Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mysen, Norway

Pictures of Mysen

If you click on the link above you can see pictures of the beautiful town of Mysen.  There is even a pic of the white steepled Methodist Church that we will be moving to this summer. Unfortunately, I remembered my camera about two hours after we left home!   I know many are wondering how our trip to the great white North was.  Well, it was simply great!

I actually have a funny story for you...which my husband might kill me for, but here goes.  A few days before we went to Mysen, we first traveled to Grebbestad where Andreas' parents have a home.  It is only an hour and a half from Mysen and we thought that would be better for traveling purposes.  Those few days, my normally laid back husband, was anal about his kahki pants.  He wouldn't hold David with dirty shoes, he got uppity when something got on them and so on.  Those were the only pants he brought and he wanted them clean for our meeting in Mysen with the church.  On the way to Mysen we stopped to get a drink and a little sweet snack.  He bought little round chocolate pieces thinking that they wouldn't get him as dirty as a candy bar that might drop little pieces of chocolate on his pants. Well, we get to the church and Andreas gets out of the car.  All I remember hearing is OH NO!!! I looked down at the drivers seat and there is melted chocolate all over it...which meant...there was melted chocolate all over my husbands pants.  Yes, one of those chocolate bits had gotten on the seat and with the seat heater had quickly melted.  The irony of it all.....

We met Andreas' new district superintendent right outside our car.  So as Andreas was introducing the family I was quickly using David's wet wipes on the backside of my husbands pants.  What a great first impression! Luckily, wet wipes are stinking amazing at getting stuff off of material (although it makes me wonder if I should be using them on David's skin).  I was able to get enough off so that no one would notice...or if they did, they were definitely too close!

So the moral of the story is...God has a sense of humor, so should we!  Or another moral could be, it doesn't matter what you are wearing we should look at the persons heart.  (that one is good for me because I am always dropping food on myself or the kids are wiping their hands on me...when did I become a napkin?)

Okay, back to the other highlights of our trip.  The church people were amazingly nice.  We stayed with one of the couples that kindly let us sleep in their basement, made us breakfast, helped with two lunches and even scraped the snow off of our car in the morning.  Hans and Kari, if you are reading this...thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Then there was Mona and her family that made a huge dinner for about 20 people at her house so we could get to know everyone better...and her children really made Samuel and David feel at ease.  Sam is so excited that he already has two friends in Norway.  Again, if you guys are reading this...thank you, it made us feel extremely welcome.  Everyone was positive to our coming and ready to help.  It really felt like God had opened hearts immediately...but then again, meeting these amazing people I can not imagine that their hearts were ever closed.  I am really excited to make new friends and see where the ministry goes.  I loved that showing Jesus seemed to be a lifestyle and not a side note with this congregation.  The congregation has several internationals (which my whole family will be also) and has old, middle aged, youth and children.  I can only say that I am overwhelmed at the blessings that God seems to be providing left and right.

I understood about 60-70 percent of the language and when I need to lapse into English, they all understood.  Of course we will deal with some culture shock, but that seems to be our lives...we just go with it and move on.

So all this to say, thank you for your prayers, but keep praying also.  I think the whole family is looking forward to seeing what our future holds in Norway.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is Stubbornness a Good Sign?

I do know the answer to that question.  Yes, the fact that David feels like he can test me to the limits with his stubbornness is a good thing.  He feels safe and comfortable with me and that allows him to test me like a normal 3 year old.  But I have to admit he maybe more stubborn and thick headed than I am.  My mother always laughed and said I would have a child that got me back for being so stubborn...well mom, this is the one.

I fully understand that this is normal for a child of 3 to test his/her boundaries, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.  I have taken many ''mommy time outs'' today and I released a long drawn out sigh when he is finally in bed asleep.  This is one of those days that I know I love this child instead of feeling like I love him.  These feelings come with some guilt also.  Funny how I feel guilty when I have failed to show grace to David because I know that God has given so much grace to me.  Shouldn't I be able to leave that guilt at the feet of Christ because of his grace.  Yet, sometimes I seem to get stuck in that guilt. I start feeling bad for my children because they got the short end of the stick with me as their mom. (that was not said to gain pity, but just an honest thought at points)

It is hard to find the right balance between grace and clear rules that he can understand and learn to abide by to work in a family.  It is hard to know that what I am doing is the best for his emotions, comprehensive level, and attachment.  Right now I seem to be second guessing myself and trying to remember all the things I have studied for adopted children and and a toddlers psychology.  It was so much easier when I was working with other parents helping them with their children.  Right now I seem to be too close to see the clear direction to go in.  To be very honest, I am simply tired.  David is wearing me down and I need to take a few steps back.

I think this simply looks like true parenting.  Whether your child is adopted or not, parenting is not for the light hearted.  It will take you to the very edge of your sanity (sometimes over) and back.  Children will break your heart...sometimes with their behavior and sometimes because their behavior shows you hurt that has happened to them before they ever came to your family.

