful expat community here, they have made everything so much easier! We even held a fun birthday party for Amirah, and had so much fun with friends from church, and playgroup and our team.

I say all of this because God is good, faithful and trustworthy. I was thinking this afternoon about how God has spent so many years preparing our family for just this. For being here in Cambodia, for trusting Him to come through, even in our silliest needs/desires. For language learning, and being willing to go slow and do things well. He has prepared our hearts for trusting Him in bigger ways, and new ways, and I just cannot believe everything He has been teaching us in these three short months.

One thing that is very different for me here in Cambodia verses Colorado is that every time I think about being here, I have an ever present, constant reminder that we are only here for one reason. We are here because of Jesus. We are here to share the wonderful news God has made us messengers of. That is it. When you have that kind of direction you can't help but lean into what He is doing more, you cannot help but to rely on Him more. He put us here to share Jesus, He can take care of us.

 This last week I was reading Psalm 107. What really stood out to me was that the people (I think Israelites..) would be in trouble, God didn't jump right in and intervene, He waited. He waited until they cried out to Him. Then He came to their rescue every single time. He satisfied them, and actually probably responded above and beyond their greatest expectations. He never forgot them, and He always heard them. Then He answered and met them where they were at.

This got me thinking, as I learn to rely on Him more, am I crying out to God more for help? Maybe the constant reminder that He is why we are here, that I wouldn't be here in Cambodia if it weren't for Jesus makes me stop, and simply abide better, and ask for His help.

My challenge to you is, what is the thing you have been struggling with? Have you cried out to God to meet you where you are? Have you asked? Sometimes I find myself wondering why God hasn't done anything, and then I am reminded... did I ask Him to? Maybe I just needed to ask.

Playing at an indoor playground for Amirah's birthday! 
Amirah's cupcake birthday cake! 
Swimming party! 
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Party Time! 
Layla sneaking a sip of delicious coffee.
Being silly at our new favorite restaurant! Alma satisfies our deep need for yummy Mexican food.
Layla getting her nails done while sister gets a new hairstyle. 
The adorable 4 year old's new hair cut! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Perspectives change over time....

My mind has been reeling lately about what I should post about next... everyday I have a new idea, and then  lack the time or energy to do it that day... Then when I have the time (like now) I can't seem to remember what I was planning to write about... The girls and I have spent a large portion of our week here at home, organizing toys, and playing with said toys, cleaning up potty accidents, and doing all the extra laundry. My patience has been thoroughly tested between my almost 4 year old and my almost 2 year old, and  when we leave have left the house all the boundaries that both my darling little girls know, and can stay with in are tested, and tried until we return to said home. The only exception has been playing with the wonderful kids on our street, and church last night. To be fair we skipped playgroup yesterday because of attitude issues before we needed to leave, and did lots more walking this week than we have in a while, but still... We are forming friends which is so fun, and weird... because lets be honest, making friends is kind of awkward and weird...but it feels good to be settling into our  new found friendships and church families, and life feels normal....

So... now that our weird exhausting week is over, the thing I was continually reminded of this last week was how different things look the more you look at them. The more you see the same street the more you notice. The more you look out the same window the more you see, the more details, the more that is there. I believe this is doubly true living in a new place, especially a new country. Everywhere I look I see things I hadn't noticed until this week. I think about how things looked the first time I saw them, and how many things seemed scary or weird that are totally normal now. I found myself looking at our street wondering what seemed so ominous about it in the dark when we first moved in? What felt scary? All I can conclude is that it was new, it was different, and it was city. Everything was new and different. Now knowing more language, I understand more, which helps fear to dissipate, we explore more, we know the faces on our street, and know who does or doesn't belong. I no longer feel like I walk out and am unsure which way to go, or which tuk tuk to get into. I know that I can trust our tuk tuk guys, and where to find a tuk tuk if they are busy. I know how to get to where I may need to walk, and I am always noticing things I never saw before on the walks I do most often. Even our favorite market, the first time I walked in there it felt like I had tunnel vision and couldn't ever see myself shopping in there, or navigating the vendors outside on the street with two little girls, guess what!? Now I do, and I am even sometimes able to do it all in Khmer. (Not always, sometimes watching the girls, paying, and shopping is too much for my brain to add another language too, but we are working on it.)

