Sunday, February 13, 2011

How Old Am I?

Tomorrow I turn 28. TWENTY EIGHT.

However, this whole year I've been hyping myself up for my last year in my 20's...I thought I was turning 29. All. Year. Long.

In spin class three times a week, to pump myself up for the hour long "climbing" we do (heaven help us) I talk to myself (and sometimes the neurosurgeon next to me, but not on purpose...hey, it's early!) about how I really want to be in shape before I turn 30 and that this is my last year to do it.

That's how convinced I was that I was turning 29. (I even texted my mathmatical-minded dad last week to double check because I just knew my math had to be wrong when I realized my years totaled 28 and not 29).

So I have 2 good years left in my 20's! 2 GREAT years! Yay! Let's all go quit spin class!!! :) Just kidding...kind of.

Aging myself when I wasn't in fact aging that fast got me thinking about how I've always envisioned my life at this point. ("this point" being around 30...but whatever)

I used to daydream about "arriving" in life. Like I'd finally hit the "This is Your Life" moment.

Those daydreams and that arrival may or may not have involved a white picket fence and a cute 1940's house and a big oak tree behind it, but I'm pretty sure it did. I'm pretty sure it also included me as I appeared on my wedding day (except with more diamonds! gasp! and less dress), my husband with a big grin on his face and cute leather boat shoes on his feet (why?!), and our little family matchy-matchy and posed just so beside our sweet Z71 (I don't know why but those are the ultimate family car to me...issues).

Somehow these daydreams also included us in another country so I'm not quite sure how I got the car and the cute little American house all the way overseas, but just go with's a dream. A bipolar dream, maybe, but a dream.

As I've grown up (ie: the past 5 years - ha) I've come to realize more and more that that picture of my life was in fact just a daydream. And so much of of that moment of "wow! we have totally arrived and THIS is our life!" has occurred multiple times over the past few years.

Most recently, and most pointedly, it has happened this year. We are far from a white picket fence (if you have visited us recently you have the permission to say AMEN) and a cute wood-floored house (and a Z71 for that matter), but we have so arrived.

When I married Jeremiah, it felt very normal to wake up next to him in our first home and do life with him. Life was difficult sometimes as newlyweds, but it was just so right. THIS is my life!

When we brought home (our 2nd home) Josephine Joy, our first born, it was much of the same...soooo right. (soooo difficult sometimes, but so right!) THIS is my life!

And when we brought home (our 4th home) Lucille Dawn, our chunky monkey second born, it was like a light kind of went off. No, really, THIS is my life. THIS is it.

Not that two children, or one child for that matter, is IT...because it's not. A husband isn't even it. A home is DEFINITELY not IT.

IT is acknowledging that the here and now, and the people invading the here and now, are IT...

THIS is it. These are the times I look around and realize I've arrived. I am 28 (whoop whoop) and THIS is my life.

I'm loving it.

(and yes, also loving that I'm a good year younger than I thought I was! best birthday gift ever!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A typical day...

...finds Josie dressed up from head to toe in princess attire...this day was "no mama, I'm Ethiopia-Princess-Cinderella-Josie!" oh. Of course.

...finds Lucy into something...this day was the wipes. Yesterday was the water in the toilet. Yep. This girl keeps me on my toes, for sure!

...finds Papa challenging us all to push past
our fears to have a good time.

...finds Mama hanging out with two fun little girls
who are growing up WAY TOO FAST.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

So, it's been awhile

It's true. It's been awhile since I've posted. Well, in all honesty, I never really posted much. My dear and incredible friend, Erin, posted pretty much everything on this blog while we were in Ethiopia...

Internet was incredibly iffy in Addis. It was dial up, for one thing. And for another there were a number of factors that would render us dial-tone-less and unable to, well, dial up, at any given moment. For instance, a rainstorm, electricity being out, or you know, just a little wind. I'd be online for two minutes and then suddenly bumped off, unable to get back on for the rest of the day. It was delightful. And embarrassingly difficult to deal with. I felt pretty disconnected with what was happening (some of which were big happenings) around the world with family and friends.

ANYWAY, there would have never been enough consistent internet time to I would email Erin some pictures and a post and bam! it'd be on the blog. So great.

