Why? it’s a loaded question isn’t it? When I talk to my 5 year old about the reason we live so far from family. The answer is not because we love people so much, because honestly I love my family more than anyone else. It’s not because we have so much good in us, or so much to teach people. It’s not because there isn’t anyone else here. There are people here who love God and almost anywhere you look.
The real reason, the reason that keeps me away from the people I love the most. The reason I live in a place I’m not so comfortable, I can’t get the things I could in America. I feel like just surviving is a struggle sometimes. Asking my kids to grow up without grandparents close by or cousins, aunts and uncles? It’s because we love Him and this is what He asks of us. its an honor to get to prove our love for Christ in this way. So when my little girl asks me “why we can’t live next door to grandma”. My response is “because Jesus is most important, more than us, more than family” There is coming a day when we will spend eternity with our family, and Jesus, Lord willing. Right now we have a tremendous way of proving our love to him. And that, some days requires missing our loved ones so much it hurts. I never imagined the pain through a mommy’s eyes until now. But hearing that my daughter told her cousin “it’s because we go where God wants us to go, and He wants us here now.” Made me realize there are life long lessons they are learning.
We walk by faith and not by sight. We remind each other that He is most important and if we love Him most He gives us grace and precious memories to look back on and talk about.
And future times to look forward to.
So today when all of this just doesn’t feel worth it. I remind myself He is worthy of all of our love and our praise. He is worthy of separation from loved ones. He is worthy of life lessons I can’t even stand to see my children go through. It may never “feel” worth it, but his promises tell me a different story. He is worth it.
I think we’re all tired, if you are human and you’re over the age of 25 chances are you’re most likely tired. Today I’m tired of the heat, tired of flies, Ramadan , cooking! waiting, tired of problems, one after another. And tired from not sleeping! But mostly tired of letting it all get to me! Letting it all stress me out because I think I need to live up to an expectation.
I’m in a bad mood because I have so much to do in order to care for three little miracles. Wait, what? Did you catch that? yes, miracles! How often do I stop and enjoy these miracles? How often do I just hold them and talk to them. Last night I sat on Judson’s bed and we talked about alligators and ants ice cream. (mint chocolate chip) The look on his face was priceless! How often do I make cookies with them and not get stressed out about them eating all the dough and getting flour into every nook and cranny of my kitchen? I have millions of pictures of fun places and memories but I stress about how few are in actual books. When really there is plenty of time for that! My time is for enjoying them now.
I stress out because my baby girl wants to be held and I have laundry to do, a kitchen to clean, etc…
My mind is always on the list what’s done or not done. How often do I think about the fun memories we’re currently making, other than to guilt myself into feeling like I failed yet again. It’s time to start being proud of myself with the list not getting all done because I played outside in the tent with my kids instead. Because I snuggled a little longer with my almost no longer newborn baby!! Or just sat and listened to the laughter of my children having a blast with just a cardboard box! Life is too short to dream about our escape from reality, there is so much goodness in the midst of our reality. It’s time to start being grateful and enjoying the many gifts we overlook by dwelling on the problems in life. We’ll always have those. We’ll never have these sweet moments back.
My due date arrived and my closest friend, who I grew up with, volunteered to come and help. She arrived that night and I went into labor around 3 am. Contracting consistently, then things seemed to settle down and I was able get a little sleep. I Got up the next day contracting off and on. We went to the Doctors office across town. She checked me and said, “go get your stuff and head to the hospital you’re having this baby today.” I was a little apprehensive wanting this girl to come completely on her own but the contractions were clearly getting stronger and closer at this point.
We went home got our stuff said goodbye to the kids and headed over to the clinic.
Arriving in our room I was pleased with the room and the fact that my favorite nurse was on call, but no English speakers. Turns out the Internet was down that day and the a/c in our room wasn’t working. Kind of disappointing.
So we got unpacked and labor was in full swing at this point. I remember lying there closing my eyes listening to the call to prayer across the city thinking, this is it, the thing I have dreaded for the past month or so, yet somehow The Lord allowed me to experience labor this way. It was an amazing reminder of Jesus’ perfect love which casts out fear. The whole reason I was sweating, hearing kids in the hallway, labor pain interrupted by that call. It was for Him, not for us. His love for me sent him to the cross. If he can endure that, I can endure this pain that millions of women have experienced in much worse conditions. And really it’s nothing in comparison.
