Newlands’ Chapel: Our Heaven on Earth

Chapel

Here’s our little slice of Heaven. Our constant in the face of daily inconsistencies.

What may look like a shabby shed-like structure is the most beautiful, serene place Mike and I have found in Malawi. It’s a place we come to worship God among others who are passionately in love with him.

The picture is deceiving, the actual chapel is on the left in a small, intimate space. Every Saturday night we leave our house at 4:15pm, listen to the top 20 countdown from the US on the car ride and arrive just in time for mass at 5pm.

Then, it’s time to find our seats. Where we used to sit in the very front seats (seats is generous term, they’re pop-out mini-stools that are backless and my bum barely fits on them ha!) we now find ourselves choosing the back seats closest to the door in case a quick mass-and-dash is needed with David who is ALWAYS on the move.

Thank God we’ve known our fellow parishioners for almost two years now and they’ve watched me go through the whole pregnancy process and now are in love with David and VERY patient. David loves to yodel while we’re singing and if it weren’t so cute, it MAY be seen as obnoxious.

The best part of going to mass at Newlands is the intimacy. The place is always packed, there’s not a seat in the whole chapel that isn’t occupied. Every Saturday, without fail, we have to bring out whatever seats we can find around the building and fill the aisles, people sit on the floor, and you better be comfortable with touching your neighbor because there’s barely space to breath.

The Holy Spirit is evidently on fire in this place. It’s a beautiful sight when you look around and everyone is on their knees praising our Lord and Savior. Everyone coming together in one simple act: to love on our God and that, is a magnificent thing.

Sister Regina and David–Sister was one of first people to meet David as we went to mass two days after I gave birth. What better way to praise God for the blessing of a healthy baby?
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Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Life

Life seems to be moving faster than I have ever known it to go.

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My darling (have to get the mushy terms of endearments in while I can…too soon I fear he’ll be saying ‘Aw, Mom! C’mon!’) David Michael is almost nine months old and is changing daily.

As I type, he’s sleeping in his pack-and-play after having just rocked him–He’s so precious! I lovingly refer to him as my “Blonde Bomber” just as my Great Grandpa Les Wilkening referred to me when I was young.

It has been a quiet morning, Mike, David, Charlie and I went for a walk around the neighborhood and blazed a new trail as our go-to route has been washed out by the rain. Although it hasn’t been raining much as of late, the floods in Malawi are continuing to affect the country.

Many people are still displaced from their homes, roads have been washed out and many of the crops around the area are gone which means a lack of food in the future.

Please pray for the country of Malawi as they endure this difficult time.

David Michael: 2 Months

2 MonthsBlog

David has surpassed the 2 month mark! And if you’re math-orientated and keep track of numbers (not me) then you’ve probably realized that in fact David is not only 2 months old but almost 3 months.

David turned 2 months in the midst of Mike’s and my trip back to the United States so the blog was the last thing on my mind. However, I did take lots of pictures while we were back and I did document things David liked in my “One Line a Day” journal that my Aunt Heather gave me when we left for Africa. 

Anyway, it seems as though each month goes by quicker than the one before it; as most parents already know, and I am currently learning. It’s such a deep joy and blessing to witness David changing daily and what makes this month even more fun is that he’s beginning to smile…though I’m not sure how purposefully yet.

He’s also enjoying a lot more tummy time and beginning to be able to hold his head up for longer and longer. 

In more exciting news, David was able to experience THE MOST IMPORTANT day of his LIFE! Can you guess what that would be? If you guessed his baptism then you’re correct. On Sunday, August 17th Baby David was baptized by his great great Uncle Father David (the same person who married Mike and me AND my parents). 

Such a beautiful experience, my uncle traveled more than 8 hours…picking up his mom, David’s great great grandma…along the way. We were able to celebrate with most of our family and as the Holy Spirit touched my heart, I did a lot of crying…! So thankful to be a child of God 🙂

DBaptism

 

We’re Baaaack!

I haven’t written for awhile because, well, we’ve been enjoying our time in The States! 

We surprised my family by telling them we wouldn’t be coming home until August 1st; so when I showed up at my sister’s graduation party, everyone was speechless…literally! That is until they started crying 🙂 

Mike has a reputation for surprising his family in unique ways when he comes home so it was nice to be able to see the expression on the face’s of my family members when I surprised them (now I see why he gets such a kick out of it). 