All of this has made me think about how I see God, how I see Jesus, and how I see the Holy Spirit. As a little girl God was someone way up there, in heaven, that sent Jesus because He loved me. The Holy Spirit was a feeling I later associated with God's presence, and eventually hearing God's voice. As a teenager, God was my best friend, and Jesus was the answer to all my sins, and still if I could pull it all together He loved me. As a college student God was someone I needed to share with others, and honor at all costs, and was becoming an intimate lifeline, and friend. Then as a 20-something adult  my view of God has morphed into this hybrid of all of the previous views I have had of Him. I am no longer just a little girl looking up to a giant God I don't understand, nor am I a teenager looking for acceptance from God. I am also not a college student seeking to debate, or win arguments for Jesus, I am somewhere in the middle of all these facets of views of God, and something very new... Well new for me.

Now I understand more about Him. Just like I am understanding more and more about where I live. I am growing in my understanding of His heart for people. I am growing in my view of how much my God loves people, and attempting to allow Him to pour that love out through me. I am understanding that this whole thing has so little to do with me and so much to do with Jesus. The Holy Spirit isn't a weird feeling, or something mystical, but a close intimate friend that I rely on daily to guide my intuition, choices, and my parenting. He is the reason we are here, we are here in Cambodia because God brought us here. I struggle sometimes singing about Him being the only way or laying down my life, because  I am living that more than I ever have before everyday, and sometimes it's easy and wonderful, and sometimes it is hard, and hurts. I know He is worth it. I know He is good, and trustworthy, and I know I want everyone I come in contact with to know Jesus, and how much He loves them. I want to see their fears erased as they fall in love with Jesus and find freedom, I want to see the striving to please Buddha or the spirits drop away because Jesus is all they need.

Yes we are here for engineering, yes, we are learning language, yes, we are here to train design professionals, but it is all nothing without sharing Jesus, without the hope and the freedom that comes with Jesus. Some days it brings tears to my eyes to vocally say Jesus is all I could ever live for because even though it is true, it hurts a little bit. It hurts being away from many we love, and trying to navigate a new culture and language is hard. It is hard when all I want to find is Lysol for cleaning around our apartment, and I just want something I can read, and I can't find it... (I know this is a funny example but I was really frustrated about this the other day.) It brings tears to my eyes because Jesus is worth it, and the value of what Jesus did on that cross is so much bigger, to me now, and I understand more of it now than when I first believed as a little girl.
Family selfie on the couch. 
Snugly Amirah.
Layla's newest thing is sticking stuff in her shirt to carry it with her... Paci in her shirt here! 

Friday, March 3, 2017

God knows what we need. He even knows what our kids need.

I had several people tell me before we ever left for Cambodia, that God knew exactly what He was doing sending us here to Cambodia. Not just sending Chris and I, but our whole family, all four of us. He had a plan and a purpose for each of us in Cambodia. It can be so easy to get caught up in what we are doing here, why Chris and I are here, and what God is teaching us. It is easy to not think much about how it is affecting our kids except in the normal ways, like food, missing loved ones, and finding new places and ways to play.

The last week or so God has been revealing to me things He has be doing in the girls these last two months since we have been here, as well as in our family as a whole. It is truly amazing. That is what I would like to share with you today, ways God works in our families to make us more like Him, and more dependent on Him. I pray that you will be encouraged by these testimonies in our family and it may even help you to see what God might be doing in your kids' lives as you live out your life where God has placed you.

