Monday, May 19, 2014

Is this the right decision for my children?

This is a question I have asked myself repeatedly since becoming a mom to these two beautiful littles. It's one thing to be obedient to God's calling for my own life, going where He leads, doing what He calls me to do, listening to His guidance. But what about my children who don't have a choice and who are destined, then, to go along with whatever Joe and I feel is the next step? Will they be safe? Will they feel like they miss out on a "normal" childhood? Will they still connect with their cousins and get to know their grandparents? Will they fit in with North American culture when they go back? Does it matter if they don't? Will they be frustrated with us for forcing this un-asked for lifestyle on them? Our situation is not ideal when compared to commonly held "standards." The grass really is "greener" on the other side of the world. Will they be okay with our choice for them? I don't know.

And yet, I feel excited with where God is calling our family. I feel we are where He wants us to be and we feel He has both burdened us and equipped us to meet this particular need. Although I still struggle with letting go of China, particularly the language that we've worked hard to obtain, I feel like our vision can be carried out so much better here. But it isn't the vision of my kids. They're stuck with us as parents and the vision God has placed on their Dad, and subsequently, their Mom, too.  I feel like, as Joe and I make the decision to stay beyond our initial two-year commitment, we are on the threshold of a new phase for our family. I have this vision of our little family of 4, standing hand in hand, looking into the distance, and walking together, supporting each other, committed to each other, determined to walk this path together. I hope my children can someday see the heart of their parents: that we love them SO much and want what's best for them, but also want to be obedient to God's call on our life--on our family. Is it possible that they will one day see that these two are the same? That what's best for them is to be obedient to God's call?

As a mom, my heart beats for my children every moment every day. It swells with pride, it jumps in panic with the cry of a child, it rejoices in little accomplishments, it can't stop smiling through tears when just looking at the soft skin and chubby fingers and little curls of that perfect miracle I get to call my own, it gets overwhelmed with fear that I will somehow make a mistake. The distrust of the people I am called to many times outweighs the trust of the One who called me to them. My heart is overwhelmed with "what if?". Am I making the right decision for my children? Will they be okay with being raised as a "foreigner?"

I have to trust that this is where HE has called us. All of us. Our whole family. And no other place in the world, despite whatever advantages and opportunities and relationships might be offered, is as good for us as it is here. Because this is where His BEST is. I again struggle to surrender my perception of what I constitute what is best for my kids. And we, together as a family, will receive the most fulfillment in the center of His perfect will for us. Here. In this crazy, backward city we have adopted as our home. This is where we plan to raise our children, and this is where we know God has called us and will provide for us.

God will use this place to shape my children's passions, gifts, interests, and callings. As their mom, despite my feelings of inadequacy and doubts, I want to tell them how God provided for us along the way, and show them how He has/will be faithful. I want God to become their Lord as well. Through them, the nations, and future generations will be changed for His glory!

Lord, keep me confident in Your call in my (our) lives, and keep me faithful. Forgive my doubt and replace the fear in my heart with increased faith in Your plan, Your sovereignty, and trust in Your Father's heart, which is so much bigger than my mother's heart. Thank you for showing us that this is where you have called our family! We stand together in this next phase and trust You as our Leader. Let us be used as a family for your glory in this place! Amen!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our family escape. May 13-15

We've been busy lately. I haven't been blogging much the past month, Joe has been busy with his studies as he wraps up his M.Div course for his personal studies, as well as finishing out teaching his portion of the Minor Prophets class he's been teaching at the Bible College. And I've been a little busy, too, with work and just life. In April was Khmer New Year, which was a week long of holidays for the country! We didn't go anywhere, though, since Joe was studying, I was working, and we felt we needed to just focus on finishing out our responsibilities here well before we head back to North America in a few weeks.

