36 Weeks!

36 weeks!!!

I am amazed that ten weeks ago I was at the hospital being evaluated for preterm labor. If you had told me I was going to make it at least another ten weeks, I’m not sure I would have believed it. We are sooo thankful. In fact, last week I “graduated” from the preterm labor high risk program! I received my last Progesterone shot in the butt and went happily on my way.

These past few weeks have been anything but uneventful, though. During week 34 I was in and out of triage four times. A few days after I made it to 34 weeks (when Mariah was delivered), I started having crazy contractions. At first, I thought they were just Braxton Hicks, but they quickly grew more intense and frequent.  I was monitored several times and received hormone shots just to make sure our baby’s lungs and brain would be developed enough. At one point I was having contractions every four minutes for several hours and I thought FOR SURE I was going to deliver that day. Nope.

While I didn’t love the idea of going into labor at 34 weeks, it sure sounded better than labor at 26 weeks, so I was doing okay. The real concern came when I received a call from the hospital one night. The doctor called to tell me that they decided to send my urine sample out for a culture and that it came back positive for Group B Strep (GBS). I won’t lie, I had a minor breakdown. All those memories of Mariah in the NICU came flooding back instantaneously.

Group B Strep is actually fairly common. Many women are carriers and don’t even know it. Obviously I am a carrier and my doctors are very aware of that. In fact, I’ve already tested positive once (at 4 months) in this pregnancy and taken antibiotics for it. The reason it scared me so much last week was because of the contractions I was having. It was exactly like what happened with Mariah. Somehow Mariah contracted the bacteria in the womb and I went into preterm labor because my body wanted her out. Soon after being born, she started with the convulsions, 105F fever, organs shutting down, etc.

Obviously, my first concern was that this baby had already contracted the bacteria and my body was going into labor to get him out. I wanted to go in right then and there and have a c-section to get him out. The doctors weren’t so sure though. They said what happened to Mariah was so incredibly rare that the possibility of it happening again was almost impossible. Okay. Deep breaths. Get it together. Reread your own blog about overcoming high-risk pregnancy fears.

After an hour or so (and a good cry), I took it to the Lord and He gave me an overwhelming peace. He is in control and I trust Him- whatever His plan is. For now, I will be on oral antibiotics until I deliver and then I will be placed on IV antibiotics. When he is born, he will be monitored for infection and will receive antibiotics if necessary.

Pregnancy is such a thing for me. Such a test of faith. Such a constant reminder that I am not in control. The fact that I’ve made it past 36 weeks is bringing me some serious joy right now though. The fact that God has it all in His hands brings me even more joy. I’m still having contractions, so we’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and our sweet baby during these crazy times!

 

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VIPKID Job Review

Looking to make a few extra bucks? Since I’m staying at home with my kid (soon to be kids) these days, I was looking around for something I could do from home that didn’t involve me selling stuff to my friends on Facebook. Anyway, for the last three months I’ve been working for a company called VIPKID. Basically, it is a Chinese company that hires native English speakers to teach English online to children in China. I had some initial doubts about it and for some reason thought the program might be a little “janky,” but I was totally wrong. It’s a great company, a great part-time job that pays well, AND it allows me to make my own schedule.  Here’s a quick rundown:

The company is looking for native English speakers who have a Bachelor’s degree and have some teaching experience. You are hired for 6 month contracts and are reviewed for renewal after each 6 month period. Depending on your ability and credentials, you can make anywhere from $14-$22 an hour. The idea is simple: you create a weekly schedule for the times you want to teach. Classes are 25 minutes long and you are required to open up 15 time slots (7.5 hours) per week. The peak hours for the Chinese students are in the evenings (6pm-10pm Beijing time) and weekends, which means mornings (5am-9am EST) and weekends for us. The classes are one-on-one and the lesson is already prepared for you. The students are ages 4-12 and have varying levels of English ability. It’s a great deal if you can get yourself out of bed in the morning.

