Tuesday, July 30, 2013

living fully aware & embracing the pain

When the girls swing really high they both close their eyes just at the top.  It is like they are taking it all in, savoring that moment at it's peak, like if they don't close their eyes and experience the wind and height they might forget.  I want more to live like that. Fully aware of the highs and remembering what he has taught me in the lows.

I have been thinking a lot about what do we do with our pain? Pain is inevitable in life. And without pain there can be no new life.  Without pain we cannot grow.  And although I know this and it has been proven over and over again in my life I tend to want to run from pain.

But Jesus was clear: Deny yourself.  But how popular is that in our current culture? A culture that say 'do whatever makes you happy.' I can buy into that.  It sounds pretty good.  I've even caught myself nodding when people have suggested about what I deserve after this pregnancy. I start to shake my head and believe that because I feel crappy, am sick, and have suffered to carry this baby I somehow deserve something. Taken to the extreme I can actually believe God owes me something. Insidious lies that can and are stealing my joy in this. In the midst of it. God alone is Holy and deserving of our praise.  His glory demands my constant surrender. The reality is that I am being offered yet another opportunity to deny myself and follow after Him.  I am just praying I can live fully aware IN this moment instead of kicking and dragging my feet, grumbling, and complaining.  Because then I miss the moment.  The chance to see Him work.  I'm too busy shutting my eyes and waiting for it to be over rather than closing my eyes, breathing deep, and taking it all in.

The Message puts it like this, "Then Jesus told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? "

If we want to follow after Jesus we need to realize who He was, His call for us, what he did, how He loved, and what He laid down.  His very life.  Am I willing to suffer for His sake? To actually practice suffering and clinging to Him and not just hold my breath until it is over.
The lyrics of this song spoke to me this week.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
What if I leaped more remembering who has always held me up?
I recently read a story of a man who met with Mother Theresa and asked her to pray for him; that he would have direction, clarity, confirmation, and to know what was next in his life.  She responded that she would NOT pray for that.  That she would only pray that he would be able to trust in who God is and that he would have confidence in Jesus and God's work in his life.  We are so often unsure of what is next, what step to take next but asking for TRUST in whatever it is is exactly what I need. Living truly aware and grateful for everything He has done so that I have courage for whatever comes next.

What if I missing these moments because I'm feeling sorry for myself or focusing on the suffering instead of focusing on Him and His promises. What if death is the way to new life? What if I started praying not for relief and comfort and safety but for whatever brings Him glory even if it means carrying my cross? What if we all took His call more seriously? Then we could truly speak to a broken and hurting world.  Not because we have the answers or can fix anything but because we know there is new life and abundance that comes through pain. Because we have been there and seen and felt and experienced His mercy. And we refuse to forget.
Join me,

Monday, July 29, 2013

cousin chaos comes to town

I'm exhausted but the great kind of exhausted that comes from spending a few days with family, squeezed in our place, non stop activity, seeing the sights, showing them around our city and neighborhood, and spending time as a family.

Two little girls sobbed as we walked to church and had to say goodbye to their cousins. Hearts full and grateful for family that we would want to hang with even if we were not related. I married into an amazing family and watching the cousins together is pure blessing. My nephew Joel asked, "when are moving back to Africa or somewhere else?" I answered probably not for a while since we have this surprise baby and he sighed in relief and said "YES! thank you baby boy!!" So sweet. We missed Jason but had a great few days.  We did up Chicago right yo!
CTA to downtown was a must
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The Bean!
crazy faces!
urban prairie girl. And Yes, she wears this bonnet EVERYWHERE!!
dance performers
Joy (and her sunburn...OUCH!) joined us after she finished class
I LOVE this picture. Go Anni!
cousin love. be still my heart.
onto Crown fountains
beautiful city on a summer night.
Zoo day
Taking them to our fav ice cream shop right behind our house for some quality cousin bonding and sugar highs was a must our last night together.  

