Monday, August 22, 2016

New Adventures..Again!

I started this blog a little over 2 years ago when we first moved to Memphis. I started off strong with regular posts and updates...then kind of fell of the bandwagon as my second child entered the world. Not that I didn't have lots of posts swirling in my head..just not the energy to get them typed up...

Anyway, it only seems fitting that I attempt to revive my blog with a post about our next adventure. It's new and old; familiar yet navigation required. In just two weeks, the Kings will be returning to Champaign! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind and a testimony of God's faithfulness and provision. But let's back up a few months..

Earlier this spring/summer, Jonathan and I began considering returning to Champaign/Urbana to rejoin our campus church. Long story short, we said we were just going to put the ship out to sea and let her drift..see what happens..see if God opens up any doors. And for a while nothing..the time was not right...and then BOOM! The time was right..and the ship that was drifting along got caught by a big gust of wind and we are just hanging on:) In the matter of weeks the Lord provided employment for Jonathan, a buyer for our house in Memphis, and a place for us to move into when we move back. My words will not be able to do justice to how crazy the timing and all the details. God has answered very specific prayers.

Now in the midst of packing up our house, our desire is to finish well. Our season here in Memphis has been good and hard. Some really great joys and yet some of the most challenging moments I've experienced as an adult. But a good friend once told me "Don't waste the suffering." I've never regretted our move to the South..there are good people here, doing some good work. I want to press in to the hard times and grow in maturity. I recently listened to a great message by Matt Chandler called "The Refining Love of God" (It's great..go look it up and listen to it). He says a lot in there but one thing that I've been thinking about is how God never changes, which means that God never changes the way he feels about me. Though I am unfaithful, He is faithful. In my joy, my sorrow, my loneliness, my despair, my apathy...whatever the case may be, God does not change and how he feels about me DOES NOT CHANGE.  I am fully loved, fully accepted and fully pleasing because of Christ. And that is good news, my friend.

I hope to keep you posted as the adventures unfold.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Remember Who You Are

Oh hello there, it's been a while. Over a year in fact since my last post. I guess that's what happens when your second child comes into the world. Quite a bit has transpired in the last year, most of which I don't remember because I have been living in a sleep deprived state. But I think there are some pictures to prove that we had some good times.

It's also been a hard year. Apparently sleep is kind of a big deal for me and I turn into this whole other person. For example:
Daytime Amber thinks "Wow, Lydia is so cute and cuddly. I love babies. I can't wait to have another one." Night time Amber thinks, " THIS IS TERRIBLE!! WE ARE NEVER HAVING ANY MORE CHILDREN! WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS TO THEMSELVES!" 
Daytime Amber thinks "Well the house is kind of a mess with toys everywhere, but the kids are making memories and there are more important things in life than a clean house. I'm so thankful that we have lots of people that love us and like to bless our kids." Night time Amber thinks (after stepping on another toy...) "WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY TOYS! I'M THROWING THEM ALL AWAY! GET THEM OUT OF MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!"

The drama is not being overstated...ask Jonathan or my mom or my sister. It's been a good year, but it's been a hard year. In moments of clarity, I can see the joy and how God is at work. In lesser moments, I am angry and bitter and want to punch a hole in the wall (thankfully there's the Kroc so I can just punch the air or run a bit on the treadmill). 

One thing that has struck me in the middle of all this is that I tend to forget who I am and who God is. I doubt his goodness or his closeness. When I first started this blog a couple years ago I wrote this:
the title reminds me to remember who I am. I am a King; a daughter of the King and no matter where I move or what job title I hold or whatever, nothing can take that away from me.
my 5 year old teenager as she calls herself
(even though she's only 4)

So I want to begin blogging again as a way to remember. To declare God's work in my life. I think of the scene in the Lion King where Simba chases the baboon through the jungle to the river. Simba looks into the water and sees the reflection. "Remember who you are." That's what he's told. Remember who you are and whose your are. That's what the Israelites were told. Remember. Don't forget. This is important. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Labor of Love

No I'm not just talking about being pregnant. Although it is a labor of love:) And it has been the big factor behind my lag in blogging lately. When your brain feels like mush and it takes all the energy you have to make sure your other kid survives the day, blogging takes a back seat. My deepest apologies to all my biggest fans (all 3 of you...:)

