All the Feelings

As we all know, kids have so many different emotions that often shift from one to the next in a matter of minutes, if not seconds! The other day, after numerous requests, Jackson asked if the time had finally arrived for our family to go mini-golfing as promised. Upon receiving his long-awaited yes, he shouted with glee and a giant smile took over his face. But within seconds, tears started to fill his eyes unexpectedly. He said, “Mom, I’m so happy, why am I sad?”

This particular moment reminded me of when Gracelyn was a toddler and had a similar experience. At the time she was our only child and spent most of her time with me at home. So whenever Adam would get home from work, he would enter the house and make a great gesture of open arms ready to embrace her. I would bring her to the door and say with great excitement (for not only her-but myself as well) “Daddy’s home!”

To our surprise, her response was very different than we imagined. At first, she would run to the door with excitement and joy, but as soon as that initial moment passed, she would revert to a strange sadness, and then emit a sudden “No” followed by a stomp off. It took us some time to realize that she did not mean to reject Daddy, nor disappoint. She was simply overcome with emotions. ALL of the emotions in fact, and her little brain did not know how to process, prioritize nor what to do with “All the feelings.”

Jackson’s sweet celebration and relief after waiting 6 long weeks to earn the sportsmanship medal!

It’s a strange sensation to handle- feeling more than one emotion simultaneously. We are all familiar with the phrase “happy tears” to describe tears that accompany joy of some kind, but sometimes that experience of feeling both incredible joy and intense grief at the same time can feel too big for one heart to manage. However strange, or uncomfortable it may be, I know that it is not isolated to our home or family members. I have witnessed friends and family members juggle this emotional experience as well as often hear this theme of emotional dichotomy in most songs on the radio. Most recently, in this Christmas season, I have heard this experience mentioned in the lyrics for the majority of Christmas songs that are current today, as well as the traditional songs that have graced this season for decades.


“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is one song that I heard the other day and couldn’t help but hear and feel ‘All the Feelings’ as it played over the car radio. More than once the song makes mention of Christmas being a time where your troubles are out of sight or miles away; that Christmas is a time where things return to the “way it was.” Families gather and experience love and joy, but those reunions bring memories of the “way things were.”

Whether these lyrics are relatable for you, I think it’s fair to say that it is hard to experience that “Merry Little Christmas” feeling without recalling in your heart and bones the grief that our “troubles” left behind. The two co-exist it seems.

Experiencing the joy of my 8 year-old still inviting me to come to school functions! Gingerbread House day!

For some, the joy of Christmas time may be easy to experience. For others, the holiday season can be a reminder of all that is lost. But for most, Christmas time brings both feelings of joyful anticipation and grief. The season has a way of amplifying what is lost while simultaneously making your heart realize and appreciate those around you more than normal. Plainly put, I think Christmas time brings a more clear lens on life that includes the very real emotional dichotomy that exists.

Dichotomies like overwhelming grief when receiving news that a loved one has terminal cancer, but then experiencing incredible gratitude for the sweetness of time spent together as a result.

Or the heartache that can overtake you when receiving an intense diagnosis for your child and then the wonder upon the wisdom and clarity that the news brings; enabling you to not only better understand your child and more accurately meet their needs, but an increase in love for them that you never thought possible.

I can imagine the majority of people experience “High highs and Low lows” during the other 11 months of the year as well, but at Christmas time- whether you are in a season of high OR low, you feel them both and they are both amplified.

Jackson with an “unexpected” sad face getting his photo taken in the mouth of a shark!

“High highs and Low lows” has become a common phrase we have used this year when others have asked how our family is doing. And to be honest, I have been tempted to view life through the lens of dread, fearing hope because I have gotten so used to the “other shoe dropping.” It can feel as if it would be easier to protect yourself from the pain and disappointment that the unexpected can bring if you forego hope and choose to live jaded, skeptical, sarcastic and cynical. It appears too risky to choose hopefulness.

Hope is kind of like a balloon that wants to fly high in the sky and float. Hope says, I don’t know what I will encounter, but right now- I feel joy and I WANT TO embrace it and move forward. Hope knows that fear is real and the unexpected might happen, but even in the face of that risk it chooses to be brave in order to embrace joy.

