anchored in {hope}

This weekend I’ve had a bit of time to process and I was reflecting on this past year. I’m kind of in awe right now, actually. At the beginning of this year, I never would have imagined I’d be doing a counseling school in Amsterdam – to be honest, at that time, I couldn’t even imagine making it through another month the way I was. January was one of my darkest months – regarding my struggle with depression.. I had lost almost all hope. My sense of adventure, my dreams, etc gone. I broke down and burnt out, my family suffered immensely during this time.

Especially Ted, who was in school and working full time. He’d come home to wife who’d given up and given in to fear, depression and anxiety instead of choosing life, joy and hope amidst grief. Because of this debilitating depression, my lack of energy and motivation for life – even our marriage was suffering. My insecurity of how much I had changed since we lost Eisley, also came into play here as well. I was now his broken wife, my children’s broken momma. “I should be fine by now. Something is wrong with me, I must be broken beyond repair.”…

Our Godsend was Mark, a counselor who Ted and I began seeing in February. This was a huge and incredible step for us both. We even did EMDR ( eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy as well, to help deal with trauma we hadn’t been able to process from our pasts and from the loss of Eisley (for me in particular). This is when I first began to feel my veil of grief, lift. The beginning of healing.

I began dreaming again, for our family and remembering our hopes for the future. (Including the dream of continuing to grow our family – hence our current pregnancy :))

Now, being here and a part of this counseling school, I know He’s truly placed us here for this season. He wants to bring healing and transformation from the inside out, and He’s shown me how to live in this brokenness without feeling weighed down and lifeless. He’s shown me that even in the midst of sorrows in our lives His hope is present.

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I love this verse and the picture it brings. We have this HOPE as an ANCHOR for the soul.

No matter how mighty and powerful the storms are, we can be anchored in h o p e.

A hope that is firm and secure. His hope in us, never wavering amidst even the greatest of storms in our lives. This is what I feel He’s shown me over and over since we’ve been in Amsterdam. He’s shown me that even in the midst of the suffering in my own personal life from childhood to where I am now; this hope He is speaking of, it’s here; it’s a beautiful gift to us, His children. His heart aches with our aching hearts, He doesn’t want to see his children suffering and He offers us this hope that holds us secure (in Him). Whether it be from our mountain top experiences to the deepest, darkest valley. Offered to us in our greatest storms and in our calm and peaceful times.

We will still have our moments, in our human nature, where’ we forget we have this hope. Friday, was one of those, where I gave way to fear in my pregnancy. I allowed it to swallow me up for a few hours, before I yielded to this hope I’m talking about.

One thing i had really come to understand with this year is this: undeniably we have been changed by the loss of Eisley, but I – and Ted and I – are not broken beyond repair. We are forever changed in our own ways, some good and some not so good. We are working through the ugly parts, and learning to live with our brokenness as well. There will always be an ache when we think of precious Eisley-girl. I am accepting this as a part of who we are now…

…but I also feel like He’s showing me how to live with this. It’s really beautiful and precious to me that He’d choose to walk alongside us in our grieving and processing, and offer us His hope while feeling our suffering as well.

I guess what I’m getting at is this; His hope accepted is an anchor for our souls. I am incredibly thankful to know that no matter how great our storms, we are in Him, even when it feels like we might be drowning.

Friends, we have this hope, firm and secure.

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Amsterdam {Week 7}

1468649_10151793222341989_661696006_n-1The weekend Grandma Anisa left was especially hard on us. The boys and I ended up cooped up in our little room for the entire weekend. Partly because I was behind on homework and had to finish before Monday. It was just a bummer of a weekend for us all. Here the boys are pictured eating at their little table in our room :)576612_10151801635786989_849724031_n-1 Having Grandma leave kind of triggered a downward spiral for us all I think. Ted and I started to get a little “home sick”, especially me. That same week though, TWO different blessings happened which encouraged our hearts. First, a package from our dear friends The Maxwells from Georgia! It was filled with little blessings for us all as a family. It warmed our hearts. I cried, but hello – it’s me we’re talking about. The second surprise was our friends Jonah and Merel (who live close by!) hanging out with us and blessing us with Dutch treats galore! With little thoughtful notes attached to each item. Made our day!
969221_10151799598216989_228559197_n-1Chase and his buddy (2 years old than him) playing swords and dressed as Super Heroes :)

1469966_10151810357021989_927556433_n This past weekend we attended the Sinterklaas Christmas Celebration in Amsterdam. 1391423_10151810361611989_399238817_nIt was quite an experience, entirely in Dutch – and rightly so! I still understood the Christmas’y spirit and it got me excited for the upcoming holiday!

