That Day We Moved to Paraguay…

 

I can’t sleep. Well, first of all I can barely breathe. It is late, oh so late, and a cold and sore throat are tormenting me in my final days in north america. I am also so excited that I can barely stand it. We are finally heading overseas after 8 years of training, planning and preparation. How in my right mind can I sleep at a time like this?!?

I look at the clock, its about 3 am. In an hour and a half, I need to get up and get ready to go to the airport. I close my eyes and what feels like 2 minutes later the alarm is blaring.

We gently wake the peacefully sleeping children and get them ready.

“Is it today? Are we going to Paraguay now, Mom? On an airplane?” they ask.

“Yes, today is the day!”.

“Yayyyyy!”, they both sing out as they spin and dance around the room.

We shuttle it over to the Chicago O’Hare airport and the gates are not open yet so we wait and I pray and the four year old says, “Mom, look what God did for us! Its a sunrise!”. I look over to see this and I smile. I love that he noticed that this was God’s handiwork.

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“And there is  an airplane, Mom! Just look!”, I look over again and there are airplanes flying in from all over. All I could think of at first were how were they not crashing into each other. But I took that thought right captive and refused to entertain the fears that grip me. Not gonna happen today, fears. You are not gonna win!

“That’s really cool, Ransom!” I say. “Where do you think the plane is going?”.

“I think to Paraguay!”, he is just so excited.

We check in our things and have some horrible and horribly-over-priced coffee with Wesley’s dad and brother and then say our goodbyes.

“Are you coming to Paraguay with us?” my two year old asks his Grandpa.

I can tell he doesn’t like the answer that Grampa gives him.

We say our goodbyes and walk to security, Ransom and Judah yelling, “Good-bye, Good-bye, We love you, See you later!! “ to their Grandpa and Uncle.

This is it, I think. We are actually doing this. And this  is the point where I thought I would be starting to get anxious, and scared and wanting to turn back.

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Yet, these past few months I have learned something.

I am a worrier. Probably the worry-est of worrier’s. I fear things that end up not happening. I am full to the brim of what-if’s.

No this is not what I learned- this is something I have known and hated about myself since I realized I do it.

What I am learning is to be present and recognize His presence. To not worry about tomorrow or even ten minutes from now. I am learning that for each and every situation God has the grace to give me specific to each situation. He does not supply the grace I need for something that has not happened yet. But He is faithful to provide grace when I need it.

So as I step on the plane, I am not thinking, “This plane is for sure going to crash!”, I am not thinking, “What if we are making the wrong decision?”, “What if we fail?”, “What if I stink at learning language?”, “What if?”, “What if?”, “What IF?”.

Because as I step on this plane, grace was given. The kind of grace that was promised,

“And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you…”. 

The question is “Do I believe?”. And now, I really, really do.

We sit in our seats and the kids are excited. They are putting their seat belts on and taking them off and looking at the barf bags and the airline magazines and looking out the window and they are so full of wonder!

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My heart skips as we take off and go up, and up, and up and then the plane turns. I start to get anxious. Not gonna happen today, fears! You are not gonna win!

“This is funnnnnn!”, my two year old exclaims at just that moment. “Yes, baby! Its an adventure!”, I say back to him and we laugh and look out the window and fear is replaced with grace.

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He falls asleep in my arms about a half hour into the flight. Our four year old is entertained by colouring, Super Mario,  and trying on the airplane headphones. Oh and fruit snacks.

The stewardess asks him what he would like to drink. “Apple juice please!”, he replies. He thinks this is so cool!

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As we descend, his ears start to hurt. Oh no! He begins to cry and I give him more fruit snacks. Its all I have. He is still crying but we are on ground now. More fruit snacks.

We get off the airplane and are hit with a wave of heat. We are in Panama. We have an hour to find our next airplane and gate. We take the kids to the washroom and then find our gate.  I also find Ketchup chips. They do not have Ketchup chips in the states and I was wishing I had packed some from Canada to take to PY with me. Instead I find them at Panama airport! Score!!

