Saturday, April 30, 2011

changing perspective

I am beginning on Monday to finish with the kids school year in our Cincinnati home. I was starting to notice that Sami was pronouncing her “H’s” like “Haychis” (phonetically, of course) because of living in Jos. Cute, but I am excited for her to pronounce them the way I was raised to pronounce them. That is a minor example of what we are constantly working through raising them to be "third culture kids".

We JUST don’t like change, do we? (I am sure by now, you all are tired of me talking about transition… I cannot help it, it is the reality of where I am… and what if we stay this way FOREVER!!! Okay, I am getting ahead of myself… Where was I?) We tend to resist anything that pushes, prods or pulls us from a place of the comfortable recognized to the uncomfortable unknown. My mind was drawn to the present struggles of our present state of transition. We are used to being the foreigners (that is the majority of my kids life), not the stay at home Americans.

One of the reasons this transition has been more challenging is that we are being allowed to stay in friend’s home’s for a bit… someone else’s home, someone else’s furniture, someone else’s circle of life. I’m not trying to complain, for we are so thankful for both of these provisions, yet this is our reality. So it feels like home, but it isn’t quite… Without a doubt, it is emotionally harder to move back and forth with secondary school children ~ tweens. They’d just found where they belonged and we uproot them to return to a place that isn’t what they left before. So, they are back to figuring out where they belong once again when they’d anticipated coming "home." But people leave; others grow, looking and sounding different; still others change and have new priorities or a different direction – nothing remains static and so it just isn’t the same.

As I’ve pondered and prayed – then realized that I should first pray and then ponder: How are we to shepherd our children through this time, the Holy Spirit brought my thoughts to perhaps the most well known words in the Bible about what it looks like to be a good shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

Psalm 23:1 (NLT)

When God blessed us with children, He gave us the privilege of becoming shepherds… one more way we can learn to imitate our God and our Savior. So I read these words, words first stamped onto my heart over 20 years ago, gentle words reminding me how the Good Shepherd cares for me and see a very practical example of how I can shepherd my children.

I came across another blog site that helped me put some of my “overwhelmed thoughts” into more practical steps to consider:

“· I can let them rest, making sure our home is a place of security, fun and respite from the stresses in their worlds all around them.

· I can lead – with my words, my actions, my attitudes, my life. Do I approach the challenges with a gentle spirit, accepting and welcoming God’s sovereignty and excited to see what He will do because I know He will work?

· I can renew: revamping harried schedules, repairing wrong attitudes and beliefs, restoring tired hearts, making good on promises and things I’ve said, renovating to salvage the bad and hard days.

· I can guide, showing them again and again that we run to Jesus with our celebrations, challenges and sorrows.

· I can protect through disciplining, both myself and my children as necessary.

· I can comfort, often just by caring about the hard, seemingly little things.

· I can prepare a feast… healthy, nutritious snacks and meals that I know will delight my family… and that time of preparation is a wonderful time to pray for them… or to encourage them to work alongside me and share about/pray through their days.

· I can honor them: respecting their feelings, attitudes and perceptions even when they need repair, admiring their accomplishments and the person God is growing them to be, giving credit where credit is due, protecting their reputations, remembering that they, too, are heirs of the King.

· I can pursue them with goodness and unfailing love, whose source is, of course, the Good Shepherd.”

Good stuff, huh? Sounds easy, right? Hah, I think that is why I like that first verse of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.”

I guess that is my take home. I might mess up and not do what I should be doing to care for them, but I can come back to the idea that Jesus is all that I need. I can trust that in following the example of my Shepherd, He will open the eyes of my children so that they see their cup, too, overflowing with blessings from heaven.

I know this one was long! Thanks for staying with me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

a new transition

Isn't this sunrise beautiful? It probably doesn't mean the same to you as it does to my family. It is the idea of just being there to experience it that makes it wonderful. But, you have to admit, it still is pretty.

This photo represents to me a new day, a new start, a new transition. We are officially in OH. We have gone from Nigeria, England, USA - FL, NC, OH within 3 1/2 weeks. It has felt a bit overwhelming to be living out of a suitcase for this long, but every stop along our trail home has been so worth it. No regrets!

So, starting sometime real soon, we will start emailing again, making phone calls again and all the other regular daily activities that make life feel normal. The kids are doing great. Yesterday they went to the grocery store with me and we were all so surprised to hear the "storm" coming out of the vegetable department and then after hearing the thunder, watching it rain on the vegetables. It amazes me what things are out there.

Anyway, I am not real sure what this new transition holds for us as a family, but I would sincerely love your prayers to join ours with where or what God might be leading us. We want to climb the mountain He wants us to climb - not the one that we think might be the best. We need your prayers. If I were to be honest, I am a bit scared. Is that allowed to be written on a blog? Not sure, if not, oops, too personal. Thanks.

