Abiding and Pruning

My heart is heavy, and it’s been that way for a while. The kind of heavy where I know I need a good cry, for starters, and lots of time spent just being quiet with Jesus, and maybe talking it out with a good listener. But it’s Christmas in our house, and as I sit in front if our Christmas tree with my kids watching cartoons, it seems too…. happy….. to have a good cry.

I have 2 hibiscus bushes in my backyard. One is beautiful, full of leaves and red and peach flowers. The other one is sickly, overrun with aphids and ants and it’s gross. I pretty much let my plants alone, but I’m convinced the sick plant needs to be pruned. There is no way it is going to become a healthy plant again on it’s own.

God has been pruning us this year. We have been through a lot, with difficult external situations, and some ugly internal situations. Life just isn’t always pretty, and we don’t always deal with it in healthy ways. It’s just been that kind of year. So God pruned and cut away dead branches and trimmed some more, and now we feel like a bare stick in the ground. God asked us to ABIDE in Him, so that is what we are doing. A bare stick, but a healthy bare stick, abiding in the One who desires to give us life, not as we want, but as he knows is BEST for us. The healthy branches and leaves and fruit will come, but only as we abide.

I was reminded this morning that God came to earth as a baby to BE WITH US, Immanuel, to save us from the sickly life at is apart from Him, and make us be all that we were created to be. A beautiful life that reflects the glory of its Creator. And God didn’t just create us and leave us on our own; He desires to be our gardener. All we have to do is abide. Maybe I’ll get that good cry, or maybe God will gently let my heart heal, but in the meantime, I abide.

20131219-070909.jpg

20131219-071047.jpg

Advertisements

A journey with baboons, ice, free flights and food, and rainbow promises

What a trip. And it’s not even over. But so much has happened that I feel I need to document, that I figured I should get caught up before the adventure continues. I’m writing from the air, 20 hours into our air travel. But our trip started on Wednesday, so let’s start there.

Part 1- road trip

We left mombasa at 4:15 in the morning, ready for an uneventful 7-hour drive, passing very few other vehicles on the road, asking God to protect us and not to hit anything. We stopped at our halfway point, ate a bigger breakfast than we intended, and pulled back on the road at 8. Half an hour later, in the middle of nowhere, where the road drops off steeply on both sides, and the terrain is covered by thorny acacia trees, we heard our back right tire shred. We pulled over to fix it, on a very narrow shoulder. As josh was inspecting the damage, I noticed our back left tire was also completely flat, and saw why- all along the grass line had been metal guard rails, which had been cut down to just a couple of inches of sharp metal sticking out of the ground.

We were feeling a little distraught, but have been learning to trust God, and knew this trip held some adventures for us. I tried to put the flimsy emergency triangles in the road to warn trucks not to hit us. It’s a very dangerous area. The triangles fell over every time a truck passed, and it looked like something out of a mr. Bean movie, with me running back and forth, standing them up. 15 min later, someone put rocks on the base of the triangles to stabilize them. Aha.

A kind lady drove by, turned around, and asked if she could help. She offered her spare tire to josh, but it was too small. Then she offered her CAR to josh to drive to go buy tires somewhere, while she literally stood in the road, waving trucks out of the way to keep us safe. Her name was Josephine, and I am so thankful for her.

I’m thankful for josh! and the hard work he did that 10 hour trip.
I’m thankful for the exact same tire shop that was 15 min down the road, which we used a couple of years ago when we had a blowout.
I’m thankful they realized our front left tire had also been punctured and fixed that one too before we continued on our trip.
I’m thankful that the BABOONS that we saw on the road before and after our car incident were nowhere around while we were standing on the side of the road.
I’m thankful that every truck that passed, rocking our car, didn’t hit us.
I’m thankful that we could pay for the tires with a phone to phone banking system they have here, since we had no cash, and this is what the tire shop looked like.
I’m thankful for the countless rainbows we saw in the sky on that drive. Gods promises never fail. He will never leave us or forsake us, even to the ends of the earth.

We arrived in Nairobi city at 12:30, just in time to hit two hours of traffic for a couple of kilometers. We were hungry, and God provided a peanut-seller. We never needed a bathroom, the kids were awesome, and we were so thankful, that despite things not going our way, we were strongly reminded that God loves us, takes care of us, and so earnestly wants us to grow closer to him. That’s it. Nothing else matters.

