Sunday, November 24, 2013

The inside scoop!

Thanks for stopping by to find out how our family is doing.
Here's what didn't fit in the email, and I'll sprinkle some pictures throughout to give you glimpses of our life...

In the area where we live, most people live in either an apartment, a compound, or a freestanding villa.  We live in a compound that has 10 townhouses in it.  Our neighbors are Indian, Sri Lankan, Jordanian, Lebanese, Egyptian, African, Iraqi.  There are tons of kids in our compound...and a pool.

{on our front steps doing some art with neighbor kids}

We live in a country of perpetual summer.  Nov-Feb is the break from the super-heat, but still we have highs in the 80s many days.  It is beautiful right now!!  Our windows are open, and it's like living in California.  The rest of the year, well, it's hot and hotter!

Some friends from our same company who work for a different branch of the company lived in this house last year.  They had planned to move out and get something bigger after the summer.  We stayed here when we first moved to this city for about 6 weeks and housesat/dogsat while our friends were back in the States.  When they got back in August, we moved to a guest house here in the city.  And then when they moved in September, we moved back into their (now our) house.  Does that even make sense?  Anyway...we have SUPER blessed by these friends who have befriended us and blessed us!
Those final moves and transitions were like the last straw of absolute exhaustion and weariness.  When we moved into our house in September, we were waiting for our stuff to arrive.  But it kept getting delayed.  Those were some tough weeks of living in a mess without much furniture.  But every hard step of this journey has been covered by the grace of God in so many ways.
{our kitchen}
{view out my kitchen window}
At the end of September, the truck with our stuff finally arrived!  We were EXCITED!
We started buying some furniture.
There's a great website here (like Craig's List) where you can buy used furniture for great prices.
I know it sounds a little super-shallow, but couches are life changing!  When you have a place to sit in your house, it feels so much more like a home. 
{date season}
{a bunch up, huh?}
In September, our kids started school.  I am so so happy with their school.  And they are (mostly) happy, too!  You know, homework and routine can be a bummer for kids, but I feel like the routine and friends are just so so good for them right now.  Local schools are closed to foreigners, so you have to do a private school.  The one they are at is an international school, and I love the mix of many many cultures there.  For me, it is an amazing open door to meet moms and connect with people.  I go help in Catie's class every Tuesday morning, and it's a blast to lead a reading group and interact with the kids. 
{Catie's classroom}
Moving to a new country is expensive.  Visa costs, travel costs, startup on housing, etc...  It has been stressful financially.  Thankfully, we are through the majority of the costs, and it looks like it's going to work out.  The only thing that isn't covered yet is the kids' schooling.  That's an area that we would appreciate prayer!
In September, we celebrated our one year anniversary of living overseas.  Has it seriously only been one year?!?
We've been working hard to help our kids through all of the transition.  A friend gave me an idea to use  a pair-o-ducks to help kids learn the idea of paradox...that good and hard often go hand-in-hand.  So we've talked a lot about the hard and the good in this past year.
We read this great book as a family.  It's great for adults or kids who are going through grief!
In October the kids had a week off school, so we really took some time to map out our year.  We taped up hundreds of pictures month by month on the wall.
Then the kids got to pick their favorites and make a journal about their year.  It was really fun for the days we were doing it, but one of our kids kindof fell apart for a few weeks afterwards.  I've been trying to tell myself that it's better for the kids to have ways to get their feelings out and process rather than hold it all inside.  But sometimes I just want to go to a hotel and hide for 2 nights, okay, maybe 5 :), and have a break from all the emotion!
I'm so incredibly proud of these kids...all 4 of them.  They are modern-day Esthers and Daniels, growing up in a foreign land.  Learning to walk with God even when most people around them aren't.  And I am holding on to faith that God is going to use this season mightily in all of their lives!
Here are some glimpses of our kids:
{We're finding parks we like here!  One of my FAVORITE parts of life here!}

{countdown until we go to America for Christmas...the chain is much shorter now!}
P.S.  If you didn't read about our upcoming trip to the US in our email, let me know, and I'll send you info on a get-together we're having in December!
This smiley girl has 3 teeth (almost 4); she's sitting up, and she brings so much joy into our family.  She is an incredibly peaceful baby!
{Catie and her best friend here...this actually happened yesterday, so I'm caught up!}
In closing, I just wanted to share a few personal thoughts.
This season has been so so hard.
This journal page is a line from a song that I love right now.  I'm broken, weary, but so thankful.  I feel like God has used this year to bring me to the absolute end of myself in so many ways.  But I have seen how He can be strong through a weak vessel.  And He's not expecting me to be a strong super-star.  He steps into my weak, broken places and tells me He loves me.
This song is amazing.  It's a little glimpse into our hearts if you want to have a listen...

Thanks for reading...and praying...and caring!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We have a 9 year old!!!

Oh my big boy turned 9.  Our last year with all our kids in single digits.  How does time pass so quickly?!?  We found a place here that does glow-in-the-dark space putt putt.
Happy birthday to our wonderful, fun, world-changer of a son.

Family fun time

We've been trying to be really intentional to have some family fun times together to help the kids during this transition time.  Well, to help me, too...cause there's not much I love more than fun with John and the kids!
We went to our first ever movie together as a family!
I took J and C to a fun place at the mall called Little Explorers.  They loved it and ask often to go back again!
We've ridden the metro to the big malls a couple times.
Thank you, Lord, for fun breaks as a family in the midst of so much change!
And so thankful that we get to live in an AMaZiNG city!!!
Friends, you should come visit...seriously!
This beautiful friend and her husband came through here, and we got to spend a fun evening with them.  We've actually already had several people we know fly through here, and we LOVE it!!!  I think it's going to be one of my favorite things about living here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This kid...

 He said, "Well, I guess this is an angel donkey."
OK, here's another one...
One day while we were housesitting, the little pup we were watching threw up and then ate her throw up.  Disgusting, but I used it for a teachable moment to share the Bible verse that "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to its folly."  I know, weird teacher moment.  But here's Jacob putting on a show for me, and he says, "In the Bible it says that dogs like to eat dare frowup, so dey eat it!"  Somehow, I think I missed the mark on my little teachable moment.  : )
He often says, "Jacob fears no danger!"
And when you want to walk through a door at our house, and he won't let you through without a password, the password is often "Jacob is brave at lions."  Or tigers...or bears...not joking!
This one has a heart of a warrior!! 

This one's for the grandmas

This precious baby girl has my heart!

How do you move your camel?

Gift from God!

3 days after John got here, some dear friends came from Texas and helped us for 2 weeks. 
They loved our kids...
Helped us get things accomplished,
researched things we needed to figure out,
prayed with us,
babysat for date nights.
Here are a few pics from one of my FAVORITE date nights!!
Ikea and a book store
(That sign still makes me laugh every time I see it!)
They watched the kids while we house hunted. And hunted.  And hunted.
But what we mostly came to realize is that we just can't afford much here (yet!).  So please pray with us for God to keep opening doors for us here.
One day we did a research day to look for venues for conferences we'll host here.
Best!  Research! Day! Ever!
 Mr. Rick and kids checkin out the birds
We had a lot of fun together and were so blessed to be able to move forward with getting some things accomplished as we settle here.  Thanks, Rick and Tammy!!  We love y'all!