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.
“…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.
Guess what? I am writing to you from a couch. That’s right, a couch. In a living room. It is 9:30 p.m. and there is no sleeping husband by my elbow and my kids are not within 20 feet of me. Can we have a moment of silence?
Thank you Lord for your good gifts!!
That’s right. We are in a house! Thanks to some very kind and generous friends who have a little, (okay, awesome,) casita next to their home in Arizona. 🙂 We get to sleep in real beds, and there is a bath tub, AND my own washer and dryer to use! No more carting my laundry back and forth! Are two moments of silence two too many?
For less suffering in laundry, I think not.
So needless to say, I’m living the dream. I almost don’t even feel like writing about RV life because I am soaking all this goodness in. RV life? What is that? It’s a distant memory. Right now, I have a kitchen, a house, a bathroom all to myself. It’s almost too much you guys.
I’ll be honest though, I almost wasn’t looking forward to staying at our friend’s casita, because I was worried it will make getting back into the RV that much harder. Maybe it will, BUT you know what? It’s pretty awesome, and a break from tight quarters is definitely what the doctor ordered.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, how God gives us seasons. Seasons of work, and seasons of rest. Seasons of suffering and seasons of peace. Seasons of poverty and seasons of prosperity. Literally, seasons of light, and seasons of darkness, of warmth and coldness. And in that way, it helps us appreciate each of them. If we always lived in the warmth of the sunlight, without an overcast day, we wouldn’t realize how beautiful and wonderful the sun really is. And we would actually love those cool and rainy days, because they have a different kind of beauty.
And so as we come from a season of cramped space, sand, and driving our dirty clothes to a laundromat, we can bask in the goodness of a season that has the absence of it.
Times like these are the streams in the desert. The oasis in the wilderness. Like the one we visited last week in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park.
This is our Cottonwood Springs. A place of refreshment. A place to spread out and relax. A place to drink deep of couch-sitting, bath-tubing, and a full-size fridging. A place where we can finally get the alllll sand out of our bed.
And so instead of worrying about what “suffering” will come on the other side of this sweet spot, and wondering if the enlarged space will make our home on wheels feel even smaller, I am going to ENJOY this time, knowing that in all of it He goes with us, and in all of it, He is good. And He gives us seasons of rest—so we can do exactly that: REST.
Well, I wrote that last week. Last week, and as my eyes got heavy sitting on the COUCH I closed the computer and never returned. I thought what I wrote was horrible. Turns out, it isn’t. I mean, it’s not genius, but it’s also life. And it’s been a whole week since I wrote that, and I’ve almost forgotten how amazing it is to sit on a couch because now I am used to it.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Things are such an enormous blessing to us one day–and in a week, or two, or a month, they become commonplace. Ordinary. We take them for granted.
Oh Lord, may we not do so. May we not forget how blessed we are to have the things we have and do the things we do, for as long as we can. They are blessings. All of it.
Today, we went to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon! A massive, mile deep jagged rock canyon. Unbelievable.
Fourteen years ago this month, perhaps this same day, Darrell and I went to the Grand Canyon for the first time in our baby years of marriage. Like with no babies, like when our marriage was in the baby phase. That’s what I mean. Anyway, there we stood today, in almost the exact same spot–with five beautiful young lives standing next to us. What a gift. Our family has blossomed. Our quiver overflows.
Standing there on the edge of a cliff 14 years ago, I knew I wanted children, but I never would have guessed we would be given five of them. So blessed are we. Five energetic, blonde, bustling, creative and crazy kids. And my prayers were answered and we took five beautiful children home too! (That rim is scary and kids who love to run and climb are too!).
But as I looked at the picture of our little family standing there, I am reminded how much has changed in our family and how little has changed in the Grand Canyon. Like nothing. Like maybe one little rock somewhere is a little more worn by the water? Maybe? Probably not.
The Canyon is still there. It is still massive and awe-inspiring. It was here before me, before my five kids, and it will be here after us all. Life is so short.
I guess it makes sense, but the older I get the more I realize it’s true. Life IS short.
So play hard. Love big. Laugh more. Go to the places you’ve always wanted to go. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Hug and kiss like you mean it. Live for what matters most, and what will live on after you. Love people and use things, not the other way around. Take stock of where you are headed and make adjustments if needed. Fear not. Jesus is real, and the things He says about life and love and money really are true. May we all have ears to hear and the guts to obey.
I am going to need to read this to myself in a week, because boy oh boy, I am a coward like the next person in the free-fall line at Six Flags. In fact, I am not even in that line! Haha. I give into temptation, I believe lies, I trust the wrong things and look for my worth every place else other than Jesus more days than I’d like to admit.
But I don’t want to.
I want to believe Jesus and go where He sends me in faith and obedience, trusting in His ever lasting goodness. Yes, I want more of that.
So if it means moving and letting go of the things I’ve held so dear for so long, then so be it. If it means going without a place to call “home” in the U.S. for a few years, so be it. If it means my kitchen is the size of a pack n’ play, there is forever sand in my bed, and hauling laundry is a daily job, so be it.
No it’s not easy. There are moments of heart ache, of a longing to sit on my OWN couch in my OWN home. There are moments when we are all going crazy in a fraction of the space we are used to. Moments when I wonder why are we doing this and what will our future be?
But there is joy in knowing Him and experiencing Him in the midst of the hard moments. There is a peace knowing not only does He lead us, but He is with us. Emmanuel.
And while there will always be an amount of suffering in following Him (maybe small, maybe great), there will also be places of rest and restoration– like casitas and canyons.
“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.