As time went on and things got harder I realized I needed to focus, open my eyes relax, breath, or this pain was overtaking me. All of those things truly worked. Its like running, get through the painful moment one at a time and you’re ok.
Every so often Tyler would have to leave when they would check up on me. Not fun when you only have one person there with you. But the nurses would hold my hand and help me breath through the pain.
The time came, 7 cm, broke my water, and I had to move. I was glad I knew this ahead of time. They put me on a wheelchair and through a couple of contractions they pushed me down the hall to the delivery room. (I was in transition at this time ugh)
About 4 contractions later it was time to push. Tyler prayed and The Doctor asked if I wanted to see the baby right away? “of course” I told her. We pushed three times and it was over. I cannot put into words the complete relief I felt at that moment. I’ve cried after each birth but this time I sobbed. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about. We did it! Thank you Jesus! That’s all I kept thinking. And then this overwhelming love that you have for someone you have never seen up until that moment, it just takes your breath away.
After they took her to clean her up they put me to sleep! I never expected that, but I actually appreciated it at the moment. I slept for 15 min. Things weren’t necessarily according to my birth plan, but that’s exactly why I didn’t have one. In the end it was all just wonderful. Only The Lord could have worked out every detail like he did.
Back in the room we discovered the a/c did work. One of the nurses came and turned it on ha! No one waited long enough for it to kick in. At this point I was just glad to rest comfortably with a new little love in my life.
Ana Yaelle Masters
(“ya’el” – God’s strength)
7lbs 1oz, light brown hair. And the sweetest little rosy lips I’ve ever seen!
The verse we chose
Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: (Isaiah 26:4)
Leaving for North Africa I was hopeful and excited about what God had in store for us here. As we settled, found a house, Doctors, language school, school for the kids and hospital all in a new culture that seemed somewhat familiar but definitely not our own. Some things went smoother than we expected and others not so much. The emotional roller coaster was definitely in motion.
The biggest stress would have to have been the thought of having a 2nd vbac here. After discussing doctor options we opted to go with a Christian Dr. Who had done vbacs previously. She seemed to be the best choice for us and after meeting her it was clear even with broken communication this was right. As my due date approached fear began to creep up inside of me. All of the what ifs and after several visits to the Clinic where I would deliver I would cry on the way home wondering, What did I get myself into? I was starting to pick up the vocabulary changes here yet people would try to speak to me in French, not the language I’m trying to learn, their frustration was clear and this whole thing that would be hard enough seemed impossible. I couldn’t share my fears of going into labor in this older hospital with traditions different than our own because this was my choice, plus the fear of knowing what labor really felt like, and all of the details of my kids and the language etc… But as we discussed our decision of trading the temporary discomfort in the hospital for the longer lasting comfort of bringing this baby to our permanent home, I knew this was our best option, yet fear was a moment by moment battle now that we were actually facing it. Several verses became my reminders of the fact that I didn’t need to be strong, I just needed to Trust. After having seen The Lord prove himself time and again I had no choice but to keep looking to Him.
Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; (Psalms 105:4, 5)
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)
Where do we come up with the idea that we deserve all that God has blessed us with? So many times I wonder as I am truly grateful for the three healthy pregnancies I have had so far, but what about my sweet friends who have had some pretty tough days losing babies before they could hold them or holding them only for a short time? My children have been pretty healthy, but what about those mom’s in the hospital holding their babies all night who are fighting for their lives? I recently have dealt with someone who has expressed this idea because of their wealth and healthy children they have worked hard for it and deserve it. But I have to ask what about those who have had loss or poverty? Does God just love them less? are they less deserving? Obviously the idea is ridiculous. Most of the people I have witnessed go through some pretty tough roads in life are pictures of strength from the Lord. They have been used by Him to shout to the world of His goodness, even in tragedy. The problem with the idea that “I have worked for all I have and deserve it” is when things go wrong, then what? where do you turn? Some turn to their past and try to shift the blame on someone else, it was my mother’s fault for not hugging me enough or maybe my dad wasn’t around. It’s just never enough to blame shift, because it never fills that void.
