Brokenness Behind the “Perfect” Life

March 18, 2013 § 7 Comments

Growing up, I was often told what a great “perfect” life I had. I had parents who were married and loved each other. My brother and I got along. I was told I was pretty and I did well in school. I completed my “dream” of being a nurse and married a great guy. We adopted a wonderful son who we adore. I am literally living my dream of working in Africa.

You may have concluded some of these thoughts by reading this blog for any amount of time. As with any outside view, you are only seeing one perspective. You don’t know the private pains or the hidden secrets of the heart. My life is far from perfect. You don’t know the argument I had with my husband or the way I was impatient with my son. You were not around when I was unkind to my friend and was selfish about something else.

The truth is that even as you’re reading about our “perfect” life there is pain, hurt, sin, and grief that only God knows.

Our journey of infertility has shaped me more than anything else in my adult life. « Read the rest of this entry »

My Role as a Woman (in Honor of International Women’s Day)

March 8, 2013 § 5 Comments

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day as a national public holiday here in Zambia.

Since becoming a mother last June, I have been contemplating my role as woman and what that means for my identity, my family, and my work.

Growing up, my Dad was the sole breadwinner and my Mom worked to take care of our home. She home-schooled my brother and I through high school. I’m forever grateful to both my parents for their sacrifices for my education, well-being, and spiritual upbringing.

I had my own ideas about what being a woman would look like, which in my mind was the same as being a mother. « Read the rest of this entry »

Update and more about our boy!

August 15, 2012 § 4 Comments

 

Well, I’m now back to blogging! It’s been a crazy 6 weeks. Being a parent isn’t as easy as it looks! 😉

I now feel (almost) fully adjusted to being a Mama. I get to hear my new name about 1000 times a day (“Mama, hiya!”…”Mama, look!”…”Mama, I want water”…”Mama, signing time”…”Mama, Daddy went in the motocar”…”Mama…”). It’s a wonderfully sweet reminder.

My parents were already scheduled to have a visit 4 days after A came home so we got some wonderful time with Papa and Nana in Lusaka! They both also were a tremendous help to us, cooking and cleaning so that we could focus on bonding with A.

“Papa and Nana abuela!!” (Papa and Nana have come!!)

She came all the way to Zambia to cook food for the new parents! Well, and maybe do some other stuff too 😉

Reading “ma booku” with Papa

The Leyde and Menenberg clans, outside the Tuesday Market in Lusaka

I wanted to share a bit about how A came to be in our family. It’s a crazy story that only God could have written. Our adoption story actually starts way before this, but the most recent chapter began when we were volunteering at a local orphanage here in Lusaka, run by the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.

During our time there, we spent time playing with the kids in the baby and toddler room every Saturday morning for four months. One of these boys was A. He stood out to me immediately because I recognized that he had hydrocephalus and observed that he had contractures on his left arm and leg and couldn’t walk. A would crawl around on his knees with the toddlers and play with the “alendo,” or visitors in Chinyanja.

We had been praying for months that God would allow us to parent an orphan. One day, God made it abundantly clear to me that we were to pursue adopting A. Ben agreed and we spoke with the Nuns at the orphanage, who were enthusiastic about the adoption. The Ministry of Social Welfare was also extremely supportive. From the time we initially spoke to everyone to when he came home was 13 days – a true miracle with the pace of things here in Zambia!

He has now been home for almost 7 weeks and is doing very well. He is adjusting well to being in our family and knows that Ben and I are his Daddy and Mama. His favorite activities are riding in the “motocar,” watching signing time, playing with water and buckets, cooking with Mama, and reading books with Daddy. He isn’t currently walking but is doing physical therapy and making good progress. He is estimated to be about 5 years old and will start school soon. He speaks mostly Chinyanja and some English and we speak mostly English and a little Chinyanja. He is “picking” English fast, though and understands us in English more than half of the time! We also use ASL (through the Signing Time videos) as a way to bridge the communication gap.

We are currently waiting to finalize the adoption. Things have been going very well with the government, especially in light of his special needs.

We are so thankful that God brought him into our family and couldn’t imagine life without him! We love our boy!!

On a mini-Safari at Chaminuka to see the “njovu”

Swimming with Daddy

 

Zambian mama: cooking over the brazier with a baby on my back!

Playing with “mandze” (water)…all day, every day!

P.S

I’m referring to our son as A so that his name isn’t searchable on the internet, for his privacy’s sake. No need for these childhood photos to come up in a future Google search after a job interview (well, it may not totally stop things like that, but it definitely helps).

