by Laura on April 8, 2010

I won’t lie, this has been the hardest thing our family has ever done.

Hands down.  The hardest thing we’ve ever done.

And maybe that proves that we’ve lived a bit of a cake-walk life thus far, but this past week has been much tougher than we imagined while viewing it from the mountains of Colorado.

In essence, the last few days have looked like this: we begin in the cool of the morning with the high hopes of finding a rental house, but by noon, the kids are tired of driving around in the van, the temperature has peaked at 104, we can’t find food Cade will eat, the information has changed again, we have miscommunicated another time, and there’s still no house on the horizon.  And our new friends here have helped us immensely (thank you, Lu and Betty!), but it has still been unexpectedly exhausting.

Beyond underestimating what it would take to find a home, we also greatly underestimated the stress that comes from living in a foreign country with small children.  You, moms, will sympathize.  Picture this:  I have the kids by myself at a pool today (while Matt continues to look for rentals).  He drives away with an agent.  Then, I read the sign and find that the pool doesn’t open for another 45 minutes.  I don’t have a cell phone.  It’s over 100 degrees already.  We haven’t had lunch, and I forgot the sunscreen.  I drag everyone into a convenient store nearby and frantically try to find sunblock amid a row of bottles in another language.  Ava starts pulling stuff off shelves.  I snarl at Kelty to grab her sister and try to distract everyone by letting them pick out an icecream bar.  Ava falls.  The three workers at the cash register are openly staring at us (the blonde heads have gotten many a look thus far), while talking in Asian and pointing.  I pick up Ava, while Cade starts having a meltdown that he can’t hold his icecream until after I pay for it.  I grab his arm (too hard, I’m afraid), ask in slow english to the attendant, “sunscreen?” while telling Kelty to grab Ava again, and whispering at Cade to “get it together.”  I get the sunblock, don’t understand what bills are needed for payment, end up handing over a crumpled 1000 baht (which I assume better cover it), nod, say “thankyou” in Asian, which I’m sure I continue to butcher, and scuttle everyone out the door.  Look at my watch.  Dang.  Only 3 minutes spent.  I go to nearby coffeeshop– where Ava drops her icecream on the floor and Kelty spills my entire iced coffee–all again with an openly staring audience.  Swelter in the sun for another 25 minutes with tired, whiny kids.  Finally get to the pool.  Awesome–now time to breathe.  Psyche.  Ava has to go to the bathroom, and I am faced with another mothering dilemma. I can’t leave the older kids surrounded by staring strangers, I can’t let the baby go inside by herself, I can’t leave my stuff with my wallet, but don’t know if I have time to get it all inside by the time . . .  oops, too late  . . . Ava had an accident.  Score.

That’s just a little snapshot; it’s been hard–harder than we expected (the downside of optimism I suppose). We are still living out of piles in suitcases.  Still waking up early from the jet-lag.  Still all in one room.  Still exhausted from grabbing little hands in crowded markets.  Still just surviving emotionally and maritally.  But, here’s the thing I’ve been reminded of lately,  anything worth doing or being costs.  Greatly. Whether it’s fighting for your marriage or paying off debt or learning the Bible or losing weight or loving orphans, anything worth anything is costly.

This week I remembered the story in the Bible when King David is going to make a sacrifice (2 Samuel 24:24).  Sacrificies in the Old Testament were a form of worship and a action of obedience. In this story, the actual sacrifice was offered to David as a gift.  But David refused, insisting that he pay for it himself,saying, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing.”

“I will not sacrifice that which costs me nothing.”

It’s become my new mantra of late.  Whenever I feel embarrassed by the food my kids spill amid the stares of a hundred eyes.  Whenever I catch a glimpse of our dirty feet or sweaty heads.  Whenever I root through unorganized clothes.  Whenever I watch my kids play in a pool unable to talk to the kids around them.  Whenever I feel isolated and disconnected and so far away from home.  I meditate on this gem from Scripture.  I repeat it and cling to it and remember that true worship and obedience comes with a cost. And sometimes the price tag may feel a bit higher than was expected, but maybe God new that if I understood what the journey was really going to cost, my human nature wouldn’t have chosen it in the first place.  Regardless, I’m trying to embrace the sacrifice, instead of bartering my way out of it.

Heat and fish smell and house-hunting and all.

Update:  Since I wrote this last night, we found a house to rent!  We are so thankful to be moving in today.  It has a lovely garden and is in a great neighborhood.  We are facing the day with much more hope!  Thanks for praying.  Pictures to come soon, promise.