There is no answer for why God chooses for some to struggle in certain areas and others not, I believe He gives us glimpses as to why, but we’ll never truly understand until we are with Him. Looking at the cross we can see God’s goodness no matter what we go through He has been there. He loves us ultimately and blesses us far beyond anything we deserve. I think we all know ourselves well enough if we are honest we don’t really deserve much. This world has created an “I deserve the best” mentality, but truly we are dust, the very air we breath is a gift from God. When we approach all of life that way, the little things don’t get to us as easily, and the big things are given to us through the loving hands of our Savior with a plan to use it to gain maximum glory.
As I sit up late thinking about and frustrated over this “I deserve better mentality” I am humbled to realize I have had the same attitude in a different way. If I am not careful I begin to take the amazing blessings I have been given for granted. Instead of looking at the things that seem to be so frustratingly out of my control as burdens, I can begin to see that ultimately He has our good in mind, and I am never in control anyway. So as disgusted as I am with those who use the gifts God has given them to shake their fist or use it to hurt others or even against God himself. I realize any pride even if it’s not that blatant is still pride. It is all His grace that we make it to another day. Any blessing we have is only by His amazing grace. If we all got what we deserved, what about Jesus? Didn’t He deserve better?
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Daniel 3:17, 18
Most of us have heard this story before. We know what happens in the end. We know God saves them and does a mighty work in the land. But this week as we have waited for some things to move along so we can get our belongings from the port, we’ve hit wall after wall. More and more details to be taken care of and every time we think we’re a little closer we find out we have even more to do. Two weeks from today we are expecting a little girl and every week that goes by I’m getting a little less patient. I keep thinking “lord you see this problem we have, you can take care of it any time, but now would be ideal for our situation!!! I’d love to have a bed for our baby girl when we bring her home!! And unpacking boxes with a newborn is just not on the top ten things to do while recovering…” But last night as I was a little down tired of being disconnected from the world as we are still waiting for Internet! Tired of waiting for everything, this story came to mind from my reading earlier in the week.
Verse 18 stood out. “But if not…” They were trusting God to take care of them but knew that it was Gods choice it was not guaranteed a good outcome. They were obedient and willing to sacrifice themselves no matter what. Their love and loyalty to God exceeded their own ideas of what they thought they deserved. They were willing even if God didn’t save them.
I know this is no sacrifice on our part. But the fact is as I look at our circumstances am I willing even if they don’t work out?
My loss is far less than theirs, that’s for sure. Do I trust and love The Lord enough to keep serving him and being loyal to him even when things don’t go our way?
It definitely puts things into perspective. We don’t do what we do because we know they’ll all work out, but because we love Him. No matter what the outcome He knows what’s best. As I’ve written this and sign off I face the fact that I wish I were spiritual enough to say “yes! But if not” and happily face tomorrow. As more and more bad news trickles in. I have to face facts it’s just not that easy. But remind myself we aren’t here because everything is going to work out perfectly. We’re here for Him. However things go, I will continue to remind myself of this story. True love is proven when it’s inconvenient.
So we found the house we’ve been looking for, not too big not too small, just right! Great location, and great price. Even includes a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment for our friend/friends coming to work with us.
We thought about the possibility of a house like that but knew the chances of finding it would be pretty slim! So we just looked at anything close to what we might want.
We either missed the French abbreviation for additional apartment or it just didn’t say. We liked the house and then saw the apartment and knew it was a keeper. I was overwhelmed with how perfect this place was I couldn’t believe God in His goodness.
Then back to my Repunzel drama!
What if it’s not really true? What if it’s some kind of trick to make money off of us. Is it too good to be true? Will I be tortured for the entire month of May until we move in? This morning I woke up thinking about it and realized I am doubting His goodness! Satan wants me to be tortured by worry and fear when I could have complete peace being just thankful for a place he hand picked just perfect for us. So what if I’m right? And we don’t get this place, isn’t God always giving us abundantly above? He is sovereign He knows what we really need. So why do I doubt Him?
“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer”
So as we wait for the contract and final decision as to what day we can move in, we pray The Lord gives us discernment and patience. And I will continue happily pinning all of my home ideas for this house! 😉