Either way, it is a new transition and with that comes a new understanding and a new growth. We will start our climb today, Lord willing. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

It has been so long since we have communicated anything. Life has been full.

We have been receiving lots of emails with questions regarding where we are, etc...

We are in NC, after visiting John's mom in FL, after having a family vacation in FL. It has been nice seeing some grandparents.... but sad enough our stay in NC is not long enough to do all that we would want. SO, we will return another time to visit more and get some things done.

We leave this week to go back to OH to get a little unpacking done before John's starts work in the home office. I have to admit, it has been hard to adjust to everything, but I know that God will work through each of us to draw each one of us to Himself more and more with each day.

We are looking forward to seeing each one of you and catching up. Please continue to pray for us and I will become more regular with blogging once we are home and in somewhat of our daily life routine.... (I forget what that looks like).

Have a great Easter! He is risen indeed (for all of us Methodists out there) :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

how we speak, baby steps

Well, we are in FL enjoying the sun and the activities that are just a click away.

Everything from Putt-Putt, go karting, walks on the beach, playing volleyball in the pool and of course you have all the restaurants meeting whatever food desire you happen to be craving in the moment. So much to do, to eat, to partake in.....

YET, surprisingly enough, we can still experience children dealing with Boredom.... what do you really think that means anyway? I will look it up.... I will be back in a moment.

adjectivefeeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one's current activity
Can this be the real definition? Hopefully, you all are seeing that I am not really questioning the definition as much as the use of it from kids mouths. Okay, look, now I am trying to be vague, as in ALL KIDS SAY THIS, when in reality I am trying to not hone in on the condition of my own children. UGH.... Maybe there are too many options offered. My sister-in-law, Beth, and I were talking about how she read an article that if you offer up two choices to someone you are bound to see more productivity than if you were to give them an unlimited amount of choices. Interesting, isn't it?
We are trained and think it is our right to have an unlimited amount of choices, as if this makes us more powerful to choose "Yes, I will go go karting today" when there are 100 things to do. Verses, "I guess I will go go karting since there is only one other option...." That doesn't even make sense in the practicality of it, but yet, here John and I are thinking and leading our kids to believe that if we offer them 100 choices while at the beach in FL, we are allowing them to feel that this vacation is SOOOO FUNNNNN. We are starting them off on the wrong foot.
Truth is, "kids this is such a treat and we are so blessed, let's enjoy the water and the sun and the gifts around us because we can now say with firsthand experience that there are kids in Africa right now, plowing a field or taking care of children that are not theirs to take care of...."
Wow, little soap box there, sorry. All in all, we are having a great time as a family and I am grateful for the gifts before us. As a matter of fact, we are off to see the tallest lighthouse in FL and the largest lighthouse museum in the USA. Hmmmm, interesting after all that I wrote.... I guess it is baby steps :)
Even though we are here, the last two pictures represent where my heart and mind keep wandering to when there is a moment to sit and think. Our Jos village and our Jos family. Keep praying for them as the elections are continuing this weekend, prayerfully with no crisis.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


We have arrived safely in Cincinnati, OH. Leave tomorrow for our FL vacation and traveling time. BUT, it has been so refreshing to be home with Todd and Beth's family for the last couple of days. The kids are playing and we are getting a few things done...

Here are a couple of photos of our kids while in London. We were able to have almost a full day layover there. The kids were excited about the double decker buses and were completely amazed with the driving being done on the opposite side of the road. John and I were amazed how we have been foreigners so long now and yet can still be caught off guard with how to find places in another country. I am guessing that maybe we have become too accustomed to third world cultures that a first world landscape was a challenge... who knows, but it was nice being there, once we figured out our transportation issues.

Just a couple of comments that John and I have heard from our kids (we can only remember these, but I tell you, there have been some funny things we have laughed to ourselves about in regards to our kids transition):
"Look at these pretty lillies, they are everywhere!" - while looking at dandelions in a field.
"Why is the car stopping for us, that is weird." - while crossing a street in London and the cars actually stopped to let us pass.
"Why are there wrappers around each of these straws?" - when picking up a straw for a POP at McDonald's
"This is the best place ever." - coming from John as we entered a Skyline Chili and the first thing he sees is they have placed a HUGE bottle of hand sanitizer on the ledge for people to use as they walk in.....

Again, so many more "WOW" moments, but no memory to record them. We are glad we are home, but I am learning that once again, we find ourselves in transition mode. Maybe the Lord doesn't want us (me) to find security in a location or in a routine, knowing it would take my eyes off of him and onto the location and/or routine. I am not sure, but either way, we are in transition again and will be for the next month, so we continue to grab each moment and make the most of it.