What I love about VIPKID

  • The kids are great. For the most part they are well-behaved, engaged, and smart. I actually have a lot of fun teaching.  The kids love their classes and the parents are usually sitting off to the side to make sure the child is doing well. The program is clearly a big deal because they have over 80,000 active students and continue to add more students every week. I teach many trial classes per week for potential students and get a bonus if they do sign up!
  • The pay is great for a minimal amount of work. Yes, you have to be energetic and get yourself some props (ie. puppets, small whiteboard, etc.), but you get paid $10 to teach a lesson you didn’t prepare for 25 minutes. I’m making about $20 an hour and I’m still surprised they pay me that much.
  • The schedule is great. I’m not a morning person, but I’m learning to be. I love that I get up and teach for several hours and that I’m done by 8:30 AM. I have the rest of the day to be with Mariah and do what I need to do. I also love that I can set my schedule. I take off the days I want and just make sure I always hit my minimum of 7.5 hours a week.
  •  The company is great. They are super supportive and have a nice online community for their 9,000 teachers. You can submit tickets for any difficulties or questions you have and they quickly respond. They have tons of incentives and ways to make bonus money and even fly their top teachers to China every year.

Cons (they aren’t really cons…just things to consider): 

  • It takes a few weeks to “build your business.” Obviously, the better you are, the more students will sign up for your classes and the better feedback you’ll receive from parents. It took me several weeks to get things moving, but now, every open space I have fills up quickly when my openings are posted.
  • You have to have a reliable internet connection. When we had a horrible storm this week, my internet went out and I missed a class. Obviously I didn’t get paid for that class. Even though it was out of my control, the company needs reliability for obvious reasons, so the most reliable teachers get the most students and those teacher who have a lot of IT issues or miss class generally don’t last long.

Overall, I think VIPKID is a great program and I am impressed by how happy the teachers and students are.  I totally recommend it because it is fun, easy, and really flexible.

Why am I telling you all this? Well for one, I get a $75 bonus for any successful referrals I make during the month of March. And secondly, I am really thankful for this job and I’m guessing some of my friends would love it and benefit from it as well!

If you want to sign up and learn more about the program, click here. 

 

Quick Update: Almost 32 Weeks!

Just wanted to send out a quick update! We’re almost to 32 weeks and I’m still pregnant! Everything is holding tight and looking good! I’ve feeling very thankful… and huge. I appreciate all the prayers and encouragement from everyone! Here are some pictures.

So. Much. Anger.

Man, since we’ve been back on American soil, I can’t get over how much angrier people are. I don’t even like getting on Facebook anymore- it’s depressing and a little ridiculous. I get that everyone has opinions and that is fine, but since when did it become okay to shame anyone who believes differently than you? I think I prefer the old Facebook when people would bore you with posting about what they ate for dinner.

I guess it’s the sense of entitlement that’s getting to me. After living and doing missions overseas for so many years, it’s hard to not be judgmental of how spoiled Americans have become. Compared to countless other countries, the U.S. is blessed beyond belief. It just seems like rather than being grateful for our freedom, we feel the need to protest anyone and anything that we don’t agree with.

Anyway, I don’t want to rant and add to the noise, so that’s all I’ll say about that. Since being back, I’ve been thinking about how to respond to all the anger. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’d love to just post all my opinions on Facebook and tell the world what they should believe, but clearly that’s not working for anyone. So I keep wondering, how does a follower of Christ respond to all of this? Because honestly, I know a lot of people that claim to be Christians that aren’t acting all that much like Jesus when it comes to politics.

So far I’ve come to two conclusions on how I want to respond. First, continually try to create a culture of honor. Honor Jesus and honor others. Respect those in authority and those that have different opinions that me- even if they haven’t really earned that respect. Second, live out my faith. Rather than spouting off useless opinions and trying to be heard, be proactive in making a change. If I’m shouting about being pro-life, but I’m not willing to do anything to help pregnant women or kids in high-risk situations, somewhere there is a disconnect. If I’m screaming about the immigration ban, but I’m unwilling to support teams working on the ground in countries with countless refugees, somewhere there is a disconnect.

Basically, try to spend my time being the remedy instead of just talking about it.

I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I do know that I want to look more like Jesus and pursue things that are close to God’s heart. Surely that will speak far louder than any Facebook rant ever could.

