He will overcome.

My heart was in the right place.

It was three days before the start of my adventure to Papua New Guinea – three days before I would squeeze my family goodbye, and I was packing up and leaving for a three-day work trip. My heart could not handle. So I packed three small bags and declared, “You’re coming with me, kids.” My work demands allowed me to build breaks into my schedule, affording me “fun time” with my Henry, Harper and Greta.

And it was fun. We went swimming. We rented a paddle boat. We jumped on beds. We dined lakeside and studied the movements of a grass-nibbling groundhog that Harper named, “Ground-y.” When work beckoned, I set up the kids with their devices and headphones and activity books. Given the circumstances (single parenting, working mom, memory-making dreams), the kids did great.

As for their mother, well, her heart was in the right place.

The reality was that swimming included a lot of, “Out of the pool kids, Harper has to go to the bathroom which means we all have to go,” and then I would lead three kids with towels dragging and a chorus of whines (“I have to pee!” “I’m too cold!” “Why can’t I keep swimming?!”) back inside the lodge to the bathroom. The paddle boat that they begged me to rent resulted in Hot, Sweaty and Tired bickering in a boat in the middle of the lake. The only legs that could paddle us back to shore? Mine. The bed jumping always resulted in kid tears and mom yells. The meals never came fast enough and were usually too crunchy, too sticky, or too little, depending on who you asked.

The literal breaking point occurred when my 50-pound 7-year old and his pipsqueak sister were foolishly playing with the stroller, tipping it over with the 7-year old in it. He walked away without a scratch, but momma’s cell phone did not.

With less than 36 hours before my trip and still another day’s worth of work ahead, I was in the middle of a state park with three small kids and a shattered cell phone (and a lodge room without a mini bar).

I did not have the time to deal. And I certainly did not have the mental health to deal with a shattered cell phone on top of work on top of three tired kids on top of where are we?

I called for back-up.

It was 9’o’clock at night, and my knight-and-shining-armor answered without hesitation, “I’m on my way.” His sacrifice required much – he had finished a marathon of a day at work and then completed a construction project at home. He needed a shower and his own bed, and by making the hour long trip to us meant he’d stay the night, take off work the next day, and scramble to find someone to help with our dog.

It didn’t phase him in the slightest. When he arrived at the lodge greeting me with the same smile that stole my heart the day we met, I collapsed into his arms. For the first time in two days I felt rest, my most genuine offering, “Why did I ever think that I could do this without you?”

That brings us to yesterday, my last day before boarding my first of five flights to Papua New Guinea. In retrospect, I can see the battle, the last couple of weeks littered with hiccups and breaking points and increasing irritability. A force of darkness stepping up its game, working to beat me down as I have been following God’s lead in preparation for my trip.

But God.

Yesterday I felt the force of the Overcomer – the One who is fighting for me, leaving nothing and no one to come between me and His love. By His overwhelming grace, I wrapped up my day at work, found a store to replace my phone screen, and made it home in time to squeeze my people. The kids unknowingly offered my heart just what it needed to carry with it these next two weeks. True to who they are, they each gifted me through their unique personalities. Greta, still groggy from her nap, grumpily responded, “No!” when I asked for a hug goodbye. She ran over anyway, curling her body in my lap as I cocooned her, the cuddle rhythm that is our own. Henry, my literal-thinking son with a tender heart, considered the facts of my trip – fifteen days we would be apart – and following a moment of deep thought, he softly offered, “I think I miss you already.” And Harper, with a spunk that speaks louder than words, squeezed me breathless, and then ran in for another hug as I walked to the door, and then another hug as I walked to the car, and then as I started to drive away, she stood nearby on the sidewalk and said, “I’m going to keep watching until I can’t see your car anymore.”

Heart full. Grace victorious. Mercies anew.

He will overcome.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. 1 John 5:4

Jesus: “I have said these thing to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Adventure Awaits

**On July 22, I will begin a journey to Madang, Papua New Guinea to visit my dear friend, Sharon. She serves as a missionary there with Pioneer Bible Translators. Below is a recent letter that I sent to my prayer and support team.**

Precious friends.

In two weeks and two days, I will board the first of five airplanes, beginning the lengthy trip to see our sister, Sharon, in Madang, Papua New Guinea. The best I can describe my current state of mind regarding this trip: surreal.

What God has done and is doing to get me there is nothing short of miraculous. Your prayers and generosity are mind blowing, and His provisions bring me to tears. Just this weekend I unexpectedly received a check from a friend who happened to hear about my trip. Another friend of the family played an integral role in booking my airfare – I have never even met this dear soul. Not to mention the beautiful sacrifice of my parents and Matt’s parents who have agreed to stay with our kids during my time away. Already I feel like God is moving things into motion faster than I can pray for them. I am deeply overwhelmed and humbled – His grace continuing to knock me to my knees.