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Minutes later we board the next plane. The plane is not full. We get a full two rows to ourselves. Score!

The 2 year old sleeps for an hour. The four year old sleeps for about 3. It is an uneventful flight. Thank you Lord.

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We see the lights as we descend. We see our new home for the first time. The plane gets closer and closer to the soil that we will, Lord willing, spend the rest of our lives on. And then…I lose it. I literally pinch myself to see if this is real. It has been 8 years of training, support raising, planning, preparation, roadblocks, trials, and trying to get overseas and now, we are finally here. Tears roll swiftly down my cheeks, and all I can think is, “What a privilege, what an absolute privilege! I cannot believe we get to do this, that God would allow us, the weakest of the weak, to come here in His Name.”. I can’t stop thinking, “What a privilege.”.

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

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 I grip the seat as we come to taxi down the runway. I thank Jesus for bringing us all the way to a different continent safely and I can hear my boys saying, “We’re in Paraguay! We’re in Paraguay!”.

Yes, we are.

We get to immigration and I soon realize this will not be fun. We have two toddlers who have been strapped in seats all day, and of course they don’t want to sit still,  stand still, or be any sort of quiet so we can get our visas.

We quickly get frustrated because we just want them to obey so we can get this done. We are not ten minutes in this country and I had already let my flesh get the best of me. I am reminded of how much I need Jesus. Not just once a day, or twice or three times but each and every God-given moment.

We finally get our visas and all of our luggage and walk thru the airport doors.

What I see, makes me lose it once again.

A huge sign that says, “Wesley, Tenley and Sons! Welcome to Paraguay We are your new Big Family”

I see this sign and I am blinded by the tears.

We came to Paraguay on our own. We left our families and friends on another continent. We can’t speak spanish and we do not know this culture.

Yet there is something, Someone, that surpasses borders, language, and culture. The Person of Jesus Christ.

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Way before we got here, or even knew we were coming He had this family picked out just for us. He knew we would need to see them when we stepped off that plane. He is showing us His great love for us thru these people. He has given us a family. He is showing us that- you may have thought you came here alone but you are not alone and you never will be.

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age…”

And my Body is here.

So what you can’t speak to them yet! Because of Me you are connected. This is what He reminds me of.

So right there as I hugged each one, I wept and thanked Jesus for His great love for us. For His direction, His provision, and for His presence each moment.

We get back from the airport, tear stained and worn.

We go to sleep. A long, peaceful sleep.

We are home.

From September to September…You are Faithful.