Image Credit: NY Daily News

 

 

 

Sweaty “Digital” Exams

I’m still pregnant :)!

We’re at 27 weeks and my body is holding tight, praise the Lord! I found out that I had two infections that were causing a lot of the cramping from last week, so clearing those up has helped me feel a lot more comfortable.

The high-risk doctors I see every week are not overly concerned about how I have effaced since for now it seems to have stopped and I’m not dilating. They haven’t put me on bed rest, since apparently that’s not a “thing” anymore. There seems to be a lot of controversy about it, but the specialists I go to say that current research suggests that bed rest doesn’t really help avoid preterm labor. They do want me to take it easy and not lift anything heavy…like Mariah (ha!). I’ve done pretty well with not over-doing it, especially since my mom (and pretty much everyone else in my life) doesn’t agree with “current research” and think it’s common sense to take the pressure off the ol’ girl down south.

I did break the rules once this week when I was home alone with Mariah. We’ve been trying to potty train and she has pooped in the potty several times now (score!). Anyway, I was making lunch and heard her in the bathroom, so I rushed in only to find her with her hands submerged in the toilet bowl. Awesome.  My obvious reaction was to pick her up and carry her to the sink to minimize the amount of toilet water  being dripped everywhere. Mom fail in more ways than one. Ew.

I did better after that, though, because it was nap time and I had to try and figure out a way to get her in her crib without lifting her over. We brought in a step stool and a bar stool, climbed up, and had her put her leg over the side of the crib. Once I had her halfway over, I gave her a little nudge and she kind of flopped into bed. She looked at me kind of surprised and then we both started cracking up laughing lol.

Besides not lifting my tank of a child, I’m receiving Progesterone shots in the butt every week and getting those “digital” cervical exams. Did anyone else think for a second that “digital” meant some sort of machine was involved? Yah, it’s not like that. They’re just using the good old-fashioned digits. In fact, this week’s test was pretty comical. You may already know I’m a pro at failing gynecological appointments– but here is another one for the books. It was unseasonably warm last week, but the hospital didn’t turn down the heat, so by the time the doctor came in the examination room, I was a hot mess. Having already taken off my pants, I had been sitting (and sweating) bare-ace on that thin slip of “hygienic” paper that protects the chair. The little sheet they gave me to cover myself was doing nothing but creating a greenhouse effect over my lower half and I was pouring sweat.

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“Hygienic” Chair Protector

When the doctor, nurse, and student all came in for the special “digit” test, I tried to scoot to the end of the chair but the stupid paper was all sweaty and plastered to my butt. I tried to fix it with minimal exposure under the tiny sheet, but I’m too round to accomplish anything past my hips so I just flailed and thrashed until the paper was all torn and stuck to everything. The medical student tried to help, but it was no use. By the time the doctor snapped on her rubber glove, I had that useless tissue paper glued to my upper butt and even though I tried to arch my back to avoid it, the rest of my womanhood uncomfortably rested directly on the exposed vinyl chair that the rest of the world sits on.  Gag.

A little piece of my dignity died that day. But let’s be honest, dignity went out the door with “morning” sickness when I was puking my guts and peed myself at the same time.

Remember what I said about magical pregnancy unicorns last week? Yah, this is further proof that I am more like an awkward pregnancy hippo that isn’t very magical at all. At least it’s semi-comical.

Here’s to another week of pregnancy!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming High-Risk Pregnancy Fears

Pregnancy is scary.

I always thought I would be one of those unicorn women that handled maternity like a boss. Those women whose bodies were just made for baby-making and who a few hours after sneezing out their newborn babes are jumping out of their birthing pools and whipping up a meal for supper. Kind of like Brooklyn Decker pregnant with twins in What to Expect When You’re Expecting when she’s wearing 4 inch heels while talking about how she’s full of energy and always super horny.

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I know that’s Hollywood, but we all know some magical unicorns like that, right?

To be honest, I’ve had to work through a lot of uncertainty and fear. I’m impressed by my friends that have had their babies at home or in a plastic pool, but after what happened with Mariah, you couldn’t pay me enough to have my baby in any place that doesn’t have a state of the art NICU down the hall.  Given, my track record isn’t exactly stellar. I had a miscarriage at the beginning of our marriage and then another miscarriage between Mariah and the baby I’m carrying now. I went into labor with Mariah at 33 weeks and she eventually came at 34 weeks and we almost lost her to a horrible Strep B infection.

