Do you have your hands full?
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or under water as a mom of little ones, dear soul, you are not alone. I am right there with you; so is our Father in Heaven. This 30 Day devotional for moms with their hands overflowing, is full of real life experiences and hope in the One who rescues us from them all: Jesus.
Hello there. It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote here and I am feeling better. Stronger. More adjusted. And boy oh boy, is it a good feeling. I’ve been able to loosen my death grip on the steering wheel, and the other night we had chili and rolls for dinner and found a way to stream an American football game. It almost felt like a normal fall Saturday.
I am not one to count days and weeks–or really anything for that matter. Maybe that’s because I am more of a words girl than a number one or because countdowns make me nervous. In general, numbers just don’t matter very much to me. Occasionally, however, they do give me perspective.
If I wanted to keep track of the number of days we have been here, it would be easy. We arrived the night of August 1. For a gal who doesn’t like counting, I love it when things are easy like that. Like the fact that we were married in 2005 and three of our five children were born in 2010 and 2015. Woot woot. This word girl can do skip counting.
And so, if we arrived August 1, I can do second grade math and figure out that we have been here 53 days. Or, if we want to be really specific, (since we are being so mathematical here), 52, because August 2 was our first full day in Rwanda.
Why does it matter? Well, first of all, I am not wholly sure it does. But someone once told us it would take 90 days for our family to settle in.
We are over halfway there.
At first, my husband thought 90 days sounded ridiculous. I am not sure I really thought much about it at all, honestly. I knew we were going into a whole new world and my expectations were nil because how could I know what I didn’t know? Now, on the ground for about seven weeks, we are learning, it’s true. It takes a lot of time to settle your family in well.
Why? Because EVERYONE is adjusting. Mom, dad, and five little children with needs, desires, fears, worries, expectations and hopes. We are flexing. We are swimming in the water. We are finding our way in this strange new world where barber’s don’t know how to cut our hair and cheddar cheese is a luxury!
So when I break down in tears, or my son does too, I remember, we’ve only been here 53 days. (or 52 if you want to slice it that way). We are newborns. Still learning how to get milk and how to sleep through the night. Those are both literal, actually.
It takes time. Lots of time. Lots of patience. Lots of grace.
“Slowly, slowly, slowly,” they say here in Rwanda.
They don’t rush. They wait. They are a patient and gentle people.
I am learning to be patient and gentle with myself (and my family) too.
Moses wrote the famous words in Psalm 90, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
I’ve always thought of that in the ways of numbering our days here on earth, because we never know when we may be taken up to glory. And that is what Moses is speaking of here.
But when I think of it in different terms, of numbering the days we’ve been in transition, the number of days we were on the road in an RV, the number of places we’ve visited, the states we drove through or the number of houses we have called “home” in the past year, I think I also can gain a heart of wisdom. Because the numbers start to tell a story. No, they can’t tell the whole one, but they can give a piece of it. They give insight into the struggle our brains have had in doing mental gymnastics time and time again for 52 days and before.
So for fun, here are a few numbers:
In the past year we:
- Spent 170 days on the road in an RV
- Visited 27 states
- Lived in four different time zones
- Drove 9,000 miles.
- Flew 9,000 miles
- Have called 6 different places home.
- Have called Rwanda home for 53 days.
Things we lost track of? The number of places we stopped, the number of people we were privileged to see, and the number of ways God came through and made a way. Those things are counted in our hearts.
Yes, sometimes numbers help. Yes, to 90 days (or more) of adjusting. Yes to hoping we are over halfway there. Yes to going slow. Yes to giving grace. Yes to remembering where we have been and why that is exhausting. And yes to knowing where we are right now. And most of all, yes to the One who goes before, comes behind and walks alongside us as we go.
Here’s to day 54. Whatever it may bring. May He be our constant in the midst of it all.
“…Because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
2 Timothy 1:12
We made it. We are here in Rwanda. And by God’s good grace, we’ve already been invited in. Into people’s homes, lives, and even a small group. Grateful for this providence.
But as I sat down on a banana leaf bench on our first Thursday night at worship, I was weary. We had just spent a long beautiful day visiting a ministry two hours outside the city. It was a gift, but honestly, it had been a long two weeks. Car problems, a never-ending visa process, kids, and the major life adjustments that come with a move to Africa piled high on my plate.
A new friend sat down next to me asked how I was doing. For some reason, I didn’t say the usual “pretty good.” I was too exhausted to pretend, I guess. And I knew the more frequently I shared how I was feeling, the less it seemed to well up inside of me.
“Okay,” I sighed. She nodded understandably waiting for me to continue.
“It’s been a hard couple weeks, and I was talking with Darrell the other night and said, you know what, I would totally go home right now. I would gladly pack my bags and head back tomorrow. No problem.”
I paused. “I just want easy, and none of this is easy.”
“I understand,” she replied, and I knew she did. “We have all been there. No judgement.”
Ease. That is what my mind, body and soul was craving because nothing is easy right now. Not even buying milk. Things that used to be super simple, like driving a car, going to the grocery store, or chatting with a clerk behind the counter are no longer that.
I longed to sit on a comfortable couch in a home without bars on my windows. I wanted a dishwasher in the kitchen, a frozen lasagna in the freezer, and to know that when I wake up in the morning I will know where I am going, how to get there and how to pronounce it.
The next day this same sweet friend, whom I had known a matter of days, wrote me this and it was exactly what I needed to be hear:
“Transitioning into life in Sub-Saharan Africa is a huge mental stretch that you really cannot prepare for. You basically get here, go through shock and then the goodness and kindness of the Lord walks with you as you look for the bread, and milk, and vegetables and meat, and navigate the water and electricity shortages.
