Saturday, October 6, 2018

"Trust in the Lord, and live."

I wanted to encourage you to turn to Jesus in whatever your need might be. I was reading my bible and the prophet kept saying "Turn to Yahweh and live!" but the people kept trying everything else instead. Then I immediately thought of the day we were preparing to leave Cambodia for this home assignment, and I had done a huge last load of laundry and as soon as the washing machine finished spinning it began to pour rain, and the kind of rain that look liked it would last all day. 

While I was cleaning the rest of our house I frantically texted a friend for quick ideas of how to get that huge load of laundry dry so I could put it away before we left that evening for the airport. She gave me great ideas, of hanging it inside with fans etc. but I decided to wait it out. I decided to finish mopping and then hang the laundry, maybe the sun would come back out. I was mopping the last floor, looked up and it was still raining, lightly raining. 

Then I thought I should ask God to stop the rain. So I quickly and maybe even halfheartedly prayed, "God please stop the rain so I can hang my laundry, and it will dry before we leave tonight". About 5 minutes later the rain had nearly stopped, the sun was coming out, and a small breeze picked up!

I ran upstairs and hung the laundry, it didn't rain the rest of the day, and it was all mostly dry by the time I got home to fold it and put it away before we headed to the airport. See I connected with this because I stressed over it for probably close to 2 hours before I stopped to pray for a small thing. He cares about the small things and He will meet us in those things. Would it have stopped raining anyway? Maybe, but the point God highlighted for me in this little illustration was to not forget to ask before I run to other things, or people to fix my problems. He can do it, and He cares even about the small things.

Don't forget to bring it to Him. The big, the small, the in between. He cares, He sees, and He wants to meet you in that thing. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Am I Convinced?? Are you??

SO this is something I wrote a few months ago, in reaction to watching the series A.D. I have also recently been listening to the bible project podcast, and many of these things are still stirring in my heart. God is doing something deep in me with this idea of loving others. Decided it was time to share this. I hope it encourages others like it is me, to let Jesus do this work deep in your hearts as well to love the way He loves us. 

We have been watching the series A.D. on netflix recently. It has left me wondering so many things. Especially about my own heart, seeing a portrayal of the Holy Spirit, and the real power of the Holy Spirit, and the early church. What they did, what they gave up, and how they moved through the events after Jesus rose again. I am left wondering what I would have done. Peter makes a speech in one of the episodes right after the Holy Spirit comes and I actually wanted to leap off my couch at 10pm at night and do what he said.

I found myself wondering what I believe about the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and the sacrifices I am willing to make to see Jesus come to people. Over and over I hear Peter (in the show) speak about love, how love was Jesus's way, even talking with other Jews about how they are no longer to fight with each other but just fight. (I have been reading through the old testament recently, and the bloodshed and fighting has been standing out to me too... so this distinction Peter makes of the time before to fight and the time now to love like Jesus did was amazing to me. Really I just needed a place to put all of these thoughts.

Also they set out to rescue and love all those that needed help. Even knowing they may be taken advantage of, and used. That was ok, because that is a risk when we love others. Barnabas giving what he had, they all facing death at any moment, and giving up family etc. Spoke deeply to me too, we have given up a lot to come to Cambodia and have gained a lot. We have made sacrifces but truly nothing in comparison to what those who have gone before us have given up.

I have been struggling in my heart lately to want to love people, all people the way Jesus did, and the way He has asked and created me to. I find myself feeling hardened lately, because it is scary to put yourself out there and love the way Jesus asks us to. But I am confident that it is what we are called to do, and it what our early church roots were based on.

So much of what we should be doing is counter cultural to where we live, to human culture anywhere, because God is not human, and though aspects of human culture reflect who He is, it flawed because it is not fully who God is.

One more thing that struck me was watching a portrayal of the man and wife who held money back from God. I have heard that story over and over again, I recognized the couple as soon as they came on the screen. They gave so much, but they held back. I wonder though if it was worse that they just simply weren't honest about it. They said they gave all they had, but they didn't, they held back. They lied, and thought they had gotten away with it. Then their disobedience, the effect it had on the others, and on church. Here are these people who love God, and Jesus and want to give all, but are scared so they hold back. When they hold back the pretend they don't and all are deceived, then when they are punished people are scared of Peter, but it wasn't Peter who killed them.