And while we're talking about Erin, we should also talk about how she cleaned our apartment and cleaned out our fridge and pantry! after we left, did laundry for me, emailed me almost daily, prepped and then cleaned before and after sub-leasers came, kept track of our mail, deposited checks, stocked our refrigerator and had the apartment nice 'n tidy when we walked in the door. Oh yes, she (and another dear friend Holly) also had dinner and chocolate chip cookie bars waiting for us.

Those two friends' kindness and attention to detail (and knowing what would mean love to me) brought me to tears when I walked into our home. Really.

So! Technically it's been a SUPER long time since I'VE posted something on here. :) (I do think that's what I was originally saying before I got side tracked with the huge blessing of friends God has given us here in Dallas)

The past two and a half months at home have flown by. At the end of each week I am amazed that it's Sunday night again and I'm sitting at the computer planning the menu and scribbling out the grocery list for another week.

How is Lucy Dawn six months old?

And Josie old enough to be in Cubbies?

To fast track you, here's a little of what's happened:

I got super sick on the flight to Houston from Dubai - as in, no sleeping, fever, uncomfy sick. It was kind of a mid-air nightmare. Thankfully the girls still did fabulous. LD slept at least half the flight in her bassinet and Josie watched 5 movies (at least that's the number she keeps telling people "I watch FIVE movies on the plane!!"). Honestly, she could have watched 10 and I'm not sure I would have minded. It was sort of that kind of flight.
So we were welcomed as a big sick mess by awaiting family. We weren't TOO sick for pappasitos, though. Chips, salsa and fajitas? Never to sick for that.

That first week back was yucky. I only got out of bed to go to the dr. to find out I had a touch of pnemonia and to attend a meeting for work. Jeremiah did everything that was as if he had forgotten me in Africa...I was that absent. Poor guy.

Towards the end of the week I got better (whoo hoo!) and we welcomed one of Josie's best friends (and cousin) to town for a week long dance camp,
as well as nightly family VBS at our church
(we all went and Jeremiah and I, and Grandma for the couple days she was here, were the leaders). Adding another 3 year old to a 750 sq ft apt and small SUV was funny and as you can imagine, busy. The girls had a blast together and I was so thankful we could have a 2nd annual dallas dance camp week.

Grandma drove the girls back to Houston for yet another dance camp the following week! LD and I drove down in the middle of the week to a) celebrate another best friend cousin's 3rd bday and b) to escape the massive construction noises coming from right outside our windows (we are in the midst of a building-wide construction project that produces noise that even the loudest volume on the stereo can't overcome). We drove home to Dallas the next morning and prepped for a building wide event (part of my new job is to plan the building's events). Josie got her new loft bed and has started swimming! (constantly impressing me with her bravery)

The next week we celebrated our 5th anniversary with an overnight stay at a great hotel in Dallas - and Josie got to spend the night with my long time amazing friend Mary Kathryn (and her husband and her dog, which should be noted, because both her husband and her dog helped occupy Josie while she was there!). (we couldn't leave LD because bless her heart, she won't take a bottle - oh dear.)

We picked Josie up from MK's and drove to the lakehouse that weekend to hang out with the fam, where Jeremiah wake-boarded, Josie tubed for the first time (!!!) LD donned a lifejacket for the first time, and Ellie got bit by a spider for the first time that later got infected and then put her out for ANOTHER week. Slightly pathetic, and very painful. It wasn't pretty. I'll leave it at that.

A couple weeks later we made a super painful drive to Houston for our annual family weekend and really enjoyed time with all of my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephew, and of course the ones that started it all, my parents. They had planned a fun weekend of relaxed time in each other's homes, around tables and in front of ipads and football games (it happens). It was fun. But we dreaded the drive back...little LD is not the quiet traveler that Josie was. :) She's lovely indeed, but you better believe she's verbal.

And now Jeremiah's classes and job interviews have started, Josie's AWANA and ballet classes have started (and "homeschool" started...and pretty much stopped...we play better than we do "school"), Ellie's Bible studies have started (and work responsibilities kept going), dr. appointments for Lucy Dawn have started, our marriage small group started, juggling life with one car started, and a calendar full of other things (like LOTS of time outside and fun with friends) started.

