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Today's Legacy

Jesus follower, Wife, and Mommy of four delights striving for a God-honoring daily legacy.

The Big 07!

Someone fantastic turned 7 years old yesterday!

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Prior to her birthday, Rachael celebrated with Matt’s side of the family with a cookie cake and blessings from Aunt Ellen and the gang as well as Grandma and Grandpa. Rachael was thrilled to receive an origami book (we’ve already made a butterfly together) and a Snow White doll. Rachael also received two awesome packages in the mail the day before her birthday.

One from her (Great) Aunt Greer revealed a beautiful prairie bonnet that will protect her little head from the future African sun.

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And the second package came from Aunt Jes. What was inside? None other than Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. ;)

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Rachael is one HAPPY and BLESSED girl!

On her birthday, it was a more normal one with homeschooling, house chores, and a quiet night in. As an added surprise, Rachael got to skip any one subject in homeschool for the day that she desired, so Grammar got the boot. Hehe.

And as per tradition, she got to pick out dinner. This year she wanted to have a candlelight birthday meal so I decked out the table in celebration.

And guess what we ate via Rachael’s choice?

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Soft tacos, mashed potatoes and root beer. =) Not all blended of course. ;)

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After a giant cupcake happily split amongst all of us, Rachael picked the first Ice Age movie to enjoy her birthday evening. My favorite part of the whole evening is a toss-up between sharing things we like about Rachael’s character at dinner time (though the preschool crowd comes up with some random things) and watching Rachael lose it in hysterical laughter at the stinky diaper scene when the Ice Age characters are trying to figure out what the baby needs. She DIES laughing during that scene at their utter panic as they fumble about to stop the crying baby. Hehe. She doesn’t realize the natural training she’s had with babies and little kids so it makes the scene even more entertaining to her.

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My Dear Rachael,

Happy 7th Birthday!!! Wow! SEVEN! You’re getting HUGE!

I love your heart and the way you flock to babies because you love to love them and play with them. I love your contagious smile and the way you’re not afraid to explode with excitement. I love how you genuinely think of others and just have to make people cards and pictures when they’re not feeling well, have birthdays, or you just want to brighten their normal. I love how you create such cool 3D (even if you don’t quite know what that means yet) pictures, recreating things you have seen or imagine with construction paper and craft supplies. I love how you love to read, not even aware that you happily initiate sitting for 30 or 40 minutes to read books to your sisters or curling up on the couch with one of your chapter books. And I love how you find me amongst my house chores to tell me a funny part of the chapter, fighting through the giggles as you reread the section to me. I love how you think about others, serving them, especially your sisters who aren’t always easy to serve. But so often you see the greater lesson and take the low road so they can have first choice. It may not look like I see that or hear that in those moments that you’re just trying to keep your little sisters from being grumpy during one of those awesome games you have created, but I really do see that and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. I love how you dive into Eden’s world, fully absorbed in helping her be happy. Whether it’s boosting her up so she can also see and be a part of the fun or dressing her up too so she won’t be left out, you see her and it’s so beautiful to watch. It’s no wonder your sisters copy you and want to be like you. You’re a wonderful person! And we all se something in you that we just want to be around.Rachael, you make my day so much more fun.

This year, the week after your birthday, I am going to Peru for a missions trip. I know that you’re nervous about it and don’t want me to go, while you also want me to go to tell the little kids about Jesus.  I hear your heart. I’m going to miss you A LOT too. But I wanted you to know what I’m going to miss most of all about you in the ten days that I’m gone. Rachael, you help make my normal. I’m going to miss most the normal things: that twinkle in your eye, sharing homeschool lessons with you on our bellies with Eden riding my back, seeing your maturity break through when I serve a side dish that is not your favorite and yet you eat it without complaint, hearing you talk about Africa with a bounce in your step and a thrill in your tone, passing by a room to find you secretly and humbly investing in your sisters, that big smile as you read another chapter of a book you’ve picked out. Rachael, I’m just going to miss you, wonderful, fantastic you. So thank you for being such an awesome kid that I can’t wait to come back home to even before I have ever left!

 

Happy 7th Birthday, my sweet Rachael. You’re such a light in my world and a delight to my heart.

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I love you so.

 

Love,

Mommy

 

The Apple of My Eye

I remember teaching Hannah how to eat an apple at 2 years old. A whole apple. And not the core. I didn’t realize I needed to give more instructions until she took a big bite of the core and swallowed the seeds before I could even speak. Hehe. Apple etiquette has learning curve needs.

