Monday, January 31, 2011

Beyond Measure

The last two weeks were a taste of what it is to be given more than you deserve. We flew to "The Peninsula"  (what we islanders call mainland Spain) for a mandatory, TEAM Spain conference. It was a joy getting to meet all of the other missionaries who are here with TEAM, hear their hearts, and get a better picture of what God is doing in Spain. One thing that took us by surprise was the COLD. I didn't realize how quickly my blood had turned warm being in Tenerife. We didn't move with our winter attire, so we made lots of mad dashes from one building to another.
 Here we are with our Tenerife coworkers braving the cold near Toledo.

Another huge blessing was that we were able to lodge for the cost of utilities in the home of a missionary family on home assignment in the US. They have three small children, so my kiddos were elated to be able to play with new toys, and have a swing set in "their" back yard. They spent hours playing with a Thomas the Train set. I also discovered that Eliana has a deep love for dollies now! She fed, burped, soothed, disciplined, and instructed the dolls with a loud "OBEY GOD!"  

Since we also were able to use the vehicle of this family, and housing was taken care of, and we could cook our own meals vs. eating out-- and since one of our huge focuses this year is language and culture acquisition, we made a "vacation" out of the conference. We were able to stay for a total of 2 weeks in the peninsula. We are cheap skates, so we saw the outsides of lots of pretty castles and cathedrals (even the cathedrals charge admission unless you are attending mass). We were extra excited to see Toledo, as one of our neighbors who we've talked with quite extensively had told us he really wanted us to see the place. He even called today when he saw us return home to see if we made it there. Nathan purchased this gentleman a small sword letter opener as a souvenir. (Toledo is known for their swords).

A bird's eye view of Toledo.

So, not only did we get to finally meet our coworkers in Spain, have free housing and vehicle, and get to know more about the culture in Spain--- but, God even took care of a few secret desires....

I was struggling in my heart a bit with covetousness as I watched my kids play with the train set at the home we were staying. I was also lamenting how much more expensive toys like that cost in Spain. And, to set a back drop, Levi has been really wanting a white tiger figurine ever since he saw the white tiger at the zoo awhile back. It's been a topic of many conversations with him. Well, one afternoon we were blessed yet again to be at the home of a wonderful missionary family, and the wife asked me, "would your boys like some Thomas the Train toys?" She then gave them several toys and enough track to make a good loop. I was so shocked, as just the day before I was wishing we had that very thing for the kids. Then, she pulled out some figurines, and low and behold, asked, "anyone want a white tiger?" God is good, good indeed!
The white tiger at Loro Parque

That brings up the last thing I'm super thankful for from this trip. Several families courageously invited our crazy family of 6 over to their homes for a meal. That's no small thing. It was encouraging to me to get to know people better, pick mothers' brains on raising kids overseas, and forge new friendships.

So, thank you, Lord, for the ways you bless us beyond measure!  

Saturday, January 15, 2011


My baby girl turned TWO this week! Our tiny little surprise daughter has grown into a vivacious, outgoing, athletic, talkative, very determined wonder woman. To be truthful, the last few years have been full of ups and downs as we've grappled to parent such a lively personality. But, I've been so encouraged of late remembering that God's sovereignty covers even the personalities of our children. Hopefully, I am more like Christ as a result of having Eliana in my life, and hopefully, she will end up more like Christ from having me as her mother. God's grace is so good, and so deep. I can truthfully say that I wouldn't trade my daughter for the world. I'm excited to see what she will become. Despite her immeasurable drive and energy, she is such a nurturer. She adores her baby brother, and she cares for her little dollies as if they were real. She is fearless, and she LOVES people.

For months now, Eliana's favorite word and favorite object to hunt for, has been the "luna." Every time she sees it (even if it's the 17th time in one hour), she still exclaims at the top of her lungs, "LUUUUUUUUUUUUUNA!"

Here's a glimpse of the fun she brings into our lives...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Bit of Catching Up...

Well, uninspired or not, I press on (namely for the three of you who encouraged me to do so).

We are thankful to be entering another year, just as in need of God's grace as ever. 2010 was certainly a year of transition, trials, blessings, joys... and any number of other adjectives. But one thing is certain- God remains on the thrown, and we remain His grateful adopted children eagerly awaiting His return. Maybe 2011 will be the year!

We have now been in Tenerife for 9 months. I am buttoning down and becoming more serious about getting my driver's license and passing my Spanish proficiency exam. Nathan is an incredible husband and father and is constantly serving us, but for both of our sanity, I need to be able to do some grocery shopping and take kids to the doctor by myself.

We are thankful to be building stronger friendships with some of our neighbors. If you think of it, be in prayer for David and Sonya (and children Carlos and Sarah) and Federico and Sylvie (and sons Simone, Rafael, and Jean Marie). We were blessed to spend the evening last night with the latter family, enjoying their exceptional BBQ skills and some good conversation. We are hoping to have David and Sonya over to dinner some time in the next week.

For me, I think most of the work I've seen God do in the last nine months has been an overhaul of my own heart. I used to always marvel, when I'd go on a short-term missions trip, at how God seemingly flew me thousands of miles away just to show me areas of my own life that needed change. Well, living overseas now is no different. So many different things are constantly bouncing through my head, I'd be awake all night if I tried to put them to paper right now, but it all boils back down to this: He's big, and I'm little. Parenting four kids 4 and under shows me that. Moving to a new culture shows me that. Trying to share the best news in the world with people who aren't interested shows me that. Dealing with more sickness than we have ever experienced in one year shows me that. Spending holidays away from family and loved ones shows me that. Watching two young friends die leaving behind devastated families shows me that. Looking out the window at the vast ocean every day shows me that. And living in the shadow of an active volcano shows me that. I think of the famous C.S. Lewis quote from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Lucy asks the Beaver if Aslan is a tame lion. He replies, "Safe? Of course he's not safe!.....But he's good!"

So, to sum it up, I've learned a lot this past year- about myself, about God... mostly I've learned that I'm oh so far from perfect, and oh so in need of God. Not just His help or his grace, but Him. I need Him for every breath. I need God. I desperately need His Word. He allows me times of shade, times of lonliness, times of wandering in the valley, followed by times of victory, of amazement, of refreshment- all because He wants me to see Himself.

A theme He has repeatedly brought back into my life over the years is learning to "see" his fingerprints in my life. It's utter foolishness to think that a hair falls from my head without his knowledge or concern. Yet, I so often don't look past my own nose as I wallow about in my circumstances, emoting every which way that I turn, and looking only at how I might alleviate my sufferings or fix my own problems. Yet not one broken transmission, sick baby, lost wallet, or unruly child is outside of His sovereign control or design. I hope my thick skull will eventually remember that lesson.

Ok... I better wrap up my meandering thoughts and end with some pictures, as that's really what people want to see anyway.