Monthly Archives: February 2012

Potty Training in the Car

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Not my kid but she sure is cute.

We all have heard cute potty training stories, funny potty training stories, and nightmarish potty training stories.  But unless you’ve tried to potty train while driving a car, you haven’t really lived!  When one of our kids was in this delightful phase of life we were in the itineration phase of missionary work.  That means we were driving all over kingdom come raising money for the next 4 years of missionary work.  Every Sunday and most Wednesdays we were in a different city or town preaching in churches and sharing our vision with congregations.  I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband was a work-out-of-an-office-in-the-basement dad.  So we were able to travel together as a family.

This traveling together really had it’s ups and downs.  Most churches were really happy to see the children.  Let’s face it, my kids ARE kind of cute.  I never put my kids up on the stage to perform, that’s just not my style, but we would stand at the table in the back where we had our pictures and trinkets from Mexico displayed for folks to enjoy.  I would shake hands and talk with the people while my children played around (and under) the table- sometimes peacefully.  But traveling with children is no picnic.

It doesn’t matter if you stay in a hotel or in the pastor’s house, the children don’t sleep well.  It doesn’t matter if you eat in a restaurant or in someone’s home, the children don’t eat well.  And just when you feel like you can congratulate yourself for packing enough toys to keep them quiet in the church service, a fight breaks out on the front pew and you are the referee.  These difficulties are only compounded if one child gets sick on the road OR one child gets constipated on the road, as was our case.

In the midst of our travels, I was trying to potty train the child who shall remain unnamed.  But this child has a will of iron.  She did not want to poo.  So all week long she would hold it and refuse to poo.  Then on Sunday night, in the church bathroom, she would camp out for a half hour or so.  It wouldn’t have been so bad except that being constipated meant that letting it out hurt quite a bit.  (Why her pediatrician never told me about children’s laxatives, I will never know.)  So every Sunday night my child would sit on the pot and scream, “I’m pooping!!”  And the little old ladies in the church would cluster around the door of the bathroom and ask me if I needed any help.  I’d smile tensely, “She’s constipated,” I’d explain, “It’s just something we’re dealing with being on the road.”  Well have you tried giving her cranberry juice? or more water? or castor oil? or taking her to the potty more often? or reading books to her while she sits? or offering her candy when she goes?  or giving her an enema? or cutting back on dairy? or… YES!  Let me save you a suggestion.  I have tried it all.  But the child hates to poop and that’s that.

When we finally arrived in Costa Rica for a year of language school our lives became more stable.   We moved into an apartment building with 3 other missionary families also studying Spanish.  All of our bathroom windows vented into a common air shaft.  That meant that we could basically hear everything that went on in our neighbor’s bathrooms and they could hear us too!  We felt we should warn our new neighbors that our child screams once a week.  The first few times it happened, our neighbors would shout encouragement into the air shaft.  We heard, “Way to go!” and “Good job!” and “We’re proud of you!” and “Everyone poos!  You’re doing great!”  With all that cheering and a stable home life once again it only took a month before everyone in the family was on a “regular schedule” again, if you know what I mean.

I don’t know why the Parenting books never mentioned this little gem, but this is my advice to all of you:  Cheer.  Everyone needs encouragement now and then.  Works like a charm!

Courage

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I take no credit for this picture.

Take a good look at this photo that a friend of mine posted on her fb page.  It was taken in 1939 at a ceremony for the launch of a new ship.  Do you see the one man in the crowd who refused to give the Nazi salute?  His name is August Landmesser.  We don’t know much about him except that he had already been in trouble with the authorities for marrying a Jewish woman.  He was sentenced to two years hard labor.  He and his wife had 2 children.  One of his children recognized her father in the crowd when this picture was published in a German newspaper in 1991.