And then there’s this little person who figured it out at 17 months. 

  
Ten teeth won’t hold her back, friends! She’s using those four molars to their full potential! And she is one proud little person.

  
“Lookit, Mommy, I’m amazing,” says her eyes. Hehe. 

(Cue the music). 

Anything you sisters can do, I can do faster. I can do anything faster than you. ;)

– Eden Rose is getting huge!

Fluidity

I wanted to inform everyone of a recent change in our departure timeline. And before anyone loses their cool, no we’re not leaving drastically earlier or later than anticipated.

After talking over the IMB’s sending timeframe with the Mozambique staff’s receiving timeframe, we are altering our previous April departure date for Richmond to July 2016. Our dear trainers in Mozambique get the privilege of watching their son graduate seminary and visiting with family for a few months so we are happy to have a few more months of preparations while they visit and return to Mozambique.

This delay in orientation and departure will NOT delay our board vote on January 19 and our February 23 commissioning.

[Now I’d like to take an aside to remind you that despite our strong candidate status, the board is voting, people, to delegate some of the 2016 year funds to our departure and salaries. So, again, if the board says “no”, we no go with the following plans. ;)  So please do know that we’re not trying to be arrogant in any way here in this process. We will be praying for January 19th big time, and hope you all will join us as well. But we have been given the green light to speak openly about our candidacy and our unofficial timeframe.]

In the meantime, this few month delay is actually quite a nice blessing in allowing us to:

  1. Finish the homeschool year at a gentler pace.
  2. Have more time to visit with friends and family.
  3. Have more time to visit with neighboring churches we have been blessed to partner with in the past.
  4. Rally more prayer support.
  5. Be ambassadors for Christ and encouragers of others’ mission-mindedness here on State soil.
  6. Celebrate Matt’s 10 year anniversary with the church.
  7. Enjoy the full Awanas year.
  8. Participate in VBS this year.
  9. Gather more supplies in preparation of moving across the world.
  10. Celebrate almost all of our kids’ birthdays for the last time for a while Stateside.

 

We are BEYOND ecstatic as things are coming more into fruition regarding God’s purpose for our family and are BEYOND thankful for your continued love, prayers and support.

God is good, all the time. And all the time, God IS Good!!!

Little Piggies

I am absolutely done in by those little pigtails…

     

   
She truly is a little delight.

– 16 months of Eden Rose joy.

So Let’s Talk Maxixe

We are applying for a church planter job in Maxixe (pronounced “Mah-sheesh”), Mozambique (pronounced “Moe-zam-beek”). As I mentioned yesterday, Mozambique is a security level 1 country on a scale of 1-3 with one being the least restrictive security concern. Therefore, I can share information freely about our job match. I would like to state, though, that this job is not finalized yet, meaning that until January 19th’s vote of our file to indeed be funded by the Trustees to go to Mozambique, we cannot say definitively that we are indeed going to Mozambique. In the meantime between this job match and our January 19th vote, the IMB is verifying our references and doing a huge amount of paperwork on their end. So if you’re a reference for us, know that your part in this process is coming up very soon. I will tell you with some confidence, though, yet not boasting, that Matt’s 9.5 years of being on staff at a church, our cultural awareness and Matt’s MDiv are VERY strong contenders in the IMB’s eyes. This is in no way to imply that we are going to be easing ourselves through, but this is to say that we have been informed by multiple IMB workers that our file is a strong candidate.

So let’s walk through this together a moment. Pull up your chair and grab your cup of hot tea. Let me share our adventure’s details so we can all chit chat freely about it.

Provided that all goes well on January 19th (my birthday and the first board vote of the new year), like I shared yesterday, we will be commissioned at the end of February 2016 (think wedding ceremony here) in Richmond, VA. Then we will return to our home to continue the Upward basketball season, continue praying and visiting friends and family, and prepare for our departure. Our orientation in Richmond, VA begins on April 11 and continues through June 11th. When we leave for that orientation (called Field Placement Orientation – FPO) we will no longer be returning to this house in Ohio. We are set to fly to Mozambique around June 25th, 2016.

Once in Mozambique, we will not be going straight to Maxixe. Instead, we will go to Quelimane (pronounced “Kilo-mah-nee”, naturally) for language and cultural school for 12-18 months. What language will we be learning? Portuguese.

As a reminder on the map below, the red arrow is Quelimane and if you scale down the map toward the capital, Maputo (pronounced “Mah-poo-toe” or “Mah-poo-too”), then Maxixe (our final destination), thought not pictured on this map, is located near the Inhambane dot.