During our 2-day rest in Nairobi, we learned an ice storm was going to move into Dallas during our arrival time. Initially, we were discouraged. I might have even cried a little. We are tired. Really tired. Weary kind of tired. But trusting in God and his sovereignty. We talked through worse case scenarios, gave it over to God, and with lighter hearts, went to the used clothing markets to find winter jackets for the kids in case we got stranded.

20131209-215034.jpg

Part 2- We got a free extra plane ride!

The two nights in Nairobi were sleepless for Josh, with power outages affecting the entire country. Nevertheless, on Friday, we packed our bags into a taxi, and headed to the airport, knowing that things were probably not going to go as planned, but ready for an adventure. Shortly after checking in to our gate, we learned our London-Dallas leg was cancelled. Off to London we went anyway. “Better to be halfway there” has been our motto more than once in our international travels.

London was beautiful, and chilly, and sparkled with Christmas lights, cleanliness, and efficiency. However, 2 bus rides, 2 terminal changes, countless escalators up and down, and 3 hours of working with ticket agents to sort out our flights, we were wearing a little thin. Being hungry and tired does that to you. However, we got a nice meal voucher and breakfast, rerouted through Philadelphia with only 7 extra hours added to our trip, and even found a free playground for the kids! Of course, they were supposed to wear socks, which we didn’t have because they were in the carry on that we were asked to check. So, the kids got to sit and look at the cool playground with their bare feet while josh went in search of socks. He found them, because he would move mountains to take care of our family. I love that man. Anyway, while watching our now-sock-wearing kids get their wiggles out, apparently all airports in London were affected with delays due to a technical difficulty in air traffic control. Of course. What that meant for us is that our layover is now VERY short, and we may miss our flight. The last flight of the day to Dallas.

So here we are. Quite peaceful, because we said yes to God and whatever challenges that might come our way. We don’t want to be comfortable, we want to grow. Not trying to sound holy, just sick of being stagnant lately, and finding such unexplainable joy in having nothing left of ourselves, but allowing God to fill us with joy. With peace. With patience. With a desire to be a light. Believe it or not, these things don’t come naturally because we are “missionaries.” There’s a topic for another day.

Will update more to see if we actually make it to Dallas tonight. Meanwhile, we rest while we can, because it’s a bit of a marathon to drag three tired kids, get all our luggage through customs and rechecked and into our next flight in one hour. But I’m thinking about those rainbows, and whatever happens will be just right.

20131209-214910.jpg

Update- philly

Stepped off the plane in Philadelphia and were handed our hotel voucher. Guess that answered the question of where we would spend the night. We were just so glad to be on US soil that I might have sung America the Beautiful while waiting for our hotel shuttle. I sang it quietly, because that kind of stuff embarrasses josh for some reason. Turns out, God knew we needed the break, and the kids jumped on the pullout sofa in our suite without abandon, and I buried myself in that comfy bed for as many hours as my body thought it could sleep. With jet lag, sleep was amazing until 1 am. The kids and josh went for a 2 am swim in the hotel pool until we decided to pack it up and head to the airport at 5 am, to see what was up. Of course, our flight was cancelled. I wish I could say that I shined like a light for Jesus through this adversity, but I might have had a meltdown at the counter (after waiting in line for 2 hours) that resembled the mom in Home Alone. I begged them to send us anywhere warmer, since our current airport in Philly only had hours left until an ice storm was to hit. The ticket agent said she could send us to Miami. Really? Realizing I was about to lose my mind, I took the kids away, while josh patiently pushed for a flight to Houston, and God bless him, it worked. So, we are on our way to Houston, hoping the roads are clear so someone can pick us up. Every leg of this journey is getting us closer to home. I think when I finally see any of my family, I might just break down and cry. Who knows? I’m just so thankful for all the rainbows along the way.

HOME!
This part is short. We arrived in Houston, had family waiting for us, and slept in real beds that night. All said and done, we made the trip in 60 hours with five flight cancellations, a night in a new city, $200 worth of free food, and very thankful hearts to finally be home. So glad my kids were awesome. Not perfect, but awesome. God was amazing.