How often does our disobedience hurt those in community with us around us, and pull us away from what God is doing? Or make others afraid of what God might do?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Perfectly Summer Day

Well we have been over here running at a pace much faster than our normal "school year" pace. We have more Khmer lessons, and the girls are doing a Khmer summer program, we are running at a fast pace.

However, today we had perfectly "summer" restful morning. We played games, we blew bubbles, Amirah did blocks, we drew a lot, and we sat. We played on the playground and we road bikes. We did play dough, and the only chore we did was dishes. We swung on our swing, and we enjoyed each other. It was so very very nice.

Lately the girls have been sleeping in a bit and this morning they were wide awake and ready to go early, which made our morning even longer and more restful. It was wonderful.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

#Merica Day

Yesterday we had a #merica day, at a Japanese mall, and an European warehouse type store. We bought berries. Strawberries,  blue berries, raspberries and black berries!!!! This is something I have missed for the whole 18 months we have lived in Cambodia. We found strawberries in the market in January, and February, but not for long. And though you can buy frozen berries in some variety here they can be between $10-$20 a kilo. These were $5 a kilo! They are frozen, but at such a good price! So we came home from these places and made hamburgers with strawberry milk shakes.

We love living in Cambodia. We love being here, learning/speaking Khmer, our friends, our home, but some days, it is so fun to have a delicious taste of home. So for now I will be munching on frozen berries, and baking things like blueberry muffins... we will enjoy a taste of home, that makes us feel a bit closer to our family and friends in America.

Today we are back to our normal Sunday of church, and preparing for the week ahead. Chris and the girls are washing motos, and bikes, I am meal planning, and wondering if I will be able to find the ingredients I plan to buy. Layla is eating a popsicle in her underwear.

It is a great Sunday afternoon in Cambodia.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What I have learned living in Cambodia

Things I have learned living in Cambodia:

1. Maybe I am not as fluent in English as I had once thought I was. Also us Americans speak an English that is (I would say) the most different from everyone else's English.

2. My kids are picking up things from the "other English". So if you talk to them and they call the bathroom the toilet, or the elevator the lift, or soccer football...give them grace. :)

3. When you live in a city that is built up with steep stairs you and your young children become master stair climbers. However when you live in a house full of stairs your children may forget that they are master stair climbers.

4. Be gentle to people you know learning your language. Language learning is downright hard. Though they can't tell you their name today, might of been able to hold a full conversation with you yesterday, so give them grace, and try again next time you see them. Don't give up on them.

5. A smile and gentle face can go further than you ever knew.

6. Let go of being in a hurry, or trying to be on time. Sometimes you will just be late, getting mad doesn't help it. Sometimes you will just be super early, and the other person will be late, and again anger doesn't help. Relax.

7. Sometimes life is like driving in traffic, everyone goes in their own direct all at the same time and it works, other times it takes someone from the outside stepping in and helping untangle the mess in the middle of the intersection.

8. Coffee is life. Don't forget your coffee.

9. Being who you are is enough. sometimes that is adding to who you are as you adapt and learn and change to be apart of a new language and culture and sometimes it is bring your home culture and life into your relationships here and sharing with those around you.

10. There are times you feel like you maybe have lost yourself. You aren't sure who you are, and what makes you you, but then you remember Jesus. He is the answer He knows who you are and who you will be. He is molding and forming you. Trust the process.

11. Loving others can be so easy most days and so hard other days. Give grace and except grace for yourself.

12. It's ok to pray for safety every time you leave your house, and to eat street food sometimes.

13. My kids like rice. Like really really like rice.

14. Layla likes chili peppers and sour mango.

15. Amirah can be so kind, and makes new friends so easily, everywhere we go.

16. Saying goodbye to friends you have just made can be so hard.

17. Sometimes it takes 2 languages to say what you are trying to say.

18. My family is feeling a bit homesick when we tend to eat mostly American or Mexican food.

19. Swimming almost anywhere is great family time.

20. There is so much more to learn!!!

Who Your Obedience Effects

Often we may write off obedience as being too small, or simply that, that thing could just be too small for God to actually be asking me to do that. We think He can't care about that, or we are waiting to be trusted with the "big thing" He is asking you to do.