Starting with Amirah. Amirah has always been our more timid, worried, and even fearful child. She is up for trying many things but she is timid. Before we left for Cambodia, she would rarely ride on a 4 wheeler with her grandpa, and wouldn't touch a dirt bike or motorcycle. She hated escalators with a deep burning passion, and was fairly nervous about crossing streets, and walking around lots of cars. She was very nervous about swimming, and would never swim where she couldn't touch, even with a floatie of some kind. (none of these are bad things to be scared of, great survival things, but sometimes tiring when you know she is going to be ok) It could even be very hard to get her to try something she perceived as possibly dangerous and we were really worried about how we'd ever get her in a tuk tuk once we got here. Now we have been here 2 months. She has been amazing at jumping into new classes at church, playgroups around the city, and playing with friends on our street. She is a tuk tuk riding expert and has gone from riding with a death grip on me, in my lap or Chris's to riding laying down on a seat by herself sometimes. She regularly rides escalators (they are everywhere here), and swims around our pool with floaties, and with us all the time. She even let Chris throw her the other day when we were swimming! She walks with me to the market with awareness of cars, but not in fear that every car or moto is going to get her, and she tries out the Khmer she is learning on whomever will talk with her. It is amazing to stop and think about how much fear she has overcome in her little life just because we were obedient and moved here to Cambodia. She walks with more confidence and trusts Chris and I much more when we tell her she can do something. God knew that Amirah had this fear in her, He knew she didn't need to have it. He knew that He could clothe her in confidence in who He made her to bed, and He is doing just that! She also is fascinated with the stories of Moses right now, and how Moses trusts God, and obeys God. I don't think that is by chance that those are the stories she wants to read over and over right now, while God is showing her how little she has to fear.

Next is little Layla Lou. That Layla girl has known what she wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it since the moment she was born, and since she started walking she has wanted to be just like Amirah. God has been revealing to me how He is developing Layla's ability to play with other kids, and be on her own. She is totally content sometimes playing on her own (which is kind of new), and loves to play with Amirah or other kids often. She is determined! She climbed into the tuk tuk this morning all on her own, and she decided a few weeks ago we were going to potty train now. Layla has perseverance, and she walks with so much confidence as well! Layla is also a kind helper like her big sister and is finding a niche in helping the family get ready to leave, helping kids with their toys, sharing her snacks, and sharing herself with those around us. (she usually loves all the attention she gets wherever we go) Though Layla's things aren't as obvious as Amirah's it is still there, and I love see what God is doing in her little heart. This morning she brought me the Jesus Storybook Bible and told me she wanted Jesus. She has been wanting to read all about Jesus, and I know that her great strength God is going to use for mighty things, with that caring little heart.

As a family we have noticed a greater security in our family unit. The girls rely on both Chris and I more. The look to us more equally, and we love all the family time we get with language learning, and city investigating. When someone goes somewhere, besides school there is a concern about where they are going, and when they will be back. The security of our family unit is huge. We are their safe space. This is already opening up for so many great discussions with Amirah. (can you believe she will be 4 this month!) She is honest about how she feels, and we discuss many things we see, hear and do with her. Cultivating this in our family is our lifelong goal as a family unit, and I pray that God will continue to knit us together as a family that goes through things together, shares, and no matter where we are in the world are secure because of Him, and also how He anchors us in the family He put us in.

Praise God for knowing not just what I need, what Chris needs, what our family needs but also what our sweet girls need individually, and for continually developing the things He has put inside of them.

Enjoy the adorable pics below... we all know that's really why you read this blog. ;)

Using the curtains the wind is blowing as a tent for camping. :)  
Examining the elephant at Wat Phnom.

Me enjoying time with the little brother! 

Saying goodbye to uncle Johnathan at the airport.

Snoozing on the Uncle Johnathan in the tuk tuk.

Playing at Molly Fantasy! A new favorite spot! 

More Molly Fantasy! 

Riding a dinosaur in Siem Reap!