Fear is like the weight that keeps the balloon from flying away, keeping hope locked in the ground. Fear tells you to give up, stop trying, stop “fighting the good fight” and let sorrow win.

I had been struggling with this internal battle, feeling like I should “let my balloon fly” but wanting to keep it tethered for fear of future heartache. And then one day, in the midst of carrying the weight of it all…

The heaviness and intensity of having 2 boys with special needs,

The reality of a loved one’s suffering and limited time,

The consistent financial tension that living on a one-income ministry salary can bring,

and add to that ANYTHING ELSE UNEXPECTED that we just do not feel any margin for..

… I cried out to the Lord in surrender.

I cried out completely overcome with it all, feeling as if there was no rest in sight and completely devoid of hope.

And in His great mercy, HE answered and I saw our “High highs and Low lows from a new perspective.

One of our recent trips to visit Gramma, treasuring these visits and these views.

I had been battling the great weight of those lows that just kept piling up. I had felt angry and frustrated that as soon as I would experience a “win” of some kind, be it good news, positive feedback or especially a day with no phone calls from the school, like clockwork- something bad would happen within hours, sometimes even minutes of embracing joy.

But HE answered the prayers of my heart and reminded me that my struggle was not unseen by my God.

He gave me eyes to see and I finally saw HIM above everything else.

I saw that,

HE KEPT showing up.
For every victory that was overcast by another trial, ANOTHER VICTORY WOULD COME.
HE never stopped bringing joy.
HE never stopped providing.
He never stopped healing.
He never withheld recovery.
We were never forsaken.

The “High highs” are proof that God keeps showing up. As much as pain keeps coming, so does HE. He even tells us this in John 16:33, “In this world you will have pain, fear not- I have overcome the world.” We are reminded of this in the book of Revelation. As believers in Christ, we KNOW how this story ends. And it’s not on a low.

The magic of bubbles and sunsets and an incredible big sister who is always ready to blow the bubbles.

For the people of Israel, the birth of Jesus came after a record of lows that beats any complaint I have ever had or heard of. 400 years between the last prophet and Jesus’ birth. Often referred to as the “Silent years” – the people of Israel experienced great loss, suffering and displacement. I think the song “O Come, O come, Emmanuel”, A Christian hymn for Advent and Christmas explains it so well:

“O come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Emmanuel means “God is with us.”

A mourning Israel in captivity struggled to remain steadfast in their faith.
Prayers were lifted in desperation for the Lord to save His people. Yet in some scripture and in this hymn, great sorrow is expressed and yet followed by words like “Rejoice!”
The people of Israel did not pretend when they spoke to their God. They trusted HIM with their true feelings, but continued to show him Honor and Praise and continued to offer their Faith believing that HIS promises are true. Promises they clung to like in Isaiah 9:6 , “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Promises confirmed and prayers answered in in Luke 2:11 such as,

“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Every time the story of the birth of Jesus is told, it holds a sense of mystery, wonder, peace and hope. The story involves people ranging from shepherds to Kings, from carpenters to Wise Men, from Babies to Angels. It is a story for every person. And I believe the magic of Christmas is the Christ child.

I saw a quote the other day that truly stuck with me and encouraged me to embrace the season of Advent. It said, “It has never been a mother’s job to make childhood so magical that your children don’t see their great need for Jesus too. Our children do not need a perfect holiday; they need a perfect Savior. Every unmet expectation, every holiday frustration, every tear or argument is a chance to show our children the reason we needed our hearts to be rescued.” Katie Blackburn, Risen Motherhood.

I confess, I have always celebrated the magic of Christmas in all of its ways. I am honestly not sure when I will tell my kids the truth about Santa or their Elf on the Shelf. I adore Christmas movies, and stories, and twinkling lights. But I also adore sharing with my children the idea that maybe Santa brings Gifts to everyone around the world to invite them into the celebration that is the birth of Jesus, the birth of the Savior, who is for ALL peoples.

How the Elves were found on December 22, 2021- morning after all 3 of our kids went down with the stomach bug.

