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.