Now take a look at the two guys behind August Landmesser.  They are taking notice of him.  They notice his refusal to salute. I’m guessing by the smirk on August’s face that by this point in his life he’s not too concerned with fitting in with the crowd.  But sometimes it’s hard to be the only one not following the crowd.  Sometimes we wonder if anyone notices the stand we are making- if anyone is catching the point we are making.  Does it matter if we are the only one not conforming?  Is it worth the effort to paddle against the current?  The guys behind August noticed.  August’s wife and children noticed the stand he made for them.  Here we are 73 years later… and we see him still making his stand.

“Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right.”  Wiser words are hard to find.  What are you standing for today?  Are you paddling against the current and feeling tired?  Are you discouraged because you think no one is noticing, that your sacrifice is being made in vain, that you aren’t making a difference?  Be encouraged.  Someone is watching you.  Someone is reading your facebook updates and blog posts.  Someone is watching your life closer than you think.  Someone noticed when you did what was right.  You might not see it yet, but you are causing a ripple.  Take courage dear Lonely Soldier.  Your fight is not in vain!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Three Poems by Emma

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My daughter Emma wants to be an author.  She writes something every day.  So today she wrote three poems for my blog.  Leave her a note if you like.  She loves to check my blog dashboard.

A Diamond for My Grandparents

Gummy

                                                                                      small,               creative

                                                                          helping,        cooking,       cleaning

                                                            contacts,                 dress,               glasses,           tie

                                                                          loving,            giving,         preaching

                                                                                           big,               kind

                                                                                                     Papa

~By Emma Daisy Amiot, January 2012

Spring

Looks like flowers blooming

Sounds like birds chirping

Feels like a breeze on your skin

Smells like new, fresh plants expanding

Tastes like ripe apples!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~By Emma Daisy Amiot, January 2012

Christmas

Looks like lights all around you

Sounds like carolers at your door

Smells like cinnamon in the kitchen

Tastes like monkey bread

Feels like a wool blanket

~ By Emma Daisy Amiot, January 2012

Puckered: when you wake up on the wrong side of calm.

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My history with “dry clean only” clothing is pathetic and short.  I usually try to check labels before I plunk down my cash, but sometimes I forget and walk out of the store with an item that’s out of my league.  Those high maintenance, hoity-toity fabrics that continue to cost you money even after you pay for them are not in my pay-bracket.  But sometimes my vigilance is dropped and I accidentally become the reluctant owner of a dry clean only item.  Usually I wear it once, forget that it must be separated from the ordinary laundry, and only remember its requirements after I pull a shrunken baby-sized sweater out of the drier.  Doh!

One time I fell in love with a smooth, fine feeling pashmina in a delicate light blue.  (A pashmina is basically a shawl- for all you “non-fashionistas” out there.)  It was dry clean only, but I reeeeeally wanted it and it was on sale and I had some birthday money left and I could imagine myself using it nearly every Sunday in church and I promised myself I would be so careful with it and because it was a shawl it wouldn’t get all sweaty and wouldn’t need to be dry cleaned all that often… *breathe, breathe*.  I bought it.  The first Sunday I wore it, it started sprinkling rain the moment I set foot outside of my car.  I sprinted in my high heels to the church lobby, but I was dismayed to find several large water spots on my new pashmina.  Dang!  I hadn’t thought about that.

But one of the weirdest features of some dry clean only clothes is when the fabric itself is washable but the thread they used shrinks!  Who would make clothes like that?!  (Probably Terrorists and Nazis!)  Now the entire garment must be dry cleaned or else the seams get all puckered. WHY?!?!  Oh, the inhumanity of it!

Sometimes I wake up feeling like a dry clean only shirt that’s been laundered at home.  I feel like one string in the fiber of my being has been pulled tight and now the whole fabric of me is puckered and wrong.  I feel wrinkled in spirit and out of sorts with the world.  It’s like something in my little universe is not right and it’s messing up everything else. It could be a criticism that I’m still stinging from, or a wound that I’m still licking.   It could be the remorse I feel over using a sharp word to someone.  It could be the embarrassment of fumbling a conversation in Spanish.  It could be that yesterday I was the worst version of myself and now I don’t know how to undo the pucker I have made when I pulled too hard at something.

