Our Life Lately

Welcome back to life, little blog! I think I’m finally ready to resume writing. Hopefully. Here are some photos to catch you up on our happenings.

This is what it looked like to move our family of 5 across the globe. This was our stuff:

And this was our team’s arrival in country:

Whoa, that’s a lot of stuff.

We said some hard, but good, goodbyes and then boarded a plane. The kids thought the plane ride was a blast. Probably because of the sweet blanket forts. And the food. Because, you know, airplane food is soooo good.

This is Kris’s new place of employment. He’s met some really great people there and has enjoyed the work so far. He’ll mostly be taking call and working in the urgent care clinic while we get settled in and work on language learning, with the plan to build up a continuity clinic in the future. (It won’t take him long to build up his clinic once he’s ready to start. He’s already in high demand, and has apparently created quite the buzz in the expat community!)

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We’ve enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

We found a house! We’ve moved in, although it’s still a work in progress. In fact, our contract hasn’t even been processed yet. Apparently the owners needed to get some kind of clearance before we can officially file the contract. It should all be finalized the next few days. Or so we’ve heard. But we love the house! Dad showed us favor and granted us a lot of space. We’re looking forward to having a house filled with guests, from new friends that live in our city and come over for dinner and chats to old friends who come to visit from far away lands (hint, hint). Oh, and we have mango trees in our garden, so that’s pretty cool. Apparently, you can also grow grapes here. I need to figure this one out.

Our kids are still crazy. The longer we’ve been here and the more settled they get, the more good days they have, but there are still hard days. Mostly, they seem to enjoy living here. We’ve seen some really sweet fruit in them and have been encouraged by the ways Father is working in them and using them. One of Kris’s first new friends here had local outfits made for them, and they love them!

Riah lost his first two teeth right after we got here! He was very excited and we learned that the tooth fairy knows how to get to the UAE and she even has Dirhams to put under pillows. Riah. loves. LEGOs. He spends hours a day putting together sets and then designing his own creations. We think they’ll call him soon and offer him a job. He’s getting really good at reading and even read us a whole chapter out of Isaiah the other day! (Chapter 35 – go check it out!) He’s also learning how to play soccer (It’s about time. What kind of mother am I?) and making new friends in the process.

Avie spends most of her days as some princess or another; these days we most frequently see Elsa hanging around. Her freezing powers come in handy around here. She also enjoys LEGOs, but I suspect that has a lot to do with her brother’s influence.  She’s a bookworm in her own right and loves working in her school workbooks. She’s also becoming quite the artist; all talent in that department she owes to her dad. We were able to find her a scooter here, so she’s enjoying the space in our compound with that.

Lydia will not be left behind. She’s convinced she’s every bit as big as either Riah or Avie and is determined to do everything they do. So, of course, she loves LEGOs and princesses, and she’s learning how to be still with a book. That one has come more slowly for her.  She continues to be the sweetest little girl – our most compliant child, so far – and lights up all our lives. It’s funny to see how the transition has influenced her development: some of her new vocabulary words include “new house,” “bubble wrap” and “IKEA.” She’s getting big fast! She’s transitioning to a big girl bed and saying bye-bye to her paci.

In case you hadn’t heard, Lydia has good reason to say bye-bye to being a baby. She needs to get ready to be a big sister! We’re adding another brother to the clan this Fall. Everyone is excited about the addition, and Riah is especially glad to be getting a brother.

 

That’s an overview of life for us right now. At our pre-departure training, we learned about this season of adjustment. They called it “chaos.” We are definitely there right now. We’re making big strides at getting settled, but it’s a lot of work! We are so thankful for Dad’s faithfulness through it all!

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For security reasons, I’m disabling comments on this blog, but I would still love to hear from you! Email me at crawfordchronicles@hushmail.com

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Enough for Spilled Milk

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This morning at church, we celebrated communion. This tradition, instituted by Jesus on the night he was betrayed, is such an awesome reminder, not only of the power of the cross, but also of our fellowship with him in his suffering. It is one of my favorite acts of corporate worship. Today, in leading up to this celebration, our pastor was exhorting the congregation that Jesus’ sacrifice is enough for anything. No matter how big a trial we may be going through, he can redeem and restore.

I have to admit, sometimes I have trouble relating to this. I’m not walking through any huge trials right now. I just had a beautiful daughter, bringing us up to a family of 5. My husband has a reliable job. My kids are healthy.

