Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Nitty Gritty

      I know that many people that know us thought we were absolutely nuts to take our children to SE Asia.  And, here's the deal, there were many moments when I thought the same thing.  For security reasons, I can't go into all the details of our trip online or the purposes for us going that would help explain some of it.  What I can say, is that we felt that this is what God had for us at this time in our lives.  We were uniquely equipped and humbled to be able to do what we did, and I am forever grateful for the opportunities that we had.  And, while I cannot recommend every moment of it, (as one friend pointed out, there are very few experiences that you can recommend every moment of anyway) we would do it again, and we felt overwhelmingly that it was worth it.  Each day, John and I would check in with one another and ask the questions, "Is this worth it?  Are you glad we're here and glad we brought the girls?"  Each day, the answer was always, "YES."


      The trip, of course, brought some bad moments.  Moments like when we were riding a plane in-country that made a stop mid way through the flight.  Lily had downed some orange soda in like, 2.5 seconds right before landing.  The air conditioning shut off as we waited for some people to deplane and others to get on board.  During take-off, Lily started to throw up all over herself.  Orange chunks everywhere.  John was seated next to her, and ignoring normal take-off protocol, had her standing up in her seat trying to get her undressed and cleaned up.  All the while saying, "Why is it so hot?"  So, Jennifer and I were fanning him with air safety guides, and the buckled up sweet Asian stewardess behind him was tossing extra airsick bags over the seat.   Meanwhile, one of our friends' children asks for an airsick bag as well.  As Greg put it, "Now we know what the low point of the trip is."  No one else ended up throwing up, thankfully.  However, Bella had some of the foulest smelling gas imaginable and the air conditioner never really got going again.  All of that to say, we were glad to land and get off that plane.


      Also, having an 18 month old just about anywhere is difficult, and that was definitely exacerbated by being in a culture where everyone wants to feed that said 18 month old.  It was a strange and hard line to walk between being gracious and being watchful.  When the little girl on the train brings a piece of corn of the cob that is partially eaten to Bella as a gift, and her entire family is watching eagerly to see how it is received is a hard moment.  Now it sort of brings tears to my eyes, because it really is so generous, especially when I know they probably have so little.  John and I exchanged glances and let Bella chew on it.  I was praying that she would not get some crazy disease off of it, and thanks be to God, so far, none has manifested itself.  We had a lot of those moments, and I am sure that sometimes we made bad calls.


      Here is one thing the trip taught me that I can share.  God really is in control, and all of life is really at his mercy and grace.  This applies to my children's safety as well as everything else.  I fully believe that God gives us wisdom and discretion to use as we parent our children to guard and protect them as best we can.  However, I am starting to get a tiny glimpse into a God that loves them more than I do.  He already knows their whole stories and what is best for them.  "Safety" as we so often view it here in America does not exist.  I cannot control every situation that my child will encounter, and I cannot foresee all of the things that may bring harm to them.  While this was highlighted on our recent excursions, it is always the case.  And I am wrong when I assume that by doing certain things, my children will remain "safe."  
      God never once guarantees our material and physical safety.  He promises himself.  I want to risk in ways that please him, because I can see now that it is no risk at all.  It is serving him, which is what he asks.  It is spending ourselves and being where he wants us to be.  It is being willing to trust him with the children that are not really ours - they are his.
      I am sure I will get this wrong in the days ahead.  I wish I wasn't wired so badly to want to do things my way and have control.  But, I am glad that I am learning and hope that I can continue to seek and understand more of God's love for all of us.  It is deep and rich and never-ending.
      I would also be remiss not to note here that many of our friends and family were endlessly supportive of our trip.  We felt their prayers during our travel and remarked on it many times.  I know it is only by God's grace that we went and returned home with no collateral damage (though there was a 12 hour stretch or so when we got back and I thought I might have giardia).  Time change really is rough.  But things are made better when you come home to a freshly mown yard, clean towels and sheets and fresh flowers on the table.  Truly, we have great friends and family - thanks for the prayers and support.


TheWhiteFam said...

Amen sister! I agree 100%. This is something I am so thankful the Lord took from my heart and replaced it with our desire to expose our family to other cultures and be a missional family. god showed me it is so possible and easier than we thought. Plus I'd rather be unsafe inside his will than seemingly safe outside of it! Awesome post!

Mom Spenst said...

Carol, God has given you much wisdom and insight into life and raising children. You are so right that we are not in control but that He is and that He loves our children more than we could ever think of doing. Understanding this will help you as a mom especially as your children get older; there will be more letting go but God will be faithful to prepare you for those times.