Sunday, August 19, 2012

The brevity of seasons of life

I am amazed at how the seasons of life fly by – although so quickly do I forget this while I’m in the midst of a season. Our season of first-time-career-missionaries-support-raising felt like a dreadfully long season of anticipation of the unknown. Then, one day we’re on a plane and that season is forever closed.

We waited for approval to bring Moses home… and waited… and waited… one little delay after another… our son 1 mile down the road but not WITH us… and suddenly, one Friday afternoon, we were told that we would bring him home the next morning. Our season of life with only three children was over. Our season of life of intense training, teaching, and loving our son across languages and cultures started with a bang just as our field director left the field for urgent health needs, leaving Josh in a leadership position.

Within a week and a half of that season's begin, our next season started: life with another adult in our home. Elizabeth joined us for the summer, to help with Gracie, help around the house, and help with all the kids. To be honest, our first month was spent with me needing to focus a lot of my waning energy on settling Moses in and establishing his new normal. So Elizabeth picked up the slack and was a very specific and incredible blessing from God to fill in the gaps that were left by Moses’ needs and Josh’s new responsibilities.

Late July, school holiday suddenly began… yes, suddenly – that’s how it works here. One day the children just don’t have school anymore… whether or not the parents get the written or unwritten memo! Then began a new season where I had all the children home every day. Part of me relished having more time to train the children – and part of me, the increasingly pregnant part of me, scratched my head about what intentional, creative, educational, sheparding things to do with my very diverse children.

School holiday also meant that it was time to start doing a full medical review of the Home of Love children and Vacation Bible School. New season!

Suddenly, 3 days ago, our season of life with Elizabeth was over. She was headed off to Kampala for a few days to see Kampala and spend time with some of our missionary teammates. I ignored the sink full of dishes, occasionally peeking into the kitchen to see if they miraculously got done, like they had all summer. Finally, today, I braved the back ache and did the dishes and chased the children around with a mop… How did that season of unprecedented help end so quickly (and unexpectedly)?!

The next season starts in two days – we’ll travel to Kampala for some meetings, then on to Jinga to attempt to take a vacation – our first in years! After a week of pretending to vacation with four young children and a full-term pregnant belly, we’ll pick up Josh’s parents from the airport for their first visit to Uganda (his mom’s first trip out of North America!!) and head back to Gulu to hopefully have our baby.

But this rapid change of seasons has made me think of the brevity of this season: life in this earthly body. Before we know it, and perhaps quite unexpectedly, this season will end and we will meet our Creator and Judge. Are we ready for this season to end? What will happen tomorrow when we face God and He is ready to pass judgment on us? Are we covered by the blood of Jesus, to be declared guiltless, or are we trying to cover ourselves with something else, something inadequate? The next season is coming!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My response on adoption

If you're in the USA, you've probably run into the "interesting" comments that Pat Robertson made on behalf of Christians on TV. Honestly, I've never seen the 700 Club, so I don't know a thing about it. But, I do know that lots of people watch it and might interpret his comments as something that resonates with Christ. The snapshot that I have of his comments on adoption do NOT resonate with Christ. His comment particularly struck me: "You don't have to take on somebody else's problems."

Reality is that as Christians we ARE to take on other people's problems because we are nothing but wretched sinners ourselves! We should be willing to make sacrifices for others, as our Savior made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We are not above God and exempt from giving of ourselves.

Will my life be more complicated because I have adopted? Maybe. Will my life be more complicated because I have biologically-related-to-me kids? Maybe. Will my life be more complicated because I'm me? oh yeah! ;-P But I'm called to give of every part of myself to bring others into a deeper understanding of God's glory and grace.

What is God's call on your life? Maybe not to adoption - but it IS to give of yourself. It IS to do the difficult thing sometimes. It IS to look beyond yourself and glimpse the world through our Savior's eyes.

Two articles that I read about this:
Bound4Life (disclaimer: I don't know this blog well.)

Moore to the Point (Russell Moore has written some of the best books and resources on adoption from the Christian perspective - if you haven't, look him up!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

No hibernating allowed

(Cooking with my extremely messy boy!)

If we were doing an international adoption in the USA, we'd have the "luxury" of hibernating as we get Moses settled... at least for some time.

Although our friends are interested in learning about our different child-rearing (i.e. discipleship and sheparding) concepts, it's still a foreign concept to make sacrifices in our day in order to train our children. And, as many of you know, any adoption takes lots of intense training and time.

I got the chance to take Moses out on a date today - just me and him at the coffee shop. We ran into a friend there who asked if Moses is a "quality time" kind of kid... I had to think hard about that... No, I think he's a quality-quantity kind of kid... i.e. very intense at this time!

