January 26, 2011

Hi, my name is Maggie, and I am a planner.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? 

  One step forward, two steps back.  That’s what life has been lately. It’s also probably what life will look like a lot in the future as well – it’s just the name of the game working with an organization at the stage of life that Samaritan Village is in.

 

  Our current forward/backward motion, though, is in trying to follow God where he is leading us in this crazy journey.  The steps backward are due to us taking too many steps forward at a time – trying to walk in front of God doesn’t seem to be a great idea.

 

  Really it’s just my human nature wanting to have it all planned.  Wanting to have it all laid out like a map that already has the trail marked.  It’s funny how walking by faith doesn’t generally work like that.  God is the lamp unto our feet – not necessarily the streetlights to our highway – and feet move much more slowly than cars.

 

  Currently we are running into this minor issue called selling a house.  Lots of us have been there – you’re gung hoe and ready to  move where God might take you and then find out that, well, you probably paid a little too much for that house you call home.  We are right there (due to the circumstance, it was worth every penny!), and we’re trying to figure out what we need to do to said house to get what we need out of it.  You know, cause it’s hard to move to Africa when you still have a mortgage.

*Update:  after some more research, it looks like getting what we need out of the house isn’t crazy.  Yeah!

 

  Of course to God these are small issues.  Not in an insensitive, get over it kind of way.  In a ‘I’m the creator of the universe, I can handle things like selling houses’ kind of way.  I just need to let go and know that even the bumps in this path are in fact part of the path.

 

  Some of the ways that we will be serving Samaritan Village, we can do from here.  The organizational, how things flow, best practices kind of stuff.  It is also abundantly clear that they need a couple of people from here to go do a lot of work from Tanzania as well.  It’s difficult to see that need and know that we might not be able to go right now – that God may have us wait a bit.

  So, maybe we’ll end up working for Samaritan Village for a while from the States until God says it’s time to go, or maybe things will work out one bump at a time and we will end up leaving sooner than later. 

  Either way, as long as we are serving Him in the way that He wants us to, we need to be good with that.

 

Of course, it naturally raises all kinds of questions.  Do we continue to foster in the meantime?  How aggressive of a timeline do we shoot for?  Should we even have a timeline?  Oh, and, why can’t I stop planning???

I feel a tap on my shoulder.  “Maggie, I am the lamp unto your feet.  I am the light to your path.”

 

  Right now, one of the keys for me is to see His purpose and His hand in all of this.  These trials that we face en route are just as much a part of where He has us as reaching the perceived ‘end’ will be.  This is not all about the end, but also about allowing Him to grow us in the journey as he lights one footstep at a time.

 

 

Psalm 46:10

             Stop striving and know that I am God.

January 17, 2011

Endings and Beginnings.

  We’ve officially told our family worker that we won’t be renewing our foster care license this year.  We also can’t take any long term placements from here on – only the occasional respite.

  Part of me is very sad.

I am so passionate about fostering and advocating for it (which I will continue to do!).

I will miss having the opportunity to welcome kids who need a temporary place to call home. 

I will miss falling in love with them.

I will miss working with our agency.  (I’m not kidding – we’ve loved our agency!)

I’ll miss the excitement of meeting a new little one who’s life we hope to impact, and who will most definitely impact ours.

 

But with the end of one journey is the beginning of another.

 

  I am filled with joy at the journey God has us on.  I am filled with excitement, nervousness, and wonder.  I am excited to meet a new challenge.  I am excited to see what God will do.  I am excited to continue to rely on Him through every new twist and turn.

I am so excited to meet 27 (or more by the time we get there!) new faces.

New little ones that will look to us to help maintain what they call home. 

Children I will most certainly fall in love with. 

A whole new team of people to work with and serve God with. 

Always hoping to be able to take in another little one who’s life we hope to impact, and who will most definitely impact ours.

 

 

I think fostering will likely something we do again in the future.  But I guess we will see.  For now we will say goodbye with sadness, and hello with expectant joy.

January 14, 2011

15 months.

  Sylvie, you turned 15 months old last week.  Lately every time I look at you I think, “How did that happen?!”  You are one hundred percent toddler now, and all of a sudden you look so BIG. 

  You are so much fun, and completely capable of entertaining adults for ridiculously long periods of time just by being the big ham that you are.  You’ve got the drama queen thing down pat.  It’s making me a little nervous for ages 2 and 3, because you can throw a mean tantrum.  For a while you were banging your head on the floor, at least you’ve stopped doing that.  But it is most obvious that you are a girl who knows exactly what she wants, and you’ve got a stubborn streak the size of your dad’s and mine combined.  (scary.) 

  You are also one of the most active children I’ve ever known.  You are either sleeping, or going at top speed.  You get into everything – and it’s rarely out of orneriness, you are just busy.  Sometimes when we’re having a ‘relaxing family evening’ and you just aren’t satisfied with the amount of energy being expelled, you just start running around in circles singing very loudly.  After all, you wouldn’t want it to get too quiet!  Did I mention you are very, very, very, very loud?  My mom has always told me how loud I was when I was little – and now I am beginning to understand.  It’s as if you are using a megaphone at all times.  I love it.

  I’m going to go ahead and claim your passion.  In this department you remind me a lot of me.  Everything you do is done with passion, and you get so passionate about things on occasion that your entire body shakes with excitement.  You just can’t hold it all in.  You are also very passionate when you’re trying to communicate.  You are also very passionate when you are upset.  Like I said, you’re a lot like me.

  With all that said, we are seeing your beautiful personality come out.  And I am convinced that if we are able to channel all of your passion, stubbornness, and determination in a good way – you are bound to make some massive change in this world.