Anyway, Mike and I are usually asked how long it takes us to get back. Well, let me tell you, it’s not a straight shot. We take four flights (if not five…sometimes we have layovers where we don’t actually exit the plane) and end up flying a little over twenty hours! 

I will admit that I never look forward to the trip home but it’s always worth the anticipation of coming back to see the people and the state that we love. Mike and I get so excited about coming home that it’s common for us to be unable to sleep the night before our trip back. 

Oh, I forgot to add that the 20 hours of flying doesn’t include the day trip we take up to Lilongwe, which takes us about four hours of traveling straight north. This may not sound like a big deal, but the traffic and road conditions make the trip uncomfortable…especially with a newborn.

The silver lining to this 20+ hour adventure (to put it mildly) was that David was THE best baby that I’ve ever encountered! He gladly slept most of the way if we were holding him and everyone on the flights was super accommodating.

Fortunately, we always secured the bassinet seats which meant we had tons of extra leg room and were able to move about more freely. Although David refused to sleep in the bassinet, it did give us the chance to access the bathroom for changings and manipulate our bodies into a variety of yoga poses in order to support him while he was sleeping 🙂 

I must admit that the looks of people’s faces when I told them we were traveling with a 5 week old baby were priceless and Mike overheard a couple saying, “I would NEVER travel with a newborn!” While Mike was slightly offended, I took it as a compliment.

Although I am undoubtedly biased…I know in my heart that things go well for us because we place our faith in God. Traveling with David gave me the chance, on multiple occasions, to sing God’s praises. “Your baby is SO well behaved!” ‘Thanks, I prayed about it a lot.’ These little opportunities to plant seeds in people’s hearts was fulfilling to me.

In the end, I’m not sure how we managed it…well, yes I do, prayer (and I gave up sweets in petition for stress-free travel!) but Mike and I managed to get David home without fighting. Although we did practice the…I’ll be standing over here not talking to you for awhile until we’ve both cooled off AND the don’t offer me an $8 latte if you refuse to spend the $8 scuffle; we arrived in America with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts.

Praise God for the small (though I would argue this was fairly large) blessings!

Hormones: What’s not to Love?

I’ve said this several times. But I STILL can’t believe how ill-prepared I am (present tense) when it comes to life after labour (excuse me, but sometimes the British spelling of words just comes out because of teaching). What got me today are my crazy hormone levels. Despite being 4+ weeks “postpartum”…I hate the word; reminds me of death? I have come to realize that when I least expect it, my hormones remind me that they are still incredibly out of whack.

What prompted this you ask? Well, I was getting ready to do my yoga when I saw a baby cockroach on the ground next to me. It never ceases to be true that once you feel at peace with the fact that your house is fairly roach-free one surfaces just to let you know who’s really ruling the roost. Needless to say, I killed it which made me feel a bit sad; keywords: “a bit.”

I started up my yoga video and began my breathing, but the entire time all I could think about was that tiny bug and how I had ended its life. I thought about how that bug was somebody’s child and was reminded of how finite our lives really are.

One of my favorite moments I have with David is when I pray over him. One prayer I pray consistently at night, before we go to bed is: “I pray that God is with you in your thoughts, words, and actions and may your guardian angel go before you in all things.” I make sure to make the sign of the cross too; as the more prayers the better.

It’s interesting how we want to give our children everything they could possibly ever need. But, have you ever thought about how most things we give and do in this life are temporary? Those Nike shoes they cried about for a week that all the other kids have, so you caved and bought them just to see them smile? Or being their pack leader so you can spend more time with them?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend time with your children or splurge on their wants rather than their needs once in awhile. But, what I can’t stop thinking about today is that the only thing I can leave my family with…and I’m talking not just Mike and my children, but our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their children are our prayers.

I pray not only for Mike and my relationship, but for David and his wife’s relationship (if he chooses to get married), and for their children’s relationships. I pray that their faith greatly outweighs my own and that they spend their lives serving the Lord. This is the only thing that I can leave with my family and the ones I love.

Have you ever heard that our faith can be lost in just one generation? I’m far from perfect, but knowing that I can leave lasting prayers for my family that will continue to live long after I am gone helped me to stop crying over the smashed cockroach, to say the least.

I am so thankful to be a child of God!

 

 

David Michael: One Month Update

David1MonthDavid Michael is one whole month today! I can’t believe how fast the time has flown; Mike and I couldn’t be more in love with our lil’ guy. 

