Monday, February 23, 2009

sibling love

My sister just posted some cute pics of the kids on her blog...check them out here. I LOVE having two kids. It's so fun now that they are interacting. Lily can make Luke laugh like no one else can! He gets so tickled at her big smiles and silly voices. I get tickled listening to her talk to him in her "baby voice." She likes to say, "Here you go, little Phillip." You're probably thinking, why would she call him Phillip? Well, that's what she thinks we're saying when we say "little fella." Ha! She keeps me laughing! The other day we were driving down the road and she was trying to convince me of something. After I disagreed with her, she answered, "Just trust me on this, mom." Wow. And to think she's only 3 (next month)!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

He's home!!!

Praise Jesus! Josh returned home safely Thursday afternoon. It was a glorious reunion! All of the other wives were there eagerly awaiting their return along with many of our dear friends. Their plane arrived at 2:00, but they didn't get through customs til after 3:00. That's a while to wait with an infant and a toddler! Thankfully, Hannah, Preston and Evan were there to keep Lily entertained. Finally, they came through the doors and our small crowd erupted in cheers! I was holding Luke and grabbed Lily in the other arm, and we ran to see Josh! I was sooooo relieved to squeeze his neck and kiss his face. We both teared up with joy. It took Lily a few seconds to confirm that this guy with a full beard was indeed Daddy, but then she jumped in his arms willingly and hugged away. It's been so great reconnecting as a family and hearing Josh tell stories about the people and places they encountered. And it's sooooo good to have him home!!!

Make sure you get a close look at my t-shirt. No, that's not a hobbit, that's Josh as an adolescent! It says: "One ring to rule them all" (keeping with the hobbit theme). Matt had me scouring for a humiliating picture of Josh and then made these shirts to wear to the airport. Sorry, Josh, we all went through that awkward stage. :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

our little climber

A few weeks ago we went out to REI to get Josh some gear for Africa. As soon as we walked in and saw the climbing wall, Lily was intrigued.
"I want to climb!"
"We'll see," I told her, but I thought it was very unlikely for her to climb at her age.
So we watched some other kids climb, explored the store, tried on the bike helmets, and then made our way back over to the wall.
"Now, can I climb?"
Her persistence up to this point led me to at least ask the guy about the minimum age- which there was none.
"OK, Lily, are you sure you want to do this?"
We went and found Josh, who had just spent a small fortune in travel necessities, filled out the waiver, and got in line. Lily, still excited, was watching a four year old girl who had gotten a few feet off the ground. We struck up conversation with her dad who said that she'd climbed several times before- her first one being at Lily's age (almost 3). This gave me a little more hope for Lily, but honestly, I thought for sure she'd get up there, get bashful and shy away. Well, Lily's time came to prove me wrong. She stepped into that harness without the slightest hint of timidity. Luke and I found a rock to sit on, while Josh helped Lily get started. 

I was thinking, "OK, she'll hang there for a few moments, try to grab a few rocks, and come back down." But up she went! Josh coached her as to which rocks to grab, and she followed his instruction making it over half way up the wall! I was shocked! She was a natural! Not the least bit intimidated. Twice she lost her footing and dangled for a moment but was able to swing her self around and continue upward. The guide who was belaying her (is that how you say it?) said he had never seen someone her age so comfortable climbing- especially able to get back on the wall after losing their footing. 

By this point, lots of fellow shoppers were gathering around to see this little half pint in action. Josh and I were so proud! She came down like a champ and would have done it again if we'd let her! Josh's parents have told us that he was quite a climber as a toddler so maybe it's in her genes. Good thing we got the REI membership and can climb free, cause I'm sure she'll be asking to go back again!

Here are some pictures so you can see how far she made it up the wall...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Josh in Africa

I miss my husband. Josh left for Africa last Monday on a mission trip with four other guys from the church. It's been somewhat of a rollercoaster of emotions...excitement for him being able to see firsthand what God is doing in Africa...knowing how invaluable this experience will be to his faith and worldview...thankful he will be able to relay these things to our children. But, if I'm honest, the overwhelming and constant emotion seems to be sadness. I just miss him. I miss my best friend. My confidant. I miss being able to pick up the phone at any instant and call to say, "Guess what?!?" I miss hiding with Lily to surprise Daddy when he arrives home from work. I miss sitting on the couch with him and laughing at Luke's latest growling noises. I miss rolling my eyes as Josh flexes in front of the mirror. I miss hearing him get excited about _______ (Crossfit, guard dog, etc, etc, etc). I miss lying in bed next to him, hearing him say, “I’ll be right here if you need me.” (Sigh)

But it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And my affections for the Lord have grown as well. I kind of think of it as fasting from my husband. (Just hear me out...) So many times Josh is my "go-to" in any situation. My first instinct is to take things to him, and often it stops there without even bringing it before the Lord. So this has been good. My communication with Josh is so limited, that I'm forced to confide in the Lord (which is probably how it should be. :) In a very small way, He is showing me that He is enough. He is all I really need. And that my husband is just an added bonus in this life.

Here is the group of guys Josh went with:

Matt Elkins, Jeremy Pace, Dick McFarland, John Wright, Josh
They will be in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Zambia visiting orphanages, encouraging the Smith family and evaluating long-term mission opportunities. Please pray for them and their families while they're away.

Here's Lily saying good-bye to Josh. I wish I had it on video. Right after she squeezed his neck, she kissed his cheek about 10 times. He loved it. :) 

I think leaving for this trip was so much harder for Josh than times past because Lily is now old enough to know he's gone. She asks about him in Africa and says that she misses him several times a day. I think that tears him up inside. But the call to go is greater than safety or comfort or even family. Josh goes into that a little bit in this email he sent out before leaving...

Family and Friends—
I am going because I believe. I am nervous and sad and excited and hopeful. Trust me, my emotions are pretty raw right now. Despite it all and because of Him, I will board a plane tomorrow afternoon for Africa. I am being stretched and forced to reckon with the chasm between my belief and my practice. All of this and I have not even gotten on the plane. Crazy.

Africa is a mysterious place that exists in the constant tension of joy and pain. It has endured unspeakable sorrow, yet the Spirit of Christ has seen fit to spark a revival throughout. I believe I will be confronted with both realities and that my heart will be changed. I am not, however, doing this alone. My wife and family are sacrificing as well. It is no small thing to be apart for 17 days. I am also travelling with 4 other men from the church: John Wright (elder candidate), Dick McFarland (elder candidate), Jeremy Pace (Director of Missions) and Matt Elkins (Missions Associate). It should be an incredible time for us to bond and experience the Lord together. When it is all said and done…we believe that Christ is better than life. This is a small way to walk out that reality.

I love you all,

Josh also posted from Uganda on the Village blog here