In Ecclesiastes it says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I think that the reason every individual and people as a whole can feel the dichotomy of joy and grief, and can experience these emotions magnified during Christmas, is because God set eternity in the hearts of men. He left a mark in all of us. A mark that reminds us that there is something more than this world can offer. A mark that provides us with a sense of mystery and wonder when contemplating the birth of Christ. A mark that deep down tells us that we are HIS creation. And as our Creator, HE blessed us with the ability to be cognizant of Him and to feel drawn to the hope of His existence, His Sovereignty, and His Savior.

Advent, the season leading up to Christmas is a season of joyful anticipation. Advent in Latin means “Coming,” referring to the coming of our Savior. I can imagine the birth of Jesus, the arrival of our Savior was a time of joy unimaginable. But that joy came from a place of answered prayer, after great suffering and years and years of feeling abandoned. The joy and grief go hand in hand. Grief amplifies Joy, and Joy gives hope in the ability to endure grief once more, if it should come.

A common Advent scripture, Lamentations 3:22-24 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

I pray this verse could be your anthem in times of grief and your song in times of Joy. And I pray you experience the wonder, mystery and hope that is Christmas, the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, who WILL come again, and make all things new.

Merry Christmas, Blessings, and Happy New Year!

Things are not as they should be.

We were walking through a furniture store to pick out a piece for a family member. No big deal. Except for when I wandered off, looking at pieces of furniture, and the strangest thing happened. My chest felt tight. My heart felt uneasy. My brain was telling me, I have been here before. But being here again, is too soon.

At this moment, we were 1 month into being back in the U.S, but I could remember the day I was walking through the furniture store in India, picking out furniture for our new home, like it was yesterday. Picking out the furniture that was supposed to last us the next 3 years, at least. The same furniture we sold in two days, only 8 1/2 months after we moved in.

Fast forward to 3 months completed now, living in Central, NY, living with my parents and India has begun to fade… already.

When we first got to my parents house, all we had is what we brought with us to India. Which if you know anything about India’s climate, we were not prepared for NY’s winter. But for Christmas, at least I had something red. A red Kurta, the last Kurta that was purchased while we were in India.

Wearing a Kurta in upstate NY 3 weeks after departing India for good brought on all the feelings. One being, can I really get away with this attire here? But mostly, feelings of sorrow, pain, and confusion. The wounds from our abrupt departure, still raw, still not even fully addressed.

Come late January, all of the India souvenirs were mailed, all of the Kurtas packed away and picture albums old news. I have returned to the messy bun and athletic clothes, no more coffee made via Aeropress, back to the Keurig and fully hooked once more on Almond Joy coffee creamer. I guess I felt if I returned to all of my old -isms, and American comforts, did that mean our move to India didn’t really exist? Did all that the Lord has done in me, really happen?

It’s the seasons of uncertainty that are the perfect breeding grounds for doubt and believing the lies that are whispered over you. The lies that tell you you are a failure, you have let every down, you can’t hack it. All too familiar, these lies. Fortunately the familiarity of lies bring the familiarity of God.

I cling to HIM more than I ever have. I trust in HIM more than I ever have. I believe that I am a chosen, loved, redeemed child of God more than I ever have. All that the Lord has done in me is real. We did move our family of 5 to India, with significant purpose, hope and intentionality. It all did happen.

And yes, I have to remind myself of these truths every morning. I have to talk myself down from yelling at the Lord when I awake to each new day with the relentless reality that 3 months after rushing back to the US because Jackson needs cochlear implants, we are still no further along in the process than when we left. We still are living in my parents home, sharing their car and unsure of what the future holds.

Things are just, NOT as they should be. But then again, that truth is not new. That truth is the same truth that encourages me to cling to the hope of Jesus Christ, and the hope of heaven. The hope that Revelation 21:4 brings, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” One day, we will not have suffering or sickness, and grief will end. One day, Jackson will have hearing and vision as clear as day. One day, this mama will not battle her persistent opponent, anxiety. One day, Dad won’t stress about finances and providing for his family. One day, things will be as they should.

Until that day, God is gracious and merciful and loving and kind and ever present and always faithful. We just need to pay attention. I know this to be true because HE uses his people to remind us. He uses my parents daily to remind us. How they day in and day out, generously and without expectation give, host, support, counsel, and love our family. How my brother shares from the bottom of his heart how much it means to have me “home”. How my sister in law without hesitation watches our kiddos after school.