When I found out I was pregnant with this baby, I was terrified. God and I had to have a serious conversation because I was literally crippled with fear about having another miscarriage (maybe someday I’ll post about that convo). I am 26 weeks now and I’ve wrestled hard with fear. Fear of miscarrying, fear of preterm labor, fear of babies hooked up to monitors and filled with tubes in the NICU.

Then, this past Tuesday, I had to face my fear again. I am in the high-risk pregnancy program and each week I receive a Progesterone shot and either see a specialist or have a cervical length ultrasound. So far, I’ve been measuring great with no issues. This week, however, my cervical measurement had decreased by 50% and then I started having some cramping and discomfort.

I was so very discouraged. When the ultrasound tech left the room and said she needed to talk to the doctor, I barely kept it together. I mean, this baby is supposed to stay in there for three more months!

It was just scary. I was sent up to be fit into the high-risk doctor’s schedule and he checked to make sure I wasn’t dilating. Then he sent me home to wait two days to see if things progressed. Those were some long days.

Finally, one morning as I was praying, this thought came to mind: If you really trust God, why are you so afraid? 

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I know that God is perfect love and that perfect love casts out fear. If God loves me perfectly, there is no room for fear. I know that He is always in every detail, whether something goes the way I want it to or not. I became incredibly aware of the fact that our every breath is in God’s hands when He decided to inflate Mariah’s lungs that night despite what the doctors were saying. I also became incredibly aware that He could have chosen not to inflate her lungs and that I had no control over that.

The same goes with this pregnancy. I can do everything in my power to have a healthy pregnancy and the doctors will do as much as they can, but ultimately, it’s out of our hands. If God wants this baby to come at 26 weeks, then he’ll come at 26 weeks. I may not be in love with that idea, but God loves me perfectly, so I can trust that He will see us through and that His plan is far better than ours.

That is freedom from fear.

Knowing that something is scary, but acknowledging that the One who loves us perfectly has it in His hands.

Friday I went back to the hospital and had a bunch of tests done. I was extremely relieved to find out that as of right now, everything is holding tight. My cervix hasn’t thinned anymore and the cramping is due to the baby’s head being right on the cervix and surrounding nerves. So we wait and try to keep that baby cooking for as many weeks as possible.

Obviously, we are overjoyed that all is well for now. But I’m also resting in the fact that even if I do have this baby tomorrow, it’s not a scary surprise for my heavenly Father. Every time fear starts creeping in, I try to focus on His perfect love and that He cares far more about my babies than I ever could.  I can remain steadfast because I trust in Him and His perfect love for me and my family. I’ve found that true freedom is being able to say “I trust you Lord, do it your way.”

Job 12: 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Psalm 31:14-15 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My life is in your hands… 

Costa Ricans vs. Cold Weather

Seeing as the average annual temperature in Costa Rica is between 70-80 degrees, it’s no wonder the Ticos have a bit of a warped concept of cold weather. Here are some of my favorite examples:

  1. It is incredibly common to see a baby wearing fleece pajamas, wrapped in fleece blankets, and wearing a cotton hat on days that it is 75 degrees.
  2. Hats, gloves, and coats on children and adults alike are more than acceptable for any temperature under 65 degrees.
  3. Children shouldn’t go barefoot because it is incredibly unhealthy for them to walk on “cold” tile floors.
  4. You should never change a baby out of their pajamas when they first wake up because their body needs time to adjust to the morning “chill.”

Taking these things into consideration, naturally there was some concern as to how Albin, Mariah, and our dogs were going to adjust to the winter weather. I mean, in CR Mariah was pretty used to running around half-naked and barefoot (until sundown of course) and our dogs would shiver indoors if it was anything below 60 degrees outdoors.

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First snow!

We get asked all. the. time. from people how everyone is adjusting to Ohio winters. The answer: we should all thank God I’m not from Minnesota.

