Monthly Archives: November 2013

The In-between

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Our lives swing violently between turbulence and tranquility. I’ve been amazed again and again at how drastically a life can change in a matter of minutes. Like the time I slept & dreamt that we moved to South Sudan… only I actually woke up in South Sudan.

Our days are filled with the unexpected and nothing ever happens the same way twice. This starts at traffic laws and is true all the way to the pizza at my favorite cafe in Uganda. Some days it’s illegal to make U-turns in certain areas of town and other days we find ourselves trying to define what a U-turn is to the police. We have to deal with petty laws like “misuse of vehicle” (we had suitcases in the seat of our truck instead of passengers), “driving illegally by wearing sunglasses,” and oh how dare we drive our truck while wearing flip-flops! Not to mention, we have a right-side drive Land Cruiser, but now live in a country where we also drive on the right side of the road [think U.S. postal trucks]. We had to throw out all of the acrostics created to help Americans learn to drive in previous British colonies when we moved from Uganda to South Sudan. Nothing is the same. Ever. And do not even get me started on the issue of consistency, because sometimes your garlic pizza will have no garlic and your basil pizza will have no basil. And don’t go back tomorrow with high hopes just because they said they will have both garlic AND basil tomorrow, because “tomorrow” can mean anything from next week to never again.

When we lived in Uganda, our days followed no rhythm. A day that was pretty mild in events last year ended by Robert finding our gardener dropped dead in the mud. One sunny afternoon, Robert was driving to town with some short-term volunteers and found an almost dead suicide victim in the bushes. One night a hysterical woman from the neighboring village pleaded with us for a ride to the hospital because she had dropped her 4-month-old baby in the fire. That ride-side drive Land Cruiser has transported two dead bodies between hospital and grave and has been contaminated with every bodily fluid known to man. But the urgency was there because the death all around us was swallowing people up and Sheol just laughed.

But those are the days when we can be sure that Jesus is worth it. We keep busy during those days being His hands and His feet and His gauze pads and His cup of water and His hearse and His voice to ears that would rather listen to the lies. We feel fulfilled when we can DO and SAY and LISTEN. Because it really does something to a soul that cries to the God of heaven for rain on a shriveled savannah and He pours it out. And then the physical rain seems so little a thing when those deceived ears first listen to the Christ beckon and hearts repent and hands take up their cross and feet follow Him.

But how can I be sure today that Jesus is worth it in the in-between? Because today we are sitting, waiting in a lodge just 3 hours from the people group God called us to years ago. Our house isn’t finished and who can know when it will be?

I can be sure that He is worth it because Jesus is in the rest, too. It’s easy to see Him in the chaos, but the water gets muddied in the rest. Muddied with guilt, misplaced expectations, and entitlement.

Please pray today for missionaries to be content in all seasons of ministry. Pray for protection against discouragement and distraction. Pray for the humility to accept the much-needed times of rest. Pray especially for Echelon to be salt and light among the expat community during the wait and transition.

Oh, that our focus be made clear, our vision be corrected. May we rest in Him, enjoying Him all our days.

Dear Shepherd : 1 Year

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KK was in the kitchen when the contractions first started. I didn’t tell her for over an hour because I didn’t want to scare her. Just 3 days before, my midwife said I had at least a week. We had spent the day picking up the mail & prepping for Thanksgiving, just in case.

It was hot in that kitchen so I asked her to come into the living room. I told her about this feeling I was having every 7 minutes. “Don’t worry, mama, I think I can hold off til Bobby gets back,” I assured her. I did everything I could to stop you. I tried to sleep but couldn’t. I tried relaxing in a warm bath, but there was no hot water. She rubbed my back but I just needed to walk. So I walked that tiny apartment, from room to room with a pending game of Yahtzee at stake.

We got in touch with Daddy just before he boarded his flight home from Cairo. He was worried but we were fine. Uncle J & Aunt Susan loaded up from Kaabong with the kids at 1am and started the 15 hour journey to Kampala. Word spread quickly and people world-wide were praying for us. You were front and center, little man.