So, in the middle of my favorite act of corporate worship, I felt myself disengaging. Thankfully, I realized what was happening and stopped to talk to God about it. He reminded me that, yes, he is enough for all the big trials, but he’s also enough for my every day. He’s enough for spilled cups of milk. He’s enough for toddler temper tantrums. He’s enough for sleepless nights with a newborn. He’s enough for the afternoons when my husband has to work later than expected.
Suddenly, I was able to engage. I could thank God for his sacrifice and for what he’s actually doing in my everyday life. It was such a good word for me, that I didn’t need a huge trial to see God’s faithfulness, or to appreciate the lengths he went to for me (and not just for me). His work on the cross is just as important to my daily life as it was the moment I chose to follow him. Maybe more so, because it’s in the little every day things that my character is refined and I actually start to look like him. And when I look like him, I can represent him to the world. And when other see him in me, that life that I’ve received can be multiplied over and over again.

So, thank you Jesus, that you’re not too small or weak to rescue me from the most helpless circumstance. And thank you that you’re not too big to use cups of spilled milk to transform my heart.

The Soundtrack to our Adventure

Here are a few songs and artists that have been heard around our house lately. Because every adventure needs a soundtrack.

Jimmy Needham:

The Gospel

If I Ever Needed Grace

Clear the Stage

Come Thou Fount

Brooke Williams:

Do I Dare to Dream

Bah Bah Bah – One of Riah’s faves 🙂

Rend Collective:

Build Your Kingdom Here

Come On My Soul

Keith & Kristyn Getty:

In Christ Alone

Shawn McDonald:

I Want to Be Ready

In all fairness, I should add “Let It Go” and the “Fixer Upper” song, but they just don’t quite seem to fit this post.

When Coffee is Not Enough

I’m learning that every day Jesus is calling us to follow him on an adventure. Sometimes he takes us halfway around the world, but a lot of days, the adventures can happen without me even needing to get out of my pjs. Today was one of those adventures. Today was (is!) one of those I’m-so-tired-that-no-amount-of-coffee-is-going-to-help kind of days. But that ended up being ok.

It was one of those days that I had to keep moving to keep from falling asleep, so I did, in fact, get out of my pjs. So did the kids. I got some housework done.

But the real place that I felt Jesus calling to follow him today was into my own heart. Whenever Riah gets grumpy-tired, we tell him, “Buddy, I know you’re tired. I know it’s hard to have a good attitude when you’re tired. But we have to learn how to have self-control even when we’re tired.” Then we go through our discourse on how this is not something we can do on  our own, but through the power of the Holy Spirit living and working in us, it is possible. This is the message of grace.

And this was the message that Jesus was offering me today. “Baby, I know you’re tired. I know it’s hard to be patient and kind when you’re tired. And no, it’s not possible on your own. But if you’ll let me, I can be patient and kind through you, even though you’re tired. I can be your strength to love and care for these little hearts in your charge. Lean into me, accept my grace, and then you’ll have grace to offer to your babies.”

I’m not saying I did this perfectly today. I think (/hope!) it’s an area that I’m growing in. The real victory for me today was that I heard the offer and chose to listen before the day was over.

Usually when I’m tired, I just grit my teeth and try to trudge through until nap time. In my own strength. “Nap time. Therein lies my salvation.” Which usually results in frustration, impatience and desperation building up in my heart. And of course, those are the days when Riah decides he doesn’t need a nap, so we end up battling it out. This is when my frustration and disappointment usually peaks, and I hear this little whisper, “If you would let me do this, you wouldn’t have to be frustrated.” The problem is, by that point I’m too far gone. I’m so embroiled in frustration and exhaustion and desperation and disappointment that I can’t figure out how to let go and let Jesus in. I’ve believed a false gospel that I will find salvation in nap time. (Obviously, I’m talking talking about eternal salvation.) And I’m disappointed.

The difference today was that I heard the offer and listened this morning, when I knew the coffee in my hand wasn’t going to be enough. I wasn’t a perfectly graceful mom all morning. But my heart was a little more at rest in him, and our morning was actually fun. And although I was still disappointed when Riah didn’t take a nap this afternoon, I’m learning to choose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be kind and patient. I’m learning that a nap wouldn’t have saved me. I’m learning that there is joy in weakness, because that’s when he has promised to be strong. And he who has promised is Faithful!

Thank you, Jesus, that following you is always an adventure!

and Baby makes 5

Remember that whole embryo adoption thing? Well, we had to put in on hold. Turns out, you can’t have an embryo transfer when you’re already pregnant. We had just started working on our application and had submitted our fee for the embryo adoption last September when we found out. Baby #3 is on the way! Clearly, this wasn’t our plan. But we sure weren’t disappointed! I will be 21 weeks (out of 40) along tomorrow. I just had my big formal ultrasound on Tuesday to take all her measurements, check out her organs, make sure she’s growing and developing well. And she is! And she is definitely a “she!” Wanna see a picture? Oh, ok. Since you insist…

Sweet Profile

Sweet Profile

Tiny Toes

Tiny Toes

Isn’t she cute? We expect her to make her debut sometime in the middle of June.

