Friday, February 22, 2013

when everywhere's a race track...

Some photos from our morning, occupying time while Daddy finishes taking care of things on the computer... {James is so faithful... I am so blessed!}

For Ben, every surface is a race track.  He's had the World Circuit this trip!

Am I that portable?  Are the things I love to do always with me, or do I put them on hold?  
And if I put them on hold, how long will it be before I start to really live?  

The challenge: 
find things to do and love that are portable -
can be taken anywhere, done in any context.

Like, giving thanks?  

for when home seems a long way off...

The tears suddenly prick the back of my eyes as I say it.

"But - this side makes me feel more like we're in - " and I say the name of the country we live in.  The country we're going back to.  The one we live in reluctantly sometimes, the second-choice place.  Our first choice is out of our reach.  And despite our discontent at times, the second-choice place has gradually come to feel like home.

Tonight we're in yet another hotel room, still en route, still floating in mid-air, still transitioning.  I do remember that all of life is a transition.  We really are headed to heaven.  Just sometimes, I feel the transition more than others, like when we're sleeping in one bed after another...

I'm sprawled in pajamas on the right-hand side of this bed, the side James was sitting on just a minute ago.  I've collapsed in his spot after brushing my teeth at the end of another long shuttlebus-airplane-shuttlebus-taxi day.  I'm looking at email on his computer, so he sits down on the other side, the left-hand side, pulls my computer over and starts scrolling... Eventually he says, "Do you want that side?  This side's closer to Ruby..." Her little bed is in the corner, with her fast asleep in it right now, content.  No matter what continent we're on, as long as there is warm milk whenever she wakes, warm arms to hold her, warm kisses on her sweet face, she's content.  Am I?

I do know this world is not even my home, I'm just passing through... Am I holding on too tight to this world?  Or is this tightening in my throat, the hot tears pricking, are these the signs of "homesick" in a good way?  This "second-choice" place where God has planted us - could it be that since it's His first choice for us, He's knitting it into our hearts?

I snuggle under the covers on this right-hand side, pull the blanket up over my face.  Block out the world.  Hide, just for a minute.  "This side feels... more like home."  Admitting to myself that the road feels long.  That six months is a long time to be away from the only bed we own in the world.  And even though we only own the bed, not hardly anything else in the house, at least it's something.  

At least I know which side I sleep on.  The right.

{Sometimes I can't remember.  I have to close my eyes and picture the wall in our bedroom back there - feel the bed in my mind, see the surroundings, my bedside table, our wardrobe, my desk - before I can remember which side I sleep on.  That's when I know I've been away too long.}

Only God can do that, can knit a place to your heart and a bed to your soul in a way that makes it feel like home, even when not one single mouth in our village speaks our heart language.  We speak theirs, and their hearts connect to ours, and that's what feels like home.  That, and familiarity.  Doing the same habits over and over until they become like breathing: our verse calendar at breakfast.  Reviewing my verses in the bathroom.  Sleeping on the same side of the bed.  Making pancakes.  Walking to the shop.  Stopping by a friend's house.  Those are the things that feel like home.

Those are the things I miss.

I sniff, and crawl over to the other side of this bed, the side closer to Ruby tonight, the side not mine.  I don't mind, not really.  We're not back yet, so it doesn't really matter.  And all this transitioning does remind me that I'm still en route to our Real Home, that I'll be sleeping in different beds for the rest of my life, until I sleep my final sleep and wake up in my Savior's arms.

But when we do finally get back, back to our second-choice turned first-choice, back to the only bed we own in this world right now, I will snuggle in to sleep on the right-hand side... and it will feel good.

It will feel like home.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

for when you've just plain forgotten...

The best moment of today?

We're leaving to walk to the playground after lunch, and on the pond just outside our hotel room Will, Ben and I notice two beautiful white swans.

"Mommy, look!  Wow!"  We all stand transfixed on the bridge, staring at the graceful creatures - the first time the boys have seen swans in real life.

As we continue walking down the path to the playground, Will is quiet for a couple minutes, looking around at everything.

A minute later, he gives a little happy skip and says, without preamble, "Jesus, I love all the things that you have made!"

I nearly teared up.  I do actually do that a lot, talk to Jesus out loud in front of my boys, usually pleading for patience or wisdom or help, but sometimes commenting on nature or thanking Him for something... This was the first time I've ever heard Will do that himself, and hearing Him speak to Jesus   so naturally and exuberantly, as though He were right there with us, jolted me into the presence of Jesus right then like an electric shock.

You know, He actually is here with us.  This very moment.  

I'm so grateful for my five-year-old's eyes of faith.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

a minute to breathe...

{Crash-landing in Thailand after an intense 6-week Stateside sojourn... been composing post after post in my head all this time, but haven't made it onto the screen.  Hoping to have some more minutes to write some back-stories in the next few weeks!} 

Moving again...

Six checked bags, three large carryons, four personal items, two carseats and a stroller...

From my parents' door in San Francisco to the door of our hotel room in Bangkok, twenty-five hours' total travel time...

Two flights, a total of 16.5 hours in the air - two take-offs, two landings...

Five sick people, three kids with coughs, including a four-month-old...

Nothing but grace.

Grace from my sister, who stayed up late with me our last two evenings to flat-fold and Ziploc-bag absolutely everything.  (Her technique?  Sit on the Ziploc to squeeze the air out, zip shut, squidge with fingers to erase the butt-print!)

The mysterious, official-looking white-haired man with a security badge outside our terminal, who asked James if he needed help with our bags... James was opting not to pay $8 for two trolleys but was going to make several trips inside instead, and this man helped him get everything inside to our check-in counter and didn't charge him a thing!

The friendly Asian man at our check-in counter who smiled and nodded at our overweight baggage and didn't charge us a cent, and the extremely helpful girl next to him who blocked out two extra seats on our long-haul flight so I could have room next to me and James and the boys had a row of four...

The family line for security, so we didn't have to wait forever... and the understanding official who passed through my bag of medicines for the flight, even though several bottles were bigger than the limit... Grace.

The helpful flight attendants who made sure we had everything we needed, and moved us up to business class for the last half hour of our flight to Hong Kong to make sure we caught our connecting flight to Bangkok... Grace.

That all our bags made the connection, and they even pulled our stroller off early for us so we could have it during our layover in Hong Kong...

Grace, grace, grace.

Ruby Grace, who slept, nursed or smiled for nearly ALL of the entire 14.5 hour flight to Hong Kong.  What an amazing little girl.  God's Grace to us!  (She did lose it completely on the last two-hour leg from HK to Bangkok, but - seriously, nobody's that perfect)!

Will and Ben, model veteran travelers, who both slept 5 hours on the long-haul flight and spent the rest of the time quietly glued to their screens... (Ben did have a few meltdowns on that last leg, but by then we were too zombie-esque to care!)

My long-suffering, patient husband who put up with my stress-spikes and gives me grace, grace, and more grace.

The fact that there was actually a shuttle van from our hotel waiting at the Bangkok airport, even though we found out later we had mis-booked and they weren't expecting us until the next day!  Somehow there was still a driver there, and we went straight to our hotel and were able to add an extra earlier night to our booking with no hassle at all.

Such grace. 

Thank you for your prayers!  We are so thankful for a few days to recover and recuperate in the warm sunshine before heading back to Central Asia.  Pray for health and thank Him for grace!