What Do You Know?

We received some news recently that rocked our family. We were scared, worried, angry, and confused. But then my very wise husband, Corey, told me a few things we needed to remember. I asked him to share with you all what God taught him and what he  shared with me.

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What do we feel? What do we know? These are two questions that our family was forced to wrestle with over the last several weeks. Before we moved to Amsterdam, we were informed that non-Dutch workers could obtain paperwork from the government that would reduce our tax rate (Dutch taxes are 42%!). This ruling was explained to be a mere formality, and it would be granted without any issue. However, a few weeks ago, we were informed that the Dutch government intended to reject our application for the tax ruling. The result for our family would have meant an increase of several hundred dollars to our monthly budget. This is simply money that we did not have. In the moment I received that letter we were confused, worried and angry all at once. Over the next few days, God taught us an invaluable lesson. Although our emotions were raging in every direction, what we felt could not be the driving force in our lives. We had to live by what we know. We know that God drew our hearts to Amsterdam. We know that he provided the funds for us to move in May. We know that He is already opening up relationships with the Dutch people. We know that He is good, and that He is faithful. The next few weeks, we were stretched to live in this realm of knowing versus feeling. Finally we received the email with the final result of our tax ruling. IT HAD BEEN REVERSED! I’m not one to normally use all capital letters in my writing, but I feel this news warranted an exception. For reasons unknown to us or our lawyers, the government changed its mind! Our emotions while reading that email soared to new heights of joy and relief. Interestingly enough, what we knew did not change. God has brought us here, provided, and opened doors. He is good, and He is faithful. Though our emotions may change tomorrow, we can live by what we know of the God that we love and who loved us first. 

Before you act on what you feel, what do you know? 

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Another rainy day.

The girls and I headed to a little playground in our neighborhood to take some pictures and kill some time before lunch. When we left the house the skies were mostly cloudy but I still didn’t think it would rain. Apparently, my Dutch rain predicting skills are not very good. It did rain. A lot. Here are some pictures I took before the rain started!

A lot of people in Amsterdam have dogs. When a lot of people have dogs, that means a lot of dog walking which leads to a lot of little gifts left by the cute little doggies. In three four (I can’t believe it’s been four months!) of living here, I have only seen one person cleaning up after their dog. I don’t know yet of this is normal or not, but people just look out for piles and watch their step. I heard our neighbor teaching his children to look before they step and only walk on the sidewalk unless Daddy says it’s ok to walk in the grass. The poo is mostly in the grass by sidewalks and bike paths. I’ve never encountered any piles in the park. Anyway, all of that lovely information to explain what is going on in this picture.

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We got to the playground and Lyla ran from the sidewalk onto the grass and then stopped dead in her tracks. Sh looked down and said, with a very panicked voice, “Mommy!! Is there any doggie poo poo here?! I don’t want it on my shooooeeesss!!” It was so funny! Since I already had the camera out I snapped a quick picture before I told her that she was ok to walk in this grass probably but to look where she was walking. She looked at me and then walked back onto the sidewalk and said, “This is probably better.” She’s hilarious.

This “horse’s” name is Buttercup. We walked around the corner and Lyla yelled, “Mommy! I see Buttercup! Oh, Buttercup! I missed you!!” I love her imagination so much.

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Eloise is getting so big! She is almost walking, but is still too nervous to let go. I think it’ll happen soon and then I’ll never sit down! She is our adventurer. Always in to anything and everything!

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Lyla loves the playground! She has been begging to go the last few days. It’s been pretty rainy and Lyla and I have both been sick so we haven’t been to the playground in several days. She doesn’t look very excited to be here, but she is! (She just shows her emotions about as well as her Momma, Grandma, Auntie, and Uncles.)

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Then it started to sprinkle a little bit. So I put the hood of my rain jacket up, covered Eloise with the hood on her stroller, and gave Lyla the umbrella. She loves the umbrella and would walk with it everywhere everyday if we let her!