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Jeopardy trivia: Portuguese is spoken nationally by 4 countries in the world; Portugal, Mozambique, Angola (also in Africa), and Brazil (though they have a slightly different pronunciation of some words).

The Portuguese we will be learning is called European Portuguese, not Brazilian Portuguese.

Language School?

Language school, while sounding very formal, is a home-based language teaching method. So while we will have a teacher, and possibly even a teach a piece, we will be learning in our home while Eden (and quite possibly Hannah) runs amuck and is cared for by a Portuguese nanny in our home. Um, didn’t you forget two kids there? Why yes, yes I did. Rachael and Abi (and possibly Hannah depending on how she adjusts) will be given the opportunity to attend a Portuguese school themselves for 4 hours per day. This may very well not replace homeschool, but will given them the opportunity to be emerced in the language, the culture, and make friends with Mozambique children. While the daycare/school begins at 3 years old, we are going to wait until we see how Hannah and Eden adjust to the transition before choosing to enroll Hannah or not. We certainly see benefit in Hannah being in a Portuguese learning classroom with other three year olds, but we also see the value in Eden and Hannah sticking together, especially early on in the learning curve. There will be plenty of opportunities for Hannah to learn Portuguese through gleaning our language school lessons at home and also through conversation with our Portuguese-only speaking nanny.

Helpers? Nannies? Whaaa?

Let me take an aside to talk about home helpers like Nannies and guards, etc. This is a cultural thing that I have had to wrap my mind around. So if you started like me in thinking that nannies are reserved for stereotypically spoiled British children, then this aside is for you. A nanny will not live with us, but will come to care for the children while we are doing language school. The full logistics will need to be worked out as we help shape our schedule there in Quelimane, but generally there is a morning and afternoon school session for Matt and I. The nanny will come to our home before the morning session and return to her home after the afternoon session. Since the IMB has had connections in the area for over 20 years, they know reputable grandma-figure ladies in the community that would love to nanny our little ladies during this transition. For further clarity, we will be assigned night guards to avoid petty theft and nighttime shenanigans. This too was hard to wrap my mind around. And I would like to clarify again upfront that we are in a security 1, lowest security threat zone. But poverty and desperation come hand in hand with petty crime, hence our night guards. We will have the option of having a day guard should we desire it. Benefits of day guards are that they are more of home helpers in keeping the yard swept free of glass and trash coming in off of the street, helping run errands, opening and closing our gate as we come and go during the day, etc. As a reminder, things take longer in Africa; cooking from scratch, cleaning out the constant African dirt and happy little mosquito-eating lizards, washing and hanging laundry, etc. So home help can be a very valuable tool beyond just benefiting the economy. We will get to make those decisions once we get there, get settled and assess our needs.

So when do you finally get to Maxixe?!   

After our 12-18 months of language school and passing of our fluency test (easily said, but not easily done!), we will begin to transition to Maxixe from Quelimane. This is the first time the IMB is placing a family in Maxixe, so we will get to have a fun hand in setting up our home in Maxixe, etc. I’m not sure if “the IMB” (which very well could look like us coordinating for the work to be done, but still) will build something from the ground up or fix up an existing property, but regardless Matt will get to take some trips down to Maxixe to help set up house before we all make a final move from Quelimane to Maxixe as a family (it’ll be a haul people!). Once in Maxixe we will ACTUALLY GET OUR SHIPPED ITEMS FROM THE STATES!!!! Yes, you heard that right, dear friends, we will be living out of our suitcases that we first packed and brought to Richmond, VA when we first left for orientation April 2016 and the set-up house in Quelimane (dishes, etc). And NOW you know why it’s so important to bring extra clothes and shoes, split between the shipping box headed to Maxixe and our luggage which will be at our immediate disposal. So if you think it’ll be challenging just to jump cultures, now add in predicting the size of each of your children in 18 months so you can be sure to pack it in your limited space. EEK!

Once in Maxixe, we will begin our church planting role by spuring off of weakly established Baptist church(es) in the area to build discipleship relationships and bible studies. We will also have the opportunity to coordinate community work (ex. organizing for a village to get a well drilled) as a means to help build into others’ lives as well as share the Gospel. My primary role will be to homeschool our children and then build relationships in the community alongside of Matt. We first fell in love with this job because it is a really family-oriented job which will allow us to live where we serve and serve the community together as a family many times. Maxixe is a rural setting of 100,000 people in four different people groups all living nearby each other. Each people group in Maxixe speaks their own dialect, naturally. Our main people group is the Chopi (pronounced “Show-pee”). We will not be expected to learn the local dialects fluently in our first missionary term (4 total years between Quelimane and Maxixe combined) before we return to the States for furlough (a paid return trip home for up to a year). So that makes about 2.5 years of actually being stationed in our home in Maxixe before we would be returning to the States for furlough.