Here is the truth, often if not always we have to be obedient in the small things. Obedient in the quiet, in the things that seem to not matter much, then He will ask you to be obedient in the bigger and bigger things. Sometimes the thing you think is small truly is big. It may even seem small because you are so used to obey Him, it just doesn't even seem big anymore.

About 3/4 months ago I was thinking about doing an online retreat for women who work cross culturally, but I was unsure if I should take the time, and spend the money to do it. A few days later I got an email from a member of our ministry team that she had heard about the retreat and she wanted to pay for me to do the retreat. Though the cost of the retreat wasn't much it was the push I needed to decide to do it. Because she was obedient to offer that simple gift to me, 5 of us moms, and 1 grandma got away, and were able to spend the weekend with Jesus, and each other. It was wonderful. It was exactly what my soul needed. This has now grown for us 6 into almost a monthly gathering. God took 6 of us who needed each other, and each others' friendships and knit us together a bit that weekend. All because a sweet member of our support team decided to be obedient to the prompting the Holy Spirit had given her. She invested, and now there are these deeper friendships forming amongst moms, and this grandma that was so needed.

That's my testimony of obedience. Just simply obey, you never know who it will effect. Whether it is big obedience or small obedience or like in the story above, maybe seemingly small obedience that is big for someone else.

A New Season

We have recently moved into a new house. To say it has been a project is an understatement. The hardest part has been to have the surprise of the project and adjustment it has been. It feels a bit like moving from the dorms at university your freshman year into a house with roommates your sophomore year. You suddenly realize all the things that you didn’t have to worry about living in the dorms, and how much easier 1 roommate was than a house full of roommates. You also have to figure out more of how to get places and though you may have done that in the dorms things are maybe a little further and life is just a bit more complex while being a bit more simple all at the same time. You have to learn new ways of living and though you like it,  suddenly all that was done for you is no longer lost on you. For us this past month has been like that. Moving from an apartment in a fairly central part of the city to a house more on the edge of the city. We like and maybe even by now are beginning to love our new house, however it is an adjustment.

We are in a new season, speaking more Khmer at home than we did before, rubbing shoulders with neighbors more often, and the kids playing with neighbor kids all the time. We are truly loving being in a neighborhood with families, and hopefully being a light for Jesus to the people around us. We are further from the center of the city, which means it is quieter, we eat at home more for dinner, and I am still trying to work out the best places and ways to grocery shop. Before I had my favorite markets and sellers in those markets, but now that is too far away to frequent for my weekly shopping trips, so I get to explore new markets and super markets. This is fun, and frustrating. Some days it is a fun adventure, other days it is frustrating and exhausting. Then there are weeks I give up and I go back to the market 20 mins away, because it is easy, and what can I say I miss it. We now have more house, more space, and can accommodate guests easier, and expand our ministry within our home. We also get to eat and talk, relax and sit with our neighbors. This is a blessing, and teaching us so much about Khmer culture we haven't yet learned or have learned in the classroom but not as much outside of the classroom.

Language learning for me had taken a break, and a backseat while we got moved and settled, but now I am ramping back up! Amirah and Layla are doing a summer Khmer program at an international preschool here, and I am having that time to catch up on things like this blog! And turn much needed attention back to my language study.

Amirah is officially a Kindergartner and Layla will start preschool when Amirah starts Kindergarten, we are entering the school age years!

Chris is working full time+ and enjoying it, we are truly in a new season here in Phnom Penh.

That's Normal Right???

It's normal to travel around with your 5 year old and 3 year old on a scooter right? To grocery shop with a backpack, and buy what you can fit, and what you can carry? It's normal to eat things touched by strangers with un-gloved hands, right? It's normal to not notice the man peeing on the side of the street, or the naked boys running around right? A totally normal to not fear my child slipping through the railing anymore because she has learned not to climb on it? It's normal to have very slick title around a swimming pool right? Normal to change your meal plan for the week because a place that had an ingredient last time has none?

