7 Quick Takes Friday - #13

Here's another "7 Quick Takes Friday" on Saturday. Oh well. :) I apologize in advance that it's going to be whiny. It's been a rough couple of weeks.
  1. Mold. Still. And it's already ruined book cases, and I've had to pitch books covered in mold. So we're likely going to need to move, again. It's been a rough go of it the last 2 weeks, looking for apartments. We've probably seen several dozen at this point, and of the three that have suited our 3 main goals (location close to a park, enough room for all 7 of us while still being in our price range, and no apparent mold issues now or in the past), one won't be ready for 2 months, and the other 2 have refused us on the basis of the number children we have. *sigh* I'm tired.

  2. Moses is into everything, eating so well (pumpkins, mixed veggies, brown rice, oatmeal, and bananas-- I still make it at home- so easy if you're in that stage of life and want tips!) and figuring everything out... he is just a delightful little person. At least, in the midst of hard times, I have these sweet little people around me. Though it is true that they technically add to the responsibilities I have, they so much more bless me with their precious smiles, and the way that their very presence (both the responsibility of caring for them, and the responsibility for wisely teaching & loving them) drives me to the awareness of my own sinfulness, pride, and self-centeredness.

  3. On that score, I don't want to glorify sin, but I do want to be real here. I don't want this to be a place where I share all the pretty, easy things and never tell you that I struggle with anger all too often (this is no new struggle), that my kids have heard rude responses to innocent questions this week, or that in all 5 years of living overseas, Texas has never looked so appealing.

    In the midst of all the clicking of car seats, and in and out looking at apartments, and no time to cook proper meals so everyone is exhausted and cranky cause we're eating junk and sitting in a dad-blasted car all the time (and I'm thankful we have a car!), I wish I could say I'd done well keeping my focus on God's perfect sovereignty. I wish I could say that the verse of one of my favorite hymns had been on my lips and in my heart all week, as it should have been:
    Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth
    Shelters thee under His wings, yea so gently sustaineth
    Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
    Granted by what He ordaineth?
    Instead of seeing how God has given us friends and growth and precisely what we needed in every single apartment we've had overseas (of which there have been 5 in 5 years), I have been riding the rollercoaster of "ooh that apartment would be great, let me mentally arrange all our furniture in that apartment, oh yes, it will work out great, I'm so excited!" Only to be hit with "no", "no", and "no". And my attitude has been the worse for it. Christlikeness seems so far away.

  4. I've been re-reading "Stepping Heavenward", and it is oh so appropriate for this season of my life. I've received both grace and truth through the words written by Prentiss. I can so identify with the main character's passion for life and desire for godliness in the face of her own humanity. Consider these passages:
    "Today I feel discouraged and disappointed. I certainly thought that if God really loved me and I really loved Him, I should find myself growing better day by day. But I am not improved in the least. Most of the time I spend on my knees, I am either stupid, feeling nothing at all, or else my head is full of what I was doing before I began to pray or what I am going to do as soon as I get through. I do not believe anyone else in the world is like me in this respect." (Ha!, to that last line!)
    ..."When I read the lives of good men and women who have died and gone to heaven, I find that they all like to sit and think about God and about Christ. Now I don't. I often try, but my mind flies off in a tangent."
  5. In "Stepping Heavenward", Prentiss drafted this advice, given to Kate by an old friend:
    "You will imagine that it is best that He should at once enable you to see clearly. If it is, you may be sure He will do it. He never makes mistakes. But He often deals far differently with His disciples. He lets them grope their way in the dark until they fully learn how blind they are, how helpless, how absolutely in need of Him. What His methods will be with you I cannot foretell. But You may be sure that He never works in an arbitrary way. He has a reason for everything He does."
    Isn't it so very obvious that I needed to read this book at this particular moment? (See #1 & #3 on this list!!!) I think God has had a lot of self-confidence to work out of my heart and life, and I'm sorry to say that it's not all gone. I still revert to the natural tendency of my heart all too often, to rely on myself first and foremost and only turn to God when I've reached the very end of my own human strength. How backward, and yet, it's what I do again and again.

  6. I'm still trying to simplify and de-clutter. Anyone have words of wisdom about how to do this while still being frugal and keeping what is necessary and helpful with a family of this size? I don't want to have to later re-purchase what we own now, if I can help it.

  7. Four of my friends in various parts of the world have had babies in the last few weeks (congrats, Emily, Sandra, Shannon, and Allison!), and this week, two people I've known since high school announced their decisions to adopt... one a sweet little Korean infant boy, and the other a precious Chinese preschooler. There is so much joy in this world! If God brings me to your mind, please pray that I'll focus on the joyful things of life, and let the annoying things roll right off my back. Or even better, that somehow He'll show me how to embrace the difficult things too.
Best wishes to you for a good week...


Rita said...