I also experience God’s nearness through the blessings that come in moments. Moments like being present for your Grandma’s 80th birthday. Moments like getting to see your niece’s classroom during open house night at school. Moments that come daily like experiencing our kids level of excitement as they share about each new day at their new school, and moments that come every couple weeks like witnessing Garrett’s sweet bond with my dad as they head off to Lowe’s and grab a soda and a hot dog from the outside vendor.

These moments are significant to me, as I have lived as long out of my hometown, home state as I have lived in. I have missed so much. While we were in India, I missed the passing of my Nana and her funeral. The pain I experienced missing that, creates a whole new appreciation for all the little things I am experiencing now.

Things are not as they should be. But we get glimpses.

Glimpses by way of suprise mail from dear friends and supporters who just want to offer us a card of encouragement and a gift. Glimpses when others go out of their way to show you how much they are praying for you, thinking about you, here for you. Glimpses come when your church offers their continued support financially and tangibly to help you through this season of uncertainty.

But do not be mislead. I have to pay attention to these people, these moments, these glimpses. I have to look for the blessings. And WHEN I don’t, because let’s be honest I AM HUMAN, then I get swallowed up in the reality, that things are not as they should be and I forget to hope for heaven. I forget to find my hope in Christ.

We are now post 4 cochlear specialist consultations and 4 different audiology tests, and we have landed in a place of uncertainty once more. We are encouraged to repeat testing that was done while we were overseas, to obtain certainty that his hearing loss has TRULY become severe enough for implantation (for insurance purposes). While we agree on the need for certainty, Jackson’s diagnosis of USHER’S SYNDROME is driving the ship. We need to get him the best access to hearing that we can, and that’s why we returned to the U.S, and ended our journey serving overseas.

What I know to be true, what I am finally accepting, is that I have 3 children, 2 with special needs, and I need some support. We needed support so much that we bypassed Florida and flew straight to Upstate, NY. We left tenants in our townhome, and all of our belongings in our storage unit to come straight to my parents home with only what we had from India.

And even in the midst of continued uncertainty and lack of conclusions, God is answering our need for support. And because of this support, I am even able to think outside the box these days. I am able to dream, analyze, consider.

In April 2018, I needed support, emotional support. I found it by way of essential oils. By the end of the year I grew to learn so much more about the life-giving support offered by these natural oils distilled from plants and I realized by sharing them I can actually help support others too!

It is humbling, to feel as if you always need help or support. When we moved to India we had great hopes of serving others in various ways. And we discovered, we just could not. Our kids needed more support than allowed for us to serve others. Humbling to say the least.

Lately though, I have come to embrace this truth. I am embracing the reality that God created our family unit just the way it is. And in this current season of life, these little people HE has gifted to us are our main job. We want to love and serve them with all that we can. He is gifting us the ability to do that right now. And HE is gifting me the ability to serve and support others right where I am. From my home, while my kids sit next to me, when I share about Young Living Essential Oils with others in hopes that this natural element can support a need, just like it has done for me. And all the while potentially providing my family with an extra income.

So here is our update. We are doing life with family, getting support, and waiting until God reveals HIS plan for Jackson. We are praying, the kids are going to school, Adam is reflecting on his past careers and exploring where HE can best use the gifts God gave him. I am still praying, and often in a Cry-Yell-Pray sort of way and I am officially going to start my Young Living Essential Oil Business. https://photos.app.goo.gl/YSsVAqmE4VEqMMsPA

And daily, sometimes hourly, often minute by minute, I am looking for the glimpses of life, that remind me of God’s promises.

Purple

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

Some memorables heard in our house this week were, “Mom, for my birthday I want Power Rangers on this side of the cake, Yoda on this side, and a Gingerbread man on this side.” – Garrett in reference to his upcoming birthday.

“Mom, I know I am not a spider, but you know that I really do have super powers, right?”- Gracelyn after having seen the Spiderman movie.

Oldie, but goodie.

“Mom, can we have a going to heaven party this week for nana. I mean, one where we all just snuggle, and cry and be together.”- Gracelyn after sharing with her that our beloved Nana was nearing the end of her battle with cancer.