I have found that I have become so used to our normal, that I don't even think of these things anymore unless someone is visiting or just moved here. All these things and more are totally normal to me.

However since moving into our new house I have so many things to add to this list of "normal things". The transition from an apartment to a house, and in a community has been a bit of a shock.  I am sure that in an a few more months there will be so many more things I won't think of anymore as unusual, and when you come to visit, you will look at me and ask if that is normal. I will smile and I will say yes, yes it is... here.

The beauty of this all is how God has made us all different, how He has shaped our societies and cultures differently and how they reflect aspects of who He is. There are things here I no longer see that aren't just different, they are also not good. However most things are truly are neither good or bad, they are just simply different, and when I look at our own American culture I see the same. Things that are not good, and things I that are good and I miss, and things that are simply just different. Embrace the different around. You just might see another aspect of our wonderful Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We miss you....

Just so you know, we miss you. We miss our friends and family that we have moved away from.. We miss our home church in Durango, and we miss the people we love all over the US. We miss you. Most of all we miss people, our family and friends whom we have history with. Though we are making new friends here, and building history here it isn't quite the same, and when I am feeling homesick it is for those close relationships.

We also miss the mountains and the snow, a dishwasher, a garbage disposal.. but those things are easy. Easy to leave behind, and honestly only missed some of the time. I miss people.

January was a hard month for me. Many people are leaving, moving away or back to the US. There are so many leaving or getting ready to leave, and it is kind of hard. One of the harder parts is knowing as we build relationships that eventually they will move too, or we might move. Choosing to love and connect with people right here, right now, regardless for how long we have with them is hard. It is hard work for my heart to want to open up, and connect with people who are or may be leaving soon. It's hard for me to let my kids do the same. Knowing how sad they will be when people are leaving. It is just hard. Hard remember these these relationships now, no matter how long or short they are, they are worth the investment.

But then I think of all my beloved friends back in US. The people we left. The deep value of those friendships, and the connect we still have. The joy Facebook gives of being able to stay connected a little more easily, and the greater joy that for many of my friends here in Cambodia and all over the world, some day we will be reunited in heaven. Celebrating, and worshiping Jesus altogether. The joy of that is amazing. My dream come true to be with everyone I love worshiping together in heaven. Maybe that's why God sometimes calls us to all different parts of the world, so we will recognize heaven when we are there, so we get a glimpse of the vastness of what He is doing in the Earth, and joy for being altogether.

I don't want to miss out because I decided to disconnect to protect my heart. I want to be someone who dives into relationships, connects, and sobs, weeps when one of us moves away. I want my kids to be the same. Then we get to let Jesus heal the hurt, and be in the mourning with us. I suppose this is true living anywhere in the world, eventually you or people you love move. It just feels farther away when they move a world away.

So if you have wondered if we miss you, we do. If you have wondered if we would have time to talk with you if you called or texted, absolutely. If you have wondered if we would even want to catch up or if Amirah misses your kids, we would love, and she does. :) Scheduling is tricky with the time change. But I want you to know, we miss you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Value of Asking for Help

Since college God has been teaching me the massive blessing that comes with asking for help. So far during my adult life I have found the one of the best ways to strengthen relationships with others is to trust people enough to ask for help. Usually many people would like to help, to be apart of your life in a deeper way, but are waiting for that invite. Times in my life when I have been most lonely I have neglected to ask for or accept help.

God created us to need each other. He created us to rely on each other, and to be used by Him to be the answer to each other prayers. Offering to help and helping draws us into this part of God's plan for us. However often we do not know that we need help, or we don't want to be a burden so we don't ask. Rarely others think to offer because we assume that if that person needed help they would ask for it.

Since moving to Cambodia asking for help is pretty much the only reason we have friends. I mean how would you make friends if you didn't ask people for help? It is such a huge blessing!!! As we have asked, God has planted seeds of friendships that I hope last a very, very long time. I had to ask people for help with everything, and even now if I think I might know I still ask people, because I love the relational part of asking. The joy we all get from helping each other find something or seeing another succeed in what they are trying to do.