My favorite quote from Albin about the cold so far has been, “It goes straight through your pants and right to your bones.” Yes Albin, yes it does.

Mariah seemed unaffected at first, but is clearly annoyed by the amount of clothing she is required to wear these days. She has also been known to hang out by the heat vents.  In regards to snow, she was impressed at first until she actually went outside. Ten minutes later she was back in the house crying about her hands being cold.

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Just hanging around the heat vent

The dogs? Well I think they hate us. They mainly hang out in front of a space heater.

The irony? I’ve become the biggest wimp of them all. I’m always cold. Go figure.

The good news is that God knows and has blessed us with some really mild weather for January. Clearly in His mercy, He knew we’d need some unseasonably warm days to give us hope that we can survive in this frozen tundra bahaha.

So here’s to hot chocolate, heat vents, and warmer mittens for Mariah. May we all come out hardier on the other side ;).

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Warming our buns…

 

Creating a Family Worship Night

Family worship night has easily become one of my favorite things we do as a family.

To us, Jesus is everything. He has given us hope, made our lives meaningful, and wants to have an intimate relationship with us. The fact that the God of the universe loves us and wants us to know Him personally blows my mind. It’s inevitable that we would want to spend time praising the One who knows every detail about us and loves us just the same.

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Worship can be defined a lot of different ways. Really, most anything you do can be done as an act of worship to God when your heart is in the right place. When we started doing our “family worship night”, however,  our intention was just to set apart a block of time during the week to spend intentional time with the Lord.

As I mentioned in my post about legacies we want to leave our children, we want out kids to be raised as little worshipers of God.  We want them to truly love spending time with Jesus, and our hope is that creating an enjoyable space for Him in our schedule will foster that love in them.

There’s really not much to it, but here’s how we’ve made family worship night our own:

Pick a Time and Make it a Priority: We chose to make family worship night a weekly event on Tuesdays. We put it on the calendar and treat it like an important meeting. We rarely make other plans on Tuesdays and if something important does come up, we make sure to reschedule worship night because we want it to be a weekly priority.

Switch it up: Our kids are still small, so obviously, they’re not brainstorming ideas for worship night, but my hope is that someday each family member will be in charge of planning the night’s activities. For now, Albin and I switch off every week as the planner.

Be creative: At first, worship night consisted of us picking a certain number of songs and making a playlist on YouTube to sing through. After doing this week after week, however, we noticed we were falling into a rut of repeating the same songs and not getting much out of it. That’s when we started switching on and off for planning the night and it’s been much more meaningful this way. Here are some ideas for creative worship night activities:

  • Drawing/painting: We put on some great worship and started coloring. We each picked a verse or a theme God was teaching us about at the time and drew a picture about it. This led to a great discussion about what God was doing in our lives.
  • Invite some friends: It’s crazy how singing with your people about God can bring you even closer together. It’s even sweeter if  you can make a bonfire happen :).
  • Live Stream: Some worship bands will cast live some nights so you just sing along as they play online. It’s a good way to hear new songs and be part of a “community” even if it’s over the internet. United Pursuit Band does this frequently and we love it.
  • Prayer: Sometimes we just put on some music and pray about things on our hearts. When we were getting ready to move back to the U.S., we had so many things on our heart and minds causing us anxiety, so we just went through each one and prayed over them specifically. An hour later we both felt the load became much lighter.
  • Podcasts: Sometimes getting to church just doesn’t happen (like when you have a puking toddler…) and sometimes it’s beneficial to hear from a different teacher- so we’ll listen to a teaching and then talk about it. We’ve recently loved this series on marriage and this sermon on God’s story for our lives.
  • Reading to one another: Sometimes we’ll go through a chapter or a small book in the Bible and switch off reading to each other. Simple, but good for keeping you engaged.
  • Serve someone: Lots of options here. Once we bought a bunch of cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and gave them to homeless people downtown. Another time, we invited neighbors we didn’t know well over for dinner. Another idea is to blast some worship music, go through your closets, and then drop off your clothes at a donation center.
  • Make your own instruments: Love this one. Whether you have kids or not, using household items to create homemade instruments is hilarious and brings a whole new aspect to your worship night. Does spontaneous dancing follow? Yes.
  • Put up some Christmas lights or light some candles: This isn’t really an activity, but more of creating an atmosphere. If I’m honest, Christmas lights just do it for me.
  • Giving night: This one would be more fun with older kids, but I love this idea. Tell each family member they have a certain amount of money to give and have everyone research an organization or ministry they would like to donate their money to online. Discuss each donation and how each one contributes to the gospel. Pray over that ministry together.
  • Notes of encouragement: Some nights it’s good to get out some stationary and have everyone write notes of encouragement to someone in their lives. It could be within the family or out- whatever you decide.
  • Prophecy night: One of my personal favorites. Give everyone a card with a different family member’s name on it. Put on some music and have a time where each person can pray for the person on their card. If God puts something specific on their hearts for the other person, they can write it on the card. If not, they can put something encouraging or a verse they think is helpful on their card.
  • New song night: Let’s be honest, worship has improved GREATLY over the last several years. There are some amazing bands out there and just searching for some new ones can really put a breath of fresh air into your music repertoire. Some recentish favorites are: In Over My Head and  No Longer Slaves by Bethel, Simple Gospel and Hidden by United Pursuit, Touch the Sky and One Thing by Hillsong, and Do It Again and Fullness by Elevation.