However. :) 
Joe decided that maybe a little family vacation would be good for us so we can just focus on our own family before visiting with everyone else all summer. Since Tues-Thurs was a Khmer holiday here (the late King Father's birthday!), we hopped on a bus and escaped to our favorite beach! Yes, I still had to work and Joe still had to study, but how special to be able to do it from such a beautiful setting! I feel so refreshed, sun-kissed, and connected as a family, getting ready for our next BIG trip to come back to see YOU! Four weeks from now we'll be in the air! Amazing.

I snapped this photo while Joey was studying, and I was rocking a baby on either side of me sleeping/resting in hammocks. I wish I could post the smell of the beautiful sea breeze for you to enjoy, too. It was one of those moments I just want to re-live again and again.

Enjoying some lunch on the beach

Bria and I and Wes in front of our bungalow

The kids love hammocks!


I bought a little bracelet for Bria from a girl selling them on the beach
 Why did you put this on me, Mommy?

Yes, Bria and I also got pedicures on the beach (matching polish!)
She was sleeping. She woke up with pink toenails. haha

Wes always loves his swing rides!

And Bria and I made a little "sandless" play area for her to hopefully limit the amount of sand she consumes! 

Have I ever told you how flexible our daughter is?
It's crazy. Is this normal?


HUGE burgers!

Wes loves to play pool! He'll line all the balls up in a row (1-10) but he also had SO much fun rolling them around on the table trying to knock them into the pockets. Great entertainment! 

My little beach bum

Brother/Sister love

Sea breezes with daddy

I remember when we took photos together all the time! Now all we have time for is a selfie. :)

 SO thankful for this little escape.
The next big trip will have a lot more stress involved. I'll revel in this while I can. :)  

Love you all!

 Joe, Nica, Wes, & Bria

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wesley's 3rd birthday!

Wes is three!
Every year we say we're not going to have a big party. But then, who can we not invite? It's a fantastic opportunity to extend love to our neighbors, and we appreciate all of them! So, we tell them when the party is and see who shows up. Also, I've had the privilege of meeting and getting to know some amazing women and their children over the past year! So we were happy to have some of them over for Wes' birthday as well.

You may have already seen this cool invitation that Joe designed, but I wanted to post it here so I can praise his great design skills! Yes, you guessed it, we had a train-themed party! He pretty much spends all day every day playing with his train set or making trains out of other toys, making sure his train is at the table with him when he eats, in bed with him when he sleeps, watching Thomas the Train movies, or just singing the Thomas song to himself. So, having a train-themed party was a no-brainer! We knew how to throw a party our three year old would love. :)

I used some of our boxes left over from our move to make this big cardboard train for Wes! I had it hidden in our spare bedroom which was transformed into my "workshop" for those nights when I could stay up to work while he was sleeping, and then keep the door closed during the day. The result was a VERY happy and excited boy when he saw it all set up, right as his party was starting! We also gave him a flashlight for his birthday, so he and the kids can explore the inside of the train, color on the inside walls, and hang up their train coloring pages inside. I was pleasantly surprised that the train actually withheld all of the abuse of excited toddlers and didn't end up collapsing on anyone!


This is the cake and banner. With Joe decorating the cake, it frees me up to have fun with other things! We still have the banner hanging up and the train for him to play with. The yummy cake, however, is long gone. ;)

And here is a close up of Joey's amazing 3D train cake creation! All totally edible! Don't ask me how he did it. He had planned to decorate the cake the night before the party, but couldn't because the cake was WAY too moist to frost. So he froze it and got up early the morning of the party, before any of us was up, and by the time I saw it, this was about what it looked like! I have such a creative husband! One of these years I'll learn how to bake a cake that doesn't come out of the pan in pieces. Then the possibilities for Joe's creative cake decorating skills will be unlimited! Seriously, he loves it, and I am stress free. win-win.

A group shot of the party! Not everyone was in this photo, but you get the idea.
We really missed our family members, but are grateful for new friends here that all love on our children, too. We are blessed to have such special people in our lives!