It makes me want to give up when I see the puckers I’ve caused.  I want everything to be smooth and peaceful.  I hate conflict.  But in this life there will be puckers and snags.  How I smooth them out is what really counts.  Sometimes if I pull gently the threads will correct themselves, but if I pull too hard they might snap.  This is where I need the Holy Spirit’s help.  I need God to teach me how to live at peace with everyone as much as it’s in my power to do so.  I need God to show me how to live in smooth, peaceful grace instead of always yanking and pulling at things.  I need God to smooth out the puckers in my spirit and bring me back to a calm, quiet place.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows, he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.”  Psalm 23:1-3a

When God Moved our Mountain

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We saw God move a mountain.  We used to be missionaries in Mexico City.  There we had complicated and ever changing laws that restrict driving for everyone, but especially cars with foreign plates.  When this story took place, new laws were about to go into effect.  Basically we would not be able to leave the house until 11 am every day.  We would have two days a week when we couldn’t drive at all and one extra Saturday per month of no driving.  Each of our 2 cars were restricted on different days.  I feel like I need to lay down now just thinking about all the rules!

Imagine how difficult it would be when we host teams to find vehicles that would be able to drive on each day that we needed them.  How would we get our kids to school or conduct any business before 11 am?  We had been told that vehicles that were newer than 5 years would be able to receive a special verification that would nullify all but the special Saturday restriction.  Unfortunately our second car was 6 years old, we tried to get it verified, but it was never allowed.  Even more frustrating, when Josh tried to renew our verification on our newer vehicle he was told that the government wouldn’t have the stickers ready for another 10 days.  The entire city was basically homebound for 10 days.

With these concerns on my mind and a team coming in 2 weeks I felt stressed, to put in mildly.  In the meantime, I had a Spanish song running through my head that says, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed,  you can say to this mountain ‘move yourself’ and it will move.”  So I took the matter to the Lord.  I said, “Lord, for us this is a big mountain.   We can’t change the law that doesn’t allow us to drive, and without our vehicles we can’t live here!  Please move this mountain.”

Immediately I felt the Lord say to me, “In 10 days take both vehicles to the verification station and don’t say anything about the one being too old.  Go first thing in the morning.”  Now believe me, I have prayed many, many times and not heard God respond this clearly or this quickly.  I was surprised, but I told this to Josh and that is exactly what we did.

Ten days later, on the day when the verification stickers were finally supposed to be available, we prayed and set out with both vehicles to the verification station.  We arrived at 8am.  There was a long line at the station already and the workers were stressed because their computers weren’t up yet.  We waited for about 45 minutes.  The other drivers were getting impatient.  The workers were getting more and more agitated.  We waited patiently, praying.

Suddenly the computer system came on line!  The workers started rushing the cars through the paperwork and examination process.  Our turn.  We saw right on their computer screen that our old car was not going to be allowed a permit because some Mexican car already had our same license plate number, plus it was too old.  But it was like the workers didn’t even see the screen!  They walked out to our car and slapped a sticker on the back window without even flinching!  Josh opened up the back of the vehicle and passed out bottles of water to all the workers as a celebratory “thank you”.  We drove home praising the Lord for moving that mountain for us!!

Same Old Lies

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We throw a lot of blame on men for sexualizing and objectifying women.  But let’s talk about the women who do this to themselves. And the power that is motivating them.

I watched the Superbowl commercials and half time show this year (hey, that’s more than I usually watch!) and I groaned along with every other woman in the room when certain commercials with bikini clad women selling cars with gyrating sex and slithery fantasy appeared.  Every man in the room was a decent good guy and looked down or turned away when these commercials played.  I blushed.  I was ashamed for those women who no longer felt shame.