 

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You are a very verbal little girl.  (Did I mention you are loud?)  You’ve started trying to mimic everything we say.  You’re vocabulary increases by the day – now you can say (unprompted) mommy, daddy, nana, papa (grandpa), ball, baby, uh-oh, wow, book, yes, yucky, yummm, ooooohh, and cookie.  I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a few.  You also try to say everything that we do, and you usually get the first sound right.  Uh-oh is by far your favorite thing to say, and you get plenty of practice in by throwing things on the floor.

  You also make lots of animal noises – your favorite being the monkey, which doesn’t surprise me at all.  If you had a tail, I would wonder.  You only nurse once a day now, which we are both okay with – pretty soon your sister will be here, and she’ll claim a monopoly on that anyway.

  Other things you’re really enjoying these days? 

Your baby doll.  You love her, you rock her, you pat her, you sing to her.  It’s adorable.

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Food.  Any, all, as long as it’s in your mouth.

Books.  We read books a good percentage of our day every day, and you also like to read them to yourself.  Occasionally you’ll stop and laugh.  I always wonder what about the story you’re telling is so funny.

 

So, that’s a compact version of you.  You’re changing so fast and learning so much that I wanted to get some of it down before you’re completely different.  I love you so much, baby girl.  There is nothing in this world that brings me more joy than you do.  Right now, I am your best bud (as long as Nana isn’t around) and I love it.  One thing – you could grow up more slowly and I would be perfectly ok with that.  Ok?

 

Love you baby,

          Mama.

January 12, 2011

I can't stop watching

These beautiful children!
I've been trying to upload videos from Brian's trip for days and blogger hasn't been particularly cooperative.
The children there are taught a small amount of English at school, so Brian was able to talk with them a little bit.  If you'll notice in the videos, they primarily say their names, ages, and what school the attend - so I'm thinking that must be what is taught in English 101.

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I watch videos of these happy, growing, loved children, and I am in love with the ministry that we are entering into.

Then I see pictures like this one, recently posted by a fellow orphanage in Uganda (which borders Tanzania) -

 and it is crushing.

But I praise God that there are places for them to go.  Places for them to grow and learn and be loved.  And I praise God that he has made this part of our journey.

I cannot wait to give these necks a squeeze.

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  I cannot wait for the blessing of seeing Sylvia and her baby sister have 30+ brothers and sisters.  I cannot wait to love these kids.  I cannot wait to have the opportunity for Christ's love to be poured out through me, and for my daughters to learn what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  

We have a lot to do between now and then.

And most of the time it just seems so overwhelming.

There are things and people here that I will miss more than anything I've ever missed before.

But there are times when I think, "Can we just go now?"

January 7, 2011

Tanzania Post #1 of 250,000 TZS.

  I’ve spent a lot of the last 48 hours converting the cost of things in Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) to dollars.  It makes my brain hurt.  Brian says, ‘oh, it’s easy.  You just multiply everything by about 3/4.’  (Have I mentioned that math and I have a hate/hate relationship?)  So, needless to say, I will likely be carrying around a calculator the first several months we’re there.

 

  Brian returned from his trip with even more excitement than when he left.  The trip served as confirmation for many of the things we were already thinking, and also helped to assuage many of our concerns.  Not that it doesn’t, in some respects, still seem completely insane – but God has been good to grant us peace in place of fear and trust in His plan. 

  Of course I’m still trying to catch and assemble random pieces of information that escape Brian’s sleep deprived mind.  Eventually everything coming out of his mouth will start making sense again – I hope?

 

  We learned quite a bit more about what our purpose there will be, and also a lot more about the organization.  It really is uncanny the way their current needs align with our skill sets.  More on that later – lots of exciting things to share.

  The pictures and stories tell a tale of another world so unlike ours.  A world completely disconnected from the U.S. view of normal and what we feel entitled to.  It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose.  Clean water.  Safe food.  Access to healthcare.  Provision to care for our children.

  But through the poverty, the pictures also show an incredible beauty.

 

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Beauty in the children.

 

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Beauty in the culture.

 

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Beauty in the land.

  I pray that God would give us the skills and the resources to serve the best and the most we can.  The eyes to see need and pair it with hope.  But I also pray that amidst the things we will see that cause pain, that we won’t miss the beauty in the people that we serve.

 

 

  Where to from here?  Brian and I will begin raising support for our time there as soon as we can.  We have a lot of logistical things to work out, and we have to try to draw up a budget the best we can.  We have to get the house ready to sell, and get ready for baby Popp #2 who will be here in three short months!  Lots of excitement!

It’s also been such a blessing to be forced to recognize our dependence on God.  We are confident he will provide as he sees fit.  Hope to post more soon!

January 6, 2011

Christmas 2010.

  We just got home from all our Christmas travel – three weeks of it!  It was such a good time of getting to be with family and friends.  We visited both families, and Sylvia and I stayed with my family while Brian was in Arusha (much, much more on that later.).  We are so thankful and so blessed to be a part of the families that we are.

So, for the pictorial recap:

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My sister, and the cutest baby boy on the planet.  I may be biased, but seriously.

 

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Sylvie watching it snow on Christmas Eve.

 

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Sylvie doing her very favorite thing to do, on the lap of her very favorite person on the planet.  I think if she could be doing anything, she would pretty much always choose to be eating while sitting on her Nana’s lap.

 

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The cousins on the Reed side opening presents on Christmas morning.

 

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This was very fun this year.

She would tear the paper just a little bit, and then look in the hole she had made and say, “OOoooohhh”.

 

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Looking at the snow with Papa.

 

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Popp Christmas was spent with this red-headed beauty….

 

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and this handsome boy.

 

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Sylvie playing cards with the Popps.  Training her early.

 

 

(Pretty sure there are a lot more pictures, but having trouble locating them.  This post will probably grow later.)

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