What Gracelyn said was perfect. And that is exactly what I planned to do when I received word that The Lord healed Nana from her cancer and took her into his loving arms. And HE did, and she is at peace now, and I give thanks for this truth. But my heart does ache.

My heart aches for being absent during this time. It aches knowing she was suffering and it ached as I clung tightly to my phone for fear of missing any updates. I was absent for a lot this week. This week held 3 family birthdays and a funeral. I did as much as I could to stay busy, because that’s what we do when it hurts too much right? Either that, or we sit in the heartache and want to be alone. I did that too.

I also rested in God’s grace this week. Every time the reality came upon me that I would no longer get to talk to or see my nana, I remembered how she believed in Jesus and Loved Him. And I know that I will see her again, in heaven. I rejoiced hearing from family members about how despite their grief, they were truly celebrating a beautiful life of one who loved well and was loved well. Her favorite color was purple and so, many of her loved ones wore purple to the funeral.

I was out at a shop the day of her funeral and every purple item in the store popped out at me. I was even looking at a kitchen item in one section of the store and there, behind it was this random piece of cardboard with the word purple written on it! I left the store that day with my own little nana daily reminder. A small bag for inside my purse that will go with me everywhere, every day.

Emotions are funny.

Sometimes you are so flooded with one emotion that you can not feel any other. Like when your 3 year old is a dinosaur who won’t break character and is having the performance of a lifetime, but you are in the middle of a quiet restaurant and someone tells you, “Cherish these moments, they go by so fast.” It’s really hard to grasp that perspective when you are sweating bullets trying to muffle the dinosaur.

Oldie, but goodie.

But then there are other times when you are so flooded with one emotion but it creates a landslide allowing all the other emotions to join in the fun. Like when you are feeling really down and heavy-hearted, and every which way you look, the lens is a muddy color. I felt this way too. Suddenly, all the things I used to like, became irritants. Similar to when you start dating someone, you love all their quirks, but after some time it drives you nuts that they won’t throw out an empty tube of toothpaste or empty jar of ketchup because “it still has some left.”

It was clear that I needed a change in scenery. So, I got brave (or desperate,) got us a babysitter, and went on a date with Adam, and then a date with myself. This was a huge victory! Adam and I have only had one date since we moved here and we have been here for almost 4 months. It’s hard to find someone you trust in your home country, let alone in a foreign country. So it was a big deal to find one here. And the kids were pumped. In fact they shut the door on us when we arrived back home as if to say, “No! Not yet!”

I documented our date because it was roughly 1 hour at a coffee shop with uninterrupted conversation and it was amazing!

Then I headed off to an event a friend was hosting at her business workplace. It was a vendor show for different businesses in the area. It was wonderful. I stopped by each booth and got to hear what each vendor offered as well as some background to their business. I was fascinated by how many businesses were passionate about using eco-friendly materials to make their products. One in particular known as Ashanari was a non-profit organization that focuses on teaching the local women who live in the slums how to sew and earn a living as well as conserving water by using scrap materials to make clothing instead of cotton. I was able to support the organization by purchasing an adorable and comfortable yellow dress with pockets!

I also meandered over to the free samples that Cafe Kothi had on display and very quickly realized I would not be leaving without a jar of dark chocolate peanut butter. Comfort food, right? I had already had my second coffee of the day on my date with Adam, so I couldn’t order another but was needing a “cold drink,” as they say here. On the menu was a mint pomegranate drink that to this day I can’t stop thinking about. Hit.The.Spot.

Later that night, Adam and I watched Avengers End Game and I realized that since coming to India, I have become a legit Marvel fan and now want to go back and watch all of the movies. Maybe it’s because I got to see all the superheroes in person (see an earlier post for proof!) The next marvel conquest was the new Spiderman movie because Garrett is a die hard Spiderman fan and we decided to have a family night at the movies. I didn’t think it could get any better than riding the scooter that was on display at the entrance of the movie theater. That was until, during the movie we looked over at our kids and saw the most intense smile on Garrett’s face.

After the movie Gracelyn delivered her comment (see the beginning) about having super powers. It took everything we had to hold the three kids back from trying to spray spiderwebs from their hands and swing down to the bottom floor instead of using the escalators.

