So, we are back in America.

Settling, slowly. Sort of.

I've learned that there is a process to regaining a sense of "normal" in whatever home we are in at the moment. And I can't rush that process. I just need to press into the Lord and lower my expectations for myself (and my family). Easier said then done for this perfectionist.

We will get there, eventually.

The past few days have been chock full of unpacking, dentist appointments, reunited with family and friends, car shopping (we are down to one vehicle at the moment), re-stocking the pantry, taking back control of the house and yard, and putting some last minute touches on my school planning (we start Monday). Jeremiah has hit the ground running, meeting with a new church and missions committee, putting together details for our Fall trip to Madagascar, and catching up on all things administrative.

Slowly but surely...we will get there.

A few pictures of one of our last days in Haiti where we ventured up the mountains to one of our favorite spots with our Via family and enjoyed the cooler temps and family togetherness...

The men always gather around this table and play dominos.

Uncle Pal and Isaiah sharing a moment.

Forget trying to capture a serious picture with this crew!

Yes, I'm totally procrastinating on packing. 

Packing got old about a year ago.

I'd much rather look through almost forgotten photos of our last few weeks here. 

Besides, between the election results which are scheduled to be released the night before we fly out and the (insert sarcasm font) sure to be completely civilized manner in which they will be received and the two (yes, 2!) tropical depressions which are forming as we speak...I just might have a few more days to get my packing in.

But, I digress. 

Back to those pictures of my 2 peas in a pod. 

I let them loose while we were visiting with some Haitian friends one afternoon and then stole away (with my camera) for a few minutes and had some fun capturing their "adventures." Who needs toys when you've got chickens, lizards, stray dogs, platforms to jump off of, random straw hats to try on, and rickety mosquito infested hidden corners you can crawl into?! 

You can see the decision making process going on inside her brain...should I jump or not?!

Our time here in Haiti is winding down (at least for now...) and I am feeling reflective and thankful today. We've gotten to be a part of so much, and seen so much of the Lord moving and working that I cannot help but be humbled. 

At first glace, Haiti looks like a giant dump, and its easy to stop moving your brain and heart past those first impressions. But over time, if you allow it, the masses become individuals and you see the smiles and the community and the beauty. 

Our past week had two major highlights.

First, we teamed up with Keesha Via and World Reach Ministries and hosted a pastors wives tea. Being a pastors wife myself for 10 years, I have a soft spot for the ladies that work so hard to support their husbands and the community of people God places in their churches. Talk about an anonymous role that these women play...they have little physical resources but they live and work fully resourced by the Lord in a way I can't even comprehend. They are my hero's.

Therefore, it was so special to take a few hours and encourage them and fellowship with them and hopefully allow them to feel celebrated and honored...

They really enjoyed a craft project that Keesha had organized.

I volunteered to hold the baby. I know, I know...I look like I'm miserable.

Secondly, another UTWWK playset was finished this week! We had some wonderful friends from NC come for the week and work tirelessly in the hot sun for hours and hours every day...a true labor of love.  

Zoe and I stopped by one afternoon to "supervise" things and she made friends with the local chickens.

He really wanted to take this one home. 

Our hardworking crew!

As my facebook feed is full of 1st day of school photos, I am feeling this inevitable shift towards "normal" and yes, I think we are all ready to go back to a schedule and to experience the comforts of home. And yet, we are torn, for so much of life here feels normal and like home and we leave behind a whole other set of family. The kids are verbalizing the strangeness of having two lives. There is a bittersweetness to both coming and matter where we land. 

We hit the ground running as soon as we get back to America. Jeremiah has a packed schedule of training new teams and churches, travels to new countries, speaking engagements at churches, and we are beginning the planning for our first ever Until the Whole World Knows benefit dinner scheduled for the much to get excited for!

I know I write it every week, but I truly mean it every time...

Thank you to all who pray for us, support us, and love us so well. We are so incredibly grateful.

This stinker is 4 years old today.

She is the sweetest, spunkiest, funkiest, and weirdest little girl I know. Said in the most loving of ways. I am wild about her crazy unpredictable personality. 

She is not a people pleaser and not a follower. 

She loves all things dragon, lizard, dinosaur, and creepy crawly.

Her favorite color is red, favorite foods are chicken nuggets and pancakes, favorite thing to play is dragon master and sisters, and loves to wrestle and chase.