You are so hard on yourself. You're smart to talk about it because many wouldn't. Mold is a big deal. It affects your living area and the things you use daily. It is sometimes in the air and causes those in it to be irritable and weary. The cleaning can be never ending for a while. Yes, lots of good things are happening in the world right now. But you are tired and it sure is understandable. I hope a new place opens up for you soon. I've always used some shelving and sterilite containers for clothing, toys, etc. Each has their own even after clothing has been washed and folded the children come and get their own bin and take it to their area. Staying organized in itself for this many is lots of work. If a friend offers to help by all means take them up on it. They will love your children and talking with you as they help. I scrubed a grimmy kitchen floor once for a friend with many children. She was able to do other things to organize and I was so happy to see that I had made a difference. I hope this helps some. Have a good day. Like you I pray all the time because I get upset and need God to tell me He is still in control and it will be alright. :)

Rita said...

I just left a comment. My name is Rita. :)

Balazs & Leah said...

Hi! I am a missionary living in Hungary. We have dealt with massive mold issues. We finally have found the solution. I am not certain if you can get it where you are but we bought a dehumidifier. it was expensive (300$ us) but how can you put a price on your kids health. It has eliminated the mold completely and the air is dry and fresh in the house for the first time ever! You may want to look into it.
Also, I completely feel you about wanting to go back home. It has been rough for us and winter is too long but God is good and I am trying to keep my focus there.

Christine said...

You are not alone in your struggles to find joy, and I, too, have found comfort and solace in Elizabeth Prentiss' book- sooo much of mine is highlighted! I will pray for your joy in the midst of all circumstances, and for you to find a good place for your family. Your picture of Moses is precious!

Catherine R. said...

Oh Jess. I don't think this post is "whiney" at all. When have you glorified sin? I think you are sharing your struggles which, when done with humility and honesty, really helps others feel less lonely in *their* struggles, and ends up being helpful. I am so sorry about the crazy mold. I know mold problems because of the part of the US I live in, for sure.

Moses sounds like an eating champ. I have noticed that Miss Petunia (6 mo.) is much less eager to eat than Red was. Maybe it's a boy girl thing. But your ideas about making your own baby food sounds really great and hopefully I'll be using them soon when little Miss gets more eager to eat.

Apartments. Ugh, sorry about that too. I know how it is. Right now one of my apartments woes is that I am trying to be content with my crazy-ugly (and old/ broken down) brown 70's kitchen. I love pretty (and working) things and it feels so unfair sometimes.

Oh and thanks for giving me a new book to add to my amazon wishlist!

Jess said...

Thanks for the tips, Rita!

As far as kids' clothing, I've been just kind of shoving things into duffles/bags/whatever we can find, organized by size & gender. It's been FINE, but not GREAT. I'd love to come up with a more long-term solution that isn't randomly just shoved under beds.

Leah, a friend of ours here let us borrow his dehumidifier. That's been very very helpful. I think we may end up getting one to see us through this season.

Thanks for your prayers! (And that's my favorite recent picture of Moses...) I think this book will be one I return to regularly. So much of her thoughts and passions and insights are things I struggle with, or need to hear.

I was just thinking of you in light of this book and reminding myself to recommend it to you.

AFA girls/boys eating, I'm sure moms with more girls could speak to that. Probably not all girls are the same. But I think I was a finicky eater, and whereas all of our boys have eaten like champs starting around 6/7 months, Maranatha didn't even want to try food until about 9 months, and wasn't eating *well* until about 11/12 months. She just never was as hearty as my boys. Sounds a lot like what you're saying with Miss Petunia.

Oh- and that book on Amazon is just under $2 right now-- what a steal!

on the eastern journey said...

I think there is a daily stress to living overseas that we grow accustomed to. We forget it's there. I noticed just before returning to the states that I was not my usual self. I'm tired. More irritable. Busy with all that has to be done before we go, etc.

Then, when we were in the states I felt the weight of the stress leave. And that's when it hit me - just like the extra 15 lbs. I carry around on my body frame - I'd been carrying around this daily stress without realizing how much it wore me down over the years.

I don't know if I am communicating well. I just wanted to send a hug.

Sam, Christen and Canaan said...

I struggle with anger, too, and have really been seeking the Lord lately to give me some freedom. It makes you and everyone around you miserable when you're angered easily!

Thought I'd share this - for me, at least, one root that the Lord has revealed to me (with lots of help from my husband) is self-righteousness. I knew it was somehow connected to pride, but God has really shown me some specifics as far as my own self-righteousness goes. As I've been shown more by the Lord how that works in my own heart and applied the Gospel to myself (first that I am a sinner! shocking!), it's been easier to give that same grace to others (primarily my husband and sons). I still get angry, but I have had so much fruit in the last couple of months because of seeing this root and just spending time with the Lord working through it and the Gospel.