I have intentionally spent good snuggle time and reading time with Moses, hoping to see him demonstrating less insecurity... no immediate results! (yes, I know over time it'll pay off, but as a mom of four young children, I'd love to see immediate results - haha!)

Instead, I need to structure every moment of his life - every second of his life. If I let my guard down for a moment, chaos ensues. If I allow myself to overlook any tiny disobedience, defiance spins out of control. (For all the children, not just Moses.)

There have been so many times in the last three months that I have had to say "no" to opportunities because my children have needed a highly structured life and constant training - chances to hang out with missionary moms, times to play at Home of Love, meetings, etc. Missionary moms understand. Acholi friends do not understand.

Yes, these insecure behaviors are normal and expected as this precious child adjusts to life in a family, life in English, life in ministry...

And Acholi children (in general) are allowed to be very disrespectful to women, especially, so my struggle to have a voice in his life (much improving, by the way!) is normal...

But it doesn't mean that we can overlook these behaviors. THIS is the intense time of training - an opportunity not to be missed. THIS is the foundation time for the rest of his life.

Needless to say, I hit the sack as soon as the children are quiet in their beds at night!

This is school holiday right now, so Home of Love children are home during the day and we have the opportunity to be providing activities for their discipleship and learning outside of school. We can't just hibernate. Last week we did a Vacation Bible School at Home of Love. This week we're doing small group discipleship with the older girls by having them come to our house for cooking lessons during the day. And we shower reassurance and love on all our children as we move forward with at least SOME of "daily" life, constantly reevaluating to make sure that we're not stretching Moses beyond his capacity.

No hibernating - but life sure does look different these days than my breakneck speed of life a year ago with only 3 children!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Doctoring my children in Africa

I haven’t blogged in a while – things got rather busy here.

Josh is running non-stop as he figures out what it means to be Acting Director of ACTION Gulu. He feels the weight of that responsibility – having employees who depend on ACTION to put food on their tables, having 40 some children at Home of Love who are entirely dependent on us for everything, including their spiritual discipleship, having a school that is huge and needs reforms, building a missionary team…

We’ve been eternally blessed by the presence of Elizabeth this summer – a young lady who desires to serve God and joined us in Gulu for a few months to serve our family. She has focused on Gracie’s homeschooling and therapies and Gracie has thrived under Elizabeth’s attention! Elizabeth has also picked up the slack for me as third trimester of pregnancy hit with the fatigue that comes along with it.
And then the illnesses hit – with four kids, 7 total household members, and a big belly, it seems that the illnesses have been hitting harder than usual this summer. My goal is to avoid the hospitals here at all cost, so I am equipped to be doctor to my family – not my favorite role. But when Ana developed an impressive rash, high fevers, and lethargy… I was so grateful to get some advice from a trusted colleague who has spent years of his life in a low-resource setting in Africa.

And so I hit her with everything I could to knock out the illness.
In the USA, I have the antibiotic-ear infection discussion with parents and let them make the choice if they want to use antibiotics or not (they almost always choose antibiotics). Here, I’m much quicker to treat everything.

In the USA, a fever is most likely a viral infection, and I spent 6 years of practice in the USA working on perfecting my “antibiotics don’t help viral infections” speech. Here, a fever COULD still indicate a viral infection… or could indicate one of many potentially fatal illnesses – malaria, dengue, typhoid, meningitis, etc.

In the USA, I could defer to lab tests if I didn’t want to throw the kitchen sink at my child. Here, I lack confidence in the lab tests that could be theoretically be run in a clinic and I lack confidence in the safety of the tests (clean needles, etc.).

In the USA, I could ask a colleague to take a look at my child so I wouldn’t have to make the decision to give her shots or treat her for meningitis. I could ask a nurse to give her the injections so that I wouldn’t have to. I could just take my dehydrated child to the doctor’s office for some IV fluids without worrying that the doctor’s office might inadvertently kill her in the process of such a simple procedure.

The nice thing about practicing medicine here is that I can simply go to the pharmacy and buy what I need (as long as it’s available). Oh, I want ceftriaxone injections? Okay, “Itye maber, Doka, amiro cefriaxone ki syringes.” I can order directly from the medical supply store in Kampala. Once I figured out what is available here (and I’m still figuring it out), there are definitely some things to practicing medicine here that are nice!

I would prefer to have constant electricity and water, especially the nights that the children are sick… I would prefer to be able to plug in a baby monitor to keep an ear on Gracie without having to get out of bed… But, here I am, following God’s call to raise my children in Africa – LOVING it, full of peace that we are where God wants us to be and that nothing can happen outside of HIS control. He is sovereign and illness, human error, and fatigue are not bigger than God. Satan is not bigger than God. I can’t say that I haven’t been heavy-laden with concern over my very sick children this past week, but if I can lay those burdens where they belong – at JESUS’ feet and not my own – I have nothing to fear.

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