I remember my face as I looked in the mirror, a year ago today. The month before had been difficult. Loss of plans, unknowns, transitions, and the weight of this broken world we live in.
But that day, a year ago today, well that day I would get to go see my baby, our third child on ultrasound and I was so very excited. My face told it all. I looked into my tired, weary eyes that day and told myself to chin up because today I would see this little child that was being woven together in my womb and nothing could put a damper on that. It was a miracle- the miracle of new life.
I remember my face as I looked in the mirror a year ago today, after I got home from the doctor. We had been told that our little baby, this new life, may be gone. As soon as I got home I went to the bathroom and locked myself in. I crumpled against the door and looked up at my face. My face told it all, red, tear stained, black mascara lines running down. I couldn’t even look at myself. I couldn’t bear to look so I just held my face in my hands and sobbed and cried out to God to give me strength to get thru whatever was going to happen.
And it turns out that we did indeed lose our baby, our third child, Skye Hazael, less than two weeks later. This is the kind of pain that reminds me I am not Home…
I remember the car drive across the country after we lost Skye. A hundred billion tears covered my cheeks, my clothes, the ground as I grieved the child we never got to meet.
We got to Canada and were just broken. I had never grieved such a loss since before I met Christ. Back before I met Jesus, drugs and alcohol masked my pain, made me forget, made me numb. This time would be different. No matter how bad the pain I believe that He would have me turn to Him to deal with whatever comes my way instead of a substance. So I did one of the smartest things I have ever done- I asked for help.
And our church family gathered around us, prayed, and surrounded us with love. People gave up their own time to step into the dirty messy lives of us- the hurting, the broken, the weak.
Many things came up as I met with a wonderful lady who discipled me. Things in my past that I thought were dealt with but again were only masked by drugs, alcohol and relationships, they all made their way to the surface.  It all came out and it was messy, and heartbreaking, and hard. So very hard to face mistakes I had made, forgive the unforgivable, and grieve losses never grieved. Hard, hard work. Some days I could only just sleep. So exhausted from the turmoil and pain, feeling it all, raw and exposed.
And there were times I wanted to give up. There were times I refused to pray to God, acknowledge Him, seek Him. I was challenged to pray just one minute a day for a month. I agreed thinking what in the world difference can one minute a day make?
But oh friends, He is outside of time, not bound, free to work His grace and mercy and infinite love even into one minute to pursue His precious child.
And that is what He did. I did not even make it to a month before He captured my heart again.
He reached out and spoke gently to me.
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He pierced my heart with His Word.
71btR12xaUL._SX450_He stunned me with His perfect love.  
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He took me in His arms,  as I learned how to really cry out to Him.
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And there I found something amazing- something I knew in my head but was learning all over again. He could handile my tears that never end. He could handle my anger even when it was directed at Him. He could handle my confusion. He could handle my grief and my pain. He could deal with my guilt, my shame, my sin- in fact He had dealt with those on the Cross.
He multiplied that minute each day and it was always full of a never ending, always and forever love, despite me. Always despite me and my own fallen heart.
He showed me He could be trusted even in this horribly, fallen, sick, death entrenched broken world. He reminded me that He is the author and Creator of Life, not the author of death. He gripped my heart with His complete love and acceptance of me based on the blood of His Son.
And bit by precious bit I began to have Hope again. I begin to see Light in the midst of my utterly dark world of pain and grief. This hope got me through. Saved my life, Made me want to get well, made me want to live, really live again.
I remember my face as I snuck into the bathroom at the restaurant as I visited with my family on my second to last day in North America. I looked in the mirror and began to fall apart. I can’t even bear to look at my face so I just held my face in my hands and sobbed. I won’t see them for four more years and it hurts.
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I remember my moms face as she hugged her grandchildren for the last time as we said our goodbyes, her tears welling up. And I remember my face as I hugged my mom goodbye. I could see it in the reflection of the car we were standing next to. And I am reminded, I am weak, so weak. My flesh not wanting to leave the comforting arms of my mom, because when I let go, I am stepping into the unknown, completely out of my comfort zone.
And He reminds me of Himself. That He can relate. Because He left perfect fellowship with His beloved Father to come here to die.
I wonder if that would be game changer for me- If I would go knowing I was going to die a horrible death for people who would reject me.
Yet, He came, in the most humble way, to be rejected by His own, to die a bloody death for each of us. And He endured, knowing He would get to have a relationship with us, His children.
Again He reminds me of His perfect word,
“When I am overwhelmed,
    you alone know the way I should turn…”    -Psalm 142:3
He is showing me that the way to turn is into Him. Into His loving arms. For in Him, there is peace and joy and I can be thankful, despite what my world looks like.
Today, this Septemeber 3rd, a new journey is beginning. We are about to step onto an airplane. All of our earthly belongings in our 8 pieces of luggage and a couple carry-ons, our kids strapped to our backs, and hearts full of hope. We are looking to our Father God, to use us, weak, utterly helpless people,  for His glory in a foreign land. Somewhere that is completely out of our comfort zone, somewhere we cannot even speak without getting help.
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We are begging Him, on our knees, begging Him to show us how He would best be glorified- in our marriage, in our family, in our ministry, that we would not hinder a soul from seeing and believing the power of the gospel of grace.
I remember my face as I looked in the mirror this morning. One year to the day that I went to the Dr. and found out we were losing Skye.
September 3rd.
I see a new person. Someone who walked thru some deep waters, yet did not drown. Someone who walked thru some fire, but did not even smell of smoke. Someone who endured a some trials but was never alone. I see someone who glories in her many, many weaknesses.
In the pit, in the muck and the mire, in the deepest of pain, Someone picked me up and set me on solid ground. He has reminded me of pure truth. Truth so powerful it can save a life, not just once for salvation but over and over and over again, daily, that life may be lived abundantly.
You are faithful God.
From then until now,
I have found that for all of eternity,
from September to September You are faithful.