Slowly you will see beautiful things you have never seen before, and the sun shining through the clouds, and you will get God’s love in your heart for the people and their land and you will be transformed in a way that you never will have been in the U.S.
Good things are coming for you. Right now you are in the dark clouds and seeing the red dirt in your shoes. And tears are the only appropriate response. Welcome to Rwanda.”
Yes, yes, yes. One thousand percent.
My brand new friend gave me exactly what I needed: permission to not be okay. Permission to shed tears over having to go to three different places to get the meat, vegetables, and bread. Permission to dislike lukewarm showers and really, really long lines. Permission to want easy.
I was feeling bad complaining to my husband because truly there have been no major problems and God has been so very, very good and gracious to us here. I can literally list off 20 things right now where I have seen His hand these past five weeks, and here I am crying at the end of every day because—I’m not even sure why anymore.
But guess what? He knows adjusting is hard. He understands. And perhaps that is why He has gently and lovingly paved the way for us because He knows just how strenuous it is to be out of place, to be new, to be a foreigner in a strange land. He very much knows, not just because He is Creator of all—but because He was one too.
I know He has good things in store for us here in Rwanda, because that is who He is. And now I know (thanks to a fellow sojourner) that I am seeing the dirt instead of the hills, and when that happens, tears are the only appropriate response. My gracious, kind Heavenly Father is totally okay with that.
Because soon enough He will wipe away the tears from our eyes and the sun will come out, and slowly, slowly, we will figure out how to do life here. One day at a time.
Welcome to Rwanda.
I thought I would have a lot of time on the road to write about our trip. I’m not sure what I was thinking.
My HANDS ARE FULL you guys. Jokes aside. In all kinds of different ways than they were before. And I feel the same way I did when my kids were all six and under, drowning with all the crazy chaotic stories to tell and zero time to tell them.
Most nights, I fall into bed exhausted and uninspired by the day’s events. Not that the day’s events aren’t eventful. By all means they are. They are perhaps, too eventful. And while sometimes the chaos inspires, it is also true that sometimes the chaos exhausts.
Right now, I’m in the “exhausting phase” hoping to one day make it back to the “inspiring” one.
However, I did want to let you know we survived Snowmageddon in Texas. Southern Texas. We were almost in Mexico you guys! There should not be snow there, there should not! And yet there was. And it became another opportunity to trust God, another opportunity to hold plans loosely. I didn’t think I needed anymore practice.
I know some of you were worried about us. And for good reason. It was precarious.
Most of the roads were fine the day we traveled, but one section of the road between Carlsbad, New Mexico and San Antonio, was covered in snow, and we saw at least 20 tractor trailers busted on the side of highway 10 from the previous snow and ice storm. We stopped at three different McDonalds that were not open. No power or no water, maybe both.
We almost ran out of gas because the gas stations didn’t have any. Thank the Lord, we found one that had gas with about 10 miles to E. After ten hours of driving, we finally arrived at the Airbnb we had rented to “weather out the storm” but it didn’t have power. So we slept in the RV, thankful for a generator that could run our lights and heat.
The next day, Darrell got a 24 hour stomach bug. L (Really, the miracle in all of it was nobody else got it—thank you Jesus 1000 times!!)
After two nights of on and off electricity, we had to switch houses because apparently there was a new guest coming in, although I found that extremely hard to believe as we drove through the snowy streets of San Antonio where so many were without power or water.
It is a strange feeling not knowing where you are going to sleep at night.
But another GRACE in it all, was when so many couldn’t or were hesitant to rent out their house because of the black outs, we found a lady who was willing. And it was a beautiful place. I walked in and just cried. It was a gift. It felt like home. We ended up having electricity the whole time, and were able to take baths and wash our clothes. We just had to boil our drinking water. 😉
So yes, we survived the hundred-year-snow-storm in Texas and the below freezing temperatures in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I slept in my puffer for three nights in a row and barely changed my clothes, but we all stayed warm at night in the RV. The kids also wore jackets to sleep a couple times, which, was not so unusual for Lee, since he pretty much lived in his snow pants and jacket in Tahoe, even INSIDE our duplex. I don’t think the kid likes being cold. Or he really likes jackets.
Once we finally got to the Airbnb that had electricity (consistently) I made ALL the kids shower.
As Lee stripped down, I realized he was wearing two-thirds of the shirts he owns. I’m not kidding. He pulled off five or six shirts!! Instead of taking the old one off each day he’d just add a new shirt on top! Easy-peasy. Get dressed? No problem, mom. I’ll just add it on top. 😉 What a kid. At least he stayed warm.
Now we are in Dallas, there is not a slush pile in sight, and it was 72 degrees today.
It’s almost like the whole thing was a bad dream.
And I realized yesterday when it was warm but the wind whipped off the table cloth, knocked over our chips, blew away our trash, and turned over a chair that there are lots of kinds of weather that are not good for RV life.
Snow/ sleet/freezing rain.
Any temperature under 60 degrees.
Basically, it has to be sunny, or partly sunny, and between 60-80 degrees for the RV life to live its best life.
So here’s to hoping for more of that. Fingers crossed. No tornadoes in the South East, okay? We’re coming for ya’ll next.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Hi! I'm Brooke
Brooke lives with her husband and their five energetic children outside of Sacramento, California. She loves Jesus and pizza, and has a thing for throw pillows. Her dreams are big, her God is bigger, and yes, her laundry room is a mess.