Dill Fam you are welcome to invade our crib anytime! Yeah for family, memories and summer fun!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

we Miss Papa

J dawg left for 2 weeks in the wee hours on Monday and we miss us some Papa around here. I miss him even more editing these photos of a recent family day spent helping to create a huge Lego city.  It was seriously awesome! And I have an awesome husband who takes the time to play with his kids, love on them, and teach them.
Lego city building was stellar!! just ask Evy!
We placed our skyscraper and it was the TALLEST building.....errr for about 5 minutes. Such is the way in urban architecture. Still the rush two little girls felt was pretty awesome and the finished city with everyone's buildings filled an entire huge room at a local college.
The family that builds Legos together stays together. Hurry home Papa so we can have more family adventures cuz it just ain't the same around here without you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

a day in Chinatown

Annikah and I went on an adventure to a street festival in Chinatown on Sunday afternoon. It was amazing to see a different part of the city and take in some of the culture with my home girl.
made in China.
I love that these kind of experiences are an EL ride away and that our family gets to see, small, taste, and experience it all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

city kid rite of passage

I am not a country girl. Of course I appreciate the vast open spaces and beautiful creation and I miss the ocean of our island so much but truthfully I love the city.  I love the noise, the culture, the humanity smashed together, and the concrete.  Some days it proves too much and I want to hide but most days I just want to jump on the CTA and investigate every inch of this city with my family.  Annikah loves it too and I can see the desire to explore bursting in her.  This weekend when we saw our chance to participate in a rite of passage for urban kids everywhere we had to jump in and join the chaos.
And it was pretty awesome.  Summer in Chicago: cooling off on a steamy day in an open fire hydrant. Ah, the stuff of childhood.

Monday, July 22, 2013

recent summer fun

It is HOT in the Chi yo and while it means I have now puked in parks, on various sidewalks, alleys, parking lots, museums, restrooms all across the city we have been making the most of our favorite time of year and getting out and staying busy.  The days are long and hot and the list of to-do's are short and we are lovin' summer in the city.
We were blessed by friends from Austria who stayed with us. It was awesome to hear all God has been doing in their family and our girls were loving the extra girly-ness around here. See photographic evidence of the girl chaos!
We have been doing the Summer Brain Games for the Museum of Science and Industry. They are fun experiments you can do at home and many of the projects you can pull together easily and they keep the girls busy at least momentarily. Here is our tetrahedral kite...
test flights.
my weirdos showing off their kite.
this past week we built a sky scraper and of course had to include our resident skyscraper expert Papa. I love me a project that only requires stuff you can find around the house!!
the vision realized
final measuring and we even did a test simulation of sever wind (hair dryer) & earthquake (J shaking the table)
Farmer's Market. One of our fav things about the summer! Every Wednesday we walk about 50 feet to the farmer's market and get us some good eats.
And as an added bonus we met a family friend and blog buddy who generously hooked us up with free green-age yumminess. Awesome!
The nesting instinct meant I wanted to finally finish our dinning room project and the girls helped with painting (and spilling paint). I got all the chairs from alleys, Good Will, or garage sales in the suburbs (they be giving stuff away in the burbs yo!). The most pricey chair was $4.99 and a friend hooked us up with most of the paint!
We went color and went big! It makes me happy!
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Annikah took a watercolor painting class at the toy store behind our house and she loved it! Art & making new friends is Anni's thang.
We also have been making sure to show our friends from Congo around and a must on our tour of Chicago was Navy Pier and a stop at Jamba Juice.  I have promised the girls we would one day try it since it is a family joke.  You see "Jamba" means 'to fart' in Swahili and who doesn't love a good fart joke? Fart Juice. Fo' reals.  Nyasoni thought it was pretty funny as she sipped her mango and pineapple juice while we told the staff what Jamba means in Swahili. We are inappropriate but we like it!

Hope your summer is the stuff of sweat, water, friends, family adventures, and making memories.