The Crushing Weight of Death…And the Glorious Hope of Eternal Life…

 

Our "Jungle Camp" house

Our summer home

 

He comes in the front door, head down, staring down at his hands. He looks up at me, voice crackling, “Mommy, Mommy!!”. We have a whole bunch of people over for coffee and I am finishing a conversation so I ask if he can wait just a moment. But as I do, I look down to see his soft brown eyes looking back at me with heartbreak written all over them.

I take his hand, quickly finish my conversation, and excuse myself.
“What is it, baby?”, I ask him.
“Look, Mom, look at my frogs”, he says to me barely getting the words out.
He opens his hands and I look down into those little fingers. Two  frogs lay there frozen in time, the moment death took their little lives away. He couldn’t take his eyes off of them.
I remember the day before- when he caught them. They were little tree frogs about an inch long.
Ransom's two frogs looked like this.

Ransom’s two frogs looked like this.

He thought they were so cute and loved them at first sight. His smile melted me, he was so happy to care for them. He put sticks and grass in his little bug cage for them and a spider for them to eat too.
But today, they were gone. His four year old mind trying to process this as tears flood his eyes and begin to slowly roll down his cheeks.
It was the first time he saw it. Death.
He heard about it last year when we lost our baby, our third child. He heard about it as we talked thru the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus several times last year.
But this was the first time he saw it with his own two eyes.  No moving, no jumping, no blood pumping, no eyes looking, no ears hearing, silence, darkness, stale, stench, death.
“Mom, can we take them to the doctor?”, he pleads.
“There is nothing the doctors can do. Your frogs died. I am so sorry.”. I reply, tears now forming in my own eyes.
“But we need to!”, he cries. “How can we make them alive?! We need to bring them back to life!”.
“I am so sorry, Ransom but we can’t bring them back to life. They are dead, they are gone. Let’s go get Dad and Judah and talk about it together, okay?”.
My heart breaks as I see on my four year olds face the crushing weight of death. I see his feeling of helplessness. I see his pain and grief. I see him wanting to try anything to save these little frogs, realizing he has no control at all. No control over death.
We wrap the frogs in a napkin. I offer to help him bury them but he wants to hold them a little longer.
 I find my husband and Judah. We gather as a family in our little plastic and pole house and we pray to our Father for Ransom in his grief.
And my husband gently begins to speak to the family.
He reminds us of Creation and how everything was created good. Frogs were created perfect. God created them and said they were good.
He talks about the Garden. Its beauty, its Creator, the people put there.
He asks “If frogs were created good and perfect, how could this happen to them?”.
My sons voice cracked as he said, “We ate the fruit, Dad.  We ate the fruit.”
We talk about the depths of sorrow that that one choice made for all of man kind.
“There was a promise though, right guys? In the midst of the worst thing in the world that could happen, God made a promise, didn’t He?”
“Yeah, He promised a Rescuer. He promised to send a Rescuer.”.
“Who was that Rescuer?”.
“Jesus. Jesus, came to rescue us and beat that level”.
(He is really into a certain Mario game right now so beating a level is something on his mind :)
“What level?”.
“Death.”
We explain to him again what that one choice did for all of mankind. We pray for him. We set the little napkin wrapped frogs on a shelf and he walks away, head down, crushed. The sting of death, o so strong, even for a four year old.
Evening comes fast and  I tuck him in to bed. We talk again about how sad it was to lose those frogs. And we pray. And we thank God for the frogs life, and for our lives, and for the Rescuer and what He did.
We are driving home now, the next day. Ransom has a big smile on his face. I grin and ask him what he is thinking about, curious.
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Playing with one of the frogs the day before they passed on