I can’t tell you how much worship night has blessed us. Quieting our hearts in the middle of the week and making time (without distraction) for Jesus is just a blessing. I truly believe He is totally honored by this every week and I know that He comes into our house and into our relationships when we invite Him like this.

Chains are broken. Anxiety loses its grip. Peace fills our souls. God is lifted up. There is no better way to spend our family time.

Hebrews 12: 28-29

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

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Raising our Kids with a “Legacy List”

As we start a new year, I’ve inevitably begun thinking about things I want for this coming year. Since my  track record with New Year’s resolutions is shaky at best (ie. thinking I’d do the whole 30 diet for all of January was a joke last year), I’m trying to keep it simple this year.

Over a year ago, I posted a list of legacies I wanted to live out with my family. That post must have struck a cord with a lot of parents out there because it received a lot of blog love. That list is obviously near and dear to my heart as well, so I wanted to revisit it to remind myself for the coming year. Not only that, but I would love to give you some ideas for how to make your own legacy list.

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Make Your List

My list was comprised of 10 values we wanted for our kids. I could have brainstormed a longer list, but I kept the list to 10 so I could prioritize and not be overwhelmed by setting an unattainable amount of goals. I picked an overarching statement: “I want my kids to grow up knowing how to love well” and based my top 10 off of that. Choose priorities for your family based on your main goal. For us, faith is a top priority, so that took the first couple slots. The rest are characteristics and values that we hope will teach them to love God, love others, and love who they’ve been created to be. Here is my list:

  1. Worshipers of God
  2. Live out the gospel 
  3. Adventurers and explorers
  4. Culturally-aware
  5. Family time to be important and fun
  6. Individuals
  7. Respectful
  8. Hard-workers that know making mistakes is okay.
  9. A sense of humor
  10. Little givers

Explain What Each Item Looks Like 

You don’t have to go into a lot of depth here, but it’s good to verbalize what each priority looks like in everyday life. It’s easy to say you want “respectful kids”, but how would you define that? Jot down a few ideas for how this might look so that you’ll be able to set clear goals for how to attain a certain value. Here is an example of one of mine:

We want culturally-aware kids. Obviously, we love cultures and love learning about them. We

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Paella at a Spanish Restaurant

want our kids to appreciate our Costa Rican and American cultures; but we also want them to have a love for all people. We hope they want to learn new customs, try new foods, learn new languages, and see new places. Obviously, we won’t allow racism in our house, but we want it to go above and beyond that–which means showing our kids how to be open-minded, accepting of cultural differences, and interested in the lives of others that are different from us.

