Archives For Faith

Enjoying Each Season of Motherhood

“My baby is growing up.”

These words weren’t uttered for the first time when he started crawling or on his first birthday. Instead, they were said on the way home from the hospital. He was just one day old!

I spent the first few months of his life sad.

I was sad he was growing, sad he wasn’t a newborn and sad he wasn’t going to stay a baby forever.

Once I realized mourning the past was keeping me from enjoying the present, I began fervently praying about the issue.

I prayed that God would allow me to be content with the season of life I was in, that He would take away the overwhelming sadness that my baby was growing too fast and that I would have joy throughout the years as my children grew.

My heart began to change.

I enjoyed my son in each and every stage instead of looking back on those early days with such longing.

I realized how blessed I am. How selfish it was of me to not want him to grow.

I thought about mamas who have never seen their child because of a miscarriage and mamas who held their stillborn baby only once. They would give anything to watch their babies grow.

I thought about the mamas who have a child diagnosed with cancer who just pray they can see their child grow up to graduate high school or get married.

I also thought of the women dealing with the grief of infertility, praying and hoping they’ll one day be blessed with a child they can watch grow.

How can I mourn my child growing when it is such a blessing that he is growing? Why should I allow the natural and beautiful process of a child growing to bring me sadness?

God really didn’t give us our children, he’s lending them to us for awhile as they grow. We are to raise them and train them to become independent men and women.

When my second and third babies were born, I cherished the moments, knowing the newborn days pass quickly. Those days passed but they were without sadness.

I am enjoying my children just as they are each and every day. 

We cannot slow time down but we can slow down.

We can decide to live in the moment, choose to be joyful about our children growing and enjoy each season of motherhood.

Sendu Home Visit

While preparing my heart for Ethiopia, I knew my heart was going to break. I knew I was going to see things I’d never seen before. I knew we were going to see poverty firsthand. I knew the homes would be small and the possessions minimal.

After meeting Sendu and her siblings the morning we arrived at the Child Development Center, I was excited about meeting her mama and visiting her home that afternoon.

In anticipation for the visit, I tried to prepare my heart for what her home was going to be like.

There really is no way I could have prepared my heart fully for the home.

We arrived and walked into a courtyard area and were led to Sendu’s home where her mama was in the doorway waiting to greet us.

I was immediately shocked and my heart broke.

The mud house, their home, home for a family of 5, was smaller than anything I could have imagined. It looked like a playhouse and was about the size of a king size bed.

There was a small table in one corner, a few blankets on the floor for a bed, a bench along the wall and a stool beside the door.

Sendu's Mama

We were warmly greeted by Sendu’s mama who invited us in. I sat on a small bench against the wall and in that moment wanted to weep. But, how could I start crying at that moment just by the sight of their home? I fought back the tears that were brimming so we could visit with her mama.

Then Sendu’s mama invited in Paul and Amanda (a couple from our church), Leah (our Compassion trip leader) and Facil (our translator).

Paul, Amanda and I sat on the blankets in the floor with Sendu. John David sat on the bench beside the door. Leah and Facil sat on the long bench and Sendu’s mama sat on a stool beside the table.

There were 8 of us in that teeny home.

We told her how happy we were to meet her, to finally meet Sendu and how sweet all of her children are. We showed her pictures of our boys and gave her a gift of kitchen towels and wooden spoons.

Handwashing

After she received our gifts, she passed around a bowl and pitcher of water for us to wash our hands.

Ethiopian Coffee

Then we were offered coffee, bread, potatoes, popcorn and corn.

And, in that moment, I understood more about hospitality and generosity than I ever had in my life.

This woman has virtually nothing and lives with her 4 children in a home that is much smaller than any room in my house. Yet she offered us an array of foods and welcomed 6 people into her home.

I’ve often made an excuse for not having more than one couple over because our home is too ‘small’. Our dining room is not very large and our table ‘only’ sits 6. If she can fit 8 people in a house that small, I can fit many more than that in my home! Hospitality is not about impressing people with a big house, nice things and fancy food, it’s about warmly greeting and lovingly welcoming them into your home.

We prayed with Sendu and her mama, took a few pictures with their family and said our goodbyes.

As I climbed back on our bus, my heart was heavy, shocked and burdened by the fact that 5 people live in a home so small. More importantly, my heart was touched by the hospitality and generosity and so inspired by this precious mama.

This home visit is a moment in my life that I will forever remember.

