What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Little Dutch Girl Goes to Holland



Tuesday was my birthday.  I am now officially 36. That feels older than it is (I hope) but not as old as Judah thought I was turning...  "What are you turning Mama?  56?" 


The day came and went like any other day, except the lilacs bloomed just in time to be a birthday bouquet for my bed and to decorate my birthday cake (which was the best part of it, unfortunately) which really is the best repeat present a girl can get.  I am particular to May babies for the lilacs and bluebells alone.

Every birthday I wonder what this year is going to look like for me.  Will it be a good one?  A hard one?  This, I believe, is going to be a stretching year for me.   A stretching out of my comfort zone year, a stretching to do hard things, deal with hard things and grow better/wiser/more (?) in the process. (I hope that is the outcome, anyway.)

With only a week or so of 36 under my belt, I am going to have my first major test.

I have been given the incredible opportunity to travel abroad to the Netherlands with my Mom, my few uncles and an aunt as they travel back to their familial home, visiting another brother, cousins, aunts and friends, who all live there, in the process.  I am the tag-along and self-proclaimed historian of the group.  ;-)

It is a lifelong dream that I never dreamed would ever actually come true.  And it is going to be amazing.  I am so grateful to be able to go.  I am so excited to have this opportunity.  It is a great gift.

But with it comes real stretching.

I have to leave my family, whom I have never been away from for more than two nights in their lives (and only that on one occasion), and my baby who I have NEVER been away from at all...and I have to do it for 9 days.  NINE DAYS.  This is truly devastating and heart-wrenching to me.

And I have to entrust their entire and complete care to Matt, who is capable and wonderful, but has never had to shoulder such a great responsibility before.  And frankly, is someone other than myself.

It's hard for a Mama to let go.  It's excruciating.

Matt took off two weeks for me so I could do this and has encouraged me so many countless times to "Go!  It will be fine!  Have fun!  We'll be great!  This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!"  He's so wonderful.

But I worry about Matt being able to handle it all.  I worry about stress.  I worry about Corynn shouldering the heavy load of mothering the baby alone.  I worry about Judah and his belly.  I worry about Matt working outside too much (leaving the kids alone) or working too little (and not getting to do anything HE wants to do.)  I worry that the baby will wander off for a split second (like she always does) and I won't be there to interpret the silence and find her quickly.  I worry of sister squabbles and grocery shopping (has Matt ever even GONE grocery shopping?) and of laundry and gardens.  I worry about tempers.  I worry that the baby will be desperate for me and I will be unable to comfort her.  I worry that she will not need me so much when I come back.  My heart breaks a million times every night in bed as these things swirl about my head, refusing to quiet themselves.

And those are just the worries for home.

I could worry, too, about going to a whole new country by myself.  About flying for 7 hours.  About flying at all.  About zooming through six time zones.  About jetlag.  About my time without the comforts of my family, without the distractions of children to smooth uncomfortable situations. Being without my children for the first time in 15 years- who is that girl and will I be comfortable alone with her?   I could worry about being the only one in the entire group who does not speak Dutch.  I could worry about myriad other things, I am sure, if I had more experience travelling than I do but my lack of experience and imagination prevents it.

None of these take my breath away, constrict my throat, sting my eyes and keep me awake at night like the worries for my family though.

Thursday, the journey begins.

I have lists and lists.  Lists to do before I go, staring me in the face every time I am in the kitchen.  (Which is a lot!)  Lists of words to try to learn before I go.  Lists of things I need to buy for my trip and for my family while I am gone.  Lists of things not to forget to pack.  So many, many lists!  My To-Do list gets crossed off and two more are added in its' place.  So much to do!  I know it won't all get done and I am trying to be okay with that.

I don't know if I will be able to blog while I am gone or not.  I'd like to.  (I have a sneaking suspicion I may be taking a few photographs...)  I'll try if I can.  Otherwise, I'll be back in a few weeks...as an International traveler.

Any advice for a newbie traveler?  Advice for a Mama who is struggling with the thought of leaving my family?  (AMY!  YOU DID THIS!  YOU KNOW!)