He tells me his frogs are dead but its ok.
“Why is it ok? Why is it ok that your frogs are dead?”.
“Well, because Jesus gives life. And even if we die, we will live. He is the Rescuer.”
“Mom, I am a sinner. I can’t stop sinning. But Jesus came to rescue me. And we will all still live if we believe.”
The glorious hope of eternal life. A simple truth that can even be understood by a child of four years.
My soul is crying out, thanking God for my son’s understanding, his child like faith, and for a Father who drew my baby to Himself. Only He can use something as horrible as death, to bring someone to an understanding of what it means to truly live.
I remember all the nights I kneeled by his bed, watching him sleep, begging, pleading to God for His life. Crying for him to truly understand. I thank the Lord for His work in our Ransom’s life. I thank Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I thank God that no matter what happens in this life, that I will see my son around the throne of God worshipping Him thru out all of eternity.
Tears stream down my cheeks, as I think of all the truths I get to teach him now about who He is in Christ. About all the things that happened to him and for him the moment he first believed-  secure for all eternity, accepted in the Beloved for all time, secure in the love of God, every spiritual blessing, a new creation, and the list goes on and on…
He will be hurt many more times in his life by the crushing weight of death, but now, oh Precious Lord now, he possesses the glorious hope of eternal life.
He sleeps, secure in the love of his Rescuer. I sit by his bedside, thanking the Lord Jesus for the life of this child, that is secured for eternity.

He sleeps, secure in the love of his Rescuer. I sit by his bedside, thanking the Lord Jesus for the life of this child, that is secured for all eternity.

A Better Place…

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I don’t know what possesses me to do it but I do it anyways. I tell my husband, “I would like to go on a hike. Let’s go…today!!”. He is ecstatic. This is his thing. Something he is always wishing I would want to do.

Five minutes go by, we haven’t even left, and I think, “What was I thinking? What happend in my mind that I would tell him that?”. I hate hiking. I hate most everything about it. Ok I know, hate is a strong word. I very much dislike it. I hate dislike the mosquitos that swarm in herds around only me, as if my blood is so much sweeter than that of my other half. He could hike all day and not get one. single. bite. Me? I have 15 in the first 10 minutes. I dislike the fact that a tick can at any moment attach its little, itty, bitty body to my skin whilst I am unawares in the unknown forest. I dislike getting lost. Which has happend most every time I have hiked anywhere.

But…I love the views. And the feeling I get afterward of accomplishment. And I love taking the first big gulp of ice cold water when I am super tired and sweaty after climbing up a crazy trail. And I love when I find a bright pink flower, tucked deep inside the woods that maybe no one else sees except me… like maybe Jesus put it there for just me to see and to be in awe of His glory and the fact that He sees it all, even in a vast, deep forest on a mountain.

So maybe thats why this morning when I woke up I told him that I want to go hike.

So I make a lunch for four, fill up our water bottles, grab the bug lotion and bandaids and we are off.


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We get there and we can’t find our way. What trail do we get on? What way do we go? Why can’t I read the map like a normal person? A nice man in red with a water-bottle-fanny-pack, sees we are seriously confused and gives us the gist of the trails here and points us in the direction we should go to get where we want to go.

This should be easy, a family day of fun, but I am immediately recognizing my inadequacy and that I am much more comfortable behind a haircutting chair, with my leopard print wedge heels on, in the concrete city jungle. I am out of my comfort zone and getting eaten alive by these mosquitos that insist on swarming me. Why, again, did I tell him I wanted to do this?

I think of this moment, as my finger is stuck on the computer’s send button this evening. It is seriously stuck. I can’t move it. I am frozen.

I feel my husband’s hand over mine. “We can do it…together”, he says softly.

“I can’t”, my voice crackling, “I can’t do it.”. A huge alligator tear falls swiftly down my swollen mosquito bitten cheek.

“Yes, you can. We, can. This is what we have been waiting for, what He has sent us to do.”, he tells me.

Yes, my husband is usually always the voice of reason when I am overwhelmed-I thank God for this fact.  I feel his hand press on mine. We push together… and it’s done. Our plane tickets to South America are purchased.