No joke. Our kids genuinely believe they are super hero’s. And ya know what, they just might be.

Well, in India-Fashion, just when I started to get all irritable and down-trodden, India brought me some sweetness in the form of good old-fashioned American sugar and laughter.

It may have taken over 3 hours, but a sweet friend of mine made us donuts! Oh how we miss Dunkin Donuts. These homemade donuts brought sweet nostalgia to our family.

Unfortunately Jackson came down with a fever this week. I knew he was fighting something when he willingly took two naps two days in a row. It was time to get a check-up, but this time I wanted to see a pediatrician. We had been pleased with the ENT we had visited and more than pleased with the Audiologist, but this day, I was needing that special touch from a pediatric doctor. We had a referral from a friend whose kids had seen this doctor before so we called her up and made an appointment. On the way there in Indian’s Uber style, Jackson got to ride in the backseat with no car seat, but this time without his siblings he had so much space! He was so happy it was like we took him on a special carnival ride.

We got to the hospital where the doctor’s office was and I was once again impressed by the infrastructure, and cleanliness. Even without speaking much Hindi, a staff member knew exactly where to direct us when we mentioned the Doctor we were there to visit.

Although, there were a couple sights on this visit that did catch me off guard. The first sign is one that I have never read in a hospital before. This sign may come as a shock to some of you, as confusion to others, or maybe even familiar. I can not speak for certain as to why this sign was there, but I can speculate the reason and it brings me sorrow.

On the other hand, the second picture just made me laugh. I felt two things as I received the doctor’s text message back. One, only in India would my doctor be texting me during a casarean. Two, maybe I should see this as a privilege to be texting with my doctor?

Either way, we saw the doctor and she told us many children were battling viral fever and no antibiotics were needed. This was a relief, because getting Jackson to take medicine is like getting me to eat frog legs. I was so encouraged once again with the level of care and that special quality a pediatric specialist has with children.

Back at home I knew that family members were reconnecting over Nana’s passing. I knew that memories were being shared, photos were being rummaged through and stories being told bringing tears and laughter. I hated missing all of it but I could just picture how history was being reignited. Later that week I was at a shop famous for block printing. As I read the description on the wall about the process of block printing, the history behind it and how the art is passed down from generations, I was struck by how well India celebrates its heritage in grand and small ways. Families truly cherish and honor the generations before them. And so does mine. I thought about the actual block print, a wooden stamp of a design used and printed on cloth. I then thought about how Nana has left a stamp, an imprint on all of our hearts, for a lifetime.

No matter how far away, I can feel my family’s love. Just like I can feel the Lord’s.

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

Yoga pants and mountain views

“The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Sometimes it is the little things that help you get through a week. This pair of Proyog Yoga pants did it for me.

This week was hard. Emotionally really, really hard. For various reasons I felt heartbroken that I was not back home in America.

Sometimes, you just gotta grieve. Sometimes, you just have to take the day off, sleep in, and wear yoga pants all day. I mean yoga pants people. Not the tight, suck-in everything black pants that we were all made to believe are called “yoga” pants. But the wide crotch, flowy, not too tight elastic band, soft material, yet still flattering, can actually do yoga poses in, yoga pants. Such as these.

And no, this picture is not of me, as much as I wish it was. But nonetheless, there is nothing like lounging in your real “yoga” pants that your waist can actually breathe in, drinking a cup of coffee and staring at a picture of the mountains.

This week I just needed to take extra days off. I needed moments to stare at my mountain pictures, sit and read my Bible, journal and pray. There is just something about mountains that do it for me, they really do! I shared a little about that in an earlier post. Maybe it’s because of the nostalgia of sweet childhood memories they bring, or the fact that they are majestic and in fact point me towards their maker. Whatever it is, mountains help me breathe, breathe when life is suffocating. Just like my “real” yoga pants let me breathe!

So, this week in review:

We did a lot of puzzles. Over the weekend we were gifted two boxes of puzzles and I had already ordered some as well. We had SO many puzzles in the states and for some reason I DID NOT pack them! So, it was encouraging to see how excited our kids were to puzzle!!

