Thursday, June 20, 2013

Leaving little ones...

Tomorrow, our team of 18 will fly 2,460 miles to Quito, Ecuador for a week of jam-packed VBS, ditch digging, basketball camp, and Lord willing, many one-on-one conversations with people who need to know the love of Jesus.

As of Wednesday, my suitcase contained five t-shirts, a poncho, an umbrella, and a blanket.  Marty is almost completely packed, which is pretty amazing.  It's not that I'm dragging my feet about packing.  I feel like lists are growing like weeds around me.  Lists of what to still buy for Ecuador.  Lists of what to buy for my girls for the week.  Lists of what to do (copy passports, copy coloring sheets to take, refill prescriptions, etc).  Packing lists for us and for the girls.  Lists of what the girls can eat while we are away.  Lists of what medicines they might need.  Like I said.... 

Yet despite the lists, I don't want to look back over this week with regrets.  I want to enjoy the water gun fights and the roasting of marshmallows.  I want to say "yes" to an impromptu tea party for breakfast.  It's definitely been a struggle this week.  I have felt pulled between the need to pack and the desire to spend time with my girls.  Sleep definitely hasn't been the priority that I had hoped, so once again, coffee has become a dear friend of mine.  But on my last day with my girls, I pray that our time will be sweet.  A simple trip to the library and our favorite bakery...  Pizza and movie night with Daddy...  To be completely honest, it almost kills me to leave these sweet faces. I love those little arms wrapping around my neck and catching a glimpse of those toothy grins that find joy in every circumstance.


It has definitely been harder than ever before leaving our girls, even though I trust my parents and sisters more than anyone else in the world to care and love on them.  But in order to make things a little easier for all of them (& maybe to ease my conscience a little in leaving them), here are a few things we hope will help while we are away.  

  • a gift for each day (I left with my mom gifts for each girl for every day while we are away.  She's going to put them at their spots at breakfast.  They are simple gifts from mini tissue boxes to new water bottles and gardening bags.)
  • notes from Marty and I  (Marty and I have divided the days and  have written each of them notes to be read every day.)
  • our bedtime songs on an I-pod (I simply recorded several songs I sing to them at bedtime, ones I've sang since their births and our new favorite "The Boat Song" by JJ Heller.  I'll leave this up to my mom whether or not to play these for the girls.  It could help or make things harder.  This is for emergencies.)
  • a hidden gift in their suitcases (My parents always did this for me when I went to boarding school.  I could open it as the airplane took off or would sometimes find it when unpacking.  Special memories for me!)
  • favorite foods (I've stocked up on all their favorite snack foods and mealtime favorites to help make meals a little easier for my parents.)
  • packed all their clothes in ziploc bags for every day of the week (This ensures that things match and underwear is included.)

 We will most likely not be able to communicate much while there due to very little internet connection and high phone prices.  This may be for the best as I usually fall apart talking to my girls when I'm away.  I would so appreciate prayer as I struggle to balance my heart being pulled toward my children and my desire to minister with my husband.  Pray that once we arrive, our focus will be entirely on what God has called us to do in Ecuador.  May any glory or recognition be only given to Him!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To Worry or not to Worry...

"Lord, make me decrease that You may increase and keep me small and humble.  Cause me to embrace that simplest of truths - that all wonder and worship can only grow out of smallness."         - Ann Voskamp

Time is ticking, no faster than usual, but how it does seems so.  Next week, I'll traveling south in South America... with Marty and 16 other students and adults to minister to the people of Quito, Ecuador.  I am scared to smithereens!  I am scared to be in a country that I've never been to before.  I'm scared to be totally unable to understand the language.  (French and Japanese aren't going to work.)  I'm scared to be possibly put in charge of one of the groups while there.  I'm scared to leave my girls for so long. Tears flow spontaneously at least once a day just thinking about it.  

One evening when the thoughts became overwhelming and fear wanted to overtake me, Marty reminded me that fear never comes from the Lord, that I needed "to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).  There are verses after verses encouraging us as believers to not fear, to not be discouraged or anxious.  

On another morning when I was unable to go back to sleep, the worrywarts began to consume my mind, even more so because I wasn't able to write anything down.  But by His grace, the Holy Spirit brought back to mind the verses in Philippians 4, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  

"Anything" encompasses a lot!  There are so many important words within these verses, but I want to focus on "thanksgiving."  How thankful I truly am to be given this gift of accompanying my husband on this mission trip!  Over the next 8 days, it will be so easy to allow my eyes and my mind to stray to those worries and fears.  But if I can focus on "thanksgiving," remember the millions of blessings He's already shown and given, then by His grace, God will be glorified through all of this.

Next week, I hope to share how we are handling leaving our girls (in the capable hands of my parents and sisters) for the week.  Some will be ideas my parents did for me as a child going to boarding school as well as some ideas from others.  Tears will most definitely be shed (by me!) over this.

Monday, June 10, 2013

13 years ago...

13 years ago... a twenty year old girl & twenty-two year guy said "I do" and committed to stay faithful to each other in sickness & in health, in good times & bad, till death do they part.  

By God's amazing grace, we are still holding true to that same commitment.  There are days when it hasn't been as easy as others, but the thought of not being together isn't even considered.  There is no one in this world whom I'd rather talk to, vacation with, minister beside, and raise our precious girls with.  Marty Middleton, you changed my life when I met you in 1995.  You have always said that God brought me all the way from Japan to be your wife, but I think He had just as much a part in keeping you in North Carolina rather than moving to New York.  How glad I am!

 Our life together continues to amaze me!  I cannot wait to travel with you to Ecuador next week!  It will by no means be an "anniversary" type trip, but I pray it will bring us closer than ever before.  Thank you for loving me when I've been unlovable, for forgiving me again and again, for being such an incredible father to our girls, and for leading our home in the direction God is leading. 

 Happy Anniversary, Marty!  I love you so very much!