When I first thought about this blog post months ago, I was overwhelmed by the joy in asking for help. I had just left a friends' who had been teaching me to make better tortillas, and another friend had taken my girls for the morning. The tortillas were delicious and the time spent with that friend was even better, the girls had a fabulous morning with a new auntie, and enjoyed the change in our routine. I had a fun chat with our tuk tuk driver, and just loved how all these relationships came from asking people to help me with something I couldn't do on my own. This is a huge theme for me in my life. I have found that when I invite people to help me with something it deepens our relationship, it brings people and myself into deeper community.

I see moms on Facebook struggling with their kids, trying to do it all. I even see others offer help to the mom sturggling, and she turns it down. Why? Because we think we have to do it all. We don't. I often feel like I need to do it all too, but there has been so much joy for me asking for help and offering to help. You were never intended to do this life alone. God created us for community. For community to help in the raising of our children, to help make food that is a family favorite while living in a foreign land. We were created to share each other's burdens, if you are hiding those burdens no one can share them.

Sometimes asking for help is actually taking someone up on a dinner invitation, and listening or being listened to. Sometimes it is looking for anyone to help share the mom/wife/homeschool/human load with. Sometimes it is offering to help someone else because you need the deeper relationship and connection. Sometimes it is asking our spouse for help. (Yes sometimes we even try to hide it from them. Why?)

Living here in Cambodia I have found that asking for help builds huge bridges with my Cambodian friends and neighbors. Cambodians seem to like to help. Especially when I am out and about with my girls. I get to have more conversations with people, I get more advice on parenting here in Cambodia, I get relationships. The market is a favorite activity for the girls and me most weeks, and we have built some fun relationships, many from asking for help with my Khmer, or helping with their English, others from asking for help for how to pick good fruit I am not familiar with.

Chris and I actually make a point now to think of someone we could ask. God has blessed us with many friends here in Cambodia, and I can't help but think that some of them are from putting ourselves out there to ask for help, and being will to help when others need it.

Love the people in front of you. :) Love them enough to ask for help, and enough to offer help when you think they could use it. Who knows what kind of friendship could be waiting for you. :)

Saturday morning coffee date, at a coffee shop we love, that a friend recommended. 
Amirah the pizza chef at playgroup also recommended by people we asked for help from. 
The other date picture. Amirah likes this one better. 

The adorable Layla playing quietly during quiet time. Making this post possible. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Our 1 year Cambodia Anniversary

Well here we are! Exactly 1 year ago (and a day or two now...) from we arrived close to midnight, exhausted, excited, nervous, and at least for me scared. Wondering what we had just done, what we were thinking, and if we were crazy...

Now, a year later we are surprised by how much we truly love Cambodia. We miss people we love deeply all the time. I often long for family, and close friends that we left behind. It is amazing to see how God has provided for us this last year, and I look forward to seeing how He will provide this next year! Yesterday we spent the day reminiscing and celebrating all we have learned this year, and how much more dependent on the Holy Spirit we have learned to be in our day to day life. I know that now more than ever before I depend more on the Holy Spirit in my parenting, my marriage, and even when I go out to run errands. Listening to those nudgings, and promptings, He so graciously gives, and listening to the best of my ability even if it doesn't make sense. I truly believe this has been a critical thing to learn this last year, learning a new culture, and language.

Today, was a fairly normal Monday. The girls and I did school, and went to play group. We are helping a short term volunteer with somethings as she gets settled for her week of service at a clinic here, and I love how normal all of this seems now.

At this moment in time Chris and I both are slowing down our formal language learning, as the team begins projects and finishes up the start up things for the office. We are doing this for multiple reasons, obviously for Chris it is a transition into working in the office and finally doing the fun things he came to help do! For me it is more because my brain needed a break, a chance to catch up, review, and practice what I have already learned. I needed to just stop and review vocabulary and practice reading and writing. Language learning certainly hasn't stopped, but it has slowed. Anytime you are learning something new I think often your brain needs that time to process, and review and practice. So that's my goal. I am meeting with a  teacher 2 hours a week, and reviewing more on my own at home.

