15 years.

My husband and I had our 15 year wedding anniversary yesterday!!! Months ago we began talking and dreaming about doing something extraordinary, because, let’s be honest, being together for that amount of time and still actually loving each other, seems like a thing to celebrate! Talks started big, Brandon threw out words like “Antartica and weeks” which sounded lovely but oh so unrealistic. I countered with words like “same country please” and “who can watch our kids?” Two weeks quickly melted to 5 days due to more work on Brandon’s plate than he ever expected. Five days on a tiny Caribbean Island off Nicaragua gave way to perhaps something closer to home as the country has been holding it’s breath for the last six weeks during civil unrest. Five days gave way to zero days as the woman who was going to watch our kids last week/weekend was stuck in the town of Mategalpa (about 2 hours away) for 9 days because the roads were completely blocked. Like no one/nothing to or from that town. So this weekend came, and we held our breath. I was trying to not get my hopes up, realizing my heart would be crushed if the day came and went with little more than a nod.

But, despite all the odds, I am writing to you from our lovely condo by the beach while I listen to the sound of the ocean.

Even though there are road blocks, and marches, and uncertainty lurking around the corner of the streets, and our hearts, we went. Even though it feels weird and selfish to go do something fun while the whole country is uneasy and stressed out, we went. Even though we felt a tad uneasy leaving our children an hour away at such a time, some dear friends stepped up and offered to check in on them and take care of them if there is any emergency, so we went. And this morning, even though our baby girl had a fever when we left, and my guilt was so high hot tears came, we know how much she adores Dora, so we went.

We are here. And it feels magical. When most days you’ll find us drowning in a sea of children, the opportunity to be alone just the two of us is life giving. It reminds me how much I like that guy!! He’s kinda pretty awesome. I can’t always see that when we are doing life side by side. When we are busy attending to, helping, correcting, loving, and raising three small kids. When we are trying to start a business in a foreign, third world country. When we are trying to re-build community, friendships, and find a church. So it’s moments like these that are essential to who we are as a couple. To honor and remember and smile at the commitment made such a long time ago, by two ridiculously young and slightly goofy looking kids. A commitment that needs more than the occasional nod at each other across the tops of kids heads. This weekend is a chance to be alone, to reflect and remember how it all began and celebrate what a fun, exciting, wild, hard, and amazing ride these past fifteen have been. There is no one I’d rather do life with than the man taking a nap right next to me.

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#sosnicaragua

This hashtag began 13 days ago. Thirteen days ago, this country felt very different than it does right now. I’m not entirely sure how to write about the events that have gripped Nicaragua. It feels strange to share my opinion about it, since after all, I am not Nicaraguan.  While this is very much my home, is not my home country, I am a guest here. What I see, know, feel, hear and experience here is from the sidelines and not spoken in my native tongue. There is so much I see that I don’t understand, and probably never will. Instead of trying to write about a very complex situation, with layers that I hardly even understand myself, I am going to refer you to a well written article about it in The Economist.

Click here to check it out. The title sums it up well, “Riots threaten Nicaragua’s autocratic President”.

I find myself with so many mixed emotions. I am heartbroken for what I have seen and heard. But I am also proud in a way I have never been before. My daughter is Nicaraguan. She was born here. This is her country, and these events will forever be a part of her story and the history of her country, as it will be for her fellow countrymen. I am praying for this country that has become our home, for the country we love, the people we respect and treasure. I am praying a peaceful solution/outcome is possible.

 

A new spot.

I have found a new place I want to hang out. Not a new, cute coffee shop, or delightful corner at a restaurant. My new place is going to be my closet That is, of course, if I can get over the smell of Brandon’s shoes. I mean really, no one should be wearing shoes without socks, especially not in a warm climate. But this is happening, regardless of that, um, minor set back. I’m not on an organizing kick, or having typical girl trouble picking out an outfit for the day (why is that so hard sometimes?!) Nope, it’s going to be dual functioning, half closet, half new place where I’m going to commit to meeting with Jesus. I’m going to start meeting with him the way Priscilla describes how her grandma meets with Jesus. “The way she’d meet with any important friend-faithfully, personally, punctually.”

I used to have a little nook in my closet. I watched the movie War Room about two years ago, and it took me a little bit to get past the warm cheesyness that I only like on my pizza. But once I did, man, it did something to me. I wanted that kind of prayer life. So I started making changes. I created a little spot in our guestroom closet in Katy. I say little, it was huge because of course even the closets are bigger in Texas. This was the place I went to for my quiet time. I cleared one wall of rubbermaids, and beneath the adorable hanging onesies, I started writing out prayers and posting them there. New prayers, old prayers. The cries of my heart. Thanking the Lord. Begging the Lord. Praising the Lord.Reminding the Lord. Reminding myself. It was a beautiful time in my life, but I immediately stopping going into that closet when my third was born. I lost all ability to find a spare moment for myself, and when those rare moments came, for my sheer survival, I slept.

However, my youngest daughter is now one. One whole year has gone by with zero time in my prayer closet. I’ve still been praying, but not nearly as regularly, and not at all strategic. And my prayers more so feel like a desperate cry. Please help me____. Please forgive me for ______ again. There is less thankfulness than there used to be. Less time just basking in His presence, and more so a feeling of just doing it because I am desperate and need Him. Which, of course, being desperate and needing Jesus isn’t a bad thing. Hello, that’s life. That’s real every day life if you are breathing. But I feel like I’ve been in this state, this pure survival mode mentality, for just a little too long. It’s almost as if the crisis has passed (ie the mayhem that was packing up life in Texas, living out of a suitcase for 3 months, and moving internationally with three little kids) and I’m still in survival mode.

It’s time to breathe. It’s time to form new habits and disciplines that my heart, mind, and body need in order to not just survive, but thrive.

I ordered Priscilla Shier’s book, Fervent, over 4 months ago. I re-discoverd it when I cleaned out my nightstand. Is anything more delightful than finding a book you’ve wanted to read just hiding and waiting for you? Okay, maybe money. Or a new nail polish. Oooo or earrings! Anyway, I digress. The book is amazing. I’m only on chapter 3, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a game changer for me. The way Priscilla talks feels like she’s speaking right to me. She’s sassy, strong, and determined. She isn’t messing around, and her desire in writing this book is to help others figure out how to find their own “Battle Plan for serious, specific and strategic prayer.” Ya, I’m going to say an emphatic YES to this.

I’m still working on Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide for the year, click here to check it out. Because man I just love it. But every time I sit down to dream and think through the year, I can’t seem to come up with anything. So, I’ll be patient and wait for that. Because right now I’m tempted to just put whatever comes to mind down, just so I can fill out that blank white paper staring back at me. But I will not succumb to my own peer pressure. I am not going to make goals that I’m not convinced are what I need to be doing for the year. So I’ll wait.

In the meantime, I’m starting the prayer closet. I’m pretty sure any time spent alone and undistracted with Jesus won’t be time wasted. Oh! And I also got a treadmill for Christmas. Does it mean I’m getting old, or am just boring, if I am really excited for this? I haven’t found my rhythm in working out yet here in Nicaragua and I have a sneaking feeling it’s messing with my mental well being! I need to get some stress relief in! I need some time to pound the preverbal rubber, and get some endorphins released!

So cheers to starting new things. Here is to creating new disciplines and habits. Here is to saying, um yes, I’d like 2018 to be different. I’d like to be a stronger, wiser, more passionate, kinder, more loving, version of myself. Who is with me?