I need to remember that I do not hold all the answers.  I need to remember that it is not personal and I need to discipline out of the fact that I love him and not out of the fact that I want control (I think that line blurs sometimes). Don't tell my children (because they believe mommy knows everything) but I think I know only about 1%.  From that one percent, I do know this...I am so thankful to have my wonderful husband to help me, back me up, talk things through, to bring me back to what really matters.  The second thing that I know of that 1% is that God doesn't expect perfection, he knows I am going to make mistakes.  But he does expect me to come to him and not mimic David's actions with my own towards him.  After all, I am an adopted child too and learning to be fully attached and fully trusting is not an easy thing.  I am sure my behavior has matched David's on many days.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Drum Roll Please....

Things have been quite on the blog, but not in life.  It seems to be moving faster than I can keep up sometimes.  We have had some big news brewing, but I haven't been able to share exactly what that is...until now.  I figure if my husband stated it on his FB page, it was time for me to announce it on the blog.

I so wish I was good at cliff hangers (Linny from PCS) but I'm not.  I do know that some of you out there will be very interested in this news, while others may think... is there a difference?

So barring any direct acts from God...which we do believe He is calling us to go...we are moving to another country!  In all counts this will be my 4th country to live in, Andreas' 3rd, Samuel's 3rd, and David's 3rd.  I am sure there are those of you out there that have lived in more, I would love to hear everyones count and where you have lived (that means 6 mths. or longer).

Since the Methodist church in Sweden is dissolving  merging with two other churches and Andreas' ordination is in the Methodist church we needed to move conferences.  Andreas' chose not to join the ''new'' church and God has confirmed that decision time and time again.  We are definitely not stuck in this denomination, however, at this point the conference change was the way to go.

So what country will we be moving to you ask....well let's just say it is a good thing I like snow.  We are headed North to Norway!

Yes, you read that right.  Now some of you know there is a love/hate relationship between the lovable Norwegians and the neighboring Swedes.  Norway belonged to Sweden until 1905 when they won their independence.  Now they are fiercely competitive and love to heckle each other whenever possible.  We have a good Norwegian friend, living in Atlanta now, and she once gave my husband a t-shirt with the Scandinavia map on it....except Sweden was missing!  That might give you a little taste of how this rivalry goes.  So it will definitely be interesting living there with a Swedish husband, but it is all done in good humor.

Andreas has been offered a church in Norway and we will visit them this weekend.  We would appreciate your prayers as we visit.  It is a time to talk to the people and find out what their  expectations are and let them know ours (this will also be the time we make our final decision).  We will get a chance to meet them and see the church on Sat. and worship with them on Sunday.  One of the families are hosting us on Sat. night.  We will also be looking at some possible places to live and finding out what the school situation is.

This has and is being committed to prayer and we are fully trusting that God has this under control.  Amazingly enough, I have had an uncanny peace about this whole transition since it came into site about 6 months to a year ago.  Now, this is not the normal me, so I can only assume the Lord has been preparing me for this for sometime now.  Sam is amazing us also with his excitement over the move.  He understands that he will miss his friends, and a new language (similar but not altogether the same) is on the horizon, but he is excited.  (the nice thing about owning our house in the woods is that we will spend summers here and get to maintain the friendships that we cherish here in AlingsÃ¥s.)

I sure hope that I will be able to meet some of the readers that visit this site from Norway maybe now you will even come out of hiding and comment or join my blog. you must come and visit me and your beloved Bergen (no I am not going to be in Bergen).

Aaha...that brings me to another good question...where will we be.  We will be in a small town in the South of Norway called Mysen.  It is really small, but quaint (not much bigger than Wilmore, which is where I am from).  It is about 10 minutes from Askim, which is a little smaller than AlingsÃ¥s, and an hours train ride from Oslo (which is where all my doctors appts. with the kidos will be).  We will also be about 3 hours from Gothenburg, so the kids will still get to see their farmor and farfar as often as possible.  (needless to say, Andreas is looking at cars that use very little gasoline).

So now you have read, please pray.  We really need to be lifted and keep our eyes on our Heavenly Father this whole time.  We could get bogged down in the little details and then it alls seems really scary.  In so many ways I am also excited.  This will be the place that I will venture back to work when David is 5 or 6.  I am praying that the Lord is preparing a place for me...doing what I love, working with orphans and adoption. This will also be the place where we will launch our family orphanage and school in Nepal...first visit set for February of 2013 (more on that in the coming months).

Life is charging full speed ahead...sometimes I am holding on with my feet flying behind me and sometimes I have my feet firmly set, but I need to remember it is not me that pushes this life ahead, but the ONE who has held me since my mother's womb.  Thank you Jesus that I do not have to do this alone!