We are going. In just 59 days we will leave. On a huge plane (And by the way, I HATE flying. Ok, seriously, seriously dislike. Ok no, I HATE flying.). Going to a place that I have never been. That may have more mosquitos than we have here. I will not know the language. I will not be able speak to anyone in a real conversation until I learn the language well enough. (If you have met me, you will know how hard it will be for me to not be able to converse with people at first!). I will not know the culture. It will be a totally foreign land. What will my kids do? Will they make friends? Will they get sick? Will I be ruining their lives by taking them there?? These are all things going thru my mind in a manner of a minute.

Oh sweet Jesus, my heart is fluttering, beating so fast. Am I having a heart attack? This is happening, actually happening. The tickets are purchased and we are going.

"I can't go any further Mom! We've walking all day!!".  I have felt this way too on our 8 year journey to get to the field.

“I can’t go any further Mom! We’ve been walking all day!!”.
I have felt this way too on our 8 year journey to get to the field.

I begin to cry. No, I begin to sob. My husband, he sees me, crying like a baby. He was previously smiling and ecstatic, because, well, this is his thing. He is a missionary kid. He grew up in  a foreign land.  He loves travel, culture, adventure, the unknown. But he sees me, he sees me crying and I look up and see his eyes, and he has compassion for me, the city dweller, the safety keeper, who is straight terrified of the unknown.

I am sobbing. “I can’t do it. I can’t go. What am I doing? How did this happen? Why did I press that button?”. I am repeating this over and over. And then, “I love it here, I am safe, I know what to do, I know what to say, I have friends, I want to stay here. What did we just do???”.

I know it is just a passing moment. So does he. But even so, he grabs me, puts his arms around me, and holds me tight while the tears pour out of my eyes onto his shoulders.

He holds me. And doesn’t condemn. Just loves. I feel grace pour out of his arms around me and I think of what Jesus has said to me, to us.

“…All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.  Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.  If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”. Hebrews 11

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And He reminds me, here in my husbands arms, that there is a better place. One that is better than the place I am comfortable in. A place where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more anguish, no more longing for something better,  no more holes left in hearts waiting to be filled, no more jealousy, rage, grief, or anything left to be desired.

It couldn’t be a more perfect place: ‘a heavenly homeland’.

And there is people who do not know about this place. People who don’t even know about HIM. And the hope He brings. I still sob but it is a sob of longing. To tell them, to share with them the Treasure of the heavens and earth, a Person who came to die for them, that they would know life to the fullest and live with Him for eternity. To share with just one person who has never heard makes it all worth it. All the tears, the pain of leaving, that one may have eternal life or even that they would have the gift of choosing to believe truth or reject it.

And so instead of battling the fear, I choose to look at Him.  I picture my Father holding me in His arms just as my husband is holding me in his, “Jesus!”, I cry. “I choose Your peace, Your joy. You brought us here to this point- You called us and we followed- and we pressed the button to get our tickets and we are going. Use us to the fullest extent, that You alone would be glorified!! Thank You, that this is all out of my comfort zone, that I am terrified, that I am weak and completely inadequate. That I can’t even go on a small two hour hike much less go to the ends of the earth on my own strength- because then anyone who sees will know that any good that comes out of any of this is ALL because of You. Thank You, Jesus, that Your grace is completely sufficient. Thank you for choosing to use someone as weak as me. May I always remember what You have done for me, and where you have brought me from-You pulled me out of a pit of darkness and showered me with the Light of Your Son and there is grace- even for a sinner such as me. Thank You for sending us! What a privilege and honor to go in your Name. I pray You would keep us strong and courageous, that we may share with them the greatest news in the world. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You”.

As I think on what He has done to get us here, I can’t stop saying it,

“Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.”.

And after eight years of training and preparing, I open up the closet, take out the dusty suitcases, fill up my water bottle, and begin to prepare my mind for the journey. Tears still falling, heart full, I open up the Book, the One that challenged me to go.

I thank Jesus that this world is not all there is – that I am foreigner, a  nomad on this earth. The Book reminds me to live in light of eternity. To invest my life into eternity. Yes, we could do that here. But He has sent us there.