Over the last month we’ve had some extreme lows but many more highs. The first two weeks after bringing David home from the hospital were very rough. I felt that at times, Mike was watching a newborn and a 26-year-old baby! I was hurting in places I didn’t know could ache, and felt like I had been ran over by a truck. I sobbed uncontrollably and questioned my ability to be a mother.

On the other hand, I felt so empowered (hormones are a crazy thing…). I was ecstatic about delivering the way I had intended and felt that my desires about the labor were fully advocated for and I watched with a sense of wonderment as my husband transformed into a dedicated daddy. I couldn’t sleep at night (nobody tells you about the adrenaline rush post labor!) and prayed hours upon hours over my new family. I sobbed uncontrollably and praised God for the blessings He has given us. 

This last month has brought the Miller Family such joy. David has changed dramatically since the day we brought him home, though he’s still significantly more tan than either me or my husband…huh

In these past 30 days, David has grown more aware and his bright blue eyes are open much more often. He is beginning to coo and is the nosiest baby I have ever met. He despises waking up no matter what time it is and will grunt and contort his face into the most hysterical expressions. 

He has learned to hold onto objects close to him and is focusing his eyes on objects near him. The poor baby is SO gassy that he wakes himself up due to his flatulence (he gets that from Mike). For the most part we can now distinguish his cries and body language: tired, hungry, wet, or the most obvious…gassy!

David loves his warm bath time and the activity is deemed Mike and baby’s “special time” as is: directly after Mike comes home from work, right before bed, and before Dad heads for work in the morning. Another one of his favorite activities is to lay in front of the heater we bought to keep him warm. Mike and I always joke that the heater is his favorite toy.

I have adored becoming a mother and while there have already been ups paired with downs, I wouldn’t change the time that we’ve spent together growing as a family. I am so thankful for the time God has given us to adjust to our new definition of family and look forward to showing off Baby to the family! 

Praying your Spouse to Heaven (even if you don’t have one yet!)

Pray Your Spouse to Heaven

You can never begin praying for your spouse too soon, nor is it ever to late to begin praying for your partner. Whatever stage you’re at in your life, it’s important to begin praying for your spouse, current or future.

The problem is, sometimes praying is difficult. You’re not sure where to begin, what to say, and it feels awkward and almost forced. I mean, if you’re not enjoying it and not praying from your heart then why do it, right?

Hmm…I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: If you’ve never done something before, or you don’t do it very often it feels awkward. This is true in all aspects of life. Haven’t ridden a bicycle in awhile, ride around the block and tell me how it feels. Or, call up your sister who you haven’t said I love you to in awhile; awkward? Probably. But that doesn’t mean with consistent practice you won’t get better. Research says that “professionals” in any aspect have dedicated a minimum of 10,000 practice hours into their area of expertise. 

So, where to begin? Well, you could…

1. Thank God—Tell God thank you for all of the things you appreciate in your spouse. What is your spouse doing well? Maybe you’re thankful that they make you dinner every night or rub your feet when you’re tired. Personally, I think God is “thirsty” for our thank yous and enjoys hearing how grateful we are for what he has given us.

2. Ask for Help—You aren’t alone. God is our father, he wants to hear what you’re struggling with. If there’s something in your spouse that you’re struggling to accept; pray about it and offer it up to God. I once took a Bible study that encouraged us to pray about our partner’s inadequacies and let God work in his time rather than nit-pick our spouse; wise words.

3. Be Timely—Not sure where to start? What about with today? What happened that you want to pray about in relation to your spouse? Are they up for a big promotion? Maybe they were super cranky when they got home and you want to encompass them with the Holy Spirit’s peace.

4. Ask your Spouse—It never hurts to ask your spouse what they would like you to be praying for. In this way your spouse is encouraged too by knowing that you’re thinking about them and praying for their intentions.

5. Turn to Scripture—Often when I am at a lack of what to pray for I turn to the Bible, it’s full of God’s promises for us and guidelines for becoming a better Christian. The site Revive Our Hearts has a neat 31 day prayer journey that you can actually print and put up on your fridge. Unfortunately, most things you’ll find will be wives praying for their husbands; but in most cases you can interchange the terms.

My marriage is nowhere near perfect and although I try my best to pray over my family and Mike daily it doesn’t mean that I ALWAYS do it. There’s always room for improvement!