Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Longings Fulfilled (and my dissatisfied heart)

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”
Proverbs 13:12

When Will and I found out we were expecting last October, we were ecstatic and fearful all at the same time. Having just come off of months of mourning the loss of our first pregnancy, we longed for a baby, but knew that it was possible we could lose the pregnancy again, and were hesitant to fully rejoice. One day we decided that even though we didn’t know what the outcome of the pregnancy would be, we were going to chose to hope. We were going to celebrate with expectant hearts for what we longed for and for the hope of new life. So, we did what any could American would do… we went to Target :) (we were still in the States on a break at the time). We decided to buy something for our baby as a way of “hoping well” and taking a step of faith in believing this pregnancy would result in a healthy baby. We bought a knitted bunny hat (gender neutral because it was way too early to know if we were having a boy or girl).

During this same time, we were still trying to recruit a team to join us in South Sudan. We were hopeful that we would be able to return within a year or so and were still heading in that direction. However, we knew that anything could happen and that nothing was guaranteed. We knew one day we would have a home again, but we didn’t really know where or when that would be. As a late birthday gift, I bought Will a small key chain of a drum. The drum represented being ready to rejoice and celebrate what God was doing at any moment. The keychain was a statement of faith that we would have a home again one day.

Fast forward 10 months to this week. Will was showing me which keys go to which doors of the new house we just moved into and I was struck by the drum keychain. I had completely forgotten about it. Seeing it again reminded me of God’s provision. We had a house! Something we have longed for for a year and a half now had come to fruition!

Just a couple days later, I went through Ellie’s clothes to sort and organize them. As I was sorting items, I came across the bunny hat and realized it would fit her now. As I put the hat on Ellie, my heart was overflowing. A longing fulfilled right before my eyes. What we had hoped for for so long was finally in front of my eyes.

This week I am overwhelmed by the joy of longings fulfilled. We are finally stable and in a home. We have a beautiful daughter whom we get to watch grow and change each day (she learned to roll over today!). 

But you know what? In all of it, I have been overwhelmed by my greedy and selfish heart. All that I have wanted this past year is finally coming to fruition and yet, I find myself finding something new to complain and bicker about each day. Today it was that the power has been out for 2 consecutive days and our cheese is possibly going bad. Yesterday it was that we are still living out of suitcases because we don’t have shelves or dressers yet. I am so easily dissatisfied!

What I’m learning in all of this is that by my complaining and bickering, it’s as if I’m not allowing the “tree of life” to take root in my heart. I’ve moved onto the next thing I long for (being “fully settled- whatever that means…). When I continue to focus on the next “hope deferred”, I take my eyes off of what God has already done and the dreams He’s already fulfilled!

So today I’m repenting of my dissatisfied heart. I’m asking the Lord to forgive me for constantly looking to things and circumstances to make me happy and praying that HE would be my satisfaction and joy. Today I’m choosing to count my blessings, but more than that, to praise the provider of the blessings. I have so much to be grateful for and it is silly to let things like spoiled cheese (although it’s a bummer…) take priority in my mind over what the Provider is doing in my life.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Where is the Baby?

It's a funny thing, becoming a parent. Just as your love and attention gets directed to your baby, so does the attention of those around you. When you walk into a party, you are hardly acknowledged as the people in the room yell your child's name in excitement and reach out to grab them.

What a joy to see other people start to enjoy your child and look forward to seeing them. By doing this, they are acknowledging the beauty of new life and are hopeful to experience glimpses of this new being's personality that is developing.

When Will and I first arrive here to Fort Portal, we walked around to the shops and restaurants with Ellie. Now, it is more common for me to quickly run into a store to grab what we need while Will waits in the car with (a usually sleeping) Ellie. Every time I enter the store, I am greeted by the security guard outside (it's commonplace here to have security guards watching stores and restaurants) and then a grocery store clerk. Every single time they greet me and then say, "Where is the baby??". Every time I hear this, my momma's heart smiles. My daughter is acknowledged and her presence is missed in some way.

It's been exciting to see how having a baby has opened doors for relationships and conversations here. Babies seem to immediately draw people in- no matter their religion, history, etc. People who would normally come across as distant and aloof, are suddenly giving you a huge smile and asking how your baby is. People start having children at very young ages here, so asking if someone (who looks over 20) has a baby, is usually a safe question and a good way to start getting to know them. It's so fun to hear the responses. Sometimes, women who look like they are 18 will tell me they have a 9 year old child! Other times, you learn that someone your same age has 5 children already. I asked one landlord about his kids while we were looking for houses and he told me he has 10 children and 6 grandchildren! I asked these questions before, but there is something about having a child in your arms as you ask these questions that draws people in. They can connect to you on some level- you immediately have something in common.

Here are some things I have learned about having a baby in Uganda:
Even dressed like this, people
ask if she is a girl or boy.
1. Complete strangers will grab for your baby- whether the baby is screaming, nursing, sleeping, it doesn't matter, they can't wait to get their hands on the baby carry them around.

2. Even if your baby is dressed in all pink and has a huge bow on their head, the first question people will ask is, "Is she a boy or a girl?" (he and she are often confused in English here, so the wording of this question makes me giggle inside every time).

3. Because of the community nature of this culture, people are very quick to give their opinion about how you should be raising your child. Every time I hold Ellie in an Ergo carrier, someone tells me that my child can't breathe and I should "fix her nose" or that, "my child is breaking". It has taken a while, but I'm starting to try to view these comments as people caring and wanting the best for my child. One friend told me that when she was burping her child after nursing one time, someone yelled at her and said, "Stop beating your child!!!". We are learning to respond in patience and gently educate when necessary.

4. If your baby is crying, people will always think she is hungry. The common thought here is that crying always indicates hunger. If Ellie is crying, people will sometimes tell me, "give her the breast!".

5. When walking by greeting a complete stranger, if I am holding Ellie, they will always ask, "How is the baby?!". Some people will even look at me and then at her and say, "Thank you!". We've learned this is an acknowledgement of gratitude for bringing a baby into the world. If they are Christian, it is always a way of thanking God for the new life.