So we go. Longing for the Better Place.

 

 

 

Mum

I hold his small hand tight. I can feel that he wants to run , he is squirming with all his might, feet sloppy. The floor is sopping wet, we slowly make our way to the kiddies side of the pool. We toddle past the ‘big’ pool, and music is blaring from a boombox. The older peoples water aerobic class. It looks like so much fun. I smile as they kick and jam to the music.

I get my baby in the kiddy pool. He sees a ball. “Let’s get it Mommy!”, he says. So we ‘swim’, me walking on my knees in this shallow water, my hands holding him tight, his little legs kicking. “I swimmin’, Mom! I swimmin”!”. I look at him with such delight. He is a boy now, not a baby. Two whole years old. He reaches for the ball and I look toward where the music is coming from again. I wonder if I could take this class too. And then I see them. In the back row, a lady about my age, black hair, tattoos. And next to her, an older woman. I assume its her mum because of the way they talk to eachother, how close they are together, and way they look at eachother. The younger lady encourages the older. Shows her how to use the foam weight thingys. They bop to the music laughing and enjoying the movements and enjoying eachother.

I look at my love in my arms. Will he ever join a water aerobics class with me when I am old and grey? I really, really hope so.  And then I think of you.

You, who carried me in your womb for 9 months. You, who kissed all my owies, and braided my hair. You, who made my favorite meals and made holidays extra special. You, who worked all night so that we could have what we needed during the day.You, who were both mom and dad to us. You, who made me enchiladas and drank tea with me when  Sammy was murdered and I needed to just be by my mum. You, who when I was lost in alcohol and drug addiction, never failed to pursue me ( I still have all the cards you sent me!) and love me like the Father. You, who constantly encourage me to KOKO (keep on keeping on!).

People say to us, ‘Wow, you are giving up so much to go to South America!’. But no one ever acknowledges what you are giving up. You, who never asked us to stay for your own good. Who never discouraged us from doing what the Lord led us to do. You, who always encouraged and never once brought up what you would be missing.

Having our nightly earl grey tea, as we age. Seeing your baby grandkids turn into men. The birthdays, the anniversarys, their learning to count, learning  the alphabet, the Christmases, the Easters. The crawling, the walking, first day of school, the first bug caught. You are missing alot. But you never complain. You never make us feel like we are taking something away from you.

Because you are you. And You love Someone far more than you love us. His name is Jesus. And you prayed to Him for years, YEARS,  for your baby girl to believe Him at His Word.

And she didn’t.

And she didn’t.

And she didn’t.

But you didn’t give up. You never gave up. Because you believed Him and you believed He could reach even your girl who had strayed off the deep, dark end.

And then one day she did. She came to the end of herself. And was helpless and lifeless and hopeless. And you watched it and you never judged, just loved. Instead of telling her to change, you asked Jesus to intervene because you knew only He could save that girl. And you loved and loved and poured grace over her. Your little baby girl -that one you gave birth to and dressed up in those dresses and clipped those little barrettes in her hair- she met Jesus. And you saw Him pick up your baby from the muck and mire and you saw Him intervene. You witnessed a miracle as He saved her life for eternity.

So giving up some things in this life, you understand. Because it is for eternity that you are living. And although I wish we could take that water aerobics class together, and I miss your laugh, and your green eyes, and coloring and cutting your hair, I know I will be with you for eternity and that gives me hope. That helps me to ‘keep on keeping on’.

Because there are more people in the muck and mire, and they need to meet Him too. They need to at least have a chance to meet Him, and right now they do not. They don’t have a fighting chance because they have none of His Words in their language.

The music blares and he threw the ball and I turn. I see my husband and my other son. And a slow tear slips down my cheek because I miss you. And you are not here seeing this, the every day of our life.

And He reminds me, ““He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it”. 

Sacrifice, love, the gospel. Lived out in you.

My mum.

The tears mix with water as we splash.

And I am thankful. Truly thankful for you. 298_21007756685_8874_n