Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dreamy Sri Lanka

Never in my wildest life dreams would I have guessed I would hang out on a beach in Sri Lanka.
Part of our visa situation is that we have to leave the country every 6 months.  For this visa run, we took a one hour flight to Colombo, and had family time on the beach.

My kids have a new-found love for ginger beer.  

Our breakfast view every day.

We see this view in our country all the time, but it's still beautiful!

We spent A LOT of hours in this pool.

Boat ride through mangrove trees.  John and I both felt like we were on a ride at Disney World!

Turtle sanctuary.  Are you SURE you want us to hold baby sea turtles?? 

Cinnamon being harvested

Alligator holding??  I think you can hold ANYTHING in Asia!  

Cool kids riding the waves

Happy birthday to all of you...

Our fam has two birthdays in February and two in April.  Then Zach gives me a break until August.  We had a lot of fun celebrating everyone!

Mom and Pat were here for John's 40th birthday this year.  We got to go away for a whole night.   It was THE BEST.

Catie's birthday was next.  8 years old!!  I'm not sure how that's possible!  She had a tea party birthday (of course) and had some friends over to celebrate.  Aunt Chantel made her a delicious cake (in a tea cup).

Next up, my baby turned 2!!

(Catie and I made a rainbow cake!)

And last but certainly not least, Jacob turned 6.

(Our house helper brought him this cake and AMAZING candle.  Check out how the bakery spelled Jaquap!)

Next up...pirate party!

I love celebrating my loves!
But I'm happy that I don't have to bake another cake until August!  : )


Motherhood in this season feels like a train that jumped off the tracks (my tracks, I should say).  But I believe this journey is God-ordained to bring about all of God's best for each of us.  Day to day, though??  It sometimes feels hard. 

 So let me get real for a minute.  We're 2 1/2 years into living overseas.  It has taken most of my energy to transition our family and help my kids with their process.  I think I'm finally grieving for myself.  This life can feel SO narrow.  And I have never really lived a narrow life.  ALL THE TIME in the US, we'd go to parks (all.the.time), bake for neighbors or sick friends, run to Chick-fil-A for lunch/playground, do last-minute playtimes with friends, go to my parents' house, Mayborn Museum in Waco, the zoo...get in our minivan and do any number of fun things!  My kids went to preschool and then "real" school.    

I'm not exaggerating when I say I haven't driven a car in almost 6 months.  There's not much in this city that sounds fun enough to load up 4 kids in a rickshaw.  So my life just feels very narrow and very lonely (yet never alone with 4 kids) much of the time.  

I really wanted our kids to do sports, to have the "American" life in so many ways.  Not long ago, I was talking to God about it and telling Him, "This isn't the life I wanted for my kids."  And the Holy Spirit answered my heart so kindly, "But they're not your kids."  Oh, so true.  Opening my hands and handing my dreams for these precious kids back to Him...the one who TRULY knows them and knows their future and knows the plans He has for them...plans to prosper them and not to harm give them a hope and a future.  That's where I'm at, folks.  Day by day surrender. 

It's a reworking of my dreams of motherhood and bringing them into alignment with God's plan for us.  I would so value your prayers as I walk this journey of adjustment. 

I know there's a flip side to kids have seen parts of the world and have a worldview that amazes me.  They have many role models around them who are heroes to me and living lives of great courage and obedience.  I KNOW there's blessing and gain in all of this.  Just sharing some of my own personal process in this season.  

Beauty of Living Overseas

There's lots to love in this country.  Here are some glimpses of the beauty and fun...

When Mama Comes To Town

When my family comes to town, it's like I get a blood transfusion.  Fresh life and encouragement and fun flow into my heart.  We laugh, we talk, we play.  I get some rest time, some heart-to-heart sharing, some good laughter.  I can't tell you how excited I was when mom and her dear friend, Pat, came to visit us!  

They arrived to the kids jumping up and down and cheering at our gate.  We ate dinner together and tucked them in bed.  (Travel tip:  when flying around the world, arrive near bedtime.  You will adjust SO much faster if you push through to the brink of exhaustion and fall into bed!)

The next morning, the fun began.  They had a set of cards for each kid with fun, relational connects.  The kids got to pick a card each morning and have one-on-one time with Mimi or "Aunt" Pat.  Their love tanks got so filled up!  I had a daily list to choose from, too.  And we also had family cards of an activity for us all to do together each day.  If you know John, he's not really a "pick-a-card" dude, so they spoiled him other ways!  

One of our first family activities was to do floating lanterns (like Tangled) together.  The first one was amazing!  The second one almost started a forest fire, but praise the Lord it somehow didn't catch the tree on fire.  

I'm not going to make you read a 10-page blog post outlining each day.  (I could, mind was that amazing!)  But here are some more fun glimpses...

Hannah had more tea parties with her Bitty Baby than you could imagine.

Books were many books!

We adventured in our city...

Had a tea party to celebrate Catie's birthday...

We went on neighborhood walks, watched movies, laughed, played, wore new pjs...

The kids each got to be "chef of the day" and cook something special.  
Check out this little chef...

And the very large cherry on top??  Mom and Dad had enough points to get me a free ticket to fly to Dubai with Mom and Pat on their way back.  We had 3 glorious days together.  I got to show them what my year of living there was like.  We did the highlight real.

A very fancy tea party...
(Do you see a theme here??  We're tea party people!)
Also, sorry about the sideways picture...i can't figure it out!

We ate at Cheesecake Factory (I had a half of a hamburger...real beef...amazing!)
We went on a desert safari, rode camels. 

Ah, I love this desert!

I have so many friends who live around the world.  They post pictures with hashtags like #restfortherace.  This truly was rest and encouragement that helped us keep moving forward.  
So so thankful.  Or as my kids would say, "We are eternally grateful."  (Toy Story 3 quote)