On Being Perfect

A lot of people think I’ve got my life “together”. Maybe I do, maybe i don’t.
But as it turns out, I fail every single day.
I’m the girl who once drove off with a glass casserole dish on the roof of her car and, yep, it shattered into a thousand pieces in the middle of an intersection. One time I walked into the bedroom only to catch my 5 month old who was LITERALLY FALLING out of his swing because I didn’t buckle him in. I usually wait until dirty dishes cover every available counter space before i start washing them. I get irritable with my kids and seem to lose my patience every single day. Sometimes I feel like I try so hard to be perfect that my imperfections stand out even more.
You know what I’m starting to realize though?
No one is perfect except for The One.
I’m so grateful for God’s perfection because it’s super hard trying to be something you’re not. Understanding His perfection helps me to accept his grace in my moments of failure. It also encourages me to show grace to my own kids when my fuse is running short.
Because you know what else I’m starting to realize?
Raising kids is just as much about teaching yourself how to be a good person as it is about teaching them. 11108219_3411021752966_6257950281463444392_n
Sometimes (a lot of times) i need a wake-up call to notice my own self-centeredness. It’s not just my kids who are being selfish, but me too. It’s not just my 2 year old wanting his way RIGHT NOW, but me too. It’s not just the baby wanting to be fed RIGHT NOW, but me too (I get hungry).
Just as Christ set himself aside to love us, so we must also set ourselves aside to love our kids and show them grace.
I’m not perfect. God is.
He shows me grace. I (am learning to) show my kids grace.

Comfort Zones

When we tell people where we’ve been and where we want to go we almost ALWAYS get this question: “So what do you have against the U.S.?”

Sometimes I give a snarky response but generally I’m feeling kind and I say something sweet like, “Oh we just really like to travel and see other parts of the world.”

But the real answer is more complex. First of all, we have nothing against the U.S. We may not love certain aspects of life there, but we both grew up there and our family lives there. In daily conversations, it is “home”. We are so grateful for the freedoms given to us just because we can call ourselves “American”. Most of all, we love it because God chose to have us be born and grow up there! If we hate our country of origin, we doubt God’s plan for us.

The real answer is that I like to get out of my comfort zone. Being an introvert, this is hard for me to admit. The truth is that I feel God’s presence when I’m forced to rely on His guidance. When I wonder if I’m getting on the right bus or jumping in the right taxi? When I’m trying to find my way in a city that is not my home? When I wonder if I’ll get a warm shower this week? When I wonder if anyone will understand my American accent in their native tongue? When I see people who literally have to trust in Him for their daily bread? When I see brokenness all around me and then feel it for myself? In those times of struggle, I feel His presence more clearly than ever. And I love it.

I need to feel His presence or I start thinking, “What am I living for?”

When we get farther away from ourselves, we get closer to Him.

Change, and the uprooting that often occurs in our lives is a blessing. It allows us to rely on God and realize that WE are really not the ones in charge. What a relief!

I see God constantly in the newness of life. New jobs, new cities, a new country, new roles, new babies.

Have you ever said, “I have never heard God speak to me.” Or do you feel like God doesn’t show Himself to you? Maybe, like me, God is asking you to get out of your comfort zone a little and take a step away from yourself. I’m willing to bet He’s inviting you to see Him more clearly.

 

Kansas City airport, January 2015. Heading to Northern Ireland!

Kansas City airport, January 2015. Heading to Northern Ireland!

Our life, packed into these bags (turns out we brought way more than necessary anyway!)

Our life, packed into these bags (turns out we brought way more than necessary anyway!)

 

“I’m Warming Up!”

We are settling in to life in Millbrook. We’ve learned how to work the heat in our house, grown accustomed to pulling a cord to start the shower, and figured out how best to dry our clothes without a dryer. We’re now familiar (enough) with the Celsius degrees on the oven and can do currency conversion in our heads. We’ve discovered what all the doors in the homes are for (keeping the heat in!), and we’ve been educated on how to make a proper cup of tea. We’ve also noted the many differences between the English we speak as Americans and the English spoken here in Northern Ireland. I’ve never been more aware of how often I say “you guys”!

Hosea is doing better than we are, already incorporating words like biscuit (cookie), pram (stroller), trousers (pants), and making sure to specify that we are in “Northern” Ireland, and not Ireland. He says things like, “Is this a Northern Irish bus? Is this Northern Irish rain? Is this what people in Northern Ireland eat for breakfast?”

Our new Northern Irish friends have been apologizing for the “miserable” winter weather, but it’s actually much MUCH colder in Kansas City right now! I think the difference is that in KC we are used to running the heat all the time, but here in NI our heat clicks on for two hours twice a day. So, it feels colder here than you would think even though it’s only about 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside. For the first week or so, it was so cold when we would get out of bed and Hosea just kept saying, “I’m freezing!” Once we got better at working the heat, lit the fireplace, remembered to put on sweatshirts and make tea in the morning, Hosea would exclaim, “I’m warming up!” My heart was so happy to hear these words come out of his mouth, because I want him to love this place.