Maybe helpful I hope?! Anger seems to be coming up a lot lately around me... seems like it's a very common problem with mothers of young children! Lord, help us love! :)

flyinjuju said...

Hugs to you Jess. I love how you said that you would be able to focus on the joyful things, but embrace the difficult things. How true that is. My prayer is that you will be able rest during this time. (easier said than done, right?)
Organizing and purging... I am beginning to think that with a "large" family it may just be a way of life. :) We are always purging here and I still feel like there is too much, but the stage change so fast, you don't want to regret getting rid of stuff. That is the one nice thing about moving.
Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks for your honesty.

Shaunta' said...

Jess, so much of what you said resonated with me. At the prompting of a friend I started a gifts list (a list of 1000 things that I'm thankful for). (Ann Voskamp wrote a book called One Thousand Gifts, that outlines much of what I'm about to say.) Doing so has changed so much of my perspective as I am focusing on seeing God in the seemingly insignificant things of the day. It has changed my perspective to be thankful. I read that Habit drives out habit. Focusing on being grateful drives out my ingratitude and draws me closer to the Lord.
I read Stepping Heavenward when I was in college...such a good read. Now, I want to order it.
I will pray for you...I know your struggle. Thanks for the vulnerability.

Shaunta' said...

P.S. I have been so inspired and drawn to the Lord through Ann's blog(aholyexperience.com). I hope you and some your readers will check it out, as well.

Belinda said...

I think Stepping Heavenward and The Heart of Anger are books I HAVE TO READ annually. I wish I could absorb them and be done but I can't. Psalm 18 is my favorite for dealing with depression and helps to calm me. Again, wish I could just remember all the time *sigh*.

Brenda said...

Jess, there is a great site for large families. I get tips from it and I only have 2!!! http://www.lotsofkids.com/

Hope you find an apartment soon. I know how frustrating it is getting in and out of the car....

Ruth said...

I love Stepping Heavenward! It is such a good book; I need to read it again.
I have prayed for you today that you will be encouraged and that the Lord will meet the needs at hand. I appreciate your honesty as we all struggle to be the "Joyful mother of children" that Proverbs speaks of. I have been praying about that in my own life. It is so easy for me to become overwhelmed and lose the joy.
A godly older woman recently counseled me to meditate not on how overwhelmed I FEEL but on the promises of God for the moment. I am trying to learn to do that. I have a long ways to go, but we are all in process together. I look forward to hearing how the Lord supplies the needs for your family. Many blessings to you from a friend in Texas. :) I hope you enjoy your trip home.

julie said...

you always encourage me.


Jess said...

eastern journey,
I think you are so right about the daily stresses... just you SAYING that took some of the weight off my shoulders as I remembered all the little ways culture stress does eat into our energy levels. I read your comment out loud to Doug & he too was nodding and affirming what you wrote. It's so true. Thanks for the hugs...

Thanks for writing that about anger/self-righteousness. I think it's so true.

Yes, I think organizing & purging has become a constant activity. Thanks for reminding me of that... I probably need to adjust my perspective and not expect it to end anytime soon, LOL.

That's a long list. (1000!) But very good. I'd been doing so good just a week or two ago striving to focus on the things I'm thankful for, and then that whole sentiment vanished from my mind and I got tired and gripey. Thanks for the nudge.

I SO understand what you mean-- it seems like I'm so slow to actually absorb and implement the things I'm reading and learning.

Thanks, Brenda! I'm gonna check out that website now.

Ruth, good words from another Texan!

Julie, :) Thanks. You guys encourage me too.

I got the most encouraging, pastoral email today from a reader... I feel so cared for. Thank you all for walking this road alongside me.

Janel said...

We all struggle. Never forget that.

Praying. {hugs}

the mcleans said...

thanks, jess. the Lord is so gracious. you are not alone. i needed this today.

Dawn@OneFaithfulMom said...

I have zero experience living overseas, but lots of experience with struggles. I have(am still) been going through a terrible struggle with a good friend. She is upset with my daughter, and has deicided to launch some kind of vendetta against me...actually our whole family. It has been so painful.
I have had to keep reminding myself that God is in control. He has allowed this struggle, and He has good reasons for it. I am to obey and trust Him. Easy to say, hard to do!!
Praying that your situation eases some...

Ashley said...

get away from that mold and come to texas, my friend! we have had the same apartment search/search problems (only sans 2 people) in texas. we are packing, simplifying, and decluttering as well. it is so hard to be "not-a-hoarder" and "frugal" at the same time. WHICH IS IT? purge or keep and take care of the things you have?? the thought of having to re-buy something makes me sick. there is so much STUFF. i don't know what kind of space y'all are living in, but we are trying to downsize from a 3br2ba house to a 1br1ba or 2br1ba apartment for texas....quite a feat.