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In Colorado during the holidays we celebrate with treats of Hot Cocoa at parades and such so we found Chaseyboy a special treat for the day!

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Funny moment at the parade: At one point Chase was waving at the parade people and they waved back, he said, “They’re probably thinking “what’s Tigress from Kung Fu Panda doing here?!”” Bahaha this kid cracks me up.

Ted posted a blog with great photos of the parade and also some protests he stumbled upon. Check them out here.

We have just entered out 8th week here! I can’t even believe it. We leave for home in just 4 weeks! WHOA!

Prayer requests:

– For a clear understanding of what’s next immediately after this school.

– for Shailo who is sick with a cough and not sleeping well – which means I am also not sleeping well either.

– for me (jami) to dive into the final 4 weeks.

This weeks teaching was on Childhood Development which I loved!

Our speaker was sharing the importance of teaching children (between 4-12) the different stages of life – explained at their age level of course. Just the day before she taught I had a situation come up with Chase which emphasized the importance of this: Chase, Shailo and I were in the bathroom and I was saying that Shailo would be potty trained as soon as we are back to America. Chase got so excited: “You mean, he’s gunna be a big boy??” Me: “yes!” Chase beyond excited now: “Then I’m gunna be a daddy! I’m so excited to be a daddy!!” So cute, of course in his 4yr old brain he thought in the stages he sees: baby stage, big boy stage and daddy stage  I had to explain a little bit but thought this was hilarious and a prime example when I heard her teaching the next day!

Here is a quote I enjoyed from the week:

“We can no more detach the present from the past than a tree can walk away from it’s roots.”

The importance of really dealing with root issues is so huge in our lives. Sweeping things under the rugs just can’t work if we want true redemption and healing. He wants us restored, what a beautiful redemptive Father we have!

Amsterdam {Week 6}

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Watchin’ the final spin on the washer (and the hangers in Chase’s shirt are actually “arrows” as lately he has been obsessed with Robin Hood (the old Disney classic version) 1452427_10151790329561989_8351268_n

6 month baby bump! Even though she is my fourth baby in 4 years – I carry her SO HIGH! I am shocked. And I love my growing belly more than words can express.
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Week 6 of teaching was on Myers Briggs (Personalities) for the first half and Addictive Behavior for the second half. I enjoyed both quite a bit. I have taken the Myers Briggs a few times, but not in the past 4 years. It was good to take it again and see how I’ve changed. And to learn about others personalities as well! I absolutely love learning about what makes us who we are and how to better understand each other.
photo 3-6994038_10151790333641989_1065114171_n Two days before Grandma Anisa had to leave us and head back home to Alaska, we visited the Amsterdam Zoo – which also has an aquarium, a butterfly pavilion and insect section inside, It was fun for the boys to experience a zoo besides the Denver Zoo which we so often visited in the states. Here the boys were able to get much closer to the animals! We actually live only a 5 minutes walk from the zoo and can hear the wolves howling (nightly), monkey noises and the unique bird calls. :)
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Shailo Valour turned 2 on this week as well! (blog post about his birthday soon)

Germany: a mini getaway!

When Ted’s mom was here, she wanted to take a trip to Germany, where Ted and his family lived for a few years when his dad was in the Military. We took a trip her second weekend here, it was quite a fun experience for us all!

(iPhone pictures)
IMG_0659Amsterdam Train Station
1422407_10151772340976989_2037173186_n 1391723_10151772338961989_1584882579_nBoys first real train ride – we took it from Amsterdam to Germany which was about 3 hours away., They LOVED IT.
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Adding to our slowly growing collection of Starbucks mugs from around the world.IMG_07201385239_10151772414576989_1715540481_nWe stayed in our very first hostel as a family – with Grandma Anisa! It was so beautiful and nothing like I’d expected! Boys loved the bunk beds.1393812_10151774199011989_1625626559_n

The Cologne Cathedral. This was breathtaking. And bigger than you could imagine. Incredible. As we walked closer to the Cathedral Chase was cold and said, “Maybe ‘the church’ has a nursery inside!” Hehe