Happy Birthday, Riah!

Last month, my baby boy turned 4. I realize that, to some people out there, “4” is still a baby. It’s not like he’s turning 18 and going off to college. But to me, it sure feels like he’s growing up awfully fast! I distinctly remember so much of my pregnancy with him. I guess it was a pretty memorable time: our first baby, 10 weeks of bed rest, 5 of that being in the hospital, sweet showers, and a crazy ice-and-snow storm just days before he was born. My parents and sister were coming up for Christmas and got stuck on the road in the blizzard after dark. Thankfully, whatever the problem was, they weren’t stuck long, and they made it to our house. I remember making a pregnant snow angel on Christmas Day. The day before he was due, we sent my family off to Missouri to visit my mom’s brother, and we went out to dinner with some friends.

During dinner my side started hurting. Not contractions, certainly not labor. But that pain wouldn’t go away. In fact, as dinner progressed, so did the pain. By the time we got home, I told Kris, “We need to go to the hospital. Even if I don’t have this baby, I need something to help me make it through the night.”

Turns out, when we got to the hospital, I was halfway there, so we stayed and had a baby. Thankfully, the rest of the process took long enough that all our family was able to make it back in time.

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That was 4 years ago. And I was very swollen.

Now, my baby walks and talks, can feed and dress himself, is starting to read… Pretty soon, he’ll be asking for the car keys!

But the fun part about watching him grow up is that now I know him. I really didn’t know that baby that I held in my arms 4 years ago. I loved him a lot. I dreamed about what he might be like. But now I know. And that knowledge and the relationship that it came from are so sweet. And somehow, I think I love him even more today.

And we had a birthday party for him!

Since his birthday unfortunately falls right between Christmas and New Year’s, we had his party a couple of weeks early. Then of course, on his actual birthday, we had to do something fun! We were in Texas for Christmas with family, so we took him out to a fun dinner (He ordered – and ate – the crab claw appetizer. I told you he’s growing up too fast!) and then to see the Chinese Lantern Festival at Fair Park.

Four years of fun under our belts; 40+ left to enjoy! We love you, Riah, and we’re so glad that you’re part of our family’s adventure!

To the UAE

In October, we travelled to the United Arab Emirates to see about applying for position at a hospital there. Our trip was about 10 days total. We felt like that was too short a trip to make it worth putting the kids through jet-lag (twice!), so they got to spend some quality time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins while we checked things out.

We went with a some friends who are also interested in working there, which makes this opportunity extra sweet. We flew into Dubai and spent about a day there, adjusting to the change in time and culture, and doing a little sight-seeing.

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Under the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

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Sun setting over Dubai

Dubai is a very beautiful and modern city. The UAE is very affluent in general, having money from both oil and tourism, and this was very evident in the architecture and infrastructure of the city. Malls are a huge social hub in this area, in large part because of the intense heat during the summer months, and you can find anything there! Unlike our malls in the States, where you mostly go for a new outfit, in the malls in the UAE, you can do everything from buy new clothes, to grocery shopping, to indoor snow skiing and sky diving! They have playgrounds for kids, as well as indoor theme parks for the whole family.

Inside the Dubai Mall

Inside the Dubai Mall

Indoor theme park in the mall in Al-Ain

Indoor theme park in the mall in Al-Ain

We spent most of our time in the city of Al-Ain, about an hour and a half inland from Dubai, where the hospital is located. It’s called Oasis Hospital because it was built around the natural oases in this particular area. It was started in 1960 by two American doctors who moved to the region to battle the terrible infant and maternal mortality rates. For the first four years, they worked out of tents, serving a bedouin community, and they were able to drastically improve health care for these precious people. In 1964, with the support of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, they built their first permanent structure, and they have been a presence of medical excellence in the community ever since. Since the 1960s, the Emirates have become a unified nation and the cities have blossomed. Oasis is getting ready to open a beautiful, state-of-the-art hospital that will take its in-patient capacity from 50 to 200. We got to tour the new facility, and it was breath-taking. And, for the icing on the cake, there’s even a Starbucks in the lobby. Kris was ready to sign a contract right then.

Lobby of Oasis

Lobby of Oasis

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CT Suite

Patient Room

Patient Room

The icing on the cake

The icing on the cake

We did not, however, sign a contract then and there. We did have several helpful meetings with the hospital administration, and after that, spent a lot of time seeking wisdom and trying to discern if we should apply to Oasis. After we got back to the States, we had dinner with our friends and felt that this was the right step for us. On Christmas Eve, Kris submitted his application! If everything is approved and agreed on, we’re hoping to move in the fall/winter of 2015. Our countdown has begun!