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Right after I took this picture and put the camera away it started raining harder. The wind was blowing so hard that it caught the umbrella up and blew Lyla over twice! I was trying to help Lyla walk fast, carry the umbrella, and push Eloise in the stroller all at the same time. Crazy. Eloise was giggling the whole time because she loves the rain more than life itself and Lyla was just happy to be holding the umbrella. I on the other hand was trying to rush home. I don’t know why… we couldn’t have possibly been more wet than we already were. The girls were having the time of their life and I was trying to rush them through it. I read online somewhere that it was a myth that you would get a cold from being out in the rain too long. I have no idea if this is true or not, but since we all already had a runny nose I decided not to risk it. I slowed down enough so that Lyla’s three year old legs could realistically keep up with me and let her enjoy the rain a little bit but we still didn’t dilly dally.

I had already learned the lesson of always carrying an umbrella just in case. Today I learned to not get too stressed out when you get caught in the rain. Enjoy the moment (as much as possible when you have a one year old and a three year old!) and do so more research about rain and colds. What do you think? Do we catch a cold from being in the rain? Or do we just catch a cold from not going out and being cooped up with other people who have colds?

Beatrix Park

This past Tuesday we rode our bikes over to Beatrix Park. It’s just about a 3 minute bike ride from our house! It’s a really cute park with tons of trees, walking trails, bike trails, a pond with ducks, a playground, a wading pool, and even a snack shop! We’ve started going every Sunday after nap time because it’s a lot of fun and Lyla needs to burn off some energy!

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On Monday, we promised Lyla we could go swimming the next day. Note to self: make sure it’s warmer than 70° before you promise a three year old you’ll take her swimming! The water was SO COLD but Lyla had a lot of fun anyway. The pool, other than being cold, was perfect. Just enough water to have fun but not so much that I was nervous to let her play by herself. She told me she wants to go back everyday!

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The girls have so much fun swinging together on this swing. They giggle and giggle! After a few swings together, Eloise gets off so that Lyla can swing “so much high” as Lyla calls it.

By the way, Lyla dressed herself that day. She loves those rain boots!

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This is the wobbly board! It, well, wobbles when you walk on it. Lyla has finally gotten brave enough to walk on it by herself!

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Who  doesn’t love monkey bars?

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This is always everyone’s favorite part of the trip. Ice cream! Lyla chose strawberry for her and Eloise to share and Momma, as always, chose chocolate. Delicious!

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It was a pretty fun day. We are going to try to go as often as we can before it gets too cold!

The bakfiets.

With Corey’s work at CityHouse almost every day I have to have a way to get around the city with both girls by myself. Right now a car really isn’t an option because it is so expensive and I am terrified to drive in this city. (Waayy too many bikers to look out for!) Also, my balance isn’t very great yet, so it would be kinda scary (for me AND the girls) to have a seat on the front and back of my regular bike. (Right now, I have one on the front of mine for Eloise and Corey has one on the back of his for Lyla.)

So, that leaves the bakfiets. (We have one with two wheels in the front and one on the back instead of one wheel in front and one in back. They are easier to ride for a beginner and a lot cheaper, but a bit heavier and bulkier.) While this is entirely necessary, I have been complaining about having to ride it A LOT. It’s hard  to steer, and super slow. On the way home from visiting Corey at CityHouse for lunch yesterday, I was having a pretty bad attitude. (It had NOTHING to do with the fact that Lyla peed her pants. Again. At the grocery store.) I was pretty grumpy and taking it out on the poor bakfiets. Then, the Holy Spirit convicted me.

He brought to mind Philippians 2:14-15:

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 

How are people going to see Christ in me if I’m always complaining about things as silly as a bakfiets? I am set apart. A light in the darkness. They need to see that. And if through not complaining about my transportation people can see Jesus, I am going to have to stop complaining about my transportation.

He also reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:18

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Instead of complaining I need to be thankful for the circumstances God has me in. So, I am going to list a few reasons why I am thankful for the bakfiets.

  1. I have a bakfiets to get the girls and I around.
  2. I live in AMSTERDAM where a bakfiets is necessary.
  3. We have churches and friends who gave so that we could buy the bakfiets and continue to give so that we can live in Amsterdam.
  4. The reason I need the bakfiets is that I have two precious red headed girls to take places.
  5. I get a lot of exercise!

From now on I am going (try really hard) to remember this list of reasons I’m thankful when I am tempted to complain about the bakfiets. My life will be more pleasant and more importantly God will be more glorified.

-Kaylee