Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Not everything happens for a reason....


August is a difficult month for us.  A year ago this time we were excited yet scared after finding out we were pregnant.  We were excited because we wanted a second child; scared because we had already experienced one miscarriage and knew another one was possible.  A short while later our worst fears were realized, we had another baby that we would always hold in our hearts but never in our arms. 

The second miscarriage was harder for me to deal with.  I had known that miscarriage would be a part of my story however after we had the first one I kept telling myself we wouldn’t have to go through two.  But that was not our story.  I will be honest I have always struggled with the mantra that “everything happens for a reason.”  Now I struggle with it even more so, many times I have to bite my tongue when I hear that…sometimes I don’t.  There is too much death, sickness, violence, drought, war, and poverty in the world around me for me to believe that everything happens for a reason.  I do believe that reason or purpose can be found for the things we go through.   For me there is a profound difference between the two.  What I have experienced allows me to be more understanding and aware of what others around me are going through.  It didn’t happen so that I could be more understanding but because it happened I can be. 

The two miscarriages that we experienced and our not yet completely written adoption story changed the way I understood motherhood, pregnancy and adoption.  I don’t believe God caused my miscarriages, that is the result of the broken world we live in and my PCOS.  However I can testify to the fact that God has been always present with me on the journey.  In the times of weeping from heartbreak, time of anger, times of hopelessness and fear, in the times of depression, and in the times of questions; He has been faithful.  Not always with an answer or solution or a magic quick fix; but simply reminding me of His presence with me and His undying love for me.  He has also been with me during the times of joy, of laughter, of happiness, and feeling fulfilled and hopeful.  The world does not stop revolving; time does not stop; life continues on.  Peter continues to grow and change; Joe and I continue to age (although not with quite as much grace and enthusiasm as Peter.)  I have chosen to be open and honest about my journey with miscarriages and depression. Partly because it helped me to cope and partly because it helped give purpose to what had happened. 

I don’t know what you are going through today; what things are keeping you up at night, weighing heavy on your heart, or keeping you from God.  I don’t believe that everything happened or is happening for a reason.  But I do believe that you can find purpose or reason in what happened or is happening.  More than that I know there is a God that wants to be present with you and comfort you in the midst of the brokenness and the questions, if you will acknowledge Him and let Him. 


Until next time:  When biting your tongue to prevent from saying something you shouldn’t…don’t bite so hard that you actually bite into your tongue.  It is painful and not nice. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Home

Home is an interesting word and concept. 

In the English language it can be a noun, adjective, adverb and a verb.  Today I want to home in (see what I did there) on the noun and adjective use of home. 

According to the oxford dictionary… Interesting side story I LOVE using the internet to look up words.  If I spell the word wrong it helps me figure out how to spell it correctly.  Growing up, whenever I would ask my mom how to spell a word she would instruct me to look it up in the dictionary.  To which I would respond either out loud or in my head to do that I need to know how to spell the word.  Needless to say there were a couple of times that I had to go through all the D’s to find the spelling of dyslexic.  Also it is a bit unkind to give a learning disability a difficult spelling, but I digress. 

According to the oxford dictionary home is: “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.  The other definition given that I like is: “a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates.

During the past 17 weeks we have had a lot of “homes” or places from where we have originated for that day or couple of days. We have had places where we flourished and places where we simply laid our heads before getting back into the car.  We started the journey from our home in South Africa and ended there last Friday evening.  In between we had close to 30 “homes,” traveled over 11,000 miles/close to 18,000 kilometers, and spoke in 44 different services/conventions/gatherings.  It was a blessed time connecting with family friends, and others interested in what God is doing on the Africa South Field.  It was not always easy or fun but we really do count it a blessing that we got to spend as time with family, framily, and friends making memories and remembering memories from the past. 

As blessed as our time in the states was, there is just something about being in your own home that I can’t explain.  Being in our own bed, knowing where things are without asking, eating dinner at our table as a family, being able to put your feet up and chill without answering questions (well except for toddler questions J), are little things we take for granted until they are not part of your normal everyday life. It is so nice to get settled back into routines of cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, doing dishes, exercising etc.  which may seem silly or trivial but over the last 17 weeks those things weren’t routine. 

While we were traveling, small talk about home was always a little awkward. 
Explaining where home is or trying to communicate the concept of having several homes is not always easy or understood.  When Peter is older it will be interesting how he navigates the “where is home” question.  We had some fun trying to explain to Peter that we were home and we were going to be staying here not moving on to the next place in a couple of days. 

Home – using the definition “a place where something flourishes, originates” means that we can have home in multiple places.  I can be at home in my town house in Jo’berg and in my good friends house in Kansas, I can be at home at a pastors house in Botswana or at a house church in North Carolina.  Home doesn’t have to be a set address on the one hand but on the other returning to the set address you call home is wonderful as well.

This week whether you are “home” or far away from home, you can create an environment wherever you are that those around you can flourish.  


Until next time: When your jetlagging toddler falls asleep sitting up while you are reading to him, maybe it is time to let him lay down for a little while even if it is only 5:30pm.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Waiting is the hardest part (sometimes)

We have been on a long journey, ok we have been on many long journeys all at the same time.  We are in week 14 (and over 8000 miles) of our time in the states. While this journey has been long, we have been enjoying spending time with so many people and sharing what is happening on the Africa South Field.  We are now preparing to get back home to South Africa.  Peter has been asking about when we will be back home for about the past 2 months J but has been asking more about it lately as Beth and I have also been talking about it more. Sometimes we just feel like we are waiting to get back home, but then we are reminded of all the blessings we have had along the way during this Home Assignment.  The new friends we have made, the old friends we have been able to spend time with, and all the family that we have been able to see, are all such a blessing to us.  The journey has been long with a few challenges along the way (thankfully the only flat tire was at a place we could get it fixed with little complication) but to look back and see how God has worked and moved is great.

During this time we have also been waiting for the adoption process to give us a successful match.  We have been reviewing cases and putting ourselves out there for birth moms to choose us, but have not received a yes, yet.  This process has been stretching our patience on many occasions, and I like to think that I already had a lot of patience.  The times that we thought there might be a connection only to hear that the mother chose another family has been difficult.  Not knowing if we will have to stay a little longer in the US (if we are chosen for a baby that is ready before we leave) or if we will need to come back (because the baby is born after we leave) is also a test of our ability to live in the unknown.

And then to add another huge part of our lives in the mix, we are still waiting to hear who our next leader will be.  After the passing of our beloved friend and mentor, Rev. Maluleka in January we expected to know whom our next leader would be before we left South Africa in March.  Well that did not happen, and so we have been waiting and expecting news any day, with the wait just going on and on.  We know that there are many reasons why this process has taken longer, but that does not always comfort us in our waiting.  We hope to know soon and then can begin helping him/her get to know us as well as more about the field.

Truly through all of the waiting’s and all of the unknowns, through all of the challenges and the no’s, we know that God is with us.  When we pray for peace or pray for help, there is always someone there, a friend, a family member, a loved one to hug.  We thank God for all the love and support that our family and friends provide, even if they don’t always know how best to help, we know they are there right beside.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us, our ministry and for what God has in store.  We are looking ahead to the great days to come and ready for more.


Until next time:  when your wife (or loved one) suggests something to you and your first response is no, take a moment and think about it and then you will probably see what is best, her suggestion most times :)