Prayers for us Newmans?  Would you please???

Matt bought me a little tablet-thingy to take with me so that I can video chat with my peeps while I am gone.  I am so NOT technologically savvy.  Like, at all.  Trying to figure it out...with a cute little leprechaun behind me and a sleeping troll on top of me.   I don't know where to look to do a 'selfie'.  Maybe I am 56 after all.


Amy Marie said...

WHAT?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW WONDERFUL! I'm SO excited for you! I will pray for you, I know exactly how you feel. Here are a few tips:

1. I had 40 meals in the freezer ready to be cooked or dumped into a crockpot. They only used a few of them! Gah! Convenience food was much easier than trying to remember to get things going etc. SOOOO, if you can swing it, a few easy to make (yes, junk food like hotdogs, frozen pizzas, etc), no planning meals are best.

2. Throw away plastic ware or paper plates it helpful. We don't buy it that much, but it really helps them, when I'm gone.

3. You can call for free through facebook messenger as long as you have wifi. The internet was VERY sketchy for me, iPhones worked the best internationally, personally, I think. So if someone in your group has an iphone, that's helpful.

4. One thing that really surprised me was the jetlag when I came back. It was HORRIBLE. Like for a two weeks after I was extremely tired. Just sort of know it will be that way and plan not to do TOO much and get a nap or two if you can. I'm not sure the time difference in Holland, but it will be brutal when you get back. :(

5. have enough underwear! LOL! And wear sensible shoes. We weren't able to do very much laundry and so it was good my sister told us to pack etc laundry. If you are checking luggage, pack an outfit or two in your carry on, in case your luggage gets lost!!!! My sister's sat in Dublin an extra day and half so she was SO glad she had extra clothing in her carry on. She still had to borrow PJ's from me and they were huge on her. Ha. ;)

6. If you can have a down day in between rushing around days. We tried WAY TOO MUCH and we utterly exhausted at times. LOL! That was my least favorite thing about our trip.

Hopefully, that helps! I'm over the moon for you!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what app you are planning to use to communicate with your family while you are away, but Skype has worked out great for talking with my Uncle and Aunt in South Sudan. I would highly suggest setting it up here and do a test call while you are in the US. :) Btw there are online tutorials if you need help. Enjoy your time!

Miriam said...

That anonymous above is Miriam :)

Ulli said...

Wonderful! What a great opportunity, and yes, you MUST go. How often will a chance like this come again?
We've traveled France and Belgium twice without benefit of their language. I know German and our travel friends knew Italian. You asked, so here come my observations...

The Family: Matt will be a different kind of Dad when he is in charge. Somehow, when we're around they default everything to us. They pull through with flying colors when they have to. I started going on a girlfriend weekend when my kids were little. What I discovered is that Dad and kids have their own bond, and just because things aren't done the way I would do them, doesn't mean they're wrong--just different. Corynn is a very capeable young lady, and Andrew will pick up slack as well. You will be a proud Mama when you get home and see the growth in your family. Don't stress about getting the chores done before you go. Prioritize.

Keeping in touch: Skype! There are some other ways, too, but not sure what they are. You can call your provider and get their suggestions.

If you're going to be using a credit card, let the credit card company know you will be traveling overseas so they don't put a stop on your account should they think it's suspicious activity. Be sure to ask if there is a conversion charge (Euros to USD). If so, you might want to exchange money at the airport to avoid it. (we charged almost everything, but had some cash as well)

Language: Not a problem. You'll be with people who probably know the language, and many people overseas know some English. Download a translation app on your phone/pad and use it when necessary. Traveling through The Netherlands once I asked directions in my very best German. He answered me in his very best English. People are friendly and willing to help.

Take a book or crochet on the plane. I always fly with Ear Planes, available at some pharmacies or at the airport book/magazine stores. They go into your ears to equalize the pressure when landing. It always bothers me, and these work great. I highly recommend.

Also, take a small notebook and pen (or use your phone/pad) to write a daily log. It will help you identify photos later, and remember details.