The humidity arrived this week. That was a huge bummer. We are not strangers to humidity coming from Florida. But here, it has been a dry heat. Lately, a “Baking” dry heat with temps above 110, but little sweat! Now, the minute you leave an air-conditioned space you soak your clothes.

To add salt to the wound we had a bit of a water shortage in our apartment complex. I discovered this after soaping up and then needing to rinse off with only a dribble coming out of the faucet instead of the shower head. Thank goodness it was not a hair washing day!

As I said in the beginning, it is the little things that can bring joy, make a change, brighten up a day. We received a care package from a dear friend in the states this week! The kids would have used ALL of the stickers they received had we not stopped them.

A friend from our apartment who is so kind and helpful even gave the kids a free ride on his scooter which they thought was the tops.

Learning something new always brings flavor to the day. Sometimes it’s a new skill, other times it’s a new treat or a special surprise.

This week also came with a holiday. One not celebrated here as it was the 4th of July. To be completely honest, we missed the actual 4th due to a tough day but when we woke up on the 5th we were ready. Complete with 4th of July themed clothing, balloons and decorations at the place where we study Hindi (because they had a 4th of July party for some tourists the night before.) That evening we even played all of our childhood patriotic faves like “This land is my land,” “My country tis of thee,” “America, America” and so many more. We ate hot dogs, mac ‘n cheese, and peas and finished with some vanilla cupcakes with red, white and blue sprinkles. I would say for a July 5th, in India, it was pretty epic.

On Saturday we decided it was time for our family to get touristy. We ventured to Nahagarh Fort. As we left our flat, it started to rain and it looked like the day was going to be a complete bust. But we knew we needed an outing as a family so we risked it.

Thank God we did. The entire day was overcast and in the 80’s. Unheard of here!

We even explored the exterior of the fort and somehow, our Braucher bunch got to explore alone! Free from anyone asking to take our picture! It felt like it was just us, and the views. For a short time, at least.

Inside the Fort, there was a sculpture garden spread out amidst the different empty rooms. The sculpture was, interesting. I am sure that it had significant meaning. However, we were unable to read the descriptions due to chasing young children.

Despite the inability to spend time reading the historical significance of each sculpture, it took but a few seconds for me to realize that this sculpture was indeed a pelvis. Hence, the look on my face.

I wish I had more to share about the pelvis, but sadly I do not. We ended a great day with a movie night where we watched the movie, “A Dog’s Way home” and by the end decided that as soon as it is plausible we will be getting a puppy.

The next day we ventured out to a renowed sports store about 30 minutes outside the city called Decathlon. It was awesome. It was like entering the Indian verson of Dick’s Sporting Goods! The kids had a ball. They basically had a complete workout in the fitness equipment zone, played basketball, rode bikes and learned how to skateboard! We discovered that Jackson is a natural boxer, Garrett a born skateboarder and that Gracelyn is definitely not shy as she enticed customers to the the yoga mat display with her yoga poses. Of all the things to purchase, our kids each walked away with a fishing net pole and a bouncy ball in hopes of playing makeshift lacrosse.

It was an extremely fulfilling weekend. One that our family needed. However, it ended with another goodbye to more friends here headed back to the states and continued grieving over a loved ones suffering. I prayed and prayed for the Lord to bring me comfort. And before I knew it, I received a video call from my best friend introducing me to her new baby boy!!! Tears of sadness were real, for my heart longed to be there at that very moment. But the tears of joy were incredible. Seeing my best friend’s fresh to the world baby boy and her smiling face, in the midst of my heartache was the Lord hearing and answering my prayer for comfort.

As we journeyed into the next week. I have held these things close to my heart, and frequently looked at the pictures we captured over the weekend. I give thanks for breath-taking views and A God who is close to the broken-hearted.

A Teeter Totter week.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

Up.

And down.

Up.

And down.

That was this week. At least it was not like a merry-go-round. Although, my stomach would disagree.

Started with a great yoga class monday afternoon. My foreword bend is getting so much better and I felt like I nailed the Surya Namaskar. Feeling confident and limber, I was excited for a good week. We also made the decision to remove gluten from our diets. With Sensory Processing Disorder, Anxiety and potentially ADHD in the mix amongst our family members, it was time to test the correlation between gluten and hyperactivity. And then Garrett came down with the stomach bug.