No one was holding a gun to their heads and telling them to slither around in strappy lingerie.  But someone behind the scenes was handing them a fat paycheck.  They essentially sold their bodies to the entire world.  I wonder if the paycheck felt like it was enough to replace the respect they lost.  I’m sure they felt proud of themselves for making it into a big-time Superbowl ad.  I’m sure this will give a nice boost to their carriers in the actor-slash-modeling world.  But I am a woman and I did not feel proud of them.  They boosted themselves up at the expense of all of us.  They helped dehumanize all of humankind for their own gain.

The Bible says that the prostitute turns you into a morsel of bread… to her, you are food in her belly.  She’s just earning a living, while devouring your soul.  I’m not talking about the poor women who are forced into sex slavery (I’m saving that for another post).  I’m talking about the women who do this to themselves voluntarily and what that does to us as humans, men and women.

Ever since the Garden of Eden when Eve was tricked by the serpent there has been a Spiritual war being waged against women.  Satan hates women… because only women produce Life.  As far as we know, Satan and his fallen angel minions can not reproduce.  That means there is a set number of them.  So it is a strategy of Satan to keep human population lower so he can keep control of humans.  Satan uses war, disease, famine, abortion, and violence against women to keep humans from getting too numerous to handle.

Satan is ultimately at war with God.  But he doesn’t have the power to hurt God directly.  So he goes after God’s beloved creation.  God has made humans in his own image meaning we bear certain characteristics of God like our capacity for love, goodness, and caring for others just to name a few.  Satan’s favorite tactics are doubly nasty because they attack the character of God reflected in humans.  He aims at God when he delivers the blow against us.  He tries to bring us down to a place of shame and humility because that’s what he wants to do to God.

Remember when Jesus was being tempted by Satan?  The last temptation was Satan telling Jesus, “Just bow down to me and I’ll give you the world.”  Satan wanted to put Jesus under his foot, to humiliate and humble him.  Of course, Jesus didn’t fall for that one… but the Woman did.  And women still fall for that one.  “Just take off your clothes and I’ll give you the world.  Just humble and humiliate yourself and I’ll give you everything.”  We fall for it over and over again.

So it’s easy to say these women wouldn’t do that to themselves if men weren’t buying it.  Yes, there’s enough blame to spread all around to everyone.  But the really wicked thing about Satan is that he gets us to fall for his lies and then he heaps us with guilt on top of it.  We bite the apple then he shames us for doing the very thing he tempted us to do.  We go for the thrill of cheap sex and then feel lousy about ourselves afterwards.  Satan delivers a double punch.  Sin is a win-win for the bad guys.  Only God has the power to lift us out of that sticky, messy mud hole.

When God is lifted up and honored, he lifts up and redeems all that was lost.  When God is glorified, all creation benefits.  Only God has the power to elevate humans to the place of adopted Sons of God the Father.  God is the source of all goodness and the farther away we move from him as a society, the less goodness will touch us.  By rejecting God, the source of goodness, we create a vacuum that must be filled.  And it is filled with counterfeit goodness, a cheaper product.  Those sexy girls on the TV screen look good, but the image is a flimsy fraud- a lesser goodness than what God offers.  The more our society pulls away from God, the more depraved we will become.

Blue Bear

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In our missions agency, we are required to itinerate to raise our funds.  What that means is that we travel around preaching and telling churches about our dreams and goals.  Then we pray that God would provide funds for the churches to support us on a monthly basis.  It is, perhaps, the most inefficient and exhausting procedure on the planet.  But it has its benefits too.  We pray for the churches and they pray for us in turn.  It creates a symbiotic relationship between missionary and church.  This is a story of a prayer answered during our first itineration season.

When our daughter Emma was just 2 she received a special present.  Being so cute, she was able to convince her uncle to buy her a blue teddy bear that she spotted on a trip to the mall.  With typical 2 year old logic, she named it Blue Bear.  And she loved Blue Bear.