Since you're visiting family, they might recommend a laundry mat (or maybe do it at their house). Don't over pack. Try to travel light. If you fogot anything, just buy it there. A few pieces of cloths to mix and match, sensible shoes with a pair of sandals in case you go out to eat. Use a crossbody purse so your hands are free. A crushable/packable sun hat so your face won't burn.

Touring: Our favorite way to explore is to do the touring in the morning if possible, having had good breakfast. We ended up skipping lunch a lot and just having a beer and nibbles at a local pub. Mid afternoon the touring ends, we go to the next hotel, and relax for the rest of the day, enjoying a nice (good, not fancy) dinner. Down time if very important.

Didn't mean to write a book, but I hope it helps. Have a great time! I'll keep you and the family in thought and prayer.

julie said...

I will be praying for all of you! Yes, the kids will be 100% fine, and the bitterness of separation will make the return that much sweeter! And you will have the chance to do something busy Mamas rarely get to do...whatever you'd like to do! Have fun, enjoy every moment, and Do Not Be Anxious About Anything!!!

Terri Cheney said...

Don't be too list oriented...Concentrate on the things that will make the trip easy, and things that will make life easy at home (seconding the whole convenience foods, plastic/paper thing). You will always have a ton of things to do, things you think you must do, but don't let it wear you out before you go. Enjoy it! Matt will do fine, the children will be fine, you will be missed mightily and everyone will be overjoyed to see you again.

Els Drijfhout said...

Just ENJOY!!!!! So many people in Holland speak English; you'll be fine!
You can leave the home front in God's hands. In 7 hours flying you can do a lot of praying for them. Wish I could pop over to see you and your mum!

Abigail said...

Hurrah! When the girls first said Corynn told them you'd be gone for a while, I was thinking you be enjoying the Amish countryside in PA, not tulips an ocean away! A long-held dream realized is cause for celebration, and we will certainly pray that God hold your family in His hand (as He promises) and that He gives you peace from the worries so you can fully live the joy. I am so excited for you and can't wait to hear all about it when you get back!

And even if Ineke does decide she's a big girl while you're away, it'll only take a few minutes in Mama's arms to remind her of how wonderful it is to be your baby, instead. :)

Travel under the Mercy!

Abigail said...


Ugh. The grammarian in me just can't let it stand.

Abigail said...


Ha! This could go on for some time...

Abigail said...

(Maybe I should proofread FIRST?)

Anyway, here's one last "hurrah," for good measure.

And a :).

Abigail said...

I know it's disappointing to see a slew of comments only to find out they're all from ME (editing minor comment errors, no less), but yesterday John handed me a book he bought at the book sale and had me read this speech.

I thought you'd enjoy it if you haven't already read it, so this comment, at least, won't be a disappointment.


Mary said...

YAY!!! Enjoy yourself and bask in the Lords greatness!!! This is a well deserved blessing for such a devoted and hardworking wife and mama!!! The crew will be just fine, they will learn their own rhythm and have a awesome time with papa!!! May the Lord grant you peace and safety!!!Many prayers sent your way. HAVE A AWESOME TIME!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I am so excited for you! I know it’s difficult from a momma’s standpoint because I had to do the same thing a couple of years ago. My husband is Dutch and his whole family lives in the Netherlands. His sister asked me to come stay for two weeks after she had some tragedy in her life. The Dutch people are amazing and the views are incredible! (Note that they have their phone lines and such buried underground, so therir views are unobstructed). I’m not sure if you have Skype capabilities, but it’s free and it helped me a lot while I was gone. One flying note.. they are below sea level so if you have ear sensitivity when flying then I recommend “earplanes” which are little tubes that help with the pressure. I hope we get to see some pictures when you get back because I miss it! Our Dutch family is coming over in July so we’ll see them soon. I hope that you have as much fun as the first time I went! Many prayers for you and your sweet family! ❤️~Kara van Doesburg

Hans van der Meijden said...

And finally, on sunday you have met all the dutchies. And guess what? We understood each other! And it was “gezellig” Rebecca! It was a very nice afternoon in Bilthoven. I’m glad i’ve met you and your family. I hope you will have a Dutch week you will never forget.

Best regards Idelette and Hans