Many people have asked what I will be doing when I am there with Sharon. My honest answer is this: I don’t know. I am reminded of the Israelites journey to the Promised Land. While they knew the destination, they had no idea what God had in store for them along the way. Looking back they could see the whats and whys of that significant trip, but none of it they could foresee.

I know that my destination is Papua New Guinea, but what God has in store for me remains unclear. I expect to have a much deeper and greater understanding of Sharon’s work with Pioneer Bible Translators, allowing me to develop a deeper partnership with her ministry. However only God knows what my days in Madang will bring.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your prayers and support thus far. I am deeply grateful – beyond words. Continue to pray for me as I prepare for the three days on airplanes (each way), the weeks away from my precious family, and the shock of being immersed in a culture dramatically different than my own. I also know that Sharon covets your prayers, specifically for her safety and the safety of the beloved people she has come to love. While she assures me that she is not in any danger (Mom, I promise!), her concern for the nationals and natives around her cause her heartbreak as they suffer at the hands of one another.

It is with joyful thanksgiving that I share this update with you as I prepare for my trip. Enjoy this visual update of my travels – the flights alone will provide such adventure!

http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=cmh-lax-syd-cns-pom-mag-cns-syd-lax-cmh

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26)

Grace upon grace,

Ali

My 6-year-old is dating.

Henry ran off the bus today yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! Guess who my girlfriend is?”

I about passed out.

Upon regaining my composure, I muttered, “Um, what did you say?”

Seeing that I was near-convulsing, Henry slowed down and said, “Wait, how old do I have to be to have a girlfriend?”

I’m pretty sure I gave him a blank stare except I couldn’t feel my eyeballs so I’m not totally sure.

My mind could not compute what was happening.

Finally I said, “Let’s go inside and sit down.”

It seems that the walk inside gave Henry some time to rephrase his initial insanity. “Mommy, I have a new best friend.”

I was slowly beginning to breathe again. “Okay, why don’t you start at the beginning.”

He handed me a drawing. It was a picture of a girl with blonde hair and a boy with light brown hair, standing side-by-side, inside a HEART.

It’s safe to say that my blood pressure at this point was near stroke.

“Mommy, Elizabeth gave me this.”

Carefully and feeling quite numb, I said, “Oh, okay, that’s nice. How did this happen?”

Henry: “Well, I gave her a picture first.”

Me: “Oh, okay, what was the picture you gave her?”

Henry: “A picture of a heart with me and with her and our hands were touching.”

Me: BLANK STARE. NUMB EYEBALLS.

Henry: “Mommy?”

Me: LAMAZE BREATHING.

Henry: “At the end of the day we could color or read a book and I decided to color.”

Me: “Is she on birth control?”

Henry: “What’s that?”

Me: “Nevermind, just. just. just. What is happening?”

Henry: “I told Elizabeth she’s my girlfriend.”

Me: “Wait, you TOLD her that she’s your girlfriend or you asked her to be your girlfriend?”

Henry: “Are you suppose to ask?”

Me: “Nevermind. just. just. just. What is happening?”

Henry: “And then I asked her who her boyfriend is and she pointed to me.”

I should probably mention I’ve been passed out unconscious for the last two hours, but I’m okay now, or whatever. Is today Flag Day? What is happening?

My first thought upon coming back to life – is this a dream – “Elizabeth, I will find you.”

Determined to find what I’m sure was going to be some floozy, I wasted no time logging onto Henry’s teacher’s blog.

Me: “Henry, get over here right now and show me who Elizabeth is.”

As I scrolled down the page, Henry‘s finger reached out and he said, “There she is!”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Henry: “Yes, that’s her, Mom!”

Me: “Oh.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. She’s, she’s, she’s perfect. Darling. Wholesome. She really is everything I would ever want for him. Oh, and her mom’s the art teacher. Cancel Christmas and somebody get Martha Stewart on the phone! Those Wedding magazine people are going to be all over this.

I know, I know. They’re in first grade. But of all the girls in his class, he picked Elizabeth. I think his selection is especially hopeful considering as I type this Harper is eating Cheez-its with her toes.

Something tells me that Elizabeth never eats Cheez-its with her toes.

And that’s it. Henry’s dating. My six-year-old is dating. I don’t know what else to say. A girlfriend. I don’t even know how he knows that word. GIRLFRIEND. He ran off the bus to tell me that he has a girlfriend.

I can only pray he’ll always be that excited to tell me about his personal life.

Now where’s the tequila?