January in Montevideo, love it or hate it.
"Normal" life is at a stand-still. No school, no weekly commitments (at least we can still have our team meetings), high probability of whoever you're trying to connect with being disconnected at the beach.
There's more time to think, to process the past year (Uruguayans are usually more reflective than those of us from the USA), to think and pray about your desires for the year ahead.
For us there's also the matter of 3 birthdays.
This month the birthdays got me. We had a great party, with a super-fun bouncy house (see our new profile pic), cutesy decor, halfway decent food, and (most importantly) a significant smattering of friends. The birthday honorees loved their cakes, and the boy still thinks his birthday IS a lion bouncy house.
But I lost the most important battles. The days leading up to that party were more than a little tense in our house (er, the house we're house-sitting, which we have enjoyed immensely). Somehow birthday parties always end up requiring more hours than I realized, and can't the kids just take care of themselves for a few days while I put in those hours? Apparently that doesn't go so well.
After crashing through that week, and ending up on my face (again), I am ready to embrace what God is showing me to be my mission in 2015:
my role in the battle is to praise Him, engage in spiritual warfare TOGETHER with my family (not against them), and go forward in assignments that are fiercely protected in prayer.
When the enemy sees us walking in unity, he does what he did with the Jews who worked together with Nehemiah to rebuild the wall, he and his forces "plot together to come and fight against [our home] and to cause confusion in it" (Nehemiah 4:8).
"From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail...Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other" (Nehemiah 4:16-17).
Sometimes it feels like a "waste" of time to have to spend so much time covering all we do in prayer. We are gradually realizing that it is THE most important thing we do. We know we are in a spiritually dark place, a place where marriages and family have been attacked and left beaten and often destroyed. We have not been immune to these attacks, but we have seen God "turn back [the enemy's] taunt on [his] own head" (Nehemiah 4:4).
We have one more birthday this month. Oliver would have been turning 7 on January 21st. God continues to remind me that He is taking care of Oliver, and that He is enabling me to take care of the other 4.
Grieving together has made our marriage stronger. Praising God together always brings us into sweet unity. January 21st will be a day of doing both.
May this year be a year of breakthrough praise!