Boy, I Feel Like a Parent Today

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So, for over three years now, we have been the proud parents of one, and now two, boys. As I reflect over these last three years, I think two things stand out to me most.

First, I never expected parenting and having kids to be be filled with so many highs and lows. And much of the time, the lows coming right after really fun highs.

For instance, we’re all sitting around and playing with the boys, and Charlie says some tender, loving, cute thing about our family or Sam – a parenting high. Not more than 10 seconds later, Charlie is hitting Sam, and chaos ensues with Sam screaming, then Charlie getting disciplined, which leads to Charlie screaming, which leads to Sam screaming more because Charlie is screaming. So, all of the sudden, this lovely picture-perfect family moment is followed by a parenting and child low.

The second thing that we have really found out is that we are so tired. This goes without saying, as we think about it now, but it was easy as a couple without kids to look at friends that had kids and wonder why they were so tired all the time. I mean, come on, I know raising kids is hard, but is it really that tiring? I feel like you’re being a little dramatic. Well, we found out that it is really that tiring, and, no, they weren’t being dramatic. Then, add something like living cross-culutrally and in a developing country, and it’s down right exhausting.

But as I mentioned in my last blog, the boys did so well on the flight back to Zambia, really minus one incident. And this one incident illustrates the highs, followed by the really low lows of parenting –

We were about to land in London on our flights from Minneapolis to Philidelphia and then to London. Charlie and Sam had both done really well, and they both actually slept quite a bit, especially for the second half of the flight. At this point, as I looked down on a peaceful, sleeping Charlie, I thought, “Wow, we made it through the first leg, and it went really well! We must really be getting the hang of this international travel with children stuff.” There was my high as a parent. I should have expected a low coming…

Just then, with about 45 minutes before we were to land in London, Sam started to inconsolably scream, and then the flight crew turned on the lights to serve a quick breakfast, and Charlie was forced awake so fast that he really freaked out. It was probably the most we’ve ever seen him lose control with crying and violent coughing until he threw up. (Thankfully, we had a change of clothes for him.) So, as all this was happening, one of the flight attendants was holding a screaming Sam as other flight attendants tried to help us console Charlie and get him cleaned up. It was quite a scene with everyone in the plane looking forward or backward in our direction. I’m sure, for some people, we will also be the story they tell their friends about being on an international flight with children. But 10 minutes before we landed, both boys calmed down and landed like nothing had happened. However, it took Kristin and I a while to get un-traumatized by the whole thing (and, I think, the rest of the passengers).

So, there you have it, a case study in parenting highs and lows. Or maybe a case study in pride comes before a fall. I learned that, with international travel with children, it’s not over until it’s really over, and you are at your destination.

There and Back Again in 39 Days

Sorry (again) for our lack of posting any blogs lately. Our July and early August have flow by (literally) as we made our way back to the States and Canada and back to Zambia again in 39 days. God was so gracious to us and to our boys with all the travel! We were really worried how the boys would do and how we, as parents, would do. It seemed pretty crazy to take a three year old and a 9 month old on a 24,676 mile (just flight miles, not including driving miles!), 39 day trip to North America and back again. But they did so well on the flights, minus one incident on the way back to Zambia that we’ll share about in a later blog, and they really enjoyed seeing all the friends and family that we got to spend some time with.

Our primary reason for heading back to North America for the month of July and early August was for me (Derek) to attend the International Council Meetings for Action International Ministries that I need to attend since becoming the ACTION Zambia Country Director this past February. Those meetings went really well, and I enjoyed the fellowship with the other country directors and some of the members of their country boards.

Right after the IC meetings concluded, the ACTION 40th Jubilee Celebrations kicked off. We really enjoyed the rest of the Jubilee celebration time as well. The worship times, fellowship, and conference speakers and subjects were a blessing to us. I think the biggest highlight for us, as far as the Jubilee, was just spending time with other ACTION folks and hearing their stories and experiences and what God is doing in their part of the world.

We are very thankful to God for ACTION and to be a part of it. We are typically not an organization that gets together that often (like, never) worldwide, so it was a real blessing to celebrate God’s faithfulness these past 40 years to ACTION with almost 200 other ACTION missionaries from around the world!

After our 11 days in Canada, we headed back to the USA and took a few weeks to see family and friends. This time was crazy busy, but we really enjoyed spending time and connecting with everyone.