IMG_07231452411_10151774210341989_548480616_nChaseyboy wanted a picture by the “flying lion water fountain” :) Love him,
1385422_10151776464506989_960943628_n “Love Locks” bridge in Cologne. AMAZING.
1455951_10151776467936989_1977937162_n We spent a while looking at lockets and reading inscriptions of couples from years ago to currently. Even the boys enjoyed these locks!1456675_10151776473621989_1883172944_nThousands!IMG_0769IMG_0755Teal and pink lock but of course (you know me – my fav colour combo)

IMG_0754IMG_0742IMG_0730“tuckered out” this kid can sleep anywhere!75510_10151774735376989_1448204305_n

Grandma Anisa bought baby girl E.S. her first toy. Handmade from Germany and with PINK but of course :)IMG_0768Probably my favorite place in all of Germany :) A bakery. YUM.IMG_0734

(Images below: Canon Camera photos – taken by Ted)

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It was truly a blessing to have a weekend away – (and paid for) – with Grandma Anisa. It was a great time to explore a new city and have time as a family!

Amsterdam {Week 4}

Our 4th week in Amsterdam was by far our most intense! Ted left for a photo trip to Uganda while Ted’s mom arrived to watch the boys. I had a very long and intense week of lectures and ministry time. Holy moly! By the time the weekend came along, I felt emotionally and physically exhausted. I used to pride myself for being an adaptable person ;) but I am so not adaptable when pregnant. Not. at. all. 1375687_10151757958021989_265795777_n

This week was super intense emotionally. God did something in me and then decided to blow me away through a student here. She felt to give me these flowers. When I saw the bouquet, I couldn’t believe it. Pink Gerber daisies. They always make me think of our Eisley-girl. They were the exact flowers I was given on the day of her birth. They are so special to us. This past September on her birthday I wasn’t able to find any pink Gerber daisies. Came to Amsterdam and there they are!

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Monday mornings we have community worship (wednesdays and fridays we have worship as a class.) The past few weeks the base has been thriving with people!

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Chaseyboy (the blur behind) and Shailo have had a blast playing with new friends here!

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My shortness is magnified here ;)1391491_10151753525276989_1465824023_n

Monday – Wednesday our class watched and participated in ministry. It was SO incredible, but also exhausting. photo above: some classmates.

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Thursday and Friday we had long lecture days (12 hours each day). My newfound friend Kayla and I did the healthy thing and survived by eating sugar throughout it ;)

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How we get groceries here in Amsterdam :)

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I missed seeing Loren Cunningham when he came through YWAM Denver, but a surprise visit to Amsterdam and I got an opportunity to hear him speak. Pretty inspiring!!

I didn’t take many photos during week 4, but I hope I did well keeping ya’ll up to date!

Week 5 coming soon. (We are almost in week 6 now, what?!)

Amsterdam {Week 2}

It’s hard to believe we have already been in the Netherlands for 2 weeks! Like I promised, here are some photos of the past week.
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Okay, first thing first… you’ve asked for a baby bump pic, here ya go! 19 weeks and counting.
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(Here I am standing next to a tiny car, such a tourist’y photo haha)

I know you’re all curious of the gender of this little one… rain or shine, we are going to do our gender reveal photoshoot by the end of this week! so stay tuned this weekend! Boy or Girl?! photo 1-6

Above: I have my classes in this beautiful, old (and cold!) room. We literally all wear jackets and coats, scarves and blankets! Haha! Last week’s topic was on Sexual Brokenness and Identity and HOLY MOLY was it heavy. I am thinking I will blog more about classes that impact me.
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We eat our lunches and dinners community style in the YWAM bases’ dining room. I’m trying to branch out of my comfort zone and connect with others more. The meals down here really do help that. Still workin’ on it though ;) My boys are actually really awesome at helping in this area. People just adore kiddos (well, most do haha)

photo 1-1Another frequently asked question is how is Chaseyboy doing now?! Well, he’s better! Many of you know he’s had a really hard time transitioning. He’s a creature of habit and a homebody, so you can imagine how hard this has been on him. It’s been breaking my momma heart, but I am so thankful to say he’s softening and beginning to welcome this new season. Thank you for your many prayers, concern and love. Means the world to us. We feel them.