Each semester, thus far in seminary, has brought changes. None has looked exactly like another. So that's kind of where we are now. Sorting through the changes that this semester has brought, and figuring out what our "normal" looks like this fall. I'm a big big fan of routine, and bringing a pretty steady rhythm to our days and weeks, so it takes me awhile to adapt to each semester. Feels like we are almost to a steady beat, though. Almost.

Ethiopia is always a constant in our thoughts. As crazy as life has been, it seems like yesterday we were walking the muddy streets of Addis . Convenience of home (and I do mean home as in the U.S. of A., baby) is fantastic, but the taste of what life could be like one day was great too (hard, but great.)...we won't ever forget our time there.

We have some pretty big items we are praying through right now...Lucy Dawn has some odd joint issues which haven't been diagnosed yet but we are seeing specialists about...Josie has initiated quite a few conversations (and prayers) about Jesus and the cross and heaven...Jeremiah is looking for a job and studying Hebrew (among other things but Hebrew is INTENSE)...and I (I was going to say Ellie, but let's be honest about who is writing this) am struggling to not worry and am just kind of tired.

So there you have it. A little fast track...that wasn't so fast since I'm sure it took you a lot longer than "fast" to read it.

I do hope to post more regularly and also post some of my journals from the rest of our time in Ethiopia. There was so much to say it was hard to make it publishable sometimes. Really, there's so much to say that sometimes I can't even verbalize it!

So, not a promise, but here's to hoping I can find some time to type more. (and maybe less at the same time so people can finish an entry in one setting!)

P.S. tons more pictures to post, but blogger isn't letting me right now...will try again later.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 10, 2010

9:04 AM

It’s a quiet morning here in “our” house – Jeremiah is resting on the couch next to Josie who is sick now too (with what Jeremiah has and maybe an eye infection? Caught from a little friend at VBS – germ sharing, another universal language) and snuggled in a big chair watching a Looney Toons DVD in the dark living rom. All shutters (heavy duty – like hurricane shutters on a beach house) are drawn and it is dark, mellow and cozy.

Set on routine, Lucy woke at 7:30 (have I made them this way or did God?), which answered the question I had at midnight last night – “will I get to sleep in???” – but she is back in bed for a nap now, so I’m here in my pajamas (there’s something very rewarding about still being in my pajamas at 9AM!) at the table listening to some Phil Whickham and sipping some Ethiopian coffee.


It was a crazy week of VBS and the final week of Jeremiah’s class. Praise the Lord that I was able to hire the head nursery worker from IEC to help me this week. Rahel, a single Mama to Samela (2 yrs old) runs the nursery on Sunday mornings, and works during the week for two missionary families watching their children. I have seen her in the nursery loving on the kids when I’ve been in there nursing Lucy on Sundays. She is amazing with the kids, speaks English incredibly well, and I found out that the two families she works for are out of town for a few weeks! So she met us every morning and took care of Lucy during VBS, enabling me to be free to do the bazillion motions to the songs all day long. She would bring Lucy in for the opening and closing ceremonies, so Lucy was able to enjoy the music as well :)

Rahel would help me with the girls and walk to lunch with us then help me get taxis home, and then she made us some tortillas that rival the best you’ve ever tasted in Texas! We made lasagna and banana bread together – one for us, one for her – she was thrilled. I was too.

Having Rahel around this week was such a blessing for me. It was a hectic week with the combination of VBS all morning, crazy taxi rides, long walks between places, late lunches out, late naps and Jeremiah getting home after baths all but one night (that’s Mama talk for, “we barely saw him”), but with her help I didn’t go crazy. :) I don’t think. Our girls LOVED her – she read Josie lots of books and Lucy was always showing off her dimples and big grin when she would talk to her…and she doesn’t do that for just anybody!