Below are some pictures of our time. Thanks so much for praying for us and for all your love and support!

 

Thank You! (And Some Praises and Prayer Requests)

Hi, everyone! Well, June is almost over, and this is our first blog of the month! June has really gotten away from us as we get ready to head back to the USA and Canada for the month of July.

We both, and especially Kristin, have been busy chasing a three year old around and an almost eight month old, teething baby around. I (Derek) have been busy with normal ministry things related to the CROSS Project HIV/AIDS Ministry and ACTION Zambia Administration and also getting ready for the ACTION International Council meetings (July 6-9) near Calgary, Canada with reading and writing things.

Along those lines, we want to thank everyone who gave and prayed for the $5,000 we needed to cover our time at the ACTION International Council Meetings and the 40th Jubilee Celebrations for ACTION! God has been so gracious to us, and all of the money has come in!

Thank you so much for your gifts and prayers, and we praise God for all of you!!

Here are a few more praises and prayers: 

-We praise God for Charlie, who turned three years old on June 15th! He is such a happy, funny, very thoughtful, questioning, and inquisitive three year old. We love him so much and are so thankful for him.

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-We praise God for Jason and Grace Van Ankum, who will be joining AZ this July. They are originally from Canada and have been living in Zambia for almost a year working with another Christian organization up in Ndola. But now their transfer is complete, and they will be helping out in our Pastoral Leadership Development department with ACTION Pastor’s College. They also will be staying in our house while we are gone in North America, which is a huge help to us!

-Please pray for us as we travel this Monday (40 hours total on June 29 and June 30!!) to Minneapolis via Johannesburg, London, and Chicago. Pray for Charlie and Sam that they will both do really, really well with all the waiting, sitting, and long plane rides. Please also pray for safety and that we make all of our connections.

-Please pray for our time up in Canada. The International Council Meetings will be taking place July 6-9, and the Jubilee Celebrations will be taking place July 9-15, both at the same location – Prairie Bible College. We are very thankful for ACTION and the work that God has done through ACTION for His glory for these past 40 years!

-Please pray for the electricity situation going on in Zambia right now. Because of the low rainfall this past year and because 93% of Zambia’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power, Zambia’s power company can’t generate enough power for the country. So, we are now experiencing at least 5-6 hours a day of load-shedding, which is another way of saying that the power company turns the power off for 5-6 hours a day. We’ll be gone the month of July and get a reprieve from the frustration, but please pray for the rest of our team here on the ground as they deal with this problem that won’t get sorted out till after the rains start again in November or beyond, unless electricity starts getting imported.

Charlie and Sam, Friends at Last (Video)

Well, in May, we ended up posting quite a bit about our kids. So, I guess to cap off the last day of May, we’ll post a little video of Charlie and Sam together. Charlie wasn’t so sure of Sam for the first few months of his little life, but they are becoming pretty good friends as of late. :)

In June, we’ll make sure we post more about how ministry is going and our upcoming trip back to the USA and Canada for the month of July.

Sweet Sam

Until the day I die, I will probably be saying, “It’s better late than never!” And this video about our sweet Sam is WAY better late than never. We hope you enjoy a few recent clips of our 6-month old, smiling, easy going, happy, second born Sam.

The first clip is of Charlie and Sam in their “tent” under the dining room table. The second is of Charlie and Sam showing off their silly evening antics at the dinner table – and how Sam has grown to adore Charlie, and Charlie loves to show off for Sam. And the last one is…well, you’ll just have to let him melt your heart like he does ours every day.

From Astronaut to Nurse

My parents, God bless them, never said that I couldn’t achieve greatness or shouldn’t dream big dreams. They instilled in me a confidence that fostered this. And I hope to do the same for Charlie and Sam.

When I was young, I had all sorts of dreams and aspirations of what I wanted to be when I grew up – Olympic figure skater, the first US female president, an astronaut, brain surgeon, lawyer, soccer player, and the list goes on.

I ended up becoming a wife, mom, and nurse. And I couldn’t be happier.

Happy Nurse’s Week!

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A Toddler’s Perspective on Playing Catch [Video]

In case you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be inside a toddler’s body, here ya go. We put a camera on Charlie’s head and played catch.

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We learned that a simple game of ball-throwing involves a lot of falling down with both catching and throwing. And don’t worry, Charlie did not get hurt in the making of this video. Enjoy!