Anyway, what sparked my motivation to start blogging again and the name of this post is a video my brother in law showed me over Thanksgiving. It's not a new story and most of you may be familiar with the family already, but I watched this 13 min YouTube video and cried most of the time. (That may or may not be due to pregnancy hormones, but I think it's mostly due to the fact that I'm human and have a heart). It's a story about a dad and his son. The son was born with brain damage that left him unable to move or talk. Doctors told his parents their son, Rick, would live life in a vegetable state his whole life. That was 52 years ago. His dad didn't want to settle. I'll let you watch the video and get all the details for yourself. But essentially Rick felt most alive while running with his dad, meaning his dad pushed him in a wheelchair. Which turned into 5Ks and marathons and triathlons and Iron Men.

As I watched this, I thought, wow what sacrifice. What love. What a glimpse of the Father's love for us. How appropriate that I got to watch this video and reflect at the start of Advent season. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Baby girl turns 3!

My sweet baby girl turned 3 today! She has been so excited about her pink cupcakes (although I still think she's waiting on the cake and candy..she did get ice cream today as well:). We got to have grandma and grandpa in town, go to church and then play at the park after her nap. The celebration will continue with more family in town next week. (Really everyone should celebrate their birthday month)

But it's just crazy to me how quickly the last three years have flown by. I've always heard "Long days, but short years" It's so true. How many days did I endlessly watch the clock til daddy got home or til it was time for bed. Some days my full time job is really hard and I can't thank the child watch workers at the gym enough for giving me a couple hours reprieve. But those long days seem to be blacked out from my memory when I hear that girl giggle or just want me to rock her before bed. Honestly, I remember times in my naive youthhood thinking that my mom is a little crazy. But I'm starting to understand her crazy a bit. Something switches when you bring kids into your home. I don't care if it's through adopt, foster, or biological. Kids drive their parents to crazy town because we would do anything to protect them and show them we love them and sometimes that just looks crazy to the kids.

I've also heard that parenting reveals the Father's love in a whole new light. And I'm starting to get that a little bit too. Well Annamarie, I hope you hear this enough from my mouth, but in case someday you forget and you want a reminder forever. I want you to know that you are mine and I love you just as you are and nothing, NOTHING, will ever change that. Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Life without a refrigerator

Our refrigerator bit the dust two weeks ago. We were holding out hope that it would just be a minor repair, but the repair man confirmed it today. According to his professional opinion it would be more economical to just buy a new fridge than repair our current one. Anna asked if we could buy a pink one.
Can you believe this girl asked for pink?

It's a bummer, but the timing of it is kind of funny (funny..maybe interesting is a better fit). Our fridge went out 2 weeks ago. The night before it went out we attended a volunteer training with World Relief to see how we could partner with them to connect with refugee families that are being resettled here in Memphis. Some one at World Relief could give you more details than me, but the short story is Memphis is one of several cities where families and individuals that have been forced to leave their home country and are unable to return (usually due to war or political upheaval) are brought to resettle. To try to start anew. 

But could you imagine leaving your home country with only a few things, maybe only the clothes on your back and if you are lucky, all your family members. You arrive in a new country (after a long waiting list, a battery of paperwork and physical exams) where you don't speak the language, under stand the culture or the currency. You don't know anyone. You don't know where the grocery store is, let alone how you are going to get there. All the sudden you have bills to pay and you have to get your kids into school (after they pass another round of physical exams). I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it. I don't understand our health care, insurance or tax systems as it is, so can you imagine!?

So what World Relief does (as an official resettlement agency) is try to partner newly arrived refugees with local volunteers. The volunteers (not to be confused with the World Relief case workers who do an extraordinary amount of work and love!) partner with the new arrivals to 1.) Be a friend in a new place where they don't know anyone, 2.) Help folks find their way around town, 3.)Help them learn English if they don't already, 4.) whatever helps comes up. Volunteers aren't their Saviors and may only be around a couple hours a week. But man, I think if I were moving to a new country, having a local show me the ropes would be SOO appreciated. (If you live in Memphis you should consider talking to the fine folks at World Relief and see if you can help:). (Note: We plan to meet our first family Thursday, so I really don't know what we are getting into....)

