If living in Africa did one thing in my character, it was to make me into a thankful person. One thing in my life I will NEVER take for granted is my bed, and every time I travel and then I come home and crawl into my bed, I say a prayer of thanks that I have such a comfortable place to sleep. It's a simple thing to be thankful for, and if you've slept in some of the places in the world I've slept, you know what I mean. I seriously love to travel, but there's something so great about coming home again. We've been traveling quite a bit this past month. It's been a month of some big-time spiritual refreshing for me and a month of awesome bonding time with my family too. Wow, just writing that sentence made me overflow with thankfulness again. What a good May I've had. Thanks, God... these are great blessings.
The first week of May, Daniel and I went to Costa Rica for 6 days for a missions conference with International Teams, the missions org that Daniel works for. God really took that time to speak to me about my life, and to encourage and refresh me personally. I have been growing closer and closer to Jesus in the last year and one thing He has been saying to me over and over is that He wants more of my attention. And the more I give Him, the more change I see in myself. While I was in Costa Rica, God really laid it on my heart to get more serious about how I spend my time. As I prayed about that, I decided to designate the weekdays as "no media" days... meaning that Monday through Friday, I don't watch tv or movies or get on the internet. I leave that stuff for the weekend only. It's amazing what cutting entertainment out of my schedule for most of the week has freed me up to do! I am spending more time praying, more time reading my Bible, more time just talking with my husband. It's so good! The closer I get to Jesus, the less I care about other stuff anyway.
Not only has there been a strengthening of my relationship with God lately, there's been a lot of great relationship-building with my family. Daniel and I just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and I am more committed to him than I have ever been. God has given me such a gift in my marriage. And in my kids! Last week, the four of us took our first family vacation. We went to the Smoky Mountains and stayed in a cabin for a week, hiking, exploring, playing outside all day in the mountains. It was amazing. Not easy, particularly, but amazing and such a blast. Traveling with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old is an art form that I'm still mastering, but it was totally worth the extra effort.
My boys are really growing up. I noticed it so many times this week. Jonah was so tough on the trails, hiking several miles and loving every minute of it. He usually wanted to be the leader, and he routinely would stop, turn around and say in his deep little voice, "Everybody ok back there?", like he was the one looking out for us all. What a little man. And Caleb... he's getting so big. He LOVES to ride in the pack on Daniel's back and he is already a little hiker in the making, I just know it. He's not a baby anymore, he's becoming a little boy. When we'd pass people on the trails, people all the time commented on how great it was that our boys loved to hike and how cute they were... I'm sure not one of them would have guessed Caleb's story. He looks and acts so healthy! I'm so thankful for that. He's doing well, he looks good and is getting so close to walking and talking. And I'm really starting to let myself dream about him getting bigger and the things our family is still going to do. I haven't always done that, but God has been giving me the encouragement to dream about our future again. And it feels good to dream, even while I'm learning that there are no certainties. I think I can do both; I can be hopeful for our future, and at the same time know that whatever life brings, I will trust that God's plans are good.