I’ve tried to make the room as home-like as I can. We have a long room and a small adjoining room which we made Chase’s bedroom/playroom. I brought our curtains from home and some photos to help this transition. (Maybe I’ll do a room tour next week?!)
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Chase has made a few new buddies here, friends around his same age even. This is a huge blessing and answer to prayer. We’ve felt he’s really lacked in that over his 4 years. Ted and I already decided whatever is next for us, whatever He calls us to, a value of ours in community and we’ve got to make sure this happens longterm. For us and for our children. It’s just gotta for us!photo 1-2

Shailo also made a buddy in this sweet little man, Hezekiah! He is 6 months younger and they have a lot of fun. Ted and I are super blessed to have met a really awesome couple who have this little guy. We heard of them when we applied for this school. They too had applied and the husband was from Colorado. We actually had the opportunity to meet them before we all came over here! We all share a similar heart and passions, it’s just super amazing! And it’s even more awesome to be able to have people to relate to in this transition. The wife, Kayla, is doing the school with me and our husbands are watching our boys. How cool is that?!

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Weekends are our chance to explore the city and (for me) to get a chance to get out with my family! Ted is able to during the week which is nice. photo 2-3

Saturday we ate a simple, cheap lunch over looking a canal and watching tourist boats pass by. photo 3-2

I had to snap a few photos of the “vehicles” mommas here drive! I’m SO impressed with the moms here. I even saw a woman with 4 kiddos in one of these!

photo 4-2Above is another cool one. See the seat on the back for a kiddo as well as the bucket for kids up front?! Sheesh!photo 5-2

Shailo and Ted photographing ;)photo 1-3

We found a park nearby one evening. It was actually quite amazing because earlier in the day Chase had said maybe we’d find a park with a trampoline and I said, probably not. And then we did!! So awesome :) He was super thrilled photo 5-3

Because Amsterdam is rainy most of the year, the city actually offers a variety of things for families (kiddos) to do throughout the year. One of them is called Tun Fun which is an old subway station transformed into a mind blowing kid zone. I actually felt pretty overwhelmed when we first walked in, haha!
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The boys had the BEST time!

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We do a lot of walking and because this city is overrun with bicyclists, they have quite a few cool ways of getting around. Chase and Ted enjoyed this bike/stroller walkway.

I’ll take a minute to share a few prayer requests before I leave:

– So… still sleepy in class. Prego that I am :)

– Chaseyboy and his sensitive spirit. I feel like God gave me a glimpse into what’s going on inside of his heart/head. I’m thankful for a bit of revelation and now I feel like I know how to pray for him better.

-I’ve been struggling with keeping in contact with loved ones back home and being the people pleaser I am, it has really been difficult for me to not feel guilty. I am so busy with school that when I get a moment to spend with my family I tend to just hangout with them. Or visit others in the community. Or travel out to grab milk for the boys. Or do a work duty, or to speak with so and so about whatever questions I still have. It’s just a lot. And in some ways I feel like I’m drowning. My mom is so wise and said something quite powerful that resonated with me in this season. She said, “You are such a giver.  You have been in a season of having to choose who to give to.”  It’s difficult because – as that annoying people pleaser I am, I feel like I’m failing many people. Please know that even if I haven’t written or not much, it isn’t personal! I am just in a season of needing to invest in myself and my family. I still love love love deeply and dearly.

-Ted – he leaves for Uganda next Monday for one week!!! Pray for safety in travels and quite adapting for his body. He will be photographing for a ministry there. My awesome MIL is going to be arriving here in Amsterdam on Sunday and we are SO excited! She is amazing. She will be watching the boys. Please pray for her body to adjust well to the time change (10 hour difference for her).

Thank you!

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Well, good night, friends! Or should I say good morning or afternoon? ;)

Amsterdam {Week 1}

Well, we did it! We crammed our things into 5 suitcases, 2 carry ons, 1 camera bag and 1 guitar case and made it to Amsterdam! It’s hard to believe tomorrow it’s been one week since we arrived! Here are some photos from the week and our trip thus far.