Now back to our fridge drama. In no way is us losing our refrigerator similar to moving to a new country or in no way let's us know what's it's like to be a refugee. But it did cause me to stop and think, How much do I feel entitled too everyday? Or is just the norm for me. A working refrigerator. Running (clean) tap water. Indoor plumbing. Electricity. The list could go on. I am pretty spoiled. So I'm trying not to be overly dramatic about needed to replace our fridge. There are worse things in the world than not having a fridge for a few days. Besides..I'm kind of curious to see if our utility bill is lower since we haven't had it plugged in for a couple weeks. Maybe we'll just do without and save some money;)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My son Mephibosheth..

I've decided to name my next child Mephibosheth. Sounds I honestly don't know what it sounds like because I don't know how to pronounce it. So I guess I will have to find a different name when the time comes.

But I stumbled across the name while doing a Bible study on covenant. There is a lot in the Bible about covenant that I don't have the time, word space, or knowledge to explain here. But I did want to tell you this one story because I like this guy's name. So David (as in king David) made a covenant with his BFF (bestest bud) Jonathan. It was a promise that they would look out for each other and their descendents forever. This was kind of a big deal because Jonathan's dad king Saul want to kill David.

Long story short there is a big war. Saul and Jonathan are killed, David is super upset. Then a few more big thing happen (you can read th details in 1 and 2 Samuel) and David eventually becomes king of Israel.

Some time passes (maybe couple months, probably a few years) and David remembers his covenant with Jonathan and his descendants (most of whom died in the war or fled thinking David would want them dead since they were related to Saul) . But there is a son alive: Mephibosheth! He had become cripple while fleeing during the war and was hiding out somewhere.

King David brought him into his palace. Mephibosheth probably thought he was going to be killed. But get this: David raises him up to a place of honor! He makes sure he has good people to take care of him and Mephibosheth is always to dine at the king's table. That is a big deal. David owed him nothing and no one would have known had he not extended kindness. But he did and it has been recorded for our benefit.

See we are descendants of a covenant too. Jesus came to fulfill the covenant and seeks us out to lift us up to a place of honor. To redeem us and let us eat at his table. And here's the crazy part, just like Mephibosheth, we didn't do anything special to deserve it. Mephibosheth didn't even know there was a covenant until David brought him in.

So that's the story in a nutshell. We can talk more if you want more details. I just thought it was a cool story and wanted to share.

Oh and since you made it through, I share a picture of Anna: )

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Swimming into Deeper Water

This past week we got to go on vacation with my incredible generous in-laws (side note: going on vacation with grandparents is the best because mommy gets a vacation too. I highly recommend it). Anyway, we went to the beach and Anna loved the water. We bought her the last life vest at Walmart (pink, of course). With that life vest on she felt
like she was queen of the waves. No fear to go out past where she could no longer touch. Not afraid of big waves that might knock her over. She felt secure and confident because not only did she have her life vest, but she had mommy and daddy right there in case of emergencies. Because she wasn't afraid of all the bad things that might happen, she was free to enjoy the present.

Me, on the other hand, was nervous that a jellyfish might sting me or a fish might bite or a shark will swim too close or a sting ray. I kept having little freak out moments where I would scoop Anna up and rush out of the water (usually because what I thought was a sting ray was actually just Anna's foot brushing my leg...). The water was great, but I couldn't fully enjoy it because I didn't feel safe. 

All that to say, I think fear robs us of a lot of joy. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be cautious or use common sense. But it's hard to live in freedom when we are living in fear. Fear of failure, fear of getting hurt, fear of not being in control, fear of what others might think of us. I wouldn't categorize myself as a fearful person, but I think I can make decision out of fear, fear of what others might think about me. Or fear of being uncomfortable.

One of the most often repeated commands in the Bible is "Do not fear." God knows we are tempted to be afraid, to hide, to bury our talent in the ground. The Bible also tells us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Sometimes God might call us into things that seem scary or counter cultural, but I believe God is good and he will never call us into something and then leave us alone. If I am secure in Christ, then what do I have to be afraid of? Nothing.