One Year

We did it. We recently reached the one-year mark of living in a foreign country. On May 21, 2012, our family stepped off a plane in Santo Domingo and pulled suitcases, strollers, backpacks, and babies past a sea of Dominican faces to make this tiny island our new home.

How do we describe this last year?

Full.

A year full of new experiences and new relationships.
A year full of power outages, good Dominican food, and lots of Spanish.
A year full of family changes – Noah started to talk and Leyton learned to walk.
A year full of muggy weather, mosquito bites, and various car problems.
A year full of days where we couldn’t wait for our heads to hit the pillow.
A year full of death and new life.
A year full of feeling lonely, inadequate, and frustrated.
A year full of painful growth.
A year full of “a-ha” moments that helped us continue another day.
A year full of learning that faith in God requires more than just lip service.
A year full of God’s faithfulness and goodness.

You know, this past year has been the longest and hardest one we’ve endured as a family. And next year is certain to bring even more challenges. When we’re in the midst of the difficulties, it’s so easy to lose perspective. It’s so easy to focus on the pain. But in the middle of the trouble – that’s when trusting the faithful One is so important.

So here we are, one year later – still learning to live by faith and not by sight.

Our desire is to give all the glory and honor that is due our Savior. He is so worthy!

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:2

year

Perspective: “Looking unto Jesus…”

Wow.  Today marks one whole month of living in the Dominican Republic.  That went quickly.

Most people who know us would agree that Scott and I are fairly laid-back individuals.  But even with our happy-go-lucky personalities, the last few weeks of moving in and setting up and getting accustomed to the culture have not been all fun and games.  There have been enjoyable and exciting moments (like getting to know our neighbors and turning our house into a home).  But unfortunately, it has been easy for me to focus on little things to the point of frustration (like not being able to ask for something at the store or having to change my clothes multiple times a day because of my propensity to sweat buckets in the heat/humidity).  If I’m not careful, I find myself selfishly dwelling on the comforts and ease of living that I’ve left behind.  Then feelings of guilt creep in… and then depression… and a not-very-good cycle begins.

When I find that I’m getting frustrated with these little things, I ask myself some questions.  Why are we here?  Why are we living in a foreign culture, giving up the things and people and places that are familiar?  You know, it’s funny – when I honestly answer these questions, my perspective changes almost immediately and the frustrations of the moment seem to melt away.  There are many reasons we’ve decided to do life here, but the big (and simple) answer is this – we just want to make our Jesus famous.  I know I don’t have much to give Him, but what I do have is available for Him to use whenever and however He wants.  If that means a few adjustments to my lifestyle, then by His strength I’ll make those adaptations wholeheartedly.

“Looking UP.”  That’s how my college class advisor always signed off on his e-mails.  I remember the day I internalized that phrase. I was sitting in my dorm room at Cedarville, staring at those two words on my computer screen.  What would my life be if I were “looking up” at every moment?  My answer not only caused me to change some of my attitudes and actions in college, but it also played a role in why I am here in the DR.  This past month, I have been learning more fully what it means to change my perspective from me to Him.

Whew.  All of that to say this: running my race is so much easier when I’m looking up (Hebrews 12:1-2).