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We arrived at the Denver International Airport a few hours early to give ourselves plenty of time. I was feeling a little worried as this (above photo) was the beginning of our trip; the boys zonkin’ right when we arrived.
photo 3-3When Ted and I would share with others about our trip, some would ask if we were at all worried about anything. Our biggest worry was Shailo on 10.5 hours of flying. Before we left we asked our church and others to be praying for a peaceful trip with them ;)
photo 1-4The first flight, which was our longest, went fairly well considering 7.5 hours is the longest the boys have ever flown. The boys traded off and on sleeping. I felt a little restless, being pregnant and not able to sleep (I have the hardest time sleeping on flights.)photo 5

When we arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland things took a turn for the worse for us all. The boys were confused, we thought Ted’s wallet was missing so he had to make a trip back on the airplane, Shailo was hanging out in one of Iceland Airport’s cool buggies (pictured above) when he decided to stand and wiped out backwards in it – hurt his belly and chest enough to make him cry for the entire hour we waited… By the time we boarded the airplane, I was weak and wiped out. Ted was exahausted. Chase was becoming really mouthy and Shailo was bawling. I just sat in my seat holding Shai and crying silently myself haha, MAJOR breakdown. The 3 hour flight felt longer than the first 7.5 hours (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration)

photo 3When we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to wake our sleeping boys which immediately started the drama :) We didn’t think our strollers would actually end up in Amsterdam because after we boarded our first flight, we realized we didn’t put ANY tags on our strollers whatsoever and had an entirely separate flight to capture in Iceland. We were sure they were lost. When we arrived at the baggage area I was so worried about how we were going to get our boys to WALK while Ted and I pushed our luggage out! To our surprise, our strollers DID arrive! Immediate relief for everyone. ;) photo 2-4

We arrived to YWAM Amsterdam’s base De Poort around 3:30 their time, exhausted and with two sleeping little ones. The staff took us to our room and then brought us their own food to eat! So sweet. We ate a little bit and then let the boys crash for a few hours before dinner time.
photo 4-2The first few nights we AWFUL. Our boys’ jet lag was exhausting for us all! They would go to sleep early and then wake around 11/midnight and stay awake til about 4am. We managed and now they are doing pretty good, they stay up late and sleep from around 11/midnight – 8/9am! So I can’t really complain :)photo 3-1The view around us!
photo-1Our home for the next 3 months. We have pretty small living quarters but that was expected. We also share a kitchen (just for breakfast, because every other meal is provided!) and showers. The boys aren’t crazy about showers (especially Chase) but it’s just for a season. An “adventure” right? photo 5-1photo 2-1Where we eat our breakfasts and meals on weekends.
photo 1-2We live on the “2nd floor” which is actually the 3rd floor and is way more stairs than I’m used to. I am hoping that the walking will help me not gain weight with all of the European chocolate I’ve already consumed! ;)photo 2-3The YWAM Amsterdam base has a really large and fun play room for the kiddos which is amazing. While I’m in class, Ted can take the boys here any time. It’s just in the basement of the place we’re living.
photo 1-3They also have a courtyard in the middle of the base which is also incredible for the boys!photo 4-1We’ve already traveled around the city quite a bit this weekend. It was a lot of fun and we kind of overdid it, so much to see! Amsterdam is beautiful. Unlike any place I’ve ever been.photo 2-2photo 5-2Today we walked to a park nearby and the boys had fun watching boats pass by on the canal.
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Our first week in Amsterdam has been a good one. We are excited to be here and honestly, just so blown away that we ARE here. I spent the week in class with introduction to our class this quarter and also a lot of getting to know the other 18 students here. There are 19 students total and 8 staff representing 15 countries and only 3 of us are from America. So it’s super diverse. I already know I am going to love this season. I feel like we are meant to be here. God knew, He made a way and here we are! Next week begins our first week of teaching. I’m anxious to jump in.

A few prayer requests:

– I fall asleep easily, I’ve found. Not sure if it’s the combination of jet lag and being pregnant or if this is a glimpse into what I’m like in school pregnant haha. Please pray that I can focus and be awake and alert. I truly want to get everything I can out of this season!

-Our sweet Chaseyboy has REALLY been struggling. This transition – all of it – with the garage sales and selling things of his and ours, packing, going to grandparent’s the last week so Ted and I could get our place cleaned out, moving overseas, a new “home” that he doesn’t like (our room I mean)… he is just SUPER struggling. He is so defiant, angry, mouthy, even physical with us. Please pray for peace and calm in him. He is so sweet and this is breaking our hearts.

-For Ted and this transition from working full time and going to school to being basically a “stay at home” daddy. He’s amazing, but I know it will be a struggle too.

Well, that’s it for now. My goal is to write a blog each Sunday (I hope!) So see you next week!