A little more about Maxixe?

We will have electricity, filtered running water, and internet accessibility in Maxixe (as well as Quelimane). We will most likely be living in a concrete home with a fenced in yard in Maxixe, much like our accommodations in Quelimane. In Maxixe, we will have access to local shopping and amenadies so that our focus will not be on survival, but reaching out to the people. As is typical in Mozambique, though, we can anticipate cooking from scratch, having a washer but no dryer, and avoiding Malaria (which is comparable to the common cold there when caught early) with bug spray and staying inside during dusk. There will be clinics available to us with malaria tests that take as little as 20 minutes to diagnose malaria with a finger stick. And I will assure you that we will spare no expense in using our best precautions about Malaria. Beyond that, there are no other dangerous illness threats in Mozambique.

What’s the hospital situation like?

Regarding hospitals and clinics, we will have access to (a) local clinic(s) and at least one local pharmacy. When it comes to more dangerous situations, which we hope to avoid, the IMB will spare no expense in helicoptering us to Johannesburg, South Africa for the best “Americanized” treatment possible. From what we can tell, we will be about 35 miles from an airport and four hours drive to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

Are you stranded?!!!

We will work with team members in Mozambique as well as the Zambezi  (pronounced “Zam-bez-zee”) cluster group. While our closest team members may range from 1 hour to four hours away, we are told that is a close in Africa terms. Hehe. We will also have regular Skype accountability sessions with teammates in which to encourage and be encouraged by God’s work throughout Mozambique.

So while we will be the only IMB workers in Maxixe, we will not be alone in our endeavors. There are also other Christian groups working in the area in which we will get the chance to build friendships and further the Gospel together.

 

So what questions do you have? I know I just overwhelmed you with information, but I have been dying to share it for so long!!!

Yes, there are still a lot of pieces to get worked out and so many of them will just happen as time naturally folds out. But we. are. ECSTATIC!!!!! to continue this adventure in which the Lord has called our family.

=)

 

Where in Africa Are we Going?!!!

I’m so glad you asked. We have been cleared to answer questions publically now that we are job matched so without further hindrance I give you the answer to the questions we have been dying to answer:

We are in the application process with the IMB, and have been matched to an assignment for church planting in Maxixe (pronounced “Mah-sheesh”, naturally), Mozambique.

Mozambique, Africa

The job is a security level 1, meaning that there are no unusual security concerns, and we may communicate openly about our place of service. (We’ll talk more about Maxixe job specifics in another post.)

Maxixe, Mozambique

The IMB Trustees must approve our candidacy, and a trustee approval committee will vote on our application on January 19 (on my birthday! Ha!). If approved, Matt and I will be appointed as missionaries to Mozambique on February 23 in Richmond, VA. After appointment, we will go for 8 weeks to Richmond for orientation (April 11 – June 11), and then will proceed to Mozambique from Richmond around June 25.

So the news is out and we covet your prayers.

We. Are. Ecstatic!!!

 

 

Covered in Danger and Dirt

Love is a diamond hidden in mountains

covered in danger and dirt.

I’m on the outside, digging and digging.

I’ve seen and I know what it’s worth.

– “Floodplain” by Sara Groves

May our marriage be likewise devoted to pursuing love with reckless abandonment.

And may others be spurred on by it’s overflowing.

-Love you so, babe.

-I know we celebrated then, but happy eight years to you again from this past August. =)

Wordless Wednesday: Fall

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Bright sun on the hayride!

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Outdoor games

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Who needs posture and form? Hehe.

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Go, little Hannah, go!!

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Big sisters can be such helpers!

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Delight

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Train ride!!!

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“Snuggle me, Mommy. It’s fast!”

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Abi helped Eden understand the concept of keeping the pumpkin you pick from the “patch”.

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Big sister is a helper.

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Rachael made Eden a cat face on her pumpkin. Eden gives it complete approval.

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Concentration.

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Always more colors. Always!

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A bunny on a leash.

A dog on a leash.

(Held high above the vicious balloon-popping grass for sure!)

And a sword. Naturally. Because she’s Abi. =)

 

It may be their last fall festivities for a good long time. And they had an utter blast.

-Thankful, grateful and blessed.

