Pining

The good news is that I am now successfully streaming American TV in Rwanda. So long books! *For those of you concerned about the legality of such an endeavor. I’ve made a determination that it’s my constitutional right as an American citizen to watch America TV anywhere in the world. End of story.*

It’s apparently some sort of twisted compliment to tell people that they look fat here. Yesterday, one of my Rwandan friends said I looked like I gained “about 2 kilos.” For the record, I did not. But even if I had, I tried to explain to him that as an American woman, that’s the meanest thing you could possibly say. While I appreciate the fact that skinny woman are not as desirable here, my American brain can’t be ok with looking fat. Alas.

It’s impossible for me to grasp that it’s freezing cold in Chicago and that Christmas is a week away. I feel completely cut off from the holiday. There are a few decorations around town, and we have stockings hung. I listen to Christmas music. There’s a bit of a time warp here with the lack of seasons and weather change (to my vantage).

BB is returning from Tanzania this afternoon. Freddy and I made it through our first time without him here in Rwanda. We did pretty well until yesterday. After two trips to two different bank branches to be told the network was down, another power outage, no water, an inability to light these terrible wax matches, Freddy getting into absolutely everything, and finally, a cockroach crawling up my leg, I was a bit cranky (read: crying and yelling at no one). Luckily, my fits don’t seem to bother Freddy. He was laughing at my while I was crying. Like father, like son.

Am I a terrible mother since I don’t have a single Christmas gift for Freddy? I mean, it was one thing to skip Halloween, but shouldn’t I have something for his first Christmas? Maybe I’ll just wrap one of his toys and books so we can get a photo.

In other news, I’ve run into some issues with my work permit, thus promoting me to the status of stay at home mom with full-time help. It’s nice in many ways, but it is a bit boring. I’m over the initial frustration with realizing that I sold all our stuff and moved halfway around the world for no apparent reason (at the moment). Trusting in the Lord, waiting on Him…again. I keep wanting my life to be clear, but I think the only clear thing is that this is life, and it’s unclear.

I’m very thankful for my life. It’s so extremely obvious living here how privileged I am (and always have been). I’ve never wanted food, shelter, health care, a loving home. I already *knew* that, but I am continually reminded in this setting.

I am also a lot more sympathetic to people who don’t really want to know about the great need and suffering in the world. I have historically been quite judgmental (still am, unfortunately) and wanted people to really see and understand the needs of the world. (As if I had it all figured out!)

Now I see that it’s not about seeing the needs of the world, necessarily. It’s really about seeing the answer to the needs of the world. As a Christian, I have a paradigm to see the world – it’s broken and in need of a savior, one who will come to fully redeem the earth. It’s not a perfectly understandable picture, but it is a picture. But without that, how could one possibly begin to understand this level of evil and suffering? What other choice does a person have but to just live the best life he can and try to insulate himself from this reality? If you don’t have an answer for the suffering, then you are just making yourself miserable for no reason.

This time of year, we groan for the Savior. We remember the Israelites who were waiting for a King – a King who came and will come again. We see that the needs of the earth are so incredibly great, and we call the Lord to come again. “Long lay the world. In sin and error pining. Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” My prayer for you this Christmas is that your soul knows its worth – knows that the Savior has come and will come again to make you whole.

Comfort Ye

This Christmas, BB is singing two Messiah concerts.  As I listened this past weekend, I pulled out the Bible to follow along with Isaiah 40 as he sang:

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

One of my favorite prophecies of Advent. There’s no way that the Isrealites could have really understood what God was promising them.  Nor could they have known how long it would be before that voice cried out from the wilderness.

Yesterday I decorated the Christmas tree.  I love decorating the tree.  Put on my Bing Crosby Holiday Pandora station and pulled out the bins from the basement.  It’s such a Christmas tradition – transforming our residences into a festive celebration.  I loved doing this as a family when we were kids.  We would pull out the old ornaments, trying to remember who made which ones.  There’s this Christmas tree ornament that my parents still hang that I made in preschool.  It’s just construction paper with a few crayon scribbles.  My sisters try and convince my parents to throw it away, but it keeps surviving each year.  [I’m watching you girls.]

The holidays for me are a time to remember.  I remember leaving out cookies for Santa, and in the morning, there would be crumbs and a thank you note.  I remember waking up really early one year when Santa decided to save money on wrapping paper (I think my baby sister was about 6 weeks old at Christmas), so all the gifts were laid out under the tree unwrapped.  I was able to play with my new Barbie and swimming pool before anyone else awoke.

This year I found the Christmas ornaments that my mom made last year for Freddy and Carolyn.  I found the stockings my Grandmother made for them.  I remember.  Last Christmas, we were sure that it would be our last Christmas without them.  They had a few gifts under the tree, lovingly selected and wrapped by their soon-to-be new grandparents, aunts and uncles.  It felt slightly risky, but we were confident that God was bringing them home to us in 2012.  We were filled with anticipation and excitement for the next Christmas when we could share with them our holiday traditions.

A friend of mine is in China right now picking up her son.  Another friend is returning from Uganda tomorrow with her son.  We were all in the adoption process together – supporting each other, praying for each other.  While I am so happy for them, I am jealous.  So very jealous.

People always ask us if we are relieved that the adoption didn’t work out since we are pregnant, and four kids would have been too many.  Meaning well and admittedly, we were quite overwhelmed with the idea of four kids at once, the answer is a resounding no.  We are gladdened that the children have been reunited with their family – it’s where they should be.  But we do not feel relieved of the burden.  We feel cheated.  We are still grieving this loss.  It was a burden we wanted.  It was a burden we prayed for, hoped for, longed for.

Unlike the Isrealites, I am blessed to know exactly how the story ends.  I know that God is not promising me an earthly victory.  There’s no promise that next Christmas we will be parents.  But I have promises that are much bigger than parenthood. I will take comfort in those promises knowing that God will supply all my needs.

 

Advent

For Advent this year, I want to reflect on the Old Testament verses that prophesied the coming of Jesus.  

Today, we’ll start in the beginning – Genesis 3:15.  This is God’s proclamation to the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned.  It’s the very first reference to Jesus.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

I never really thought much about this verse before, but when since we learned it’s significance when we studied Genesis, I feel like it comes up all the time.  Not only does it prophesy that Jesus will come as a man, but it addresses Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan.  It also references the fact that Satan will get a good shot in and bruise Jesus (Jesus will suffer and die), but of course, Satan will be crushed.