But it’s OK! He only threw up twice in the night and we only had to wash 3 sheets!

And I had a girl date with my friend! We went to Old City which is this incredible piece of history. We strolled through the market, through a sea of colors and textiles and block prints and vendors shouting phrases that I am certain are in the Aladdin movie. I was on the hunt for “choodiyaan”, aka bangles. Married women here wear bangles as a representation that they are married, and I have not been wearing any! No wonder the tuk-tuk driver asked.

I was excited to find my first pair of bangles and first pair of Rajasthani flats. I also came with an extra dose of humility because I was well aware that most of the bangles probably would not fit over my wrist, nor flats on my feet. So when looking I joyfully shouted “Badi”, aka big when asked for my size. I was successful with the bangles! Not so much for the flats. And I found an incredible bag to boot. At least I can live vicariously through Gracelyn’s flats.

Gracelyn was making great progress with her 6 medicines that the ENT ordered. Probably because I gave her chocolate baking morsels from the states after every medicine. And that’s Antibiotic, Steroid, Probiotic, Allergy, and two nasal sprays. After a long previous week of sickness, I had taken her to the ENT over the weekend. We discovered that she is allergic to the dust here. So allergic that her adenoids were incredibly swollen and her ear drum was at risk of rupturing. They even sent us to x-ray to check on her adenoids! overwhelmed once again by sickness and medicine, it was imperative that I remember to be grateful for the medical care and and ask friends to pray for her healing. That and to diffuse Young Living Thieves and Purification of course.Also, A few of you have asked about healthcare here. I am pumped to share that after each visit, I pay cash!!! No insurance company, no explanation of benefits, not calling to appeal a service not covered!!! So amazing, in fact, I will show a picture of the receipts and little folders we get to take home from each visit.

The ups and downs are so frequent, they blur together. Wednesday morning I awoke so sick to my stomach that it knocked me out for three days. And when I recovered, Adam went down. What a great week to be gluten free huh? Friends, I don’t know how we managed to maintain it, but somehow the kids made it through the week with two sick parents and nothing but eggs, hard-boiled eggs, rice, nuts, fruit and vegetables to eat. It wasn’t until Saturday that we found a meat guy and figured out how to get chicken delivered to our door! New favorite foods for the kids equal raisins, oatmeal with swirls of nutella, cashews and potato chips. We have lots to learn in this gluten-free journey. At the end of an exhausting week we were not even sure if it was worth it. And then we let them have pancakes. And that was it. After witnessing an obvious impact from the gluten, I decided to head to the store and get creative. I learned how to make Rice flour Roti, and Quinoa cheese and veggie bites. Who knew it would take me to move to India to learn how to up my culinary repertoire. I even learned how to make homemade sweet lime soda. But, ended up using the instant version instead. But hands down my favorite item is good 0ld-fashioned gatorade. With temps of 109 and 110 this week, we have depended on gatorade for survival.

I ended the week on an up. To give Adam some rest, I decided to take the kids to the local mall because it has an indoor play area where they could shed some energy since they were cooped up all week due to the heat and two incapacitated parents. Unbeknownst to me, there was a marvel meet and greet event! It was awesome. Ironman, Spiderman, BumbleBee, all dancing on stage and the kids got to join them. Epic.

Went out to a new shop with a friend, found a new Kurta dress and……. drumroll……. Meters of material! I shared in an earlier post that I am intimidated by the common purchase of meters of material to turn into a three piece suit or a saree. Still intimated by the saree, so that is yet to come. But I did find some incredible material to take to a tailor to make into a dress! I will share the final product after it is made!

The teeter totter ended up. Grateful to end the week on the up and up. Nothing like falling sick, and people you love falling sick to make you homesick. I have missed my family and my friends greatly this week. I have missed their voices, the smell of the fresh air in NY, the green grass and the blue sky. I have missed deli sandwiches with turkey! I have missed friends from all phases of my life, apartments we used to live in, and the ability to be able to be with the ones I love in an instant for sickness, for births, for celebrations. But I am grateful that I have so many ways to connect, and so many wonderful pictures to look at and reminisce.