Blue Bear accompanied us on our travels during that season of life.  Every Sunday and Wednesday were were at a different church, sharing and preaching and meeting the people.  Much of my time as a mom was spent in the church nursery entertaining and taking care of our children while Daddy preached and talked about missions to the “big people”.  One night we made it all the way home before we realized that Emma had lost Blue Bear somewhere during the day.  The church where we spent our evening was already closed.  Monday would be the pastor’s day off, so we decided to call on Tuesday and ask him to check the church nursery for Blue Bear.

Emma cried that night and had a hard time going to sleep without Blue Bear.  As I was turning out the light I heard her pray, “Jesus help Blue Bear come home.”  My heart broke.

The pastor could not find Blue Bear anywhere.  He was lost.  Night after night, Emma would pray for Blue Bear and cry herself to sleep.  Weeks passed and we continued traveling.

One day we decided to stop at our favorite little roadside junk store, I mean souvenir store, called “Treasure City”.  Now we like to stop here for a potty break when we travel through this part of Minnesota.  It’s a good place to stretch the legs, buy some flavored candy canes, and look at all the amusing junk that people can buy.  You wouldn’t believe all the crap that people glue googley eyes on and try to sell to children!  But it’s fun for the kids to poke at the dried frogs in Mariachi costumes glued to shot glasses and the crocodile heads mounted on plaques.

So while standing in an aisle surrounded by painted sea shells and clocks with sand dollars on them, I looked up into a fishing net hanging from the ceiling.  The net held stuffed animals of all kinds and… lo and behold… there was Blue Bear!  OK, it wasn’t the original, but the 2 year old didn’t know that.  For Emma, a miracle had occurred!  She screamed and danced all around the store with her beloved lost bear.  Blue Bear had come home.  That night in her prayers, Emma thanked God for helping Blue Bear to find his way home.  And I do believe that God heard the prayers of my 2 year old and gave her a new teddy bear because God cares about the things that are a big deal to us.

God came and sat with Us

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Chino walked out of the house shortly after sunrise and carefully picked his way down the grassy lane where the cows had recently passed.  A farmer in the community had donated a calf to the church and Chino, the young pastor from the big city, was going to collect the animal.  The calf was to be sold and the proceeds donated to a poor family whose child had just received a kidney transplant.  In addition to the medical expenses, the family was required to build a new, cleaner house before their fragile child would be released from the hospital.  So Chino was off to collect the donated calf.

We ate a leisurely breakfast while we waited for him to return, but he didn’t come and he didn’t come.  Finally his young wife Marcela suggested that we drive to the church and see if he was there.  He was not.  Brave little Marcela took the lead and started the worship service.  My husband got up to preach and sometime later he noticed that Chino had slipped in the back of the little sanctuary.

The calf had escaped and gone running through the fields.  It took several men- all professional ranchers- several hours to pen the beast.  Then Chino, covered in mud and smelling like sweaty cow, went home to clean up before arriving late to church.  I wonder if he ever imagined starting a Sunday in such a manner when he signed up for the job of pastoring a tiny church in rural Costa Rica.

This church was super tiny, but cute and quaint with it’s heavily plastered walls and colonial arched doors.  It had pretty tiles on the floor and rough, hand made benches to serve as pews.  The stage was bare except for a hand made, wooden pulpit; no worship band, no big sound system, not even a cross, just simple furnishings.  But in that humble, one room church next to the dirt road in the middle of nowhere the King of Glory, the Maker of the Universe came down to be with his children made of dust.

I’m not sure I have ever grasped the magnitude of the coming of the Son of God in the way that I did on that Sunday.  I have never fully grasped the disparity between the throne room of God and the humble stable where baby Jesus was born.  Yet the God of all creation, the God of the wonders of the Universe, Maker of all life, Author and Artist of all I know came down to this dirty, poor, messy, painful planet to be one of us.  God came down to us!  The King got off his throne and came to sit in the mud with us.  We are nothing- made of dirt- and yet our Creator-King GAVE life to us, GAVE us love, GAVE us understanding and sympathy, GAVE us mercy, GAVE US HIS OWN DEAR SON to save us from ourselves, to save us from the mess we make of all that our dirty hands touch.