It was the middle of the night. My contractions were getting stronger and my Yahtzee scores were getting worse. We timed the contractions… 5 minutes apart, then 4, then 3. My midwife wanted me to stay at home. To sleep, relax, breathe. I hadn’t been able to in hours. This was not first-time-mama jitters. You were coming and we went to the hospital against her advice. She joined us there after her bowl of cereal, and at 8am I was already 6cm dilated. Her tuned changed after my check up.

By 11am I just HAD to start pushing, again against the midwife’s advice. Daddy was stuck in Nairobi but KK was there, reminding me to breathe. And I did breathe. And pushed. And yelled. And prayed. You overwhelmed me, body and soul. You still overwhelm me. “I CAN’T!” But I could, and I did. At 11:37am that pedantic midwife caught you mid-air, slippery & squirmy & screaming. I collapsed over the back of that plastic Ugandan hospital bed mattress and it was nothing like the movies. No one yelled “It’s a boy!” so I yelled at them, “is it a boy???” You were. And you are… all boy. All 7 lbs 5 oz of you was boy. My boy. KK got to cut the umbilical cord. The midwife made mention about your chin right away. You have your daddy’s chin and I cried because you do and because he wasn’t there.

Naked you came from my womb and naked they laid you on my naked chest. Everything was naked about that moment. Our skin but so much more the raw emotion of it all. A person really sees the depths of a woman during child birth. And the woman sees the depths of herself. A girl becomes a woman and that woman becomes a mama. It’s bare and it’s laid out and there’s nothing that can be hidden when a girl-turned-mama holds her babe for the first time. 

Aunt Susan was your first visitor & I made them let her come into the room. Daddy was able to get his plane ticket changed but he still won’t tell me how much it cost him. You were almost 3 hours old when you first melted into his arms and his tears melted us all. There we were, a brand new family blissfully happy and desperately tired. God was there in that delivery room.

The sleepless weeks passed by and you grew and we grew. Papa & Granny Wade enjoyed you for 2 weeks and left just before you amazed us all by rolling over at 3 weeks old. We spent the most emotional Christmas ever together as our little family of 3. Nammy & Grandaddy joined us just before New Year’s and we brought in what would be the most challenging year of our lives yet on Mt. Elgon.

You nursed and slept perfectly during difficult road trips and started smiling and were the first white newborn the Kaabong Dodoth had ever seen and they gave you Karomojong names and Shelli came to help us and we lived in a mud hut and I sang you to sleep and you started laughing and you slept through the night and we took you to the Middle East and you learned to sit up and KK came for another visit and you started eating solids and you moved into your own room and you rode on a camel and we packed up our house & moved and you were taken care of by Ugandan nannies while we learned Arabic and you started to crawl and you started saying Dada and started pulling up and you weaned earlier than I wanted you to and you took one step and your hair got longer and you started to clap and you cut a tooth and we packed up our house & moved again and TOMORROW YOU WILL TURN ONE.

You’re wild as they come. You are so happy and can reduce a full grown man to baby talk with that smile. You love your paci and sing yourself to sleep. You say Dada when I try to get you to say Mama. You lick floors. You can destroy a room within minutes. You once loved baths but now cry the whole time through. You’re really good at climbing up and down stairs. You eat an adult portion of chicken curry. You look just like Papa. You have a farmer’s tan. You would die a happy baby if we’d just leave you alone to eat the grass outside. You laugh hysterically when you pull up on my legs while I’m doing the dishes. You clap when you hear music. Your stroller is your happy place. You sit still only if I read you “Little Blue Truck.” You are the most beautiful boy and it is joyfully impossible to keep up with how you change every day. 

It was one year ago tonight that you decided Daddy Or Not, Here I Come. My life changed forever that long day. I’m grateful for the grace and that you’re still too small to see my infinite imperfections. Being your mommy has changed me, is changing me, and will always change me. Thankful this season especially for you. Happy First Birthday tomorrow, little one. 

I love you forever, 
Mama