Like Hosea stated, we are indeed warming up, but not just physically. We are warming up to life here, working on diving into new relationships and trying to gain some semblance of routine. We’ve left everything we ever knew in Kansas City and, while these two cultures are not drastically different, everything is new. Even something as simple as taking out the trash took some getting used to! (One week it picks up trash and recycling, and the next week it picks up food scraps >>to be made into compost! genius!)

I could also add that I’m “warming up” to life with two kids. I will admit that it’s been difficult at times, but easier because John is a huge help. Neither of us have full time jobs here, but rather the random evening events and meetings during the day, so we are both home a lot and able to share the parenting responsibilities.

At any rate, we are warming up, and we love it here <3

John with Hosea and Moses, walking through Ballyboley forest (Feb 15)

John with Hosea and Moses, walking through Ballyboley forest (Feb 15)

A New Type of Adventure

I have a lot of cool friends, and many of them are currently traveling the world. Because I also have a “thing” for travel, I enjoy checking out their photos on Facebook from time to time. Recently I was looking through an old friend’s photo album when something caught my eye. This person was wearing the EXACT same backpack that I have! Now, this isn’t a rare occurrence. It’s one of those Osprey day-packs that Backwoods used to give away on your birthday (if you spent $50 at their store that year). Almost everyone I know has that backpack! By looking at these photos, I was immediately struck by how great this bag is for adventure. I’ve taken it with me on countless trips, from several visits to Mexico and Haiti and all across the U.S. too. In fact, it even made it on our most recent trip to Northern Ireland, but this time with a slightly different role.

It’s a diaper bag.

Now, part of me is thinking, “Man! What a waste of an awesome hiking pack! It has all these great pockets, has survived so much wear and tear, and has a lot of life left in it for more travel adventures.” And the other part of me is thinking, “What a great new use for this backpack! It’s the perfect size for everything I need for a day out with my boys.”
And I’m letting the latter part of my thoughts take over because, you know what? I AM taking this backpack on new adventures. And I’m not talking about traipsing all over the UK and Ireland with it, I’m talking about the adventure that comes along with being a parent.
Like all adventures, this one has its shining (and not so shiny) moments. Unlike other adventures, this one has me more emotionally invested than ever. There aren’t enough words in this world for me to describe the love and joy in my life that has come about because of these two little guys. And boy, is it the biggest adventure of my life or what?! Every day I am challenged in new ways, my patience is tested, I make mistakes, and I learn new things about myself and how to be a better mom.

So, Osprey backpack, thanks for not being too “choosy” with the adventures you go on. You used to hold a camera, Clif bars, water bottles, and an extra shirt… but now you’re just perfect for diapers, wipes, snacks, and an extra set of clothes for the boys.

Thanks for taking me on great adventures. But more importantly, thanks for joining me on the GREATEST adventure of my life, mommyhood.
<3

brothers

Take My Pillow

More lessons from a toddler.

As I was putting Hosea to bed a few nights ago he realized that I didn’t have a pillow while I was snuggling him in his bed. He looked over at me and said, “Daddy, where’s your pillow? You don’t have one, so you can have mine.”

It is our responsibility as Christians to take stock of a situation, assess our resources, and share. I think it is an understatement to say that everyone has something to offer.  Whether it’s the only pillow, or something far more complex.

When we assess a situation of inequality we have the opportunity to find other people who we can build healthy, sustainable relationships with.  Remembering through this process that both sides of the partnership have some kind of resource to offer.

May we go forward as people of generosity, people who freely offer our only pillow.  May we be a people of love.

“I want to hear more about God!!”

“I want to hear more about God!!”

These were the words that my toddler yelled at me with tears welling up in his eyes as I closed his bible.

Bed time routine is bath, brush teeth, jammies, snuggle with mommy and baby Moses, then I usually read him a few bible stories, pray, and snuggle him for a little while.  He never really throws fits at bed time and so this was a little unexpected.

I got the bible back out and read to him about Jesus being baptized, but all the while I found myself thinking: Isn’t this passionate reaction from my toddler what all Christians should be yelling?

Maybe this was one of the reasons that Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (NLT).

We often hear about approaching God with child like wonder, and I think that is essential.  What we don’t hear a lot about is approaching the Kingdom of God like a toddler who wants to get his way.

What would the world look like if every Christian were to stand up and say “I want more God!”? Would that world begin to look a little more like the world that Dr. Martin Luther King was envisioning when he said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” May we be people of the cross, who go forward refusing to accept evil any longer.  May we be a people of grace and love who desire to live out the gospels. May we daily say “I want more God!”

Joy in the Waiting

Hey, Abigail here.

So I know it’s been a long time since we’ve written anything on our blog (we always say that!), but we just have a hard time making a routine of it.

Ever since we got back from Haiti (April 2012) we’ve been anxiously waiting to see what God has in store for us. We were so anxious to travel again that we weren’t taking sufficient time to listen for His still, quiet voice. Once we took the time to settle down, we discovered that God has wondrous plans in store for our family, but we MUST be willing to set our own wants and timetable aside.