Sendu's Family

Meeting Compassion Child

We started sponsoring our little girl, Sendu (pronounced Sen-a-doo) right after John David returned from Ethiopia 2 years ago.

After writing, praying, giving and talking about her with Paxton for 2 years, she had a special place in our hearts even though we had never met her.

When we first arrived at the Compassion Child Development Center (CDC), I was looking for her. Every time I saw a small little girl, I looked closely at her face, hoping to find our Sendu! I didn’t find her in the first few minutes of arriving but I knew I’d soon meet her.

Soon after we arrived, we were led to the records room where we were given an update on the project, told about how they keep records, met center leaders and watched as a young girl started working on coffee for the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

While waiting on our coffee to finish, we went outside and played with some of the older project children. There also were smaller children that do not attend the school at the center but still spend time there. One tiny boy and his brother caught my attention. I started talking with them and with the help of a translator, discovered that these boys were Sendu’s brothers!

Then the coffee was ready and we all went back inside for our coffee served with bread and popcorn. (The coffee in Ethiopia is delicious!)

After finishing our coffee, our group went back outside and there were children on the playground! We started heading their way and they started running ours. Oh, the excitement in that moment! There were small, excited children everywhere and we were all excited to finally be meeting the project children that we’d traveled 24+ hours to meet.

I was hugged by several children and one of them was Sendu! I tried to tell her who I was but there is a language barrier, so she was off hugging more of our group and I was looking for a translator.

I found a translator and found Sendu again. She was told that I was her sponsor. She hugged me and gave me a kiss on my cheek.

Words can’t explain the feelings of that moment. After 2 years of sponsoring, praying for and loving a little girl I’d never met, there she was. We had hugged, we were together!

Then John David came over and met her too. We also met her big sister. There are 4 children in her family and they were all right there! It was so exciting to be with Sendu and her siblings.

SenduHer sister brought out some of Sendu’s school work to show us. We looked at her writing and coloring and praised her for her high marks and coloring abilities!

And, then our time at the center that morning was up.

We left Sendu with a ‘see you later’ since we had a home visit scheduled that afternoon at her home.

A home visit that would change my perspective forever.

*We sponsor Sendu through Compassion International. Sponsoring a child provides education, healthcare, food for the family and hope – it changes lives! *

Abundance

I’ve been home from Ethiopia less than 48 hours and trying to figure out what life looks like after a ‘life changing’ trip.

The trip really can only be described as life changing.

The question now is ‘how is my life really going to change’?

I’m not really sure what the answer is at this point.

Right now, I cannot get the word ‘abundance’ out of my head.

This trip has made me more aware of the excess that is here in America.

I’m struck by the fact that the 4 shirts and 2 pair of pants that I left in Ethiopia for young girls from the Compassion project is more clothing than most of those girls have in their entire wardrobe.

While folding the clothes we brought on our trip, I couldn’t help but think that the contents of our one suitcase was more clothing than most Ethiopian families own. Yet, we still have a closet of clothes – we packed maybe 20% of our clothing for the trip.

Seeing the 2 cloth soccer balls we brought home for our boys lying on the floor amidst all the others toys scattered around makes me think back to our home visit with the 6-year-old boy, Sintayehu, that we sponsor. He showed us the ball he made out of an old sock with his mama’s help. That homemade ball and 6 bottle caps were his only toys.

The two books I ordered for Paxton’s pre-school that arrived while I was gone seem excessive since most of the children I interacted with don’t even own one picture book.

While I’m not solely focusing on material things, the abundance of  our possessions stands out to me as I’m readjusting to life here.

I can’t help but laugh at the fact we say we live minimally in a small home. Your perspective of 1,300 square feet changes when you’ve been in a home that’s about the size of a king size bed and is home to 5 people.

As I’m processing my emotions, I can’t help but think that Americans really are the ones who lack. The Ethiopian Christians we met have so much faith, so much passion for Jesus, love for their neighbors, love for fellow believers and give generously from what little they have. Their abundance is found not in material possessions but in Jesus.

I’ve been inspired, challenged and forever changed to live more simply so we can give even more generously. I want my abundance to change – from material abundance to abundance in Jesus.

I hope to share more about our trip, the children we sponsor and their families and the ways my life has been changed in the coming weeks as I process the emotions of my trip.

*We traveled with Compassion International and saw first hand that lives really are being changed. Sponsoring a child is just $38 dollars a month. Your money provides education, food for families and health care. Your letters inspire children to dream, make them feel loved and give them hope.*