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Remember that time in 2020

I wanted to take some time to reflect over this year as it closes. So here is our “Remember that time…”

  • We had to say goodbye to our friends and loved-ones in Dubai much sooner than we anticipated, even while being in the same country during the lockdown. Our children weren’t able to play with their friends and we weren’t able to have a final goodbye the way that we wanted. We tried as best we could to see each other over the gate to say goodbye. We are so grateful for all those who did that, and who cherished time with us in our home and then over zoom in those final weeks. Man, we miss you guys.
  • We had a baby during the pandemic, and Etienne was able to come to the hospital and be in the operating room, just days before they stopped letting husbands do that. My doctor, Dr. Jennifer, delivered 3 out of 4 of our babies, and we love her so much! Our friend, Crina, helped watch the kids while we went into the hospital and they spent a one-of-kind day together. Our kids loved it and her!
  • I spent the rest of the time in the hospital alone with Katie recovering from the C-section- I’m so grateful to the nurses who served and helped me and for zoom- where I could check in with my husband and kids at home often. I was definitely ready to come home at the end.
  • We packed up our stuff and sent it in a shipment. Then we lived in our villa with only a few pieces of furniture, waiting for a flight to open up and to be able to repatriate before Etienne’s entry expired.
  • Etienne also finished his work of 18 years with MLC from home and didn’t get a final goodbye with his amazing company and friends there.
  • A flight opened up! And we went on a long flight to O’Hare with a one month old and 3 other children under 6 during the pandemic and the lockdown. We felt so safe in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the midst of the pandemic, but when we reached O’Hare it felt like the Wild West. It also felt like Alida was licking everything in sight as we were waiting for our luggage and finding our rental car.
  • We drove up to the UP of Michigan right away, and somehow we made it after such a long flight and it being the middle of the night.
  • My sister organized a stay for us to quarantine in the woods and we were so grateful to Erin and her family for their help! We watched Spring come in May when we arrived and saw the last snow melt! Boy-were we cold!
  • We started life here in the woods- adventuring together, enjoying nature, and for the first time being able to breath that we were finally all together in the US. Amazing to see that the Lord provided all that he did, when we didn’t know how it would be possible. We are so grateful still to all the people that helped us!
  • We spent 4 months with my generous parents- taking up their house! They were so kind to let us stay. We cooked together, went to Mini-Golf once to play and then the rest of the summer weekly for ice cream, quilted, made tallow, enjoyed their beautiful garden and raspberries, we went to Lake Superior and all over the place adventuring, we picked blueberries, went to Tahquamanon Falls to see Kim and the boys (got brilliantly surprised by them once before that too while we were quarantining!). We spent beautiful time with my sisters and brothers and got mountain bikes and went into the woods to do that for the first time ever! It was amazing and so fun. All in the midst of the pandemic.
  • I started a little business and started to dream of what I should make- I couldn’t close the lid and just kept creating. I got to start a little shop for my parents and I on Etsy and we are still going!! I’m so grateful that we can continue to be creative together even 6 hours apart now.
  • I was amazed by the support of my friends with my little business! Angela, Chrissy, Lisa and Susan, Anna, Barbara, Michelle, my sister Ann, Kimberly, Vicki, Jordan (my oldest friend!), and Lyndsey! They gave me ideas, encouraged me in what I made, engaged with me over social media when I was totally bummed out by it (even when it doesn’t seem like it) and I’m just so grateful for their support!
  • I got to have conversations with Dad weekly about tallow and games, I’ve loved being so close this year and getting to do that. I’ve learned so much and learned to appreciate even more.
  • I got to have conversations with Mom weekly about quilts and runners, and we get to share a passion together. I’m learning from her and loving it!
  • We moved down to Chicago, to a place we had heard about years before and to join a church that the Lord led us to, what a treasure to be with the saints here. We have loved getting to settle in and get to know people, and we can’t wait until we can be together normally and enjoy it even more!
  • Etienne works in downtown Chicago, but somehow is able to work from home in the extra room. And that has made our transition a lot easier during this time as we repatriate and learn a new place. We are so grateful to have had all this time together. We always said in Dubai, it would be nice to have a little more time in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Well, we got it!
  • Some of our friends from Dubai actually made it to Chicago! Lisa and Hannah, and all of the Lims! It was such a joy to see each other, spend time, picnic, walk and talk, and to say a proper goodbye to each other- knowing that we were in a good place to be able to do it again, Lord willing!
  • We have been adventuring around Chicago land preserve to preserve. What a blessing to enjoy the nature that God created. To do it together!

