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.  

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A girl with No legs

This is Esther. She is 8 years old and has no legs. I met her several weeks ago in the courtyard of her very humble home, shared by two other homes. 

I have hesitated sharing this picture because I don’t know what to do with it, or her. And maybe by sharing this photo somehow it looks like I do, or like somehow I am helping. Really, all I did was visit Esther and bring her some goldfish crackers in a zip lock bag. Two treasures from America that she probably didn’t even realize as such. I do hope she liked them though. I told her they were my kids favorite snack.

When we walked in the small cement courtyard, Esther was sitting with her mom, little sister, and a young neighbor boy. Our ministry partner, Jules, and I both gave her a hug. When I reached down to pick her up to give her a hug, I was surprised how light she was. It made my eyes water. I have never hugged someone without legs before. It was a privilege.

We sat down and began talking through Jules, our mutual friend and translator.

She was very shy, but she showed me how she liked to run, using her hands of course, which have taken to looking more like feet since they are often used that way. On the way to see her, Jules told me she was very outgoing and loved to be active. Until, apparently, this strange white lady showed up with crackers in the shape of little fish and asked her questions in a different language. In her shoes, I would have been shy too.

I asked her about school, her hobbies, and what she wants to be when she grows up. An eye doctor, she answered. I asked a few more awkward questions met with more shyness, and then eventually after 20 minutes or so, we took a picture and we said goodbye, and walked back up the clay road littered with broken flip-flops and rags caked in mud. And that was it.

But I haven’t stopped thinking about her and wondering what it is that I/we can DO for her. I don’t really know the answer to that question yet. 

A wheelchair seems like an easy answer, but if you walked that red dirt road with me to her house, gauged out by monsoon rains that wash down the hill like chocolate milk, you would see what I mean. Rwanda is not wheelchair friendly, even in the more sophisticated parts. Jules has tried to convince her family to move to an easier place to access, but they want to stay where they are.  

Sweet Esther is sponsored through Jules’s ministry, Shelter Them, which covers her school fees and supplies. (She attends a school for the disabled an hour outside Kigali). Her dad has a job and her mom stays home. But her family is obviously still poor, and she still has no legs, no great way to get around, and a desire to be a doctor.

And this is how it seems with so many people I meet or see in Rwanda. Obviously poor–but making it. In need of better clothes, or house, food or more money. But also, in need of so much more than that.

What we “do” can feel like a drop in the bucket. Insignificant, insufficient, and fading fast.

I am learning, the needs we are surrounded by are much much deeper than they appear at first glance. It isn’t just new clothes or food or a few hundred francs that they need.

I am starting to think, their greatest need isn’t physical at all. Their needs are tied into generational poverty, a country recovering from genocide and civil war, the colonization of Africa and the results of brother against brother and the dark forces that rule this world.

There isn’t much I can do to change that. 

But Jesus didn’t ask me to change that. He has already taken care of it. Yes, it still looks pretty ugly down here in many parts of the world, yes we still suffer and go through many different kinds of trials, but that’s when we remember we have hope in the midst of the darkness. We have Good News. We have a Father who looks after us and takes care of us. We have a Savior, who took on darkness and put it to death. We have a God on our side who leads us by His Spirit and is active and moving and working at all times everywhere. In spite of, in the midst of, the really ugly things in life. We have a Father who cares. 

No one can ever care more than Him. And He invites me to follow Him, to love Him, and to learn how to love like He does. 

And so, when I get overwhelmed by the needs I see around me, I need to remember who I am–but more importantly, who He is. Savior. Redeemer. Friend. Teacher. Shepherd. King.

Me? An object of His love and mercy, and an evangelist of His great love.

So while we wait for Heaven to come again, I can wave and smile and hand out bananas and goldfish crackers, and do what Jesus did and sit and talk with people. I can learn to give my presence and share the love of Christ.

These may be little things, but that is okay. We may do greater things in the future, and that is okay too. I definitely don’t have it all figured out.

But, again, slowly by slowly, as they say in Rwanda. One day, one step, one person, one meeting, one smile at a time. May He lead us onward into the work He wants us to do.

Also, would you join me in praying for Esther and about the ways in which we can be of help? So very much appreciated. 