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Pulled from the Past...Backlog

I think I mentioned that in December Samuel participated in his first gymnastics competition.  This competition was around Dec. 13 and was called the Lucia Cup (after St. Lucia which is celebrated here in Sweden).  He was a bit nervous in front of so many people and judges, but did really well for his very first competition.  He now says that he wants to be in more competitions.  This actually makes me really happy.  Some of the reasons we directed Samuel towards gymnastics is that he has so much energy and he is competitive.  We thought the discipline of gymnastics would help these two traits be put where they belonged in a good environment.  Sam loves it.  Below are a few pics from that day.  I think Sam looks adorable in his outfit.  Such a handsome, wonderful, energetic boy.  I praise Jesus that I get to be his mamma.  

All the boys received a medal.  He looks so proud of himself here.  

Just monkeying around.  

That was his medal from Farmor and Farfar...the best part about it for Sam was the gold wrapping on the outside, the best part for David...chocolate on the inside!

To of my 3 handsome boys. 

He really does amaze me for being in gymnastics such a short time how much he can do.  This little guy is tremendously strong also.  He tries to play strength games with me to see if he is stronger than me yet.  He is not...however, when he is I have a secret (or not so secret) weapon...The boy is more ticklish than anyone I have ever known in my live.  One poke and it doesn't matter how strong he is...he is on the floor laughing.  

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Life Lessons on...Death

A little over a year ago... well a year and a half ago, my beloved Po Po (grandfather) died.  Sam made the trip back to the States with me.  Sam spent the last week of Po's life drawing him pictures and giving him toy cars, and holding his hand just to comfort him.  I was so proud of my little guy.  He was a little scared at first but pushed past it to be helpful and loving.  Now, I did not allow Sam to see Po the last day he was alive (which Sam didn't realize until very late at night).  I didn't want Sam to see my grandfather so stretched and really not there anymore.  I still think that I made the right decision on that one.

Since that time, Sam has talk about loving Po and all that he did.  We even have a book that we put together of all Sam did for Po (my wonderful Aunt's idea).  It was a very good catalyst to speak about death and dying.  Sam also knew that Po was not afraid of death, but was ready to go home to be with Jesus.  To see death in such a light was a really good thing for Sam.  He begun to learn that death was not to be feared if you know our loving Savior.

Sometime in the not so far future we will be facing the death of Andreas' grandparents.  No, that is not happening right now, but we can perceive it on the horizon.  We went to the hospital to visit with Mormor the other day.  David was definitely scared, but Sam, even though initially startled by the tubes and things, pushed past it to hold her hand, talk with her, and love on her.  Again, I was so proud of his caring and gentle heart.  As we left Mormor I could see the wheels turning in Sam's head.  I didn't push, I knew it would come in due time.  The next morning I was driving Sam to gymnastics and this is the discussion we had:

S: ''Mommy, will you die someday?''

M: ''Yes, someday I will.''

S: ''Mommy, will I be old when you die?''

M: ''I hope you will be old when I die, but none of us know when we will die, so maybe you will be old when I die.''

S: ''Mommy, I took care of Po Po when he was dying.''

M: ''Yes, you did a wonderful job and Po Po really appreciated it.  Mommy was very proud of how gentle and loving you were.''

S: ''Po Po was ready to go home to Jesus!''

M: ''Yes love, he was, but I miss him a lot.''

S: ''Mommy, Mormor is ready to go to heaven.'' (needing a reassurance that Mormor wasn't scared)

M: ''Yes baby, she is.  Mommy, Daddy and the rest of the family will be very sad and cry, but it is good for her to go to heaven and be with Jesus.''

S: ''Mommy, I hope I am old when you die like Farmor (farmor is mormor's daughter, Andreas' mom)

M: ''Me too baby, but no matter when I die, I will go and be with Jesus and then you can meet me there when it is time for you to go to heaven.''

S: ''Okay mommy, I'll do that.''

Written down it doesn't sound as significant as the conversation really was.  His intonations and inflections.  I could almost ''hear'' the gears in his little head moving.

Then two days later I talk to him about praying for a college friend who was dying of leukemia.  This friend was my age and had 4 children.  She died Monday night (please pray for her family).  I felt like it was a good thing to talk to him about because of what we had been talking about.  Again, I could see the gears moving in his head.  He asked me why I was crying when I talked to him about it.  I said because I was sad for her children and her husband.  I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but in his own sweet way he reassured me that it was okay....she was with Jesus.

I know this discussion isn't over with him and I honestly look forward to more of it with him.  I am humbled by his sweet innocence and perfect trust in Christ.  I love the fact that he has seen and is seeing his great grandparents welcome death, so that they move into eternal life.  Great grandparents that show him a faith that makes dying something to move gracefully into without fear.  Great grandparents that show him the reality of heaven and being with Jesus.

As Sam learns these lessons....I think his mommy learns them also.