There have been several opportunities that we have tried to pursue in this last 18 months or so that we’ve been back in the States. Some of these include pursuing another position abroad with GO Project, starting the process to become a certified foster family, and serving with a ministry in South America. With each of these, we have gotten excited and rushed into things blindly, not seeing the red flags that kept popping up. These opportunities were not right for our family at this time. We finally felt the Lord saying, “Just wait! I have something great for you guys, but I need you to enjoy this season of waiting, and learn to open your eyes and ears to my voice.”

So we stopped running after things, and let other things fall into our laps. I’ve been able to participate in a couple different Moms groups, and I love it! I’m having so much fun forming relationships with other mothers, especially in my local MOPS group. John got the opportunity to go back to school to finish his Bachelor’s degree, which will open up so many doors for us in the future. We’ve started volunteering with Catholic Charities to help refugees. The first people we’ve met are from Bhutan and (I think) we’ve become fast friends despite the severe language barrier. I’m continuing to volunteer at our church’s ESL classes, I enrolled Hosea in a Music Class, and we’ve formed many relationships along the way.

I guess the biggest lesson we learned here is this: Don’t be afraid to jump in. It may not be where we necessarily want to be at the moment. But our eyes are on Him, and He put us here during this time for a reason. We’re putting down roots, all is well, and we’re continuing to find joy in the waiting.

**In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9**

Traveling Excitement 1/17/13

There’s always a sort of excitement that goes hand in hand with travel. Whether its the rush of getting everything prepped, the race to get there on time, or the actual destination, it’s always exciting in one way or another. This weekend brings some traveling excitement all it’s own. Abigail, Hosea, and I are heading to Nashville for a cross cultural orientation and interview weekend. The interview is for a potential position in South America. It’s actually a little funny that we are going to Nashville for this trip because we just barely missed the interview weekend in Kansas City, which would have meant no travel. Also no excitement that goes with travel. Anyway, let me just testify to how amazing the Lord has been with his providence on this weekend.
#1 We have a place to stay in St. Louis (half way point) thank you Proutys
#2 we have a place to stay in Nashville these both include meals �� Thank you Kimbre!
#3 we have people to watch Hosea!

All this despite the fact that we have never been to Nashville. It just feels like the Lords will is really and truly in this and when it feels like that it is beautiful! We love travel for sure. Even more than travel we love to watch the Lords providence in action! Thanks for supporting us

Change 1/10/13

Change has always been a fact of life that has greatly interested me. Change is defined by dictionary.com is a verb (used with object)
1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history.
2. to transform or convert (usually followed by into): The witch changed the prince into a toad.
3. to substitute another or others for; exchange for something else, usually of the same kind: She changed her shoes when she got home from the office.

I was googling things on change while preparing to write this blog, and I came across a sweet poem that I wanted to share:
When God Chooses Our Change

So often we’ve chosen our changes,
Then wondered if we did right,
But when God chooses a change for us,
In that change, we can delight;
The greatest of joy is realized
In the center of His will,
When we know for certain we are there…
His purposes to fulfill.

Sometimes the change He chooses for us
Is not what we had in mind,
And when it happens so suddenly,
There’s no time to look behind;
But we can always trust our Shepherd
To do what is good and right,
For He is the Judge of all the earth…
The King of Glory and Might.

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
“I delight to do thy will, O my God:
yea, thy law is within my heart.”
(Gen 18:25; Ps 40:8)

One of the things I love about change is that it always seems to bring something new, whether that be something we want or not. I know that change is constanty occuring in our lives as God weaves us sinners into his perfect tapestry. I want to talk a little about the cahnge that has occurrd in our lives since we moved back from Haiti. The first change coming with our actual move back to the states, relearning how to live in this country of abundance without becoming embittered has been a challenge. Relearning that it is a daily struggle to keep our minds and hearts focused on the Lord and not on our material circumstances. The next change is that we have moved twice in the time we have been back. And the third, perhaps most fun, and wonderful is starting this fun adventure as a family. Hosea is a little over 5 months old now, smiles constantly (except around cameras), and we just get so excited when we begin to think about the opportunity to raise him up to love the Lord. It is both a huge responsibility, and privilege to have this chance. All of these changes have without a doubt been good. When we turn our hearts to the maker and allow him to shepherd us it is bound to be good! I want to leave you with this final qoute from C.S. Lewis that I read on twitter this morning. “You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come & live in it Himself”

Seeking to Serve

Tomorrow will mark our 38th week of pregnancy. We wait with excitement as the Lord continues to grow our baby boy, and entrust us with one of His children. We are just enjoying life right now, and leaning on the providence of God.

I am constantly amazed at how much God provides for us. He has given us a place to stay, food to eat, and a family! What incredible gifts. There is not much more that we can ask for. We are currently just trying to follow after His will, so if that means moving our young family abroad, then we absolutely yearn to do that. On the other hand, if it means staying in the states for awhile, then with joyful hearts we would do that as well.

Pray for clear vision, and a boldness to walk through doors that God has opened.

Yours in the Battle,
The Carrs