Rogue Mommy

When Daddy’s away for the day, the Mommy lines her children up and shells out tattoos.

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(I promise Rachael actually enjoyed it, I just caught her at a focused moment.)

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And yes we’re all still in pajamas due to the above mentioned absence. ;)

It’s the little things, really. :)

Pain’s Entrance

You should have seen her face when I told her we were reading a missionary novel about a friend’s family. She nearly died in delight and immediately begged me to drop everything for chapter one’s starting line. It was one of the first times a missionary had become real. It had become personal on a new level of personal. Oh sure, she’s met missionaries. But now they mean more to her, especially as her heart calls out to my missionary friend’s sweet little son. The precious little boy that Rachael has held in her own arms and adores so…

I read ahead. I knew what I was looking for. Chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph I surveyed the book. One section I would skip. I wanted to be sure to skip it. A family held at gunpoint for hours. Hours of fear and prayer. Finally resulting in robbery and spared lives. This beloved family. This would all become ever so real to a little six year old.

At what point do you usher a child into another’s pain?

You don’t have to go far to find pain. It’s not something reserved for the foreign missions field. We live amongst hurts. We live amongst trials. Pains. No one is immune.

I told our girls about Alivia a few weeks back. The oldest had overheard something, as usual, but chose a good time to ask about it while still honoring the innocence of her sisters. “Mommy, what is a miscarriage?” opened into conversation about our Alivia. The last of my name-tweaked, unique-spelling children. We never got to hold her. We only had eleven weeks and four days of her heartbeat. But it was enough to still adore her. She was still ours. If only for a moment. And even if we never got to learn who she favored in appearance and mannerisms.

At what point do you usher a child into another’s pain?

Abi came into the room, catching Alivia’s name. And the older two will randomly bring it up when I list our children’s names on the homeschool board. “Don’t forget Alivia,” will get tossed out of the crowd. I never can, little ladies. I never will.

Safety can be an abstract concept. I learned that lesson fair well when the burglar came in through the nursery window, creeping past my toddler and my baby. I met his eyes at the foot of our bed. Something I can honestly say I would have never thought of on the way back from my 3:33a pregnancy potty break. In that moment, and the many thereafter, I realized that safety is not contingent upon location. And I also learned that I cannot keep my family safe. I’ll never forget studying the burglar’s face all while wondering if there was only one intruder in the house. My husband’s bravery while I prayed, even as he fumbled for his glasses, struggling to see straight. My husband is a strong advocate against violence. I didn’t realize how brave you had to be to not know if you’d meet fight or flight.

We assumed he went down the hallway, so we pursued to survey the damage. When we heard the sound coming over the baby monitor, I knew we were not alone. In and out through the nursery window. And still my babies lay sound asleep in their beds. We were in no way lucky, dear friends. That was nothing but the hand of Jesus at work.

It took a year to date after that for my first response not to be the burglary in that middle-of-the-night fog sending me to mid-night bathroom trips. God’s protection wasn’t defined like I would have imagined and yet in that instance I had no doubt under Who’s protection we were sheltered.

I told them two years later. It came up in a conversation about God’s protection. I didn’t share a lot of the details. I still left it pretty gentle. I don’t even think Rachael remembers bouncing on the couch that night, giving the inspector an earful of a nearly three year old’s Disney movie recollection. Abi hadn’t even woken up during the fingerprint dusting of the windowsill until a flashlight’s incompetency required the nursery light’s assistance.  It hadn’t scared them then and I certainly didn’t want to instill fear now. But there’s a distance given in time. There’s a distance unlike stepping into an active hurt. A pain still throbbing from the abuse.

At what point do you usher a child into another’s pain?

I have come to terms throughout this process that I cannot protect my children from the hurt we will witness by stepping into another’s pain in Africa. Just as I cannot protect them from the extreme joy of celebrating beauty that arises from circumstantial ashes. It is all but a trust fall. A trust fall in which I remove my hands from comforts and perceived security of preserving their innocence, and I fall into the open arms of His guiding. I have no doubt that we as a family will embrace pain and hurt that we could not embrace fully by living in the U.S. I have no doubt that this revelation will be hard to describe sometimes and maybe even hard to comprehend. But I also have no doubt that where He calls His beloved to embrace another’s pain; He also offers an incomprehensible grace that we couldn’t even begin to describe from the comforts of our American homes.

At what point do you usher a child into another’s pain?

When He says “go”.

Our hearts race, our feet persist and our minds find renewal in the beauty of His compelling.

We must go.

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