Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ally - 6 months old

I can't believe my baby girl is 6 months old today. Time has flown. You would think I would know that by now since this is my third kid, but it still surprises me. I try to take in every step along the way. I'm so thankful that a slow life here in Costa Rica has allowed me to do that this time around. We all really enjoy Ally. Emma snuggles her constantly, Jack is always kissing and talking to her, and Ally is always always always smiling at Will. And she is attached to my hip and just hangs out with me all day long. It's pretty great.

Ally is very smiley but is getting attached to us. If someone other than the 4 of us tries to hold her, she gets a little concerned about it. I'm sure this will get worse the older she gets. She does know her name and will turn if you call it. She eats homemade baby food like a champ and usually cries for more. She takes 3 naps a day for about an hour each and sleeps 12 hours straight at night. She is transitioning to formula bottles now and drinks 4 of those a day as well. She's such a good baby and we just love watching her grow (slowly but surely!).

We'll be taking her to the doctor next week so we'll see how much she's grown. haha. I'll update this post when we find out. (Doctor says: 11.68 pounds and 25.2 inches long).

We had a fun photo shoot with her today on her 6 month birthday. All her expressions show her personality so well. Sorry but I had to include a bunch of them.

We love you so much Ally T.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Leaving According to Plan

In June, we are returning to the United States from what will be about a two year stint in Costa Rica. Before the decision to return, during the process of returning, and I’m sure when we get back, we’ve had to at least ask ourselves why. If not for our own better understanding, it’s for the people around us who have the question.

In short, we are leaving according to plan.

Several things come to mind when I think of foreign missions. The thought on the forefront comes from general mission strategy that we learn in seminaries, Perspective courses, and any other book that one might pick up and read on this subject. However, it’s a thought or concept that is discussed a lot but very rarely put into action.

It’s the idea of working oneself out of a job and looking for an exit strategy from day one. I’m not suggesting that this is the strategy that has always been implemented by missionaries and agencies throughout the ages, and it might not be the future. But for now, this is pretty much the agreed upon trend – for different reasons. First and foremost, it’s the idea of supporting the national church with the belief that they can do a better job, through a better contextualization, than we could. Because in foreign missions, there are differences that are fundamental and difficult to overcome. That’s part of the challenges that missionaries face daily. How do we find an in so that we can introduce the Gospel? The thought is this: If there is a national who can do your job, then let him/her do it. Now that’s the issue that I’ll really address because that answers our question of leaving.

When people hear that we are returning to the States, the immediate question is “What happened?” I’m a little taken back each time because nothing has happened negatively. In fact, just the opposite. We have felt extremely blessed during these two years in Costa Rica, and many days, we find ourselves nervous about leaving. We have found our stride, so to speak. We are enjoying life and ministry. However, the Lord has answered our initial prayers.

From the outset, we have desired to be part of a pastor training movement that goes far beyond Costa Rica. As we were dreaming, we were content to be part of God’s mission in Costa Rica or wherever we found ourselves. Our original intent was never to remain in Costa Rica because we felt called here. For how long? Who knew? We feel called to the Gospel of Christ and to be even but a little part of the advancement of His kingdom. So to begin, it was Costa Rica.

Since inception, the Lord has seen fit to stretch and pull and throw us into positions of inadequacy. That means that He quickly gave us work in Costa Rica, but now in Bolivia, Cuba, Guatemala, and in the talks, Africa. Giving us this, He also saw fit to bring into our lives national leadership in these areas. Specifically in Costa Rica, He has brought a national into this work who is on the ground in the rural areas training pastors and leaders.

This has allowed us to focus on a role that is better played out in the States – a role that a national isn’t typically able to do. That’s our thoughts. We all play a role. And so we see our roles best played in the States. That’s going to mean being in front of churches and talking to technology distributors and traveling to countries to begin the processes and identifying leadership in other nations.

But as for Costa Rica…it will have a special place in our hearts. However, there’s no reason for us to be here. We are simply doubling up on a job that has been nationalized. The only reason for staying is to maintain a lifestyle that we have come to enjoy. Now, we are being stretched again. We are returning to the world that we chose to leave, knowing that the kingdom perhaps will be served better this way.

We are floating right now. For the first year, we will be in Memphis. After that, who knows? We have learned the lesson of not boasting about today or tomorrow. We are committed to the mission and the Gospel. We will go where needed. But right now, Costa Rica is just fine without us.

We look forward to the days ahead in Memphis and throughout the world. It’s been a crazy ride so far, and we imagine that Costa Rica was only the beginning of it.
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Day at Los Suenos

A couple came to Costa Rica about 2 months ago and asked if we would like to join them for a day at the resort where they were staying. Ummm....yes! We hadn't been anywhere since Ally was born and we were looking forward to resting a bit at Los Suenos (with air-conditioning!). It was a beautiful place and we were some of the only ones there. My kids, of course, loved the pool so this is where we hung out the whole time. Ally even went swimming for the first time. She loved it! We had such a good time visiting and relaxing.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boys Hike to La Cruz

We have this mountain by our house...and it's huge. It has a cross at the top of it and it's a beautiful sight on a clear day. Several groups from school have hiked up to the top of it and Jack always wants to go. It seems like it's always either been too hot, too cold, too wet or too rainy for Will to want to hike with a 6 year old. One day during a break it was looking like a perfect day for a hike. So Will pulled Jack aside and asked him if he wanted to have a "guy's day" and go hike that mountain. Jack grinned real big and said in his smiley-shy-Jack-way, "sure".