She is such a hard working woman, caring for her mother, two brothers and her own child, while loving and caring for other’s children all day long. She has a bright smile on her face and joy in her heart. She became a Christian through IEC when a neighbor invited her to church when she was 10. Immediately afterwards she began helping in the Sunday school classes and eventually became the head nursery worker. Her husband comes from a wealthy Ethiopian family, and they were never happy with him marrying Rahel, from a much lower class. So they put affairs in order and made a way for him to leave her and live in Sweeden. So when she was 7 months pregnant with their child, he said he was going to visit his family, and instead left and never returned. She was left in her last trimester, with no money and now no house, as she had to move out. From what I can gather, this is when she started to nanny. She has also found time at night to go to school (I think an American family sponsored her education for awhile), where she has learned administrative skills. She now rents a room on a compound where her mother and brothers live as well…they all live together, but there isn’t room for Rahel and Samela, so she has to rent herself. Apparently her brothers are drunks and do not contribute to the family. I think she is considering applying to ETC next semester to take a night class…I so hope she does. It costs $150 US for one whole semester of college at ETC, a private Bible college. But when you put that cost into context, it is quite a sacrifice here to pay for Bible school, or any school, instead of, say, buying a stove/oven. (which she does not have) I think my favorite thing about Rahel, was her attitude about her situation. I had to DRAG information from her…she was never trying to sell me a sob story and ask for a hand-out. She is a Godly, single Mama who is working hard to provide the best life possible for her family (extended included). She quickly became my friend, and I so appreciated her company and help this week. I had to beg her to sit and have coffee with me at the table, she was always wanting more things to help me with. Having been a nanny though, I have experienced the difference between a family who includes you and a family that simply employs you. Besides that, I really did enjoy her.

If I could, I would pack Rahel and Samela (her 2 year old daughter) in a bag and carry them on. Since I cannot, we will at least leave her a few mix CDs (nothing says love like a mix tape, er, CD…sorry Hudson!), attend Samela’s 2nd birthday party this Saturday before we board our plane home, and leave as many of Josie’s clothes and shoes (some of which are Lily Baker’s actually – the gift that keeps on giving :)) for her.

I want to give her everything we have.

Jeremiah has reminded me though, that we live month to month and he works at Starbucks and I work too and he is in school as well. Oh yes. How quickly I forget. :) We are so rich in so many things though, a nice apartment and family and opportunity and true freedom and friends and TIME with our children and convenience and access to so much…not to mention a microwave, dishwasher and oven. Ugh, I wish I could give her all of these things.

Anyway, today begins our last week in Ethiopia! :( None of us can believe our time here is coming to a close…

We are overwhelmed with gratitude – without the prayers and generosity of so many of our friends and family, we would have never been able to experience Ethiopia these past 5 weeks. And even though half our family is sick right now, for the bulk of our trip, we have been healthy and able to function at (close to ;) ) 100%! It has been hard, adventurous, exciting, stretching, tiresome, educational, sad, and all at the same time full of fun and joy. We have really loved being here.

All that said, I am on the verge of being very ready to be home.

It is sad to know we only have one week left – sad to know we have to say goodbye to so many sweet people who we have grown to love in such a short time. But it has been a pretty exhausting 5 weeks for me, personally – physically and emotionally – so it will be nice to be home.

But wow, what a great taste, if even a small one, of what life could possibly look like for us one day. Obviously if we were in a more developed country there would be lots of differences, but evenso, a really great taste. We will be chewing on it for a long time, I’m sure. Wow, that was just cheesy. Sorry.

We will head to the Dr. at SIM Headquarters on Monday as we will be over on that side of town anyway having dinner with Tom and Romanda Lunsford and Ernie and Anne Frey. Hopefully we can kick these illnesses soon and have a great last week here – our team will be down in Langano this week, which we have decided to forgo.

Malaria is very prevalent in Langano, and although we’d love to go enjoy more of Ethiopia, and get to see Emily!, we have received plenty of advice, from locals and missionaries both, that have advised us not to take a baby. Thinking about Lucy getting Malaria, maybe even spiking super high fever on our flight home, unable to take any malaria meds (in the air or on the ground, as she is too little), it seemed way too irresponsible to go. Bringing her to Addis was all the risk/faith combo we could handle right now, we decided.

So instead we will have the house to ourselves and a somewhat “free” schedule. Which we are looking forward to both.