And on that Sunday morning God came down to a little, rustic, one-room church in the middle of cow pastures and grassy lanes.  God’s Spirit filled the little church where the young, inexperienced pastor and his wife lead 10-12 very poor church folk in giving the only thing they really had to offer- their worship.  God came down and sat with us.

In the Belly of the Whale and Hating it.

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You can be right in the center of God’s will and still be miserable.  Did you know that?  Just because you are obeying God doesn’t mean you’re always going to be happy and comfortable.  And just because you are UNhappy doesn’t mean you are necessarily OUT of God’s will either.  I’m writing this story in the hopes that it sets someone free from the guilt of being in God’s will and hating it.

We were missionaries in Mexico City for two years.  I did not love living in Mexico City.  There, I said it.  Up until this moment only some close friends and family had ever heard me say that.  Mexico City is a hard city to live in.  Aside from the language (which we were still learning), the traffic, and the pollution- living in a place where the bad guys had police badges and guns really messed with me in ways I’m not sure I can fully explain.  Corruption is a bad, bad thing.

On a spiritual level, the oppression over that city is palpable.  You can feel it even if you aren’t paying attention.  Let me describe it.  When I was flying with our kids into Mexico City from language school (Josh was already there with the car and trailer) I felt this spiritual oppression for the first time- but I had no words for it yet.  About 20 minutes from landing at the airport I was busy getting my kids packed up and resettled for landing.  Suddenly a fear gripped my heart.  I broke into a cold sweat and I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.  “I can’t do this,” I thought.  “What the heck am I doing bringing my kids to this city?!  I can’t do this.”  The voice of the Enemy spoke in my heart.  I felt sick to my stomach.

What I didn’t know was that I was flying into the spiritual domain of Death.  Since the beginning of human history in this valley, Death has been worshipped.  Humans have been sacrificed.  Even up to this modern day and age, Satanism is alive and well in Mexico.  There is even a holiday celebrating Death here.  Because Death is still worshipped here it has the right to be here.  Death does not like the messengers of God coming here because we bring Life.  Death hates that.  So Death did not want me and my family coming to Mexico City.  Death tried to intimidate me.  Everyday.

We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were in God’s will coming to Mexico City.  Doors had opened, miracles had happened, God’s blessing was on us and ministry was good!  So we felt certain that we were in God’s will.  But living there under the oppression of Death, day in and day out, was a grind.  It wore us to the bone.  But we are not quitters.  We had always said that we would never leave just because it was hard, or we were uncomfortable, or we didn’t absolutely love it here.  We only left when Lucy and I got sick.  We had amazing friends there, and ministry was flourishing, but I did not love Mexico City.

I felt guilty about that.  I prayed that God would help me love this place.  I was insanely jealous of other missionaries who claimed to LOVE were they lived and worked.  Somedays my only sanity was telling myself, “At least I’m not called to China.”  God knew I couldn’t take that!!  We didn’t love it, but we threw ourself heart and soul into Mexico City.  We gave 110% every day.  I still felt guilty about being so unhappy.

Then one day my Dad told me something that totally changed my thinking about this and gave me freedom from guilt.  He told me, “You can be completely in the center of the will of God and still be miserable.”  That got me thinking.  I’m sure Jonah hated being in the belly of the whale- but that’s right were God wanted him for those 3 days.  I’m sure Daniel was less than thrilled to spend the night in the lions’ den- but God sent him in there.  I know for a fact that Jesus dreaded going to the cross.  He sweat great drops of blood as he prayed in the garden the night of his betrayal.  He prayed, “Take this cup from me, Father” and all of humankind was a breath away from eternal damnation until he yielded, “But not my will, only yours, Father.”  He was right in the center of his Father’s will… and he dreaded it.  So I was not alone.