She abhors getting dirty and large crowds and mornings.

She is a snuggle cuddle monster. 

She loves all her siblings and shares a special relationship with each of them.

She keeps me humble.
(As if Ezra wasn't enough...)

Her feelings flit and change with lighting speed, but there is never any hiding of all those wonderful big emotions.

Oh my zany Zooble, goodness gracious how you are loved! You are so full of life and I am so excited to be allowed to watch your story unfold.

 My prayer for you today is the same as everyday...

Let Zoe's heart be soft to the drawing and leading and prompting of your Holy Spirit. 
Make her bold for your glory. 
Allow her joy in the simple things and contentment in you, 
and let her live her life for the applause of you alone.

Happy happy birthday Zoe Elizabeth, I love you.
I know, I know, I've been saying every week has been busy.

And it's true.
Every week has been busy.

But last week, cooking for 50 and hosting 35 in house, brought a whole 'nother level to my understanding of busy! In the best possible way!

The team from Richland Creek Community Church in Raleigh, NC held discipleship conferences, a kids camp, worked on several construction projects for a local missionary family, and did much to encourage the local pastors and church communities we are partnered with.

With all the extra work load, we had a volunteer (or we prefer to call her "Angel") come for the week to help me out with all the cooking. Erin was amazing! And she brought me dark chocolate and treats for the kids and loved on my kiddo's...she was truly a servant all week and a total blessing to our family. We were all sad to see her go.

Lollipops and Uno...the way to win my kiddo's hearts.

This is Maxo betting baptized at Our House of Hope last week. He is the first new believer from a brand new church plant here in Port-au-Prince!

Haiti family and Via family...our kiddo's have not lacked for playmates this Summer!

And finally, in what I think might be the highlight of my kids time here, we hosted a Convoy of Hope team here for one night that had a real life Ringling Bros. professional clown who made the most legit ballon creations I've ever seen. And he was so kind to the kids and kept them supplied with balloon animals almost as fast as they could pop them. We truly have met some awesome people this Summer.

Our time here is winding down and I am taking a collective deep breath this week as I attempt to catch up on laundry and life and all things forgotten in the tornado of last week.

I may be catching up, but Jeremiah is completely tied up in another playground project this week! We have 3 buddies in this week putting in a new playground at the Bon Repo church and school we work with. Thank you to all who gave to this special project, as we were able to raise enough funds to cover all the costs of putting this play structure in.

Pictures and more details to come next week!

I have a lot of quiet hours when the team is out "doing" ministry and I am here washing dishes.
Or cooking at the stove.
Or chopping.
Or doing laundry.
Or fighting the dust.

Nothing romantic or picture worthy.

I wish I could sit here and write that I always have a happy heart in these behind the scenes moments. I wish I could lie to you and put on a facade of perfection.

But I can't.

Life in Haiti (or life in general) quickly reveals how caught up I am in pride and on wanting the applause of man. When the facebook likes fade or the days are long and the kids are thankless, I am quick to feel unappreciated or entitled.

But I am feeling the Holy Spirit change how I view these invisible times...

I am learning to use the anonymous moments, the hidden, uncelebrated moments, unsupported by rounds of applause, as opportunity for me to wrestle with what truly makes me significant.

A team member recently left behind a book (Jesus' Hidden Years by Chole) on our counter for the day and I snooped and read a chapter in it. It set my thoughts to the idea of using the inevitable hidden moments (entire seasons, perhaps...) as opportunities to cultivate character traits that cannot be developed any other way.

Like a short spoon in a tall glass, peoples attention (applause) simply cannot reach the bottom of my profound longing to be valued. Only God can reach that place because he is the one who created that place.

So when God's affirmation feels insignificant and I am tempted to live for the praise of man, I must anchor myself behind God's will and his word.

As usual, Jesus set the perfect example for me, re-positioning his feelings behind the will of the Father and in the Word. He had hidden moments, years even...where no one appreciated or understood. No one was clapping for him.

It's no coincidence that I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to memorize Philippians 2 this Summer. The call to "have the same attitude as Jesus" and to "make myself nothing" is resounding in my heart and head. It is in this nothing, that I can truly "taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 39:8.

And his applause,
his approval is all I'll ever need.