We plan to do a little souvenir shopping at Merkato (largest open air market in Africa), Jeremiah will road trip for the day Tuesday with Tom and Erinie to do some very informal theological training in Sodo (outside of Addis), visit A-Hope (HIV-AIDS children's home), Hope Enterprises (NGO reaching those living in great poverty), learn how to cook injera and doro wat at an Ethiopian’s home with Ramond and Anne, have all of the students over this week (half Tues night and half Wed night), and attend Samela’s party on Saturday before we get picked up at 4:30PM to head to the airport.

Okay, I better go…there are snotty noses to be wiped. Haha…I wish I was kidding.
Some of the VBS kids singing
Josie and her new favorite book reader

Lucy loving Rahel

Lucy expressing her discontent with Papa's grading of Doctrinal Statements
Jeremiah fixing the water tank/lack of water situation

Meeting Kefan, a popular Ethiopian Gospel Singer, at a restaurant

Eating Injera with a few of the students...and yes, I have both children on my lap.
July 9, 2010


Whew – girls finally in bed after a looooong day. We have a lot of those here! I think it’s the blessing and the curse of knowing you only have a short time somewhere – you pack things in, because your departure is always right around the corner.

Fridays are our “team days” usually. Class at ETC for rainy season class is M-Thur.

On past Fridays we have spent the day out of the city breathing clean(er) air…we’ve hiked in the Entoto Hills and seen lots of goats, sheep, a jungle of eucalyptus trees and mountain huts, hung out at Bubagaya Retreat Center/Crater Lake all day and hiked out through fields and mud to a really really old tree, and everyone but me and the girls hiked a mountain last week (I can’t remember the name) enjoying some true Ethiopian countryside (while they were gone, the girls and I enjoyed a fun day with Ramonda!) – the Friday dinner meal is reserved for the team as well, so since we had VBS today, we didn’t breathe clean(er) air, but we did take a big breath of relief that the week is drawing to a close.

Jeremiah actually stayed home today, super sick on the couch (this week WAS killer – sinus infection and fever has him out for the count), and went to the nurse at SIM to get some meds this afternoon.

So the girls and I braved VBS on our own today…it’s safe to say the whole fam is wasted.

But it’s Friday so it’s team dinner night…so tonight we had injera with the team at the Anderson’s home, along with two young families who are full-time missionaries in Ethiopia and who are also DTS grads. One couple had a 4 week old baby boy (that she delivered here – C section – bless her!) and the other had a 18 month old boy. It was nice that our children weren’t the only ones making lots of noise at team dinners/meetings. :)

It was a fun dinner with injera and some SPICY duro wat – a mix of onions, chicken, and lots of spice. I hope that we were able to be an encouragement to these two families/new friends.

Our poor girls, though, this has been such a busy week that I’m sure they will soon come down with the full-on yuck that Jeremiah has :(

At least it’s at the end of our trip and not the beginning! And how amazing is it that for the entire trip Josie has had ZERO breathing issues?!? Thank you to any and all of you that were praying for her about that! We were just commenting tonight on how incredible it is, especially considering the high altitude and polluted air here, that Josie’s lungs have held up so well. We are so thankful!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eating lunch at one of our favorite places - overlooking Sarbet roundabout - the roundabout where we get dropped off by taxi's when we we go to church/school.
Josie's way of passing time in Papa's class - chewing every piece of gum in the pack.
Sitting in Jeremiah's class again...a little theology, a little Josie.
Jeremiah's day of hiking with the team in the country off Jima Road (Road to Lunsford's old home - Aromo).

Horrible picture of Ellie, but hilarious of Josie...a 4th of July Ethiopian style with Injera and SO MUCH FOOD.
Josie exhausted on July 4th. Church, no nap, big lunch at someone's house, soaked with rain on our walk home, early bath and pj's on..."rest time" at 4PM, reading in bed turned into this 10 minutes later. Poor baby. Lights out.
Rahel, one of our new favorite Ethiopians, who Lucy smiles and laughs with while Mama and Papa make fools of themselves singing and dancing and Josie enjoys VBS.
Josie's best buddy here, Lydia - ETC's Dean of Student's youngest daughter.
Jeremiah and our VBS music leaders practicing.
Girls in Josie's VBS group following her around...very typical here...the American is the Pied Piper.