We have had a quite a few visitors and it is fun to see that we know things now. Things we didn't know a year ago. I now, for sure understand when people say they will never feel fluent in a second language, and I totally get it when someone knows English well, but it is still tricky to sometimes communicate. I often understand the main idea or the gist of what someone is saying in Khmer, but I couldn't translate it for you word for word, or I know 90% of how to say what I want to say but my grammar isn't correct or doesn't quite make sense... All to say we still have lots to learn but have come a long ways!
Celebratory 1 year anniversary in Cambodia lunch at the first place we ate food from after moving here last year! They had only been open a little over a week before we moved here and you can see it from our apartment. Yummy, and has coffee. 
Our beautiful sunsets here in Phnom Penh.

We had to have ice cream to celebrate! :)

In the last year Cambodia has truly become home in so many ways, so many friendships, finding daily rhythms, and learning how to cope with the heat. I cannot wait to see as we dwell here next year what God does, and the deeper relationships and roots that grow here for us.

Happy 2018 everyone. Enjoy where God has placed you, dwell in the land and trust Him.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Risk Taking and Weaknesses

I started this blog post probably about 8-9 months ago... wanting to take it as deep as I was feeling it, I left alone to come back to when I had more time, and had done more research into different people from the bible that are examples of this idea. However time went by, and I never got around to it. Until now. So I finally finished and so much of this idea filled my 2017, and retaught to me over and over again. So here you go!

Lately I have been thinking a lot about all the ways living in a small town of 15-20,000 the last 10 years prepared me for our move here to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a city of well over 2 million. God has definitely done things to prepare us for living here. There are so many things that culturally are similar, being able to talk and share life with people is important, here in Cambodia, to show people that you see them, care about them, and want to know them. I learned how to do this in Durango. The value of knowing and being known by people. This is just one example of how Durango prepared us for here. Sharing life with people is so valuable and hard, learning to do it as an adult is really hard. I am glad I was able to learn how with people who spoke the same language and similar cultural background. Now it is so much easier to reach out and work on building relationships here because we know how. (or at least where to start)

I can also see how He is using and will continue to use living here to shape me into who He created me to be. Often we focus so much on our strengths. We play to our strengths, and we see ourselves do well and God uses us to do things. However I truly believe that sometimes God pulls us into situations we feel ill equip or that we lack strengths in just to show us how awesome He is, and maybe reveal a new strength we didn't know we had. He may use us in a new way to use a strength He has given us. The cool part about this is then we know it is Him. It is Him because I could never do that. I think He does this too to help us combat our flesh and our sinful nature and lean in and trust Him more than we ever have before.

I often find myself stepping outside myself saying, "I can't believe I just did that." or "I can't believe this is normal for me now." See if you knew me in Durango you would know that I am a planner, I am cautious (but try not to be too cautious), I like feeling safe and secure, and I like sharing life with people, but I also like privacy. I worry about what others think, and how they perceive me. (sometimes to a point that things place a broken record or stuck dvd in my head wondering if I did the right thing, said the right thing, or acted the right way.)

Living here in Phnom Penh has made us have to be more open. Rely on more people, and trust people I wouldn't normally trust, I have to put myself out there more than I ever have before. I am often watched by the people who work here in our building, neighbors, vendors in the market...partly because I am a foreigner with two cute girls, and I think curiosity. Also we are in the city so even parenting, an area I think many parents are unsure of themselves in often happens (good and bad) in front of everyone.

God has used this to help me be more secure in who I am, more confident in who He made me to be, and who He is shaping me into. My confidence has increase because of this, but so many thing here in Cambodia do not play to my strengths. If I has approached living here based on my strengths, I am very confident I would have missed out on so many things God taught me, and that I now enjoy as a part of my daily life. Friendships would have been missed, blessing would have been missed, and opportunities missed.

Don't miss something because you are sure it isn't a strength of yours. Being willing to take the risk and operate in that weakness, and see where it leads you.


These pictures hit are from yesterday, playing in the street in front of our building. It is hard for me to go down and sit so they can play. But it is always so worth it. We played for almost 2 hours, and got to talk with many neighbors, collect rocks from the nearby potholes, and be totally covered in dust from head to toe by the time we came in. It was good. But in many ways was an example of God working in my weakness, in my discomfort... and revealing more important things and new strengths, and strengthening those weaknesses.