Lots of love my friends. 🙂

When Life Gets Full, Go Empty

Ladies, it’s November, and if it hasn’t already life is about to get busy. Full. As full as my Thanksgiving dinner plate. Like eyes-bigger-than-my-stomach-how-did-I-ever-think-I-could-eat all-these-mashed-potatoes kind of full.

I know what it’s like to have my plate and hands full. I’m guessing if you are here reading this you do too.

I also know that sometimes it is inescapable. The season we are in, the job we have, or the kids we are raising, sometimes pile it on for us. We didn’t always choose to load our plate this way. But full hands and plates are heavy hands and plates, regardless of what they are holding.

And here is what else is true: it is hard to DO other things with full hands.

Have you ever had your hands full of things you gathered from inside your van, and then, WHILE HOLDING everything, try to take a drink from your water bottle? Or unlock the front door? Or stoop to tie a shoe or pour a glass of milk?

It doesn’t end well.

It’s happened many times to me. I drop something. I spill something. On myself or the dog. The morning’s coffee mug that gelled over with cream tips and dumps at my feet.

I can’t have full hands and expect to do other things well. It just doesn’t work for me. And I don’t know about you, but the thing I really, really want to do well in life, is know Jesus. I want to go deeper. I want to love Him well, but when I’m clinging to so many other things, it is really hard to do.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking. I’m thinking I need to unload some things from my hands. I need to take less food from the Golden Corral buffet of life. I need to set a few things down and unlock the door for Him.

Sure, there is a lot I cannot rid myself of. I will, by the grace and love of Jesus, continue be a mom. I can’t let that go. I will, by God’s loving kindness, be taking care of five little souls. Thanks be to Him, I am a wife, a daughter, a friend, and yes, I have laundry to fold because there are clothes in our closets.

But there ARE things I can let go of–with God’s good grace.

As life fills up over these next two months, here’s two ways I’m trying to empty my hands, my plate, myself.

One: meeting with Jesus in silence, two times a day.

I’m on day 3, so let me tell you, I’m an expert. KIDDING. This is hard and I am not doing very great at it—although I am trying. I sit there in silence but my mind still spins. I look forward to the day it doesn’t.

Here’s the book that started it all. It’s a 40 day journey of doing the “daily office” with Jesus. What is the daily office? Well, I’m still learning that, but it is regular times of silence and prayer throughout the day. This is what I’ve been needing ladies. Maybe you too?

If you want to dig deeper, I recommend the companion book too, Emotionally Spiritually Healthy by Peter Scazzero.

Here’s another thing I decided to do this morning while blow-drying my hair. (I could write a book about the good ideas I have while blow-drying my hair—I bet you could too).

Here was my genius thought, while I’m practicing silence before Jesus, maybe I should also silence some other voices in my world. Maybe I should turn off social media for the next 40 days.

Done.

You don’t have to tell me twice, Lord.

Honestly, I’m not even a big social media gal. I’m there—but more often, I’m not. And while it can be a great place to connect with friends, make new connections, share a beautiful picture or story, and even find life-giving resources, there is so much other noise, so many other temptations that are SO VERY EASY to get sucked into that makes taking a SM break good for the soul.

Two simple changes. Two simple things I am going to try over one of the busiest seasons the year brings. One that I am adding, another I am taking away.

I guess they kind of negate each other when you think about. Time spent scrolling on my phone replaced with time and silence before my Father. I’ll take it.

Would you join me? It’s never too late to start 40 days of meeting with Jesus, or 40 days of turning down the volume on the world. Or both.

Here are some resources for your journey:

The 40 Day Social Media Fast (No, I haven’t read it, but in typical Brooke fashion, if the title and main idea sound good, I’ll recommend it ;). Enjoy.

Emotionally Healthy Spiritually Healthy Day by Day, by Peter Scazzero. Good, good stuff right here. (I’m actually reading this one ;)).

Here’s to a great season friends. A season that takes things off our plates, out of our hands, and makes room for Jesus. Because girls, He’s coming. And when He knocks, I want to have room in the inn for Him.

 

Numbering Our Days

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:

  1. Spent 170 days on the road in an RV
  2. Visited 27 states
  3. Lived in four different time zones
  4. Drove 9,000 miles.
  5. Flew 9,000 miles
  6. Have called 6 different places home.
  7. 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.

“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.” 

Ephesians 3:17-19

Hi! I'm Brooke

Hi! I'm Brooke

Mother/Writer/Sandwich-Maker

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.

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