Some remember that time of the kids:

  • Alida was a bit afraid of people having been isolated for so long during the lockdown and then coming over and seeing people again more regularly. We have come a long way since May!
  • Barnabas started really reading this year and I have to hide books from him that I want to him to read for school time or that I wanted to read as a read-a-loud so that he doesn’t breeze through them before it’s time! While providing him with more books of course!
  • Shiloh started filling into her heart and expressing it more, having words to say about it. I often feel the way Marmee must have felt about Amy (in Little Women). She is my favorite heroine having daughters and wanting them to see the good that they can put into the world, and the Source of all good.
  • Katie was held the most as an infant because we had more help around us and we were at home all the time.
  • Alida is the pretender: a blue puppy, Daniel Tiger, Superwing’s Jet, a Honey Badger (my personal favorite, but the one that scares Katie the most).
  • We started cooking and baking together as a family with Auntie Kim and with Raddish kids.
  • Barnabas started in his passions for birds and animals- really enjoying drawing and coloring for the first time.
  • Shiloh started to learn how to read and is loving it! She loves to read her first book to people with stories like “Pat”.
  • Alida started to learn and build more often, we regularly find her sitting somewhere concentrating on an activity she chooses and it is such a delight to see.
  • Katie started to sit, crawl, sing, talk, and is engaging with all of us. We are learning more about this new little girl the Lord brought into our family.
  • The kids got to see and then experience snow for the first time! How amazing to be in winter!
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All of us have experienced this time in the world differently- some of it is the same, but much of it is different depending on our location, our job, our economic situation, our family situation, or what country we live in. We all have circles, like those pictured in a Venn-diagram, overlapping and touching in some areas, and completely different in others. Even in this, as cultures and societies there are always overarching concerns and happenings that touch us no matter where we are from and where we are going.

It is a problem to be sitting still and unresponsive to the concerns and happenings of the world around us. Sometimes we lack perspective though… of what to do with the knowledge that we have and the information that floods us on a daily basis. The cacophony of voices dulls many of us into apathy. For others it overwhelms, exhausts, and saddens. There are some that it causes to break out in a fighting response, defensive, and yet protective. I don’t always know the right way to react. Maybe it’s safer to say that I never do. I lack wisdom of how to think of everything at once, to be fair and kind to all, to be compassionate. And it makes it harder that we dehumanize ourselves by doing all of it from the comfort of our couches, disguised behind devices. But much of this distance is inevitable during this season.

I don’t want to shelter myself until it passes. I want to live well during this time and respond instead of reacting. I want to sit and reflect as Thanksgiving is upon us. After any harvest, whether a good year or a bad, we realize that it’s important to reflect. That reflection stretches into the next month as the year comes to an end and we look forward to a new one. It helps us to not forget what came before.

As I sit and reflect in this harvest season, much is still cloudy and confusing. However, I can clearly see that we are not the one’s in control. How could we be? I hope we can agree that in looking at the times as a whole- we tend to make a mess of things instead of cleaning them up. In this, I desire to turn to the One in control. It’s not out of our perfection that salvation comes. We cannot do everything right, say it all right, or think it all right. Salvation came to us in our weakness, our selfishness, our sin. We were not looking for it. It was in spite of these things that it came, in the person of Jesus. I don’t desire to give people a second-hand imitation of him, but instead to lead them to everlasting water- where there is life… even in the midst of death, disparity, sadness, injustice, unrighteousness, anger, apathy, pain and discord. He provides hope even in the darkest times because he suffered through the darkest thing- fighting forces in realms unseen to us. Fighting death. Dying on the cross to pay for the punishment that we deserve. The mess that we have made, make and will make. He resurrected to bring us new life, and gives us the real opportunity to believe in Him and be born again. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.

“A Unified Diversity”

I am thankful. I am thankful that my Savior lives and is control. I am thankful that I can see his wondrous works in his world. I am thankful that I have a voice (and fingers) to praise Him. I am thankful that he made each one of us, in all of our beautiful diversity, after his own image. I am thankful that he has given us the privilege to be stewards of his creation. I am thankful that even when we mess ALL of it up, He is still there- He is still holding out his arms to us in welcome. He is in control. Praying that each of us would be able to sit and reflect more in this season. Praying that we would come to him, because I know that there are many who are weary and heavy-laden.