I don't have a whole lot of details because the boys say that it's just between them. That's just part of the rules of "guy's day" so I will respect the rules. I am glad that Will took the camera and captured this moment for them. It was quite the hike, about 3 miles up, and sometimes you even had to climb on your hands and knees it was so steep. But Jack did it, no problem, and loved every minute of it. I love that they are starting to have these memories together. Jack's growing up so fast. So fun and so sad at the same time!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Enjoy the Moment

We went on a little family trip to the beach in Jaco during Semana Santa. With Will traveling and working so much lately, we have to get away just for him to relax (and so no one can find him!). We really enjoyed our time together as a family just relaxing with no plans. Lots of swimming, playing, sleeping and eating!

I took my camera, but didn't take one picture. I've been thinking a lot about why I did that. I knew I had it, but I feel like sometimes the camera adds extra stress. The stress of wanting to capture every moment. I want action pictures. I want seemingly candid ones. I want the perfect family picture. I want the perfect picture of the 5 of us. I want everyone smiling. Eww I look gross in that picture. You get the idea. Sometimes it keeps me from just enjoying the moment.

I find that I actually soak up and take in ALL the moments when I don't have a camera with me. I enjoy looking at pictures as much as anybody, but I always love the memories I carry with me. I grew up with lots of family pictures and videos and very rarely do we sit down and look at them. And do I remember my childhood? YES! Very well actually. In fact, most of my favorite memories were not photographed. And now that we have digital cameras, are we ever going to look back on the 1000 pictures we took from the last trip? Probably not. That's pretty overwhelming.

I also wonder what a constant "camera in the face" does to my kids. Does it annoy them? Am I keeping them from enjoying the moment? Am I adding stress? Does this make them feel self-conscious? Does this make them feel self-centered? If I'm trying to teach them that life isn't all about them, then why do I act like the paparazzi following them around all the time?

With facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, whatever, getting the perfect picture to upload seems to be the priority. And everyone has a nice camera these days and has become a photographer (our family included). Living in Costa Rica has taught me to simplify my life. This has led to a lot of self-examination and a realization that simplifying is freeing. I want to keep the picture-taking in check and make sure my motivations are good. Good for me, good for my family, and good for our souls.

So I have no pictures of our last family vacation. Just wonderful and personal memories.

I enjoyed putting down the camera and enjoying the moment. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ally - 5 months old

Little Ally is finally getting bigger...a little bit. She keeps growing by about a half an inch every time we take her to the doctor, but she's barely gaining weight. The doctor keeps calling her a Barbie doll every time he sees her. We've adjusted her schedule a bit and it seems to really be working for her. She actually gained 7 ounces this last time which is quite a lot considering her tiny size. She now weighs 10 pounds 7 ounces and is 24.5 inches long.

Ally's new schedule:
6:00am - nurse
6:45am - fruit and galleta maria
8:00am - nap
10:00am - 6 ounce formula bottle with iron & vitamin drops
12:00pm - nap
2:00pm - nurse
4:00pm - nap
5:30pm - cereal de avena
6:00pm - 6 ounce formula bottle
7:30pm - bedtime
10:00pm - night time nurse

Happy girl

She's found her feet! She's always kicking (she's still so strong) and now she loves eating her feet

Gross story, but true: The other day Emma and I were doing school on my bed and Ally was laying there with us. I was reading a book to Emma and I starting feeling something weird on the bottom of my pinky toe. I looked and Ally was licking my toe! Gross! I can't imagine all the dirt, germs, parasites, nastiness that is on the bottom of my Costa Rican-walking barefeet. I will just choose not to think about it.

She LOVES her sister

What a sweet little face

I had to include all the food the doctor recommended for her now. Looks pretty normal to what we would do in the States. I did have to figure out what a Galleta Maria was.

This is it:
Kind of like a teething biscuit maybe?

Here is his sample schedule for feeding her food. He actually recommended juice in the afternoons. Even though he says it should be the sugar-free kind mixed with lots of water, not gonna do that. I'm sure he just wants her to have more calories, but there's something weird to me about putting juice in a bottle.

Her sleeping patterns have been off this past month which has been frustrating. She was only sleeping about 20-40 minutes each nap which is not enough (still slept good at night...gracias a Dios). I started letting her cry some when I lay her down and it's actually made all the difference. I know, she's growing up and I can't just snuggle her to sleep all the time any more. She is sleeping so much better when she can settle herself down without her swaddle blanket and she can roll around to adjust in her sleep. Her naps are SO much better! Yay for a rested baby!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Monster Truck Madness

This was a few months ago, but I had to share. Will and Jack went out for a guys day to Monster Truck Madness and took some friends with them. Matthew and his family are from England and he and Jack have become good friends. We figured this would be a unique experience for Jack and it definitely was. Who knew Costa Ricans loved them some Monster Truck so much?!

Nose-bleed seats...but still expensive...of course

Glad they brought some ear plugs
  is Costa Rica you know! I have to mention that they had fireworks indoors at the National Stadium here a few weeks ago for the Central American Games and it burned a huge part of the roof off. I'm sure it was worth it.


Good buddies with their Monster Truck shirts on.
They had such a fun guys day!