Since you couldn't make it, here are a few videos and photos from the party:


oooh, it's SO HARD to not touch the cake...especially when there is so much candy AND a new toy train in plain view!

Sweet friends, Matt (a fellow Canadian!) and his beautiful wife, Nary. We love them and their 3 daughters!

Wes gets a little overwhelmed with crowds sometimes. Especially when they are in "his" territory. With so many other kids playing with his toys, he needed to just escape for a bit. He hardly wanted to come and blow out his candles! And he loves blowing out candles! (he's blown out the candles on other kids' birthday cakes on more than one occasion!) It's okay, though, although he tried his hardest, other kids got to help HIM blow them out this time! It was cute. I didn't realize it was caught on film! It was a fun surprise to discover it!

Wes was a little overwhelmed here. Sometimes you just need some mommy time. (Which I am more than happy to offer!)
Wes is into puzzles lately! Not difficult ones, but he's starting to get the hang of simple ones!
Here is a Thomas the Train puzzle I made for him. I put numbers on the pieces and he likes to put them in order to see the picture.

Dear sweet Bria. She enjoyed getting passed around and gooed over by people at the party. She doesn't mind attention at all! Wes can be grateful she has joined our family so his cheeks aren't pinched quite so frequently. Even with a social baby, Mommy loves snuggles, too.
She escaped to the kitchen for her own private dining experience. 

Some of our guests eating, playing, and visiting!

I found Wes hanging out by the candy bowl...and the bowl was empty! OH NO!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he hadn't eaten all of the candy, though, he stuck them all on what was left of the train cake! Another cake decorator in the family? :)

2 VERY handsome guys.

On his actual birthDAY, you got it, he played with his trains (toy train, box train, train movies) as well as some other cool gifts from friends (including a remote control car from Auntie Kim, our housekeeper!)

And then when we were all together as a family, we opened up the big box that arrived from Papa & Gramma Martin! WOW...this is one happy and very loved-on boy! The gifts, cards, pictures, and artwork are amazing! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Something else that made him laugh a LOT on his birthday were some special video messages from his Papa & Gramma Eby, and another one from his Auntie Chelle! He watched them over and over and OVER and laughed each time, and tried to tell them about his birthday. I caught part of it on film so you can see how much he enjoyed the messages.

Thanks, everyone, for loving our son SO much and making this birthday a special one for him, either from near or far. He has brought so much joy into our home and we love his developing personality! He's such a tease, LOVES to play, shows incredible joy in life with his contagious smile sparkling eyes, and heart-felt laugh, he is tender with his sister and rough-and-tough with 10 year old boys and doesn't know what to do with kids his age, and oddly enough one of his favorite foods is still tomatoes. He is now 41 inches and 46 lbs. He is starting to surprise us with the things he says, "What's wrong Mommy?" when I was blowing my nose; "Why not?" when I tell him not to go down the stairs by himself, or spray water on his sister, or take off his pants outside. We're starting to frequently hear phrases like, "No, I'm not!" but we're also hearing consistent phrases like, "Daddy! pee pee!" So, new stages are upon us! He has expanded from Curious to George to now include Dinosaur Train (whoever invented that show is a genius! 2 of his favorite things in 1 show!) and Peppa Pig (if you hear him snorting, you know he's quoting Peppa). He'll wake up saying, "swing ride!" and go to sleep saying, "'Buddy!' (his stuffed monkey) and then 'train!' and then 'more apple juice'" and ever since our trip back to North America last summer he still sleeps in our bed and insists on Daddy being with him till he falls asleep. He shushes every lullaby I sing for him (or Bria) except for ABCs, and will sing that song to himself so many times throughout the day. He yells "Hey, hun?" to get Joe's attention. He likes to find treasure in the sandbox or on the beach and can count to 31 and backwards from 5. I have a feeling he'll be starting to read this year. He loves his letters SO much. What a kid. :) We are so happy to experience each day of him being 3!

Happy birthday, Wes!

love, Daddy, Mommy, & Bria