So the point is, our emotions are not a good indicator of reality.  Just because you are unhappy doesn’t mean you’ve missed God’s will or that you are being disobedient.  We can be totally happy and content and yet displeasing to God OR we can be miserable and be right were God wants us to be.  God’s will is completely independent of our emotions, both good and bad.  He does what he wants to do (he is Sovereign), and always does things for our ULTIMATE good.  But moment by moment he is less concerned about our happiness than he is about the end result of what he is doing for us and in us.  God is God.  He is not bound by contract to make me happy.  He is only bound to his own character which is GOODNESS.  Even when I hated being in Mexico City, I had the peace of knowing that I was right were God wanted me to be… even though I hated it.

Navigating with a broken rudder- Reverse Culture Shock

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Before we became missionaries I heard lot about culture shock, the emotional roller coaster ride you take when you enter a new culture.  What I didn’t hear much about was reentry shock or reverse culture shock, the emotional roller coaster ride you take when you return to your native culture.  OK, so what I did hear about reentry shock made me roll my eyes.  I heard stories about missionaries having tearful break downs in the grocery store because they couldn’t decide which salad dressing to buy (Good grief, get a grip Woman!).  I heard of missionaries forgetting their English vocabulary (seriously?!).  I heard of missionaries hiding in their houses and not wanting to talk to people (don’t be such a party pooper).  I thought, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.  Why would anyone have shock coming HOME to the culture you grew up in?  That’s ridiculous.”  I mocked.  Until it happened to me.

Coming back home from Mexico for the first time, reentry shock hit me hard.  And I was horrified that I had ever made fun of it before.  It’s real.  Oh, let me tell you, it’s real!  Now I was the missionary having a melt down in the grocery store… only it was over shredded wheat, not dressing… I remember the feeling of panic rising in my heart when I entered the cereal aisle.  Oh my Gosh!  There are 6 different flavors of shredded wheat- and I’ve never tried ANY of them!  How do I know which one I like?  In the end, I couldn’t commit to a new flavor.  I walked out with an ordinary box of mini wheats because it was the safe choice.

I also remember the first 5 times I entered Walmart and walked out again without buying a single thing.  Yes, I said FIVE TIMES.  I could feel my decision making brain cells starting to sizzle.  I felt a migraine coming on.  I was totally incapable of making so many decisions at once.  I was overwhelmed by my options.  Do you remember the first time being a parent and going to buy diapers?  Do you remember standing in the diaper aisle and reading every label, comparing prices, size of package, size of child, special features?  Remember how consuming and overwhelming that was because you didn’t know which was going to be the best bargain?  Then after a while you commit to a brand and it becomes your “go to” brand.  You can tell your husband, Pick up some diapers at the store, and he knows to get the red package or the package with the puppies on it.  You don’t have to think about that decision any more.

Well, coming back into America it was like my computer had crashed and the memory had been erased.  All my “favorites” had been erased, my cache had been emptied.  I had to start from scratch and rebuild my life.  There were a lot of tears in the first few months.  I remember half way through the grocery store putting my head down on my exhausted arms resting on the handle of the cart.  I said, “I just can’t make one more decision!  Why the heck is this store so big?”  I looked at my cart and I thought about unloading everything onto the conveyor belt at the check out, then bagging it all up, then loading it back into my cart, then loading it all into my car, then bringing it all into my house, then putting it all away in my kitchen.  I was seriously tempted to abandon my cart right then and there.  I was in a full fledged reentry shock episode.

Unfortunately it didn’t stop there, and it didn’t consume just me.  My entire household was in a state of emotional upheaval and I was navigating with a broken rudder.  Now I can look back on those first few months and laugh at having to read the instructions on the gas pump or standing too close to the lady in the line in front of me or accidentally kissing my friend’s husband on the check when I greeted him or throwing my toilet paper in the garbage can or whatever loco stuff I did.  I can blame it all on reentry shock… don’t YOU roll your eyes at me!