P.P.S. I wrote a blog piece over at Give1Save1 yesterday about Zambian adoption! Check it out HERE

 

{Post by the Husband} Hebrew Prophets

June 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While in Zambia, I (Ben) am pursing my Master of Arts in Theology degree from Fuller Seminary.  I started taking courses at their campus in Seattle before we moved to Lusaka, and I have been taking online courses while in Lusaka to keep up with my program.  I finished my Hebrew Prophets course this week (phew!), and I thought I would share a few keys that will hopefully inspire you to carefully study this section of the Bible.

1) Looking Back – When an average person thinks of a prophet, he/she likely thinks about a person who predicts what will happen in the future (or someone who fails to predict the future, for example a false prophet).  While there is truth to this element of a prophet’s role, prophecy in the Bible is about more than looking at what is to come.  In fact, prophecy isn’t so much about looking forward to something but rather calling us to look back  and live according to what we already know to be true.

In the Hebrew Prophets, much of the writers’ concerns are about how Israel has failed to measure up to their covenants with God.  Thus, the prophets serve to remind Israel of who God is and what He has always required so that they may repent and return to Him.  In reading through the many failures of Israel contained with the Prophets, it is easy to see areas where we too have fallen short of what God requires of us, thus looking back helps us to properly evaluate how we can move forward.

2) Community – In reading through the Prophets, a person will eventually reach the inescapable conclusion that how we live in community with others is essential to proper worship of God.  Many of the sins condemned by the prophets are both sins of evil committed against our neighbor and sins of failing to do good for our neighbor.  In our individualistic culture, we tend to think about what God requires of me, rather than what God requires of we.  The prophets clearly show that we must live faithfully in community in order to honor God.

3) God’s Faithfulness – Perhaps the most startling thing I see in the Prophets is God’s unwavering faithfulness to a faithless people.  Israel fails God time and time again, yet God continues to extend His mercy to those who repent and respond in obedience.  In my dealings with people, I may occasionally give someone who fails me a second chance.  Perhaps rarely, I will give them a third chance.  But eventually my patience will wear out and I will give up on them.  Not so with God.  His mercy never fails and remains available for all who respond.

Overall, Hebrew Prophets was a tremendously rewarding class that has given me an even greater appreciation for the Scriptures and for God’s faithfulness throughout all generations, as well as a sobering reminder that God will hold all people accountable for how they live in response to His grace.

{Post by the Husband} Book Review: Pilgrim’s Progress

May 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cover of "The Pilgrim's Progress (Oxford ...

Cover via Amazon

I recently completed John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”, a classic allegory written about a man named Christian who is making his way to the Celestial City.  Bunyan’s definitive work is a simple yet profound depiction of the Christian life.   Each character Christian encounters on his journey is aptly named according to their behavior.  For example, he travels with good friends named Faithful and Hopeful, he fights dreadful enemies like Apollyon, and he dialogues with distracted sojourners like Talkative and Ignorance.  Through each of these interactions, Bunyan explores aspects of the Christian faith and pitfalls that may befall hapless pilgrims.

Reading this book was very encouraging to me as I found it to be an accurate picture of what a true Christian life should look like.  Rather than promising your best life now, Pilgrim’s Progress emphasizes that we have not yet reached our home, but God will use the trials and difficulties of our journey to prove our faith and prepare us for the Celestial City.  As Paul says, “these momentary light afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17

The Father’s Perspective

September 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

With this (temporary) new nanny position, I’ve been learning a lot about the care taking of children in a way I haven’t before. I have been nannying triplet two-year old girls one day a week until we depart for Africa. It may sound like craziness (and it is at times) but I love these girls and we have so much fun together every week. Last week, we played outside with chalk, blew bubbles, and took a walk in the woods. The girls loved finding little “balls” (leftover air soft bullets from the big kids in the area). After naps, we ventured over to the park. I knew the girls would need drinks, snacks, and the potty (they are toilet training) so I packed those like a good nanny should. The amazing this is, the girls didn’t even know they would need the potty, snacks, or drinks. They live in the moment and think in terms of themselves. I was struck that this is very much how God our Father sees us. We get so consumed with our lives, our wants, our desires. We find ourselves in situations where we “need” something and yet God has already prepared things for us. We don’t have to be anxious or worried because He is taking care of us.

 

Matthew 6:25-34 NASB

” 25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. “

{Quotables} On missions

March 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

“For us in the Pacific, in Asia, in India, and in Africa, Christian unity is not an optional extra.  It is an urgent necessity, for our divisions are a real stumbling-block to the proclamation of the Gospel…  Mission is at the heart of the divine reality.  It is the will of God and the Kingdom of God which are to be made known.  Wherever we are, our purpose is not to propagate the Church as an end in itself, but to proclaim Christ as Lord of all life and as Saviour of all men…”

– John C. Vockler

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