 

Explain How to Instill Each Value

This is where you get to put your desires into action. I’d imagine you can des-

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Our daughter and foster son

ire to be a really great parent, but that desire has to be paired with action. After each priority and it’s description, I included a practical way that Albin and I were going to try to instill each value in our kids. Here is an example from our hope that our kids would learn to live out
the gospel like Jesus did:

We want this to be like second nature to them, so we’ve started to live like this: stopping to give away groceries to people begging, fostering needy kids, going onto the streets on Saturdays to talk with the hopeless, finding ways we can stand up for justice, etc.

 

The Results After One Year

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Scarlet Macaws at an Animal Refuge Adventure

Amazing. I am incredibly thankful I made this list because it helped our family live out so many things during 2016 that we may not have made a priority otherwise. For example, we want our kids to be adventurers and explorers. To make that a reality, we started going on at least one family adventure a month. We started planning our monthly adventures and putting them on the calendar and they quickly became a priority. As a result, we made some amazing family memories and we looked forward to time together.

So as we look forward to 2017, I’m excited about our little family and about being a parent. I love that God entrusted me with little lives to care for and I want to do that to the best of my ability. This little list has helped me set and meet attainable “goals” for our family, and as I look back over our progress, I’ve seen my own confidence as a mom be raised. Some days are great and some days I feel like I’m failing, but I’m reminded that all those days are worth cherishing.

There’s More to the Story

Three months.

That’s how long we’ve been back in the U.S. and squatting at my parents’ house. We have loved being here with family, experiencing fall, and just resting- but I’m sure it’s not a surprise that the transition has been difficult as well. There is a lot to process, a myriad of emotions, and a lot of uncertainty. I’d like to think it is culture shock, but there’s nothing really shocking about where we’re at right now.

Recently Al and I have been in a weird place. While we love being here and are so thankful for my parents’ willingness to let us live here, we are wondering why we’re here and what is next. We feel like God told us to come back to the U.S.- specifically to Atlanta. He worked out everything for us to come back in amazing ways, but now that we’re here, we’re a little lost.

We don’t feel like we can move to Atlanta quite yet because I’m 20 weeks pregnant and I have to see my high-risk specialist weekly due to what happened when Mariah was born. We don’t feel like we can settle down here and have Al get a real job because we feel like we’re supposed to go to Atlanta. Several doors have closed for temporary jobs for Albin. Our house hasn’t sold in Costa Rica despite numerous people interested. The position we hoped for in Atlanta as houseparents is no longer an option since my due date is a day before the position was to begin.

It’s just confusing.

We’ve found ourselves huddling up with the Lord and asking Him what is going on. A little part of our hearts has wondered if maybe we didn’t hear Him correctly about the whole moving back thing. Why would He take us away from our community, our fostering ministry, our house, etc. and then bring us here to do seemingly nothing? It feels like we’re wasting precious time. We know the Lord has called us to open up our home and our family to those without families, but we can’t do that being unemployed and in a temporary living situation. It just doesn’t make sense right now.

Yesterday morning we had planned to try a new Hispanic church in hopes of finding some Spanish speaking community. We didn’t end up making it to church because Mariah woke up in the middle of night vomiting everywhere. Instead, we decided to listen to a sermon and God spoke straight to our hearts through it. The pastor spoke about how there is always more to the story than what is currently seen. It’s easy to get caught up on a “scene” of our story, rather than the whole story itself. We can’t possibly know how God is working in our little steps of faith to set the future in motion. He is constantly working in our lives to make our story much grander than we could have imagined.

That was a great reminder for us last night. This “scene” in our lives seems a little anti-climactic and. it’s. okay. This is only part of our story and God is setting things in motion because we stepped out in faith. I am ashamed to admit I’ve kind of been like the Israelites in the desert; whenever things got rough, they asked God why He brought them out of Egypt if they were just going to starve, die of thirst, etc. They had seen Him part the Red Sea and do tons of miracles, yet they were worried that He wouldn’t provide for them. It’s incredibly easy to judge them until  I realize that God worked everything out for us to move back and we’ve seen Him do miracles, yet the moment things look a little confusing, I start asking if it wouldn’t have been better if He’d just left us in CR. Lame.

So that’s where we’re at. I have hope that someday I will look back on this post and be able to testify that this period of transition in our lives was just a part of the story. I know God will fulfill His purpose for us and I’m resting in that.

Psalm 138:8

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.